Archive for September 2018

The One Place World Travelers Forget to Visit

Travel to exotic destinations. Even seasoned travelers miss some of the best places to visit. Here is a travel tip to a destination that will change your life forever. #wealthyaccountant #travel #traveltips #destination #exoticI have a confession; I’m a hypocrite. My greatest platform has been a complete lie. Please don’t blame me. It got out of control and before I knew it the lie was so big I had no way out with the exception of telling the truth.

From the beginning I railed against traveling while I’ve visited most of the U.S. states, Canada several times, Jamaica and Costa Rica. And here I am pounding out a post while traveling and sitting at the kitchen table of my first Airbnb stay. For a guy who whines so much about traveling I certainly do a lot of it.

Traveling has certainly been a love/hate relationship for me. The anxiety is almost overwhelming (sometimes it is and I collapse). This post will publish Thursday and I’m writing Tuesday night and the clock claims the night is closing in on 10:30. For several weeks leading up to FinCon the anxiety increased. Sleep turned fitful, my thought disorganized. I dreaded the flight. Most of all I dreaded all the people. Farm boys from the backwoods of Nowhere, Wisconsin never truly adjust when pushed into civilization. The savage is always there.

It is in this fog of insanity I realized I travel too damn much, but also realized I travel to places even the most seasoned travelers rarely go.




Give Me Space

Wanderlust is something I understand. I fear the crowds, the bright lights. The newness will heighten my senses activating the fight or flight reflex. Yet this is still a lie!

There is a form of traveling I lust for ceaselessly. When I see people driving toward early retirement so they can travel the world I roll my eyes. Who in their right mind would want to do that? There is nothing more painful I can think of. And still, I can’t stop the deceit.

See places few visit. Your travels are incomplete until you travel through time to this exotic and wondrous destination. #wealthyaccountant #travel #ventures #travelplanning #travelideas I better clarify. Many Most people have a strong desire to travel, to see new places, meet new people, enjoy new experiences. There is something in the DNA of humans to want to crawl to the horizon and beyond. From the very beginning when our ancestors wandered out of Africa to our post-modern times where eyes are turned glistening to the moon, Mars and the stars beyond, there has been a powerful urge in humans to explore. The chance to grow and learn is an irresistible pull.

But people have traveling all wrong so they miss the one place more important to visit than any other.

The mistake is all about space. The desire to travel is never satiated because you travel spatially. The mode of transportation is plane, train, boat, car and even bike and hoof. Whatever it takes to get from here to the other side of the hill.

I bet you make the same mistake. You travel from here to there and no more. A trip to Europe or some other continent holds the promise of exciting new cultures to sip from. And it works. Most people are awesome and love communicating with people from far away. They share as you share; learn as you learn.

There are serious limits to spatial travel. You can only see places where the transportation can take you. Mars is off the docket. . . for now. Anther serious limit to spatial travel is time. You need more than an afternoon to tour Africa. We can discuss cost, but you already understand that part.

New Dimensions

This is where we entered our story. My lie isn’t exactly about spatial travel. While I’ve imbibed often enough, I believe my personal constitution absolves me from serious travel crime. Yes, I have gallivanted around a section of the globe relatively close to the home farm, but gallivant I have.

I still abhor travel in the traditional sense. The anxiety is so powerful and overwhelming I’m surprised I can function at all in those situations. You can’t imagine what I see in my mind as I struggle through yet another bout of time away from familiar surroundings. (The lights are not as pretty as I pretend.)

But this is where truth ends. In a bad year I leave the yard three times. In a good year I cross the road a mere once. And then there are the times where I’m in heaven as Pinky (my cat) notices I stay snuggled close for over a year uninterrupted. But just because my tail is planted firmly in the couch doesn’t mean I’m not traveling. In fact, it’s a journey too few ever take. Seasoned world travelers wander the planet for decades and never see the places or people I’ve seen.

You see, I travel in time.

I know, I know. Your favorite accountant has gone and flipped his lid. (I am writing this while traveling. Remember the Airbnb kitchen table.)

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof and I’m prepared to provide it. (If I didn’t it would be a really stupid post. (You in the back: sit down. If I wanted your opinion I would have asked.))

The best way for me to prove I time travel is to explain the people and places I visit.

There are so many stories; where to begin. I time travel so much, see so many wondrous place, enjoy intelligent conversation with so many great minds I sometimes forget how incredibly lucky I am to experience such travel.  I may as well spill it all.




Time Travels

It may be hard to believe, but I was there when they spiked Christ to the cross. I knelt with His mother before the cross and comforted her. I was there when Socrates drank the hemlock and when Plato left the city and the school he founded “lest Athens sin against philosophy twice.”

When Voltaire exposed the government, religion, science and philosophy with the biting satire of Candide and when Rousseau fomented revolution I was there. Just another trip down Memory Lane. I warned Voltaire his humor would not be appreciated for centuries when comedians were allowed to live (usually) after exposing the  hypocrisy of said institutions.

When the Dark Ages descended over Europe and the Black Death spread fear I was there. I felt their pain, felt their fear. When the light of Renaissance flickered after the long night I experienced the enlightenment first hand. I was there when the Renaissance flourished into an Age of Reason and a Reformation in Christianity.

I saw all these things and more. And you can travel to these places, too! All you need is a book.

Space and Time

Plenty can be said for spatial travel. There is a thrill of newness in the act even if a crazy accountant in the room suffers emotional distress while engaged in the process. There are serious and great benefits from travel. Spatial travel brings people together as the world shrinks into a single community.

Need travel ideas? How about a low-cost vacation to an exotic location few know how to book. Be different! Travel further than anyone else. #wealthyaccountant #travel #vacation #travelideas #vacationideas #destinations #cheaptravel #lowcosttravelBooks are awesome, of course. Some of the flavor is lost in the mists of time unfortunately. Plato and I had plenty to talk about, but the people around him are relatively unknown or completely forgotten. It was also a one-sided conversation. How I would love to have asked questions. All but the major players are relegated into oblivion. There story is untold, lost in the sands of history.

The filter of time determines which stories we are exposed to. Aristotle was almost lost to us in the Dark Ages. When the Library of Alexandria burned much knowledge and understanding was irrevocably destroyed. Many stories died that day forever. If ever there was a genocide, it was that day. Many great minds gasped their last breath that day. If I could have been there. But, alas, time travel doesn’t allow changes to the time stream.

Time travel is important! It is the great men and women of the past who gave us our chance at greatness today. We build on the shoulders of giants.

To truly experience a culture and place while spatially traveling you need to understand the foundation that brought that place and culture to the current condition. The only way to do that is with time travel, with a book.




Coda

When I express my issues with travel I’m asked if I hate the travel (airport, car, et cetera) or actually being there. Yes.

