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Financial Health

When To Consolidate Debt

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When to consider debt consolidation

A successful debt consolidation strategy requires:
  • Your total debt excluding mortgage doesn’t exceed 40% of your gross income.

  • Your credit is good enough to qualify for a 0% credit card or low-interest debt consolidation loan.

  • Your cash flow consistently covers payments toward your debt.

  • You have a plan to prevent running up debt again.

Here’s a scenario when consolidation makes sense: Say you have four credit cards with interest rates ranging from 18.99% to 24.99%. You always make your payments on time, so your credit is good. You might qualify for an unsecured debt consolidation loan at 7% — a significantly lower interest rate.

For many people, consolidation reveals a light at the end of the tunnel. If you take a loan with a three-year term, you know it will be paid off in three years — assuming you make your payments on time and manage your spending. Conversely, making minimum payments on credit cards could mean months or years before they’re paid off, all while accruing more interest than the initial principal.

 

Debt consolidation can help your credit if you make on-time payments or consolidating shrinks your credit card balances. Your credit may be hurt if you run up credit card balances again, close most or all of your remaining cards, or miss a payment on your debt consolidation loan

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