Frugal Living

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Ben Franklin quote

The Way to Wealth

By Keith Taxguy, EA / November 7, 2021 /

A government would be considered intolerable if it taxed people 10% of their time in service of the government. Yet idleness taxes many of us much more if we consider all the time spent checking email, our phone, social media and news feeds. All these activities add nothing of value to our lives or to those around us and is no worse than the government taxing you a percent of your time.

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18 Tax-Free Sources of Income

By Keith Taxguy, EA / October 23, 2021 /

Not all income is treated equal. Ordinary income is treated the worst by the tax code. Long-term capital gains are granted preferential tax treatment. And some income is excluded from income entirely. 

When planning for retirement or any financial goal, taxes play a vital role in how quickly the goal is reached. The more tax-free income you acquire the better.

The tax code in the U.S. taxes all income unless specifically excluded by the code. Many sources of tax-free income is limited in scope, applying to very unique and special situations.

The list below contains 18 sources of federal tax-free income. States usually follow federal, but may have more or fewer items of tax-free income. Every reader should find several types of non-taxable income available to them from the list. 

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$100 bill. Benjamin Franklin.

Winning With Benjamin Franklin’s Virtues

By Keith Taxguy, EA / August 30, 2021 /

Benjamin Franklin might be the most important of the Founding Fathers. His steady hand and silence shouted more than hours of oratory. When younger minds became heated at the Constitutional Convention, Franklin sat quietly until it was obvious the attendees were at an impasse. Franklin, silent during most of the proceedings, suggested a break. Gently, he spoke with several delegates during the pause in the debate. Cooler minds returned and a nation was formed. It is fair to say the United States of America owes its existence to the virtues of a single man. 

Ben Franklin knew he was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. As a young man he set out to make himself a better person. He learned and shared sage advice still relevant today. At the core he listed 13 virtues he felt were important to master. They provided the formula for happiness, wealth and success.

Long before the modern FIRE (financial independence/retire early) movement, there was Benjamin Franklin. I learned from Franklin that retirement is overrated if you find those things you love to do and keep a healthy level of curiosity in your life. Unhappiness breeds the desire for retirement.

Winning at life, in marriage, financially, in your health, spiritually and physically were covered by Franklin. It was simple to set up, yet difficult to follow. Franklin, fully aware of his shortcomings, listed the virtues he wanted to uphold. Then he held himself accountable each day; never beating himself up for failing, but gently encouraging improvement each and every day.

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Self-Sabotage: The Biggest Risk Once You Have Money

By Keith Taxguy, EA / August 9, 2021 /

Having money can change you, and not always in good ways. The risk is greatest for those who start out poor. For those lucky people, they have an additional challenge before them. If they fail they go all the way back into the swamp. 

Money doesn’t make you a better person; it makes the kind of person you are more pronounced. If you are a kind and generous person, money will tend to make you more kind and generous. And if you are a a-hole, money will make you a much larger one. 

Today I will share with you three stories: two personal and the other from a client. My hope is that you, kind readers, will learn from these lessons rather experience them personally.

I work hard sharing ideas on building wealth and lowering taxes. These are worthy goals that make the world a better place. What I don’t talk about often is the risks people face once they make it. There is no greater thrill than to watch someone born in poverty finding their way to an abundant life. All too often this is the moment they destroy their lives. Usually it is temporary; sometimes not. These lessons can help you avoid the same fate.

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7 Tools to Build Wealth After 50

By Keith Taxguy, EA / July 25, 2021 /

Once you reach 50 retirement planning takes on a new level of seriousness. Avoiding a setback is more important than ever as there is less time to recover.

There are tools available to help you build for retirement and plan for life in retirement. You can reduce taxes and increase income with these tools. Anybody can use these tools at any age; for those 50 and older these tools have added benefits reducing taxes and increasing retirement income.

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31 Frugal Tips and Tricks

By Keith Taxguy, EA / April 12, 2021 /

Frugality is the animal that must be bred to achieve financial goals. There is no amount of income that can’t be spent, and then some. If you don’t believe that, take a long look at the U.S. government to get a view of an amount of money that can be spent with ideas to spend more.

The seed of wealth is the money you didn’t spend and instead invested. That is the only course in building a steady stream of income to enjoy the life you want. 

The investment isn’t the problem; the seed is. You can generate a generous income stream from real estate, index funds or a business. In each case it is the excess cash you didn’t spend that is the seed that grows to satisfy your dreams.

The more frugal the lifestyle, the less you need to retire. 

Image a man with a million dollars invested. Is he rich? Could he retire? Well, the questions are impossible to answer. If he spends $300,000 per year the million isn’t so much. If he spends under $40,000, he qualifies under the 4% rule to retire because he is unlikely to ever deplete his nest egg. 

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Why Cheating on Your Taxes Costs More

By Keith Taxguy, EA / March 29, 2021 /

This past week an old story was refreshed for me. A tax office that handles mostly simple tax returns for a very low price and gets paid mostly cash might not be claiming all that income. A previous employee of that firm informed me over $300,000 in cash was kept in a safe in the money cage. 

The final response (and I was thinking the same thing) was, “And I’m sure all that cash was reported.

Cheating on your taxes is as American as apple pie, but a whole lot dumber. If this other tax firm really has that much cash on hand and does not report all their income they lose a lot more than most people expect. 

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How Much Should You Pay for Tax Preparation?

By Keith Taxguy, EA / March 22, 2021 /

How much are you really paying for tax preparation?

What if I told you there was a hidden fee in your tax preparation bill. This hidden fee costs you serious money every time you file your taxes. This hidden fee shows up even when you prepare your own tax return. And it is totally avoidable. They sneak the fee in because you never see it and therefore never complain about it.

The hidden fee is hard to identify. It doesn’t show up as a line item on your accountant’s invoice or the online software payment page. Yet the fee digs hard into your wealth.

This same hidden fee looks different when you prepare your own tax return than from a professionally prepared return. The best way to expose this usurious fee is to handle it separately from how it is applied to DIY tax preparation and professionally prepared return.

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