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How to Manage Debt and Risk with a Solid Base of Income Producing Assets

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If you listen to mainstream media, you will agree that debt is a big topic, particularly household consumer debt. And in many cases, you will find experts hammering on not just consumer debt, but also on all types of debt.

While I totally agree that incurring unnecessarily high consumer debt is a bad idea, I don’t agree that all debt is bad. Using debt or financial leverage will allow you to build financial freedom faster. It will allow you to shrink time. The key is wise leverage. If used correctly, it has the potential to increase your wealth and improve your life. If used unwisely, it will burn you.

To leverage the use of debt appropriately, you have to manage the risk that debt introduces and one way to do this is to manage the risk with a financial reserve from a solid base of income-producing assets.

Let me explain.

There are 3 steps involved here:

Step 1: Build a Solid Base of Cash Generating Assets with Debt

Here, you want to buy a solid asset that has the potential to increase in value over time and an asset that can generate good monthly cash flow. This step will require you to take the highest amount of debt. To reduce the risk that this debt introduces, you have to buy an asset that will generate great cash flow on a monthly basis. A good example here may be acquiring a 20-unit residential building or building a portfolio of rental real estate over time as I’ve personally done over the last 10 years.

With the high real estate prices in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, you will require a lot of capital to do this step. However, you can start small by buying a starter home, and over time, you will build a portfolio of income-generating assets.

Now, you take the cash flow generated from this asset, accumulate it, and move to step 2.

Step 2: Buy Another Cash Generating Asset with Little or no Debt

Here, you take the accumulated cash flow from the first asset base to buy another asset. To successfully do this, you will have to be disciplined to save and accumulate the cash flow from Step 1. This means you need to have other sources of income to maintain your lifestyle, e.g., keeping your current job, running your existing business, or starting a side hustle.

A good example of an asset that will make sense for this step may be a small condo in a small city that you may get for less than $200,000. Or a manufactured or Trailer home you can buy for less than $50,000. Another example may be taking a position in a small and stable small business.

The idea here is to acquire the asset with little or no debt. As the debt here is way less than the debt in Step 1, the risk is significantly reduced. And because you have little or no debt payment, you will still generate a good amount of cash that may only be slightly less or even more than cash generated from Step 1.

After you acquire the second asset in Step 2, you now have two assets generating cash flow. The next step is to take the cash flows from both of these assets and go to Step 3.

Step 3: Buy A Third Cash Generating Asset with no Debt

In this final step, you take the combined cash flow from both assets acquired in Steps 1 & 2 and acquire additional cash flowing asset(s) with no debt. A great example of an asset here is a dividend-paying stock. You can acquire these assets at a much cheaper price compared to assets in Steps 1 & 2 and you can acquire them with no debt.

Since you’re buying these assets with no debt you eliminate the associated risks that debt adds. Obviously, you have to do some research to ensure you’re buying dividend stocks of great companies. These companies should serve a need that is essential in the marketplace, should have a great record of consistently paying dividends, and should have the potential to grow.

Notice that in all steps, one thing that is common with these assets is that they all generate cash flow. This is important as the cash flow is what enables you to acquire additional assets.

So, how does this help with risk management?

As you go up the pyramid, your risk reduces as you reduce and eliminate debt. Now if you encounter a bad situation triggered by a bad economic situation or other events that impact your cash flow with the assets at the base, you have cash flow from the other assets that can be used to continue to meet your debt obligations. The last thing you want is to be forced to sell an asset during an economic crisis. So building other assets with little or no debt a great way to manage this type of risk.

Final Thoughts

The great thing with this idea is that you have the flexibility to customize this plan based on your current situation. If you don’t have a significant amount of cash today required to start at the base of the pyramid, you can start at the top (Step 3) and walk your way down. You can start at Step 2 and move up or down as you accumulate more cash. You can start anywhere.

Action Steps:

  • Consider how you can make modifications to your current plan to incorporate these ideas so you can build more cash flow generating assets and mitigate risk at the same time
  • If you don’t have a plan like this, consider starting one today!

P.S. I am on a mission to arm you with financial education. That’s one reason I wrote the book, “Tax-Efficient Wealth”. This book will help you accelerate your wealth in a tax-efficient way. Grab a copy of the book here, to learn how you can build wealth quickly using strategies that will save you a ton in taxes.

