Archive for August 2016

The Path to Reaching Your Financial Goals

4410107864_df5e5c6518_zEvery 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.

Avoiding drama is necessary if you are going to reach your financial goals of independence or early retirement—retirement at any age, for that matter. Certain people are more prone to drama, but a small class of people almost never has it.

Have you ever noticed most people who are living a life filled with drama are usually broke? If they do have money it is because they married into it or were born into it. The news feeds are filled with kids and spouses of the rich going from one personal catastrophe after another. People who create real wealth don’t have time for drama and would never have created wealth in the first place if they wasted time on drama. The same applies to you. If you allow drama to take over your life it destroys your personal and financial goals.

Identifying Drama

Many times I post on subjects that relate to current events in my life. This post is not one of them. I am writing this post because I started asking questions of myself as I was running, questions about how really smart people can fail at reaching their financial goals. As I mentally reviewed case after case of talented people I knew who failed it always seemed to entail some form of drama getting in the way.

Drama queens are obvious once they expose their agenda. Everyone has problems now and again. Listening politely is the right thing to do if it is a friend, family member, or co-worker. These are also the same people who think they can enlist you into their game if their game is drama. Your kind hearted actions can cause you serious pain if you allow that to happen.

Family members are the worst. You can’t get away from them. You choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. Co-workers are also difficult to avoid. One bad apple in an office can destroy the productivity of the whole team. The boss will take it out on the whole team, by the way. And the drama queen has one more problem to share with the next group of victims.

Most drama revolves around money and relationships. The first discussion of either subject will easily reveal if you have a drama queen on your hands. Boyfriend problems and unrelenting money problems are holding back and harming our poor drama queen. Drama queens only have power if you participate in their delusion.

Avoiding Drama

You will never change a drama queen; they can only change themselves and I would not hold my breath. With decades of business under my belt and employees working in an office setting a few drama queens have entered the picture. Couple that with the fact that the office is predominantly female and you have a caustic mixture primed for drama. I will make no claim to handing drama perfectly, but I do have ideas to save your business and your sanity from the destruction of drama. It is easier for me because I can fire drama problems.

Participation is the only way drama can start, grow, and evolve. It only takes one player in the group to provide the spark the drama queen’s needs. Your dreams and happiness go down the shitter when that happens. Stoics know you can’t control other people, but you can control yourself, your mind, and how you interpret the world around you.

Reaching your financial goals requires you to make it past the drama. It is a test. Most people fail in their financial goals because of their own actions or by allowing drama to overwhelm their life. This isn’t you.

Identifying the drama queens in the world is as simple as asking questions. Ask yourself: Is this contributing toward my goal? If not, then do something else. Life dramas tend to recede into the distance when the focus is on happiness, a higher quality of life, and personal/financial goals.

No one will care about your wellbeing more than you. Even good intentioned people will still have their own self interest at heart. It does not make them bad people; it makes them human. When someone tries to interrupt your plans with added daily stress it is time to remove them as much as possible from your sphere of influence.

4190760759_7efcca9eb9_zRefuse to Participate

Drama queens must have a supporting cast to exercise their craft. Anyone refusing to play is an outcast and derided. At least they are not talking with you all day.

In family it is hard to turn your back, but you have no choice. If a family member is constantly rallying the troops for the latest drama you must not participate. They may call you names and bait you. You are above all that. Besides, words are only words and can only harm if you allow them. Soon you will be avoided as much as possible when the drama game is played because you are a stick in the mud. Are you not glad they noticed?

There is a high probability drama will show up a time or two over your working career. As much as you avoid the stupidity, someone always seems to show up and pour gas on the flames. Your job, productivity, happiness, and financial goals are all on the line. A job you love can turn into a drag once each day is filled with stress due to a co-worker’s constant drama. Avoid the drama at work regardless how much the drama queen wants to tell you her stories about her boyfriend treating her like shit or bills piling up while she lights another cigarette. Stay focused and on task. If you show any chink in your armor the drama queen will pounce like a shark drawn to blood. Remember your goals of building wealth and retirement. This drama queen can fuck it up royally for you. If the drama queen refuses to relent, inform your supervisor if appropriate. If the drama will not end and it prevents you from reaching your goals, change jobs and tell the boss why you are quitting.

Oh, our dear friends. We love them so. It could be a boyfriend or a buddy. The worst part is you were friends since kindergarten. It was a good idea decades ago, but you outgrew the relationship. It happens. You cannot allow anyone to destroy your dreams over petty shit! Hopefully you are not in a marriage with a drama queen/king. And please god, if you are, tell me no kids are involved. The choices are hard, yet clear. Before I met Mrs. Accountant I was engaged to a young lady and discovered in the nick of time the disaster waiting for me. Love clouds the eyes and I was this close. Hard as it was I took a pass. If I didn’t I would not be pushing toward 29 years of marriage. My ex-fiancé has been married several times and divorced as often with four kids by three different guys. I could feel the wind when that bullet passed my ear.

It is hard to put an upbeat, positive twist on such a delicate subject. I encourage you to step away from all drama in your life. Real problems happen. I get it. If you have a life of unrelenting problems then learn to live with it. Everyone has problems. Telling your story is okay. Turning your problems into a major fiasco daily is not. Treat family, friends, co-workers, and loved ones like adults. Demand the same in return. We call it: respect.

