Think of the most beautiful sound you ever heard. I bet it was the sound of a child singing at Christmas time (or holiday of your religion).

The video above of children singing Christmas Canon for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a moving sound. It echoes into the heart and soul as their voices lift. Multiple sounds come from every direction to create a pleasant feeling inside.

Then it’s over. The song is done, the singing at an end.

And so it goes.

The beautiful and the vile all come to an end. But it’s the beauty that sticks to the soul and lingers; a song you can’t get out of your head.

We believe there is always another day to hear the sound again. We know when the sound is broadcast it also races into the depths of space at the speed of light. However unlikely, there is a chance a faraway species might someday pick up the broadcast and hear the beautiful sound for the first time.

We believe. But there are no guarantees. On day the sound will end forever.

One day the last child will gently murmur a joyous noise before it stops without hope beginning again. As with all things, it will end.

The end of such an incredible voice is impossible to understand by mere mortals. How can the children stop singing?

But it will happen; we all know it!

Maybe we destroy ourselves in a fit of rage, misunderstanding or ignorance. Maybe nature brings the Anthropocene to an end in a terrorist haste as it did the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Maybe we avoid those fates to await the aging of our sun as it expands, boiling the surface of Earth sterile.

Regardless our fate, the sound of beauty will end. We can take solace knowing electromagnetic waves carry the voices of our children deep into the ether. That is until the universe expands so much that the message is diffused so thin no technology can ever recover what once was.

And maybe there is nobody to listen. Or nobody able to hear.

Someday the music will end as all things do. A beauty so great it moved a people, will cease to exist.

The day may come tomorrow, in a hundred years or eons in the future.

But not today. Today we hear a sound. A sound of Christmas. A sound of beauty. A sound of children singing.

It’s the most beautiful sound ever heard anywhere in the vast universe and we are fortunate to live in a time and place where it is possible to experience the joy.

We must listen to the incredible sound; we must recognize out great fortune for someday it will be part of history as it evaporates into the emptiness of space.

But not now. Not today. Today we can hear the sound.

We are the few, the blessed. Never forget how fortune has smiled on you.

Merry Christmas, kind readers.

My oldest daughter did some art at the office on a large dry-erase board. I added my flair which is the drawing on the right. My daughter named our cat Marimar so I started to walk around the house saying, “Marry me, Marrimar!” What can I say? I’m a crazy accountant. She is very pink so I started calling her Pinky and the name stuck. So Pinky she is.

Once I reached the age of majority I discovered something I learned to really hate. Money was tight in those days. I didn’t have a reservoir to draw from for basic expenses. Buying my first home required the purchase of my first furniture. There were always extra expenses to waste money on.

It also seemed like society was intentionally trying to keep me poor like the farmer I grew up as. Farming was part of my history shortly after my 18th birthday, but income was thin and I refused to dip into reserves.

Then came holidays, birthdays and other events. It seemed like every time I turned around there was another event I was supposed to spend money on. Every month had at least one birthday or holiday where the media pressed hard on the weak minded to squander money they didn’t have on stuff people would soon neglect.

A financial crisis was a wedding or milestone anniversary. The budget was stretched to the breaking point when a wedding arrived requiring yet another monetary outlay.

Christmas was the worst! Here was a time of the year to celebrate love and hope and instead every free moment was squandered thinking about what gift to buy whom and then running around purchasing said gift. There was no time to reflect on love, hope or family. We were too busy assuring the profits margins of retailers.

The hardest part for me was age. The starry-eyed feel of the holidays made way for the reality of exploitation by large corporations brainwashing the masses into believing Christmas was really about spending money. They never advertised the greatest gift you can give is you. No money in that. To suggest something so insane was un-American. (So my non-American readers don’t feel left out, just replace your country’s name in the last sentence where you see American. It’s not an exclusively American sickness. It exists where you live, too.)

The bright lights and decorations of the autumn and winter holidays (spring and summer for my Southern Hemisphere readers) were overwhelming as a child. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day always had a special feel to them. And marketers wasted no time raping the consumer of their money.

Buy Nothing Day

Buy Nothing Day is traditionally held on the day after Thanksgiving in the States: Friday, November 24th this year. It is recognized as the busiest shopping day of the year. It amazes me we can spend a day giving thanks and the next pushing our neighbor to the floor screaming, “Get the f*ck out of the way! It’s mine!” Love and thanks evaporate into mindless demand for self in less than 24 hours. The good news is retailers open early now on Thanksgiving Day to get an early start on the selfishness.

Our family Christmas tree outside the holiday season.

And it all costs money! An electronic gizmo marked down 20% will cause normally sane people to spend what they don’t have. Thank God banks invented credit cards so you can deal with the fallout later. Of course, the marked down gizmo will be passé in a year or less, selling for nickels on the dollar in the remainder bin.

Last year I wrote about Buy Nothing Day on the actual day. This year I want to get a jump on the more important holiday of spending nothing before people are out the door and trampling old women and children early Friday after the day of thanks.

Now I know you are better than what I’m describing. All readers of this blog are. I attract the best readers in the blogosphere! Instead of trampling wild women with credit cards in outstretched hands, you casually shop Amazon or some other online source. If Friday doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can rob your employer by shopping at work the next Monday. (If business is going to benefit from crazy spending they encouraged, you should have the right to screw them back. Right? All in the holiday spirit, of course.)

And if you are serious about financial independence you either have stepped off this madness long ago or need to right now.

The Reasonable Way to Gift Give

I get it. Some of you think I’m acting like the Grinch who stole Christmas. All I have to say to you is, “Bah! Humbug!”

I didn’t steal Christmas, I promise. What I did do is develop some responsible gift giving policies in my household. Shortly you will see how my children demanded they give Mrs. Accountant and me a Christmas gift. Giving is very important.

I have nothing against gift giving. I don’t have anything against buying stuff for yourself, either. As long as your spending is responsible for your personal financial situation I am okay with it. My concern is overspending and over gift giving until the meaning of the holiday is lost. Holidays, birthday and other important life events are times to reflect, not digress into spending madness. Keep the occasion special is all I’m saying.

In my household gifts aren’t exchanged or given for any birthday or holiday, except Christmas (with exceptions). Weddings and anniversaries are one-time events (or should be) so a monetary gift is usually given.

We buy a small amount of candy for Easter (a very small amount). We decorate the home (and yard sometimes) for major holidays. We don’t go crazy on decorations either.

Kids are different than adults. We bought our girls Christmas and birthday gifts when they were younger. They received their gift on Christmas. We don’t do that now that the girls are older.

When our girls need something during the year we may buy it for them and indicate it is for their birthday and/or Christmas. This year my oldest daughter had her college tuition paid and my youngest has a cell phone courtesy of mom and dad. No large boxes of regretful spending will grace the space below out Christmas tree.

We decorate a fern we affectionately call Fronds for Christmas. Our Christmas tree costs nothing and stays green all season long.

My girls were aghast when Mrs. Accountant and I pleaded they don’t buy us gifts this year. Their response, “You mean we can’t make you something?” Oh, my God, girls. No! Of course you can make us something. The cost of making us a gift is really small compared to a retail purchase. And more important, giving mom and dad a piece of you is more important than any gift available in stores. Yes, you can make us something. My girls are artistic and I value every piece they give us. A gift filled with thought is the only gift that counts.

