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The Best Conference on Money

This post will cover several issues. It will serve as a:

  1. FinCon18 review,
  2. as an example of how to best manage conference and seminar attendance for maximum results and
  3. as an update on the future of this blog.

These three issues are interconnected as will be clear shortly.

 

Professionals from all walks are either required to attend conferences or strongly recommended to do so. As a tax professional for over 30 years I’m familiar with the different types of conferences and how they can provide value well beyond the fee paid to attend. As we explore using conferences to further your wealth and career, I will use personal examples to build an actionable plan you can use to maximize results, creating the most value for your time and financial investment.

FinCon is a large personal finance conference that floats around the U.S. each year. We will use the FinCon conference to illiterate best practices with my experience as an example. FinCon18 in Orlando is the best conference of any kind I ever attended. That is a tall order considering I crashed and burned at FinCon17 in Dallas the prior year.

Small conferences are straight forward. A small number of people gather with a common goal. These small gatherings are generally seminars. Our discussion today involves the larger gatherings with several tracks. Seminars are easy to define. If your goal is learning about the new tax laws you find a seminar on said topic and attend. Seminars are usually a day or two with one topic in one room. You will not miss a breakout session because there are no other tracks.

Large conferences are overwhelming. FinCon had 8 breakout session tracks running simultaneously at times this year. FinCon Central was a hive of activity concurrently with vendors hawking interesting products and ideas. (Some of the best lessons are learned in the mosh pit where people mingle without a formal framework . Vendors bring new ideas to the table. The combination is a powerful mixture.) Unscheduled meetups and parties are common. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when 2,000 people of like mind gather. So much opportunity abounds! Where to begin?

Lessons from FinCon

 

Pain is a more powerful motivator so we’ll start with my struggles from both FinCons I attended.

Large conferences are hard to understand before attending first. FinCon has multiple cultures under one roof. Virtually every interest in the financial community is covered. Finding people with similar interests is easy. Finding sessions tailored to your goals is equally easy. So why did I fail the first year and sail the second?

Upon review I believe the disaster that befell me at FinCon a year ago was set in stone before I ever left the house. I was well aware of the educational benefits FinCon offered, but choose instead to focus on meeting as many people as possible without regard to sessions.

FinCon is the best financial conference I ever attended. The social and educational opportunities are endless. Build your business, increase blog traffic and more. #wealthyaccountant #FinCon #FinCon18 #money #media #education #seminars #blogtraffic

FinCon is the best financial conference I ever attended. The social and educational opportunities are endless.

You probably share a trait I have. I want to help as many people as possible so maximizing the number of people I associate with during the conference seems like a valid strategy at first glance.

A second trait we may share involves goals. I made the critical error I could learn what I needed to know elsewhere and therefore disregarded educational benefits from sessions. Traffic to this blog is what I wanted and felt the more people I bumped shoulders with would increase my chances of hitting the right combination that would spike blog traffic.

There is nothing wrong with traffic goals. Traffic is the lifeblood of blogs, YouTube videos and podcasts. If nobody shows up all your hard work is in vain. Unfortunately, bumping shoulders with every warm body isn’t the brightest idea I ever had. It eventually comes off as pretentious. Running a  million miles an hour also alienates many people that would normally be happy to help you achieve your traffic goals.

The inevitable happened, of course. My energy drained, I was less engaged, made less than quality first impressions and then met an individual edgy enough to want to hurt me and did. This is where I totally went off the rails. At first I pointed the blame out there. After I calmed down and seriously considered what happened, I realized I needed a good long look in the mirror.

FinCon ( and the accompanying Plutus Awards) are the best the industry ever produced. And my ignorance destroyed my first chance at massive gains. My goals were unmet.

It hurts to confess my errors. But it must be said! FinCon is too large an opportunity for anyone who attends. Wasting the first year over such foolish decisions is something I want you to avoid.

Now we can explore how I turned this boat around.

Round Two

 

I might have crazy ideas, but I’m a fast learner. Some people lick their wounds and never return. You and I are not those people. We own up to our mistakes and try again. We learn from past experience — wins and losses — and grow from there.

Last year I never made it to a single FinCon session except for the First Timers’ Orientation. I didn’t listen well.

I made a point to talk to every person I could. Attended every party, too. Didn’t drink much, but talked the leg off every human without a nautical mile. The hours were long and grueling. A repeat wasn’t something that excited me.

Want to be rich? A millionaire? Then you need to attend the FinCon conference. Learn how you can be a millionaire. #wealthyaccountant #millionaire #rich #wealth # money #conference #seminar

The right conference or seminar can change your life. This conference makes millionaires.

Once again, the FinCon experience was set in stone prior to leaving the house. This time I made a point to attend at least a reasonable number of sessions. I wanted to finish FinCon with actionable material. (More on this in a bit.)

Touching base with old friends and business acquaintances was secondary, but still part of the scheduled program. Attending sessions I found most important was a priority.

Education is a powerful motivator for me. I like working with people, but people are exhausting! Too many people pulling at me simultaneously and I start to fray around the edges. But education is something I can immerse myself in every waking hour. By spending at least a portion of each day learning at FinCon I reduced stress and burnout. My defenses were up and there was not a repeat of the prior year.

You would think a focus on attending workshops and sessions would limit my socialization. It didn’t! I had more in-depth conversations with readers than last year as we waited for a class to begin. People I never met before came to me to shake my hand. How awesome is that? The solitary life of a writer suddenly became real when faced with people I helped with my work. It is humbling to say the least.

Avoiding the parties is a personal choice. Parties can be loud which isn’t good if you want to keep your voice. For an old guy, ah, an accountant, an earlier bedtime worked wonders. You might be different. I recommend listening to your body. Don’t push to the point where it hurts the next day’s performance. You never know when you’ll need to make a solid first impression.

Without attending parties you would think I interacted with fewer people. Au contraire! Parties are great to let off steam and mingle with friends new and old. But parties are a poor way to gather necessary information (unless you’re waiting for people to get drunk and spill the beans). I’m not telling you to avoid parties. I’m saying my focus on learning allowed for ample interpersonal interactions with people I needed to communicate with.

All I’m saying is balance is the best way to get the most value from a conference. Experience told me I should focus on learning and mingle with attendees as opportunity presented itself. Every tax seminar/conference I ever attended was about learning, but plenty of valuable interaction and communication also happened.

Now we turn to the most important part of this lesson and how it will affect you and this blog.

How to Build a Million+ Page View a Month Blog

 

Many lessons learned at FinCon were things I already knew but hadn’t yet reached the deepest part of my gray matter. A good many things were also new to me.

From inception I shot myself in the foot with this blog. All I wanted to do was write, to tell my story. I missed all the reasons, you, kind reader, bother to show up around here and spend your precious time reading my work.

First, it’s all about user experience. All too often I did things I thought would generate traffic and then throw an attitude when it didn’t work. After all these years it finally sunk in. If I focus on improving the user experience they will come. Thankfully I avoided the dreaded pop-ups and similar annoying devices. Still, I modified the blog with the intention of increasing traffic. This was my first and greatest mistake.

A close cousin to the above error in my thinking is I put too much emphasis on “me” instead of the reason people show up around here: “you.”

