Posts Tagged ‘love’

Marriage and Money: Finding the Perfect Mate

Marriage and money. End money problems in your marriage forever. Turn his and her money into his and her spending. Build love by ending money issues. #wealthyaccountant #money #love #infidelity #spending #divorce #marriage #marriageproblemsFrom the outside it can look easy. Watching a couple together for 30 years and still madly in love is something everyone can enjoy and learn from. We forget the ride from when they met to this very day where they are still together wasn’t a smooth one. Life intervened. Money problems arose, fights broke out, angry words were uttered and myriad other problems interjected into the relationship.

Mrs. Accountant and I are such a couple. We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary earlier this year. Some people like to throw a party as they reach anniversary milestones. Mrs. A and I prefer a more solitude ceremony of two. We share stories and wondered what we did that was so special we would beat the odds.

Both of us came from poor, lower middle-class backgrounds. Mrs. A had a small car loan when we met and a modest balance in the bank. I was starting to make headway, but money was tight. I say this with a brave face. It’s easy to forget how hard we had to work to build our wealth and maintain a stable relationship.

Readers object when I talk about frugal living because some think I have a duty to spend more because I amassed a certain level of affluence. When I proudly proclaim my love for Mrs. A after 30 years of marriage she squeezes my arm tight in delight. Congratulations come from those very same readers. Then they ask how we did it.

I wish it were a simple elevator pitch answer I could give. It’s a lot more. We always communicated and were honest with each other. We accepted each other’s faults and worked hard to improve ourselves and encouraged each other as well. The number one reason people divorce is they fall out of love or are incompatible. If compatibility is the issue, inadequate preparation before the wedding took place. If falling out of love is the issue, spending time together daily planning a future was absent or limited.

If you are honest in your relationship with your significant other there should be a very limited chance you fall out of love. Love is in the mind, not to be confused with lust. Compatibility, if it once existed, can be cultured and grown.

Over a fifth of divorces are due to money issues. That is where this accountant comes in. Incompatibility and even infidelity frequently begins with underlying financial issues. A year ago I published a brutal post on the consequences of poor spending habits and money problems. Back then I decided to take the proverbial 2×4 and plant it right beside the reader’s head. People cringed and walked away. How many readers divorced over money issues since publication of that post is unknown. The answer should have been zero. I made an emotional appeal. In case you need a refresher in lifelong happiness, I will now appeal to the intellectual and planning side of your brain. You can have love and harmony. My 30 years of marriage has taught me a few things about relationships and money I will now share.

His and Her Money

A common practice is to separate family financial resources to keep peace in the household. I’ve never subscribed to that theory and neither does Dave Ramsey.

As I look back over my 30 year marriage I noticed the “his & her” money concept wasn’t exactly ignored. Except for the first few years of our marriage, I am the only income earner in the house. (Mrs. A keeps the home fort intact and brings in some money doing surveys or other side gigs. She keeps household expenses low due to her hard work feeding the herd with healthy home cooked meals with many ingredients from our garden.)

Every couple argues now and again. Mrs. A and I are not exempt! When we disagreed we found ways to climb to common ground. Sometimes I needed to walk away for a bit and really think through the issue from Mrs. A’s perspective. She did the same. We had an agreement to never make it personal or resort to personal attacks; it’s the idea or situation we didn’t like. We always found common ground or agreed to accept our differences in opinions. It worked.

Money issues are the third leading cause of divorce at 22%, according to the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysis. Nearly a quarter of marriages are terminated (I use that work precisely) due to money problems! There must have been residual compatibility. The loss of love or falling out of love is common when the relationship is a never-ending pressure cooker of stress. Money problems can lead to infidelity, the second leading cause of divorce. Money problems might claim 22% of the causalities, but never forget the other issues causing divorce are frequently instigated by financial problems. Considering these factors, money almost certainly is the true leading cause of the destruction of interpersonal relationships (marriages and people cohabiting).

A variety of methods have been devised to smooth money problems before they happen. His and her money is a common solution. Mrs. A and I never kept separate accounts. We combined our finances the day we married and never looked back. Sometimes assets get titled in one name only so both of us don’t have to be there. Buying a car is a good example. But Mrs. A knows before the purchase is actually made.

His and Her Spending

While we don’t keep separate accounts, we do have separate spending.

The idea of his and her money is to give both parties involved an opportunity to spend on something they want without judgment from the other party. Mrs. A and I never found the need to keep spending hidden.

Everyone has their own special pleasures. I love books and spend a lot on them. Mrs. A loves books, but gets most of hers from the library. I use the library, too, but not as much as Mrs. A.

Finding the perfect mate is only the first step in building a life-long relationship. Money issues will happen Planning financial issues in advance will keep love alive and the fire burning. #wealthyaccountant #love #mate #dating #relationships #marriage #financial #goodmen #goodwomenA few weeks ago my mother asked Mrs. A and my daughters to a girl’s day out. I knew money would be spent. The girls bought some tea cups as a souvenir. I raised an eyebrow when I saw this. Tea cups are not of interest to me. I politely asked, “How much?” “Eight fifty.”

Some married couples would get mad over a hedonistic purchase. I didn’t. I laughed it off and enjoyed the tea cup purchase with the females of the house. Mrs. A knows she can spend without consulting me first, especially for minor purchases. I can do the same. A car and other large purchases we discuss and plan beforehand.

Even investments are more a discussion to bounce ideas. If I want to invest in a project, Mrs. A listens as I outline my plan. She points out things that don’t add up to her, but always lets me make the final call. The same goes for major business decisions. I want Mrs. A’s feedback so I lay out the details for her. Regardless the outcome, Mrs. A never complains over an investment or business decision I make. No disgusted glances if it doesn’t work out either.

His and her spending doesn’t require separate accounts. Mrs. A and I keep a small amount of cash for purchases and use the credit card (paid in full each month religiously) for most purchases. If we don’t want to share what we bought we just keep the credit card receipt. It doesn’t take long before we admit to the purchase for one really good reason.

Mrs. A and I share what we spend on so we can both enjoy the purchase! Yes, if Mrs. A finds a neat outfit or shoes; I’m not excited about the purchase. Clothes are more a girl’s thing (is it a guy thing too?). What I mean by enjoying a purchase is the time I get watching Mrs. A talk about her shopping stalking skills as she hunted her prey and got the best deal possible on something she wanted. There is a gleam in her eye and that is what I enjoy. Even more than Mrs. A enjoyed her purchase.

Mrs. A extends the same courtesy. When I buy yet another economics, business or money book, Mrs. A just gently smiles. (I am so far behind in my reading.) But she gets the same pleasure I do when I share the purchase. I walk around the house paging through the book, even if I intend to read it much later. I share my feelings about the purchase. I can tell she isn’t any more intrigued over an economics text than prior to the purchase. But she is delighted with my excitement.

Then there are times his and her money gets in the way and his and her spending is superior.  We don’t allot a special spending limit. We always respect each other and keep spending low. But we are much more willing to spend larger amounts when together! Even if I want something Mrs. A isn’t excited about she instantly does what she really enjoys: hunting for the bargain. I return the favor whenever it arises.

Yes, there are some things we want just for us. Individuality is important even in a committed relationship. Of course major purchases are decided together. But small indulgences do not require permission or disclosure.

Many years ago Mrs. A and I decided not to buy each other Christmas gifts. We do buy ourselves something whenever the situation is right and call it our Christmas gift. One year we decided our 25 year old bikes needed updating. We spent what I consider serious money on new bikes for the whole clan. It was June. Merry Christmas, honey!

You see, we don’t trap ourselves in societal spending requirements. If nothing shows up we really want we don’t get a Christmas present that year. (We still have each other, but I can’t tell you what Mrs. A has for me under the tree.) Sometimes we get several Christmas presents in a year. Several years back when Bess (our 1987 Oldsmobile) died we bought a bank repo to replace her. Merry Christmas! We decided to tag along with my parent to Cost Rica that year, too. Merry Christmas! Mrs. A wanted to upgrade some appliances. Merry Christmas! And a happy New Year, too!

Mrs. A and I are wedded to each other, not a limiting game plan dictated by societal norms or previous discussions. We can, and do, change our mind as we go.

Honesty and Budgeting

What makes his and her spending work is honesty and budgeting. The honesty part is my bid. I tend to have my fingers in all facets of household finances. If things are tight (income is low because I’m horsing around instead of working) and I don’t want to take money from investments to pay for purchases, I let Mrs. A know in advance. I might manage the money, but I discuss finances a lot with Mrs. A and invite the girls to listen in, too, so they can learn how I think when planning spending and investing. My finances are an open book in my home.

