Do you need a personal loan? Are you worried about your chances of getting approved? Most people get a little anxious when they know their finances are going to be scrutinized. The good news is that you can alleviate some of this worry by following these six tips. Come in prepared, knowing what to expect from the process, and increase your chances of getting the green light.

1. Plan ahead.

If at all possible, delay applying for that loan. If you’re in a hurry, you’ll be disappointed by the length of the process, while the lender may be left unimpressed by your lack of thorough organization. Get your information together and apply well before you actually need the money.

2. Pick the appropriate number.

If you’re feeling pretty good about your chances, why not apply for an extra thousand dollars? In reality, this is not always a good idea. Some lenders might not mind handing out a little extra if it’s assumed you’ll use that capital to start paying off the loan immediately, but the number you ask for should make sense.

If nothing else, make sure you’re the one bringing the figure to the table; don’t ask the lender to decide what you need.

3. Have your first few payments at the ready.

After going through detailed lender reviews, you may have found a few really viable options. Make yourself more attractive to them by demonstrating your ability to begin paying it back right away. If your statements show that you already have enough money to handle the monthly payments, you’ll seem like less of a risk to them.

4. Mind your debt-to-income ratio.

Before applying, have a look at your debt-to-income ratio. This tells the lender what percentage of your income goes toward paying down debts. Institutions might have different caps on such percentages, but in general, your ratio should be below 35% if you really want to boost your chances of getting that loan.

5. Look for support.

Is there an item or two on your credit report that makes you feel a little self-conscious? A lot of people’s credit can be a mixed bag – neither too bad or excellent. So tip the scales in your favor by asking who can vouch for you. It could be a cosigner, or a collection of references and records from people and companies you regularly pay on time, like your cell phone service provider or landlord.

6. Consider a lender who is familiar with you.

If your chances of getting approval are less than fantastic, you might be better off choosing a lender that’s familiar with you, even if their rates are a little bit higher. If you have an account in good standing with a bank already, begin inquiring there first.

All of this advice comes in addition to examining your credit report and paying down any debts you can prior to applying for that loan. When you allow yourself enough time to get your ducks in a row, you’re doing the absolute best for your approval chances. And if you do get denied, fear not – you’re that much wiser about what it will take to see the next application sail through.