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The best way to pay down $50,000 in debt

Debt can creep up on you, so what do you do when it hits $50,000? Learn how to pay off $50,000 of debt.

Updated

Fact checked

Debt always starts out small, and while for many people it doesn't grow into a big problem, for others it does. This page discusses expert-approved strategies for paying down a large sum of debt. To find out the best ways to pay off $50,000 of debt, follow this guide.

The $50,000 problem

Joe and Lillian are in an enviable position as homeowners. They purchased a house 12 years ago for $287,000 and currently have a variable rate loan with ANZ. They have $130,000 in equity and $157,000 in principal remaining. Their net household income is $64,168.

While they have assets, they also have considerable debts. At the moment they have a $20,000 debt on their HSBC Platinum credit card and a $30,000 car loan debt with Bankwest.

Noel Whittaker

Finance expert, Sydney Morning Herald

Smallest to largest

If the term is fairly short – under five years – there is really no point in chasing a cheaper rate. This is why I recommend the strategy of paying off the smallest loan first if you've got several personal loans. A key factor is to improve your money management habits if you are in trouble because of that. Otherwise, you'll be back where you started, even if you do manage to pay off the existing debts.

I am aware of the strategy of consolidating all your debts into your home loan to get a cheaper rate and this will work if you substantially increase the repayments on that loan. Otherwise, all you'll be doing is stretching out your current personal loans to 30 years! If you have investment loans as well as non-deductible housing loans – most people in trouble don't – you could move the investment loans to interest only which should reduce the repayments on them and then use the money so saved to speed up the payments on your non-deductible loans.

Robert Dawson

Financial Advisor, Insight Investment & Retirement Strategies

The main problem and two solutions

Joe & Lillian’s core problem is that their net income is only $5,333 per month but their combined debt expenses (based on current interest rates and probable repayment schedules) are now $2,860, 53% of the net income per month.

This is comprised of the following:

  • Credit card debt minimum repayment of $600 per month ($333 interest at 20% p.a.)
  • Personal loan (typically over five years) now in year four with $775 in repayments per month ($275 interest at 11%)
  • Mortgage of $1485 month (including interest of 6.5% $850 per month)

This only leaves them $570 per week to live on. There are a couple of options.

Option 1: Debt consolidation into your mortgage

The simplest solution is to approach their bank and consolidate their credit card and personal loan into the mortgage, using the equity in their home, but maintain a high repayment schedule. Their new debt will be $207,000 and on the old remaining 13-year time frame the repayments will be $1,957, up from $1,485 per month.

But the total interest payments are now spread over another 13 years which is greater than the original car and car loans interest payments were over only five. So they still need to set a target of say 40-45% of income to service the debt.

At 45% of net income, the repayments should be $2,400 per month and the whole debt now will be eliminated in only nine years and nine months instead of 13 years. They will now also have an extra $100 per week to live on. If they occasionally wander off the repayments they have set themselves, then they will still reduce their total interest payments from $100,000 over 13 years to say $73,000 - $75,000 over the period they do pay back the loans.

This amount is close to the total interest that the home loan itself was going to be over the 13-year period. They have effectively eliminated the $50,000 in debt virtually interest-free, so to speak.

Option 2: The 18-month kill zone

An additional little twist to add value – if they really wish to kill their debt and can manage the existing repayments for just another 18 months is as follows:

1. Apply for another credit card that has a special 0% interest-free period to rollover the existing $20,000 card debt and repay that at the same rate as the minimum $600 per month required. All of this will go to reduce the debt, not half of it.

2. Consolidate the car loan debt with the mortgage but maintain the same repayment rate added to the existing home repayment. Then with your credit card the new arrangement will, over six months, eliminate $3,600 of debt and if repeated on another credit card, six months later will reduce another $3,600. At the end of a third six-month period they will have eliminated $10,800. There is a limit as to how long you can keep doing this and you need to get rid of the old cards as you acquire a new one with an interest-free period.

If they then add the remaining $9,200 to their mortgage in 18 months, the total amount outstanding will then be approx. $174,000 at that point in time. Then set the overall repayments at the 45% of income ($2400) the total debt will be eliminated in the remaining eight years and the remaining interest paid will be approximately only $48,000 (at 6.5%). However, great discipline is required to achieve this.

