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A 31 Year Old’s Journey to $5,000,000 in Rental Property Value

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Today, I have a great article to share with you from Kyle Kroeger on how to invest in real estate. He has a goal of reaching $5,000,000 in rental property value, and is sharing his plan today.

The prospect of retiring early on real estate is highly intriguing to me. It should be for a number of people and I’ll highlight a bit more below.

For millennials, like me, we don’t have it easy. Despite the mainstream media’s thoughts, millennials have faced a Great Recession, massive student loans and a global pandemic already at a young age.

We’ve seen a lot but that can be used to our advantage for financial planning and life goals.

That’s okay if things are a bit harder for millennials financially. It’s a bit more fun when things are hard.

Here I’m ready to show you why real estate investing can be a great asset class.

Related content:

 

My Background

I’m the prototype millennial that loves buying expensive coffee, avocado toast, iPhone apps, blah blah.

So what? Life is short, so enjoy what you love.

I went to a large public university for undergrad and come from a very much middle of the road family in the Midwest. I knew I wanted to study finance in undergrad as I had more of an analytical mindset and liked numbers.

When I graduated from college, I had a decent amount of student loans. The total amount was somewhere over $60,000 worth of student loans. While I was at school, I really didn’t realize how much student debt I had and how that would impact my financial future.

My family has always had a hardworking mentality, so I worked part-time while attending undergrad (each year).

The problem was that money went to keeping the lights on and paying bills. Not tuition.

Upon graduating, I landed a job in investment banking in Chicago. It was tough to crack into, but the pay was intriguing and the opportunity to get some great experience was invaluable. Even if it meant dealing with unique personalities and long hours.

If I could slug it out for 3 years, I knew I could focus on working, saving and paying off my student loans. I followed a disciplined approach of prepaying my loans as much as possible.

After 5 years of working in finance, I was able to successfully extinguish my $60,000 of student loans. Following my student loan repayment, I quickly saved to purchase my first house. That became my first foray into my comforts of using real estate to build wealth.

 

Why Invest in Real Estate?

Working long hours and being chained to my desk made me realize quickly that there is so much more to life than work and making a ton of money. After my first house purchase, I realized that investing in real estate is very straightforward and manageable.

I believe the minor fixes, capital costs for repairs, etc. are generally overblown.

If you do it right, you can manage through those costs and use low cost of capital (mortgages) to build wealth over the long-term. The key thought here is long-term.

Real estate investing is a marathon, not a sprint. Multi-generational wealth can be built through real estate. There are plenty of case studies to back it up. The fact that real estate is illiquid actually works to your benefit.

If a macroeconomic event occurs, you simply can’t panic sell. You’ll have to stick it out and work through the issues firsthand. The best part is you are in control, so you can control your destiny in a way.

When you invest in index funds or stocks, you have no control. You can analyze and make decisions that may improve your odds of generating an attractive return, but you are not making the day to day decisions.

To me, the pros outweigh the cons on whether or not you should invest in real estate.

Here are some pros of real estate investing:

  • You maintain full control of your holdings.
  • There are multiple types of real estate (single-family, multi-family, apartment).
  • There are income-oriented markets like providing options for low-income, suburban and urban communities.
  • You can invest in specific markets. So specific that you can invest on a particular street that piques your interest.
  • Real estate is simple. We aren’t investing in the next Facebook or Instagram.

Here are some cons of real estate investing:

  • It can be time-consuming.
  • The debate is out there whether real estate outperforms alternatives.
  • It requires a learning curve. Even the most experienced investors are still learning.

Finally, there is no one-size-fits all approach to real estate investing. In fact, there are plenty of strategies out there that can tailor to your risk tolerance.

Related content: Renting or Buying? What’s the better decision?

 

Real Estate Investment Strategies

Here are some general investment strategies to help you understand the risk profile (in order of least risky to most risky). Generally, higher risk can lead to higher expected returns.

1. Core Real Estate

Think of core real estate as purchasing a property for cash flow. The property is in great shape, needs limited repairs and is fully leased. This is one of the most common forms of passive real estate investing. Core investing will end up being the least risky and lower returns.

2. Core Plus

Core plus has a little more risk. Think of core real estate as a base, but it requires you to provide some additional value to the property. For example, you are looking at a property that has 50% of the units in a 4-plex that are renovated. The other units need to be renovated and leased out at higher rates.