Create massive traffic for your blog with these 5 steps. A simple to follow program that will super-charge your traffic. How to increase blog traffic. Awesome traffic tips. #wealthyaccountant #blogtraffic #traffic #tips # pageviews #awesometips

Build a million page view per month blog with these 5 ways.

The best writing in this field focuses on actionable material “you” can use in your life to solve problems. Yes, my stories are illustrative and add to the content and its value. However, I frequently never traveled beyond the confines of the personal story. I forgot real people are actually reading this!!! Typing in the solitude of deep evening it is easy to forget I’m not writing a journal to myself, but actually providing material people are seeking to improve their lives and solve problems.

I guess I could add a “Duh!” here, but that would be counter-productive.

The third lesson I was already aware of. Shortly after this blog took its first breath I showed my true prolific colors. The third lesson finally sunk in: Stop publishing so much!

Not only is a rapid publishing schedule grueling on the writer; it’s murder on the reader! Too much material too fast wears readers out.

Publishing too often also reduces the quality of my work. If this is all about the user experience and “you” then publishing just to say I can bang out a certain number of posts a week is, to be blunt, stupid.

Publishing when I have something important to say is a smarter move that keeps you, kind readers, in mind. The extra time allows for more and deeper research.

I was also reminded longer posts are important because it allows for inclusion of actionable material readers can apply immediately, lessons four and five on our list.

Not every post needs to be 5,000 or more words. But some issues demand it! Posts here have always tended to the long side. But many times I intentionally left off actionable material because I felt the post was getting long. This is a tactical error if my goal is to improve the user experience, make you the centerpiece of the post and increase traffic (a little something for your favorite accountant after serving your needs).

The New Wealthy Accountant Blog

 

With the above information in hand, here are some of the changes you can expect to see around here starting now or in the near future.

  1.  The publishing schedule will decline and will not be on a set schedule. I estimate 2-4 posts per month for this to be done right. This is a major reduction! Jim Collins warned me two years ago my traffic would be fine if I reduced my publication schedule. I was too stubborn to accept good advice. One good post per week with actionable material is miles ahead of publishing like crazy just to say I published. Some weeks will have two posts; some weeks none. But my promise to you is better material. (I took off publishing last week for the first time ever and traffic was fine.)
  2. Posts will get longer when it adds valuable information. By spending more time thinking about the topic at hand I’ll be able to include more usable information. Deeper research will make for a better user experience. Material will contain actionable elements. Previous posts centered around 1,500 words. There will be times I work well past 5,000 words to get all the information out. You can pick and choose what you need.
  3. Experimenting is still in. The internet is constantly evolving. Experimenting is vital to the health of a blog. Experimenting gives me the opportunity to help you better.
  4. Some old posts will be deleted. Looking over old posts there are a few that need to go. The Stalking the Accountant series was a thinly veiled attempt to sell books. They were good books, don’t get me wrong. But my intentions were not honorable. In the near future those posts will disappear forever.
  5. Some old posts will be re-purposed. Certain posts were fun to write, but didn’t add much value and get virtually no traffic. An example of a really old post that doesn’t resonate is Caveman TV. It was a fun story on how I raised my kids in the backwoods of Nowhere, Wisconsin with limited doses of commercial media. However, if I edited the post with actionable material and with a new title it would be a far better piece. I could re-title the post: Free Alternatives to Commercial Television. If the changes are minor the post will stay where it is in the Binge list. If a major re-write happens I will bump the post to the front of the list as a new post. (Note: Bumped posts generally are not reported to subscribers with an email. A periodic check of the Binge list is a good consideration.)

I know many readers enjoy hearing my stories of life in the backwoods and in the accounting office. All those things will still be here. A healthy dose of “me” is still part of this blog. The improvement I demand of my work is something more than entertainment value for “you”.

Here are a few examples of what is in store:

  1. Filled-in Form 3115 for cost segregation studies along with verbiage for a grouping election. It sounds like a mouthful. but a lot of tax professionals have been begging me to provide material on handling a cost segregation study on a tax return. Since I recommend cost segregation studies and there is no current filled-in Form 3115 online covering these issues, I plan a step-by-step guide I periodically update with filed-in tax forms as examples. Tax professionals and DIYers will have a tool to prepare an accurate return when a powerful cost segregation tax reducer is involved.
  2. A tradelines series. I can’t tell you the number of people who came up to me at FinCon to thank me for introducing them to selling tradelines. People are paying their entire mortgage selling tradelines and spending less than an hour a month in the process. There are so many more powerful ways you can use tradelines to your advantage. I will not neglect my duty any longer. I will take a good idea and turbo charge it just for you.
  3. Goodies in the queue. Here are a few goodies I have planned as soon as I adequately fleshed out the material: Cheap Auto Repair; The History of Money; The History of Retirement; The History of Polarized Politics in the U.S. I might even touch on the Suze Orman Afford Anything podcast controversy.
  4. Videos. Embedded YouTube videos are coming! The Suze Orman thing might be a video only since it is more an opinion piece than anything. Slowly I will start building a video library made available on YouTube and inserted in posts where appropriate.

Now that I’m not chained to a brutal publishing schedule I can focus on adding more value. Videos that compliment the text take time I will now have. Longer, better and actionable posts are the new norm.

And if I have one of those fainting spells I’ll bring back one of those fun posts where we just let it all hang out on the farm.

I look forward to our adventures together.

 

 

 

More Wealth Building Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to be Admired and Have the Wealth You Want

Respect is the most important wealth there is. Respect is earned, not given. Live your life in a way everyone around you will admire how you live and act. Be the person everyone else aspires to be. #wealthyaccountant #respect #winners #success #successful #admiration #aspiration #succeed #money #financialindependence #FIRE #mrmoneymustacheThe mid-eighteenth century was a difficult time for people living on the North American continent. Before the United States there was a list of British colonies on the American east coast. The French occupied the great wilderness of the north while the British controlled the mid-latitudes and Caribbean.

Native Americans suffered greatly. Disease and war took a devastating toll on the Indian tribes. Itinerant preachers (lay and ordained) provided respite for Native Americans in the church services where they could feel like equals for a short period of time. Still, racism was rampant even in the Christian circles. White evangelicals pointed out lapses in the faith of natives quicker than of fellow whites. Out of this world was born Samson Occom.

Occom was from the Mohegan tribe. He converted at the tender age of 16 when James Davenport preached on his reservation. Samson Occom was eager to learn more. He became the first student of an academy set up by Eleazar Wheelock, the brother-in-law of Davenport. Later, Occom taught for a missionary society. White missionaries received £100 for their services; Occom received £15 and was required to perform double duties. This left a bitter taste in Occom’s mouth.

An opportunity for a better life beckoned when Wheelock sent Samson Occom to England to preach so money could be raised to pay for educating Indians back home. English crowds were eager to hear a native from the American continent preach the gospel. Occom was so eloquent in his oratory he raised an astounding £11,000!

Samson Occom returned to his homeland and to disappointment. The money was raised for educating Indians. Instead, Wheelock diverted all the money to found a new college that educated mostly whites and only a token number of Indians. The college Wheelock founded is Dartmouth.

Character

Benjamin Franklin in his youth would fill a wheelbarrow with papers and wheel it up and down Main Street of his town when business was slow. He wanted to give the community the impression he was industrious.

