Archive for September, 2011

Calculating Your Charged Interest Rate In Excel

Excel spreadsheets (.xls)

You would think that finding the interest rate being paid on a credit card or another type of loan would be easy right? I mean, the statements generally do include the interest rate that you are being charged. Of course, there are many different ways to present an interest rate and while the ideal and most representative way would be to always include the effective rate, it is not always in the advantage of the lender to present it that way. Why? Because that rate is generally higher and could encourage you to look for a better deal. The companies figure that consumers will not see the difference and in almost all cases they are correct.

Here is a simple way to calculate your charged interest rate, in this example we will use a simple loan but this could be adapted to a number of different situations. You will need a number of different information in order to make the calculation.

End of last period: August 25th
End of this period: September 23rd
Outstanding Loan at the last period: $18,575.00
Interest Rate Charged: $111

Let’s review the formula to calculate interest:

Interest = Loan Amount * Interest Rate * (nb days/365)

In this case, we are missing the interest rate so we will shuffle around the formula:

Interest Rate = Interest / (Loan Amount/ (nb days/365)

In our example that would be:

Interest Rate = $111/18575/(29/365) = 7,52%

See a chart here or you can even download the spreadsheet here

5 Tips for Networking on a Budget

Business & entrepreneurship, Career, Internet

Getting the word out about your new product or service is one of the most important parts of starting a new business/endeavor.  Networking is one of the most effective (and cost effective) methods of advertising both you and your business.  At the same time, you’ll have to be careful in planning your networking activities.  You will have a limited amount of time and money to accomplish your networking goals.  This post will discuss Networking on a Budget.  By budget, I mean budgeting both time and money–as we’re often short on at least one or the other.    

Networking on a Budget, Tip #1 – Plan in Advance

And make the planning part of your networking.  Call up important people in your industry, and see if you can take them to lunch.  While there, ask them what activities they find useful and who you should talk to.  At the same time, you’ll be letting an important figure in your industry know that you exist and have a business.

You would be surprised how willing people are to help you, even in a bad economy.   If not, then they’re not worth having on your side in the first place.

Once you have an idea of the types of activities, clubs, charities, and other networking possibilities, you can figure out their cost and the budget.

Networking on a Budget, Tip #2: Make Effective Use of the Internet

The internet can really level the playing field between you and the larger companies.  If you utilize an effective website, use the internet to communicate with people who might otherwise be outside your current social reach, or blog regularly, you may be surprised at the results.  The best part about the internet is that it can be effectively utilized even with the smallest of budgets.

Networking on a Budget, Tip #3: Make Use Of Your Own/Natural Network

(Hopefully) There is no easier sell than to the people who really care about you: your family and friends.  Even if they might not have a direct need for your product or services, you might be surprised at just who they know.  Having a solid team of unpaid yet committed “cheerleaders” is quite a privilege.

Before going out and trying to network with strangers, make sure your extended natural network of family and friends is aware of your latest endeavor, and how passionate you are about it.  Give them an elevator pitch just like everyone else, so they can parrot it later on to potential customers.

Networking on a Budget Tip #4, Decide on Whether You Have Money or “Sweat Equity” to Offer

There are some networks that you can buy your way into.  Other networks require “sweat equity” for positive results.  Determine which asset you have more of, time or money.

If you have more time then money, then you can try volunteering to take on roles within the organization that will put you into contact with a lot of different people.  If your greater asset is the almighty dollar, then see what types of memberships could be valuable in raising your profile and connecting with your target audience.

Networking on a Budget Tip #5 – Don’t Just Participate–Lead

Leadership roles require you to participate regularly in an organization.  They also, by their very nature, put you into contact with a lot more people (and in a much less forced setting).  There’s no easier way to network than by having people come to you.

Finally, a leadership position gives you instant credibility.  The more you take on leadership roles, the quicker your profile will increase.

More importantly for this blog post, it will increase the rate at which everyone knows who you are, and what you do/your company has to offer.


What are some of your additional tips for networking on a budget?  How long does it take for networking (if done correctly) to start developing consistent leads?  What are some of your networking success stories?

How to build your own mortgage payment calculator in excel

Excel spreadsheets (.xls)

One of the more common questions that we have received lately is how to build mortgage calculators in excel. It’s actually fairly easy to do but it depends on how much complexity you add of course. Using the “PMT” excel function will help you but what if you want to test the mortgage payment amount depending on the frequency of your payments, on the amount you will borrow, on the rate and of course on the length of your mortgage? it’s all possible. In this spreadsheet (link below to download it for free), I used nested if statements in order to determine the number of periods based off of the frequency of payments and the rate to use. It is fairly easy to go through, here is an image:

Download our free excel mortgage payment calculator spreadsheet here

All numbers in the lighter color are those that you must enter:

-House Price
-Down payment
-Mortgage time length
-Fixed Rate
-Payment frequency (since we used “if” conditions, the frequency must be entered as described on the right)

Depending on the frequency, I will determine the number of periods. Why? Because if you pay every month, you will not be charged interest on the capital that you paid back the following week. That is why it makes such a big difference to pay a mortgage bi-weekly compared with monthly (that and the fact that you actually have more payments because of the 30 or 31 days per month!).

