You Still Get Paid

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Reaching the lofty goal of financial independence comes with some secret advantages. Early retirement and success coupled with wealth allows you a freedom few can even imagine until it is reality.

What is this secret advantage no one is talking about, not even personal finance bloggers? Freedom to spend what you want and when you want, PLUS, you never have to get paid ever again for any work you do or from investments you have!

Just think of it. You work hard and save until you have 25 times your spending in liquid investments. Under the 4% rule you are ready to cash in your ticket. Since you have money you can turn on the spigot and splurge because you deserve it.

Even better, you can undertake all the things you enjoy while hearing people tell you you shouldn’t be paid for your services now because you not only enjoy the work but already have enough money.

The same rules apply to investing. Stocks you own can keep the dividend. Your renters should get a pass this month because they needed to buy a new boat more than you need the rent payment.

Ah, yes! Financial independence is awesome. No worries and a carefree life. Nothing stupid to mess up your day like getting paid for your side gig.

Or maybe not.





Pay The Writer

Harlan Ellison has a great rant about paying the writer. And he is right! If Harlan thinks writers get shafted for the work they do he should step into my world and see how fast people think successful people shouldn’t get paid.

Recently I made a mistake. I knew what I was doing and what would happen, but did it anyway. I was originally under the delusion Rockstar Finance  added you to their list once they discovered you had a blog in the genre. Stupid me.

Once the fog lifted and the mental illness evaporated I submitted your favorite blog for inclusion on the list. One question asked was about net worth. Curious, I decided it was time to look up all the stuff I own and add it up. I plugged the number and hit send.

Rockstar Finance listed me within a few hours but didn’t add the net worth figure. Not one to waste any movement I decided to write a post on my net worth.

My net worth is the highest listed on RF. I knew this going in. Later J Money added the net worth figure when he realized I wasn’t some schmuck gaming the system. Now people noticed and what I knew would hit full force did.

I’m not the wealthiest guy in the demographic by a long shot. Some bloggers on the list that don’t list their net worth have one higher than mine. My guess is they don’t list their net worth for the same reason I’m going to now outline.

Why Bother

How much would you pay to have lunch with the poorest guy in town? Would you even sit at the same table with the guy for any amount of money?

What about your favorite accountant? How much would you pay to break bread over an hour-long dinner? Would you pick up the tab? Pay $300? $100?

Now how much would you pay to sit for lunch with Warren Buffett? Earlier this year someone paid $2,679,001 to dine with Warren Buffett. All proceeds going to charity.




This brings up a good point. The wealthier you are the more you deserve to get paid for your work!

I can hear the screams. Please sit down and let me explain.

Now with word out my net worth jumped into the eight figure category (it has since edged into the lucky $13 million arena thanks to the stock market and my Tesla holdings) some people have a different attitude about me.

A week or so ago I published a list of programs I planned for this blog. The final sentence asked if people would be willing to pay for the advanced material.

All the comments were insightful and polite. One comment stood out. The comment asked why I would charge anything since I already have enough money.

After all these years I still stop writing in stunned silence as I wrap my brain around the comment.

Once again, the higher you rise, the more you get paid! My fees have gone up, not down since this blog started. And it’s not because I am a dick either.

Imagine paying a doctor with the worst track record more than the doctor who practically performs miracles. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

Warren Buffett uses his wealth and fame to raise a lot of money for charity and all he trades is one lunch. (Not even a nice sit down dinner!) Warren is a nice guy so let’s say he opened the doors and allowed anyone who wanted to sign up for lunch with him for $1,000. Madness would ensure. Warren is one guy and can only afford to sit for so many lunches!

Some of my clients over the years figured out my net worth is getting up there. The way I talk and act sometimes gives away my financial success (luck). Most clients want to pick my mind when they come to this realization. Makes sense to me.

Periodically a client will insinuate I shouldn’t be paid because they are broke and I have too much. My response: Then why should I even bother to work.

As long as we are willing to this far, how about another step? If I (you, too) shouldn’t be paid for work I enjoy doing because I like the work and have plenty of money, should investments receive the same treatment? When Coca-Cola discovers Buffett is rich they can easily withhold paying the quarterly dividend to him.

For you folks in the landlord business reading, once you grow your nest egg to a certain predefined value determined by the people who need to pay you, you should no longer collect rent on your properties. You have enough! Stop being so friggin greedy! It’s revolting.

No?

