The Tax System is Broken. Should You Give Up on Winning with Money?

Tax System is Broken17 Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?”
18 But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?
19 Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius.
20 And He *said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”
21 They *said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He *said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”
Matthew 22:17-21 (NASB)

Well, that’s finally done. I just finished filing my taxes for the past year. This is never an enjoyable experience for me. Every year I get stressed out and angry about having to deal with the U.S. tax code.

But as a Christian, I have no choice but to deal with it every year. The context for the passage at the top of this post is Jesus’s last week before going to the Cross (and I am writing this on Palm Sunday!).

For about 3 years, Jesus had been ministering in Israel and for that length of time the Jewish leaders sought to catch Him in an inconsistency or a blasphemy so they could find cause to eliminate Him.

The passage above brings us one of the last questions they used to challenge Him. They were trying to trap Him either as a traitor to the people (for supporting the tax system and Rome), or as an insurrectionist (seeking to challenge and overthrow the government by refusing to pay taxes.)

As usual, He was way ahead of them. He knew their hearts and evil intent. And He offered a marvelous response leaving all of us with a fundamental principle:

You have to deal with and pay your taxes regardless of what the government is doing with the money.

The Tax System is Broken

I believe the U.S. tax system is broken. For starters, it is way too complicated. There are too many rules and they change every year.

The average person needs a tax professional or specialized software to file their taxes. This is not only costly, but also requires an enormous amount of time and record keeping on everyone’s part.

Second, the system is broken because the government simply wastes most of the income they generate from the tax collection. I would not have such a big problem with paying taxes, if I knew the government was using the money wisely. Sadly, I know better.

Now, let me just say that I don’t have a problem with some amount of tax to go to the government. We do have common needs like infrastructure and defense.

I also don’t have a problem with programs that help those truly in need. There is a place for the government to step in and help.

But a complicated tax code and government waste are not my biggest concerns with the tax system.

My biggest concern with the tax system is that it does not encourage anyone to win with money.

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The Tax System Penalizes Those Who Manage Money Well

The tax system is based on collecting income tax. So the more you win with money, the more you are taxed. The more you earn, the fewer tax deductions you have. Fair you say? Maybe.

But if you are working hard on managing your money well, on getting out of debt, on saving and investing for the future, you have a problem. The tax system penalizes you for doing well with money.

You end up paying more than your fair share of taxes. The system does not encourage you to prosper. It is designed to “help” those that are not doing as well with money.

With the “good intention” of helping out, the system encourages dependence on the government versus independence of living on your own financial strength.

It does not encourage hard work or entrepreneurship. It encourages just getting by and hoping someone catches your slack.

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Should You Then Give Up on Winning with Money?

One temptation is that you just want to throw your hands up and give up. Just do enough so you don’t exceed some income threshold. You know, just don’t make too much money.

Another temptation is that you won’t want to report all of your income. That’s why sometimes many people just want to be paid in cash (i.e., no trace).

I recently spoke with a young entrepreneur who is working hard and doing well. Sometimes she gets tipped in cash and for a moment the temptation is there not to report anything. But she knows better. That would be cheating and stealing.

So yes, the tax system is broken. Should you then give up on winning with money?

No!!! One of the principles I like to emphasize as I write and as I coach people on personal finances is this: you have to be above average.

You have to excel in all that you do!!! So you go do what we know is right and proper:

  • Work hard every day. Excel at what you do and stand out!!!
  • Make your money work for you. Get on a budget, break the chains of debt slavery. Prepare for the future by saving and investing.
  • Take care of your family well. Teach your children how to handle money and how to prosper.
  • File your taxes. Deal with it with honesty and integrity. Make sure you report every penny you make and that you get every deduction you are legally entitled to by the system.
  • Help others. Share what you know. Help those in need. Encourage them to prosper with money

Yes, I know the tax system is broken but that’s not keeping me from doing the right thing.

Jesus did not give me that option. And I must obey Him in all things.

Question: How do you deal with your tax situation?

Can You Learn to Handle Money?

Can You Learn to Handle Money?It’s a good time to ask this question since April is designated as Financial Literacy Month.

If you have always struggled with your finances, you may think that you can’t learn to handle money. The reality is that we all can learn something new.

Let me give you an example. Lots of kids learn to ride their bikes at an early age, maybe 5 or 6.

In my case however, I was 9 years old and I still had not learn to ride a bike for a number of reasons. So obviously, I needed some help.

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Learning To Ride

My mom got re-married and we just had moved to a new neighborhood. I did not know anyone yet but then I met Nelson.

