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math skills

Lifestyle

Secret Messages

Sometimes accounting can be a downright boring subject. It is the job of your favorite accountant to spice it up a bit with stories and jokes so the message resonates and therefore gets through. No matter how brilliant my idea to increase wealth or lower taxes, it is worth nothing if I can’t keep you reading to the end.

Many people find blogs like this by accident. The people hunting for blogs like this already are open to the concepts. Not so the wayward traveler finding her way here from search engines. I write for the choir, but always consider the wayward, too.

I use stories to convey the message. Money is fun to read about and have. To keep readers engaged I impose secret formulas to keep them coming back. It’s almost like a sickness the reader can’t quite put her finger on. How come I am so draw to this blog about (egads!) accounting, saving money, investing and retirement? the wayward soul asks.

Let me be clear. The message is simple: Save half your gross income and invest in a broad based index fund. All done. Now you have another 23 hours and 58 minutes to fill today. Money stuff is done.

Easy as it is, I still need to make a living writing this blog. I enjoy the writing process and telling stories. Changing people’s lives for the better is a bonus.




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Special Report: Why Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is full of BS




Heather Bresch, chief executive officer of Mylan Chris Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Heather Bresch, chief executive officer of Mylan
Chris Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The health care system is broke in the U.S.; few doubt that fact. Mylan NV and its CEO Heather Bresch symbolize everything wrong with medicine today. In this short post I will show you how to ferret out BS from public companies using their own words. Bresch is on CNBC this morning defending Mylan and the company’s position.

In the interview Bresch makes several comments about the price increase of a Mylan product: EpiPens. Prices increased steadily from $164.98 for a two-pack in May 2011 to $608.61 for the same two-pack in May of 2016. Bresch uttered frustration because the price increases are the result of all the middlemen touching the product (“…four or five hands”). Bresch said, “That $608 is a list price. What Mylan takes from that, our net sales is $274, so $137 per pen.”

But don’t worry. She and Mylan have a heart of gold. They are reducing the price by up to $300 with savings cards. Thank god for all their love.

But wait a minute. Your net sale is $247 for a two-pack and you are refunding $300? What are you, an idiot!? Well, no, Bresch is not an idiot, just a greedy _________. I never use naughty words so you can fill in the blank. And Mylan stock has been drifting down lately; must be all the refunds they are giving. No. Just a big pay increase for the CEO. Talk about a bullshit story.

As an accountant I am a solutions type of guy. Here is my fix for the problem of monopoly powers used by big pharma to abuse people. Since society grants patent protection to companies like Mylan, society also gets to make the rules. Never mind how pharma extends patents and jacks prices based on minor tweaks to a formula. From now on when the price of a medicine is 10% greater than the next ten highest priced countries for the same medicine or increase prices more than 10% in any twelve month period we pull the patent and the protections patents provide. Now the free market and competition can solve the problem.

When a large corporation says they only net $247 on a product but will now offer a saving card for up to $300 you know they are mentally challenged on math issues or full of crap. Since Bresch’s compensation skyrocketed with the price of EpiPens I think their math skills are just fine. For some reason I feel an invisible hand slowly bending me over to service the account. Oh, this is going to hurt.




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The County of ‘Making a Murderer’ Strikes Again

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Nathan Haberman, the new district attorney of Calumet County. May he bring dignity, security, and compassion to our community.

This spring I attended Camp Mustache III in western Washington State. Between our leisurely learning sessions we hiked Mt. Si.  When our hike was over a group of us gathered at the base of the mountain as we started walking back to the Rainbow Lodge where we were staying. I was a guest speaker so people were interested in my personal life, including where I lived.

“Wisconsin,” I said.

“How close to that Steven Avery thing on Netflix are you?” a woman asked.

“I live six miles from the doorstep of the courtroom where it all happened.”

The woman looked at me with a twisted stare. “How can you live in such a corrupt community?”

I did my best to defend my hometown, but I was not making a sale that day. The conversation bothered me, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I accepted the facts like a good little Stoic.

Big Mouth Strikes Again

Ken Kratz was the special prosecutor in the Steven Avery case and the district attorney of Calumet County at the time. Ego got the best of Kratz as he was exposed in a sexting scandal a few years later. Governor Doyle filled the district attorney vacancy with Jerilyn Dietz. Nicolas Bolz beat Dietz in the next election in 2012. The district attorney’s office has struggled since the Kratz sexting scandal.

In May a client we will call Bryan wanted to speak with me privately. He wanted toContinue reading

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Lifestyles of the Rich and Stupid

New israeli lottery ticketThe lottery is back in the news with promises of a rich reward for a very small number of people who randomly pick numbers matching the officially drawn numbers. The odds are hundreds of millions to one. But you can’t win if you don’t play. Just one ticket, one little ticket. A single dollar. Better buy two; make that three.

Lottery sales shy rocket when the jackpot rises to mega levels. The impossible odds are still just as bad when the jackpot is massive. The one question I don’t hear people asking is: If nobody won the last time they drew numbers and millions played, what chance do you have of winning?

Eventually someone will win the jackpot and the madness will recede until the next jackpot reaches nosebleed heights. I have been fortunate to have worked with a small number of lottery winners over the years. There are lessons buried in there all of us can benefit from.

Warnings from Winners

I will share parts of the stories of three winners. Their backgrounds are different only in the details. All had jobs and were solidly in the middle class. They had great lives until their dream of quick riches changed their lives forever.Continue reading

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Buy a Car $4,000 Under Blue Book

Classic Car

By Liftarn – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=215686

Cars are a leading cause of wealth destruction; they are also a necessary evil in our society. The only way to win the “car” game is to prepare for battle with a fully loaded arsenal. Today I am going to show you how I buy cars for $4,000 or more under Blue Book.

Before we begin battle you need to understand my car habits. I drive 6,000 – 8,000 miles per year, mostly for business trips. I bike to work around 100 days per year and drive another 100 days. The round trip to work is 30.2 miles. I always buy a used vehicle. Once I claim ownership of said vehicle I drive it for 15-20 years. There are two cars in the garage. This means I buy a car every 7 to 10 years on average. I keep my cheapskate skills honed by helping clients and family members engage in the same mischievous auto savings activities.




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The Real Interest Rate on Your Mortgage

20160513_061855 (1)People suffer financial hardship largely due to limited math skills. Myths, frequently perpetuated by the financial services industry, are created, repeated, and reinforced to keep people poor and enslaved. Financial services companies are there to provide financial services and collect a fee for that service, not make you wealthy.

Today we are going to dispel a few of those myths and start you thinking differently about money, investing, and wealth. Armed with the real math you can avoid stupid money mistakes. Early retirement (any retirement for that matter) and financial independence requires you to manage your money wisely. This means you will need to put aside the lies you have been told from young on.
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