What you spend on is more important than frugality.

When it comes to the blogs and other tracts providing information on building wealth, frugality carries most of the weight. And it makes sense. The greater the difference of income over spending is a strong determinant of the level of wealth an individual will achieve during their lifetime as compared to their income level. 

As important as frugality is, spending is even more important, even if it doesn’t garner the column inches the matter deserves. Spending less than you earn is the seed money for investments and without investments it is impossible to build significant wealth.

As an accountant I see people from all spectrums of income. Frugality, even hyper-frugality, is the hallmark of those with modest levels of wealth. Even the lowest income earners can amass a half million or more in a working career when frugality is taken to religious levels, with the excess invested in equities like index funds.

Mid-levels of income also do well with only the single tool of frugality. As their wealth grows they sometimes seek out professionals to help them. These clients tend to want short consulting sessions once a year with a review at tax time. 

Then come the serious achievers. These people sometimes have modest incomes, sometimes large incomes.  Regardless their income level, these people smack it out of the park. Their level of wealth is well beyond what would be expected for their income level or level of frugality (the excess of income above spending).

Super-achievers in wealth building focus on spending rather than frugality. They know spending is more important. And they know most spending drains their energy and wealth while proper spending can actually make them richer!

They also know that wealth is fleeting. The highway is littered with the corpses of wealthy people of yesteryear. A lifetime of building wealth can be lost in less time than it takes to snap your fingers. That is today’s topic. Wealthy people that keep it long enough to leave a legacy spend on the 5 things listed below in a disproportionate amount compared to the general population. As you flex your frugality muscles you want to consider spending some of that excess on these things to grow and preserve your wealth. Because, remember, when you have money there are always those looking to separate you from it.

Millionaires and Health

How wealthy can you really be if you are chronically sick? In pain? Or dead! 

If you have your health you are already wealthy and rich people know it and take steps to keep it that way. Eating quality food and exercise are primary. Proper medical care also plays a key role.

I see poor people and those looking to super-charge their frugality, to achieve goals like early retirement, refuse to pay for quality food or a gym membership or a piece of exercise equipment. It is counter-productive behavior.

I have a membership at Lake Park Swim & Fitness. Mrs. Accountant attends two or three exercise groups per week and I hit the floor (where the weights are) three times per week. This is a part of our routine! Physical activity is a priority in our life. Mrs. Accountant loves it so much she took a part-time job their working two nights per week cleaning up a bit (and for a free membership).

Outside the gym I also remain active. I walk an hour each day and sometimes jog. My sneakers see at least 3 miles of travel daily above and beyond normal movements (walking to the water cooler, et cetera). I chop wood on my farm, plant trees and work the garden. I recently bought a step meter to see how I’m doing. Rare is the day with fewer than 10,000 steps and many days are well above 20,000. Mrs. Accountant has similar numbers.

Lake Park isn’t the cheapest gym, but they also are not the cheapest gym. (Yes, you read that right.) It is the cleanest gym (and friendliest) gym I’ve ever been a member of.  I want a clean environment and working equipment. My workouts are serious business and I want a gym that feels the same way.

Food is another important expenditure for the wealthy. I grow much of my own food, but nutritious food can be had from the grocery store and it doesn’t require the “organic” label. Processed foods are limited in my household. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a common sight. We freeze and can lots of homegrown produce. Home prepared meals are the best so we do it a lot.

Health includes medical services. I see many poor people (and even some earning a reasonable wage) foregoing medical care and recommended treatments. Modern technology has given us the longest lifespan in human history, but it does no good if you don’t use the technology. 

Reasonable medical insurance to deal with a big medical issues is a must in the U.S where there is limited national healthcare for people under age 65. Regular checkups and taking required medications are all part of the program. Wealthy people know it is easier to stay healthy than to regain health. And as a reminder, without health, financial wealth has far less meaning.


Millionaires and Legal

Most people know they need to take care of their health. Fewer understand the importance of legal protection.

What takes a lifetime to build can be sued away in a fraction of a moment. Wealthy people know it, too. Keeping wealth already accumulated is vital to keeping wealth all the way to the finish line. 

It blows this accountant’s mind when people set up their own business entity. They have no experience (in most cases) in how to do this correctly, but they do it anyway. These hard working people put in the hours for years and even decades. Yet, their first step is to take a shortcut, the cheaper way. (Notice I said cheaper, not frugal. Frugal doesn’t take shortcuts; cheapskates do.) 

The same applies to wills and other legal documents. Of course, if you do it wrong you will not be around to clean up the mess; your friends and family will. (Nice memory you left the kids.) 

In all my 37 years in practice I’ve never seen a truly wealthy person take legal shortcuts. I have seen many people lose a lifetime of work, sometimes while in retirement, over  not using a qualified professional to handle their legal needs. 

I keep a law firm on speed dial for legal questions and other legal services. They have my retainer. When in doubt I go to the professionals to help me make quality decisions. I understand tax laws well (and still rely on other tax professionals for research all the time), but legal matters not so much. Attorneys sometimes have a bad reputation. It should not be that way. My legal team is a vital part of my financial plan. Their advice is always welcome. Attorneys can save you a massive amount of money and grief when planning ahead, or, they can cost even more trying to fix a mess that might end up with a settlement costing you decades of your invested savings (work or lifeforce, as some say).


Millionaires and Tax and Accounting

I’ll admit this part is self-serving. It is also a vital part of wealth creation and retention. 

When you add up all the taxes you pay (income, property, excise, gift, sales and more) it is the biggest single expense in your life. Even your home doesn’t cost as much as all taxes combined are pealing from your wallet. Even a modest income can see half or more lost to the litany of taxes the government has devised to separate you from your hard-earned money.

In my office the tax professionals sometimes laugh when people say they prepare their own tax return. “We always enjoy summer work,” is their response. There is some truth to that.

Frugality is not enough if you want to be wealthy. How you spend and what you spend on will make the difference in how wealthy you become. If you want to be a millionaire you need to spend like a millionaire. That means frugality one one hand and intelligent spending that serves your needs on the other.But it gets worse. To this day I have never had a consulting session with a client or someone from this blog where I didn’t save that client several times in taxes what they paid me. There have been cases where a $1,000 consulting fee yielded 6-figures in additional wealth, much of it from tax savings. 

I have no problem with people preparing their own return when it is very simple. However, a tax professional is worth her weight in gold if she works with you! Rare is the non tax professional that knows when it is best to elect to treat their side hustle or business as an S-corp over a sole proprietorship. If you own income properties do you understand the mechanics of a cost-segregation study? If you own any investments are you aware of tools to defer and eliminate taxes on the profits? Like-kind exchanges? Opportunity funds? Delaware Statutory Trusts?

Even something as simple as  professional bookkeeping can send your net worth skyward faster. One of my accountants just helped an investment property owner from Mississippi clean up his books. Now he knows where he is financially at all times. He can make better decisions; I can give him better advice. Banks loans are easier to get and rates lower. He really has professional looking books! (It would be bragging if I did the work, but Dawn gets all the credit.)

His taxes are also lower because I can help him plan instead of react. He refers to us as his OCD accountant. Yes, we take pride in our work and pay attention to detail. It is never enough to have clean books. We demand we provide guidance to optimize wealth building for every client we serve. 

It doesn’t come cheap, of course. But I deliver greater results because I am incentivized to do so and invest in growing my arsenal to better serve clients. The cheapest isn’t always that cheap.

The income property owner discussed above had several accounting firms who could not get his fast growing rental business under control. Dawn even struggled in the beginning. There was, and is, a lot to digest. I kept applying steady, yet firm, pressure. While the client benefited, I was training an accountant on how to handle the difficult cases. Now that the books are clean it isn’t so challenging anymore.

And this brings up another important point. Not every tax and/or accounting professional is cut from the same cloth. Some are better than others and some are outright incompetent. In a previous post I discuss how you can find high quality tax professionals and accountants for your wealth building team. The same applies when looking for a legal professional.

With so much on the line it is worth hiring a competent tax professional. If your return is simple you can prepare it yourself. I have many consulting sessions with people who prepare their own tax return. I review the prior return as part of the consulting session and it is usually okay.

Tax and accounting  professionals are worth their most when consulting. Their large reservoir of knowledge and experience can help you make better career and investment choices. It is difficult at best to build serious wealth without a highly qualified tax professional.


Millionaires and Education

Primary and secondary schooling, along with a college, is designed to teach you how to learn. Until you learn how to learn nothing else will matter. Yes, college will educate you on the basics in your field of study, but it is just the basics, as hard as those final exams were.

The most powerful tool the millionaires has to create and build wealth is never-ending education. Learning never ends for the wealthy.Nothing prepares you for real world. College textbooks have nice neat questions with exact answers. Real life rarely delivers such a neat package. Thinking on your feet and designing answers on the go is vital to success. That is why doctors spend so much time in college and even more time sharpening their skills as interns and in residency.

Once you learn how to learn the world is at your beck and call. What you learn in college can quickly become dated. Your “real” education begins after graduation!  

Many professions require continuing education (CE). Doctors, attorneys, accountants and enrolled agents (a tax professional designation) all are required to take continuing education courses each year. And for good reason. Bad habits can set in and CE can bring behavior back in line. New technologies and changing laws all require more learning, more education.

Application is harder than theory. I see tax professionals and accountants come out of college and struggle when they move from the legal facts to applying those facts in real world situations. Clients don’t always bring in all their paperwork. Some (all too many) are trying to game the system. Your job is to keep clients in line (they didn’t teach you that in college, did they?) and use the material at hand to build the most accurate record.

Doctors face a rude awakening when the classroom makes way for the medical theater. Answers are not always easy to define or find and time is of the essence. It’s an open book test with a human life on the line and the clock speeding forward.