Not funny, I know. The traveling part of travel is the worst, of course. The exhausting nature of travel is also a part and so is being away from home.

The people are always incredible. I still prefer a book because I can absorb at my pace and see so much more of the world faster when I can avoid the wasted time of airports. I was born out of my time in some ways. Regardless, I still feel the pull of the horizon. I’m human! What did you expect?

It is getting late as I finish this post. The Airbnb hosts were traveling (surprise!) so they had Rand and Joy step in to run control on the accountant clan visiting. We had some deep and interesting conversations. (Airbnb beats a hotel by a gazzillion miles. I’m sold. Future travel will be Airbnb whenever possible.)

Some travel destinations are like traveling through time. The less beaten path is one with more wonders and awe. No crowds. Plenty of fun and adventure. All low-cost. Plan today before everyone else discovers these gems. #wealthyaccountant #travelplans #travel #exotic #vacation #cheap #rare #undiscoveredI was interrupted as I completed the first paragraph of this post by Rand and Joy. I explained what I planned to write (it turned out slightly different than I expected; a common occurrence in writing)  when Joy lit up. Her eyes flashed wide as she realized why all the stuff I said sounded so familiar. A friend of hers has been sending her links to this blog when she found good stuff. (My guess is she didn’t need a lot of time with that kind of filter.)

Joy has been reading this blog for about two years. Rand checked it out earlier today. (Stalker!) He only mentioned one post: my obituary. I understand. No, really!

What I find amazing is that the population in the U.S. tips north of 300 million and a couple hundred thousand people visit this blog every year at least once and somehow I ended up in an Airbnb with a reader. How cool is that?

I am amazed and also humbled. You, kind readers, are lost in the glare when I write. I know you’re there, but I can’t see you or feed off your reactions as a stage actor would.

Then it all turns real when a reader appears in an unexpected place. I expect a few people to know of my work at FinCon. But out on the street I have no illusions of my celebrity. I’m a bit player on a historical stage. In short, I was Plato’s water boy, forgotten in time.

After 1,500 words I’ve realized how wrong my original supposition has been. As much as I enjoy traveling in time with armloads of books, it is meaningless unless I also travel spatially. Both are intricately connected. One does not exist without the other.

A mere 1,500 words and I discovered I MUST travel in time AND space.

Anxiety will always be a problem. Damn anxiety. They have pills for that now.

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Credit Cards can be a powerful money management tool when used correctly. Use this link to find a listing of the best credit card offers. You can expand your search to maximize cash and travel rewards.

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

PeerSteet is an alternative way to invest in the real estate market without the hassle of management. Investing in mortgages has never been easier. 7-12% historical APRs. Here is my review of PeerStreet.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

A cost segregation study can save $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregations studies work and how to get one yourself.

Amazon is a good way to control costs by comparison shopping. The cost of a product includes travel to the store. When you start a shopping trip to Amazon here it also supports this blog. Thank you very much!



Paying Off the Mortgage vs Investing the Difference

You don't own your home until the mortgage is paid off; the bank does. Mortgage payoff tips you can use to become debt-free. Dave Ramsey #wealthyaccountant #daveramsey #mortgagetips #debtfree #mortgagefree #mortgagepayofftipsOne of the most difficult decisions you can make as you struggle toward financial independence is deciding between paying off the mortgage quickly or investing the excess funds instead. The water is more muddy when we see a roaring stock market for as far back as the eye can see coupled with low interest rates. The answer seems simple and obvious: pay off the mortgage as slowly as possible and invest the difference in broad market-based index funds.

You might also think people well past the mile-marker of financial independence would have an even easier choice. Once the risk of a market decline passes due to your excessive net worth, it is tempting to automatically choose the course with the greatest opportunity for maximum gain.

Your favorite accountant has struggles with the same decision: pay it off  or invest. It all came to a head recently when the topic came up on Facebook. I gave my opinion and the fur flew. Before long my inbox was stuffed with requests for a fully fleshed out explanation of my position.




My Struggle

For someone working his entire life in finance this shouldn’t be a problem, you’d think. But it isn’t that simple.

Any first year accounting student knows leverage (debt) can spike returns. Less understood—for reasons I can’t understand—is the effect leverage has when the investment goes down or even treads water. Leverage does enhance profits nicely in a climbing market. When the market goes sideways the interest expense of leverage starts to hurt. In a down market is turns brutal with losses magnified and interest accruing to rub salt in the wound.

When it come to real estate a false sense of security sets in. Unlike securities, real estate doesn’t face a margin call if prices decline. The bank will not borrow you more in such cases, but you don’t have to come up with more money over the regular payment. As long as things eventually turn around you are fine. At least that is the theory.

Should you pay off your mortgage early or invest the difference? Here are mortgage payoff tips to help you decide between investing and paying the mortgage off faster. #wealthyaccountant #mortgage #mortgagetips #mortgagepayofftips #creditscore #DaveRamseyArmed with this information I begin my journey. I bought the farm (No, really! A beautiful 10 acre farm with hiking trails and a pond. What did you think? I died?) in the mid 1990s for $120,000. Five or so years later the mortgage was down to ~$40,000.

My old farmhouse needed serious work. We jacked up the house to secure the foundation, remodeled the original home and made serious additions. The Accountant household went from 950 square feet of living space to over 3,000. (No, I’m not proud of my extravagance.)

The remodeling and additions cost more than $200,000, all put on the credit card, aka, the new mortgage. The Accountant household had a serious debt now.

The good news is that I had no other debt and a net worth approaching eight figures. Our home appraised at $400,000 and change. Borrowing was relatively cheap and there was no real risk to such indebtedness in my situation. I did make payments well beyond the minimum to pay the house off sooner. (Some habits are hard to kill.)

By the time the world ended in 2008 – 09 I had the mortgage down to ~ $100,000, maybe a bit lower. The stock market tanked and I had plenty of room to borrow more against my home.

With my credit the bank was willing to give me pretty much anything I wanted. They needed to lend to low risk people and businesses and I was the lowest of risks. Since I have a farm I qualify for special loans only available to farmers. As luck would have it, I snagged a 2.125% loan fixed for 30 years!

Not being one for half measures I borrowed nearly $300,000, reducing my home equity to the lowest level in my life. I dropped the cash in the market.

It wasn’t a long wait. The market stopped declining and then started rising in fits and starts. For almost 10 years now my gambit has worked well. I made extra payments once again, but not as much as in past times.

Five years ago the mortgage was ~ $300,000. The market turned the borrowed funds into a bigger number. I refused selling the investments. But I increased my payments to reduce the large number on my loan statement. (It bothered me!)

Income from my practice now started going into loan reduction over more market investments. Yes, the market kept climbing, but I wanted that mortgage much lower. I found it disturbing to have the highest debt level in my life when I enjoyed the highest net worth of the same life. Even my business lived debt-free. This house thing, while a good move according to first-year accounting students, occupied my thoughts better used on other projects.