Mom and dad also have a different form of gift giving. I can gift my girls money. ($14,000 this year; $15,000 next.) If they have earned income and spend every penny, I can still gift them money to fill a Roth IRA up to their earned income limit. Also, remember, tuition paid for children doesn’t count toward the gift limit.

I think a gift that keeps giving a steady and increasing stream of dividends is better than the latest over-priced gizmo.

My parents are the only holdout. Holiday gift giving has decreased to zero. Mrs. Accountant and I stopped exchanging gifts decades ago. The gift giving thing died almost before it began between us. Our relationship is built on something more solid than trinkets.

My parents still give my brother and me gifts at Christmas. It is an awkward moment as we want for nothing. We have all we want and hunger only for intimate family time during the holidays. We have the family time, but my parents still believe in the traditional Christmas where gifts are given. I apologize to my non-Christian friends, but God gave his Son out of love. That is the real meaning of Christmas. That is the only gift that counts. The gift of hope.

Gifts will still exchange at my parent’s home Christmas Eve. This year we have an electronic gizmo I’ll use as this year’s gift. I don’t know what else to give. I received the gizmo as a gift and will re-gift. (I have no problem with re-gifting.) I’ll never use the gizmo. Contrary to popular wisdom, I’m not much into technology. I’m always a little late, if ever, adopting new products. The gift value is around $50. I see no reason to spend more on gifts for people who have everything they could want. My real gift this year? The ladies in my house will accompany me for some quality time with family sharing stories and a warm cider.

Final Advice

Please don’t read this and try to follow my advice to the letter. It takes time to get people to adjust to less gift-giving. Maybe you enjoy giving gifts and have plenty of money to do so. Then gift give!

What I will ask of you is this. Keep it simple and personal. A gift should be a part of you. You can create your gifts. They mean more. If you lack talent (as I do) you can buy a gift or re-gift. But it should have meaning. Fewer gifts with thought are worth more than a room piled to the ceiling with gifts given out of obligation.

The best gift of all. Mrs. Accountant and I share time together often. It costs nothing, but lasts a lifetime.

My gift to you is this blog. My words come from the heart. I pray every day you find value and meaning in my work. Your satisfaction is the greatest gift I can receive from you.

You can give me another gift. Leave your words in the comments section below. I know it’s become so passé to say that in YouTube videos and blogs. I don’t ask often, but this one time, humor me, even if it is only to say “Merry Christmas”, Happy Hanukah”, Happy Holidays” or “May peace be with you, my friend.”

If you still want to buy loved ones a physical gift, go ahead. It’s not wrong as long as you are not trying to buy love.

If crowded stores of crazed people pushing each other to save a few bucks doesn’t appeal to you, you can shop online. If you buy from Amazon you can use the link here. It doesn’t cost you a penny more and it supports my work. (Humor me.  This blog is a business and a profit does thrill me. All I ask for is responsible spending. I don’t need the money and this blog will survive regardless.)

I’ve neglected to tell you what I get Mrs. Accountant for Christmas. I’m sorry, but that’s none of your business. But like I said, the best gift is to give a part of yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to every one of you, kind readers. May you find the perfect gift.

Camp Accountant: The Happiest Place on Earth.

Over the last few weeks and months I’ve added secret messages in plain view on this blog. The easiest cipher (I thought) was on the Where Am I page. Over the last few months nobody said a word. When I finally added the easier cipher on the Where Am I page only one person contacted me shrieking, “Is it true? Is it true?” I’ll let you hunt for other clues. Hint: They are buried within posts.

To answer the question, “Is it true?” the answer is a firm “Maybe.”

For a year or longer I’ve been asked if a Camp Accountant was in the works. I generally shrugged my shoulders because I didn’t think enough people would be interested and I wasn’t sure I needed more commitments in my life.

As time went by it became more obvious people were hungry for material I offered. The guy on the street wanted more personalized service and my days can only service so many people before I exhaust. Tax and accounting professionals visit often looking for my latest method to game the tax system. (Yes, I am working on more posts leveraging the Tax Code. Those posts take more time and I can only publish so many if I want to maintain quality.)

A podcast I was on earlier this year led one of the podcasters to call later with an idea. His thought was to create a whole program for accountants to massively promote my work and experience. His idea was one I already had. The biggest problem was time.

But if there is a Camp Accountant it would be easy for me to give presentations he could record for a full-fledged program worthy of the time invested.

Problems with All the Camps

Four or five years ago a Camp Mustache was started in Seattle in honor of Mr. Money Mustache. It was a phenomenal success!

Success breeds copycats and Camp Mustache was no different. Last year a Camp Mustache was started in Gainesville, Florida and this year they seem to be sprouting like weeds.

Time to stop hiding and get wealthy!

Success also breeds jealousy. Earlier this year we needed a pow wow at Camp Mustache in Seattle to discuss how those terrible people in Florida might turn a profit from their camp. Egads!

If there is one thing I abhor it’s drama and this was pure drama. It was a waste of time whining about somebody else’s behavior which affected nobody adversely. It was thinly disguised jealousy. In my office I would fire an employee for such a wanton waste of time.

The same person who started the drama in Seattle pulled the same stunt at FinCon, paying me a late night visit with reinforcements to put me in my place as I stood to win a high honor for this blog. Nothing breeds jealousy better than success.

I was uninvited to the newly named Camp FI in Gainesville this January. Some people will be upset as several emailed over the last months saying they saved hard to afford Camp FI to meet with me and review their tax and financial issues. I was thanked when I supported Camp FI after the drama unfolded in Seattle and the Camp needed to rename to satisfy demands. Once the new drama unfolded I was out.

To be honest I was deeply hurt by the attack from the small number of people I respected. My initial response will not be my final response. Stress and lack of sleep make for poor decision making. Regardless, the deed is done and you, kind readers, are the winners.

It Starts with a Plan

I will endorse any Camp Accountant (as long as there is no drama) which holds true to my philosophy. There is room for plenty of other opinions. If somebody likes spending like a Wildman or prefers actively managed mutual funds over index funds; no worries. If someone doesn’t like a certain tax strategy; I’m okay with that. Preach or encourage bank fraud or tax evasion and we will not need a pow wow as I’ll lay down the law. This friendly accountant is very easy going, but do not confuse that with not having a backbone. I’ve survived a lot of challenges in a difficult industry. I survived for a reason.

What we need now is someone, or someones, to organize and facilitate the program. I will share my vision of what the first and branch Camp Accountant’s should look like. These are only suggestions. I don’t have a corner on good ideas so you must be willing to put something of “you” into the program. Each Camp should have its own flavor so people who attend more than one always get their money’s worth.

Many of the other Camps are on the U.S. coasts. There is heavy demand, gauging by me inbox, for gatherings in the center of the nation. I’ve been begged to do something in Wisconsin or northern Illinois. Many people are familiar with my hatred of travel. A Camp Accountant in Wisconsin is tolerable even for an old guy from the backwoods of nowhere to travel to.

