Installment loans can be an incredible tool in your personal finance arsenal when used effectively. The term might sound unfamiliar or intimidating, but you’ve probably used an installment loan before, and almost certainly know someone else who has. Student loans, mortgages, personal loans, car loans – these are all common types of installment loans.
Whether you get them at a bank, or through an online lender, installment loans can help you deal with large, lump-sum costs that you may not have been able to save for. A lot of events that push people’s finances over the cliff are usually unexpected incidents like car malfunction or medical expenses. You might default to using credit cards to cover these costs, but this can be very detrimental to your financial fitness, as we’ll discuss in this post.
Even if the costs are for something that’s planned, like evening classes or moving costs, you might not have all the money you need up front. That’s when something like installment loans can be very helpful.
If you have federal student loans, you already have more experience with installment loans than you’d probably like.
Mortgages are just installment loans secured against houses.
Unless you are Taylor Swift, it’s unlikely you’ve got the cash necessary to buy a house outright. If you’re not feeling 22 (million dollars), mortgages end up being long-term loans (usually 30 years) so you and your installments might as well get cozy now.
Auto loans are another common example of installment loans. If you don’t have the cash to cover the upfront costs of buying a car, installment loans can help without stretching your bank account too thin.
Installment loans can also help you cover unexpected costs. A parent may need assistance to pay for a surgery not covered by their HMO. Your car might suddenly stall in the middle of your morning commute!
You can’t always plan for medical and car repair bills, but they can quickly wreak havoc.
Paying those bills back in installments, as you continue to earn money working, can make otherwise painful medical expenses affordable. If you need access to credit quickly, it’s worth checking out online loans. A lot of new, alternative lenders have quick and easy applications that will allow you to get your money within days.
Early on in your career, there will be many times when you have to invest in yourself. This might mean signing up for evening classes or coding bootcamps or relocating to a new city for a job. Many of these expenditures will require upfront investment that you might not be able to afford right away. If these are good investments that will pay off, then you can use a personal loan (a type of installment loan) to get the capital upfront, and pay it back more slowly over time.
Installment loans can be better than other types of credit (such as credit cards) because their interest rates tend to be fixed and lower. While it might be tempting to put everything on your credit card, it’s often a wiser financial decision to compare your options and make sure that you are not paying too much in interest and fees.