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How We Are Addressing Climate Change All Wrong

We are all in this together. Climate change isn't the problem; how we frame it is. Global warming can be solved if we work together as a team. This is not political; it is will. No winners and losers, just winners. #climatechange #globalwarming #reframing #co2 #environment #businessgrowth #greenhouse #greenhousegasesClimate change (really global warming with a better brand name) has been in the news these past few decades with dire warnings. Climate models have underestimated the warming trend. 

The old story of the frog tossed into boiling water and immediately jumping out comes to mind. With climate change the warming is so gradual (and sometimes welcome) we don’t notice we are getting boiled. Yet the temperature inexorably continues to climb. Like the frog, we will stay in the stew until the meat pulls away from the bone.

Fresh faces periodically jump onto the scene. Al Gore made a big splash over a decade ago with his Inconvenient Truth documentary.

This past week a new face entered the drama with Greta Thunberg scolding Congress. After delivering a groin kick to deserving members of Congress she met with allies in Congress and told them, ” I know you’re trying, but just not hard enough.” 

As much fun as it is to watch a 16 year old girl knock Congressmen around, the most important point has been missed: Greta “is” the problem.

 

Same Old Tactics

“The world is coming to and end!” It has been the battle cry of environmentalists from the beginning. Scare tactics worked when pushed hard enough and often enough in the past. Now, after hearing this battle cry for longer than most readers have been alive the echo rings hollow.

Climate change is a money issue. Those against taking action do so on financial grounds. “It will cost too much for something we are not sure will really happen and even if it does it might actually be a good thing,” is their battle cry. And it is easier (and cheaper in the short run) to do nothing.

Then we come to Gore and Thunberg. Remember I said they ARE the problem. 

All the while I watched and read about the smack down in Congress I couldn’t help but think about how much CO2 Thunberg dumped into the atmosphere flying* to Washington to give Congress a piece of her mind. Thunberg is right; she needs to try harder.

If the people most concerned about climate change are injecting the most most amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, is there any hope to solve the problem?

Actually, there is.

 

Re-framing the Argument

Fear stalls people in their tracks. This accountant has strong beliefs about climate change and prefers to call it what it really is: global warming. Gore showing charts of CO2 rocking to the moon did little to move the deniers. It’s not that climate deniers believe climate change is a hoax; it’s that they believe it isn’t a serious problem compared to the costs of mitigation. A warmer winter is welcome in their minds and the negative consequences will not affect them (in their minds).

Continuing to bash on deniers will not work! I’m sympathetic to the cause and know the problem is serious and needs immediate attention. And even I am exhausted by the constant assault by climate doomsayers. If it is so bad and their is no hope, why bother.

There is a solution, but it requires a radical rethinking of the climate change rhetoric. 

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions is a good goal that can satisfy climate change crusaders while appealing to the pocketbook of the deniers. In other words, if we reframe the issue as a win/win the message will resonate with virtually everyone. The best part is nobody even has to mention that four-letter word: climate change or global warming.

 

Solutions that Work

Every time a new solar or wind project is proposed it lists the amount of CO2 that will not be emitted into atmosphere. That is a massive mistake!

Green projects have to be proposed with economics in mind. 

This wind farm will drive down costs to local businesses, increasing the competitive advantage of our community in the world market.

Everything wrong with the climate change debate. Rather than accusations, all sides can win if framed correctly. Global warming can spur economic growth, create jobs, lower taxes, improve the environment and provide serious investment opportunities. #climatechange #globalwarming #environment #greeninvestments #green Who is against that? No mention of climate change. Politics is removed. To be against this is to be against jobs and local economic growth. Not one mention is made about climate change. 

A local town hall meeting might sound like this:

CROWD: Is this wind farm going to help climate change?

PROMOTER: Screw the climate. We are about business and economic growth. This will create jobs and increase business profits. Our cost advantages after this project comes online will make us a world leader in multiple industries.

The Republicans will snicker after the event about how they pulled a fast one over on the Democrats. Citizens concerned about climate change will have a similar, yet opposite, conversation in private.

