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Open Thread: How are you using Excel?

Yesterday, I mentioned I'd been talking with someone who's looking at interesting things people are doing with Microsoft Excel. I talked to her again yesterday, and with her official okey-dokey, I'll virtually introduce Tralee Pearce (*waves*), a reporter from Toronto's Globe & Mail whom you might remember from a very swell article about the Hipster PDA.

So, by request -- and to help Tralee with fleshing out her fun-sounding article -- I hope you all will jump in here: What kind of cool, novel, and non-obvious stuff are you doing with Excel? What's the wildest, most obsessive, most nerdy thing you ever saw someone do with our favorite spreadsheet program?

Anthony Renaud's picture

Before refinancing my mortgage, I...

Before refinancing my mortgage, I wanted to figure out the truth of which would lead to lower total interest paid (5yr fixed, quarterly variable, or monthly variable mortgages). I went to the Bank of Canada website which has the Prime rate + the 5 yr fix mortgage rate for each month since 1951.

I imported all that data into excel, and then wrote macros which would then start a new $200k 25 year mortgage every month since Jan 1951 till Dec 1979 (the last date I could use to get a full 25 yrs mortgate calculated) and calculated interest paid.

I repeated this for 3 types of mortgage approaches - 5yr fixed renewed every 5 years. A variable mortgage with interest rate recaculated quarterly, and than a variable rate mortgage with interest rate recalculated monthly. (had to make assumptions about the relation of the 3month and 1 month variable rates to the Prime rate - assumed same relationship as I could get today)

I used this to determine which mortgage actually leads you to paying the least amount interest.

Results for those intersted - 1. Variable rate will pay less interest than 5yr fixed in 90% of the mortgages I calculated (with quarterly paying slightly more than monthly variable) 2. If you started your 5yr fixed in July 76', and renewed every 5 yrs - you paid $464k in interest on your $200k mortgage by the time your're done - OUCH!

Note: this did not take into account early payment options such as increasing monthly payment, lump sum payments, etc.




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