The Government Is Sexist And Nobody Seems To Care

Out of curiosity, I surveyed five of my married friends to answer two questions: 1) Did you pay more or less in taxes after you got married, and 2) How much more or less did you pay?  The answers I got were concerning.  They all responded they paid more and by a magnitude of $3,000 to $25,000!

It’s just not true that the “marriage penalty tax” no longer exists.  The IRS just renamed it the “love me long time tax.”

I’m by no means a personal income tax expert.  All I’m doing is highlighting facts from people around me, and proposing the likely reasons as to why their taxes went up.  Our income tax system is so darn confusing, hopefully someone can shed some light on the situation!

TWO QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT AND UNDERSTAND

The Katana: Where Experiences Matters More Than Things

$1,780 is what it cost to book two last minute tickets to Lost Island.  I let the web page sit for a while, hesitant to click away a nice chunk of savings.  But what’s the use of money if it’s not spent?  We can save and save and save until we have some magical number we call “enough.”  Or, we can live for experiences that will last until our memories gray.

Why is it that some of us have spending paralysis over good times, but spend so easily on material things?  My fear was due to the impermanence of the experience, and the permanent loss of money.  That was some time ago when I had little savings.  It’s different now.  Memories are always what makes me smile the most.  It’s as if good memories blossom with time.

Readers, what are your thoughts on impulse spending for experiences?  Can spending on experiences be considered less imbecilic than spending on things?  If so, why should there be a difference?

The Samurai Fund: +2.1% YTD vs. -0.53 S&P 500.  I’m making room for a couple new picks to replace a couple existing picks due to inactivity and performance.  Shoot me an e-mail if interested and please read the guidelines first.

Yakezie Alexa Challenge: Stay tuned for a large update this Wed, Feb 24.  We’ll discuss what happens when the rules change on us, how to deal and flourish!  I will introduce a new initiative which should be able to help more members.  Keep on promoting others Yakezies!

HIGHLIGHT POSTS OF THE WEEK

Conventional Wisdom Leaves Much to Luck

Imagine two similar investors, Leslie and Bob.

  • They each retire with a $500,000 portfolio.
  • They each withdraw 4% of their portfolio in the first year of retirement, then adjust that amount upward each year to account for inflation (as measured by the Consumer Price Index).
  • Their portfolios are identical: 60% in Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund and 40% in Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund, rebalanced at the end of each year.
  • The only difference is that Leslie retired at the end of 1994, and Bob retired at the end of 1999.

The Result?

Marketing Or Manipulation?

This is a guest post by the Lean Life Coach who writes at Eliminate the Muda! [mooda] about how to improve life and personal finance through the application of proven business management techniques that originated with great Americans such as Henry Ford and Benjamin Franklin.

Fighting to Survive

Would you gargle with a floor cleaner?

Originally invented in 1879 as a surgical antiseptic, Listerine was later diluted and sold as a floor cleaner. The Lambert Pharmacal Company, maker of Listerine, was not a wild success, selling a little more than $100,000 per year of their concoction. In 1921 Jordan Wheat Lambert initiated a new marketing campaign advertising Listerine as a cure for “cronic halitosis.” In less than 7 years annual revenue exploded to $8 million.

Just as a small side note, “Cronic Halitosis” was a fake medical term! No doubt, a few of us have an occasional issue with bad breath, but it was not considered a major societal issue until this groundbreaking marketing plan. Not only did the Lambert Pharmacal Company create a new product they even created a new medical term that is commonly accepted to this day.

The objective of any business, big or small, is not only to make a profit but also grow. Doing so requires a focused approach towards obtaining and more importantly retaining a customer base. This of course requires marketing and advertising.

Years ago a company would develop a single marketing campaign and blast it to the world at large; “Buy our widgets.” A successful campaign might be profitable for decades while a failed effort could doom a company.

How Far Will They Go?

Charles Farrell From “Your Money Ratios” Speaks! Part II

Social Security Act FDR

The following is the second and last part of my interview with Charles Farrell, the author of “Your Money Ratios“.  We discuss the much maligned 401k, whether Social Security will survive, and crowd favorite, how raising personal income tax levels further will ruin America!

The 401K AND ALL ITS GLORY

Question: Why do you think there are so many detractors of the 401k plan? Furthermore, do you think it is fair that the pre-tax limit contribution is only $16,500 for some 22 as well as someone who is 45? Presumably, the average 45 year old is making much more than the average 22 year old, so how come the government doesn’t propose an increased pre-tax contribution scale the older one gets?

Answer: Many people don’t like 401(k) plans because they believe the burden of funding retirements should fall on employers and not employees; thus they would like to see us go back to defined benefit plans that are funded by employers. Well, that is just not going to happen. Employers have no appetite for guaranteeing to pay their workers for 30 or 40 years after they stop working for them. And DB plans are not flexible enough to accommodate a globally competitive marketplace, plus they discriminate against individuals who change jobs or careers. Moreover, many DB plans (particularly government plans) are significantly underfunded and many who thought they had guaranteed retirements may be unpleasantly surprised at some point. So I think the “romance” with DB plans is misguided, but many people would like to see those types of plans again. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

Then there is another set of individuals who don’t like 401(k) plans because of the limited investment choices and sometimes high expense structure of the plans. I agree with people on this front, and there are problems with some 401(k) providers, particularly those smaller plans that can’t drive better deals on their investment platforms.

But, most plans do offer competitive options and are low cost. It’s important for readers not to lose sight of the primary reason to use a 401(k) plan, which is the huge tax benefit provided to those who contribute; and if you get a match, that is just makes it more attractive. The tax deduction, the match and the tax deferral on growth are incredibly valuable tools to help build your capital. So even with some restrictions, the plans are basically the best place to build your retirement assets.

Regulators Are The Problem! (401K Con’t)