As history records, he was well rewarded for his efforts. The list of Franklin’s accomplishments is long, including a very successful print shop.

By allowing people to see his non-stop efforts to get work done, Franklin sent a subliminal message to all who saw him push that wheelbarrow up and down the street as if he were busy delivering and picking up print jobs.

The secret to wealth. money and riches is leadership. Acquire the traits all successful people have. Lead by example and learn from the best. Winners learn to be winners from other winners. #wealthyaccountant #winners #secret #wealth #success #leadership #money #business #richesBen Franklin had character. So did Samson Occom.

At first blush it might seem Franklin benefited from his quality characteristics and Occom did not. True, Franklin did achieve significant financial wealth in his lifetime. But money wasn’t the most important or overriding factor; character was. Yes, Benjamin Franklin enjoyed wealth, but always knew his true and only wealth lay with his character. This is why Samson Occom, despite white prejudice and racism, still was wealthy beyond human understanding. Occom had character; Wheelock did not.

It can be disheartening when you work your tail off and get abused for the effort. All the time and effort to build a quality business can be destroyed in an instant no fault of your own. An angry or jealous individual can tear you down with a lie that sticks with you a lifetime. It is totally out of your control.

You don’t control external events. The actions of others can damage you, but you are powerless to stop a determined individual bent on spreading lies. A competitor may want to tear you down and destroy you so they have easy access to your assets and clients. Sometimes it works for the better as in Franklin’s case. Sometimes you spend a lifetime of abuse due to your race or gender as Occom did.

It is doubtful Occom would have experienced a better life if he succumbed to temptation and attacked his attackers. The eighteenth century was not a kind time for Native Americans. (It’s not always that kind now!) Occom wasn’t the only Indian to suffer racism. What hurt the deepest was how hard he worked helping white man and getting no respect for his efforts. Wheelock must have known from the beginning he was using Occom to raise money on false pretenses.

Who Do You Want to Be?

The YouTube video in this post is preset to start at a point in the presentation important to today’s lesson. You can listen to the whole video, but just listen to the part pertinent to this post by clicking the video. It’ll start almost at the end.

Warren Buffett has given us countless stories on life, investing, economics, money and happiness. In the video Warren outlines how to become the person you want to be. He mentions Ben Franklin and his mentor, Ben Graham, used the same method to discover the person they wanted to be.

Reinventing the wheel is too slow. Learning from people around us and those who have come before is the best way to shortcut to the desired result. According to Buffett, we should look around for people we admire. Then we need to examine why we admire them and why others admire this person.

Once you know what you and others admire in an individual, you can nurture those traits in yourself. By building those traits internally it increases the odd people will admire you too.

Money is important. So is admiration and other forms of wealth. Building a reputation takes work and there are no guarantees. #wealthyaccountant #wealth #admiration #success #money #fame #riches #wealthySome people may consider this selling out. Nothing is further from the truth. Searching for traits in people you admire is the only way to discover what you really want! To guess correctly by chance is a helluva gamble. The odds of you finding the right formula without outside information are slim.

Each person has a different dream, but many of us have a shared dream, or at least portions of dreams. Most people want some level of affluence. Money makes a big difference in life. Most people want at least a few close and dedicated friends. We want a loving family; a loving significant other; good children who are respected and respectful.

This is why you can’t just focus on one individual! Some readers may find my long-term marriage and business success traits they’d like to emulate. Some may envy my writing skills. Or, you might find my rural lifestyle intriguing. There are also things not as endearing. I tend to work too hard and get grumpy when tired. My disdain for travel is legendary. It is okay to pick and choose the traits you find most appealing.

Most people seem to have wanderlust. They want the opportunity to travel more and further. That’s okay! You can pick my traits you want to incorporate and leave the rest. You DON’T want to be a mini-me running around. As Riddick said, “They don’t know what to do with one of me.”

Equal Opportunity

It might not be fair, but outcome with be unequal. Samson Occom had it better than most other Indians because of his efforts. He still suffered racism. Nothing was going to stop that. The same effort by Ben Franklin has left Franklin’s name as a household word. When you think of Ben Franklin you think of industriousness. When you think of Samson Occom (if you ever thought of him at all) you should think of resilience. Occom isn’t a household name, but he is remembered. A footnote in the history books is more than most get.

Warren Buffett studied Ben Graham and then was a student under him. I think you’ll agree Buffett went further than Graham. Graham did just fine in life, but Warren became the richest man on the planet for a number of years. He is also loved and adored by many. Graham is mostly remembered due to Buffett.

Occom was admired, too. When he preached Christianity people quieted and listened. Life could be cruel out there, but in here he was at the front of the room spreading the Good News to his fellow Indians and even white settlers.

Samson Occom was bitter over his treatment; he was beside himself when he discovered the money he raised to help educate Indians was diverted to a new college mostly for whites; the knife cut deep. But he never stopped preaching! He held firm to his faith. He always remembered the words of Davenport that fateful day when he was not much more than a child. Occom found the traits he found most endearing and incorporated them all the way down to his soul.

Show Me the Money

No one, not even your favorite accountant, can guarantee you the outcome of your efforts. You can follow in my footsteps exactly and get a different final outcome. That’s life. Not everyone who followed the industrious example of Franklin in the eighteenth century became famous and wealthy. What I can tell you is that everyone who practiced those qualities did tremendously better than if they had not.

The early retirement and financial independence community have an endless variety of characters. Some traits are admired, others not so much.

You have to do what the rich do if you want to be rich. Find the traits that make people fabulously wealthy with all the money they could ever want. #wealthyaccountant #wealth #rich #money #respect #traits #successThink of it this way. Tim Ferris has a massive following. He has many positive qualities (traits) we should all consider. There are also things you may not like about the guy. The same can be said for the super-bloggers and super-podcasters. I think it’s insane when people want to consult with me so they can learn to be more like Mr. Money Mustache, another blogger or me.

I write a blog and publish a lot more than Pete (Mr. Money Mustache). But my statistics are nowhere near his. If you see a beach spread to the horizon, this blog is a grain on said beach compared to MMM. That said, there are many traits you might want to acquire from Pete. I hope not every trait because one Pete is also enough. Maybe you can pick up a few traits from numerous people.

Certain characteristics tend to show up again and again. If you admire people with money you might notice they tend towards frugality and index fund investing or own a business. You can emulate that easy enough. You might notice many travel and want to do the same. By following their example you increase the odds you will accumulate more resources to travel.

There is no guarantee you will get the same results. A person in prison will have limitations from the rest of the population. Nelson Mandela is a perfect example. He gained the respect of the guards and the people of a nation while imprisoned. He was fortunate that he was released and led South Africa for many years. Other people doing the same thing will almost certainly get a different result.

This blog is about wealth. It might depress you when I say you can search the traits of those you admire and incorporate those traits only to find less admiration than those you worked to emulate. That misses the whole point. Successful integration of quality traits do not guarantee anything and shouldn’t even be the goal! It is the daily effort to improve yourself with the traits you acquired that makes you wealthy.

The daily journey is the reward, the riches you seek. You can examine the admired of your community and work to integrate those positive traits into your persona. But please, kind readers, make plenty of room for you. Explore the qualities already inside you.