You can come in and provide additional value by renovating and finding new tenants. This is the in-between on the risk scale. There is an opportunity for improvement albeit at not too much risk.

3. Opportunistic / Distressed

For simplicity, I’ll group opportunistic and distressed together. This is usually the higher risk and higher return investing within real estate. You’ll likely need some significant expertise in real estate and some sort of angle. A common example is a fix and flip strategy. You seek out properties that are dormant and attractively priced. You already know plenty of contractors and resources to fix the property for an eventual sale.

There are plenty of other strategies and subsets of these but the above should give you a general feel for high-level strategies.

For me, I like core plus because it’s straightforward enough and offers attractive risk/reward. You don’t need to know how to fix a water heater or know every nut and bolt of a house. You simply look for cash flow improvement opportunities in high-demand markets.

 

Journey to $5 Million in Real Estate Value

The main goal with direct real estate investing is to make cash flow passive while still maintaining as much control as possible. You can do things like real estate crowdfunding or invest in REITs, but you’ll lose control and have less flexibility if you are trying to create generational wealth for your family.

If you own a ton of stock and want to pass it down to your family, what’s stopping them from selling? If you do real estate investing right, you can pass a full-fledged business down to your family that also provides consistent cash flow.

 

Why $5 Million in Value

$5 million isn’t a hard number but rather a goal. This number also seems like a lot on it’s face and it is. But this is a total aggregate value of property. Not equity.

It doesn’t happen over the course of a year or two. It’s a multi-year process that takes time and patience. This amount of property value presents a great opportunity for income and scale without too much hassle.

You can remain a “small business” in the real estate space and not overload your life with stress.

 

The math of real estate investing for beginners

The math to why $5 million in rental property value is pretty straightforward. I’d like a six-figure ($100,000) income into perpetuity as a baseline. This would allow me to live comfortably from real estate only while also holding a substantial equity position.

So, the math is as follows:

Targeted Income divided by Cash Yield = Equity Value in Real Estate

Targeted Income = $100,000

Cash Yield = 8%

Cash yield represents the annual cash flow from rental properties relative to your equity position. For example, a rental property earning $8,000 per year of income to you on a $100,000 downpayment would equity to a cash yield of 8%.

This would equate to an equity value of $1.25 million in a real estate portfolio ($100,000/8%). So, if you can meet that bogey of a cash yield you are in good shape. If you exceed it (8+%), you can potentially reach your income goal faster.

So how do I get from $1,250,000 of equity in real estate to $5,000,000?

Well, for investment properties you should have a downpayment of 25% to purchase the property. So, $1.25 million of equity implies $5 million of real estate value ($1.25M/25%).

I built a rental property spreadsheet to help me stay accountable when pricing out real estate transactions. The model serves a number of purposes. Most importantly, I use it to:

  1. ensure I’m putting an offer on a property that meets the above criteria (realistically), and
  2. use it as a budget to track my forecast to what was actually received. The model can become a glorified 5-year forecast for each investment.

I walk through how I use the rental property spreadsheet here while walking you through an exact case study.

I hope you find the complete walkthrough helpful.

How to Get There / How Long It Takes

$1.25 million of equity is a lot of money. Absolutely, but you can get there over time. People do it everyday with their 401(k) and Roth IRA contributions.

It will absolutely take time.

Like your retirement contributions, you should have a full roadmap of how you plan to get there.  I have 3 real estate properties right now so I’ve already gotten started on the plan.

With much more work to go, however.

Here is a plan for 8 years to get to the desired income goals and a $5 million rental property value. The assumptions include:

  • Starting income of $120,000 with a 5% income increase each year.
  • Focus on saving 35% of your pre-tax salary each year for real estate investing.
  • Reinvest any cash flow earned from existing rental properties.

Financial Wolves’s Retire on Rental Income Plan:

These are not my exact income and checking account balances but they are a somewhat close representation.

So, as a 31 year old millennial it should take me about 8 years of hard work to eventually retire on real estate. That would put me in a position to earn a steady living from real estate before I’m 40 years old.

