50k-in-debt

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?

Debt always starts out small, and while for many people it doesn't grow into a problem, for others it does. This page discusses expert-approved strategies at paying down a large sum of debt, Specifically, $50,000.

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?

Rates last updated February 20th, 2018
$
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Name Product Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Amount Saved Product Description
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 24 months
12.74% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Platinum card benefits including complimentary insurance, plus 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers (with no BT fee). Ends 28 February 2018.
NAB Premium Card - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 25 months
19.74% p.a.
$90 p.a.
Exclusive to finder.com.au, enjoy a no BT fee, 0% balance transfer offer for 25 months and seven complimentary insurance covers.
Westpac Low Rate - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 30 months with 2% balance transfer fee
13.49% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($59 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of 0% p.a. for 30 months on balance transfers with a 2% balance transfer fee when you apply online by 28 February 2018.
Citi Platinum Credit Card - 100k Bonus Points
0% p.a. for 15 months with 1% balance transfer fee
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 100,000 reward Points, enjoy a long-term balance transfer offer, a discounted first year annual fee and complimentary travel insurance.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 22 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.99% p.a.
$129 p.a.
Offers a 0% p.a. for 22 months balance transfer and an annual fee refund each year when you spend $6,000. Plus, complimentary travel insurance.
St.George Vertigo Visa
0% p.a. for 18 months with 1% balance transfer fee
13.24% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
Save with a $0 first year annual fee and a 0% p.a. for 18 months balance transfer offer. Plus, up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Save with 0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers and earn 3 bonus Velocity Points per $1 for the first 3 months. Offer ends on 28 February 2018.
Virgin Money Low Rate Credit Card
0% p.a. for 14 months
11.99% p.a.
$49 p.a.
Receive a discounted annual fee, $100 cashback when you meet the spend requirement and up to 14 months interest-free on balance transfers.
Bankwest Breeze Classic Mastercard
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
12.99% p.a.
$79 p.a.
Receive a long-term balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for 24 months, a low ongoing purchase rate and up to 55 interest-free days on purchases.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Platinum
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1% balance transfer fee
12.74% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Offers a long-term balance transfer, low ongoing purchase rate, complimentary travel insurance and access to a 24/7 personal concierge service.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 26 months with 2.5% balance transfer fee
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Offers a long-term balance transfer. Earn extra points on eligible international spend, plus complimentary travel insurance.
Woolworths Everyday Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 14 months
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
Receive a $50 eGift Card when you meet the offer criteria, a 0% p.a. for 14 month balance transfer offer and a $0 first year annual fee.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
12.99% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Receive a 0% p.a. interest rate on balance transfers for 24 months, complimentary travel insurance and 0% foreign transaction fees.
BankSA Vertigo Visa
0% p.a. for 18 months with 1% balance transfer fee
13.24% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
Save with a $0 first year annual fee and a 0% p.a. for 18 months balance transfer offer. Plus, up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.
St.George Amplify Card
3% p.a. for 36 months
19.49% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($79 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of a 3% p.a. interest rate on balance transfers for 36 months. Plus, a $0 first year annual fee and 1 Amplify Point per $1 spent.
NAB Low Rate Platinum Card
4.99% p.a. for 6 months
0% p.a. for 9 months (reverts to 13.99% p.a.)
$100 p.a.
A platinum card that offers 0% p.a. for 9 months on purchases. Plus 4.99% p.a. on balance transfers for 6 months.
American Express Essential Credit Card
0% p.a. for 12 months with 3% balance transfer fee
14.99% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Get Smartphone Screen Insurance of up to $500 when you pay for your phone or contract with this card. Plus, a $0 annual fee for life.
NAB Low Fee Card
0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$30 p.a.
Receive complimentary purchase protection insurance, a 16 month balance transfer offer and special offers from Visa Entertainment.
American Express Explorer Credit Card
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
20.74% p.a.
$395 p.a.
Receive a yearly $400 Travel Credit, 100,000 bonus points and 2 entries per year to the American Express Lounge at Sydney International Airport.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 60,000 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months and enjoy a discounted annual fee of $64 for the first year. Ends 28 February 2018.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated February 20th, 2018
$
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Min Loan Amount Loan Term Monthly Service Fee Application Fee Product Description Monthly Repayment
NAB Personal Loan Unsecured Fixed
11.99% (fixed)
12.87%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$10
$150
An unsecured personal loan with a competitive fixed rate that you can make additional repayments to without penalty. Note: You must have held a NAB credit card or transaction account for at least 6 months before applying.
Harmoney Unsecured Personal Loan
From 6.99% (fixed)
7.69%
$5,000
3 to 5 years
$0
$500 (Upfront fee)
Interest rates are tailored to each applicant individually, and start from as low as 6.99% p.a. to 26.95% p.a. based on your credit history.
SocietyOne Unsecured Personal Loan
From 7.5% (fixed)
9.51%
$5,000
2 to 5 years
$0
3% (of loan amount)
Based on your risk profile, you will receive a tailored rate between 7.5% and 20.14% with a SocietyOne personal loan. Apply before 31 March 2018 to earn 2 Velocity Points for every $1 you borrow.
NOW FINANCE Personal Loans
From 8.95% (fixed)
10.42%
$4,000
1.5 to 7 years
$13
$395 (Based on $10,000)
Get rewarded with a low interest rate for your good credit history. Rates from 8.95% p.a. to 18.95% p.a. depending on your credit score.
Westpac Unsecured Personal Loan
From 12.99% (fixed)
14.14%
$4,000
1 to 7 years
$12
$250
Borrow up to $50,000 for a term of up to 7 years with this unsecured loan. Apply before 28 February 2018 for a 1% p.a. interest rate discount. Conditions apply.
MyState Unsecured Personal Loan
From 12.99% (variable)
16.42%
$3,000
1 to 7 years
$10
$200
Apply for up to $50,000 and make additional repayments at any time without penalty.
Swoosh Finance
From 48% (variable)
66.04%
$2,100
1 to 2 years
$400
A secured loan you can apply for in 10 minutes that gives you up to 12 months to repay. Note: Max loan amount $4,600. Fees and charges included in repayment.

