The First “Most Expensive Money You Can Borrow” Formula

Here’s something you may not know: The most expensive money that you can borrow is from vendors who offer cash or early payment discounts that you don’t take. For example, perhaps your friendly office supply store offers a 2 percent discount if you pay cash at the time of purchase instead of paying within the usual 30 days. You don’t pay cash, so you pay the full amount (which is 2 percent more than the cash amount) 30 days later. In effect, you pay a 2 percent monthly interest charge. A 2 percent monthly interest charge works out to a 24 percent annual interest charge — and that’s a great deal of money.

In this case, you pay 2 percent more by paying 20 days later. (The 20 days later is the difference between 10 days and 30 days.) Two percent for 20 days is roughly equivalent to 3 percent for 30 days (one month). So, a 2 percent, 20-day interest charge works out to a 36 percent annual interest charge. Now you’re talking serious money.

Table 21-1 shows how some common early payment discounts (including cash discounts) translate into annual ...

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