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Posts Tagged ‘environment’

How We Are Addressing Climate Change All Wrong

We are all in this together. Climate change isn't the problem; how we frame it is. Global warming can be solved if we work together as a team. This is not political; it is will. No winners and losers, just winners. #climatechange #globalwarming #reframing #co2 #environment #businessgrowth #greenhouse #greenhousegasesClimate change (really global warming with a better brand name) has been in the news these past few decades with dire warnings. Climate models have underestimated the warming trend. 

The old story of the frog tossed into boiling water and immediately jumping out comes to mind. With climate change the warming is so gradual (and sometimes welcome) we don’t notice we are getting boiled. Yet the temperature inexorably continues to climb. Like the frog, we will stay in the stew until the meat pulls away from the bone.

Fresh faces periodically jump onto the scene. Al Gore made a big splash over a decade ago with his Inconvenient Truth documentary.

This past week a new face entered the drama with Greta Thunberg scolding Congress. After delivering a groin kick to deserving members of Congress she met with allies in Congress and told them, ” I know you’re trying, but just not hard enough.” 

As much fun as it is to watch a 16 year old girl knock Congressmen around, the most important point has been missed: Greta “is” the problem.

 

Same Old Tactics

“The world is coming to and end!” It has been the battle cry of environmentalists from the beginning. Scare tactics worked when pushed hard enough and often enough in the past. Now, after hearing this battle cry for longer than most readers have been alive the echo rings hollow.

Climate change is a money issue. Those against taking action do so on financial grounds. “It will cost too much for something we are not sure will really happen and even if it does it might actually be a good thing,” is their battle cry. And it is easier (and cheaper in the short run) to do nothing.

Then we come to Gore and Thunberg. Remember I said they ARE the problem. 

All the while I watched and read about the smack down in Congress I couldn’t help but think about how much CO2 Thunberg dumped into the atmosphere flying* to Washington to give Congress a piece of her mind. Thunberg is right; she needs to try harder.

If the people most concerned about climate change are injecting the most most amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, is there any hope to solve the problem?

Actually, there is.

 

Re-framing the Argument

Fear stalls people in their tracks. This accountant has strong beliefs about climate change and prefers to call it what it really is: global warming. Gore showing charts of CO2 rocking to the moon did little to move the deniers. It’s not that climate deniers believe climate change is a hoax; it’s that they believe it isn’t a serious problem compared to the costs of mitigation. A warmer winter is welcome in their minds and the negative consequences will not affect them (in their minds).

Continuing to bash on deniers will not work! I’m sympathetic to the cause and know the problem is serious and needs immediate attention. And even I am exhausted by the constant assault by climate doomsayers. If it is so bad and their is no hope, why bother.

There is a solution, but it requires a radical rethinking of the climate change rhetoric. 

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions is a good goal that can satisfy climate change crusaders while appealing to the pocketbook of the deniers. In other words, if we reframe the issue as a win/win the message will resonate with virtually everyone. The best part is nobody even has to mention that four-letter word: climate change or global warming.

 

Solutions that Work

Every time a new solar or wind project is proposed it lists the amount of CO2 that will not be emitted into atmosphere. That is a massive mistake!

Green projects have to be proposed with economics in mind. 

This wind farm will drive down costs to local businesses, increasing the competitive advantage of our community in the world market.

Everything wrong with the climate change debate. Rather than accusations, all sides can win if framed correctly. Global warming can spur economic growth, create jobs, lower taxes, improve the environment and provide serious investment opportunities. #climatechange #globalwarming #environment #greeninvestments #green Who is against that? No mention of climate change. Politics is removed. To be against this is to be against jobs and local economic growth. Not one mention is made about climate change. 

A local town hall meeting might sound like this:

CROWD: Is this wind farm going to help climate change?

PROMOTER: Screw the climate. We are about business and economic growth. This will create jobs and increase business profits. Our cost advantages after this project comes online will make us a world leader in multiple industries.

The Republicans will snicker after the event about how they pulled a fast one over on the Democrats. Citizens concerned about climate change will have a similar, yet opposite, conversation in private.

Everyone wins!

Your favorite accountant is sick to death of good ideas getting shot down because climate change was attached to it. Want to kill a good idea? Say is will lower CO2 emissions. Doesn’t matter how good the idea is. Could you imagine tax cuts associated with reduced greenhouse gas emissions? You’d never see another tax cut in your lifetime.

Businesses understand this. Doing environmental good CAN and frequently IS good for the environment. Both sides of the debate are really in the same room, only they got comfortable bashing each other’s faces in and don’t know how to change their behavior. 

