Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence

Book Review: Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence

I don’t normally write book reviews on this blog, but I’m making an exception for the new Choose FI book.  I was expecting my opinion to sway one way with the book but my impression after reading it went in a completely different direction. Chris Mamula is the author of Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence (along with coauthors Brad Barrett and Jonathan Mendonsa).  If you’re not familiar with Chris, he retired in 2017 at the young age of 41 (beat me by two years!).  He also spends a lot of time writing at the Can I Retire Yet? site. I met Chris at the FinCon conference in 2017 – such a nice guy!  We didn’t get a chance

Estimated Self-Employment Tax Used to Scare Me!

Estimated Self-Employment Tax Used to Scare Me!

I’m just going to say it – I have three very small businesses that I’ve been running for years and I’ve never paid estimated self-employment tax payments. Ouch, for shame, for shame! That’s right, I’m a complete failure in that avenue.  And that could have cost me, too. If you owe $1,000 or more come tax day in April, you might be hit with a penalty by the IRS.  In essence, it’s an interest penalty on the difference of what you should have paid and what you actually paid. And guess who gets to decide what that interest rate is?  That’s right, the IRS does.  For the second quarter of 2019, they’ve decided that the rate for underpayments will be

Why a $5,000 Tax Return Refund is Actually Good News

Why a $5,000 Tax Return Refund is Actually Good News

There are some folks out there who are enthralled by the idea of taxes.  The idea of working on their tax return actually excites them every year. I’m far from being one of those people. Taxes… borrrrring! Unfortunately, love ’em or hate ’em, if you’re in the U.S., you’re stuck with doing a tax return every year. There’s a part of taxes though that I don’t really get.  It’s the idea that if you get money back on your tax return, you did something wrong. And the higher your refund, the more your year was botched. This year we got around $5,000 on our tax return (between federal and state).  That’s quite a bit more than we usually get back.

Prioritizing Each Investment Account for FIRE

Prioritizing Each Investment Account for FIRE

As I became a little more familiar with the idea of FIRE (financial independence / retire early), I needed to learn where I should be putting my money.  And I’m not talking about the specific investments – I’m referring to the type of investment account. Terms like taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-free can make a huge difference in the outcome of your portfolio.  When I started out, I didn’t understand just how much of a difference each of these accounts could make in the long run. Most of the articles you read or the standard investment advice you hear from planners on TV anticipates that you’ll be retiring at the traditional age… or even working for the rest of your life. Because of

Is Rule 72(t) the Escape Tool for Me?

Is Rule 72(t) the Escape Tool for Me

Rule 72(t).  The name sounds as boring as 401(k).  And it should because it’s from the same place – the Internal Revenue Code. Both are part of the tax law that the IRS gets to govern. Coincidentally, both Rule 72(t) and 401(k) plans are pertinent to this post. I recently wrote a post about our FIRE plans titled The Roth IRA Conversion Ladder Dilemma.  I talked about how we plan on using the ladder to access our tax-deferred accounts earlier than the traditional retirement age. The problem we ran up against is covering the 5-year gap in the meantime until we can access the funds.  We need to have enough money in our taxable accounts to make that happen… and we

The Roth IRA Conversion Ladder Dilemma

The Roth IRA Conversion Ladder Dilemma

I’ve been a bit moody the past couple of weeks.  I’ve been focusing a lot on trying to pinpoint our exact retirement date and I’ve been struggling.  The problem all stems with the Roth IRA Conversion Ladder we plan to do. First off, if you’re on the path to FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early) and you’re not familiar with how a Roth IRA Conversion Ladder works, this could be important to you. It’s not the end-all-be-all solution, but the ladder is a method that many early retirees are able to use to make FIRE actually happen. You see, normally you don’t have access to your traditional 401(k) and other retirement accounts until 59½.  This is a problem for young whippersnappers trying