Moving? It’s better to rent first!

On June 19, 2014, in Finance, by Early Financial Freedom
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Moving to a different location? It’s better to rent first!

 

There is a general advice given to expats; before you buy, rent for a year. I am a living proof that it holds true! We’ve moved from New York to Istanbul, Turkey about a year ago. Istanbul is a major city with a 14 million+ population. It is a great city with its history, culture, fast-paced life style, etc. It has great places to visit as a tourist; such as Topkapi Palace, The Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, The Blue Mosque, Istanbul Archaeology Museums, Süleymaniye Mosque, Galata Tower, Grand Bazaar, Princes’ Islands, etc. To give you a general idea, Istanbul’s climate and economical life is exactly like New York’s.

 

As with all big cities, Istanbul offers better job opportunities than any other cities in Turkey. There are great cultural events, many reputable universities, sports teams’ stadiums, etc. Kids as well as adults can greatly broaden their horizons in Istanbul.

 

Unfortunately, visiting a place as a tourist is one thing, but living in it is totally another thing, it turns out. With 14+ million people, the traffic is a major headache and a time sucker, not to mention that driving is a challenge here, since not everyone fully respects the traffic laws. People are too busy and are always rushing from one place to another. It is somewhat expensive as well. I feel that local Real Estate values have risen perhaps somewhat unsustainably.

 

What really disappointed us living in Istanbul was the lack of a community feeling. People seem to become more self-centric, somewhat showoff. Locals are categorizing themselves with gated communities they live in. Once desired neighborly relationships seem to be lost; I bet many people don’t even know his/her next door neighbor or never set a foot in their apartment. I know for one that my next door neighbor did not!

 

So, what we have decided is to move to a smaller sea town in the South of Turkey. It is like moving from New York to Florida so there is no snow in winter but there will be a bit of extra heat in summer. Since we work from home, lack of better jobs in this city is not an issue for us. One of the main reasons of this move is to have that community feeling. We want our two kids to experience it first-hand. Lower cost of living is of course a plus. Having our apartment a few hundred yards away from the beach doesn’t hurt either.

 

Let’s see how this experience turns out.

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How to make your money grow

On April 29, 2014, in Finance, by Early Financial Freedom
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I just read an article on CNNMoney, titled “Tools to make your money grow”. It lists 11 steps and it is a nice read. What they recommend are these:

 

1) Protect your portfolio like Buffett – Build a moat. Buffett coined the term “wide moat” to describe firms with products, services, or business models that can stand the test of time.

2) Get better advice – Invest in a team, not a star

3) Make smarter choices – Get more by doing less

4) Follow the trend: America’s echo boom & China’s baby boom

5) Start a business

6) Rethink your long-term investments: Diversify your tax exposure & Shift your IRA out of park

7) Build a better portfolio: Say yes to rules of thumb & Pay zero taxes

8) Make credit cards work for you

9) Lock in low mortgage rates

10) Protect against inflation

11) Diversify – Go global

 

I am not sure if everyone would agree with all of these or add/remove some, but I think it is a nice personal finance article.

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2014 Tax Brackets and Standard Deductions

On April 20, 2014, in Finance, by Early Financial Freedom
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We’ve just wrapped up our 2013 taxes but it is never too early to plan for the next year’s taxes!

 

2014 Tax Brackets and Standard Deductions

 

Married Individuals Filing Joint Returns and Surviving Spouses

 

If Taxable Income Is:                       The Tax Is:

Not over $18,150                                10% of the taxable income

 

Over $18,150 but                                $1,815 plus 15% of

not over $73,800                                 the excess over $18,150

 

Over $73,800 but                                $10,162.50 plus 25% of

not over $148,850                               the excess over $73,800

 

Over $148,850 but                              $28,925 plus 28% of

not over $226,850                               the excess over $148,850

 

Over $226,850 but                              $50,765 plus 33% of

not over $405,100                               the excess over $226,850

 

Over $405,100 but                              $109,587.50 plus 35% of

not over $457,600                               the excess over $405,100

 

Over $457,600                                    $127,962.50 plus 39.6% of

the excess over $457,600

 

 

Single Taxpayers

 

If Taxable Income Is:                      The Tax Is:

Not over $9,075                                  10% of the taxable income

 

Over $9,075 but                                  $907.50 plus 15% of

not over $36,900                                 the excess over $9,075

 

Over $36,900 but                                $5,081.25 plus 25% of

not over $89,350                                 the excess over $36,900

 

Over $89,350 but                                $18,193.75 plus 28% of

not over $186,350                               the excess over $89,350

 

Over $186,350 but                              $45,353.75 plus 33% of

not over $405,100                               the excess over $186,350

 

Over $405,100                                    $117,541.25 plus 35% of

not over $406,750                               the excess over $405,100

 

Over $406,750                                    $118,118.75 plus 39.6% of

the excess over $406,750

 

 

Standard Deductions

 

Filing Status                          2014                2013

Married Filing Jointly               $12,400           $12,200

Single                                      $6,200            $6,100