I also turned up the frugal. I learned to cut costs like a crazy man! Coupled with a nice business income I was able to shave $50,000 or more from the mortgage each year. My goal was to reduce the interest expense. Yes, the rate was low, but $300,000 at 2% is still $6,000!

Last year the mortgage collapsed to under $200,000. The race was on. Without resorting to asset sales I refocused my efforts to reduce the mortgage. By the end of last year the mortgage stood a hair into the six figures.




The Final Assault

There are several dry-erase boards around my office. Many are filled with cryptic messages on my personal and business finances. I use a type of shorthand known only to me. Sometimes employees ask what all the gibberish means. I tell them if it’s pertinent to their job.

Here is why you must start paying extra on your mortgage today. Investing the extra mortgage payments instead does not work. Pay off your mortgage in 5 years or less. #wealthyaccountant #savingmoney #personalfinance #moneyA dry-erase board outside my office door has a series of numbers. The cryptic numbers were my madness to retire the farm mortgage. The original goal was to pay $56,800 on the mortgage this year, including interest. (Don’t ask why $56,800; it’s along story.)

As I entered summer it looked as if I could meet my goal. By late summer I met the goal for the entire year. Something snapped in my head when the mortgage hit $58,000 and change. I wanted it gone and now!

In the last two months I drove the mortgage from $58,000 to under $16,000. After I return home from FinCon in Orlando I will move money from a side business to retire the mortgage.

For the first time in my adult life I will be debt free before Halloween. That sounds so insane to me. I can scream “I’m debt-free!” to Dave Ramsey for the first time since the early 1980s while my net worth is well into the eight figures. I kept the mortgage to pad my net worth when the advantages would do absolutely nothing for my lifestyle.

And once again I was forced to reconsider my choice as the course of financially savvy individuals raked me over the coals on Facebook.




Why I Took the Course I Did

When I gave my opinion in a finance group on why I felt paying off the mortgage was better than investing the difference I was mobbed. In a matter of moments there was nothing left but a grease spot  on the pavement.

My argument was simple. Paying off all debt not only reduces risk of default, but frees all the time spent thinking about managing the debt. That was my come to Jesus moment. I discovered I was spending more time thinking about my $300,000 mortgage than the millions I had in investments!

The mortgage was always planned. Payments were on automatic, but extra payments had to be considered. I also kept thinking about how long I wanted to keep this darn thing. Am I willing to keep a mortgage until I’m 70 just to kite the difference I could make in the market? The answer, once I seriously thought about it, was NO!!! And the more I thought about it the more I realized I was wasting quality time on a debt I don’t even need.

The only argument against my solution was that the market does a heck of a lot better than the 2 1/8% I pay on the mortgage. Once I thought about that I realized it was a stupid argument. Yes, it worked well for me since the market has been climbing with barely a hiccup for a decade. What they were really saying is that the ends justify the means. I disagree.

Investing versus extra mortgage payments? It isn't an easy choice. Learn the best choice for you. #wealthyaccountant #mortgage #money #mortgagetips #payments #investments #invest #timeI won because the market was up a lot. How would I look if the market pulled a 1968 to 1982 when the market went nowhere for 14 years? Not nearly as smart, I would gather.

After careful consideration I came to the conclusion (took me long enough considering my age) that paying off the mortgage as fast as possible, regardless of tax deductions or the interest rate, is the only correct course. Here is why: The mortgage is guaranteed while the market is not. The market may climb or it could sink or stagnate. It’s happened for long periods of time. We sometimes forget our history. The mortgage is always there until paid, plus all the interest. No reprieve.

The other expense a mortgage has is time. Even with payments on automatic you still need to manage funds to make the payment. You either earn money or transfer from an investment into the account funds will be drawn from. Don’t forget or there will be penalties!

Time, more than interest or money, were the deciding factor. You might think debt doesn’t take time and allows you to spike your investment returns. Well, it does take time and thought and planning. That time comes from personal time. And debt is a harsh mistress when investments turn south.

I was a Dave Ramsey Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) for years. I have no problem putting every expense I can on the credit card. I pay it in full each month with auto-pay. I also make room for modest mortgage debt. I’ve changed my tune.

I think debt-free is the only way to go. Even if you have massive wealth outside the debt with zero risk to your FI (financial independence) status, it is still better to retire the mortgage on the primary residence, second home and rental properties. (Income properties do very well without mortgages, even in terrible economic times. Hard to lose when there are no monthly payments.)

There is one last thing I noticed as I approach the final payment on my home. Mrs. Accountant and I are giddy as school girls. (I don’t look good in a dress so no ugly comments.) Breaking the million dollar net worth marker didn’t get so much as a “Yippie!” out of Mrs. A. Every time I go to Farm Credit and drop another 10 grand or so she walks on air.

So do I. I must confess I feel a heavy weight lifted off my shoulders. I can’t believe paying off a debt that didn’t even register in the household budget affected my subconscious so much. But it did! It is impossible to understand how much debt affects you until you remove it. How much weight bares down on you until it is removed.

I always thought it was about how much I was worth. No more. I think you are a helluva lot richer without debt than with a massive net worth. I feel better about myself financially now than ever before. I always knew I owed somebody. Now that is gone and I can yell:

“I’M DEBT FREE!!!”

I hope you will join me. You can’t believe the colors on this side of the fence.

 

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Credit Cards can be a powerful money management tool when used correctly. Use this link to find a listing of the best credit card offers. You can expand your search to maximize cash and travel rewards.

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

PeerSteet is an alternative way to invest in the real estate market without the hassle of management. Investing in mortgages has never been easier. 7-12% historical APRs. Here is my review of PeerStreet.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

A cost segregation study can save $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregations studies work and how to get one yourself.

Amazon is a good way to control costs by comparison shopping. The cost of a product includes travel to the store. When you start a shopping trip to Amazon here it also supports this blog. Thank you very much!



Where to Invest Your Money When the Stock Market is Overpriced

How do you tell if the stock market is too high? When do you sell? Or buy for that matter? Read this article to learn the right time to sell a stock. #wealthyaccountant #stocks #stockmarket #investing #investingtips #bonds #moneymarket Investing for beginners. Investing for wealth in your 20s or 30s. In or near retirement.The stock market is in nose bleed territory and doesn’t seem to want to stop climbing. Economic risks are everywhere. Debt levels are high, interest rates are climbing, a trade war is breaking out and the market valuations are at near record high levels.  In times like these investors get scared. The bull market is long in the tooth and “due” for a serious correction. But then again, using a gambling term might not be the best choice when investing your money.

