I am writing this as I sit in the Seattle airport waiting to go home after a long weekend at Camp Mustache 3. (More on Camp Mustache later in the week as I write a roundup post.) The weekend was nothing short of incredible. The people I met and the stories shared have me tingly all over. One of the events of the weekend is climbing Mount Si. While climbing the hill our group talked and shared more stories about our lives. These get-togethers always entail a lot of “Where you from?” questions. While I was climbing Mount Si I was asked how I met Mrs. Accountant. I have a blog post in process on how to build a long-term, fulfilling relationship; today I want to focus on how to find the ideal mate.
Twenty nine years ago I was still taking a few college classes here and there. Our story deals with Macro-Economics class. Class was from 4 pm to 7 pm, Tuesday and Thursday. Next to the college was a bowling alley and bar called The Image. The Image had Happy Hour on Thursday until seven. Several students, the Wealthy Accountant included, talked the professor into ending class a few minutes early on Thursdays so we could catch the tail end of Happy Hour.
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.
Many years ago a young man entered my office wanting to see me. He had a fan folder filled with documents and needed his tax return prepared. In a weak moment I allowed him a meeting without an appointment. As I always do with a new client, I started to ask questions. It is my firm belief that you must know your client before you can help him.
Opening a file for a new client requires their Social Security Number. He questioned my need for this information. I explained how I cannot even open a file for him without the SSN. He grudgingly provided the number. As I continued asking questions to understand my new client I was met by a wall of resistance. Finally, the young man had had enough of my questions. He informed me I was on a need to know basis, to which I replied, “You need to know you need to leave.”
The IRS sends agents to accounting offices periodically to test accountants, practices and procedures. After digesting the meeting with the young man I came to the conclusion he was an IRS plant there to test me. Accountants under pressure to build a client base may succumb to temptation. The IRS wants to know which tax professionals are willing to step over the line when pressured by a client.
For some reason I do not feel pressured to cheat on taxes. The tax code is filled with too many opportunities to reduce your tax load without cheating. Savers also have less incentive to cheat as they are treated preferentially by the tax code. I am only interested in the correct answer, not a certain result. If you owe money, you owe money. We can work on ideas to lower your tax bill going forward, but what is past, is past.
There are only a small number of issues that are really urgent: IRS letter, inheritance/death, purchasing a home, divorce (you would be surprised how many people I know who came this close to getting divorce papers and didn’t), and either buying or selling a business or major asset. Periodically something new shows up, but 95% of urgent calls fall into the above mentioned categories. Today we have a client purchasing a business.
Accountants are called “deal busters” for good reason. Whereas, the buyer has already convinced himself how great the deal it is, the accountant points out all the things that can go wrong and several things that are wrong with the deal. The accountant’s math is slightly different from the buyers. The accountant knows he will see this account a lot in the future if the business is purchased. A failing business makes for the worst clients (extra work and difficulty collecting fees). On the other hand, business clients are high margin accounts. Good accountants will pass on a lucrative account to avoid the problem clients.
Balancing family life, personal, and business present challenges when your interests are catholic (little c, not big C). Family is always a priority while business always demands more of your time; personal time is needed for mental well-being and health. Business owners are in the toughest situation. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk changed the world with their work. The best learn quickly to avoid keeping busy. Even small business owners suffer the same demands on their time as captains of industry.
Some leaders are better at managing their time and personal lives than others. Steve Jobs was noted for his intensity. Elon Musk gave us PayPal, Tesla, Solar City, and SpaceX. Their skills in creating value are legendary, but Jobs managed to find time to meditate and stay married, while Musk has had three wives in the last decade. A burning intensity to perform does not preclude a healthy home life. Bill Gates got married and stayed married. (Bill and Melinda make a cute couple.)
If Elon Musk can run several multi-billion dollar corporations, it is possible for you to do great things while retaining balance in your life. Few of us will ever experience the demands of a Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or Warren Buffett. It boils down to managing workflow. By creating systems to manage all the demands on your time you can create a happier, healthier, and more productive life.
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.
There are certain characteristics common among people who achieve early retirement. Saving and investing are a serious part of the lifestyle of an early retired individual. Another common strait is a nervous energy to get things done. People who retire early, or at least can, tend to work hard and save.
I am an unusual type of retired person. Travel does not interest me, nor does sitting around. Like many people headed for an early retirement, or already there, I am full of pent up energy and filled with ideas and full of curiosity. So the question begs asking: What do you do once you are retired?
Unless you are playing a Chump’s Game, you were working for more than just money. You probably enjoyed the work you were doing and that is why you did enough of it to reach financial independence at a young age. I propose doing what
FIRE: Financial Independence, Retire Early
There are only a few good reasons to work. They are good reasons, of course, but can quickly overrun your personal life, destroying the original goal of working in the first place. The two good reasons I can think of to works are:
- Saving for retirement, and
- Love of the work.
In the beginning it is hard to tell if you love your work because you have to work. That is why we preach early retirement here; not to bow out of life as soon as possible, but to live the life you want. Once you have amassed a large enough nest egg you are retired even if you chose to continue working your job. FIRE allows you that freedom.
Once you have moved beyond the need to work a job many people continue to do so. Self-employed people are the worst. I know, I’m living it! Just because you can quit doing what you do to earn income does not mean you should. If you enjoy the work environment, co-workers, clients, and the work itself, why would you quit? There is no shame in doing what you love as you work toward financial independence and even afterwards.