Posts Tagged ‘family’

Jordan Peterson, Identity Politics, MGTOWs and the Rising Hate of Women

The personal finance killers: divorce, child support, alimony. #familyfinance #personalfinance #divorce #MGTOW #jordanpetersonYou were probably exposed to Jordan Peterson the same way I was: a viral YouTube video. Prior to Google determining my unknown interest in such a “Gotcha!” moment I was preaching some of the same material as it pertained to financial matters.

Once a taste was received I was primed for more material. Peterson has an addicting style of speaking and teaching. He thinks before speaking—something an unnamed blogger still needs to work on. The amount of material to watch is extensive. There is less reading material, but Peterson’s work is powerful and has the tendency to consume a day in thought.

Peterson is misunderstood, many times intentionally. YouTube thinks I might like other similar topics regarding identity politics and feminist bashing. I don’t. By the time my research expanded to MGTOWs (men going their own way), incels (involuntary celibates) and other narrowly defined groups, I grew more and more disturbed.

Most disturbing of all was that I agreed on some issues of these narrowly focused groups while categorically disagreeing with their mentality and overall philosophy. From what I gather, they harbor an intense hated or dislike for women. The misogyny takes the breath away. And the movements seem to keep growing. This is a serious societal problem.

It’s also a massive financial minefield. If you don’t think divorce, child support and alimony aren’t serious financial issues you need to review the world around you. Divorce can take half or more of your hard earned net worth. Child support payments are not deductible and divorces finalized after 2018 will find alimony payments non-deductible too. Men pay almost all child support and alimony payments and men also face a greater risk of losing their children in divorce. With these issues I agree. However, the MGTOW solution of a life devoid of intimacy is no solution at all. Treating women like a piece of meat doesn’t deserve any respect. Period.

The problems have grown acute in Western society. The line between intimacy and rape is blurred by the newscasts. (I am against all forms of violence against women. Don’t read this as a reluctance to protect women.) Men risk loss of freedom, property and future income when interpersonal relationships are involved. Roles have been reversed. Until the last 50 years or so, child birth was a serious risk. Women on average lived shorter lives than men due to death during child birth. Modern medicine has reduced this risk to background noise.

At the same time medicine reduced risk to pregnant women another development occurred: birth control. Birth control was sought after for eons. Ancient Romans and Greeks went to great lengths to enjoy sex and avoid pregnancy. By the 1960s medicine provided a reliable and safe way for women to take control of their reproductive choices.

Prior to the 1960s men had less risk. A man could deny involvement or disappear leaving the woman with a serious problem. Society judged women who had children outside marriage. Roles have reversed. DNA testing easily identifies the father of the child and society honors the strength of the single mother. Women have greater control over their reproductive choices and the medical risks of child birth no longer cause serious concerns.

Society has decided to reverse the risks and the consequences are growing. The stable structure of the family and marriage developed over vast periods of human history and worked extraordinarily well is being abandoned. The old system reduced violence (under the one man, one woman policy of marriage, it meant most men had female opportunity thus reducing violent tendencies), fostered community and provided a stable child rearing environment. But all wasn’t well. In many cultures men were deemed to own his wife and children. Women’s rights were muted, to say the least. Something had to change and it did.




Advice for Men, I Mean Women

A year before I ever heard of Jordan Peterson I was in Gainesville, Florida attending a small early retirement conference. I offered consulting sessions with all proceeds going to charity. (The National Special Olympics received the funds.) One of my consulting sessions was with a young female doctor. She amassed a sizable (seven figures) liquid net worth and was considering an interpersonal relationship, i.e. marriage. I quizzed her on her fiancé and quickly realized the advice she needed to hear: get a prenuptial agreement. Shortly afterwards I published on the topic.

She didn’t feel comfortable with my advice, but I convinced her of the importance of a prenuptial agreement in her situation. After her consulting session she joined the group back at the campfire while I started my next session.

The next morning I realized I caused a huge commotion. The lady I consulted took my advice to the group for their opinion. Opinions were strong on both sides, but it was eventually decided I was right. Whew!

I don’t want to make light of this important subject. Men with money are usually aware of gold diggers. Women who accumulate serious net worth aren’t always as cognizant of the male gold-diggers lurking about.

People reading this tend to be from the FIRE community. With a higher savings rate and net worth, these people need to take extra precautions. Not all women are gold diggers, but if you are a man with money, the gold diggers will be attracted to you. The opposite is just as true! Not all men are gold diggers, but women with money will attract the gold diggers.




Marriage Contract

Marriage is a legal contract between two people. You even go to the court house to get your document. There is nothing unromantic or disturbing about getting a marriage license so why are people so afraid, so offended by the requirement of a prenuptial agreement? Marriage is a wonderful institution. There should be societal and personal rules involved preserving the contract between the two parties.

Men avoid marriage today like the plague. The reasons are clear. Marriage is expensive and the “wife’s” day. Men come along for the ride. (This isn’t completely true, but women generally dictate how the wedding will be conducted.) This is NOT a bad thing! Historically marriage symbolized a bonding with intentions of bringing children into the world and as we’ve noted earlier, this was a risky proposition for the female. Also, marriage was the moment when the woman left her family to live with her husband. It was a major life event for the bride. Things have changed in recent times. Cohabiting prior to marriage is common. Child bearing has fewer medical risks.

Identity politics is killing your retirement. #retirementplanning #divorce #identitypolitics #familyvalues #retirement #jordanpetersonMen view marriage differently. They now have an obligation. They have a wife to support. Oh, wait. That was historically. Today women freely enter the work force (a good thing) and have a large range of opportunities (another good thing). In the past the man provided shelter and food for the family. A man knew his worth. He provided and found satisfaction in knowing he was a good head of the household. Today men don’t find that satisfaction as much. The wife can earn and support herself just fine with or without him. It’s no longer a need, but a convenience to keep the man around.

This sounds horrible when I say it the way I did. MGTOWs make great fanfare over this. “Women,” they say, “no longer respect a man’s role. Women take advantage of men and use men.” I think this is a massive oversimplification of the facts.

I’ve been married for over 30 years (to the same woman). While Mrs. Accountant could find a job and support herself, there is something more satisfying to all parties involved to work as equals. Mrs. A doesn’t have to worry about the breadwinner getting sick or dying; serious issues in times past. She can enter into contracts should I become incapacitated or unavailable. I don’t own her! We are a team!

The rules have changed, no doubt. Identity politics have taken over. We can get mad, pointing to people with different political views. That doesn’t help. It’s not their fault; yours either. Society has changed radically and we are still searching for our sea legs. Birth control gave women control of their reproduction. This is arguably one of the most, if not the most, radical event in human history. It upset several hundred thousand years of human societal evolution.

All is not lost; at least I don’t believe it is. My relationship with my wife is powerful and growing. I can’t imagine life without her. She is not one of the rare unicorns MGTOWs talk about. She is a normal woman who had the great misfortune of being noticed by a crazy accountant. Our secret is we talk, respect each other’s opinions and space, communicate constantly our thoughts and share quality intimate time together. In short, we are growing old together, experiencing all the joys of life with our best friend, each other. There is no room for politics of any kind and certainly no room for hating women for whatever imagined reason.

Still, the problems remain. Child support and alimony hit men disproportionately hard. Divorce is a financial body blow sure to wound the strongest of us. Women file for around 70% of divorces. Men are disproportionately separated from their children. The new world order makes this possible and seems to many men punitive for the crime of loving a woman.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can wait for society to change—don’t hold your breath—or you can take positive steps to create equality in the relationship where all parties win, especially the children.

Romance is alive and well!




Solutions to the Intractable Problems

Jordan Peterson tells us about what makes us tick; what men women are attracted to. He rarely talks about the financial issues involved.

MGTOWs and similar designations men use to identify themselves are not helping. Quitting society is an unworkable solution. Men, as much as women, need intimacy. In some ways I’m more passionate than Mrs. Accountant. She has the romance parts locked, but I love snuggling in. Yes, guys need (NEED!) touch, too. This is more than sex. Sex is a fun guttural act designed by nature to be really fun so little humans can be produced. Nature also created us to respond positively to closeness and touch; something that can be engaged in for much longer periods of times. A hug should never be a crime because it is such a basic need of humanity. That is why you must hug your significant other and kids every day. It’s the most powerful act I can think of. I personally give my parents (yes, even Dad Accountant) a hug every time I see them. The day will come soon when that opportunity will be lost forever. I’m not wasting a single opportunity.

The rise of misogyny. Stop hating women. MGTOWs. #incel #MGTOW #interpersonalrelationships #familyandchildren #jordanpetersonMen must stop hating women! Misogyny is a vulgar display. Women are different from us, guys. I know. Different is good. (Actually, really, really good.) Women have a different worldview and biological history. The birth control pill doesn’t change millennia of evolution. It also takes time for society to adjust.

We can’t force society to change any faster. We can’t stop the craziness we see in the newsfeeds. The courts will continue to express bias against the men in child support and divorce proceedings.

The fear is real, guys. I understand. I’ve consulted with more clients on this than I care to count. If a guy cheats on his wife he ends up in divorce court and gets what he deserves. If the wife cheats, the guy ends up in divorce court and pays his wife (rewarding her) for her infidelity. Yes, I hear it all the time, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a better option.

I alluded to the solution about. Deciding to have children is different today. I hope we can agree on that much by now. Women (and men) have great control over reproductive choices which removes a lot of uncertainty in interpersonal relationships. This is a good thing. And as long as children can now be planned, doesn’t it make sense to lay down ground rules in advance? Deciding to have children is something men and women can both enjoy. Children are hard to raise while still such a joy to have. They are an endless blessing. If a prenuptial agreement can solve many problems before they occur, a child agreement—a legal and binding document—can protect both parents. Men (and women) no longer need to fear disenfranchisement from his children unless he poses harm to them.