There are a few interesting things that stand out from this plan:

  1. Income is very important: Increasing your income is crucial with real estate investing. Without a continuous flow of reinvestable cash, it becomes harder to acquire more real estate.
  2. Compound interest is no joke: Compound interest from the cash flow of your properties is a huge value driver. When you are in property acquisition mode, you should harvest as much cash as possible to continually make acquisitions. The sooner the better as the cash flow snowball benefits are massive. Finally, you can see at the tail end of the investing cycle you can start investing in larger properties. Once you start dealing in larger dollar amounts, you are in the big leagues.
  3. Rental properties cash flow can be substantial: If you can do real estate investing as a side hustle to your ordinary income, the cash flow benefits can be exponential. Look at the cash balance build up during the back end years (years 5-8). You simply can’t acquire enough property.

Once you achieve scale, you’ll have a ton of financial flexibility. Plus, the above assumes no amortization on the loans so your equity balance will likely be compounding along the way. This will give you extraordinary residual value to work with.

 

Tips for Getting Started In Real Estate Investing

Here are some tips for getting started with real estate investing.

1. Just Start

One of the best pieces of advice I received was from a savvy real estate investor. They said you simply just need to give it a go. It’s true.

If all goes wrong or you don’t like it, at least you can cross it off your bucket list… Hey, I was a real estate investor once.

Not only should you just start. You should start by trying to manage your real estate properties without an asset management firm helping you. This will help you understand your properties. You’ll get used to the ins and outs of repairs, requests and leasing.

With technology now, you should be able to efficiently manage everything.  As you scale, start thinking about how an asset management firm can help you. Yeah, back to the reduce time without sacrificing too much income point.

2. Use Technology

Technology continues to be a very underrated component of real estate investing. Back in the day people would have to manually account for everything.

Some old-time real estate investors still think that you need to take 2 am calls about a leaky pipe… Or, you need to manually collect checks from tenants to bring them to your bank. Reduce your time by using resources like Landlord Studio to do all the required bookkeeping.

Or, a tool like Cozy to manage rent payment with multiple tenants in one unit. You’ll get paid instantly and Cozy even sends out rent payment reminders. What’s not to love?

3. If You Struggle That’s Okay

If you struggle with your property and it requires capital contributions from you right away, that’s okay. Let’s be honest. No one invests to lose money. A property can require a ton of work one year but then nothing for the next 5 years.

Just because something bad happens in the short-term doesn’t mean you completely messed up the long-term. At the end of the day, things can get resolved. When I sold my first property, I realized that anxieties and the stress that I had about the property at the onset were definitely not worth it.

 

Conclusion – Is Real Estate Investing Worth It?

At the end of the day, real estate is not for everyone. However, you can use this as a baseline for whatever asset class you are interested in. To me, real estate provides the optimal solution for building long-term wealth that requires limited time.

You can build a fully operating business out of your real estate holdings that will give you the flexibility to do the things that you enjoy in life. Here are a few tips that I will try to follow along the my real estate investing journey:

  1. Stay disciplined with your investing. Stick to one strategy and be excellent at it.
  2. Focus on the long-term.
  3. Scale your time and don’t be afraid to outsource.
  4. Build a team of people you trust.
  5. Retire early and enjoy life.

It’s not that simple and will take a ton of work to get there, but my early estimations is that it will be totally worth it. Between blogging income and a small real estate business, I should be able to work where I want and when I want.

Have you or will you try real estate investing? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to answer any questions.

Author Bio: Kyle Kroeger is the owner of FinancialWolves.com. Financial Wolves is a blog focused on helping you make more money to achieve financial freedom. After repaying student loans, I’ve shifted my focus to make more money from side hustles, real estate, freelancing, and the online economy. Follow us on Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

The post A 31 Year Old’s Journey to $5,000,000 in Rental Property Value appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.



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PenFed Checking And Savings Review: Full Service And Solid Rates

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If you’ve been looking to join a credit union instead of a bank or want to add a credit union account for your checking and savings, PenFed is worth checking out. 

While they don’t have the highest checking and savings APYs, they are reasonable and competitive for a full-service credit union. In fact, PenFed made our list of the top 5 credit unions nationwide of 2020.

PenFed’s mobile app allows you to do all of your banking online or on the go through their mobile app, no matter where you are in the U.S. and even some locations outside of the U.S. In this article, we’ll review PenFed’s checking and savings products.


