Looking to make some changes this year? A personal loan can help you achieve lifestyle, professional and financial goals, but if you’re in the market for some capital it’s important to walk into the loan consultant’s office forewarned and forearmed. We’ve put together a few fast tips to help you make the smart financial choices this year – read on to find out more.

  1. Get into good financial habits

A new year, a new you! If you haven’t made a resolution so far, being a bit smarter about your money is a great one that can help you achieve a whole host of other goals. Being disciplined with your money is the first step towards getting the loan you want with the conditions you’ll love, so if you see a need in the future for capital but have some time beforehand, use it shape up a bit.

  1. Do it for the right reasons

Think carefully about it – do you need a personal loan, or is it the best way to achieve your financial goals? Alternatives such as a credit card may be more suitable, so it’s important to scrutinise your requirements and explore your options.

  1. Make sure you’re looking for the right loan product

A personal loan can take a lot of forms – what are you hoping to achieve with it? If you need help paying university tuition or need money to support a home renovation, there may be a specialty loan product that offers more favourable terms.

  1. Shop around

Don’t jump at the first deal you’re offered – take a look at the market as a whole and try to get a feel for what’s available. If this is your first loan, you might not be able to tell a good loan from a bad one. Do some research, and if necessary, speak to an independent expert who can give you some advice.

  1. Be strict about how much you need

Once you’ve chosen your provider, it’s important to go in knowing exactly how much you want to borrow. It can be tempting to add a little bit extra on as ‘just in case’ money, but keep your will strong. You may also be offered a more attractive interest rate if you take on a higher amount, but think carefully about your ability to service a larger loan.

  1. Understand the repayment method

Different financial institutions have different methods of repayment. Some may prefer automatic withdrawal, some may charge a fee for early settlement of the debt, some may only accept a lump sum with no partial payment. Have a discussion with your loan consultant about how and when you’re able to repay the loan.

  1. Read every letter of fine print

This should go without saying, but know precisely what you’re getting into. Carefully reading and fully understanding your loan agreement can potentially save you a lot of heartache, so if you’re struggling it may be worth speaking to a lawyer and getting them to interpret it for you.