It is rare when a client doesn’t ask me where to invest their excess funds. Virtually every client wants to pull money from the market but doesn’t know where to put the proceeds. Lump-sum payments and accumulated cash in money market accounts cause concern when the stock market would have been a much better choice.

At these level we might ask, How much higher can this go? How much longer before disaster strikes? And then the market indexes keep marching higher.

Retirement makes it even worse. If your nest egg is enough for a comfortable retirement, but lacks excess, the market climb causes concerns. Nobody ever lost money taking a profit, goes the old Wall Street adage. But is it a smart idea to sell when the market is high considering it is almost always considered high? And if selling is the right choice, where do you put the money? We will explore those important questions today, before catastrophe strikes.




Are You High

There is an advantage to age. Once you’ve lived through a few market cycles you begin to realize the best choice is to stay calm. Newscasts will tell you the sky is falling. It isn’t.

In the 1970s and 80s Joseph E. Granville was the guy to listen to on stock investing. When Granville spoke the market moved. He had a system for timing the stock market and a knack for promotion. (He had books to sell.) The Pinterest placard in this post of his 1976 book is from my personal library. (I’ve been reading investing books for a very long time.)

Robert R. Prechter Jr. is another guru from a past age (my age). Prechter published The Elliott Wave Theorist in the 1980s.

When is the best time to sell the stock market? Selling an investment is just as important as how you buy the investment. And where do you put the money once you sell? #wealthyaccountant #investing #indexfunds #retirement #selling #money #cash

The only way to time the stock market. Don’t.

Both Granville and Prechter were market timers; something we know is a bad idea when it comes to investing in the market. Warren Buffett doesn’t write books; he writes annual reports for his company. People write books about Warren Buffett. This opposed to market timers who write books on their system and sell it to the masses. See the difference. One makes money and people write about them. The others make their money selling you books on how they think you should invest. Think about that for a moment.

I bring up Granville and Prechter for a reason. These and others called for a serious market declines in the 80s. I remember watching the Nightly Business Report where a guest expressed with great confidence the Dow Jones Industrial Average would soon test the 1932 lows from the Great Depression because the Elliot Wave theory predicted it. People actually paid for that kind of advice!

When the Dow was under 1,000 it was overpriced. It was overpriced in 1932 then is bounced off the low 40s. (The DJIA closed at 41.22 on July 8, 1932; its all-time low.) You see, when the Dow was that low people had real reasons to believe the world was ending, at least economically. Even with the Industrials at 40 and change the market was high because these companies were losing money. Things were bad, really bad. And getting worse.

Then the Dow reached 10,000 and it was really high, overpriced and ready for a decline. Well, before the world actually ended the Dow notched 20,000. Of course it was painfully obvious the market had to decline. Just look at the political climate. How can it possible go higher?

Unfortunately we will have to wait for the permanent decline in the market. Yesterday (September 19, 2018) the Dow closed at 26,405.76. And you guessed it. Clients still want to know if they should sell their index funds and move to cash.

I provided plenty of links above to helpful sites on the issues I discussed. I didn’t link to Amazon for any of Granville’s or Prechter’s work. Granville actually published another book in 2010. I didn’t know that until I researched this article. It sounds like more market timing advice to me. And that is why I didn’t link to their work. I think it is terrible advice.




Perspective

Let’s bring the current stock market into perspective. At the last cycle market high the DJIA was around 13,930 at the end of October, 2007. If you had the worst of all luck and invested a massive windfall (the lottery sent you a gazillion dollar check) at the exact peak you would be up just shy of 90%! (89.55% for home-gamers.) Index funds make it easy to match the market. An all-market or S&P 500 index fund would have yielded slightly different results, but still good gains all the same.

When is the best time to buy a stock or index fund? Should you buy or sell at these levels? Inside are clear answers to investing your money in your 20s, 30s or any age. Beginners and experienced investors face the same question on when to sell and what to do with the proceeds. #wealthyaccountant #beginners #investing #tips #ideas #help #money #cash

Should you buy the stock market at these levels?

The lesson is learned. Even if today is the absolute worst day to invest, a decade down the road you still have pretty good odds it will still be a good call.

I’m not calling for the market to climb high, by the way. I might be crazy, but I ain’t dumb. I have no clue where the market is headed. Looks high to me and always does. So I bite my lip and keep invested, laughing all the way to the, ah, index fund.

The long game is always higher. Jim Collins has written extensively on the stock market and why it always goes up. Notice I didn’t say the market never goes down! The market does decline from time to time, but always climbs higher after the temporary pullbacks. The only time this will not happen is if civilization fails. If that is the case you have bigger problems than a stock market decline.

Liquid Funds

The information above doesn’t mean everyone should be fully invested! Those in or near retirement may need a few years of liquid cash in money market or bank accounts regardless the level of the stock market. Businesses also need working capital that is liquid. Money that has a five-year or longer horizon probably deserves to be in equities.

I intentionally left bonds off the list. Bond yields are low. Serious losses occur with long-dated bonds as interest rates climb. If rates stay low you still only get a meager return. I see no reason to consider bonds, except for pension funds, banks and insurance companies.




Alternatives to Index Funds

The S&P 500 and DJIA are up over 300% from the lows a decade ago. It is understandable some people have the jitters. Panic selling is the worst of all choices. If a market decline causes you to lose sleep it might be time to take a few chips off the table.

If you receive a bonus or other windfall it still makes sense to drop the lump-sum into a broad-based index fund and live with the results. The evidence is clear this is the correct choice. You might be unlucky and pick the worst day of the decade. Odds are you will not. But if you do you still have an excellent chance to enjoy nice returns in a relatively short period of time.

If your temperament doesn’t handle the market well at these levels there are options. First, pay off debt. You can’t lose retiring liabilities. The car and credit cards must be paid in full. The mortgage is always a tough call. (Stay tuned for an upcoming post on paying off a low interest rate mortgage versus keeping the mortgage and investing the funds for a higher return.) I feel paying off the mortgage makes sense for most people. “Safe” investments don’t pay as much which makes them less safe than perceived.

Once all debt is eliminated you still need to invest liquid funds. There are few good choices at this time. Capital One 360 and Discover Savings offer competitive interest rates, but they are still low comparatively. Vanguard’s money market fund is another alternative worth considering.

The Best Investment

I know how hard it is, kind readers, but a broad-based index fund is the best choice for money with an investment horizon of 5 years or longer. The market is high. It’s always high. The best time to invest has always been now.

Granville and Prechter convinced a generation they could time the market. Nobody does it consistently. The surest path to financial success is to tie yourself to the economic engine of virtually the entire economy. As the economy grows, so do you.

The best and only advice is to stay fully invested all the time without leverage (using borrowed money to buy the investment). The exception is working capital for businesses and liquid funds for household expenses of a few years, a bit more if retired or nearing retirement.

Close your eyes if it helps. Bear markets tend to end quickly.

