Getting Into Good Debt

January 26, 2018 by  
Filed under blog

Last June, I shared 9 key items, found in Paul J. Meyer’s great booklet “Being Smart with Your Money”, that will help you attain a healthy financial life. Number 6 was “Get out of debt”.  This is, of course, great advice but the real key is knowing what kind of debt to get out of and what kind to go after.

One of the biggest keys to making a fortune–and this was a huge key for myself—is to take on the right kind of debt, the kind that has others paying that debt down. Paul’s advice was about credit card debt. Back then, in 2004, the average person in the U.S.A. had between $5,000 and $6,000 in credit card debt with the average for couples seeking a divorce having $37,000 in debt. As most people know (or should know) the interest rates on credit card debt is huge—as high as 29.99%.

Paul goes on to note that debt does more than ruin marriages. It also:

  • Saps your creative thinking.
  • Drains you physically and mentally.
  • Burdens you with pressure.
  • Limits your investing opportunities.

The good kind of debt, however, that helps make you big money is mortgage debt on income producing properties. That debt could be on a small rental house or, as it was in my case when I was in the first few years of my investing career, many, many rental houses and later, apartment buildings. I loved it. Every month, when my tenants would pay their rent, I paid down my debt and the more of this kind of debt I took on, the more the debt was paid down.

Just look at the numbers. I’m using small numbers for this example but if you double the number or add a zero, the rate of return will still be the same. If you bought a rental property for say $110,000 with $20,000 down, in the first year alone the pay down of a 4.5% loan would total $2,841 or a 14.2% rate of return to you.

So, a person’s net worth can grow at a good rate even without that other factor called inflation. But if you have, let’s say, only 2% inflation a year, ten years later that property would be worth over 10% more and your debt would be substantially paid down.  If you put in some fix up money on a property that needs it, you can often push your rate of return much, much higher, even to 100% as I’ve done many times.

Bottom line here is, yes, Paul Meyer is right to get out of the “wrong kind” of debt but you will greatly profit if you get into the “right kind” of debt—mortgage debt on rental properties.

There can be a big double bonus when taking on the right kind of debt too. You can greatly increase your rate of return by using that thing called leverage. If you were able to buy property with only a 10% down payment and had that same 2% inflation, that would push your return to 20% in the first year alone. But then if you had bought what I call a “dirt bag” property that needed an inexpensive cleaning and fix up, using mainly elbow grease and just a small investment of money, you might be able to push that rate of return to over 100%. I’ve done this many, many times. For example, a $100,000 property with a $10,000 down payment plus say $5000 in fix up costs could push up the value to $130,000–your return would now be a whopping 100% of your initial investment of the down payment and the fix up costs!

So, I encourage you to pass this advice onto your friends, kids, and anyone you want to help, especially those that you see getting into the wrong kind of debt, and then push yourself to get out of the bad debt and into the good debt and watch your fortune grow.