A prenup might sound unromantic, but an agreement for having a child shouldn’t carry such weight. The act of creating the agreement will expose differences in child rearing ideology. Best to iron out those differences before a child is involved. Some of this can be handled in a prenuptial agreement. Each state is different so consult an attorney experienced in such matters.

Marriage is a contract and always has been. There is nothing wrong—and a lot right—with planning your marriage more than you plan the wedding. Remember, the wedding is a day; the marriage is a lifetime. A prenuptial agreement solves a lot of the problems MGTOWs complain about. A child agreement solves issues surrounding kids you have. No more blaming and hating women! My wife and daughters are awesome people. Never forget that.

Guys, women love a man with a plan. Coming to a relationship with an action plan is powerful. Women are still biologically wired to want a man who will support them. They tend to marry up. This is natural and normal due to historical standards. A plan can make you more desirable to women. And you have to put aside shyness and ask. If you see a woman you are interested in, ask her if she would like to join you for a cup of coffee. If she responds poorly you didn’t want to spend time with her anyway. There are lots of really good ladies out there. Really! Check out a Peterson video if you want to know and learn more of what women want.

Men, you should feel less stress about relationships! Not so long ago you carried a heavy burden. You worked the fields and mines (dangerous jobs) and if you got hurt or died your wife and children suffered horribly. Instead of the responsibility of carrying all the weight of supporting your family, you now have an equal, a partner. It’s better that way. Honest.

 

Note: If you haven’t read Jordan Peterson’s latest book you need to fix that ASAP. Normally I would say check it out at the library, but that isn’t good enough this time. Your copy of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos will be more worn than an evangelical’s Bible. You’ll refer to it that much.

 

Note: I understand this is a difficult and contentious topic. These are serious money issues people need to consider. Some of my personal opinions and biases developed over my lifetime I’m sure slipped in even though I tried hard to keep opinion out. Please use this as a starting point to think about the subject matter. I empathize with men dealing with the host of issues; I also empathize with women trying to make their way in this world. Both genders are working hard to figure it out. No vicious attacks in the comments. You can disagree with me, but treat other commentators with respect. Thank you.

 

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!



Should We Run Our Marriage Like a Business?

#marriage #shouldimarry #businessplanning #personalfinance #love #interpersonalrelationshipsTwo and a half years ago when I started this blog I had a vision for what it would become. The original primary goal was to encourage readers to slide a chair around behind my desk and view the world from my side of the desk. I’ve always found the world interesting from my perch. Things I would never know or experience were front and center due to my position in the world. It all fascinated me.

Before long I expanded my vision. I wanted this blog to be a sort of personal journal to my children. When I’m gone (and hopefully while I’m still here) my girls can reference the thoughts of their dad. Some things are modified to protect the guilty (as I like to say), but the flavor is all there. Who and what I am is on these pages. This is the most real me I’ve ever presented. It took decades of writing, learning and growing to reach the point where I was comfortable exposing myself to the world. (Please disregard the indecent exposure.)

Tax professionals don’t always see the world as I do. My practice is small so I serve a discreet clientele. I actually sit with my clients periodically when things get real. I know about marriages on the rocks before the world at large. I consult with clients with a medical death sentence before even their family knows. Sometimes I even know before their spouse does. While it is interesting, it is never easy advising in these situations. How do you tell a client their child needs to be institutionalized to protect parent and child? How do you tell a wife she should or shouldn’t divorce her husband? How do you explain to a client she must tell her husband about the massive gambling losses she suffered and that they are bankrupt?

If I refuse to help it only gets worse. The client came to me and closed the door before she sat down because it is serious. Problems raising the kids and marriage issues are common. Financial and tax issues are front and center because finances (and sometimes taxes) are affected by their situation and any response they consider. I’m always uncomfortable advising clients on how to deal with their children; I’m nervous when advising a woman she should divorce her husband and report the abuse to the police. It breaks my heart when the patrol car is out front of the office as I help a client deal with a criminal issue.

When my world was confined mostly to the local market is one thing. Now this blog has spread my reach to the entire world and certainly the entire U.S. One of these difficult questions has come as a call from the dark and I’m scared. I’m scared no matter what I do people will be hurt. Even ignoring the echo from the abyss has consequences.




Voice From Over the Transom

These types of questions cropped up in consulting sessions over the last few years. I’ve consulted (and/or prepared taxes for) people on every continent, except Antarctica. (Anyone at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station need to talk to a friendly accountant to break up the monotony of the endless night? I’ll donate a free hour just for the opportunity to say I served every continent on the planet.)  The level of personal questions generally is lower than from local clients because blog clients on the other side of the landmass are at a different place (metaphorically speaking). Until now.

About a dozen emails grace my inbox per day during the summer from readers (more around and during tax season). Some are congratulatory, showing appreciation and require little or no response. Some I can’t answer easily or right away so they linger in my inbox until I decide how to respond or it just gets too old and I let it pass. (I hate it when I do that and I do it too often.)

Then there are the emails I must answer and answer now. Sometimes readers contact me (clients, too) because it is a desperate situation. No response is a response and a bad one. The email I’m about to share approaches this level.

The email literally had a headline. I used it as the title of this post. I wanted to tweak it, but decided against it. Here is the email:

Dear Wealthy Accountant,
I found out about you listening to the ChooseFI series on YouTube. I had a question about my situation and was wondering if you had any advice. My partner and I are not married, but we live together, have a 5 year old and are expecting our second child. My SO (significant other) is self-employed as an artist and averages over 100k/annually and pays considerable taxes for it. My question is what is our best tactic for taxation, would we be better off getting married (even with me going back to school in the future) or should we keep our current situation and my SO “hire” me as an employee to help him with some administrative chores. I plan on staying home with our baby-on-the-way for 3-4 years. Thoughts?

At first I was going to send it to my assistant to recommend a consulting session where I get paid. The answers this woman was asking required more than a curt response and I felt there were serious personal risks to her if she got bad advice. Then I felt bad asking her for payment for such a personal issue.

I received her email in the early evening and decided to sleep on it before responding. The next morning I emailed back I wanted to write a blog post on her email, name excluded. She emailed agreement.

The reason for a full-blown post is because her question has similarities to many others I get. At first glance it seems she is asking tax questions. But the real question is revealed in her headline used as the title of this post. Her real question is: Should I marry the father of my children?

This is where I must weigh my words carefully. A living, breathing human being will listen to my words and take them seriously. This is the life of a man and woman. Two children are involved! No matter what I do will affect her decision.

I have no choice. The voice from the dark has become a plea. I cannot turn my back. I am honor and duty-bound to respond. There will be a price to an unnamed accountant as well.




The Easy Part

There is an easy and hard part to the request. I’ll do the easy part first because, well, it’s easier and this post is making me emotional. Besides, I tend to talk taxes when I’m avoiding the real issue.

The readers SO is an artist earning over $100,000 annually. I read that to mean somewhere between $100,000 and $150,000.

Our kind reader asks about taxes, but prefaces that with getting married. We’ll deal with marriage later.

According to the email, our reader’s SO is self-employed. YIKES! Of course he’s getting killed in taxes. As a sole proprietor, your SO is paying more tax than in any other part of the tax code. I can’t even cheat and trick my computer into getting his tax bill higher. Here is what I want you to do. (I’m talking to my email reader now. Please grab a chair, slide it behind my desk and observe.)

Without seeing the actual tax return, the probability is your SO should organize as an LLC and elect to be treated as an S corp. (Call my office if you want me to help you set this up.) This blog’s birth came about when I gave Mr. Money Mustache the same advice and I wrote about it here.

You never mentioned which state you come from. Each state has its own department handling LLCs and incorporations. There are fees involved. Some states (Texas, California, Delaware come to mind) have very high fees. Here is a little trick to save money. You don’t have to organize your LLC in your home state or where you live!

If the home state has reasonable fees you can have an attorney do the paperwork or set it up yourself. You act as your own registered agent. (LLCs and corporations need a registered agent to manage their filings. You must live in the state to manage the filings such as annual reports.)

If you reside in one of the high fee states, I have a solution. Wisconsin, where your favorite accountant resides, isn’t a high fee state! Since my practice is in Wisconsin I can act as your registered agent. After the initial organization setup costs, Wisconsin charges $25 annually, plus a $1 processing fee. If you use other online services to setup your LLC they automatically act as your registered agent. It’s where they make most of their money. They also charge $200 and up annually. Most are now over $300 per year, plus state fees. I’m such a nice man because my office charges $109 (at this time) and that includes the $26 Wisconsin wants.

There are two benefits if this appeals to you. First, you do NOT have to file a Wisconsin tax return; you’re not doing business here (unless you are from Wisconsin and I don’t know it). Second, a registered agent is where legal documents get delivered. If your SO gets sued, process service takes place at my office if the attorney follows the rules. This is important. If you are not available and the process server can’t deliver paperwork it is sent to the state. You could have a court date and miss it because you were unaware. You would lose by default and could be liable for the damages awarded in the suit. As registered agent, my office is open all normal business hours. My heart doesn’t flutter when the sheriff delivers paperwork, either. I only ask, “Who’s this one for?” Then I get my team on the horn and speed-dial you until we make contact. We also email and use other means to reach you. There are procedures to make sure the court is aware if you haven’t been made alerted to the suit.




You Are an Entity

Either my office or a local accountant can help you elect to treat your LLC as an S corp. This is important. As an S corp your SO gets a reasonable wage and the rest flows to his personal return without FICA/self-employment tax. This is a meaningful tax savings.

If he is not already doing so (and qualifies), an office in the home deduction is possible. Under new tax rules this can be more valuable than ever before with the standard deduction higher now. Your facts and circumstances will dictate.

