The Property Assessor Always Wins In A Bull Market – Filing An Appeal Is Useless

Property Tax Appeal Is Futile In A Bull MArketYour goal as a homeowner is to enjoy your home and minimize costs as much as possible. If you can convince the property assessor that you live in a dump, then all the better! Unfortunately, in a rising property price environment, minimizing cost becomes much more difficult due to rising property taxes.

When things are going swell, it’s easy to get lazy about reducing expenses. But I encourage you to continuously manage your burn rate while figuring out how to maximize income. In the event of the next downturn, you’ll be that much more prepared to weather the hurricane.

When Did Being Rich Become So Evil?

Evil eyes. When did wealth become so evilWith good intention, I proposed one way to help level the playing field through a Wealth Identification Program run by our all-powerful government. By identifying wealthy people who got wealthy through 100% luck (born into wealth), we could empower decision makers to make more informed choices when deciding between equally qualified candidates. Whether a decision maker chooses to help the less lucky is entirely up to their discretion.

The Wealth Identification Program could also put pressure on life’s lucky winners to use their finances to give back to those who need help the most, while pushing themselves to see what they can achieve on their own. Imagine being born with the gift of Mozart, but never realizing your full potential because you didn’t have to. Having money from the start can limit motivation!

With a public wealth ID program, the fortunate will tend to give more and try harder to maximize their potential. After all, when the the boss is not around, why do anything at all?

A Way To Level The Playing Field: Create A Wealth Identification System

dog-tag-hidden-war

Wealth Identification Program

A long time ago, one of my tenants who drove a Range Rover told me, “I need an extra day to pay rent in order to withdraw money from my trust fund. Can you wait?

I thought to myself, you knew today was move-in day when rent would be due, couldn’t you have planned ahead? This is not how a new tenant / landlord relationship should start.

OK, please send in your portion of the rent the following day,” I responded, trying to hide my annoyance. This was the first time anybody ever admitted to having a trust fund. Why was I taking the credit risk when his roommates could have covered for him? Did he really not have an extra couple thousand dollars in his bank to honor our agreement given he drives a $50,000+ car? Was he lying on the rental application when he said he has $20,000 – $30,000 in liquid savings? What the F is going on?

The next morning, his father’s assistant e-mailed me asking how she could deliver the rent for my tenant: Fed Ex or wire? Wow, talk about having everything done for you. At least I got paid by the Bank of Mom & Dad.

This little episode reminded me the world is never going to be fair. There will be people who work their asses off, say all the right things, and still won’t get ahead because they don’t have the finances or connections like the rich.

The rental situation for my place was highly competitive. Had I known my tardy tenant had a trust fund, perhaps I would have rented out the place to someone else who wanted the place just as much, but whose financials were all her own. In the past, I’ve rented an apartment out for way below market because the tenant was a middle school teacher. They get paid way too little for what they do.

As a way to help make the world more equal, I’d like to introduce The Trust Fund And Inheritance Identification Program.

Property Sellers: Only Accept All Cash Offers To Maximize Profits And Happiness

Mountain Of Cash

Skylar And Walter’s Mountain Of Cash

Almost every Sunday I go for a walk, jog, or hike around a neighborhood to check out open houses, speak to Realtors, get some exercise, and find inspiration for interior design. Open house hunting is seriously my new favorite free past-time. My previous favorite past-time was test driving new cars at various dealerships. What a blast that costs nothing!

I went to see a particular condo in Pacific Heights, San Francisco the other day because it was a close comp to one of my rentals in the same building. This particular property was only a one bedroom compared to my 2/2, but at 610 square feet it had a nice southern facing deck and private parking. The asking price? $690,000.

The open house was absolutely packed with couples under 35 years old as well as many retirees. Who knew one bedrooms were so popular?

How To Maximize An Umbrella Policy Like A Champ

Large umbrella policyIf you have assets that amount to more than what your car insurance and home insurance coverage provides, then you should probably get an umbrella policy for protection. The amount of umbrella policy coverage you should have is an individual choice. If you want to be safe, get an umbrella policy equal to your estimated net worth.

I’ve personally taken a “riskier” approach by getting an umbrella policy less than my net worth. I figure, I’m not doing anything particularly offensive or risky in day-to-day life, nor is my business putting anybody in physical danger. If I was running a roller coaster amusement park on the other hand, you bet your buns of steel I’m getting maximum coverage!

The point of this article is remind people to protect their assets, have a talk with your insurance company since you’re paying for coverage, and make sure the insurance coverage is aligned to expectations. Spending a lifetime of work only to see it get wiped away by some random act would be unfortunate. 

The State Of The Union Address 2015 Cheat Sheet

State Of The Union President Obama 2015When President Obama gave the State Of The Union Address at 6pm PST, I had just left the office to go eat some yummy butter chicken and garlic naan at Amber Restaurant in downtown San Francisco. I assume many other hard-working West Coasters missed the SOTU address as well. Alas, living through an East Coast centric TV schedule is something we’ve grown used to.

But as any true patriot would do, I DVRed the SOTU address, watched the one hour long speech, took notes like a good student, and spent several hours putting together this 2,000 word article to help others think about our nation’s issues.

