Tag

minimalism

Lifestyle, Taxes and Investing

Advantages of Living on the Road

rv_camper_at_north_toledo_bend_state_parkCome with me on a journey where taxes no longer apply.

Fifteen to twenty years ago I made it a mission to get people out of paying state taxes. Income taxes are the most obvious, but there are litanies of other taxes states levy against the people. Over the last few decades I estimate I cost the State of Wisconsin approximately $43 million in tax revenues. The richer you are the easier it is to avoid.

First I will tell a true story before I move to a tax strategy many of you early retirees will find very interesting.

Sometimes wealthy people wander into my office to pick my brain. This always amazes me because the pickings are rather slim at times. Still, it happens. On the particular day I have in mind one of the top people at a major financial firm stopped in. They were using a high powered firm in Chicago at the time so they thought an ‘ol farm boy from the sticks in Wisconsin could do better. And I did.

The issue revolved around retirement. They wanted to move to Wisconsin. When I reviewed their finances I explained why they did NOT want to move to Wisconsin. I showed them a number and they agreed. There was a solution, however.


Continue reading

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Wants Become Obligations




This is not the meaning of Christmas.

The holiday season is fast approaching and the best laid plans of financial independence and early retirement are left for discussion another day. Normally frugal people can lose their senses when the holidays roll around. One day they are giving thanks and the next they are trampling their neighbor to get a deal on a flat screen over at Wally World. And this is supposed to make us happy?

Wants are a harsh mistress. Once you satiate your wants, new wants fill the void. It is a forever hungry beast. Wants satisfied are not the end; they are the beginning of a long slog through financial hell. Once you buy something you need to take care of it. You need a place to store you newly owned junk, ah, I mean, stuff. You now must spend more to protect your pile of garbage.  A home or car needs insurance lest something happen which could cause you to lose your slavery, sorry, belongings. Room is made in the home or stuff is put into storage to make way for the new round of crap purchased on the credit card so you can keep wasting your hard earned money on interest. Once you own stuff, stuff owns you. It becomes an obligation and obligations cost money.Continue reading

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Lifestyle

A Walk Around the Farm

Each of us have a worldview built on our personal experiences. There is no right or wrong in anyone’s worldview. The differences are what make life worth living. It is why we communicate. Life is interesting because we have endless opportunities to grow as we travel through each day.

Some of my favorite comments are: You write different. You run a tax office different than any other I’ve seen. Working for you is different from previous jobs. Your ideas on growing a business are so different. The key word is different. When people say I am different it means I am doing something outside the mainstream. Perhaps I am blazing new roads. Doubtfully. What I am really doing is practicing a task in a manner that makes sense to me based on my worldview.

Anyone haunting these posts knows my disdain for formal traveling. That makes me different again. I am getting better. By writing out my thoughts and communicating with people I respect I am discovering ways I might enjoy time away from home. And good thing. Mrs. Accountant would enjoy traveling more. What she sacrifices to be with me is beyond comprehension. The plan for a long road trip is still on. Mrs. Accountant wants to see Hawaii so bad it hurts. I think next summer or autumn will be the time we take the leap.

Before I start that part of my life I want to invite you into my home. It is autumn here in NE Wisconsin. It is the prettiest time of year. Instead of showing you the building where I eat and sleep, I will give you a tour of my farm. It should help you understand why I like home so much. There are lots of pictures. Enjoy.


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Renting a Car is Cheaper

img_20161002_101217The debate rages on over renting versus buying a home. Location determines the correct course of action; buying in one city might be a wise financial move, whereas, renting could be better two states over or even across town. Within the same city the best financial course can be different over time.

The debate of buy versus rent is heavily discussed with home buying because of the huge investment. At the end of each discussion someone always says they prefer owning (or renting) so the “best” financial move is not always the course chosen.

What surprises me is how the discussion never moves to other major purchases. Automobiles, for example, are a major investment and are significantly worse expenditures because the car will go down in value, whereas, real estate tends to rise in value, following inflation trends.

Buying a new car might be a good idea with all the current incentives and, in some cases, massive tax credits for electric vehicles. In the cases involving vehicles with tax credits you need to consider your personal tax situation. Generally, tax credits of this kind are non-refundable, meaning you need a tax liability to reduce before the tax credit has value. State credits also play strongly into the decision. For the rest of us, purchasing a car should not be a simple “yes, I need one” decision.Continue reading

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Screw the Rich

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In the market for a freezer? Have I got a deal for you.

The rich are sanctimonious pricks that deserve every insult thrown at them.  Who do they think they are? Just because they didn’t spend every penny they earned and invested their money wisely does not give them the right to be treated like everyone else. Just because they never wasted their money on fancy SUVs, luxury vacations, or kept up with the Jones’s does not give them the right. It does not give them the right! Who are these rich I speak of? Well, anyone with a net worth above zero.

