Anita Bell on tricks to pay off mortgages faster
Queensland personal finance writer Anita Bell paid a flying visit to New Zealand this weekend to preach her money-saving message at Auckland’s Golden Age Expo, which was targeted at people about to retire.
Tuesday, November 6th 2001, 2:43PM
by Jenny Ruth
Her first book was "Your Mortgage – how to pay it off in five years by someone who did it in three."
That book has sold 170,000 copies in Australia since it was published in August 1999 and the New Zealand version, especially tailored to local conditions, has sold 11,000 copies since its release in June last year.
So, how does she do it?
"It starts before you buy a property," Bell tells Good Returns, claiming to have saved between $40,000 and $60,000 on every property she has bought.
One trick with a prospective rental property is what she calls "long contract" where you get instant access to the property but don’t have to settle for, say, three months. You use the time in between to renovate so the house is ready for renting from day one of owning it.
And you can also start paying the mortgage off before settlement. "Then you drop the principal by that amount and never pay interest on that amount for the term of your loan. That effectively makes your start repayment a little more than it needs to be. That usually saves you at least $10,000 to $20,000," Bell says.
While a firm advocate of budgeting, Bell says everyone still needs "a sanity allowance," which she recommends should be about 3% of one’s income. "You work to live, you don’t live to work. That’s why you should never be a scrooge about the little things," she says.
Canny use of bank accounts and credit cards are other savings tips. And there are some "cheeky" things one can do with revolving credit accounts. "Some banks will allow you to have more than one without a minimum balance," she hints.
Bell says she’s working with "a couple of major lenders" in Australia at the moment on developing a new mortgage product which will use some of her ideas..
Bell says she writes about personal finances because "I’m no good at romance." After an attempt at a romance novel was rejected, she attended a writers’ workshop which recommended people write about what they know.
Bell, who bought her first property at age 16, was debt-free by 24, "retired" at 26 and owned three properties by 30, did just that. "I thought that will be a short book," she jokes, and "Your Mortgage" is short at only 152 pages.
She followed that up with "Your Money" which was released in New Zealand in June this year.
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