Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Easy is the Hardest Thing in the World if You Want to Be Rich

This moment was brought to you by hard times. Difficulties and challenges make you stronger. The only way to have an easy life is to embrace hard times. #easy #financialindependence #easystreet #success #motivationRichard Branson outlined in his autobiography, Finding My Virginity: The New Autobiography, 75 times he had close calls in his life. Recently he published number 76 on his blog. It seems strange for such a successful man to have had so many close calls. Branson has several successful businesses and a life most can only dream of. He is living the dream.

From the outside it always seems easier. I hear the same thing from readers. “You make it sound so easy, Keith.” To which I respond, “Then you haven’t been reading close enough.” Life has been anything but easy for me. Most people have difficult lives. It is these difficulties that define us. We either rise to the occasion and grow or wither and die. One path leads to a sense of accomplishment, the other pain and loss.

The challenges are endless. To outline a few highlights of my life’s plights: heart disease and a heart operation at age 13, shot in a hunting accident at age 13 which led to the discovery of my heart disease, numerous attempts at business ideas that failed, two daughters with serious medical conditions. Need I remind of the attempt to destroy my business only a decade after its inception? The attempt almost succeeded. Now might be a good time to repeat the millions of words I wrote and published over the years before I attracted even a modest following. No, kind readers, it was never easy.

Beg for Hard Times

From an early age, telling me “No!” was nearly a virtual guarantee I’d check it out. Don’t climb that haymow. Don’t walk to the creek alone. Don’t play with the vase! {crash} “Sorry.” And then the tears.

I was blessed (or cursed if you see things that way) with an insatiable curiosity. The only way to grow, to succeed, is to do what nobody wants you to do. And that means plenty of painful moments.

My dad wanted me to work in the family business working in agriculture. Our family has a long history in agriculture. I wanted something different. When I announced my intentions of going full-time in taxes and accounting my dad told a neighbor, “You won’t believe what my idiot son is going to do.” I have a great relationship with my parents, but that one hurt. The neighbor he told ended up an employee for two decades. (Clients: Remember Bev? She still comes in every year.)

Even people you love and trust will sometimes cause pain and make it harder. They mean well, but they don’t understand. Readers around here have stories to tell about their family’s reaction when they pursued early retirement and world travel. It’s never easy.

Burn the Ships

In 1519, Captain Hernan Cortez arrived in the New World at Veracruz. The first thing he did was order his men to burn the ships. Cortez knew his men would always hold back when retreat was an option. With nowhere to retreat, Cortez and his men pushed forward. What other option was there?

Early adulthood had me wondering what I was going to do with my life. Fortune (and frugality) allowed me to build a nice nest egg. If I watched my spending close I probably could have checked out in my early to mid 20s. That wasn’t my intention or goal.

Working in the family business wasn’t for me. I grew up on the family farm and had no intention of working in agriculture the rest of my life. (Now I live on a farm and have raised many animals. How times do change.) The family farm ended in bankruptcy the year I graduated from high school so the family business in ag repair was my only option. (It was the Rust Belt in 1982. There were few options.) For anyone looking for the easy road; I wasn’t on it.

Then I met Mrs. Accountant. If anything went according to plan, my relationship with the awesome and adorable Mrs. A was it! It’s about the only thing that went off without a hiccup. (Actually, if you get us in the corner we could share some stories. It would be inappropriate to share publically on a blog.)

Marriage also had challenges. Easy wasn’t in the lexicon. We worked hard to build a solid relationship.

The marriage process threw a massive wrench into the works. I was slumming when I met Mrs. A: enjoying loads of good books and a few college courses to round out my days. A good husband, the minister who married us said, needs to provide for his family. So I was hired as the janitor for the church.

Fourteen months later I quit to move full-time in my tax/accounting practice. I was young and foolish. Like Cortez, I burned the ships. I knew if I had an escape route I might take it. There could be no going back.

