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lifestyle

Frugal Living, Lifestyle

How to Save Money with a Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audit

Winter seems like a lifetime away. A quick check of the calendar and a shiver will run down your spine as only a few months remain before the heating season begins in the northern latitudes and creeps south.

Saving money is my favorite passtime. What other hobby provides so many tax-free financial benefits? 

If you are reading this at its regularly scheduled publication date, Mrs. Accountant, the girls and I are heading to or are enjoying the eclipse. Trevor McDonald contacted me a few months back asking to write a guest post. We worked together (he wrote, I edited and provided guidance and recommendations) until he had a solid piece you will enjoy reading. 

I'll let Trevor take the driver's seat and explain.




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Frugal Living, Lifestyle

Intermittent Fasting Versus Long-term Fasting

The author lean, mean and young. The channel lock has a 10 inch maw. Farming builds muscle!

Growing up on a dairy farm in northeast Wisconsin in the 1970s had its advantages. Computers were the stuff of Star Trek reruns and staying in the house was a form of punishment.

The kids in my family loved summer. We would run and bike down the road and through fresh mown fields of alfalfa. The only neighbor within striking distance was a rental property. To our great fortune the couple who moved in also had kids reasonably close to our age. They were soon sworn in members of our cult.

In the summer we would play cops and robbers on our bikes. Len was a big dude and always wanted to play the cop. The advantage we had is we were wiry kids born of solid German stock. Our lean bodies could bike faster than Len could ever hope to keep up with. The robbers won every time.

During winter we would build massive snow forts. A few winters in the mid to late 1970s included record snowfall for our little corner of the world. The snow plow would pile snow to the highline wires.

Grandma would scold us kids as we built forts in the massive banks. Finally a truce was called where we were allowed to dig our snow mansions into the side of the snow banks on the side away from the road. Those were the best of times.

Then the 1970s came to an end. Len and his brother Joel and their sister Dawn were gone. (If you guys read this please contact me. I really would like to know whatever happened to you guys. I pray you had a good life.) The first signs of financial strain were showing on the farm. I was halfway through high school.

Then the dream was over.



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Early Retirement, Frugal Living, Lifestyle

You Can Do Anything . . . Just Not Everything

Paula Pant of Afford Anything

As I surf around the internet I sometimes run across people commenting on me and this blog. A common refrain goes something like this: “The Wealthy Accountant blog isn’t really about accounting or taxes.”

I know!

This blog is written by a wealthy accountant. My goal is to get you to think like an accountant (a wealthy one) so you can improve your life. Sometimes that means I talk about things that don’t seem tax related on the surface.

My next blog post is on fasting: intermittent versus long-term. (Get ready for it.) I’ll get a few complaints, a few pats on the back and plenty of eye rolls. What does fasting have to do with wealth, accounting, taxes, or personal finance? Simple. Financial independence has little value if you don’t have health to enjoy it.

Sometimes the connection is hard to see. When I started this blog I wanted to show the world what it is like from my side of the desk. It’s the first post of this blog. I was still searching for the voice I wanted to use for this blog, but the tenor was there.

As time went on I wanted to step out from behind my desk and was hoping you would join me. I make no claim to being better than anyone else or have higher quality life experiences. In addition to standing behind me while I run my practice and visit with clients I want to share many of my personal life experiences. Call it a form of legal stalking.

Each story has a goal. First, I have to entertain to keep you reading. The second goal is to show how I solve problems. Everybody runs into a buzz saw now and again. The real issue is how you deal with the slice and dice.

Some messages hit you square in the face. Others are more subtle. The facts and circumstances determine the method of delivery.



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Lifestyle

They’re All Dead

OH NO! Look what happened to the Accountant family! Notice the cat at the right edge starting to chew on a carcass. Don't blame the butler this time; it was the cat!

Recently a post card came in the mail inviting me to attend my 35-year class reunion. The years certainly got behind me fast. My only excuse is that I am having too much fun.

Between the office and home is my gym. Three days a week I lift weights (normally Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Outside the gym I hike, jog, work on the farm, et cetera to keep myself in shape.

A few months ago a high school classmate, Doug Zastrow, joined my gym. It has been a long time since we saw each other and talk fairly regular now, catching up on life in our humble community.

Doug mentioned receiving the class reunion postcard, stating he had no intention of going. I nodded agreement. My argument was I didn’t want to pay $60 for a meal and a few drinks at a country tavern. Doug had a different reason.