Okay. How about this? As an incentive to work hard, save and invest you receive the grand prize of not getting paid once you get, say, a million dollars. Talk about an incentive to keep producing!

As long as we are at it, I really have had my eye on those new all-electric cars from Tesla. They look like a sweet ride! Elon Musk (Tesla’s CEO) is a billionaire so I expect a shiny new Tesla S to show up in my driveway free and clear right soon. I’m going to pour myself a cup of coffee and sit on the front porch waiting.

The Rewards of Success

Having money doesn’t automatically turn you into a prick. I give plenty of my net worth and income to charity. I have had weak moments and handled accounts pro bono. Hardship cases of people screwed over by the system have a chance of being added to my client list.

Success is not an opportunity for everyone else to punish you. If you are so good you must keep working, harder than ever, to serve anyone who might need your services or products and for no pay, what’s the incentive! No wonder so many people decide to remain broke. Sure beats the alternative.

Time to put the obnoxious joking aside.

There is a real reason why successful people charge more. First, they are worth it and they have proven their value.

Second, and this is the real reason wealthy people charge more, there isn’t enough time to do everything and even if there was I (and other wealthy people) have earned the right to respite. Money is only the scorecard.

Fees and my income increase because I continue creating greater and greater value. Higher fees create a sort of firewall or filter. People who produce are inundated with people who want to kick the tires. If you allow, they will consume every second of your day. This is unreasonable and untenable.

I love helping people. Mr. Money Mustache sent this blog rocketing higher. My continued efforts here have kept the ball rolling. It took a while, but I finally have reached a good balance with my fees. What I charged when I only served a local market is different now that I earned the right to a national market. By increasing fees to a level where I can get work done in a reasonable time without hiring staff to tell people “no” all day is fair to me and to you, especially those paying me to do the work.

It gets better. Kevin Clack, has been working on this blog for a while redesigning it. The new design will have a tab called “Working with the Wealthy Accountant” where I will share the kind of work I will take on and my fees. Demand will have some bearing on the fee. I am accepting new clients again, but say this reluctantly so I don’t get swamped. My goal is quality service and advice at a reasonable cost. (Yes, you may request a consult. I may open more hours to new clients and consulting as new automation frees my time for important work helping you.)

Winning is not a crime! You should not be sanctioned or punished for success. So you reached financial independence and retired early. So what if you travelled the planet for a few years and now yearn for a side gig, business or even returning to the traditional workforce full or part-time.

No matter which path you choose you still get paid.



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Keith Schroeder

26 Comments

  1. Mr. FWP on August 9, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Amen about being inundated with people who want to kick the tires!

    You don’t even have to be wealthy to experience what you describe. I was new in the working world when I had my first such experience: an insurance saleswoman with no insurance (yes, you read that right) plowed into my car. She learned where I worked, which paid pretty well, and told me I would be fine because I must have more money than her, so I should just cover it.

    She never did pay – my insurance had to cover it – but I think she lost her job once I asked the state regulators why a state-licensed insurance agent was giving out fake insurance information and running into people while uninsured.

    Yet another great post, Keith!

    • Keith Schroeder on August 9, 2017 at 7:49 am

      She perceived you had money and it was a good enough reason for a free ride, FWP. Please understand this post was not a complaint. When things happen in my life I think will benefit readers I start typing. This stuff happens and the more wealth people “think” you have the more they will try to wear you out. Stay true and demand what you are worth. It’s not greed. If you don’t use the fee filter the worst people will work hard to wear you out. It happens; it is life. The better you get the more you should be paid for your services, even if you are super rich with nothing better to do with your time. It’s the best perk of success.

    • Todd on August 10, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      A willingness to invest in TSLA is a clear sign you don’t need money anymore 😉 just kidding! I completely agree with you post.

      • Keith Schroeder on August 10, 2017 at 10:20 pm

        For the record, Todd, I own TSLA in my mad money account and my cost basis is really low because I owned it a while. Unless you are financially able to handle the risk, TSLA is not for you. Neither is FB or NFLX at this time, which I also own. Remember, some stocks are worth owning, but not worth buying at the current price. Maybe someday I’ll write a post on some crazy things I do in investing that works pretty good for me. But you still keep the majority in an index fund.

  2. Gwen @ Fiery Millennials on August 9, 2017 at 7:57 am

    Amen. You put in the hard work to create the content. It’s only reasonable you should get rewarded (ie paid) in recognition of all that work.

    • Keith Schroeder on August 9, 2017 at 8:59 am

      You’re working in the same direction, young lady. The quicker you learn the skill the more sanity you can retain. I for one have faith in you, Gwen.

