Personal Finance » Tax

Get blunt about your financial affairs

No one wants to fail financially, yet many of us do just that. Retire at 62 to live the life of our dreams. The golden years often aren’t so golden. The misuse credit often sabotages people’s finances and dooms them to financial calamity.

Many people procrastinate and stumble their way to financial ineptitude.

Taxes confuse us so we ignore them and then grumble because we pay too much. We’re afraid there won’t be enough money to retire so we ignore the problem – may be in the futile hope that it will go away. We make poor investment decisions throughout our lives. I could go on and on with examples of how our decisions kill our financial dreams.

Chartered Professional Accountant Mark Goodfield has written an excellent book called Let’s Get Blunt About Your Financial Affairs. I’ve read dozens of financial books and some are about as dull as a protracted federal election campaign. I appreciate books that are useful, well written and interesting. Let’s Get Blunt About Your Financial Affairs is all of those as well as being funny and sarcastic.

This may not be the best beginners’ book. If you haven’t already done so, start with something like David Chilton’s The Wealthy Barber or The Money Coach by Dr. Riley Moynes, my personal favorite.

Who should read this book?

Let’s Get Blunt About Your Financial Affairs is a book for someone who has already accumulated some financial assets and is either retired or within about 10 years of retiring. It’s one of the best tutorials I’ve found on finances, taxes and the psychology of money.

About retirement

I find that one of the biggest financial worries today is whether we’ll have enough to be able to retire, which is a particular interest of mine. Goodfield deals with that in Chapter 9: Retirement – How to Avoid Eating Alpo.

Goodfield can’t tell you your personal “magic number” – the amount you’ll need to have in order to be able to retire comfortably and worry-free. There are many complex variables, but Blunt helps you get a rough idea of what it may be.

I believe that many advisors and financial institutions over-estimate the money you’ll need to retire. They generally tout 60 to 80 percent of preretirement income as a requirement but I find that some people can make do with less. However, some do require the full 80 percent or more. It all depends on the lifestyle you want to lead and everyone is different.

Your enough number is important and this section in the book should not replace having a proper written, goal-oriented retirement plan done with the help of your Certified Financial Planner.

Many personal finance books cover only in cursory detail topics such as how to create a budget, set goals, save for retirement and save for other life goals such as buying a house. Let’s Get Blunt About Your Financial Affairs takes off from where others leave off with more detailed information and advice. It’s a good book to read once and to keep around to re-read those sections that apply to major financial decisions as they come up.

Taxes and estate protection

There’s a chapter on taxes. Being audited? Blunt will help you prepare for when the auditor comes calling. If you’re considering owning a rental property, read what Goodfield says about that. Are you an executor? That chapter can save you grief and time. Drawing up a will? You’ll need to know how to equitably distribute your estate while paying as little in taxes as possible. Do you have a cottage that you need to transfer to your family during your lifetime? Doing this incorrectly can cost you a bundle but the book covers that, too.

This book can save you thousands of dollars in fees and avoided mistakes. It’s a must-read if you want to ensure your financial success.

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