PenFed Logo

Quick Summary

  • Competive interest rates
  • Large nationwide ATM network
  • Minimum balance required to avoid checking account fees

PenFed Checking And Savings Details

Product Name

PenFed Credit Union

Account Types

Checking, Savings, Money Market, Certificates

APY

0.05% to 0.90% APY

Min Deposit

$5

Promotions

None

Who Is PenFed?

Pentagon Federal Credit Union is a full-service credit union. They were created in 1935 and have $25 billion in assets. PenFed is headquartered in McLean, Virginia. They used to restrict membership to a relationship with the military or federal government but have recently opened up to everyone. 

PenFed services all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Okinawa (Japan). They are federally insured by NCUA and are an Equal Opportunity Lender. In addition to PenFed checking and savings accounts, members can also access home, car, credit card, and student loan products.

See our review of PendFed’s student loan refinancing product.

What Do They Offer?

PenFed has one checking account and four savings products. They have a network of 68,000+ ATMs. You can bank online or through their mobile app. PenFed has nearly 50 branches across 16 states and the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Okinawa.

The PenFed website shows its accounts earn interest (APY) and dividends. The terminology can make it sound as though you get the APY plus dividends. That isn’t the case. Dividends are simply being used interchangeably with interest (APY).

Access America Checking Account

You’ll need to deposit $25 to open a checking account with PenFed. PenFed checking accounts do earn a little interest — 0.20% to 0.50% depending on account size as shown below.

  • 0.20% APY on a daily balance of less than $20K
  • 0.50% APY on a daily balance of $20K or more up to $50K

In addition to the listed APYs, you can also earn dividends with a monthly direct deposit of $500 or more. As well, to avoid the $10 monthly fee, you’ll need a daily balance or monthly direct deposit of $500 or more. Overdraft protection is available but is subject to approval.

Premium Online Savings Account

The Premium Online Savings Account pays 0.90% APY on balances up to $250,000 and only requires a $5 deposit. There are no monthly fees. However, there also is no ATM access.

Be aware that savings accounts have more restrictions than checking accounts. Due to federal law, you can only withdraw money from your account up to six times per month. You’re allowed up to $10,000 per day in deposits and a total of $50,000 for the month.

Regular Savings Account

The Regular Savings Account pays only 0.05% APY on all balances. But in exchange for giving up that interest, you gain ATM access. However, if you can get by with transferring money to your checking account before making a withdrawal, the Premium Savings Account is clearly the way to go.

Money Market Savings Account

The Money Market Savings Account requires $25 to open and doesn’t lose ATM access. There are no monthly fees and you get free checks upon request. The account pays interest through several tiers that are dependent on your balance:

  • 0.05% APY — $10,000 or less
  • 0.10% APY — between $10,000 and $99,999
  • 0.15% APY — $100,000 or more

See how this compares to the top money market accounts here >>

Money Market Certificates

You’ve probably heard of a certificate of deposit (CD). Credit unions call these simply “certificates,” but they are basically the same. 

PenFed has several certificates to choose from. All require a $1,000 deposit to open. Just like a CD, your money must remain in the certificate until maturity or you’ll pay an early withdrawal penalty. Dividends are compounded daily and paid monthly.

The following certificates are available:

  • 6 Month — 0.40%
  • 12 Month — 0.70%
  • 15 Month — 0.70%
  • 18 Month — 0.70%
  • 2 Year — 0.75%
  • 3 Year — 0.80%
  • 4 Year — 0.85%
  • 5 Year — 1.00%
  • 7 Year — 1.05%

Mobile App

The mobile app for PenFed checking and savings includes all of the features you’d expect from full-service credit unions. You get instant check deposits, bill pay, ability to send money to almost anyone, account management, and the ability to transfer funds between your PenFed accounts.

Are There Any Fees?

The majority of PenFed’s accounts don’t come with fees. However, its Access America Checking Account has a $10 month fee if certain minimums are not met. To avoid the fee, you’ll need to keep a minimum balance of $500 or set up a $500 monthly direct deposit.

How Do I Open An Account?

You can visit Penfed.org or a local branch if you have one near you to apply for membership. If approved, you’ll need to deposit at least $5 to open an account.

Is My Money Safe?

Yes, money deposited with PenFed is federally insured by the NCUA. Like FDIC insurance for banks, NCAU insurance protects up to $250,000 of credit union member deposits per account.

