If you are like most Americans, your mail box is filled with offers for credit cards, mortgage refinancing, and home equity loans. Many of those offers stress the benefits of moving existing balances to the new lenders. While that may sound appealing, especially if the new loan offers an attractive initial interest rate, it is important to consider all the factors associated with debt consolidation.
Moving all your outstanding loan balances to one lender will not reduce the amount you owe. You must ultimately pay off the loan and pay interest until the loan is repaid. Your goal should be using debt wisely. Consider the following steps:
Even if you have not borrowed the maximum allowed for your credit card, paying down your balance should be one of your top priorities.
Start by reviewing the interest rates on your existing debts. Credit cards and unsecured personal loans usually have higher interest rates than other forms of secured debt like a mortgage, home equity loan or an auto loan. If you find that your rate on a home equity line of credit is less than the rates on credit cards, other personal loans, or auto loans, utilizing borrowing through that line of credit may save you money.
Then evaluate your borrowing capacity available through a mortgage or a home equity loan. Borrowing through a shorter-term home equity loan will probably lower your interest rate, but most home equity loans have variable interest rates. If you have a great deal of high interest rate debt, refinancing your unsecured debt into a new fixed rate mortgage (even if you end up with a slightly higher mortgage rate than what you currently have) may result in lower overall interest costs. The interest you pay on your mortgage or home equity loan is also tax deductible if you itemize your deductions.