How to manage your personal loans more effectively

Personal loans make it easy to borrow but it's important to plan for paying them back. (iStock)

Personal loans can be helpful for covering a large planned expense, such as a home renovation, or an unexpected financial emergency that may come your way. Navigating the personal loan application process and getting approved is the first step. The second is creating a strategy for repaying what you've borrowed.

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Whenever you're considering opening or making any changes to your personal loan, always make sure you do some thorough research. Credible is a great place to start. You can view different personal loan options, compare rates, and more. Click here to learn more about personal loans directly from the experts.

5 tips to help you manage personal loans more efficiently 

Here are five tips that can help managing personal loans easier.

  1. Budget for your monthly payments
  2. Keep an eye out for refinancing opportunities
  3. Set your payment schedule
  4. Automate to avoid late payment fees
  5. Watch out for prepayment penalties

PERSONAL LOANS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

1. Budget for your monthly payments

Budgeting can go a long way toward successfully managing personal loans. A good time to create a budget is before you actually apply for a personal loan. This way, you have an idea of how much you can afford in the way of monthly payments.

With Credible, you can input your desired loan amount and see if it fits within your budget. You’ll be able to view and compare personal loans, including interest rates, repayment terms, and more based on your credit profile.

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When you already have a personal loan, you can still use budgeting to your advantage. Review your current expenses to see how much you have leftover each month. Then add your personal loan monthly payments to that amount.

If your monthly loan payments would put you in the red, that's a sign that you'll need to reduce spending in other areas to stay under budget. If you still have room in your budget, you can then decide whether you want to apply that extra money to your loan, send it to savings, or use it to fund other financial goals.

2. Keep an eye out for refinancing opportunities

Refinancing your personal loan could make sense if it allows you to get a lower interest rate. Reducing your loan rate can save you money on interest and it could also reduce your monthly payments, which can make budgeting easier.

Taking time to shop around can help you find the best refinance rates. You can visit Credible to compare loan rate options from multiple lenders in one place, without affecting your credit score.

Before refinancing, do some basic savings calculations to see how much you could save in interest and how much your new loan payments might be. You can use Credible's online personal loan calculator to estimate your monthly payments.

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3. Set your payment schedule

Some personal loan lenders may assign you a specific due date for making monthly payments. Others may let you choose your loan payment date.

If you have the option to choose your due date, consider what works best for your budget. If most of your bigger bills are due around the first of the month, for example, you may want to schedule your loan payments to be due toward the middle of the month.

Being able to pick your due date gives you some flexibility. But if your lender doesn't offer that, you may need to go back to your budget to figure out how to best allocate your paychecks to cover your payments.

4. Automate to avoid late payment fees

Automating payments to your personal loans is convenient and it can also save you money. Putting payments on autopilot means you don't have to worry about paying on time or triggering late payment fees. You also don't run the risk of causing credit score damage by having a late payment on your credit history.

Making monthly payments to personal loans automatically can also yield another benefit if you're able to get an interest rate discount. Some personal loan lenders offer an interest rate reduction for enrolling in autopay. That could make a significant difference in the total interest you pay over the life of the loan.

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5. Watch out for prepayment penalties

If you've committed to budgeting it's possible that you may be able to pay your personal loans off early. Prepayment can save you money in interest over the life of the loan, but it's important to know whether you'll be penalized for it.

Some personal loan lenders charge prepayment penalties for paying loans off early. This penalty is designed to help the lender make up for interest payments they won't get to collect. Before paying off your loans for good, read the fine print on your loan paperwork to see if any prepayment penalty applies.

For more information about personal loans — or if you're ready to take out another personal loan — visit Credible, which compares personal loan lenders and rates instantly.

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Research personal loans carefully

If you're considering a personal loan for debt consolidation or any other loan purpose, start with the basics. Compare the loan amounts you could borrow, the interest rates and fees offered by different loan lenders. Also, think about whether it makes sense to apply for secured loans or unsecured loans, based on your credit history.

Visiting an online marketplace like Credible can help with finding the right loan option. Once you've done that, you can formulate a plan for managing any personal loans you decide to take on.

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