Budgeting is a different story. The idea of setting up categories with limits on spending in each is foreign to me. I hated the process when working with non-profit organizations and I hate it in my business and personal life.

In business my budgeting is super easy. I compare this year to last year and work hard to have higher income and lower spending over the prior year. To increase the fun and challenge, I break certain categories into segments to monitor performance. Call it a sickness.

His and her money is bad advice too many use and lose. His and her spending can eliminate money problems while keeping love alive and growing. #wealthyaccountant #money#moneyproblems #love #relationships #dating #compatibility #lover #spendingAt home it’s even less formal. We only spend on what we need unless we plan additional spending. Unspecified room is allotted for unscheduled spending. If a client wants to go out to lunch I don’t need Mrs. A.s approval. Nor do I have to tell her about the expense. I probably tell her anyway as I share my day, but the unscheduled expense is perfectly within our spending agreement.

Mrs. A has more unplanned spending than I. Once per week she gets groceries. She loves a bargain so she shops hard for the best deal. She might find shirts in clearance. She buys several even if we don’t need them now. Mrs. A has more fashion sense than me so I let her buy all the clothes. She also tells me when I need to divest of a t-shirt or other article of clothing. (But homey, there aren’t that many holes in it yet. Besides, it’s comfortable.)

Honesty is the most important part of finances in a relationship. Hiding spending is different than unscheduled spending. If we get an urge to buy a lottery ticket we can talk the other down. If I have a mid-life crisis, Mrs. A can sooth my nerves as I let the sweet Z-28 slip through my fingers.

Spending desires happen to even frugal people. Our marriage is teamwork and we treat it as such. There is no predetermined spending limit. If Mrs. A wants something, she can dip into my stash. Without his and her money we can spend “our” mad money with limited restrictions. Remember, we’re frugal, not deprived!

Money is so important in life. It can make life a breeze or an unmitigated disaster. If his and her money works for you, great! I suggest the “his and her spending method” instead.

It is vital to keep communication open with your significant other. Be honest. Allow room for personal spending without accountability. If necessary, set a spending limit so finances are not stretched. Too frugal can be just as damaging to a relationship as over-spending. Honest discussion allows you to find your common ground or lack thereof. It is okay to be the frugal one in the household. Don’t require the wife (or husband) to be a carbon copy of you.

And don’t forget to spend together sometimes. That’s more fun than something only for you.

 

More Wealth Building Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

This is What Happens When You Start a Business After a Career Setback

Today is Labor Day in the States so I decided to do a bit less of it (for one day; okay, I took off the whole weekend). Larry Mager has been gracious enough to write today’s message. It goes well with the Labor Day theme. The link to Larry personal project, ReadyBrain.net is at the end of the post in his bio. — The Wealthy (and relaxed) Accountant

 

When life hands you lemons, you’re supposed to make lemonade. Nobody knows that better than people who have suffered career setbacks and then gone on to start their own businesses. It may sound crazy, but getting demoted, failing to get a promotion, or being laid off can turn into one of the best things that has happened to you if you use the setback as an opportunity to take charge of your professional life and become your own boss. This is what happens when you do.

  1. You Look Forward Instead of Backward

People who suffer a setback and start a business have no choice but to look forward instead of backward. As Sallie Krawcheck explains, “There was a freedom in being forced to stand on my own two feet, even if it involved getting knocked off them first.”

The freedom of forging your own path, controlling your own destiny, and making your own success is what draws so many people who experience a career setback to start their own business.

Of course, your past is what makes you who you are today, but you cannot dwell on the past if you want to get ahead. You have to let go of your self-doubt and fear if you are going to make it as a new small business owner. One way to make sure you look forward is to go in a new direction with your business; try starting a business that aligns with your passion rather than one that aligns with your former career.

  1. You Can Pursue Your Passion

Many small business owners find that doing work they love is what gets them through the cash flow challenges, slow business days, and uncertainty that inevitably occurs in the early days of the business. If you have a hobby, such as woodworking or baking, try turning that into your new business. You already have experience with the work, and chances are, people already know you are good at it if you have shared your creations with them.

Or, turn a side job that you used to love, like dog walking, into a career. Dog walkers are in high demand as people with traditional jobs and families lack time to spend with their dogs. You’ll be able to set your own hours, take on as many clients as you want, and enjoy spending time in nature with the animals you love.

To transform your passion into a successful business, learn more about it and dive in. Make a loose business plan and start advertising and marketing on social media and local radio stations. Find others who share your passion via social media and LinkedIn and start networking harder than you did in your former career. Your enthusiasm will create positive customer experiences, and they will start spreading the word about you and your products or services.

  1. You Enjoy Independence and Flexibility

If you were miserable in your former career because of the static hours and strict processes and procedures, you will be much happier being your own boss. When you start a business, you need to be prepared to put in long hours, but you get to choose how you spend those hours and when you put in the time.

You will make the decisions, write the mission statement, and determine the policies and procedures. And, you will enjoy more flexibility as your business grows and becomes established. Eventually, you will be able to take time for yourself and your friends and family that you otherwise would not have had in your former career.

  1. You Can Take Advantage of Tax Perks

Entrepreneurs, small business owners, and freelancers can take advantage of some tax perks that people in traditional careers cannot. Check with your accountant to see which tax benefits you are eligible for, and keep in mind that specific startups qualify for some government incentives, too. You may be able to write off travel expenses, food expenses, food bills, car insurance, office supplies, and more. And, if you work from home, you can take advantage of the home office tax deduction.

If you suffer a career setback, turn your failure into opportunity by starting your own business so you can look forward instead of backward, pursue your passion, enjoy independence and flexibility, and take advantage of tax perks.

Image via Pixabay by Meditations

Larry is a mental fitness expert researching how brain exercises can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.  He believes exercising the brain is just as important as exercising the body.  He enjoys writing about mental fitness games, puzzles, and other resources.  He created ReadyBrain.net to help give people the mental workout they need to have a healthy brain.

How Milking Cows Taught Me to Respect Women

It all went wrong before I ever started. Mrs. Accountant and the junior accountants (I have daughters so I guess they are junettes) carpooled with me to take care of a variety of errands in town. When the family gathers in a confined place the situation turns strange very fast as I start with crazy talk.

For the record I consider myself a bit of a comedian. Not in any professional sense, but I fashion myself as a funny guy. Give me an espresso or two, wait fifteen minutes and watch the fun begin. Once on a roll it is hard to stop the train.

The clan sees me writing a blog so a lot of blog writing is going on around the house. Before long I was coming up with what I considered powerhouse titles to posts when the title of this post popped into my head. Groans echoed around the cabin of the car. I stood my ground. It was funny and I knew it. (It was also clickbait and I knew that too!)

The girls of the household don’t always hold my level of humor in high esteem. It hurts. My feelings are tender. The lack of enthusiasm for my blog title only encouraged me to step up the game a level. I started to flesh out the details of the obvious humor piece. The jokes came fast and furious while I skirted around the implication of the title.

No matter how hard I milked the situation I was cowed. My udderly fantastic jokes fell on deaf ears! How could that be?

Later in the day we stopped at the office. I shared my humor with the team. My spirits found another hoof to stand on as the folks who haunt the halls of my practice found my humor enjoyable. Then it dawned on me I pay these people. They could be humoring me to preserve their paycheck or it could be I hire people as perverted as me. More research was required.

Milking cows teaches us multiple lessons: leadership, respect, love, and even how to raise our children. Learn how milking cows can teach you the most valuable life skills, including building wealth.

Milking cows teaches us multiple lessons: leadership, respect, love, and even how to raise our children. Learn how milking cows can teach you the most valuable life skills, including building wealth.

The last item on the agenda was a visit to the gym. I couldn’t wait to share my humor. But before I had the title out groans pulsed through the crowd. The ladies turned and left with twisted faces; the guys were stunned silent. As hard as it is, I had to put the idea out to pasture.

Busting Tail

If you allow an idea to percolate in my head for a while I sometimes turn a sow’s ear into a coin purse. (My apologies to all the sows reading this blog.) The title is obviously clickbait and I am good with that. It also allows me to share stories from my farming background that help illustrate the issues surrounding financial independence and success. So here goes.

You can learn a lot about a farmer by looking at his cows. Cows are ladies and should be treated as such. They are as soft and tender as any human female. They will love you and trust you as long as it is earned. If you slap your significant other around you get the same response a cow gives when you beat and abuse her.

In the old days before milking parlors were the rage farmers milked cows while they stood in stalls with their heads secured (the cows, not the farmers) in a stanchion. Two rows of cows were secured along either side of a wide walkway.

Cows don’t always want to get milked. Some cows love it; other are a bit more reluctant to getting felt up by a human and have a machine suctioned to their teats. Women.

