Thursday, June 19, 2008

The cost of a little discipline

A personal loan may be more costly than home loan rates but they have the advantage of instilling discipline in certain borrowers when purchasing consumer items.

Consumer finance is by definition, finance for items that get consumed - things that get used up or wear out. It would be perfect if we could always access the cash when we needed it to buy these kind of items.

When you're looking at a new car, holiday, boat or other worthwhile purpose, the cheapest way to get it is to save. But when these items cost upwards of $20,000 saving might not be an option.
Borrowing for consumer items using credit that operates on a revolving basis, like credit cards or some home mortgages has its advantages. But when it's used by borrowers with limited or fixed income, often the principal remains unpaid for years or never gets paid off at all.

When you do need to borrow for consumer items a personal loan might be the best option. A personal loan allows you to access goods and services now, that you might not otherwise be able to take advantage of if you were forced to save. The repayment of the loan, both principal and interest is required to be made over a specific period of time, usually one to seven years.

Borrowing for consumer items can make good sense. If your car is older and is in need of constant maintenance and is costly to run, there may be good financial reasons to borrow funds for a newer and less costly vehicle. The running costs alone might be preventing you from saving any money towards a new vehicle. However, before you consider borrowing on this basis ask yourself a few questions first. Do I really need the item? Would it be possible to get something a little less expensive and save for it? Also consider the consequence additional debt will have on other financial goals you may have. If you are a first homebuyer looking to enter the mortgage market, it might be better to defer the decision to borrow for an overseas holiday until you are in your new home.

The simple fact is that some people do need the discipline of a certain payment every month for a set period of time to pay things off - and there's a lot to be said for that. But if you're on a higher income and you have the discipline and can afford to service new debt, then you've probably earned the right to make the choice to "consume now and pay later"

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