Every group has one, the sweet person who seems so polite and kind. It doesn’t take long to discover the demure person with all the sweetness is hiding behind a wall of pain caused by the unfeeling hammer of life. Of course you want to help. You and the whole group pitch in to make our unfortunate victim of life better off.
Now the problems begin. Our victim is no victim at all. She is a drama queen. Life has dished her one disaster after another. No slight goes unnoticed. You are now part of her support group. Your attempts to provide answers are met with one excuse after the other. If you fix the problem for the drama queen she can’t tell you, and you, and you. You fucked up a perfect crying game.
Before long the group has no tolerance for the drama and anyone standing too close suffers with the serial victim. Attempts to help financial problems only make the problem worse as any help is squandered or new money problems arise. It hurts because you care about people, but you finally realize you’ve been duped by a pro.
Identifying the Drama Queen
Let me be clear drama also comes from drama kings; the ladies have no corner on the drama market. At one time or another we have all fallen for the antics of people living drama one day after the other.
The worst part is how easy it is to get drawn in. Drama queens are always sweet and kind. Of course they have problems like the rest of us. They share their story just like I share stories here. The difference is their stories are meant to elicit empathy for their plight. By the time it is apparent, it is too late. You are in up to your neck and still sinking.
Whenever I speak to an organization if I mention you can travel for free or get $10,000 or more per year tax-free, I am always asked to come back and speak again on this single topic. It is incredible how many people either don’t know or don’t use on a regular basis what I am about to reveal. I am talking about tax-free money just for the asking and every kind of free travel imaginable.
A lot of people opt for the travel benefits because they enjoy traveling and the benefits are usually worth a bit more if used for travel. For me, cash is king. I like money, especially when I don’t have to report it as income.
Responsible adults should have no problem using credit cards to their advantage. We do NOT recommend carrying a balance on a credit card ever! The above statements about free travel and tax-free cash are available using credit cards and to a lesser extent debit cards. At the bottom of this post I will provide links to a list of credit cards with a variety of cash and travel bonuses.
When you live in northeast Wisconsin “One More Year” has significant meaning. From the beginning of his career with the Green Bay Packers, Brett Favre always talked about hanging up his cleats. As his career was clearly waning the annual refrain of “One More Year!” started to grow old. Memes were created of an old and wrinkled Favre in a full football uniform muttering a toothless “One More Year”.
It is easier to retire when you are young. As the years add up, the work we do begins to identify who we are. Stopping said work is akin to suicide. And so it goes for your favorite accountant. I had my chance to hang up my cleats before the turn of the century. One More Year syndrome set in until it is almost a joke when I say I am quitting or retiring.
At Camp Mustache earlier this year the phrase was often repeated. It felt like it was directed at me because I kept defending my stance of continuing to run my business. Doug Nordman, everybody calls him Nords, was one of the attendees who really struck a chord with me when he spoke on the subject. The last day he was part of a podcast and he really made the sale with his plea for people to understand they have enough to retire even if they think they don’t. Nords retired to Hawaii and is living the good life now.
I always made excuses for why I would keep doing what I do. Deep down I know there is enough money to do whatever I want with the rest of my life. Doug’s warning to not hang on too long still haunts me. Life is not meant to be one long haul of work even if it is what makes us happy. Other things can make us happy if we give them a try.
The Things which hurt, instruct. —Benjamin Franklin
Good intentions can lead to disastrous results when the premise is faulty. There is a dark side to the Wealthy Accountant left undiscussed until now. People walk into the office, call, email, text, and leave comments asking for help on a variety of topics. Accountants typically want to help those in need: real or imagined.
This desire to help sometimes crosses over into a dark realm. Not everyone wants help, even those asking for it. A cry for help in too often a cry for attention and your friendly accountant is often too slow on the uptake to realize it is a ruse until it is too late. Employees, clients, readers, and people in general all want a piece of someone willing to feed their addiction for attention.
I see a pattern emerge in my behavior when I hear a cry for help. People profess to want life better and I am willing to share ideas to help make their life better. Usually it involves money since I am an accountant. Before long it becomes obvious the individual requesting help is not really interested in help; they want a willing accomplice in their personal dramas.
Clothes are one of those expenses easily avoided. Paying $50 for a shirt, slacks, or any kind of clothes is something I’ve never done and is insane. Today I will show you how Mrs. Accountant acquires the necessary brand-new garments for our household for less than $200 per year for a family of four. If you read to the end of the post (no peeking) I will show you a trick where you can get nearly unlimited amounts of free clothing.
Trading time to find awesome deals is not cheap, nor free. Clothes shopping is simple and fast when you know where to look and when. I have a closet filled with more clothes than I need. The females of the house have more than I do. It still amazes me when Mrs. Accountant walks in the door from grocery shopping with a million dollar smile and two bags overflowing with clothes she spent less than $20 on. I must admit it is not hard to love that woman.
Low cost quality clothing requires a few tactics to divide and conquer. The most important tactic is to destroy any desire for trendy clothes. I am lucky my girls never wanted to keep up with the Sheila’s of the world and all the crap peddled by Disney teen stars. Learning to be happy with what you have is the first step. When you are in a bind and must buy something it is a recipe for disaster.
Accountants 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.
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.
Over the years I have met some truly awesome people. Mrs. Accountant and I used to frequent science fiction conventions and stalk authors I enjoyed reading. You would be surprised how many were thrilled (they acted thrilled) to break bread with the missus and me. Many of my heroes have either died or are getting up in age. I miss Zig Ziglar; I have a picture of me shaking hands with him over breakfast. Tony Robbins was busy as heck but still took time to talk. Beside my office desk I have a picture of me, Mrs. Accountant, Newt Gingrich, and Mark Green. Newt was Speaker of the House at the time and he was promoting his Contract with America. For the record I vote both side of the isle; it just happens the opportunity to have my picture taken with the Speaker of the House came up so I took it. Also sat at a round table with the Speaker and five other people in Green Bay talking politics and taxes.
There are more people I would love to meet. Unless you run in a tight group you may not know many of these folks. It’s okay. You can look them up. Most are writers; writers always thrill me. I met Pete Adeney (Mr. Money Mustache) a few years back and as readers here know I am now his tax guy. The problem with meeting some people is it costs money. Either you need to attend a conference and there is little opportunity to spend any real time with the mark, ah, I mean gentleman, or people like me never have a real chance for a sit-down lunch with the victim because the victim is too famous.