At one point in time or the other, we want to make a purchase, pay for a service or settle an obligation we don’t have the money for immediately.
For many it has been concerning a house of their dream, purchasing a new vehicle, paying children’s school fees or even starting a business.
The inability to meet financial obligations at all times is more common than people would really admit to.
Regardless of your salary size, taking a loan may become necessary in such an instance.
Loans are simply money borrowed in exchange for future repayment at an extra charge, whether they are granted by a banking institution, a credit association or your best friend. The difference, however, would usually be the formality of the loan contract.
Given the obvious backlogs in accessing loans from banking institutions especially the “leg and arm” banks demand as interest and the requirement for a collateral
People are often discouraged from taking loans to meet up with financial challenges as they come up.
However, the inability to access credit has created a new market for many financial technology platforms that now provide loans to individuals and small businesses at affordable rates relative to banks and without the usual cumbersome paper works usually associated with approaching banks for loans.
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending and a lot of online borrowing platforms actually help individuals smooth out their consumption by providing the opportunity to put future income to use at a cheap rate than is obtainable at traditional platforms.
While this is a welcome development, many individuals can easily get carried away by the ease and lower cost of borrowing.
On most of these platforms, it takes less than five minutes to process a loan and one can get up to N500,000 on the spot without providing too many documents. In short, it has become money at one’s Beck and Call.
Despite the efficiency brought about by leveraging technology to disburse loans, problems of moral hazard and adverse selection remain.
On the part of the borrower it is aptly put: Not knowing how and what to borrow for because loans are easily accessible.’
If you are about taking out a loan, these considerations are critical so you can avoid the debt trap:
What am I borrowing for?
As humans, we can be very impulsive; you come across a salesman that shows you the best car ever manufactured or your favourite retail store urges you to make a purchase for an item running out of stock.
Even when we are not driven by sentiments we tend to borrow for the wrong reasons or at times take more than we actually need which means paying interest on money that is not productive.
To ensure you borrow for the right reasons, you have to ask yourself if what you are borrowing for is an asset or a liability.
An asset doesn’t necessarily mean buying a property, stock or any investment instrument. An asset is simply anything that adds long-term value to you or your loved ones. It could be your child’s school fees.
Again, your asset help reduces your liabilities. For example, investing in your health.
In any case, you may want to be sure you have commensurate value at least for whatever you borrow for.
Remember the cost of paying for that item is the borrowed capital and the interest rate to be paid. Not just the market price.
So to rephrase, the first question is: what am I getting back in return.
Can I repay the loan, what would it cost me?
The income stream is very important although most creditors would do due diligence to ensure you are able to pay.
What matters is how long and at what cost you would service the loan.
It is very possible to repay a loan and has little left for one’s sustenance.
Oftentimes this leads to a spiralling where the debtor takes on more loan from other sources and is quickly entrapped in debt.
To avoid this, do an honest assessment. If a loan would take more than half your salary to service every month, then it has to be justified by greater returns for the burden from whatever it is used for.
What is the Interest rate offered?
Most online lending platforms offer loans at an attractive rate but nothing beats getting credit at the best rate available.
Before taking out the loan, compare rates so you do not short-change yourself.
Consider that rates being offered critically to see if you would be able to afford the loan. Do not take a loan because the lender offers the best rate in town.
You have to be sure the rate is truly affordable for you.
What is the Collateral?
Although many online platforms have a good Know-Your-Customer (KYC) culture and do not need collateral to disburse loans, it is very good to do one’s research and ensure you consider the collateral requirement in the case where it is required.
Collaterals are like an insurance policy for lenders to exchange for any loss they incur in the events of loan default.
You would want to make sure the collateral is not something way more valuable to you than the loan.
What is the term of the loan?
Loans often time come with clauses that spell out new conditions in the case of a default. The term would often specify the rights and responsibilities of both parties when the borrower misses the repayment schedule. Some terms may spell out a higher rate of interest upon default which would put more burden on the debtor. It is very good practice to know the terms of borrowing.
Alternative means of financing
Considering alternative means of financing is a good strategy to ensure you get to achieve your goal at the least possible cost. You may want to consider for example if your small business needs more debt or equity (sharing ownership with someone who has capital you need) or if asking that friend who wouldn’t ask for much interest for a loan instead.