Archive for August 2017

Your Financial Thermometer

When Mrs. Accountant and I got married we had a bucket list. Most items on the list are private and irrelevant to the story at hand. The one item on the list I will share is our desire to have foster kids early in our marriage.

The goal was to help foster kids at a higher level than the average foster home. We also wanted to have foster children early in our marriage out of concern for having foster children after we had our own children.

Mrs. Accountant and I realized our goal. Several foster kids were placed in our home over three years. Rather than collect a stipend (the county paid us $1,000 per child per month tax free!) and ram as many kids through as possible for some quick squid, we planned on helping these kids get the start they deserved in life.

After they settled into their temporary home I started a daily routine with them. Back then Tony Robbins had recently released his first version of his Personal Power program. This 30 day course took you from where you were at to accelerated growth in areas of personal development and even issues relating to money.

Monday through Friday I would sit with the foster child (we only took one child at a time) as we listened to another episode of Tony. The program strongly recommended keeping a success journal and completing each day’s tasks to move a step closer to your goals.




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Why Banning Gays and Transgenders from the Military is Bad for Your Wallet

Hatred is in the air and it’s costing the nation plenty and a whole lot more to those who harbor the hate. The President has now banned transgender people from the military and the alt-right is cheering. And it’s a stupid idea.

It is easy to see how dumb this policy is if you think about it for even a moment. If we exclude gays and transgender people from the military because it might hurt morale, why not exclude these people from all areas of society. Think about it. We can complain when they work and complain when they don’t. We can really mess with these people.

But let’s not stop there, my Aryan Judeo-Christian friends. As long as we are excluding those we consider undesirable we need to name the groups we want out. The gays and transgender people are only the beginning. We had a little thing called the Civil War that started 156 years ago. The discussion was slavery if memory serves me right, but it might be fake news. Women gained suffrage in 1920 in the U.S. with ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. White men haven’t heard the end of it ever since.

Let’s take a tally. We want gays, queers, transgenders, blacks, Mexicans, women, and let’s not forget the Jews (of which a tincture probably runs through the author’s veins) from serving in the military. Basically, we only want white men in the military.

Here is why this is soooooo stupid. When the military is called to duty only white men will be on the line fighting for the nation. Inevitably some of these fine young “white” men will die. That will leave a disproportionate number of gays, transgender, black, Hispanic and other undesirables to spend time with, shall we say, white women.

It’s hard being a racist when you really start to think about it. Now we get to think about how it is killing your pocketbook.




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I Won the Powerball Lottery!

 

Mrs. Accountant, the girls and I took a hard turn right as we headed home from the eclipse. Gas low, we stopped at a gas station to fill up when I noticed a massive sign announcing the Powerball lottery was somewhere around a gazillion dollars and change. My frugal nature prevented me from buying a ticket, but Mrs. Accountant couldn’t resist. And now we are the proud owners of a massive nest egg.

Don’t worry! I will remember all the little people who helped me over the years. Now and again I’ll publish another post on this blog to rub your noses in the good life I am living. Suckers!

To be honest, Mrs. Accountant didn’t actually buy a lottery ticket and truth be told, we headed straight home after watching the moon slowly cover the sun.

There is a strong temptation when the lottery hits nosebleed territory. What people forget is that the odds are still 292.2 million to 1. For all practical purposes the odds are impossible. But, the argument goes, somebody eventually wins. True, but it won’t be you.

If enough people play the odds are someone will win at some point. The odds are so long no one in their right mind—I said right mind—would waste a nickel on state run lotteries. It’s the worst racket in town and in the end it will ruin your life if the impossible happens.

And after all this I still claim I won the lottery and I have. If you listen close you can win the same lottery I did as long as you don’t buy a lottery ticket.




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Friends All Over the World

Rooster Run: As we arrived at our temporary home in Kentucky we saw this . I had to have a picture. You can only imagine the jokes your favorite accountant spit out rapid fire. I would share those jokes, but they are less than flattering to those involved.

I have a confession. I was jealous of Mr. Money Mustache. Well, not exactly of Pete himself, but of something he has been able to do for a long time that has eluded me.