Tax-Free Cash Rewards From Credit Cards

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.

Where Is the Tax-Free Money Hiding?

Before we begin I need to outline what is and is not taxable. Bank bonuses where you deposit money into a checking and/or savings account for a certain period of time for a bonus, say $250, IS taxable as interest income.

Credit cards are different. There are credit card companies willing to pay you hundreds of dollars to try their credit card. They require a certain level of spending within a certain period of time to earn the bonus. For example: a typical credit card bonus offer might read: spend $1,000 within 90 days of opening the account and get a $200 cash bonus. Spending $1,000 or more in the first 90 days will result in either a $200 check in the mail or a statement credit. In either case the reward is tax-free because the IRS considers it a rebate or return of your own money.

Other cards offer travel points instead of cash and some cards give you a choice. The hard part is keeping up with all the offers. Business owners can get cards that require as much as $4,000 in spending in the first 90 days for bonuses of $500 or higher. You can have more than one credit card from multiple issuers too. Virtually all these cards also issues points in addition to the bonus on spending. About once a month from now on I will write on a different topic covering credit cards and the bonuses available. Today we will focus on the most basic issues with special attention to taxes.

Planning Tip

Major purchases should always involve a new credit card with bonuses. Take a personal example. A few years back I had to install a new septic system on my farm called a mound system. These wonderful investments cost in the ballpark of $15,000. I used a variety of credit card tactics to cover over $5,000 of the cost with bonuses. Some credit card offers actually pay a bonus of $100 for $500 of spending, a 20% reward. You also get 1% or more cash-back on the spending in addition to the bonus. See where I am going. Travel rewards are awesome, but daily expenses really add up to significant tax-free rewards.

A furniture purchase can be coordinated with a new credit card with a bonus for a major price reduction. Mrs. Accountant also gets a card in her name to double the rewards. A future post will show how to keep the same credit card to get 20% or more back on your purchases. There are instances where the reward exceeds the spending! Again, a future post will discuss details.

Businesses have it even better. As an accountant there is no shortage of ways to earn cash-back rewards. A new credit card offer requiring $5,000 of spending within 90 days of opening the account is not an issue. Normal spending may already put me over the top. If not, there are things the business needs I can buy in advance. My accounting office always uses postage. I can top out a card at the post office to reach the required spending to earn the bonus reward. Postage never goes to waste in my office.

Maximizing Benefits

People often underestimate the benefits credit cards offer. Running every possible household expense through the credit card and paying in full each month makes managing your money easier at tax time since you have a neat record all in one place. The extra advantage of rewards means you get paid for the convenience! Having more than one credit card to harvest several cash bonuses can add $10,000 or more to your annual income tax-free. Landlords and business owners have an advantage, but even a single-person household can use credit cards to shore up the budget.

Purchases made with a credit card also have certain protections. Read the fine print included with your card or online. Many credit cards offer extended warranties people forget to use; free auto insurance on a rental cars; replacement or money back if an item is stolen or broken. The list gets really long. Read the list of benefits. Many times the saving, especially if traveling, is worth more than the massive cash and travel bonuses. Know and take advantage of all the stuff you are getting and life is richer.

In a future post I will show how you can charge mortgage payments, rent, and even utility bills to your credit card to reach spending limits. The fees are less than the value of the points earned on the credit card so you get paid to do these things. The more you can charge to your card the easier it is to automate your financial life. All expenses can run through the credit card for maximum benefits and then have the bank pay the credit card in full on the due date automatically from your checking or savings account.

If you would rather travel than have cash, I have a deal for you. There are a lot of credit cards with different travel benefits attached. Points, including bonus points, are generally worth more as travel than a cash reward. Sometimes you need to run the numbers to find the value of the points, other times the bank will make it clear how much travel you will get for each point. An example would read: 50,000 points are worth $650 in travel or $500 in cash. In either case the reward is tax-free.

Choosing the Right Card

There are so many choices it can make it hard to start. If you are just beginning I recommend starting small. There are several cards that offer a $100 cash bonus after $500 of spending within 90 days of opening the account. I think every reader here has $500 of possible credit card spending to reach the bonus payout without spending for the sake of spending. If you have higher normal spending you can review cards with higher bonuses.

Business cards generally have some of the best cash deals. I have never seen a limit on how small a business could be. A hobby where you sell some stuff or a rental property would qualify you for most bonus cards as long as your credit qualifies you.

There are a variety of travel rewards programs. Airlines and hotels frequently co-brand with banks. Your preferred airline, hotel, or rental car company may have a co-branded credit card with excellent bonuses and continuing benefits. Having the right mix of co-branded credit cards can quickly turn into free or very cheap travel for the family.

Credit Scores

All this knowledge can bring plenty of free travel and tax-free cash. What you should not do is go crazy and apply for eight bonus credit cards in an afternoon. Before you reach five your credit score will have dropped enough to get you declined. Spread it out. Be strategic. Some credit cards offer 5% cash-back on purchases at certain stores. Pick a card that maximizes your benefits based on your normal spending patterns.  A modest amount of planning will yield the greatest return on your normal spending. One or two new credit cards should do the trick to get started. A few additions to round out your tax-free cash and travel plans can take place over the next several months.

