Pay off debt early or invest?

You see it everywhere, invest, invest, INVEST. Invest early or you’ll never retire!!

How do you invest effectively when your handing your hard earned money hand over fist to creditors or lien holders? If you have student loans, credit card debt, and/or auto loans are you just running in place? Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that you’re thinking about investing but are you seeing all options with eyes wide open?

graph-3078546_1920

The average annual percentage (APR) rate on a undergraduate loan is around 4.5%, up to 6 to 7% for a graduate loan!

According to the Federal Reserve the average APR rate on a credit card is 15%.

The average APR rate on a 60 month auto loan is around 5.4%.

The average return of the S&P 500 over the last 20 years was 6%.

Do you play the “making money on debt” game? “Well, after my retirement contributes, and other essential expenses I have $1000 extra per month to allocate, my $35,000 auto loan only has an APR of 5% with a $660 monthly payment and I can put the remaining $340 into the stock market every month which typically returns 6-8% per year…so I am in the green! Right? Right…?”

On paper, that may be true. It is generally recommended that if your investments are projected to generate higher returns than the interest generated from your debt it would make sense to invest in those funds in lieu of paying extra on the debt.

But!…

There are no guarantees in life especially when it comes to the stock market. If you invested that $35000 in an index fund tracking the NASDAQ at the height of the dot.com bubble in 2000 it would have taken you all the way to 2015.. 15 years to break even (back to a gain of 0%), or another way of looking at it…your money would have performed worse than a savings account or CD.

But you know what is guaranteed? That car payment that comes out every month. It is SO guaranteed that if you fail to pay the bank can take that car right out of your driveway. Not only will you be without your wheels but all the money you paid up to that point.

Now I am not saying not to invest, investing is an incredible tool for wealth generation but you need to weigh that option to where you currently are in life.

So let’s fleshing out the scenario above.
Scenario 1 – Regular Debt Repayment Schedule with Remainder Invested:

Each month after paying off your rent and all other bills you end up with $1000 to do with what you want. Your car, “old reliable”, just bit the dust and now your looking for a new ride.

You end up getting bit by the “new car bug” and end up with a shiny new car that costs around $35,000 (the average price of a new car in the United States). You didn’t put anything down because why would you do that! You were approved for a “new car loan” with an APR at 5% with a loan term of 60 months. The same month your first car payment comes due you realize you should start investing! So you also open up your first investment account and put the remainder of that $1000 to work each month, approximately $340.

Now let’s see how the numbers shake out over the next 5 years…

Car Loan Typical Payment Schedule

Investing Remaining Monthly Funds

During your standard loan payment period you end up paying around $4630 in interest and have an investment account balance of around $23,700 using an average return of 6%.

Doesn’t sound too bad, so let’s look at how the numbers turn out by focusing on debt repayment first.
Scenario 2 – Accelerated Debt Repayment Schedule with Remainder Invested:

Alright, so you just bought that shiny new car and you just realized you REALLY hate car payments and wondered why you didn’t just fix “old reliable”. So you decide to try to pay off your loan as quickly as possible by forfeiting investing and focusing all $1000 per month to the car loan.

Car Loan Accelerated Payment Schedule

Investing All Funds Starting at Month 39

It takes you 38 months to pay off the balance and end up paying $2,915 in interest.

At month 39 you open up that investment account and start investing aggressively using all $1000 per month. At month 60 you end up with an investment balance of $23,194. Wait a second… if I just invested $340 a month like Scenario 1 it would have $23,700 in my investment account, what gives!

In Scenario 1 you paid $4630 in interest, over $1700 more than in Scenario 2. Where as your investment account in Scenario 1 only generated $500 more than your investment account in Scenario 2 by the end of year 5. By aggressively paying off your debt early and then aggressively investing not only did you have a car that is free and clear owned by you 2 years earlier but you also came out ahead overall by $1200, the difference in interest paid and investment return between Scenario 1 and 2!

Granted this scenario can be played out a million different ways. You could have received 0% financing, crazy 15% financing, the stock market gaining 0% per year, or 20% per year, or even losing 20% per year. If you try this out on different types of debt such as credit cards with 20% APR or student loans at 12% (yes, they do exist), it can blow your mind.

Depending on your financial health your miles may vary. Also, no plan is perfect and past performance should not be used a predictor of the future. The stock market typical behaves in cycles, with ups and downs, booms and busts.

On paper everything can look great, awesome lets do it! But when it comes into putting it into practice that is when all hell can break loose. People are emotional and are prone to making decisions not on clear and concise thought but on joy, anger, and fear etc.

“No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. Not when the enemy is me.”

Lois McMaster Bujold

By focusing first on aggressively paying off debt not only do you have the added benefit of actually owning your car, or no longer having to think about your student loans, or credit cards, you end up having this incredible feeling of freedom and piece of mind. No longer will you have the weight hanging over your head of monthly payments.

““Whatever interest rate you have — it might be a student loan with a 7 percent interest rate — if you pay off that loan, you’re making 7 percent. That’s your immediate return, which is a lot safer than trying to pick a stock or trying to pick real estate, or whatever it may be,”

Mark Cuban (Billionaire)

…..Or your the above average person, read the above, and decided to squash that “new car bug” and ended up creating Scenario 3 – fixed old reliable, had no debt at all, and invested that $1000 per month for 60 month instead and now sitting on a nice little nest egg. Cheers!

