2. Peer-to-Peer Loans
If you've been struggling to pay off those high balances on credit cards, consider the benefits of a peer-to-peer loan. These loans can be used to consolidate high rate credit card debt. They work similar to a personal loan you would get from a bank or credit union.
The key difference between peer-to-peer loans and traditional bank loans is that you'll be borrowing from multiple individuals who have agreed to lend money through a social lending network, such as Prosper.com or LendingClub.com. The lenders' incentive for participating in this type of program is that they earn a higher interest rate on the loan than they could earn from funds sitting in a money market account or CD.
Peer-to-peer loans offer borrowers cheaper borrowing costs; a speedy application and funding process and a faster debt payoff cycle. Peer-to-peer loans must be repaid in intervals of one to five years, unlike credit card debt, which can linger endlessly. Also, peer-to-peer loans are better for your credit score than credit card debt because peer-to-peer loans are categorized by the credit bureaus as "installment" debt, not "revolving" debt like credit cards.
3. Life Insurance
If you've been putting money in a whole life insurance policy over the years, you may be eligible to withdraw or borrow money against the cash value of your policy. Those funds could then be used to pay off credit card debt and loans. Talk to your insurance agent about the actual cash value of your policy.
You'll want to find out what how much you could potentially withdraw or borrow; what amount (if any) you'd have to repay with a life insurance loan; and the extent to which a withdrawal or loan would reduce the life insurance proceeds your heirs receive in the event of your death.
If you've had your whole life policy for many years, it's possible that the policy has accumulated a large cash benefit that may be nearly equal to the death benefit your heirs will receive when you pass away. For those that have a large cash value, you may be able to borrow against that — or even convert it into a higher death benefit — without reducing the money you leave behind for your loved ones.
To know for sure, ask your insurance agent about the impact of borrowing or tapping into your life insurance funds. And do read the fine print of your policy too.
If you have to borrow from or cash out a whole life policy to pay off debt, you may also be able to replace that whole life insurance with a cheaper term policy.
Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach®, is a personal finance expert, television and radio personality, and a regular contributor to AARP. You can follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.
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