When a woman refuses to listen, a man has several ways to deal with the situation. You can grab a pipe or hit with the expected results of anger, push-back, animosity and fear. It doesn’t work guys! You can force all you want, but nothing beats voluntary compliance. (Stay with me ladies. Voluntary compliance through deceit is not nice either, but there is a point to this.)

There are other methods to getting a cow in a stanchion. An unruly cow can be pushed. Every farmer knows you can twist a cow’s tail in a loop and push. It causes serious pain for the cow and might be enough to get the cow to walk forward. Of course if you push even a bit too much you break the tail.

You can tell a lot about a farmer by walking into his barn. If his cows all have broken tails you know what’s going on. The farmer thinks he can force his girls into compliance. Hitting and the electric cattle prod are sure to be a part of the torture sessions.

This behavior is cruel and never works. Dumb farmers up the game by breaking the tail multiple times or getting a bigger lead pipe. Thankfully most of these types of farmers are long gone, out of business.

You never treat a lady like that. EVER! And cows are ladies. If you treat your ladies in the barn that way I can only imagine how you treat the lady of the house.

Busted tails are a bad sign! It doesn’t work either. Cows get stubborn and will take the pain before acquiescing. Hence the multiple tail breaks. It also lowers milk production. Happy cows make happy farmers; abused cows make broke farmers.

There is a way to get a cow to do what you want within reason. For that we need to talk numbers.

My Favorite Numbers

Years later we built a milking parlor (1978). (I started milking cows at a young age.) Our parlor was a herringbone style where twelve cows were milked in two rows, six on each side. The cows walked in and stood at a slight angle so the backside of the cow was slightly toward the middle.

The farmer stood in a pit between the rows of cows. The pit was a major improvement over stanchions. No more crouching and kneeling to milk cows. More knees were saved than any other time in history.

The udders were chest height to the farmer in the pit. The udder was washed with warm water and massaged to help the cow relax and drop her milk. A machine with teat cups with pulsing suction extracted the milk. Another tremendous improvement was the automatic takeoff. When the cow was done milking the machine sensed this and automatically stopped the suction and an arm pulled back the milking apparatus.

Holy Cow

Once the cow was milked the farmer’s work was not done. The farmer would apply teat dip to each teat to prevent bacteria from entering the teat, protecting from disease.

The care and treatment of cows is of the highest importance to dairy farmers. Those girls are the entire business. An injured or sick cow meant hard times for the farmer. Treat your girls right and business was good.

Milking parlors increase the number of cows one person could milk. Our simple herringbone style parlor allowed me to milk a couple hundred cows in a few hours versus several people milking 60 cows in the same timeframe.

As the cows waited to be milked they stood in a holding area. As cows were milked and released the holding area needed to shrink to force the cows into the parlor. An electrified bar with chains hanging down were on a trolley controlled from the parlor pit. The farmer hit a button sending an alarm from the electrified chains as the trolley slowly moved forward. I hated the darn thing with a passion.

My favorite cow was Number 34. She was always the second cow in every milking on the south side of the parlor. Her daughter, Number 82, was the last cow milked every time. Both walked in of their own free will.

You see, Number 34 and I had a good working relationship. I would greet her every day with a smile and a hug around the neck. The way she turned her head to hug me back makes me believe she enjoyed our relationship. She was a good cow. I miss her.

Her daughter, Number 82, was just as friendly. Mother and daughter enjoyed more petting and brushing than any two cows I ever saw. Our cows were friendly, but these two were off the scale.

34 was nearly first every milking; 82 was last because she was cleanup crew. I hated the electric chains so I used them seldom. 82 would actually herd the last stragglers in before she stepped in herself to be milked. God, I miss those girls.

Leadership Skills

Remember I said some farmers try to force their cows into compliance? Well, it doesn’t work any better with cows than it does with humans. The preferred method to encourage compliance is bribery with food. To get cows in stanchions a farmer will place food in a bunk in front of the stanchions. It works wonders.

In the parlor there was a place for corn or haylage in each spot the cows stood. Corn is a powerful inducement to get cows to do what you want. I never bribed my girls. They always walked in because they wanted to be milked.

A cow with a full udder must feel uncomfortable. At least it seemed to me by their body language. The only reason a cow will not volunteer for the blessed relief of an empty udder is abuse or fear. Food can get a cow to respond even when afraid, but it is completely unnecessary if you treat the ladies with respect.

My voice was all I needed. “Milking time girls,” is all I needed to say and they came running. If they were out in the pasture I yelled out, “Here, CABAASSSSS!” The high pitched wail was all that was needed to bring the herd running, yes running, to the barn. There is something about a couple hundred cows running straight for you at full speed. A cow weights around 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) each. Mutual respect is the only reason I felt safe standing my ground while exposed.

My cows knew me and I knew them. Each cow has her own personality. Daily I would walk among the cows as they grazed in the field or roamed the free stall barn, petting them as I went. I knew a cow was sick before she did. I could see it in her body and actions.

Communication was important. My ladies knew my voice and knew it meant safety. They ran to my voice any time of the day. If I walked among them they always gathered around.

There is no doubt my girls knew what I was saying. Sure, they didn’t know the actual words, but they knew the tone. They knew I was going to brush them before I did. The cows would rub against me, careful not to knock me over. I didn’t push them around and they didn’t push me around. Something I was always grateful for. My girls a big!

Milking cows taught me how to treat women (and money). You can’t force either. You might use intimidation or fear to get what you want but it is always a self-defeating activity. My cows wanted to come by me and be milked. Mrs. Accountant loves me and stays by me because she wants to. I can’t force her (or the junettes) to do anything they don’t want to. The relationship is symbiotic.

People try to force money all the time by playing the lottery of day trading. It rarely works. You can start breaking tails to force the issue or bribing with yummy corn. In the end it is the hard way to get anything done.

The only way to financial independence is the same way to treat cows. You spend time at it patiently. You invest daily and allow the investment to yield dividends. When done correctly the cows walk right in to be milked. When done correctly money comes to you without threat or intimidation or forcing of the issue.

Finally, all those years of experience massaging cow udders to please my cows have paid off with Mrs. Accountant. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist at least one joke from the original content.)

I Preempt Our Regular Programming (Can We Talk?)

Sitting in a darkened room at 2 a.m. searching for words to type seems like an adventure for Don Quixote. Will anyone read the post? Will it matter? All questions, and doubts, every blogger faces daily.

Of course we can take solace in our traffic statistics. Numbers keep stair-stepping higher, salving our fragile egos. But each step higher is followed by a slight reduction in traffic before finding a floor, waiting for the next exposure sending traffic another notch higher creating more doubts.

Then we have revenue streams. Young blogs building traffic to acceptable levels see modest income. The heart flutters with delight when a batch of good news arrives. People are “buying” into my ideas. Readers become fans and start their Amazon shopping from the blog and consider affiliates listed or shared as part of a post. A surprise upswing causes the heart to sink when the follow-through is weak.

The comments offer consolation.  Each comment reminds me a reader is engaged. Of all the things a reader can do to remind the blogger he is not alone in the darkened room at 2 a.m. is to comment. The message at least got through far enough to encourage an intelligent response.

Many more readers contact than comment. The contacts come to me via email. I read them all. Answering each is impossible. I send many to my office manager for further review. She then decides which ones to contact for possible consultation and which to consider offering our tax services.

I see everything from the contacts. Some are almost impossible to understand as the commenter is venting recent events. Some want to thank me for my efforts and to encourage my work. Many ask for advice or to be a client. Then a voice comes from the wilderness and I stop in my tracks. Someone, close to home, has had their life changed for the better because I was alive today.

The Blessed Voice

Like most bloggers I watch my traffic intensively. There are clusters of readers around the country and the world. The cluster surrounding my office is one of the smaller ones. Part of the reason is the smaller population of the area. Another reason is many people viewing this blog on mobile devices show up as traffic from a distant location. The local cluster is probably much larger than Google Analytics indicates.

Every so often I get an offer for lunch, coffee or a beer. I am open to this. Unless the request contains scary verbiage I am happy to meet readers and talk shop to just talk about life. (For the record very few people have ever contacted me with scary verbiage.) I enjoy meeting readers and sharing stories. Some things I share in real life I would never share on a public blog so there are some advantages to meeting me in the real world.

Last week I received an email from a young man who asked I keep his name private. I also made a slight change to the email to conceal his identity. Here is the email I received:

Hi Keith,

I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and finally felt compelled to reach out. While we’ve never met, you have had a great impact on my family’s path to financial independence. I am a CPA and after leaving a large public accounting firm (I was on the audit side but looking back I wish I chose tax!) two years ago, I started working in the finance department at an *redacted* in the Valley. Since that time I’ve driven by your business each day during my 15 minute commute. I think we even use the same library!

