More Conversation on Getting Out of the Rat Race

Maree’s specific advice to Peter about Getting Out of the Rat Race really hit me.

Billy and Akaisha, I’ve written you before about my retirement thoughts being similar to yours (although my “early” retirement was at 55). But Maree’s comments were spot on — if you can retire, just do it.

Ten years after I retired, the unexpected hit — the heart attack. But first I had ten great years of retirement (low budget, tracking expenses, and so on…) The amazing thing is that I lived — triple bypass. The widow-maker artery and another major artery were totally (100%) blocked. There was also more blockage.

Do not let Fear make your decisions for you. Risk has a price and so does security.

Two years later, I’ve recovered, I’m fine. I have more years and will continue to enjoy my retirement. As my cardiologist recently told me, “just keep doing whatever you’re doing”.

If I had not retired, I fully expect the attack would have been much earlier and that I would probably not have lived. But I got out of the Rat Race.

If you can retire but just can’t make the decision, you might want to consider my story.

Rich

Hi Rich,

Thanks for sharing your story with us. Congratulations on your good health and for enjoying your retirement!

Stay well,

Akaisha

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Retired But Got the Blues? How Can that Be?!

Photo 1aSteve and Lynn Miller built a software company and retired 10 years later at 50 years old. They travel extensively and chronicle those travels on their blog. Steve also develops mobile apps in his spare time.

 

Time flies.

It’s been 3 years since I said goodbye to the corporate life and a twice monthly paycheck. My wife and I had a dream. We wanted to retire by the time our kids went off to college so that we could travel and enjoy life while we were still young and energized.

So how did we do it?

We built a software business with personal savings of $10,000 and sold it 10 years later. It wasn’t easy. It had its ups and downs. Months when we didn’t know how we would make payroll and flying high after landing a large account that could sustain us for months in the future.

In the end, we exceeded our own expectations. 3 years prior to our kids graduating high school, we got the call from a larger company that saw value in acquiring our product line. Shortly after, I said sayonara to the daily grind.

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After 3 years of retirement, it’s time to reflect and share with you lessons I’ve learned.

  1. Early Retirement Conjures Up Unexpected Emotions

Literally the month after we retired, we saw our boys off to college and began traveling. Starting in Canada, we visited the maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edwards Island.

Photo 1

We then made our way to the Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu and the Bahamas. We saw extraordinary things. We watched a tortoise painstakingly dig a hole for her eggs.

Photo 2

We saw the handiwork of the Incas, appreciating the architecture and incredible surroundings of a civilization that’s now long gone.

Photo 3

And we watched professional divers ascend into Dean’s Blue Hole not to come up again for 5 minutes.

Photo 4

After returning from this incredible 3 month trip, something weird happened. We started settling into our retired life and I began to feel sad. Before I retired, my employees and peers needed me. They were constantly asking for advice, calling and texting for help and now the phone was silent.

I began to mope around and waste my days fretting about what was next in life. Had I made a huge mistake by retiring early?

Not sure you can retire? Get answers here

  1. Boredom is Self-Inflicted

After a few weeks of licking my wounds, I read about this phenomenon known as “retirement depression”. It is common for new retirees to go through this because they are left with lots of time to reminisce about the days when their schedules were full and others depended on them.

After a bit of self-reflection, I came to realize that these feelings were driven by boredom. After working really hard all those years to retire early, I needed to get out and enjoy hobbies that I never had time for before.

I found all kinds of new hobbies. I began golfing, working on photography, cycling, hiking, boating, fishing, and blogging. A few weeks later, I couldn’t figure out how I ever worked because my days were so full with things I enjoyed. Depression was fleeting, I was now enjoying life more than ever.

Photo 5

  1. Traveling provides a World of Amazement

Since retiring, we’ve enjoyed some incredible travels. After our first 3 month trip, we spent an entire summer traveling the western United States. We started in the Grand Tetons and went on to visit California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. We capped that summer trip off with an Alaskan cruise.

Photo 6Photo 7Photo 8Photo 9Photo 10Last summer, we took our youngest (college aged) son to Europe. We built our itinerary around the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain and capped off the trip in the Italian Riviera. We also visited Paris and Portugal.