*Important: This is general advice only on credit card and debt management

Visit Robert Dawson's website Insight Investment & Retirement Strategies: iirs.com.au

Lesson learnt: Getting into debt is easier than getting out

Where to next? Explore some of our other guides about debt and financial management.

Want to put some of our expert's strategies into action?

Data indicated here is updated regularly
$
% p.a.
Name Product Balance transfer rate Purchase rate Annual fee Amount saved
Skye Mastercard - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 25 months
23.99% p.a.
$99
Finder Exclusive
Save with 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 25 months, up to 110 days interest-free on purchases and flexible instalment plan options.
ANZ Low Rate - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 25 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
12.49% p.a.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($58 p.a. thereafter)
Finder Exclusive
Save with 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 25 months (with a one-time 1.5% BT fee) and $0 first year annual fee. Ends 30 Sept 2020.
Citi Rewards Card - Balance Transfer Offer
0% p.a. for 30 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
21.49% p.a.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($199 p.a. thereafter)
Save with 0% interest on balance transfers for the first 30 months (with a 1.5% BT fee) and a $0 annual fee for the first year.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
0% p.a. for 22 months
20.74% p.a.
$64 annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Get 0% p.a. for 22 months on balance transfers and a reduced first-year annual fee. Plus, earn up to 30,000 bonus Velocity Points. Ends 30 Sept 2020.
Westpac Low Rate Card
0% p.a. for 20 months with 1% balance transfer fee
13.74% p.a.
$59
A low rate card offering 0% p.a. interest on balance transfers for the first 20 months and a $200 cashback offer.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card - Balance Transfer Offer
0% p.a. for 22 months
19.99% p.a.
$129
Enjoy a 22-month balance transfer offer, travel insurance and an annual fee refund when you spend an eligible $6k/year. Ends 30 Sept 2020.
Coles No Annual Fee Mastercard
0% p.a. for 18 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
19.99% p.a.
$0
Earn flybuys points for your spending and save with an ongoing $0 annual fee and 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 18 months.
St.George Vertigo Classic
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
0% for 7 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
Get 0% p.a. promotional purchase and balance transfer rates and save with a first-year annual fee waiver. Ends 30 Sept 2020.
Citi Clear Card
0.9% p.a. for 15 months
0.9% for 15 months, reverts to 14.99% p.a.
$99
Save with 0.9% p.a. for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. Plus, complimentary purchase insurance cover.
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
0% p.a. for 12 months
19.99% p.a.
$99
Receive 20,000 bonus Qantas Points and a long-term balance transfer offer. Plus, complimentary travel insurance. Ends 30 Sept 2020.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Classic
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
0% for 7 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
Save with 0% p.a. for 7 months on purchases, 0% p.a. interest for 22 months on balance transfers and a $0 first-year annual fee. Ends 30 Sept 2020.
BankSA Vertigo
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
0% for 7 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
Enjoy a 0% p.a. for up to 22 months on balance transfers and up to 7 months on purchases. Plus, $0 first-year annual fee. Ends 30 Sept 2020.
NAB Low Rate Credit Card
0% p.a. for 20 months with 2% balance transfer fee
12.99% p.a.
$59
Receive an introductory 0% p.a. interest rate for 20 months on balance transfers, Visa Entertainment offers and a competitive $59 ongoing annual fee.
St.George Vertigo Classic Rainbow
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
0% for 7 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
All the great low cost features of the Vertigo Visa with a rainbow design in support of the LGBT community.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - 0% Interest Offer
0% p.a. for 6 months
0% for 14 months, reverts to 20.74% p.a.
$64 annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Enjoy 0% p.a. interest on purchases for 14 months, a reduced first-year annual fee and Velocity Points per $1 spent. Ends 30 Sept 2020.
St.George Amplify Platinum - Qantas
0% p.a. for 6 months
19.74% p.a.
$99
Earn 60,000 bonus Qantas Points, plus enjoy 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 6 months and complimentary insurance covers. Ends 30 Sept 2020.
St.George Amplify Platinum
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
0% for 7 months, reverts to 19.74% p.a.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Save with 0% p.a. interest rates on purchases and balance transfers. Plus a $0 first-year annual fee. Ends 30 Sept 2020.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Qantas
0% p.a. for 18 months with 1% balance transfer fee
20.49% p.a.
$99 annual fee for the first year ($200 p.a. thereafter)
Get 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days. Plus, a first-year annual fee discount and a long-term balance transfer offer.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Card
0% p.a. for 18 months with 1% balance transfer fee
20.49% p.a.
$99 annual fee for the first year ($150 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 80,000 bonus Altitude Points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days. Plus, a first-year annual fee discount and a long-term balance transfer offer.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
0% for 7 months, reverts to 19.74% p.a.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Enjoy 0% p.a. on purchases and balance transfers along with a $0 first year annual fee waiver. Ends 30 Sept 2020.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Data indicated here is updated regularly
$
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Min Loan Amount Loan Term Application Fee Monthly Service Fee Monthly Repayment
Plenti Fixed Rate Personal Loan

