Category

Estate Planning

Early Retirement, Estate Planning, Lifestyle

Leaving a Legacy Without Destroying Your Children

Reaching financial independence requires a consistent set of skills and persistence. The habits that allowed you to amass a sizable nest egg don’t die just because you pass some arbitrary border. Education, job, and family life consume all your time in the beginning.

After college it is time to earn a living. After finding a job it is time to climb the ladder, all the while saving a massive percent of your income to reach your financial goals.

Family is a priority. A significant other and children take time and money. You increase your saving and investing skills. Raising a family is expensive only if you don’t know how to shop. You hit the rummage sales and thrift shops for kid’s clothing, toys, height chair, car seat and other stuff the youngsters will grow out of quickly. Later you sell the kid’s stuff for about what you paid for it at a rummage sale of your own, passing the same opportunity you had to another young couple.

And then it happens. Your hard work, intelligent spending and diligent saving pay off. You reached financial independence earlier than planned. Now you have another problem you never gave much thought to before: your legacy. If you reach financial independence early, how large will your net worth grow before you leave this world?

Thinking about your legacy when you are still in the building stages is hard. It requires looking into the eyes of the possible: early death. What happens if you die while the kiddos are still minors? A plan is needed. Even if the kids are grown, a plan of succession is necessary. And what if kids are not part of the picture? Then what happens to your legacy? Let’s explore the possibilities.

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Early Retirement, Estate Planning, Lifestyle

Avoiding the Gold Diggers

Community Property States

At a recent Camp Mustache where I gave a presentation I also offered one-hour personalized consultations. Most of the advice I give is identical among all people I consult with. Most themes come up again and again. About 20% of what I advise is unique to the individual.

This particular group was comprised of high net worth people. These people save a massive percentage of their annual income and are in a position to retire early; mid-30s is average. Incomes were all over the map. Some had high income; some had modest income. All invested heavily in index funds and/or real estate.

An attractive young woman was next in line for a consultation. She had amassed a reasonable amount of liquid funds and was planning her retirement strategy. I knew she wasn’t married by looking at her tax return. I asked if she had a special someone in her life. She said no. I then made the offhand comment, “If you ever decide to get married you will have a prenup.”

Prenuptial agreements are common so I felt the comment was just a reminder. She seemed surprised so I reiterated she will need a prenup if she gets married, especially since she has a sizable nest egg. She wasn’t so certain it was a good idea. I reminded her gold diggers don’t always have tits. It took a bit of convincing to get her to come around to my way of thinking. I told her if I ever found out she got married without a prenup I would be very unhappy with her. My final selling point was, “When you have money some people will lie to get you to marry them. Then when they screw around and leave, you will pay them half your net worth to screw another woman. It is a bitter pill you want to avoid.”Continue reading

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Structured Giving




4739523391_2b8e1db2d2_bThere comes a time when your responsible spending and investing habits grow your net worth to a level you will never spend in a lifetime. As the years pass you discover charitable causes you want to help. Giving is something that brings meaning to our lives. By making a difference, our hard work and intelligent planning creates the real reason we choose the life we lived.

The hard part of charitable giving is the number of worthy causes to choose from. Another issue is maximizing the value of the gift.  There are three issues connected to charitable giving: choosing the charitable organization, determining the level of gifting, and using the tax code to maximize the value of your gift.

Finding a Honest Organization Worthy of a Contribution

The cold call asking for a donation is automatically off the list. I don’t care which organization is doing the asking; if you call me unsolicited the answer is ‘no’. This includes the police department. It is also unlikely I will give much consideration to a request from unsolicited mail. Unsolicited requests generally are not issues I care as much about and the risk the organization is either a fraud or does not support my values is high.Continue reading

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10 Ways to Legally Stop Paying Taxes




Years ago I started a book project called The Zero Percent Tax Bracket. The idea was to write a book with all the ways a person can bring in money and legally not report it as taxable income. As I started pulling information together it became clear marketing such a book would be difficult. Since I was not focusing on tax protesting or other such BS it would not attract the wing nut crowd nor was I interested in becoming the next Charles Givens. A book called The Zero Percent Tax Bracket would probably languish on the back shelf of a bookstore with only modest sales. The idea was sound but I did not like the marketing plan.