Several years ago before I met Pete I read how he periodically traveled the country and rarely paid for a hotel room. There was always someone willing to put him up. One summer he spent in Hawaii at a guy’s house and he helped him with some remodeling as payment. There were several other incidents where he mentioned couch surfing.

My first attempts at this fell flat. You can’t just bed down in anyone’s home. What if your host is a serial killer (notice the empty corn flakes boxes behind the house)? What if the host thinks you’re a serial killer?

It really wasn’t Pete’s fault. I just hadn’t learned the fine art of securing accommodations outside the hospitality industry. I didn’t know enough people from around the country where this would work on a regular basis and couch surfing at a stranger’s home seemed to me fraught with risks.

Then I got an email.




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How to Save Money with a Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audit

Winter seems like a lifetime away. A quick check of the calendar and a shiver will run down your spine as only a few months remain before the heating season begins in the northern latitudes and creeps south.

Saving money is my favorite passtime. What other hobby provides so many tax-free financial benefits? 

If you are reading this at its regularly scheduled publication date, Mrs. Accountant, the girls and I are heading to or are enjoying the eclipse. Trevor McDonald contacted me a few months back asking to write a guest post. We worked together (he wrote, I edited and provided guidance and recommendations) until he had a solid piece you will enjoy reading. 

I’ll let Trevor take the driver’s seat and explain.




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Inflection Point

The past week has been an interesting one around the Wealthy Accountant world and all I can think of to explain it is. . .

Put up or shut up.

The best way to tell this story is to go back to the beginning.

Long time readers know I opened shop without knowing I opened shop in 1982. I prepared my first tax returns that year because I wanted the money and it seemed like easy work. It took until the 1989 tax season to realize this is something I could do for a living and still appear as a hard working, up standing (that illusion wore off fast) young man supporting his new wife.

The world was a different place back then. The local newspaper had two and a half pages of business card sized ads during tax season for tax preparation services. I was one of those ads. There hasn’t been an ad in that newspaper offering tax services in 15 years.




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Forensic Accounting: The High Paying Part-Time Business

Fifteen years ago a client who has since passed away had a complaint. He explained his uncle had died and the family was having a difficult time finding his money. The family knew his uncle had money, but he hid it everywhere, kept no records and refused to reveal his secrets to anyone.

The family decided to hire a forensic accountant who took six months to find around $280,000. My client’s complaint was they knew the uncle had a lot more than $280,000, but had no idea where to start looking.

This was during the my early days as a hedge fund manager. The hedge fund didn’t buy stocks or businesses; we bought charge-off receivables and collected on the debt.

When banks have bad loans on the books they sell them for a fraction of the face value. (Banks never really lose. It blows the mind how they every have financial trouble. It takes a new level of stupid to fail as a bank.) Once we took possession of the accounts we sent our legal teams around the country to locate and collect, even in court if necessary. (I authorized over 22,000 suits over the years. Yeah, I was one of those a-holes. But I was good at it. Stick with me here. This is all going to work to your advantage this time.)

Running the type of hedge fund I did (I eventually was hired to run two) provided me with the resources, connections and experience in finding people and their hidden stash. Finding money is something I got really good at.

My client was awed when I started to explain how I would have handled the case versus the forensic account they hired. In 30 seconds I gave them one piece of advice and found over $300,000 more than the forensic account they hired did in six months. Before I was done we collected seven figures of cash from around the United States and even found an account with serious cash tucked away in Ireland.

The family promptly hired me.




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The Hidden Tax: Transaction Costs

Living a frugal lifestyle sometimes lends to a false sense of security. We take all the financial precautions to increase our savings rate and invest in broad-based index funds. Before long the net worth starts reaching for the stars and we feel good about ourselves.

Now, we decide, might be a good time to get a second car or trade for a new one. Moving to a smaller home, across town or to another state or country, sounds tempting and easy to do with your nest egg growing faster than you are spending.

Your habit of caution is well defined. There will be no stupid tax in your future! Careful planning leads to good decisions. You look before you leap.

Then it happens and you never even saw it coming. You paid a stupid tax without even realizing it was there.




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