I Hate My Job!

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And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey. Love the one your with. —Stephen Stills

The accounting industry has been consolidating for decades. When I started my practice in the 1980s the local newspaper had several pages of business card sized ads hawking the wares of local tax offices and CPA firms. Today you would be hard pressed to find an ad (outside the massive DIY tax software) by any tax or accounting firm even in the depths of tax season.

There are several reasons why the corner mom and pop tax office is dying. The tax code has steadily increased in complexity. If I didn’t have a background of knowledge to build on I might not consider the tax field if I were starting today.

Finding qualified tax/accounting professionals is harder than it’s ever been. The number of graduates coming out of college with a desire to work in accounting has declined. Those who do choose the tax/accounting field are picked up by government agencies and larger firms, all who have deeper pockets to pay new talent.

Stress is probably the biggest factor in the decline of the field as a career choice. Recently I had lunch with two young ladies who started their tax/bookkeeping office two years prior. I accepted the dinner date with the intention on building a relationship to possibly share new clients. Before the meal was served I was informed the two young ladies were so busy they couldn’t take any new clients. In two year they were full-up. They contacted me because they wanted to see the guy in sunglasses writing the crazy accounting blog in the Fox Cities.




Looking for the Exit

Long, stressful hours call my sanity into question every tax season. It always starts nice, but then every client wants a piece of my time to chat. Then I get behind and more tired by the day. By March it physically hurts really, really bad. If you ever want to buy a tax office cheap, make the offer in late March or early April. Just a wise piece of advice.

I get my fair share of offers to sell. A year doesn’t pass where I don’t see three to five offers. The big franchise names always make at least one pass. H&R Block wants to slap their pukey green on the side of my building so bad it hurts. I toss the offer before reading it. The answer is no.

Serious offers I might consider also arrive. Sometimes attorneys show up with paperwork demanding I give them a hearing. My location and time on the job has created a modest amount of value in my neck of the woods, I guess. Some offers show up in the mail, others with a phone call. For some strange reason local tax/accounting offices think I want to sell in August or September. Are they kidding! Running my practice is a breeze in late summer. Why would I ever want to sell when I have full control of the volume of traffic?

A word of advice to anyone looking to buy an accounting office cheap: make the offer late in tax season. From personal emotions and attitudes, I actually would consider an offer at such a time. Anything to release me from the physical and mental agony of unrelenting demands on my time. I’m also more open to negotiating the sale price in late spring. Just sayin’.




I Hate My Job!

You can love any job! I grew up on a family farm (virtual forced child labor) shoveling manure. Believe it or not, cleaning the barn was one of my favorite jobs! I could see my progress with each pass of the tractor. There was something intoxicating about working in shit.

I hated milking cows, however, but look back fondly on the experience now. I learned to accept the long hours in the milking parlor listening to tunes and caring for my ladies, the cows.

Cleaning the barn meant more open space to enjoy the outdoors. Milking cows was managed from the concrete pit of a milking parlor. It was cold and damp. I milked cows for about eight hours a day when I was in high school. There wasn’t much time for a life in such circumstances. I quickly learned to hate milking cows and farming. The pay was microscopic, the work hard, the hours long and I had virtually no interaction with people. The milking parlor was a one man job. I kept twelve cows filling the bulk tank simultaneously for hour after hour. To this day I can still see the fan blowing fresh air into the parlor as I milked cows during a summer thunder storm. If only I could enjoy the rain outside.

I hated my job. It was also 1982, a very bad year for the economy in the Rust Belt. I was trapped and acted as any trapped animal does. Late that year the family farm finished a bankruptcy. I had mixed feelings. I didn’t want to go back into farming and sure as hell didn’t want to milk another cow!




Love What You Do

Accountants see strange things walk in their door. The most perplexing is a young individual who is only a few years out of school complaining how much they hate their job. They’ve been reading some blogs (sometimes even this one) and are invigorated to pursue early retirement. I can’t help but think, Why would anyone spend years in college pursuing a job they didn’t like? I sure hope to God it wasn’t only about money. That would be short-sighted and shallow.

Dream jobs still have their days! Difficulty causes stress, but shouldn’t diminish your love for the task at hand. After growing up working endless hours farming I moved to town for a few years, started my practice and then moved back to the country to a small farm! It was in my blood. Raising animals and the land had an irresistible pull on me. I don’t milk cows on my hobby farm, but there are still jobs I don’t care to do. It comes with the territory.

