“Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it. And others do just the same with their time.”

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Use Time Value Of Money To Achieve Your Financial Goals

Understanding financial concepts can help you make better decisions. Time and money are inextricably related as in  “Time is money.” A dollar in your pocket today is worth more than a dollar received five years from now. Time value of money is the notion that money has the potential to grow in value over a given period of time. Today’s money can be saved or invested so that it is worth more in the future. Present value relates to what the sum is worth today. On the other hand, the future value is what an investment (or a series of investments) made today will be worth later on.

Earning Simple Interest Is Good

Invest your savings today to have more money tomorrow. The potential for this earnings capacity depends on how the money is invested or interest is paid out.  One way of calculating interest is using the simple interest formula. Here, the principal is set aside while generating income based on the interest rate. So if you had $10,000 in your savings account at 8 percent for four years, you would earn $3,200. However, you can do better by compounding the interest.

Compound Interest Is Far Better In Building Your Wealth

A different and more beneficial way is to earn income through compound interest, closely related to the time value of money. Assuming you don’t withdraw any money, compounding allows you to earn interest on interest on your balance. That is, your principal continues to rise as interest is earned. The frequency of the compounding matters.  More frequent compounding (daily rather than annually) adds incrementally to more money.

Compounding serves as the basis of the time value of money. By adopting good financial habits of saving money, compounding over time is what builds wealth. Instead of earning $3,200 over 4 years at an 8% interest rate, compounding gives $405 more or $3,605 on your initial $10,000 deposit. Over a longer period of time of 40 years, that $10,000 would grow to $217,245. Most of that growth comes from interest earned on interest. Ka-ching!

A Positive Effect On Your Money

Compound interest is one of the most powerful forces of investing. It fuels the urgency to set aside money early for your retirement. This simply means that you are adding interest to the sum of a loan or deposit, or interest on interest. Your balance grows at an increasing rate so long as you don’t withdraw money from your funds. The power of compounding is the basis of everything from your personal savings plan, 529 Savings Plan, retirement, and investment accounts. The earlier you save money, the longer the compounding works for you.

To better illustrate the power of compound interest is the classic question, “what would you rather have, a penny that doubles every day for 30 days or $1,000,000?” And the answer is ….the doubling penny which yields $10,737,418.23. Quite a bit more than the one million dollars. Take a look at our excel spreadsheet here..

Now, it is not reasonable to assume a 100% annual growth rate for any investment annually, let alone on a daily basis.

However, if you save $2,000 per year in an investment account early in your lives at a more reasonable 8% return, and save an additional $500 per month on top of that, over a 35 year period, you could accumulate $1.1 million. Try using a compound interest calculator.

Saving For Retirement Early Beneficial For Growth

The power of compounding interest, linked to the time value of money, will benefit you the most if you save and invest early. Let your earnings accumulate and grow rather than withdraw money from your accounts. It makes a big difference if you start saving for your retirement 10 years later than your friends or if you invest for 10 years and then stop contributing to your 401K retirement account. It is difficult if not impossible to catch up by doubling the amount if you start investing later on.

As a goal, try to contribute to your 401K plan to the maximum level which is $19,500 in 2020.  Some years it may be hard to do, especially when you experiencing a job loss. Resist withdrawing money from your retirement account as there is usually a 10% penalty tax to do so before you turn 59.5 years. As a result of the CARES Act, it is easier to withdraw funds up to $100,000 during 2020 from certain tax-advantaged 401Ks and traditional IRA  accounts without penalty if you are eligible. That said, withdrawing this money will put in a dent into your retirement fund that will be painful later on.

Lottery Winners: Lump Sum Or Annual Payments

There is only a small probability of winning the lottery. However, it uses the time value of money calculations (present value and future value) to decide whether to take the winnings in a lump sum or annual payments. Lottery winners, after the rush of adrenaline, have a choice to make regarding time and money. Most lotteries allow the winner to take a lower lump sum or an annuity. The annuity option is a series of annual payments.

If the jackpot is $100 million, the lottery could arrange for 20 annual payments of $5 million while investing a lump sum to fund those payments to the winner. Assuming a present value of a series of equal payments of $5 million at 6%, they would need to only $57,349,500 to fund the stream.

What Should The Winner Do?

If the winner takes the lump sum payment immediately (setting taxes aside), they would receive cash of $57,349, 500 before taxes. I used a present value of an annuity table finding a multiple of 11.4699 (at 20 years and 6%) multiplying it by $5 million. The savvy winner would have the opportunity to invest the money and take advantage of compound interest. They would have to pay federal taxes and possibly state and local taxes as well.  Most lottery winners do take the lower lump sum payment upfront.  They want to have full access immediately rather than over several years which is fine if they stave off friends and family who often benefit from this sudden wealth.