Though not a demand, I have several suggestions on itinerary and venue.

Several years ago (2014) I attended a Novel in Progress BookCamp in West Bend, Wisconsin. There is an outside chance you may know this guy. Don’t worry about Renee, our transgender student, sitting next to me. I behaved myself. She is now a published author.

Dave Rank runs the BookCamp. It was his brainchild when he was president of the Wisconsin Writer’s Association. I was treasurer at the same time. I haven’t seen Dave in a while; it would sure be nice catching up. I left WWA several years ago with plans of moving to Colorado. Dave left his position as president of WWA a few years later. WWA didn’t want to be involved with the BookCamp so Dave set it us as a separate non-profit. (BTW, Dave can spin a helluva yarn.)

I attended as a student the first year the BookCamp opened. The second year I taught one day before racing to Seattle for Camp Mustache. (I do run a bit hot at times and it’s hard on this old man’s body.)

My recommendation for someone willing to facilitate a Camp Accountant is to plan the Camp either the week before or after the BookCamp. The Cedar Valley Retreat Center is a beautiful venue. The grounds are gorgeous and the meeting center and rooms are equivalent to the Camp Mustache facilities in Seattle.

Time to come out and see the light at Camp Accountant.

An annual Camp Accountant in West Bend would be awesome. Other camps around the Midwest would also be nice. I am willing to attend one and only one Camp Accountant in Alaska and/or Hawaii. As much as I will love the setting it is a long trip and once I do it once; I’m done.

Other appropriate venues would include Ohio, Colorado, Texas, or anyplace central. The coastal cities already have plenty of camps and the center of the country is underserved. A camp on the coast is okay if someone wants to facilitate. The center of the country keeps the travel time shorter for many people, however.

Another consideration is distance. The further from my home, the less I will look forward to the travel.

I have zero interest in international travel. A few years ago Mrs. Accountant and I enjoyed out trip to Costa Rica. My parents invited us. (They almost had a coronary when I said yes. My opinion of travel is well-ingrained within my family and neighborhood.) I’ve been to Canada many times and don’t want to go back. Mrs. Accountant and I took our honeymoon in Jamaica. Once is enough. You get my drift.

My life is busy and I’m okay with it as long as it doesn’t turn hectic. I will attend a maximum of three Camp Accountants per year with a near certainty I would attend a Wisconsin Camp. FinCon, for now, is probably an annual event as long as this blog breathes new material. That leaves me with one floater for the year to keep my traveling to five times per year. World Domination Summit is a possibility. (That amount of travel will cause me to bleed from the eyes and break out with boils.) I make no guarantees how long I will keep such a massive (for me) travel schedule. I think people should take advantage of my offer before my sanity returns.

Itinerary

Setting up a Camp Accountant is work. The one area I will be involved in (if wanted) is the itinerary. Camp Accountant is NOT just about taxes. Like this blog, it is to get people to think like an accountant without actually being an accountant.

There should be one or two classes for advanced tax issues suitable for tax professionals and knowledgeable non-accountants.

There should be (as a suggestion only) one class about an hour and half long strictly for tax and accounting professionals looking to build their practice or add services similar to what I do in my practice. In essence, create a bunch of mini-mes. (The world doesn’t know what to do with one of me.) Other attendees are welcome to listen in.

Plenty of time should be kept free for socializing, sport and hiking the venue grounds. Exercise is healthy and good.

Regular classes should be short, preferably 30 minutes. Most topics are easily covered in that time if the presenter is prepared. A few classes —maybe two —could be 45 minutes or an hour. The goal is fast and to the point.

I am willing to present more than one class. The presentation to tax/accounting professionals is something I will do if in attendance. I would love the opportunity to flesh out one or two ideas besides. If I speak once per day that’s enough. Other people have important information to share, too. People enjoy listening to the guest of honor speak so I’m willing to prepare more material if needed.

I think it would be valuable for attendees to have one round table each full day of the conference (probably Saturday and Sunday if you use the Friday to Monday schedule). This is an opportunity to share ideas and ask questions.

Final Thoughts

About 30,000 unique visitors grace this blog monthly. For this to be viable other bloggers in the FIRE community will need to be asked to spread the word.

If you want to facilitate a Camp Accountant, contact me. I am willing to share ideas and endorse, but I never facilitated anything like this myself so I don’t have either the experience or the time. You also want to contact me before setting a date so it doesn’t interfere with other responsibilities. Tax season is out. A winter Camp Accountant is something the other guys aren’t doing and could be a lot of fun as long as it is before February 1st. (Many people enjoy winter sports, you know.)

I will not attend other camps for other bloggers in the future. At this stage of the game it doesn’t make sense for me to promote somebody else’s brand. For my vision to see the light of day requires events dedicated to the Wealthy Accountant’s brand. I have a broad vision on how you can take what I teach back to your community and make a difference. I’ll talk more about some of the things I do and plan on doing if you contact me for running a Camp Accountant.

I hope you are excited. I sure am. Other camps are fun and light. I joke around in my writing and real life. But I’m as serious as a heart attack, dear readers. I joke to entertain in a difficult subject. Money and taxes can be fun while remaining serious. The laughing stops when the file opens and it’s time to super charge your tax and financial life. We are talking real money here. Every person who attends a Camp Accountant should walk out wealthier than when they arrived. That’s how important I want the weekend at Camp Accountant to be.

You might have noticed the next Novel in Progress BookCamp is May 20 -26, 2018.

It would sure be nice to see Dave again.

 

Note: A reader left a comment asking if CPE for tax and accounting pros will be offered. I haven’t applied for that yet, but will do so once I have a program to submit to the respective organizations. I would like CPE of enrolled agents, CPAs and, fingers crossed, attorneys.

Recently I discussed selling tradelines as a way to generate extra income. If you are unfamiliar with tradelines, read my prior article first.

Today I want to expand on the idea of using your tradelines to improve the financial position of the people you care about. Selling tradelines is an easy way to earn money, but there are issues of concern. There is another way to benefit from your tradelines, no selling involved. The banks are less than enthusiastic if you sell tradelines, but what I will suggest below is far more acceptable to the banks and falls under their terms of use as I understand them.

A quick recap: Tradelines are bank accounts. In this case we are talking about your credit card accounts. You can add an authorized user (AU). Adding an AU to a credit card account in not unusual by any means; the credit card companies encourage the activity. Selling tradelines (adding an AU you don’t know so they can increase their credit score) is gaming the system in the opinion of the banks. The reason selling a tradeline to a complete stranger is frowned upon is that fraud can take place. You may be completely unaware of the fraud, but the banks have risk so they don’t like it. There is nothing in it for them except risk so they close accounts they suspect of selling tradelines.

Adding an AU to your account is not unusual. The credit card companies actually encourage the activity. You may be familiar with the emails they send you recommending you add AUs.

Friends and Family

Starting out is hard for young people as they cross the threshold of adulthood. One moment they have no legal authority to sign loans or make important financial decisions and the next day, on their 18th birthday, they are thrown into the mosh pit of life where they are expected to know all the rules and are responsible for every decision they make financially. Good thing the education system doesn’t prepare them for the fateful day. That might hurt bank profits and we all know how terrible it is for Wall Street when people actually understand a thing or two about finances. Witness the whining of actively managed funds and hedge funds complaining about index funds.

