{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

carl February 22, 2008 at 2:33 pm

I have read you article and don’t quit see your point. When you did your calculations you must have put it into XL. I’d like to see it, if you don’t mind emailing it to me.

Robert D. Ashby February 22, 2008 at 2:45 pm

Carl – The point is quite simple. If your goal happens to be to pay off your mortgage, the MMA is a waste of money, even by their own example. The numbers in this post show that it is far better to use the money toward extra principal and add the $1,000 discretionary as extra princiapl each month.

As for other mortgage acceleration programs, understand that the vast majority of the savings is derived from extra princiapl payments from discretionary income. Interest cancellation effects are developed, but do not justify the cost of software and the fact is you can do essentially just as good without it.

As for my calculations, I use various financial calculators, Mortgage Coach being one of them. Therefore, I am unable to send you the formulas, etc., only a printout of the results.

Search around the site and you will see other posts I have done on the subject and I would like to thank you for taking the time to comment.

Matt Freeman April 18, 2008 at 1:07 pm

A few Questions: For your eaxample where is there room for the lack of discipline that exists in most people? The software is an accountability partner.
Any principle redution payment is permanent in your example and would not allow access to money if needed as does the A lOC.
Three many finance the software costs and your example assumes they can write a check for the 3500 to their mortgage to get things started.

Let me follow up by I am not fully sold so I ask these questions because I appreciate your feedback.

Robert D. Ashby April 29, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Matt – Good questions for this post, however some have been answered elsewhere on this blog. Nevertheless, I will address them here as well for other readers.

I have no sympathy for those who lack fiscal discipline. That being said, I do want to help them and I am starting a new blog for that purpose, appropriately called Fiscal Discipline. Beyond that, software is rarely a good accountability partner, as people who lack discipline will not use it after the “wow factor” is over.

The fact is that any principal reduction payment is never to be seen again. The ALOC is another loan, and has limits. That means two things…1) Taking money back out results in a larger second loan and 2) there is a maximum amount you can take out. The problem here is that if someone “needs” to take money out, they likely will not be able to tap into too much equity due to its limit and these loans are usually small. If you make them too large, then a lot of costs get added to the whole program (MMA + ALOC). Additionally, these ALOCs can be frozen at the lender’s discretion, something many lenders are doing these days.

Regarding the financing option, the UFF presentation factors in that the cost of their program is financed, so this example covered that. My example does assume you can write a check for $3,500 in this comparison, but this is just one of many I have posted here.

If you have any other questions, please let me know. Thanks again for your contribution to the discussion.

Thomas Hargreaves July 9, 2008 at 9:13 pm

You do not give anywhere enough stats to make the comparison.. the stats you show are meaningless.. where is the full run of your numbers????? as a season financial planner as well as a mortgage broker you seem to be missing many pieces of the calculations. I have sold the MMA, and I have put clients into the Mortage accelerator by CMG. The thing is that regardless of what program you use, you still need client participation and discipline. The MMA does save people money.. however the system is the key not the software. You can guide a client to get a Heloc and do it on their own, as long as they have the discipline to make the additional principal payments.. so send us all the figures you used, before you slam things.. You have absolutely no proof of your statement in the figures you have published.. howe did you get those numbers??? that is what I want to know.

Robert D. Ashby July 10, 2008 at 10:45 am

Thomas,

I actually did spell out how I came up with the numbers. I took UFF’s numbers directly from their presentation, then compared their results with that of simply paying down the mortgage by $3,500 and adding the $1,000 discretionary payment to the monthly mortgage payment.

I used Mortgage Coach (mortgage planning software) to run the computations, but any mortgage calculator can do the same. The result were as reported, very clearly shown, no smoke and mirrors as you are trying to portray. The proof is in the numbers, so your statement saying I have no proof is completely unfounded. I do not publish false information.

And as for the discipline required, all it takes is an adjustment to the monthly payment, which the homeowner sends in anyways, so no extra discipline needed.

The MMA is software that utilizes a HELOC (ALOC) to cancel a very small portion of interest while recommending adding ALL discretionary income toward extra principal payment. It can be adjusted to meet other needs, like investing, however, ALL of its options take away from the performance of the best strategies out there.

UFirst Believer August 21, 2008 at 1:23 pm

Robert, You bring up a very interesting point, and maybe under simplified circumstances like the scenario you provided, the MMA may not be the right choice for the person that only has a mortgage and has an extra $1000 per month to pay down their principal. Especially for the older versions of the MMA Program.

However, with the newest version of the MMA that has been recently released it not only pays off your mortgage, but all of your other debt as well. So for someone who has a Mortgage, School Loans, Car Payment, and several credit cards, you can plug all of those into the MMA System and it will use it’s algorithm to determine the quickest way to pay off ALL of your debt, including your mortgage.

So my guess would be, there is no better program out there than the MMA to pay off several debts as listed above, and do so with a smaller (more realistic) discretionary income.

The one thing you must factor in your calculations is time. To some people, time is worth money. So if my time is worth a lot of money, and I only need to spend 10-15 min per week adjusting my numbers, it very much justifies the cost of the program. Forget about the fact it’s saving me Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars (which in terms of an investment is one heck of a rate of return), just the mere fact that it’s saving me tons of time so that I don’t have to try to figure it out myself, that alone is worth the cost. That may not be true for someone who only makes $10 / Hour, but my time is worth a lot more than that.

