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positive thinking

Lifestyle

Tough Times Make You Rich

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. held their annual meeting this past weekend. Warren Buffett noted some of his failures over the previous decades (missing Amazon, for example) and Charlie Munger added Google as a big miss. Both men agreed they’d continue missing many opportunities in the future. Buffett and Munger made it clear they learn more from their mistakes than from their successes. They felt winning was a poor teacher as it fooled people into thinking they were right.

Steve Jobs had some Syrian blood and was raised by adoptive parents. Armed with only this information it would be hard to imagine a path that would lead to Jobs creating a company which would become the largest on the planet by the time of his early death at age 56. The odds were stacked against Jobs, yet he rose above the travails and changed the world.

Elon Musk was born in South Africa. His parents divorced when he was nine. It would be hard to see a path for this young boy where PayPal would be part of his future followed by SpaceX, Tesla, Solar City and a growing list of additional companies.

Tough times. We hear about them all the time. Rarely is found a successful person who doesn’t have baggage in the closet. Show me someone who never had problems and I’ll show you someone who is mediocre. The exceptions are exceedingly rare.

Yet, most people have hard luck stories in their past. Why does a difficult time in life, especially early on, define so many successful people? And why do people with the odds stacked in their favor frequently end up average at best?


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Lifestyle

The Government Paid Me a Visit




Teat cups hurt like hell when hit by one, or seven.

I knew this day was coming. I did my best to hide it from you, dear readers. The government has had it in for me for decades. They tolerated my antics as a small town accountant, but now, with a blog growing in popularity, their patience has reached an end.

In the past I was given subtle warnings. Yesterday, and now this morning, the warning were not so subtle. It really isn’t that bad. They offered me the job on a regular basis in the past. The rules are simple: no more blogging; no more tax office. You work for us now.

My heart is heavy. After serious consideration I am accepting their offer. The pay is a solid six figures and all I have to do is spread misinformation getting taxpayers to overpay their taxes, thereby giving the government more control and power. For decades I have been the solution, now I have joined the problem.

Don’t hate me! They are very persuasive. Very persuasive. They sent seven dudes, I mean really big guys, to help me in my decision. They took me into the back room at my office. Even Karen, my Puerto Rican office manager, couldn’t stop them! The government guys had rubber hoses. Well, actually, they had teat cups. I included a picture so you guys know what a teat cup is. Only a farm boy can understand how much a teat cup hurts when you get hit by one.

I was dancing on my tippy-toes and squealing like a girl getting asked to the prom. It was not pretty. That six figure paycheck with a full line of benefits started looking mighty tempting after three hours of teat cup treatment. All I had to do was throw you guys under the bus. Hell, after three hours I volunteered to drive the bus. A few solid contacts from a teat cup on the back of the leg and you would modify your thinking too.

So there you have it folks. I sold my practice for a reasonable price. (The seven government goons are standing over me with teat cups ready as I write.) I work for the other side now. Disregard all the stuff I told you about reducing your taxes. It was all a lie. A good, God-fearing American is always willing to pay extra taxes to protect the freedoms we hold so dear.

The next time you see me at a conference, remember, I am a plant from the other side, there to gather information to get more money from you to the government. Never mind the steroid monster men holding teat cups by the doorway. They are there to help me do my job.

And the welts? Sure, teat cups leave serious welts, but they heal nicely. And while they are healing I have a nice reminder of the job I need to do now.

Before I leave, please check the date on this post. Have a pleasant April Fool’s Day. I knew you guys didn’t believe it once I said Karen couldn’t stop seven government goons. If that were to really happen, Karen would fuck those boys up good.

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Lifestyle

Tricks to Beat Procrastination

img_20161221_091909I’ve been putting off this post for a while. Now is as good a time as any to get it done.

Now that I got the obvious joke out of the way it is time we discuss a serious issue facing us all: procrastination. When we least need it, our desire to finish, or even start, a task is put off. There are a variety of reasons for procrastination. The job might be distasteful, it might be a large project, or you might not fully understand the task.

