Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
The adage is as true for borrowing money as it is for poking yourself in the eye with a sharp stick. But, unlike eye poking, which has few benefits, borrowing has good points and bad.
"Borrowing where you are not overextending yourself is good borrowing," says Patricia Hasson, president of Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Delaware Valley.
"Bad borrowing is borrowing at a very high percentage rate. If you are borrowing and paying 18 percent interest, you have to evaluate whether it is worth it," she says.
Anyone can become a bad borrower using almost any available instrument. But some products lend themselves to bad borrowing more readily due to fairly egregious terms and conditions. Keep in mind, though, that the potential for abuse and misuse exists with just about all loans.
Bad borrowing strategies
- Payday loans
- Car title loans
- Tax refund anticipation loans
- Buying stock on margin
- Co-signing a loan
- Wedding loans
- Home equity loans
1. Payday loansIf you're in the mood to pay exorbitant interest rates for a short-term loan, this product is for you. Payday lenders know you need cash fast and that you will pay through the nose to get it. They prey on those who live dangerously close to the edge.
With interest rates often running high into the triple digits, payday loans can bury borrowers if they can't pay off the original loans or need to keep returning to the service.
Because of the high interest rates and the fact that they are designed to be extremely short-term, these loans throw borrowers in a cycle of debt that can be difficult to break. The Consumer Federation of America's calculator shows the annual percentage rate and cost of such loans.
Patricia Hasson, president of Consumer Credit Counseling Services of the Delaware Valley, says consumers should look at other options.
"I would suggest that before taking a payday loan, consumers find a small credit union, a local one that you can talk to. See if they might have small loans available as an alternative," she says.