If memory serves me correctly, you once had “Mr Money Mustache” on your sign. I drove by each day wondering what the heck that meant. My first thought was some kind of a payday loan store, but boy was I way off. I gave in and Googled it and was instantly hooked. I devoured the archives and my wife and I officially began our path to FI. Discovering the early retirement community has truly changed my life philosophy. I’ve spent the last two years reading as many blogs and books (from the library) and listening to as many podcasts that I can fit into the day. Even though we didn’t know about FI, my wife and I are naturally debt averse and paid off $60k of her student loans and our car purchases the first few years after graduation. Two years into our financial independence journey the only debt we hold now is for our home, and we have a net worth north of $300k at ages 29 and 28.

Despite being immersed in this community for two years I have stayed behind the scenes. I like to learn, but feel that I don’t really have anything unique to contribute. Between you, Pete, the Mad Fientist and JL Collins, all necessary topics are covered in greater detail and more eloquently than I could ever aspire to. However, I’d like to pay you back in some small way for helping me fall down this rabbit hole that has changed my life. That could be buying you a beer or coffee someday and talking about personal finance, proofreading your posts before they come out (I read them all anyway!), or just sending you this email to express my gratitude and you don’t have time to respond.

Best wishes

Let me clarify a few items. My office is in Menasha, which is part of the Fox Cities, which is also sometimes called the Fox River Valley, or just the Valley. We are located about 40 minutes south of Green Bay.

What my friend has done is nothing short of incredible! He and his wife destroyed debt and have a $300,000 net worth before age 30. Folks, you do realize most Americans never reach this level. Ever! At any age!

Your Money or Your Wife

Divorce and money.

Warning: What you are about to read will be disturbing to many. Women and children should leave the room now. Men with a queasy stomach should also take a step back. It’s been two weeks since I dropped the f-bomb. The drought is over. I will use the f-bomb today in its correct dictionary definition to illustrate an important issue. This post is so volatile LinkedIn will not allow you to post this to their site even though your life depends on it. Facebook is good with it, however.

Money is the leading cause of divorce in the United States and in most Western countries. Marriages survive infidelity better than money problems. The worst part is how expensive divorce is and since money issues are the leading cause of divorce, it doesn’t solve the problem.

Then we need to think of the children. They suffer disproportionately. Adults have at least some control over their actions and the outcome. Children are helpless victims in the middle of elevated negative emotions. The damage is significant and lifelong.

Every marriage has its challenges. Forty-one percent of first marriages end in divorce. Abundant data on divorce exists, but there are large discrepancies in some of the data. It is also hard to put an exact number on the percentage of marriages that will end in divorce when the married couple are still alive. Using the number of divorces in a year compared to the number of marriages is useless. Still, many marriages end in divorce, statistics aside. Money is a large factor in divorce and divorce only exacerbates money problems.

Survivor’s Guide

The best way to preserve your marriage is to do away with money problems! Divorce is long in the making. Money problems are not a surprise in most cases. Medical issues can cause financial stress. But most money problems are the result of poor planning.

This blog is a good place to start. Not only do I provide powerful financial information to reach financial independence and security, I also have a long-lasting marriage—to the same woman! Twenty-nine years of wedded bliss is no guarantee it lasts. However, proper financial planning skews the odds in my favor.

Several decades ago Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin wrote Your Money or Your Life. Robin has since updated the book and it is available with this link. You can also read a summary from Robin on Your Money or Your Life here.

Much has been reported on the work of Dominguez and Robin over the years. They founded the current FI (financial independence) movement. Following in their footsteps I share why it is so important to embrace their philosophy on money, spending and living. It’s not just your money or your life; considering divorce statistics, it is also about your money or your wife.

Brutality

Every financial guru at one time or another pulled out their copy of Your Money or Your Life and started preaching. Rarely did they add anything new. But I, yes I, the Wealthy Accountant, will add something to the discussion with my normal way with words and undeniable logic. But it’s going to hurt.

Guys. How can I put this delicately? How does it make you feel to think about another guy plowing your wife, significant other and/or mother of your children? Thought so. Well, I have awesome news for you! When you keep spending beyond your means and piling up debt, you bring money problems into your relationship, increasing the odds of divorce or a break-up, by magnitudes of order. And when the inevitable happens you get to pay child support and/or alimony so some other guy/s can fuck that little woman of yours silly. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it?

Am I too graphic for you? Tough! If you are not saving/investing half your gross income and spending responsibly (no more SUVs, jet skis, boats and other assorted wastes of money until you have ample cash to do it without touching savings or borrowing) you will eventually enjoy the opportunity of watching some slimeball of a guy  plowing a furrow down the seam  between your wife’s legs. Best of all, you will pay a massive percentage of your hard-earned income to make it happen. It’s the court system’s way of getting you to spend responsibly by taking your money and giving to some dick, I mean your ex, to take care of the kids or her new boyfriend.

Oh, I see I left the ladies out of the conversation. Let me rectify that. Imagine, ladies, some two bit hussy blowing your man. She thinks she’s hot shit and she is, mostly because she’s twenty (or thirty) years younger than you and things haven’t started to stretch and sag on her. I bet you have a word to describe her and it starts with ‘B’. Am I right? Don’t blame me! You did it to yourself. All that fancy clothes on the credit card and top-of-the-line furniture you had to have. Now, just close your eyes and visualize the future. You ain’t in it, but that ‘B’ is and she is all over your man. Get used to it.

Play Fair

I can hear the outcry already. The Wealthy Accountant is talking mean. He said my wife will be doing the bed dance with other men while I pay for it. Mr. Accountant said my man will enjoy a twenty year old hussy while I struggle to pay the bills. GET OVER IT!

I have no intention of playing fair. Got it! If Dominguez and Robin couldn’t get through to you and the army of financial books and blogs couldn’t crack your thick skull, then let me have at it. I am not a nice man. But I will tell you the truth, regardless how much it hurts.

The complaints pour in when I suggest, even suggest, you save half your income. You’d think I was asking you to crush a testicle or slice off a breast. (Interesting choice of words considering the subject matter.) You want it soft, go somewhere else. In my left hand is a bat (right hand too) and I’m willing to use it to focus your attention before the inevitable happens.

Children pay the heaviest price in a divorce.

My encouragement may not prevent a divorce, but if you keep it tucked and avoid serious money problems the odds of divorce start to look like a losing bet.

When you met your sweetheart, what did you feel? Warm and fuzzy? Right? Me, too! I never wasted a day fighting with my sweetheart about money. Instead of some other guy taking care of business, I did it myself. And it was cheap. Some unmentionable garments and lube and I was a happy guy. (So was Mrs. Accountant by the sound of it!)

So why are you working so hard to screw it up? The 4×4 truck, boat, oversized home, et cetera are not making you happy; it’s turning you into a very unhappy slave. And unhappy people lash out at the people closest to them. That might be your sweetheart, you think? Yeah. It’s no wonder so many lose so much of what they care about the most because they can’t keep the wallet tucked and to a lesser extent an appendage too.

If so much was not at stake I would play nice. But I know you. You love your wife/significant other, guys, now more than ever. They don’t grow old; they grow better. And you’re missing it all by worrying about money. Stop!

Sell the junk, pay off debt, stop spending, save/invest. Get your life back before some other guy is taking care of that for you. You love that woman. I know you do. Hold her. Show her how much you care. Show her how much you care by handling your finances like an adult. Read this blog from post 1 to the end and do it again. Read other FI blogs; I’ve mentioned many in previous posts.

I don’t have all the answers. What I have is a 29 year marriage going strong. Mrs. Accountant and I talk about a lot of things. Worry about money is not one of them. Sure, we are getting older. Like a fine wine Mrs. Accountant is getting better with age. (Personally, I’m a bit more like vinegar, but I digress.) There is nothing in the world more pleasurable than the time I spend with the woman I love and my children. Virtually all the pleasure in life involves them. There is no way in hell I will risk that over a trinket on the credit card. No way.

It’s never too late to start. Maybe you already lost a lover over crazy money habits. Don’t use it as an excuse to repeat the process. You are smarter than that.

Time keeps counting. As father time extracts his fee you will know the comfort of a friendly and familiar face. The woman you love, the girl you meet so many years ago is now old and gray, but more beautiful than ever and by your side. You don’t see the gray; you only see the beautiful girl with silky hair you meet so long ago and nervously asked to dance. Must be the old rheumy eyes. Age, you know.

Or, you can let some other guy take care of that for you. Brutal, I know.