Fees

Before I give you a few links to start on your way I want to discuss fees. Annual fees are something I try to avoid. Many banks waive the annual fee the first year if they have one. I always ask if they will waive the fee in following years too. I actually keep two credit cards with an annual fee: the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card and the Capital One Spark® for business card. I pay $49 per year and get one free night per year with the IHG® card. It ends up being a fairly cheap hotel room. I also get points on spending to use for free hotel stays. I’ll link below. The current bonus is probably different than mine was. It was still a good deal for me so I pay the annual fee. I also pay an annual fee on a Capital One Spark® card that pays 2% back. My business spending is so high it actually is a better deal to pay the fee and get 2% back rather than no annual fee and only 1 ½% back.

In future posts I will dig deeper into the issues surrounding credit card bonuses and rewards programs when fees are involved. You have enough today to get started earning some tax-free bonus money.

Links

Understand if you use any links on this page and get a credit card I will be compensated. If you do not want me to receive a commission you can go straight to cardratings.com. My commission does not affect your bonus or points earned. If you love me like a brother feel free to start here the next time you wish to order a new credit card. In fact, since we are now brothers, bookmark this page, send it to family and friends, and . . . Okay, I’m getting carried away. What do you expect? I am an accountant. You know how my kind gets when we are around money.

Here are a few starter links. You can use any link to get to pages at cardratings.com and then move around the site to find a credit card that matches your needs.

Here are some cards with high bonuses, but have high spending requirements to reach the bonus reward.

Here are some great starter credit cards with low spending requirements (some as low as $500 in the first 90 days) to get a bonus cash reward.

More starter credit cards I like.

I use Capital One’s Spark® card in my business for most spending.

Finally, here is the IHG card I was talking about for free hotel rooms. Review the details to see if it makes sense to you. Bonuses change and are probably different than mine so check all the details before applying.

There are a lot more choices at the link destinations. You can review programs on travel or cash bonuses. My advice: Don’t get bogged down. Try one or two credit cards today and earn your bonus. You can always come back in a month or two and find another credit card to fill the gaps in the rewards you desire. Start with a plan to get some tax-free money in your pocket.

Update October 25, 2016: Recent changes in bank policies required I break the links in the text above except for this text. You can review current credit card offers most appropriate for your needs with this link.

 

***Note: Check the TWA Recommends page for all the latest best credit card rewards programs.

Disclaimers

Legal stuff I have to tell you (and should).

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One More Year

20131027_152837When 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.

I am Afraid

For several months I have struggled with the reasons for not pulling back and enjoying life more. When I dug deep enough I discovered the truth; I am afraid of stopping. I know business and taxes. I found my bliss and pushed all-in.

The problem with “One More Year!” syndrome is that it is really a cry for help. My identity is tied up in the tax and accounting persona. Deep down I also know I am a pretender, afraid of exposure. If the truth came out it would be devastating to my psyche. It is hard for people to believe the truth. I have no college degrees; I only have about 30 college credits to my name before I committed full-time to my tax practice. If people knew how untrained I am they might not trust me. I have to keep running from the truth to feel good about myself. It is a harsh taskmaster.

Clients frequently don’t believe me when I tell them I have no college degree. They think I am lying for whatever reason so I usually break down and say I went to the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Truth is I attended the local UW—Fox Valley extension for the credits I do have. I didn’t even focus on accounting. I had only one accounting class, two economics classes (macro and micro), sociology, and a smattering of archeology and environmental geography classes. Oh, and I had one English class. I might have missed something, but you can see my higher education has in large part been self-taught and from conferences.

I make a great living as a business owner. As a non-business owner I am unemployable. My skill sets revolve around creating jobs, not filling one. So I am afraid. Afraid of what I will do if I lose my identity. The clients and employees are my life outside of the home.

Where will I go if I no longer have a business to occupy my day or thoughts? Like Brett Favre, I want to hang up my cleats so my body no longer takes a massive beating. But like Favre, it is hard to turn my back on the cleats that gave meaning to my existence. So I mutter “One More Year” like a coward.

Maybe I am too hard on myself. I am not the only one to keep working until the day I die. Warren Buffett keeps doing what he loves at 85. Bill Gates changed directions, but still pushes hard to make a difference. Why not me? Is it wrong to hang on?

My Happy Place

There is a solution (there is always a solution). “One More Year” syndrome is a cop-out and illustrates the all-or-none thinking I have applied to business ownership. Yes, Buffett still runs a business, but he spends most days reading and talking with people. What he does today is different from 30 years ago; same applies to Gates. And need I remind you I am no Buffett or Gates. They both have college degrees. They are the real deal, not pretenders.

In my office it is a running joke that I am quitting, retiring or trying to get my office manager, Karen, to fire me. Karen knows how much I love my work and the people of the business: clients and employees. She knows I smile on the surface while underneath is pain. I have worked a very long time and I am getting tired. My farm is now nearly devoid of animals as I plan for my solution. When the steers were finally gone and no new calves replaced them I cried. It was a big part of my personal life.

The tax office is different. Walking away from that would probably kill me. “One More Year” is a sickness and I know it. I need to move beyond the calling card. There is a middle ground. Once upon a time I worked three months a year and did what I wanted the other nine months. My business evolved and destroyed the balance I enjoyed. It does not have to be that way. I have an awesome team I can count on to handle the clients and treat them well. New staff is now hired and digging out from the deluge from earlier this year.

