Category Archives: Taxes

Tax, Increase, Spending, Over Spending, Out of Control, Waste, Poor Management

The $93,000 Astro Van

In America we love our cars

We buy them, we customize them, and we turn them into music halls. If you read yesterday’s article you will recall I gave an example where someone would work 77 weeks just so they could buy their vehicle.

Yesterday’s vehicle example was $46,000.

Today’s vehicle example is a $93,000 van that was driven by my frugal wife. How can a frugal person have a $93,000 minivan? Well actually, the van did not cost $93,000; it SAVED us $93,000.

Normal in America is to finance a vehicle for five or six years.  Typical payments are in the $4-500 dollar range. When it is paid for the owner typically makes a trip to the dealer to start the process all over again. The result is a $400 or higher payment for most of their driving years. (Note: “suggests” using up to 20% of net income for car payments. Edmonds is normally a good source of information but this recommendation is just really bad advice).

Back to our story

We bought the van when it was two years old. The original owner lost 40% in depreciation in two years or an average of 20% per year. We lost the remaining depreciation (60%) in 15 years or about 4% a year.  So we paid less (used) and we didn’t have a van payment for 15 years. It gets better.

Let’s use $400 as the “monthly amount” for this discussion. If you make a $400 payment for 15 years – you will pay $72,000. Remember the $1000 couch discussion? The factor we used for that discussion was 1.53 for non-tithing and 1.7 for tithing. So you multiply $72,000 by the appropriate factor.  In our situation it came to $122,400. We would have had to earn $122,400, before paying taxes, to bring home $72,000 so we could make van payments at $400 a month for 15 years.

How much DID the van really cost us?

Purchase price minus what we sold it for = $12,900. Repairs = 4,100.

$12,900 + 4,100 = $17,000, x 1.70 factor = $28,900. This is the real cost of the van.

$122,400 – What we would have needed to earn to maintain payments for 15 years.

(- 28,900)  -Subtract what we did earn to pay for the van and its repairs

=$93,500 – True savings of what we did not have to earn during this 15 year time period.

No payment for 15 years

In our situation, we saved around $93,500 by not having a van payment over that 15 year period. Let me clarify. By driving and repairing this vehicle for 15 years instead of buying new cars and having continuous payments, I did not have to go out and earn $93,500 (gross) to be able to make those car payments. By the way, this van did break down twice, needed some repairs, and it began to fade.  You can pay me $93,500 anytime for putting up with fading paint, a couple of breakdowns, and some repairs. We actually sold it to a friend who got another 7-9 months of use out of it.

In a future article I will go through the steps of how to get the most value out of your vehicle.

You have a choice, and the choice is yours.

Bryan Cooper

My Financial Life Coach, LLC

Delaware, OH 43015

Visit us at:

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Filed under Auto, Change, Debt Elimination, Money, Personal Finance, Taxes

How Much Does a $1,000 Couch Cost?

Only a $1,000, Right?

You are looking to buy a $1000 couch, and you say, “It is only $1,000.” Right? Wrong. Let’s look at what it really costs to make that purchase.

Taxes and More Taxes…

First, let’s assume you need to pay sales tax of 7%. So now you need to come up with $1070. But you actually need to earn more money because where I come from there are taxes to pay such as federal tax, city tax, state tax, and FICA. Let’s assume you are in a 15% federal tax bracket, 6% state, 2% city, and your portion of FICA. That means you will need to earn at least $1,533.00 before taxes to make that $1000 purchase.

In other words, the $1000 couch will cost you $1533 or 153% of the sale price. So when considering a purchase, make sure you evaluate the real cost.

So another way of saying this is…

  • You need to earn $1533 to buy a $1000 item
  • You need to earn $15.3 to buy a $10.00 item
  • You need to earn $1.53 to buy a $1.00 item

It impacts other areas…

Let’s shift from couches to vehicles. You know that vehicle sitting in the driveway that you paid $30,000 for? You had to earn $46,000, pay the taxes, in order to bring home enough money to buy it.

Can’t seem to get ahead?

Have you ever wondered why it feels that your money doesn’t go very far? Here is why. If I ask you how much you make, what will you tell me? 9 out of 10 times you will tell me the gross amount that you make because we normally think in gross. So if your gross income is $70,000, you are walking around thinking you make $70,000 a year, and you are beating yourself up because you are wondering why you can’t make it on $70,000 a year. The reality is if you are grossing $70,000, you are bringing home (net) somewhere in the $46,000 range. That is a long way from $70,000. Once you start thinking in net, you will find yourself less frustrated and more understanding as to why you don’t have the purchasing power you thought you had.

