To most, debt is a serious type of animal, and for good reason. Likened to that of meeting a grizzly bear in the middle of the wilderness (#yikes) we’ve always been instructed that debt is bad and, like a grizzly bear in the wilderness, should be avoided at all costs. However what I’m currently learning in my own investment journey is how to leverage your debt to acquire assets that will further build you wealth. Here are my three ways you can leverage your debt to build wealth:
The HELOC – Are you a homeowner? Or even one day plan to inherit an estate? Well a HELOC (home equity line of credit) might be just for you. With a HELOC the owner of a property is able to take out a line of credit on their primary residence based on the amount of equity they have in the property.
For example say your home is worth 100k and you owe 50k on it, you now have 50k in equity in your home! Now naturally, when applying for a HELOC most banks won’t lend up to 100% of the amount of equity you have in your home, however they will lend up to 80% to even 90% of the LTV (loan to value). Essentially if you have 50k equity in your home you can walk away with a 40k line of credit based on an 80% LTV. This alone isn’t too shabby, 40k can pay for home repairs, to pay down your mortgage, go towards student loans, or it can be a nice down payment on another asset such as an investment property. Yet, like all lines of credit keep in mind a HELOC still needs to be paid back. So what does an example of this look like:
Let’s use our previous example of before: Your home is worth 100k and you owe 50k on it. You know the bank will lend up to 80% LTV so you’ll walk away with your 40k line of credit. Instead of blowing your 40k at the casino, you decide to use your line of credit as a 20% downpayment on a 200k multifamily which is priced below market value.
After maxing out your line of credit you might use some money from savings to create a little equity in the home such as floors, paint, etc… After having the multifamily rented out you can then choose to refinance the mortgage (remember you already have 20% equity in the home from your downpayment, on top of buying the home below market value, and the forced appreciation of the new flooring, paint etc..)
After all that work say the home appraises for 260k and you owe 160k (200k, the price of the home – 40k your down payment). You now have 60k in equity in your brand new investment property! After doing a cash out refi of say 75% LTV you end up with 45k (60k x 75%) in cash! Enough to pay off your HELOC and have 5k left over. Not to mention a brand new cash flowing investment property.
The Auto Refi – Let’s get real here, cars are one of our top liabilities. Some of us pay absorbent amounts on loans, and leases for the vehicle to depreciate right off the lot. It’s tough to imagine this liability could ever fuel an asset. However, like a home, you can also refinance your car loan. Why would this make sense? Well say your car is worth more than what you owe on it? You could simply refinance your car, take cash out, and start with a new loan.
Now, if you take the proceeds from your cash out and put them towards an asset such as a home, vacation rental, etc… you can then not only create value for yourself but have someone else pay off your car loan (#tenants). For more information this article from lending tree was super helpful.
The Credit Card – Ummm… What’s in your wallet? For most of us, not a heck of alot. However with cash back rewards programs from credit card companies you can see a portion of your purchases back. What does this mean? Well if you have the intention to invest, it means you can see a portion of your hard earned money back via rewards programs. These cash back rewards can potentially be set aside for cash flowing investments, or another asset that will build you wealth. There are a tons of blogs written on this topic, including this one which I thought provided good insight.
Conclusion – The key takeaway here is that intentionality is everything. It is very possible to take some of our most wealth depriving liabilities such as homes, cars, and credit cards and use them to create wealth and acquire assets. However, at the end of the day the intentionality and financial discipline needs to be up to the individual to take action. What do you think? How can you leverage up some of your liabilities to help you gain wealth?