You don’t have to be in a profession to benefit from education. In all facets of my life I have continued learning. Reading is a daily part of life (a big part of life). Every day is a learning experience! Even after all these years of study and thousands of books digested, I still feel like a neophyte most of the time. The more you learn the more you realize there is to learn. It is humbling.

Learning is one of the great pleasures in life, too. Wealthy people find this compelling. They spend a disproportionate amount of their income and wealth on education at all times of their life and enjoy the process. The wonder of discovery never grows old. 

Spending on education is a guilty pleasure wealthy people never skimp on. My personal library has pushed past 3,000 volumes and I make prodigious use of several local libraries as well. I am a sponge for knowledge and people pay me a lot of money to see how I put the pieces together as it applies to them. And there is nothing more pleasurable and fun than that.


Millionaires and Insurance

This expenditure of the wealthy might come as a surprise to many. That is because you need to sift the junk insurance from the stuff that matters when it come to building and retaining wealth.

To start, we are not talking about the insurance you purchase for small electronics at retail outlets. If you can’t afford to fix or replace an $86 item you can’t afford the item. This is junk insurance and wealthy people don’t buy it. Besides, most credit cards provide similar insurance for free just for charging the item on their card.

Wealthy people strategically target their insurance spending. It has to protect wealthy adequately or build wealth.

Large assets require coverage. Homeowners should have adequate insurance to protect against large losses. Wealthy people frequently have high deductibles, however. Small losses are easily handler out-of-pocket and insuring for small losses is always a losing game.

Home and auto insurance are more than just protecting the asset’s value. Many wealthy people don’t have collision on their vehicle or have a high deductible. That is because a damaged car is a mild inconvenience when it comes to building serious wealth. 

Lawsuits, on the other hand, are a different story. A minor fender-bender might set you back a few thousand; the lawsuit several hundred thousand and a boatload of time, anxiety and stress.

Wealthy people almost always enhance their insurance with an umbrella policy, extending liability coverage beyond the original policy limits. Damage to property almost always  is a minor issue when it comes to wealth, but a lawsuit can eliminate all vestiges wealth ever existed in your portfolio. And, as already mentioned, it can happen faster than the snap of the fingers.

Other insurances wealthy people use fund legacy planning and business protection. Protecting a business protects the income stream, an important consideration for the wealthy and those soon to be. Legacy planning frequently includes insurance to deal with tax issues, fund charities of choice and provide long-term for family after our wealthy friend departs this realm. You would be surprised how much income can be generated with a proper insurance policy and it isn’t the insurance policy providing the income, only the protection and/or framework to provide such additional income.

Non-wealthy people fight this expenditure the most. I even saw a popular blogger a few years back claim he forewent homeowner’s insurance. I can only imagine the risk and damage readers taking his advice faced. (The real value of homeowner’s insurance in the liability protection, not the casualty coverage, by the way.)

Wealthy people buy insurance that protects against serious losses to wealth while poor people insure items on Amazon with a sticker price under $100. That one simple fact tells a very large story.

The right insurance is important. The insurance agent might not be the right place to go to find out the best values in insurance (insurance agents don’t always understand legal and tax issues). That is why we consult with educated attorneys and tax/accounting professionals. Your accountant and attorney are a vital part of your plan to build and retain wealth, and frequently have a fundamental understanding of all the wealth issues involved, including insurance.



There are other things wealthy people spend on too. The 5 above are areas wealthy people generally do not skimp on. Too much is at stake if they do.

Thinking like a wealthy person is the first step in building wealth. Keep yourself as healthy as possible, adequately protect yourself with qualified legal professionals, also hire qualified people in the tax and accounting field, never stop learning and protect your current and future assets with proper insurance.

You might have other priorities. Many wealthy people travel more than I do, but it isn’t required. Some buy more home than I would feel comfortable living in. To each their own, I say. But the 5 categories above are where all wealthy people focus their spending if they plan on keeping it. That might be a hint you should, too. 

Engage frugality and put the excess monies to work. Learning to save and spend properly is the only way to reach financial goals; to reach true levels of significant wealth.


More Wealth Building Resources

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

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.

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

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

Now that we are firmly in the dog days of summer (as I write and published this, not as you are probably reading it) it is time to turn our attention to how pets actually make us richer in so many ways, including financially. And since it is the dogs days of summer we will focus on cats. This isn’t to take anything away from dogs and dog lovers (we always had a dog on the farm growing up). Dogs are cash machines, same as cats. It’s just that your favorite accountant currently lives with two cats.

Now I can hear some folks out there taking exception to my premise that pets are a cash machine when pets actually cost money. Food, litter, toys and vet bills add up. A few years back a blogger in the FIRE community let the world know pets were a frivolous expense and in no way frugal. I disagreed then and now. Unless you have a herd of animals in your home, pets increase your health and wealth in many ways. And our furry family members do it in such a stealthy way.

Of course I’m biased. I enjoyed cats in the home since high school. We always had a dog or two around the farm when I was growing up. A farm dog is a great help when getting the cows in at milking time. They are also a great companion when working in the barn and fields. There is a wealth beyond financial that friendship brings. And cats take care of important business, too.

You know you are in trouble when you get this look. Usually it means, “FEED ME!!!”

1. Medical Expenses

a. Health Insurance

 The biggest financial benefit of owning cats involves health costs. Pets, and especially cats, have been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Medical costs are a serious percent of the family budget. Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure can not only save on prescriptions and doctor visits, but also open the door to savings with lower cost health insurance plans. A high-deductible health insurance plan that is health savings account (HSA) qualified reduces costs up front while opening the door for tax-deductible savings you can use for future out-of-pocket medical expenses or for retirement if not used by age 65. 

The financial benefits of owning a cat can exceed the expenses of owning a cat. That should come as no surprise. with medical cost so high.

b. Heart Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. with ~650,000 people dying from this single cause every year. Stroke claims around another 150,000 Americans each year.

Due to the cholesterol and blood pressure lowering benefits cats bring, owning a cat could help you live longer. According to a Goodnet.org article, owning a cat can lower your risk of certain heart diseases and stroke by ~ 30%. 

Interacting with your cat also lowers cortisol levels. This means merely playing with your cat can lower the hormone responsible for weight gain. Excess weight is a major factor in many illnesses in the U.S. as well. Lower weight can also increase quality of life which comes in handy if you are going to live longer.

c. Faster Healing

The purring sound cats make when happy reduces stress and facilitates healing of bones, muscles and tendons. Something as simple as your cat laying on your lap and purring as you pet her can improve your health.

Vibration frequencies between 18-35 hertz have been shown to promote healing. The vibrations the purring of a cat creates fall within the 20-140 hertz range. It is no wonder a purring cat helps us get better sooner.

In a February 2018 report from the NIH, cats can also increase your mood, reduce loneliness and help children with developmental disabilities. 

d. Stress

Stress and anxiety is endemic in our modern world. Petting your cat actually lowers anxiety and stress levels by causing the release of calming chemicals in your body. 

Costs for stress and anxiety have reached $300 billion per year in the U.S., including: lost work hours, lower productivity, accidents, medical and insurance costs. 

Less stress improves mental health, too. Our furry family member improves our life on multiple levels. Taking care of our cat releases feel-good neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters reduce stress and thereby, reduce health costs.

e. Fewer Allergies for Kids

A study from the National institute of Health released in 2002 indicated children exposed to cats in their first year of life were less likely to suffer from allergies. It seems high exposure to cats in a child’s early years reduces pet allergies later in life, but also for other common allergies: ragweed, grass, pollen.

I run this place and don’t you forget it.

2. Social Life

a. Family Life

Dr. June Nicolls, a leading pet researcher, found women are more attracted to men with cats. This isn’t a minor benefit either, guys. According to Nicolls, 90% of single women found men with cats nicer and more caring than men without a cat.

While I found no research proving the following statement, I think it is fair to consider owning a cat can improve your home life and interactions with family members. Instead of a fight escalating, the aggrieved party can talk it out with the family cat. Also, caring for a cat improves parenting instincts. By providing for your cat you train yourself to care for others and consider their feelings. This is good for everyone involved.

b. Energy Levels

There is a study from Indiana University (link no longer available) that says simply watching cat videos can boost energy levels and create positive emotions. There was also a reduction in negative emotions. Even if you don’t own a cat, watching videos of cats can provide health benefits. The sound of purring, even from a computer speaker, is valuable if you are healing from injury.

Cats talk! Pinky says, “It’s okay for food to fall from the dinner table.”

3. Making Money with Your Cat

Up till this point we focused on the money you can save from having a resident cat. Even a minor reduction in medical costs can turn your tabby into to a financial dynamo. Add the personal benefits and joy of petting and playing with your furry friend and it becomes clear cats really are a member of the family.

But saving money is only one financial benefit of cat ownership. You can also make make money with cats. 

a. Social Media

Rachel Miller is a self-acclaimed Facebook marketing geek. In the past she had a cat page on Facebook and made money from it. Countless others have turned some coin with cat videos on YouTube, Instagram and other social media sites. Here is one of my favorite YouTube channels (and a profitable one, I might add).

Cats are always a great selling tool. (Animals in general are. That is why so many firms use animals in advertisements.) If you are lucky you might get your cat into a marketing program with nice residuals. (Think Grumpy Cat.) If you have a business or side hustle your cat can bring home the bacon by providing your business a friendly face.

b. Cat Business

There are a variety of cat businesses to choose from. Cat grooming, training and cat-sitting are a few ways your cat can earn money for you. I have a client who makes kitty clothes; she turns a tidy profit. Her cat models the outfits and helps her size the clothes and costumes.

c. Rodent Control

Another massive benefit of having cats is they keep rodents away. Every so often a mouse makes its way indoors as the weather turns cooler in the autumn. We never need to spend on poison or traps. One mouse; two cats. What odds do you give the mouse? 