It is self-defeating to frame trillions of dollars in spending as a climate change expense. Even those who know the problem is real have a hard time wrapping their head around seriously higher taxes to pay for something that will help other nations and people of the future. The “What’s in it for me” thought is strong. It is unfair to complain some are shortsighted on this issue. We all are to some extent.

Solutions where many will lose (taxpayers and business owners) will always have a problem getting their message across. 

 

Changing the Way We Think

Business owners understand the power of changing the way they think in problem resolution. Individuals need to do the same.

Buying an electric car is NOT about saving the environment! It might be a status symbol. But in the end it should make economic sense. If the cost of owning the electric car is less over its entire life than an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle it is a logical choice even if the up front costs are higher.

The opposite is also true. There will always be a limited number of people willing to shell out for an expensive car that costs more than similar ICE alternatives. This limited demand will not be enough to reverse the global warming trend.

It smacks me as insane when some lowlifes rejig their truck to belch more smoke or keys an electric car when walking past. The smoke is a different kind of pollution and actually is better for the environment since it settles out of the air reasonable fast. (Think of that if you rigged your truck this way. You actually are saying you are trying to help reduce climate change emissions. Makes you look foolish, doesn’t it?) And keying someone’s car is not only stupid, but ignorant. You are better than that.

Current thinking is politically charged. Greta Thunberg made a splash in the news. Yeah, she got a good one on Congress. And nothing will change. You don’t make friends or solve problems by finding new ways to insult people you need to help you solve a problem.

Instead of focusing on what is in it for us, we need to highlight the advantages to our opponents. 

Electric vehicles will give America a competitive advantage.

Changing the electric grid will create jobs.

Businesses will generate an estimates $868 billion (this number is illustration only, not a fact) in additional profits if electric vehicles are fully implemented.

This solar field will reduce reliance on foreign oil, create 328 new jobs, lower utility bills for businesses and consumers and lower taxes over the next decade.

Of course the losers haven’t changed. Big oil is behind the fight against climate change initiatives for good reason; they stand to lose a lot. I don’t like leaving businesses or people behind even if they were part of the original problem. Remember, oil was a solution to a problem a century ago.

The synergies created by good economic policies can be used to create incentives for businesses and individuals negatively affected by the changes. 

Climate change solutions can create jobs, increase business profits, lower taxes, improve the environment and reduce utility bills. #environment #utilitybills #propertytaxes #taxes #climatechange #globalwarming #jobs #profits #business profitsBig oil should receive serious tax credits when pushing into these new areas of business. The transition will be painful, but manageable if proper consideration is given.

Self driving trucks will not need to convince business of the value. Trucks able to run 24 hours a day without payroll expenses is all business will need to hear. Once self driving vehicles are safe enough they will happen. Just as climate change causes issues so will self driving vehicles. 

Every problem has a solution that eventually leads to more problems. As long as the improvement overall is steady we are golden. Truckers losing their job will need tax incentives to get them from where they are to where they want to be in a world with out truckers.

Gas stations will always have a place as long as people are on the road. Electric vehicles and people still need to fuel up. Gas stations will need help with the expensive conversion to electric charging stations.

These are not insurmountable problems! We HAVE solved much worse than this. Climate change is real. Unfortunately we are the frog in the water getting cooked at a slow simmer. 

Finger pointing is wrong. It never works. You never convince someone of your viewpoint by starting with, “You’re an idiot!”

We must reframe the way we look at climate change. We must change the way we think. This is not us versus them!

Change can be good. And profitable! If only we have the will. Otherwise another kid with a cute message will get a good jab in on Congress thirty years from now when the problem is still unresolved and much worse.

 

 * Some comments argue this statement isn’t fair since she used a “zero emissions” boat to get here. No word on how she gets home after her 5-man team brings the boat back without her. Many reports and newscasts have stated the large carbon footprint of her journey. Thunberg has a 5 man team delivering the yacht back home and some of them presumable flew. At this point we still do not know with certainty if she will fly home or use another source. What is certain is the greenhouse gases emitted from this publicity stunt is reported to be greater than the emissions from a village in India over the course of a year. I stand by my claim.

 

 

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?

It's not us versus them. Solving climate change can be a win/win solution. #climatechange #environment #smallbusiness #investmentopportunitiesSide 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.

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.

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

Worthy Financial offers a flat 5% on their investment. You can read my review here. 

 

 

Profiting From Climate Change

Global warming and climate change offers many investing opportunities while doing good. #climate #globalwarming #investing #climatechange #profitIt is unfortunate that climate change is such a political hot button when it is such a good tool to build wealth. Much of what I say will cause righteous indignation from both sides of the political isle. Good thing we will have a full wallet to sooth our nerves.