Photo 11Photo 12As much as we’ve traveled, you would think we had seen it all. Not true, every new place we visit amazes us with something we’ve never encountered before.

  1. You can still Fuel your Entrepreneurial Spirit after Retirement

Even though I retired early, I truly loved building my last company. It never really felt like work — it was fun, intellectually stimulating and invigorating. You don’t have to give up that feeling when you retire. You can choose to challenge yourself by starting a new business, a blog or working on pet projects.

I’ve recently done just that. I wanted to learn more about mobile app development so I started a project to develop an iPhone app. Since I love to travel, I built an app to provide peace of mind when traveling. It tracks things that are easy to forget (passwords, passport numbers, banking information, software licenses, etc.). I called the app aMemoryJog because it does just that – it securely tracks things that are easy to forget.

Developing this app was not about making money. It was about doing something that stimulates me intellectually and provides an outlet for my entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’m working on my next app. It will be called Count Us Down and will allow you to count down the days to your next big event (like a vacation or even retirement).

Photo 13

  1. Volunteering yields a Great Sense of Satisfaction

My wife motivated me to begin volunteering. She has volunteered for many years and genuinely enjoys helping others. Based on her example, I started volunteering last year with Habitat for Humanity (HFH). HFH builds homes for low income families and each family must contribute a significant number of hours helping to build their home or help build one for another family.

I belong to the Walton County Florida chapter and last year we renovated 1 home for a family and built 2 homes from scratch. Not only is volunteering incredibly satisfying, you get to know the family you are building for and you understand the how important it is for them.

Photo 14Conclusion

Retirement is just another phase of life. Don’t over analyze it. Embrace new hobbies, travel to new places, experience other cultures, stimulate your intellect and enjoy life — you’ve earned it!

For information on Volunteering Opportunities around the world, click here

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U.S. Expats – College Planning

Guest post by John Ohe, IRS Enrolled Agent and chartered Financial Analyst.

John Ohe 1You got kids. They may be small now, but before you know it, they’re off to college. Unfortunately, the cost of a university degree in the United States has become incredibly daunting. Therefore, planning for college expenses is imperative, and getting an early start provides an absolute advantage.

According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for a private university in the United States is slightly over $30,000 per year (excluding room and board). Public schools are more affordable, but still clock in at over $22,000 per year (out-of-state tuition). Furthermore, every year the cost of tuition increases at a rate much higher than inflation.

In this article, we discuss 529 plans for U.S. expats. A 529 plan is basically a savings account established for the purpose of funding a college education. There are two types of 529 plans; however, the main ones are sponsored by individual States.

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Why are 529 plans great? From a tax advantage, there are clear advantages. Account balances grow tax deferred. And when the proceeds are used to pay for qualified college expenses, there are no tax consequences. So if you can afford to save for college, a 529 plan is a fantastic vehicle for doing so.

529 Plan – Basics You Should Know

Purpose
• To fund a child’s college education
• If the child beneficiary does not attend college, then the funds can be used to pay for another family member’s college expenses (e.g., a sibling)

Maximum Contribution
• Up to $14K per child (without triggering gift tax)

Tax Benefits
• No tax deductions on federal return; however, possible on State return
• Earnings grow tax deferred
• No tax on distribution (for qualified college expenses)

For U.S. citizens living abroad, setting up a 529 plan can be slightly tricky. That is because many expats do not have residency in a particular state. In these cases, we recommend establishing a 529 plan with Vanguard (one of the largest mutual fund companies in the world). Vanguard 529 College Savings Plans are sponsored by the State of Nevada, but is open to any investor. Vanguard is renowned for its low fee structure, so more of your money goes toward covering college expenses. For more information, go to: https://investor.vanguard.com/what-we-offer/college/overview .

Other articles by this Author

FATCA – Practical Guide

Free Money From the IRS – Child Tax Credit

U.S. Expat Taxes – An Introduction

Buying and Selling Real Estate (Foreign or Domestic) from a Tax Perspective

This article was written by John Ohe (IRS Enrolled Agent and Chartered Financial Analyst). John is a partner at Hola Expat, which specializes in preparing tax returns for U.S. expats. If you would like to submit a tax-related question, email: info@holaexpat.com.

