Awareness

What’s wrong with an interest-free loan to the government?

Every year, amid the discussion of taxes and rebates and the like, there is usually a talking point that goes like this: “Getting a rebate of any amount is a bad idea, because all you’re doing is giving the government an interest-free loan.” I’d like to unpack that, and see how that argument holds up.

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Is it possible to pay in advance exactly the amount of tax you owe?

Welcome back to tax season! It’s an interesting time that can seem extremely fraught to some, and a little exciting to others. For some: so much work to do. For others: big rebates! I’m fortunate to be young enough that I never needed to know the situation my parents knew: that of a dining room … Continue reading »

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Why everything is like a regressive tax

With all the talk on how to fund our government and the various projects we need to undertake, it’s made me think about that phrase “regressive tax”. As in, “there was no support for that initiative, because it was seen as a regressive tax on the poor.” For example, in the inexorable push to widen … Continue reading »

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That time I almost tried to time the market (but didn’t)

At the beginning of the year, the news reports started piling in: the stock markets were overvalued. P/E ratios were at highs not seen in years. Some people even used the curious phrase “melt-up” (which, correct me if I’m wrong, is kind of an odd thing for something that is melting to do). I watched … Continue reading »

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How having more money can make you anxious

People think that money can solve all of their problems. Yes, there’s the old saw about how “money can’t buy happiness”, but usually people see past that and think, “yeah, but it would certainly help“. And that’s true. When you’re at the lower end of the income scale, more money can certainly help. If you … Continue reading »

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Failure to backup: Why I’m paying hundreds of dollars because I didn’t follow my own advice

I’m not always the best at taking my own advice. There are many examples on this site. Like the time I went $500 over budget. Or my foot-dragging on getting a will. “Be prepared” isn’t quite up there on the top of my catchphrase list, but it is true that a little preparedness now can … Continue reading »

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Warren’s wisdom, or on being greedy and fearful

One of the more famous—and certainly eerily relevant—quotes about financial self-awareness is from Warren Buffett, the “Oracle of Omaha”. The quote generally is rendered as: “Be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy.” It’s a great slogan, and while it can be a little bit of a Epimenides-esque knot to untangle … Continue reading »

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This time it’s different, or not

If there’s one thing we are biased toward, it’s the sense the present is somehow different from everything that came before. This can refer to financial affairs, sure, but it also refers to anything: education, technology, social interaction, you name it. But it’s just a feeling. It’s actually never different. Or rather, it’s always different … Continue reading »

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The HSA testing period might have less downside than I thought

If you have an HSA (Health Savings Account)—and if you’re eligible, it’s probably a good idea to have one—you still have time to make your contributions count toward last year. Since HSAs are a great financial deal (only offset by the generally cruddy nature of the health care plans that enable you to have one) … Continue reading »

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(Don’t) take this 30 second challenge about retirement (unless you want to panic)

People always like simple things they can remember. Whether it’s using the Rule of 72 to figure out when an investment (or debt) will double, or whether it’s aphorisms like “own your age in bonds“, (or even “Mary Very Easily Makes Jam”, a mnemonic about the order of the first five planets in our solar system, … Continue reading »

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