Mice and rats carry disease. Cats keeping a watchful eye 24/7 means rodents never get established in your home. The cost of an exterminator is significant and the household cats do it for free. 


Several years ago a personal finance blogger (as stated in the open of this post) nixed the idea of having a pet because it wasn’t frugal. He caught heck for that post (it wasn’t me!). Having too many pets can be a drain on the family finances. However, life is  series of trade-offs. You can’t spend on every item that glows in the dark and party all the time and have money for a pet. Your cat also needs love; while they soothe you, you soothe them. So you need home time with kitty daily.

It isn’t hard to make money with a pet in our modern world. I picked cats because I have cats. A dog or other pet can work just as well. People love watching animal videos. There was a time(it might still be out there) where people would put a video on their TV of a fish aquarium. And people binge watch cat videos on YouTube all the time.

Animals relax us. Cats are special. They don’t take a lot of work (feed them and clean the litter box and you are good to go). But too many cat owners miss the financial opportunity their furry friend provides. 

It seems cat pictures and videos sell. With that said, I will be starting a Facebook page for my kitties soon. I then can share the antics of my cats, along with other funny cat videos and placards. Who knows, my cats might pay the light bill one day soon.

Pinky is enjoying the last of the Dog Days of summer.


More Wealth Building Resources

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

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.

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

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

Every crisis has its own flavor. The Cuban Missile Crisis was man made and did absolutely nothing unless a stupid decision was made where the end of the world happened. The Great Depression came on rather fast, the 2008-9 housing crisis was brought to a boil slowly until the pot boiled over. And now we have our first serious pandemic in 100 years. 

The rules have changes since the 1918-19 Spanish Flu. Today we know washing our hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and social distancing are powerful tools  to prevent the spread of the virus. Modern medicine is also far more advanced from the early 20th Century. Ventilators and drug therapies can help many survive long enough until their bodies can fight the virus on its own.

If only that was all it took to solve the problem. The stock market is down, reflecting the dim prospects for companies trying to turn a profit in a quickly declining economy. Decisions need to be made while you are under heavy duress. Should you sell an investment, or maybe buy? Is early retirement or collecting Social Security early a good move? How does your business survive if it has been deemed non-essential? The financial decisions you make today will have consequences for years to come.

You can make a difference.

These and similar questions have filled my days this past week. Here I am writing this on Tuesday and already helped this week a 64 year old man decide if he should take Social Security early. We weighed his situation, considered the likelihood he may earn over the income limit before he reaches full retirement age, put into perspective the cost if he does exceed the income limit and compare it to what his current needs are. He had to make the final decision; I just helped him see the full picture clearly. 

In less than one day my office helped a restaurant go from a breakfast joint shut down due to the virus to a restaurant delivering meals from early morning to late at night. By outlining his options he was able to go from down and out to vibrant business. It looks like his business will be bigger than it was before the pandemic on the delivery service alone!

These and other serious business and financial issues are superseding my normal work in the tax arena. Plus we have two new tax laws and a third on the way. People are confused and small business owners have plenty to worry about.

Today the governor of my state deemed my office essential. (Whew!) Tax returns have slowed from the pace expected this time of year if there were no pandemic and what comes in is all virtual. And people have until July 15th to get their return filed and any tax paid. Temporary employees have all been sent home, A skeleton crew remains to answer the phone, receive and send documents via mail and portal and prepare the returns, payroll and bookkeeping that does come in.

Rather than close the doors, I will do the most essential thing of all: help you, kind readers, make sense of the unknowns in our world today.

I have pulled back from consulting over the past year because it is a very grueling job, taking a large amount of energy. Doing too much only means I end up sick (breaking down from exhaustion versus an actual illness). That happened last tax season when I felt I could consult, prepare taxes, and keep a regular schedule of social media events informing people of the best tax strategies out there. (I went down like a sack of potatoes.)

Helping friends in need is what friends are for.

But things have changed. My work schedule has obviously declined. Therefore, I am opening the doors to more consulting sessions. If you contacted me before, please resubmit your request. We did get to some of the requests from earlier this year in the past few days, but tax clients took precedence.

Now that things have changed I will have available time to focus on dealing with the unique issues facing you. I will not tell you what to do, but I can build an understandable picture to help you make the best choices possible. If I can help you remove the emotions involved and focus on the facts of the situation, it should be financially rewarding with benefits that extend for years or even to the rest of your life. 

At the end of this post I will provide the link to my Contact Page. Read the rules for working with me and then outline your situation in your consulting request. If it is something I don’t think I can help with I will let you know and point you to someone who can help if I have someone in mind. If I feel I can add value my team will ask a few questions so I can adequately prepare for the consulting session. 

These sessions do not have to focus on taxes only. We can discuss retirement, buying or selling real estate or any other investment, personal struggles during this pandemic and more. I will always offer encouragement. It is so important you focus and think clearly as you make decisions during this crisis! I have helped clients for decades deal with the worst of crises. Nothing is off limits in consulting sessions while this pandemic is active. I will not give medical advice, of course, but I can help you make the best medical decision for you as you work thought your personal situation. We are in this together. We will take this rapid onset medical, investment and economic crisis head on. It will never be perfect, but we can make it better than it is now.

Finally, I struggled with how I should handle my fee for consulting. I decided to keep my normal fee so I can keep employees paid and moral high on the home front. All fees received that are not used to pay for salaries and other expenses related to consulting sessions will be donated to homeless shelters, abuse shelters and food banks in my local community. If funding permits, I will also donate to similar organizations supported in the past around the country. 

Here is the link to the Contact Page. I am eager to work with you. Let’s get started.


Required Reading 



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.

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

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

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

Don't check out and travel the world; check-in and change the world. Make a difference. Make the world a better place. #love #travel #help #success #friendsThe extended 4th of July holiday here in the states was a do or die situation in The Wealthy Accountant offices this year. Illness had plagued me for some time and became acute just as tax season got underway. The pain was exquisite and unrelenting. It was time to decide if I can continue doing the things I most love.

In July I published a late post letting readers and clients know where things stand. You can read the prior post if you wants details from the trenches.

Things have changed a lot in the last three months. Clients and readers should be pleased my health has improved enough that I no longer consider health issues an existential crisis. 

The second part of this post is an update on Camp Accountant. 


Check-in or Check Out?

My writing process requires time. Usually I have a good idea what I will write about days in advance. As I think about the topic I gather materials and scribble notes. This post is no different.

Where this post is different is the material covered. I always want to tell a story that engages, drawing the reader in. Repeating what I already published seemed redundant to me and since this post is really an extension of the post linked above I will pick up where I left off. 


Thinking about the nature of my illness caused ideas to keep flooding my mind. For the first time in my adult life I seriously had to consider retirement and an old nemesis returned: depression. I prefer discussions of solutions over complaining about the inequalities of life. 

Earlier this summer, I had to face the real possibility of life without purpose. What would I do if I no longer could do what I was good at? 

I visualized a life of leisure with stacks of books and nothing to do all day long. As much as I love reading and books I knew a life of accumulating knowledge I would never use or share was still meaningless. And longtime readers of this blog know my disdain for travel.

That is when this little verse popped into my head:


Don’t check out and travel the world;

Check-in and change the world.


I don’t know what you can do with that. It sums up my philosophy on life. Hopefully these words give you the motivation to do great things. 

When health declines strange thoughts enter the brain. My journey is not done. There are many things I must do; things that could change the world at least for one person. I now know this blog is only practice for a much larger stage. I also know, from this blog, that I do not handle the large stage well so I need plenty of practice. 

When the purpose is important enough you will find a way. Somehow God, life, something, just comes together to make important things come to life. Our worst moments of life eventually become the most important events of life. True value is impossible without these moments of crisis.

All I know is that I am not ready to check out. This blog and my accounting career have more room the run; things that must be done.

But there is one more thing I must do. Something so important (in my egotistical mind) it will change the world for the better for at least a few people. I wish I could flesh it out here and now, but you would not understand without the full context. All I can say for now is that it will start with a TEDx talk, a book and a larger public presentation. It will be the hardest thing I have ever done; the hardest thing I will ever do. And I have to stand in the light on a stage. And travel.

You see, I had to get well enough (and experienced enough) to complete these tasks. 

Before you think I flipped my rocker, let me say that my purpose will change the world for at least a small number of people. Not at the level of Bill Gates, Elon Musk or Steve Jobs. No, my earth shattering world change may only make a difference in the life of only one. But for that one person it will mean everything. And the odds are good more than one will be served. Too much is at stake to be diverted over a simple illness.


What was Wrong with TWA

The short version of my illness is I had a sinus and lung infection that required several rounds of antibiotics to resolve. Recovery is still in progress.

The cause of the infection probably came from a serious issue with acid reflux. Several years ago I noticed reflux issues but thought little of it. Acid reflux is such a minor issue (in my mind) that it didn’t need attention. 

Jogging would cause coughing bouts. Even flying was an issue. (Maybe that is why I hate traveling so much?) As the reflux worsened I reduced my workouts to adjust and my diet declined. Weight went on and round and round we go down the drain.

The doctor said the acid reflux did not cause the infections (in her opinion). The infection just made the reflux more noticeable. I disagree. I would wake up at night choking. It was painful. It felt like it got in my lungs.

Regardless if the chicken preceded the egg, I ended up with a serious infection coupled with serious acid reflux. I was unable to talk and breathing was difficult. And I was in constant pain.

The infection is gone; the acid reflux is more of a constant friend. Diet and exercise improved after the infection was removed. (I gained nearly 40 pounds!) I can talk again to the chagrin of family and employees. I can even sing in church on Sunday morning, though I would not sit too close. I’ve been know to etch glass with my voice. Now we will see if my voice survives the upcoming tax season.


Where do We Go from Here?