Is It Worth It?

If you’re looking to open a checking or savings account with a credit union, PenFed is a full-service credit union that pays up to 0.50% on checking account deposits and up to 1.00% on savings. It has about 50 branches in 13 states, plus a few outside of the U.S. and includes NCUA protection. For those reasons, PenFed checking and savings is certainly worth considering.

But if you won’t be able to meet the requirements for waiving PenFed’s monthly checking account fees, you might want to look at these free checking accounts instead. And if you’re comfortable with managing your checking or savings accounts with minimal support, you might be able to earn higher rates with an online bank. These are our favorite online banks for 2020.

PenFed Checking And Savings Features

Account Types

Checking, Savings, Money Market, Certificates

Minimum Deposit

  • Checking: $25
  • Savings: $5
  • Money Market: $25

APY

Checking

  • 0.20% APY on a daily balance of less than $20K
  • 0.50% APY on a daily balance of $20K or more up to $50K

Regular Savings: 0.05% APY

Premium Online Savings: 1.00% APY

Money Market Savings

  • 0.05% APY — $10,000 or less
  • 0.10% APY — between $10,000 and $99,999
  • 0.15% APY — $100,000 or more

Certificates

  • 6 Month — 0.40%
  • 12 Month — 0.70%
  • 15 Month — 0.70%
  • 18 Month — 0.70%
  • 2 Year — 0.75%
  • 3 Year — 0.80%
  • 4 Year — 0.85%
  • 5 Year — 1.00%
  • 7 Year — 1.05%

Maintenance Fees

  • Checking: $10 (waived with $500 minimum balance or $500 monthly direct deposit
  • Savings: None
  • Money market: None
  • Certificates: None

Branches

~50 across 13 states

ATM Availability

68,000+ fee-free ATM network

Customer Service Number

1-800-247-5626

Customer Service Hours

  • Mon-Fri: 7:00 am-11:00 pm (EST)
  • Saturday: 8:00 am-1:00 pm (EST) Saturday
  • Sunday: 9:00 am-5:30 pm (EST)

Mobile App Availability

iOS and Android

Bill Pay

Yes

NCUA Charter Number

00227

Promotions

None

The post PenFed Checking And Savings Review: Full Service And Solid Rates appeared first on The College Investor.



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The Sweet Spot

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“Success can get you to the top of a beautiful cliff,

but then propel you right over the edge of it.”

As a Mustachian, there’s a good chance that you are a bit of an overachiever. 

Maybe you fought hard to get exceptional grades in school, or perhaps you have always dominated in your career or your Ultramarathon habit or your hobbies – or maybe all of the above. 

In the big picture, this usually leads to having a “successful” life, because of this basic math:

Traditional Success
 =
How much work you do
x
How much society happens to value your work

The Nitty Gritty of Traditional Success

Now, lest the Internet Privilege Police head straight to Twitter to start writing out citations, Traditional Success is not a measure of your worthiness as a human being. We’re just talking about the old-fashioned, Smiling 1950s Man definition of success.

 And since we’re all scientists here, we could break the “Work” side of it down a bit further:

And thus, you could say that on average, doing more stuff produces more traditional success. 

But then what?

This is the point where a lot of  smart, driven, born-lucky people drive themselves up the Winding Road of Challenge and then right off the edge of the Cliff of Success. 

If you’re still on the way up, or stuck at the bottom, it is difficult to even imagine the idea of “too much success”. But it’s a real thing, and it happens much more quickly than the modern overachiever would like to admit. Observe the following cautionary tale:

Diana is the director of engineering in a Silicon Valley tech startup. The work is intense, but they are almost over the hump – the company went public last month, and she owns shares that are worth over $10 million at today’s share price. They will vest over the next five years, so she just needs to grind this out and then she will be set for life.

Sounds great, right?

Except this is Diana’s third smashing success. She was already set for life after the second company was acquired, and even before that, her first decade as a rising star at a large company had already left her with over $2 million of investments and a paid-off house in hella expensive Cupertino, California. She had more than enough to retire, twenty years ago!

To many people who are less fortunate, the present situation would still sound like great fortune, and in some ways, it is. Becoming a Director of Engineering is (usually) far better than a punch in the face.

