Are Loans Always a Good Option for Getting Out of a Tricky Situation?

The easy access to loans that most people have has made them an attractive option for getting out of difficult situations. However, that’s not always the best route to take. There are many examples of cases where people could have realistically addressed their problems in a simpler manner, but failed to do so because they saw a loan as an easier, more “painless” option.

But when you consider the long-term implications of taking out a loan, it’s not exactly that. It can sometimes have a serious impact on your finances, and might drag you back significantly in your life. This is not an exaggeration – but it’s also something that usually happens to people who’re unprepared and careless about their finances.

The Implications of a Loan

A loan is not just about getting money from a lender, paying it back, and calling it a day. It can have some long-term implications on your finances, even if you’re responsible about paying it back. The most important thing to pay attention to is your credit score. Many people are not even aware that they have a credit score in the first place, and as a result tend to be careless about the actions that tend to affect it.

Taking out a loan, by itself, is also something that can impact your credit score. Even applying for a loan can drag you down by a few points in some cases. Make sure that you’re ready to take the hit on your score before taking out that loan, and also be absolutely sure that you can pay back the loan without incurring any penalties.

Different Types of Loans

There are many types of loans out there, and the market is quite diverse nowadays. Some products are designed exclusively for private borrowers, others are for businesses, and there are some mixed deals as well. Loans can also be categorized according to whether or not you have to put up some collateral for them – this is commonly referred to as “secured” vs “unsecured” loans.

Payday loans are another option that’s gained popularity recently. They are designed to be paid off very quickly, and might sometimes have a repayment term of less than one month. They are typically used in situations where you know you’re getting your money in a few days/weeks, but you need to cover an urgent expense right now.

How Much Do You Need?

Take some time to calculate the exact amount that you need to borrow. It doesn’t matter what your reason for taking out a loan is, there’s often a lot of room for cutting corners and optimizing your expenses if you put your mind to it. Draw up a table and have a list of all expenses that you’re planning to cover with that loan. Can you reduce any of them? Postpone them by a few months? Cover them through another source of income?

These are questions that many people fail to ask themselves before deciding to go for a loan, and as a result end up borrowing much more than they should have. In the end, they find themselves paying off large installments that could have realistically been much lower.

How Did You Get in That Situation in the First Place?

What got you to the point of needing a loan to begin with? This is another hard question that many fail to ask themselves, or refuse to answer honestly. Sure, sometimes the circumstances around your situation might be shameful. But it happens to anyone from time to time. Life can throw you curveballs that you simply can’t do anything with, and you just have to roll with the punches.

The important thing is what you do about those situations. Some people want to forget about their loans as soon as they’ve made the last payment. Others realize that this is a valuable learning opportunity, and try to get something out of the situation.

Do You Have Alternatives?

Last but not least, remember that a loan is not always the only solution. Sometimes you might be able to cover your expenses in an alternative way, especially if you have a solid support network that you can rely on. Asking friends and relatives for money can be a negative experience, sure – but it’s even worse when you are facing significant repercussions as a result of not paying your loans. Make sure you get a grip on the situation early on, otherwise it’s going to become even more difficult in the future.

You might not even have to borrow from anyone. This might be a good opportunity to think about the things around your home that you don’t really need, and sell off a few useless items. You might have more of those than you think, and it’s never a bad time to do some spring cleaning – even if you’re quire far from the spring season.

How to Use a Loan Responsibly

A loan can be a good way to address a number of financial problems. Some people even take out loans when they’re not in a particularly bad situation, but just want to cover some extra expenses. Loans are quite the useful tool when used right, but they also have a serious potential for abuse, which is why it’s not rare to hear all these horror stories in the media.

But in the end, that’s just what the media does – it takes the worst examples and magnifies them to sell issues. You won’t hear about the thousands of people who’ve managed to climb out of a financial hole because they took out a loan and used it responsibly. It just doesn’t make for interesting news. The bottom line is, the cases of people getting into trouble as a result of borrowing money usually boil down to irresponsible behavior.

Know How Much You Need to Borrow

The first step is to ensure that you’re borrowing exactly as much as you need to. This goes both ways. Borrowing too much is an obvious problem, because you’re left with making larger payments that might put a spike in the wheel of your finances. But borrowing too little is not good either, because you’re just delaying the problem that you already have. You’ll still find yourself having to take out another loan sooner or later if you do that, but it will be more difficult because of the one that you’re already paying off.

Have a Plan

This might sound like a cliché, but it’s disappointing to see how many people simply take out loans with the vague intention of paying them back at some point. It can sometimes seem simple enough from your perspective – you’ve got a stable paycheck, you know that you can easily cut a few corners here and there, so why not get the money now and worry about it later?

The problem with this logic is that if you could actually cut those corners and still live comfortably, you would have done it already, instead of taking out a loan. If you’ve gotten to this point in the first place, it means that you have a problem that you need to address in an organized, systematic manner.

Prioritize Early Repayment if Possible

Anytime you have extra money, you should prioritize putting it towards the repayment of your loan. Sometimes your lender might frown upon the idea of early repayment. In that case, just keep the money in a separate fund and be ready to use it whenever the payment date for each installment comes around. Having extra money means that you won’t have to worry about those payments anytime soon.

A common mistake people make is to just get comfortable in the situation of repaying their loans after a few months have passed, and treat any extra money as a small gift for themselves. This will only make things more difficult for you in the long run.

Don’t Go Overboard

We already touched on this above, but it’s important to go in a little more detail into it. You should never treat loans as a source of easy money, because they’re anything but that. Don’t take out a larger loan than you really need, and make sure that you’re not dipping too deeply into your finances.

This is something we unfortunately see in a large number of people. Once they realize how easy it is to take out a loan, they just get careless about their finances, and end up in deep trouble not too long after that as a result.

Avoid the Situation in the Future

Why did you need to take out a loan in the first place? This is a question not many people bother to ask themselves, and that’s part of the problem. Because paying off the loan is one thing – but avoiding the same situation in the future is what you should really be paying attention to.

There are many factors that can contribute to a bad financial situation, and it can be difficult to account for all of them in your planning. But learning from your past mistakes can take you one extra step towards financial stability, and to never having to worry about yet another unexpected expense. Sometimes it’s about not spending carelessly. Sometimes you don’t realize how postponing a bill can snowball into a much larger payment. In any case, make sure that you learn something from the whole experience, and avoid that situation as best as you can in the long run.