Most important of all, he can super charge his retirement savings. The options are endless. This blog (and others) discuss a variety of retirement plan choices. If you tell me what your goals are and more details on your situation, I’ll tell you what you want. Once again, facts and circumstances prevail. And don’t believe what most blogs publish. You can pack away over $300,000 per year in a deductible retirement account in certain cases (it depends on your age (the older you are the more you can deduct) and profit level). You tell me how much you want socked away in a tax sheltered retirement plan and I’ll share the vehicle you’ll drive to the Vanguard index fund. Okay?

The New Employee

You can be an employee of your SO or the LLC he sets up. He can provide you health care benefits (usually) and deduct the premiums. However, if he is a sole proprietor, his premiums are deductible (usually) as an adjustment to income on his personal return. This means he still pays SE tax on the premiums. We used to use Section 105 to work around this issue for married people. I don’t see 105s much anymore as there are so many easier alternative options.

An LLC electing as an S corp avoids this issue, as the entity claims the deduction. (Tax professionals reading this: I’m keeping this simple for my kind reader’s sake. My statement is 98.27845363% accurate. We don’t have time in this post to discuss why my statement isn’t 100% true.)  If handled correctly, the health insurance premiums are reflected on the W-2. Technically there is a FICA tax issue, but mitigated by adjusting payroll to reflect a lower reasonable wage based on a lower level of profits due to the premium deduction by the entity.

This gets complicated; I understand. I’m glossing this over and tax pros are rolling their eyes because I’m telling a half truth. But from your viewpoint, it will look pretty much like I outline it. And my goal is to give non-tax professionals a reasonable way to view the options they can understand without years of tax experience.

In short, you can (and if you provide services for your SO’s business) and should be a W-2 employee. Even a token wage of say $15,000 allows you health benefits paid for and deductible by the business, plus the opportunity to start building your retirement account. Whether he remains a sole prop or decides to go the LLC route, there is a benefit to you and your SO (most likely) for doing so. Marriage also plays a role so we will address that next.




So, Should We Run Our Marriage Like a Business?

In short: NO!!!

What you and your SO have is not a business; you have an interpersonal relationship! You have a business relationship with a prostitute, not a loving SO. Can I be more blunt?

Mrs. Accountant and I have a nurturing 30+ year marriage. Mrs. A works part-time for my business. She is an employee of the entity! Yes. But my relationship with Mrs. A is not a business relationship!

Maybe I’m reading your email wrong. Tax issues do play a part in the decision-making process of living together, marriage and having children. Reading between the lines, I think your income is really low. As a result, there is probably a tax advantage to getting married.

But you don’t get married to save on taxes!

Even going back to school will probably be a better tax deal if you are married, not that that should be the reason to marry.

Please, come with me. (I’m putting my arm around your shoulder and guiding you to a chair where we can talk face-to-face without a desk between us. I lean in close and talk in a low, calm voice as a father does.) I have two young adult daughters. As their dad I tell them to think clearly when planning a life with someone. Living together is as serious a matter as marriage.

You have a child together and another on the way. (Congratulations!) You have a beautiful and awesome responsibility. If you are in love and have talked adequately about a life together as husband and wife, and worked out any issues and still find you want a life together, then have that life. It ends soon enough. Jordan Peterson says the meaning of life is to end needless suffering. Loneliness is a form of suffering. You have it in your grasp to end that. Your ships met in the night and both of you decided to sail together. With two children you already know the right thing to do.

Marriage has massive risks, especially for the male. But you already have children! And there are incredible benefits for both parties, as well. If you are ready, do what your heart tells you. Your mind should have ironed out all the issues by talking honestly together. If you are happy as you are, then don’t change anything. If marriage is both your callings, then do that.

Please, for the love of God, don’t get married (or refrain from getting married) due to taxes.

If you need anything else, you have my email. My door is always open to discuss this with all the personal details.

 

 

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!

 



Success is the Best Revenge

It happens to everyone: a business partner embezzles funds destroying the company and leaving you with the mess, an ex betrays your trust, a co-worker or supervisor harasses you. It is easy to get angry and fire from the hip. But reaction only makes it worse. To make matters even worse, the person who slighted you gets away clean while your response is dealt with harshly. There is something true to the adage: the second one to throw a punch gets caught.

There is a better way that doesn’t harm any party involved: success. Success is said to be the best form of revenge, but it only works if it isn’t done for traditional revenge reasons.

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said if your life has a why you can bear almost any how. This is a fancy way of saying your life needs purpose to strive for the important goals.

Money will drive you if your finances are in desperate straits. Once the basics are covered new motivations are needed to keep striving for goals. Sheer love of the process drives some, but this is the minority. The vast multitudes need something more, a prod to keep them moving forward.




Dreamscape

Failure happens. All your hard work and planning sometimes ends up in flames. Your financial dreams are tested in these dark times and to make it worse, people delight in your pain, some more than others. A certain crowd enjoys watching people suffer. Sometimes it is a crowd specific to you.

People are jealous of other people’s success. The people closest to you can be the worst, secretly delighting in your misfortune. Building financial success is one thing. As the market claws higher, over-spenders of the world secretly pray for the day when the market collapses or at least your investments take a serious haircut. A jealous brother or friend despises you because you had the discipline to spend less than you earn and invest the excess in index funds.

An ex is the worst of all. In their mind you don’t deserve success or any pleasure after your relationship with them ends. There is something decidedly psychopathic about such attitudes. When you move on with your life and start dating again she takes great pleasure in each relationship that doesn’t work out. It’s as if their worth in life is tied to your failures.

Failure happens more than success so the haters have plenty to gloat on. Your financial investments will have plenty of down days, some remarkably so. Staying the course means time will be kind to you so you get more revenge than your nemesis.

All these feelings, unfortunately, are counterproductive. Revenge is the acid which destroys the vessel which holds it. We all attract haters as we grow. People will do incredibly horrific things to tear you down. The higher you climb the more excuses these people have to hate you for your success. They will work tirelessly to harm you.




Perspective

This is where you need perspective. While people may hate you for your success and feel you don’t deserve it (who does?), the truly successful know the truth of human nature. Jordan B. Peterson wrote in his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, “Most individuals are dealing with one or more serious health problems while going productively and uncomplainingly about their business.” (I recommend purchase of Peterson’s book. Read it, mark it up and then use it as a constant reference manual on living well.)

It is so easy to sink to the level of those who wish you harm. Striking back is a reflexive response. Mature individuals, however, know everyone is carrying a heavy burden. As Peterson noted, the majority of people are fighting a medical issue or a close family member or friend is. When you think about it that way it is easier to forgive a past transgression.

Forgive does not mean forget. If a friend betrays your trust you can respect the difficulties they are experiencing in their life. But you don’t have to trust them! This is a personal finance blog so we’ll use a financial example. If a friend steals from you or doesn’t repay money you borrowed him you don’t have to keep giving them more. That isn’t what friends do; that is how people enable addicts and other people in serious need to change in their life.

Hating a cheating ex is natural. The bitter feelings need to come out. But get them out quickly or they turn into a cancer harming you! Yes, you have been betrayed. Don’t allow the betrayer to continue harming you!




Motivation

Past bad experiences can be a powerful motivation tool. Anger and bitterness will eventually destroy you. The “I’ll show them” mentality also wears you out in the end. There is a better way to channel this energy.

Revenge is usually not the real motivation. You are hurt over a betrayal and you want to show “them” what they missed. Using success as a form of revenge is really about showing the world how valuable you are. The people who hurt you in the past are not allowed near you and your newfound success.

Revenge over a prior slight is a long-term steady emotion. Deep down it isn’t about revenge; it’s about acceptance. You are projecting your success as a way to let everyone around you know you are valuable. Every action is motivated discovery. Am I really able to do this? The person who slighted you may not even know you are growing and winning. It doesn’t matter. The person you are really trying to impress is yourself.

Failure brings out the worst in people. Failure is a natural and normal part of the success process.

Elon Musk is struggling with production at Tesla. His efforts to build enough cars to turn his company cash flow positive are necessary if he wants his company to survive. He has tweeted several times in the past about his detractors. He warned people selling him short they will learn a valuable lesson soon. Musk isn’t technically out for revenge, though he is working to prove all the naysayers wrong. The motivation is so powerful he is reported to sleep on the factory floor so he has as many waking hours as possible available to apply toward his goals.

Initial thoughts of revenge are counterproductive. Your first reaction is to strike out at the person hurting you. This will cause you more trouble than anyone else. After the initial sting, the steady state of numbness can go one of two ways: you can fold your tent and withdraw or you can focus on the goal. Quitting is an unfortunate reaction. Stepping back and thinking about what you really want and how to go about getting it is far more productive.




Benefits of Success as Revenge

People visiting this blog generally are looking for ideas to lower their taxes, build wealth, start a business or insights on retirement, early or otherwise. All these things are forms of success. Efforts to create something suffer inevitable setbacks. Many slights are only perceived. We think people are laughing at us or rebuking us due to our misfortune. This isn’t always the case.

A parent may show disappointment when an adult child gets arrested for DWI. The instinct is to withdraw. Burying your instinct is important. To move forward, to grow, you need to use your mistake as a motivator for change. You parents aren’t out to get you, nor do they derive pleasure from your failure. They want what is best for you so they show disappointment. And they can’t do it for you. Your anger isn’t really directed at them; it’s directed at you.

Lottery winners learn fast how many friends and family members they have. When the money runs out they find out how many true friends they have. The same applies to all of us to a lesser degree. When you bust your tail at a business or investing for early retirement or world travel plenty of people will dissuade you. Your friends are limited as you are in the building process. Not many people want to stick around. They’re afraid you might put them to work.

As the goal approaches the number of friends increases. Now you have money; now you are successful. The fun part is celebrating a victory and crowds of friends show up for that. Most you never met before in your life. Such is the nature of fair weather friends.

