Tag Archives: Debt

Back to Basics Fun Educational Review – Part Three – Debt and Debt Planning, The Good The Bad and The Ugly

Welcome to Part Three of our fun educational “Back to Basics” series original started here with Part One “The Emergency Fund” and continuing with Part Two, Protection Planning, and now on to Debt and Debt Planning!

The goal of this series is to cover the most important Foundational Financial Planning items in not only order of importance but also order of technical difficulty. Once complete we expect to have a foundational, almost college like course of Financial Planning topics and goals that can be shared all at once in Netflix series drop like format for any that may be in need or interested. Longtime clients will most certainly find a repetition of items we have spoken or written about before but may occasionally uncover a topic that needs addressing due to a change in our situation.

Debt and Debt Planning – The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Debt and Debt Planning is an extremely important topic, ESPECIALLY in today’s buy now and pay later constantly pushed promotional items. But be careful, nothing is for free and one misstep could lead to an unneeded compound interest tragedy….

In a perfect world, no debt of any type may be a desire and many might feel success is reached upon this achievement, but not all debt is bad, and there are likely mandatory times of debt!

Once again, adhering to Part 1, and having a healthy Emergency fund allows control of ones own destiny giving full control of this topic… so let’s jump in!

The Good Debt

Student Debt May Be The Best Debt Someone Can Have

An investment in ones self in the form of higher education … while we can discuss the merits on how enrollment costs have increased rapidly, is generally a very helpful item for the long term and again generally, if career pointed will frequently pay off in the long term.

  • Reflect on what you are incurring the student debt for with watchful eye for help upon completion i.e. Might not be a good idea to incur debt for something you may never use career wise in the future
  • Keep an eye on the total expected amount of debt you may be saddled with upon completion and mind possible less expensive options
  • Watch the terms of the debt, deferred interest, government subsidized, zero interest, low interest
  • Of course try to keep it at a minimal

Residential Mortgage Debt

With long term Mortgage rates (30 year) recently in the 2% -3% range we can argue that Mortgage debt is not bad debt. Cautiously we put Mortgage Debt here in the good, but there is an interest rate that would make it bad debt i.e. An exaggerated example from decades ago of 10%+ would not be good debt.

Tax Benefits of Mortgage Debt can help make the headline rate even lower after tax benefits. But those can come and go as tax laws change.

Most can qualify for WAY WAY more than one should actually have! Our conservative view equation is generally a mortgage of twice annual earnings is a really good place to start, especially for those early in their careers.

Free/Zero Interest Debt is Ok if Handled Properly

Again pointing to our healthy Emergency Fund, Interest Free/Zero debt CAN be ok. Do not take it as an excuse to make an unaffordable purchase!

Watch the terms, as one mistake often carries a huge carry forward of interest, far negating the extra interest one would earn by using the “Free” debt.

Also be careful with a large lump sum payment at the end of a “Free” term… make darn sure we have the funds available and it will not damage our Emergency Funds stash!

The Bad Debt

Interest bearing debt for an item not needed is Bad Debt and borderline Ugly debt. As mentioned earlier, we live in a highly promotional world of “Buy Now, Pay Later” …. Do not bite.

Examples may include what we call Toys, such as extra motorized or floating vehicles, overly expensive devices or equipment and the like.

It is fine to “Treat” ourselves every once in a while, but don’t do it on Bad Debt and don’t mess up your Emergency fund !

The Ugly Debt

Any high interest debt, especially Credit Card type debt.

With interest rates very low on savings rates, having a debt interest rate over mid single digits would be called Bad Debt!

Most of the time this debt occurs is usually attributed to our Part 1 Emergency Fund inadequacy … possibly combined with a “life’s curve ball” unexpected event.

Rates as high as 20% are not common in this swimming pool… please don’t swim here and keeping that emergency fund healthy will keep you out of the water!

Now that we have a good foundation…. next up, Retirement Planning!

Have a Great “Debt Planning” Day!

