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What to do if you can't repay your personal loan

Bad Credit

It’s safe to say that no one ever means to fall behind on their personal loan repayments. It’s a scary prospect and won’t do your stress levels any favours! But the reality is sometimes life can take an unexpected turn and despite the best of intentions, you may find you have fallen behind in your repayments. While this isn’t ideal, the good news is that the sooner you decide to take action, the better your chances are of getting yourself back on track.

Here’s five simple things to do if you’ve missed a couple of repayments and you’re starting to fall behind.

Act immediately

Now is not the time to stick your head in the sand and let your bills pile up. It’s time to roll up your sleeves, put on your reading glasses and tackle your paperwork. A good place to start is by writing a list of all your upcoming payments. This should include everything from your rent or mortgage through to credit card bills and school fees. From here, you can prioritise the most important payments first. You should cancel non-necessities such as gym memberships or Netflix immediately. If you’re paying a bit extra on your home loan or credit card each month, it can also be a good idea to cut back to the minimum repayment if possible.

Contact your lender

This should always be your first port of call. Letting your lender know your situation as soon as possible will help you find a workable solution early on. Lenders have entire departments dedicated to financial hardship and can work with you to come up with a more manageable repayment plan. They might do this by extending your repayments over a longer period of time or by delaying your next couple of direct debits.

It’s really important to be truthful with them about why you’re falling behind. Is it because of a one-off event, such as having to fork out for a speeding ticket? Or is it something more permanent, like losing your job? Your lender will be able to talk you through the process and explain what happens when you can’t meet your repayments.

Take up a side hustle

Even if you and your lender have come up with a repayment plan, it doesn’t hurt to drum up some extra cash where possible – every bit helps! Finder research shows that one in five Aussies are turning to the share economy for additional income. Take up Uber for one or two nights a week, sign up to Airtasker and offer your services as a gardener, removalist, pool cleaner or dog walker – whatever you’re good at! It can also be worth having a hunt around the house for any items you can sell online, like a spare TV, an old couch or that pair of shoes you never got around to wearing. You’d be surprised at how much extra cash you can come up with by thinking outside the box.

Talk to your employer

Depending on where you work, some companies might be willing to pay your wages in advance if you’re in a bit of a tight spot financially. Contact your human resources team and find out what the company policies are around pay advances. Not all employers will do this though, so don’t rely on this as your only option.

Speak to a credit counsellor

Remember that you don’t have to go through any of this on your own. Credit counsellors are specially trained to understand debt and help you to come up with solutions. You can often chat to one at no cost, but make sure you do your research before deciding who to go with – some can try and lure you in with costly payment plans. Your debt counsellor can work with you to come up with strategies to prevent you from falling behind in the future.

At the end of the day, speaking to your lender about your financial circumstances will almost always give you the best outcome. But it can also be wise to seek out other helpful avenues yourself, such as cutting back on luxuries or tapping into the share economy. Defaulting on your loan is never fun, but it doesn’t have to spell disaster if you face up to it and take action straight away!

Byline author: Kate Browne