From 6.49% (fixed)
6.84%
$2,001
3 to 5 years
From $149 to $599
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.49% p.a. and 12.79% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible loan with amounts from $2,001 and terms starting from 3 years. Interest and comparison rates calculated for a loan term of 5 years.
Plenti Variable Rate Personal Loan

From 6.49% (variable)
7.49%
$2,001
1 to 2 years
From $149 to $599
$0
You'll receive a variable rate from 6.49% p.a and 12.79% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible loan with amounts from $2,001 and terms starting from 12 months. Benefit from transparent costs and a rate estimate before you apply.
SocietyOne Unsecured Personal Loan (5 years)

From 7.99% (fixed)
7.99%
$5,000
5 years
from 0% to 5% (capped at $995)
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate between 7.99% p.a. and 20.49% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.
SocietyOne Unsecured Personal Loan (2-3 years)

From 6.99% (fixed)
6.99%
$5,000
2 to 3 years
from 0% to 5% (capped at $995)
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 20.49% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.
Harmoney Unsecured Personal Loan

From 6.99% (fixed)
7.79%
$2,000
3 to 5 years
$575 ($275 for loans of below $5,000)
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 25.69% p.a. based on your risk profile.
Apply for a loan up to $50,000 and repay your loan over 3 or 5 year terms.
Symple Loans Personal Loan

From 5.75% (variable)
6.47%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
from 0% to 5% of the loan amount
$10
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 5.75% p.a. to 21.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Borrow up to $50,000 to pay for what you need.
NAB Personal Loan Unsecured Fixed

From 9.99% (fixed)
10.88%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$150
$10
You'll receive a fixed rate between 9.99% p.a. and 18.99% p.a. ( 10.88% p.a. to 19.83% p.a. comparison rate) based on your risk profile
An unsecured loan up to $55,000 you can use for a range of purposes and pay off over up to 7 years. Note: Majority of customers will get the headline rate of 12.69% p.a. (13.56% p.a. comparison rate) or less. See Comparison rate warning in (i) above.
Wisr Personal Loan

From 7.95% (fixed)
8.78%
$5,000
3 to 5 years
$595 (Establishment Fee)
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate between 7.95% p.a. and 19.45% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 that charges no fees for extra or early repayments. Keep in mind security is required in some cases.
Latitude Personal Loan (Unsecured)

From 7.99% (fixed)
9.24%
$3,000
1 to 7 years
$250 (Loans under $5000 - $140)
$13
You'll receive a fixed rate between 7.99% p.a. and 19.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Apply for what you need from $3,000 and use it for a range of purposes. Repay weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
Alex Personal Loan

From 6.95% (fixed)
6.95%
$2,100
6 months to 5 years
$0 (waived $295)
$0
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 6.95% p.a. to 19.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Borrow between $2,100 and $30,000 from 6 months to 5 years. Benefit from no ongoing fees. Note: The establishment fee of $295 is waived for all applications until 30 September 2020. Terms & conditions apply.
CUA Unsecured Fixed Rate Personal Loan
9.89% (fixed)
10.14%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$175
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate of 9.89% p.a.
An unsecured loan from $5,000 with flexible repayments and no monthly fee.
OurMoneyMarket Personal Loan

From 7.99% (fixed)
8.46%
$2,001
1 to 7 years
1.5–6% of your total loan amount
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate from 7.99% p.a. to 25.25% p.a. based on your risk profile
A personalised loan from $2,001 to $75,000 that varies based on your credit history and financial situation.
ING Personal Loan
Finder Award
ING Personal Loan
8.99% (fixed)
9.13%
$5,000
2 to 5 years
$100
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate of 8.99% p.a.
Benefit from no ongoing fees, no early repayment fees and flexible loan terms on amounts up to $30,000.
NAB Personal Loan Unsecured Variable Rate