The same applies in the blogosphere. Everyone wants to know the bloggers slamming it. The guy eking out 72 pageviews isn’t fun to be around. It’s all work, research, and discovery. Success isn’t guaranteed. The fun part is when playtime is available. It takes courage to continue. Thoughts of revenge rarely play a key role. But thoughts of showing people in your sphere of influence you have the right stuff does.

One of the most disgusting displays of fair weather friend behavior involves interpersonal relationships. Staring and building a business takes long hours of hard work and sacrifice. Money is tight; every penny is funneled into the project. Relationships are destroyed sometimes. All parties may not be as committed to the project as you. Over my three and a half decades of practice I’ve seem divorces over this kind of thing. What I find disgusting is when success finally arrives the person who left frequently finds their old partner more attractive then. Rekindling such a relationship rarely works because it is based on one party being exceptionally shallow.

When in the trenches, look around you. When you are sleeping on the factory floor giving every ounce of energy to bring an idea to life, stop for a moment to take an inventory of the people with you. One, maybe two, of these people are true friends. When things turn the corner and success is in full bloom it will be more difficult to determine who your friends are as everyone wants to be your friend.

Enemies will be obvious. They’re the ones constantly gloating at every minor failure. They play an important—if not ignorant—role, too. They are a constant source of motivation to climb to the next level. Not to show them, but to remind you of what you are capable of.

 

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!

 



Teach Children to Follow Their Dreams

This isn’t your parent’s China. China is an ultra modern society with the people curious about the world at large.

From a young age I knew exactly wanted to do. Then I changed my mind.

Such is youth. My dad had different plans for me. My childhood was spent on the family farm and it was an awesome life. My dad owned an agricultural repair business and the plan was in place for me to slide right into the company. There was only one problem: I hated the work.

My children are now adults. One is in China while the youngest just graduated high school. My fondest hope was that at least one of the two would be interested in tax and accounting work. No dice.

Forcing your children into a family business is always a bad idea. The kids might love the work and they should then be welcomed with open arms if they do. But most kids don’t want to follow in their parent’s footsteps. Their dreams are different. Most often they follow their parent’s path because they don’t know where else to turn.

Rural areas face the same issue. When few career opportunities exist young people must either leave the area or work in the coal mine. It’s the perfect recipe for unhappiness.

Heather, my oldest, is spending a month in China teaching a 5-year old girl English as a second language. The host family is treating Heather great.

Brooke, the youngest, prefers working in dirt. She works for my dad’s company landscaping. She also has a few side jobs working for people in town clean their yard and garden.

Both my girls are happy. I couldn’t ask for a better gift. I never forced either of my girls into living my life. The goal was to always help them follow their dream. The only constant from dad was the endless indoctrination of personal finance advice. As a result my girls are handling money better than 99%. I guess that means they’ll be the future 1%. Good for them.



Nothing to Lose

Steve Jobs said “you have nothing to lose” in his Stanford commencement address in 2005. Jordan Peterson has said the same thing in many of his videos. What both mean is that in the end we are all dead. Nothing we say or do will change that. Knowing someday you’ll be dead is a humbling attitude you can channel into productive projects. You have nothing to lose by following your dreams.

Failing is part of the process. As much as failure hurts, we know it will all be forgotten someday as the hands of times sweep all our actions into the depths of history. Nobody remembers the details of the numerous failures of Thomas Edison as he worked toward the light bulb. We just remember the one that worked.

Starting a business or side hustle is the ultimate leap of faith. Failure will be displayed to our embarrassment. Or will it? If I didn’t share my many business failures over the years none of you would know! I share the mishaps because that is where learning takes place. Success is a poor teacher so I show where things went wrong.



Go East, Young Girl. Far East

I tried to ingrain the “you have nothing to lose” attitude in my girls. I drilled the lessons into their heads daily without remorse. Early on I was worried they may not be getting the message. Then, as the years progressed, it became obvious they were listening after all.

Heather at a jewelry expo in Beijing. She always loves her art.

Heather worked in my office for a short while and still fills in periodically. She worked in my office at first for the same reason many kids work in the family business: it’s an easy option. It didn’t take long to learn she wasn’t interested in the tax or accounting life. Personal finance was as far as she wanted to go in the accounting world. Dad took a deep breath and allowed his sweetie to cut her own path. It was the right thing to do.

From high school on Heather was interested in East Asia. She built plans to go to college in Thailand and South Korea. Later she learned she could teach English as a second language in countries around the world. Good grades and an unrelenting drive made it a reality. Fundraising and financial tricks learned from dad gave her the chance to see China as an insider rather than a tourist for practically no money!

Her host family is awesome! Heather is seeing China from the perspective of a Chinese family. She lives with her host family, tutoring their five year old daughter, Dora. Dora is such a sweetheart. WeChat allows us to communicate without cost. Dora speaks good English and is a bundle of energy. Heather will be heartbroken when she has to return home. She will always have memories (and friends) in a land far away. The modern world makes it easy to stay in touch.

In middle school you would never have guessed Heather would take the path she did. On a family trip to South Dakota Heather was so anxious we had to stop at every turn off for a bathroom break. We even created a few new rest stops along the way. It was bad. (Heather will probably read this while still in China. She’ll be embarrassed when she does. Consider it dad’s revenge for making him stop every quarter mile.)

Heather inherited the early travel anxiety from dad. I’m crazy when I have to travel. It always sounds like a good idea until the departure date approaches. Mrs. Accountant can tell you many stories of the strangle behaviors I’ve undertake when on the road. I travel for business with rare exception. I keep myself hyper busy so I can control the anxiety. If I’m not chatty, running my mouth a million miles an hour, I withdraw into my own fantasy world. The best non-business trip I ever took was to Costa Rica. My parents invited Mrs. Accountant and me. This allowed for some normalcy with more family around. Still, I didn’t say much during the trip as I mentally withdrew.

Heather and Dora. The world is an awesome (and smaller) place.

Heather outgrew her travel anxiety. Thank god for that. Heather is there, in China, learning their culture and teaching at the same time. The world is much smaller now.

I get to see the world through her eyes and from the perspective of her host family. They seem a lot like people here. They have strong family ties and enjoy time together. They are interested in the world around them. More people speak Mandarin as a native language than any other; English in number three behind Spanish. Still, Heather traveled to China to teach English, whereas Chinese people speak English when they come to the U.S. Strange how they are such an enlightened society as not to demand everyone conform to their culture and language.

The activities Heather enjoys with Dora make me smile. They do so many fun things together. She sends pictures every day. Dora is a well-adjusted young lady. When we video chat Dora keeps hopping in and out of the camera view. We are just normal people to her. Our smaller world reminds us we are all normal people, regardless of culture.

Imagine if I would have demanded Heather work in the family business? All this would have been lost. Heather would have felt a longing for a different life while I dealt with an employee unhappy with her job.

As much as I want to point my girls in a certain direction, I can’t. There was no way I could have guessed Heather would end up where she is. She is better for it too. She called yesterday (about 9:30 p.m. in Beijing) because her car overheated in standstill traffic. I talked her through it. She eventually contacted her host family. The dad stayed behind to handle the auto repairs while mom brought Dora and Heather home. I am so proud of how Heather handled the situation. She really has grown up. She grew up because I allowed her to fly.

The Ground is the Same over Here

Brooke took a path I didn’t expect either. She never even tried to work in my office. She did stuff tax organizers into envelopes over the holidays each year. But her heart was never in the office—any office.

Brooke is interested in computers, but schooling is something she wants to put off for a bit. She has a few coins saved so she has time to decide the path she wishes to travel. In the mean time she likes working in the ground. Heather is traveling land in China while Brooke turns dirt in the backwoods of Wisconsin. It’s a living. And she enjoys it!

Brooke left the door open for college a year or so down the road when she is more certain she wants to learn more about computers. Landscaping and nurseries are acceptable ways to fill a day and gain an income in the mean time.

Again, if I would have forced the issue, requiring Brooke to take a path I thought appropriate for her, she would have been miserable. There is no way a parent can know what will appeal to their children.

There is a way we can help, but is takes a lot of fortitude.




The Guiding Hand of Parents

You can teach your children how to follow their dreams. Engage them. Require them to think about the things they want to do in life. Pay attention to their interests and encourage them to pursue their dreams.

Heather and Dora rollerblading in the middle of Beijing at night. Those two are having a great time and are the terror of China. They’re both cuties.

That doesn’t mean the kids get a blank check to do what they want. Quite the contrary. My girls had to earn whatever path they choose to walk. I didn’t pay Heather’s way to China.

College wasn’t a free ride either. Heather struggled with getting to college. I didn’t support her attempts at several higher education ideas financially. She had to earn her way before I stepped in and helped. Once she buckled down and got serious about full-time college she was able to raise the funds necessary to attend school without selling investments to get there. She got so close before she couldn’t do it anymore. I immediately stepped in and provided the rest. For the record, my contribution was very small, a few thousand dollars. Think about that. Heather will leave college with a degree, no student loans, no debt and dad will still be solvent having invested less than $5,000. And Heather got to travel to China (Netherlands next year). She also has a job tutoring people in China from home (online) while she finishes school. She has a bright future!

While Heather is starting to create a path she is likely to travel most or all of her life, Brooke is just starting out. She is 18 and experimenting with her choices. I can’t say as much about her because her story is only beginning. I see the same pattern in Brooke that I saw in Heather. The only difference will be the ultimate path taken.

Parents worry about their kids. It’s only natural. Here is what I did:

  • Provide a supporting hand.
  • Be consistent.
  • Freely offer advice and guidance without doing it for them.
  • Let them explore the available options.
  • Don’t force them into the family business.
  • Let them fail. Failure is the only way to learn.
  • Let them fly. All the way to China, if you must. Your heart will eventually begin beating again.
  • Love them regardless their choice.
  • Share your stories, your wisdom.
  • Use humor.
  • Hug them. It matters.