 

 

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

PeerSteet is an alternative way to invest in the real estate market without the hassle of management. Investing in mortgages has never been easier. 7-12% historical APRs. Here is my review of PeerStreet.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

A cost segregation study can save $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregations studies work and how to get one yourself.

Amazon is a good way to control costs by comparison shopping. The cost of a product includes travel to the store. When you start a shopping trip to Amazon here it also supports this blog. Thank you very much!

 



My Tax Plan If I Were President

Taxes laws are a mess. I have solutions to simplify taxes and lower rates. Using humor, I share tax tips for deductions for individuals and small businesses. I also address the politics behind such required changes. #wealthyaccountant #taxhumor #taxdeductions #taxtips #smallbusiness #funny #politics #presidentIf you’re reading this the day it’s published it means this is the due date for extensions for partnerships and corporations. If you work in a tax office and things are quiet you might want to consider another job. (This is an inside joke directed at a former employee who struck out on her own. If you need bookkeeping in Vegas I know a qualified person to handle that. Seriously.)

I thought today would be the perfect day for me to announce my candidacy for president with a few tax policies I’ll sign into law via executive order if elected. Some of you might be darn excited about this unwelcome event as you think I’m a Democrat. Other might be excited because they think I’m a Republican. The truth is I’m neither. I prefer to waffle between both side of the aisle or as the police call it: walking in a drunken stupor.

As much fun as I’m going to have writing this, I am also dead serious. What follows are tax policies I would like to see instituted. Some things will sound very liberal and some things will sound downright conservative. Basically, I should tick off just about everyone in the room with something.

Welcome to politics.




Ground Rules

Before we start I want to point out some things I plan as president are not completely tax related. For example, I will deal with the minimum wage, but connect it to tax policy. The same with welfare of every kind. Along the way I’ll fix the health care issues of the United States by default and solve trade issues and immigration policy in a way everyone will love until I’m elected. Then a third will love me and two-thirds will hate me until we approach the next election. Then the population polarizes and it ends up a dead heat until I’m assassinated re-elected.

Tax policy controls everything. Al Capone gets away with murder until they called in the Treasury Department. (It worked!) Welfare once required a trip to Social Services. Now it’s handled at the tax preparer’s office. Corporate welfare is even worse.

Trade disputes sometimes result in tariffs, an excellent way to tax your own people while convincing them it punishes the other country. (Don’t underestimate the ignorance of voters.) Once again important issues of national importance end up in a tax bill.

So, let’s get down to business. I’m confident I’ll win your vote.

Simple and Basic

With the exception of my own profession, everyone should love the basic framework of my tax plan. Republicans lowered tax rates to the lowest level since taxes were collected in this country. And I think they’re still too high!

For individuals and families: I propose to raise the standard deduction to $100,000 for joint returns; $75,000 for head of household returns; and $50,000 for single taxpayers. That means a married couple filing jointly can enjoy their first $100,000 of income tax free! (I know! It makes me giddy too.) Exemptions were eliminated with H.R. 1 and I don’t want to rock the boat so all you guys get is a huge standard deduction. In fact, itemizing is gone! If a hundred grand tax-free isn’t enough to stay solvent there isn’t a thing any politician can do to help you.

7 ways your taxes should be lowered. Tax humor might be funny, but also illustrates how taxes must be lowered. Find tax tips and deduction for individuals, the self-employed and small businesses. #wealthyaccountant #politics #president #taxplan #taxhumor #deductions #smallbusinessAs for tax brackets, people like the idea of a flat tax. I propose two brackets so my peers at least have an outside chance of staying in business: 20% and 50%. After the standard deduction, the next $400,000 is taxed at a flat 20%. All income above this level is nailed at a 50% rate with nary a deduction available to reduce the tax.

I hear the howls of protest, my tax obsessed readers. You think President Accountant will bankrupt the nation with such a plan. Au contraire. To pay for this simple tax plan all the welfare tax credits are nixed. The Earned Income Credit: gone. The Child Tax Credit: gone. Savers Credit: nope. Education credits: huh? No, no, and no. No more handouts on the tax return. Let’s turn the tax office back into a tax office and not an unpaid extension of the welfare department of the government.

Also, all income is taxed at the same rate. No more special rate for qualified dividends or long-term capital gains.

Poor people need not complain. The Earned Income Credit was designed to compensate low income workers with a kickback of their FICA taxes. In my tax plan every worker gets the first $20,000 FICA tax free. If you work you get an instant EIC on your paycheck.

HOWEVER. . .

Social Security taxes now are like the Medicare portion of FICA: paid all the way to the sky. And FICA applies to ALL income: dividends, interest, capital gains (long- and short-term) and more. A sports star gets a $20 million bonus. Good for everybody! A CEO of a public company enjoys a windfall of stock options? Good for everybody. The Social Security and Medicare financial problems are solved.

If you think about it (I have) the reduction in tax credits more than offsets the massive standard deduction increase. We may have to institute another round of tax cuts or risk paying off the national debt.

I see fear in the eyes of business owners. Don’t worry. I thought about you guys, too.




Business Taxes

This crazy new tax deduction for qualified business income is insane. All it does is increase complexity in the tax code, lining the pockets of tax professionals and attorneys practicing in tax law. In my plan the QBI is gone.

WAIT!

Don’t shoot! I propose a better solution. Businesses will enjoy their own standard deduction of $1 million. That’s right, my Republican friends, every small business owners will enjoy their first million tax-free on top of their generous standard deduction.

Big business is sweating right now, worried I’ll fill the Treasury at their expense. No way! As a gift for funding my political campaign you get the same $1 million standard deduction, plus a flat tax rate of 15%. You heard that right. The Republican plan of 21% is still waaaaay too high to compete internationally. We will start at 15% and reduce the rate 1% per year until it hits 12%.

Oh, don’t be sad, my liberal friends. To pay for this tax cut we will cut corporate welfare the way we did for individuals. If you think welfare to people is costing taxpayers, you haven’t added up how many handouts are lining the pockets of super-rich corporate executives. Those handouts will be eliminated completely.

To prevent small businesses and the big guys from gaming the system, all businesses controlled by a group only get one $1 million dollar business standard deduction only. In other words, you only get one million dollar deduction per investor. (And you guys thought I didn’t give this adequate thought.)

Tax System

The U.S. is one of only a few remaining nations taxing on a worldwide system. My plan brings us in line with the world by switching to a territorial tax system, where only profits from inside the U.S. are taxed. The tax rate for profits outside the U.S. is 0%, giving a major competitive advantage to American companies operating abroad, something they have to dance around now to compete with other nations. That alone could resolve half the trade deficit.

Americans working abroad would not be taxed unless they earned the money in the U.S. The Foreign Income Exclusion would be obsolete with President Accountant.

