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family

Lifestyle

Crowdsourcing Experience

There are advantages to writing a personal finance blog that go beyond the love of writing and meeting new people. Few things in life bring as much pleasure as sharing knowledge gleaned over decades of experience. Stories are the best. Sharing stories with friends is a time honored pleasure handed down to us through countless generations.

The old adage about the teacher learning more than the student applies in blog writing as well as in formalized education settings. Additional research and looking at a situation considering perspectives wider than just your own is an eye opening experience.

The constant search for a story idea and angle is hard, yet rewarding, work. Topics I would never think of digging deeper into eventually reach the front burner. Unexpected paths are taken. I always have a plan. It never ends up the way I anticipate. Stories have a habit of taking on a life of their own. (At least I started with good intentions.)




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Embrace Failure

Show me a successful person and I’ll show you someone with deep seated pain. Pain is a powerful motivator. Few can reach lofty heights and keep pushing without underlying pain driving them forward.

Steve Jobs said you have to be “. . . insane to do this. . . ” when he discussed why he worked so hard to achieve so much because “. . . it hurts so much.” He expanded the insanity to include all successful people. It doesn’t matter what it is you are the best in. Being the best and marching forward after attaining the top is an exercise in pain regardless the field.

Some are satisfied with “good enough”. They are the lucky ones. Normal people attain a certain level of success and sit back and enjoy it. You see these people everywhere. They are the upper middle class people lucky enough to have reached the level of “having it” or “made it” without the grinding pain from earlier in life driving them on.

Then there are the people we see in the news on a regular basis. These are the business leaders and entertainers who never are satisfied with their performance even when they have reached so high they have cut new ground. They climbed to the top of the mountain and started building the mountain higher. What drives these people? And are you one of them?




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Lifestyle

Losing Touch with Reality

Just when you find someone really good word gets out and they get busy/popular/semi-famous or some other bullshit. A great tax guy stops taking new clients and is slow as hell because he has too much work to do. An awesome blogger is discovered by the world at large and is inundated with requests until she burns out. The story is repeated again and again. They get good, then discovered and then wore out.

The worst part is what fame and fortune does to these people. They lose touch with reality as the world builds a wall around them, built with bricks made from the flesh of living and breathing human beings. They get callous because it becomes impossible to respond to every request, none the less, honor the request.

Or maybe it isn’t them. It could be you! Maybe these people are seeing the world for what it really is for the first time. Maybe they have always had a firm grasp of reality. It might explain why they are where they are and why you are where you are. Think about it.




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Smarticus

Dick Proenneke

There are two kinds of stories people like to read in the personal finance community: personal finance reports and “What am I doing” stories. Pete over at Mr. Money Mustache released his spending report for 2016 this past week and Jim at jlcollinsnh provided us with a report on life in the comfortable Wisconsin south woods.

Spending reports/progress reports toward financial independence interest me, too, even though my financial situation has been solid for a few decades. Spending reports motivate me, giving me ideas to cut consumption without sacrificing quality of life. Progress reports are always interesting. The writers of such reports usually express an emotion with where they are at on the scale of financial independence. From my viewpoint it seems so obvious they are in much better financial shape than they imagine. It is intoxicating watching these good people make their way to the Promised Land.

It’s been a while since I offered my own spending report. Sorry. Spending is so boring to me. God willing, I will get my 2016 report out before the end of 2017.

Kevin has started the redesign of this blog (I’ll pay him a soon as my new bonus credit card arrives).

Collins shared his life these past few weeks on his blog. I enjoyed his story and I was there part of the time! Such are the simple pleasures of life.

Your favorite accountant has a few interesting tidbits in his life you might find of value, too. Whereas, a lot of people in this community talk about their sedentary or retired life or world travels, I am busy acting like a mini Elon Musk. Call it a sickness.




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Lifestyle

Increase Your Success at Anything with Warren Buffett’s “20-Slot” Rule

Charlie Munger

The best way to learn is by studying the best. Experience has value as long as it also has a foundation in knowledge. Reinventing the wheel again and again is a fool’s errand and not conducive to personal development.