Don’t forget the value of you time

There is one more piece to this process I want you thinking about. I want you thinking about what things cost you in hours worked. When you go to work you are exchanging your life (time) for money. Here are some examples.

Let’s assume you make $25 per hour.

1. You will have to work 61.32 hours to bring home enough money to buy the $1,000 couch. That means working just shy of 8 full work days.

2. You will have to work 4.6 hours to bring home enough  money to pay for a $75 night on the town.

3. You will have to work 1,840 hours to bring home enough money to buy the $30,000 vehicle. That means working 46 weeks.

Let’s assume you make $15 per hour.

1. You will have to work 102.2 hours to bring home enough money to buy the $1,000 couch. That means working just shy of 13 full work days.

2. You will have to work 7.65 hours to bring home enough  money to pay for a $75 night on the town.

3. You will have to work 3,066 hours to bring home enough money to buy the $30,000 vehicle. That means working just shy of 77 weeks or about 1.5 years. (This vehicle will go down in value too but that is a topic for another day).

I’m not against buying couches, nights out, vehicles, or other items. My goal with this article is for you to understand and calculate the real cost of every item you purchase.

(Note: a. For those of you who participate in biblical tithing (10%), your factor is 170% instead of the 153% so you would need to earn around $1,700 to have enough to buy the $1,000 couch. b. Tax percentages may be different for your situation).

You have a choice, and the choice is yours.

Bryan Cooper
My Financial Life Coach, LLC
2280 W William St., Suite A
Delaware, OH 43015
Visit us at:


Filed under Budget, coach dave, Dave Ramsey, Finance, Money, Personal Finance, Saving Money, Taxes, Uncategorized


Activity doesn’t always equal productivity. Have you ever said, “I didn’t get anything done today?” Sometimes it is because we had a lot of interruptions that prevented us from getting things done. Other times it is because we did not focus on what was important. We’ve all done it.

We are dreading a particular project. We go to work in the morning planning to work on it; we know we need a total of four hours to complete it. When we arrive at work, we first check our email. While sorting though the inbox, we notice that our email could be better organized, so we take the time to clean things up, file, delete, etc.  Now we feel pretty good about how our email looks. Then we look at our desk and notice that it is starting to look messy, so we work on that. We throw things out and dust, and by lunch time the desk is looking pretty good. Now it is time to eat. We have fours left to work after lunch, and we tell ourselves that we will work on that project when we get back.

When we get back from lunch, our boss tells us that we need to cover a one-hour meeting for him and then write up an overview of the meeting and have it to him by the end of the day. We know that it will take us at least 30 minutes to do the write-up, leaving only two and one half hours to do our four-hour project. Now what?

Let’s back up and evaluate how we handled the day. Were we being active or productive? Remember, being active is getting things done; being productive is getting the RIGHT things done. During this day, we spent our time working on various projects, so we were active. We did not, however, accomplish our goal of completing the four-hour project. Since we failed to get the right things done during our day, we were active instead of productive.

How could we have been more successful in our day?

1. We should have looked at our email during its scheduled time. While an important form of communication, email can be distracting. Instead of checking your inbox many times throughout the day, set aside a scheduled time to work on it. Check it only during that time to improve your time management.

2. Instead of planning to work on the project for four hours, we could have broken it into smaller chunks so we didn’t feel obligated to complete all four hours in one block of time. If we had worked on it in smaller amounts, we would have been less likely to procrastinate on it.

3. We should have prioritized what we were working on.  Yes, the cleaning and organizing was nice, but it was not the highest priority and most likely wasn’t even on our to-do list. We worked on an extra task instead of on our main priority. Rather than focusing on tasks that did not need done when we first arrived at work, we should have worked on the four-hour project. We need to work on the right tasks first.

4. We should have written and followed a schedule. While we knew that we needed to work on the project, we did not set aside a specific time to work on it. We instead decided to work on it “later.” The problem with later is that later never comes.

If we are active but not productive, we accomplish little and fail to reach our full potential. Don’t settle for only being active. Focus on the right things so that you can be productive in your work.

You have a choice, and the choice is yours.

Bryan Cooper

Financial Life Coach

Visit us at

Keywords: Change, Goals, Goal Setting, Life, Life Balance, Miscellaneous, Personal, Priorities, Procrastination, Stress, Thoughts, Time, Time Management, Work, Uncategorized


Filed under Change, Goals, Life Balance, Procrastination, Stress, Taxes, Thoughts, Time, Time Management, Uncategorized, Work