There is no doubt I took the additional time allotted me while I healed to reflect on what life means to me.

I enjoy my work and always have. There is more work than any one man or business can handle. That is a hard lesson for me; the ability to say “No” when it is the right thing to say. 

Just because you can do something does not mean you should!

The tax practice lives on. Current clients stay. I will not say I will never add another new client. What I am saying is that any new client will probably be local. I can’t be everything to everyone, taking the most complex tax returns from around the country. (Refer to the point before this paragraph.)

This blog also stays. The once per week publishing schedule works nice and if I want to pound out a few other ideas I’ve been working on I can always have an extra post now and again. 

To compensate for fewer clients (some old clients leave and fewer replace them) I will focus on helping the largest number of people with a course on taxes tips. (News coming soon!) The same questions keep coming up again and again. With a course I can say it once and help thousands instead of one-on-one. A few other courses are also planned.

Consulting is still on. My consulting this year is way down due to that nasty loss of voice. If you contacted me on a consulting session you may hear from me soon. While consulting is still a go, understand I can’t consult with every request I get. There are just too many and I really do not want a relapse of the first half of this year. 

And then we come to Camp Accountant.


Camp Accountant

Yes, Camp Accountant is now a real thing! Use the link for details and sign up.

Several false starts have finally ended in a real Camp. Changes were important. In the past I was pushed to do a Camp by someone else’s rules and it kept falling apart. I finally decided to have the Camp right where I want it: a short walk from my tax office. (Sorry Colorado fans. The Upper Midwest also needs some love too.)

Camp Accountant: Where you go to learn the simple path to success, wealth and financial independence. #FI #FIRE #CampAccountant #Simple #Path #success #wealthI also decided I would run it my way. These things are a lot of work and I was expecting somebody else to do all the lifting. My contribution would be showing up. That wasn’t working.

Instead of the traditional FI and FIRE camps around the country, I settled on a one-day event. I brought in two speakers and all attendees get a Wealthy Accountant t-shirt. We also will tour my office so the proletariat can see how the bourgeoisie works in his natural habitat. Warning! You might be underwhelmed.

The morning will be presentations with guest speakers. I will share thoughts on the topic as well. After a nature walk to my office and lunch I will give a presentation followed by a Q&A. (Think of the Q&A as a consulting session without the cost.) If no one has any questions (that would be a first) I have an additional topic to cover. 

Camp Accountant should be fun and informative. It is for everyone looking to build wealth, reach financial independence and make a difference. CPAs, enrolled agents and attorneys get CPE, but this doesn’t mean only these people will benefit. We are offering the CPE so these professionals can get a tax deduction as they satisfy their continuing education requirements.


I hope no one was too worried about my health. People were asking so I thought it best to publish an update. Camp Accountant is something people have asked for as well. I am very happy this is happening. 

Now I am working to keep balance so I don’t relapse. I am grateful for the best clients and readers anywhere. This is important to me because I know it helps you. So I repeat:

Don’t check out and travel the world;

Check-in and change the world.



More Wealth Building Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End burnout. Review the symptoms and remedies to work related stress. #burnout #work #job #retirement #life #happinessIt can happen to anyone: burnout. 

Long hours conducting a repetitive task increases the risk. Not enjoying the work also increases the risk (though it could be more to do with drudgery than burnout). Not controlling your environment on any level is sure to increase stress and the likelihood of burnout.

Burnout is not about working a lot of hours. Rather, it involves stresses on the nervous system similar to PTSD. While a soldier in the field can suffer massive stresses to his nervous system, the same can happen to anyone who feels trapped in a dangerous (even perceived) situation. 

Elon Musk is a perfect example of a person who can handle significant stress without feeling burnout or worse, Musk loves his work and believes he is making a difference that will outlive him. He handles stress differently as a result.

However, when stress built in areas he could not control he showed classical signs of burnout. Shareholders demanded profits and more production or they would sell the stock, adding stress to an already full plate for Musk. 

Normally Musk is a pretty happy guy living his dream. But when market conditions outside his control pressured him hard he started to crack as everyone does when they struggle with a situation they are in. Tweets and other outbursts were counter-productive. Smoking weed on a podcast didn’t help either. (We may have assumed he smoked weed, but doing so publicly in his position put his business at risk.)

Musk survived in large part because he retained a massive amount of control. He made changes to Tesla and worked relentlessly until a resolution presented itself. 

Not everyone is as lucky as Musk. Stuck in a job you hate will sap the life out of you. If the job has high demands and stress it will start you down a path that doesn’t end pretty.


Symptoms of Burnout

Burnout is only one step on a road to hell. Left unchecked it can cause serious damage to your health. 

If you experience burnout and take no remedial actions you can start to exhibit symptoms of something much worse. 

The first step toward a nervous breakdown is burnout. Fatigue lowers your mental defenses. When the situation continues to pound, feelings of desperation can set in. Helplessness is a large factor of burnout.

When you really love what you are doing fatigue and stress are handled in a manageable way as long as you have some control over the situation. (You can take a break when needed.)

Exhaustion is natural when you work hard at a task. A short break, a nap, a good night’s sleep, are all rejuvenating. When time off doesn’t reinvigorate you something is wrong.

End stress and burnout. No more feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Get your life back #stress #burnout #nervousbreakdown #problems #helpBusiness owners can experience burnout from long hours coupled with the demands of running a business. Even if you love the work you can feel trapped inside the demands you don’t care to handle inside your business. It is this trapped feeling that stresses the nervous system without a release.

In a world where financial independence is possible at a young age for many and dreams of early retirement coat the internet it is easy to think burnout should be a thing of the past.

But burnout can affect you in retirement, too! You might feel trapped living the dream of a significant other. A goal of world travel can turn into drudgery when travel doesn’t give you what you hoped. Eventually you can feel trapped and then the nervous system feels the accumulating stress.

It can even affect pleasant pass times. Golf might have been a great joy every weekend and holiday when you had a traditional job. You might have longed for vacation time so you could enjoy the links. 

Then you reach your financial goals and retired. Now you spend all day knocking the ball around the greens and it is no longer an escape. Golf was what you did to get away from a situation (work) you didn’t want to do at the same level as golf. Now golf drags on day after day after day after . . . 

Any task can stress the system. Work is a common stressor. Unemployment is too!

Burnout, since it is a close cousin to PTSD, doesn’t require an unpleasant task to experience it. A soldier gets trapped in a situation and his nervous system begins to struggle. The same can happen sitting alone in a room. If you don’t believe it, ask a prisoner locked in solitary confinement for an extended period how much stress he feels and see if it doesn’t sound a lot like burnout, a nervous breakdown or PTSD. He is feeling burnout from being locked in a small room without any control over his environment.

Burnout symptoms can make the situation worse. Depression and anxiety increase. Irritability can cause outbursts. Sleeplessness hastens the descent. Violence, as you struggle to gain some control of your environment, directed inward or outward, is likely to get an unwanted societal response. Rarely does situation improve without professional help.

There is also a tendency to self medicate. Drugs/alcohol  might seem like a solution while struggling with burnout. Unfortunately, it only makes it worse.

A common work tendency when burnout surfaces is procrastination. You want to avoid the stressor at all costs and all costs it could be.

Left unchecked, burnout can leave lasting wounds even after the stress is released.  Damage to those around you may never heal. You may never heal as burnout can progress to a nervous breakdown which can take years to recover from. Post traumatic stress is common at this point. Your nervous system eventually starts to rewire as a coping mechanism. And when the rewiring is no longer needed the nervous system is permanently damaged.


Recovering from Burnout

A soldier in the trenches easily can feel trapped with bullets flying and bombs exploding. There is very limited control over the situation which is why so many military personnel suffer from PTSD.

Thankfully most people reading this will ever experience such a situation. We might get trapped in a job we hate or find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation. In most cases the walls, feelings of being trapped, are more self-imposed than real.

Recovering from burnout requires removal from the stressor. A vacation (extended, if necessary) frequently does the trick. 

Burnout finds roots in helplessness which means it is loss of control over the situation you find yourself in causing the problems. The first step to recovery, therefore, requires you to gain some semblance on control over the outcome.

Bring joy back to your life. End stress and burnout; embrace happiness. Learn to do the things that make you strong. #stress #burnout #fatigue #helplessness #hope #happiness #joyBusiness owners can find business overwhelming. Reduced hours, fewer client or more staffing can bring life back into balance. Just knowing, acknowledging,  you have these controls over the situation can alleviate symptoms of burnout. 

A job is worse than owning your own business. In business you can adjust the size of the company and still put bread on the table. A job is an all-or-none financial situation. If you lose your job you take a serious income hit. This lack of control could be a leading reason people hate their jobs so much. It’s not that they hate the work or the people they are working with, but that their life can be turned inside out at the snap of the fingers and you may never see it coming.

The FIRE (financial independence, retire early) movement focuses on this very issue. The goal is to get out of the traditional work environment as soon as possible.

However, it isn’t about hedonism. The happiest people in the FIRE community continue doing meaningful activities. Some write blogs, others take up side hustles, others start a business. It wasn’t work that was the problem, it was “meaningful” work and control over your destiny that was the issue. 

Burnout has serious long-term consequences if left unchecked. You can change your job, pay down debt (another area where it is easy to feel loss of control), design the life you enjoy most. Refusing to acknowledge you can change your situation can cost you your health, family, happiness or worse.

Regain control. A side hustle can be started while working in a traditional employment environment. Traditional work can also be rewarding. Many enjoy the traditional framework. If you are one of these people and feel the stress, you want to be more, not less, involved. Your involvement is a level of control that helps you engage while lowering stress and the risks of burnout.

And if you are retired and feeling burnout you need to take a long, hard look. It is likely you are living some else’s dream of retirement. Don’t emulate a blogger just because it looks like they have a cool lifestyle. (It is for them, probably not for you.) Travel if you want; don’t is you don’t want.