      A quick side story for those who read the comments. At Camp Mustache SE I was so involved talking with people I couldn’t enjoy the archery. While you were lining up your aim, Gwen, the person I was talking with looked at you and said, “She is destined for great things.” I agreed. You already have the vibe. I’m staying close because 1.) it is always good to have smart, experienced, energetic people on speed dial, and 2.) when the train comes in I want to be there. It will be a great pleasure watching you as you move forward in life.

  3. The Money Commando on August 9, 2017 at 8:45 am

    I’m always a little surprised when this comes up. The idea that somebody should stop being compensated for what they do once they reach some level of success just doesn’t make sense.

    For most people, the more money you have the less incentive there is to work (declining marginal utility of money). Thus, in order to induce somebody to continue to work you have to pay them more money. And, presumably, the longer a person has worked (and the more successful they have become), the more value they are providing. You need to pay a successful person more money if you want them to continue providing value

    I CAN think of one reason to potentially charge little (or nothing) for your services once you reach a certain level of wealth – the hassle factor. That is, if your searches are worth $200/hour and you’re charging $50 (or $0), then presumably the client understands they are getting a huge amount of value at that price. Perhaps that would make them easier to deal with since the realize what an awesome deal they are getting?

    Have you found this to be true for your pro bono clients? Are they easier to deal with than your clients who pay full price?

    • Keith Schroeder on August 9, 2017 at 10:20 am

      Commando, I do what I do because I love doing it. Money motivates the way valueless paper changes hands while playing Monopoly. It’s a fun game.

      To your questions, pro bono clients tend to be harder to work for. Theirs issues are more acute and the issues that put them in the hole haven’t gone away. Since they pay nothing they value my services as worth the same. They have no skin in the game so they tend to fail. Even if I bail them out it doesn’t take long and they are right back where they started. I take few pro bono cases due to the hassle. They tend to call more, show up at the office more and want to chit chat more. I love what I do, but if all my clients were like the pro bono clients I would join the traditional retirement crowd in under three seconds which isn’t bad speed for an old accountant.

  4. Slow Dad on August 9, 2017 at 8:51 am

    Absolutely, well said Keith.
    Once you start measuring wealth in terms of time rather than money you are able to put a tangible value on every precious hour.
    You’ve worked hard to achieve the luxury of choice that having achieved financial freedom provides. One of those choices is deciding just how many (or how few) hours you are willing to spend working.
    That places a premium upon your time, allowing you to determine just what value one of your scarce working hours is worth.
    Those clients who are willing to afford that premium will use your services, the rest will take their business elsewhere and leave you alone. Basic supply and demand at work.
    The ironic thing is that having achieved a bit of celebrity, many people will actually be willing to pay over the odds just because they want to be serviced by your good self. Therefore you could probably charge whatever you liked and still not have too much trouble filling up your dance card!
    Keep up the good work.

    • Keith Schroeder on August 9, 2017 at 9:02 am

      There is a balance to be found, Slow Dad, in the fee charged. Be sure to avoid looking at this as a rant. I isn’t! It’s a reminder to readers to be cautious. Even modest fame and/or success can bring an avalanche of people demanding your time. They are all good people, but you are only one person and you have every right to a personal life.

  5. Church on August 9, 2017 at 9:35 am

    I always enjoy your posts because they have ‘substance’. Thank you, Keith.

    The post is a great example of an ugly reality – those who are perceived to have money are expected to foot the bill. All one can do is give everything possible for the good of the world and then get a little selfish for you and your family. That’s perfectly ok.

    And, it emphasizes the fact that I will not be reading The Merry Adventures of Robinhood to my future children. Damn, thieving, hooligans!

    • Keith Schroeder on August 9, 2017 at 9:44 am

      My goal is to arm my readers with powerful information to live a better life. Hopefully, you guys can learn from my errors and improve upon my successes. The student should always strive to excel beyond that of the teacher. That is called progress.