My youngest daughter is months away from the above mentioned mosh pit. My oldest daughter has enjoyed the benefits of adult responsibility for a few years now. From an early age I pounded financial information into their heads. Money wasn’t/isn’t a taboo subject in my household. Money discussions are common and decisions Mrs. Accountant and I make with finances are easily viewed by the younglings.

Life starts without a credit score. Normally I would say credit scores are worthless and not being able to borrow money is more blessing than curse. Unfortunately, credit scores are used to determine auto insurance rates and even can prevent you from finding a place to rent. Your credit score affects your finances even if you never borrowed a plug nickel in your life. A ‘good’ credit score is valuable as it can reduce your expenses without effort, i.e. lower auto insurance premiums.

Adding junior as an authorized user to your credit card can remedy the situation. For the same reason people want to buy tradelines, you want to add people you care about to your tradeline AU list. Have three kids in college? Add them to several of your credit cards. You decide if they actually get the card to use. You can also limit how much they spend or even have the credit card company never send a card in their name.

An important point to remember is to only add the kiddos on accounts you actually use (so it gets reported to the credit bureaus). One small purchase will cause most cards to report to the bureaus. For the kids to benefit, keep the balance low. Once the balance reaches above 15% or so of the credit limit the benefits are diminished. The best way to do this is to put a low level of spend on the card/s you have the kids on and pay it in full each month.

The large amount of unused credit your children now have from being your AU increases their credit score. This in turn lowers their auto and renter’s insurance rates. If they ever need a loan (auto, home, education) they will qualify for lower rates without the need of you co-signing the loan (hopefully).

For the same reasons you want to add the wife/husband or significant other. They do NOT have to use the card or even have access to it! Just by being on the list benefits them. I would caution against giving the kiddos free reign with your credit card or you might end up in the market for credit score improvement yourself.

The Good Boss

The same principles can be used by small business owners. Adding valued employees as AUs can be a powerful tax-free fringe benefit for employees. When an employee experiences a higher credit score she may end up paying less for insurance and may be able to refinance loans at a lower rate. It doesn’t cost the employer a penny while the employee experiences lower costs without additional taxes owed on the lower expense (unless it involves lower deductible mortgage interest).

A few things to consider for employers. Business credit cards usually don’t report on individual credit reports. However, many small business owners use personal credit cards and in my opinion should to avoid a nasty tax surprise connected to basis issues.

Adding employees to a credit card doesn’t mean the employee gets to walk around with said card. It is convenient for certain employees to have access to the tradeline while others will have modest to no access. As long as the balance is low compared to the credit limit and the card is paid in full monthly, the employee should experience a credit score lift.

Selling tradelines have one serious problem. Add more than two or three AUs outside your geographic area and the problems start. The banks sniff out the behavior and consider it a breach of their term of use and cancel the card.

A business owner is in a different situation. I would call the credit card company and tell them what you want to do. Tell them you have a certain number of employees you want to add as AUs to your account. You can set up how much access each employee has. For example: Let’s say you want an employee to hold the card for business use. You can set a lower limit for that employee in case they go rogue. You can also add AUs and request a card not be sent until necessary. The banks like this as it does fit the terms of use for most credit card companies.

More Uses

Adding an AU to your account is easy. The banks hate it when someone games the system selling tradelines, but tend to like it when you add AUs they consider legitimate. Family and employees are natural AUs for your account. Your credit is not harmed while they benefit.

The service can be extended to friends as well. If you have concerns, call your credit card company and ask them if it is acceptable to add a friend or extended family member to the account. The worst they can say is no.

Tradelines are recognized as a valuable resource. That is why there is demand to buy temporary tradelines. Selling tradelines requires the constant adding and subtracting of AUs, a real pain in the tail and an indication to the bank you are gaming the system. Selling tradelines could get you blacklisted, a serious occurrence, while adding friends, family and employees generally have the blessing of the credit card company.

Selling tradelines are generally limited, but, with the bank’s permission, you can add a serious number of AUs without incident.

I hope you find this personal finance/credit hack valuable. Use it responsibly and it will serve you well.

You can help the kids without putting yourself at risk by co-signing a loan. The kids can have lower borrowing and insurance costs, too.

Teach your children good money skills and you reduce the risk they’ll return home from a financial catastrophe to live in your basement. In the end, it’s about preserving your peace of mind.

Yeah, I’m the coolest kid in school with a car like this.

Hey, everyone! My dad took off for a conference I think he said is called FinCon. That would make me a junior accountant, or, as “dad says”, a junette, since I’m a girl.

As luck would have it my dad left his computer on (as if a password would stop me). I’m pretty good at IT so I figured I could write a post while he was out. Besides, how will he find time to write when he is sooooo busy doing important stuff like talking to people about money? And he left his computer at home! Sucker!

Anyway, I kinda had this whole thing planned out. I more like helped dad forget his computer so I could spread my gospel, too. Dad has the platform and I have the brains. The plane couldn’t leave the ground fast enough for me.

You see, last week dad started giving me crap about driving the car to school. We live out in the boondocks and I am the first one on the bus and the last one off. That means three hours of my life evaporates into smoke every day I ride the bus. There is only so much time a kid needs to think and play video games.

Anyway, dad asked if I showered at school after gym class. I told him we don’t have time to shower since the bus comes about five minutes after class ends. He whined about me not showering when I take the car and DO have time to shower. Truth is, I don’t like the school showers.

My dad says I should take a shower at school so we save money at home from heating water. What a tightwad! Did he ever tell you guys he saved a few nickels over the years and did pretty well for himself? Well, you wouldn’t know it if you saw this place. (Or the car he has me drive. I’ll include a picture so you can see for yourself how much I suffer.) Poverty, folks. Sheer, unadulterated poverty, is what I live in. How do I do it?

It ended up in a fight when I refused to budge. I’m not taking a shower at school! When the fight was over I cussed dad out, kicked him in the shins and stormed out. No! Wait! That’s what I was thinking.

What really happened is I rolled my eyes and said I’m going write a book titled: My Dad Says . . . .

I’m seventeen and I figure if that Money Mustache guy dad always blabbers on about can retire by 30, I can beat him by twelve years. I’ll plagiarize all dad’s advice and put it into neat little packets, each beginning with: My Dad Says . . . . It ought to be worth a few bucks, right?

I’ll package the whole thing in a book, sell a few million copies and live the easy life before I graduate high school.

Grandma!?

To make this whole situation worse, dad took mom with him and my sister is off to college so I looked forward to the house all to myself with our cat, Pinky. Except, at the last minute, dad seemed to lose faith in me as grandma walked in the door to spend the week with Pinky and me. And where grandma goes, grandpa goes. Did I mention they both have their concealed carry? If I try to sneak out of the house with that awesome car dad provided me I’ll be winged by grandma before I get twenty feet!

This unsavory turn of events left me with plenty of time to pound out a post for dad he’s sure to be proud of.