Nelson was one of those kids that didn’t seem afraid of anything. He learned I had a pretty much brand new bike that I was not riding and he could not stand it.

Summer break came and he insisted that he could help me learn to ride my bike. I wasn’t so sure but I was really ready to ride my bike. So I let him give me a few pointers and give me a push.

The first time, I felt great, I kept my balance for a little while. I could hear Nelson encouraging me and yelling behind me. I did crash that and then I could hear him laughing but it wasn’t an evil laugh. It was just funny how I crashed. I was laughing too.

But I had rode my bike for a while. I was encouraged so Nelson helped me to try again a few more times. A few more crashes but I did get better at it, I did learn to ride my bike.

What about You?

What’s keeping you from handling money well? Is it your family history? Is it the number of times you have tried and failed? Is it because you don’t know where to turn?

Sometimes you just need a little help. I can coach you and teach you how to handle money better. I know what to do because I had to learn it myself. Like Nelson helped me, I can help you.

There is no better time than the present. Think about all the things could do now only if you had control of your finances.

Think about all the things you could in the future if you just could get on solid financial footing. Think about all the good you could do if you were able to give and bless others.

Financial Literacy Month is the best time to learn how to handle money.

Question: What are you waiting for? 

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Do Like Bilbo Baggins: Go on an Adventure

Do Like Bilbo Baggins: Go on a AdventureBilbo: “Can you promise that I will come back?”
Gandalf: “No. And if you do, you will not be the same”.

You know what? I love movies. They can provide great entertainment and when they leverage great material treated right, movies can also inspire us, challenge us.

The exchange at top of the post today comes from one such movie: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”.

In case you are not familiar with the story, Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit who is quite comfortable with life as it is. He loves his house, his garden, and his books.

Then an old family friend, Gandalf the wizard interrupts his life with a proposal. Gandalf wants Bilbo to join him and go on a very wild, dangerous adventure to help some of his friends.

Bilbo is not ready and does not want to go. This is not what he does. Here is Gandalf’s final challenge to him:

Are you too Comfortable with your Financial Situation?

When we get in a position of comfort with our situation, change and progress is hard even though, it could be good for us.

Maybe like Bilbo, you are just too comfortable with your financial situation.

Perhaps you have grown accustomed to the idea that you don’t know how to handle money. Your family never did so that’s just the way it is and you are ok with that.

Or maybe you have convinced yourself that doing a budget is hard and you are just not good with numbers.

It could be that you are in agreement with the view that you will always have a car payment and that no one can go to college without a student loan.

You may have also come to believe that living on credit cards and paying interest is a way of life. After all, everyone else does it. What makes you so different?

And finally, maybe you are resigned to the fact that you can’t save for retirement, that’s too late for you. You will just have to work forever and hope the government takes care of you in your golden years.

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You Need to Go on an Adventure with Your Finances

Gandalf brought some truth into Bilbo’s life. He challenged his notions and gave him a chance to become someone else.

Please allow me to speak some truth in your life because someone spoke truth in my life at one point.

You see, I used to believe all of those things about money and finances myself. And I was quite comfortable with it too.

But the truth of the matter is this: you can learn to handle money. You can learn to budget. You can get out of debt. You can live without credit cards.

It won’t be easy and it will require sacrifice to win, but you can change your financial destiny.

You can be a blessing to your family and to others. Think about all of the great things you could do only if you were in a strong financial position.

You know what happened with Bilbo right? Gandalf and his friends left. Bilbo was left to live his life the way he had grown accustomed to. Was that the end? No:

Bilbo finally decided that it was time for a change. It was time to go on an adventure.

It’s that time for you too. It’s time to go on an adventure that will change the financial destiny for you and your family for good.

I can help you get started today.

Question: Are you ready to go on an adventure with your finances?

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Please Take My 2014 Reader Survey

Figueroa Financial 2014 SurveyI want to improve my blog make it more relevant to your needs and interests on personal finances.

To do that, I need to know more about YOU. For that purpose, I have created my 2014 Reader Survey.

Would you please take a few minutes to fill out the survey? By doing so, you will be helping me and will ultimately be helping yourself.

How is that? Because you will be helping me make my content on personal finance even more interesting and relevant to you.

My goal is to bring help and hope to your financial situation and I want to make sure this is what I am doing with my blog.

I would love to hear from you. Your opinion is very important to me and I also know your time is very valuable. The survey is very easy to fill out and the results are completely anonymous.