But Diana is now 52 years old, with a collection of increasingly severe back and neck problems and a few medical prescriptions piling up. She has two grown children in their twenties, but wishes she had been able to spend more time with them as they grew up. She has all the money in the world, but still almost no free time, and this next five years is starting to look like an eternity.

What happened here?

Diana is in good company, because many of our hardest-working people fall into this same trap. They have the talent and the great work habits figured out, but they are still missing one last concept – the idea of the sweet spot.

Fig. 1: What is the ideal length of a high-end career?

Diana could have stopped after the first company, or the second, but her career success took on a momentum of its own, so she kept doubling down without stopping to consider why she was doing it – and what she was giving up in exchange.

Once you learn to see the phenomenon of the sweet spot, you will start noticing it everywhere. And it is an amazingly useful thing to start watching and fine-tuning to get the most out of your own life.

Fig.2: What is the ideal amount of Anything?

The Sweet Spot of Physical Training

When a non-runner starts running, they will see immediate benefits. In the process of going from being unable to jog across a parking lot, to being able to easily jog a brisk mile, your entire body will transform for the better. Muscles and bones get stronger, heart and lungs expand and reach out to give your body a healthy embrace, brain functioning and mood and hormones smooth out and normalize. 

Training your way up to become a two mile runner still brings great benefits – just slightly smaller. The fifth through twentieth mile turn you into a hyper efficient machine, but some people start seeing joint injuries as they rise through the ranks.

And by the time you reach the fringe world of 100-mile runners, serious injuries and surgeries are completely normal – as well as unexpected organ failures in otherwise young, healthy people. The sweet spot for daily running for maximum health is somewhere the middle.

All around us, seemingly unrelated things follow this same pattern, from career work to physical exertion to parenting strategy.

Fame and Fortune – be careful what you wish for

Fame definitely has a sweet spot. Building up a good reputation in your community can open the door to better friendships, jobs, relationships, and more fun in general.

But as that reputation expands outwards to become fame, you get the “reward” of constant coverage in gossip magazines and waking up to find photographers and news reporters on your front lawn. At the extreme end, you need to mobilize a team of armored vehicles and line your route with snipers every time you leave your well-guarded compound.

Even money, our humble and ever-willing servant is subject to this phenomenon. It certainly helps us meet our basic needs, but there is a certain point at which Mo Money can become Mo Problems. 

The first bit of monetary surplus can be fun as you can afford a nice house and good food. Then the next chunk seems fun but also causes distractions as you rack up second and third houses and ever-more elaborate possessions and vacations that take a lot of energy to keep track of.

And from there it goes downhill as tabloids start keeping track of your wealth and scrutinizing your choices, hundreds of people mail in pleas for your generosity, and you end up with a full-time job just making sure that the surplus goes to good use. This life arrangement can still be enjoyable for some people, but I would definitely not wish it upon myself.

On and on this pattern goes. A curve with a sweet spot in the middle. The optimal amount of calories to consume in a day. The volume at which you will enjoy your music most. The right brightness of light to illuminate a room. The number of friends with whom you can have a meaningful relationship.

 Why does it occur in so many places? I believe it is because this is how our brains are wired in the first place

Humans are a ridiculously adaptable creature, but we do still come with limits.

And when you respect those limits and fine-tune your life within the sweet spot for all of the main pillars for happy living, you end up with the best possible chance at living a happy, prosperous life.


A Mid-Roll Advertisement:

Interest rates are still at WTF-low levels, so if you haven’t already done so, I recommend checking your current home mortgage and student loan rates. Either at your local credit union, or online via a service like Credible.

Click Here to open that up in a new tab, and keep reading.

Note: This is an affiliate link, to learn why I use these even when I am supposedly retired, read this.


The Curse Of the Overachievers – Revisited

So now you see the problem – overachievers like us tend to get really good at a few things like a career or an athletic pursuit often specializing so much that we neglect other things like overall health or personal relationships.

And our society notices and rewards us for the success, which just reinforces the behavior, so we take things to even higher extremes, often without stopping to think about the reason behind it.

Okay, So What Now?

Once you see the pattern of the sweet spot,  it is impossible to un-see it. So it becomes pretty easy to float up and look at your entire life from above, like an outside observer.

And from up there, you can see the areas where you have enough, and places where you may have already gone overboard, and the corresponding things that you have left neglected as the price of that success. 