Then you will be the person admired.

 

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!

 

Raising FI Children in a Media Insane World

children and money | media | media diet | #mediadiet #teachingchildren #personalfinanceRaising kids in the best of times is challenging. Add the modern world of distractions (social media, cable and network television, Netflix, email and cell phones) and it’s a wonder every parent isn’t a prime suspect in the mysterious disappearance of their children.

In a bygone era frugality was a virtue. Spending less than you earned was the norm. Money was borrowed in the rarest of circumstances for large items. Borrowed money was paid back as quickly as possible. This has been replaced by the litany of people writing me whenever I publish posts like this one reminding me they borrow money responsibly. By *responsibly* they mean they run the numbers to see how much they can afford to borrow if nothing ever goes wrong. Then they add a really small margin of safety, just in case. Of course, life intervenes. Their responsible handling of debt leaves them working 40 years and broke at the end. Thank God for Social Security.

Friends pressure friends to ‘live a little!’ Raising your children with the right financial attitudes isn’t enough. School, friends and even family members will constantly chip away at their truly responsible behavior with money.

Missing Children

There is a running joke in the accountant household. Whenever my daughters get smart I remind them they are the sole survivors of 34 children . . .  so far. (I ask all kind readers to refrain from examining the pond too closely.)

Most families have a competitive atmosphere. It’s the way it should be. My girls were always pretty good, but dad periodically had to lay down the law. (Envision Sylvester Stallone here in Judge Dredd saying, “I am the law!”) Most of our time together was a learning experience. Things I share on this blog frequently start from a family conversation. The blog post is more orderly; the family discussion more detailed.

‘Laying down the law’ was more an exercise of leading by example. When I tell my kids not to smoke or do drugs they see mom and dad practice what they preach. When I suggest books are a good pastime and a way to see the world throughout time, my girls constantly see the big humans in the house buried deep in another meaningful book. When we read we also share the lessons from the book that strike us right even if the rest of the family isn’t interested in reading that particular book.

Many years ago I watched a lot more TV. True, I usually had TV as background noise or the sound was muted as I glanced up now and again to see how the Packers were doing. I was the last guy in Wisconsin to break down and allow cable in my house. CNBC was my breaking point. I was also the first to cut the cord. CNBC is a business channel, but still an incredible waste of time.

Back in those days I was addicted to football (American style, my friends from outside the U.S.). I would watch Badgers football (college) and the Packers (correctly spoken as da Packers). Every game remotely related to the home team was must watch football; they were all remotely related. Then you had Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football. It was insanity. On went the TV (the cable glowed it ran so often) for every game with the sound muted. I read a book while keeping an eye on the action.

This was an expensive habit! The cable bill kept climbing magnitudes of order faster than inflation and I watched only a few channels. (As memory serves, I either had football muted or the Discover or Learning Channel on.) Pen and paper made it clear I was spending a lot per hour of television viewing. I was wasting money and my life!

One day I had enough. The cable was coming out. (We live in the boondocks so we had DirecTV.) I was prepared for serious pushback so I announced to my family cable would be turned off for six months over football season as a test. Yawns. Really?

Two months later the kids conducted an intervention. “Dad,” they said, “just cancel DirecTV. We can watch our shows elsewhere without a problem.” Dad, it seems, made the only sacrifice in giving up football. That was over a decade ago and we never looked back.

Serious Discussions

Dictating can work for a while, but if you force every issue you’ll eventually have a mutiny on your hands. I was open about my concerns of withdrawal symptoms when I cut football cold turkey. Yes, I could have watched a load of games on free network TV, but when I decided to cut the cord, I cut the cord (to the electrical outlet).

Tutoring in China.

The funny thing is I never missed football. It surprised the heck out of me. After a lifetime of following my beloved Packers, I can’t name a single player on the team or the coach. The only thing I know about the Packers is what I hear in the steam room at the gym. It’s always an awkward moment when I get asked about the Packers and I say, “I don’t watch TV.” After a few moments of stunned silence I am congratulated for my grand sacrifice. I haven’t the heart to tell them it’s no sacrifice at all and that a serious part of my wealth is due to checking out from constant media manipulation and limited television viewing.

I’m an open book. I’m willing to discuss more subjects than people around me. In private, family discussions can get weird. They have to! The world is an insane place. The crazy conversations are designed to educate my kids and build a stronger bridge of understanding between Mrs. Accountant and me.

Agreement is NOT required! In fact, I want disagreement. Let me be clear about this. I don’t mean argument and fighting. What I mean is that I expect every member of the family, regardless of age, to express their opinion backed with facts. Sometimes Pinky, our cat, even chimes in, but she doesn’t know what she is talking about. Always meow this and meow that; feed me.

Humor is frequently a part of the conversation. Never, and I mean NEVER, will anyone insult the intelligence of another family member. Political issues can be intense, but always appropriate. Respect for other’s opinions is an unspoken rule. (Remember, lead by example rather than from the dictator’s podium.)

Ground Rules

Media is everywhere, vying for our attention. Opinion and commentary are often clothed as facts or news. (I’m talking to you, Fox News and CNN fans.) Media is a business. They are in business to make money. They need to entertain you; educate is only an option. The world at large will try to indoctrinate you and your family into the consumer unit mindset because that is where the profits are. Let me repeat, media is a business with a desperate need for profits! From you.

#teaching #children #money #mediaSchool, teachers, friends, family, social media and traditional media outlets all bombard your children with messages of varying degrees of value. Most of the people are broke. It’s hard to teach what you don’t know. Financial independence is rarely taught in schools because most teachers don’t understand money.

By reading this blog you are educating yourself on financial matters. It’s not that I’m preaching anything new. (Okay, maybe a few new things.) Finance blogs and books are a way of indoctrinating ourselves with the information we choose to internalize. The media will get through by the sheer volume of information overload. To offset the harm you need a steady stream reaffirming your frugal, investing ways.

The younger your children are when they learn the truth about finances the better. Early education followed with constant reaffirmation creates habit. Habit will take you through the stressful times when the majority fails financially. Remaining calm when the world around you panics is muscle memory. Start early and stay focused.

Most people underperform because they make dumb moves during economic crisis. We currently are approaching an uninterrupted decade of economic growth coupled with a rising stock market. For the better part of a decade the masses have dutifully invested a portion of their paycheck. All those gains can be squandered with one ill timed trade.

The media will freak out first and more intensely than anyone else. Glenn Beck isn’t going to make you rich; he’s too busy taking your money. The best thing to do when the periodic, and inevitable, crisis strikes is to tune out all media, even social media. Don’t let anyone dissuade from your goals! Selling a portion of your index funds should be based upon personal needs because you retired or have a medical bill. The economy or level of the Dow Jones Industrial Average is NOT a valid reason to trade.

5 Ways to Raise FI Children in a Media Insane World

Spending dedicated time with your children is vital. Your kids will believe you more than anyone else, including media sources. But you have to put in the time! Face-to-face time is more powerful than talking heads and the Facebook news feed.