Wisdom

Hey, would you guys like to hear some of dad’s golden nuggets? Thought so.

Before you get too excited, I intend on using these examples as marketing material. Let me know what you think.

1.) My dad says I’m as smart as I’ll ever be. It’s all downhill from here as I discover all the stuff I don’t know.

You know, my dad can be a real boob sometimes.

Wisdom my father shared with me. #wisdom #dad #family #familyfinance2.) My dad says he walked uphill to and from school every day. Even the weekends, just for practice. In snow! Fourteen feet deep. On the good days!

My dad really thinks I’m stupid sometimes. I know there is no school on the weekends.

3.) My dad says reading is one of the most important things I can do. He says there is a direct correlation between what I earn, my net worth and the amount of TV I watch. The more TV, the poorer I will be.

Thanks for the advice dad, but I don’t watch much TV. Video games!

4.) My dad says I should save a minimum of half what I earn.

Yeah, yeah, dad. Heard it before.

5.) My dad says I should invest in either a total market index fund or an S&P 500 index fund at Vanguard and leave my fingers off it.

Yeah, dad. I know Vanguard has low fees. Yeah, I know you can’t beat the market consistently if you trade. Yeah, I know if I leave it alone it will turn into a really big amount over time. Well, dad! You forgot your youngest daughter has a book deal and I’m borderline diva.

6.) My dad says I should never stop learning.

This is related to the reading thing. I’m not the biggest fan of school like my older sister, but now that I’m a senior I’m starting to think the tech school might give me an advantage. I enjoy working outside and work for grandma doing landscaping and such. It’s fun work I enjoy. If the book deal falls through I think I’m going to work with my hands outside. Come to think of it, I might work regardless what happens with the book deal. You have to do something with your time. It may as well be something you enjoy. Right?

7.) My dad says to find friends who challenge me.

He also says I should hang around people who are doers. If I hang with buds who don’t accomplish anything I’ll never be forced to push my bounds. People who get things done are the kind of people you want to socialize with. They end up business partners, friends, clients and leaders. Good friends make all the difference. It can make or break a girl. Got it, dad.

8.) My dad says to socialize with good people.

Kinda like number 7, I think. What I think dad means to say is ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ Well, last I checked I wasn’t a boy, but the rule still applies. Enjoy free time with good friends.

9.) My dad says to be deliberate in everything I do.

Dad can speak in Coptic at times, but let me spell out what he’s getting at. What he means to say (and needs an intelligent child to translate) is that I should eat right and get enough sleep. To not worry about the little things, or anything I don’t have control over for that matter. He means I should vote, but not get pissed off when my candidate loses or when government officials let us down. If I can do something to change the situation, I should; if not, then there is no need to waste precious time worrying about it.

This deliberate thing always concerns me. I see dad think things through a lot with business decisions. He intentionally talks about money, family, relationships, politics, his love for mom, sex (Eww! Old people sex.) and anything else that comes to mind in front of my sister and me. Dad’s a pretty open guy with the whole family.

Dad is right. Family is all that matters.

Dad thinks a lot. He researches. When he decides what steps he wants to take he finds the right people to surround himself with to get the best results. It takes a lot of time when the issues are big.

Most of all, dad is deliberate about money. He saves and invests, of course. But it’s more than that. He thinks long and hard before spending money. He knows the smallest part of the cost is the purchase price. Keeping, storing, insuring and using a thing consume more money and TIME. Time is the most precious commodity we have, dad says. Use it wisely.

Dad says we must always be good stewards of our gifts. Our money, our family, friends and time are precious resources never to be squandered.

My dad says the richest man on Earth has the exact same amount of time each day I have. They are successful because of what they did with that day.

10.) My dad says to make time for family every day.

Dad is also very deliberate in expressing his love for us. He can really be a dork at times, but mom, my sister and I never doubt dad loves us. He makes us feel wanted all the time. No matter how bad I screw up I always know dad will be with me.

You know, it’s kinda strange having a dad who cares so much. Not all the kids at school are so lucky. He may walk around the house singing crazy songs and telling stupid stories, but he really is okay.

Anyways, I got to go. This is getting long and my dad says I should turn things off when not in use to save energy and money.

If you see him down at FinCon, let him know I took care of his blog for him while he was gone.

Also tell dad grandma winged Roger when he came over to buy a dozen eggs. (Grandma is itching for someone to “Go ahead, make my day.”) He should be out of the hospital by the time they get back. Roger is sure jumpy when he drives past the house now.

Go figure.

Once again, here are my notes as I prepared this post. Writers may find value in my writing process so I include my unedited notes periodically. My daughter’s name is redacted for security reasons. And yes, my parent’s are lurking about when I am out of town and yes, they do have their concealed carry. Please, for your own safety, do not startle them.

 

I asked [redacted] about showering at school after gym so she wouldn’t have to do it at home, saving dad money. She said she isn’t given enough time to shower, but it’s her last class. She would miss the bus if she showered, drives  to school a bit extra because the bus ride is a solid 1 1/2 hours to get home.

I started teasing her she could shower at school after gym is she took the car. The utility savings would pay for the gas to drive to school.

I then said [redacted] will start every story she tells her friends with, “My dad says . . . ” It morphed into, the first book [redacted] writes will be titled: My Dad Says.

This could be a fun post playing on all the things “Dad Says” from [redacted]’s perspective. It would be funniest written as if [redacted] were the author. A fun piece with loads of meaning on living right.

My last post on questions wealthy people ask their accountant struck an unexpected cord. It also uncovered a serious problem that has plagued this blog since the beginning.

The majority of bloggers come from one of two camps: they write a blog while in retirement or write while working for retirement.

Blogging is a lot of work. Writing is the easy part. Promoting the blog so somebody actually sees your work takes time. This blog does more than simply generate affiliate income. Aside from the passive income, readers discover there is more available from the right accountant. Not knowing a local accountant offering what I suggest they turn to the only place they can go: the contact page.

And as I said before a million times, I am one man. In the last two days if I would have said yes to every offer, I would have filled my calendar until tax season. It’s just not possible to serve all the readers who seek my help. Or is it?

It’s time to stop whining and start implementing opportunities already in place. Many of the comments over the last two days went something like this: Do you know of a tax professional you can recommend in [fill in the blank]?

It hurt as I deleted each request without a response. Even responding to each inquiry would consume more time than exists in a day. So far I am able to read most of what hits my email. It’s the best I can do.

Then I received an email that was firm, yet polite. It was an obvious answer and it would solve a significant problem for you, kind readers, and for your favorite accountant. The email said, “Why don’t you promote your forum more? You told me earlier in the year to use the forum to offer my services as a tax professional since I read your blog and use the strategies you suggest. You know, if you promoted the forum more, guys like me could help your readers while offering you minor respite.”

All I could think to say was, “Duh!”

Help is on the Way

The forum has a category: Wealthy Accountants in Your Area. I started the category because tax professionals wanted to know where they could find clients and I mentioned I have a load of un-served people.

I want more tax professionals to advertise their wares in this category of the forum. If you think it would be helpful for me to add a category for taxpayers looking for an accountant, I can add the category easily.