To prevent games, corporations could not shift profits outside the country. Strong measures will be in place to avoid such a practice with a 10,000% penalty for offenders. (You’re getting an awesome deal. Don’t get greedy!)

Foreign companies that want to sell in the U.S. would also pay U.S. taxes for their profits earned in the U.S. (Where ya gonna get a fairer deal than that?)




Trade Wars

This is just plain stupid. Tariffs are a tax on your own people! I would open the door to trade with all tariffs eliminated. If other countries don’t follow suit, fine. They can tax their own people more. All the better for our economy.

Looking for a fair tax plan? Then I know the perfect guy to vote for! Taxes are a mess is desperate need of organization. #wealthyaccountant #taxplan #tax #taxes #taxhumor #funny #deductions #creditsThe U.S. and its businesses whine endlessly about free markets. Well, trade wars and tariffs are the exact opposite. Compete or go broke. Under President Accountant we will allow markets to decide the winners and losers.

The one issue we have a right to complain about is the theft of intellectual property. (I’m pointing at you, China.) Our current president has a point on trade issues with China and a few other countries. Policies that strip intellectual property from U.S businesses will be dealt with harshly. If it is determined (China is the worst offender here) that theft has taken place, the government of the country where the offending company resides must compensate for losses and prevent such theft. If the government of said country can’t regulate their own people that country is barred from selling any goods or services in the U.S. until they govern responsibly. No more stealing our stuff and using it to sell against our own hard-working business owners.

The details are more than I can publish right now, but trust me. It’ll be great! The best trade plan this country has ever seen.

Health Care

It is repugnant that the wealthiest nation on the planet can’t provide basic medical care for all its people when other nations do just that. Therefore, I will sign an executive order my first day in office expanding Medicare to cover all U.S. citizens from Day 1 to Day End. No more Medical Premium mandate needed. If you want more than basic coverage; buy additional coverage. There is no additional deduction and businesses are not allowed to provide more health coverage to employees. Businesses are out of the health care business from now on (unless they are a medical business).

To pay for this basic benefit the Medicare portion of FICA will be increased 2%; half paid by the employee and half by the employer. All income, including dividends, capital gains and interest, will pay the additional FICA tax. And remember the FICA exemption above. Nobody gets hurt.

I hear my conservative friends complaining already. “We need to keep government out of our conversations with out doctor,” you say. I agree. Let’s keep your employer out of it, too. I for one am sick to death of telling my employees what kind of medical care they can get. Unless I’m a doctor or hospital, I’m out of the health care business and devoting all my time to my business, which is what I’m good at and the reason I started my business.




Minimum Wage

Is that grumbling I hear at the back of the room? No worries, my liberal friends. Under President Accountant the minimum wage will be abolished! You heard me right. Now holster your weapons.

The reason I’ll eliminate the minimum wage is because if we have a minimum wage to increase the number of jobs, then it stands to reason we must have a maximum wage to create more jobs. Don’t hear that argument too often, do you?

Eliminating the minimum wage will not put you at risk. Your favorite president will guarantee you see $15 per hour minimum on your paycheck each and every week. Rather than force companies to pay a minimum wage, there is a special tax for every hour any employee earn less than $15 an hour. That special tax is 20 times the amount your employee paid under $15 per hour.

I bet there will be no companies paying less the $15 an hour right quick.

Yes, businesses will be encouraged to automate with higher wages. But when has increased productivity been bad for a society? You get more for less. And with the new standard deduction and Medicare-for-all programs you will have a secure safety net.

There will be slightly fewer jobs, but they will pay better. Do I have your vote yet?

Under Cover

There is a lot to love by both sides of the aisle with my plans. Unless you are a tax professional you probably like my proposals.

It is unlikely I’ll actually be elected. Rumor has it a stark-raving mad crowd of accountants are approaching the Accountant farm as I write. With such a simple tax code with no loopholes, tax professionals are out of business. But then again, what did we produce? We manipulated a system created by man with no logical connection to reality. Very unproductive.

HUH!?

Was that gunfire?

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

PeerSteet is an alternative way to invest in the real estate market without the hassle of management. Investing in mortgages has never been easier. 7-12% historical APRs. Here is my review of PeerStreet.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

A cost segregation study can save $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregations studies work and how to get one yourself.

Amazon is a good way to control costs by comparison shopping. The cost of a product includes travel to the store. When you start a shopping trip to Amazon here it also supports this blog. Thank you very much!



Free Tickets to Any NFL Game for You!

Learn the secret to scoring free tickets to any game at any time. Enjoy football, soccer, hockey, baseball or basketball from the inside. You and your friends will have the best time ever! #wealthyaccountant #hockey #football #free #tickets #basketball #baseball I preempt our regular programming. I had an awesome post planned for today, but then my oldest daughter returned from college and told me something that made my mouth sweat. (You can enjoy the planned awesome post Thursday.)

Regular readers may remember I swore off commercial television decades ago, including my beloved football (not to be confused with soccer, my non-North American friends). Still, football is a massive part of the backwoods lifestyle of Phuket, Wisconsin. (Can you blame us? It’s all we have! Either that or admiring our frozen tundra.)

Now I know what you’re thinking. You like football and if you enjoy the sport you should be able to enjoy the sport. I agree. But readers around here are frugal and it takes a king’s ransom to get into the game! If you’re lucky enough to be in the 1% it’s still affordable, but if you’re in the 1% somebody else paid for those tickets or you don’t attend such extravagant events. Paying for NFL game tickets is for the 99% and chumps.

You can blame this post on procrastination. All weekend I kept promising myself I’d write Monday’s post early and get a jump-start on posts for when I was at FinCon in a few weeks. Instead, I focused my attention on YouTube videos of the Red Green Show. I think you’d agree it was a good trade-off.




Before We Get Our Free Tickets

I’m writing this late Sunday night (because I never wait until the last minute to write what needs to be published Monday). The Packers are playing the Bears in the late game. Yes, I’m missing all the action once again. But my daughter’s words echoed in my mind: free Packers tickets.

If you gave me free tickets to an NFL game I’d sell them. I have never—and never will—watch an NFL game at a stadium. If God hates me I might end up forced to watch a commercial laden television broadcast at the family Thanksgiving gathering.

Score free tickets to any sporting event you want. Planning is simple and fun. You might even get paid to attend a football, soccer, basketball or baseball game. #wealthyaccountant #free #football #baseball #soccer #basketball #tickets One reason I’ll never watch a game at Lambeau Field is because I heard they play the commercials in the stadium to all the chumps who coughed up serious change to attend. Is there any way to avoid this garbage? You can correct me in the comments, but it;s what I’ve heard.