Everyone wins!

Your favorite accountant is sick to death of good ideas getting shot down because climate change was attached to it. Want to kill a good idea? Say is will lower CO2 emissions. Doesn’t matter how good the idea is. Could you imagine tax cuts associated with reduced greenhouse gas emissions? You’d never see another tax cut in your lifetime.

Businesses understand this. Doing environmental good CAN and frequently IS good for the environment. Both sides of the debate are really in the same room, only they got comfortable bashing each other’s faces in and don’t know how to change their behavior. 

It is self-defeating to frame trillions of dollars in spending as a climate change expense. Even those who know the problem is real have a hard time wrapping their head around seriously higher taxes to pay for something that will help other nations and people of the future. The “What’s in it for me” thought is strong. It is unfair to complain some are shortsighted on this issue. We all are to some extent.

Solutions where many will lose (taxpayers and business owners) will always have a problem getting their message across. 

 

Changing the Way We Think

Business owners understand the power of changing the way they think in problem resolution. Individuals need to do the same.

Buying an electric car is NOT about saving the environment! It might be a status symbol. But in the end it should make economic sense. If the cost of owning the electric car is less over its entire life than an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle it is a logical choice even if the up front costs are higher.

The opposite is also true. There will always be a limited number of people willing to shell out for an expensive car that costs more than similar ICE alternatives. This limited demand will not be enough to reverse the global warming trend.

It smacks me as insane when some lowlifes rejig their truck to belch more smoke or keys an electric car when walking past. The smoke is a different kind of pollution and actually is better for the environment since it settles out of the air reasonable fast. (Think of that if you rigged your truck this way. You actually are saying you are trying to help reduce climate change emissions. Makes you look foolish, doesn’t it?) And keying someone’s car is not only stupid, but ignorant. You are better than that.

Current thinking is politically charged. Greta Thunberg made a splash in the news. Yeah, she got a good one on Congress. And nothing will change. You don’t make friends or solve problems by finding new ways to insult people you need to help you solve a problem.

Instead of focusing on what is in it for us, we need to highlight the advantages to our opponents. 

Electric vehicles will give America a competitive advantage.

Changing the electric grid will create jobs.

Businesses will generate an estimates $868 billion (this number is illustration only, not a fact) in additional profits if electric vehicles are fully implemented.

This solar field will reduce reliance on foreign oil, create 328 new jobs, lower utility bills for businesses and consumers and lower taxes over the next decade.

Of course the losers haven’t changed. Big oil is behind the fight against climate change initiatives for good reason; they stand to lose a lot. I don’t like leaving businesses or people behind even if they were part of the original problem. Remember, oil was a solution to a problem a century ago.

The synergies created by good economic policies can be used to create incentives for businesses and individuals negatively affected by the changes. 

Climate change solutions can create jobs, increase business profits, lower taxes, improve the environment and reduce utility bills. #environment #utilitybills #propertytaxes #taxes #climatechange #globalwarming #jobs #profits #business profitsBig oil should receive serious tax credits when pushing into these new areas of business. The transition will be painful, but manageable if proper consideration is given.

Self driving trucks will not need to convince business of the value. Trucks able to run 24 hours a day without payroll expenses is all business will need to hear. Once self driving vehicles are safe enough they will happen. Just as climate change causes issues so will self driving vehicles. 

Every problem has a solution that eventually leads to more problems. As long as the improvement overall is steady we are golden. Truckers losing their job will need tax incentives to get them from where they are to where they want to be in a world with out truckers.

Gas stations will always have a place as long as people are on the road. Electric vehicles and people still need to fuel up. Gas stations will need help with the expensive conversion to electric charging stations.

These are not insurmountable problems! We HAVE solved much worse than this. Climate change is real. Unfortunately we are the frog in the water getting cooked at a slow simmer. 

Finger pointing is wrong. It never works. You never convince someone of your viewpoint by starting with, “You’re an idiot!”

We must reframe the way we look at climate change. We must change the way we think. This is not us versus them!