Most of all, always welcome them home. It’s hard letting go. It is for the best. It is so much sweeter when they return.



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?

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.

Depression and Personal Finance

If you are feeling suicidal, please seek help immediately. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741. Find a trusted friend or family member to stay with you while you are suicidal.

 

Break the cycle of debt and depression. Loneliness, sadness, depression and helplessness are natural responses to serious money problems. #money #moneyproblems #debt #depression #suicide #breakthecycleDepression knows no boundaries. Anyone at any age can experience debilitating depression. No one is exempt: male or female, young and old, every ethnic background, every religious belief and every level of the economic spectrum.

Depression is hard to treat since it comes in so many flavors. Some people experience mild or seasonal depression, sometimes known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Depression can be brutally severe or cycle between periods of hyperactive behavior followed by an equally severe depressive episode. To complicate matter more, manic-depressives can cycle fast or slow.

Medication doesn’t help everyone and for many only provides mild relief. Frequently external factors trigger an event. Overwhelming debt can bring the walls crashing in.

But external triggers are not necessary for those with a tendency for depression. Successful and wealthy people are not exempt from external triggers causing depression. Eliminating debt can go a long way for many people in regaining mental health. But not always.




The Dear Debt Mission

Melanie is an incredible young woman who writes the Dear Debt blog. What started as a public journey to break up with debt brought an unexpected consequence. People started reading her blog and contacting her with their stories of unmanageable debt. Melanie also noticed in her analytics program that many people finding her blog were suicidal due to their debt load.

It might be forgivable to bow our head in silence and move on feeling there is nothing we can do. Not Melanie. Every September, which is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Melanie has a Debt Drop program where she encourages bloggers to join her in creating a web of posts focusing on suicide awareness and prevention. A heavy dose of debt reduction is encouraged. I added to the list a few times myself. Here is another entry.

It is impossible to know how many lives have been saved due to Melanie’s efforts. Certainly the number of people helped is tremendous.

But that isn’t why I’m writing today. There is another group of people in desperate need of help I want to address.

Living the Dream or Living in a Dream

Before we continue I must make a confession. The author is a rapid cycler manic-depressive. The dark days of winter can cause SAD, but I also suffer awesome bouts of efficient hyper-activity followed by crushing depression. It can happen any time of the year.

When I was a boy I was diagnosed with the disease. Later doctors tried a cocktail of medications to tone down the highs and lows. Lithium did nothing. Prozac and similar drugs were ineffective. They even tried scary drugs that really messed with my head. Eventually the medications were ended and I attended therapy to understand my triggers and methods to control an episode.

Here is the funny thing. I never had an overwhelming debt burden in my life. I grew up poor on a farm in rural Wisconsin, but we always had food, family life was good and I never felt like we were poor until I got older and the outside world reminded me what I am.

Later I married the best woman on earth and she blessed our household with two incredible daughters. Home life has always been good for me. I got lucky. With a predisposition for mania followed by depression, I found a way to create a life that minimized triggers. Like I said, lucky.




Money Doesn’t Solve Every Problem

When people are deep in debt they think money will solve all their problems. It doesn’t! Money will solve some issues in your life. Money can reduce and eliminate debt obligations. This is a major stress reducer.

Lots of money also opens doors unavailable to the poor. Money makes it easier to retire young or choose the job of your choice since you have resources to weather the time between fulfilling jobs. Money means you don’t have to settle for any job offered just to put food on the table. If you enjoy traveling money certainly helps with that too.

Money can solve financial problems. It can’t fix a broken marriage or resolve a drug problem. Money can buy quality healthcare, but can’t cure every ailment. And money can’t stop the demons of depression from crushing you down.

 

Dealing with Depression

To someone deep in debt it may sound strange to hear someone is suicidal when they have a quality home life and financial wealth. But depression doesn’t work that way!

Mental illness carries a social stigma. It shouldn’t. Depression is not a sign of weakness. Depression is a disease and must be treated as any disease.

Debt can cause serious depression. Not knowing where to turn is normal. Get your life back. #debt #suicide #depression #personalfinance #studentloans #creditcarddebtLeft unchecked it can destroy things of value in your life. Medication is an option for some. I encourage you to have a serious talk with your doctor on your situation. If medication doesn’t work for you, as it doesn’t for the author, you need a different set of tools. I will share some that have worked for me.

I was hesitant writing this post. After nearly a decade of controling excessive bouts of depression (I am less successful controlling the manias) I am in the deepest episode in nearly a decade.

Age gave me experience in handling triggers. Small bouts of depression would set in, but it was manageable. I have ready mental tools to get me back into life and motivated again. Manias are the worst because they make you feel so good as you get stuff done. I even managed to reduce the downside after a mania. Encouraging a mild mania is a valuable tool for an accountant during tax season. It is also dangerous. But when tax season spills into the remainder of the year the energy needs to come from somewhere, or so goes the crazy thinking.

Now is a good time to review the tricks I’ve learned to deal with depression since I’m struggling right now:

  • Triggers: Even if medication helps, controlling triggers is vital. Dark and short winter days can trigger depression in some people. It was an issue for me when I was younger, but it has been a non-event in later adulthood. Sunlight or sun lamps can help.

OTC medication or mild stimulants can trigger an event. For me large amounts of caffeine can trigger a mania. It’s easy when the workload increases to pound the coffee. You should constantly observe your response to foods, beverages, medications and recreational drugs (legal and illegal).

Stress is a huge trigger for many people. This is where a heavy debt burden comes in. But money isn’t the only stress. Other illness or the death of a friend or family member can do it. An unforeseen event can lift the stress level and start an uncontrollable spiral into depression.

  • Communicate: I have a very close relationship with my wife, Mrs. Accountant. We talk all the time. We can feel each other’s moods. Mrs. Accountant frequently knows I’m headed for depression before I do. She can see the outward signs I’m not paying attention to.

A trusted friend, family member or counselor is a tremendous benefit. Let people around you know when you are going down. Make sure a plan is in place to protect you if you become suicidal. It’s not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of intelligence. You know the helplessness of depression. When the depression passes, only then do you realize what you would have thrown away if you ended your life. And the damage to your friends and family lasts decades and longer. Do the right thing. Have a support team in place.

  • Train Yourself: Many people benefit from motivational tapes if they only have mild depression or borderline personality disorder. The upbeat message of optimism from speakers like Zig Ziglar have helped millions.
  • Diet and Exercise: Finding the right diet and mix of aerobic and strength exercises has made an incredible difference in my life. It’s those times where running a business cuts into running in the park conflict when I eventually get into trouble. Then diet suffers and the sodas go down the throat during the day and Jack at night. It all ends badly. Discover what foods cause attacks. And consider a sensible exercise program developed with a professional (trainer, doctor, et cetera).
  • Sleep: Lack of sleep is a serious stressor. Depressive episodes for me are usually preceded by a bout of sleeplessness. Lack of sleep even messes with people who don’t have depression. Get your sleep. It might be the most important thing you do all day. Cut the caffeine if it disturbs your slumber.
  • Avoid alcohol: For some reason people with depression think alcohol will deaden the pain. It might a first, but alcohol doesn’t deaden the pain long and the risk of addiction is real. Alcohol is no solution for depression and is fraught with problems.
  • Avoid important decisions while suffering a depressive event: Depression is a funny thing when it comes to decision making. I can prepare a mean tax return without issue while struggling with depression. The reason is the decisions are less about a choice and more about application of facts. The decisions best avoided while depressed include financial decisions.

Important financial decisions are best avoided while suffering deep depression. Your judgment is clouded when you are suffering. Cashing in a retirement account is a bad idea when you should be focusing on healing. Major expenditures are also to be avoided at these times. Now is not the time to shop, buy a new car, home, et cetera.

When depression strikes deep I start to eliminate things. I cut back on life demands. Depression causes me (most people) to withdraw. I try to cut back on projects or even eliminate them. I’m not saying this is a good thing because this in itself is a decision with consequences long after the depression ends. Unfortunately, you don’t always have a choice. Life doesn’t go on as usual when you suffer depression. Something has to give and certain activities need to be curtailed. Things you don’t want to cut back are your relationships and job. Your family and friends are your support group in your time of need. And you may need that job later when the fog lifts.

  • Seek professional help: It isn’t easy to seek help for depression. When you are suffering the blinding tunnel vision of depression you don’t think anyone can help and don’t even know you need help many times. When not depressed you think you are okay now. You must break out of the trap and seek appropriate medical attention.
  • Don’t be alone: Depression can do strange things to good people. If you are suicidal, call the number at the top of this post. Help is available. Whenever possible, have someone with you.

Remain Strong

It’s not always possible to control triggers. A surprise stressor can come out of left field. Some people are lucky enough to grow out of some types of depression like SAD or borderline personality disorder. Regardless, the illness is always there. Like any serious disease, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Seek help. There are solutions.

And most of all, remember, you are not alone.

 

Wealth Building Resources

Personal Finance 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 Finance is free?

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to skyrocket, 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 good way to control costs and comparison shop. 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.

 



The #MeToo Movement and the Loss of Intimacy

Romance should not die with the #metoo movement. It is possible to love and respect at the same time.

The event of my life happened on April 2, 1987. It was the most unlikely of events and was totally an accident. Unfortunately you can’t enjoy what I experienced. The modern world no longer tolerates that kind of thing.

The spring of 1987 was a calm part of my life. I owned my own home, I had money and I was living the dream. Only one thing was missing.

My lust to learn goes back to my childhood. With plenty of free time I could read from sunrise to sunset. I would walk to the corner café for a cup of coffee and dinner most days. I would putz around the place and yak with the local farmers as I swilled my coffee. To prevent my underwear sticking to my ass or crawling up thereof I would hop behind the counter and pour coffee. The patrons loved the conversation so the owner comped most of my meals and coffee.