This is the time of year where you really need to consider consulting. The tax savings can far exceed any consulting fee you pay. There are tax pros out there who are as good (some even better) than me.

Now through tax season I will provide periodic reminders to check the forum. But let’s start today. If you send me a request and I don’t respond you know what my answer is. It is an awful part of this process; ghosting people. The laws of physics (maybe it’s relativity; you know, the time and space thing) forbid me to accomplish what I want. I can do anything, just not everything.

If I can’t take your account, consider one of the fine tax professionals just as good as I am, except they don’t write a blog generating massive amounts of workflow. I love you guys, you know that. If I could do it all, I would. Reality demands I delegate. What better place to find a qualified tax pro than in the forum here.

Before we move on the next piece of business before I let you settle in for the weekend, don’t get hung up on locality. Modern technology eliminates the need for a local accountant to serve your needs. Half of my clients are outside my home state of Wisconsin. Faxing, scanning, secure web portals and email can handle all your communications with your tax pro.

Accountants offering services in the forum should understand a few things. Unlike most traditional tax offices, you will do a lot more out-of-state and multi-state tax returns. You will also receive more unique situations. Readers here want more than a basic prep. They want consulting inside and outside of tax season. What I am saying is, don’t overextend as I too often do. The clients you get from here will demand more of your time and services because they want to utilize your knowledge for their benefit. You get paid to do this, so do it. You will get tough cases. Spread it out so you get work done faster than your favorite accountant. Take it from someone with experience.

Readers, if you need a tax pro who understands a bunch of the stuff I write about you now know where to find them. Don’t expect every tax pro on the list to be the same. Most tax offices specialize when they start handling difficult cases. The only reasons I do so much more is because I have a blog to write and keep researching for your benefit and because there is ample evidence I am mentally unstable. (Stop laughing.)

Readers, vet the tax pros in the forum. A short conversation can determine if it will work for you. There is no need to waste time for either party. There are plenty more tax professionals out there and plenty more clients. Spend a few minutes to determine if it is a good fit.

Back to the accountants. Answer questions in the forum. I don’t spend much time in the forum for obvious reasons. Discuss what I write about. It’s even okay to say I’m full of BS on my own blog. (More on this in Monday’s post.) Help readers seeking solutions. Some of these fine people will want to engage your services. This has to be a team effort. I provide the portal and a slight nudge with each post. You guys—tax pros—have to do most of the heavy lifting. It’s the only way the readers will be served.

Only one warning: Never share personal information that could lead to identity theft in the forum. If discovered by a moderator, your post is toast (for your protection). And no personal attacks. The tax code is huge and there is plenty of disagreement. It’s okay to disagree; it’s not okay to do a character assassination. Be firm without being rude. Respect the opinions of others. It’s also okay to be wrong from time to time. It happens to the best of us, especially me. That is why I am always learning.

Need a Job?

My tax office is actively searching for a full-time, year round CSR/Administrative Assistant and another full-time tax preparer for tax season. The Admin job is full-time all year. The tax prep job is for tax season only with some part-time outside of tax season work, if desired.

I am unwilling to outsource tax work at this time so you have to want to live in NE Wisconsin. You will work in my office on my secure equipment. If you want to work in a unique tax practice with real opportunity to see tax issues most tax professionals don’t see in a career, consider applying. I will also consider two part-time tax preparers as well.

If you work in my office you get famous whether you like it or not. I’ll know when Dawn reads this post. Count on it.

The tax professional I hire MUST be comfortable with S corporation issues. Pay is $20-$35 per hour, depending on experience. If I find a qualified candidate I will open my doors to new clients, so please apply using the contact form on this blog.

The admin position is a support job. Other accountants and the boss (me) need somebody to keep us in line, ah, I mean to keep work flowing smoothly. It’s a hard job during tax season and reasonably normal the remainder of the year. This position is a bit different than what you normally expect in a traditional tax office. This is why it is hard for me to fill the position. It doesn’t fit a traditional model. The work is interesting, satisfying and challenging. Pay is $12-$18 per hour depending on experience with opportunity for advancement.

The pay scale is wide, I know. I am willing to pay more for an exceptional candidate. I hate paying less to take a flyer; it seems to never work. You know a bit about me and my office from my writing. If NE Wisconsin sounds like a fun place, consider submitting your resume.

And last, if the forum really explodes due to my promoting it, I will need a moderator or three. If you want to be on the moderator list, let me know. We’ll let my site manager, Kevin, handle the moderating for now, but if it grows at all I will need some help. Unfortunately it’s an unpaid job. Moderators do it for love.

If the moderator/s job gets too much I’ll consider some forms of monetization for the forum to provide funds for paying moderators. But that is in the distant future.

Now, before you leave to enjoy your weekend, go check out the forum and have some fun. Introduce yourself and share ideas. Readers of this blog are very intelligent and educated. Ask questions. I’m one guy again. I don’t know everything and my opinion doesn’t trump all. You’d be surprised at the awesome people haunting this place. Get to know each other.

There is no doubt the kids are back in school. Three times a week I visit the gym midafternoon, a slow time of the day for the establishment. All summer I had the floor to myself or nearly so. Then the days got shorter and the kids went back to school. This gives mom free time to work out. I now have to share.

New members stream in at a steady pace. They notice I am there a bit so they ask me questions about the gym, using a machine or personal trainers. The conversation about trainers goes something like this:

“Which personal trainer in the best here?”

“They’re all good,” I reply.

“Yes, but which one is the best?” They always put a bit more emphasis on the word “best” the second time around.

“Depends what you want to look like.” This always brings a puzzled look.

I point to one of the thin female trainers and say, “If you are looking to lose weight I would recommend her.” Then I point to a muscular female trainer as say, “If you want to tone your body consider her.” Then I point to one of the male trainers who is solid muscle from head to toe. He is in awesome shape. “If you want to build muscle choose him.”

“Are you sure,” they ask.

“Yes, I am sure. All the personal trainers here are good. They hire the best. But the best one for you depends on what you want to look like. Pick a trainer that has the body you desire. Spend enough time with that trainer and you will slowly evolve into what they are.”

Their gaze is quizzical as their mouth is slightly open preparing to catch flies. It’s not the answer they expected, but it’s the answer the needed to here.

It’s Spreading

Studies have shown that people who hang out together tend to look and act alike. But it’s a lie. Take a group of women where all the members are 5’4” (162 cm) tall and 240 pounds (109 kg), except for one girl weighing in at 108 pounds (49 kg).

The eating and exercise habits of the heavier women will rub off on the thinner woman. The 108 pound woman will eat many of the same things with her friends; will stop and sit when they do; and share recipes with her friends. It is only a matter of time before the petite girl is less petite.

This is not to pick on the heavier women. Metabolism will alter the weight between the women when they share the same diet and exercise attitudes. This is why you want a trainer who looks closest to what you want to look like. Given enough time, their eating and exercise habits will affect yours and slowly you will begin to have the body they have.

Accidental Infection

Can we agree The Wealthy Accountant is at least a moderately successful blog? As I write my traffic sits around 70,000 page views per month with over 15,000 unique visitors, a far cry from big names in the demographic, but still respectable for a blog a year and a half old.