Too much focus is on “if” there is climate change and how much is “human” caused. These are the wrong questions to ask and the reason why so little is being done to remedy problems climate change can bring.

Since we are discussing a difficult issue I will start by outlining where I stand on climate change (no throwing tomatoes). Then I will show some reports of fear mongering that are really exciting economic reports we should all want if that is as bad as it gets. We will finish with an actionable plan to deal with climate change on a personal level and investments.

 

Biases

Everyone has biases and I’m no different. My education, background, experiences and research all color my opinion, and how I interpret facts as it relates to our subject. So the reader understands where my biases are I will list where I stand on climate change. Be aware my opinion changes as time passes and as more facts present themselves. Like climate, my position changes. 

Here are some facts the author tends to believe are correct:

  1. Climate change has always been happening and always will be. 
  2. The planet is warming as whole, but some areas — the Upper Midwest of the US, for example — are seeing a cooling trend. 
  3. Some of the current warming is from natural (non-human) causes; most is the result of human activities. 
  4. Humans are modifying their environments around the world and it does affect the planet.
  5. Human caused climate change is happening. The two real questions to ask are: How much? And, is this really as bad as we fear it is?
  6. Climate change is not all bad.
  7. We are currently in a warm period of the 2.6 million year Quaternary glaciation. We are still in an Ice Age! We are spoiled because we are enjoying a rare interglacial warm period called the Holocene. Many of these climate changes are caused by the Earth’s slight variations of its orbit around the sun called Milankovitch cycles.
  8. The current warm period in this ice age is probably the longest and we are also probably at the warmest point of this ice age.
  9. Climate change (people are actually worried about global warming) is unpredictable.
  10.  Could humans — a natural part of Earth’s ecosystem — be nature’s way of ending this very long ice age?
  11. Fear mongering isn’t helping.
  12. Denial isn’t either.
  13. Some life will lose and some will win. That is the nature of life.
  14. You will not save the planet. The planet will do just fine. “People, on the other hand,” as George Carlin once said, “are {beeped}.” 
  15. It has been warmer in the past.
  16. Colder, too.
  17. We can all contribute to mitigation of human caused climate change without breaking the bank. In fact, we can make the world a better place for all life, including humans, with intelligent planning. Better still, we can profit from doing the right things.
  18. We need to be careful our remedies for climate change are not worse than the disease.

I’m sure I have other biases that will be clear to some readers as they read on. The only alternative is to say nothing and that seems to be a bit of denial I don’t accept (Bias #12). 

Both sides of the argument have valid points. What I find unproductive (and unprofitable) is the all or nothing philosophy. Denial is not accurate; it’s just denial. But claiming the Earth has 10 years max before it is too late for the last 30 years isn’t helping either. When extraordinary claims of doom are made that don’t come true and the date keeps getting pushed for doomsday, it causes more people to just not care about the issue. We want people to care about changes in the world. We also want as many people to benefit, along with other life. 

 

Fear Mongering

Climate change doesn't have to be a problem, but rather, an opportunity to make a difference without suffering or losing money. Global warming could be the investment opportunity of a lifetime. #climatechange #globalwarming #profits #investments #alternativeinvestmentsThe biggest two problems with climate change is fear mongering and denial; fear mongering is the worst of the two. Denial seems silly and most deniers acknowledge climate change once politics is removed because they understand climate is always changing. How fast the change is happening is the real concern. 

Fear mongering is a different issue. Rather than using common sense we get claims so outlandish they boggle the reasonable mind. 

Take David Wallace-Wells’s book, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

Wallace-Wells’s book is a fear-fest from beginning to end. Almost all facts provided came from the most outlandish claims of other researchers who want us to believe climate change is real and terrible. Before I had 50 pages turned I came to the conclusion there is no reason to even try solving the problem because it is too late anyway.

But then Wallace-Wells turns to my arena: economics. He repeated a whopper several times that if he would have thought about it before he published he would have realized his fear mongering was actually one of the most powerful reason to pump as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as possible. 

Here is a quote from page 61 of the book:

If no significant action is taken to curb emissions, one estimate of global damages is as high as $100 trillion per year [italics his] by 2100. That is more than global GDP today. 

This scary statistic is repeated several times in the book in some fashion. He does add after this: “Most estimates are a bit lower: $14 trillion a year. . . ” But the damage is done with such an incredible claim! Worse, his whole book is filed with these zingers. If it was a novel it wouldn’t be believable and considered a terrible story as a result. But passed as fact it doesn’t scare, it cause people to stop trying and that is too bad since we should always work hard to improve the human condition where ever we can and for that of other life, too. Even if climate change is not a problem it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to keep our environment as “clean” as possible.