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Tax Planning

10 Mistakes The Do-it-yourself Taxpayers Make When Filing Their Tax Returns

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As we approach the May 2 filing deadline for personal tax returns in Canada, most taxpayers will be filing their tax returns using a do-it-yourself tax software.

Often, these taxpayers assume that using a do-it-yourself tax filing software means they no longer need the support of their accountants.

While most of these personal tax software platforms are mathematically correct, provide “intuitive” guidance based on your responses to tax questions, and allow for ease of filing with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), they don’t provide advice when dealing with personal financial matters that may impact the current year’s tax filing.

As a result, you may miss important tax planning tips that may impact your current and future tax filings. Here are 10 of the common mistakes these taxpayers make so you can avoid them as you file your taxes in the coming weeks:

1. Taxpayers tend to put the most favorable interpretation on tax rules and regulations

For example, being self-employed does not usually mean you are entitled to expense everything that comes to mind. Certain expenses such as clothes you wear to work, meals and entertainment, and home office expenses may not qualify as eligible expenses.

Although these expenses could be taken as a deduction when you file your tax return, there are specific rules you must be aware of to determine eligibility.

2. Taxpayers often think they can claim what their friends can claim

You only look at your own situation. Each taxpayer’s circumstances are different. One of the most common tax filing mistakes is the belief that car expenses can be written off merely because you drive your car to work.

Vehicle expenses are only deductible where the vehicle is needed to perform the job, the employer demonstrates that need, and provides a signed and dated Declaration of Conditions of Employment to the CRA if requested.

3. Taxpayers overlook the benefits of carryforwards

Common examples of lost tax reduction opportunities from carryforwards are tuition fees, capital, and non-capital losses, medical expenses, and donations. All these carryforwards, if ignored, will result in a higher future tax expense for the taxpayer.

4. Taxpayers do not keep their tax files long enough

Taxpayers may be aware that as a general rule, CRA requires you to maintain all tax records and documents that support your filed tax returns for a period of six years from the end of the last tax year to which they relate.

Additionally, if you file an income tax return late, you must keep your records for six years from the date you file the return.

Most taxpayers will probably be able to find the original source documents in a box in the basement, but finding electronic copies of tax returns can be problematic as new computers are purchased, PDF files are lost, tax programs are erased or new tax software cannot read old programs.

5. Taxpayers may think CRA will provide them with a positive reassessment

If you fail to file information from a T4, T5, or other documents that are matched with the records of your employer or financial institution, the CRA will notify you, reassess you and undoubtedly charge you interest and, perhaps, even a penalty, for your oversight.

On the other hand, if CRA discovers through the filing process that you have missed inputting property taxes, tuition fees, disability, or any other deductions to which you are entitled, the CRA is under no obligation to notify you and send you a refund.

Photo by Olga DeLawrence on Unsplash

6. Taxpayers may miss opportunities to file corrections

If errors or omissions occur in the filing, taxpayers may not know how to take advantage of the opportunity to correct the error by filing a T1-Adjustment. Thus, the possibility of reducing income tax liability may be lost forever.

7. Taxpayers who are owner-managers of a corporation may fail to record draws and loans from their company as income

Failure to properly record this income may result in additional taxes, interest, and penalties.

8. Taxpayers may miss available deductions

Interest expense on business or investment loans, income splitting, administration fees paid for investment counsel, combined with myriad deductions that may be available to a taxpayer may be missed.

These are just a few examples of deductions that taxpayers miss when they file their tax returns. As a result, they pay more than they should in taxes.

9. Taxpayers may miss available credits

Tax credits directly reduce the amount of taxes due, dollar-for-dollar. Refundable tax credits like working income tax credit and non-refundable tax credits like charitable donations and spouse/common-law partner credits could be missed if care is not taken when filing your tax returns.

10. Taxpayers get upset when dealing with the CRA

If you are nervous and feel generally uncomfortable dealing with your tax matters, you may misinterpret the needs of a CRA officer and inadvertently provide inadequate or incorrect information that may unnecessarily result in an expanded audit process.

Conclusion

Although most taxpayers are able to file their personal tax returns using many of the software platforms available, it is important to seek advice, particularly if you have a complex situation.

