So, how have I done in the last four months? It depends on how you look at it. Bottom line is that I invested $1,000 on July 10 and $1550 on August 14 and today I have $2578.24. Lending Club says I have an annualized return of 10.6%, which beats my bank any day, and beats the k stock market much of the time. However, the XIRR method, which many say is the most accurate way to compute returns, says today that my return is about 4%--but Friday it was 6%. Why? Lots of notes were due and paid on Friday, but not many over the weekend or today so they are averaging in three more days and not much more money and on an account this small and this new those days and cents make a big difference. A larger and older account would have a more steady return, unless there was a late note or default. Absent late notes, my return should climb as I bought many notes at a premium so that the interest they paid prior to this month went to replacing capital, not to earnings. Now everything is earnings. A third way to look at it is to say that since this time last month my account has increased by $29.10. If you multiply that by 12 months it gives you $349.20 which is 13.7% of $2550.00. Bottom line is I'm doing well, and even if I had a $25.00 note default every month, I'd still do better than my bank savings account.
What have I learned in the last four months?
- I'm not a financial expert, this is not financial advise and your experience may not mirror mine, but to me, this seems like a great investment. Banks have been making money on consumer credit for a long time; this allows small investors to do the same. One piece of financial advice I got years ago was that if I was going to invest in something I needed to be able to explain how the investment could make money and how it could lose money. Peer-to-Peer Lending is easy to understand as are its risks and pitfalls.
- From everything I've read (and I've been giving Google a real workout) the more money you have invested in Peer-to-Peer Lending, the harder it is to get earnings signficantly above the average, or significantly below. Considering the average is about 8%, I'll take it. Right now I'm above average, but that's because my account is new, not because I'm brilliant. I paid a premium for some resale notes hoping they would be less likely to default that new ones. Time will tell if I'm right,but resale notes have a risk I did not consider when I bought a bunch of those--the risk of early payback. I had a couple of notes pay off early and leave me with less money than I invested.
- While I have enjoyed playing with these notes--selecting them and watching the account grow daily, and while I may have squeezed a few extra cents out of the account by doing so--I really can't see doing this on a large scale. While I can't say I won't play with this anymore, I realize that the more money I have invested the more I have to rely on automatic tools.
- In trolling the Folio site for resale notes I've noticed that large notes are for sale at larger discounts/smaller mark-ups than $25 notes of similar quality/interest rate. Unless I have so much money that I can't get it invested in $25 increments, I'll stay with the $25 notes, even if I buy several of them on the same loan.
- Emergency fund: I took about half of our cash savings and moved them to Peer-to-Peer lending; half to Lending Club and half to its competitor, Prosper. I left enough in the bank to buy a new used car. I figured that for any other use of our emergency fund, I'd have time to liquidate these notes. Also, unlike many investments, this one throws off cash every month so if I know I need money for something, I can stop re-investing the returns and transfer them to the bank.
- College fund: My daughter is in college. We've been paying what her scholarships do not. I'm expecting an inheritance soon. I plan to take the money for her final two years of school and invest it in resale notes that come due before she finishes. I'm going to let my daughter manage the account. If she chooses to do nothing, there will be money there when she needs it, with 4-5% interest (assuming defaults are no worse than expected). If she is a little more active with it, she might do a little better.
- Inheritance: I'm expecting a substantial cash infusion soon. While I plan to put some in the stock market, I also expect to increase my Peer-to-Peer portfolio.
- For my readers: If you want an invite to invest in Lending Club and get up to a $25 bonus, email me or leave a comment and I'll send you one.