Disclaimer: The answers provided in this article are for general information, and should not be construed as personal tax advice. Tax laws and regulations change frequently, and their application can vary widely based on the specific facts and circumstances involved.

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Want to Know Sports Lingo? An Insider’s View

Garret Mathews is retired from writing the metro column for the Evansville, Ind., Courier & Press. He penned more than 6,500 columns in a career that began in 1972. Mathews lives in Carmel, Ind., and happily babysits his new grandson four days a week.

Garet MathewsNews item: At some corporations, young urban professionals too busy with careers and stock portfolios to follow sports have hired consultants to brief them on the subject so they can make good impressions on clients who follow bats and balls.

Dear yuppies,

Look no more. I’m your guy.

I know crackback blocks, the low block and how to put on a jock without tripping over the straps.

I know blitz packages, bloop singles and which layer of the outer atmosphere an ammonia capsule will send your head into.

I know resin bags, tight ends, high-sticking, fair catch, double-headers, pass interference, possible concussion – must I go on?

It’s a perfect fit.

You’ve spent your lives wearing trendy clothes, and being seen at all the right places with the dream of earning enough money to buy a gold-encrusted crown to put on your iPod.

I’ve spent mine wearing dirty sweatsuits, and watching sports on television with the dream of earning enough money someday to afford a six-pack of the beer advertised at halftime.

For a one-time fee of $5,000, I’ll provide all the information you need to fool sports fans into thinking you’re one of them.

Not sure you can retire? Get answers here

It starts with slang.

I’ll be your teacher as you learn “beanball,” “shooting the rock,” “throwing aspirin tablets,” “foot in the bucket,” and my favorite hockey expression for a player who suffered a blow to the face that caused him to lose teeth – “spitting Chiclets.”

I know you yuppies. You’ll want to talk about debenture, convertible bonds and hedge funds.

Not in my class.

I require total concentration. You give me mortgage-backed securities and I’ll high-stick your cranium.

Guys who are into sports like to throw out names. Koufax. Drysdale. Ozzie. Stan the Man. Elway. Unitas. Ditka.

I’ll give you some names of your own.

Wally Moon. Jerry Lumpe. Marty Keough. Spider Lockhart. Del Shofner. Babe Parelli.

Your fellow money-grubbers will be amazed that you know some of the lesser lights who haven’t had car dealerships named for them.

At the very least, they’ll worship you. With any luck, they’ll share insider information that will make you even richer.

Important note: If this happens, I’ll require a special bonus of lifetime free sports cable.

Finally, you’ll learn strategy.

I’ll impart the following: When to ice the shooter. When to blitz. How a wide receiver pretends to be unconscious so the referee will stop the clock. The proper antidote to administer when an ammonia capsule is mistakenly put into your Seven and Seven.

Other sports consultants are mere pretenders.

For no extra charge, I’ll take you into a real locker room for bonus instruction.

You’ll get personal insight into how to snap a towel at another man’s private parts. How to apply a pink belly. How to undress slowly after a game so you get to shower alone.

Don’t delay, yuppies. Call today before a bloop single costs you a commission.

Other posts by this author

The Early Years

Did You Really Say “Far Out, Man?”

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Common Habits That Could Be Draining Your Budget

Jane Brown

I believe I was in my mid 20s when I realized the importance of budgeting. Prior to that, I had lived haphazardly with the hopes that nothing would go wrong. I would purchase whatever I wanted, without giving a second thought to how it might be affecting my personal finances. I had credit card after credit card and used them without any regard for how I would pay it back.

Then it hit me… the debt piled up, the bill collectors started calling, my student loans were out of deferment, and I realized that had I simply lived within my means and budgeted accordingly, I probably wouldn’t have to dig myself out of this huge hole I was in.

Reduce your cost of living. Pay less for medical care. Find better weather. Create a healthier way of life.