When I had a more comfortable schedule I spent my summers reading and playing on my farm. I just lived without any real structure. Along the way I got so good at taxes demand for my time grew and I forgot to say “no” enough to keep my sanity. Now I am ready to act like a manager again. Tax season is when I am really needed so I will be there at that time.

The summer is a different story. Next summer will not be a “One More Year” summer. Mrs. Accountant and I are planning a twelve week vacation. I never attempted something so large. It actually scares the hell out of me. For real. What will I do on the road for twelve weeks? I have no idea.

Modern technology allows me to keep writing this blog while on the road and I can log-in to the office any time I want. I can call clients and fix problems and then go back to. . .  doing what? Mrs. Accountant has asked me for decades for a Hawaiian vacation. I was always too busy. Besides, what is there to do in Hawaii except sit on the beach all day? Boring! Mrs. A has pointed out there is a lot of exploring to do on the big island with the volcano and all. I am out of excuses. It seems I am a year away from a Hawaiian vacation. God, I hate long flights.

Deep down it is the right thing to do. Once you have reached a high level of skill you have to stop acting afraid. It is time for me to train the next generation and step back. Sitting in front of one person at a time is a waste of talent. For years I have been pressured to step away from the desk and start teaching. I refused because I hate spending so much time on the road. Now this blog is kind of a starting point to share my experiences with others; my way of training and stepping back. It also means more travel to speak to groups. Over the years I have accepted a half dozen speaking engagements per year, most of them local. My definition of local will need to expand.

The part of my life I enjoyed so much is now ending. I want to hang on one more year. It is selfish to do so. My team is better than I ever was. Hell, I have CPAs and attorneys as employees. What makes me think I am even close their level? I am a farm boy with no college degree, only a gut full of determination to never quit.

IMG_20160827_141712It is not quitting. That is the revelation! I am not quitting, only evolving. My role is to now help others be what I once was. I still will own my business. Now it will be run by a group of highly talented people. I will show up during tax season and periodically throughout the year to provide guidance. It feels good when highly educated people come to me for advice. It is a cheap ego trip I can no longer afford.

Their training is never complete. Neither is mine. I am at the precipice of a new phase of life, a phase where I stop saying “one more year”. It is time to relax with Mrs. Accountant. She has been patient and faithful. I owe her, too. Hawaii does sound kind of nice this time of year. I think I’ll let Nords know I’m headed his way. It will be nice to have a voice of reason while I practice my new lifestyle on a Hawaiian beach. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Note: This may seem like nothing to most people, but I am fighting tears as I write this knowing what I am planning is about to happen. I am very attached to my business and farm. It is the only life I have known for over thirty years. There are many like me out there who cannot let go. This blog is for you too.

O, wonder!

How many goodly creatures are there here!

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,

That hath such people in’t!

—The Tempest (V,i)

The Dark Side of the Accountant

IMG_20160827_092737The 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.

Patterns

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.

The closer someone is to me the more likely they can pull me into their dramas. The mere fact of increased time spent together increases the chance of a dependence developing. Kind soul that I am, I feel people prone to drama still need help when they call out. We might pass a stranded traveler on the side of the road, but what about a client or employee? When you see a client weekly or an employee daily a co-relationship develops. Each party begins depending on the other for support and acknowledgement.

These relationships are inherently unhealthy. Employee/employer and client/accountant relationships need a solid wall between the individuals. Without the wall a player in the drama will eventually want to dig deeper into the other person’s personal life to increase the drama further because there is no other way to increase the drama. I hate drama, but sometimes people want to inject drama into my life and that is when I pull back.

Thirty years of business creates a lot of stories of clients and employees who have used my gentle nature to their advantage. Once I understand there is no desire for self-improvement I start to disengage from the matter. The drama-master always seems to want to turn up the volume to keep the co-relationship alive. That is when the kind Wealthy Accountant becomes an Ass (yes that is a capital A).

Walking the Line

There is a fine line between helping and sticking your nose where it does not belong. A few years back I had a client (also handled the office IT) who went through a divorce. He was in the office every day and refused to leave. He wanted to talk for hours about how bad his wife was and how to stick it to her. In most cases divorces are the result of behavior by both parties; this case was no different. My empathy was low from the start because I knew some details from prior conversations. After enough of my time was wasted it was easier to hire a new IT firm than listen to more drama. He was a nice guy, but I just did not have the time or the desire to listen to such talk.

Employees can be worse! Because I have a small office and see employees daily it is too easy to get caught up in their personal lives. I try to dissociate, but periodically my empathy rises off the charts over problems an employee has. It always ends bad as bad luck turns to drama and then I finally reach a breaking point and take a pass. Once again I am an Ass.

My empathy is high for most people. When someone suffers a loss I feel it too. I try to keep distance with employees. However, the closer an employee is to my office the greater the risk her dramas will spill into my life. If money is tight I am willing to share ideas I share with readers here. I encourage people to read my work so they can use my experiences to their benefit. Special cases require personalized advice. Money issues are generally easy to fix if you want them fixed. If you are unwilling to cut back or quit smoking I can’t help you; if another tattoo is more important than dealing with money issues my empathy evaporates. Mrs. Accountant has even babysat an employee’s child until she could find permanent daycare. As you can imagine it ended bad. In less than a month the drama spilled into my life and it was all over. For the client or employee is goes from bad to worse. They are their own worst enemy.

