4 Years of Tax-Free Living

The end of 2016 marks the completion of 4 full years of choosing leisure over labor.

It’s been a fun ride so far… we’ve seen a large swathe of the world, birthed a baby, and experienced 5 or 6 minutes of fame.

But how effective have these 4 years been in terms of implementing our tax minimization strategies? Are Roth IRA Conversions and Capital Gain Harvesting just fantasies we keep while working, or do they actually produce results in the real world?

Let’s do a financial check-up and see how we are doing.

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Onward and Upward

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The end of 2016 is nigh… which means different things to different people.

Some use this time of year to practice gratitude for all of the wonders of the year. Others may choose to lament the passing of musicians, actors, and superstars (I <3 you David Bowie! :'( ) Still others prepare their resolutions to spend money on a gym membership they never use or to save more money… ironically opposing goals.

But not here at GCC… instead we get wild and crazy with acronyms like CSS and PHP, play with Internet servers and caching tools, and of course take steps to minimize taxes for this year and beyond.

And last but not least, Winnie’s book was released at the end of December, quickly becoming the #1 new investment book on the market! (Mandarin / Chinese only.)

You may have already noticed the results by how fancy everything now looks around here. Please allow me to highlight these investments in the future, with a focus on ease of use and improved access.

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The Fear Tax

Fear Tax

… and Taxes

Every year, Americans pay millions of dollars in extra tax. Because they are concerned about or fearful of an audit, they decline to claim deductions they are fully and legally entitled to. This is the Fear Tax.

Because I write a lot about our own tax minimization efforts… (Yeah… sorry about that :/ ) I get more than my fair share of commentary in this regard:

“The IRS is coming for you, man!”

“OMG!!! You are going to get audited!!!! Ahhhhhh……!!!!!”

It’s totally worth it though, because I’ve learned a great deal and saved big dollars as a result. But also because these conversations often lead to great discussions about tax law, ethics, fairness, government accountability, and civic responsibility.

Maybe we can have another one of those helpful discussions…? This time, about the Fear Tax.

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How To Get Maximum Hotel Value

hotels.com free night

Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain

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Discounts on the stuff you are going to buy anyway are a beautiful thing.

But time is precious. Even saving 90% on a low-cost item we will only buy once probably isn’t worth much effort. On the other hand, with frequent purchases or high cost items even a few percent savings can be significant.

For us, hotels are one of those frequent purchases, so I have put extra effort into maximizing our discounts. Of course the best discount is free, and it is fairly easy to get free hotel stays. For those nights that we purchase, we typically get 20%+ off (as explained here. This post expands on that content.)

This post reviews some of the nuances of maximizing our ROI on hotel spend. I couldn’t find a good summary elsewhere so I decided to write one myself.

Even if you aren’t interested in saving $ on hotels, the thought process may still be mildly entertaining. If not, come back next post for more good times!

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Never Pay Retail Again

Never Pay Retail Again

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In the final months of each year, the Big Sales come out in force. Black Friday! Cyber Monday! Singles Day! (China)

Retailers need to make their sales numbers, and they offer all kinds of bargains* and discounts to get people into their stores. It’s like a circus, a sporting event, and an IQ test all rolled into one.

I can certainly appreciate the desire to pay less for something, assuming you were going to buy it anyway. Personally, paying retail is against my religion.

In this post I review how we routinely get discounts on everything from clothes to coffee to hotels, at a time and place of our choosing. It’s all part of a master plan to Never Pay Retail Again.

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Retire Early.

Travel the World.

Let's do this.

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