As a licensed Chartered Professional Accountant, I am always on your side. The truth is that filing personal taxes is not the hard part. What may be challenging is getting the appropriate insights from your tax returns that will enable you to plan better going forward. So, if you’ve already filed your taxes, can you answer these questions about your personal tax situation…

  • What’s the dollar amount I paid in taxes?
  • What’s my average tax rate?
  • What’s my marginal tax rate?
  • Why did I get a refund? Why did I NOT get a refund?

More importantly, if you have answers to these questions, do you know what to do next to earn more income in 2022 and pay less taxes in 2022 than you did in 2021? As I prepare taxes and look at these numbers daily, I’ve seen Canadians who pay zero taxes, 1% in taxes, 13%, 19% with income ranging from $50,000 to almost $100,000. But it takes planning to achieve results like this. As I’ve said many times when you don’t get insights, you end up paying more in taxes than you’re required to and a dollar lost in taxes today will not only cost you a dollar today, IT WILL COST YOU A MULTIPLE OF THAT DOLLAR OVER TIME! 

If you don’t have answers to these questions or if you don’t have an action plan, then I invite you to learn how my TaxInsights Offer can help you minimize taxes, improve cash flow and get ahead financially. For a limited time and for ONLY $97, I can still provide INSIGHTS with a review of your taxes for a minimal fee. Get the details here.

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Business

Are You Looking for a Side Business Opportunity?

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If you’ve not yet heard, we have now launched an amazing opportunity for you to earn additional income with a side business providing Tax and Accounting Services.

In 2009, I started providing tax filing and bookkeeping services to friends and a few clients as a side business while I was still employed full-time. Although I had an accounting designation and background, I had zero experience filing tax returns. I learned on the job and over the years, my knowledge increased and I added other additional complementary services.

For several years, I ran this business on the side, generating thousands of dollars of additional income until 2016 when I went full-time with the business. Now, we have an opportunity for you to do the same. The difference now is that you will learn from experts in the business and you can rely on our support as you build and grow your book of business!

If you’re ready to start a business that is guaranteed to generate revenue quickly, then this opportunity is for you. And note, you don’t need to have an accounting background for this. If you survived Grade 6 math, you can learn how to prepare tax returns and provide other related services that are in high demand today. To learn more about this opportunity, including the guarantees we’re offering to minimize your risk, go here.

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Business

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Business

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In the real world, Business failure is a harsh reality.

According to a stat by fundera.com, 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, 30% of small businesses fail in their second year, and 50% of small businesses fail after five years in business. Finally, 70% of small business owners fail in their 10th year in business.

While 80 percent will make it past that first-year mark, the rate begins to drop off substantially each year thereafter. Only about two-thirds of all businesses with employees are able to survive their second year. The fifth-year? Just half. Ten years out? Just 30 percent. That means that seven out of 10 businesses will fail within the 10-year mark.

For the businesses that survive failure, the majority of them struggle for many years, just holding on for dear life. This is particularly true for small businesses.

As entrepreneurs, we hardly look at these stats when we want to start a business. We get the business idea and we jump right into action. We deal with the business issues as they come up and when we can’t, we become just another statistic.

So, why do most businesses fail?

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re passionate about your business. And with so much demand on your time as a business owner, it’s easy to be caught off guard.

If you’re not prepared to deal with the ever-growing challenges of running a business, you could easily find yourself on the streets of failure.

If you want to avoid business failure, there are definitely some things you should be doing, and other things that you shouldn’t be doing.

From my experience running my own business and working with many business owners, here are the top 5 mistakes business makes that eventually lead to business failure. Do your best to ensure that you address these before they address you.

Mistake # 1: Failure to focus on a niche market

When we started our accounting business, we did not know at a deep level who we wanted to serve. We did not zero in on a specific niche of the market.

We did not do market research to understand the competitive landscape. As a result, we did not have a better product or service to offer to clients. And we could not add significant value in the process.

At the heart of any business is value. The world’s most successful businesses deliver the most value. And if you don’t have a niche market that you understand thoroughly, it is impossible to add value.

If you don’t know your clients, you don’t know their pain. If you don’t know their pain, you can’t develop a product or service that will address their pain. Ultimately, this will lead to dissatisfaction for you and your clients.

And there are other costs. Your marketing will be expensive, unpredictable, and ineffective. Your internal processes will be challenging to manage as you deal with a wide range of clients requiring different services and products. Your employees will be unhappy as they have to learn so much more to serve a broad range of clients. And the costs go on and on.