Change can be good. And profitable! If only we have the will. Otherwise another kid with a cute message will get a good jab in on Congress thirty years from now when the problem is still unresolved and much worse.

 

 * Some comments argue this statement isn’t fair since she used a “zero emissions” boat to get here. No word on how she gets home after her 5-man team brings the boat back without her. Many reports and newscasts have stated the large carbon footprint of her journey. Thunberg has a 5 man team delivering the yacht back home and some of them presumable flew. At this point we still do not know with certainty if she will fly home or use another source. What is certain is the greenhouse gases emitted from this publicity stunt is reported to be greater than the emissions from a village in India over the course of a year. I stand by my claim.

 

 

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?

It's not us versus them. Solving climate change can be a win/win solution. #climatechange #environment #smallbusiness #investmentopportunitiesSide Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

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

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

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

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

 

 

A Non-Political Look at Income Inequality and the Wealth Gap

3 ways you can end income inequality and narrow the wealth gap. Together we can change the world.Frequently we look for political solutions to income inequality and the wealth gap. While the issues can be improved slightly from political action, there are two additional ways to close the wealth gap and level income that are more effective.

Politics is the messiest way to fix these problems and history offers ample warning for those who seek answers from this source. One need not look further than Mao’s China or Stalin’s Russia to see how abysmal political leveling can be. North Korea is a modern example of how not to level the playing field. 

Let’s turn our attention to the second way income inequality can be reduced. Walter Scheidel in his book The Great Leveler explains what he calls the “Four Horsemen” of leveling: war, revolution, collapse and plague. Historically these four horsemen have been the leading cause of leveling of income and wealth throughout history. 

Once again this is not a comforting thought. You can read Scheidel’s work for an in-depth review of his research. The record is clear, however; it takes great dislocation, pain, suffering and death for income and wealth to level naturally.

The first two methods of leveling the playing field are not valid choices if you enjoy freedom and like living a comfortable life. These first two methods of leveling are accomplished by bringing the top down rather than the bottom up. Which leads to an interesting thought experiment on how much we really want income equality and a narrower wealth gap.

 

Defining What We Really Want

Before we continue to the third and most viable way to level income and wealth we need to define what it is we really want and what we are trying to accomplish.

Leveling the playing field is actually very easy if you are willing to destroy massive amounts of wealth. Scheidel’s work and the 20th Century are amply examples of fixing the problem the wrong way.

Political solutions eventually lean toward solutions that are relatively effective which means forcing the top down and violence. The four horsemen do the same thing with the crude hammer of god. 

When most people speak of equality they mean they want to bring the bottom up, otherwise they are no better off than before while the upper classes are rent destitute. Normal people are not so dark in their thinking.

Therefore, we really should not care what other people have as long as we are enjoying affluence. Complaining you have one less apple as you relax in paradise is way too diva for this writer; it also shows a remarkable lack of emotional maturity.

In the Western world affluence is high, but there are still people stuck in poverty. The 1% have taken a larger and larger piece of the pie which means the middle class is getting squeezed with smaller gains and the poor are outright losing ground. (See embedded video.)

 

 

From the middle class on up the Western world enjoys massive affluence the rest of the world aspires to. A nice home with two SUVs in the garage are common. Travel is an affordable luxury. Food and clothing ample.

But there is something that grinds on our conscious when one person is paid less than another for the same exact task at the same exact skill level. This requires effort to fix.

While it is easier to ask someone else to make the change, each of us have within ourselves the ability to force equality. 

As a business owner we can take great measures to ensure employees are treated fairly and equitably. But what about large employers? How can we force change across our society?

And before these actions take hold, what can we personally do to narrow the wealth gap in our own life? Can we narrow income inequality in our own life regardless what business or government does?

This brings us to the third way to level the playing field.

 

 

The Numbers Don’t Lie

In 1995 James M. Poterba of MIT and Andrew A. Samwick of Dartmouth College published a damning report on household wealth in America

The above chart shows the household savings rate in America for the last 60 years. In the 1970s the savings rate began a precipitous decline. At the same time income inequality began to grow. Could there be a correlation?

