First, what is a home equity loan? Well a home-equity loan is a second lien against your home’s equity.I always consider my home equity as a safety net for those difficult times, such as, a job loss or family illness. My rule of thumb for debt management has always been centered on how much equity I had in my house. I would never have my debt exceed my equity.Now let’s get back to the question. Is a home equity loan a good idea? If you manage your money wisely home equity loans are a good idea but only if you spend the proceeds on items that are a necessity and carry a higher interest rate that the home equity loan. A good example would be home improvements or educational needs. These items usually are quite expensive and require long pay-off periods. By using your equity you will be able to write-off your purchase interest on your federal and state taxes. Another example would be to pay-off high interest credit card and personal loans debt but you must make sure that once the debt is paid you can not accumulate any more credit card debt or you will become financially strapped.Below are some guidelines if you’re thinking about borrowing against your home’s value:Don’t waste the cash. Please be aware you’re attaching a new lien on the home, moving closer to the risk of foreclosure. If you do not make your payments on time, the lender has the right to foreclose on your home.Don’t accumulate more debt than you can handle. As I mentioned earlier your total debt should not exceed your homes total equity.Evaluate the tax benefits carefully. Review the IRS Publication 936 for details.Avoid lines of credit unless you have the discipline to make the principal payment on time.In conclusion:It is important to carefully consider how you plan on using the equity in your home. If it is for home improvements, education like college or medical expenses then you are adding even more value to your home and personal growth and well being, which is good. If you are using it for daily spending, vacations, cars or other items that quickly depreciate in value, then you could be risking your nest egg and run the risk of owing money on your home far longer that the average 15-30 year mortgage.