If you want to build a business you love, you start by finding your ideal customers. Once you find your ideal customers, you will learn more about them. You will know more about your market. And you will be in a position to design the best products and services to serve them.

Consider using focus groups, market surveys, email ask-campaigns, or straight-up phone calls, to understand and connect with your target market better. Discover who they are right down to the most minute detail. That’s one way you’ll avoid business failure.

Mistake # 2: Failure to build a strong and deep relationship with your customers/list

Realize that wealth is in the lists of the business and the relationship with that list, not in the stuff you sell. Use your list to build relationships with your clients and prospects and to offer your products and services.

Be careful when using your list and ensure you’re offering something of value first. Avoid the temptation of bombarding your lists with your products and services without providing something of value to them first.

Remember, it is not the size of your list that is important, it is your relationship with your list. Of what use is your list if no one opens your email? You’re not reaching anyone with your content and you’re certainly not impacting lives if no one opens your email or hears from you.

If nurtured correctly, your list is an asset that has value. Russell Brunsun, an online marketing entrepreneur, often says a name in your list is worth at least $1 per month. The better you nurture your list, the more it is worth to you.

By nurturing your list and spending time to intentionally make good use of the opportunities you have to engage in deep meaningful conversations with your customers can yield great results for your business.

You can learn more about this in an article I share recently here.

Mistake # 3: Poor cash flow management

According to a CNBC report, one of the primary reasons businesses fail shortly after their launch is running out of cash.

So, if you’re considering starting a new business or if you started one recently, you must take steps to ensure your cash flow management is strong.

Read this article I share recently on the 7 ways you can manage cash flow in your business.

Mistake # 4: Inability to control expenses

Every business will have overhead expenses that must be managed closely. However, many businesses don’t manage these carefully by using a budget and by tracking on a regular basis.

Often times, it is easy to spend when the coffers are full. But having a system in place to control the company’s expenses is imperative.

When the expenses get out of control, it’s impossible for the business to survive. So, make sure you have budgets and processes in place to ensure actual expenses are monitored and compared to the budget on a regular basis.

Mistake # 5: Failure to create effective business processes and systems

From marketing to sales and to operations, business systems are required to automate various business processes and ensure the efficient delivery of products and services to your customers.

You have to automate your sales process using sales funnels to run a successful business that’s built for the long term.

You need to implement CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) to manage customer relationships seamlessly.

You require various policies and tracking procedures to effectively and efficiently manage your operations. And the list goes on and on.

Without a good deal of systems and automation, the amount of work becomes overwhelming and the details can easily be overlooked.

Conclusion

So, consider these when you’re considering starting a new business and position yourself for success.

P.S. The simple truth is this, starting and running your own business is hard. Just consider this, why would 70% of all new businesses fail within 10 years of starting if business was easy? So, it’s obvious that running a business hard. Thankfully, we know this because we’ve lived it. In fact, we’re living it every day and have been doing so for the last 8 years. And here is the important thing we’ve learned:

Business is hard if you’re not prepared for the business you’re creating. If you prepare by building the right mindset, learning the language of business, investing in your personal development, and investing in the right business coach and mentor, then business is not as hard.

If you’re looking for an amazing business opportunity providing a service that is growing in demand that will start generating guaranteed cash flow in a short period of time, check out this opportunity here that we’re currently offering.

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Business

5 Fears That Will Destroy Your Business

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“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.” — William Allen White

Fear is a major hindrance, not only in business but also in all aspects of life.

In your professional career.

In sports.

In raising your family.

And in your faith.

Although fear has a negative connotation associated with it, we must recognize that fear is a necessary part of life. In fact, fear is one of the major contributors to progress and development in our world today.
The fear of dark and wild made fire important. The fear of invasion led to the building of the Great Wall of China. And the fear of death and misery helped in making medical advancements.

With this in mind, it is the way we react to fear that makes the difference. It can hinder us or it can trigger success and victory.

Fear often prevents us from taking risks or from trying new things. By our nature, we like to do what we’re comfortable with. As an accountant, it’s worse as my tendency is to be super conservative, often hesitating to take risks.

As I look back and reflect on my journey, fear hindered me in many ways. I have also pushed past my fears in other areas and achieved great success.

What I’ve realized over the years is that these fears never go away. Rather, we grow in our experience in how we respond to them.

As individuals, we deal with different types of fear. Your fear may be my playground and my fear may be your strength. For me, here are the top five fears that show up regularly in my business ventures.

