Smart steps to managing debt
10 March 2011
In this age of credit cards and retail store interest free offers, it's easy to 'buy now, pay later' without a second thought. But many people aren't aware of just how much you might 'pay later' if you don't manage debt carefully - particularly if you want to be a successful home owner.
A recent survey by Mortgage Choice found that within two years of getting a mortgage, almost 30% of new home owners took on significant extra debt.
Buying a new car or sprucing up your new home might seem like a natural step after buying a property, but it's worth keeping in mind how manageable that extra debt will be in the future.
Knowing you could manage increased repayments is an important way to prepare for the future.
Do your sums
If you're considering taking out a car loan or other finance that requires regular repayments, make sure you know exactly how much you'll be up for each pay cycle.
You'll need to have enough to cover all your loan repayments, including interest, for as long as the loan lasts. That includes during possible life changes which could reduce your income, such as illness or starting a family.
If you make a purchase which has an 'interest free' period, use that time to pay it off in full. It takes discipline but will save you stress and money in the long term.
What will rates do?
When working out your budget, it can be useful to factor in a couple of interest rate increases. While not all home loan repayments change with interest rates - most HomeStart loan repayments change just once a year in line with inflation - knowing you could manage increased repayments is an important way to prepare for the future.
Now you've got the house, it's tempting to go all out turning it into the home of your dreams straight away. Renovating can be a great investment, however it pays to make sure it's worthwhile.
All new furniture and a brand new kitchen might be tempting, but if it's going to cost more than you can really afford, consider taking smaller steps. A coat of paint and some new cushions can freshen up a room without breaking the budget.
If you're disciplined and patient in your approach, your home ownership journey will be a rewarding and successful one.