Over the past year I’ve been looking at my own life from this perspective, coming up with quite a few of my own diagnoses:

Money: enough. Additional windfalls don’t seem to bring me any lasting joy, but I also don’t have so much money that it makes me nervous. It’s enough to feel safe and empowered, and that’s all I need. Meanwhile, giving away money has brought me lasting happiness, without creating a feeling of shortage or regret.

Career Success (blog): It Varies. When I was really working on this MMM job in the mid-2010s, it started to take over too much of my life. Emails, opportunities, travel and public attention all reached levels where I actually started to have less fun. So I tried dialing it back, as any long-term readers will have noticed. And sure enough, life improved. But then I went too far and started feeling a loss from letting this valued hobby slip away. I’ve been trying to get back into the groove, which revealed another problem – detailed at the end of this list.

Friendships: Not Enough. I have found myself not being able to keep up with close friends, and had difficulty making or keeping plans, partly out of  feeling overwhelmed with life details in general. Still, the opportunities abound here in my local community, and the people are wonderful. So I have the opportunity to keep working at this.

Health and Fitness: Enough. Since I was about fourteen years old, eating well and getting a lot of varied exercise has always been a kind of non-negotiable pillar for me. Nothing extreme, but just very consistent. I think this has been paying off as I feel healthy every day and have never had any physical or health problems in these 30+ years since.

Parenting and Kids: Enough (an A+!) Since 2005 I made “being a Dad” my primary goal in life, quitting my career to do so. It’s the only thing I can truly say I have done the best I could at, and I’m really proud of that. But part of this success came from only having one kid – both of us parents knew we couldn’t handle any more, given the overall conditions of life back then. So for us, the sweet spot was One Child – and absolutely no regrets in that department.

Personal Projects and Daily Habits: Not Enough. I get great satisfaction from working on challenging things and making progress. But far too often, I just can’t get it together and I squander entire days on accidental distractions. Planning to go out for a day of work can lead to searching for lost sunglasses which can lead to finding a lost to-do list which can lead to opening the computer to look something up and several hours disappearing. On and on these tangents can go, often leading to me not getting my primary, happiness-creating goals for the day accomplished. 

I discovered that I have a pretty severe and textbook case of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, which gets magnified if there are any sources of stress in my life. So I’m working on that (keeping stress down and also targeting habits, diet, exercise and even trying some medication), which will hopefully improve all other areas of life as well.

What am I missing? I’m still working on thinking it all through, so this list will surely grow.

Your Turn

Your life surely has a completely different array of surpluses, shortages and sweet spots than mine. Your assignment is therefore to write them all out tonight, and see where you stand in each area, and decide what to change. Many of the changes are quite easy to make, and yet the results are nothing short of life-changing.

In the comments: what are your own areas of surplus and shortage? And what’s your plan to help restore balance to your life?



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Finance

Woman in TFSA overcontribution fight with CRA has penalties cut from $17,000 to just $300

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While most of us use our TFSAs as general purpose, tax-free savings or investment vehicles, the

Canada Revenue Agency has been cracking down

on perceived misuse of the accounts by assessing some taxpayers with an overcontribution tax, and others

for falling afoul of the “advantage rules” for registered plans

. Two separate tax cases, out last month, dealt with TFSA penalty taxes.

Non-resident TFSA contributions

The first case involved TFSA overcontributions. If you overcontribute, the penalty tax is one per cent per month for each month your TFSA is in an overcontribution position. But there’s a separate, additional penalty tax of one per cent per month if a non-resident contributes to their TFSA, which is what happened in the first case.

In August 2006, the taxpayer left Canada to begin her medical studies in the U.K. While in the U.K. as a student, and, on the advice her Canadian investment adviser, she made contributions to her TFSA in 2009 ($5,000), 2010 ($1,500) and 2012 ($494). She completed her studies in June 2011 and then commenced two years of residency training in family medicine. In November 2012, she registered with the Canadian Residency Matching Service as a fully licensed U.K. doctor, to obtain a residency position in Canada. Finally, in April 2016, she obtained a residency position at a Vancouver hospital and in June 2016, returned back to Canada.

