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Time Value of Money

Understanding The Time Value of Money

Today’s guest post is by Gary Forman, founder of the Dollar Stretcher newsletter and website. One of his clients asked Gary:

“Does anyone think that $20,000 will buy a new car forty years from today? Maybe it’s time for an article on the time value of money, accounting for inflation in long term investment plans, and related issues.” ~  Lester

Lester was referring to an article that I had written saying that when you buy something today, you’re agreeing not to buy something more expensive later. And, he’s right. You can’t simply take today’s prices and expect them to be valid for future purchases, especially if you’re looking more than a few years into the future.

The concept of rising prices is only one component of an economic theory called “the time value of money.”

Having money over a period of time is valuable. Money can earn more money. Suppose that you had $100 today and could earn 10% on it. A year from now you’d have $110. In two years $121. So having that $100 is valuable.

Also, I’d rather have $100 today than wait and get it tomorrow. I won’t earn much interest in one day, but it should be worth a little more tomorrow. It’s also safer getting it today. There’s always that possibility, however small, that you won’t get the money tomorrow. By getting it today, you’ve eliminated that risk.

Another area where the time value of money applies is in the area of retirement planning. Suppose that you expect to retire in 20 years. You know that prices will rise before then. But can you estimate by how much?

Rule of 72

A quick and easy way to answer that question is to use the rule of 72. The formula is easy. The number of years in the future times the interest rate you expect equals 72. That’s how long it will take for prices to double.

Let’s do an example. You want to know how long it will take prices to double if inflation is 6%. A little algebra tells us that you divide 72 by 6. Thus, prices will double in 12 years. So if you expect to retire in 20 years and inflation is 6%, prices will be nearly 4 times higher when you retire. ($1 x 2 = $2 in 12 years. That $2 x 2 = $4 the next 12 years. Or 4 times in 24 years)

Suppose that you had $100 today and could earn 10% on it. A year from now you’d have $110. In two years $121. So having that $100 now is valuable. Also, I’d rather have $100 today than wait and get it tomorrow. I won’t earn much interest in one day, but it should be worth a little more tomorrow. It’s also safer getting it today. There’s always that possibility, however small, that you won’t get the money tomorrow. By getting it today, you’ve eliminated that risk.

If you play with the formula, you’ll find that the rate of interest you choose makes a big difference in the results. For instance, 3% inflation would mean that prices would double every 24 years. Quite a difference compared to our first example – going up 4 times in the same amount of time.

You can also use the same formula to calculate how long it will take your money to double in an investment account. For instance, if you’re earning 9% on your investments, it will take 8 years to double. (9 x 8 = 72).

You may want to get more precise than our little formula will allow. For that, you’ll need something called a financial function calculator. It will do a lot more than the time value of money formula, but it’s easy enough to learn how to use it for time value questions. And, they’re not expensive.

Some people will subtract the inflation rate from their investment return to get a “real” rate of return on their retirement savings. For instance, if you earned 8% on the money and inflation was 3%, you’ve really gained 5% in buying power.

Another application for time value of money is when you’re trying to decide which payment plan you’d prefer. What happens if you were told that you could buy a car for $20,000 cash today. Or you could make $400 payments for 60 months. Or you could put $4,000 down and make $375 payments for 48 months.

You could add up all the payments you would make, and that would be a good rough estimate. But you’d get a more precise answer by using a calculator to bring everything back to today’s dollars so that you’d have a fairer comparison.