I was too young to know how good I had it! If I’d have grown up in the big city my early life might have been easier. Then again, maybe not. Kind readers from said big cities might beg to differ. Their life wasn’t all roses either.

My formative years made me who I am. For that I am grateful. The stories I share on this blog and my other writings are only possible because I milked those cows, cleaned those barns and fed those calves. The work became a part of me. A good part.

It took me a long time to grow up and realize anyone can love any type of work. If I worked in the sewers I could learn to enjoy the moment. Cleaning barns has similarities and I liked that job.

Finding work you love is easy. Don’t limit your mindset to preconceived notions of what a “good” job is. Working at a fast food restaurant might not pay a lot, but can easily provide massive amount of personal satisfaction.

My news feeds are filled with stories of people retiring young. How can so many people have chosen the wrong profession to want to quit so badly? Some even spent massive amounts of money and time in college to hone their craft. And still, within a few short years they want out so bad it hurts.

Regardless the age you retire, in my office I see people returning to some form of organized labor. Life is meaningless for many without the companionship of co-workers and clients. “Work” is about serving your fellow man (or woman). That’s the magic potion searched for throughput the ages! The meaning of life is to serve! When you Pay it Forward to help another it gives your own life massive amounts of added value too!

Back Home

After a long day of work it feels good to be home. There is nothing wrong with that. Just because you love your work doesn’t mean there are days it hurts or doesn’t satisfy. It’s okay to feel like you need a break. (Might I suggest a break?)

Early retirement—retirement at any age—is not about checking out of life. No satisfaction is to be found there. A change in career, pursuit of other interests and a short sabbatical are great options you have every right to consider. Traditional retirement is a trap! Providing value is the true meaning of life.

Now we return to your favorite accountant and notice the time of year. Yes, we are approaching mid-March as I write this. S-corporation and partnership returns are due in just over a week. I filed over 40 extensions of these entity returns today alone. Many will be completed on time if clients bring in all their paperwork so some extensions are only filed just in case.

I’m also tired. I don’t feel good. Exhaustion is part of every waking moment. My back hurts from sitting too much. My eyes burn from staring at the computer screen all day. The price of my practice dropped 15-20% since early February. I want to sleep. I want to read a book. I want to go home.

Some smart cookie will read this post and realize now is the time to pounce. In August I laugh sales offers right out the door. Now that we are in the dog days of tax season an offer will not be laughed out the door. I’m too tired to laugh. Should such an offer arrive in the next few weeks I’ll stare for several seconds as I attempt to digest what is happening. I’ll get a visual of life without the work I love and usher you out the door, open or closed.

I love what I do. I love my work! This is who I am; what I want to do. I’ll quit the day they begin lowering my casket into the ground and not a day sooner.

I’ll even milk a cow if I have to.



Keith Taxguy

13 Comments

  1. bob on March 7, 2018 at 8:08 am

    GREAT POST-KEITH AND SONG–LOOKING AT A 20K TO FEDS -TRYING TO RE-CALCULATE –BOB

  2. Wealthy Doc on March 7, 2018 at 9:20 am

    My favorite part:
    “Work” is about serving your fellow man (or woman). That’s the magic potion searched for throughout the ages! The meaning of life is to serve!

    So true. It just takes decades to understand this wisdom. So far, part-time work has been a good balance for me. We all need to figure it out for ourselves though.

  3. Steveark on March 7, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Interesting post, I understand what it feels like to love your job but hate parts of it. However, and maybe because you are already suffering from that particular brand of seasonal mood disorder that strikes tax professionals, it strikes me that the love/hate balance of your career is tipped a little too far to the negative side. I went through a transition the last five years of my career when my company was absorbed into a Fortune 500 corporation. The first couple of years were exciting due to the new pace and a pretty large increase in personal compensation. But after decades of loving my job the harsh reality of publicly traded Darwinism put me into a constant state of cognitive dissonance that made me, for the first time, start to dread going in to work. I hung on for the last couple of years because they were throwing money at me but even that lost its appeal when I realized I had more than enough money already. Based on the dozens of your posts I’ve enjoyed I know you don’t need advice from me so I’m not going to give you any but in my case getting out was the best thing I ever did and in the three years since I have not regretted it a single time. Part times side gigs and volunteering and my many hobbies and travel give me and my wife a work/life balance that is a happy place to be.

