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Debt Consolidation

You may be able to lower your cost of credit by consolidating your debt through a second mortgage or a home equity line of credit. Remember that these loans require you to put up your home as collateral. If you own a home and have some equity in it, you have a couple of options that are relatively low in cost. These are pretty straightforward:

Take out a home equity loan. A home equity loan has the advantage of carrying a fairly low interest rate, currently in the high single digits, and what interest you do pay is tax-deductible. Most fixed-rate loans carry a 15-year term and require that borrowers pay an origination fee of $75 to several hundred dollars, plus the cost of an appraisal and title insurance.

Do a "cash-out" refinancing. Another option for those with home equity is refinancing your property for greater than the amount you owe and using the extra cash to pay off debt. You get very low interest rates this way, but you're stretching payments out over 15 or 30 years. The total interest cost over three decades can wind up being pretty huge, so think of this as a one-time-only (if ever) option.

What’s more, the costs of consolidation loans can add up. In addition to interest on the loans, you may have to pay “points,” with one point equal to one percent of the amount you borrow. Still, these loans may provide certain tax advantages that are not available with other kinds of credit.

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