Poterba and Samwick discuss historical stock ownership in America in their report. Their most interesting comment is telling: All corporate stock is ultimately owned by individuals. They allow for foreign ownership of U.S. equities which was around 5% at the time they published.

Here is what you can do to end income inequality today! 3 ways to narrow the wealth gaps and level income.While stock ownership eventually is owned by individuals, the real question revolves around which individuals own these investments.

According to the report household ownership of stocks was nearly 90% in the 1950s and has declined to less than 50% by the 1990s. Since the report it is fair to say stock ownership has continued declining.

The third way to level income and smooth wealth can only be accomplished on the personal level. If most people refuse to engage the exercise they will suffer greater inequality and there is nothing the government or any politician can do about it!

Traditionally the arguments surrounding income inequality involves wages. There is truth behind the inequality in wages over the last 30 or so years. The richest are getting the largest share.

But this ignores every other source of income! In the 1950s virtually all households held some stock. These households had a fractional share of ownership in these corporations. Dividends went to the household, almost all of them.

Now fewer than half of households own stocks which means these households have zero income from this source. The wealthiest by default ended up owning nearly all America’s wealth. People complained, but refused the one solution nobody could stop them from exercising.

And capital gains and dividends are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income, like wages. Even with this massive incentive for individuals to own stocks the average person took a pass. And so income inequality grew. 

All the gains in America’s growth hence went to the remaining owners of America’s engine of economic wealth. There was no other possible outcome. The people who held stocks (owned a piece of American businesses) ended up with all the gains and the gains were spread to a narrower and narrower group with each passing year.

 

Get Your Share

At first glance you might think something as simple as having more people own shares in American businesses would not solve the whole problem. That thinking is wrong.

Owning a piece of America’s value creating machine means you get a slice of the profits in the form of dividends. Many middle class taxpayers pay a very low or no taxes on these dividends. 

Something else happens when more people own a piece of corporate America. Your fractional ownership slightly levels the wealth gap because you now own something tangible like the wealthy do. Your share might be small, but there is power in numbers. 

When nearly 90% of households held U.S. stocks, dividends were more widely distributed. It also meant nearly every household had a small say in how companies operated! (Remember, you are a part owner when you hold stock.)

As fewer people held stock there was no one to slow down the enormous gains in CEO salaries. The CEOs rewarded the remaining few shareholders and employees were left out of the discussion because they didn’t own a piece of the enterprise.

Of course, owning a few shares in McDonald’s doesn’t give you the ability to dictate policy at the firm. But if many people owned stock in the company they could gather enough influence to change corporate behavior!

It might sound strange, but what would happen if every employee of McDonald’s owned 100 shares and worked together to change wage policy at the firm? I know, I know. People working at McDonald’s can’t afford to own stock in the firm. Yet I argue you can’t afford not to own a piece of the company if you ever want to change corporate policy!

Income inequality and the wealth gap are the same exact problem! As the wealth gap widens the lower end of the economic scale has less and less say. Of course the people on top want more and they get it because nobody that owns the company says different. 

 

The Gift That Keeps Giving

When my kids were growing up they received a share of stock as a gift for Christmas every year. One year they got a share of Wrigley, another year a share of Disney. 

Part of the gifting process was to examine each company they had stock in along with a few other possibilities.

The family came to the conclusion Wrigley was a winner for a variety of reasons. Wrigley gave every shareholder a case of gum each Christmas which my kids found incredible valuable. Stock ownership had real benefits! 

The financial reports also looked promising. Earning grew and so did dividends. Dividends were reinvested while excess cash was funneled into more shares. The growth was impressive.

Then Warren Buffett came along and funded Mars Corporation’s cash buyout of Wrigley. (Damn you, Warren!) Every member of the Accountant household got a big, fat juicy (Wriggly makes Juicy Fruit gum) check for their ownership in Wriggly. It was a bittersweet moment, however.

Yes, a big, fat juicy check is always welcome, but the regular income of dividends ended! And worse, no more gum in the mailbox in mid-December! It was as close to a crisis as I ever saw it!