Live your life on your terms. It is hard to experience burnout, regardless the workload, in these situations.

Diet and exercise play a large role in avoiding burnout. Take time to exercise and make good food a priority.

Once anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts start it is time for professional intervention. Seeking help is not a weakness; it is a strength.


Dealing with Burnout

I had a different post planned for this week. However, I was feeling the pressure from tax returns on extension and blog traffic.

A tax return in my office was causing me no end of grief. Every time I made progress another problem arose. I was feeling the loss of control bad. Six interconnected tax returns were occupying my life for months and I couldn’t break through. I spent long hours at the office doing avoidance work. Procrastination was killing my productivity. 

Add to that the  normal summer traffic slowdown on this blog and burnout started running wild. Why bother writing if nobody is going to read it, I surmised. Except people are reading it and interacting. It was a pity party doing me no good. 

Finally I decided I had enough. I came in on weekends and evenings to find a way to break the problem. I was taking control! 

This post is slightly delayed because I just couldn’t get the energy to write Sunday night. The good news is I made massive progress on the problem tax return Saturday. Yes, another wall showed up, but this time I have a head of steam. I’m taking control. I should finish Monday. (Whew!)

No matter how dire the situation you have some level of control. And since loss of control is the first step to burnout and worse afflictions, control is where you need to focus.

The soldier in the field can focus on what he can control. Elon Musk took control like a boss and broke through the problems and ended many of his burnout symptoms. Musk never eased up a step on his workload. He loves what he does and made sure it stayed that way. 

You can also take control. There is always some aspect of your work or business situation you can manipulate to your advantage. (Don’t think of this as bad manipulation. Manipulation of a situation for the good of all is more than acceptable.) 

In the end you might choose early retirement or a different job or a side hustle. I’m here to tell you, it’s okay.

Keeping yourself locked in mental solitary confinement is not good for you, your family, friends or community. If you need professional help, seek it. Or, you might find you just need to acknowledge what you can control and then use that to move forward. 

Nothing is worse than the helplessness of burnout; the feeling of quitting and running away. You can do better than that.



More Wealth Building Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liar’s dice?

Who is the most dangerous blogger on the internet today? This is a serious question. Think about it for a while.

What characteristics would cause a blogger to become dangerous? To start, the blogger would need an audience to be dangerous. A blog with a modest, but fast growing, audience would have an increasing influence in our society.

Another characteristic might entail new ideas masked as truth. Imagine a blogger telling a story with a broad concept that intentionally excludes many of the facts. A grain of knowledge is a powerful tool to expand learning or it can be a recipe for disaster on a colossal scale.

Have you thought of a few bloggers who might be dangerous? Can you narrow it down to one?

I’ll tell you who I think is the most dangerous blogger on the internet right now. You’re reading him.

That needs some explanation.

The Facts

Things have been pretty darn good around these parts lately. The Wealthy Accountant received nominations in two categories for the Plutus Awards and traffic is climbing for a variety of reasons, including the nominations.

Bloggers can masquerade lies as truth. Their advice may sound plausible, but can be extremely harmful. #injury #risk #bloggers #family #badadvice #adviceTraffic is over 80,000 in the last month with October looking to break into six figures. Blog revenues are climbing, too. Certain advertisers have turned me into a project. They want some real estate on this blog. Don’t expect more ads, however. I’ve included enough ad space to break up the page and flesh out the design. I love revenue, but user experience is more important than ads by a mile.

TWA is experiencing more traffic referrals. Other bloggers find my work acceptable periodically so they include a mention on their blog or in social media. It gives me the warm and fuzzy feeling so I always re-tweet and share mentions when I see them.

Interviews are more common now, too. People seem to think I have something important to say because my traffic is climbing. It’s a self-fulfilling feedback loop I have no qualms with. Traffic strokes my fragile ego. There is a satisfying feeling connected to acknowledgement.

Every blog appeals to a certain demographic. TWA has an inordinate number of tax professionals (and government officials) reading on a regular basis. That is why I needed to write this post.

Danger Zone

Periodically, traffic spikes to 100 visitors here at the same time. It makes me nervous. This is still small traffic compared to most popular blogs, but it exposes a risk. What if these people actually believe what I wrote? Worse, what the heck did I write a year and a half ago? The risk prolific writers face is not remembering what they published the day before yesterday. It could be age, but it’s not! The sheer volume requires readers to refresh my memory when they ask about my previous work. Feels funny when I get schooled by my previous efforts.

Now we get to the part that makes me dangerous. What I write here is wrong 100% of the time! Sorry.

I better qualify the last statement before I’m hauled away.

There is a grain of truth in every statement. Dangerous bloggers tell their truth. That's the problem. The worst offender should be no surprise. #dangerous #truth #bloggers #lies #safetyWhen I write on TWA I avoid dry and stale tax explanations. My goal is to write high concept while knowing the details will require working out later.

Take a simple example. If I say donations to a qualified charity are deductible and move on I only told part of the story. On the surface I am right. Pull back the sheets and issues start to crop up.

Charitable donations are deductible if you itemize. Okay, that is still a lie. If your income is high, your itemized deductions might be limited so the deduction is partial.

I’m still a liar! If you retired and have a side gig with no profit and used a Roth IRA to fund your living expenses, you can’t deduct the charitable contribution even if you itemize because you can only deduct 50% of your AGI for cash charitable contributions. The balance is carried over for up to five years where it is lost afterwards.

And I’m still a sniveling liar! What if the alternative minimum tax interferes?

After all the qualifying of my first statement—charitable contributions are deductible—I am still pumping BS. Sitting here writing I can’t think of anything else that might affect my original statement. It doesn’t mean there aren’t any more out there.

As soon as I open my yap on a tax issue I’m a bigger liar than any fisherman who wet a line. And I know it every time I tap the keyboard.

In the tax profession we constantly say “facts and circumstances”. There is no way I can possibly cover every eventuality. I either write dry, staid tax articles where I cover a very, very narrow topic or I write something normal human beings want to read. I choose the later.

Helping the largest number of people requires I write something they want to read.

The Greatest Danger

Tax professionals hound me incessantly. They inform me how wrong I am. I get it.

When fleshing out a concept I intentionally choose what to include. You read that right. I intentionally get it wrong! If I didn’t, I would be bogged down in 30,000 word posts attempting to cover every possible option. Nobody would read it, including your favorite accountant.

Over the next six months I will publish some very complex tax concepts. The first one and a half years of this blog was tame. Now we will start pealing back the tax code in a serious way. Dropping 50 grand into a retirement account is a child’s game from now on. Now we will hyper-charge the wealth building and tax planning process.

The die is cast.

And everything I say will be wrong . . . for you. In each post where I expose a massive tax concept I will be thinking of how it applies to a client or a small number of clients. Your facts and circumstances will be different and so the rules for you will be different.

Another example: A recent consulting session led a client to contact his attorney to set up a NIMCRUT on my advice. He cc’d me in on the email. I wrote back a few questions and upon reply came to the conclusion he would be better served with a donor-advised fund. This is a simpler and cheaper solution to accomplish his needs. Once again, it all hinged on facts and circumstances. And we didn’t even debate all the other pitfalls of charitable donations discussed above!

When I throw out ideas it is a starting point. Complex tax strategies completely fleshed out for every possibility is a book, not a blog post.

Tax professionals should know better, yet sometimes don’t. Shame on you. When I provide a concept you need to dig further. Sometimes I include links when I find web pages that add value to the argument.

Bloggers want to share knowledge they've gleaned from the world around them. Their misconceptions can cost your health, family, safety and wealth. Don't fall for lies bloggers' tell. #health #family #safety #advice #diet #exercise #wealth #moneyYou, kind readers, are my greatest concern. Some of you are very versed in the nuances of the tax code; others, not so much. Okay, I am not lying when I publish here, but I may as well be if I can’t communicate an adequate message. The concepts I outline work. Your facts and circumstances determine the value the concept has for you. Also remember, you can change the facts and circumstances sometimes to your benefit.

I understand the difficulty in finding qualified tax professionals to help you with this stuff. That is why I encourage tax pros to share their contact information in the forum. Readers, check the forum often. Post questions so accountants can help you and even offer their services.

Final Warning

It’s time for me to get back to work on the aforementioned concepts. The decisions are hard. Your favorite accountant is far from perfect. If you think I said something wrong, do NOT hesitate to leave a comment or contact me. I find real errors periodically and fix them as soon as they are discovered.

The tax code is too large and complex for my work to always be perfect. Tax professionals need to test me constantly for this to benefit the largest number of people, including you, my friendly tax pros.

Finally, everything you read here should be taken like a Margarita. With a grain of salt.

There seems to be an inordinate amount of interest in my writing notes. Periodically I will includes my working notes that spur the writing of a post for your entertainment. Sometimes these notes have been around a while before I write the post. The final product can sometimes be radically different than intended. Writing works that way at times. My working notes are unedited; I will not correct errors in working notes to preserve the process as it was originally produced. Enjoy.


Things have been going pretty good around here. Traffic is up and TWA has been nominated for a Plutus Award in two categories.

My head should be swelling, but instead I am nervous. When I watch the live traffic on Google Analytic I am nervous when 50 or 100 people are consuming my work all at the same time. WHAT IF THEY ACTUALLY BELIEVE WHAT I WROTE?!?!

Blogging tax advice is dangerous and I know it. I make intentional errors for the sake of fleshing out a concept; I incl ideas few will benefit from but have to incl it. Posts need to stay reasonable in length. 20,000 words of taxspeak is sure to snuff out a few lives of readers. Three, maybe four, tax pros might stick around for the punch line, but I’m not holding my breath.