As much as I was enjoying life I was lonely. (And young!) The farmers were a mild diversion and books were a mild form of cocaine, but there was still something missing.

I would take a class or two at the local college those years. Eventually I met some people I really enjoyed talking with so we started to take the same classes. A degree made no difference to me so I just took what interested me with an emphasis in having a friend or two in each class.

The spring of 1987 was different. The loneliness was becoming unbearable. I had my eye on a cute girl in Microeconomics. She was heavy on the makeup, but had the look I found intoxicating. I tried to make small talk with her. I thought we were making a connection.

One day a group of guys were sitting in a side area with plenty of windows discussing historical issues. Some of the other guys had the class; I didn’t. My love interest was listening to the conversation.

At one point another guy participating in the conversation said something I felt was effeminate. My love interest was very offended and let me know about it. The gloss was off the rose. There are things worse than loneliness.




The Truth

The next semester our small group, including my prior love interest, moved on to Macroeconomics. It was the spring 1987 semester.

Class was Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday was fine, but there were issues with Thursday. You see, our group was a bit on the frugal side and next to the college was The Image, a bar connected to the bowling alley. Thursday night was happy hour and if we got there before 7 we could buy a drink (I was a soda guy back then) for $1 and we could eat all the tacos we could scarf down.

Our group must have been charismatic because the professor understood our plight and agreed to cut breaks short so class could end 10-15 minutes early on Thursdays.

So far so good.

But as frugal as our group was we also needed to get out and enjoy life a bit, too. Every so often we would make plans for a Friday night at The Image. Then the fateful event happened.

The Image had a dance floor and contemporary music. We danced as a group but dating among our own was rare. I had no interest in any female members of our group. In fact, some of the female members of our group were later invited to my wedding.

On April 2, 1987, a meek girl with a sad face was dancing with her friend center of the dance floor. I had to meet her; I had to know her story.

She was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. Girls like that don’t date guys like me. But the pang of loneliness was too strong to ignore. I gathered my courage and walked onto the dance floor and asked if I could join her and her friend. She nodded.

Why I didn’t pass out on the spot is beyond me. God probably loves crazy fools. We danced a few more songs and then left the dance floor and talked. It was loud and it was hard to make a real connection. We enjoyed a slow dance. Did I mention God, heaven and a few other out-of-this-world feelings I had?

The beautiful woman turned pale when I gave her my name. She didn’t tell me her name. I was disappointed.

I begged her to return the following week. To my surprise she did.

Instead of dancing we left The Image for the sitting area of the bowling alley where it was quieter. (Now you know how loud the music was.) We talked for hours. The connection was instant. I found my soul mate. If only she feels the same.

She finally shared her name. Sue. Her name was Sue. (She doesn’t like to be called Susan because that is what her dad called her when she was in trouble.) She told me she was engaged a few years prior to a guy with my name. It explained a lot.

She still refused to give me her phone number or address, but did say she lived near only a few blocks away, pointing in the direction of her home. She mentioned the name of the avenue, but not the exact address.

At the end of the evening I walked her to her car. I was rewarded with a hug. Sue promised to return the following week. We would see each other sooner.

 

Somewhere around midweek I started missing Sue. (I missed her sooner, but I was able to control myself for a few days.) After class (it might have been Thursday, but knowing me it was certainly Tuesday) I decided to take a ride down her street after class.

I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw her car outside a home a few blocks up from the college. Emboldened by my prior luck I stopped. I contemplated the risks Sue’s dad might own a gun. Lust got the better of me.

Sue’s mother answered. Sue came to the door. She invited me in. I was the luckiest man alive.

That was 31 years ago. We were married one year and six days after we met. A few weeks ago we celebrated 30 years of marriage and I never regretted a one.




The Fantasy

When in a crowd I tell the story a bit differently now. I like to tell people the basic beginning facts where I met Sue, we danced, she wouldn’t give me her name or address or phone number and I walked her to her car.

Then I add I decided to drive up and down every street close to The Image until I found her car and made a nuisance of myself.

I think my fantasy story is more entertaining. And people like to think it’s funny. At least they used to. Up until the #metoo movement.

A Different World

If I pulled the stunt I did 30 years ago I would be drawn and quartered by the #metoo movement if not arrested. There’s even a good chance a few from the movement will criticize me for not knowing how the future would turned out and didn’t adjust my behavior accordingly back then.

Under today’s unwritten rules a lifetime of happiness for Sue and me would be sacrificed. Two beautiful daughters would never have been born. And we would never have celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. What a waste!

Yet, the #metoo movement had to happen! Had to. With a wife and two daughters I feel deeply for the rights and safety of girls and women. Men can be cruel and even violent. Rare is the man suffering catcalls walking past a group of women. Women are not as lucky.

As important as the #metoo movement is, there are real problems with the revelations. So many women—if statistics are correct a majority of females (women and girls) suffer from harassment, assault and rape—are victimized that when they all come out with their story it is overwhelming. It begins to feel normal. And that is really bad.

So many women (and girls) have been abused that it is easy to start thinking every female is a victim and every male a scumbag. Nothing is further from the truth.

There are degrees of inappropriate behavior. (You can shoot me later for my opinion.) Rape and abuse of children is always the ultimate bad when discussing these issues. Touching is equally bad, but rape still is worse.

The real problem is communication. If men are honest they all have to admit saying or doing something inappropriate at one time or another. It could be as simple as an insensitive comment about appearance. As innocent as it was meant it still can cause harm because men have no idea how raw the nerves on women are after a lifetime of unrelenting male behavior.

Men who agree with the #metoo movement find themselves in a corner. What can they say without causing harm? What is an innocent inquiry could be construed in a harmful way.




The Hateful

As important as the #metoo movement is we must be careful. When a mere accusation becomes a conviction of guilt in the public arena we risk destroying the movement which offers so much hope for women in the future. Accusations are front page news and for good reason. People we thought highly of did some pretty shitty things!

But not every accusation should be treated equally. I saw an article in The Economist several months back where they listed all the famous people accused of inappropriate behavior. One man was listed with his photo. The inappropriate behavior? He made her feel “creepy”.

It gets uglier. Lawrence Krauss is an American cosmologist I highly admire. He talks English when explaining the complex issues surrounding theoretical physics and cosmology, two subjects I am very interested in and spend serious time studying.

In February of this year Krauss was suspended with pay from his position at Arizona State University due to a BuzzFeed article accusing him of inappropriate behavior and comments. He also resigned from positions in charitable organizations to prevent his attendance becoming a distraction.

Here is the funny thing. Nobody has accused Krauss of anything. Nobody! A news article (it’s on the internet so it must be true) was published with the intent to harm. That’s it. I’m not privy to all the facts, but what I do know concerns me. Nobody has complained over anything Krauss has said or done even when it was made public people were to come forward with anything they had.

That is really messed up and doesn’t do any good for society or the #metoo movement.

Risk/Reward

There is absolutely no doubt women and girls are abused and experience unwanted vulgar comments on a regular basis. The sheer volume is no longer an unspoken concern, but a raging crisis!

Every woman must be allowed to tell her story. We must also take appropriate action. If the accusations make it likely more women will be harmed immediate action must be taken as a precautionary. If imminent risk is not present we need to wait before passing judgment.  The incidence of false claims is low, but still present. We can’t allow a movement with so much to offer to suffer due to a few questionable claims. The risk is too great.




Lost Intimacy

Men are getting gun-shy. The newsfeeds are so filled with women victimized by men that men are feeling they are all guilty. On some level most men have said hurtful things. But an inappropriate comment shouldn’t stigmatize a man for life!

And men are not alone in saying things they shouldn’t. My office is all women so I hear what the ladies say and sometimes even I get uncomfortable. (I don’t avoid hiring men; they just don’t apply for the job.) I try to tone it down when they get boisterous with variable success.

The females in my office are a good bunch, but if men acted that way around women the boom would be lowered and the #metoo movement invoked. I might be the boss, but shouldn’t feel uncomfortable around female employees. Or should I?

When women talk about women stuff guys look nervously for the exits. Uncomfortable doesn’t mean wrong! Yes, my staff talks girl-talk because they are all female. I turn and walk the other way whenever I can. Just because it is uncomfortable for a male, me, to hear something doesn’t mean they are saying bad things. (Except when they think it would be funny to dress the boss in drag. Not funny.)

Love should be warm and soft, not cold and barren.

Men and women are not that much different. We say and do things from our perspective, our worldview. Inappropriate touch is always wrong. Words can be wrong while not crossing a line. Anything insinuating unwanted sexual contact is always taboo and deserves a strong reaction.

The #metoo movement is causing some unwanted results. As men feel more and more isolated they are pulling back from intimacy. What Sue and I enjoyed 30 years ago is less likely to happen today. Why would I, or any man, pursue a love interest the way I did? That’s inappropriate behavior! And over 30 years of wedded bliss and two wonderful girls would never have existed.

The #metoo movement needs to find a middle ground where men and women can coexist.

The world is different today. The internet makes it easy for men to satisfy their, ah, needs without a human being present. Sorry for being so blunt, but it has to be said.

Women want intimacy and complain men no longer provide it. A simple hug is a social crime so men avoid all contact.

Let me be clear on what I am and am not saying. I’m not talking about sex. You can have sex without intimacy. That is what prostitution and strip clubs provide. Sex can include intimacy, but intimacy doesn’t require sex.

Intimacy is the emotional and personal connection between two people. Co-workers can have it; so can lovers. In each case it is a different level of intimacy. Soldiers on the battlefield must have a non-sexual intimacy sometimes referred to as trust. As you can see, intimacy has many flavors.

