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Cash Flow: Are Your Monthly Payments Actually Affordable?

cash on hand

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Are you tempted when you see the new car ads with such low monthly payments? How do you personally decide if something is affordable? What role does your monthly cash flow play with your budget?

I want to share how looking total purchase price vs monthly payments can dramatically improve your finances. When I changed my mindset, it became easier to watch my spending.

Total Purchase Price – An Eye Opener

Besides looking at the payments, you might want to look at the total purchase price.

The first time I did this was with my credit cards. I read in a personal finance book that you end up paying a lot more due to interest if you only make the minimum payments.

The same thing with my car loans. The interest rates were horrendous and paying them on schedule meant I was paying way too much for my car.

I bought a car for about $10,000 at an interest rate of 13.75%.

Horrible rate, I now realize.

Anyways, my car payments came out to around $230/month. With all the finance charges and fees, if I stuck to the car payment schedule, I would pay a total of $15,962.

I would've paid about $6,000 in interest for this car. 👀

Fortunately we paid our car loan faster than planned and saved quite a bit of money in the process.

Mortgage Payments and Total Amount Paid

Now let me show you another an example, this time with a much bigger purchase. Most of us can't buy a house outright, so a low-interest mortgage can make sense for some of us.

Here are the numbers for a house:

Guess how much that $200,000 mortgage will actually cost you?

If you paid on time, at the end of 30 years you will have paid $386,517.71. That's almost twice the purchase price for interest!

While there's nothing wrong with getting a mortgage and paying it on schedule, how many times have you thought about the total cost of your house?

It's an eye opener and you may think twice about rushing into becoming a home owner.

Using a Cash Based Budget

Mastering your cash flow can help you start building that margin so you can reach your financial goals faster.

Not sure where to start? Here are some of my favorite options for tracking and managing your budget.

By using an app, you can quickly and easily see your monthly cash flow and adjust it as needed.

Do Monthly Payments Make Sense?

Looking at the other side of the coin, even if you can afford to pay upfront for a good or service, it may make financial sense to go with payments.

Can there be times when taking monthly payments can be advantageous?

For example, what if you were offered a 0% interest rate for 3 years on a new vehicle? Would you pay for it completely still or would you deposit your money into an account that can earn you some interest?

The answer depends on what goals you're pursuing and whether or not you want to take out a loan.

Thoughts on Buying What You Can Afford

Taking a look at how budgets and cash flow are related can help you figure the best plan to build your net worth

I'd love to hear from you! Do you tend to buy things outright or do you use installments? Have you considered how much interest you're paying for your stuff?

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