IMG_20160827_141641Breaking the Bond

My ability to help works best when I keep a professional distance. Employees still tell me about their life in passing and it allows me to understand where they are in life. Most people want to share without trying to manipulate the other person; they just want understanding or need to get it out. I’m okay with that.

The danger zone comes when the passing interest is turned into a raging demand. Everyone backs away different. In my case I tend to start paying less attention. You are still the client or employee and your life is none of my business. I listen because I care about you, but after a while you need to take action and responsibility for your own life. By backing away slowly, some people consider this an insult and retaliate. Gawd, I hate that! I still care and want to help, only from a greater distance. It is your life.

The drama queen/king takes the insult personally. It usually devolves into personal attacks. A recent employee had serious personal problems and decided when I was no longer willing to listen to her problems daily and make her the center of attention she would dig into my life and hurt me. You can’t hurt me, but you can hurt yourself. (We can all make this statement. You allow yourself to be hurt; no one can do it to you.) Talking behind my back or using any failure I ever had in life will not increase my empathy; it will end all empathy. I am an open book on my life, including failures. I don’t dwell on failure, but I sure like to learn from the experience.

Once trust is betrayed by someone I helped the dark side of the accountant emerges. I will take some abuse, understanding everyone has days. After a pattern of manipulation and abuse emerges I move on. The dichotomy must make the diss more acute. I go from genuinely caring and helping to total disregard. How can a relationship go from one extreme to the other? For most of us, especially me, it is disrespect of my time and compassion. If you want to use me as a weapon or tool I am going to turn on you eventually. The kind of tool I am talking about is from a negative context. If you use me as a tool to improve yourself or learn a new skill or build a business I am fine; if you use me as a tool to play games or manipulate others katy bar the door.

Walking Into the Light

Optimism comes naturally to me. I think the best of people even after they betray me. In my opinion people do what they do for reasons that made sense at the time. I could be wrong (would not be the first time). I tend to forgive easily.

What people forget is how many people want a piece of me daily. The request for help from clients, family, friends, employees, and readers is unrelenting. We are not talking about a few minutes of advice either. This is full-blown work! There is no possibility I could do all the work myself.

I have a lot of acquaintances, but few close friends. My distance should never be construed as a lack of interest or not caring. As a member of the human race I need quiet time to think and reflect. Some people get it, others not so much.

It feels good to be wanted. When I am asked to speak to a group I feel good inside. It also allows me an opportunity to know the group more intimately for a few days without as many outside demands. After the conference is over I remember the people I met, but don’t keep close connections with most. I hate that too. I wish the world were smaller so I could have a more in-depth relationship with people like me. Life is not that kind.

The world changes the more people demand from you. The way I treat clients and employees evolved over the years as demands on my time grew. It brought out the dark side of the accountant. I tend to demand more than ask in business settings. I also tend to have less tolerance for drama; either fix the problem or live with it. As a business owner I have no choice but to outline the project and expect everyone on the team to participate.

The Kind Man of Cruelty

The working title of this post is the header of this final section. My original notes were to discuss how I handle stress. I wrote: I am not a yeller or swinger when upset. But I can be a real ass and not let it go until I burn it out. Dealing with emotions as a Stoic to just let stuff go. I knew what I wanted to write about once I had enough time to think it through. I changed the premise of the post to suit my new thought process. I still want to address the original thought.

I am not violent ever. I don’t think I ever raised my voice to a client or employee; I don’t hit either. My real problem is I want to over analyze a situation after it fails. In a way that behavior helps me learn lessons; it also causes problems as I can’t move on until I let it go. When I finally reach that place where I write someone off I don’t immediately move on. I allow an opportunity for redress. It never really matters. I moved on long ago, while still holding on to the old, destroyed relationship. The emotions are wiped clean.

Stoics should know better. By holding something in that long and letting it burn you up is counter-productive. As a stoic I have a lot to learn. Stoicism is a journey, not a destination. My writing shows I remember stories from a long time ago. What you read here really happened with only modest changes to make the story fit the format here and sometimes to protect characters in the play. A long memory is good and bad. If you learn from it without angst it is good; if you dwell on it endlessly without a lesson learned it is bad.

There is a solution for dealing with people like me. (Okay, just me.) When I pull back it probably means nothing at all. Staying in touch is never a problem. The problem starts when the person I back away from forces themselves into my life. My backing away is really a request for respite. Give me my respite and our relationship will continue on into the future. You, me, everyone needs a break now and again. A relationship can be destroyed for no other reason than someone was not given enough room to breathe. If I pull back due to some unwritten offense, it will pass as I digest it. There is no reason to confront you on a slight that is no more than my interpretation of words or an event. After I digest it I will move on as if nothing happened because nothing did. If the issue is forced, out comes the dark side.

Now I am going to take a nap. Don’t bother me. It has nothing to do with you.

Cut Your Clothing Costs 98%

IMG_20160827_095350Clothes 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.

Armed for Battle

We will start our venture with some traditional ways to reduce your clothing budget to the single digits.  When travelling with Mrs. Accountant I get the honor of seeing her in action and you know how I enjoy watching a hot woman take control. Earlier this year we had a chance to spend some time in Seattle. We decided to schedule relaxing time which does not work well for me. After an hour or two of sitting around I wanted to get a book so I decided we should walk to the nearest library. Several stores were between us and the library so Mrs. Accountant was able to glance in the front door of each and could smell if there were any bargains.