While many people use index funds, there is something lost when we give authority to a mutual fund to vote our shares. That is why I still own individual shares in companies.

Your influence is minor when you own a few shares in a company. But even without a majority of ownership a large number of shareholders can make life very unpleasant for management tone deaf to owner/employees. 

Regardless your minor control of the companies you hold stock in, you have an unseverable right to your share of profits. This by default shrinks the wealth gap and income inequality for you.

 

Fixing the Wealth Gap and Income Inequality One Person at a Time

It is tempting to blame government and politicians for the wealth gap and income inequality problems. But as we saw above, the problem is not a political one and politics can’t solve it regardless what politicians promise!

You can change the world; you can make a difference in ending income inequality.Natural levelers are down-right brutal. We don’t need a catastrophe to level the field to an acceptable level. Complete equality is a terrible goal as the 20th Century has shown. However, the current environment is way too lopsided to be good for society in the long run either.

Businesses are the engine of value creation and growth; labor builds the goods and provides the services that make that value creation and growth possible. It is fair to say labor should have a reasonable slice of that pie.

Looking to the government for solutions is only a minor stopgap. Social services (the safety net) can be increased (and improved), but this is unproductive after a point. While more can be done in this area, it will not solve income inequality if individuals refuse to own a piece of the means of production! Nor make even a dent in the wealth gap!

Unexpected plague, war, revolution or collapse can temporarily level the field, it does so by bring the top down, leaving the middle and bottom no better off than before and probably worse. To fix income inequality issues and narrow the wealth gap, we want to focus on improving the most amount of lives as possible, not destroy everything until we are all level digging in the dirt for sustenance.

I know the world preaches index funds; so do I. Before Jack Bogle passed away recently he warned of the issues I brought up above. If mutual funds/index funds/ETFs control all the stocks they will vote the rules in corporate guidance. 

If you respect and value freedom you will demand a voice and your voice is purchased with ownership. It doesn’t take much. A few shares of three good companies can do wonders for your economic status. You can still hold index funds with the bulk of your money. (They pay dividends too, you know.)

Even without direct ownership (ownership through index funds) you still personally shrink the wealth gap. The increasing dividends added to your wage income narrows income inequality ever so slightly.

It took 40 years for the problem to grow this wide; it will take more than a few years to fix, even in your personal life. 

Or we could do what we’ve been doing all along and hope it changes magically all on its own.

Or demand a government bailout. (But then you’re just like corporate America.)

 

 

More Wealth Building Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

Planning a Spending Fast

A spending fast is as vital as a food fast, rejuvenating your financial muscles. Personal finance and financial independence require a spending fast. #spendingfast #spending #personlfinance #earlyretirementFasting is a refreshing way to reset your body’s internal regulation. The benefits of fasting include weight loss and energy gain. Intermittent fasting can give you the same benefits of longer term fasting without shocking your body so hard.

Fasting is necessary for most people due to awful eating habits. Processed foods and sweeteners wear the body down, requiring a fast to cleanse the toxins out. Periodic long-term (multiple day) fasts are punctuated by several shorter fasts. Continuous intermittent fasting can train your body to burn fat while reducing cravings and increasing energy.

Bad habits are solved with a reset. You start small so success is higher. Starting with a four-day or longer fast is certain to end in failure for all but the most determined. The longer fasts also require medical supervision. Starting with intermittent fasting or a one-day fast makes a lot of sense. The timeframe is reasonable and most people can stick with it, therefore, the benefits are received.

As much as the body needs cleansing, so do your financial habits. Spending fasts have been around as long as money. Spending fasts were a natural part of money management until modern times where spending opportunities are everywhere.

Mass media and opportunities to spend at every corner (and most spots in between) encourage the growth of terrible spending habits. Left unchecked, these habits will be a cancer on your financial life. Dreams of financial independence and early retirement will burn with the bad habits. The natural cure is a spending fast and you don’t even need a doctor’s note.

Ground Rules

Like regular fasting, a spending fast has different levels of commitment. The idea is to start small, building your financial muscles before advancing to the next level. As your financial skills increase, you can engage in some truly historical spending fasts. And the good news is you get to keep all the money.