Tax charitable deductions as an example: to a qualified charity they are deductible. Right? No! First you must itemize, not make too much and phase out, have income because only 50% of cash donations count and AMT might be an issue. One simple remark is technically correct, yet fundamentally wrong and I know it when I write. Facts and circumstances change the answer.

So I tell readers donations to a qualified charities are deductible and hope for the best.

It’s the risk a blogger takes daily.

Considering the risks this blogger takes with the public it is a wonder he hasn’t been committed.

The author lean, mean and young. The channel lock has a 10 inch maw. Farming builds muscle!

Growing up on a dairy farm in northeast Wisconsin in the 1970s had its advantages. Computers were the stuff of Star Trek reruns and staying in the house was a form of punishment.

The kids in my family loved summer. We would run and bike down the road and through fresh mown fields of alfalfa. The only neighbor within striking distance was a rental property. To our great fortune the couple who moved in also had kids reasonably close to our age. They were soon sworn in members of our cult.

In the summer we would play cops and robbers on our bikes. Len was a big dude and always wanted to play the cop. The advantage we had is we were wiry kids born of solid German stock. Our lean bodies could bike faster than Len could ever hope to keep up with. The robbers won every time.

During winter we would build massive snow forts. A few winters in the mid to late 1970s included record snowfall for our little corner of the world. The snow plow would pile snow to the highline wires.

Grandma would scold us kids as we built forts in the massive banks. Finally a truce was called where we were allowed to dig our snow mansions into the side of the snow banks on the side away from the road. Those were the best of times.

Then the 1970s came to an end. Len and his brother Joel and their sister Dawn were gone. (If you guys read this please contact me. I really would like to know whatever happened to you guys. I pray you had a good life.) The first signs of financial strain were showing on the farm. I was halfway through high school.

Then the dream was over.

Growing Up

Fitness was never an issue in my younger days. High levels of activity kept me fit and trim. The food we ate was clean and pure, most of it raised on our own farm.

Adulthood brought with it a more sedentary life. The family farm was gone and within four years I was living the good life of retirement wondering what the heck to do with myself.

Mrs. Accountant, a new business and kiddos soon filled the wonder. I decided sitting in a chair and reading all day was fun, but hard on the body. I was still is super-great shape consuming my youthful legacy.

By the time the candles on the birthday cake reached into the 40s the legacy was gone. I was out of shape and had extra pounds.

Something had to be done. Guzzling soda no longer was fun. It upset my stomach and seemed to grow there too. No more free rides.

I took action when the scale tipped 220 pounds (100 kilograms). The weight didn’t sit nice either.

Fed up with my physical condition I started running. To my surprise I couldn’t make it a quarter mile (.4 kilometers) before stopping with my hands on knees out of breath.

The closest crossroad to my home was a quarter mile away. I insisted I make the distance. Much of it was walked, but I did make it back home. My lungs burned.

What happened to me? It was never like this?

I was shocked into action. Every day I ran. First to the corner, then a bit further. Soon my strength increased and endurance improved.

Before long I was pushing a mile (1.6 kilometers), then two, then five and even more. The weight peeled off. I even ran a half marathon and finished in a respectable time.

Weight was no longer an issue as long as I was addicted to running. Over 50 pounds (23 kilograms) was gone and I have no idea where I placed it. The wiry kid was back.

There is a difference between farm boys and runners. I lost the weight, but my muscle mass was nil outside my legs.

Once I dropped below 170 pounds (77 kilograms) I no longer looked health. I was too thin. I was hungry all the time and the unrelenting running schedule was felt in my joints and lower back. Time to go back to the drawing board.

Heavy running will peel off excess weight. It was a schedule I couldn’t keep up forever. As pleasant as a runner’s high was I needed to tweak my gameplan.

Advanced Training

Running made me hungry all the time. I ate whatever and whenever I wanted. And I ate a lot. As much as I ate as a growing boy running all day on the farm. A half dozen eggs was a good start for a meal.

The eating had to happen with all the calories I was burning. However, no amount of strength training would add muscle since I burned every bit of food I stuffed down my throat.

The Wealthy Accountant had nice muscle started in junior high.

I thought I could have it all! I started to workout at the gym to build muscle mass. I would cap a workout with a 10 mile run. For some reason I couldn’t build muscle. Go figure.

A trainer at the gym finally convinced me I had to ease up on the running if I wanted to build muscle. Two years later I was bench pressing 265 (120 kilograms) and squatting 370 (168 kilograms). On good days I could push even more.

I ate lean and had muscle and could run like the wind. It also took a lot of time. Then this blog came along.

You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. I think I heard that somewhere. Writing is something I love as much as the running. More time was required to write and service all the new clients. You know the story. Most of you here have lived or are living a similar timeline. Spoooooky.

The something that gave was the running. Hernia surgery didn’t end the running—I ran five miles four days out of surgery much to the doctor’s chagrin. But my muscle mass was about at a peak for my age and body type unless I wanted to go professional or extreme. My policy is exercise in moderation. (Notice I slipped the pun in?)

I kept running for a while until I joined a gym between my office and home. Three days a week I lifted, reaching the numbers listed above. I also ran three days a week with one day off.

Eventually I focused on the weight training to further enhance my appearance. Running ebbed until I wasn’t running much at all.

The weight started creeping up. Hunger was still ravenous like it was when running so the diet didn’t change when the exertion did.

New Goals

If you are still with me it is because you struggled at least once in your life with body weight and/or muscle build. Western lifestyles are not conducive to a healthy body. Life is good so we MUST make an effort to retain or rebuild our health.

Weight lifting made me feel as good as running and I was starting to look pretty darn good. Mrs. Accountant couldn’t keep her hands off me. Not that I was complaining.

I kept reducing the running part of my exercise schedule because I noticed the less I ran the more muscle I built. But the pounds started adding on before long.

A year later I was at 214 pounds (97 kilograms) again, slightly less than I was as flab-boy several years back.

The good news is that a lot of the weight was muscle. But let’s be honest, there was plenty of fat on the scene too.

Some of the weight I took off eventually was added back as muscle; the rest was lard. My legs and arm were chiseled; my midsection was another story.

Men tend to put excess weight on in the stomach area first and women on the tail. Exercise can reduce this excess, but it takes a lot of work and diet MUST be a part of the process or you will never succeed unless you are lucky enough to have a body that will allow you to run 20 miles (32 kilometers) a day. And even then . . .

I needed new goals I could use the remainder of my life. Here is how I broke down my physical goals:

  • Running: I want to have endurance without training to marathon levels. If I can run 5 miles (8 kilometers) comfortably on a long day and 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) on a normal day I would consider that appropriate. My goal is to run 2-3 times per week.
  • Strength: Bench press: 215 pounds (98 kilograms); squats: 265 pounds (120 kilograms); bicep curls: 35 pounds (16 kilograms) per arm, et cetera.
  • Weight: Ideal weight goal would be somewhere in the 180s (84 kilograms). Not too heavy and not too light. Plenty of heft for muscle and endurance, but not too much to look flabby.

Some of these physical goals would still be a stretch while I adjusted to my new diet and exercise schedule. It was okay. I didn’t have to bench the peak amount every day. If things felt good I can always lift more or run further as long as it is a periodic, rather than normal, part of my training.

The real goal was to get rid of the gut. Soda, junk food and alcohol were partly to blame. The rest of the blame lies with eating too much all the time.

The physical goals required few adjustments. I started running again at least two times a week. It didn’t take long to feel comfortable pushing two miles or so on a typical run. I also interspersed hiking and biking into the mix without reducing the run frequency.

You Are What You Eat

Activity wasn’t my problem, eating was. My craving for junk food was my great undoing. Soda is the worst. At home we don’t keep soda, but at the office we provide free beverages to clients and employees, including soda. Sometimes I can’t resist. (I’d make a joke here, but this is too serious an issue. Our lives depend on it.)

I worked hard to clean up my diet. I stopped drinking alcohol. In my younger days I drank a lot. Then I spent decades drinking almost no alcohol. It was purely a choice. Then I started drinking a bit more. Beer is not something I ever crave, but a shot or three of whisky is good. (Whisky has up to 300 calories per shot!) For the record I will still drink in social settings so don’t worry about offending me if you offer a beer. If I don’t want it I’ll say so; if I haven’t overindulged lately I’ll probably say yes.

Soda is a boogeyman in the room. I cut soda out for several weeks and now drink maybe a can or two per week. (I’m human and far from perfect.)

Snacks are the interesting part. My craving for chips, crackers and other assorted snacks is all but gone. I still eat the stuff in social setting, but at home I rarely touch the stuff and when I do it is a small portion as it doesn’t sit with me.


My goals and diet were defined. I started eating cleaner. For some reason the scale kept reading 214 pounds (97 kilograms)! What gives?

Running with Mrs. Accountant, junior Accountants and niece Accountants.

First, as I started this new phase of my life I kept eating pretty much as I always have. Even without soda, alcohol and junk food I wasn’t shedding tonnage. It was disappointing. If I lost a pound or two, hunger returned and so did the weight. I was stuck in neutral. If I were most people I could have been satisfied. I had great muscle mass with a gut. One out of two isn’t bad. Right? Wrong!

The real problem I knew existed in the back of my mind had to be addressed. I am 53 years old. Not 16, not 45; 53. Okay. Age makes a difference!

My metabolism was slowing down with age and I needed to adjust for it and/or do something to speed it back up. That is when my research discovered fasting.

I practiced fasting in the past. Never seriously, but more as a thought experiment. This is where my story has to end and the real facts get exposed so you can improve your life.

I’ll share my experiences so you have an example to guide you, but we have to talk facts. This gets serious now.

Lies, Lies and More Lies: The Intermittent Fasting Story

Is there anyone left in the room who hasn’t heard the most important meal of the day is breakfast? And it’s the biggest lie ever used to assault the health of the American people and is spreading to the rest of the world.