Deep down I secretly hope the Packers get clobbered early in the season. It is soooooo annoying listening to the nonstop football discussion as if it makes any difference. I hear it at the office, from family, clients, at the gym while lifting weights and worst of all, in the friggen steam room at the gym when I just want to do is unwind. (FYI: I can’t name the coach or a single player on the team.)

Yes, I defend your right to watch any sport you want; I just don’t want to hear about it.

And my dream came true! Due to the nugget of knowledge imbued by my daughter I was interested enough to check Yahoo Sports to see how the Packers are doing tonight and they are getting gutted 20 to nothing. Hahahahahah!

Ah, the gym will be so quiet tomorrow as the proletariat licks their wounds as I workout. (Okay, smartass! I procrastinated more than you thought. I saw the 20-0 score on Yahoo and went back to enjoying Red Green. Then I vomited a little in my mouth when I went back and saw the final score. Looks like a mass shooting is a high probability at a gym near a certain accountant’s establishment. God, how I dream of the time each year when the Packers are out of the playoffs.)

By now you’re probably wondering if I have the goods. I do. The reason I tell you all this stuff is because the information I need to impart takes all of 15 words to explain and I have column inches to fill. This is powerful information and needed dissemination. So, on to the meat of our presentation.




How to Snag Free Tickets to Any NFL Game

Once again, I don’t have insider information on any of this so you just have to trust me.

Football tickets are expensive. I’m guessing they run a hundred bucks or so per person, plus parking, program (do they charge for those things or even still have them?) and food. They probably charge to use the restroom.

Attend any sporting event free with this little known secret. Planning is important. You and your friends can enjoy any football game for free. You might even get paid to see the Super Bowl. #wealthyaccountant #superbowl #sports #sportingevent #planning #americanfootballThis is serious ka-ching. The kids have to stay home at these prices or dad would be set back a thousand smackeroos or more!

No more procrastinating. What I discovered is more than free tickets to any NFL game; you actually get paid to go to the game!

It works like this. Game day is a messy experience. Stadiums need to keep on top of the garbage intoxicated fans keeps throwing everywhere other than the waste basket so they pay people to come to the game and tidy up.

Each team is different, I’m sure. But all teams have the same problem and need to keep things tidy on game day. And this is where my daughter came in.

The secret she told me was PTK (Heather is a smarty pants and is the VP of the Wisconsin PTK) sends people to Packer games all season to raise money for the organization. For the Packers at least, you need at least 10 people to attend during the game. I was told the group was paid ~$800 for 5 hours of time during the game and they actually get to see some of the game (always a downside).

For frugal people like you this is a monster idea! Not only can you save hundreds on an expensive habit, you actually have a very part-time side gig! Aren’t you excited?

There is a potential catch. I’m unsure if only non-profit organizations are allowed to do this. But that is a small speed bump people for folks as intelligent as the people around here. Heck, you can gather your buddies from the tavern league to get the requisite 10 people. (Hey, if you consider NFL tickets an acceptable expense you also probably spend crazy amounts of money on watered down hooch at the local tavern.)

Game Plan

Every team in every major sport probably has a similar program. If you really do love the sport, this is a good way to support your team while enjoying the game from the inside. Rather than crack open your wallet for an expensive outing, consider participating. You can attend the game for free and get paid!

Yes, you don’t get to enjoy those very comfortable seats. Instead, you can walk around as you enjoy the game. When you see trash blowing around you pick it up and put it where it belongs. As a responsible citizen you do that anyway. Right?

Regardless your sport of choice, check into this nugget of information. Check what the rules are for your favorite team. You can earn a few dollars while enjoying a great time out with friends. If it requires a non-profit, join one. Then volunteer. The organization probably keeps the money, but so what? You help a good cause while getting free entertainment. Think of all the fun.




Disclaimer

I know I was facetious in this post. It was about the only way to write it. Just because I walked away from spectator sports decades ago is no reason you can’t enjoy the game. I made my choice; you should make yours without regard to a crazy accountant’s personal decisions. The idea is short, sweet and to the point. But sporting events are expensive and this information can make game day more fun than ever, raise money for a cause (or you) and allow you free attendance.

My choices are different than yours. You can maintain a frugal lifestyle while enjoying the good things in life. I bet helping out on game day would make the game even more pleasurable. It is different than passively sitting in a chair and watching the game. You can be part of the team effort.

Honestly, I enjoy the excitement the guys at the gym express when the Packers are doing well. I don’t watch, but still cheer on the home team. I only know the name of one player. (Rogers is still the quarterback, right?)

Spending money is okay, no matter what you’ve heard. Overspending is a different story. Professional sports can set you back serious coin. Especially while you are reducing debt and building toward financial independence, you should focus on reducing spending. Now you can keep spending low as you build your wealth and enjoy the things you like in life.

And I saw the Packers eked out a close one. Must have been a nail biter. The guys at the gym will be excited. I’ll be excited for them, too. Go Packers! Even if I never see a game this year.



More Wealth Building Resources

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

PeerSteet is an alternative way to invest in the real estate market without the hassle of management. Investing in mortgages has never been easier. 7-12% historical APRs. Here is my review of PeerStreet.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

A cost segregation study can save $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregations studies work and how to get one yourself.

Amazon is a good way to control costs by comparison shopping. The cost of a product includes travel to the store. When you start a shopping trip to Amazon here it also supports this blog. Thank you very much!

Suicide Prevention in the FIRE Community

This blog post is part of the 3rd Annual Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month blog tour. If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.

 

Call it First World problems; the minor inconveniences of life: the traffic light turned red at the last moment, you’re surprised by a repair, you discover you have to work past the age of 30. We live in such opportune times it’s easy to forget real difficulties exist. Some right in our own communities.

September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month and Melanie Lockert of Dear Debt is asking personal finance bloggers once again to take up the keyboard to prevent unnecessary tragedy. I participated in the first two Suicide Prevention Blog Tours but intended to sit this one out when I got the email. I had no idea what I wanted to write. I said what I needed to say and had no more to add to the heap of literature on suicide prevention. Then I walked to the mailbox.




A Difficult Weekend

The Suicide Prevention Blog Tour is designed to bring attention debt, depression and suicide. Some bloggers keep it simple, pushing the simple message of hope and encouragement. I prefer a longer emotional story to illustrate my point.

The statistics are damning. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people in their early 20s and the overall rate of suicide increased 28% from 1999 to 20161. Mental health is a serious factor in suicide, but not always a factor. Complicating matters is that most suicide attempts are not the result of one issue only.

September is Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. Debt is a leading cause of suicide. Debt help is available. Debt free. Debt freedom. #wealthyaccountant #debt #suicide #suicideawareness #suicideprevention #debtsnowball #debtfreeFinancial problems (the focus of the Suicide Prevention Blog Tour) are the fifth leading cause of all suicides1. Relationship problems are the leading cause. And that is where First World problems and a short walk to my mailbox collided.

