It should come as NO surprise to long time Financial Samurai readers that the IRS admitted to targeting conservative groups since Obama became President. The government already discriminates against those who make over a certain amount by charging higher taxes even though they already pay for the majority of all taxes. Meanwhile, the deductions and credits you get for things such as education and children get eliminated if you make over an absurdly low amount. Conducting body cavity searches to shake more tax dollars out of Republicans is business as usual.
Make no mistake that if a Republican was President, liberal groups would also be targeted by the IRS. Everybody naturally discriminates against everybody. Sometimes the discrimination is overt and evil, other times the discrimination is covertly done out of convenience until discovered as is the case with the IRS.
The bottom line is that people have a strong proclivity to take care of their own, no matter what. In this article I’d like to discuss ways in which people can significantly reduce their chances of getting audited by the most powerful organization in America.
THREE EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES TO AVOID AN IRS AUDIT Read more…
When I first began investing in college with the money I earned from odd jobs in high school, I had no idea what I was doing. Online investing was a new concept back in 1997 and I couldn’t believe I could randomly press some buttons to buy and sell stocks. I was hooked and would purposefully arrange my college classes around market hours to get in some feverish trades.
What took exhaustive summers of working minimum wage jobs to save what little money I had quickly got wiped out making ill-advised trades. One time I bought a software company named Macromedia which I thought was a bank. Another time I bought a graphics chip maker named TDFX at the absolute top. The good thing about only having $3,000 to my name is that the most I could lose is $3,000.
It’s been 17 years since I first made my first trade online, and I’ve developed a much more thorough and systematic approach to investing. During this time, I’ve literally made and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process. When you lose money, you start cursing the world and your stupidity. Just look at all the folks who bought into the Facebook IPO hype at $38, Apple at $700+, and any Chinese internet stock a couple years ago. Oops!
If only I had some type of platform where I could trade with virtual currency as realistically as possible for a couple more years. Maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t have made as many investment errors as I did since college. Maybe I would have been smart and shorted the home builders in 2007. Maybe I would have hedged out my company stock during the crisis to make sure I don’t receive a double whammy of a lower bonus and a lower share price. Who knows for sure. What I do know is that if you plan on investing your own money,do as much due diligence as possible. You won’t know your true risk tolerance until your positions start going the wrong way.
For those of you who are inexperienced investors, I’m pleased to introduce a startup called Olim Dives. Olim Dives means “future wealth and prosperity” in Old Latin and was started by Ben Hubbard and Roshan Vani. Olim Dives is a social investing site which allows users to trade a virtual $100,000 as close to real life as possible. You can also share ideas, compete for prizes, and learn from fellow users in the process as it’s a social investing site. Where was this stock market game when I was growing up?!
A CONVERSATION WITH OLIM DIVES’ FOUNDER, BEN HUBBARD Read more…
Money, sex, power, love, faith and family. What more do you need to live a happy life? I’ve read a number of very uninspiring “Best Jobs” articles by career think tanks and I’ve decided to write my own. I really don’t know what some of these publications are thinking. It’s as if the best jobs on their list are all their top advertisement clients or something.
Actuary, audiologist, and dental hygienist are considered three of the best jobs according to a company called Career Path. Who? No wonder why the majority of people hate their jobs if these are considered the best of the best. Even suicide rates for those in their 40s and 50s are up a startling 28% in the past decade according to the government, probably thanks to miserable jobs.
Life is too short to do bullshit jobs for bullshit money. Your’re not going to look back on your life and think how awesome you were for selling millions of gadgets. You won’t care that you litigated the hell out of your competitors. Nor will it matter whether you made your clients big bucks. The truly best jobs in the world are those you would gladly do for free because you are producing something meaningful to society.
THE BEST JOBS IN THE WORLD Read more…
According to a new study by the Urban Institute, the wealth gap among Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics has continued to increase. Before the recession, White families, on average, were about four times wealthier than non-White families, according to Federal Reserve data. By 2010, White families were about six times as wealthy. The most recent data shows the average White family has about $632,000 in wealth, versus $98,000 for Black families and $110,000 for Hispanic families. But what about Asian families?
Last I checked, there are 4.3 billion Asians in the world, making up 62% of the world’s population. What’s surprising is that only around 5% of the American population is Asian. If there’s only 16 million people to sell to out of a country population of 310 million, no wonder why nobody really cares about Asians. Money talks!