In all fairness, Mrs. A only stepped into a handful of stores. Hauling a bargain home would be a waste so it was more of a fact finding mission for her. Now I want to remind you this is Seattle where breathing costs $47.50. In this rarified air Mrs. A found a jacket, pants and shirt for $6.50. It actually looked really nice. Okay, we put in the cart. What was nice about the outfit was that it was light, waterproof (the jacket), yet made of quality material.

Keith’s Rule 20: You can find deals everywhere. Keep your eyes open while travelling for awesome deals.

Many years ago, shortly after we got married, Mrs. A and I took our honeymoon in Jamaica. Near the end of our two week stay we found a vendor selling shirts and T-shirts for $1 each, American. Mrs. A demanded I buy the shirts she thought we needed in our closet. I paid for 28 and had them delivered home for under $5. I have no idea how the guy made money, but I didn’t buy another shirt for over five years.

IMG_20160827_093225Back home where most of you find the things you wear there is a plethora of low-cost clothing opportunities. You need to know where and when to look for the bargains; there is no need to waste loads of time just to get a pair of pants.

The best time to buy clothes in retail outlets is near the end of the season. What you wear next year is what you bought this year on the closeout rack. Wal-Mart has excellent deals on shirt and pants. For $1 to $3 you can find a lot of stuff to fill your wardrobe. If you are looking for higher quality, Kohl’s has serious opportunities. JC Penney also has deals, but are harder to find. Mrs. A has even found goodies at Macy’s. (I’ve never set foot in a Macy’s; it could be a strip club for ladies for all I know. That could explain some of the deals she has brought home.)

Kohl’s is an interesting example. The end of season closeout racks have high quality clothing for a few dollars. In our neck of the woods Kohl’s mails discount cards. This allows the closeout items to be even cheaper yet. Don’t worry if you don’t get the mailer. When buying clothes always ask the checkout person if there are any offers you missed and that you don’t have the discount card. Most have a default card behind the register and allow you the additional discount anyway. My oldest daughter combined several offers at Kohl’s recently for 11 clothing item for under $40.

There is more. I don’t think there is a retailer left who doesn’t offer their own credit card. As an incentive to use their card they frequently have an instant signup bonus and additional discounts just for using their card. This is above and beyond the closeout rack discount and advertised discount cards. I sign up for every store’s card. More than once if I can. If the kids don’t want one I’ll use it for them. Many companies give $50 to $100 upfront. There is a local hardware store that ran a special where you receive up to $500 off your first purchase with their card. I bought $503 of stuff and closed the card. Reopened a new one for the missus; she is such a spender.

Undergarments

Shirts, t-shirts, pants, swim suits, and even dresses are fairly easy to find on the discount rack. Undergarments are a different story. Underwear, socks, and bras are not always available at a discount. [I am reading this to Mrs. A while I edit and she says I am wrong here.] Guys have it better because an opened package of skivvies might get sold cheap, but lady’s undergarments generally do not. [Mrs. A says I am wrong again.] Ask the attendant at the changing room if the store has such deals on undergarments. It never hurts to ask.

If you are not picky like me you can check Goodwill or larger thrift shops. Sometimes manufacturers give undergarments with minor defects to Goodwill and Goodwill sells them to you cheap. And don’t start with me about wanting good quality skivvies without blemish. After the first use all underwear has defects!

The really hard part is finding bras cheap. [I don’t shop for bras personally (not that I will admit) and Mrs. A says you can find bras at a discount.] Ladies seem to expect comfort when covering their chest. Once again I have some ideas. Haha. Discount racks (might I add another haha) might have a limited selection of bras, none of which fit (not that I am an expert on the subject). We will use a trick I mentioned above. Online retailers, including Amazon, offer big discounts when you get their credit card. For example, the retailer may say you get a $60 statement credit when using their branded Visa card. You can buy a lot of cup holders for sixty bucks! Once you use up the credit get your husband or boyfriend to open an account. Now you can buy another $60 of slingshots. Just think, hubby will be happy when he sees a package in the mail with his name on it and will still be happy when he opens it. For some reason guys like the sight of bras. Go figure.

New Clothes for FREE!

Now for the moment you have all been waiting for. There is a place you can go where they have to throw unused clothes away and pay a landfill fee to dispose of the clothing. Print shops that put labels on uniforms, shirts, t-shirts, jackets, et cetera, have rejects that must be disposed of. Some companies demand the product be destroyed, others have no restriction.

I have a client (I always have a client) with a print shop who has given me hats, t-shirts, and even jackets for free. Sure beats tossing it in the garbage. Over the years I have collected quite a closet full of stuff without cost.

Any business I frequent I ask if they have jackets or shirts they give to clients. It is free advertising for them and free clothes for me. Now I hate ads as much as the next guy, but I’d wear a t-shirt promoting feminine hygiene products to church if was free. Just think of all the attention you will get from the ladies. You will be prime dating material.

You would be surprised how many businesses, especially contractors like HVAC guys, hand out free clothes with the company logo on it. Farmers are lucky; everybody is giving them free bib overalls. Business owners also get a lot of free goodies. Check your local printers and silk screening shops for free clothes.

Closing the Closet Door

We had some fun with this today. I hope you can use some of these ideas to cut your clothing budget and maybe invent a few new ways to fill the closet without emptying the wallet. The photo in this post of Mrs. A in a pink hoodie jacket is an example of a free clothing item available for asking. It is warm and comfortable. I know because I have a blue one I paid $3 for.