My client list was less than 50 when I started. Since I moved into town I left most of my regular clients behind. No problem, I thought. I know exactly how to get more clients. I quit my janitor job January 31, 1989. February 1st I was living the dream as a full-time business owner. I worked out of my home. What could be better?

Two and a half months later, on April 15th, I stared out my bay winder and thought, Oh, Sh{beep}! I didn’t exactly replace all the lost clients. To be exact, I had 48 clients and ~$3,000 in revenue. (I said revenue.)

Don’t tell me about easy. There was no easy in that moment. Looking back it seems foreordained. It was anything but! My nest egg was hit hard by startup expenses. The ships were burned. I HAD to move forward. My wife counted on me. To say I was nervous and worried would be an understatement.

Kick’em When they’re Up, Kick’em When They’re Down

You know how the story ends. I survived and even thrived. That’s why I’m here. That means my story is colored by survivor bias. The ones who didn’t make it aren’t talking to you on a blog about it.

Richard Branson had some really close calls in his life. I’m sure there are many more we don’t know of. Every business, every marriage, every relationship, every parent has stories to tell. After the fact it looks easy because all the while we are listening we know the endgame. In the warzone it was anything but clear how things would turn out.

There was no guarantee I would survive heart surgery in 1978. My cardiologist died of AIDS later. One nick of the glove and you’d be reading something else right now. I was a third of a millimeter away from a very short life.

Tempering make the iron stronger and more pliable. People, too. Difficulties and hard times give you the strength to grow. #success #motivation #life #lifelessons #personalfinance #freedom #growth #strengthThe hunting accident also put life in perspective. First, it saved my life by exposing my condition. Without that I would have died of a massive coronary sometime in my 20s, or at the latest, early 30s. It would’ve been just one of those things. Family would have spoken of the tragedy for years until I was all but forgotten. But I was shot. And if one of those pellets would have been a half inch deeper I would have died before anyone knew I had a medical problem. Luck does play a role.

Luck didn’t make me feel invincible; it made me feel vulnerable, like I was living on borrowed time. I tried everything. Burning the ships was a natural act. Prodding myself, forcing myself to move ahead was exactly the situation I set up.

Here is the secret: Every failure, every painful moment, drove my harder. My life appears easy because it has been so hard. I’ve been kicked and beaten unfairly and if you want a really painful story pull me to the side sometime when I’ve had a couple so my defenses are down. You’ll find out how easy it really was.

Zig Ziglar once said we should pray for hard times and difficulties. He understood. Ziglar went on to say hard times and difficulties make for an easy life and easy makes for a very, very hard life. The message was clear. Iron is brittle until you heat and hammer it. Fire and stress harden and strengthen the iron. With the right ingredients you get steel. But there is no chance for strong steel until you apply heat. It is the tempering which makes the metal strong.

And so it is with people. I know you have dreams. That is why you are here. Your goals of financial independence and/or early retirement need nurturing. Starting your dream business will not be easy. I can tell you what to do and it will not be enough. You will need to adjust, try different things, to succeed. Frugality is challenging. An awesome marriage is work. Some days it doesn’t work. Then you try something else and if that doesn’t work you try something else, and on and until you win.

In relationships it is easier. The endless effort is noticed by all parties involved. It makes a difference. My marriage isn’t great because I’m so good. No. My marriage to Mrs. A is awesome because I never stopped trying to make our marriage more alive. Mrs. A and I work daily on our relationship. Even when we don’t feel like it. (That happens, too, even in solid marriages.)

You will get kicked and hard. Thank God for that! If you never took a groin shot you would never grow. I know from experience I grew and learned the least when things were humming along. It was the challenges that strengthened me. All the idiots of the world who attempted to tear me down made me the success I am today. Don’t stop hating me now. I’ve got new heights to climb.

Pray for the same. Pray for money problems so you can learn really money lessons; pray for marital problems so you can appreciate your significant other and build a more solid foundation; pray for a bad economy and job loss; pray for bad weather. Pray to whatever god you believe in and ask for hard times.

It’s the only way to have an easy life.