Here are 5 things I did raising my girls to think with the FI mindset:

Talk Openly about Money. Many people talk about money the way they talk about sex. It explains a lot about our society. Money isn’t taboo! I frequently think aloud when deciding to make a purchase or investment. I want Mrs. Accountant and the girls to know why I’m doing what I’m doing. What appears to be an impulse purchase actually had plenty of forethought. My decision to dump cable is a prime example. I’m currently debating dropping Netflix and Amazon Prime, which I use for the office. The numbers are still being tallied and compared to the utility the family receives.

Talking openly about sex with my kids has had a positive influence. Neither of my girls had to deal with pregnancy issues as minors or the drama of dating relationships. Considering what I see in the world around me, this is an incredible accomplishment and I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I just talked, including about the uncomfortable stuff. Talking really does solve about 85% of problems if the talking is done in advance.

Money is no different. I talk with the whole family, Mrs. Accountant included, because they need to know this stuff in case something happens to me. I can’t protect them! All I can do is arm them with the same knowledge I have. I learn a few things (a lot of things) along the way. My girls and Mrs. A know money and are comfortable talking about and dealing with money. Knowledge is power. A trust fund is lazy parenting and a thinly disguised babysitter for idiots.

 

Be Honest. Guys, I’m talking to you. We love to tell our battle stories while neglecting to share those moments when our head was handed to us. Failure WILL happen! Your kids need to understand mom and dad didn’t have the Midas touch. I never shit a golden egg, and to the best of my knowledge, Mrs. A never laid one either. (Though I did hear her cackle earlier this morning in the other room.)

 Talking about money means honest discussion. Expressing regret after a purchase is understandable. It happens. The kids need to hear it so they learn to hesitate when they consider a must-have item or service.

Most important, be honest with yourself when it come to money; all matters now that I think about it. We all pay a stupid tax now and again. We live in such affluent times we can make stupid money decisions and still come out smelling roses. By talking openly with your children about times you paid a stupid tax, you educate your children. They may still pay a stupid tax themselves down the road. But sharing your story helps them limit the damage and frequency.

 

Dump the Idea of a Mad Money Account or FU Money. Some will find this counterintuitive. Plenty of personal finance bloggers espouse the idea of ‘mad money’ or ‘FU money’. I think dedicating a certain amount of funds to the stupid tax is like intentionally maneuvering your financial situation to pay just a bit more in tax to the IRS as a ‘FU choice’ or ‘mad tax’ decision.

 I’ve served on the board of several non-profits over the years. As you can guess, I was usually the treasurer or at least involved in the financial decisions at some level. This is the reason why I don’t serve longer than I do. Non-profits love to budget. They budget revenue which never seems to quite materialize at the level dreamed during the budgeting process and budgeted expenses are an excuse to spend. (“We budgeted money for that!”) Budgeting expenses encourages unnecessary spending.

What I do instead is track income and expenses. My goal is to always beat the previous year. I want income a bit better than the year before and spending a bit lower.  Inflation adds challenge to the spending part of the game. This is the most realistic budgeting process I can think of. Everything else is wishful thinking.

So what happens when I come upon a “mad money’ event? The same thing that happens with any spending event. If the family decides we want to go to Bay Beach (I hold veto power), we go to Bay Beach and blow $20 or so. I don’t check the FU account; there isn’t one.

I consider a car ‘mad money’ spending. The buying process isn’t as long an agonizing as you might think. The vehicle replaces a mode of transportation no longer reliable. (Them’s the rules.) I research, with family members watching, the options: bank repos, FSBO, dealerships (ick!) and alternatives like biking. The calculation is simple. Compare the cost of each, including upkeep, maintenance, reliability and depreciation. My oldest daughter found a car repaired after a collision. She (not dad) did the research to ascertain if the vehicle was safe and reliable after an accident. It took her a while to find an affordable set of wheels, but she applied what she learned from dad over the years and got a reasonable mode of transportation. (Notice I didn’t say she got a deal. Vehicles are never a deal! They’re a constant expense.)

 

Limit Media Influence. This is easier said than done. Eliminating is highly unlikely. Elimination demands could lead to dad’s mysterious death. Police are still investigating.

 Once again we come back to family communication. I’ve found ‘telling’ my kids they couldn’t do something created resentment and limited compliance. Rather, I hear their choices and encourage reduction or elimination of certain choices. It takes time and consistency. When my girls heard I was pulling cable they were skeptical. When they heard my reasoning and personal sacrifice they pushed forward faster than your favorite accountant!

The worst offenders are social media. These time sinkholes should never be used for more than they were officially intended. Stay in touch with friends and family on Facebook. That should take all of 5 minutes per day. If you’re married to them, consider a face-to-face conversation. And Facebook isn’t a news source! So stop treating it as such. Twitter is a fine way to share thoughts and things you run across online. Again, 5 minutes a day should more than cover it.

Television used to be the ultimate culprit because there was no other box in the house with pretty oscillating lights to distract you. Now the computer has taken over. Still, limit television viewing. Don’t tell me about the ‘news’ either. Most of it is biased opinion and if I wanted their opinion I would have asked for it. I didn’t.

Focus your news and online reading to what you are most interested in. I like business news. Even that needs to be limited as most business news is slanted and worth less than nothing. (Check CNBC articles on where the market is headed: up and down every day at the same time. Like I said, most of it is worthless.) Some news is important. Weather comes to mind if you are planning an outing. There is no value in reading yet another article about social justice. It only increases your blood pressure (very unhealthy) and provides no value while increasing an entitlement mentality. There is no place for this in a FI household.

YouTube is my weakness. Traditional TV (networks and cable) force feeds viewers. I have a violent reaction to force feeding. Call is a ticklish gag reflex. YouTube appeals to me because I can focus on what I’m interested in. I recently had to fix a tractor tire and wanted to do it myself. Several YouTube videos helped. This said, you can waste a day (and most of an evening) glued to the new glass teat. YouTube is the ultimate Fox News, feeding viewers with an endless supply of what they want. If you enjoy conspiracy theories you just committed suicide. Your heart will eventually figure it out and stop beating; your brain dropped out of drive a long time ago.

Traditional media, social media and even YouTube are fine to use in moderation. Giving up all media is foolish. YouTube videos can educate and help with projects around the farm. Entertainment is not a four-letter word, either! Enjoying a movie or series is okay in limited portions as long as it doesn’t replace quality family and real-world social time.

If you want to raise FI children in a media insane world, teach them (lead by example) how to use media in a nourishing, productive way. Blogs and podcasts can teach money lessons. Even with my decades of financial and tax experience I’m still learning. The learning never ends. Media can help. Limiting media exposure to those things most valuable allows for good life balance.

 

Teach Your Kids to Read; Teach Your Kids to Think. Books are the most powerful media tool ever invented. Reading good books will determine the level of success you enjoy in life. Unlike other forms of media, books require you to engage, to think. Thinking is the lost art form of modern society. Many ills of modernity are a direct result of people refusing, or unable, to think clearly and communicating articulately.

My oldest daughter is starting to build an impressive personal library. When I asked her the other day if the she bought the book she was reading, she said, “Yes. I’m getting like you.” You can imagine how proud dad was. She, like dad, is willing to spend money on knowledge.

Reading and thinking make a difference. My oldest daughter is 23 and has traveled a nice portion of the world without mom and dad in tow. She did it on her own! Imagine the confidence builder! Reading is the culprit. Without her reading habit she would never have the level of wealth she has at her age.