Many opportunities threaten to rocket near future traffic much higher. Every time I turn around another source of traffic is showing up. I would guess over the next year and a half traffic will increase to several hundred thousand page views per month. This is well within the respectable range. Not superstar status, but respectable, no doubt.

The Wealthy Accountant found life when a planned encounter with Mr. Money Mustache went in an unplanned direction. The very same day people were already asking if I had a blog they could read. I had a ready-made waiting crowd eager for my work.

The amount of work to write a blog like TWA is massive. The more traffic grows the more work is involved. Most blogs have one issue to deal with: the blog. Not so TWA. When traffic increases so do the demands for services in my practice. It takes a special set of skills to manger such a unique beast successfully; a trait I am still learning.

The success of TWA and my learning curve in managing the growth are an interesting experiment. We could sit back and watch your favorite accountant spin out of control or he could do something strange; something you should consider doing if you write a blog.

What I did was consort with seedy characters, oops, I mean with other successful bloggers. I have shared a beer over conversation with Pete (MMM), the Mad Fientist, Doug Nordman (The Military Guide), Carl (1500 Days to Freedom), Jim Collins (jlcollinsnh), and J.D. Roth (the grandfather of the blog demographic, starting it off with Get Rich Slowly and now Money Boss). And the list isn’t complete. There are many more I consorted with at conferences, camps and private get-togethers.

Then there are the newbies. Another beer was sacrificed over conversations with Gwen (Fiery Millennial), Joel (Financial 180), and Ruby (A Journey We Love).

There are numerous bloggers I communicated with online over the last two years as well and have yet to meet personally..

The point I’m making is I found a way to fit into the group of people I wanted to be like. I wanted to write a successful blog. By default I pick up habits from the other bloggers in the group as I communicate with them.

Every parent understands this process well. When your child joins a group of friends, mom and dad want to know what the kids in this group are like. If it’s part of a bad crowd it is only a matter of time before little Billy or Sally are in trouble with the law or worse. Mom knows a friend from a good family doesn’t guarantee protection from bad things happening, but it sure evens up the odds.

The same applies in all areas of life. You will become like the people you spend the most time with unless your personality is strong enough to overcome the influence.

It Pays to Have Rich Friends

You may have no desire to ever write a blog. Your friends may meet your expectations of physical health. You may be happy with your weight and your kids have friends from good families. But you are reading this blog for a reason.

The only reason to digest the hundreds of thousands of words I regurgitate onto the screen is to learn. The time commitment is too large to be here for manure and giggles. This venue now has nearly 300 posts and over 500,000 words. The time commitment means you are either entertained, educated or both when you come here. Or maybe you just think I’m a cool guy. (I am.)

Readers in the tax and accounting industry might be looking for ideas to serve their clients better; bloggers want to get ideas on what to write and to improve their writing skills; some people are looking for a side gig; others for financial independence; others to discover the path to early retirement.

None of these reasons are what this blog is about. Pete (MMM) thinks a blog should be cult-like. I agree. We are different and should be. We save at a higher rate, invest in broad-based index funds and reach financial independence at an early age. You would be surprised how many visitors to this site are under age 35 and financially at a point where they can choose their own course in life. This is where the magic happens.

When you come to TWA and read, comment and visit the forum, you are entering a group who will rub off on you. It is not if, it is when you start to gravitate towards the center of gravity of the group.

Like metabolism and weight, personal financial growth is dependent on several personal factors. Disability of major medical issues will give you unique challenges compared to the group at large. Race plays a role in opportunity. This doesn’t mean race precludes you from financial success. Quite the contrary. Race is just a different challenge from the average of the group.

When you are surrounded by people bragging about all their expensive toys it has an effect. Surrounding yourself with people who save a large percentage of their income will also adjust your worldview. When keeping up with the Joneses is replace by hyperactive goals of financial independence it is easy to fall right in.

The Flavor of the Herd

When one steer takes off and runs the whole herd follows blindly. As smart as we think we are we are manipulated by the herd mentality.

Even within our demographic there are certain commonalities. People are under pressure to hit financial independence at an early age so they can retire. I think it’s crazy to think this way and many readers come here because they agree with me. FI, as I’ve said often, is like the event horizon of a black hole; an invisible line you cross where there is no return but you can’t see it.

FI is like that, an invisible line. You don’t feel a jolt when you cross the line. You might not even know where the line is at!

Still, the pressure is on to say, Yup, I’m 37 and retired. Whatever! I’m 53 and never plan on retiring because I’m having too much fun doing what I do.

The other thing you see around the demographic is the traveling thing. People reach FI, quit their job and travel the world. Once again I say, Whatever! I don’t want to travel unless for business, so I don’t. Readers around here like the fresh viewpoint.

This is the flavor of our herd. The FIRE community has a center of gravity and readers of TWA like the outlier attitudes I have. You can have a high net worth and still enjoy the work you do while refusing to gallivant around the planet. It’s okay to stay home with the family, refuse to watch TV, never listen to radio and still have an awesome life.

I guess that makes us a cult. The fact you are reading this makes you a member of our cult.

Welcome to the herd.

Focus is considered one of the most important traits of success. It makes sense. If your mind is constantly wandering it is hard to stick to a project until completion.

Frugality also requires focus. I was lucky growing up in the boondocks where the siren song of spending was only visible in the hazy distance. The nearest store was seven miles away and groceries and miscellaneous hardware supplies were all that was sold. Eighteen miles in the other direction was the next nearest place to get separated from your money. Needless to say we didn’t travel that far often.

Before the days of Amazon and endless online shopping sites, I was content playing cops and robbers with my uncle, brother and a few neighborhood boys roughly my age, racing on our bikes around our 400 acre farm.

Working on the farm paid a small token only. I remember wanting a slingshot in grade school. Coming home from church (we never missed a service back then) dad stopped at Farm & Home, the local hardware store. They had a “wrist-rocket” slingshot for $7 and change. My allowance was 25 cents per week.

My passbook savings account (remember those things) had enough money, but I already had a bit of granddad in me: Never take off the pile. I started saving those quarters each week in a piggy bank. To earn that quarter I had to help feed the calves twice a day and other assorted farm chores.

Around seven months later I was the proud owner of a wrist-rocket slingshot. I snaked my hand through the handle. The loop where your hand went in pressed against the wrist when you pulled back the elastic band to increase the slingshot’s power. The bark would fly when a pebble left the slingshot, smashing into a tree.

For seven months I focused all my energy into saving enough for that slingshot. My biggest worry was Farm & Home would sell it to someone else. There is no proof, but I think my dad had something to do with that slingshot remaining on the shelf for over seven months.

Once I owned the object of my desire I focused on aiming better. My goal was to use the slingshot as a hunting weapon, putting a fresh bunny into the roaster. Things didn’t turn out as planned.

Focus is a powerful trait, but it can also cloud judgment. For seven months I only focused on one thing. Then I owned the object and within weeks the desire faded. I discovered it is better to want than to have, a lesson I frequently need to relearn.