    • Keith Taxguy on March 7, 2018 at 11:26 am

      Steveark, you are always welcome to give me advice. Just because I write this blog doesn’t give me a lock on “right”. I’m not against retiring; I’m against a complete bow out of life. Some can do it, but the rest of the crowd, me included, shouldn’t feel bad when we like doing lots of stuff.

  4. madmulcher on March 7, 2018 at 10:15 am

    ‘My news feeds are filled with stories of people retiring young. How can so many people have chosen the wrong profession to want to quit so badly? Some even spent massive amounts of money and time in college to hone their craft. And still, within a few short years they want out so bad it hurts.’

    maybe a large % of humans aren’t meant to have professions/super-specialties?

    i too can and do love shoveling shit for a couple of days a month. but just like getting to see weird stuff come in your door, people seek difference. whether it’s travelling, having a diverse case load of clients no matter what your profession, difference seems to be what checks our box. not surprising or shocking at all to me that for decades now ( i wouldn’t consider this a recent phenomenon), people get some skills, enter workforce, do the exact same thing, day in and day out, for a few years then for mystical reason, can’t take it anymore! guffaw! and no, just a ‘break’ will not do in most cases.

    ‘Why would anyone spend years in college pursuing a job they didn’t like? I sure hope to God it wasn’t only about money. That would be short-sighted and shallow’

    or it’s just adjusting to today’s reality. take the money and run. seems like good enough advice. you pick up highly valuable(at the time) skills and work long enough to FIRE. you then have the mental and emotional time and space to figure out what you really want to do with your time, whether it involves paid work or not. maybe gaining specialist level expertise or maybe just tinkering with something for a few days/weeks/months then leaving it and wandering off to something else. thinking that, as a general rule, we could have masses of 18-20 year olds figuring out and knowing what their ‘dream job’ for life will be and then happily going about it for the next 60 years is what seems short sighted.

    • Keith Taxguy on March 7, 2018 at 11:29 am

      You make good points, Madmulcher. In many ways I’ve been super lucky. When I need a change of pace I can regulate work in the office. When the blog upset the apple cart I started to lose interest. Good news is I’m back in loving form. It’s okay to change gears. Leaving a job you trained hard for to manage investment properties is a worthy cause. Also, some people can relax better than me. I’m antsy! Give me five free minutes and a new project is already up on the board (not bored).

      • madmulcher on March 8, 2018 at 11:38 am

        you’re the man Keith.

  5. MB on March 7, 2018 at 10:34 am

    On point. I think the allure of “early retirement” is the mental permission it gives you to take a break longer than a couple of weeks. To sit and to reassess and then to re-engage. You bring up a good point regarding the complexity of work driving stress. In the field that I am in (law) the stories of the days when letters were the main form of communication sounds amazing(and sustainable).

    Ps. I notice you concealed your last name on the website. Probably to reduce cyber stalking. The rockstar finance net worth list still has your last name.

    • Keith Taxguy on March 7, 2018 at 11:31 am

      MB, the name change had a story behind it. I’m listed on Facebook as Keith Taxguy. FB threatened to shut my account down so I tried to convince them people really call me Keith Taxguy. They didn’t bite. Still have the FB account with my real name. Oh, well.

      I might change my name back on the blog. But Taxguy is a cool moniker to a taxguy.

      • MB on March 7, 2018 at 7:10 pm

        Ah kk. Yeah that is a great moniker. Well you could always apply for a name change 🙂

  6. FullTimeFinance on March 7, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    For some reason as I read this post I’m thinking about the Joe Walsh song, ‘Life’s been good to me so far’.

    In all seriousness it ebbs and flows. I have an upcoming similar post on my own profession. Sometimes you love it by sometimes you really hate it. Life in general really.

  7. Mick on March 7, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    So you do realize you have groupies?
    Start trashing hotel rooms and you’ll be a real rock star!
    It’s funny how the jobs I did and”hated in my teens and twenties doesn’t seem so bad now.
    My education has served me well and i have always enjoyed my career work in engineering, but after 30 years in the field, I am ready for and planning transition to something completely different.

  8. Angel Strunk | Next Level Blogging on March 8, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    I used to work for a CPA firm as an office manager. The stress during February-April can take a huge toll, working 7 days a week and never being “caught up”. I have a knack for numbers but I’m glad to be working for myself these days. Too seasonal for my taste.

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