My youngest daughter is 18 and prefers working in the dirt so she found a job in the family business landscaping. She is the least bookish of the family, but still reads plenty, just in a different way. Reading books from cover-to-cover isn’t something she aspires to (yet). She reads shorter work related to topics she is interested in. An internet article or short informational piece has more utility for her. At the end of the day she reads a lot more than you think, and speaking of ‘think’, she is learning to think more clearly each day and communicate her position and knowledge in an articulate manner. Might I add she has amassed a nice nest egg for someone approaching retirement when she is only months into the age of majority.

 

Raising intelligent children able to think on their own in the modern world has its challenges. I never said it was easy; it never was easy.

I expended over 3,000 words to communicate with you a simple message: If you want to raise FI kids in a media insane world you need to communicate louder than the media outlets. Since you are standing next to your kids all you have to do is talk and listen. In time it will all work out.

Now I need to learn brevity.

 

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.

Thinking Like an Accountant

The only serious accountant around here.

Things have been looking up at The Wealthy Accountant. Traffic is increasing and the audience is expanding. Even better, the original demographic attracted to the site has expanded, bringing in more people to benefit from the information provided.

The newfound success also causes problems. People unfamiliar with the FI (financial independence) community are frequently shocked at the way I present information. It’s an easy thing to do. Right up there in the title is the word accountant. The blog ought to be about taxes and similar stuff found in a CPAs office. Then you open the cover and find me standing there. Don’t worry! It would scare me too.

There is a major misunderstanding on what this blog is about. Yes, the word “accountant” is in the title. There are a few reasons for that. First, it’s getting hard to find an unused url in the dot com universe anymore. Second, I don’t want you to be an accountant (unless you want to be), but I want you to THINK like an accountant. There is a difference.

Thinking like an accountant allows you to make better decisions in all areas of your life: working, investments, taxes, even relationships and raising the kiddos. Accountants think in a logical fashion. They plan. They also look before they jump.

That doesn’t mean all the fun is squeezed out of life either. Readers around here discover real quick there is something mentally wrong with this accountant. I love having fun, kidding around, laughing and turning life into one big joke. And a drink now and again never hurt my feelings.

Accountants have a reputation for being boring. Nothing could be further from the truth. When no one is looking we break loose and riot across town. Then, when the cameras are turned back on, we don our wire rim glasses and pocket protectors. And if you are unaware, we are a darn sexy group, too.

Can We Talk about Something Other Than Taxes?

Approximately 15% or so of this blog is deep tax stuff. This is by design! Taxes can be boring because it requires the use of large portions of gray matter. It gets old after a while, even for people who love this stuff, like me.

My first goal is to entertain. This had better be fun or my readers will jump ship faster than a cat from a tub filled with water. (All paws and tails coupled with an unusual meowing wail.) And this stuff is fun. Most of what I tell you guys is true. The rest is modified to fit the story to the page and not burden you with massive back story or an info dump; not to mislead you, kind reader.

After I get you to chuckle I know you let your guard down. With your force field dismantled I can share serious stories with a moral; we can call them parables.

Entertainment is the most effective form of education. Learning is easiest when it doesn’t feel like learning. Never will you hear me say, “I’m going to teach you a lesson.” (Unless you make me really, really mad.)

Now we get back to the thinking part. I want to help you improve the way you think. Granted, I am no genius when it comes to the answer to life, the universe, and everything. (The answer is 42, if you must know.) Instead, my unique experience of working with people on the intimate details of their financial and personal life gives me an advantage only someone in my position has.

I’ve seen a lot over the years: divorces I never saw coming and could not understand, couples married for decades succumb to drugs or gambling, and worst of all, the number of young people who have died. If there is anything that causes me to pause in life, it is the number of young adults and children I saw to their grave. What can I possibly say to a bereaved surviving spouse or distraught parent? Answer: There are no words. All I can do is hold my client and reassure them they must be strong in honor of the lost loved one. Some days at the office are harder than others.

Most of all, I want you to have a seat on my side of the desk. My hope is you will take a chair behind me and silently watch me work my trade, to see the things I see. I’ve seen a lot. Most of it is hilarious, other times it amazes me how I keep from taking my own life. (How many young people have to die of disease, violence, or accidents before enough is enough?)

Boring accountants! Hit’em! Hit’em now!

I hear your hopes, dreams and fears. I laugh (and cry) with you. You are my people. I joke because it hurts so much in here. When you hurt, I hurt. It is not an over-exaggeration when I say I love my clients. There has never been a better group of people to ever walk this green earth.

From your life I learn lessons, lessons I want to pay forward by sharing to the world at large. After entertainment, The Wealthy Accountant is about living life well, living life right. We can do this only if we do it together.

I am not your guru. All I have is a massive repertoire of stories and a modest memory and ability to share them.

It’s not about money. Money gets a lot of play around here, but it is not about money. Money gives you freedom and few other fun things. In the end money is not the issue. Your family, friends and community are. All the money in the world will not replace those things. Without these things we are miserable.

Finding meaning in life as you view life is what counts. I can’t tell you what to do or what will work for you. My stories only provide prompts to jog your memory and thinking capacity into action discovering those things which make your life worth living.

Can I Say a Word or Two about Taxes?

Tax posts get the most push-back around here. Explaining taxes is a risky business. Heck, even the Tax Courts don’t always agree on the correct way to interpret sections of tax code. If the Tax Court has problems getting their arms around it, what chance do I have a winning the crowd with a tax idea or concept?

Most of my tax posts are built around concepts versus hard tax law or application. This is by design. I want this to be a tool for the common man. Tax professionals will find value, but will need additional research above what I share here. The reason is simple. Once you peal open a complex tax issue there are so many variables, I could easily sink into the quagmire of boring tax blog rather quickly. Then no one wins. Especially my ego. I like traffic! Makes me feel wanted.

Future accountant.

I seem to get a lot of comments poking and prodding around the edges of my tax concepts. It’s a good thing because it means people are thinking about what I am presenting. It is also a bad thing because it means at some level the same people are missing the point.

If fewer than one in five posts focus on tax, where does the accountant come in? Well, accountants do a lot more than taxes. We do payroll, bookkeeping, consulting, retirement planning, auditing, and more. Tax is one small part of the equation. You think accountant are tax guys (or gals) only because that is a big part of their public image.

The most difficult task any accountant faces is taking the complex tax code and making it understandable to non-tax pros. And we have to do it without making the client feel inferior. Trust me, I am not up here and you down there. I have to find a way to bridge the gap.

So I am left with concepts when I write here. I have written plenty in the past about serious tax issues for tax professionals. The people who read that stuff is a fraction of 1% of the people who read this blog and I don’t blame them a bit. It is dry reading. You only read that stuff when researching a tax issue for personal needs.

The Wealthy Accountant is not meant as a stale tax guide used for reference only. When I share tax ideas I know I am leaving out the 3,083 other possibilities. The ideas I present are different from anything else you read on the subject or hear from your tax pro. If it wasn’t different, why bother?

