How to pay off your personal loan faster

When you’re looking for a personal loan, as well as asking yourself “How much can I borrow?”, you also think about how long it’s going to take to pay it all off. You think ahead to that glorious day when you make your final payment or the final direct debit is taken from your account and you realise that it can’t come soon enough.

Of course, to get to that point, you have to, you know, keep making your payments. It can feel as if this process is going on forever, which is why many people look for ways to pay off their loan faster, even if it’s only by a few months.

There are several ways to pay off your loan sooner

It needn’t even be that painful, either! There are a few easy ways to chip away faster at your loan balance and the good news is that by doing this, you won’t only be debt–free that little bit sooner, but you’ll pay less in interest overall.

Choose the right loan to start with

It helps if your lender lets you make overpayments or clear the balance early without charging you huge early repayment fees. Personal loans with variable rates tend to be more flexible in this way, so when you’re shopping for your loan, take a look at these types. There are also ways to pay off fixed–rate loans early too, but you may have to factor in fees which might eat away at the money you’ll save in interest.

It’s all about striking a balance, so you should spend time on a loan calculator to find the right numbers! Once you know how to use the personal loan calculator to manage a personal loan, you’ll have a lot more control over your repayments.

How much interest will I pay on my personal loan?

The longer it takes, the more interest you’ll pay. However, you don’t want to have to make payments that could become uncomfortable at some point down the line. What you need to do is to find your “sweet spot” and then plan to pay a bit extra whenever you can, whether this is every month or once a year with, say, a bonus from work.

Assuming you’ve sorted out your personal loan and it’s the right length and amount for you, here’s how you make it even better by clearing it sooner.

Make some additional payments

You may be able to make unlimited additional payments on your loan, but, more than likely, there’ll be a limit on the amount you can overpay each year before you get penalised. Find out if there’s a limit and what it is; it may be the case that in the final year of the loan term you can just pay the remaining balance off without getting stung too badly by fees. Remember, flexible–rate loans are more likely to let you overpay as much as you want.

If you look through your finances and commit to doing without a coffee and cake on your way into work once or twice a week, you can quickly make a dent in the loan without depriving yourself.

Ask the lender if you can increase your payment

This is the next step up from foregoing that coffee occasionally as your extra amount is set in stone (or at least in your direct debit!). You don’t get to choose whether to make the payment or not as you do with voluntary overpayments, so make sure you’re raising the payment by a sensible amount. Even if it’s just a few dollars each month, it all helps.

Increase the frequency of your payments

This is quite a clever trick and one that you can also do with your home loan if you’re looking to pay it down sooner. If you pay fortnightly, you might imagine that you’re making 24 payments because it’s “double twelve”. In fact, you’ll be making 26 payments because there’s 26 fortnights in a year. This means you’ll be paying an additional two weeks’ worth in a year without really noticing it. Also, if your interest is calculated daily, paying more frequently will reduce the overall amount you pay because you’re reducing your balance more frequently.

Increase the frequency and size of your payments

Before you agree with your lender to do this, make sure that you can afford it. Really sure. Work out how much it’d cost if you had to get your car fixed, or any other unexpected–but–essential cost cropped up, take this amount out of your disposable income figure and only then work out how much you want to add to your repayments. If you can afford to do this, then go right ahead because you’ll shave quite a bit off the loan term and your interest burden.

Ask if you can redraw funds that you’ve overpaid before committing

Some personal loans let you withdraw – or redraw – your extra payments after you’ve made them. You don’t need a serious or urgent reason to ask to redraw them; as long as the funds are there and they’re more than you should have paid, you can access them.

This redraw option gives you the best of both worlds because not only are you paying down your loan faster, but if you do need to get hold of some extra cash, you can. If those car repairs are more expensive than you budgeted for, you’re covered. If you don’t need to redraw all of your extra funds, you’re still ahead.

Compare personal loans from Australia’s banks and other lenders at InfoChoice.

The products compared in this article are chosen from a range of offers available to us and are not representative of all the products available in the market and influenced by a range of factors including interest rates, product costs and commercial and sponsorship arrangements

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