An Open Letter to My Children

Memory Lane

Normally when a parent leaves a letter to his children the doors and windows are closed. However, when your dad is a business owner and somewhat known due to decades of publishing, the public will want to look in the window. Regardless, this letter is for you girls and no one else.

My fondest hope is you will print and carry this letter with you. There are many things I want to share with you about life. I know it looks daunting and impossible at times, but it isn’t that bad. During those darkest hours, hours when you doubt your own judgment, you can reference this letter and know that your father has felt this way many times in his life. Watching me over the years you probably think it comes easy for me. It doesn’t. I fight as hard as or harder than the next guy to achieve goals.

The same applies for those moments of excessive glee. Honing the highs and lows is an important part of living a joyful life. Always keep an optimistic attitude. Regardless the situation, it helps. Things are never as bad as they seem and rarely perfect either. Life is lived in the middle.

Life is a journey best taken at a gentle pace. Don’t rush! Goals are fine as long as there is more. The only real goal life offers is death and you will get that right the first time, same as everyone else. What matters is what you do now, at this very moment. Yesterday is a memory; tomorrow a dream. All that is real, all that matters is this moment in time. The universe is not 13.7 billion years old. It is one moment only. This moment. The one you live in.

Living a Joyful Life

I see how confused you look at the world around you, Heather. You are not even sure what dream to follow or if your dream is just settling. It’s not. You are searching. It is what humans do. We take the world around us and try to make sense of it. People sell you a bill of goods they think is the right way to do things. The truth is, only you can decide that course. And the choice is not permanent! You will change your mind. It’s called evolving. Nothing to worry about. It is a good thing.

And you, my little sweetie. It breaks my heart to look at you. Life dealt you such a difficult hand. Medical issues will always be part of your life. Never allow it to define you. You are a young lady with a bright future before you. There is no hurry to decide what path you will take in life. Like your sister, take it one day at a time. When the right thing enters your life, you will know.

Mrs. Accountant, the girls and me, along with my nieces, after a 5K run for charity.

Notice I did not title this section “Living a Happy Life.” Happy is different from joyful. Life can test your happiness, but joy is something totally different. Joy is knowing it’s okay no matter where you are or what happens.

Joy is about living in the moment. The best way I know to feel joy is to stop feeling vested in the outcome. Sporting events and political dramas are things you have no control over. None. Placing your bet on the outcome is a sure way to destroy joy. And joy is the reason for living.

Art is such a huge part of your life, Heather. You create such works of beauty. Never let it die. Your life may take another path, but you can still create beauty. You can see it in your mind before it becomes real. It is a gift. Cherish it.

Computers mesmerize you so much, Brooke. The future is artificial intelligence. What excites you is what the future of the human race will become. You will help determine that future and how humans will live. It is an awesome responsibility. Like Heather, you see things in your mind before it turns real. You also create beauty, only in a different way. You are young now, but in time you will define how you wish to pursue your dreams. Allow it to flow.

Joy is bred in optimism. There is a guy, Warren Buffett. He is really rich. You heard me talking about him more than once. Well, as the years go by you may forget who he is, especially once he dies. Warren is a remarkable man. I never met him. What you don’t know is that I have a client who is on the board of directors of one of his companies. Small world.

Warren is the most optimistic man I know. Regardless the situation, he always proclaims it will get better. And he is right. Look what the human race, especially the United States, did in the 20th Century. The car, airplane, nuclear power, radio, TV and the moon landing were all achieved in one short span of time. Yet the planet suffered two world wars and nuclear weapons. The stock market crashed more than once, a Great Depression swept our planet and AIDS decimated many countries. And still, Warren said we will be okay and we are. Learn from his optimism.

Joy is found in peaceful thinking. Worry about disease or nuclear Armageddon is wasted time. If it happens, it happens. Live each day until the end. In the end we are all dead. What defines us is how we lived before we died. Too many people die while they are still breathing. Don’t be one of them.

Joy is contentment. It can be had anywhere. You decide, you choose. And when you feel joy, you are generally happy. If nothing else in life works, this one thing, joy, makes it all worthwhile.

Education

I know you struggle hard with this, Heather. And Brooke, don’t knock education.

For you Heather, don’t demand education to be as you want it. Allow it to happen. Read good books daily. Forced education is worthless. Very little education comes from the classroom. Most learning is done out in the real world as you gain experience. Remember, all the stuff they teach in college someone though of on their own. Many more read the books and learned the same knowledge as taught in school without a formal education. When the time is right you will get your college degree. You are an intelligent young lady. You try so hard, only to hit the wall. The truth is, you don’t know what you want yet. Ask the questions. The answer will come to you. Then do it. Then live it.

If you are to reach your dreams, Brooke, you will need a college education more than Heather does. Focus on your studies. Steve Jobs, he is the guy who started Apple Computers, dropped out of college. And look what he did. But he did take classes that interested him. He found a way to learn and grow. For you, Brooke, education will be more about not reinventing the wheel. You need to learn where everyone else left off so you can take the ball and run. You have an awesome future. Always stay focused on what fills your mind when you close your eyes.

Learning never stops. Read good books. Find ways to have as many experiences as possible. The failures teach more than the successes. And think of all the stories you can tell. Look at all the trouble dad got into and never quit! Makes for some good stories, doesn’t it? I can see you smiling now. Knowing dad like you do, would you want me any other way? Yeah, I feel the same about you girls. You are just perfect as you are. Always be you.

Debt

If there is one thing that can destroy happiness and joy, it is debt. Debt is a harsh taskmaster. Debt is the acid which destroys the vessel which holds it.

Some debt is worse than others. Consumer debt is the worst. Credit cards and similar debt has no reason to be in your life. The worst parts of my life generally included money I owed someone else, usually the bank. It’s not worth it. If I can convince you of one thing, it is to avoid debt.

An open letter for my children and the world on life, love, work, play, retirement, family, happiness and money. #family #love #children #familyfinance Student loans are a tough one. I still say you should avoid student loans. I am willing to spend what I have on learning, but paying interest means you will have less later to spend on learning and experiences. With rare exception, student loans must be avoided. If you find yourself in a situation where a small student loan makes sense, pay it off as fast as possible. No games or gimmicks to avoid paying the debt at all. Life is too short to waste on such burdens.

Business loans sometimes are the right thing to use. Again, use business loans sparingly and only for things that currently bring a profit. Borrowing for a speculative business venture is gambling and that always ends badly. Pay down the business loan as quickly as possible. Profits and cash flow are always better when the bank is not getting a piece of the action.

Mortgages are the biggie. Buying your first home probably requires a mortgage. I am okay with a mortgage as long as it is not a tool to buy more house than you can afford. Make extra payments. Kill the mortgage as fast as possible. Never fall for the tax deduction trick either. The mortgage interest deduction is a joke and really worthless. You still get the standard deduction if you don’t itemize, so paying off the mortgage can sometimes be like double-dipping. Of course, the tax code will probably change by the time you get that far. You understand what I am saying. Keep debt low and retire it as quickly as you can.

Debt is a lot of stress, stress you don’t need. Debt will distract you from the things that bring you the greatest happiness and joy in life. It will take you away from family and friends. Tie you down to a job you hate. Debt causes people to do things they would never consider otherwise. If you never had a penny of debt in your life you will not have missed a thing.

Delay Gratification

Society wants to convince you you need stuff now. Don’t listen to society and marketers. Most stuff, most things you spend money on you don’t want! If you don’t buy it you will not remember what it is you wanted a year later.

Be slow to purchase. Spending is best done later, if at all. Some spending is wise. Fixing a leaking roof will prevent greater expense later. But leaking roofs are not the problem. The latest gismo is. I’m talking to you Brooke. Choose a limited amount of electronics and buy no more. Learn to say, “Enough.”

“I want” are the two words preceding most suffering in life. Want causes pain. Heather, you can walk out of a store without buying something. Looking at something does not require purchase.

Major purchases are especially important to delay. The fewer cars you own in life the wealthier you will be. Only simple minded people are impressed by a fancy car! Too much home is a drain on wealth and will force you to work more than is necessary. Then you will have less time to enjoy the big house. Smaller is better. Trust dad on this one. I wish we had a smaller home. It is more than I ever wanted or needed.

The trick is to be satisfied with what you have. Dissatisfaction in one area of life spills into other areas. Wanting more destroys relationships. I think the reason mom and dad have such a happy and fulfilling marriage is because we were always satisfied with what we had. So neither of us desired another bed. And we are still human. We notice other attractive people. We just realize we already have what we want.