My last post was on saving half your gross income and how it reduces your tax liability. My argument was: Saving half your gross income doesn’t cost half your income because the government has a coterie of deductions and credits attached to saving and investing. Several readers were concerned I skipped, missed, or potentially mislead readers by leaving out certain possibilities. I made a conscious choice in my presentation. I fully understand what I skipped and with good reason. To add too many possibilities or circumstances starts to bog down the post. Boredom is the greatest risk I face when sharing an idea.

My worst fear is that some readers might miss the message. My motivation is to make a difference in the life of every reader who wanders this way without turning it into drudgery. It is a difficult road. Please, keep questioning my work when it doesn’t make sense. I could have made a mistake and it is easy to correct before too many people read the error. But don’t get lost in the forest for want of a good shade tree. I will never intentionally mislead you. To the best of my ability I will take a complex issue and reword it in a way that is understandable to people not active in the legal community. Always seek the concept I am offering.

The reason I am here, kind reader, is for you. If I save you a bit of money: awesome; if I cut your taxes a tad: excellent; if I get a smile while I do it: priceless.

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!

 

Why Do You Hate Money So Much?

IMG_20160803_202948Rewards for a good week of work show up on a regular basis from the boss in the form of a paycheck. There is a special sort of glee when payday arrives as a dance develops in everyone’s prance around the office. The initial excitement gives way to an understanding you will go another week before one of these bad boys show up again. You would love to have more money; who wouldn’t? If only the boss paid a little bit more, life would be so much better.

But the boss did give you a raise recently. Your spending adjusted to the additional income in about thirty seconds. In the end nothing changed. For some reason you claim to love having money, yet your actions say otherwise. If you love something you keep it around a bit longer than you do. I know, I know! You have bills. My point exactly. Not only do you go out of your way to keep money as far as possible from you, but you spend money you still have not earned so you can get rid of the green stuff as fast as possible the rest of your life. What do you have against money?

Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer

Since you seem to hate money so damn much I have a few suggestions to help smooth the financial edges for you. It would be in your best interest to know what your enemies are up to in the money camp. No matter where the green guys are they will do the same thing no matter who owns them. For some reason they can’t make it on their own. As soon as they find a home to settle in they go to work reproducing. Money naturally loves investing itself because it leads to little baby monies. And who doesn’t love a cute baby.

Don’t you feel like an ass now? You had mamma and daddy money in your hand and you sent them packing just when they needed you most. With baby monies on the way you sold your money for trinkets and cheap booze. How could you! The worst part is how forgiving money is. As soon as you say you are sorry and let them stay they go to work reproducing for you instantly. All you have to do is give them a little time.

Make Money Happy

Money is horny. Hard working, too. Leave money alone for two seconds and it goes off to work producing more money. Horny!

Money is saddest when it gets squandered on stupid stuff nobody remembers the next day. It is a senseless death. The senseless killing is out of control. One can only wonder how many baby monies were never born over such callus destruction.

Imagine money at its happiest. Take $100 for example invested in a comfortable index fund where the companies in the fund invest their money with an excessive return over their cost of capital. Soon these companies are turning their money into newly created wealth. Eventually the stock price reflects the new wealth and while you wait you get some crazy thing called a dividend. Dividends are actually little baby monies eager and ready from day one to do the exact same thing mom and dad do, create more babies. Is it any wonder we don’t have overpopulation in the money world?

Slavery Is Legal!

In the money world slavery is legal. In fact, it is encouraged. Any money you have laying around can be put into forced servitude and no one complains, especially the money. The money actually loves servitude because they are most productive and procreative when they roll up their sleeves and kick butt investing and growing.

Have you ever watched the old Star Trek episode about Tribbles? Like Tribbles, money eats everything in sight (not food you and I eat; their food is investments) and reproduces like mad until they run out of food. Then they starve and cry until a new source of food is provided. For the love of god, man! Feed your Tribbles! And whatever you do, don’t give them away to the Klingons. And that is exactly what you are doing if you dispose of your money as fast as it comes in; selling out to the Klingons. You should be reported to Money Protective Services for prosecution.

IMG_20160803_184323The Right Way to Treat Money

By now I hope you understand how cruel you have been to money over the years, selling it out to the lowest bidder as fast as you earn it. From now on I think you need to reconsider your plans as they involve your Thursday afternoon paycheck. It does not matter if you get a raise if all you do is spend that too. You are better than that; I know you are.

There is a correct way to treat money and avoid legal troubles or accusations of money abuse. First, before the money ever hits your palm, have the maximum allowed by law withheld and deposited into your retirement account. Oh, money loves that. Even the taxman gets a swift kick to the groin then. You should see how hard money laughs as the IRS agent is curled in the fetal position on the floor from a groin shot. It also makes money horniest. You should see those little buggers reproduce. Retirement accounts are like money Viagra.

Next, show your appreciation to the money left after the retirement is maxed out. Hold it softly in your hand and stroke it. Remember the old adage: cold, hard money? It is a lie! Money is soft and warm. See! Feel it! Not too much now. Fondling money is impolite in certain crowds. It is best to have a serious discussion with the remaining money at this point. Help it understand you will never spend more than half of what comes your way. It is easy to do, but compared to most people you will be a god to money.

Money understands when you use part of your money army to pay off debt. Sure, they don’t reproduce in the same way, but you avoid interest expenses which means more money in the future marches into investments to kick some butt. Talk about money porn.

Build a Massive Army

You are a gentle soul, always kind to money and their kin. By spending wisely and frugally you pay off debt, fund your retirement account, and now plow your soldiers of fortune into what is called a non-qualified account. Explain to your money it is not a bad thing they are non-qualified. Tell your money family this: non-qualified means they are not in a retirement account; they are regular army now. They like that and work hard to limit the tax assessed on them so they can be more like their qualified brethren, sometimes known as the Marines.

You are a good person and by reading this discovered the errors of your way. No longer will you abuse money and the little money babies they produce. The best part is money is forgiving once you treat it nice. All wrongs are forgotten as your soldiers join the hordes of other money in the world creating wealth for their masters. Trust me on this; money takes care of its master like nothing else. There has never been a money slave revolt in history. Actually, money without a family keeps running until a family takes it in. You are that family now.

Be a kind master, allowing money to grow under your care. They have awesome kids that never cry or complain; they just make more.

Living Without Money, the Spending Fast and Buy Nothing Day

51bWz-LER7L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_The Western word is being destroyed by a select group of people determined to live within their means. From artist Ted Dave and his Buy Nothing Day movement to Daniel Suelo who decided to live without money to Jeff Yeager and his spending fast to Mr. Money Mustache and his grand scheme to keep spending low, even when income rises, we face the greatest economic crisis of our generation. Or are we?

All too often we act as if the economy were an actual living being. It is not. The economy is only a construct of the human imagination. Can you image any animal living in crisis because their local economy collapsed? Even humans, thousands of years ago, did not worry about this crazy thing we call the economy. Somewhere between there and here we convinced the vast majority of people they are duty bound to feed this imaginary beast.

Spending lubricates the beast. It does not matter if the spending is on stupid stuff. Buy a Hummer and save the economy, they say. That was the mantra a decade ago. Remember the government’s response the 9/11 attacks? We were encouraged to keep spending to show the terrorists we would not be affected by their actions. But the terrorists did win! They got us, as a group, to engage in insane spending habits sure to destroy the one thing we worship above all others: the economy.