After several years of running from debt, robbing Peter to pay Paul, and essentially living paycheck to paycheck, I decided it was time to do something about it. It took some time but I began to create an effective plan of action that would get me out of debt and back on my feet within a year or two. As I began to research wealth management, budgeting, and getting out of debt, I realized how many little mistakes I was making that ending up draining my finances without me even knowing.

Below are just a few:

Not Budgeting – Budgeting allows you to see exactly where all of your money is going on the monthly basis. It allows you to determine what you can afford to spend and save. Failing to budget means that you’re not keeping track of where your money goes which could cost you to spend a lot more than necessary (often on nonsense things).

Ignoring Bill Collectors – Life sometimes jumps on you when you least expect it. We know that, and so do bill collectors. When I fell into a lot of debt I simply changed my phone number and avoided having any direct contact with bill collectors. This in turn resulted in more late fees and eventually higher collection costs. What was once a small amount of debt ended up being a larger number simply because I wasn’t willing to communicate.

Failing to Keep up with Vehicle and Home Maintenance – If it’s not broke, why fix it? This was the mentality I had. Keeping up with the maintenance of the heating and cooling systems in my home, and even keeping up maintenance for my car was not something I did often. I’d wait until the very last minute and then end up having to pay a huge out of pocket expense for repairs and/or replacements. Maintenance is a preventative measure to keep you from having to pay outrageous costs to have things repaired. By keeping up with the various maintenance schedules for your car, home, or appliances is an easy way to save money in the long run.

Not Comparison Shopping – How many times have you brought something without doing your homework and then a day or two later found the same product at a much lower price? I know I’ve been guilty of that in the past. You simply go for what you know. However, comparison shopping is becoming increasingly popular today. Many individuals who use comparison sites or compare the prices of merchandise at competing companies can save a great deal of money.

Failing to Refinance Loans – My mortgage and car loans had very high interest rates (mostly because of the poor credit score I had). I had long lending terms and a tremendous amount of my payments were going towards the interest as opposed to the principal balance of the loan. Often times we believe we’re simply stuck with the terms we have agreed to when we first signed the loan documents, but this is not always the case. There are actually programs and loan opportunities available for homeowners, such as the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan offered by mortgage lenders Low VA Rates. This would allow you to pay more towards your principal balance and even pay your loan off sooner than you thought. The same goes for car loans, refinancing the interest rate and renegotiating the terms can save you money and help you pay off your loans a lot faster.

You live and you learn I guess, but had I realized how simple it could be to avoid all the turmoil I had to get myself out of, I would have put this into practice a long time ago. By simply creating a budget, maintaining my home and vehicle, communicating with collectors when things went haywire, comparing prices, and refinancing loans with high interest rates, you can save yourself a boat load of money. This money can then be put into an interest bearing savings account, or invested into purchasing things that put a smile on your face.

Hopefully, I’ve shed a little light on those common habits so that you can begin to create a brighter future for yourself and your family.

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Retirement for Career Women; The perfect recipe for a midlife meltdown

Ann Hoffman-Ruffner founded Wayfinding Women, LLC after a 30 year career as a therapist and administrator for inpatient psychiatry. A lifelong advocate for women & girls, Ann is a certified Martha Beck coach and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator-Candidate. Check out Wayfinding Women’s Italy Retreat this October 10-17th.

Ann Hoffman photoI have to be honest, I’m new to blogging and I’ve been staring at the blank computer screen for over an hour, hands poised above the keyboard…diligently not typing.

To distract myself from the discomfort of not having a clue where to begin, I played with “Blog Post Headline Analyzer,” an online tool that grades your blog headline. I rationalized this was a better use of my time than watching YouTube videos of dogs who were crazed because a cat stole their bed. Ten Analyzer spins later, with a solid B+ in headlining, I still hadn’t written a single word. What is it about doing something new that paralyzes us?

And what is retirement and the next chapter of our lives if not the continual learning and adjusting to something new? Whether it’s an unwanted move, a divorce, the death of someone we love, new health issues or empty-nesting, the changes that often accompany midlife can be overwhelming and leave us not knowing which way to turn. In fact, with all we need to redefine and adjust to in midlife, I’m shocked that more of us aren’t sitting transfixed at red lights, unable to move while impatient twenty-somethings honk their horns all around us.

Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.

When you top off the whole midlife mix with retirement, the real hum-dinger of adjustments for career women, you have the perfect recipe for a midlife meltdown.

For the first time in history, millions of career women are facing retirement and the questions that come with it. What do we do after spending the past 30-40 years defining ourselves by our work and roles in life? Who will we be now? How will we stay relevant? And of course the biggie, is it really ok to read a book at 3pm in the afternoon and watch Ellen every day?

As working women, we achieved—we showed up, were seen and were as brave as anyone required to wear pantyhose could be. We held positions of authority and influence, delegating and multi-tasking like we were on fire. We took care of homes, spouses, children, other people’s children, aging parents and some unfortunate houseplants. We rocked our world. And now, our dues paid and duties done, we reach for the reward of retirement only to realize it doesn’t quite live up to the grand hype. By week three, the allure of sleeping in has worn off for most of us and we may find ourselves staring down day after day of having no obligation that would actually require us to get dressed or leave the house.

And so we don’t.

Others of us go the opposite route and seek refuge in “keeping busy” with volunteering, babysitting the grandkids and speed-walking the mall. But simply having a busy calendar isn’t necessarily gratifying for women used to living in the fast lane.

Is this the way the rest of our life has to be? Can the promise of a rich and rewarding retirement be redeemed?

Of course!

Transitions and change don’t have to be incapacitating, and as women we have a very powerful coping tool on our side; our ability to communicate.

Women are more likely to talk about their concerns and questions more openly and honestly than men. This ability to share thoughts and feelings about the complexities and contradictions of this time of life with like-minded women who make us feel safe and not judged can help us tremendously in navigating these uncharted waters. As highly educated, successful and resourceful women, we can be there for each other through this yet unwritten chapter.

We can choose to write that next chapter consciously with intention, so that we remain open to the endless possibilities of life and continue to grow.

And who knows—we may even start blogging!

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Retire on as little as $22,000

A reader brought to our attention the fact that we have not updated our annual spending since producing this video: Adventures in Financial Independence about three years ago. As of the end of 2014,… Read more click here

free-report

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I’ll Start Monday

Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004 and you can find her columns on the Huffington Post. Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns.

LaverneMy heart goes out to Oprah. She has gained weight again. This woman is structured, committed and disciplined in every aspect of her life and she can’t conquer her eating addiction, so how can I be expected to? Other than showing up for meals on time, I don’t know what structured, committed or disciplined means.

I’ve been on countless diets. I once spent a fortune on one that required me to eat their pre-packaged food. Only after they had all my money did I realize that what they were feeding me was dog food.

I tried to eat it. I really did. But I couldn’t swallow what they were passing off as tasty. After two weeks and forty-two repeated attempts at swallowing their nauseating meals, I put the food out for my neighborhood feral cats who sniffed it, and walked away. Mind you, it was the middle of winter, when mice, birds and gophers were scarce, but the cats opted to starve rather than eat what I’d left them. Come to think of it, that may have been how I was expected to lose weight.

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Another popular diet I attempted came in book form and discouraged eating highly processed carbohydrates. Everyone but me was losing weight on this diet. Then I read the last page disclaimer that basically said hypoglycemic people will not be successful on this diet. I’m hypoglycemic. I had wasted a whole month on that damn diet so I rewarded myself with a hot fudge sundae, walnuts in syrup and sky-high whipped cream. No cherry. A cherry would have put me into the next month’s calories.

Remember the Drinking Man’s Diet? In 1964 it was the original no carb diet. You drank all the booze you wanted along with endless heaps of fatty meats, sauces and cheeses. I rather enjoyed that diet until I read reports of dieters dropping dead in front of deli counters.

Another diet I was on included support meetings,  once-a-week. I attended every single meeting for two solid weeks in a row. Then I quit, convinced I could do it on my own. I made their meatless meatloaf, and flour free, sugar free, oil free, milk free, taste free cake. At one of the meetings I was told that mustard on a lettuce leaf tastes exactly like a bologna sandwich. Honest. The two weeks my head was into it, I was convinced I was eating a bologna sandwich. Only on the fifteenth day when my motivation waned, did I realize that mustard on a lettuce leaf tastes exactly like mustard on a lettuce leaf. And, that’s not bologna.

