What is the largest expense you’ll have in your life?
Some will say it’s the purchase of their home or their college education. Others, thinking about it a while, feel transportation expenses lead the list of lifetime expenses. You would be justified in thinking medical costs, including medical insurance, are the biggest expense you will face in life.
Yet none of these expenses are close to what you will pay in taxes over a lifetime.
Taxes will consume over half of what the average American earns over a lifetime. This means no other expense can possibly be larger.
The list of taxes in nearly inexhaustible: federal income taxes, state income taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes and now tariffs are being added to the costs of many goods you buy.Read More
There is a reason the emergency fund — and her close cousins the sinking fund, maintenance account and working capital account — is such a widely held belief. Without the capital needed for extraordinary expenses you risk financial hardship when a large expense arises.
There is another advantage to having these accounts: avoiding the need to borrow at an unexpected times. Business owners understand the advantage of having adequate working capital. They also understand that a financial cushion is more than just a convenience in business. Adequate working capital can remove or eliminate the need to borrow under extreme situations.
The best part of an emergency fund is that you get paid a token amount of interest as you wait for the inevitable versus paying interest because you didn’t plan accordingly. This affects profits.Read More
Whenever I attend a conference I look for things the crowds miss. The mainstream information is still absorbed, but there always seems to be something most people pass that contains a lot of potential.
Last year at FinCon such an opportunity screamed to me. Several companies were offering 5% on savings with few strings attached. One was geared toward military people, but had some fees and restrictions I felt uncomfortable with.Read More
You might notice the bloggers spouting the same gibberish get picked up by mass media outlets while your favorite blog (that had better be this one!) gets nary a mention. The reason for this is people prefer the familiar to an honest answer that could make a real difference.Read More
The tax profession is aging. Attracting new people to the profession is difficult because it lacks the glamour of other professions. But sit in any public forum and mention you are a tax professional and you will be inundated with tax questions and offers to take them on as new clients. The tax profession is a good field with ample opportunity to do good, but few even consider accounting or tax as a career option.Read More
Regardless how experienced or educated you are you will still make financial mistakes, some of them humdingers. Personal finance blogs and media outlets frequently share basis financial mistakes to avoid: spend less than you earn, invest in index funds, avoid debt and so forth. All this is good advice, but it goes a lot deeper than this.Read More
Healthcare is taking center stage once again as the political arena heats up. This will not be a political treatise. Instead, we will focus on the long-term problems in the U.S. healthcare system and potential solution to be found in the tax code.Medicare for all is something that appeals to me. When the politics are stripped there is a lot to like in the idea of expanding Medicare to everyone. Currently about half the people get some form of Medicare benefit. The old, very young and poor qualify for the Medicare program. Unfortunately, the Medicare system is set up backwards. The people who pay for it are not the people receiving benefits and the people receiving benefits don’t pay for it (with the exception of people age 65 and older).Even the elderly who pay a Medicare premium for some parts of the program are still subsidized by those earning a wage or salary, the very people who don’t qualify for benefits. The inefficiency of the U.S medical system has created the most expensive healthcare system in the world by far with sub-par results. For most illnesses it is better to travel for treatment if you want better odds at living.Read More
Frequently we look for political solutions to income inequality and the wealth gap. While the issues can be improved slightly from political action, there are two additional ways to close the wealth gap and level income.
Politics is the messiest way to fix these problems and history offers ample warning for those who seek answers from this source. One need not look further than Mao’s China or Stalin’s Russia to see how abysmal political leveling can be. North Korea is a modern example of how not to level the playing field.
Let’s turn our attention to the second way income inequality can be reduced. Walter Scheidel in his book The Great Leveler provides what he calls the “Four Horsemen” of leveling: war, revolution, collapse and plague. Historically these four horsemen have been the leading cause of leveling income and wealth.
Once again this is not a comforting thought. You can read Scheidel’s work for an in-depth review of his research. The record is clear, however; it takes great dislocation, pain, suffering and death for income and wealth to level naturally.Read More