Download our free excel mortgage payment calculator spreadsheet here

Is the Past Ruining Your Financial Future?

Business & entrepreneurship, Career

The other day I went over my parent’s house and told my mom about a serious career decision I had made.  My mother’s lips move: and an equal mix of negativity and concern spill out. I am transported to my youth, specifically, the time when I was eight years old and she told me not to climb the monkey bars. “They’re dangerous,” she said. I didn’t listen. But she was convinced I learned a lesson when just seconds later I fell and broke my wrist.

But even to this day, I’m not sure if I fell because they were dangerous, or if I failed because a kernel of doubt was planted in my brain.

The Past

I had a great childhood and wonderful parents. I was and am blessed. But even I can think of times, like the example above, where I was doubted. Where my dreams were met with negativity. Where a kernel of doubt was planted in my brain, making me question myself or my worth. I have no doubt these ancient memories affect who I am and how I react to different scenarios today.

The Present

Whether it be growing up with a negative parent, or being teased in the schoolyard,  these childhood memories were painful. But such dynamics still often exist well into adulthood. A friend who doesn’t believe in your dream project. A boss who tears you down or doubts your competency. A spouse who, in a moment of anger, points out one of your flaws.  And nothing is worse than thinking about the times you’ve been the one tearing down another’s dreams, even if you have the best of intentions.  At different times in our lives we are both victims and complicit.

How does your parent’s relationship with money affect your own? To what extent does your financial upbringing–usually learned on a subconcious rather than concious level–affect whether you will be a “spender” or a “saver?”

If your mother was entrepreneurial, to what extent will that provide freedom or confidence in your following a similar path? If your parents were pure 9 to 5ers, how will they react if you decide to quit your 9 to 5 and open your own business. Will they be supportive, or will they be planting a kernel of doubt–good natured though it may be–but still pushing you towards failure…

The Future

Our lives aren’t–even can’t–just be a snapshot. They must be a moving motion picture. I believe we carry our past with us, for better or worse, and that it colors are opportunities, financial patterns, and chance of success in pursuing entrepreneurial ventures.

At the same time, if we can learn to isolate negative memories–or at least accept their existence; then perhaps we are capable of moving beyond our subconscious limitations. The indelicate noise surrounding us and subtly attacking our hopes and dreams. I write often about the concept of “dream killers,” those that will speak or act for the purposes of making you not follow your dreams. I often define the concept as an exernal force or forces–usually in the form of those closest to us.

But of course, there is likely a bit of an internal dream killer inside all of us, lying in wait, and strengthened from the negative elements of our past.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t be afraid, because who hasn’t seen ambition lead to ruin. Every for sale or closing sign on a business started with a dream. Playing it safe is the default for most people for a reason. The fact that even the “safe” opportunities feel dangerous today may be besides the point.


Past failures and successes color our perception of ourselves and the world around us , but if they affect the outcome of our present or future, it is only because we allow them to.

Maybe you got “killed in the stock market” right out of college, and have since been afraid to invest. Perhaps your first business was a total failure. That’s alright, most people have a bad first experience with the stock market. Most people’s first businesses fail.

But in the end, it’s your ability to dust yourself off, and get back on the monkeybars, that really matters.

The above post was by Chris Thomas, owner of the online freelance writing and web-copy company, FreelancePF. Chris’s interest in personal finance stems from his leaving grad school with six figures in student loan debt. Aside from FreelancePF, Chris is working on a personal finance encyclopedia website/blog, called What Is Personal Finance? In his free time, Chris is an avid baseball fan.

Excel Macros – Building A Clean Code

Excel macros

When building spreadsheets, functions, macros or any other type of complex excel file, it is easy to focus on simply getting things to work and that is what most of us end up doing. What we often forget is thinking with a longer term perspective. It’s often easy to forget that over time, your needs will change and it is more than likely that you will need to modify your file or macro in the future. Even more complex is a situation where other users need to both use and modify the macro. It’s critical to always remember one thing: In a few months/years, you will probably not remember what your macro was intended to do and how it actually worked (steps, etc).

If that happens, you will have 3 options when macros need to be modified (they almost always do eventually):

-Understanding the current macro (painful and very time consuming)
-Start over from scratch
-Patch based on how you believe the macro works

The third option is the one that is generally chosen, it makes macros less effective, more risky (in terms of errors) and macros that include several layers of patches become very difficult to work in. Good macro builders will generally be efficient but not necessarily be the fastest. Why? Like any type of programmer, it is often not about the fact that a macro works but rather about making sure the code is flexible, easy to understand and change. What are ways it can be done?

Writing Clean Excel VBA Code

1-Methodology: When you start using variables for example, it’s a good idea to always define them at the start of the macro, making it easier to understand
2-Leaving notes!!: This will take you additional minutes but believe me that it will save you even much more. Taking the macro that we have been working in the past few weeks, you can see the code is rather difficult to understand. That is generally the case with macros done by recording. Still, you can add comments simply by putting ” ‘ ” in front of a line. That will make the line green but also mean that no code will try to be executed from that line. You can see an example here:

3-Be Consistent: If you build tens of macros, you will certainly improve as a coder but being consistent in the way that you do things will make it easier not only to build but also modify them in the future.