As a financial concept growing in popularity and demand, the Infinite Banking System is beginning to receive a backlash of negative criticism. There are those that say infinite banking is a scam. But those who do so misunderstand the concept of what is being sold.
The Infinite Banking Scam
Let’s start with what this system is not. It’s not a product that you can buy on the Internet. It’s not a get rich scheme. And it’s not for everyone. Those who claim there is an infinite banking scam misunderstand the premise of what perpetual banking is all about. The truth is, the basis for this system is not even a new product. It is an established, proven product that is being used in a new and innovative way.
The Infinite Banking System is a philosophy of personal banking founded on a properly structured, dividend-paying whole life insurance policy. As a financial tool, whole life policies are a proven product. Historically, insurance companies have been one of the safest places for your money. Life insurance companies invest in very safe financial instruments such as bonds, which means lower investment risks for policyholders.
So Why Isn’t Everyone Doing It?
At the core of the Infinite Banking Concept is the idea that you become your own banker. Doing this requires commitment to the idea, and discipline in carrying out the practices of Infinite Banking.
The Infinite Banking System means you are the Saver, the Borrower and the Banker of your own bank. You save money with your bank, you can borrow money from your bank (on terms that you set) and you pay the bank (yourself) both the money borrowed and interest on that money – meaning you are making money by financing yourself. Your “bank” is based and financed by your dividend-paying whole life insurance policy.
When used as a banking application a whole life insurance policy is structured differently than other insurance policies. The policy provides a death benefit to your heirs, but places a greater emphasis on your ability to access the cash value liquidity within your account to finance your life. The amount of the Death Benefit is reduced in order to increase the amount of your policy’s cash value.
Obviously, you could set up this same personal banking system with either a checking account or a mutual fund policy. But the financial gains are limited by the tax consequences of each. A whole life policy offers a bank-like platform but provides some tremendous additional benefits. By using the whole life platform, you benefit from the tax deferred growth of your money, tax-free distributions through your policy loans, and an income-tax free death benefit to your heirs.
The Cost of Infinite Banking
The basis of the system is a whole life insurance policy, and there are initial costs and administrative fees associated with that. Critics of the concept point to these fees as proof of the Infinite Banking Scam.
The truth is, any financial policy or tool will have administrative costs associated with it. With Infinite Banking, this cost is most visible in the first years of the policy when your access to cash values is less than the premiums you deposit. But like all legitimate financial tools, this system is concerned about long-term success and the improvement of people’s lives through financial independence. If policyholders are dedicated and diligent about their commitment to this system of banking, their eventual profits will more than compensate for the upfront cost of the insurance.
Understanding the Financial Industry
We can all agree that financing is a huge industry. It’s also an industry that works to the benefit of the lending institutions, and not to the consumer. Let’s start by pointing out the misconceptions surrounding interest. Individuals are sold on the concept of interest rates. If we get a 5% interest rate as opposed to a 6.5% interest rate, we think we’re getting a good deal.
Financial institutions, on the other hand, are concerned with interest volume. If you’ve financed the purchase of a home, for instance, the Truth in Lending Statement will spell out exactly how much interest you are paying. You may think you are paying 6.5% interest on your loan, but your TIL will show that over a 30-year mortgage you will actually pay double the price of your home in interest. That’s more like 50% interest, not 6.5%. So why do we do it? Because we don’t know a better way.
The Infinite Banking System offers people a better way – a way of breaking this cycle of making money for the banks. Of course, when policyholders are just getting started with the system, they won’t be able to immediately finance a new home. But they can start with smaller, personal loans. And if they are disciplined about paying themselves back, they will soon find they can finance a car purchase, and perhaps eventually a home. In fact, when used correctly, the more loans an Infinite Banking policy finances, the more money it makes for its holder.
The Successful Infinite Banker
The success of this system is predicated on the discipline of the policyholder as his or her personal banker. By borrowing from yourself and paying yourself back you will recapture more of the principal and interest that you normally were sending away. The structure of an insurance policy will reduce the number of payments required to payoff the loan, and by reducing the number of payments, there is an instant gain. More of the payment is applied to principal then interest.
Additionally, with whole-life insurance policies there are no transaction fees and funds are guaranteed to grow on a tax-deferred basis. Distributions from your cash values done as policy loans are tax-free. Withdrawals from the policy are tax-free up to the amount of your basis, or the amount of money you have contributed to the policy.
The Infinite Banking Scam is a fallacy. This is a proven financial tool that can improve the financial lives of those with the discipline and understanding to make it work.