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Running Up the Tab

Michael Perry

Michael is a former career Army officer and external affairs executive for a Fortune 100 company. In addition to personal finance and investing, his interests include reading, traveling, being outdoors, strength training and coaching, and cocktails.

    Running Up the Tab

    Michael Perry  |  Dec 9, 2023

    A FEW DAYS AGO, I RAN the numbers on our likely 2023 taxes, and reached two conclusions: We have a small refund coming—and we should find a way to pay more taxes.
    How can both be true? I project that our 2023 taxable income will be well below $190,750, which is the top of the 22% tax bracket for those married filing jointly. Getting taxed at 22% strikes me as a good deal, given the likelihood that we’ll be taxed at an even higher rate later in retirement.

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    Taking Back the Wheel

    Michael Perry  |  Nov 11, 2023

    WE FLEW BACK TO the U.S. last week from Madrid, and were reunited with our car of 12 years. After selling our house in late 2022 and going nomadic, we had headed to Europe six months ago, opting to have our 2008 Lexus SUV professionally stored.
    In an earlier article, I recounted the thought process behind this decision. Suffice it to say, we chose this option largely because we had no firm plans for when we’d need our car again,

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    Free to Roam

    Michael Perry  |  Oct 6, 2023

    LIKE MANY WHO THINK about where they’d like to retire, we’ve always had a vague list of wants: comfortable climate, walkability, good health care, access to cultural events and outdoor activities, friendly tax regime, reasonable cost of living, that sort of thing.
    I wrote previously about feeling stuck for many years in a place where we didn’t want to stay, but also not really having one place where we felt drawn to settle, whether for a few years or permanently.

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    A Basis for Decisions

    Michael Perry  |  Aug 1, 2023

    I’VE WRITTEN BEFORE about harvesting tax losses and using them to offset the gains from selling other investments. We have a bit of a sprawling portfolio, with numerous small positions and lots of embedded capital gains.
    Gradually harvesting gains would simplify the portfolio and make it more tax-efficient. And if we do so during these early retirement years, while our income is low, and if we can partially offset those gains with realized losses,

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    Fork in the Road

    Michael Perry  |  Feb 20, 2023

    IT HAS BEEN THREE months since we closed on the sale of our home and drove away from the storage unit that contains everything we couldn’t donate, sell, give away or take with us. It was a big decision to have no fixed abode, and we feel great about it.
    We’re about to move our rambling lifestyle across the pond to spend some time in the U.K. and continental Europe, and we have no return date in mind.

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    Profiting From Losses

    Michael Perry  |  Feb 10, 2023

    WE TRIMMED THE TAXES we owed on investment gains in 2021 by using losses we’d realized during 2020’s stock market swoon. Now, 2022’s market decline has allowed us to repeat this process, once again offsetting capital gains with tax losses that we’d earlier harvested.
    My wife and I haven’t just saved on taxes, however. The sales have also allowed us to reposition our taxable portfolio away from active management and toward more of an indexing bent.

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    Too Much Cash?

    Michael Perry  |  Nov 17, 2022

    I’VE SPENT THE PAST seven or eight years lamenting our cash position, both the interest it was earning and the size of it. The former was too little, the latter too much.
    Some years ago, we sold an investment property with the idea of buying another somewhere we might potentially retire. But as I noted in a recent article, we’ve never been able to settle on where that would be. We were also constantly thinking we were going to move or be moved away from the Houston area,

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    Free in the World

    Michael Perry  |  Nov 1, 2022

    YESTERDAY EVENING we went under contract to sell our home of the past 10 years, by far the longest I’ve ever lived in one place. In our neighborhood, the average time on the market is currently 33 days. We’d been on the market for one day and the offer was over asking. We credit this to taking good care of our home, and having a sharp listing agent and staging consultant.
    This experience, and what we learned from it,

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    Tips for Safe Travel

    Michael Perry  |  Aug 23, 2022

    TRAVELING TO AND living in foreign countries has been a big part of my adult life. My wife and I are looking forward to even more travel now that we’re no longer working. In fact, we just spent three months in Europe. It’s our second such trip since retiring late last year.
    Over the decades, we’ve given a fair amount of thought to how we can stay safe during our travels. Below are 10 suggestions for those venturing beyond our borders.

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    Retirement Revamp

    Michael Perry  |  Feb 15, 2022

    I RECENTLY RETIRED and have a lump sum from my former employer to invest. For months now, I’ve presumed that I would just add it to our existing investments in the same proportions, easy-peasy. In practice, however, one consideration has led to another, so I’ve made no firm decisions.
    Within our 70% stock-30% bond portfolio, I’ve long had a soft rule of keeping well over a third of our stocks in broad market index funds.

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    Thy Will Be Done

    Michael Perry  |  Nov 18, 2021

    SOMEONE I KNOW recently learned she has a rare cancer that’s already at stage four. She’s getting treated for the cancer, as well as for various complications. I’m not surprised she’s battling the disease. She’s strong, independent and driven.
    What is surprising? She’s never written a will, and must now deal with that along with a serious medical issue. Moreover, among her three adult children, one still lives at home—and has a child of her own.

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    Too Heavy a Load

    Michael Perry  |  Oct 16, 2021

    I’M A MORNINGSTAR subscriber. I find that the site provides investing and personal finance information that’s sensible and useful for the average person, and that it promotes good investing and planning behaviors. Still, I was taken aback by a recent article, which discussed four funds that investors have been buying.
    In terms of deciding what I buy, I don’t really care what others have been purchasing. Still, it’s interesting to see, so I checked it out.

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    Getting to Zero

    Michael Perry  |  Oct 5, 2021

    AFTER YOU QUIT the workforce and before you start Social Security, you may find yourself with little or no taxable income. As many financial experts have pointed out, this can be a great time to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth and pay taxes at a relatively low rate.
    But here’s another tax-savings opportunity to consider: If you have winning stocks and funds in your regular taxable account, this period can also offer the chance to realize long-term gains and pay taxes at a 0% federal rate.

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    Final Countdown

    Michael Perry  |  Sep 15, 2021

    AS I TYPE THIS, I’m less than a week from walking out the door of my workplace for the last time, bringing my second career to a close. I’m looking forward to the rest of my life.
    We’ve been anticipating this day and we’re more than ready. My wife is already retired. My work for a large corporation is fine, but I’m not passionate about it. While there are some positive aspects to where we currently live,

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    Working My Losses

    Michael Perry  |  Aug 24, 2021

    AT THE START OF THE pandemic, we picked up a nice chunk of capital losses. I say “nice” because these were intentional. When the market dropped significantly, we realized losses and immediately reinvested the proceeds in other fallen stocks.
    What about capital gains? In 2020, some of our mutual funds distributed capital gains, but we didn’t intentionally realize any other gains. Some of our realized losses offset the distributed fund gains. Another $3,000 was applied against ordinary income.

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