 

 

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. 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice for Men, I Mean Women

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

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

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

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

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

Marriage Contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romance is alive and well!

Solutions to the Intractable Problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

More Wealth Building Resources

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

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

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

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. 

Should We Run Our Marriage Like a Business?

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

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

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

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

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

Voice From Over the Transom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Easy Part

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Are an Entity

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

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

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

The New Employee

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

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

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

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

So, Should We Run Our Marriage Like a Business?

In short: NO!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

More Wealth Building Resources

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

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

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

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. 

 

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.

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.

The Best Kept Secret of Early Retirees, the Wealthy, and Happy People

The best kept secrets of happy and successful people. #earlyretirees #happiness #happy #Success The day is April 2nd, a Thursday. A small bar attached to a bowling alley next to the college has Happy Hour until 7 p.m. A young man who would someday be known as the Wealthy Accountant attended Macro-Economics at the college across the way. Class was held on Tuesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. A group of students, led by the junior wealthy accountant, ambushed the professor, convincing him to cut breaks short and end class at 6:50 so the group could race to the bar called The Image before Happy Hour ended. It was important to the students to make Happy Hour. The Image had free tacos if you bought a drink and a full meal for the price of one soda was one heck of a deal.

Our junior wealthy accountant had his own home at this time and spent his days reading library books. Years before he was engaged to be married and found his fiancé in bed with another man. He withdrew from life knowing how important it was to find the right woman to share his life with. He wanted someone in his life, but had given up hope there was “the right” woman out there for him. So he kept reading all day, attended a few college classes and enjoying life as it was.

*  *  *

A demure young woman ran a daycare out her parent’s home. Her fiancé attended college at a campus on the other side of the state. He informed our demure young woman he found someone else; the wedding was off. She withdrew from life, spending her days taking care of children. By now she was working for a larger daycare center so her parents could have their home back.

Our demure young woman had a sister-in-law that felt it was unhealthy for our heroine to spend so much time at home alone. After adequate harassing she agreed to go out for a drink at The Image. The day was April 2nd. It was 29 years ago.

*  *  *

Our junior wealthy accountant was not demure. After washing down a plate of free tacos with a glass of Sprite he noticed a quiet young woman sitting with a friend next to the dance floor. It was a Thursday night so the crowd was thin. He approached the young woman and asked for a dance. She accepted. After the dance he asked the young woman her name; she refused to answer. The accountant was unable to secure the young woman’s name, address or phone number. There was only one chance. “Can I see you here next Friday?” All she did was nod.

The next Friday our hero waited anxiously at The Image praying the young woman would return. When she walked in his heart stopped. They danced and then left the bar for a table in the bowling alley where you could hear a person talk. It did not take long for our couple to discover they had a lot in common. One year and six days after their first meeting they were married. They are celebrating 28 years of marriage this week; they have been married to each other longer than they have not been.

*  *  *

What makes a person happy? What traits do wealthy people have in common? Is there commonality between happy people, wealthy people and early retirees? The answers are so simple most people miss them.

Bill Gates recently revealed in an interview, marrying his wife, Melinda, is the single greatest decision he made in his life. I understand what he means one-hundred percent. Marrying Sue has been the single greatest thing I ever did. No amount of money could ever replace what my relationship to that demure young woman has brought me.

The Secret

Happy people, early retirees and wealthy people do have a common thread running through them. Millionaires, according to The Millionaire Mind, by Thomas J. Stanley , tend to be married for a long period of time, tend to live in the same house forever (see Warren Buffet) and are frugal even after they achieve massive amounts of financial wealth. It seems wealthy people are happy for reasons other than money.

Early retirement is possible with a plan. Planning is the one thing you control. #success #earlyretirement #FIRE #marriage #wealth #happinessKeith’s Rule # 9: Money cannot make you happy, but it can make you miserable.