When you grow up attending international schools, living in the Spanish house in college and working in Manhattan and San Francisco, it’s very hard to accept a world where there isn’t much diversity. 33% of San Francisco’s population is Asian for example. This post will attempt to understand why Asians consistently get ignored by researchers, politicians, and the media. I’ll also offer solutions as to how Asian Americans can gain more coverage.
WHY DON’T MORE PEOPLE CARE ABOUT ASIANS? Read more…
The two week vacation to Hawaii was perfect except for one thing. My financial advisor from Citibank failed to call me the day a particular deal was closing as previously discussed. This investment offered between a 15% to 20% guaranteed return on the Dow Jones over four years if the Dow closes above the initial strike price plus any upside beyond the guarantee and a 10% downside buffer. I wanted to know whether the guaranteed return was 15%, 16%, 17%, 18%, 19%, or 20% to determine how much to invest. I already made up my mind that I would lob anywhere between $20,000 – $30,000 into this note.
Instead of getting a call on the day of closing, I get an e-mail two days after the close saying he got his calendars totally mixed up. Sigh. At least give a believable excuse! You know like, “I went binge drinking the night before and called in sick on Monday.”
Tim’s lack of follow up is costing me around $1,000 in paper gains in just a couple of weeks as the Dow has moved from 14,300 to over 15,000 at the moment. As an early retiree, I’m investing all the disposable income I’ve got because I’m looking for capital appreciation and income to help replace my lack of W2 income. Leaving cash in a money market account yielding 0.1% is a financial crime I refuse to commit.
Lesson learned. For those of you who are interested in an upcoming IPO and plan on going away for vacation, put in your IOI (indication of interest) before you leave and stagger your order size depending on the final price. My financial advisor might still forget to input the order, but at least there will be an e-mail trail indicating my IOI, and the firm can fill the order in arrears.
THE MAIN REASONS TO HAVE A FINANCIAL ADVISOR Read more…
If you have tremendous money strength, you will never have to draw down on your retirement principal. Your goal, if you choose to accept, is to create an estate that will provide for your loved ones long after you are gone. This is what endowments do. Why not consider doing the same if you are a magnanimous and financially savvy individual? You’re reading Financial Samurai after all!
I always scratch my head when I hear advisors talk about the “4% withdrawal rule” or any withdrawal rate that’s greater than a risk free rate of return for that matter. Times have changed folks. Interest rates are close to zero, the stock market isn’t a slam dunk, and we are living much longer now.
There are so many variables that it is impossible to calculate a bullet proof withdrawal rate rule unless that rate is 0%. Sure, there’s a 99% chance you will die before 110 and a 99.9% chance you’ll die before 150, but who really knows? We might be one with machines by the year 2030 and live forever!
Instead of thinking about how much you can withdraw to bleed your retirement funds down to $0 by the time you die, I highly encourage everyone to think about leaving a financial legacy for your loved ones that is so great you’ll never run out of money. Even if we fail to come up with a perpetual giving machine to leave for others, the end result will be much better than if we only focused on ourselves. Related: Is Not Wanting To Be Rich Selfish?
BREAKING DOWN THE IDEAL WITHDRAWAL RATE Read more…
View from Koko Head, Oahu
After rolling over my 401(k) into an IRA, I’d like to focus on potentially the single most beneficial reason why everyone should convert their 401(k) into an IRA after they leave their jobs: Rule 72(t).
Rule 72(t) allows for penalty-free withdrawals of your IRA account before the age of 59.5 provided that the IRA holder take at least five “substantially equal periodic payments” (SEPPs). The amount depends on the IRA owner’s life expectancy calculated with various IRS-approved methods.
Three IRS approved methods to calculate SEPP:
1) Required minimum distribution method: This method takes your current balance and divides it by your single life expectancy or joint life expectancy. Your payment is then recalculated each year with your account balance as of December 31st of the preceding year and your current life expectancy. With this method, your payments will change depending on your account value.
2) Fixed amortization method: This method amortizes your account balance over your single life expectancy, the uniform life expectancy table, or joint life expectancy with your oldest named beneficiary. Such a method is more stable.
3) Fixed annuitization method: This method uses an annuity factor to calculate your SEPP. It’s hard enough calculating life expectancy and portfolio performance, let alone forecast interest rates for annuities so let’s skip this method.
The most common withdrawal calculation method is #1. I’d like to use my example for how using Rule 72(t) can help an early retiree extract more income and lead a more comfortable financial life.
TAXES BAD, MORE INCOME GOOD Read more…