Studying the best takes many forms. Working for someone at the top of their game is the best way to learn, but the opportunities to do so are limited. Formalized education communicates facts without always presenting the best in your selected field. The number one way to learn from the masters is to study them through intense research of their work. The greatest minds are available like never before. YouTube videos of their speeches and books and news articles on their practices give us massive quantities of material to learn from.

Today we will focus on a simple story shared by Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s friend and right-hand man at Berkshire Hathaway.




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Your Money or Your Wife

Divorce and money.

Warning: What you are about to read will be disturbing to many. Women and children should leave the room now. Men with a queasy stomach should also take a step back. It’s been two weeks since I dropped the f-bomb. The drought is over. I will use the f-bomb today in its correct dictionary definition to illustrate an important issue. This post is so volatile LinkedIn will not allow you to post this to their site even though your life depends on it. Facebook is good with it, however.

Money is the leading cause of divorce in the United States and in most Western countries. Marriages survive infidelity better than money problems. The worst part is how expensive divorce is and since money issues are the leading cause of divorce, it doesn’t solve the problem.

Then we need to think of the children. They suffer disproportionately. Adults have at least some control over their actions and the outcome. Children are helpless victims in the middle of elevated negative emotions. The damage is significant and lifelong.

Every marriage has its challenges. Forty-one percent of first marriages end in divorce. Abundant data on divorce exists, but there are large discrepancies in some of the data. It is also hard to put an exact number on the percentage of marriages that will end in divorce when the married couple are still alive. Using the number of divorces in a year compared to the number of marriages is useless. Still, many marriages end in divorce, statistics aside. Money is a large factor in divorce and divorce only exacerbates money problems.




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The One Guaranteed High-Return Investment You Don’t Own

Every investment, even guaranteed ones, require priming the pump. Before you get paid by your employer you work; before you get paid a dividend or receive capital gains you must invest in the index fund first; before you get paid rent you need to buy the property and prepare it for tenants; before guaranteed government bonds pays you a penny in interest you must first buy the bond. You only get something out if you first put something in. This is true in every part of your life.

I grew up on a farm and after a few years living in town I moved back to the countryside where I feel happiest. Town still has a magical pull. Living in town means everything I need is close by. I can bike everywhere. The need for a car when living in town is minimal. If I lived in town I wouldn’t own a car. For long trips I would rent a vehicle. Uber, my bike and legs would handle 99% of my transportation needs.

Living on a small farm has advantages. The cost of living further from town is offset by the amount of free food, or nearly free food, I get. Raising my own meat (beef, chicken, fish and pork) means I know what is in it. Abundant garden produce means healthy living while the crops are in season. Asparagus in spring, radishes and other fast growing vegetables follow, and apples, apricots, cherries, peaches (yes, peaches in Wisconsin!) and grapes round out the abundant autumn harvest. There is so much good food and it is all free or nearly so. Too bad it doesn’t last all year round.

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How I Get Everything from Amazon for Free

And just think, you get $25 while Fido takes all the risk.

A few years ago Mrs. Accountant and I attended our first Camp Mustache in Seattle. It was my epiphany to the personal finance community. Sure, I had decades of experience under my belt and a history of writing on the subject, but never before did I have such a platform to spread the gospel.

It didn’t take long for people to know who I was. I have that effect on people. Many attendees were still working a job as they moved toward financial independence and early retirement. From the minute I arrived people knew I was a tax guy. People were interested in what other people did as they worked toward their financial goals.

It didn’t take long before Mrs. Accountant was asked what she did. She hesitated for the smallest fraction of time. It was a tell. But Mrs. Accountant is fast on her toes; you have to be if you live with a crazy accountant. She said, “I work in his office,” pointing to me. Of course, they pressed her for details on the kind of work she did in my office. It wasn’t pretty.

Later, when Mrs. Accountant and I were alone, I explained to her that this is one group you don’t have to bullshit. They get the early retirement thing. Somewhere back in her early 30s Mrs. Accountant checked out of the regulated work routine. She did what I was supposed to do.

Early retirement doesn’t mean ‘waiting for death’. Mrs. Accountant is very active. Sometimes it takes me upwards of an hour to catch her. I’m getting old.Continue reading

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