Email FacebookTwitterMenu burgerClose thin

How to Use Debt to Build Wealth


Debt, when used judiciously, can be a powerful tool for wealth creation. Strategic borrowing allows for investments in assets that appreciate over time, such as real estate, which can greatly increase the total value of your assets over time. However, it’s important to use debt wisely to only improve your situation and not to use it for things that will only increase your monthly expenses without improving your overall net worth. Below we dive into a variety of ways to use debt to help you build wealth. If you need a plan to build your own wealth, consider talking to a financial advisor.

1. Invest in Real Estate

Investing in real estate is a time-tested method for building long-term wealth, and leveraging debt can significantly amplify your returns. By using borrowed funds to purchase property, you can acquire valuable assets that appreciate over time. For example, securing a mortgage to buy a home or rental property allows you to gain equity as you pay down the loan and as the property’s value increases.

Real estate typically appreciates over time, making it a popular long-term investment. As the property value increases, so does your equity, which is the difference between the property’s market value and the remaining mortgage balance. And this growing equity can be leveraged to acquire more properties, further expanding your real estate portfolio and accelerating your wealth-building efforts.

While using debt to invest in real estate can be lucrative, it’s essential to understand the risks involved. Market fluctuations can impact property values, and unforeseen expenses such as repairs or vacancies can affect your cash flow. Additionally, over-leveraging — borrowing too much relative to your income or property value — can lead to financial distress if you cannot meet your debt obligations. Therefore, you should approach real estate investing with a clear strategy, sound financial planning and a thorough understanding of the market.

2. Consolidate Your Debt

Consolidating your debt can be a strategic move to improve your financial health and free up resources for wealth-building opportunities. By combining multiple debts into a single loan, you can often secure a lower interest rate and reduce your overall monthly payments. This process simplifies debt management, making it easier to keep track of payments and avoid missed deadlines that could harm your credit score.

One of the primary benefits of debt consolidation is the potential to lower your interest rates. High-interest debts, such as credit card balances, can accrue significant interest over time, making it challenging to pay down the principal. Consolidating these debts into a loan with a lower interest rate can significantly reduce the amount you pay in interest, allowing more of your payments to go toward the principal balance. This can also lead to an improved level of cash flow above where you were at when paying all of your debt payments together previously.

3. Borrow to Buy a Business

A woman researching ways to borrow money to invest in the market.

Purchasing a business is a significant financial commitment, but it can be a powerful way to build long-term wealth. By borrowing to buy an established business, you leverage other people’s money to acquire an asset that has the potential to generate substantial income and appreciation. If successful, this approach can create multiple streams of revenue, providing a strong foundation for financial growth.

Buying an existing business offers the advantage of acquiring an operation with a proven track record. Unlike starting a new business from scratch, which involves considerable uncertainty and risk, purchasing an established business means you’re buying into a company with an existing customer base, revenue stream and operational infrastructure. This significantly reduces the initial risk and can lead to quicker returns on your investment.

An established business generates revenue from day one, providing an immediate income stream. This income can be used to service the debt incurred from the purchase, cover operational expenses and invest in further growth opportunities. Profitable businesses can also provide substantial earnings for the owner, contributing to personal wealth accumulation. This doesn’t take into account what you can do by improving the business and growing the net income, which can increase your wealth even more.

Should You Borrow to Invest in the Market?

Borrowing money to invest in the stock market, known as margin investing, is a strategy that can amplify returns but also significantly increase risk. This approach involves using borrowed funds from a broker to purchase securities, allowing investors to buy more stock than they could with their own capital alone. While this can lead to higher profits if the investments perform well, it can also result in substantial losses if the market moves against you.

The primary allure of margin investing is the potential for amplified returns. By borrowing to invest, you can control a larger position than with your own funds, potentially increasing your profits if the stock appreciates. For example, if you invest $10,000 of your own money and borrow another $10,000, you can invest $20,000 in the market. If your investments gain 10%, you earn $2,000, doubling the return you would have made without borrowing.

However, the increased potential for gains comes with a corresponding increase in risk. If your investments lose value, you could face significant losses, exceeding your initial investment. Moreover, brokers require you to maintain a minimum account balance, known as the maintenance margin. If your account value falls below this threshold, you may receive a margin call, forcing you to deposit more funds or sell assets at a loss to cover the shortfall. This can lead to a rapid depletion of your investment capital and actually hurt your net worth.

Bottom Line

A woman researching how to use debt to build wealth.

You can enhance your financial position and create long-term wealth by leveraging debt to invest in appreciating assets such as real estate, consolidate high-interest debts to improve cash flow, use high-yield savings accounts or borrow to acquire profitable businesses. However, it’s important to note that there are risks involved, so managing debt responsibly and seeking professional advice can help your strategies align with your financial goals.

Tips for Investing

  • A financial advisor can work with you to create a long-term financial plan and help you find ways to build wealth over time. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • To see how your asset choices might grow over time, consider using an investment calculator.

Photo credit: ©, ©, ©