I won’t be able to tell who said what. And it will only take five minutes of your time. Thank you so much for your time.

Figueroa Financial Survey

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Would You Post a “Personal Finance Selfie”?

Personal Finance SelfieHave you been caught in the “selfie” craze?

Recently, Oscar Awards ceremony host Ellen DeGeneres posted the most retweeted “selfie” to this point (over 3M retweets).

With the proliferation of both smart phones and social media, everyone is posting pictures of themselves and sharing them with the people in their networks.

Typically you want to celebrate how you look, what you are doing, and in Ellen’s case, who is hanging out with you.

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But would you post a “personal finance selfie”? Would you be willing to be open and share how well you are doing with money?

Well the answer is probably no, simply because how you are doing with your money is a very personal and private matter. We typically do not like to broadcast that information or even discuss money matters with anyone outside of our own household.

But let’s assume that we could get past the privacy issue. What sort of picture could we create to generate a snapshot of your finances?

I think a “personal finance selfie” could include objective items such as:

  • Annual Household Income
  • Assets (what you own): Emergency savings retirement savings, property equity.
  • Liabilities (what you owe): Consumer debt, Mortgage.
  • Net Worth (Assets – Liabilities)
  • Annual Charitable Giving

Your “personal finance selfie” could also include more qualitative items such as:

  • Are you managing your money with a monthly budget?
  • If you are married, are you working with your spouse on money matters?
  • If you have children, are you teaching them how to handle money?
  • How do you deal with major purchases? Do you use debt or do you save to pay cash for those items?
  • Do you review your credit report at least once every year?
  • Do you have the required insurance to handle the risks to your finances?
  • Have you prepared a will?

So as you evaluate and gather this information, you can get a pretty clear picture of where you stand financially.

And don’t worry, I don’t want to see your selfie. This “personal finance selfie” is just for you.

You are the one who has to be in charge and know what’s happening with your money.

You are the secret sauce to your financial success.

It’s all up to you, so go ahead and take charge and win with money. It is possible!!!

Then send me a selfie of all the fun and great things you are doing because you decided to take control of your finances.

That’s one selfie I would love to see and retweet to celebrate with you.

Question: How satisfied are you with your “personal finance selfie”?

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Principal Components of Your Financial Plan

Principal Components of Your Financial PlanIn order to win with your money, you need to have a plan of attack for your finances.

It won’t happen by accident.

Financial success requires that you are steadfast in executing and monitoring each step of your financial plan along the way.

As the great Zig Ziglar said: If you do the things you need to do when you need to do them, then someday you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them.

In order to help you, I have created a quick reference for you containing the principal components of your financial plan.

The plan components are grouped around 4 major categories:

  • Build a Firm Foundation: Get your money under control so you can be positioned to win.
  • Protect Your Household: Manage the risks to your finances.
  • Plan For the Future: Think about long term goals.
  • Be a Generous Giver: Self -explanatory.

For each financial plan component, you will find relevant posts as well as useful resources. If you have questions, get in touch with me any time.

I want you to win with your money and be able to dream again. Start today!

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Financial Plan Components

Build a Firm Foundation

Plan Component

Relevant Posts


Establish a Monthly Budget

The Recipe for a Great Budget

Budget Template

 Budget Guidelines

Budgeting Help: The Envelope System

Budget Priorities: Protecting the Four Walls

Eliminate Consumer Debt

6 Steps To Debt Freedom

Debt Snowball Template

Why I Don’t Use Credit Cards

Why do we stay in Debt?

Protect Your Household

Plan Component

Relevant Posts


Emergency Savings

The Blessings of Learning to Save Money

Savings Guidelines

15 Tips for Saving Money

The Remedy for the Debt Disease: Learning To Save Money

The Role of Insurance

7 Required Types of Insurance

Zander: Life & ID Theft Insurance

 Wise Insurance Group

Plan for the Future

Plan Component

Relevant Posts


Save for Retirement

How I Am Preparing For Retirement

Retirement Calculator

Save for College Expenses

College Savings

Dave Ramsey’s College Planning Guide

Book: Debt- Free U

Prepare a Will

3 Reasons You Should Prepare a Will

On-line Will Preparation

Pay off the Mortgage

Time to Buy a House?

Mortgage Calculator

 Be a Generous Giver

Plan Component

Relevant Posts


Giving should always be part of your financial plan.

10 Stewardship Questions

Book: Thou Shall Prosper

The Purpose of Wealth

Generosity as a Lifestyle

 Question: What would it take for you to get started with your financial plan?

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