2017 was one heck of a year. Business was good, investments were good, personal life was awesome. The good news never seemed to stop.
Many people like to make New Year’s resolutions. Not me. I forgo the whole ritual.
Instead, I plan all year round. When an idea strikes I write it down. It’s a rare moment when I don’t have a pen and paper within striking distance.
Ideas are impossible to control. A chance encounter, an overheard word can trigger a thought process. In moments another blog post idea is ready for recording. The same applies to projects in the tax practice and in my personal life.
It was all good news (unless you watch anything political).
Time is an investor’s friend and 2017 added another year to the schedule of growth. The stock market performed well.
Of course, some years business isn’t all roses. The stock market can decline and the tax practice can be more challenge than profit or fun. This wasn’t one of those years.
I’ll mumble this out the side of my mouth because people react incorrectly when they know what I’m about to say. A certain farm boy from the backwoods of Wisconsin saw his net worth scratch a quarter inch above the $14 million mark at yearend. There I said it. Now forget it.
My greatest fortune is my girls. For the most part Mrs. Accountant and the kiddos were healthy. Who could ask for more? And we had more time together even with the oldest now getting serious about her education. They’re smart kids. I’ll take credit because without a doubt it has everything to do with genetics. Care to take a bow with me, Mrs. Accountant?
The Greatest Gift
After struggling with growing pains and changes in my business, I found solace this year.
Traffic to this blog has grown significantly in the last twelve months and the growth in demands followed. Procedures instituted to manage the flow have eased the feelings of overwhelm.
The overwhelm still exists, but I’m handling it better. By clearing my mind I’m making better decisions. The final pieces are falling into place which should allow me to add new clients to my tax practice without always being so far behind.
This has always bothered me. I struggle with saying “no” and I hate working to exhaustion daily and never keeping up. 2017 saw improvements; 2018 should knock it out of the park if staff additions and training work out as planned.
And I have learned to say “no” or just ignore some requests. It’s always a loaded question: Can you help me? Frequently the answer is yes, but I can’t because I’m six months out.
The good news is I’m able to help more while learning to say “no”. This leads to balance and balance leads to more life satisfaction.
As if the world isn’t bright enough in this accountant’s world, I received the ultimate form of recognition: a Plutus Award for Best New Personal Finance Blog of the Year. I don’t think anyone understands how much this has meant to me.
Traffic and revenue are another form of recognition. Traffic has climbed steadily over the year and the first few days of 2018 are tremendously higher than the first few days of 2017. The trend is clear.
With traffic comes revenue; my favorite score card. Now that I’m committed to contributing the profits of this blog to charity I can focus on quality without a vested interest in the outcome. Money is the scorecard, a game of Monopoly if you will, to remind me the work I’m doing has value and that the value is growing.
All this said I still feel anxiety over issues I can’t control. I must constantly remind myself of the things I have control over and the things I don’t. Readers might recognize this as a Stoic principle. Well, I subscribe to the Stoic philosophy! Unfortunately, I’m not perfect at it. Consider it a work in progress.
With traffic comes comments from outside the demographic and from people whose only intention is to harm or irritate. I wish I could report my skin is thick enough to deflect all criticism. It isn’t. Sometimes I’m caught off guard and the attacks hurt. In taxes there is always another opinion. And just like law (taxes are the big section of the law library), everybody has an opinion. Too bad the Tax Courts around the country couldn’t agree. It’d make my job a lot easier.
Deep breaths, accountant. Deep breaths.
Planning for a Bright Future or Resolutions Writ Large
As awesome as the last year has been, the future holds even greater opportunities.
When I was at the top of my game I suffered a minor setback (my feelings were hurt) and I let’em have it with both barrels. I’ll be editing the bullets holes out shortly.
My primary goal is not to let people bring me down with insults or criticism. From the outside it must look petty. From the inside it hurts like heck! Everybody in the room isn’t going to agree with me. Thank God for that!
Having more followers means there will be differing opinions. Even when someone unloads it probably has more to do with their personal experiences than reality.
I also have to be careful with clarity. The last post for New Year’s Day was a short story with an underlying financial moral. It was an emotional story told in the first person. One reader emailed to say sorry for my loss. He thought my wife really died! It was a story and I need to make sure readers know the difference between story to illustrate a point and fact. It’s important!
Here are some plans for the next year that will affect you, kind readers. Call them resolutions if it makes you feel better.
Tax practice: This is still my greatest challenge in life. Outsiders must wonder why I put myself through this hell when financially I don’t have to. I wish I had an answer, folks. Wish I had an answer.
2018 will be a year of growth. Three or four years ago Mr. Money Mustache gave me a shout-out and nearly killed me. It wasn’t intentional; it was meant as a “thank you”. Still, when a guy with 5 million plus pageviews a month says, “Here’s my guy” you’d better be prepared. Unfortunately, service businesses are labor intensive and finding that many good tax people fast is impossible.