It’s important we all know and have an opinion about the main topics our nation faces. We don’t have to all agree, but having the knowledge helps us make choices about how we want to live, what occupations we should pursue, the type of investments we should make, and how others might view Americans on a global stage. Oh, and after reading this article, I promise you’ll be able to hold your own at any stuffy cocktail party on the planet.

Knowledge is what will set us all free!

Who Is The Middle Class? We Are All Middle Class Citizens!

Something very interesting happened the other night at around 6pm PST. The traffic on Financial Samurai more than doubled for one hour between 6pm and 7pm PST. See the chart below.

State Of The Union Online Traffic Chart

I took a look to see whether some major media publication had highlighted one of my ~1,000 previously written articles. Nope. I searched over social media to see whether any of my publications were trending. Double nope. And then I finally went to see which keywords people were searching for, and what article they were landing on to provide this 100% organic bump in traffic.

Keyword search: Middle Class Income

Article stumble: Definitions Of A Middle Class Income: Do You Consider Yourself Middle Class?

Bingo! Traffic began surging after President Obama began giving his State Of The Union Address at 6pm on January 20, 2015. I never knew Financial Samurai attracted more Liberal readers given a strong focus on making an income that Conservatives like to promote. Or maybe traffic just rises when a SOTU address is made, regardless of political side. We shall see if a Republican ever becomes president again.

The coolest thing about having a a personal finance site that has a reasonably significant amount of traffic is that I can play political scientist with real-time proprietary data in my boxer briefs while watching the Aussie Tennis Open at 5am. Over 40,000 visitors in one day is statistically significant, especially when compared to Gallup polls who often survey just 1,000 people to extrapolate a conclusion.

Do The Rich And Powerful Want To Keep The Middle Class Down?

poor-femaleThe one thing I wondered when reading that 100% of people who make over $500,000 are very happy is whether rich and powerful people WANT the middle class to stay poor. Popular media loves to report that money doesn’t buy happiness beyond a very average level of income. But it’s clear that the rich have successfully manipulated the gullible media into making us believe the rich are not safe and happy with their wealth, when they really are.

Part of the reason why I write is to highlight so many of the absurdities that go on in this crazy world. And for some reason, a lot of the absurdities have to deal with government-funded policies e.g. Have a $1,000 child tax credit per child if you make below a certain income level despite our reports saying that it costs $250,000+ to raise a child into adulthood. Thanks to conflicting signals, can we really blame some families for having five children and staying on welfare their entire lives?

The happiness and income survey is anonymous and provides no incentives for participants to vote differently from how they feel. Therefore, it’s highly likely that a large majority of people who do make over $500,000 a year are much happier than those who make less. The only people who say money doesn’t buy happiness are those with no money to make themselves feel better, and those who have a boatload of money and don’t care about money anymore.

In order to feel rich, you must make or have more than the average. Even if you earn only $30,000 a year, you’ll feel rich if the average person earns $20,000 a year. But if the middle class grows more wealthy, then the rich won’t feel as rich anymore.

Given the rich and powerful like to mingle within their own circles, it becomes extremely difficult for the rest of us to get ahead in society because everybody just takes care of each other. A middle class person has to be an exceptionally brilliant, hard working, or lucky to move into the rich class where hopefully they’ll stay for a couple generations until the third generation wastes it all because they don’t understand what it takes to get ahead.

How Europeans See Money Differently From Americans

Stonehenge Sideways View

After almost finishing my loop around Stonehenge, I stumbled across a French woman who was lying on the ground sideways. She adjusted herself a little bit to get more comfortable, but paid no attention to fellow tourists wondering what she was doing.

She made me want to lie down sideways as well to see what she was seeing. I didn’t because I felt a little silly copying her in broad daylight. So instead, I took this picture and tilted my phone. Perhaps you are now bending your head sideways or lifting your laptop sideways to see what she sees.

What do you see?

The Only Reasons To Ever Contribute To A Roth IRA

Government Pork SpendingDisadvantages Of A Roth IRA: Not All Is What It Seems” ignited a flurry of responses from people who have already been contributing to a Roth IRA, which I will address in this post.

One of the main things people have learned is that the government manipulates individuals into forking over more money than they otherwise should due to gross mismanagement of their own budget. Massive deficit? Let’s announce this huge “benefit” to allow people to convert their pre-tax retirement funds into a Roth IRA! We’ll raise the spectre of higher tax rates to get more people to bite.

It’s sometimes daunting to go against the government because they employ some of the smartest people on Earth to keep themselves in power while keeping the rest of us dependent on their largess. But I’m here to help you fight back and live a better life.

If you contribute to a Roth IRA or convert your pre-tax retirement accounts into a Roth IRA, you aren’t going to be damned to hell. You’re just not maximizing your wealth over time. I’m a rational person who likes to see both sides of the story. So let me share with you the only legitimate reasons why one should ever contribute to a Roth IRA.

For those of you who already have a RothIRA account, what you are about to read probably makes so much sense you might feel a little bad. But don’t worry. The number one solution when you are in a hole is to stop digging and slowly climb out.