Two hundred years ago and prior eating breakfast was considered a form of gluttony. According to Heather Arndt Anderson is her book Breakfast: A History, nothing was consumed with the exception of coffee or tea prior to lunch.

So where did this crazy idea you had to eat first thing after jumping out of bed start? My research reveals the quote came from a 1917 article written by Lenna Cooper and published in Good Health magazine.

The breakfast cereal companies saw a grand marketing opportunity and the rest is history. You were brainwashed by a lie disguised as common knowledge. People even argue kids suffer greatly in their ability to learn if they skip breakfast. We’ll expose that lie in a bit.

First we want to go back and review what Cooper really said. She said breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it is the first. This meal should be simple, easy to digest, enjoyed with the family and not over 500 calories. Processed cereal and sugar filled products were not what Cooper recommended. I can only imagine what the marketers will do to twist my words to their advantage. Just the thought makes me nauseous.

Breakfast is important, even the most important meal of the day. You enjoy this meal around noon and it must be healthy! What makes for an ideal breakfast? Steel-cut oatmeal, fruit and nuts. Your body will thank you if you break your fast with these foods.

I fell for the ‘ol eat right away in the morning gag too. And it was near impossible to lose weight! My breakfast was healthy. Oatmeal was common, but eggs were more common. And the calorie count was low.

It also fired up the system. My pancreas released insulin to help process any sugars in the food. It doesn’t take much to get the system turned back on.

Processing food takes energy normally segregated for the brain’s use. Some people report greater mental acuity when fasting and this might be the reason why. A belly full of food diverts resources from the brain to the gut.

Once the system is turned on it wants to keep going and requires periodic refilling of the tank. The three square meals a day is another big lie.

One source I found claims Europeans started the three meals a day mantra when they arrived in the New World. It seems the Native Americans ate whenever they felt like it. The morning, noon and early evening regular meal schedule was seen by the Europeans as a sign of their sophistication whereas the Native American eating style was seen as uncivilized.

This is all well and good, but what does it have to do with better health, weight loss or intermittent fasting?

The Beginner’s Fast

I was trying everything to lose weight and it wasn’t working. Running was sure to make a difference, but if I slowed my pace in the future weight was sure to start sticking to my abs. And I am well aware of the calendar. Eventually time will slow my metabolism more and my body will be unable to deliver consistent massive runs.

My research took me to intermittent fasting. YouTube videos were a massive help, but I had to be careful. Some videos are better than others. After over 100 videos and articles I felt my level of competence was high enough to put the plan into action.

There are several types of intermittent fasting. The method I chose is sometimes called 18:6. Under this type of fasting I eat during a six hour window each day and fast the remaining 18 hours.

Other types of intermittent fasting include eating normal one day and no more than 600 calories the next. You continue alternating on and off days. Another style included fasting for an entire day one or two days a week.

I picked the 6 hours feeding window type because it didn’t require a special diet nor long-term fasts which could affect my workout performance.

The nice thing about the 18:6 fast is that you can start small. Begin by missing breakfast. Over time the feeding window should shrink until you are eating during a small timeframe each day.

I chose a feeding window in the evening. My normal eating pattern favors more evening consumption of food. Breakfast was easy to miss as I am rarely hungry early in the morning. Unless I am totally disengaged I can avoid food easier during the daytime than early evening.

Food, glorious food!

My feeding window shrunk to 4-5 hours quickly without much bother. Some days I got hungry and if it was too much I ate something light. If a client wanted to have lunch, I had lunch. This wasn’t a hard and fast rule. It was a guideline I could bend when circumstances dictated as long as I didn’t find an excuse on a regular basis. I didn’t. I stayed true to the program.

The results? Well, I dropped twelve pounds (5.4 kilograms) so far. Another twelve and I will have reached the top end of my acceptable weight band.

Muscle mass is good. I don’t think I lost any muscle, but below I will share how I lost some strength when heavy lifting.

I felt better as I dropped the pounds. Running started to feel better. The lower weight made it easier to run and put less stress on the joints.

There are additional benefits to eating during a small evening window. I agree with people reporting their mental concentration improved. I no longer need to brown bag a lunch for the office either.

The best part is my body started to adjust so I rarely felt hungry during the day. Workouts and running were better before I ate. That’s right! I am heavy lifting and running after twenty hours without food! And my workouts are better now than ever.

Since I put no diet restrictions on my fasting I was worried I might binge. I found the opposite to be true. I drink less soda without cravings. Most junk food turns my stomach. My calorie intake is probably a bit lower, but I make no effort to restrict calories. Calorie restriction generally leads to muscle loss and I made muscle a priority.

The six hour feeding window (that term sounds funny to this farm boy) ended up shrinking to 4-5 hours most days. Some days I ate during a seven our window; sometimes in only a 2-3 hour window. Things were going well.

Then I did something stupid.

Long-term Fasting

In the past I tried a few full-day fasts. They worked, but I found them hard to do. Twenty four hours is a long time to go without food. Now that I trained my body to go longer periods of time between eating I felt I was ready to give long-term fasting another chance.

The advantage of fasting is to train the body to burn fat. By eating all the time our body never gets a rest. It is always digesting and burning sugar (glycol). As soon as glycol runs low in the liver our body sends hungry signals to get another sugar fix.

Your body wants sugar all the time because sugar is addicting and people living in the Western world are sugar addicts. You can’t avoid the stuff.

Fasting solves the problem. After about twelve hours the liver runs out of glycol. The body then turns to glycol in the muscles (not to be confused with muscle loss) and fat. Intermittent fasting trains the body to burn fat for part of the day. That was the main reason I couldn’t lose weight when I was eating all day. Fat was never burned. I ate clean, but if I wanted to preserve muscle mass I couldn’t restrict many calories. A restricted calorie diet will cause your body to burn muscle.

My body had adjusted to 18-20 hours without food daily. It was time to try a long-term fast. I wanted to go all-in. The goal was to fast for 4-5 days. My reasoning was that after about two days the body starts killing off white blood cells and grows fresh new ones better able to fight disease. There is evidence long-term fasting can lead to longer life and even prevent cancer.

I am uncertain of the claims, but I still wanted to experience a long-term fast. Not just a day, mind you. Something I could be proud of.

Boy, did the proverbial manure hit the fan fast (notice yet another pun).

Fasting is all between the ears. You can easily live without food for a day. The average adult can live somewhere around 60 days without food. Unless you have medical issues, long-term fasting can be beneficial!

So the day was set. I was going to start on a Thursday and go until at least Sunday night without eating.

Wednesday night I ate my last food as I normally do and Thursday morning I woke up so darn hungry I could have eaten the back side out of a skunk.

What was up with that? It wasn’t even twelve hours since I had food last and I was already psyched out. If I wasn’t starting a multi-day fast I would not have eaten for another 10-12 hours anyway.

Just the thought worked on me. I wasn’t going to eat for days.

Thursday night I went to bed hungry and dreamt food. Oh, for crying out loud, Accountant! Man up!

Friday I thought of food all day. It drove me crazy. Friday is a normal gym day so I did a light workout. Long-term fasting requires rigorous exercise be reduced. Light exercise only.

By Friday night I was so mentally twisted I broke down after 48 hours and a few minutes without food. I enjoyed three eggs, if you must know.

I felt terrible for failing.

The worst part is my strength collapsed. At the gym the amount I could press was down seriously. Even running was down. Long-term fasting sapped my endurance and strength.

And I know it was all between the temples. I allowed the whole process to twist my thinking. It has been a while since mental weakness was so pronounced in me. It was a wakeup call.

All the grandstanding I read about where the first day is the hardest, then it gets easier was bull. Day two was a major slog.  Mentally I was unprepared for the 4-day fast.

Back to Intermittent Fasting

I don’t give up easy. The next day I went back into my regular intermittent fasting schedule. Everything seemed fine because my brain knew I would eat that evening.

Tim Ferris said he doesn’t lose muscle when he fasts for several days. My research indicates most fasting doesn’t lead to muscle loss, whereas, calorie restriction does. Intermittent fasting can actually help increase muscle growth because you don’t necessarily eat fewer calories, but your body learns to burn fat on demand!

Even a sedentary accountant can get in shape. And I’m not sharing my watermelon. (Kinda looks like Vladimir Putin, doesn’t it.)

Intermittent fasting has helped me lose some weight while increasing my endurance. My strength is returning to normal from the long-term fast. My workouts now are actually shorter (about 20 minutes) as I started high intensity interval training (HIIT). I spend a lot of time outdoors during the summer so I get plenty of exercise outside the gym. Winter in NE Wisconsin is more of a challenge and the workouts might expand back toward an hour three times per week. Running may decline as weather restricts outdoor activities and I hate treadmills. Regardless, I think I will stick to 2-3 days of running even if it means running indoors. My runs are now only 20-30 minutes anyway so they are easy to fit in.

I don’t give up easy! That long-term fast has me mesmerized. More research is in order. With a 48 hour fast now part of my experience I plan on trying again and making it at least 72 hours with a goal of 96 hours.

Long-term, multi-day fasts should only be tried a few times per year. Intermittent fasting is something you can do daily.

When friends come over or you are at a social gathering there is no reason to enjoy a cold beer, snacks or a small meal even if it doesn’t fit your normal intermittent fasting schedule.

Remember to drink plenty of water while fasting so your body can flush out all the garbage. Tea and coffee are okay. Some people allow creamer or a small amount of sweetener in their tea or coffee. I disagree. Sugar, cream or any substitutes causes an insulin response in the body. At that point the fast is over. The goal is to avoid an insulin response for as long as possible so your body starts burning fat. Remember, insulin builds fat!

Share your experiences with fasting in the comments section. I’ll update periodically. The next long-term fast certainly deserves a mention.