The intimacy I’m concerned with today involves the interpersonal relationships between men and women. Most women hunger for intimacy. Honest men admit the same. If I had to give up my snuggle-time with Sue my life would be greatly diminished. And for the record, snuggling is not for the young only. After 30 years of marriage I enjoy a warm snuggle more than ever. Pinky (my cat) only wants to snuggle on her terms. Sue is open to compromise to my delight.




What Does This Have to do with Personal Finance?

A frequent refrain in the personal finance arena involves happiness. Bloggers love to talk about the “why” of early retirement and financial independence (FI). FI can bring us happiness, we are told.

I think they are all wrong! Your goal isn’t happiness; it’s joy. You just don’t understand the difference between the words and it does make a difference.

Happiness is generally triggered by an external event while joy comes from within. Winning the lottery brings a lot of happiness upfront. That is why a leading book on Stoicism is called The Joy of Stoicism and not The Happiness of Stoicism. (Yes, I know I butchered the title. I did it to fit my storyline.)

We want happiness, but crave joy. When I felt lonely I was still happy, but longing for joy. Sue brought me happiness and I allowed it to bring me joy. No matter what happens, what is in here (pointing to head and heart) is what will bring me joy and Sue will always be in here.

What value is financial independence or early retirement if you don’t have joy? If happiness is what you want pretty much anything will do. But joy. That is a whole different animal.

I am well aware how long this post got. I’m still not sure I got everything out I wanted to say.  The #metoo movement is so important and still at such risk of burning out before desperate changes are made in our society.

While changes are necessary to allow women to live without threat of assault or abuse, a common ground must be found where a man can pursue his love interest in an appropriate manner and not be branded. Chivalry should never be dead.

Most women enjoy being courted. It feels good to be wanted by someone you find appealing. Men must learn boundaries. It is easy (with a look or a word) to get permission to hug. This isn’t a hard game to learn: you don’t touch an intoxicated woman sexually; you never touch without permission even if you’re married (there are still boundaries in marriage; that is why mine is still strong after 30 years); offer intimacy before offering sex. Intimacy is more fun than sex! Sex is better with intimacy!

Or you can succumb to the alternative—prostitutes and strip clubs—a world devoid of intimacy. And a world I don’t want to live in.



The Bittersweet Joy of Raising Children

Alone.

My youngest daughter turned 18 on Wednesday and while Mrs. Accountant and I are not yet officially empty nesters the handwriting is on the wall. High school needs to be finished and an adjustment into adulthood is in order before she leaves. The timing is the only thing undecided.

My oldest daughter (I have two girls) stuck around home milking mom and dad for all it was worth. At first the prodding was gentle. As the years passed the cattle prod was more insistent. It’s wasn’t about her behavior either.

Both my girls are well behaved and quiet. Neither took to drinking, drugs or promiscuous behavior. Brooke, the youngest, enjoys playing on the computer and working outside. Heather buries her nose in a book or online research. In many ways it was like they weren’t here.

Quiet and well-behaved doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy quality time with the girls. We spent many hours outside throwing Frisbee. “Puss arm!” and “Butter fingers!” were shouted often as we laughed away an afternoon. Walks to the creek or around the farm are all fond memories. Fire pits, cook outs, and farm animals filled the formative years of my girls. I hope it was enough.




Where Did the Time Go?

Intellectually I knew my children were growing up and working toward a life of their own. Somehow it never sunk in that it wouldn’t last forever. Still, I managed to sprinkle each day with my wisdom and sorted humor. It’s amazing my kids survived at all with a dad like me.

It was impossible to know if my lessons were sinking in. Advice on interpersonal relationships was hardest because your choice in life mate determines a serious percent of your wellbeing and happiness. A good marriage or dedicated relationship (or whatever they call it these days) is one of the most important decisions you will make in life. Money is important, but I can be very happy and poor with the right woman next to me. I was extremely lucky in meeting Mrs. Accountant. Very lucky indeed! She stood firm through the roughest of storms. We weathered a lot and grew stronger over the years.

Here I am with Mrs. Accountant, my girls and nieces at the Jingle Bell Run.

Money was also a common discussion. I kept repeating my mantras hoping something would stick. Instead of demanding my girls live frugally I repeated things like, “You don’t save money by spending it.” Of course I had to qualify the statement as they got older. Spending money on your health is usually a good investment. Changing the oil in your car is spending money, but it does, in a way, end up saving you a lot more.

The two areas you are told never to talk about in public—politics and religion—were common discussions in the Accountant household. We’ll skip the religious conversation for brevity and to allow time for a short detour through politics.

Remember, the original, and still primary, goal of this blog is to leave my children a legacy of my knowledge and experiences. You are here to observe and comment if you want (and do it respectfully). My political ideology is definitely centrist with mild detours to the left and right.

Ronald Reagan was president when I reached the age of majority. I liked Reagan and voted for him when he ran for a second term. It was my first presidential election. Age and experience have tempered my appeal for Reagan, but I still like the guy. The first Bush got my vote, but his performance and communications skills left me wanting.

I voted for Clinton twice. The Monica Lewinski thing didn’t bother me. I knew it was dirty politics only. Considering what we see today neither party is much concerned with ethical behavior when it comes to women. It’s a talking point until they get caught in their hypocrisy.

What I liked about Clinton was his understanding of economics and government finance. The Republicans cried about the deficit once a Democrat was in office. President Clinton knew exactly how to balance the budget and he did it! Clinton knew he could keep a strong economy with growing government spending and balance the budget if he kept spending increases to 1% below the inflation rate. A deficit at 4% of GDP was resolve in about four years on its own. I thought it was genius and few ever talked about it. I guess you have to be an accountant to understand.

Bush II never thrilled me and I voted for Gore and Kerry. My opinion of George W. Bush has improved over the years. I never disliked the man, but I felt he was ineffective and too much a puppet of the establishment right. I’d still sit and have a beer with the guy. I think he is an honorable man forced onto a very big world stage.

I liked President Obama. He was cool under every kind of pressure. I voted for Obama the first time around and would have voted for McCain f he’d have picked anyone else for a VP. John McCain would have been a good president. His just right of center ideology sat well with me. He also played fair with both sided of the isle. Something I admire as professionalism.

Trump is dangerous in my opinion and I’ve shared my thoughts personally with my girls ad nauseam on the subject. Leadership by tweet is not leadership in my world.




Back to “Where’d the Time Go”

Politics is an important discussion point to have with your children. Your children will pick up your position on the political spectrum and that isn’t a bad thing. They’ll stray when they’re ready, also a good thing.

Politics is important and an important part of this discussion because politic affects many money issues. Tax laws can help or hinder you on your way to financial independence. Retirement plans offer tax advantages. The level of advantage is an inducement toward solvency.

Enjoying an ice cream at Frogg’s in Sherwood, Wisconsin.

My disdain for Trump doesn’t cloud my judgment because no matter how much I like or dislike a political leader I know some ideas they have will sit well with me and others less so. For example, I agree we needed tax reform. I’m not as excited the final result will allow for a long-term lower adjustment in rates, but since my crystal ball is cloudy on all future events I withhold judgment. Trump’s willingness (and last I heard a soon to be real event) to have a face-to-face discussion with Kim Jong-un is something I highly approve of. I also think Trump is more qualified on this one issue (face-to-face with Kim) than any president to ever deal with North Korea. I’ll withhold judgment, of course, but am guardedly optimistic. (As I read this aloud to Mrs. Accountant and Brooke I was informed the meeting will not take place. I hope Trump reconsiders. This is his strong suit.)

And then we realize the years have got behind us and the kiddos are finally adults.

After a slow start getting off dad’s couch, Heather has shown real maturity as she gains new friends in college. She is heading to China this summer with future plans of living permanently abroad. I wanted her to get off my couch, but I didn’t think she would travel so far away.

Heather works most Friday’s in my office. She is starting to miss more and more as she continues to spread her wings. She was coming home every weekend. Now she misses some weekends. Soon she’ll be gone for a month or longer and then. . .

Yeah, I miss my sweetie. A good parent teaches and then allows, even insists, their kids build a life of their own. Mom and dad are always there as a sounding board. However, flying is a solo sport. I gave them the tools. It is up to them now. I’d be a liar if I said my heart doesn’t flutter as I watch.




The New Kid in Town

For the Accountant household there are no new kids in town. The kids are all gone. Brooke is an adult now as she reaches for high school graduation and big plans of her own. She has no plans of moving out at this time. But before long the call will be heard and eventually answered. It is the way life is meant to be.

The house feels emptier without Heather around most of the time. She stays up really late (midnight or later) while Brooke and mom go to bed early (around 8). My bedtime is in between. I love the quiet time and house to myself for reading and writing. Yet, there is an emptiness causing me unease. I doubt it will ever go away.

No Regrets

I don’t regret the path I’ve chosen. Mrs. Accountant was better at staying at home than I ever was. Sue raised our girls with incredible patience. She has been a guiding angel for our children and her wayward husband. I can only imagine what she feels as the house grows quieter.

Whenever the girls had an event I was there. Except for 14 months I was self-employed my entire life. The drive which pushes me incessantly also knows when to back off. When it comes to family nothing is more important. I’d rather be poor in cash and rich in family than the other way around. Money is something nice to play with and fill time, but family is the real meaning of love and happiness. Family is what makes life worth living.

Tax season keeps me in the office long hours. Early in my career the office was our remodeled basement. Since 1995 I’ve enjoyed a storefront to escape to when practicing my passion. For nine months a year I am home a lot. Tax season is a nice reprieve for the family from a crazy dad. Then it’s time for the prodigal dad to return home.




Alone, Naturally

The day is fast approaching when Mrs. Accountant and I can sit alone together and enjoy uninterrupted time. It’s a skill we haven’t had much time to practice. There is a sadness in the approaching moment.

No goodbyes, just good memories.

