How to Get Started with Lending Club

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been talking about peer-to-peer lending.  I’ve shared my returns each quarter (see last quarters’), and shared how I go about selecting the loans that I invest in via FolioFN.  One thing I haven’t talked about in detail is how to get started with Lending Club.  So let’s do that.  Let’s talk about how the strategies that you can use to get started with Lending Club.

What is Lending Club

Before we talk about strategy for investing with Lending Club, we need to briefly discuss what Lending Club and other peer-to-peer lenders are.  They act as a service for both borrowers and lenders.  As an individual, you can apply to get a loan, or you can invest in a loan.  If you’re getting a loan, the peer-to- peer lender will vet the loan for risk, and then provide that information, anonymously, to the prospective investors.  As an individual, you can also invest in the loans that have been vetted.  The borrower then repays their loan just like they would if it were borrowed from a traditional lender (banks, credit unions, etc) and each payment (with interest included) is split out to each of the investors.  In short, they make you and the other investor/lenders into the bank.  There’s a lot more too it, but that’s the basic rundown. Now, lets talk about three strategies that you can use to get started with Lending Club.

Go Big or Go Home Strategy

Getting Started with Lending ClubThere are some people who refuse to do anything on a small scale.  You know who you are.  If this describes you, this is likely the strategy that you will use.  Decide on the percentage of your overall portfolio that peer-to-peer lending will be, then calculate how much of an investment that means you’ll be making.  Deposit that amount into your Lending Club account and start investing it into loans.  Depending on the size of your deposit, it might still take a little time to get it 100% invested into loans, but you’ve got the full amount in the account and ready to go.  As you progress, you’ll also want to make regular deposits that match the % of portfolio that you’ve set for your investment accounts.

Slow and Steady Strategy

Some people really like systems.  They like to decide on a path, set the system that will take them down that path and rarely deviate from that system.  In this strategy, you still decide what the percentage of your portfolio that your Lending Club account will occupy.  But, instead of making one large deposit to assign it, you make several smaller, timed deposits to bring it up to the % of portfolio that you’ve decided on.  Each deposit will be invested as you go.  Ongoing deposits will likely be larger than they would be with the above strategy because you’ll be increasing the account balance to match the % of portfolio as well as including your amount of new investments.

Get Your Feet Wet Strategy

Some of you are still a bit leery of peer-to-peer investing.  You’ve heard that it’s risky.  You aren’t sure if it has a future, or, more specifically, if it has a future in your portfolio.  Maybe you like investing in high-value stocks and bonds and playing it safe.  But, still, you’re tempted.  Tempted by the rate of return that I and others are claiming to receive.  This is the strategy for you.  Instead of selecting a percentage of portfolio like the above two strategies, you want to just get your feet wet a little and test the water.  Decide, instead, on an amount of money that you want to use to test the waters.  At a minimum, it should probably be something like $125-$250 minimum.  That amount will allow you to invest in $25 increments and reduce your risk by having at least 5-10 loans in your account.  Using this strategy lets you feel the system out with a minimal amount to lose.  Even if you lose it all, it’s not a large percentage of your investments.

Get Started with Lending Club

As investors and stewards of our money, it’s important to find the best way to handle our money.  For many of us, that means finding ways to eliminate our debt, earn more, and invest smartly.  I’m not a financial adviser.  I’m just some guy that likes learning things about money.  I share those things, and my thoughts on them here.   One of the things that I’ve been using to grow my investment portfolio is Lending Club.  I’ve been very happy with the service, and I recommend it.

Which strategy do I use?  At this point, I still have significant debt.  I happen to believe that investing while you are in debt is not all that smart.  So, I’m more focused on my debt than I am on investing.  I’m still firmly in the get your feet wet strategy with my investments.  In the time I’ve been testing the waters, my portfolio has grown to quite a bit more than the minimum investment I suggest above, but that’s where I started, and that’s the strategy that most closely resembles my usage of Lending Club today.

If you’re thinking about getting started with Lending Club, be smart, know that there are risks, but I don’t think they are as bad as some would claim.  Know that, just like stocks, there is a chance that you will lose your entire investment.  Just like investing in stocks, that chance is pretty small.  I’m not an adviser (that hasn’t changed in the last two paragraphs) so if you’ve still got questions, and want professional advice, I suggest you talk to your adviser first.

I’ve consistently been getting returns on my money of 13-14%.  Even in the boom times of online savings accounts, the interest rates weren’t that high.  Heck, even if you believe Dave Ramsey and his 12% returns on stock investments claim, it isn’t that high.  Getting you feet wet in Lending Club offers a potentially good rate and, I think, is worth a try.

Original Image Credit: Feet by lukasberg, on Flickr

Lending Club Returns Update 3Q13

Another quarter has come and gone.  We’re bracing ourselves for the coming winter.  It’s also time for a check-up on my Lending Club account, and the returns I’ve gotten.  In my 2Q13 update , my account was showing a return of 14.08%.  Keep reading to find out if I’ve managed to maintain that rate.