Today I am resurrecting the idea. As a book it would need a serious shove to turn a profit for the publisher; as a series of blog posts it is an excellent way to outline all the ways to line your pocket without owing a penny in tax. You will not find all of these tax-free methods listed in the tax code. It is the unusual interpretation of tax law that always appeals to me as long as jail time is not involved. (Jail time might be okay if it is a fairly short stint of three-hots-and-a-cot, plus free healthcare at the expense of the taxpayers. Taxes are no fun, but collectingContinue reading

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Do You Know a Good Attorney?


Over the years I have used attorneys for a variety of needs. When I started a hedge fund the initial deposit was $25,000 and I was happy to pay it. We laugh at lawyer jokes and sometimes lawyers deserve the bad rap they get, but most of the time attorneys are a powerful part of your team preventing expensive problems before they happen. There is a reason why they are called counselors.

I encourage landlords and business owners to keep a relationship with an attorney. Buying and selling a property requires an attorney in my opinion and landlord/tenant issues can be reduced when a lawyer is consulted before actions are taken. There are also the surprise attorney needs. Who do you call when arrested for a DUI? (The first person who says Ghostbusters will be escorted out the door.) You don’t plan on certain events in life; they just land in your lap. Business owners and landlords have greater legal needs, but the average guy on the street finds himself in need of professional help a time or two in life as well (wills, probate, trusts, sale of property, et cetera).

Doctors, attorneys, and accountants know all kinds of stuff (a technical term only used inside the industry) people need at the most important junctures in life. Finding a doctor is as simple as a call to your health insurance provider. Most people see an accountant on a regular basis, while the legal eagle is only required periodically. Worse, even if youContinue reading

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Financial Planning and the Death of a Spouse

Graveyard1There are critical times in the course of life when financial independence is at risk of destruction. A lifetime of planning, saving, and investing can go up in smoke in a few short years without an adequate plan to protect the most vulnerable member of a marriage (or any relationship, for that matter) after the death of a spouse or loved one. The trauma and grief after a loved one dies is acute. Deep pain and emptiness creates risks for the surviving spouse. Well intentioned, and lonely, people will try to connect with the bereaved. A couple committed to a lifetime of financial discipline will acquire a massive nest egg of retirement wealth. The surviving spouse is a prime target, a highly desired, person for this reason. Even people with honorable intentions can wreck havoc on the surviving spouse’s finances.Continue reading

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Retire Early With Rental Properties

IMAG0302People serious about early retirement turn to rental real estate to turbo-charge the process. Saving and investing can get you to retirement fast. With real estate you can go from zero to retired in a few years. It does require careful planning to make it work.

There are three steps in successful income property ownership: buying right, management and taxes. Over the years I have seen many people lose money, even go broke, due to rental properties. I have also seen ordinary people make more money than doctors or lawyers with real estate.

From the late 1980s to the late 1990s I owned well over 100 pieces of property in a partnership with dad and brother. Real estate is a passive activity according to the IRS. In reality it is planning and work. The number of rental properties required for a comfortable retirement is not all that large. I currently own two properties (other than my homestead) generating over $36,000 of passive income a year. This is profit, not gross rents.Continue reading

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My Side of the Desk

Will Durant, the great 20th Century American philosopher and historian wrote in the Preface of his Story of Civilization: The Age of Napoleon:

“By the middle of the twentieth century,” says the Encyclopaedia Britannica (XVI, 10a), “the literature on Napoleon already numbered more than 100,000 volumes.” Why add to the heap? We offer no better reason than to say the Reaper repeatedly overlooked us, and left us to passive living and passive reading…

And so it is with your favorite accountant. According to a “personal finance blog” Google search there are around 96,100,000 results. Surely a few of the entries are not personal finance blogs, but many are. So why add to the heap? Will Durant was 90 years old when he wrote those words; I am 51 as I contemplate them.

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