May 012018
 

The Tax Free Advantage

Tax free investment vehicles have been around the world for decades. The United States has the Roth IRA. The United Kingdom has the Individual Savings Account (ISA.) The Canadian version is called the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) and it’s relatively new – only 9 years old. Tax free accounts give investors a way to save money using their after tax income. And any investment growth inside the account is not taxed, subject to certain restrictions.

Last year Canadians held on average $17,300 inside their TFSAs. That’s not much, but the good news is most people who read this blog have way more saved. I recently conducted a poll asking readers to share their TFSA balances. It seems that 4 out of 5 voters have over $20,000 stuffed away in a tax free account. And surprisingly 8.5% of readers say they have over $100,000. Hey, not too shabby! 🙂 Full results below.

According to a BMO report, people in B.C. contribute the most to their TFSAs – about 28% more than the national average. Yay. My people! 😀

A tax free vehicle is very powerful because it can save us hundreds of thousands of dollar in taxes over time. For example, I currently have about $100,000 in my TFSA. Let’s assume I don’t contribute anymore money and leave it alone to grow at 7% a year. 30 years later my account should be worth $711,000.

However, if I were to invest the same $100,000 in a taxable account, then instead of earning an annual 7% average rate of return, I will probably only make 5% after tax. My account in 30 years would only be worth $411,000. That’s $300,000 less than the previous example. Maybe that amount will only be worth half as much 30 years from now due to inflation. But it’s still a lot of money to pass up. We are lucky in this country to have this financial vehicle to help us save. Everyone should use it if they can. 🙂

If anyone’s curious, here is what I currently hold in my tax free savings accounts. I have some winners and some losers, But mostly winners. 😉

You can also visit my portfolio page for real time numbers.

 

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Random Useless Fact:

Dec 262016
 

It’s time again to learn about you, the readers. 🙂 Last year I asked what people thought about lower oil prices and daylight saving time. Here are the results.

I agree with the consensus here. Although a lower price for oil means cheaper gasoline at the pumps I would much rather see higher profits and more dividends from the energy companies I own. More oil revenue also means more capital expenditures which creates more jobs in the economy. There’s only so much money we can save, but there’s no limit to how much we can earn in the capital markets. It looks like 59% of Freedom 35 Blog readers feel the same way. It probably means most people here care more about investing than about consuming. 😀

Six years ago I complained about the negative health effects and lowered productivity of DST.  It just makes everything unnecessarily more complicated. For example, clocks in most of Saskatchewan match clocks in Winnipeg during the winter, but then match clocks in Calgary and Edmonton during the summer. Wtf? o_O That makes it hard for me to conduct my cross provincial business. According to the results of this next poll, it appears that most people agree with me.

I’m surprised no politician has addressed this issue yet. I would vote for anyone who promises to get rid of daylight saving time. 😀

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Random Useless Fact:

Sony is currently working on a new animated feature film. 😀

 

Feb 222016
 

Who Would You Tell?

Awhile ago you guys were asked who you would tell if you won the lottery.  Here are the results. Thanks to everyone who voted. 🙂

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Roughly a quarter of readers said they will keep the secret to themselves. I happen to be in this category as well. But I would tell my spouse if I had one. I think she would eventually find out sooner or later. Half of the people polled feel the same way and would tell their immediate family members. Only 4.6% would post it on Facebook and don’t mind if all their friends knew. We all have our reasons for how we voted. I personally think nothing bad will happen if nobody knows you’re rich. 🙂 But you can obviously put money to good use anytime.

Last month 3 tickets split the record $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot in the U.S. The winners have 60 days to make a decision on whether they want to take the lump sum payment, or the annuity payments spread out through 29 years, a dilemma most people wouldn’t mind having.

Option 1: Lump Sum

  • Divided among the 3 tickets, each cash lump sum will be $310 million.
  • The winner would get their money right away, but pay 40% in taxes. (The IRS taxes lottery winnings like income tax)
  • After tax lump sum will be $187 million for each winning ticket.

Option 2: Annuity Certain

  • Winning ticket holders will receive 30 payments over the next 29 years.
  • The first payment of $7.5 million will be made immediately, and slowly increase with interest to about $31 million on the final payment, with a combined total of $529 million.
  • If the winner dies the annuity payments will continue and go into his or her estate to be passed on to any heirs.
  • Powerball invests the entire cash value of the annuity in various U.S. government securities. The winner won’t be taxed on investment income within the annuity because Powerball will be the entity investing the money.

I would probably go with option 2 and choose the annuity over the lump sum just for the tax savings. 🙂 Which would you choose?

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Random Useless Fact

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By the way, I’m currently on vacation in the Caribbean right now and won’t be back until next week so I won’t be very active on the blog in the meantime. 🙂

Jan 282016
 

What Does Risk Mean?

It’s time again to learn about you, the readers. :D  Awhile ago visitors of this blog were asked which word first comes to mind when they hear the term, “risk.”  Here are the results. Thanks to everyone who voted.

16-01-poll-risk-first-thing

It appears most readers associate risk with uncertainty or opportunity. I would choose uncertainty as the first thing I would think about when facing or talking about risk. Opportunity would probably be the next thing I would think about. Opportunity and loss can both derive from uncertainty but financially savvy people are usually cautiously optimistic about the unknown and we try to seek out serendipitous possibilities. Investors have to think like heart surgeons; we must never bypass a good opportunity. As Winston Churchill once said, “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Usually the best chance we have at success also comes with a good amount of risk. But the good news is we can lower the risk without diminishing the potential gain. 🙂 We can lower risk through self knowledge and an understanding of the financial world. A lack of wisdom leads to risky behavior. As Warren Buffett once said, “risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” That’s why countries that are less financially literate tend to have a less affluent population. People who work in business and investment banking understand how finance works, and not surprisingly they tend to make a lot of money in their fields. The more we know, the less likely we are to fail, and the less risky our decisions will become. 🙂

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Random Useless Fact

According to the BBC, in some parts of Australia, 90% of koalas are infected with STDs. Koalas are at risk of becoming extinct because over half of them have chlamydia.

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Jul 222015
 

It’s time again to learn about you, the readers. :D Are you a breadwinner? Last year Freedom 35 Blog visitors were asked who the primary income earner is in their households. Here are the results. Thanks to everyone who voted (^_^)

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I think what the poll results show is that people who read personal finance blogs tend to make more money than his or her spouse. 🙂 Out of the 67 voters who live with other people, 42 (63% of them) claim to be the main person to bring home the bacon. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Those who have a higher affinity for making money will probably be drawn to reading blogs about how to make more money. Even people who don’t have high paying jobs can still become the breadwinner of a family through other means. For example, with my recent acquisitions that I wrote about earlier this week, I’m now making about $17,000 a year from investment income alone.

The nice thing about investment income is it gives us a lot of control over our household finances. For example I could sustainably increase my investment income to $30,000 per year if necessary. But doing that would slow down my portfolio’s long term growth so I’m choosing not to do that since I don’t need the extra money right now.

Investment income is less risky than a salary or wage as long as our investments are properly diversified. A well balanced portfolio should continue working for us even while we sleep. Furthermore, capital gains and dividend income is tax less than earned income so even the tax agency wants to reward investors. 🙂

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Random Useless Fact

We tend to be very good lawyers for our own mistakes, but very good judges for the mistakes of others.