Please share any money-saving ideas in the comments section below. Some of you have better ways than I of reducing clothing costs. I have loads of ideas, but Mrs. A is a lot smarter than me on the subject. She provided some input, but I am a stubborn accountant who wrote what he wanted.

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.

I set goals sometimes when I want to accomplish a certain task. I am not as good at keeping a written list of goals at all times. Usually I become laser focused on a task when I am interested, like this blog. This month I published every day and twice two days. At some point I will burnout and reduce my publishing schedule, especially over tax season. But don’t worry. I love writing and write nearly every day ever since high school. I will be here spreading manure, I mean the Gospel of Keith for a very, very, very long time. As long as someone is listening, I’ll keep talking.

Recordkeeping of past performance is where I like to handle my financial planning. My goals (budget) are simple: beat last year or last week or last month, et cetera. For example, on this blog I watch traffic like a nice boy with OCD. I want to see an uptrend in traffic. The goal is to beat last week’s numbers. Revenue generated by the site is treated the same. I want to see a trend of increasing revenue. It is all a big game to me. Money and traffic is the scorecard and the only competition is me. Expenses are handled like revenue. How much did I spend this month compared to last year at this time? By comparing revenue and expenses year-to-date I have a moving budget as each day passes.

Of course I have only limited control over many issues. Sometimes revenue does not show up no matter what steps I take. Surprise expenses mess with the plan too, but I can back these numbers out to see if core spending is still on pace or in need of some cost-cutting.

My method is better for me and I bet you could benefit too. By competing against you there are no negative feelings attached or a sense of loss. Every year you improve yourself, even if only by a fraction of a percent. In the office I track revenue and expenses on a year-to-date basis and want to always be better than last year. I may be crazy, but I’m not insane. I understand with all the expense items in a business there will be a few with increasing numbers. Then I compare the expense increase to the revenue increase to see if the expense is still in line. Payroll is a biggie here. More revenue means more employees and for some darn reason they want a raise each year as if working for me isn’t enough, therefore, payroll expense trends higher.

Powerful NumbersThe numbers you record grow stronger with time. I can tell you more than daily revenue and expenses going back decades, I can tell you how many tax returns I e-filed on any particular day going back to my first professionally filed return. The whole thing is on an Excel worksheet now, but in the early days I used a spiral notebook to record where I was.

All this sounds like craziness to mere mortals. It isn’t. I enjoy messing with the minds of new employees by telling them how many people will walk through the door on any given day in the middle of tax season and will be within one or two. How can I know that? they ask, perplexed. With all the years of data I have I noticed trends on when people visit the tax office. More than a mind game, I now have a planning tool that helps me manage my company more efficiently and profitably. A simple algorithm lets me know how many clients will visit on any particular day.

I don’t need a budget to tell me to not spend over a certain amount on a certain type of item. If I budget a certain amount for utilities and we get a blockbuster cold winter, my budget is useless. The budget might also give me permission to keep the house warmer in winter if it is a more seasonable winter because the budget can handle it. No siree! I need no excuses to spend more. A warmer winter means I spend less on utilities. Period. I want to see my utility bill drop adjusted for weather.

Sanity

Accountants and people with serious OCD (I am both) love watching their numbers. It is real easy to get carried away. A new idea might cut costs significantly, but once electric usage is under 10 kilowatts per day there is only so much more saving you can do. There is a fine line between the insane asylum and the game of “gotta beat last year’s numbers”. They have a special bed waiting for me when I finally crack and we all know how close I am to that line, don’t we?

As nuts as I am, I do have a method to keep things in perspective. Back in the mid-90s I moved from my home to an office building. My numbers exploded. In a few years I was cooking over 2,000 tax returns and driving myself insane, the real insane. I made a concerted effort to change the structure of my business. I reduced the headcount from over 2,000 tax returns to 700 while increasing the number of employees because I focused more on business clients who needed work all year rather than individuals, which were only seen once per year in spring. Soon my sanity returned. (Well, it’s considered sane for me!)

The same applies to you, kind reader. Financial independence means changes to your personal income and spending. Travel may grow as a part of your quasi-budget while vehicle expense may decline. Investments generally have predictable cash flows, but an economic downturn may cause dividends to decrease for a year or two before resuming an upward trend.

Budgets always seem to make people anxious as they approach spending limits or revenue/income appears to fall short. I hate it with a passion. Under my method I don’t feel anxiety. A miss this month compared to last year is nothing more than a game I get to play again next month. It turns a taskmaster into fun and playtime. And let’s face it; I am a big kid who never grew up.

Now, please, share this post because I noticed my numbers are down and it’s Friday.

 

Special Report: Why Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is full of BS

Heather Bresch, chief executive officer of Mylan Chris Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Heather Bresch, chief executive officer of Mylan
Chris Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images

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.

People I Would Like to Meet

13164111_f520Over 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.

I know you are licking your lips so here is my short list of people I would love to chat with over a beer or a light meal:

Warren Buffett: Warren is one of the most interesting people I can think of. He auctions off a dinner date with him once a year for charity to discuss anything you want. The winner pays over a million dollars for the opportunity. Mere mortals don’t have a chance. The closest I will ever get to Warren Buffett is a client who is board of director for a company financed by Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett’s company. I put this one first because of the 2,500 people who visited this blog in the last month one might have been Warren Buffett. (Yeah, right!)