Saving and Investing

This is an easy one. The world makes this out to be some great big challenge. It isn’t. All you do is save half of what you earn and invest in broad-based index funds with enough money in short-term vehicles (bank accounts or short-term government bonds) to handle current needs. In short order you will accumulate a modest fortune. The best plan is an automatic one. Set it and forget it. Markets will go up and down. Neither matters to you. What interests you is the income stream of the investment and that doesn’t change much day-to-day.

You will read about retirement. Society has a clear vision of retirement. It’s a trap. You never really retire until you die. You’re retired at your funeral. One of the things they say about someone who has died is they expired or retired. Don’t rush it. It happens easy enough on its own.

How much is enough? That is another pressing problem the world seems to have. It takes only a small amount to live. No matter where you are, even traveling, you can always turn some coin. Heather, you could always do caricatures in the park; Brooke, you could help people set up and fix computers as a side hustle. Your interests will change with time, but you understand what I am saying. You don’t need a massive nest egg to set aside the grind society demands you pursue.

Personal finance preachers talk about the 4% Rule and similar advice for determining when you can give up the rat race. It’s all garbage. I know you hear me talk about the 4% Rule or sometimes telling people they need 25 times their spending in investments. I say it because people believe it and I need to go where people are to get them to where they need to be.

Follow your great-grandfathers advice instead: Never take off the pile. Your invested capital is sacred. Never touch it! The income stream from the capital is all you use for consumption. Never more. The 4% Rule and similar advice can fail under certain circumstances, even unlikely circumstances. Great-granddad’s rule never fails, ever. If your broad-based index fund fails only consuming the income stream, there are bigger problems in the world affecting you. There is no advice I can give to deal with such an unknown other than to encourage you to embrace the Stoic philosophy. Keeping a copy of Seneca and Epictetus at your bedside is always a good idea.

Find Fulfilling Work

The world will have plenty of advice on how you should live your life. Disregard it. Only you know what is fulfilling work. Look to dad and grandpa as examples. Both of us started businesses in a very untraditional manner. If you follow all the rule society tells you to follow, your business will fail.

Find what you enjoy doing. The search for meaningful work is not as hard as you make it. Stop looking! It will come to you. As you go through life there will be more fun things to do that generate an income than you will have time for. Pick what works for you and go with it.

Don’t be Afraid to Change Your Mind

And when something different shows up you can either incorporate it or change course. You are not locked into one path. I have been accused in the past of changing my mind a lot. It sure beats sticking to a path not working. Changing your mind is a good thing. It means you are growing. Never allow someone to lock you into the past when, after careful consideration, you wish to change direction. Think, then act.

Consume Less Commercial Media

I can see you girls rolling your eyes already. This is a case of do as I say and not as I do. Reading is awesome, but most news is less than worthless. Immersing your mind daily into all the crises of the world sends your brain the wrong message. It feels like the world is always crumbling when it isn’t doing so any more than in the past. Worse, you can’t do anything about it!

As bad as watching/reading news can be on the brain, commercial media is even worse. The constant repeating of a message built to serve a large corporation is not in your best interest. As much as you try to avoid the influence these commercials have, they still have an effect. Best to avoid them. Besides, life is best lived doing things. Spending your precious time as a lump being spoon fed drivel is a bad idea.

Good books, even novels, are generally not a part of commercial media. Take time to read each day, but only a modest amount of time. Read, then do. Reading is important. I’m talking to you, Brooke. Leaving the house and doing other things is important too. I’m talking to you, Heather.

Remember, balance in everything.

Dating, Marriage and Sex

Oh yes, the sex talk.  Amazing as it sounds, I feel I have something to add on the subject. Once again, societal norms will mess with your head and the push is much stronger when it comes to interpersonal relationships and sex. People allow emotions and lust to guide their actions. It is a toxic mix.

I only knew one other woman in my life. Mom can say the same with men. Neither of us was ever promiscuous. I think that is important and both of you seem to be following in our path. It goes back to that feeling of enough. I wasn’t looking for something better; I was looking for someone I could spend my life with happily.

When dating, look for certain traits. Attractiveness is important, but time will take care of that. Instead, focus on what is inside. Avoid people with thin skin or who are easily offended. There is always something to be offended by. People like that don’t change. Their dramas will suck the pleasure out of your life.

The best place to find a mate is where you live life. When you are doing things you enjoy you will find like-minded people. Since you will spend more time talking and sharing than in bed, best to find someone pleasant to talk with and do things with. Sex is just window dressing. I know, I know. I am turning sex into some rather boring subject. But it is. It goes in and out until the explosive moment, usually within ten minutes or so. Now you need to fill the other 23 hours and 45 minutes of the day.

An open letter to my children about life, love, happiness, work, retirement, living, family and happiness. #love #openletter #children #money #familySex is one of those awesome things in life. People want to make it dirty. Is isn’t. The human body is marvelous and beautiful. There is nothing wrong with pleasures of the flesh, religion aside. I’ll get to that in a moment.

But sex is also personal. Spreading it around takes away the specialness of it. Sex is more about intimacy than lustful desire and pleasure. The tenderness between a couple after sex is more nurturing than the actual act. Lust, or more to the point, hormones, drive us toward sexual contact, but afterwards is the beautiful part.

Use birth control and protect against diseases. As much as I avoided sexual contact with multiple women, I also know things happen. It isn’t worth dying over.

Limit your sexual partners. More is not better. Mom was a lot more puritan when she met me. Poor girl. She never saw it coming.

You girls laugh when I say all guys are perverts. Well, we are. Guys all too often think with the wrong appendage. It doesn’t make us bad, only human. Guys like to act tough, but we are just as emotional and tender underneath as you are. We feel acutely. We cover it up with false bravado. Always know we hurt inside, too. Let us act strong. We do it to provide support for the woman we love. Give us that.

Women are perverts too, if you haven’t noticed. It must be a people thing. Don’t worry about it. It is okay to be what you are. Love and lust, especially lust, are part of the human experience. Tell your partner what you want. Guys don’t automatically know. I was married for years before I discovered certain things people with more experience know. It happens. Encourage your partner to share the same. There are things they like. Get them to share what those things are. It makes the experiences more fulfilling.

Always remember, sex is not dirty. There is nothing wrong with sexual intercourse. Intimacy is an important part of the human condition. Always be kind and gentle. Allow your partner the same intimacy.

Don’t withhold intimacy. Sometimes life or illness reduces the drive. It is okay to abstain then. Even intimacy declines at certain times. Just never use it as a weapon. Sex, love and intimacy are not bargaining tools. Sometimes the best way to work out a problem is to start with a romp. I know, hearing this advice from dad is a bit, um, awkward. But trust me. The greatest gift I ever received in my life was your mother.

Long-term relationships are something I know I have something to say about. As I write this mom and I are weeks away from our 29th wedding anniversary. My greatest success is life is my relationship with your mom. She is an awesome woman.

People don’t get married as much today. I am fine with that. You can still have a fulfilling life-long relationship. I wish I had a magic formula to give that led to mom and dad surviving for so long. All I can say is that I look to mom for guidance and trust her and she reciprocated. We share everything; we are open books to each other. Talking is vital. We talk a lot about everything. Even crazy stuff. We have fun while allowing each other to live their life.

Mom and I both changed over the years. Our interests evolved, sometimes in different directions. Rather than try to manipulate mom into a path I find more familiar or similar to mine, I allow her to find her own path. We are different, but so alike. We enjoy being together. We planned our life together. We are always satisfied with what we have. When I started the business and I cut spending to poverty levels, mom never once complained. She was as happy then as she is now with what we have. That is what you want in a mate; it is how to live your life, to be a mate. Notice I did not say perfect mate. There is no such thing. Each side will make mistakes. It will happen! Forgive quickly. Get the hurt out, then forgive.

Do these things and you will have a long and happy relationship with your significant other. And the sex will be awesome. Okay, enough grossing you girls out with sex talk from an old person. (Remember, you will be older faster than you realize.)

One last thing on interpersonal relationships. I don’t think either of you are gay, but if you discover you are, know I will love you all the same. If you are in a loving, nurturing relationship and happy, then I will know I have done my job as a parent.

God and Religion

Religion is always a tough issue to discuss. My parents were very religious and the rigid demands eventually destroyed my faith. When the words were not backed up with actions I quickly learned religion was a tool to manipulate people.

Having said that I still have faith, only in a different way. Organized religion is a weapon used to control the masses. I stand opposed to such manipulation. At the same time there are many Bibles around the house and I read them on a regular basis. The words of Jesus are straight from the Stoic philosophers. Most of what Jesus said was not new when he said it, but who cares? They are good words. Even to live by.