It’s evident that there continues to be more of me than necessary so I’m trying, for the trillionth time, to lose weight. I know I need to have crunchy foods to keep me happy. I’m hoping carrots and cabbage will satisfy that need, although it never has before. I found myself in front of my refrigerator, yesterday, desperately searching for something sweet. I ended up downing a swig of gherkin pickle juice and, yes, it actually satisfied my craving – for the moment. I’ve raised my water intake to several quarts a day, which fills my stomach,  but sloshes when I walk, and keeps me housebound.

After a week on this no-nutrition diet I felt thinner, so I rummaged through my closet, where sizes range from Those Were The Days, to I Can’t Friggin’ Breathe, to You’re Kidding, Right? I tried on everything, toward a goal of keeping what fit, and giving the rest to Good Will. I was ruthless as I yanked each piece of apparel from its dusty, rusty hanger, some of which have hung there for decades, others with price tags still hanging, in hopes of one day coming out into the sunlight, wrapped around my body.

I had to face the sad reality that even if I fit into those clothes one day, they would no longer be in style; like the stunning navy blue sack dress, the black sheath, the June Cleaver shirtwaist, several pairs of culottes, bell bottom slacks, and a lovely beige suit with Mommy Dearest shoulder pads.

Maybe….just maybe….this will be the decade I lose the weight and treat myself to a new, updated wardrobe.

Maybe….just maybe….that last sentence is another example of bologna.

Other posts by this author

Dancing Through the Pain

Men and Women Throughout History

I Don’t See Well Anymore

Giddy Yup

Stop Telling Me I’m Old

Growing Up Dangerously

Watching Real Beauty

Hell, Not on the Map, but I Was There

Cellulite: A Rite of Passage

Camping: Not for Sissies

Don’t Count Me Out

Aging, Not All Fun and Games

Challenging My Legacy

Behind Closed Doors

Battle of the Bulge

How the Home Shopping Network Turned Me into a Zebra

Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Humor | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

FATCA – Practical Guide

Guest post by John Ohe, IRS Enrolled Agent and chartered Financial Analyst.

John Ohe 1There are over 100 countries around the world that are now “FATCA-compliant.” This means that banks located in those countries will be sending to the IRS specific information regarding accounts held by U.S. persons. In this article, we’ll discuss how FATCA is affecting the average U.S. expat or dual citizen (including business owners), and the options for dealing with the requirements.

My bank is asking me to complete a W-9 form. What should I do?

In the United States, the W-9 is a basic form that people fill out when they start a new job or open a new bank account. The critical information captured on the W-9 is the Social Security Number. When foreign banks send over to the IRS your account balance and earned interest information, it will be attached to your name and Social Security Number. The IRS computers will be able to cross-reference the information sent by your bank against your U.S. income tax return and FBAR filing. Discrepancies will be red-flagged, although any action by the IRS will likely take several years. Keep in mind that penalties and interest accrue in the meantime.

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When the bank asks you to complete a W-9, you have 3 options:

  • Refuse – your bank will likely close your account for non-compliance
  • Delay – take the form home with you, and hope the bank doesn’t ask again. Depending on the country and bank, this may work (will not be the case in most developed countries)
  • Fill it out – you are being compliant with U.S. tax laws. It will be important that you are also compliant with your tax return and FBAR (foreign bank account) filing requirements.

Dual citizens have an additional option. If the bank inquires about their U.S. citizenship, they can deny having dual citizenship status. Of course, that would be an act not compliant with U.S. tax laws, and carries risks.

I have a business account at the bank. Should I be worried?

It’s unclear whether foreign banks will report business account information (foreign corporations owned by U.S. expats) to the IRS. The consequences would be severe. That is because there many Americans do not report their foreign businesses although it is required. Most report only the wage they pay themselves.