  6. Mimoza on August 9, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Well, Keith, this post was thought provoking indeed. There are a few ways to look at this, but I will not list them all. This is just from philosophical standpoint.
    Yes, we all love to get paid, including myself. OTOH, I have seen and read that people (including bloggers) are getting almost obsessed with making the money and they use the time as their excuse that they must be paid or otherwise they lose the point of doing it even if they love it. Bloggers (most of them) realize that they need money after they stop working and therefore they must monetize any endeavor they do and will claim that their time is precious, they deserve it, etc., etc. I’m not talking about you per se, Keith, but you as an accountant would know that not all the bloggers can quit working today.
    Now, re being paid, yes, I’ll be curious about your fees and what you consult about because you sound a professional accountant and you have experience. However, some bloggers say that will consult you to see if you can ER or tell you how to invest you. Well, IMO, it’s a bit weird/shady type of work after quitting work and claiming that I do not work for the rest of my life (or maybe they realize that they need to monetize anything they can), but whatever… which leads to another point…
    It depends on the buyer’s perception of the work, its quality, expertise you provide how worth it is. How many times people go to a mechanic and get ripped off for fixing the wrong thing and of course don’t get refunded for that? He loves his work, he spent his precious time on this service, and hence he deserves to be paid even for the wrong result. Or even CPA’s sometimes provide wrong answers to their clients’ questions. The same clients double check their answers on some forums and oops, the free information was more worthwhile that hundreds of bucks shelled out to that CPA. So, the disappointment in the past consultations with professionals may lead to unwillingness to pay in the future.
    Supply and demand, a seller and a buyer and perception of the value of services in between leads to many arguments.
    Some people are busy with doing their thing that they are happy to pay someone else to get some other services. Some other people have some time and say I will not pay because I want to learn it myself which may lead to a future regret or an enrichment of his knowledge and a feeling of accomplishment.
    One of the reasons why people don’t want to pay is because we’re almost conditioned to expect free stuff. E.g. people love FB, Twitter, etc. Why? Because they don’t need to pay from their pocket. They pay with their privacy, they hate ads, but hey, FB is free, so I’m good. The companies don’t complain either because they are happy with the mother loads of private info and they money they make of it. Same with the credit cards. You, Keith, get paid, but people are happy to click on the links because they do not pay directly out of their own pockets.

    Anyway, enough of my philosophy, my time is precious, and I don’t get paid ;-). So, in summary it all depends. However, I do not agree that people shouldn’t get paid because they’re wealthy already. For me, it really boils down to the quality of service I would receive and if it was worth paying for it.

    • Keith Schroeder on August 9, 2017 at 10:50 am

      I’m winded just reading your comment, Mimoza. That was a lot of material!

      Understand I still do a lot of things for free. At conferences I give every ounce of energy to help people. There are some things I don’t want to do for free: tax preparation and auditing come to mind. Formalized consulting is another. These all take time and research and I expect payment for my services. It also keeps the demand more in check. This blog is free with ads to pay the bills. I do not make anywhere near my normal fee and at this point the revenue mostly covers costs of the blog. Why do I write the Wealthy Accountant? I love writing. But the goal is to get significantly more traffic and turn it into a standalone business. (Spread the word so a country accountant can have the pony he always wanted.)

      As for getting bad advice from accountant: Been there. No matter what you pay there is always a chance you get incorrect advice. Taxes are a made-up construct. There are multiple interpretations. Even the Tax Courts around the country don’t always agree on what certain tax laws mean. A good accountant will understand this and advise accordingly.

      I can assuage your desire to learn my fees. My hourly rate is $275, subject to change. Tax returns are based upon size, complexity and time required to prepare said return. I need to see the it to quote it.

      Of course if you see me at a conference I am always open to answering questions. Understand I don’t have research books at my fingertips, but I can point you in a good direction. If you do see me at a conference, be gentle. Conferences are always a marathon run for me. It is common for people to press me with questions up to 18 hours a day and I have been noted to tire after a few days of this kind of pounding.

      But still talk to me. I love working with and helping people.

  7. WealthyDoc on August 9, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Yup, earn on my friend! I continue to work even though I don’t need to for the money. I like the service to others. Money is a great way to get feedback on whether you are really helping other people. Just writing for yourself or meditating on your navel may be fine but you won’t get paid. Once you give useful advice to people that they appreciate, the money starts rolling in and well it should.
    p.s. I made the same assumption about blog finance directories. I finally put mine on the list. I didn’t put in my net worth. I’m sure I would be near the top, but I’m not sure that would prove anything to anyone. Congrats to you though for being up in the economic stratosphere. You deserve it!

    • Keith Schroeder on August 9, 2017 at 11:33 am

      The one thing I discovered, Doc, is that people who find my free advice valuable (most do) want to pay me something as a token of gratitude. There is nothing wrong with that. It feels good to give. Allow others the gift by graciously accepting and then paying it forward.