I’ve always idolized older people who have the time to satiate the lust for learning. The ability to while away a day immersed in books appeals to me. I do also understand it is better to want than to have. It may prove difficult to concentrate when my thoughts keep straying to the years when my girls roamed the house.

I hope I don’t second-guess myself. That would lead to misery! I made the choices I made because I thought they were right at the time. There is no value in torturing myself with paths I didn’t take.

The lessons have been taught. All that remains is gentle support and guidance. It is a bittersweet joy raising children. Never once did I dream I would feel like this. Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I thought about the instant my last child would leave our home to live her own life. I never prepared because I was unaware of what should have been obvious.

Still, I have no regrets. I brought two fine young ladies to adulthood. For all my flaws they turned out darn good. There is no doubt Mrs. Accountant had a lot to do with it.

Even Pinky, our cat, sits in the front window more now. She stares to the distant horizon and chirps with thoughts I can’t even begin to imagine. Pinky probably feels it’s time for her to roam free too. She might also want to consider the difference between wanting and having.

Soon the house will be empty. Then I can start dating that young lady again I met oh so many years ago. No kids. We can dream again of our future.

Forever.

 



The Lost Art of Small Talk or Dealing with Fair Weather Friends

How many friends do you have? Thirty? More? Ten or less? It’s an interesting question because it determines a great deal of our happiness.

Loneliness is feared as much as the night. Losing a spouse or loved one cuts deep as we know how much we’ll miss the dearly departed.

Age can bring on acute loneliness. I wrote a Christmas post a few years back about a client who died shortly after I visited her Christmas Eve. Her name was Sophie. She died many years ago. I visited her because I understood how alone she was. Sophie was a client for many years and she spent the last years of her life in unrelenting isolation. Every time I think of her it brings tears to my eyes. I can still feel her weak hand squeeze mine all those years ago.

“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever know . . .” is a familiar ballad that resonates because we all know how easy we could find ourselves alone. Deep down we all fear the emptiness.

The worst punishment in prison is solitary confinement. Cutting a human being from the stimulation of other humans is considered punishment. It’s really torture and any human forcing another into isolation deserves the death penalty. Isolation destroys the mind; destroys the human and any intelligent person undertaking such activity is the lowest form of life.




Personal Finance and Friends

It might seem strange for a personal finance blog to cover isolation as a topic. However, there are several correlatives between avoidance of isolation, the types of friends you have and wealth.

Some people like a certain kind of isolation. Personally, I like quiet time walking my farm and working with my animals. This is radically different from the kind of isolation Sophie lived through.

Isolation in a confined space is maddening. Sophie couldn’t get around those last years of her life and needed people to visit her. To the best of my knowledge she only had one friend who visited on a regular basis.

People are so desperate to avoid being alone they start to consider acquaintances as friends.

I have a lot of acquaintances, but very few real friends. I bet you’re the same.

Business owners tend to have a larger list of acquaintances. I meet people from all walks of life and learn very intimate and personal things about them. It’s my job! I have to know my client to advise wisely and prepare an accurate return. Even digging into a client’s life doesn’t guarantee I will not miss something. As I write, a client of many years emailed to ask why he didn’t get certain credits. He never answered the questions in the organizer so it was missed until he said something that triggered me to ask the question verbally. Good thing the returns are still able to be amended.

In my life I also have employees. They are acquaintances, not friends! Employers who are friends with employees are asking for trouble!

Then we have this blog. I meet loads of people due to this abstract. Some people I meet at conferences and many more via email, phone or the comments section.

You are probably different. Your acquaintances might be a group of people you socialize with at the bar. You might consider these people friends, but they are almost certainly only acquaintances.

Who constitutes a real friend then? Mrs. Accountant is top of the list for me. Deep down she is my only true friends. My daughters and extended family are friends in a way, but family is family. I get along well with my blood relatives. We don’t chum around, but make no mistake, we will defend our own vigorously. At best I maybe have two real friends outside my bride.

Life is like that. Our true friends are limited while our circle of acquaintances is vast. This is an important understanding to have if you value living a debt-free lifestyle with ample helpings of wealth.




The Lost Art of Small Talk

Valuable time is wasted on small talk. A typical greeting goes something like this:

“Hey, how’s it going?”

“Great. Haven’t been better. You?”

“Happier than a whore on her day off!”

We say it with incredible choreography. We say these things so often we don’t even know we are saying it. We even think we’re a comedian with our witty repertoire.

But nobody is listening.

If you answered a “How’ya doin’” with a “Worst day of my life” you’d probably here the same rehearsed reply of “Good to hear it.”

Small talk is wasted breath! Small talk is something acquaintances engage in. Friends are much deeper.

A simple greeting can waste irreplaceable minutes of your finite life. Added together over a lifetime and you might be surprised to know the average person wastes 4 years and three months uttering and replying to meaningless greetings (I made up that statistic).

Unchecked, you can waste massive parts of each day in empty banter with people you are only acquainted with.

There is a way to tell if you are dealing with a real friend or a fair weather friend. Think for a moment what would happen if you left the group. Would these people stay in touch at a significant level or would it dwindle in a hurry?

My experience tells me most people will evaporate like the morning mist. Staying in touch via social media doesn’t count either! When I meet people at conferences we sometimes end up connected on social media platforms. But once time passes the “likes” decrease and the interaction stops. Sure, you can keep an eye on what your acquaintance is up to, but that’s nothing more than satisfying your curiosity about how things have evolved for a prior acquaintance.




 Dealing with Fair Weather Friends

Fair weather friends can suck the life out of you. As long as you’re buying they are willing to lift a glass with a cheer.

In a manner of speaking clients are the ultimate fair weather friends. They are good people, don’t get me wrong. I love the people I serve. I also have no illusion we are not close buds.

Clients are similar to an employer/employee relationship. As long as you do good work and they keep paying for said work the relationship is golden. Do crappy work for a week and see how long the friendship lasts? Don’t get paid and see how long you feel friendly?

Fair weather friends are not bad people! Few people have what it takes to be a true friend. Most people wander through life focusing on the minutia and looking for drama. People who gossip are a perfect example of who will not make a real friend for anyone. They’ll cut you lose in heartbeat for their own petty dramas. And don’t worry. There is always something to feel righteous indignation about.

Before we deal with fair weather friends further we should discuss the interpersonal relationships between real friends.

It can be hard to look in from the outside and tell if the friendship is real or a friendship of convenience. Greetings between real friends happen all the time. Every night when I return home I inquire into Mrs. Accountant’s day. She asks about my day. Some days are only mildly informative. Some days we sit and talk for hours.

You can share a beer with a true friend as easily as with an acquaintance. You probably mix acquaintances and true friends at the same time.

True friends stick around when the going gets tough even if you are in the wrong. Real friends hold each other accountable but never dismiss the relationship over a disagreement.

Real friends have deep and meaningful talks. Talk is 99% superficial with acquaintances.

For people who enjoy traveling, tell me your stories. How deep are the relationships when you’re passing through? Your spouse or significant other is the only real friend you have in the room.

Even when people meet with common interests the friendships are superficial. How many people have you met at personal finance conferences? How many do you stay in touch with? How many are a deep and meaningful relationship? I understand.




Meaningful Relationships

Jim Rohn said you are like the five people you spend the most time with. I think this excludes to a minor extent people you work with and might include people you read and follow.

Deep, intimate relationships are built on more than casual nights to the movies or tavern. Real relationships have emotional attachments. If the relationship were to end you would feel pain.

Conversations in deep relationships are far more personal. Two guys (they don’t have to be gay and if they are, they are) can have a deep relationship built on trust, sharing and understanding. Think of the depth between soldiers in the foxhole. It gets real mighty fast or everyone is dead. There is no doubt when I see retired military guys meeting several decades later on a regular schedule to catch up they are real friends, even if the friendship was created by circumstances. When trust is that great it can’t die!

Research has shown if a skinny person has all obese friends the skinny person will put on weight instead of the obese group trimming down.

Heading to the shopping mall with crazy people friends who like to spend and you are more likely to overspend as well. I’ve even noticed this in the frugal FIRE (financial independence, retire early) community. The same people keep attending every conference as fast as they are organized. At some point you have to say enough.

Meeting with people of like mind is a wonderful thing to do in moderation. Time spent with people sharing similar thought patterns can be invigorating and FUN! But it is superficial! Most of these people are acquaintances only. You can learn a lot from them and teach a bit, too. But friends are what matter in life.

Everything in moderation. It’s not healthy for your favorite accountant to whine about traveling because I prefer to cocoon. Stowing away on my ten acres isn’t healthy either! I still need to get out. It’s a work in progess.

My preferred method of communication is writing. In the office plenty of verbal communication takes place too. But can you imagine if I only wrote letters to Mrs. Accountant and never verbally told her the depth of my love? Letters are special because most people don’t take the time to write them. I, on the other hand, need to assure I nurture the relationships that matter in my life with verbal confirmation. (I actually framed love poetry I wrote to Mrs. Accountant twenty years ago. It was my best attempt at a sonnet. She stayed so it must have worked.)




Fear

The things you read and study, the people you hang with, family and true friends play an outsized role in your success in life. Reading powerful leaders is important. Also read the classics.

The time you spend with people will influence your thinking more than you anticipate. Take the challenge. If you are deep in debt start reading debt-free blogs and books. Ask to hang out with people who save and invest a lot. Before long you’ll brown bag lunch because in your worldview people no longer have huge debts or spend like drunken sailors.

The opposite applies, too. Have too many people around you, even mere acquaintances, who are spendthrifts and within no time you’ll have some serious credit card debt to contend with. At least you’ll have an 8-mile to the gallon Hummer as a wasting asset in your driveway.

Don’t settle for friends or acquaintances who don’t share your values to avoid loneliness. Work hard to be a real friend and you will find true friends of your own.

Choose your friends wisely. The kind of life you live will depend on it.