On page 122 he says:

Should the planet warm 3.7 degrees, one assessment suggests, climate change damages could total $551 trillion — nearly twice the wealth as exists in world today.

On page 117 he tells us there is a 51% chance (according to research) climate change will reduce economic output 20% or more and a 12% chance we get nixed by 50% per capita. The numbers boggle the mind and the fear mongering keeps coming. 

For those of you wondering why the claim is so outlandish, here are the facts derived from Wallace-Wells’s numbers. First, Wallace-Wells claims that GDP will be reduced by as much as 50%. Seems scary until you realize how big the economy has to be for it to fall $100 trillion “per year”.

According to the World Bank, the global economy was $80.7 trillion in 2017. Now if the economy will lose about half its value ($100 trillion per year, as Wallace-Wells reports from his research) it looks like this:

$200 trillion global economy in the year 2100, minus

$100 trillion in losses due to climate change. (Remember, if we lose half of economic output of $100 trillion per year it means the economy would have been $200 trillion to start with, or should have been.

This means climate change, according to the reports Wallace-Wells cites, will cause the economy to continue growing at a healthy pace for a planet already with the highest standard of living in the history of humanity. Except for the rapid economic growth after World War II, this predicts an economic growth rate in excess of growth rates during most of human history! 

And to experience $551 trillion in damages is such a large number it indicates a total economic value several orders of magnitude beyond what we have today. According to Wallace-Wells, life for humans will be really, really good if we can just keep pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. But I don’t think that was the message he wanted to send.

And if the economic numbers are not big enough, we still need to consider demographics. Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson in their book, Empty Planet, give clear evidence the human population will decline globally later in this century. Japan, South Korea, Russia, and many European countries are already suffering from population decline. The US would have a declining population if not for immigration and current trends are not encouraging if you prefer population growth.

With the fertility rate around the planet falling below replacement value, the only thing holding population up is increasing longevity. Eventually people will die and when fertility rates are below 2.1 (the replacement level for steady population) the population will fall and fast. According to Bricker and Ibbitson, China’s population will fall to near the level of the US by 2100. (They get much of their data from the United Nations.)

This means the standard of living for individual people will continue to climb at a fantastic rate under the fear mongering model of climate change. It’s a terrible argument Wallace-Wells makes because his worst case scenario actually sounds like an enviable goal!

 

Truth from Fiction

Before we dive into profit-making we need to clear one more thing: not all change is bad!

Another excellent book you should read is: The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions, by Peter Brannen. Brannen’s work provides examples of past mass extinctions on Earth and possible reasons for the mass extinction event. 

On page 21 Brannen writes:

The Cambrian Explosion — though it might have been devastating for the strange Ediacaran creatures that came before — was an unambiguously good thing for life on earth.

Later Brannen tells us trees were the biggest challenge to life on the planet early on and there was no reason to believe it would work out. The point is, not all change is bad. For some reason trees are consider good nowadays. (Read the book for more of this fascinating story.)

As we discuss ways to profit from climate change, we need to understand profiting from climate change isn’t a crime or even a sin! We can make money, build wealth and do good all at the same time. We can have a win-win situation, even involving environmental issues.

The books the short excerpts come from are only a taste. These books are required reading if you really want to understand the situation. Yes, climate change is happening and it is a problem. But, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world! There will be winners and losers as long a man lives. The same can be said if man is removed from the planet. It’ll just be a different set of winners and losers. 

This is not a bad thing! Homo sapiens are a very successful species. This is the only time in Earth history when the top of the pecking order felt bad about their success as a species. To say all human caused climate change is bad is to hate humanity and to act as if humans are not a natural part of Earth life. This is unacceptable nihilism.

 

Profiting from Climate Change

And so we have finally arrived at our destination. We better understand where this accountant stands on climate change issues and that all climate change is not bad. 

Handled properly, we can benefit from the solutions to problems caused by climate change.

My suggestions will not single-handedly solve all the problems cause by the changing climate. Even is every person on the planet stopped emitting all greenhouse gasses there would still be other natural forcers on the climate. 

What I provide now is opportunities to profit financially while taking a course best suited to dealing with climate change in your personal life. 

 

Personal Lifestyle

Nothing we do as individuals will make a difference. It is a depressing thought, but true. However, our concerted efforts will make a difference. As Zig Ziglar once said, “No raindrop blames itself for the flood, but they all play a role.”

Worried about climate change? Think it isn't an issue? Maybe everyone can win in the new economy. Be frugal, profit and do good things for the environment. #environment #profit #climatechange Climate deniers.When we understand our personal decisions will not solve the entire problem we can let go of the anxiety and make good decisions that “play a role.” 

