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I have a home equity line of credit, for which I have had trouble making large payments against since my career change. I'm wondering if I should be concerned over the interest charges, and if there is anything I can do to improve it?

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HELOCs typically have a 10 year draw and 5 year payback. During the draw time you can pay interest only if you wish. The rate can range from Prime minus 1.5 to Prime plus (quite a bit). Of course, you can always shop around for a better deal than you currently have so long as you have equity in your home.

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You can often convert the outstanding balance of a HELOC into a fixed-rate home equity loan, generally with the same bank. Doing this can open possibilities to extend the term allowing for lower monthly payments, but resulting in a larger overall payoff cost.

Most HELOCs allow for an interest-only payment or in some cases no-payment at all if you still have unused available credit. Not advising that you do this. If you are struggling with the size of the payment converting to a fixed-rate, fixed-term loan may be what you need. The key will be getting the term such that you can manage both the principal and interest that will be included in the payment.

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