#1 Fear of Failure — Not going all-in

“Instead of worrying about what people say of you, why not spend time trying to accomplish something they will admire.” — Dale Carnegie


Almost eight years ago I started a professional accounting firm with two other business partners. One partner worked full-time in the business. Another partner and I worked part-time in the business while we maintained our full-time day jobs.


This arrangement allowed us to keep most of the cash from the business reinvested in the business. However, it hindered growth as there was less commitment to focus on client service, business development, and other aspects of the business.

As I look back, the primary reason why I did not go all-in was fear of failure.


I did not want to deal with unbearable embarrassment from family and friends. I did not want to risk losing the steady salary that came from my full-time job.


As I transitioned to the business full-time, I struggled as I now had to face my fears with both feet in.


Although there was growth, the fear of failure kept rearing its head. As a result, I could not commit full-time. I continued to seek contract roles in the corporate world that distracted me from focusing on the business.


Unfortunately, these distractions never end. They show up in various forms and continue to slow growth in the business. Now, I’m more aware of this fear. And I’ve developed other income streams as plan B to address this fear.

Generally, when we think of failure, we think of painful embarrassment and the anguish of losing everything. But we must realize that fear of failure is often rooted in pride.

If we fail, we believe that all those who doubted us will have been right. Should we care about this? No. Instead, ask yourself these two questions:

5 or 10 years from now, will you regret not taking this opportunity?

And if you do fail, what is the worst that will happen?

Coming up with a backup plan, a plan B, will give you the confidence to push past your fears. And if it doesn’t work out, learn from it and try something else.

#2 Fear of committing to business expenses — not finding funding

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” — Jack Canfield

Fear of not securing financing is a major reason many people don’t get started in business or invest in growing an existing business.


Early on, we were lucky to get a business line of credit to finance our operations.


As we grew, we made a decision to hire a new employee. We needed more operational capital to support this but our bank declined our request for an increase in our credit line.


This did not stop us from hiring even though we were not sure if we will have enough cash flow to pay salaries and associated business expenses.


In spite of this, we confronted this fear and went forward to hire the new staff. We figured there’s no way we can move the business forward without making this kind of financial commitment.


We’ve consistently confronted similar challenges like this. We bought a new office unit, hired additional employees, and took on additional expenses in the business.


In making these decisions, we’ve not allowed the fear of how we will deal with the additional expenses in the future hinder what we believed was the right business decision for our firm.


If you’re starting a business, committing to expenses is a risk. This risk can often lead to fear that can hold you back, but unless you’re willing to invest in your dream, your business may never take off.

#3 Fear of not attracting customers

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” — Nelson Mandela

In an industry that is commoditized, it was terrifying for us to take the risk of starting our business. We wondered if anyone will value our skills and service offering.


If we lived in this fear, we would never have started.


What we’ve learned over the years is that as we approached our business with confidence and delivered what we promised, we’ve undoubtedly experienced the joy of serving more and more clients who value our services.


These clients were happy to refer other customers to us.


So don’t let this fear hinder you. Instead, focus on your marketing plan. Focus on increasing your level of expertise, and focus on consistently delivering on your promise to your clients.

#4 Fear of not earning enough to recover the investment in the business

“Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.” — Dale Carnegie

Don’t quit because you don’t see an immediate return on your investment. If we wanted an immediate return, we will be out of business by now.


In fact, after the first 5 years, if I calculate my return on investment, it will be minimal at best. I would have been better off investing in mutual funds.


In business, you need to have a long-term perspective and this should keep you working, even when you don’t see an immediate return.


For some, it may take 5 years or less. For others, it may be 20 years or more. No matter how long it takes, stay focused, and keep working!

#5 Fear of change — trying new services, new ideas, and new markets

“Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.” — Louis E. Boone

There is a rapid change in our market, particularly with the changes in technology and client expectations. As a result of this, we must be agile to succeed in today’s marketplace.


As accountants, we are particularly vulnerable to the fear of trying a new service, new technology, or going to a new market.


It is easy to stay stuck in doing what we’ve always done even when the world around us is changing at a rapid pace.

As a firm, we have committed to continuously exploring new ways to serve our clients. Including offering new services and trying new technology that will enhance service delivery.


Fear of change makes us anxious about the future, and this will certainly lead to a closed mindset in which we fail to anticipate what’s coming next.


