Introducing the Expensive Loan Option

I’ve always wanted to invent my own derivative. I realize some of you may think that’s strange, but for a finance geek like me, it’s only natural. And I think I’ve come up with a good one.Three_Card_Monte crop ZioDave

It’s for people without appropriately large emergency funds to live off if they lose their job or otherwise fall into financial distress. I call it the Expensive Loan Option, or ELO.   The way it works is that you pay me a fee of $X per year and I guarantee that you will be able to get a loan at any time during that year for $5X at 20% interest. So, for example, if you want to be sure of being able to borrow $10,000 at 20% interest at any time during the next year, just pay me $2000 and you can sleep soundly.

Excited?  Well, of course you are.  Perhaps you have a nice job and enough liquid assets to pay four months of expenses should something nasty happen.   That’s okay, but the Fabulous Suze Orman has told you that you need eight months worth of liquid assets.  No problem!  Just buy an ELO from me.  If it costs you $3500 a month to support that glam lifestyle of yours, then just sign up for a $14,000 ELO for the modest fee of only $2800.  I take PayPal.

I’ve extensively tested this program with a focus group, so I know all the objections.  A young lady in the group (age 11) didn’t think it was a good idea because she misunderstood the terms.

But, Daddy, if I have a job, what are the odds that I’ll be laid-off and then not be able to find work for four months?  If the chances of that happening are less than 20%, then the 20% you are charging me makes this a bad bet, doesn’t it?  Isn’t that what you’ve been teaching us all those afternoons you take us to the dog track?

Silly girl.  Takes after her mother.  This would only be a logical objection if I were giving you the $14,000 in the case that you needed it.  In fact, I am only guaranteeing that you will be able to borrow that money, if you want to, at the modest interest rate of 20%, which, let’s face it, isn’t a bad deal for an unemployed deadbeat such as yourself. And you can’t put a price on that kind of peace of mind.

I’m really very excited about this new venture.  I’ve got calls into the already mentioned Suze Orman and my good friend Brett Arends from the Wall Street Journal.  I am sure both of them will be enthusiastic supporters of this product and will want to tell their readers all about it right away.  (As discussed here on this blog, both have previously written on a similar topic.)

This might even be the start of something big for me.  Maybe a new firm to sell all sorts of miracle derivatives to consumers.  I could hire some of the brilliant financial engineers recently laid off from AIG, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns.  All I need is a name for the new outfit.  Fools and Their Money, Inc.?

[Photo: ZioDave]

No Comments

  • By bex, May 21, 2009 @ 2:28 pm

    almost Swiftian with its rapier-like subtlety…

  • By Evan, May 21, 2009 @ 3:49 pm

    or you could call it Fools and Your Money, Inc.

  • By Chris, May 21, 2009 @ 3:54 pm

    How do you expect to sell this product when it has expensive in the name? I propose a renaming of the product to “safety loan guarantee”. By using the term safety, people will know that you are looking out for their best interests. :)

  • By Jim Blankenship, CFP®, EA, May 21, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

    … how about “Personal Bailout Plan”? :-)

  • By Patrick, May 21, 2009 @ 4:23 pm

    Ok, I’ll admit I don’t get the joke. Who would think this is a good deal?

  • By Patrick, May 21, 2009 @ 4:32 pm

    Sorry, I get it. You’re talking about Orman’s advice to hold a high credit balance to avoid having your limit dropped.

    Reminds me of someone I talked to a while back who said they had run their credit cards to their limit (at 20%) so they could avoid using their line of credit (at 10%).

  • By Four Pillars, May 21, 2009 @ 4:34 pm

    Come on Patrick – you’re giving Canadians a bad name. :)

    He’s being sarcastic – Orman has basically said that someone with a lot of credit card debt should save up an extra (4 months) emergency fund because of “these troubled times”. Frank is pointing out the fact that if that special someone has an extra 4 months expenses in cash rather than pay off the credit card (at 20%) then they are paying 20% per year to keep the money in cash which is an expensive insurance policy.

    It’s not 100% accurate since one could assume that the emergency fund $$ would be earning 2-3% interest so that should be included as well.

  • By Dave C., May 21, 2009 @ 4:48 pm

    The sarcasm is strong with this one.

  • By Rick Francis, May 21, 2009 @ 5:28 pm


    I fear your fund loses out to the simplicity of taking a cash advance to fund that 8 month emergency fund. It would be a hard sell for your option since the cash advance gives the immediate gratification of a cash emergency fund today!

    Of course there is the small problem of a moster credit card bill, but hey if you got the same 20% rate then you could pay that off over the next 10 years by just putting 18.55% of your income toward it every month. Just think of it as your emergency mortgage! The best part is that the total interest you will have to pay is just about the same as your principal… But doesn’t having all that cash in a bank account make you feel secure?

    -Rick Francis

  • By Jim, May 21, 2009 @ 6:53 pm

    The saddest thing is that I think people would buy the Expensive Loan Option.

    I followed the link to the Brett Arends article and I think reading it gave me a stroke. Orman’s advice of not paying of debt seems easier for me to stomach for some reason. But mathematically its no better.

  • By tm, May 21, 2009 @ 8:45 pm

    I agree that the “Expensive” part of the name would put people off. Perhaps you can name them, in the trends of the current times, “Wealth Tracking Frugality options”. I also think that you should offer these in retail locations in many, uh, strip malls across the country. A more personal touch than the direct mail your competitors use.

  • By TJR, May 21, 2009 @ 8:57 pm

    I’ve always wanted to sell insurance against death by terrorism. It’s a great deal because it affects next to nobody (~4000 people in 2001) but 300 million people are scared enough to transform their country.
    Besides, in case somebody really drops a nuclear bomb, a) there won’t be anything left to buy with the handouts, b) you don’t have to pay them (force majeure).

  • By Robert, May 22, 2009 @ 9:59 am

    Where can we buy derivatives of your ELO derivative?

  • By Chris, May 22, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

    Where can I buy derivatives of the ELO derivatives?

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