How to Manage a High Amount of Debt Using the Equity in Your Home
If you have been through some tough times recently-such as a job loss, major medical expenses or a traumatic event-you’re not alone. While some may blame debt problems on irrational spending or poor saving habits, misfortune can wreck the best of plans. For example, over 20% of American adults are struggling to pay medical bills, which are the main cause of personal bankruptcies.
The good news: you may be able to use your home equity to consolidate debt. Let’s take a look at how to determine whether this is the best solution for your financial needs.
Types of Debt to Consolidate
- High-interest debt, such as credit card debt
- Debt with large payments that take a huge bite out of your cash flow, such as auto loans
When considering potential solutions, it is important to consider the reasons why you have accumulated a high amount of debt. Talk with your Personal Banker. If your situation was caused by events beyond your control, then it may make good financial sense to use your house to help you recover.
Benefits of Consolidating
- Trade your high-interest debt for lower interest debt
- Get more money since loan limits can be higher with home equity loans than personal loans
- Improve your cash flow
When you consolidate those high interest, large payment bills into a lower interest loan with a longer term, you could see a cash flow improvement of several hundred dollars per month. It can also be more efficient to make only one payment instead of several.
Figure out how much you can borrow, what your payment could be and how much you can save each month with Discover Home Loans’ handy online calculators.
Risks of Consolidation
You could lose your home
Some may caution against using home equity to pay off credit cards because of the risk of foreclosure. The key is to understand why you accumulated the debt. If it was due to uncontrollable circumstances, it could be prudent to use your home as leverage. Develop a solid repayment plan to mitigate the risk, such as using some of the monthly savings to pay off your new home equity loan more quickly.
Chance of running up additional debt
If you borrow to consolidate debt for a lower payment, you must be disciplined not to run your credit card balances up again. It is easy to rationalize each little expenditure, but the balance can grow quickly.
Depletion of your safety net
Equity in your home is one of your safety nets, a source of funds for important needs. Use it wisely.
Choosing the Right Type of Loan
If you decide to use your home equity to consolidate your high-interest debt, consider the two types of loans below:
Home Equity Loan (HEL)
While the interest rates may be higher than those of a first mortgage, a home equity loan generally has much lower rates than credit cards or personal loans, and also offers low (or no) fees unlike first mortgages. With Discover Home Loans, there are no application, origination, or appraisal fees, and no cash is required at closing. A HEL typically has a fixed interest rate so you won’t have to worry about rising rates. You pay it back in fixed monthly payments over a period of 10 to 30 years. This approach is especially good if you have a low rate on your underlying first mortgage that you don’t want to give up by using a cash-out refinance.
Since a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) usually has a variable rate and is designed for withdrawing funds periodically over time, a fixed Home Equity Loan may be a better choice for debt consolidation.