I gave up church a long time ago. You may wish to return to my roots. I am okay with that. Remember, at some point in the past one of our ancestors was not Christian. If you go back 2,000 years they certainly were not Christian. At some point they decided to follow the Christian teachings over their own. Probably at the point of a gun. Better to read the Bible than take an ounce of lead to the skull. What I am saying is that man has come up with a lot of gods over the generations. They all thought they were right only to be replaced by another god. Don’t be so certain you are right. Instead, seek to learn from the message while always questioning. Questioning is always a good thing to do in every part of life.

You need to find your way on your own when it comes to religious thought. You will evolve as I have. The one thing I encourage you to do is avoid fanaticism. That absolute determinism you are right is what sickens most people to religion. Allow others their faith and self-discovery. Even mom and dad took a different path for a long time. We maintained a solid relationship as we each made our way.

Learn from Mistakes

You will make them. I certainly did. Some were doozies. Mistakes don’t define you, how you handle the mistake does.

Learn from your own mistakes, but also those of others. Learn from dad’s mistakes. You may want to try the same thing anyway with a slight tweak. Fine. Just do it knowing the risks. Repeating the same mistake again and again is insanity. I know you girls are not insane. Dad might be a little and since it could be genetic. . .

This letter is getting long and I want you to know you can laugh at any situation. Even death. It’s going to happen anyway so why not make the most of it with some hearty laughter.

I’d start a chronological list of all the mistakes I made in life, but by the time I reached the end I would have more to add. What I am saying is: Don’t be afraid to fail. You learn more from failure than success. Success causes us to believe we are right. It takes a good beating to force us to up our game.

Never use failure as an excuse not to try. People will ridicule you, even arrest you, for doing the right thing. Do it anyway. Better to live ridiculed, better to live in a prison, than to not have lived at all. I am not encouraging criminal behavior either. What I suggest is keeping your mind open to ideas which help you grow.

People laughing at you is a sure sign you are on the right path. Nothing is more common than everyone in agreement prior to a disaster.

Relax

And here is where I come to an end and you begin. You are young girls as I write this. Maybe you will read this long after I am gone and you a very old. This letter will be more powerful then than at any other time. My words echoing down the corridors of time to talk with you one last time. I know. I am here with you.

Don’t rush life. Relax. Enjoy each moment. Once the moment passes it will never return. Make now the most important time. Share it with people you love. Always live. Learn. Love. And remember. It is all any of us really has.

 

 

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.

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

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

 

Avoiding the Gold Diggers

Community Property States

At a recent Camp Mustache where I gave a presentation I also offered one-hour personalized consultations. Most of the advice I give is identical among all people I consult with. Most themes come up again and again. About 20% of what I advise is unique to the individual.

This particular group was comprised of high net worth people. These people save a massive percentage of their annual income and are in a position to retire early; mid-30s is average. Incomes were all over the map. Some had high income; some had modest income. All invested heavily in index funds and/or real estate.

An attractive young woman was next in line for a consultation. She had amassed a reasonable amount of liquid funds and was planning her retirement strategy. I knew she wasn’t married by looking at her tax return. I asked if she had a special someone in her life. She said no. I then made the offhand comment, “If you ever decide to get married you will have a prenup.”

Prenuptial agreements are common so I felt the comment was just a reminder. She seemed surprised so I reiterated she will need a prenup if she gets married, especially since she has a sizable nest egg. She wasn’t so certain it was a good idea. I reminded her gold diggers don’t always have tits. It took a bit of convincing to get her to come around to my way of thinking. I told her if I ever found out she got married without a prenup I would be very unhappy with her. My final selling point was, “When you have money some people will lie to get you to marry them. Then when they screw around and leave, you will pay them half your net worth to screw another woman. It is a bitter pill you want to avoid.”

Then I finished the consultation with her. It was late so I went to bed after the consultation. I had been working since 6 a.m. and it was now after 11 at night.

The Ruckus I Caused

At Camp Mustache the attendees stay up late socializing. My fatigue caused me to pass on one night of discussion and I missed a good one. The next morning people started asking if I heard about the heated debate the previous night. I hadn’t. It also shocked me since this group tends to be low key. Then I was told the debate was on prenuptial agreements. I knew what had happened. What you tell me in a consultation is confidential; what I tell you is not.

The young lady took her new found knowledge and started the debate with the group. The debate was not as heated as I was first led to believe, but there was plenty of disagreement. In the end they all greed I was right. As if there was any doubt.

Why You Need a Prenup

Before you tie the knot you must have a prenuptial agreement. Readers of this blog have more money than average because they save and invest a majority of their income. Gold diggers are everywhere waiting to dig their paws into your stash. What takes you a decade or longer to accumulate can be squandered in a few month or at most a few years.

Men understand women are willing to marry them for money, regardless of love or attractiveness. Judas sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver; gold diggers will unload your index fund for a hell of a lot more.

Women frequently think men are like them and so they want love in a marriage. It never dawns on the ladies a man might play them solely for money. Men might need reminding about gold diggers, but get it as soon as it is mentioned. Women need to be sold on the prenup because too often they believe men are not gold diggers. Wrong! Women need a prenup as much as men.

Gold diggers are everywhere. If I could legally let you stand behind me as I work with clients you would be shocked at how people act. A surviving spouse has plenty of opportunities when money is involved. It breaks my heart to see a man or woman lose their spouse, only to have gold diggers show up at their weakest moment and take advantage of them. If only they listened to their favorite accountant more in their weakest hour it would eliminate this additional pain.

Gold diggers work in one of two ways: they marry and then divorce as soon as they can to get half the money; or, they marry and start spending their newfound wealth while married. Most gold diggers use both methods with great skill. Before long the money is gone and so is the marriage.

Who Will Marry Me if I Demand a Prenup?

When I bring up prenuptial agreements with clients I get the same question every time: What if my fiancé refuses to sign the prenup?

People are afraid to talk about a prenup with a loved one. They are afraid it will end the relationship. The truth is if there is real love they will understand why the prenuptial agreement is necessary. The only reason to refuse to sign a prenuptial agreement is because of sinister plans. If you never divorce the prenup never comes into play!

Regardless, the subject is still a touchy one. Your fiancé may feel the prenup means you do not trust or completely love him. The best way to bring up the subject is to talk about money honestly.  During the money talk is the perfect time to discuss a prenuptial agreement. Instead of forcing it upon the person you love most, it become part of a serious discussion about your life together. A prenup not only protects you, it protects them.

What is in a Prenup?

Confusion surrounds prenuptial agreements because their content varies widely and the rules are different in each country and even among states in the U.S. Prenuptial agreements generally contain provisions for division of property and spousal support in the event of divorce. The more assets you bring into a marriage the more important the prenup becomes.

The prenuptial agreement can also contain provisions for handling a divorce in the event of infidelity.

The laws surrounding prenuptial agreements are complex and an attorney is required by both parties. In the U.S. the prenup is sometimes difficult to enforce if certain rules are not followed and might not be the final word in a divorce. Full disclosure is required of both parties and coercion nullifies a prenup. You can’t spring the prenup on your fiancé as he walks down the aisle. Well, you can, but the courts would probably rule the agreement wasn’t entered into voluntarily, nullifying the agreement.

One notable item prenups can’t address is children. The best interest of the children must be considered and a prenup cannot address this issue.

In certain instances a prenup is not enforced by the court. Except in unusual circumstances (i.e. coercion) the courts do enforce the agreement.

Where You Live Matters

Adding to the complication in the U.S. are the different rules between states. As I write, 41 states follow equitable distribution laws and 9 states use community property laws. When multiple states are involved, legal council must consider the laws of each state involved. If you move to a different state during your marriage it can affect the legal standing of your prenup.

Of the 9 community property states, all are in the south or western part of the country, except Wisconsin. Other than Wisconsin, California, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Texas, Washington, New Mexico and Louisiana are community property states. You can elect into community property laws in Alaska and Tennessee. Two U.S. territories also follow community property laws: Guam and Puerto Rico.

I mention community property rules because it makes a difference in taxes, too. Tax laws are sometimes handled differently in community property states from equitable distribution states. The tax discussion is beyond the scope of this single post. In the future I will address tax issues unique to community property states.

When Should the Topic of a Prenup be brought up?

My personal opinion is the prenup discussion should begin as soon as talk starts about marriage. Older couples and when children from outside the marriage are involved the prenup can address the division of assets to include the children. Again, the more assets you bring into the marriage, the more important the prenup becomes.

Open, honest talk about a prenuptial agreement early in the relationship makes for an easier development of a sound document outlining what each party feels is fair. It also allows time for either party to digest the idea a prenup is necessary. It feels awkward to lawyer up when you are ready to propose, but it is important to deal with wealth brought to your union in advance.