Disclaimer: Whenever talking about health, diet and exercise I must remind you to use common sense. Consult with your doctor or medical professional before engaging any of the activities in this post. Also, don’t try to perform at my level. I’m in pretty good shape. You need to build to lift and run at the levels I do. Some readers are younger or in better shape than I am and will lift more and run longer than I currently do. Please keep safety in mind. I want to see you happy and healthy.

Bonus Ending

[Writing is a funny business. The process of creating a story takes time and evolves over time. In looking over my notes, here is a paragraph I wrote as part of my original outline. I must have thought it was a good idea at the time.

The best part is not having to eat all the time. Like Kim Jong-un I don’t have to eat or the thing you do after digesting the eaten food. My first game of golf I managed a hole in one on all 18 holes, just like Kim. I never sweat when I workout either. Is it any wonder I don’t own a small third world nation of my own?

Aren’t you glad I took a different approach in what I did publish? Me, too.]


In the winter of 1995 Mrs. Accountant and I were a young married couple anxiously awaiting our first child due in late February. Winter in NE Wisconsin has a tendency to get bitter. The winter in question was no different. The holidays were still fresh in our mind on January 7th. My business was a remodeled basement; the following year would be my first with a store front.

The air felt colder than normal and Mrs. Accountant was feeling the effects. The stress of pregnancy coupled with the weather had her bed-ridden. Early on the 7th she got up and wandered to the couch. Then the world turned upside down. Her water broke seven weeks early. Dumb as I was I still knew this was really bad.

I rushed Mrs. Accountant to the hospital. The doctor decided the longer the baby stayed in mom the better. For two days my wife suffered. The doctor finally relented and had Mrs. Accountant transferred to a hospital with facilities for such a premature baby.

It was an intense delivery. I was not allowed in the delivery room. Our first baby entered the world seven weeks early and spent 19 days in intensive care. If I had not worked out of my home at the time I would have never stayed in business. Working from home allowed me all day with my wife and newborn daughter.

The medical problems were only beginning.

Chapter 2

Five years later Mrs. Accountant and I decided we wanted one more child. Two seemed like a good number and we had it in our heads if we only had one child she would be spoiled. (We spoiled her anyway, with love.)

The doctors were taking no chances this round. The ultra sounds were all normal; all tests were normal. It did not matter to Mrs. Accountant and me the gender of our child so we waited for our baby to enter the world to know.

Shortly before the due date the doctor decided a C-section was the safest course. This time I was allowed in the delivery room. The operation went smooth. As the baby slid from mom’s belly one doctor said, “Congratulations, sir. You have a son.” Another doctor said, “Look again doctor. You have a girl, sir.” All I remember was muttering, “It’s both.” The room was silent the remainder of the procedure.

I died that day. Everything you read about me or from me is from a man who did not exist before that day in the delivery room.

Numb, I went to the office and told Bev what happened. Bev, now retired, is a friend of my family since I was born; she is also friend and was a longtime employee as well. I told her I was not coming back. It was over. Nothing in life mattered anymore. It was the closest I ever came to quitting what I love doing so much.

Chapter 3

The medical problems of an intersex child are legend. The mental problems were also hard to handle. My youngest daughter’s birth certificate reads: gender: “unknown”. The birth certificate was later reissued. Normally a Social Security number is issued at birth. We had to wait until we knew the gender for my child.

The hardest part is talking with people. You know the first question asked of new parents: boy or girl? I could not stand it. I was crushed. How do you say “both?

Under stress and distracted, Mrs. Accountant and I had serious decisions to make. Our baby was going to die within a few months if we did not act quickly. The gonads didn’t drop and were pre-cancerous purplish masses that had to be removed: surgery one. My child’s genital were malformed and neither truly male nor female. The urinary tract exited a penile structure and internally. Infection was imminent if the issue were not remedied: surgery two.

The doctors did a DNA test. It was discovered my baby was conceived male, but the Y chromosome became isolated after a few cell divisions. My child’s body was 15% XY (male) and 85% X (androgynous). The second X was missing. In the absence of a sex chromosome the human body tends toward the androgynous, or more feminine. In our minds our baby was a girl. It was also easier for the doctors to construct a female than a male.  We had two daughters.

A Social Security number was issued and the birth certificate updated.

Chapter 4

I was racked with guilt. It was my fault. Something about me caused this failure. Of course this is not true, but back then I felt that way. Deep down, I still do.

Two children; two children with serious medical problems. As I wrote Chapter 2 and 3 above I broke down. After all these years the emotions run deep and cause immense pain.

Support groups are hard to find. The closest thing to intersex is transgender and they are not the same. A transgender has a choice in surgery, my daughter had none; it was either create genitals or die. How would you like that choice as a parent? And if you guess wrong . . .

The therapy for mom and dad did not last long. I discovered quickly most people with children like ours were messed up in the head. They kept it a deep, dark, dirty family secret, as if the child was somehow an abomination. Mrs. Accountant and I took the opposite approach. It isn’t a secret; it is what our daughter is and if you can’t handle it , that is your problem.

Our attitude allowed our daughter to grow up normal. There was a sigh of relief when she took to girlish things. I started joking I had 1 ½ daughters. Some people were offended. They can re-read the last sentence of the last paragraph. We laugh and joke about it. It isn’t a secret and she is not abnormal; she IS normal. A normal girl. (I also joke I have 34 kids of which two have survived . . . so far. The rest had an accident in the pond. I am waiting for the police to show up and dredge the pond for bones. I have sick sense of humor. I have to; it is a survival technique.)

Medical Bills, Money, and Work

More than ever I had to be a parent. Work was secondary. As a business owner with employees I was allowed ample time from the office until my head was set straight. Money, which was not an issue since early adulthood, returned. We lived in the hospital. Surgeries were handled at Children’s Hospital a two hour drive away. Mrs. Accountant always stayed; I sometimes went home and to the office. The truth is I had to get away. It hurt too much.

Insurance covered many of the medical bills, but not all. It was a burden. Ample savings and investments allowed us to survive unscathed. Thank God for frugality at a young age! I shudder at the thought of having to leave my wife and daughters to go to work each day during such an extended crisis.

Once the first few years passed the medical bills declined. Then puberty showed up, or, well, was induced. You see, without gonads or naturally occurring estrogen, my little angel would stop growing around age 10 and would go straight to old age, brittle bones, and death. The medical problems have re-escalated.

This kid of mine has gone through several more surgeries. She had three this year, but we look good for a while now. Gall bladder removal, kidney stones, and migraines are all part of the course. She has an allergic reaction to estrogen so it is difficult finding a balance. She stand 4 foot 8 and will never grow another inch. She is all girl, for sure. A very petite girl.



What about the Oldest Daughter?

My oldest daughter felt left out and jealous at times. She had a point. As she got older she adjusted and understood. The medical issues she had were less life threatening at the time, but have grown as issues as she has grown older. She suffers from Scleroderma and Raynaud’s. I hyperlinked the terms allowing the professionals to explain the details of each disease. In short, Scleroderma calcifies the skin until there is no feeling and Raynaud’s causes limited blood to fingers and toes. Cold turns her fingers and toes black. She lives in Wisconsin, but 80 degrees F can be considered cold at times for her. She could lose digits and her love is art. Life is all too often cruel.

Mrs. Accountant and I care deeply for our children. We have been hit with a one-two punch and remained standing, as resolute as ever.  The prescription medications and doctor bills are one of the largest of our household expenses.

Managing the Minefield of Major Medical Bills

Medical has unloaded well over $1 million from my net worth. There was never any real choice. I will never walk away from my kids! I can live with poverty. I chose my children and Mrs. Accountant over financial wealth if that is the only choice I have. Fortune has granted me both. I am luckier than words can say.

And still, my medical problems are small compared to many. I fight back tears when I see a client with medical issues well beyond anything I have had to deal with. My children are alive! Not everybody is allowed such a gift.

Medical issues affect how we plan financially. Making too much money can leave you with less. Medical bills topped $1 million the first year of my youngest daughter’s life. Picking the right insurance becomes the most important financial decision each year. Social Services help cover many medical bills when the children are very young and when they strike out on their own because they earn so little.

There are other related costs most families don’t face. Doctor visits frequently are a full day drive away. A 15 minute doctor visit can easily top $500 and is not always covered by insurance. The prescriptions are unreal for my girls. The youngest takes pill like a 90 year old. She has no choice. When certain medications are stopped she goes straight to menopause, old age, brittle bones, and death. There is good news! I am in awesome health and take no medications and rarely require doctor visits.

Raynaud's Syndrome

Raynaud’s Syndrome

The answers are not simple, nor do they fit in a neat package. My goal here is to show you how lucky you are if you don’t have medical problems. My goal is show you are not alone if you do. My children are a gift I would never give up. I can live with a challenge. Keeps life interesting.

More than ever, if you have medical risks you need to adopt frugal and responsible financial habits. If your income is low, consider Social Services for help. Many costs can be covered. Also consider your income. Sometimes earning another $10,000 will cost you more in insurance and medical costs than the additional income. By living a reasonable lifestyle you can protect yourself and your family.

I know I dumped a lot on you, kind readers. I can only teach what I know. This post was in the queue for months and it had to be written.  We talk money around here and nothing affects financial wealth more than health. Even in countries with socialized medicine (just about everybody, except the U.S.), health problems still affect finances and quality of life. Medical issues take you away from your job or business, the engine of earned income. Investing early creates a buffer protecting you and your loved ones from such serious body blows. It also allows you the chance to step away from work so you can be with your family.

And to my friends suffering the same issues or worse: Never give up. Money is nothing, only a tool. Life is everything. Live every moment of every day. They will not last forever. Love. Love with every fiber of your being.

I am not a religious man (I found my way back to faith since the original publication date) so I will close with a verse from the Bible:

Now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.