As the popular saying goes, change is inevitable. You can’t avoid change forever.


No matter what stage you’re at with your business, you’ll have to find ways to embrace and harness new ideas, technology, and innovation.


In Conclusion

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” — Steve Jobs


As a business owner, you must recognize that risk is all around you.


In fact, life is a series of calculated risks.


Everything you decide to do has a margin of risk so be bold and face your fears head-on.


John F. Kennedy said it best in this quote:

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”


I hope you have found this helpful. Best of luck with your business or professional career!

P.S. If you’re looking for an amazing business opportunity providing a service that is growing in demand that will start generating guaranteed cash flow in a short period of time, check out this opportunity here that we’re currently offering.

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Personal Finance

Where Is My Money?

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In one of the chapters of my book, Tax-Efficient Wealth, I share some of the main obstacles to building tax-free or tax-efficient wealth. One of the obstacles I discuss is taxes.

If you ask most Canadians what their biggest expense is, they will most likely say it’s housing costs — mortgage or rent. If you listen to the news media, they are always talking about the top three household expenses:

1. Housing (mortgage or rent)

2. Car payments (loan and interest)

3. Kids education or childcare (student loans or daycare expenses)

Unfortunately, they are all wrong! According to a recent report from the Fraser Institute, the average Canadian family spent 43.6 percent of their income on taxes in 2018, more than they spent on housing and other expenses combined. Can you imagine that? This is significant. The average family’s total tax bill at 44 percent is double the amount they’re paying on housing costs each year.

The total tax bill considered in the Fraser report reflects taxes families pay to the federal, provincial, and local governments — including income, payroll, sales, property, carbon, health, fuel, and alcohol taxes. Every day, taxes are stealing our money as you can see from these numbers. The worst part is that taxes don’t just steal your money, they also steal your time because time is money.

Consider this. The average person in a developed country (Canada included) spends 20 to 35 percent of their life working to pay taxes, i.e. more than two hours of every workday of the average person are dedicated to feeding the government. If you do the math, this is equivalent to approximately 13 years in your work life and 20 years in your lifetime. This is a prison sentence! And it will get worse. With the increased government spending that just got out of control with the government’s economic response to COVID-19, we expect to pay higher taxes in the future to deal with the rising debt level. In addition, as inflation spikes, the spending power of our currency will be dramatically reduced.

To appreciate the impact of taxes on the qualify of your lifestyle, I challenge you to do this simple exercise. Look at your tax data for the past decade (10 years) or 2 decades and summarize all your income (Line 150 of your tax return), taxable income (Line 260), and taxes paid (Line 435). Calculate the tax rate by dividing Line 435 by Line 150. If you’re married, do the same for your wife. You should have a data summary that looks like the sample below:

Note that this is just income taxes. If you add payroll taxes, sales tax, property tax, and all the other taxes you pay, you will be approaching 50% or more in total taxes paid.

Once you have your data, ask yourself these three simple questions:

1. Of the total income I earned in the last decade, how much of it did I keep?

2. How did I manage the income I kept? In other words, how did I invest it and how much has it grown over the last decade?

3. What do I have to show for all the income that poured into my life over the last decade? What impact have I created in my community?

In this example, the taxpayer earned over $1.9 million in the last decade and paid 31% of that in income taxes alone. In addition to this, the taxpayer would have spent approximately 20% more on other forms of taxes. As a result, the taxpayer would have less than half of the income earned to take care of lifestyle and to invest for the future. A good yardstick for measuring how well you’ve managed your taxes and finances is to look at your net worth.

Considering this example, if the taxpayer’s net worth today is significantly less than $1.9 million, then the taxpayer has not paid attention to managing his/her taxes and finances. The tax-smart Canadian with $1.9 million in income would arrange his/her affairs to pay less in taxes and would more than likely have over $1.9 million in net worth today. In my book, I reveal the blueprint for permanently reducing your taxes and growing your wealth in a tax-efficient manner.

To be clear, paying taxes is important, and in fact, a required legal obligation if you earn income, for the benefits it provides to our society as a whole. What you have to consider is whether you’re paying more than your fair share of taxes. While I highly recommend that you pay whatever taxes you are legally required to pay, you should consider legal options available in our Tax Act to reduce your tax burden.