Before we begin I must point out spending fasts are not about frugality or cutting spending. The fast is designed to train you mentally and socially to live a normal life without money as part of every step. Enjoying a walk in the park with a significant other is an awesome and free experience. You can leave the wallet at home. Another lesson to learn is to walk out of a retail store without buying anything (or stealing it) if the item you were looking for wasn’t available. Shopping for the sake of finding a “good deal” is the mother of poverty.

I will outline 5 spending fasts starting with a simple financial purge all the way to the hardcore. I recommend starting small and working up. If you never manage a Level 5 Spending Fast in your life you are still a good person! Not everyone can handle a dietary fast of a week. Most will never manage it. Your health may not allow. The same applies to money. Anyone can manage the first few lower levels, but struggle as they approach the highest level. You may not want to attempt Level 5 in the same way you may never attempt to go without eating for a full week. It’s okay. Each spending fast level will help you recharge your financial muscles worn out by the constant bombardment from mass media. All fast levels are beneficial!

Also, use common sense. Turning off the heat in January in northern Minnesota is not a spending fast; it’s stupid. The idea of the fast is learn money doesn’t buy everything, even the most important things. Your geographic location will determine additional rules from those presented here. Safety first! If you require medication, you follow doctor’s orders. Don’t do anything that risks your health or that of your family or anyone else. Got it? Good.

Let’s get started.

Level 1: The Starter Fast

Breakfast (break the fast) is so named because it is the first meal of the day after not eating since dinnertime, 12 or more hours in the past. Technically you engaged in a mini-fast every day.

A spending fast doesn't have to be a lonely road. Discover all you're missing when you put your credit card down. #spendingfast #spending #creditcard #frugal livingYour starter fast should be just as simple. Brown bag lunch to work. Better yet, leave your money at home one day per week. Driving is still technically spending, but you will plan ahead and avoid the need to buy gas the day of your fast.

The Starter Fast is short-term and in most cases less than a day. You need identification and/or driver’s license when driving or away from home, but cash, credit/debit cards and the checkbook stay at home. You can still pay regular bills as always. The light bill still gets paid. The idea is to strengthen your financial legs; learning to say no to minor spending habits. The first step is to stop spending at least a few days a month at work. No office pools, dining out or other crazy spending that takes place where you work. Work can be darn expensive and it destroys your financial goals! Your work should support your dreams and goals, not suck the financial life out of you.

Level 2: Serious Spending Fast

Level 1 is the training wheels level. Everyone should practice Level 1 fasting often, in fact, virtually every day.

From this level on we will engage in a full day or longer spending fast. At Level 2 you are allowed to plan ahead. Fill the car with gas beforehand. Stock up on staples to take you through the fast. Your habits will not change much yet at this level. The cable is still ticking away; so is the electric bill. You pay those bills timely; late fees are considered spending at this level and are punished with a stern look. Your spending fast at this level is more a shuffling of expenses. Gas is paid for before and after the fast, but the consumption is still the same. The real benefit is avoiding foolish spending. Lunch at work comes from the home fridge. No tavern detour on the way home from the office. Office coffee instead of a Starbucks detour

Level 2 can start at a full 24 hours and move up. Try one day where no spending is allowed for a full day. This is more than just a “leave your money at home when you go to work” plan. Online shopping is not allowed. Money is stripped from your daily lifestyle. Now is a good time to see what’s hidden at the bottom of the freezer. Past spending will fuel your daily needs. If you run out of something, you find a substitute or do without. The exception is safety related issues. Medicine is still purchased if necessary. If injury requires medical treatment you get said treatment. Yes, it’s spending, but this program is to teach financial skills, not harm you.

Once you start building your financial muscle, work from one day to two, then three, until you can handle an entire week spending fast, including weekends. Yes, even at Level 2 the challenge starts to make the muscles sore. That only means its working. Once you can do a week at Level 2 it’s time to move to Level 3.

