Showing posts with label loans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label loans. Show all posts

Thursday 14 November 2013

What Would I Do if I Fell On Hard Times (and Importantly How Would I Recover)

It’s been a surreal week.  Midway through it I received a phone call from a good friend who has just returned from the third family holiday of the year.  However this time instead of talk of how great the holiday was I was greeted with an “I'm in financial difficulty and could I borrow some money from you?”  A little clarification revealed we weren't talking about twenty quid until next payday but thousands of pounds.  I was dumbstruck.  Why?

My friend is intelligent, has a very similar educational background to my own and has been working a similar amount of time.  We have similar jobs, albeit at different companies, but I would guess our salaries are probably within 10% of each others.  We do however live very different lifestyles.  To give some examples:
  • In my friend’s family only 1 of them works.  In my family 2 of us choose to work.  
  • My friend’s family chooses to live in a lovely part of London in a very nice rented house.  I live with my family in a small rented flat in a less salubrious part of town which is actually perfectly adequate for or needs.
  • That lovely house above is not well insulated and so already has the heating on where I'm still yet to even consider it.
  • My friend’s family choose to holiday at least 3 times per year.  My family has a single holiday each year along with a family visit for Christmas.
  • My friend’s family is always dressed like they've just walked off a catwalk.  My family while wearing clean, neatly pressed clothes are a little out of fashion and contain the odd darned sock.

I must be clear here.  I don’t begrudge my friend’s family any of the above.  Everyone in this world is entitled to live their own lives and make their own choices.  I've chosen to Save Hard, Invest Wisely and Retire Early which today means I have accrued 72% of the wealth I need to secure financial independence.  My friend’s family has chosen to live for today.  I’d never really thought about the differences between us previously but when you look at the differences above we are at very different stages in life and on a very different life path.  The now clear disparity in wealth really did bring the book The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley into the forefront of my mind.  The only difference is that I don’t have a million pounds nor do I think I will need that much for financial independence as I've found plenty of ways to live well while spending less.

Thursday 2 May 2013

The Cheapest Loan

You’ve done your homework on understanding how debt works and decided to take on a loan.  No matter whether that loan is a mortgage, personal loan or credit card then the next step is to ensure that you end up with the cheapest or lowest cost loan you can, along with one that actually meets your needs.  To do this you have no choice but to find a quiet place, where with a fresh cup of tea, you can read the small print of each loan provider you are considering and in parallel run some maths to calculate who is the cheapest provider based on all that small print.  It’s key to do the maths because when it comes to loans, as with investments, small amounts over long periods and fees matter.

If you want to do the maths yourself then Excel’s PMT function will get you a long way.  This gives the repayment amount for a loan given an interest rate, the number of constant periods the loan is taken over and the present value of the loan.  If you don’t have Excel or aren't mathematically savvy then you could also use a loan or mortgage calculator to do a lot of the work for you.

Let’s look at a few simple case studies, which build in complexity, to show just how important it is to run the numbers.

Case Study 1 - All else being equal secure the lowest interest rate you can  

Bank A is offering a loan with an annual interest rate of 5% (the interest rate) and Bank B has a rate of 5.5%.  The loan amount is for £10,000 (the present value of the loan), you are going to make the repayments monthly and you intend to take the loan over 10 years (the number of constant periods will be 10x12=120 months because you pay monthly).   To calculate the monthly repayment for the first scenario you would enter the following into Excel ‘=PMT(5%/12, 10*12,-£10,000)’ which would give you a repayment to Bank A of£106.07 per month.  Note you have to divide the interest rate by 12 months as the repayment is made monthly.  If you run the same calculation for Bank B’s interest rate of 5.5% the monthly repayment would be £108.53.

At first glance it doesn’t seem like much of a difference.  After all it’s only £2.46 per month however this is no different to the Latte a Day case study I’ve run before which demonstrates how small amounts matter.  Over the 10 year period the total interest paid is £2,728 and £3,023 respectively.  That 0.5% actually means 10.8% more in interest payments.   It’s also important to remember that the longer the loan period the worse this effect.  For example lengthen the loan term to 20 years and that 10.8% becomes 11.5%.  This is Compound Interest at work.