We often talk about tax benefits for business owners. But what about those who work for someone else? Can you get tax benefits, even while having a full-time W2 job? Can you pay fewer taxes so that you can actually use your money how you want to use it?
Join Chris Miles as he talks to Billy Keels about how you can get more tax benefits, especially through investing and corporate entities. Tune in now to discover how Billy does it!
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How To Pay Fewer Taxes While Working A W2 Job With Billy Keels
Welcome to our show. It’s for you and about you, those of you that work so hard for your money and you want your money to start working hard for you now. You want that freedom, that cashflow now. Not 30 or 40 years from now, but now. You can live that life that you love with those that you love, but most importantly, it’s not about getting rich. It’s about living a rich life.
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I’ve got a special guest. I’ve got here Billy Keels joining. Billy, I think, has an amazing story because, one, he comes from a background like many of you. He started working in a corporate environment. He was hoping to learn things about investing then he would hear certain coworkers talk about being an accredited investor and stuff. He would nod his head in agreement, saying, “That sounds great,” until he started to study it and learn it, and then as we mentioned, apply it. Eight years later, he was able to become financially independent. Now he’s living abroad, investing from abroad here in the US and has a lot of different experiences now. I’m excited to bring Billy on. Billy, welcome to our show.
Chris, thanks so much. I’m looking forward to another conversation with you. I know that you’re adding value so much and I hope to leave a little bit of value for everybody else through my story.
Help me fill in the gaps here. Tell us more about you.
Probably the best way to say it is I’m a guy originally from the Midwest of the US from Columbus, Ohio. By the time I was twelve, we’d lived in probably three different states, 7 or 8 different places. My parents are both very blue-collar. They worked two jobs most of the time when I was young and put a price on education. They were focused on me and my brother and sister getting a great education.
I watched them struggle financially and that was a little bit difficult for me as a kid because I saw them working so hard. Their whole response was, “The harder we work, the more that we can make,” but That’s a losing proposition at the end of the day. Afterward, I went on and had two degrees in college. I got rejected twice for my dream job. I was supposed to be at Procter & Gamble, an A student.
Now I call myself a recovering perfectionist, so that was hard for me to deal with at the time. However, those two rejections from my dream job opened a door that changed the trajectory of my life. I started working for a company right out of college that allowed me the opportunity to not only work but travel throughout some 58 countries.
By the time I was 26, I’d seen so much more of the world than I had ever anticipated. At the end of that five years, I didn’t see myself going to a normal 9:00 to 5:00 job because I was doing this five-star life. I was in touch with Fortune 500 CEOs and things like that. I decided to do a one-year sabbatical. This was about two weeks after 9/11. I moved to Paris, France. I was accepted at a university called Sorbonne.
I was there. I wanted to learn how to salsa dance. I wanted to learn more about the French language and culture as well. That was the first priority, salsa dance and learn more about wine. I did that and I was fortunate. I didn’t want to go back to the US and I ended up having the opportunity to stay. I left Paris. I went down to the South of France. I got into the IT industry and it was on the hardware side.
I was promoted, moved to Italy, started up a sales team there and went back to France. I’m telling you this story because one of the things that happened right before I left for Italy is I met this wonderful Spanish woman. We stayed in touch. We were continuing to grow our friendship and eventually, I decided to leave France and moved to Barcelona, Spain.
We got married about three years after I moved there. Our first son was born about 14, 15 months later. We have a second son that was born about a year and a half later. I tell that story. I worked multinational this entire time, but I always tell people, “Whenever you’re going to do a one-year sabbatical, you have to be careful,” because that one-year sabbatical could turn into 21 years. It could turn into an additional three countries learning four new languages, a marriage and two children, so quite a ride.Whenever you do a one-year sabbatical, you have to be careful because that one year could turn into 21 years. Click To Tweet
I never heard anybody say, “I want to learn salsa dance in France.”
I needed objectives. I needed a new goal.
It’s funny, too, because that sabbatical story was similar to mine where I moved to Utah because the two best world-champion ballroom dance teams were down here. I came to Utah and that’s when I got married, had six kids and the next thing, I’m still here many years later. That temporary thinking can become permanent.
As long as you leave your mind open to it and you’re learning new things, curious and growing, there’s always that possibility.
Tell us more about the investing experience. How did that start to come about?
One of the things that happened was I watched my parents struggle and I didn’t know the difference when I was younger between investing and saving. I watched my parents make difficult decisions, sometimes they were at the end of the month and they’d had to either pay bill A or pay bill B. We always had food on the table, so it was never a question of that, but I watched them struggle.
When I got my two college degrees, then I started earning and I started saving money. I thought I was investing, and then I was close to other people that were investing. I learned the difference between savings and investing. One of the things that happened, Chris, is I was maxing out my 401(k) because that’s what I was told. I’m an A student and a recovering perfectionist. I got good grades. I listened in school and that’s what I was told to do.