Level 3: The Power Fast

Now we get serious. Once again we start at a single 24-hour period and move up to a week or longer. Pre-paying for certain items isn’t allowed. For example, driving the car is an expense regardless when you fill the tank so biking or walking to work is the only option.

Ideally, you want this fast to go for several days. The light bill and cable will still operate, but most everything else will require consuming only what you have at hand. The fridge and freezer will be your food supply. The rent or mortgage payment of course still get paid; the same with other debt. In fact, since you are spending on nothing else it might be a good idea to bury that money in debt reduction. Most people at this level will not have debt so the money will go to the First National Bank of Wallet, aka, your index fund. Saving isn’t spending; neither is paying off debt. Interest accumulating on debt is spending so I recommend taking an ax to it.

Level 3 is a lifestyle change. At this level you will start to learn how to live without money. Money becomes a tool only, instead of a means of distracting you from life. Acceptable spending is limited to minor recurring bills like utilities (phone, light, heat, Netflix).

Level 4: The Lifestyle Fast

Remember all the stuff you didn’t buy in Level 3? Well, I bet you found a way around the spending problem by shifting it to somebody else.

At Level 4 you are not allowed to accept spending from others. You might have accepted a meal from a co-worker as a work-around. If the weather was hot you might have used that as an excuse to enjoy air conditioning in a public building. Shifted spending ends now! The shifted spending mindset is the same one that tells you to steal all the soap from your hotel room, justifying the action by claiming it’s a minor thing. Unfortunately you are stealing and it is a form of shifted spending we don’t tolerate around here. Getting someone else to foot the bill is still spending! All you’ve done is shift your spend thrifty ways to somebody else’s pocketbook. Good friend you are.

Plan your spending fast the right way and start living the good life. Control your finance; control your future. #spendingfast #frugal #frugalliving #freedom #money #moneyfreedonOnly the barest of necessities are allowed at this level. If you truly emptied all food sources in the house you may consider (I said consider) buying the most basic of food. This will be the healthiest and most basic stuff. I’m talking lentil soup folks. Maybe beans, the ones you soak all night and simmer all the next day. You’ll live.

The ultimate goal is to power through a month at Level 4. I encourage multiple food fasts at the same time. This is about living life at its most basic, where the real living takes place.

Level 5: The Insanity Spending Fast

This level is so diabolical my fingers are bleeding as I type. Level 5 requires a minimum of one week and ideally a full month. And everything goes.

Cable and Netflix are gone and unless your local climate doesn’t allow, you pop the main breaker to the house. No heat, air conditioning or electricity. This is brutal! Electricity is the ultimate shifting of spending. Electricity is cheap and versatile. For this fast you will learn to live in harmony with nature rather than forcing the world to your demands on the back of energy resources.

Once again, if your climate or health doesn’t allow for such extreme fasting, then don’t do it. You still need to take and fill prescriptions. If it’s well below freezing you still need to heat the house to above freezing. Broken pipes are spending! But don’t use climate as an excuse for your minor discomfort. A cool house (or humid and warm in the summer months) is no excuse to fudge on the fast. Beginners might want to plan this spending fast around a time of year where they experience the least discomfort and where utilities are least needed.

In addition to the fasting from Level 4, you will need to adjust to nature. When the sun goes down; you go down. Artificial lighting has given us a false sense of reality. This fast will break that illusion. Without electricity, TV and the computer will no longer occupy a large part of your day. You will rediscover library books and books from your personal library. You’ll also rediscover the lost art of communicating with neighbors and friends. If you have a significant other she will buck this fasting idea you have until she discovers you pay more attention to her. Real, undivided attention. It’s not a brave new world, just the one that existed from the beginning of time until the advent of modern society a hundred or so years ago.

Recap

A final recap of each fasting level is in order.

Level 1:

  • A simple short-term fast similar to intermittent fasting
  • This is more a “leave your money at home” fast for the workday.
  • Most spending is still allowed.
  • Driving to work is allowed; the stop on the way for Starbucks coffee is out. Drink office coffee. You will not die.