If Buffett ever allowed me to have personal time with him over a meal I would ask him about happiness. Here is a guy who has lived a long time, made a lot of money, and still seems happier than the day is long. He found meaning in life when all the creature comforts life can offer were never in doubt for a long time. I would ask: What makes it all worthwhile? What makes you proudest?

Stephen King: Over the years I met a lot of writers, including several New York Times bestselling writers. But when you want to sit for twenty minutes with Stephen King you might not get the same reception. He sounds like a great guy to shoot the shit with. He gave up alcohol (my understanding) years ago so a bottle of Coca Cola would do just fine for our conversation. I would ask Stephen about the language and when to break the rules to communicate more accurately. I spend plenty of time writing and struggle. King knows how to push a noun up against a verb; me, not so much. Sometimes I don’t even know I am screwing up grammatically. I would ask Stephen how he knows when to look things up.

If Stephen King ever granted me an audience I would beg “pretty please” to have a tour of his home and office. I am curious how the guy that thinks up such deliciously spine-tingling stories lives. Ah, he’ll never give two shits about a country boy like me. I’m sure I’d be disappointed to learn he puts his pants on one leg at a time anyway.

President Bill Clinton: Now that Hillary leads in the polls it might be time to ask Bill what he plans on doing in the White House with all that free time (Don’t answer that!) President Clinton is an interesting man to me and it goes beyond politics. I would enjoy an afternoon on the ranch with President George W. Bush too, but they have guns down in Texas and Weesconsin boys might not be welcome.

The thing about Bill Clinton is he is sixteen years from his presidency and his wife looks to be heading for the job next round. I would ask Bill (can I call him Bill?) what his proudest accomplishment in office was and what he hopes Hillary would accomplish should she win. Outside the scandal and sex stuff, I would ask what he felt was his greatest error. After the first ten or fifteen minutes and the third beer I would hope the conversation drifted toward the simple pleasures of life like, What makes a good day? Presidents always make for a good afternoon conversation.

Now we move from the impossible to the someday-it-could-happen.

Ryan Holiday: Holiday is a writer with a long career in marketing. He is 29, but is wise well beyond his years. Reading his books you have no idea a young man is writing it; you would think a man with a full life behind him was writing the book. His career started by manipulating the media for his own gain or that of his clients. He has matured.

My questions would be simple for Holiday. He has studied and practiced stoicism from a young age. My questions would be more of a conversation on how to live life well following stoic principles. An afternoon (I would need the full afternoon) would only be the beginning. Holiday is the kind of guy I think I would like to call friend after a heart-felt afternoon of shared ideas.

J.D Roth: You would think this one is possible since Pete Adeney and J.D. are friends. Roth started the blog Get Rich Slowly and now writes for his newest blog, Money Boss. My time with J.D. would revolve around life choices. I have a difficult time letting go of work and career. I would pick his mind for ideas to live a full and meaningful life. J.D. enjoyed a very extended road trip with his family and I would love to hear more (he wrote plenty) about the trip. Not the details of where he went and what he saw, but, how did he handle life away from home for so long? I think a sit-down with J.D. would include Pete, beer, and a lot of shoot-the-shit conversation. Just the way I like it.

Leo Babauta: Leo does not know me from Adam. He writes the blog Zen Habits. I love his work because he helps me do something I have a hard time doing on my own: relaxing. I don’t think readers here understand how little sleep I get. I frequently write these posts late at night and edit them next morning. It is 10:30 P.M. as I write these words. I will go to bed, but I usually sleep on the couch so I don’t disturb Mrs. Accountant. I toss and turn a lot. I get up several times overnight; my mind never stops. Leo’s work has slowly helped me declutter my life.

An afternoon tea with Leo would hopefully help me relax. Of course I could always spend serious money to attend a conference to see him, but it would not be quality time. An afternoon chatting with Leo would probably allow me my first night of full sleep in decades. I would ask Leo how to turn it off. My mind is always racing with ideas. It would be a blessed respite for the voices to stop for just a day. Until then, I’ll keep reading his work.

Tim Ferris: Ferris is the guy who writes the 4-hour books. The 4-Hour Workweek is his most popular work. My question for Tim is simple: What the hell you do with all your free time? For Christ’s sake, when I had fifteen spare minutes one day I bought a farm to fill the wasted time. Life is easy today, no doubt. The amount of work required to satisfy “needs” takes, like Tim Ferris postulates, about 4 hours a week. After that it all goes into investments or stupid spending. Guys like me who need constant activity (constructive and productive activity) to calm the demons needs to know how guys like Ferris pull off the stunt. It sure eludes me.

Now we move to my last “must-see” person I would love to share an afternoon beer with:

You, My Readers: Anybody who suffers through my writing must be special. I love it when I get comments. Everyone sounds so awesome. I can’t meet each and every one of you. I just checked Google Analytics and it tells me 2,568 different people showed up here in the last month. That number has been growing about 50 a day lately; this thing is really starting to take off. As the numbers grow I know my chance to personally touch each and every one of you dims. The sheer volume will eliminate any chance I have of knowing you personally. I hate it with a passion. I am a people-person. I live for the stories people tell about their life. Maybe we get lucky and have a few moments to connect someday. I hope so. Most of you are only a computer screen to me.

And now this post is at an end. I miss you already.