$1 today is more valuable

Don’t be intimidated by the concept. Just remember that having $1 today is more valuable that having one a year from now. And the same holds true if you’re paying. A dollar that you pay today is more valuable than one that you’ll pay next year.
With an understanding of the time value of money and the ability to use the rule of 72, you can help yourself in a variety of common money situations.

~~~~~~~

Thanks Gary! This article by Gary Foreman originally appeared in The Dollar Stretcher.com.

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He’s been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, Credit.com and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. You can follow Gary on Twitter or visit Gary Foreman on Google+. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

Time Value of Money Image via weakonomics.com

 

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Money-Savvy Travel Hacks

Money-Savvy Travel Hacks

Everyone deserves an escape from work now and then, and you don’t need to smash your piggy bank to have a good time. Refreshing visions of “getting away” are calling to you. Your vacation demands to be taken! Make the most of your R & R dollars using these money-savvy travel hacks to create an oasis of fun and relaxation. In fact, getting away is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health! Check out the healthy benefits of traveling via PositiveHealthWellness.

Plan Ahead

Be proactive and reap the benefits of your hard work without going into debt. Find discount codes for your favorite destination and pre-purchase museum tickets, boat rides or city-saver coupon books ahead of time. You will be amazed at how much money you can save!

Book fixed-cost trips

Explore and select trips that fit the exact dollar amount in your budget. No extra fees & no surprises. Another method for destination selection is to pick a theme. Base your trip on some of your favorite activities. Love wine? Tour a few vineyards or participate in a cooking class seminar. History buffs can find numerous forts and museums across the country while nature lovers have incredible opportunities to hike and bike, enjoying a personal experience in stunning landscapes.

Spectacular Vistas and Memories

Another fabulous way to see America is to take advantage of the breathtaking national and state parks here in the USA. Visit nps.gov to find a national park within driving distance. For even more road trip ideas, visit http://www.visittheusa.com.

Lower Hotel Costs

Travel with friends and family and rent a condo or house. One option is to find smaller independently owned hotels that are not part of a chain. You will often enjoy more personal service and spend less. Tired of high-rise condos with slow elevators and too many people? Investigate AirBNB or Vacation Homes By Owner for spacious digs at much lower prices and the opportunity to have more privacy.

Favorite Destinations

Find the “hot-spot” and stay in the nearest town for bigger savings. For example, you don’t mind driving an extra 20-30 minutes, when traveling to Niagara Falls, book a hotel room in Buffalo, New York – it’s only a 20-minute drive across the border. You can cut your hotel budget in half. Now you have the best of both worlds: you saved saved a ton of money while seeing all of the sights!

Taking an escape from work can be a great stress reliever, provide memorable time with family and friends, and bring a sense of renewal to your life. Reward yourself! Keeping your focus on a healthy relationship with your money while at work or play allows you to make the most of your vacation while taking advantage of smart,  money-savvy travel hacks.  Be sure to follow @themoneynerve on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more travel tips and tools.

Have a great vacation this summer — You deserve it!

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Ready To Invest: Start Today

Ready to Invest- The Money Nerve

Ready to Invest: Start Today

Before you start diving into investments,

let’s look a few ways to be smart with your money.

What is investing? Investing is actually pretty simple; you are essentially putting your money to work for you so that you don’t have to take a second job or work overtime hours to increase your earning potential. There are many different ways to make an investment, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds or real estate, and they don’t always require a large sum of money to start.

Learn the terminology of investing

Many of the larger investment companies provide a wealth of content to teach beginners the language of investing and share information about the multiple businesses you can invest in, and the various methods to build your nest egg. TIME=MONEY Therefore, the earlier you begin saving and investing, the higher returns you will see compared investing the same amount of money 20 years later. Money creates money and your lump sum will increase exponentially – if you nurture it and let it grow over time. It is tempting to skim the profit off the initial investment, but you will significantly reduce your total gains with that choice.

I was given some sound advice when I was younger, “Don’t invest money that you can’t afford to lose.” Anytime you put your money where outside influences can create an environment where massive gains can be made; you must also be aware that it can result in substantial losses. More volatility can create huge wins, and that “lucky break syndrome” is addictive to many of us. Hence the warning: this is “extra money” that you want to grow without putting your current lifestyle in jeopardy. If a stock loss means you can’t pay your bills, you need to adjust your investment strategy!

Be smart, do some homework. I like to advise people ready to invest in the stock market to select high-value blue-chip companies that pay dividends. Invest in value and don’t treat it as a quick sale. It is a stable place to park your money, and over time the value will continue to grow, building your wealth.

Many Paths to Reach Your Goal

Another option for entering the stock market is to purchase Exchange Traded Funds, also called EFTs. Investing in EFTs is similar to buying stocks, but you are placing your money into funds that track indexes like the NASDAQ-100 Index, S&P 500, Dow Jones, etc. By purchasing a fund that has many stocks in a particular index, you are not trying to “beat the market” you are taking advantage of being “in the market” with a broader range of stocks being traded for a more consistent result. One of the benefits of ETFs is having the broad array of a diversified portfolio with the ease of buying and selling a single stock. You don’t have to wait for the market to close to make changes. As you get more savvy in following the market or electing to make bolder choices, you can purchase ETF shares on margin, short sell shares, or hold for the long term. You can make trades in the stock market as an individual or you can use a stockbroker; each has advantages and disadvantages; just explore your options.

If the stock market is too much of a gamble or too virtual for your budget, then real estate is another option for investing. It is a fact that the world’s population continues to increase, but there will never be more land. You can begin by investing in land or property. If you live in an area that is having significant growth, look for some land nearby that will grow in value as the area expands.

Building Your Tangible Assets

A rental house might be a solid choice; many people do not have the money to buy a home and need to rent. For this reason, owning property can be another option for investing in a tangible asset. If you have saved a substantial amount of money, pay cash for the house, and the monthly rent will pay for the real estate over time. Or when you are ready to invest, place a down payment on a small home and collect a rent that is higher than the mortgage.

Owning smaller property builds your equity without sizable risk because you own the property, make a small amount of profit each month, and can sell this asset if needed. Be sure to open a savings account to cover any expenses such as new appliances or repairs. It is best to keep the cash flow from real estate separate from your personal cash flow. Separate accounts make it easier to track the money flow and calculate the real return (ROI) on your money. As the the property is paid off, you can continue to receive residual income or purchase another piece of property.

Begin With A Simple Plan

There are so many options to build your wealth and these are just a few choices to ponder, once you decide you are ready to invest. Think about your ultimate goal, what you want the money to provide for you and when you might need to use your money, as you grow older. Seek out the good advice of successful financiers. One of my favorites, a brilliant investor is Warren Buffet, and he famously shares his motto, “Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.”

Explore. Experience. Achieve.

*This post was also published on http://www.mystrategicdollar.com/. It is always a pleasure to work with people who want to help others gain more traction in their journey to create financial freedom. If you are looking for ways to manage your money more effectively, check out my “tools” page and be sure to read Lance’s blogposts at the link above.