  8. Lance on August 9, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Ugh! These people that expect to get it for free just because you’re rich really annoy me. Instead of focusing on how they can improve their condition to become wealthy through practicing spending self control, learning new skills or starting a side hustle, they want a shortcut that doesn’t involve any effort – just give it to me. No wonder they aren’t successful. I know there are many exceptions to this such as health issues, but there are millions of able bodied whiners that have convinced themselves that they “deserve” your wealth. No wonder why you and MMM have a lot of tough talk in your blogs, people need it to pop out of victim mentality.

    So how about this: I’d love to bend your ear for a bit and am perfectly willing to pay your $275/hr fee. I’ve been FI for a year but have a tiny consulting business and need to figure out if I should stay a Sole Proprietor or become a LLC or Corp. Main driving force is to protect my ‘stache and move as much from taxable to non taxable accounts as possible, perhaps through a Solo 401k? I also volunteer my time to help others on the path to FI so I may be able to leverage this knowledge to help others.

    • Keith Schroeder on August 9, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      Lance, send me a request through the contact button. These go to my office manager’s desk and she handles scheduling.

  9. Steveark on August 9, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    I do agree, I am early retired from a successful corporate career but still do some side gig work to stay sharp. Figuring out what to charge when you don’t need a cent was the first retirement puzzle I had to solve. I figured if it was ridiculously easy, which two of my side gigs are, I would charge$100 per hour. For the harder stuff $250 and up. So far working not quite two days a week I’m making six figures, have a generous client provided expense account and am not touching my investment income at all. I really enjoy the way it all fits together and think that the work time makes the rest of my life much better. Sounds like you are doing an outstanding job yourself, I look forward to following your blog.

  10. Jason@WinningPersonalFinance on August 9, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Congrats on being at the top of the leaderboard! I 100% agree with your theory about being able to charge more when you are wealthy. If you think about it from a supply and demand perspective, by being financially independent, you don’t have to work. Therefore, any work you do is purely optional and you must charge a rate that’s high enough that it’s worth your time. I once read that it’s not worth it for Warren Buffett or Bill Gates to pick up a $100 bill on the floor because their time is worth more than the $100 per few seconds it would take to pick up the bill. Charging higher fees as your success increases is a less extreme example of that. It always comes back to supply and demand.

  11. Jerry Gordon on August 10, 2017 at 7:12 am

    Keith Great post really enjoyed reading it. Many FIRE bloggers post about the 4% rule. Could you write about the value (or not) of using a low cost simple annuity for reirement planning. Vanguard offers $1000/month income at age 65 for 167,000 plus 2% in fees….What gives?

  12. Physician on FIRE on August 10, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Hey Keith,

    I believe you were referring to my comment regarding paid content and net worth, but you left out important details. I suggested you cover your costs with sponsorships / ads rather than selling the content, much like we all do with our blogs. Why? Because other people may balk at paying for it when there’s so much great info to be had for free.
    I think it’s great you shared your net worth, and if you recall, it was me who suggested you add it to RSF and showed you how to edit your profile to add it. An eight-figure net worth gives you instant credibility. I might even buy you a beer, but I’m not ponying up $2.7 Million for a dinner.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    • Keith Schroeder on August 10, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      PoF, I am hurt. Is it too much to ask for a $2.7 million donation to charity for an opportunity to speak to someone as gentle as mwua?

      My original idea was to feel out how attitudes toward an advanced program similar to what Leo Babauta offers on his blog, Zen Habits. The blog itself would be free as always, but I have ideas for intense advanced courses to build a tax practice and net worth. What I discovered is there is strong interest for a book/s. The other interest is for a very expensive program rather than something with a nominal fee. It’s all in a day’s research. Know thy reader. (Zen Habits is 100% supported by these programs. No ads or affiliates.)

      Looking forward to that beer at FinCon. I’ll even spring for round 2. That way we can double the pleasure (as long as someone doesn’t lecture me on utility).

      • Physician on FIRE on August 10, 2017 at 5:53 pm

        And that’s why you do your homework. I think the tax practice course would be quite valuable for younger CPAs. Lookin forward to beers in Dallas!
        Cheers!
        -PoF

        • WealthyDoc on August 13, 2017 at 10:07 am

          Hey, is this a private party? Or can I spring for a round too?

          • Keith Schroeder on August 13, 2017 at 6:55 pm

            WealthyDoc, no one will stop you from buying a round. And as far as I am concerned you are part of our cult now.



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