After my father came back from military service he felt a calling to be in the publishing business. For a short period of time, he worked for another newspaper in order to gain some experience. Then, with just a card table and typewriter, he started a newspaper from scratch.
He knew he needed something different in order to attract interest in his paper, eventually called The Nishna Valley tribune. It wasn’t just any newspaper. It was a “free newspaper.” Dad was a bit of a pioneer in this area. It was unique in that it contained both news and advertising; yet, he charged no subscription for the paper. It went to every home free of charge, saturating the homes of consumers in the trade area. This attracted the advertisers.
My father was not a brilliant man. He was smart enough to find a need and fill it, though. He knew that if he could provide value for others, it would follow that he would be providing value for his family. Indeed, it was a family business. Several of us worked in the business in various capacities. While I was in the fifth grade, my dad came into my bedroom on Halloween eve and woke me at 3AM. He was desperate for help in printing the newspaper. His main pressman had died suddenly of a heart attack. I know it was Halloween because I had to miss the 5th grade Halloween skit in which I was to use my exceptional talent of making weird noises with my big mouth. The teacher decided to harness my mouth for something good, I guess.
Dad became mayor of the town, and served for 14 years, if my memory serves me correctly. He also was appointed magistrate and served for many years in that capacity until he died. All this by someone who never went to college! This is the American Dream.
A book written in 1931 by James Truslow Adams entitled The Epic of America says this about the American Dream: “The dream of a land in which life should be better for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability and achievement.”
Some think the American Dream is dead or dying. The reality is this:
a. New business startups are on the rise and hit a 16 year high in 2015. More companies are starting than ever before.
b. 56% of all venture capital in the world is in USA.
c. Most research and development is in the USA.
d. 84% of Americans have a higher income than their parents
e. Today the poor are getting richer, too.
f. Over the last 43 years, the portion of income going to the lowest 20% has doubled, while income of the top 5% has dropped some.
g. There is less debt per household than earlier years.
h. More people today believe they are living the American Dream than in 2011. (63%/59%)
America is funded by capitalism. There are three kinds:
1) Social capital, which includes the local community, including non-profits, churches and other local organizations life PTA, Rotary and Lions, etc. People helping people.
2) Human capital. Parents are important. They help build character, self-discipline, honesty, willingness to serve, humility, love, etc.
3) Financial capital. It is broken into two categories.
a. Savings and investing…plus
b. Capital markets equals capitalism.
My father never taught me about money. He taught me about hard work, honesty and entrepreneurialism. I had to learn the hard way about money. I never realized how my life has mirrored my father’s life until I started to consider the parallels. Although I did go to college, I also started my business at the tender age of 26, with nothing. I wasn’t even sure my father was going to become a client. But, I found a need and filled it. I was told by a prominent CPA that opening a CPA firm in a small town that never had one before would fail. Eventually, we had around a dozen people.
I encourage you to follow my lead, and do an assessment of how you are doing in these three areas, (social, human and financial capital). I concluded a couple decades ago that I don’t want to lay on my deathbed and have regrets. My humble opinion is that joy comes from serving others, whether it be from any of the three kinds of capital. I love what I do; serving others in the ways that I do it.
This summer, I was able to get involved in a mission trip to an orphanage in Malawi. My intention was to help 70 kids in some small way. It turned into a life-transforming encounter for me. I learned more about life from them than they did from me, probably. That is social and human capital formation at its best. My life will never be the same.
People inside and outside our government want to take away or American dream. They fill us with fear and hopelessness. They know that they can take away our capital, but can never take away our dreams. If they create hopelessness in us, they can control our lives. Take our American dream. They are trying to replace it with the “American Guarantee.” But remember, handouts always come with handcuffs.
The American Dream is what we do at TrueWealth Nation. We help build capital. Our job is to help you fight the Wall Street bullies who want us to do it their way. The wrong way. Our calling is to help you and your family any way we can. We have available some materials that you can read and learn more about this subject. We also have some specific reading for millennials that you can provide to your family. This is an area where you can provide some human capital to your children. It is never too late to be a parent.
If you would like to learn more, give us a call to get together.
Remember “The Artist formerly known as Prince”? Well, he just died recently. It has been all over the news. His music is not my cup of tea, but I became interested when it came out that nobody can find his will. It is sort of a big deal, because he is reportedly worth about $300 million. And because of his death, the vale of his estate could easily grow to $600 million.
We are big fans of the Roth IRA. Who wouldn’t like a pot of money that is tax free? There are two ways to set up a Roth IRA. First, make contributions from your annual earnings from wages or business income. Just follow the Traditional IRA contribution rules allowing up to $6,500 contribution each year (see your tax advisor for your amount). Second, convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in any amount that you choose. The only downside is you must pay the income tax on the amount converted.
Now that you have your Roth set up, you will never pay tax on the original contributions or the growth, either! This can be a wonderful deal for those who believe their tax rates will be the same or worse in the future. It is also great for those who do not want to have to take money out of their IRA as Required Minimum Distributions after age 70.5. The Roth can help reduce your income taxes on social security benefits too. This can be a huge benefit.
One thing I have never heard discussed, or seen written about, is the one downfall to Roth IRA’s. That is the fact that Roth IRAs are not protected from long-term care costs. So….all that for nothing? You set yourself up to be a taxman, then whammy! Nursing home costs come along and swallow up your Roth IRA with a “giant sucking sound.”
I have an idea. Why not take the Roth IRA and transfer it into an irrevocable pure grantor trust. You can invest it the same way you would in a Roth IRA. You can still live off the income stream. Presumably that would include a low-tax investment portfolio, anyway. Now, once the money has been in the trust for five years, it is protected from the nursing home costs. You get low taxes, which is almost as good as no taxes. And, you have protected 100% of the pot. Better than possibly losing 100% to nursing home costs. Think it over, but don’t overthink it.
I am sure many of you have heard that Social Security has under gone major reform. The changes will impact millions of Americans that are near retirement. Rest assured, if you are currently receiving benefits you will not be affected. On November 2, President Obama signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. These changes blindsided many of us in the industry as the deal was reached behind closed doors and there was no public discussion. So here we are, scrambling to get the word out and
determine the bottom line for Social Security beneficiaries.
In my 41 years of experience in the CPA business, I have never had anyone say to me that they wish they could pay more income tax. Plenty have stated they would like more income, but none care to pay a higher percentage to the government.
For investors, there is one area that rarely gets any attention by their “financial advisor” or their CPA/tax preparer. That is the wasted tax dollars caused by turnover in their portfolio.