From 9.99% (variable)
10.88%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$150
$10
You'll receive a variable rate between 9.99% p.a. and 18.99% p.a. ( 10.88% p.a. to 19.83% p.a. comparison rate) based on your risk profile
An unsecured loan up to $55,000 you can use for a range of purposes. Benefit from fee-free additional repayments and a redraw facility. Note: Majority of customers will get the headline rate of 12.69% p.a. (13.56% p.a. comparison rate) or less. See Comparison rate warning in (i) above.
CUA Unsecured Variable Personal Loan
11.89% (variable)
12.15%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$175
$0
You'll receive a variable rate of 11.89% p.a.
Borrow from $5,000 with the option for flexible repayments and no monthly fees.
MoneyMe Personal Loans

From 8.99% (fixed)
10.68%
$3,001
2 to 5 years
5 - 8% of the principal borrowed, capped at $1,200
$0
You'll receive an interest rate between 8.99% p.a. and 29.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible personal loan from MoneyMe with access to cash when you need it.
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Personal Loan Offers

Important Information*
Logo for Harmoney Unsecured Personal Loan
Harmoney Unsecured Personal Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 25.69% p.a. based on your risk profile.
Apply for a loan up to $50,000 and repay your loan over 3 or 5 years terms.

Logo for NAB Personal Loan Unsecured Fixed
NAB Personal Loan Unsecured Fixed

You'll receive a fixed rate between 9.99% p.a. and 18.99% p.a. ( 10.88% p.a. to 19.83% p.a. comparison rate) based on your risk profile
An unsecured loan up to $55,000 you can use for a range of purposes and pay off over up to 7 years. Note: Majority of customers will get the headline rate of 12.69% p.a. (13.56% p.a. comparison rate) or less. See Comparison rate warning in (i) above.

Logo for SocietyOne Unsecured Personal Loan
SocietyOne Unsecured Personal Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 20.49% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.

Logo for Pepper Money Unsecured Fixed Rate Personal Loan
Pepper Money Unsecured Fixed Rate Personal Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.95% p.a. and 17.95% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Make additional repayments or pay off the loan early, penalty-free.

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    MarkNovember 10, 2013

    Hi there,
    My wife and I have saved a $20,000 deposit for our first home,and we have a car loan which owes $.45,000.Should we focus on getting the car loan down before applying for a mortgage or do lenders take that into account. Just worried that the bank will knock us back.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ShirleyNovember 11, 2013Staff

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your comment.

      It is likely that your car loan affects the amount that you can borrow to purchase a property, but it shouldn’t really affect your chances of getting a home loan, given that both of you have a good credit history plus you already have a deposit.

      Our borrowing power calculator can give you a good indication of how much you can borrow.

      Hope this helps,
      Shirley

  2. Default Gravatar
    BenJuly 24, 2013

    How can I manage to save on interest and bring down my debt fast, I earn 62k gross and no kids, pay 150 per week in rent and 150 on groceries etc.
    1# personal loan of 50k down to $26,400.12.9%
    2# flexi loan is $12,800 13.25%
    3# westpac credit card $13,897 12.9%
    4# anz credit card $8,867 16.8%

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JacobJuly 24, 2013Staff

      Hi Ben. It’s should go without saying that you should focus on the balances which are attracting the highest rates of interest first. Due to the spread of the products you hold, you will be unable to consolidate all the balances onto a credit card through a balance transfer as you can only consolidate other credit cards, store cards and charges cards (and in some cases personal loans and lines of credit) to a credit card.

      So you have the option of consolidating all the balances under a debt consolidation loan.
      Another option is to continue to pay down the flexi loan and consolidate the ANZ Credit Card, Westpac Credit Card and personal loan to a Citibank account or Virgin account. Citibank and Virgin are two institutions that allow you to transfer the balance of a personal loan or a line of credit to one of their credit accounts (credit cards and credit accounts). For example, the Citibank Ready Credit Account currently allows you to consolidate multiple balances under a promotional balance transfer rate or it allows you to write a cheque to self charged at the balance transfer promotional rate of interest. You can spend this cheque as you choose.

      The biggest issue I have found with repaying credit cards / loans is finding the sweet spot with how much to pay off the card(s) each month. If you pay too much, you may find that you have to redraw on these funds towards the end of the month. Careful budgeting and discipline is key.

      I hope this helps.

      Jacob.

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