I continued that in my professional life. Three things happened. The first of the three things that happened was in 2000. I’d been working for about 5, 6 years and the dot-com bubble happened. I lost some of the value in my portfolio but what I heard from the person that I had abdicated or given all of the responsibility of my own money was, “Don’t worry. We’re going to do some DCA and you’re going to be fine.”
I said, “DCA, what is that?” I didn’t understand that. He said, “Dollar Cost Averaging.” It’s putting the same amount of money every two weeks and eventually, things are going to come back. I see you smiling. That rings a bell because you’re anti that kind of stuff. As things went, he was right because things came back and things were working well about 6 or 7 years later.
What happened was in 2008, there was another thing that happened financially around the globe. My stock portfolio at that time or the value of my portfolio lost 33%, Chris. It was at that point in time that I realized that I had to do something different to take control of my own financial life. I’d come across this book, Rich Dad Poor Dad. I picked it up,and I put it down, then eventually, a year and a half later, I finished the book.
That took me down a track of reading a lot. I was getting a lot of knowledge. I was listening to podcasts. I was watching different videos and things like that. I kept doing the things as a young father that I thought I was supposed to do. I was rising up in the corporation. I was getting promotions and everything came to a hilt.
The third thing that happened that took me from theory to action was my oldest son’s third birthday. It’s something I’ll never forget, Chris, because, on his third birthday, I woke my wife and my youngest son, who was one at the time. I woke them up early in the morning because I had to take a flight to Frankfurt. I woke them up because I wanted to give my oldest son a hug and kiss and have us sing Happy Birthday to him.
When we sang Happy Birthday and I waas leaving the house at 6:00 in the morning, my heart was torn out because I was leaving. I was going to be in Frankfurt for a business meeting, while later on that night, my sons and my wife were going to be singing Happy Birthday to my son. I don’t remember what that meeting was and I don’t even remember the dinner that night, but I remember that I missed my son’s birthday. That changed everything. I had to go from the theory that I’d learned to taking action.
It was from that point that I wrote my goals down. I decided what it was that I wanted to do and I started taking action buying properties. I wanted to buy them here in Europe where I was living, but I didn’t know that I was in a location that didn’t permit cashflow. I wasn’t sophisticated enough. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t have a network of people around me either to help me understand there’s a difference between locations if you’re investing in things like real estate from cashflow to appreciation.
One thing that to the next, I ended up through good fortune and friends and being a US citizen, I decided to invest thousands of miles away from where I lived across the Atlantic Ocean back in the United States. That helped me solve a problem, Chris. That was a problem of control that I wasn’t having because I didn’t understand the stock market and I abdicated that responsibility.
I continued to do that. I kept investing in real estate and smaller multifamily and doing that from Spain, always back in the United States. That was solving a problem for me. From there, I was looking for more consistent cashflow and I found out about passive investing as someone who was an accredited investor, but I didn’t know what that meant. I then understood that I could hand $200,000, $300,000 to somebody else, they would do the work and I could keep working at my job where I was getting the highest return on my time.
I had an active income portfolio. I had the passive things that I was investing in and larger multifamily. I invested in development projects and also started investing in ATM machines. At the same time, I realized that I was having another problem because I was investing in things that were deemed as passive income. Not that I wasn’t working for them, but the IRS says that they’re passive income.
That was extremely tax efficient, but because I was someone who was a high performer in my company. I was in the talent program. I was in the equivalent of the President’s club constantly. I was still paying 40% plus in taxes because my earned income was high. I needed to figure out how I could also see if there was a way to mitigate some of that and use that to go and continue to purchase more passive income.
That’s when I started getting into the energy sector. Real estate got me started. Doing it long distance is the thing that I was able to do. Most importantly, as I started investing in these different assets, they provided me with different solutions. Ultimately, the day that something happened with my father, I was able to decide that the big multinational corporation wasn’t the thing that I wanted to do anymore. Now I’m in more control of my own financial life and I’m in a position where I’m serving clients and doing something that brings me a lot of joy.
I spend time with my kids nowadays. They’re beating me in video games. Now, I’m in a different place. It took me nine years to get here. I was redoing some of the math. It’s about nine years to get to this point, but it started in a great place. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I’ve also learned a lot. I feel I’m in a position to be able to do the things that I want, choose to do the things I want with the people I want when I want to do that. Hopefully, that answers your question.
What’s the number one lesson for you that you learned? Especially because you’re investing but not just in another state. You’re investing across the pond. We even have some international readers too. The question would be what lessons did you learn from investing from afar? Was it a scary experience for you at first? Were you able to overcome that or even say, “This is a no-brainer? There’s nothing here in Spain.” What was it for you?
It was about someone who helped me to reframe it and I needed to take action because I’d done all the theoretical stuff and I had to go from theory to actual practice. If I wouldn’t have done that, it was going to cause frustration. What I didn’t want to happen was a third thing that was completely out of my control, another market condition.
