## Are Extended Warranties Good Deals?

An Extended warranty, sometimes called a service contract, is a prolonged warranty that extends beyond the warranty of the product. They may be offered by the manufacturer or a third party. For example, when you buy some electronics online or in-store, you may be asked whether you would like to extend the warranty by paying a little more; when you buy a used car, some car dealers may offer an extended warranty over that car. Are extended warranties good deals? How Do Extended Warranties Work? Extended warranties extend the warranty bundled with the good or service. For example, you purchased a phone and the manufacturer sold the phone with a 1-year “limited” warranty. During this 1-year period, if the phone breaks due to defection (“workmanship”), the manufacturer will pay for repair cost. At the time of the purchase or near the end of the original warranty, the manufacturer or a third party may offer to extend the warranty for three more years. This means that, after the end of the first year and before the end of the fourth year, this extended warranty will cover the repair cost under certain conditions. Purchasing Extended Warranties in Most Cases Is Not a Good Idea Economically speaking, extended warranties work exactly like insurance: The provider charges a cost upfront and pays for the uncertain event of repairing. Just like other types of insurance, on average, the provider makes money by selling the extended warranty, and the consumer on average loses money by purchasing the extended warranty. The basic principle of purchasing an insurance product is to only insure against events that may cause financial hardship, since those financial losses can be devastating and too difficult to recover from. However, most extended warranties only help prevent minor financial loss. Therefore, in most cases, purchasing extended warranties loses money on average and doesn’t protect from financial hardship. When Is Purchasing an Extended Warranty a Good Idea? Since, economically, an extended warranty works like an insurance policy, the principle of purchasing an extended warranty is not much different from that of an insurance policy: Buy the extended warranty only if it prevents financial hardship. For example, if repairing a car causes financial hardship for you, it may be a good idea to purchase a good extended warranty for your car. When your car breaks down, the extended warranty can truly protect you from financial hardship. Conclusion Extended warranties extend the warranty bundled with the original product. In most cases, purchasing extended warranties is not a good idea because the consumer loses money on average and it doesn’t protect from financial hardship. However, it may be a good idea to purchase the extended warranty if it prevents financial hardship. ...