Waste: Frugality will not save the world, but it will do wonders for your net worth. Since the problem isn’t one person wasting, but billions of people wasting every day, each of us plays a powerful role. Less packaging and less consumption is the best way to lower your carbon footprint. 

Some people say biking is the solution, but long distance travel is not always conducive to biking. And biking isn’t a free ride either. The more energy you burn biking, the more you need to eat which means the activity has at least a modest carbon footprint. This isn’t a reason to avoid exercise or to bike whenever possible. 

Electric vehicles are a good option. Unfortunately, too much electricity is still produced with polluting sources, especially coal. 

Reducing your carbon footprint is not a sacrifice! Many good environmental choices are also healthy choices and save you money! Walking and biking are excellent choices for health and saves you money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Household: A home energy audit is an excellent way to save money by reducing your utility expenses, increasing your comfort and doing environmental good. 

Some tasks are painless. Switching to LED lighting has a fast payback and added insulation increases home comfort. Many steps you can take to reduce your contribution to climate change are not painful at all. Even if climate change were not an issue you should do these things to reduce costs and improve the household financial condition.

Geothermal heat pumps for heating and cooling are extremely energy efficient (to the tune of 500% or more as the extra energy gain comes from the heat of the earth).

If you are building a new home or remodeling, now is a good time to plan for low carbon emissions or a zero-energy home. South facing windows can reduce winter heating bills. Where possible, have some of the structure below grade (basement). This allows natural heating and cooling from the earth to regulate your home’s temperature. 

Energy production: We detailed several options for reducing waste and lowering energy consumption. Now we turn to something even better: producing energy. The best part is the IRS gives you a juicy tax credit of up to 30% when you install alternative energy equipment. (The credit is currently 30%, but not refundable. You need an income tax to reduce before you benefit.)

Wind and solar are the two best option for most households. These choices require an investment, but are partially offset by tax credits and have a reasonable payback period which is getting better all the time as technology advances. 

Where you live also determines the best course of action. Sunny locations are better served by solar, for example. Local zoning ordinances also play a role.

I’ve read reports on fuel cells as a good alternative without being convinced. You can do an internet search if you want to explore this option. It works better on a commercial scale from what I read. Small garage units are not there yet in this accountant’s opinion. Maybe, soon. 

 

Investing

Frugal living cuts costs and reduces greenhouse gases a bit. Solar and wind installations leverage your activities some. But if you want to make an outsized difference while filling your wallet, consider this . . . 

Companies want to save money and increase profits where ever they can. Many companies are pushing the envelope far and fast.

Consider Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart has upgraded lighting in stores to reduce usage while installing solar on their store’s  and corporate headquarter’s roofs. The gains are massive and growing. You can review their website with the link to see more things Wal-Mart is doing to reduce their energy consumption and production. 

Businesses you never thought were changing the world for the better are doing so as a part of their standard business practice. Think of Amazon. Amazon requires fewer stores to sell a massive amount of stuff all over the country. Yes, all that stuff is shipped which consumes fuel. However, if you traveled to a local store you would also consume energy in the process. It is generally cheaper to buy online and have it shipped than to run around town looking for what you need. So Amazon, by design, is more environmentally friendly and it shows in their stock price.

We don’t have room to discuss a long list of companies doing environmental good deeds. The examples above are to help you see how companies you choose to invest in might also be good environmental citizens. 

There is even more you can do, however. As an owner (if you own shares) of a company you have some say. Write to the board of directors or CEO. People do read these letters and pass them on to the intended recipient when good suggestions are sent. 

Better yet, start your own business! Steve Jobs once asked if you wanted to change the world. Say yes! You can profit with a business that helps all your clients realize their goals of reducing costs and environmental impact. Lead by example! And get rich in the process. Maybe that was what Wallace-Wells was talking about.

 

Coda

This is a difficult discussion by nature (pun intended). This isn’t about politics or taking something away from people. I’m not a big fan of the carbon tax. There are better solutions.

The more advanced the society the less impact on the environment they tend to have. (Think deforestation in poor countries as an example.) Rich people can afford solar and wind energy systems. In the end, wealth is good!!!

There is no need to deny climate change, even human caused climate change. Life has always affected the environment. That isn’t a bad thing; it’s just a thing that happens. The alternative is a lifeless rock in space. 

Those who are very concerned over climate change need to understand we can make a difference without fear mongering. Yes, it is bad. It is always bad! Understand, humans have always risen to the challenge. That is why we as a species have done more than all species ever to exist on the planet have done combined. 

We are a miracle and can keep living the good life for a very long time.

Perhaps Winston Churchill was correct when he said:

Now this is not the end.

It is not even the beginning of the end.

