I bit the bullet and took on some new debt last month. Over a year and a half ago, I sold my 2002 PT Cruiser for $150 in grocery money (seriously). Since then, I’ve been using bike sharing, car sharing, public transportation, and just walking everywhere I’ve needed to go. Last month, I made the decision to buy myself a new car.
I’ve been working on my credit for some time (pulling it up from a 424 to a 650 in one year) and have been contemplating getting a car for myself. My pup has gotten a bit too big for the two-seater Miata my boyfriend and I shared. So, I got a new car in February.
Before doing so, I was overwhelmed with stress and anxiety over pulling out a loan. I worked really hard to pull my credit score up and wouldn’t want a car loan wrecking it.
Questions to Asked Yourself Before Taking on New Debt
This got me thinking. What questions should you ask yourself before taking on new debt? It can be absolutely nerve-wracking. So, here is a list of questions to ask yourself before taking out a new loan or opening a new credit card:
Will taking on the new debt hurt your credit? Don’t take on any new debt that will hurt your current financial situation. Although this seems like a no-brainer, items you want may cloud your judgment. If the new debt will hurt your score, move on.
Can you use cash instead? If you’re able to use cash and avoid taking on new debt although, do so. Sometimes saving for the item, and having delayed gratification, is more rewarding financially.
What are the repayment terms? And are the payments affordable? Identify how much you can afford to pay on your loan or credit card per month. If the new debt is outside what is affordable for you, don’t open the account. You will also want to be sure to read all of the repayment terms and conditions. For instance, make sure you know whether or not there are any fees for paying it off early.
Will the item last beyond the repayment term? This is especially important if you are in the market for a car. Many new cars cost around $20,000. If you pull out a 6-year loan, it isn’t always guaranteed your car will last throughout (or much past) the loan term. Do research about the item you are buying and be sure it is quality. You’ll be paying for it, and using it, for years to come.
Have you compared services offered by other lenders? Is the new debt you are taking on the best interest rate you can get? To make sure, you’ll want to call around and see what types of rates you can receive at other institutions. Be careful though – running your credit too often can hurt you!
When it comes to taking on new debt, nothing should be taken lightly. Be sure you are asking yourself the right questions and answering them honestly. You don’t want to be drowning in debt with no clear way out.
Have you taken on new debt recently? Did you ask yourself these questions?
Amanda Blankenship is the Director of Social Media for District Media. In addition to her duties handling everything social media, she frequently writes for a handful of blogs and loves to share her own personal finance story with others. When she isn’t typing away at her desk, she enjoys spending time with her daughter, husband, and dog. During her free time, you’re likely to find her with her nose in a book, hiking, or playing RPG video games.