Doug named two classmates he chummed with over the years. Both are dead now. We both started counting the number of classmates who had already died. The first victim was a girl who died from a genetic disease followed by a guy from my clique. He died spear fishing on Lake Winnebago with his son. He didn’t vent his ice shanty correctly and died of CO^2 asphyxiation. We kept tallying the numbers. Another died of a genetic disorder, one from cancer, a few accidents, a few heart attacks and even one suicide.

By the time we added all the classmates we know were dead we had reached 20 souls out of a class of 120. There is no doubt we missed a few. People move and word of a death doesn’t always reach my ears. It’s not what I focus on in life.




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How Milking Cows Taught Me to Respect Women

It all went wrong before I ever started. Mrs. Accountant and the junior accountants (I have daughters so I guess they are junettes) carpooled with me to take care of a variety of errands in town. When the family gathers in a confined place the situation turns strange very fast as I start with crazy talk.

For the record I consider myself a bit of a comedian. Not in any professional sense, but I fashion myself as a funny guy. Give me an espresso or two, wait fifteen minutes and watch the fun begin. Once on a roll it is hard to stop the train.

The clan sees me writing a blog so a lot of blog writing is going on around the house. Before long I was coming up with what I considered powerhouse titles to posts when the title of this post popped into my head. Groans echoed around the cabin of the car. I stood my ground. It was funny and I knew it. (It was also clickbait and I knew that too!)

The girls of the household don’t always hold my level of humor in high esteem. It hurts. My feelings are tender. The lack of enthusiasm for my blog title only encouraged me to step up the game a level. I started to flesh out the details of the obvious humor piece. The jokes came fast and furious while I skirted around the implication of the title.

No matter how hard I milked the situation I was cowed. My udderly fantastic jokes fell on deaf ears! How could that be?




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Estate Planning, Lifestyle, Taxes and Investing

Living with a NIMCRUT

Recently I discussed my net worth and how I went from a poor farm boy to an eight figure net worth. To keep the discussion moving I glossed over a few issues, most notably some of the vehicles I use to invest and protect my net worth from taxation. My sole mention of using trust instruments to protect net worth and save taxes caused several requests to hit my email inbox. People wanted to know more about trusts and how they can be used to super-charge net worth, provide guaranteed income, reduce taxes and protect against lawsuits stealing your hard earned money.

To which I mentally replied, “Is that all?”

A tax discussion on trusts turns into hard core tax planning quickly. Discussing all trusts is beyond the scope of a simple blog post and even beyond the scope of an entire blog. Too many variables are involved. What we can do in a single blog post is cover one trust topic enough to help you decide if it is right for you and get you to the right people to facilitate the process.

Today we will discuss an animal called the net income makeup charitable remainder unitrust, or NIMCRUT. It sounds like a derogatory name you would call someone in the heat of battle. Instead, the NIMCRUT, or even her sister the CRUT, is the perfect tool to get a massive tax break now, avoid paying capital gains on highly appreciated assets, help the charity of your choice and get a nice income stream—some of which might be tax free—for your entire life or a set number of years. Sound like fun? Then read on.

The Problem

Highly appreciated assets face a large capital gains tax rate, currently topping out at 20% for federal, plus more in many states. To make matters worse, the alternative minimum tax is calculated using a 22 ½% capital gains rate.

Moving money from a long-term, highly appreciated asset to a higher income producing asset requires a serious tax haircut. The reason for the transfer of investments frequently revolves around income. The old asset has appreciated several fold, but has a low or no current income distribution. To access your net worth requires sale of a portion of or the entire asset, triggering a taxable event.




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Change Nothing

Imagine you had a time machine. You could go back in time and change anything you wanted. A past mistake could be erased, a missed opportunity taken, a relationship saved. If I had such a time machine I would change nothing. I would leave everything exactly as it happened, including all the regrets.

A popular attitude suggests many people would go back in time and kill Adolf Hitler before he committed his crimes against humanity. I wouldn’t. I would let the approximately 60 million people died; I would allow the gas chambers to continue.

Why would I pass a chance to save all those people? Am I really that cold? No, I am not that cold, but I do know everything happens for a reason. If Hitler didn’t do what he did more than a billion people could have died and the human race sent back to the Stone Age.

Imagine a time machine existed allowing anyone to go back and kill Hitler before the nightmare began. Imagine someone bumped off little Adolf when he was a wee tyke. How would human history have evolved differently.

Well, for one, scientists would not have been motivated to split the atom quite so soon. But make no mistake, scientists were getting close to discovering the mystery of splitting the atom. The atomic bomb wasn’t concocted out of thin air when the desire for a big BOOM was needed. No, human knowledge was getting close.

Without Hitler, Germany might have kept her scientists. Germany might have invented the bomb in the 1950s or 1960s without the impetus of war. The United States and other nations would have soon followed.




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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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