Refusing to Sign the Prenup

What if your significant other refuses to sign a prenup? If you have no children with anyone else and your net worth is zero or lower, it probably does not make sense to worry about a prenup. However, if you are working in a field where significant income is likely in a few years you may wish to hold firm on a prenup anyway.

If you have assets, then a prenup is mandatory in my opinion. Without a prenup in place you need to reconsider marriage. The risks to the party with assets are too large to overlook the prenuptial agreement.

What about a Postnup?

If you are reading this and you are already married without a prenup, you can also prepare a postnup, which does the same thing.

Mrs. Accountant and I do not have a prenup. I was young and dumb when I got married. The smart move was marrying Mrs. Accountant. The dumb part was I knew nothing about prenups. Neither of us has children with anyone else and we have been married nearly 29 years now. It is doubtful we will draft a postnup.

However, you are not Mrs. Accountant and me. If you are early in your marriage, have children from outside the marriage—or one party brought significantly more assets to the marriage—I encourage you to seek legal advice on drafting a postnup. Unlike the prenup, if a party refuses to sign you can’t walk away without consequences. The best time to form a postnup is when things are going great and all parties involved are eager to solidify a fair dissolution of assets in certain instances.

Tragedy Strikes

Divorce is not always the result of infidelity or lack of love. There are times divorce is the only option in our weird society to protect your family. A lawsuit, injury, or mental incapacity could make divorce the proper action to protect all parties involved. A pre or postnup can help smooth the transition. It isn’t always about keeping money from one party or another. It is also a tool to protect all parties involved in the event of tragedy. Once disaster strikes it is too late to begin creating an agreement.

Mrs. Accountant and me 29 years ago. Mrs. Accountant is as beautiful as ever and, believe it or not, I had hair. For what it is worth.

All is Fair in Love and War

And then there is the obvious reason for a prenup. Nothing causes a wound to fester more than losing half the assets you brought into the marriage while the other party is sleeping with someone else. When nerves are most raw, the prenuptial agreement, drafted when cooler heads prevailed, should provide protection. It also moves the process along quicker so the healing can begin sooner.

You May Never Need It

The goal is to never need the prenup. Life happens, so it is necessary. My client base has above average assets. The prenup is not an elective for them; they must have a prenup in my opinion.

The prenuptial agreement is not negative thinking or planning for failure of the marriage. An agreement made in advance (drafted by an attorney so it is enforceable) when love, logic and common sense rule the day is far superior to fighting it out in court for years when love, logic and common sense are nowhere to be found.

It might not be your fault. Maybe it is. The prenup provides a level of protection no matter who is to blame. In my line of work I see all kinds. It always blows my mind when people just fall out of love and divorce. Working on my marriage is priority one for me, but not everyone is as lucky as I am. It takes two to tango.

Even in cordial divorces it is nice to have a document drafted in advance to handle the dissolution of assets and outlining spousal support. Now all you need to do is work on your marriage every day. That is the fun part all parties can agree upon.

Update: I was introduced to a book on the subject of gold diggers, listed below. You can also review Valerie’ blog on the same subject here.

Charities I Support and Why

For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required. —Luke 12:48

My charitable giving is not predicated upon religion or religious belief; I haven’t contributed to a church in more than a decade. However, I am not afraid to take words from the Bible, or any other religious tract, and integrate them into my life and worldview. I am not the kind of guy who needs the biggest bank account to feel validated so when fortune smiles my way I selectively contribute to causes I feel make a difference in the quality of human life around the world.

Selecting a charitable entity to contribute to is a process for me. I donate to only a few causes with donation tending to be $1,000 or more per donation. My giving is also lumpy. I go for extended periods without any charitable work and then give large amounts at one time. Taxes are not a part of my consideration process, but I do take the deductions allowed. Some of my charitable giving is not deductible on Schedule A. Some charitable work is considered a promotional expense for my business which allows me to kill two birds with one stone: helping a charity and getting a deduction before it ever gets to my personal tax return.

Luck of the Draw

From the first human to live to today I have outlived the vast majority of people. I am 52 and live in a Western country where food, water, sanitation and medical care allows most people to live to a ripe old age. Large populations of Asia and Africa still have life expectancy similar to a century ago in the United States or European nations. I have already outlived most of them. Mortality rates have decreased drastically and the quality of life for many, including me, is an outlier of human history.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2011, 94,281 people out of 100,000 born alive were still alive at age 50. Nearly 6% cashed it in. Looks like I am a winner again. Lucky I was born in the right place at the right time. The same CDC table shows 84,368 out of 100,000 still alive at age 65. It seems another 10% die between my age and what is considered retirement age. One in ten! I might need to reconsider my attitude toward working one more year.

Life expediencies for most of human history has been lower than 50 years of age. Even in our modern world a large number of people do not survive to “normal” retirement age. Outside North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and a few pockets of longevity, a majority of populations die before living to my age. It is this luck of the draw, this gratitude I feel each day I wake which motivates me to improve the human condition wherever I can.

Unified-Relay-1613-1024x682Endless Choices

Non-profit organizations file Form 990 with the IRS. You can review a candidate for your charitable money here before you send money. My policy is always research the organization before supporting. I look for a few key points. I want to see most of the money going to the charitable cause they claim they support. Large percentages going to fundraising or to executive salaries are a bad sign.

The choices are endless. There are over 1.5 million non-profit organizations in the U.S. alone. Research takes time so I have a limited number of charities I support and keep supporting. Here is my list.

  • Doctors Without Borders: The next time you think all doctors are overpaid with a bad bedside manner, think of the doctors working in this organization. They travel to dangerous parts of the world and provide medical care to people with serious needs at no cost. I can’t imagine what these doctors go through to help their patients. Talk about house calls! I have supported Doctors Without Borders for over a decade. I am not sure I would even want to live in the conditions they work in so they are on my short-list of organizations to fund.
  • Special Olympics: In the past I have supported Wisconsin Special Olympics Wisconsin Special Olympics provides sporting opportunities for over 10,000 athletes each year. Once again, this is work I do not think I could handle. Working with these remarkable people would bring me to tears. When I see these outstanding individuals reach for the stars I am humbled. Anyone who can personally help the disadvantaged do something I know I am not man enough to do myself deserves kudos. Just writing about this makes me emotional. Even now I fight tears knowing I am not good enough to help these people who really need support. Regardless their disadvantage, they never quit. They have more fight, more spirit than most people with no disadvantages. We can learn a lot from these outstanding men, women, and young people.
  • Bethesda: This is the closest I get to donating to a religious organization. Twenty-five years ago when I still attended church services, a man from Bethesda came to my church and shared some of the work they did. They provide a home setting for severely mentally challenged people. What stuck with me was one story. He explained how they broke down the process to tying a shoe into 87 steps. They would patiently work with some of their clients for years teaching them just one more step in the process to tying a shoe. Their patience moved me emotionally. My personality has no room for that kind of patience. The cost to run such homes is expensive. People with special needs frequently have no money for that need. Bethesda is possible because people like you and me support their work. I take my hat off to all the patient men and women who help these people day in and day out. If there is a heaven, these are the people who will populate it. There is no room for people like me there.
  • CommunityFest: This is one local event I periodically support. Every few years I donate a slug of money supporting this local event over the 4th of July holiday. Prizes, games, music, fireworks, and great family fun are all free for families in our local community, paid for by local businesses. From a tax viewpoint, the donation is really a business promotional expense and deductible by the company. Technically not a charitable donation, it shows how individuals and businesses can support local programs to improve our local communities.
  • Children’s Hospital: I never donated directly to Children’s Hospital, but I have supported Children’s Hospital through the Vic Ferrari Golf Event and similar programs. The Vic Ferrari Band is a client. They are awesome performers and do more than jam tunes; they make a difference. Vic supports several local charities through special events. The Vic guys deserve a humble bow; they are valuable members of our community. If you never saw these guys perform you need to fix that.
  • Other Charitable Work: To a lesser extent I have contributed to charities in a wide variety of fields. In a limited fashion I have supported the arts (Wisconsin Writers Association) and other charities through special events.

I have a few additional rules when supporting charities. I never support a cause whose sole purpose is to raise awareness. It might be an unfair rule, but my resources are limited and I want the bulk of my money to support disadvantaged people with few options for a better life available. You can see I strongly support the down and out. The truth is I support organizations that help people I am unable to help myself. The patience, love, and kindness these people show every day in such challenging situations is more than I can bear to think about for any period of time without tears coming to my eyes. What they do every day without real recognition is beyond my comprehension. I support them because they are better people than I will ever be. I hope you will support them too.

List your favorite charities in the comments below.