I love the story of the wealthy businessman who loved his wife so much he transferred a significant amount of his wealth into his wife’s name. He had his attorneys write up all the paperwork. He wanted the love of his life taken care of no matter what happened to him. Once the transfer was complete he told his wife what he had done. His wife smiles and says, “That is nice, dear,” as she continues clipping coupons at the kitchen table. The money meant little to her; she had her wealth sitting across the table from her.

Okay, Bill Gates tells us his best decision in life was marrying his wife; Warren Buffet has lived in the same home for decades. So is that the secret? Marry the right person and live in one home forever? These things can make you happy, but it does not satisfy the wealthy part or early retiring part. Happiness is the most important of the three so I think we have a trait or two happy people seem to possess in higher levels than the population at large. Now we need to dig further to find the best kept secret of all three types of people: the happy, the wealthy and the early retiree.

Keith’s Rule # 10: Be happy with what you have; it could be a whole lot less.

Desire, lust, coveting and ego are acid to happiness and wealth. Wanting something is one thing, but to always want more, to never be satiated, is the perfect prescription for unhappiness and poverty. Well-adjusted happy people tend to put up a hand and say, “Enough for me.” Happiness comes from inside not from out there. No amount of stuff will ever fill the void. I know a demure young woman that filled a void I had. I was never foolish enough to think money or stuff would do it for me. Good thing. If I did I would not be celebrating 28 years this week.

Wealth should be no secret. You can achieve your dreams. Learn from those who have done it. Simple personal finance strategies can make financial independence come true.#dreams #wealth #money #personalfinance #financialindependence #secrets #marriage #spouseThe secret is frugality. Think of it. People get divorced because they fall out of love or some other crazy reason. There are valid reasons to divorce, but those reasons apply to a very small percent of marriages. Frugal people are happy with what they have, including their significant other. If you are never satisfied with what you have you will eventually want a new person in your bed, too.

Several years back I had a personal trainer help me rehabilitate a bicep I blew out while butchering chickens. After a while she started saying rude things about Mrs. Accountant and suggestive things to me. It did not take long to find a different personal trainer. It ended badly for her. Her fiancé (ring and wedding dress already purchased) found out she was playing the field (she was sleeping with the assistant manager of the gym) and promptly ended the engagement. Do you think she found happiness? Now she is marrying the boss, but deep down inside all parties know she is willing to exchange men in her life at the drop of a hat. Until she is happy with what she has she will always be miserable and in fear of being found out.

Happy people do not need more stuff; wealthy people are wealthy because they realize they already have enough; and early retirees achieved their goals by saving first and spending only a fraction of their income. I encourage my clients to save 50% of their gross income. They usually give me a look. I am more the Crazy Accountant to them than the Wealthy Accountant. It is a truism that frugality will get you through almost any challenge you face in life. Desire for stuff leads to debt and debt is a terrible taskmaster to have.

Here are a few guidelines for a life of happiness, wealth and even early retirement if that is your goal:

  • Marry the right woman (or man). I understand some people do not want to be married or in a relationship. It is okay to live single. Instead, have good friends. Most of us want a significant other in our life. Choose well and make it last a lifetime.
  • Keep the spark in your marriage. After 28 years I still chase Mrs. Accountant around the house. (Was that TMI? Sorry. I still find my wife the most desirable woman on the planet. I refuse to change or even entertain the idea. I have what I want.)
  • Save first, spend later.
  • Be happy with what you have.
  • Don’t house hop. It is okay to move as long as there is a valid reason. Transaction costs on the transfer of any asset digs into your net worth so move only when it makes sense to do so.
  • Always know you have “enough”.
  • Meditate every day on how lucky you are. You are lucky!
  • Read good books!
  • Love the significant others in your life. Kiss and hug your wife (or husband) every day no matter what. Do the same with your kids; I kiss my girls on the cheek or forehead every day and tell them I love them; Mrs. Accountant gets a big sloppy smooch. Tells your parents how much you love them while you still can. Tell your friends how much you care while you have the chance.
  • Take your loved ones on a walk and hold hands.
  • Gaze into each other’s eyes.
  • Accept the gift of life you already possess. You have already won.

 

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