John A. Kvale CFA, CFP

Founder of J.K. Financial, Inc.

A Dallas Texas based fee only

Financial Planning Total Wealth

Management firm.



Why Student Loan Debt Has Grown So Fast – Change In US Household Types of Debt – Interesting Chart From HowMuch.net – Paired with Another Interesting Chart that Explains from Visual Capitalist

We ran across this neat chart below from “HowMuch.net, a financial literacy website”… which stunned us.

The comparison growth of student loan growth versus other types of debt is amazing.

For the record we are huge fans of higher education, but not the debt that may come with it.

So we set off to see if there were a cause and effect for the above chart…

Thanks to our friends at Visual Capitalist the following chart answers a lot.

The small blue shaded area is inflation, compared to how fast Tuitions have increased… No wonder the gigantic growth in Student Debt…

Have a Great “Cause and Effect” Day!

John A. Kvale CFA, CFP

Founder of J.K. Financial, Inc.

A Dallas Texas based fee only

Financial Planning Total Wealth

Management firm.



Two Neat Charts, History of Interest Rates, and Debt, for a Lighter than Normal Pre-Thanksgiving Week

In a quest for postable animated charts (coming soon – these are REALLY fun) the following two charts grabbed attention on a Pre-Thanksgiving lighter week…. from our friends at Visual Capitalist.

Next week we will bring an animation chart to your inbox – again, they are really neat!

Interest Rates Since 1350

We crow frequently about Interest Rates, as they are very important.

Stepping back to see the forest for the trees…. this chart caught our eyes…


Location of Debt

From above, we see the long history of interest rates… below is the location

Pay particular attention to the color and the legend at the bottom of the chart as it is more important than the size of debt as focused on by the chart!


We just could not pass these up!

Have a Great “History of Rates and Location” Day!

John A. Kvale CFA, CFP

Founder of J.K. Financial, Inc.
A Dallas Texas based fee only
Financial Planning Total Wealth
Management firm.

What the Heck is a Muni Bond?

Our final Puerto Rico discussion is later this week and focuses on their Public Debt/Municipal Bond situation. As a primer, we wanted to dig a little deeper into our good friend the Muni Bond.

What is a bond?

A bond is generally a debt instrument issued for an amount of money with a promise to return the amount in the future for a stated interest rate. As an example an issuer may sell his instrument for 15 years and pay an annual rate of 6% with the promise to give back the principal at the end of the term.

What is a Muni Bond?

A Muni or Municipal Bond is a special bond (debt instrument) that is issued by a public agency (think city, public stadium, transportation road, water utility, just to name a few) and in most cases pays income tax-free to investors.Muni Bond

Tax Free Income, but with a Catch

As mentioned above, the income from Muni’s are generally tax-free, however there is a catch. The income from a Muni is generally lower than that from a non-muni similar bond. Without getting into the weeds, if a 5 year regular bond yields/pays 5%, a similar muni bond might only yield 3%, but the investor need not pay taxes on the muni bond income/interest received. Each investor’s tax rate determines the best bond for their situation.

Bonds Can be Complicated

Unlike stocks/equities, bonds can be complicated. Generally, the stock of company ABC has only one class. The city of ABC may have dozens of different bonds with more or less covenants (restrictions, bylaws, and safety features.)

While investors can easily purchase one share of stock, muni bonds are best traded in $100k lots, also known as “Round Lots.” Trading smaller lots/amounts of bonds may lead to less efficient executions. An investor can also purchase muni’s via ETF’s or mutual funds as well, especially helpful for smaller dollar purchases.

Our favorite Muni bond is call a GO, or General Obligation bond. This means the bond is not focused on one single project or revenue source. Generally speaking for a GO to default the entire agency must default, which usually does not happen as a surprise. Detroit was on notice for years, as is Puerto Rico today.

While not exhaustive, this Muni Primer should have us all ready for our final Puerto Rico post later this week.

Have a Great Monday!

John A. Kvale CFA, CFP

8222 Douglas Ave # 590
Dallas, TX 75225