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Borrowing Besties:
Learning the Lingo of Loans

APEF: Solving the Financial Illiteracy Crisis

The word "loan" might conjure negative images of stressed adults dealing with debt, but there’s no reason to fear! When used wisely, loans can be powerful tools for achieving goals like pursuing your education, buying a car, or even homeownership. However, it's important to make informed decisions and approach borrowing with caution. This article will provide you with an in-depth guide to borrowing to help you navigate the world of loans wisely.

Loan Lingo: 


  • Principal: The amount you borrow.

  • Interest: The fee you pay for borrowing the money. 

  • Interest rate: The percentage of the principal you pay in interest (in other words, the cost of borrowing). Understanding interest rates is crucial when borrowing money; it can significantly increase the total amount you’re expected to repay. There are different types; fixed-rate loans maintain a constant interest rate, while variable-rate loans may change over time.

  • Important note: Your credit score plays an important role in borrowing. It is used by lenders to determine your creditworthiness and the interest rate that you are eligible for. Maintaining and building a high credit score will help you get favorable terms on borrowing, such as lower interest rates.

  • Terms: These define how long you have to repay the loan. Shorter terms often mean higher monthly payments but lower overall interest costs. Longer terms may result in lower monthly payments but can lead to paying more in interest over the life of the loan.

  • Collateral: An asset you pledge to secure the loan. 

  • Loan Fees: Be aware of any fees associated with borrowing, such as origination fees, application fees, or prepayment penalties. These fees can add to the overall cost of the loan.


Types of Loans: 


  • Student loans: Designed for educational expenses, student loans help cover tuition, books, and living costs. Federal student loans typically offer favorable interest rates and flexible repayment options.

  • Auto loans: These loans are used to finance the purchase of a car. The repayment period is predetermined, as are the interest rates, and the vehicle itself often serves as collateral.

  • Personal loans: Personal loans can be used to fund a variety of purposes. They are flexible and can cover unexpected expenses or consolidate debt. Interest rates can vary depending on your creditworthiness.

  • Mortgages: These are large loans that help you buy a house or property. 

  • Credit Cards: While not traditional loans, credit cards allow you to borrow money up to a specific limit. It's important to pay attention to interest rates, fees, and timely repayment to avoid accumulating debt or hurting your credit score (making it more challenging to get loans in the future!)


Obviously, there are many different opportunities and reasons for you to borrow money- the trick is to focus on good debt vs bad debt. Bad debt refers to money borrowed for items which don't add long-term value or generate income, such as using credit cards for unnecessary purchases like luxury items or vacations. Bad debt often comes with high-interest rates which makes paying it off quickly very difficult; accruing too much bad debt can add financial stress while keeping you from reaching your financial goals.

By contrast, good debt refers to money borrowed for investments that could potentially increase in value or produce income over time. Examples include student loans for education purposes or mortgage loans to buy a home - even business loans to start profitable ventures that create wealth or enhance future earnings potential. Such loans usually carry lower interest rates and can be thought of as investments in your future financial well-being.


Before you take out a loan, do the following:


  • Create a budget that includes monthly repayment amounts. Ensure you can comfortably afford the repayments without compromising your essential living expenses.

  • Shop around for the best deal; don’t take the first offer you get! Savvy borrowers find the most favorable terms and low-interest rates.

  • Understand all the fees and conditions before signing any agreements- they can add up!

  • On-time loan repayments strengthen your financial history, making future borrowings easier.


Loans can be valuable tools, but remember, they're not free money. They require careful planning, responsible borrowing, and a commitment to repayment. You should approach borrowing with a clear understanding of the types of loans available, interest rates, repayment terms, and the impact on your overall financial well-being. By making informed decisions, you can build a solid foundation for financial success in the future. 


Bonus Tip: Use online loan calculators and financial planning tools to estimate monthly payments and understand the long-term impact of borrowing. Remember, the path to financial security starts one informed step at a time!

Soft skills refer to a set of personal attributes, behaviors, and social attitudes that enable individuals to interact effectively with others in a workplace or social environment. These skills are essential for building healthy relationships, communicating effectively, solving problems, and collaborating with others.

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