Anyone who has tallied their income and expenses on a balance sheet will know that there’s a huge difference between having a budget and following one. Once you’ve put aside enough of your paycheck to meet your monthly needs, you don’t always have enough expendable income to cover fun or frivolous purchases or holidays. That doesn’t always mean you’re ready to let those go.But besides saying goodbye to weekly take-out and daily coffee, this also means you don’t have enough disposable income to cover those surprise expenses that you never thought to include in your budget.

A Line of Credit can make your budgeting efforts easier

While you can easily say no to a night out with friends, you can’t exactly refuse to pay off those overage fees on your cell phone bill, cover unavoidable repairs made on your car, or pay for a necessary trip to the doctors. Your ability to follow your financial plan is thwarted by these emergencies, but you can prevent them from ruining your finances outright by arming yourself with a personal line of credit.

As a financial product, a personal line of credit out-performs most small dollar loans. Short terms loans, which require full repayment by the time of your next paycheck, can put as much strain on your budget as the emergency you’re attempting to cover. In exchanging one due date for another, all these loans end up doing is prolonging your financial anguish. A line of credit, on the other hand, comes with a different repayment plan. Though you’ll receive $1,000 should you be approved, it doesn’t come with a repayment date that’s automatically arranged according to your pay schedule. You won’t be responsible for its repayment all at once; you’ll only be responsible for a minimum monthly payment that’s determined by the amount you’ve used and the interest applied by your lender.

Each lender will apply different rates and conditions to your line of credit. Their conditions will have a direct impact on how easily you’ll find it to integrate the minimum payments into your monthly budget, so it’s important that you take the time to explore your options. Most online direct lenders provide key information on their website. If they’re anything like the lenders at MoneyKey, a lender that provides a separate page of information for each of their financial products, then you’ll find these details easy to locate. When you look up the details of a line of credit through MoneyKey.com, you’ll have the option to complete this research at your discretion, whenever you find the time to do it. There’s no need to make an appointment in order to learn more about this product; however, a knowledgeable representative is ready to take your call or email should you have any questions.

As you discover the rates, terms, and conditions of the lines of creditsavailable online, you’ll see that the opportunity to apply for these products is just a mouse click away. But before you take advantage of the online application, there are other essential features to keep in mind. An online direct lender should have all of the following before you feel confident applying for their assistance:

  • A state license — this certification proves the size and limit of their products are in line with your state government’s laws and regulations, which were put in place to protect consumers.
  • Official affiliations — an online direct lender is only as good as the company it keeps, so it should be members of such organizations the Community Financial Service Association of America (CFSA) and the Online Lender’s Alliance (OLA).
  • Online security — if you plan on filling out an online application, you need to know the personal information (PI) you supply will be in good hands. You PI should be protected by online security measures like SSL, Verified Website Certificates, and advanced firewalls.

A line of a credit is a financial tool that can give the edge you need to keep on top of bills. But don’t get taken in by the idea of the financial freedom it provides. Not all lines are created equally, and some have rates, terms, or conditions that are at odds with your financial situation. It’s your responsibility to find a lender and a line of credit that matches with your situation, so you can comfortably pay for unexpected expenses you didn’t budget for without dooming your budget for months — or years — to come. Take the time to research your options, keeping in mind the above features, and you’ll find a responsible way to meet your needs. Next to cutting out frivolous spending habits, it’s the best thing you can do for your budget.