It took a few years, but I think I have it. I will actually be able to add new clients and get their work done in a reasonable time (a week or less for most). This troglodyte clung tenaciously to old school methods of running a tax practice. We now have serious additions to our automation.
A few years back I dropped over $50,000 a year on a new computer network to beef up security to the highest level commercially available. Good for me. (Good for you, too.) Too bad I didn’t engage all the other neat features available to make my life easier.
That’s all history now. Our system can scan faster and better than ever. Data entry work will be reduced by magnitudes of order. This frees my team and me to focus on the value added work: review and consulting. We put the computers to work doing the mundane while my skilled staff focuses on serving the client with outstanding planning services.
I feel better about the upcoming tax season than I have in five years. Wish me luck! (Luck has nothing to do with it. Planning and hard work deserve the credit.)
Personal Life: My introduction to the FIRE (financial independence, early retirement) community required (it felt like it was required) me to attend more and more events around the country. This took me away from family and reduced my personal time.
Traveling is something I try to avoid unless absolutely necessary. People started joking about how much I was now traveling when I keep saying I don’t like it. A series of events brought me back to my senses. I CAN SAY “NO”!
And so I have. As much as I love the FIRE community and enjoy meeting with like-minded people, my mental health is more important.
I will only attend one conference per year from now on. FinCon is my pick. FinCon 17 was mind-blowing. I’ll be better prepared for FinCon 18 in Orlando this time.
Other minor meet-ups, gatherings and conferences are almost certainly off the to-do list unless there is another reason for my attendance. (Keep reading to see what I have planned for my allotted conference plans.)
Hold onto your hats, kind readers, you’re not going to believe your ears. I am planning, yes, me, planning on a family vacation this year! Mrs. Accountant and the girls will all be there.
Where are we going, you ask? All the way to West Branch, Iowa, about a four hour drive. I know, I know. It’s not all that far, but just wait until I tell you what I have planed.
The crew and I are going to see the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. I’m as giddy as a schoolgirl. I bet you can hear my voice screech as you read the page.
It’s okay if you don’t share my enthusiasm. President Hoover always intrigued me and a recent read of his biography has given me an exalted opinion of the man and his life’s accomplishments. I’ll be writing at least once this year on some lessons Hoover has for us today.
I’m so excited!
Blog: I bet you’re wondering what I have planned for your favorite blog? Well, it’s a secret. Mostly because I don’t have a clue of many of things I’m sure to pull out of my hat over the next twelve months.
Okay, okay! Stop pushing!
I do have some plans. The first involves pushing cash into the hands of subscribers. Periodically (usually associated with some tax due date) I will pick a subscriber at random and give her a $250 Amazon gift card.
This is my way of saying “thank you” to people kind enough to subscribe, the lifeblood of any blog.
There is one more surprise, but it needs a formal heading.
Camp Accountant: When I introduced the idea of Camp Accountant I had a large influx of emails asking when and where.
Many readers here are also in the tax profession. Several requests asked if I could offer continuing professional education (CPE) credits for tax professionals attending so their employer would pay their way. I’m working on it.
The best part is where the first Camp Accountant will be held.
Ask me! Just ask me where the first Camp Accountant will be held!
Well, I had several offers from readers willing to organize the event. One offer came from Hawaii (someday soon if I know what’s good for me (Note: Mrs. Accountant has always wanted to go to Hawaii) I will accept that offer).
Southern Ohio is another possibility.
But then I got an email that forced me to palm slap my forehead.
A highly intelligent reader said, “Pete (Mr. Money Mustache) has a nice new MMM world headquarters in Longmont that would be perfect for a Camp Accountant.”
Sometimes a certain accountant in the room can be pretty dense.
Now before we get carried away, let me remind you I haven’t asked Pete yet if this will work for him. But my plan is to get the initial stuff out of the way during the next few months (with all the free time I have over tax season) and then plan the venue in May.
The goal is for the last weekend in August or September.
Now, kind readers, I know many of you know each other and a few know Pete personally. Don’t go blab to him what I have in mind. He might not like the idea of me publishing my plans without first consulting him.
And that boy can run. I do his taxes, so trust me. I’m an ‘ol farm boy and know from personal experience the mustachioed man from Colorado can run like the wind. He can whoop up on me too.
That’s All Folks!
There you have it. Your favorite accountant’s plans for the next year.
A real family vacation without a business motive. What readers around here call a walk around the block.
Sending out free money several times during the year.
A new and improved tax practice.
I couldn’t be happ. . .
Oh, $hit! Somebody already squealed to Pete. I gotta run!