Debtors who want to determine whether debt consolidation makes sense should consider a couple of things. Ideally, both considerations will lead to improving the financial well-being of the debtor. With an improvement to personal finances as the ultimate objective, deciding whether debt consolidation makes sense becomes a much easier task.
The first is whether debtors have the ability to draw on equity in their home to consolidate consumer debt. Now this was a topic of discussion for a recent a recent article but the idea behind using equity is twofold. Primarily, debtors should use home equity to reduce total average interest costs and, secondarily to increase cashflow.
Whether debt consolidation makes sense in this case really depends on the debtor’s determination. If the debtor can avoid future consumer debt, then it has been; otherwise, racking up additional consumer debt only results in an erosion personal net worth and the underlying issue is not debt, but bad spending habits.
The second option that debtors will face will typically arise when there is not enough home equity, or none at all. This leaves them with the only option being an unsecured consolidation loan, which normally come at higher rates. In these instances, debts need to question whether or not such a loan will improve cashflow.
With cash flow as the only possible benefit, deciding whether debt consolidation makes sense becomes extremely easy. Simply compare all currently payment outflows to the payment on the new, proposed consolidation loan. If the loan payment is lower, then the debtor will experience an improved cash flow. The question, however, really becomes whether the improvement is sufficient to the debtor afloat throughout the month. In cases where it is insufficient, debtors will need to examining other options.
Without question, consolidating consumer debt with home equity provides the ideal solution to debtors. In instances where there is no home equity or the equity is not enough, debtors need to work harder to determine whether debt consolidation makes sense with an unsecured loan. On such loans, rates will be higher and repayment terms shorter, meaning higher payments than, say, a refinanced or second mortgage. Since rate is the only controllable factor, debtors need to find the lowest-rate loan possible (see below) so that payments are lower.