Politics and Your Wallet – Warren’s Wealth Tax

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a race for president that’s been going on in the United States. For the past 14 months. That will last another 9 months.

Sigh.

With that in mind, we’ve been spending time exploring the intersection of politics and personal finance. If we’re going to be figuring out which candidates to vote for then we might as well learn how their proposed policies would affect our wallets.

We’ve already looked into Kamala Harris’s LIFT Act and Cory Booker’s baby bonds proposal. (Both have since ended their campaigns but, as I noted in those articles, they are still members of the United States Senate and will presumably continue to push their respective plans.

Today we’re going to look at something a bit more complicated: Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax plan. Continue reading “Politics and Your Wallet – Warren’s Wealth Tax”

Politics and Your Wallet – The LIFT Act

People in the personal finance community tend to avoid talking about politics like the plague.

I understand the inclination. Politics can be divisive and we want to bring people together. We want our message to reach the widest possible audience. And, for those writers who monetize their blogs, they want to bring in traffic without turning anyone off.

But this inclination to avoid politics hurts our readers.

Politics matters. We need to stop pretending that it doesn’t.

All of us that are writing about personal finance are doing so because we want to help people live better lives. The policies that politicians enact directly impact whether that goal is easier or harder to reach.

This is true of all sorts of policies, not just economic. But there is absolutely no ignoring the fact that economic policies created in Washington directly affect our wallets and our lives.

We all can affect what those policies look like and which get enacted, both through our votes and through your voices. If we really want to empower our readers to make the best decisions for improving their lives, we can’t ignore politics. Continue reading “Politics and Your Wallet – The LIFT Act”

Building a FIRE UBI (Universal Basic Income Part 6)

Before going into year-end mode, I want to take one last dive into the Universal Basic Income pool.

I promise this won’t be another 5,000 word tome. In fact, this will be a lot lighter on policy detail and a heavier on big picture ideas.

To recap our journey so far, we started by learning what Universal Basic Income actually is. We then looked into whether it works and addressed some commonly-raised concerns. Finally, we figured out how to pay for it with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.

Today I want to step back and try something new. I want to apply a bit of FIRE thinking to UBI. Continue reading “Building a FIRE UBI (Universal Basic Income Part 6)”

How to Raise Trillions of Dollars (Universal Basic Income Part 5)

It’s election day in America! Make sure you get out and vote. If you want to have a say in government policy, you need to make your voice heard. The government is going to act in your name whether you like it or not, so do something to shape it. Grab a friend or three and get to the polls!

Today, we’re picking up where we left off with Universal Basic Income.

First, we learned what it is and what the different visions for UBI entail. Then we explored the evidence that giving people money works and responded to concerns that people have about Universal Basic Income.

Most recently, we started tackling the biggest question with regards to UBI: How will we pay for it? Last week we figured out how much money we needed to find and looked for some spending cuts that could get us started.

Today we dive into everyone’s least favorite topic: raising taxes. Continue reading “How to Raise Trillions of Dollars (Universal Basic Income Part 5)”

Loan Forgiveness (or Why Dave Ramsey Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About)

“Oh! You’re the student loan tweet guy!”

This is a response that I heard a lot while introducing myself to people recently at FinCon, a conference for money writers and podcasters. It’s a strange thing to be known for after spending two and a half years writing about finances without ever really touching on the topic.

That said, the tweet led to a lot of interesting conversations, both in person and on Twitter, about student loans. In particular, a lot of people were very interested in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program in which I am participating.

Some people objected to the program on financial grounds, but many raised political or policy issues.

Because of this, I thought that the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program would be a topic worth exploring during our month of politics. Continue reading “Loan Forgiveness (or Why Dave Ramsey Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About)”

Why We Need to Talk About Politics

We’re spending 2018 around here learning how to live a better life.

Each month, we’re diving into a different theme to learn as much as we can about how to improve ourselves in that area and use what we learn to live a happier, wealthier, and more productive life.

So far, we have focused mainly on happiness and finances, with a side of health and productivity.

This month I want to go into an area that most people view as entirely separate from self-improvement: politics.

Before diving into anything specific, though, I think I should first explain why politics and policy matters, why we should talk about it more, and how it impacts our lives. Continue reading “Why We Need to Talk About Politics”

Money CAN Buy Happiness

Here at Optimize Your Life we are spending 2018 systematically working through different topics in an attempt to design and live a better life. For May, we will be exploring the topic of money and happiness.

People love to tell you that money can’t buy happiness.

Even personal finance writers, who are specifically writing about money, say this all the time. I saw another personal finance blog just last week telling people that they can’t buy happiness and shouldn’t even try.

These people are well-meaning. They are right that money won’t solve all of your problems and that being rich won’t magically make you happy.

But they are wrong that money can’t buy happiness. Continue reading “Money CAN Buy Happiness”

Everything You Need to Know About the New Republican Tax Plan

A lot of people in the personal finance space tune out politics and recommend that their readers do the same. I don’t agree with this approach. I follow politics closely and stay up to date on policy proposals and all sorts of nerdy wonkery.

That said, when approaching topics for this blog, I make sure that every article has a takeaway that you can use to directly improve your life. That rule helps me stay focused on helping people with my writing rather than just writing about areas of my own interest. This also means I usually don’t discuss policy proposals making their way through Congress.

In the case of the current tax overhaul, I decided that it is worth discussing here. Continue reading “Everything You Need to Know About the New Republican Tax Plan”

Don’t Bank on the Mortgage Interest Deduction

Every conversation that I have had discussing the benefits of buying versus renting has eventually turned to the Mortgage Interest Deduction.

(What? Doesn’t everyone have those conversations? Just me?)

If you itemize deductions on your tax return, the Mortgage Interest Deduction allows you to deduct the interest that you pay on your mortgage from your income. This ultimately lowers your taxes and, in turn, your cost of home ownership.

This perk is often mentioned to me as a key reason for buying a home rather than renting.

There are a number of reasons why I disagree with this approach, but today I want to explore one in particular.

The Mortgage Interest Deduction could be gone soon.

Continue reading “Don’t Bank on the Mortgage Interest Deduction”