Fear keeps us from acting. We all have had experiences where we put something off and put it off and put it off, only later to find out, once we started, the project wasn’t that bad after all. Many times procrastination begins when we are mentally overwhelmed by the task. Either your to-do list is longer than Santa’s on Christmas Eve or you started a task and hit a road block. Once that dreaded file is put to the side it is in a kind of purgatory. Starting again is almost impossible.

There are various tricks I use to get massive amounts of work out the door. Rather than focus on different scenarios, I will hone in on issues surrounding my office work. We will deal with email, phone calls, social media, and tax returns. Think of my stack of tax returns as the pile of work in your office or the long to-do list at home.


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Enjoying Life Versus a Happy Life

IMG_20160727_091802When you read the Stoics and personal finance blogs in the vein I write you quickly learn the goal in life is happiness. Money, retirement, and financial independence are all cash words we use to make our case about happiness. Saving and investing a large portion of our income building a solid nest egg allows for less work and more happiness.

Then I wonder if there is more. I’m a happy guy no matter where I am. I am content with what I have; I have all I need or want. Happiness is a state of mind. Anyone can be happy any time they choose to do so. All you need to do is learn your happiness triggers and then trigger them.

But what about enjoyment? How do we trigger enjoyment? If happiness is something we choose to be, can we also choose to enjoy? These are interesting questions I want to explore.

Harvesting Good Feelings

When I am not working my business or writing this blog, I farm. Since I am already happy, farming does not create happiness or make me happier. Happiness is not a matter of degrees. Either you are happy or you are not. I enjoy farming. Working with the animals gives me pleasure.

Take a distasteful job on the farm: cleaning the chickens. Chickens make a mess and it stinks. Cleaning the chickens is a job I don’t volunteer for; I do it because it needs doing. Cleaning the chicken coop has no effect on my happiness; I am happy and will remain happy even while doing the distasteful job.

You can learn to enjoy something if you allow yourself the pleasure. (How do you like that play on words?) Hard work brings me pleasure because I know it is healthy for me. Cleaning the chicken area is actually something I enjoy once I get going. There is a satisfaction to seeing the area get cleaner with each push of the shovel.

It is hard to see the difference and why it matters in such a case. Maybe we need another example.


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Lifestyle

Destroying Fear with Stoicism




20131025_173740Fear destroys dreams and happiness faster than any other thing can. Fear of failure prevents us from starting a business; fear of rejection causes us to pass on a dream date; and fear of the unknown forces us to keep working a job well beyond the point we could retire. This simple four-letter word pushes us back against the wall, draining all the vitality of life from us.

Fear paralyses. The opportunity to speak to a group is unrealized because our stomach turns and our heart stops due to fear, as if the audience will rush the stage and beat you. (Well, there was this one time I was speaking. . .) All the happiness you deserve in life is passed each time you allow fear to rule your decisions. There will be failures and rejections. Once you understand this is part of life you can focus on the important stuff and say “yes” to the opportunity for a date with the girl of your dreams or start that business.

Fear is nothing new. Mankind has felt the fight of flight response from the beginning of time. The ancient Stoics knew uncontrolled emotions destroy faster than anything known to man. And it is all self-inflicted!

FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real.

It is all in your head. Failing at business is a possibility. When you see as many business owners over the years as I have you start to see a pattern. It becomes obvious who will fail. Most businesses fail because they neglect to take appropriate steps, which all lead back to some sort of fear. If we do that we could lose clients. If we invest in the company we might not earn the investment back. And, of course, once you allow fear to rule it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.Continue reading

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New Publishing Schedule at The Wealthy Accountant




This is the 116th post here at The Wealthy Accountant. The average post has been around 1500 words, meaning I have published approximately 174,000 words this year so far on this site. That is enough words to fill two average sized novels! I also write two other blogs of flash fiction adding another 153,000 words to my output. That is a lot of stuff to say in one year and it is giving me a sore throat.

Before you recoil in horror, understand I am not going away! For next few weeks to two months I am cutting my publishing pace to three posts per week: Monday-Wednesday-Friday. That is still an annual output of 156 posts or a 234,000 word pace, enough to fill three average sized novels. I would post more, but I’ve already told you more than I know. (Keep your eyes on the ball so the fast ones don’t get by you.)

