Many people become in debt out of sheer ignorance or lack of knowledge. If you do not know something, it is always best to ask BEFORE you get into a sticky situation. But the problem is, what do you ask if you do not know WHAT to ask for? Below are a few simple questions you should ask your lender BEFORE you take out a loan. For some, this information may be common sense, but for many others, this is something they have yet to learn.
WHAT IS THE INTEREST RATE?
Interest rate can be best described as an extra fee that you have to pay in order to borrow money. Some loan officers may throw out financial jargon such as annual principle payment, but interest rate all boils down to how much money you will pay on top of the initial amount you borrow. This is how many banking/lending companies make their profit. In order to determine what your interest rate will be per month, a company will usually divide the amount of the interest rate (extra fee to borrow money) they charge to the period of days upon which you have to pay a loan back. Many people believe that their monthly payment is all that matters. Financial companies understand this and will try to get your payment as low as possible, sometimes with an outrageous interest rate. If your monthly payment is $20 and $10 dollars of that is in interest, although the monthly payment is low, you may want to rethink that purchase. The general rule is BEFORE you are able to pay towards the principal (original amount you borrowed), you must pay the interest rate. Sometimes this gets out of hand for many people because their interest rate is so high and they end up ONLY paying the monthly interest with nothing going towards the original principal balance. In other words, if you do not watch out what your interest rate is, you can be paying towards a small amount of money you borrowed for years...
SIDE NOTE: In regards to loans such as student loans, if you continue to defer (push off paying for them) the interest will STILL accrue, or add up!
HOW LONG DO YOU
HAVE TO PAY IT OFF!
This seems like common sense, but again it is not. If you have ever walked into a bank and just needed the money desperately, most of the time you probably will forget how long you have to pay your loan back. This is extremely important to know, especially if you are applying for a credit card that has a promotional rate of no interest until a certain date. It is NEVER a good idea to wait until the last minute to pay your credit cards BEFORE the interest rate is calculated in your payment. If you end up not paying the balance off by the promotional end date, failing to do so could result in an astronomical bill.
ANY PREPAYMENT PENALTIES!
A prepayment penalty is what some lenders require when they do not want you to pay the loan off any sooner then the initial agreement. It is when they charge you to pay off your loan earlier. Having this protects the lender from having massive losses all at once. Every time a person pays off a loan, a financial company, depending on how great the amount is, will take a decrease in their monthly profit. Each account matters when it comes to how much profitability a company will take in. Also, chances are, you are paying interest (extra fees) on this loan. Paying it off early will mean that they are losing their fees they are charging YOU! So know if there are any prepayment penalties on your loans.
IS THERE ANY INSURANCE
YOU CAN PURCHASE?
Sometimes you may want to purchase credit life on top of the insurance. This amount is generally very small. Credit life is excellent to have if you have a family, because in the event something happens to you, your family will not be responsible for the remainder of the loan. The lender will pay it off. There is no greater gift to your family than purchasing life insurance, especially if you are the sole provider of your house hold.
Also, check with the lender to see if they have any plans that will help with the loan if there is a sudden disability or job loss. With the amount of people who are losing their jobs, this is something that is worth looking into. While you may not want to do that for $5,000 loan, a mortgage may be a perfect example for choosing this method.
CAN YOU AFFORD
AN ADDITIONAL PAYMENT?
Just because a lender tells you that you can afford it, DOES NOT mean that you can. When a bank loans money, they do their best to weed out people who obviously at a brief glance are unable to pay anything in excess over what they already are. However, banks can only guess how much money you spend on extra things, such as hobbies, food, utilities, etc. NEVER hold the bank responsible as to what you can and cannot pay. Sit down, write out your monthly bills and take a good look. The golden rule says that if you do not have enough each month to place inside a savings account for hard times, you do not have the money...
"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender
How to borrow money
Written By: Te-Shandra Haskett, MBA