Melanie’s email had already started sliding down the list of unanswered emails when I took that fateful walk to the roadside. Just in time for the Labor Day weekend, the current issue of National Geographic had arrived.

The cover of the magazine was disturbing, an ominous sign. This is the kind of reading I bury and get back to much later if ever. I normally read National Geographic from beginning to end religiously. This time I put the magazine next to my reading chair with the cover facing down. It was too hard to look at.

But like a Stephen King novel, it kept calling out to me. Slowly I paged through the magazine and gathered information on the disturbing cover. The story was about Katie Stubblefield and the face transplant she received.

I dared to start my routine read of the issue with the letter From the Editor and was in tears before I finished the letter I was so moved. I was vested in the story and the tragedy that brought this young woman into a nightmare I doubted I could ever personally survive.

20 Seconds that Changed a Life Forever

Katie was born to a loving family and grew to be a beautiful and intelligent woman. She was plagued with a perfectionist personality. When her perfect world started to crumble a final piece to the puzzle would put her face before the world.

Katie struggled to be the best at everything. One day she discovered messages on her boyfriend’s phone to another woman. He immediately broke up with her when she confronted him.

Katie went home and locked herself in the bathroom with her father’s rifle and cried. With no history of mental illness, depression or indication of suicidal tendencies, she put the barrel of the rifle under her chin and pulled the trigger.

But Katie did not die.

Her brother found her in a pool of blood, her face blown off from the blast. She was rushed to the hospital and stabilized. When the local medical community could do no more she was sent to the Cleveland Clinic.

I encourage you to read the September 2018 issue of National Geographic. Katie’s story is powerful and moving. Katie does get a face transplant from a woman who died of an overdose. The story cuts a wide wound in here (pointing to my chest). The words that stuck with me the most in the article were uttered by Katie’s mother, Alesia, “It was one moment. One moment, 20 seconds, changed our lives.”




Duty of the FI/RE2 Community

You would think a community of people well on their way toward financial independence would not have money problems so severe they would contemplate suicide. Unfortunately, many people who come to this community have had a traumatic life experience that forced them to reevaluate. These people are at risk of tripping over the cliff. Bloggers, podcasters and YouTubers of the community must always be cognizant of the people they serve lest they discover one day a promising life was ended because we took FI for granted.

September is Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. Debt is a leading cause of suicide. Debt help is available. Debt free. Debt freedom. Debt snowball. IRS debt. #wealthyaccountant #debt #suicide #suicideawareness #suicideprevention #debtsnowball #debtfree #irsdebtEveryone is carrying a burden! Money can provide comfort and options in life, but it doesn’t change the strain of a serious medical situation. Divorce rips a family apart and the kids suffer most. Money will not salve that wound.

And mental health is a serious medical issue that money does not magically fix. Yes, wealth allows for most, if not all, medical options. Still, the depression can strike anyone at any time. Instead of shaking our heads and wondering why when we hear a person with financial independence and enjoying and early retirement puts a gun to their head, we should remember money didn’t make them sick; a medical condition did.

Maybe you’re lucky and don’t have depression. As a member of this community you are morally bound to help others who do suffer. Your wealth is not an invitation to unrestrained hedonism. When we see a fallen soul we are duty-bound to help. Like the military, we don’t leave one of our own on the battlefield.

Watchful Eyes

Nobody saw it coming when Katie Stubblefield snapped. There were signs in afterthought, but nothing anybody could have recognized. And that can happen. A singular event can trigger a massive negative response. It is hard to understand what can make us feel helpless and unwilling to continue on.

Fortunately, most people tell us they are walking into the dark. We must keep our eyes and ears open for the warning signs. Significant loss is a leading reason people tumble into the darkness. Depression can rear its ugly head for the first time after the loss of a loved one. Being shunned by people you love and respect can wreck devastation on the psyche.

I’ve been around this crowd long enough to know a few struggle with a heavy burden. Even our kind-hearted and fearless leader, Melanie, has struggled. She put debt behind her and discovered how deep the despair many feel with insurmountable financial problems. Melanie also suffered the loss of a loved one after a relatively long relationship. He decided to go his own way. I can’t imagine her pain. Still, I listen from a distance (mostly her online comments) for hints of trouble. Those closest to her should be even more vigilant.

As a community we are very fortunate. Even if we are deep in debt and taking our first steps toward freedom we are incredibly blessed! No matter how difficult the road ahead may seem, we know we don’t walk alone. There are numerous souls who have gone before willing to help, willing to lend a hand, to pull you up, to help you stand tall and straight.




Luck has Nothing to do with It

Katie did not get lucky. If she were lucky she would never have put the gun to her head. She will get a new lease on life. It will be anything but easy. The medical challenges ahead will never cease. After four years she finally has a face. The surgeries and pain and struggle will be relentless and unending. Building FI is similar in many ways. We work hard, save, invest and care deeply.

September is Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. Debt is a leading cause of suicide. Debt help is available. Debt free. Debt freedom. Debt snowball. IRS debt. Depression and mental health. #wealthyaccountant #debt #suicide #suicideawareness #suicideprevention #debtsnowball #debtfree #irsdebt #depressionPeople suffer for many reasons. Usually we can keep the demons under control. But everyone has a breaking point. Push hard enough far enough and the darkness wins. You can’t step back from the darkness alone. It is like a black hole with infinite power to draw you in.  If you ever reach that point, pray someone with the courage and the heart grabs you from behind and pulls you to safety.  No matter how much money you have or don’t have will make no difference.

The gun in Katie’s hands didn’t ask about her financial situation. The one bout of depression she had took control and changed her life forever. It is nothing short of a miracle she didn’t die that fateful day. Her family never left her side as she fought and still fights for life. The doctors worked miracles and have never stopped working to give Katie the life she deserves.

The only way any of us are safe from the darkness is if we all are committed to helping anyone at the brink. It is the only thing that makes us human; the true meaning of wealth; what it means to truly be financially independent.

 

Please, if you are suffering depression or suicidal thoughts, call either a local crisis hot line or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7, is confidential and free.

 

You are not in this alone.

 

1 National Geographic Magazine, September 2018, Page 89

2 Financial Independence/Early Retirement

 

Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line — Text HOME to 741741

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Project Semicolon

CNQR

Open Path Collective — affordable therapy. You can also check your local college to see if their graduate program in counseling offers discounted sessions.

Debtors Anonymous

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

PeerSteet is an alternative way to invest in the real estate market without the hassle of management. Investing in mortgages has never been easier. 7-12% historical APRs. Here is my review of PeerStreet.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

A cost segregation study can save $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregations studies work and how to get one yourself.

Amazon is a good way to control costs by comparison shopping. The cost of a product includes travel to the store. When you start a shopping trip to Amazon here it also supports this blog. Thank you very much!