## What Numbers to Check on in a Loan? A Quick Guide

This post serves as a quick guide on what numbers to check on in a loan. Specifically, we focus on the most common type of consumer loan in the US: fixed-rate equal installment loans. Such a loan has an interest rate fixed throughout its life and requires an equal payment amount in each period, typically each month. It can be a home mortgage, an auto loan, a personal loan, etc. How do we, as normal consumers, analyze these loans? The Anatomy of a Loan When you get a loan, you are typically given a list of confusing numbers. However, the substance of the loan only consists of the following 4 components: Loan Amount. This is the balance of the loan in the first period. This is usually considered the amount of money you borrow. One-Time Fees: These are the fees you pay only once at the beginning of the loan. This can be in various names: origination fee, points, etc. Occasionally, this can go negative. Interest Rate: For each period, the balance you still owe multiplied by the interest rate is the extra cost you incur. Loan Term: The length of the loan, typically in years or months. Additionally, the balance of a loan is the amount that you can pay now to pay off the loan. Example For example, you are refinancing your home. Assuming the balance of the mortgage loan is $100,000. The loan officer gives the following numbers to you: Loan Amount: $100,000. Loan Term: 30 years. Interest rate: 4.00%. PMI rate: 2.00%. Points: 1.00%. Title fees: $2,000. Origination fees: $1,000. How do these numbers fit into the 4 components of the loan? The Loan Amount and Loan Term are straightforward: They are literally as they are given in the loan. One-Time Fees are the fees that are incurred only once at the beginning of the loan. In this case, it includes points, title fees, and origination fees. Summing them up, we have One-Time Fees of $4,000 ($100,000 * 1.00% + $2,000 + $1,000). Interest Rate indicates how much more you pay based on the balance left at that period. In this example, each month, you need to pay for PMI and interest, as defined by the loan. The total interest rate is 6.00% (4.00% + 2.00%). Important Number: Monthly Payment The first important number is the Monthly Payment. Monthly payment is the amount of cash you need to pay for each month. This is important because it not only plays an essential role in determining whether you qualify for the loan, but also determines how much you must pay in cash in each month. Example Using the example above, we know the Monthly Payment is $599.55. If you take this loan, it’s worth considering how burdensome it is to pay this amount of money each month. Important Number: Effective Interest Rate Effective Interest Rate is the actual rate of cost of borrowing. What does this mean? When you borrow money, you effectively function like a bank that serves a savings account, and your lender is a depositor of this savings account. Your lender initially puts in some money (Loan Amount), and withdraws via One-Time Fees and Monthly Payments. At the end of the loan, the savings account becomes empty. The actual rate of cost—or the rate of return from the lender’s perspective—is the interest rate of this savings account. Example Using the example above, if you pay off the loan in 30 years, the lender essentially: Deposits $100,000 (Loan Amount) into an empty savings account that you serve. Withdraws $4,000 (One-Time Fees) immediately afterward. Withdraws $599.55 each month for 30 years until the savings account has become empty. The rate of this savings account, or the Effective Interest Rate, is 6.385%. Attention: Early Payoff Keep in mind though, you can typically pay off the loan early. This can be done in many ways: Paying directly the lender a lump sum, refinancing the loan, or selling the house/car if it’s a home mortgage/auto loan. In this case, the effective interest rate would be different from the case in which you do not pay off early. Using the example above, if you sell the house 3 years after refinancing, the lender essentially: Deposits $100,000 (Loan Amount) into an empty savings account that you serve. Withdraws $4,000 (One-Time Fees) immediately afterward. Withdraws $599.55 each month for 3 years. Withdraws the remaining balance of $96,084.07 at the end of 3 years. The rate of this savings account, or the Effective Interest Rate, is 7.520%. In this case, the actual cost of borrowing is higher than paying off in 30 years. In general, if One-Time Fees are positive, the earlier you pay off, the higher the actual cost of borrowing is. On the other hand, if One-Time Fees are negative, the earlier you pay off, the lower the actual cost of borrowing is. Therefore, it is important to estimate when you’ll pay off the loan beforehand. A Calculator We have developed a general loan calculator and a mortgage calculator that estimate the important numbers discussed above. You can easily figure out the 4 components of your loan and quickly see the numbers that matter! ...

## Home Mortgage Interest Deduction Estimator

The following calculator can be used to estimate the home mortgage interest deduction of a year (Line 8e on Tax Form 1040 Schedule A). The calculator only estimates the home mortgage interest deduction and is useful for planning purposes only. The result is likely different from the exact number you need to fill in your tax form due to various details and nuances required by the tax law. Instead, when filling in your tax form, please follow the relevant instructions or hire a tax professional. ...

## Stock After-Tax Return Estimator

Use the calculator below to estimate the after-tax return of a stock, ETF, or index. To estimate S&P 500 return, consider using the S&P500 Return Estimator. Price Change Rate: Percentage of price changed annually. Dividend Rate: Dividend paid divided by the price annually. Inflation Rate: Annual inflation rate. Tax Rate: The income tax rate on capital gain and dividends. Years Held: The number of years holding this stock/ETF/index.

## S&P 500 After-Tax Return Calculator

Use the calculator below to estimate the after-tax return of investing in S&P 500 during a specific time period. Starting Year: The end of the year near which the hypothetical investment is made. Ending Year: The end of the year near which the hypothetical investment is terminated. Tax Rate: The tax rate. This should normally be the estimated Capital Gain Tax Rate. Data Sources S&P 500 price and dividend: Shiller Data Consumer Price Index (CPI): Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) provided by US Bureau of Labor Statistics