No More Defaults

One of the other things that I wrote about in last quarters update was that my portfolio finally suffered it’s first defaulted loan.  In this quarter, I had a few loans that went into the late categories, but ended up coming back to normal.  I’m still a little surprised that I haven’t had more defaults.  I’m glad that I’ve been lucky enough to only have the one default since January, 2010.

Active Passive Income

Beating Broke Lending Club UpdateThe closer you get to true passive income, the less work you have to put into it.  Lending Club portfolios are not true passive income.  I’ve discussed it before, and it bears reiteration.  They are awful close though.  In all, I spend about 20 minutes a month to reinvest the payments and interest that have come in.  It’s not all at once, usually.  With the $9-$10 in interest that my portfolio is earning each month, that’s a pretty good wage.  Maybe it’s an active passive income stream.  Oxymoron for the win!

Lending Club Return Rate

Now, for what everyone has been waiting for.  (Or scrolled down really quickly for)  Without any further defaults, and staying on top of reinvesting the funds as they come in, I’ve been happy this quarter with my return.  As of 10/4/13, my current Lending Club returns rate displayed is 14.69%!  It’s bounced back nicely from the default.  I’ve been investing the funds a little more aggressively over this quarter which helps explain some of that.  At this point, my reasoning is that I’ve been investing with Lending Club since 2010 and have only had one default.  The risk is still there, I think, but I don’t think it’s quite as bad as some would like to make it sound.

Where will my rate be at the end of the year?  I’m hoping it will remain steady.  I’ll be maintaining the same Lending Club investing filter, and hope that doing so will maintain the low default rate I’ve been lucky enough to have.

How is your Lending Club portfolio doing?

How to Make a Million Dollars Through Investment (and Other Ventures)

If you’re set on the idea of earning a million dollars, there are likely tons of people out there telling you that your goal is unattainable.

They’re wrong.

Making a million dollars is feasible as long as you know what you’re doing and have a plan on how to get there. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the following methods and tips on how to earn a million dollars.

Save Your Money

Image via Flickr by kenteegardin

Do you want to earn a million dollars without putting very much extra work into it? Then cut back on your spending habits and put your cash in the bank. If you simply put $5 in a bank account each day with 10 percent interest, you’ll have a million dollars after 42 years. Want to make it quicker? Save even more money.

This tip isn’t all about putting your money in the bank, however. You have to live a frugal life, and most people who succeed at this live below their means. Drive used cars, cut coupons, watch for sales, skip cable, forget the morning coffee — following these frugal tips can help you save to your first million.

Invest in the Stock Market

The stock market could help you earn dollars without stashing it all away. Instead of just saving it, you’re making it.

If you start out with $5,000 and invest $500 per month, perhaps your goal isn’t that far-fetched. If you average 10 percent annual yields, you could reach your goal in 29 years. That’s not a bad retirement fund.

If you do choose to invest in the stock market, it’s a good idea to head to an investment agency such as Fisher Investments to help you manage your portfolio.

Invest in Real Estate

Image via Flickr by Philip Taylor PT

There are many options that you have for making money in real estate, and each method could put you on your way to your first million. Check out these ways you can make money with real estate:

  1. You can purchase homes, fix them up, and make profit by reselling them.
  2. You can rent out your property. You can expect as much as 8 percent annual returns on rent.
  3. Make profits from business ventures that take place on the property, such as farming or mining.

Start a Business

In the book The Millionaire Next Door, the authors state that most millionaires lead normal lives, not the fancy life you see portrayed by Hollywood. The authors outlined several characteristics that they noticed most millionaires share. Among these characteristics, the authors found that most millionaires own their own business and they love what they do.

Don’t jump the gun just yet and believe that this is a get-rich-quick scheme. You can’t just start a business and expect things to run smoothly while watching the profits roll in. There’s a few things you need first:

  • A really good idea
  • A strong business plan
  • A profitable market
  • Money to invest in the business

When starting a business, you can sell products, services, or consultation services, and you can work in a physical location or have a business based online. If you really want to cash in, the secret lies in launching a successful startup and selling your business.

Become an Expert

Image via Flickr by Pete Prodoehl

If you’re really set on your goal of a million dollars, you can quickly claim this by becoming an expert in your field of interest. Invest in your education, take advantage of opportunities, and learn as much as you can.

Once you become an expert, you can charge for consultation services, sell books, give speeches, sell advertising slots on your website, and hold leadership positions. As you do this, you’ll see your income rise.

Before you’re ready to jump into your studies, let’s explore a few tips that can help you earn via this method:

  1. People have to like you. Make sure you practice your public speaking skills.
  2. To make any money, you must have something important to say. If you’re consulting, writing books, or hosting seminars, your success depends on the amount of people who are willing to listen. Again, you’ll only make money advertising on your website if you have people coming to the site interested in your content.
  3. You better make sure you are an expert. A degree doesn’t necessarily make you an expert. Do research and get involved in your field.

If you’re motivated and willing to put in the time, a million dollars isn’t an unrealistic goal. So stop letting people tell you that you’ll never make it! These few suggestions can help make you a millionaire.