How to Retire Younger than Mr. Money Mustache

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Golfing buddies taking a break at the Vic Ferrari Charity Golf Event for Children's Hospital

Golfing buddies taking a break at the Vic Ferrari Charity Golf Event for Children’s Hospital

Several years ago while surfing the web I ran across a guy called Mr. Money Mustache, written by some crazy guy out in Colorado*. His claim to fame was that he retired at age 30, to which the Internet Retirement Police took him to task, claiming he did not ‘really’ retire at age 30. Not me. I sat back in my chair and wondered: What took him so long?

Fast forward to last weekend where my 21 year old daughter, Heather, complained about issues with her supervisor at work. It was the perfect opportunity for me, dear ‘ol dad, the Wealthy Accountant, to share some golden nuggets of truth.

The people living with me, sometimes known as family, are quite accustomed to my rants on how to live life, sometimes known as ‘dad’s little psychotic episodes’. The good father that I am, I share my lifetime of experiences liberally and sometimes even add a modest amount of BS. Let me be 100% clear here; I never lie. Ever!

Last weekend I had the perfect opportunity to explain to Heather how she can retire by age 25, younger than Mr. Money Mustache, and live the life she wants. The best part with my plan is she only has to work a half day three months a year followed by a nine month vacation.

Here is my, once again, flawless logic. Take a page from dad’s book. You see, dad, the Wealthy Accountant, started his business as a tax preparer only. In my mind there was no better job. For three months I work out of my home preparing taxes and for nine months I horse around. By working out of the home, overhead is almost zero. With a small amount of training, a computer and tax software you can bang out a couple hundred tax returns each spring filling your coffers with $30,000 – $50,000. Now you can enjoy a well-deserved nine month vacation after working that grueling part-time job for two and a half months. How do you do it?

Enter George Carlin

As much fun as I had with my daughter’s plight, there was a serious grain of truth to my reasoning. George Carlin was the best comedian to ever live. What made George so good was how he made us laugh. He told few jokes. What he did was show how the world really is until we saw the absurdity and started laughing.




The world could use George Carlin’s flawless logic right about now. The old paradigm of working 40 or more hours per week as the only way to get ahead is dead wrong. Have you ever noticed how many hours a day you really work? Filter out the bathroom breaks, socializing, checking email, picking your nose and scratching your butt and you will find you actually work four or fewer hours per day while the boss coughs up a hairball for a full eight hour workday. Even is the dead of tax season when I am hyper productive I noticed I only really working maybe six or seven hours per day. The stress of such productivity eventually wears me out and kills my productivity. Few people can remain productive for more than a few hours at a time.

420-402 D75 SE boxshot artSomewhere deep within these thoughts are nuggets of truth for living life. Technology has made our life even easier. The income you produce from ten to maybe as high as twenty hours a week covers all your needs and most of your wants. All the extra hours at the office are filled in to satisfy the clock.

Your personal life is no different. Bills, income and investing can all be set on autopilot. Computers do all the work for you. Machines make our lives so easy we now run to the gym so we can lift something and improve our health. That problem did not exist 100 years ago.

I challenge you, as I challenged my daughter, Heather. When you work, work. Get the work done and move on to enjoying your personal life. Back on the farm we have a saying: push, shove or get the hell out of the way. And talking about farming; I grew up on a farm. There were always breaks between unloading each wagon of hay. We worked hard in spring and fall, enjoying more free time (fishing anyone) the remainder of the year.

Heather has no desire to be a tax accountant. Maybe I can talk you into it. According to Robert Half (a temp agency for accounting professionals) informed me recently that during the Great Recession the unemployment rate in the accounting/tax industry reached a whopping 1.9%. It currently stands at 1.2%. We could use a few more good men (and women) in the field. The work is fun and you meet wonderful people. The best part is you can make a difference in so many people’s lives. A massive number of accounting firms would love to hire you full-time during tax season and reduce your hours to twenty or so hours a week the rest of the year. Heck, many would hire you for three months of tax season and give you the rest of the year off if you want. Or, you can work out of your home and set your own hours.

How Young Will You Retire

Once you have enough money to live you are working only to work, a fool’s errand. It is a lesson I still need to learn. I love my business, employees, clients and my work so I continue growing my practice. Pete, over at Mr. Money Mustache, thinks I’m “insane” to be working like I do at my age. My only retort is, “I am happy.” The reason I am happy is because I do what I love and have plenty of time off three quarters of the year. In my mind I make a difference; it is all that matters to me.