But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

 

 

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.

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.

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

Worthy Financial offers a flat 5% on their investment. You can read my review here. 

 

Your Garbage is Killing Me

Dreams are what make life worth living. As the years stack up we can look back at our lives and see the progression as life moves toward where we are today. Mistakes of yesteryear lose the edge of anxiety while still providing plenty of experience to draw from. What seemed like a good idea back then is painfully obvious today.

And then there are the things which blindside us. A perfect plan executed with precision yields the results we want before life throws one of the curve balls we hear so much about. Today’s story is about a man, me, who did everything right in this instance and still took a swift foot to the crotch.

So the record is straight, it’s your fault. Well, not exactly your fault unless you live in NE Wisconsin, but still your fault because you did it in your own community. Shame on you for acting the way you do. The worst part is you hurt neighbors and friends and now it will be your turn to stand still with feet slightly apart as the community takes a running start as they drive their foot home.

You’re not going to like what I have to say, but you must hear it. This is important. Your happiness is at stake.

There Once Was a Boy

There was a boy, me again, who grew up on a farm. The work was hard and dirty. The boy wanted to get away from that kind of life and managed to break away. Freedom was at hand. First he moved to a small town, buying a home and reading all day. He was happy.

A few years later a sexy young lady showed up and captured our hero’s heart. Before long our happy boy was married. Once again he moved, this time to a slightly larger town. The reason for the move this time was to establish his business. A few years later the business was on solid ground with its own storefront; no longer was the business run out of the home.

By now the boy was an adult for many years so we can call him a man. He was a sad man. He was happily married, but something was missing.

You can take the boy from the country, but you can’t take the country from the boy.

And that was the problem. When not working his business the man wanted to read and it was hard as his mind wandered to the horizon. He knew what had to be done. A small farm came up for sale near where he grew up.

Excited, he made an offer. But it was not meant to be. Someone beat him to the punch and the farm had an accepted offer. But the young man was told by his dad that the buyers were having problems getting financing. Our hero moved in and convinced the sellers to accept a contingent offer should the first fall through.

It did. The man was happy again. He owned a farm a mere mile from where he grew up; ten acres all his very own.

Now the man could raise steers and chickens on his small plot of the world. A decade of happiness passed as his business life and home life with his family and animals continued to please. Then a terrible rumor stirred in the neighborhood.

Nice Place You Have

It takes work to own a farmstead. There is always something needing attention. It’s all worth it. The ten acre farm now had a two acre pond and the old farmhouse was remodeled to include a hot tub in the 3,000 square foot castle. Beautiful fields and woods surrounded the farmstead, making the area a paradise.

By 2008 the farmstead was valued at over $450,000. This was still a reasonable valuation since in many parts of the nation the same property would be worth many times more. The rural backwoods kept the price low. But it was about to get a lot lower.

The housing crisis arrived at the farmstead. Never worry. Our humble hero is frugal, a saver and an investor. He paid the farmstead down and could easily retire the remaining mortgage if he wanted. There was no risk he would lose his dream home.

Except for the landfill. The township leaders were an unenlightened group of nitwits who sold out to the corporate interests. It still amazes they didn’t let the corporate execs have a night or three with their wives. Maybe they did. Anyone willing to sell paradise to live in a landfill would surely sell anything, including their soul.

The corporate interests did not take long to start hauling in the garbage. The landfill is now the highest elevation in the county. What a legacy the nitwits left in their wake! The hill got taller and taller and the mound longer and bigger in every direction.

Paradise was lost.

The Value of Happiness

The value of real estate around the country regained all the lost ground of the crisis, except for our humble hero’s farmstead. A landfill is not a great way to increase property values. The township is now known as the dumping ground. Other businesses have zero incentive to relocate there unless they have more garbage to dispose of.

The farmstead dropped from $450,000 in 2008 all the way to $220,000 a few years later. Now, when real estate recovered in most locations, our hero’s farm is only worth $270,000. What a waste of God’s Country. Hell has a special place for the fools who sold their soul for a mound of other people’s garbage.

Time to Move

I don’t know when it will happen, but it will. My days are numbered here. The landfill gets bigger by the day and my property will never reach the value it should. The quality of life is gone as the garbage heap reaches higher and higher. The potential for a leak or other pollution plumb is too great to risk my family. I’ll let the nitwit leaders take their chances. Besides, a little cancer never hurt anyone as long as they save a couple hundred bucks on their property tax bill.

I sold my last steers a few years back. I made an excuse about beef prices, but the truth is it was the first step in my plan to live elsewhere.