The real question we all need to ask is: Why is the economy so important? The “recorded” economy is what the government really cares about. It is this recorded economy they can tax and tax hard. Taxes are highest on owning stuff like real estate and the movement of money (spending). The government so far has been unable to tax things like: inviting friends over for a beer and enjoying good conversation. Rather, the government prefers you go to the bar, spend 20 times as much, and don’t care one bit if you enjoy it or not. By spending more you lubricated the economy and that is good for the country, or so they say. During World War II the government told us our patriotic duty was to “Buy Bonds!” and spend less on yourself. Today we are told to spend like drunken sailors by the very same entity. Each bit of advice was self-serving, but the saving mantra created a world super-power. The 1950s and 60s were times of awesome economic growth fueled by a high savings rate. Today we fuel the economic flames with debt and each new obligation has less effect than the last.

The Daniel Suelo’s and Mr. Money Mustache’s of the world are not the problem; they are the solution. If you are happy, satisfied with what you have, does it matter if the economy grows? Once you cover the basics and few niceties it is time to move away from the “more is better” mentality. More is not better! One aspirin cures a headache; a thousand give you a bleeding ulcer and kills you. The same applies to everything in life. Everything in moderation. But moderation does not keep the economy humming or ever increasing taxes flowing to the government.

Inside your home there is also an economy. If you don’t spend money today your household experiences a Great Depression. Sounds stupid when you think of it that way. You stay home and prepare a nutritious meal, enjoying it with the wife and kids and somehow you created a massive problem; you destroyed the local economy! But the local economy means absolutely nothing. Your life’s mission is not to see how big you can grow the insatiable economy.

If you want to create a better community, less spending goes a long way toward that goal. Savings are what fuel the “real” economy. The real economy includes only the basis: food, shelter, clothing. Once the basics are covered we are only forcing the economy larger. There is no real value to spending a thousand dollars taking the family to see the football game. I argue you gain more pleasure playing ball in the back yard or in the park with the kids.

Economic recessions (all recessions are of an economic nature) mean nothing if you have ample savings. Think of it this way. I grow a garden and can and freeze my ample excess produce. When I enjoy my garden’s bounty in mid-January am I concerned? I hope not. My savings of produce allow me to live off the summer’s gift. This is a form of saving with a zero percent rate of return. So low interest rates are not an excuse to not save and invest more.

Enough complaining. We should all agree saving more is better than spending more than you earn. The stress of overspending destroys marriages and other relationships so it is important to learn to feel satisfied with what we have.

Your personal savings rate should exceed 50% during your working years. Your mindset must be: half for now, half for later. Unless your income is below $20,000 (in the U.S.) it is more than possible to live this way. Heck, Daniel Suelo lives without any money at all. Most people need to drop their savings into an index fund and let it ride. Today’s investment soldiers will reproduce like rabbits. Within 10 – 15 years you can retire from forced servitude and pursue your heart’s desires. This does not mean you suffer for 10 – 15 years. You can live very comfortably on $20,000, $30,000 or $40,000. When you start looking at the stuff you are buying you will realize how much of your life you have wasted chasing stuff of no value.

Living without Money

The world would not end if there was no money. Money is only an exchange of value for debts owed. Therefore, money is really a part of the debt transaction. Money is debt. Investments, on the other hand, are not. A small business (and what better way to live life than running your own business) should produce profits. Invested capital earning more than the cost of capital creates value.

We are so used to having money (cash, credit cards, checks) on us at all times (same with the dreaded cell phone) that we feel naked and vulnerable when without money on us. We justify our fear by saying if we have no money on us at any particular moment we are a vagrant. You are not a vagrant if you leave your wallet at home!

Train yourself to feel normal without money on you. Go for a bike ride or long walk without any money on you. Remove temptation to stop for a cup of coffee; bring a hot cup with you from home. Graduate to leaving your wallet home when you go to work or visiting friends. I have seen people freak out when they try this. It’s nuts! Just because you cannot buy something at the drop of a hat should not cause you angst. You are nowhere near the level of Daniel Suelo, living your life completely without money. You are not a consumer unit; you are human being with needs and desires that transcend money. There is more value in family and friendships than spending money.

Spending Holiday

Now I want to share a plan to living better without spending money. The idea of a spending holiday never occurred to me until I read Jeff Yeager’s “Cheapskate” books from the library. I practiced spending holidays without even knowing it! The goal is to bring your spending under control. Spending holidays train your wealth building muscles to accept as “normal”, days without spending any money.

Starting small is important; no ladder is climbed starting on the top rung. I recommend a one-day spending holiday to start. As you flex your financial muscle you can work up to a full week spending holiday. Once you get the groove you can go crazy insane with a one-month spending holiday. (FYI: I max out at around a week. A whole month causes serious challenges.)

The spending holiday needs clarification on what “spending money” is. Eating is not spending money; neither is turning on the lights (unless you want to take it that far). Here are some of the things you will do and avoid during the fast:

  • No buying fuel for your vehicle. When the tank is empty you walk or bike. Or enjoy time at home.
  • Eat homemade meals with food in the fridge, freezer and pantry.
  • Normal bills get paid, especially if they are on automatic. The mortgage payment is not spending; it is paying for past spending. We allow electric use and water. Utilities are a form of spending, but also a need. Food, water, and shelter are things only the hardcore can include in a spending fast and not a good place to start.
  • Entertainment: Spend time talking with family and friends. A refreshing bike ride to the library for a movie is acceptable; ordering a movie is not.
  • No cheating. Maybe you have a gift card. You cannot spend from so-called free sources. No spending a credit in your Amazon account for a movie. If you already have Netflix we will allow you the luxury (and it is a luxury).

A one-day spending holiday should not even be a challenge for you. I hope you strive for a one-week spending holiday or even a two-weeker. It is liberating to have large chunks of time where spending is not a part of your lifestyle.

Buy Nothing Day

When Vancouver artist, Ted Dave, founded Buy Nothing Day people did not notice until Adbusters magazine promoted it. In the United States, Buy Nothing Day is the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday. This is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year. When ads were purchased to promote Buy Nothing Day, retailers complained and had the Buy Nothing Day promotions shut down. (Gotta keep the economy going, ya know.)

A fun family event is to plan twenty Buy Nothing Days a year by putting them on the calendar in advance. Every month you can have one or two days where money is not the focus. Take the opportunity to spend time with your children and/or parents. Talk about current events or school, hobbies, good books, and similar interests. By taking an interest in yours children’s lives they will end up well adjusted and happy; by spending quality time with your spouse or significant other you can build a powerful relationship that lasts; by spending time with your parents you can enjoy the massive legacy of knowledge the older generation has gained through experience.

Of course, this is all only a start. In my household we don’t buy Christmas presents or presents for any commercial holiday. We share experiences and build gifts with our own hands. It has been a long time since we had a Buy Something Christmas. Birthdays are times to spend together. Gifts should never be an obligation satiated with cheap plastic junk pre-made for the landfill.

You can keep spending if you want. You don’t get a retirement then. You either save for future spending or you must keep working until the day you die. Spending holidays and buy-nothing-days grant you the ability to control your life. It is only a few days a month where you can do whatever you want. The rest of the month you can return to your spending servitude. It is good for the economy.