Much to her surprise, in 2018 the taxpayer received Notices of Reassessment from the CRA for 2009 to 2016, assessing her a total of $17,006 of TFSA penalty tax and arrears interest, asserting that she was a non-resident of Canada when she contributed to her TFSA. Indeed, to be able to contribute to a TFSA (and to accumulate the annual TFSA contribution room), you must be a resident of Canada for tax purposes.

An individual’s residency status is determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account many factors. The most important consideration is whether or not the individual maintains residential ties with Canada. Significant residential ties to Canada include: a home in Canada, a spouse or common-law partner in Canada and dependants in Canada. Secondary residential ties include: personal property, such as a car or furniture, in Canada; social ties in Canada, such as memberships in Canadian recreational or religious organizations; economic ties in Canada, such as Canadian bank accounts or credit cards; a Canadian driver’s license, a Canadian passport, and provincial health insurance.

The taxpayer argued that during the period that she was in the UK, she maintained a room in her parents’ home and always regarded the space in her parents’ home as her permanent home. She kept many of her possessions there until August 2016, when she moved to Vancouver.

While studying in the U.K., she kept strong secondary ties to Canada, including funding her medical school fees and expenses with annual loans from a student line of credit from a Canadian bank, as well as through various federal and Ontario student loan programs. She retained and renewed her Canadian passport, and obtained Canadian citizenship for her two daughters who were born abroad. She kept and renewed her Ontario Driver’s licence, her Canadian bank accounts and credit cards, and maintained her Ontario Health Insurance as an overseas student. She continued to be listed as an occasional driver on her parents’ vehicle insurance and returned to Canada nearly every year from 2006 to 2012 to maintain her ties to Canada. Lastly, she filed Canadian income-tax returns as a resident of Canada that were always assessed as filed.

In other words, although the taxpayer was physically absent from Canada during her years abroad, she argued that she maintained significant ties to Canada during her period of her absence and “intended to return to Canada upon completion of her medical studies and has, in fact, returned to Canada.”

In a consent to judgment issued last month, the CRA conceded that the taxpayer was a resident of Canada until June 30, 2011. This was a negotiated date that was selected by the CRA, as it was the date the taxpayer had completed her medical degree and could have returned to Canada, in theory, to complete her residency/licensing training. The taxpayer became a non-resident on July 1, 2011 and resumed Canadian residence on June 6, 2016, when she began her medical residency position in Canada.

The result, therefore, was that only the 2012 TFSA contribution of $494 was subject to non-resident penalty tax and interest, which totalled approximately $300, a far cry from the initial TFSA reassessments totaling over $17,000.

 

Advantage rules 100 per cent penalty tax

The second recent case involving TFSA penalty tax was at the Federal Court of Appeal and concerned the

“advantage rules,” which are a series of anti-avoidance rules

in the

Income Tax Act

designed to prevent abuse and manipulation of all registered plans, including TFSAs. If you find yourself offside these rules, you could face a 100 per cent penalty tax on the fair market value of any “advantage” that you receive that is related to a registered plan.

The taxpayer was appealing a 2018 decision of the Tax Court in which he was reassessed nearly $125,000 in penalty tax applicable to the advantage the CRA says he received in connection with the transfer of private company shares to his TFSA.

The taxpayer went to court to challenge the constitutionality of the 100 per cent advantage tax. He argued that since the CRA has the discretion to reduce the 100 per cent advantage tax to zero, Parliament “improperly delegated the rate-setting element of (tax) … to the (CRA)” in contravention of the Constitution Act.”

Not surprisingly, the Tax Court, and now, the appellate court, dismissed the taxpayer’s appeal, concluding that Parliament, via the explicit wording found in the Income Tax Act, “has prescribed the liability for the tax, the persons on whom it is imposed, the conditions on which a person becomes liable for it, and criteria by which the amount of tax can be determined. (It) delegates nothing to the (CRA).”

The Court did find that there was a wider issue to be considered as to whether the CRA’s power granted under the Income Tax Act to reduce or cancel the tax constitutes “an invalid delegation of taxation power to the (CRA).” But, due to a “lack (of) adequate submissions and fully developed reasons from the Tax Court,” the appellate court refused to weigh in, concluding: “We should leave the broader issue for another day.”

Jamie.Golombek@cibc.com

Jamie Golombek, CPA, CA, CFP, CLU, TEP is the Managing Director, Tax & Estate Planning with CIBC Private Wealth Management in Toronto.



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