Robert, I challenge you to re-run the numbers with a more realistic scenario, including multiple debts. If you can find a more simple solution, that will save me more money and more time, then I will eat my words… However, I don’t think a solution like that exists other than the Newest Version of the MMA.

Robert D. Ashby September 10, 2008 at 6:24 pm

UFirst Believer,

Actually, my analysis works for just about any scenario, including multiple debts. You do not need the software, merely an understanding of how money works. Sure you can sit idly by and let a computer program “spoon feed” you, but you learn nothing about how money works, just like what you learn in our schools, which is why so many Americans are clueless when it comes to their finances.

I am glad to see that UFirst is taking the software to a new level and I commend them for that. However, many financial software is available and there are free financial calculators available that can accomplish the same thing, though yes it does take a few more minutes.

As for comparing scenarios, send me one in an email, along with your results from the MMA (printouts) and I can run comparisons of options. Remember to be detailed in your work so I can run a true comparison.

Oh, and one flying analogy to throw into the mix. Just think if I never bothered to spend all those hours learning how to fly and handle emergencies, instead merely letting the autopilot do all of the work. Would you want me to be in charge of your life when the autopilot fails in bad weather and we have an engine fire?

Denny Lobach September 25, 2008 at 6:27 pm

I actually ran across this when doing a little research on UFirst due to an email converstion I had with an agent who was trying to get me to sell the product to my insurance and retirement planning clients. My first reaction was that I believe in harvesting the equity and putting it to use rather than paying the mortgage off. When he persisted that I should be helping my clients pay off their debt and that the $3500 was worth the results and that by paying it the client would use the system…I directed him to a similar product called the “HEAP” system and that he could provide the same software to his clients for only $500 which included him helping them set up their plan. If he was really out to help his clients get out of debt he should use that method instead of putting his clients $3500 deeper in debt. He wasn’t interested because he made $500 to $1000 in overrides each time he recruited an agent . The end result was that UFirst is about the multi level commissions they earn not what is in the best interest of the client as they claim. Actually the Heap system is used to show the clients the benefit of paying off the mortgage and at the same time the benefit of harvesting the equity. Both illustrations are shown to the client and they can decide.

Robert D. Ashby September 29, 2008 at 9:55 am

Denny,

I agree that HEAP is a better, at least cheaper alternative, but it is still flawed and and not essential to the overall picture.

Be it known that I was the first to discuss the use of mortgage acceleration and equity harvesting in conjunction with each other as a strategy which works quite well. I still favor equity harvesting over even that combination, though it clearly shows a powerful alternative to paying off one’s mortgage, especially versus any mortgage acceleration product out there no matter what their costs.

The bottom line is advice is what is needed, advice that covers ALL strategies for growing wealth, not just one-sided analysis that has a single focus, making the salesperson money.

Denny Lobach September 30, 2008 at 7:33 am

Robert,

My understanding is the actual cost of the HEAP program is to pay for the time invested by the advisor to create a plan for the client rather than the cost of the software by the client. Advisors pay to use the software and they can charge a small amount – nothing at all – or any amount up to but no more than $500.

Additionally you stated “I agree that HEAP is a better, at least cheaper alternative, but it is still flawed and and not essential to the overall picture.”

Why is HEAP flawed? (Perhaps you have already discussed this in prior postings?)

Many people would not listen to any discussion of equity harvesting but would be very interested in how to pay off their mortgage early…thereby giving the advisor the opportunity to present both and show the comparison of benefits.

If you are seeking a mortgage or insurance or stocks etc. in this day and age anyone can go on line and “do-it-themselves”. Many (most) of them would rather have someone else guide them through and don’t mind paying for that service. Even if clients can develope an acceleration program by themselves by using a spreadsheet most (many) won’t. Although I would be interested to see software that accomplishes that same end without any cost, I don’t see any other way except through a fee that an advisor would get paid to help a client impliment an acceleration plan.

I can’t think of anything that I have done for clients that they couldn’t have figured out and done for themselves…except for getting them to to it.

Robert D. Ashby October 1, 2008 at 11:31 am

Denny,

Thanks for continuing the discussion. As for the HEAP being flawed, I have hit on it before but it basically comes down to one way or the other, pay off the mortgage or equity harvesting. There did not appear to be any flexibility beyond that.

I agree people would pay for advice so long as they can afford it and service comes with a price. I prefer people work with advisors and not computer programs to find the best solutions, especially when the software doesn’t even analyze some of the best solutions.

Another agreement I have with your point of view is that most people would rather discuss paying off their mortgage than equity harvesting. Granted a lot of that is due to the lack of education we have on how money works, therein lies a big part of why I started the Florida Mortgage Report. I attack the U1st Financial program and even HEAP because neither analyze all strategies, even when it comes to paying off the mortgage the fastest way possible.

On this blog, I have done some basic comparisons that show that even using an MMA (or HEAP) to pay off one’s mortgage the fastest, other strategies place the homeowner in position to payoff the mortgage even faster and that is without equity harvesting. Combine equity harvesting and a mortgage acceleration strategy and you can create enormous amounts of wealth over time, which I happened to be the first to talk about before.

So, I have found that for those seeking genuine advice from a professional that looks at ALL strategies and is not just a salesperson, they will come to this site, and others, to gain the knowledge necessary to make a better informed decision, whatever they finally decide upon.

Once again, I appreciate the continued discussion and I can see you are one with your clients’ best interest in mind. Getting people educated on various strategies is a major part of helping them solidify their financial future.

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