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Uncategorized

Four Common Excuses Why People Don’t Invest and How to Avoid Them

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One of the best ways to build and grow your wealth is to invest, yet, many don’t invest. Over and over again, surveys done reveal a number of reasons why many Americans and Canadians don’t invest. For some, it’s a fear of taking losses. For others, it’s the feeling they don’t know how and/or that they don’t have enough resources to invest. Unfortunately, it appears there is a misconception out there that you need to be an expert with a lot of money to start investing.

For those with regular jobs, I can understand some of these reasons. If you’re employed and you’re used to getting paid regularly, it can certainly be challenging to start investing. You have to make the shift from an employee mindset to an investing mindset, which can be very challenging, particularly if you know little about investing and you’re not comfortable taking on risks.

Many people confuse saving with investing. In some cases, both can mean the same thing and can be interchangeable. Maybe, we should start by discussing the difference between saving and investing. It’s possible to save and not invest. However, it is hard to invest without saving.

Saving is the act of putting away money for a future expense or need. When you choose to save money, you want to have the cash available relatively quickly, perhaps to use immediately. However, saving can be used for long-term goals as well, especially when you want to be sure you have the money at the right time in the future.

Investing is putting your money into something specific with the expectation that its value will grow over time, providing you with the opportunity to create more wealth. Investing is similar to saving in that you’re putting away money for the future, except you’re looking to achieve a higher return in exchange for taking on more risk. Typical investments include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds, or ETFs. You’ll use an investment broker or brokerage account to buy and sell them.

In this article, I will be referring specifically to investing. Below are the top 5 common excuses why most people don’t invest:

Excuse #1: I Don’t Have Enough Money

In a recent survey by GoBankingRates, 55% of Americans are not investing because they think they don’t have enough money to invest. They simply can’t find room in their budget to invest. Others simply assume that only the rich can invest but forget the fact that most people BECOME rich by investing. This belief that you need a large income or a large amount of money to start investing is a misconception.

Many find it hard to start investing probably because most experts recommend a savings rate of at least 10 percent. That number can be hard to swallow for those living paycheck to paycheck. And this alone can be discouraging for most to even start the process of saving. Remember, if you can’t save, you can’t even invest because you will have nothing to invest.

How do you address this and start investing today?

Note that it is OK to start small — even if it’s saving only 1 percent of their income and then investing that in something you understand.

If you understand the goal of investing as defined earlier, it is putting money into something specific with the expectation that its value will grow over time, providing you with the opportunity to create more wealth. My personal opinion for those starting this journey of investing is to start by investing in themselves. I believe you represent the ultimate economic value to yourself and to those you support and serve.

As such investing in yourself will yield the ultimate return. When you invest in yourself to learn the mindset required to invest successfully, and to learn the game, you can start investing small or big depending on how much you can save. In fact, you will come to realize that investing is the smart thing to do no matter your current income level.

Excuse #2: I Will Invest Later

This is a common reason, but underneath this is fear, particularly for older folks. Fear often leads to procrastination.

Fear that you don’t know how to invest.

Fear that you will lose money when you invest.

Fear that your lack of knowledge will be exposed.

Fear of simply taking action and stepping out of your comfort zone.

For young people, the data suggest that most of them think that the right time to invest just hasn’t arrived yet. They either think you need to be at a certain age to start investing or you need to have a certain income level or need to have a few other things lined up first before investing.

It’s never too late to start investing, but it is very easy to let a lack of understanding push you to keep putting it off.

One of the easiest ways to combat this excuse is to arm yourself with knowledge and surround yourself with accountability. That accountability may be in the form of being a part of a small group of investors or hiring a coach or a mentor to guide you in your investing journey.

Excuse #3: I Don’t Know Where To Start

Even though we live in an information age where there has never been a more easy access to information than any time in history, many still consider a lack of knowledge as an excuse for not investing. Perhaps the real excuse here may be a lack of time to learn or maybe a lack of confidence in your knowledge.

While the survey results show a significant drop in the number of people from the lowest age group (18-24) to the rest saying that they needed more investing education, the proportion of Americans who believe they needed to learn more before they can start investing (over a third of respondents) remains pretty steady from people in their mid-20s to their mid-50s.

Therefore, it appears that the issues with financial literacy and a lack of investing knowledge are not limited to younger Americans but are actually persistent, ongoing issues that can continue to follow people well into middle age and later.