This is my home. I lived here longer than anywhere else in my life, 22 years so far. Where will I go? Doesn’t really matter; it will never be home. To my dying breath I will dream of the home I now live in, my animals, my land. It is all gone; all that remains are the final steps.

My youngest daughter graduates in a year. Then there is no reason to stay. My heart is heavy.

It’s Your Fault (and Mine Too)

The reason I am losing my home, my farm, to paradise lost is because we humans are idiots. We buy stuff we don’t need and then throw it away.

The massive mound a few miles from my home is a testament to all the stuff people had to have, but later discovered, did not. How much wasted money sits out there in the clay? I can only imagine. And people complain they are broke. Really? Broke! Go figure.

Landfills are a warning, and reminder, of human folly. Bursting landfills are a symptom of overconsumption. Credit cards are maxed out at 18% interest and the bill isn’t even paid before the mound outside my front window grows a bit higher.

The price is dear to you, my friend. But what about the price to me. My contribution to the landfill has been disproportionately small. The waste my household produces is nearly 90% less than the average American household. My business also has a modest ecological footprint. This is by design. I plan accordingly to keep waste as low as possible. I don’t like buying stuff just to throw it away.

I pay an additional price for your wasteful ways. My farm is worth at least $200,000 less than it should be, maybe more. The loss will continue to widen as time rolls on.

What did I do to deserve such treatment? I spend less, save and waste very little. And still the price is extracted.

There is also a price money cannot account for: love. This is my home; at least it was. Soon it will be gone, owned by someone willing to accept the garbage and lower property value into the future and beyond. I don’t care about much: Mrs. Accountant, my girls, parents and extended family. And my farm. All the rest means nothing. All the other stuff is just there to fill time: work, investing, writing.

I can hear you through the computer screen, “It’s not my fault! I don’t live anywhere near you. IT’S NOT MY GARBAGE!”

But it is your garbage. I see the overflowing basket in the kitchen and the can of soda in your hand. You may not live near me, but someone in my same position is paying the price for your waste. If the landfill leaks toxins it could easily shorten the lives of the people near your landfill.

Every piece of garbage has a price. Each time you buy something only to discard it — packaging, for example — you are adding to the problem.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can save a wayward accountant, an old man clinging to his childhood vision of life as a farmer, by ending the waste. You, and only you, can make a difference. Only you can save me.

I am not asking for myself, however. In truth it is too late for me. My farm, my dream, is gone. There is only emptiness in my future. No amount of money can save me now. And when they are done destroying me, they are coming for you next.

Clothes Drying Racks

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Mrs. Accountant depositing money in the bank.

Reducing spending is my favorite pastime, more fun than a Pokémon or any other video game. Finding new ways to reduce costs provides me more pleasure than any other activity I engage. I bike to work as often as feasible, blasting my transportation costs to a minimum. Our home hot water is supplied by a geothermal heat pump. In the summer there is no reason to keep the geothermal on except for hot water so we put it on a timer, reducing our electric bill to almost nothing. (We use hot water in the evening to hand wash dishes and wash up after working outside.)

There is one more energy hog in the house we need to address: the clothes dryer. We launder our clothes in cold water. Most people drop the wet clothes into an electric dryer and crank the beast to the highest setting for an hour. Not me. We have devised a system where we dry our clothes, even on vacation, without a clothes dryer.* The energy cost of running a clothes dryer has been known to send frugal people (like me) into epileptic shock. The first time Mrs. Accountant ran the dryer I went outside to watch the meter. I hurried Mrs. Accountant to the meter to see the damage with her own eyes. She agreed. The dryer stopped and the clothes lines were put to work.

Sturdy rural design in use since 1998. Three unused treated 2x2 fence posts put to good use.

Sturdy rural design in use since 1998. Three unused treated 2×2 fence posts put to good use.

Anywhere, Anytime

Before you start sending nasty emails on why you can’t air dry your clothing, listen first. I agree I have it made living in a rural setting. I have clothes lines outside, in the basement, and a clothes drying rack. I have pictures in this post on some of my setups. Living in town can be a challenge, especially in an apartment. It is hard to have clothes lines in the basement if you don’t have a basement. Bare with me.

Starting with the easiest and best way to dry clothes, the outdoor clothes line is cheap and efficient. Two trees can do the job. Clothes lines can be strung between any two objects. There are traditional poles you can use to string line between, too. Witness my rural setup. Not pretty, but effective. Three unused treated 2×2 fence posts, a few hooks, line, and the detached garage did the trick. You need land to set up an outdoor clothes line. Without land you need to apply other methods.