About half of Americans are below the waterline in net worth. These normal people who succumbed to the mass media brainwashing of spend everything you got are the normal people. You, my friend, saved and invested. You are an idiot. If you were poor, like a normal person, you would be treated like a normal person. But, no. You and your almighty attitude of spend less than you earn is as annoying as it is ignorant.

I Can’t Take Anymore

The opening to this post was darn hard to write. It goes against every fiber of my being, yet is the attitude of the majority of people. When you get to see the world from my side of the desk you have the opportunity to see large numbers of people and how they handle their finances up close. You also hear disturbing stories.Continue reading

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Budgeting Without a Budget




IMG_20160826_090153Accountants are reluctant to tell people what they do for a living. When I’m asked I sometimes say I’m a farmer. And whatever you do don’t say you are an accountant with plenty of free time on your hands; if you do, you are screwed. In a weak moment I mentioned my occupation at a writer’s conference and seven year of my life evaporated as the treasurer. In my younger days I ended up an elder in my church for the better part of two decades. Age has helped me weigh my words more carefully.

Working in a non-profit requires budgeting. It is the only budgeting I have ever done in my life. Budgets personally annoy me. Budgeted expenses are always spent while budgeted revenue is iffier. Hence, the organization is always broke and they look at the treasurer for answers. How do you tell the church council to stop spending so fucking much money? At the writer’s group I could say just that, but it never sunk in. Budgeting is a waste of time in its familiar format. I have a better idea.

Do as I Do and As I Say

Before we start I need to define the difference between goals and budgets. Generally goals are things you want to accomplish. You might have an income or a net worth goal, but I doubt anyone would have a spending goal, as in I want to spend at least this much this year. Budgets create a financial framework for a group to work within, including a family or even an individual.

My money management method is a blending of the two disciplines: goals and budgets. Even though I don’t have a budget, I track my income and expenses like a hawk. The accountant in me wants to record everything. Rather than a budget telling me what I can and can’t do, I am more interested in watching the trend of my income and spending.Continue reading

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The Joy of Minimalism




Back when Doc* was alive he played cards with us every Friday night. One night we got a call the police were at his house. It seems someone had broken into his home and may have started a fire. We thought the card game was over as Doc would head home to assess the damage. Instead he stayed tight in his chair and demanded the cards be dealt.

That night at cards I discovered the real priorities in life. The card game with family and neighbors was more important than stuff accumulated over a lifetime. Of course Doc never tossed anything out, but if someone wanted to steal his stuff, have at it.

My grandfather (Doc) was a Stoic without knowing it. He knew there was nothing he could do if his house was on fire or he was burglarized. He wasn’t going to grab a bucket and start tossing water on the flame; he was 88 years old. It seems it takes a lot of years for the wisdom to develop on what has real value, like a card game with people you care about. You can act like a chipmunk standing guard around your stash or you can value stuff at zero and relationships as priceless. Your choice will determine the level of happiness in your life.

How Much Is Enough?

The goal is earn more money so you can buy more stuff, also known as the moronathon. Before long you have a house filled to the rafters and a storage unit to hold all the stuff that does not fit in your home/apartment. You are living the dream. Now you add security to your home (don’t forget the storage unit) and bump your insurance coverage. People go to crazy lengths to dispose of money while complicating their lives. Worse, it costs money to have lots of stuff. And the work! All the work moving, cleaning, storing, and protecting the growing hoard of things in your fortress is an exercise in madness.

I have a distant relative who doesn’t lock his home, ever. His windows and doors don’t even have locks on them. “Why have’em,” he says. “What they gon’na steal?” He has a point. His home is Spartan to say the least. When you buy stuff you tendContinue reading

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Decluttering

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Okay, this is not my living room! It is a side of my home office. In my defense I did not put all that stuff there.

There is a genetic defect in The Wealthy Accountant’s family. It is so serious it threatens to overrun everything we value, costing us money and health. No one doubts grandpa accountant possessed the genetic mutation back in the farming days. Dad accountant followed in grandpa’s footsteps and a brief look around my home will erase any question in your mind the acorn does not fall far from the tree.

When I was a wee tyke my grandfather had a special job for us on rainy days. Rather than take a day off he sent us kids to the old shed where all the nails and screws from assorted jobs were thrown into a wooden bin. Our job was to separate them. Lest you think I am pulling your leg I have a sworn affidavit in my drawer, god forbid I would throw that away.

Nothing was wasted on the farm. The Great Depression left an indelible mark on my grandparents as they saved everything “just in case”. When we talk frugal today we have nothing on my granddad. Nothing. We worked hard for the sake of working. The fear in the back of our minds was Continue reading

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December 5, 2016
Wants Become Obligations
November 18, 2016
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