That sidetracked my entire life and the goals and dreams that I had for my family. I think it was not wanting to have a third thing happen because I wouldn’t have been able to deal with that. That’s the first thing. The second thing, there was always fear. I realized the information was not perfect, but when I started to take action, even on imperfect information and learn from the things that were not working, as a recovering perfectionist, that was not easy for me at all. However, I knew that I would excel enough that like most that are high performers, you’re going to get the feedback and you’re going to start to adapt. That’s what continued to happen over a period of time and I started understanding the power of surrounding yourself with powerful teams.Take action even on imperfect information. Then learn from the things that were not working. Click To Tweet
Teams can help compliment you on the things that you don’t know because you don’t know what you don’t know. One of the reasons that have helped to accelerate things is surrounding myself with teams of people that know a lot more about the things that I don’t know about illegal tax operations and things like that. Hopefully, that answers a question.
Tell us what you’re up to nowadays. I know you mentioned a little bit about energy and things like that.
One of the things, as I mentioned, I was always trying to solve problems and working to solve problems and usually effectively solving the problems. Now, one of the things, as someone who was the first-generation accredited investor in my family, there were many times where I didn’t know things. Also, coming from an enterprise software space, I was surrounded by high-earning, performing type of executives.
I know your readers are very sophisticated. I started realizing that when you’re someone who’s not a real estate professional and you know that you’re still paying 40%-plus tax and you have seen all the other ways there, the idea was, how can I go about mitigating some of that? Being able to release some of that tax obligation to then be able to use it in other things.
I’m obviously not giving anybody any tax advice or any that stuff. I’m just sharing a story that you talk and that’s why people need to have their own advisors. When I realized that was a significant enough challenge for me and also what that meant for me, ultimately, by being able to or releasing some of that tax obligation, I could do things I wanted to do.
The company is now focused on helping credited investors who typically are not real estate professionals looking for another vehicle to help them get to their destination. We’re doing that through the energy sector. Specifically, what this opportunity does is help those that have issues or high tax obligations with earned income and being able to help them with earned income. Also, creating consistent conservative returns moving forward. Usually, as I said, I was initially surrounded by a lot of software sales professionals. Now we have clients in professional sports organizations, doctors, lawyers, and business owners.
A lot of people know that in the energy sector, you can hit a huge deduction off of whatever you invest. Plus, there are even a little bit of backend tax managers too. It’s cool when you get to see that work in your favor especially if it’s something that’s done where they minimize the risk and remove a lot of the speculation out of it.
Yes, because I know that there are a lot of things that you can do, exploration and things like that. It’s not in that similar type of space. It’s more of a conservative thing. The idea is to be able to help people that are looking for an additional vehicle. There are so many different vehicles that can help us get to our destinations.
That’s one of the things I enjoy what you talk about and your philosophy, Chris, is to understand what is the right tool for the job or what’s the right vehicle to get you to the destination. I’m a big believer that there are multiple different ways to do that because each and every one of us are different with different backgrounds and different education levels and different desires. We want to get there sooner or later. It’s about finding the right people.
Billy, I appreciate your time. This has been awesome. If people want to follow you, what’s the best way they can do that?
The best way to follow is to go to FirstGenCP.com. You can find out more about what we’re doing there. There are a lot of ways to get in touch with a contact page. There’s an invest page. I also like to connect with people on LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s one of my favorite places to be. I think I’m the only Billy Keels in Barcelona, Spain. I’d love to connect with people there. Also, you talked about it earlier. You were an amazing guest on Episode 175 of the Going Long Podcast. You’d want to check out some of the knowledge bombs that Chris was sharing over there. Those are the best ways to contact me.
Billy, I appreciate it. Great information. I love the story and the journey because that’s very similar to what many people reading right now are hearing for themselves and how they can personalize that to them.
Thank you, Chris.
Thank you so much for your time. Everybody else, again, it’s one thing to read this stuff and another thing to do it. Take this information for what it’s worth and find ways to apply it in your own life. Remember, go and make it a wonderful and prosperous week.
- Money Ripples with Chris Miles
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- Episode 175 – Going-long Podcast
About Billy Keels
I’m just a regular guy from a middle-class family from Columbus, Ohio, who grew up knowing nothing about investing. When I started to become successful in my career, I had no idea how to invest my high salary. I was too embarrassed to ask because I felt like I “should’ve” already known. I remember hearing colleagues talking about being “accredited investors” and giving them fake nods like I knew who they were talking about.
From that point on I gave myself the challenge of learning everything I could about all things money and investing. My mission was to turn my high wages into financial freedom. 8 years later, I achieved it: I created a monthly passive income that met all of my expenses. I no longer had to work if I didn’t want to.
Now, my mission is to guide you to your own freedom.