Each FATCA-compliant country and foreign banks are taking their own approach in dealing with U.S. expat customers. Recently, a client of Hola Expat in the Cayman Islands was told by her bank to provide proof of her Form 5471 (report on foreign corporation) and FBAR filings. Another client (in Mexico) was asked by his bank to complete a W-8 Ben-E. This form is used by U.S. companies that do business with foreign entities, so that they can withhold taxes correctly. In most case, the bank is incorrect in asking U.S. expats to complete a W-8 ben-E form. However, if the bank insists, make sure you check off “Active NFFE” on page 1 of the form.

The world is getting smaller, and privacy is increasingly hard to maintain. For U.S. expats, FATCA is a true “thorn-in-the-side,” one that is probably better to deal with earlier than later.

Other articles by this Author

Free Money From the IRS – Child Tax Credit

U.S. Expat Taxes – An Introduction

Buying and Selling Real Estate (Foreign or Domestic) from a Tax Perspective

This article was written by John Ohe (IRS Enrolled Agent and Chartered Financial Analyst). John is a partner at Hola Expat, which specializes in preparing tax returns for U.S. expats. If you would like to submit a tax-related question, email: info@holaexpat.com.

Disclaimer: The answers provided in this article are for general information, and should not be construed as personal tax advice. Tax laws and regulations change frequently, and their application can vary widely based on the specific facts and circumstances involved.

Posted in All Things Financial, Guest Blog Posts | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How Is Retirement Defined?

As usual, I prize your newsletters. But as I scanned and read, in particular the article “8 Secrets of Success From Early Retirees“, I was struck by the modern usage of the word “retirement”.

Webster’s tells us something along the lines of withdrawal from position, occupation or from active working life. Please know that most people see retirement as just that, no more money from your labors. Thus the fear.

People who do this and that to make extra are not retired, and cannot write authoritatively about the ease of living in retirement. Most of the financial gurus I read always object to complete retirement, or retirement as it truly means, and encourage second careers, part-time work, etc. Genuine retirement, complete withdrawal from working, does terrify the working woman or man. The word, as it was defined, that is.

Best Wishes,

Paul

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Hi Paul,

Thank you for taking the time to write and for your kind words regarding our newsletters. We’re really glad you enjoy them!

You are not the first to write and question the word “retirement” and what it means in modern society. Boomers seem to be changing the concept of retirement and want to do more with their lives away from the conventional working world. They don’t want to sit in a rocking chair and watch the world go by. They want to utilize their talents in many different ways, and they want the freedom to be able to do this, whether or not they get paid to do it or by volunteering or mentoring.

Actually, we know very few people who do “nothing” in their retirement. “Complete withdrawal from work”? What if you do house repairs? or work in your garden? or babysit the grandkids? or manage some properties to finance your retirement? or manage your financial portfolio? or help a neighbor out by driving her around and she gives you $20? Or dog sit a friend’s pet and he pays you for your time and gas? I mean, the lines get blurry pretty quickly. We believe that “work” is part of being alive, part of any healthy lifestyle. Just because someone is no longer receiving a regular paycheck does not mean they can no longer be productive, paid or not.

Opportunities abound when one does not have to work, and a person can take advantage of these opportunities or not. To be sure, we have turned down countless possibilities during what we consider to be our “retirement” because we didn’t want to work that hard anymore, or because these opportunities didn’t suit us.

When we first left our jobs to live off our investments (and we did this for 15 years before we wrote our first book or had our website), there was no real word for what we were doing. Had we even thought about the words “financial independence” we would have selected those words to describe us (and our website). But mostly, those words described multi-millionaires, sports stars, Bill Gates, movie stars and such. It was not a word that was brought down to usage by the regular folk, whom we consider ourselves to be.

You might want to take a look at a piece we  wrote some time back called Our Money Our Lives which goes into this topic a little bit more.

Ultimately, we aren’t concerned with what label someone places on our lifestyle, and we don’t worry about fitting into a description by Webster’s Dictionary. We felt we had valuable information to share with others on how to save for their lifestyle outside of working for a living and how to manage their spending after they quit their jobs. This information has merit whether or not we are considered to be “retired” or “financially independent” and we felt moved to share it.

Thank you again for writing, Paul. You bring up a popular question and we are grateful to be able to respond to it from our perspective.

Wishing you all the best,

Akaisha and Billy

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