Why is it important to spend within your means and track repayment obligations closely?
Credit is an activity widely used and well understood by all sections of society. The neighborhood store-keeper is glad to defer your payment since he is familiar with your residential and personal habits. (Note – do not try in organized chains, where credit cards work better; this is best suited for mom & pop stores!) . Electricity and telephone suppliers provide you with a month of free utilization in-between billing cycles. A cab-service or a restaurant measures you at the time of entry – they have their collection methods clear, if you don’t pay up at the end of the activity!!
Put simply, credit in the financial world, is nothing but an extension of the above into a structured format.
- You identify an asset or a need that is urgent
- The capital cost of the same is beyond your current budget
- To bridge the same, you consider financing options
Once you have narrowed the best option, the doubts start coming up
- Should I borrow at all? Yes. You deserve it. No – unless you are already over borrowed.
- Have I borrowed too much? Not if your existing repayment obligations are within 50% of your net monthly earnings.
- What if I am unable to repay on time – this is usually a sign of impending trouble. It is best to take a hand-loan from a friend, parent or relative and meet the outside lender’s obligations. Sometimes lenders offer skip-payment if a locality is affected by a calamity (or) an individual faces unforeseen emergency.
- Will lenders take me to court if I don’t repay. Yes, they would. However this itself is only a headache compared to the larger problem. Your future borrowing would be hamstrung by this blot. This is because, post 2000 all lenders participate in credit bureaus. By law, every lender needs to submit details of all loans granted (including periodic repayments) to at least one bureau. Since all details of your monthly repayment behavior are fed into an analytical system, your credit history is visible to the organized lending community.
- What if I repay all obligations on time? As with many things, the rewards for punctuality and obedience come in surely but a little later, once you complete 6-12 months of good repayment. Your existing lender could offer you an interest or tenure break. Other lenders could offer higher loan amounts. In short giving you better financial flexibility.
Equally, a spotty credit history considerably reduces your chances of future borrowing.
In a nutshell, borrowing is an excellent tool – be it for student loans, first automobile or wowing an identified life partner. It is a bad idea if you are not serious about the partnership and its purpose – be it university, a vehicle or life’s journey itself. Commitment to timely honoring of obligations is valuable anytime, anywhere across time and situation. In the world of financial credit, the positive and negative effects are visible, starkly & promptly. A nice approach would be to bite this in small chunks – borrow progressively larger amounts up on settlement of a prior loan.
The Author, Kalyanaraman M, is the Chief Operations Officer of TVS Credit Services