From experience, I think the issue is not the lack of knowledge but rather the lack of confidence in what you know. This lack of confidence is often reflected in how we learn.

To combat this excuse, I suggest you change the way you learn. Rather than just consuming information, shift to experiential learning. This is when you consume information, reflect on the information, abstract the information and then act on it to actually experience it. When you use this type of learning loop, you will find yourself investing in no time and constantly learning from your investing experience.

Excuse #4: I’m Afraid I Will Lose Money

This is a common excuse for many crippled by the fear of investing and this is often linked to a lack of knowledge. Oftentimes, they assume that investing is all about picking stocks or about understanding all the Wall Street or Bay Street jargon like P/E ratios, Market Capitalization, Dividend yield, etc. And they equate investing to gambling. But they don’t realize that investing is way simpler than this and that investing is totally different from gambling.

Gambling is all about luck. It is all about taking a chance. With gambling, you bet something of value, with the consciousness of risk and hope of gain, on the outcome of a game, a contest, or an uncertain event whose result may be determined by chance or accident.

Investing, on the other hand, is the process of buying assets that increase in value over time and provide returns in the form of income payments or capital gains. In the world of finance, investing is the purchase of securities, real estate, and other items of value in the pursuit of capital gains or income.

So, investing is more of a calculated, intentional act to profit. Are there risks involved? Yes. But these risks are often calculated and quantified. I encourage you to learn about the different ways you can invest. If necessary, engage the services of a professional to help you invest and to help manage your investments.

One of the ways I combat these excuses is by using a framework when I assess investment opportunities. If you have a framework, it will streamline your decision-making process when it comes to assessing various investment opportunities.

For every investment opportunity I review, I assess using the following four criteria:

  1. Growth: Does the investment give me opportunity to grow my money? I look for investments that have the potential to grow in value over time. Investments like real estate that typically grow in value over time is a good example here.
  2. Tax-advantaged: Will the investment give me the opportunity to save or optimize my tax situation? Here, I look for investment opportunities that come with tax advantages. For example, investing in a business gives me the opportunity to write off a number of expenses which will minimize my taxes. In addition, businesses have low tax rates which will result in lower overall taxes.
  3. Liquidity: Will this investment opportunity provide me with liquidity when I need it? I look for opportunities that give me the ability to liquidate my investment and take advantage of better investment opportunities. An investment with a great liquidity option allows you to minimize opportunity costs.
  4. Return on Investments: Will this investment opportunity provide at least 5 to 10% annual return on investment? I look for investments that generate decent annual returns year over year.

For more on this, you can watch the YouTube video on this using the link below:

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Personal DevelopmentSelf Growth

It Takes Commitment More than Anything Else

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This week, my wife and I celebrated 20 years in marriage. In the days and culture we live in, staying married for 20 years is not an easy accomplishment. It takes many things to get this far – patience, love, perseverance, selflessness, sacrifice, respect for one another, hard work, and above all, commitment. Commitment is often underestimated and mostly misunderstood. Without commitment, you cannot succeed in marriage and you cannot succeed in anything worthwhile, whether it is business, investments, career, or relationships.

What is Commitment?

Earlier this week, I listened to a podcast, and the host defined commitment as the state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to an ideal or cause of action. I love this definition because it clearly tells us what it takes to stay committed.

Commitment requires emotions, intellect, and most of all, you have to be bound to the cause. Meaning you cannot separate yourself from whatever you’ve committed to. Notice that simply saying I’m committed is not enough, there has to be an emotional and intellectual connection. In real life, commitment manifests in how you show up at work, at home, and in your relationships.

Are you committed to losing weight? If you are, it will show up daily in your thoughts, in your sleep, in what you eat, how you exercise, etc.

Are you committed to achieving financial freedom? If you are, it will show up daily in your dreams, your thoughts, how you make and spend money, what you buy, and who you hang out with.

Are you committed to your faith? If you are, it will show up daily in how you read your bible, what you meditate on, how you spend your time and money, how you fellowship and hang out with others and how you love those around you.

Are you committed to a lasting relationship? If you are, it will show daily in how you communicate, how you love, how you show respect and appreciation.

Commitment means you’re focused on playing the long game, i.e. you’re in it for the long term. Those that succeed in business, in investments, and in building lasting relationships understand that they are playing the long game and they understand that to win, you have to commit.

What are you willing to commit to today?

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