Managing multiple loans can be difficult – and stressful. One way to simplify your financial situation and save yourself time, effort and (hopefully) money is to centralise your debt. But it’s not always the right answer, so here’s what to consider before you consolidate.

When you borrow money, the most important thing is being able to stay on top of your repayments. However, there are many factors that contribute to this, such as your interest rate, how much you’re borrowing and for how long for.

Consolidating your debt means combining what you owe into a single loan or a different loan type, and can be a way of knowing exactly what you need to pay and when, and reducing additional costs.

A quick online comparison of the rates offered by the big banks across different types of loans spells out just how much you could to save by moving debt into a different loan type.

As an example, owner-occupier principal and interest loans of $150,000+ over 25 years currently range between 3% and 4%, personal loans between 10% and 13% and credit cards between 12% and 14%.

How can it work for you?

Let’s say you have two credit cards, a personal loan and a mortgage to pay off. Juggling these different loans with different fees, interest rates and payment dates can be tricky. Consolidating them into one stream – a refinanced or redrawn home loan – or a different loan type, could mean there’s just one payment date to hit, one interest charge and one set of fees.

Debt can impact your mortgage application

When a lender assesses your application, one of the first steps is to consider your borrowing capacity, which is calculated by assessing your current income and expenses including credit cards, personal loands and buy now pay later products like AfterPay or ZipPay. By reducing the amount you need to repay each month, you could be considered to be better equipped to make mortgage repayments.

Even though it might mean putting off your new home purchase for a few months, it can be a great idea to pay down as much existing debt as possible before you apply for a home loan. Or, use another available strategy to consolidate it into one stream.

Consolidating debt into your home loan

Many lenders offer specific debt consolidation loan types, but these aren’t the only options available, especially if you already have a mortgage. The interest rate on a home loan, particularly in the current economic climate, is likely to be a lot lower than the interest rates on other types of debt.

If you already have a mortgage, you need to choose between refinancing with your current lender or applying with another lender. Deciding to consolidate debt is a great time to review your current situation and shop around for a more competitive interest rate.

Just remember, in order to refinance your existing mortgage into one that allows you to consolidate debt, you will need to have sufficient equity in your home. And the more of your existing home loan you’ve paid off, the higher your chances of being approved for a new mortgage that consolidates your debt.

Is it right for me?

While consolidating your loans into one place might seem like a “magic bullet” for a complicated financial situation, there can be drawbacks.

You need to consider the upfront costs of consolidation and refinancing. Your current loan provider might charge a closing fee, especially if you have a fixed-rate loan. And your new lender may charge a set-up fee.

Also consider the fact that you may be consolidating short-term debts into a much longer term loan like a mortgage, for example.

While you may be moving debt from a high interest-rate setting to a low-rate one, you may be stretching the life of the loan, so do the sums on total repayments. After all, the majority of Australian home loans are taken out for a 25 to 30 year period.

And while it makes sense to have your debt in one place for easier management, there are circumstances where not consolidating – for example, due to the structure of your mortgage – can lead to greater flexibility and make paying things off easier.

Consolidating your finances to reduce debt can be a complicated process, so it can pay to get professional finance help before you make a decision. Call the team at Crest Mortgages and Finance today for a complementary debt health check, and to discuss whether consolidating your debt may be worthwhile for you.

© Advantedge Financial Services Holdings Pty Ltd ABN 57 095 300 502. This article provides general information only and may not reflect the publisher’s opinion. None of the authors, the publisher or their employees are liable for any inaccuracies, errors or omissions in the publication or any change to information in the publication. This publication or any part of it may be reproduced only with the publisher’s prior permission. It was prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Please consult your financial adviser, broker or accountant before acting on information in this publication.