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Rates last updated February 20th, 2018
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Loan purpose
Offset account
Loan type
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Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
3.52%
3.54%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A basic home loan with a competitive rate and low fees.
3.52%
3.53%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive variable rate product with no application or valuation fees offered by a 100% online lender.
3.59%
3.60%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Enjoy a low variable rate with no ongoing fees and borrow up to 90% of the value of the property.
3.54%
3.58%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A variable rate home loan with competitive rate, redraw facility and offset account.
3.69%
3.69%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A special limited time offer for owner occupiers. An IMB Transaction Account must be opened with this loan.
3.58%
3.58%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A low interest rate home loan with no application or ongoing fees.
3.49%
4.49%
$0
$375 p.a.
90%
Discount off an already competitive interest rate for loans over $150k. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.74%
3.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application fee or ongoing fees with this loan.
3.88%
4.89%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
A fixed rate package with flexible repayment options. 350K NAB Rewards Points offer available. Terms and conditions apply.
3.64%
3.67%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A low rate home loan with no ongoing fees.
3.64%
3.67%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A home loan with a competitive variable rate, limited fees and plenty of flexibility.
3.77%
3.81%
$200
$0 p.a.
95%
A basic home loan with a low interest rate and a redraw facility available.
3.65%
3.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A competitive variable rate home loan with no application fee.
3.74%
3.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
110%
Requires a family member to act as guarantor. Discounted rate available with family pledge loans. Family pledge loans
require no LMI and no deposit. NSW, Qld and ACT only.
3.60%
3.62%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Take advantage of a 100% offset account along with no annual or application fees.
3.62%
3.62%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A discounted, competitive variable rate loan with limited fees.
3.73%
3.73%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A special low variable rate for owner occupiers with 100% offset account and no application or ongoing fees.
3.74%
3.75%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A special variable rate home loan with no application or ongoing fees.
3.68%
3.83%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
A low interest rate home loan that allows borrowers to borrow up to 80% of the property value.
3.64%
4.03%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
Apply for a new owner occupier loan or refinance from another lender and receive this discounted rate.
3.64%
3.64%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A low-rate basic home loan requiring a 30% deposit.
3.94%
3.71%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Apply online for this fixed rate, low-fee loan with redraw facilities and an optional offset account.
3.78%
3.78%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A basic low-rate home loan that still offers some useful features.
3.89%
3.91%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Package your owner-occupied loan with your investment loan and enjoy low rates for both.
3.69%
4.47%
$0
$375 p.a.
90%
Discount off an already competitive 2 year fixed rate for loans over $150k. NSW,QLD and ACT residents only.
3.99%
4.41%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
A discounted home loan variable rate that comes with a competitive package, an eligible credit card and an offset transaction account.
3.65%
4.84%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
A 2 years fixed platinum package that has $0 application and a loan redraw facility.
4.19%
3.78%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Tic:Toc's fixed rate owner occupier loan has a competitive rate, limited fees and a fast, easy online application process.
4.09%
4.12%
$0
$0 p.a.
95%
This loan has a high max insured LVR, making it an option for low deposit borrowers.
3.97%
4.02%
$445
$0 p.a.
90%
Get a competitive rate without features you may not use.
4.09%
4.11%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Access a fee-free offset account and a special interest rate for investors.
3.96%
3.98%
$350
$0 p.a.
