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It’s the first step in planning your future and, for most people, the largest investment you ever make. It’s your home, and once you take the leap and leave the rental market for the world of home ownership, you’re entering into an exciting new world where your home can help you grow your own financial future and plan for a wonderful tomorrow. Sure, it will take some effort, regular mortgage payments and you’ll also want to consult an accountant or financial planner as you start figuring out ways to make your home work for you.

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Reduce Debt

If you’ve got a lot of credit card debt, then you may want to consider using your home equity to pay that credit card debt down. It all depends on how much equity you’ve built up in your home. Look at your home value versus what you owe and you’ll have a good idea of what kind of equity you’ve built up. Then you can see if that is enough to get rid of your high interest credit cards. If it is, then look for a home equity loan with an interest rate that is as low as possible, and then use that money to pay off anything you’ve got with a higher rate. Just be sure you don’t fall to the temptation to charge those cards back up, once they’re all paid off. Once their paid off, keep them paid off, and then work on regular payments for your home equity loan.

Renovate Your Home

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Another great use for that home equity is to make renovations or other home improvement projects. If you’ve always wanted that dream bathroom or your kitchen needs a desperate upgrade, then your home equity can go to work for you and provide the money needed to get all those renovations done. Of course, you’ll want to look at your monthly budget to be sure you can realistically make an additional payment every month. But once you’ve got your budget done, you’ll find that a home equity loan has an interest rate that makes repayment very achievable. Plus a home equity loan is almost always a far better option than using the store credit card or store repayment plan, as those interest rates can be much higher. Your home equity loan uses your house as collateral, so the interest rate will be far lower.

Pay For College

College is expensive, and federal student loans rarely cover the whole cost of tuition these days. If you’ve owned your home for a while, and you’ve built up enough equity, then you may find that you can take out a home equity line of credit to cover tuition for you or your child for several years. That’s how a home equity line of credit works — you take out a line of credit for a specific time frame, and then you can pull from that funding source for text books, tuition, room and board or anything else that comes up while you or your child is hard at work. You’ll also want to check what the interest rates are on federal student loans, as you may find that your home equity is a lower rate.

Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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