The School Called

Last Thursday I worked from home. By mid-afternoon I had most of my work goal completed. Mrs. Accountant noticed I was ready for a break and asked, “Can we talk?” I knew that tone of voice. Something was wrong.

Mrs. Accountant explained the school councilor called about our youngest daughter. The school was worried she was depressed. So you don’t worry, my daughter was fine; a friend of hers misinterpreted having a down day with serious depression and reported it.

Before Mrs. Accountant and I knew our daughter was fine we tried to figure out what could have caused her to be depressed. She seemed fine at home.

Unfortunately, I have been a bit distant lately, focusing on my work (blog and practice). Life was good as a small business owner, but now with a blog I am working two full-time jobs (according to my office manager).

Excessive focus can harm relationships. My daughter is a senior. When the school year started the school set graduation on Memorial Day weekend, the same weekend I attend and speak at Camp Mustache in Seattle. I said we have to hope they change the date or I’ll not be able to go. My focus was so tight I failed to mention what event I was planning on skipping.

My youngest daughter thought I was cutting her graduation for business. I have to admit I am so focused on this blog and helping readers I actually toyed with the idea. I can be an ass at times. My daughter wanted me to be at her graduation.

I never realized what I did. My daughter wasn’t depressed as the school thought she was, but she wanted dad at her graduation. School doesn’t come easy for her and it means a lot mom and dad are there.

Called Into Action

The bus route this year in insane. My daughter is the first on in the morning and the last off at night. She spends over three hours a day on the bus to and from school. We don’t like wasting gas, but she sure loves when we find an excuse to take her in or pick her up at the end of the day.

Mrs. Accountant and I decided to pick our sweetheart up from school unannounced last Thursday. When school let out she was surprised to see us there waiting for her. We took her to Chilton for a chicken strip basket at Dairy Queen and took the time to speak with her to understand her feelings.

Before we got to DQ we knew everything was fine. But there were still several problems. Going to DQ for dinner is something we almost never do. In fact, nobody had eaten in a restaurant since late tax season. Dining out is something we rarely do, but this was getting excessive

Work is the perfect solution to spending. My normal frugal ways went into overdrive as my focus on this blog dug in deep. I brown bag lunch every day. I drink coffee at the office, never buying a cup at the gas station or anywhere else. Sometimes I bike to work, a 30 mile round trip.

With all my time consumed by my two jobs I was enjoying the hell out of myself so much I forgot there were people living around me.

Spending in a typical year ranges in the low 30s. As summer arrived and later school started again, I noticed I was spending almost nothing. I track every penny spent in our household and we hadn’t broken $1,000 a single month since January. My frugality was driving us to an annual spending level slightly under $12,000 for 2017. It has been a long time since I was so tight with the cash.

Not all of it was my fault. The cell phones were switched to Google Fi a while back so the phone bill for two phones was $40 per month. Gardens provided a good portion of our food and a simpler diet also cut costs. For some reason the utility bill was nonexistent. The bill last month was $56 and $20 of that is just to have service. I ran a small farm and my household on just over 300 kilowatts for the month!

As we ate our chicken strips I explained to my daughter there would be some changes. Now that she is seventeen I told her she should have her own phone, especially now that she is driving. When Mrs. Accountant and I are out of town she really needs a phone. (We have no landline.) That’ll add $20 a month to the recurring expense column. (I feel those recurring expenses acutely.)

Our daughter was also nervous about Mrs. Accountant and me heading out of town for FinCon. We made arrangements so she would never be alone. We also gave her the good news she could drive to school when we were gone. That brought a smile. (Good thing for daddy the school doesn’t have any parking fees. You’d have needed the smelling salts.)

I reiterated I would be attending her graduation. As much as I enjoy Camp Mustache in Seattle, my daughter is more important by miles. If people want to see me they have to attend FinCon or CampFI. This blog has a “Where Am I” calendar now showing my schedule. It is easy to meet up.

Dust Bunnies in the Wallet

My oldest daughter comes home from college each weekend. She enjoys the good life so she had several gap years before rolling up the sleeves and digging in. She also has matured a pile as she added a few years. She sounds like mom when she talks about other students. It seems many more lessons were digested than originally thought.

The girls wanted to go out to Funset Boulevard on Saturday. They had some coupons for a farmer’s market so they stopped there first, bought a fresh lunch and several dozen cobs of sweet corn with the coupons.

Funset Boulevard is billed as one of these family-friendly entertainment venues. They are as expensive as hell; my blood begins to clot even thinking about it. Funset has laser tag and other assorted games.

At first I was thinking the whole family should go, but then decided the girls might like some time out without parents around. The girls don’t mind mom and dad coming along. Still, the girls need to have girl’s time out. Besides, my oldest daughter wanted to talk with my youngest daughter privately to make sure nothing wasn’t wrong. It feels good as a parent to know they look out for each other.

When nobody was looking I slipped $40 to my youngest daughter to cover their expenses. I told her to share it with her sister, but to tease her it was a loan at 47% interest per day.

Forty dollars isn’t a lot of money at a place like Funset. The girls left around 9 a.m., went to the farmer’s market and then enjoyed a few hours at Funset. They spent $39.50, keeping the change. Dad noticed.

Too Frugal

When deep in debt, massive frugality is required. However, once the crisis has passed, responsible spending is allowed.

The investment accounts have received a heavy dose of additional capital this year. The money had to go somewhere.

It took a short scare as a wakeup call. Concern I may have absconded my parental duties caused me to realign my focus in a more appropriate manner. Saving is a good thing. Saving 90% of my income for no reason might be going a bit too far.

Focus is good as long as the focus in on the right things. Focus at work, even pleasant and enjoyable work, should stay at the office. Focus on family is required at home. Having my own business means the line between business and family is blurred. It’s still no excuse.

I’m lucky. I’ve always been lucky. Things always seem to work out. I forgot my duties as a father and my daughter didn’t flip out or try drugs or get knocked up. She waited for dad to come to his senses, even if only momentarily. Then dad sinks into a book or his writing or work. I am one very lucky daddy.

But I can’t take luck for granted. You can be too frugal, as I sometimes am. This year got extreme. It does illustrate how little money a person can survive on.

I love the girls in my house. I found the right woman and married her. She stayed with me even when I tested her to the limit. She deserves the “Wife of the Millennium” award for putting up with me. My daughters have never been in trouble, unlike dad. No drugs, alcohol, police visits, late nights (except for my oldest daughter reading like dear old dad until the wee hours of the morning), boyfriend drama, pregnancy or disrespect ever entered our household. My girls are the best.

It will be hard for me to do the right thing. I suggested we make it a point to go out to eat once per month and to see a movie or check out a museum or some other sort of entertainment monthly. It doesn’t have to cost much. The goal is to put work down and enjoy family time.

Very successful people sometimes have difficult personal lives. Laser focus can eventually destroy a family. And a destroyed family is not frugal, nor is it right to put the people you love under such stress.

Frugality is part of this demographic. I get it. It is important for good mental, physical and spiritual health to put an all-encompassing hobby down for other activities.

Call it mad money, FU money or anything you want. Just make sure you use it with the people you love most.

Now that is something to focus on.