Personal Finance

You Should Take $1 Today, NOT $2 Tomorrow: A Counterpoint

Expertise: Mortgages & Creative Financing, Personal Development, Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Finance, Real Estate News & Commentary, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Real Estate Investing Basics, Business Management, Commercial Real Estate
175 Articles Written
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You hear bells, but you don’t know where they are…

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There’s an old Russian proverb that my wise mother used to tell me quite often. What it aims to describe is a feeling of being so close to the truth (hearing the bells), and yet so far away…some finite, yet crucial pieces are missing and preventing you from putting the big picture together!

My good friend Mr. Brandon Turner never ceases to provide us with grandiose, even at times bombastic, thoughts. However, it seems that what is truth to Brandon is often somewhat less to me. Today, I am providing you with a counterpoint to one of his latest articles. Which one of us knows where the sound of those bells is coming from? You be the judge.

You probably will not believe wouldn’t believe this, but in private Brandon tells me that I am one of the smartest dudes he knows. God forbid he should agree with anything I say publicly, though. On the other hand, consider this — Brandon could make me disappear off of this blog with about the same amount of effort that it takes you to sneeze; and yet – I am still here, which likely means that I know something, and some powerful forces are aligned to bring my thoughts before your eyes.

Related: 10 Things Only Personal Finance Nerds Would Understand

Well, today I am here to tell you that yet again I disagree with my friend.

cash-flow-rental

Here’s the Problem

Brandon’s post is a countdown of 10 items he sees as most important truths relative to things that financially sophisticated people understand about money. The article is very well written as usual, and I concur with Brandon on most of his points — but not everything…

Specifically, the first item on Brandon’s list is:

  • I’d rather have $2 tomorrow than $1 today

And a few bullet points down:

  • Forget nuclear…Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe

Do You See a Contradiction Here?

Is it just me, or do these two bullet points negate each other — do you see a problem here?

Never mind; you don’t see the problem. Judging by the fact that Brandon’s article had about 200 Facebook likes in the first day, I know that you completely ate this stuff up… hah!

This one is a bit tricky, actually. Brandon is wrong, but he is not wrong; he was totally right about one side of the truth — but at the end of the day, Real Estate Investing is about seeing that which is not obvious, and while Brandon is right as it relates to the concept of frugality, which is hard to argue, he is wrong about the less obvious concepts.

Given the option, you should absolutely take $1 off the table today in lieu of waiting for $2 tomorrow. There are many less obvious reasons; let’s look at just a few.

Why You Should Take $1 Off the Table Today

Risk

The more money you leave on the table, the more money you risk losing — basic concept. I don’t care how you dress it up; investing carries risk, and as such, the ultimate technique for limiting exposure of financial loss is to limit presence of money in the deal.

Therefore, you must put a value on risk in order to properly access whether taking $1 today is better or worse that $2 tomorrow — most of the time it is!

 

Time Value of Money

Time value of money is another reason to take $1 today verses $2 tomorrow. Interestingly, I think Brandon knows all of this as well as anyone, but was so emotionally wrapped up in his article and making a point, that he allowed himself to lose track of logic…

Not to worry. He has a friend (Me) who possesses an increasingly keen sense of the obvious. Did I mention — Brandon listens to me, the implication of which is that you should listen to me as well?!

Here you go — in a fractional reserve banking system, money (I should say currency) is necessarily worth more today than it will be at any time in the future. Therefore, the sooner money is put to use via compounding, the better, which brings us to my last point…

Compounding

Brandon made a valid point out of this on his list: compounding is a powerful force, indeed.

Related: The Two Things You Need to Do to Become a One Percenter

He never made the connection, however, that the effectiveness of compounding is a function of TIME, and starting sooner with less money is much more powerful than starting later with more. I don’t have time to do screenshots of Excel to showcase this, but please play with it on your own if you don’t believe me. Bottom line — starting with a dollar today will lead you much farther than starting with $2 tomorrow, providing similar rates of compounding returns.

Final Thoughts

Brandon knows his audience, and he writes that which he reasonably believes will make you nod your head — and you don’t disappoint. However, many issues that we deal with on a daily basis are like the Yin and Yang: there are two sides, and while only one side is typically illuminated in the daylight of conventional wisdom, there’s always the other side.

Believe me, having read this article, Brandon will change his mind on this; and you should as well. 🙂

P.S. One thing to remember — taking money off the table today can come at the price of higher tax exposure, and therefore you have to plan carefully what, when, and how you do it; otherwise, you risk diluting the positive effects of compounding.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article for our newer members!]

Brandon — any thoughts that you can share publicly…? Everyone else — where do you stand after having read both articles?

Leave a comment below!

Ben has been investing in multifamily residential real estate for over a decade. An expert in creative financing, he has been a guest on numerous real estate-related podcasts, including the
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    Roberto Reyna
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Hi Ben, I believe he is The Red Baron, something to do with pizzas. Unless it’s Snoopy from Charlie Brown. Anyway I enjoy your debates with Brandon. Keep posting and produce more videos.
    Ben Leybovich
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Haha – yes. Red Barron 🙂 Thanks a lot, Roberto!
    Walter W. Investor from Seattle, Washington
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Nice discussion! Thanks Ben.
    Cameron Small Rental Property Investor from Madison, AL
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Hi Ben, I agree with you on this one. I use this strategy when trading stock options. By taking money off the table at 50% profit you increase your probability of success, reduce risk, and free up money to reinvest. Thanks Ben.