Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dodging the tax collector - legally

Do you pay your taxes with a smile? I figured not. At least I know that I don't. Some of it, sure. I'm all in for pooling up money for the good of society, but not like giving away my savings. It is my money, earned through my value creating activities anyway, right? So, how can we avoid just handing the money over to the tax collector, without risking jail time or big fines?

Well, there are many ways, and which ones you can use depends on where you live, your attitude towards risk and your age. I live in Norway, Europe - the little spoiled, rich country with the oil and gas in Scandinavia. We have an excellent tax saving option for young people called BSU - which is a special savings account for the first down payment on your mortgage, which gives you a tax exempt on a portion of the money you put into that account. So, if you are saving for you first house, this is an excellent option.

Lots of people are putting away money for retirement, and they should. Even in countries with large social welfare programs this is a necessity if you want to keep a high standard of living after you quit working. In many countries there are tax-exempt mutual funds you can invest in with a fixed savings plan. Many of these are geared towards retirement planning, and some may be presented as retirement insurance with a savings option. Check out what's there in your own country.

Also, if you are going to get rid of stocks where you will realize a loss, that loss will give you a tax reduction in most civilized countries. Therefore, dump the losers and save the tax (if you don't think they will regain their lost value).

What about short term tax dodging then? Well, I haven't really found any legal ways to do that.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Coping with cold weather

I have been to busy to update this blog for a while. Amazingly enough, people still keep coming back to it. I am stunned and grateful for this fact.

This winter has shown few signs of global warming. Of course, linking the weather the last couple of months in those places where I have been roaming for this period to global warming is bogus. However, it is still a very realistic local cooling happening. Europe has seen the coldest start of January in 30 years, and temperatures down to -40 degrees (Celsius) have been reported in Norway and Sweden. How do we cope with such temps without severely limiting our lives?

Some limitation must be taken into account. However, there are a few things we can do to make life more comfortable. First of all, get yourself some woolen clothes, preferably 100% wool underwear (not your boxers or lingerie, but to cover most of your skin). This'll make your outdoor adventures more endurable. Second, get some nice music on your new portable device. Did you get a nice iPod touch for X-mas? Lucky you! Then, buy some books. Hide inside your home and enjoy the literature. Some very nice reads I've enjoyed lately:

And - behold - remember to drink enough coffee! 

Award Winning Farm Roasted 100% Kona Coffee, Whole Bean, Medium Roast, 1 Lb