Choosing the annuity may be better for tax implications than the lump sum. The latter raises separate issues of sudden wealth and risk of overspending. That is for another post, another day. We will get back to more examples of the time and money relationship.

Becoming wealthy is not always a function of investing a lot of money. It is rather the result of investing early, consistently for long periods of time without the pressures of high levels of debt.

The Downside Of Compound Interest

When borrowing money, compound interest works against you. Your lenders are reaping the benefits of earning interest on interest on your loans. Consider this when going for a loan such as a mortgage, student loan, personal loan, and credit cards.

Using credit cards can be particularly detrimental when you carry balances rather than paying the full monthly balance. By merely paying the minimum on your monthly card balance, your debt is ratcheting up quickly with high-cost debt. Most credit cards carry interest rates in the mid-high teens level. Your lenders are channeling the Rolling Stones, “Time is on my side, yes it is..”

Manage Debt Carefully

Let’s say your credit card balance is $5,000 with a 20% interest rate, and you pay only the monthly minimum. The average minimum is usually a small percentage such as 3% of the balance or a flat amount of $25. We ignore this for illustrative purposes. Your interest of $1,000 will be added to your new total of $6,000 and at the end of the second year, you will have debt of $7200, adding interest of $1,200. The debt mushrooms in a negative way, holding you back from paying your debt off. Spend less than you earn. Make savings your priority so you outpace the growth in debt and reduce it to more manageable levels.

Related Post: How To Manage Debt For Better Financial Health

Financial Implications For 30 Year versus 15 Year Mortgage

When buying your home, you are likely going to borrow money for about 80% of the value of a house or an apartment. You will pay less interest when opting for the shorter-term mortgage.

When comparing the different loan maturities on a $300,000 loan:

  • The annual percentage rate (APR) will be higher for the 30-year mortgage than a 15 year one, all else being the same.
  • The monthly mortgage payments will be significantly higher for the 15 year mortgage given the shorter period. If you can afford to pay the higher monthly amount, you are better off with the 15-year mortgage because you are paying less in total interest.
  •  Assuming you have a 720 credit score, the total home price, inclusive of total interest paid and down payment will be lower with a 15-year mortgage loan.
  • The 30 year mortgage is much higher because you are paying interest on your loan longer, so total home price or principal is $375,000 plus $189,622 equalling $564,620.
  • If you opt for a 15 year mortgage, your total home price or principal  is $375,000 ($300,000 loan + $75,000 down payment of 20%) + $76,012 in total interest equals $451,012 for principal and interest.

Rent As An Alternative To Buying Your Home

On the other hand, renting provides flexibility and freedom. Your rent is usually more affordable than home costs, not having to deal with the home’s repair and maintenance, freeing you to use savings to make investments, and not having to worry about potential declining home values. The downside of renting your home is having restrictions to do what you want to make your place more livable. Your landlord could decide to sell the property and require you to move. There is always the risk of having a bad landlord whose actions force you to pick up and leave.

Related Post: A Guide To Buying Or Renting Your Home


Rule Of 72: How Long To Double The Principal

This handy formula always reminded be of a card trick. The Rule of 72 is a simplistic formula used to determine how long an investment will take to double given a fixed rate of return. Simply divide the interest rate that the money will earn into the number 72. For example, suppose that you owe $1,000 on a loan and the interest rate you are charged is 20% per year, compounded annually. If you didn’t pay anything off, at this interest rate, how many years would it take for the amount you owe to double? The formula for this rule is 72 divided by interest rate or 72/20 and equals 3.6 years.

As mentioned earlier, it is always key to use the magic of compounding in your favor and for money growth, not debt. For other financial ratios like the Rule of 72, read this related post.

Opportunity Costs in Decision Making

The opportunity cost of any decision is the cost or the value of the next best alternative that must be foregone. In our lives, we have many choices that may consider time, money, effort, health, and enjoyment. When we invest in financial assets, we should consider risk, return, safety, and liquidity. We are making tradeoffs between these variables that we balance off of each other. Am I seeking higher returns in my portfolio and able to take on some high yield bonds or am I adverse to such high levels of risk?

When managing money, you may need to make a decision to reduce high cost debt before actively saving and investing. Consider your alternatives and do research to find reasonable options. We have written on How To Make Better Money Tradeoffs here.

Final Thoughts

Time value of money and compound interest are among the most important financial concepts. Understanding these ideas can improve your decision making when managing your finances. Time is money though time is a priceless resource. Use it wisely and more productively.

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