90%
Take advantage of a redraw facility, competitive variable rate and no application or settlement fees for a limited time.
3.97%
3.97%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A competitive variable rate home loan with no ongoing fees.
3.99%
3.99%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
A flexible low-rate variable home loan that lets you combine your loan with other financial products.
3.74%
4.15%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
Enjoy a discount of a competitive interest rate and 100% offset account.
4.19%
4.19%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
100% offset account, unrestricted additional repayments and no monthly account keeping fees
3.89%
4.87%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Enjoy a low interest rate and borrow up to 90% (with LMI) of your property's value.
3.99%
4.77%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive 3 year fixed rate with a redraw facility and split loan options, plus no application fee.
3.94%
3.97%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Access the equity in your home with a competitive interest-only rate and no application fee.
3.74%
3.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
95%
A low rate home loan with no application or ongoing fees. Free home & contents insurance for 1 year. T&Cs apply. Note that to be eligible for this loan you must be QLD resident.
3.69%
4.00%
$0
$350 p.a.
95%
Fix your rate for 3 years and borrow up to 95% LVR.
3.84%
4.83%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a competitive 2-year fixed rate with no application or ongoing fees.
$0
$0 p.a.
A basic low-rate home loan that still offers some useful features.
3.68%
3.69%
$0
$0 p.a.
95%
A no frills loan with a competitive rate and a maximum LVR of 95%.
3.69%
3.71%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A great interest rate home loan offer with unlimited redraw and unlimited extra payments.
3.64%
3.78%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
A competitive variable rate home loan with flexible features. You can earn 30,000 Velocity Points for every $100k you borrow (for a limited time, subject to eligibility requirements).
3.69%
3.69%
$0
$398 p.a.
70%
Enjoy a low variable rate with no application and ongoing fees.
3.99%
4.03%
$0
$0 p.a.
95%
Enjoy a basic home loan with a high LVR and no application or ongoing fees.
3.59%
4.42%
$600
$0 p.a.
95%
This competitive introductory rate is a limited time offer for new owner-occupiers
3.68%
3.69%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Get a low variable rate along with some important basic features.
3.79%
3.79%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Minimum loan amount for this basic home loan is $750000.
4.09%
4.11%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A low variable rate loan with no application or ongoing fees.
4.39%
5.42%
$300
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
95%
Lock in a fixed interest rate term for repayment certainty.
3.99%
4.99%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
A package home loan with fee free extra repayments available during the fixed term.
3.85%
4.95%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
A discounted package rate for owner occupiers with the ability to package a Qantas rewards earning Amplify credit card. $1,500 cashback available for refinancers. Conditions apply.
3.88%
4.88%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
Refinance from your existing loan and get a $1,250 rebate. Lock in a discounted fixed rate with a low service fee.

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Harmoney Unsecured Personal Loan

Interest rates are tailored to each applicant individually, and start from as low as 6.99% p.a. to 26.95% p.a. based on your credit history.

SocietyOne Unsecured Personal Loan

Based on your risk profile, you will receive a tailored rate between 7.5% and 20.14% with a SocietyOne personal loan. Apply before 31 March 2018 to earn 2 Velocity Points for every $1 you borrow.

Pepper Money Unsecured Fixed Rate Personal Loan

Apply for up to $50,000 and receive conditional approval within minutes. Interest rates range from 9.99% p.a. to 21.49% p.a. The rate you are approved for depends on individual circumstances.

NAB Personal Loan Unsecured Fixed

An unsecured personal loan with a competitive fixed rate that you can make additional repayments to without penalty. Note: You must have held a NAB credit card or transaction account for at least 6 months before applying.

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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.

    • Staff
      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%

    • Staff
      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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