So what are your thoughts? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or send us an email via our Contact Page.

If you liked what you’ve read please be sure hit the “like” button and share! If you want to receive the latest articles please be sure to subscribe.

5 Money Habits to Start in your 20’s

Your 20’s are an exciting time of your life, so much opportunity for development and growth. For a lot of us we hit some major milestones… starting our first “adulting” job or career, getting married, buying our first home or car, maybe even paying off those good ol’ student loans.

The time you have in your 20’s has the potential to set the tone of your financial health of the rest of your life, so it’s important to develop some essential habits…

1. Create a Budget

photograph of a document
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

You hear this one from everyone, make a budget!

Write down and understand where your money is coming and going. When you start to track your income and expenses it opens your eyes to all the potential money you could be saving and investing but were actually eating away by going out three or four times a week.

You can track your budget using a number of different tools and methods, you can do the home brewed approach by developing a simple spreadsheet or you can use a number of financial and budgeting applications for your smart phone. Whatever method you end up choosing the most important attribute is your dedication and consistence in tracking your in’s and out’s. Check out our guide at making a budget and slashing our expenses.

2. Automate Your Savings

american bills business cheque
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This one is easy, money you never see in your paycheck is harder to spend on impulse. Set up automatic deductions from your paycheck to deposit into an online high yield savings account or online brokerage account for investing.

There are plenty of options today that not only are easy to setup and use but help you in the long run of setting you up for financial success. It may be developing an emergency fund for a rainy day, or starting that passive income dividend stream you always wanted.

Start small, it can be a little as $5 to $10 a paycheck but your goal should be to gradually ramp up your deductions until it starts to feel uncomfortable. You will be amazed in as little as a year how much you have saved with this approach.

3. Have an Emergency Fund

ambulance architecture building business
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In your 20’s change can be rapid and sudden, your 15 year old car breaks down.. your furnace goes out, or you just received a pink slip. You can never be too careful by creating a emergency fund to cover those rainy days.

Strive to save up 6 to 12 months’ worth of living expenses to get you through the tough times. Since the majority of Americans don’t have the cash on hand to cover a $1000 expense, it should be a wake up call to have a stash of cash to help you when you need it. By maintaining an emergency fund it allows you to avoid the major pitfalls of using credit and loans to cover those unexpected expenses and racking up unnecessary interest payments.

An emergency fund is not a “I need the newest iPhone” fund, or the “shopping spree” fund, and it should not be considered an investment fund. Leave it alone and keep it in a liquid high yield savings or money market account, it may not sound as sexy as putting it all in the latest penny stock but you’ll be happy when you need it to cover that blown out tire.

4. Invest early and often – Retirement (401k, IRA, etc.) and Taxable Accounts

black and white business chart computer
Photo by Lorenzo on Pexels.com

In your 20’s you have one of the greatest assets that money can’t buy, and that is time.

Use that time and the magic of compounding by investing early. If you are fortunate enough to have an employer that provides access to a 401k, try to contribute 15% of your pretax income or if you can’t achieve that do your best to contribute the percentage needed to receive an employer match if available. Your starting salary and contributes may start out small initially but as time goes by you’ll see massive growth and the sooner you start the less effort will be required in your 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s to prepare for retirement.

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… he who doesn’t… pays it.”

-Albert Einstein

With every raise you receive try increasing your retirement contribute by 1-2%. If you were living on your previous salary just fine, you won’t miss that 1 or 2% all that much.

For 2019, you are able to contribute up to $19,000 of your pre-tax income. I know, your thinking to yourself…$19,000?! Are you crazy? You all have the potential to achieve that and more… you just have to start!

Other retirement vehicles such as IRA’s offer other tax benefits depending on your income, and I recommend looking into them if you do not have access to or are maxing out your 401k.

Taxable investment accounts also can be considered when you have reached your goals for your emergency funds and retirement contributions. Remember not to chase the latest penny stock or virtual currency, start off small and steady by researching low-cost index and mutual funds that provide you diversity to hundreds or thousands of companies.

“It’s a mirage… the idea it has some huge intrinsic value is just a joke”

-Warren Buffet (on Bitcoin)

5. Live Like a College Student

accomplishment ceremony education graduation
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You were living like one not too long ago so why change it? Just because your making big bucks now doesn’t mean you should go out and blow it all on a new depreciating car or some fancy apartment. Get a roommate, nurse that old car for a few more years, buy a a refurbished smartphone with cash. If you really want to jump start yourself on your way to extraordinary financial wealth, live below your means!

Conclusion

person writing on white book

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Remember, your 20’s can be the best years of your life or… they could be the years that set you up for success for the rest of your life, it is your choice. By making simple and steady habits with your finances now you’ll thanking yourself later.

So what are your thoughts? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or send us an email via our Contact Page.

If you liked what you’ve read please be sure hit the “like” button and share! If you want to receive the latest articles please be sure to subscribe.