There is a logical reason for the temporary slowdown. I have plenty of ideas to share, but many of my favorites are festering in the queue waiting for the necessary research. You see, many ideas I can lay on paper in a few hours because they don’t need much research or the work is already gathered and just needs organizing on the page. To give these future posts justice I need to make phone calls and research deeper. I could always throw a few basics out and let you figure out the rest, but that is sloppy journalism and robs you, the reader, of the information you expect and deserve.

I am also concerned over my current quality. I have noticed spelling and grammatical errors when I re-read posts weeks later. Without a separate set of eyes reviewing my work things like that can happen. It is important for me to say what I intend. This is communication and ifContinue reading

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Lifestyle

Do As I Say, Not As I Do




Humans are social creatures craving to belong to a group they feel is like them and will accept them. Our heroes and mentors come from this group. People big into sports find heroes among athletes and try to find life lessons from the most successful sports figures. My heroes tend to be more literary or historical because I love reading, researching, and studying.

Several years ago I started reading Mr. Money Mustache and thought Pete was the neatest guy alive. He made frugal cool and fun. I found a mentor and the mentor was never informed. We all do it. We find people who seem to exude what we want to become and latch on. Pete had it all figured out and I liked that.

When I write this blog I work hard to show my soft underbelly. It is too easy to make it look effortless or like my life is all a bed of roses, free from any problems or worries. Life isn’t that neat and clean for anyone. No amount of money or fame removes all problems from life. Deep down we all know this to be true, but it feels better when we wear rose-colored glasses. We want this perfect solution to make life all better.

As we get closer to our heroes by following everything they write or do in public we start to see the warts. OMG! Keith and Pete both had business failures in life! Say it ain’t so! But it is so. People who achieve worthwhile goals go through the same process as anyone else. There is no secret formula to success without bumps along the way.

It is so disheartening when we discover our role model puts his pants on one leg at a time. What the fuck is up with that? You mean when so-and-so farts it doesn’t smell like mint? Who would have thought? In the beginning we build up our new-found role model to a level not possible. Then reality sets in and we feel disappointed.

WYSIWYG

As regular readers know I advise Pete on tax matters and prepare his tax documents. I am lucky because I not only got to meet my role model, I also got to know him in a more intimate way than most people can. The greatest feeling in the world is discovering my role model really walked the talk. What you see is what you get.

After a cooling off period we begin to cool to our role model. They have many traits we want to possess or build upon, but now they are more human and just as vulnerable. But they also do things we do not always agree with. When the gloss comes off we can see our role model for who they really are. It is at this moment when we can really learn something of value from our hero. What originally attracted us to our role model is the end product. The process is the only way you can achieve some of those same end results.Continue reading

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Dealing with Mistakes




IMG_20160818_150822Have you ever made a mistake? Of course you have. Like me, you have a few doozies in the closet to air out, too, if you are honest. Mistakes come in all sizes. From the minor mishap to the really stupid to the criminal, we all have our moments of ignorant brilliance.

As luck would have it, mistakes do not define us. Maybe you were drinking and driving and got caught or have been convicted for possessing an illegal drug; maybe you ruined a relationship due to infidelity or sheer apathy; maybe you trusted someone and they betrayed you; maybe you made an investment and after it was too late suffered a major financial setback to your early retirement plans. None of these mistakes define you; how you deal with the mistake does.

The Wealthy Accountant’s Inferno

Before we start talking about you or solutions, I need to confess a great sin I once committed. Many years ago my commercial tax software provider branched into DIY tax preparation. Accountants using their software in their office were given a free license to market the online program. Needless to say, I was excited. I developed a business plan to take it to TurboTax and all the other online DIY tax programs. I would compete on price and quality.

As tax season approached I put my marketing machine into action spending $80,000 in TV, radio, and online advertising before I discovered this was not working as planned. When the dust settled the revenue from my little project netted a bit over $3,000. I took a $77,000 loss on an idea I thought really had potential.

I made one huge mistake and a bunch of smaller ones. The mistake did not define my business or me. It certainly hurt the pocketbook, but I was lucky to have an established business where the investment came from cash flow; no borrowed funds were used.Continue reading

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