In NE Wisconsin it gets cold in January. Clothes hung outside tend to get stiff

The other side of the outdoor clothes line attached to the garage

The other side of the outdoor clothes line attached to the garage.

rather than dry. This is where the indoor clothes line comes into action. Rainy summer days or frigid January afternoons are no reason to fire up the sinkhole of money called the electric dryer. The indoor clothes line works great in the coldest winter months and during wet outdoor weather. My basement is kind of a junk collecting area the kids use; welcome to old farmer central. Still, the basement has a few great uses. We cycle the cool air around the home in the summer for free air conditioning and dry clothes in the winter. Once again, the setup is less than pretty. Since I am not trying to impress anyone other than my wallet, I don’t care. A few hooks and one package on line solved the problem.

Many readers here don’t have access to outdoor or basement setups like I have. The laundromat is your only option for washing clothes. The cost of drying clothes at a laundromat is massive! For you the clothes drying rack is an investment with an annual 1000% return. Mrs. Accountant used a clothes drying rack from the day we met. She is an awesome lady! Now you know why I married her. Clothes drying racks can be set up anywhere: in the living room, balcony, porch, or side room. We use our drying rack mostly in the winter when outdoor clothes drying is out. (The clothes line is usually under snow or we would use it.)

It is hard to see, but the clothes lines are wrapped around the joist. We only use the basement lines as a last resort

It is hard to see, but the clothes lines are wrapped around the joist. We only use the basement lines as a last resort

Indoor use of a drying rack has multiple benefits. Clothes dry fast when placed by a furnace vent adding moisture to the dry winter air. No need to buy a humidifier when you dry clothes naturally indoors.** Personally, I think air dried clothing feels better on the skin. The greatest advantage of all is how long your clothing lasts. Mechanical dryers twist and tumble the clothing causing damage. Natural air drying allows clothes to last a really long time, another money saver.

Vacation

Get ready to fire some hate mail; you’re gonna  like this one. Up front, I really do this stuff. Good thing I’m married. Considering my lifestyle I doubt there would be many takers for an old farm boy who travels like this.

First, you realize most hotels have a clothes line near the shower, right? I use mine. I travel light and launder clothes along the way. And I don’t stink (unless I ate goulash for lunch). On the road Mrs. Accountant and I hand wash our clothes and hang them on the line provided or over a chair.

Second, I frequently wash my clothes by either wearing them into the shower and soaping up good or washing them while I shower and immediately wearing them when finished. Hint: It is best to shower wearing your skivvies first, then rinsing, followed by putting on your outer clothes and showing them. (Please use the comment section below to indicate your opinion of my level of intelligence.)

Our clothes dryer/humidifier.

Our clothes dryer/humidifier by the furnace vent.

Mrs. Accountant prefers to air dry her clothes; I prefer to wear damp clothing until it dries. My way is faster. Body heat and the air movement while I walk around have my clothes dry within an hour or so. Cold weather is even better. Cold air is dry air. Combined with body heat, damp clothes is dry in twenty minutes when the temperature dips. Hot, humid environments are a different story. My clothes were dry in the aforementioned twenty minutes in Edmonton, but took over half a day in Costa Rica. (Come to think of it, my clothes were never dry in Costa Rica.) Yeah, yeah, the guy who does not like to travel has been to Costa Rica and Edmonton. Deal with it.

Money in the Bank

The math is clear, electric and gas clothes dryers dry your wallet faster than your clothing. The machine does make great, if not expensive, nouveau art. You can drastically reduce your energy costs by eliminating the clothes dryer. Invested in an index fund, your savings could turn into a nice nest egg. You can also travel much lighter (no more baggage fees) when your mindset includes naturally dried clothing. I am sure there are a few who will disagree. Don’t care; I am right.

I have included several photos of clothes drying setups around my farm. I also included a few links to clothes drying racks from Amazon. Hint: the old fashioned wooden drying racks were sturdy; the new ones are frequently too flimsy. I am fortunate enough to have an old wooden rack from grandma. The metal racks are the best option today. My advice is to spend a bit more upfront for quality; you do not want to buy a new rack twice a year because the old one keeps breaking or falling apart.

 

* I did make the mistake of buying a dryer many years ago when we remodeled our old farm house. The washer and dryer was a set and Mrs. Accountant said the dryer would be nice to have, just in case. To date, the dryer has been used a total of three times in fifteen years. The last time the machine ran was several years ago. The dryer does make a great shelf in the laundry room, however. A bit expensive for shelving, but one uses what one has on hand.

** Don’t vent a clothes dryer into your home. The moisture comes out too fast and tends to cause mold and it is a fire hazard. I had renters many years ago who tried this stunt and caused serious mold issues.

Here is my favorite drying rack I recommend. Amazon sells more high quality racks. This one is great indoors and outdoors and is built to last. Click the image to see the Amazon listing.