I told Heather she could retire at 25, younger than Mr. Money Mustache. I was only half joking. You don’t need to work 40 hours a week anymore to live ‘right’. Living ‘smart’ is better. Reduce your wants and enjoy all the best stuff life has to offer: family, friends, and walks in the park, sunrise, sunset and more. Go for a bike ride with your significant other. Meditate. Just relax. Yes, I know; I need to practice what I preach. I invite you to join me on my journey. I have walked a bit of it already so I have experiences to share.

 

* Mr. Money Mustache and I know each other. Do not consider my warped humor a rude retort.




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Keith Schroeder

11 Comments

  1. lucas on February 21, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Well i think you are very close to talking me into it. Working to help people with their finances for a couple months a year (when it is cold out), then spending the warmer months growing my own food and doing construction projects for people (or myself) sounds pretty good right about now. I think the most appealing thing to me is the freedom to work and produce on terms that I feel produce the best result and are the most beneficial to other. Too much corporate BS is only self serving and doesn’t help anyone do a good job (just maintain the hierarchy and control). All the early FI or older retired people that i know that i want to be like use their time well to help others (often investing in the next generation of their families or in ministries somewhere), build useful things, all the while learning new things.

  2. Ricky D on February 21, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    How much would someone clear a year doing this starting out? If I have an undergrad in finance what additional schooling/knowledge would need to be acquired?

    • Keith Schroeder on February 22, 2016 at 6:12 am

      Ricky, it depends on where you live; prep fees vary by region. Back when I first went full-time I used a spare bedroom for one year and prepared several hundred returns, profiting in the 30k range. Not bad for 1990. The next year I remodeled the basement and used that as my office for 5 years before going crazy and buying an office building. Considering it was the early 90s I still managed a six figure income working from home part-time.

      There is no additional schooling required. However, you want to provide quality service. Check for continuing education classes in your area for enrolled agents. These classes focus on federal tax law and provide significant resources. Try to attend at least 5 days of classes per year. This will provide you with the necessary knowledge to prepare a solid tax return. As you gain experience you will improve your skills. You will also need commercial grade tax software. I use Drake Software in my office.

  3. Kat Tung on February 24, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Are you a CPA or an EA? What credentials would you recommend one have to begin as an entry-level tax preparer?

    • Keith Schroeder on February 24, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      I am an enrolled agent. More important than letters after the name is experience and tax knowledge. I’ll take a knowledgeable tax professional over credentials any day of the week. If you have problems with the IRS you will need a CPA or an EA.

      Remember, a CPA is an accounting professional who might specialize in tax issues; an enrolled agent is a tax professional who may know accounting, too.

  4. Kerry Shunte on February 24, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Wow, I would love to have this kind of life. Did you take the NAEA course? Once you’re certified, how do you get clients where you can work from home? This is exciting stuff.

    • Keith Schroeder on February 24, 2016 at 3:13 pm

      I took the EA exam back in ’92 and used Thomson Tax Seminar’s home course (they no longer exist). As for building a client base, talk to everyone. Give speeches to organizations around town.

  5. Bill on February 24, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Hello, I’m a CPA who bdid six years of audit at a large regional firm, two years doing SEC reporting for a large bank, and now am in an accounting research role for a large utility company. I’ve been trying to think of ways to freelance on the side using my experience, but am struggling coming up with ideas. I haven’t ever done tax, but I’m sure I could pick it up, but was trying to leverage my current skill set. Do you have any advice? Thank you for your time.

  6. Elizabeth Colegrove on February 25, 2016 at 12:47 am

    Absolutely LOVE this article. If all goes well I will leave my corporate job in 6 weeks at 28 to focus on my side hobbies/love, managing and growing my real estate empire. Wouldn’t be possible, if we hadn’t had been smart when we were young.

  7. Fervent Finance on March 1, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    I’ve been contemplating this idea for a few years now. But with my 28th birthday around the corner, I need to shit or get off the pot 🙂 I’ve also considered financial planning but my business model would not create recurring revenue like being a tax preparer would – “Spend less than you make and invest the rest in index funds… the end.”

  8. Elle @ New Graduate Finance on March 13, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    This article is fantastic, and so relevant to my life right now.

    My current job requires me “working” about 9 hours a day.

    I sit in my desk, hanging out for about 7-8 of those hours. I know how to get my work done quickly and efficiently, and I know that I don’t need the 9 hours it takes others in my same position to do the same job.

    I love how you were able to scale your tax prep business. I have worked on side projects, but I have not yet been able to scale anywhere close to the level you have achieved.

    Any tips for getting into tax preparation?

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