Ask Paul: Should I cash out P2P investments to top up offset?


G'day Paul,

I currently have funds invested with a major peer-to-peer lender on a five-year basis, earning around 7% annually - interest paid monthly.

I'm about to get a mortgage for a new home build at 2.49% variable.

ask paul clitheroe should i cash out peer to peer investing account to top up my offset account

Would I be better off sending the monthly interest across to the mortgage to pop-up repayments or close the P2P and bulk up the offset? - Kerry

Answering readers questions is always fun, but this month we have had some beauties that impact nearly all of us. Wills, boats, divorces, pensions and an army veteran. And your question Kerry rounds us out very nicely.

Now I get to talk about risk and return. It is screamingly obvious that 7% a year on a peer-to-peer loan is a cracking rate compared to the 2.49% you will pay on your mortgage. All else being equal, you'd take any excess income and take out another similar loan as paying money into your mortgage only earns you the interest rate on your mortgage, 2.49%.

With a 5-year peer to peer 7% loan, pretty obviously you are locked in for 5 years. 7 % is not outrageous, and the history of sensibly priced peer to peer loans has been pretty good, but obviously it is riskier than adding any savings to you loan.

But while interesting, that is not your question. Here at least I can be crystal clear. Any addition savings should not be added to your monthly mortgage repayment. You may not be able to access that again. Put it into an offset account. That way you can access the money and while you are saving interest you are not reducing your mortgage.

If I had a dollar for every time someone kept their first property as an investment and then bought another home, I would have a small fortune. The problem of course is that you want the maximum debt on your investment property, the minimum on your home.

So, popping savings into an offset account means the money is available to you and your mortgage is higher. If you buy a new home in time to come, you use the money in the offset account. This means you have a smaller mortgage on your home and a larger, deductible, mortgage on your investment property.

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Paul Clitheroe AM is founder and editorial adviser of Money magazine. He is one of Australia's leading financial voices, responsible for bringing financial insight to Australians through personal finance books, the television show Money, radio, and most notably this publication, which he established in 1999. Paul is the chair of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and is Chairman of InvestSMART Financial Services. He is the chair of Financial Literacy at Macquarie University where he is also a Professor with the School of Business and Economics. Click here to email Paul your money question. Unfortunately Paul cannot respond to questions posted in the comments section. Please view our disclaimer here.
Tina Duff
April 2, 2021 9.44am

I am considering investing in Australian bonds but am unsure how safe they are I currently have money invested in tern deposit @ .04% is there an alternative safer than bonds but a product that pays more interest.

I look forward to your advice, thank you