Level 2:

  • The minimum is one-day for this fast and ideally a week or more is needed.
  • Fill the car and stock the fridge because when it’s gone it’s gone.
  • Medical is always allowed since we practice safety first.
  • You still have Netflix and/or cable to entertain you.
  • No stops at the tavern on the way home from work.
  • You can accept gifts that are disguised as spending (co-worker buy lunch) if you must.

Level 3:

  • Stockpiling is out except for food for home preparation.
  • Burning gas still in the tank is de facto spending so walking or biking to work is your only option.
  • You always pay the rent and mortgage because late fees and penalties are spending. You also still pay your taxes on time since interest and penalties are once again spending.
  • You are encouraged to use the extra money you’re not spending to reduce and/or eliminate debt. If no debt, then invest in your index funds. Investing isn’t spending.

Level 4:

  • Level 3 is still in effect.
  • Shifting spending is out. Someone else spending on you is shifting your consumptions habits to others. How rude!
  • Basic, simple, nutritious food only is allowed. Stock piling doesn’t help at this level. Lentil soup and other simple and healthy fare is your diet during this spending fast.
  • You are reaching Stoic levels.

Level 5:

  • Level 3 and 4 restrictions still apply.
  • Cable and Netflix are out.
  • If climate and health allow, pop the circuit breaker for the house. Electricity is still spending.
  • Ideally you want at least a week to a month for this fast.
  • Learn to live in harmony with the environment.
  • Read more.
  • Spend real, quality time with friends, family and loved ones. Spend real deep emotional time with your significant other. Without the distractions of modern life she will be the center of your world. I bet you’ll love what you find.

There is still one unmentioned level: Level 6. I’m numb just thinking about it. If you think you are ready for an even more rejuvenating spending fast you’ll have to take lessons from this guy.

 

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. 

 

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. 

 

Dealing with Groupies

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Awesome people I admire. (Pete, Brandon, Paula, and Doug.)

Enrolled agents, CPAs, attorneys, and other professionals frequently are required to attend continuing education programs to keep their license. The same people show up year after year. Camaraderie grows as the group becomes closer. Familiarity breeds relationships. Our personal experiences and focus in our practice gives each member of our group unique skills. When certain situations arise we know where to turn.

I have belonged to several of these groups over my career. I am an enrolled agent (a licensed tax professional) and attended classes from even before I was licensed. This large group is familiar to me. I have worked with many tax professionals outside my firm in special situations. As odd as it sounds, I have represented a few accounting and law firms before the IRS. My comfort with litigation makes me someone professionals engage when things go really wrong.

For a while I belonged to a securities group. I had a short fetish with selling investments until I was disgusted by the dirty game played on clients by the industry. Along with a securities license I got a life insurance license which I still have, but never use. One day I will let it lapse.  

Each group has its own members. The groups are fairly consistent; the same people show up year after year with a few newbies and a few who retire or die. The educational classes are fun and an opportunity to catch up with old acquaintances and share ideas.

Groups gather for all sorts of reasons. Anytime a group of people share a common interest, a program is developed. It makes sense. If you enjoy something you naturally want to gather with people who share your mores.

Personal Finance Groupies

Personal finance seminars and retreats seem to grow daily. In the past I read the blogs, but avoided the gatherings. I know who I am and feel comfortable in my skin. Frugality, saving, investing, and financial independence are normal to me and I feel no desire to travel to meet these people. (I have enough venues to attend.) That all changed a few years ago.

Once I broke the ice it turned into a storm. The good news is I only attended limited venues. But that is all changing. In the past I could attend programs for my business locally or only a short distance away. World Domination Summit, FinCon, and all similar smaller gatherings are not driving distance. You don’t have to read this blog long to learn of my disdain for travel. Prying my ass from my 10 acre farm is a major undertaking. If you give me a choice between a bullet in the head and traveling I pause for a moment. I’m seriously considering the options.

The people at personal finance (PF) gatherings are like the gravity from a Black Hole. Once you cross the event horizon there is no going back. Like the local tax seminars, the same people make the rounds of all the PF gatherings. There is some cross-over from groups with similar interests, such as travel hacking, but the crowd is 80% regulars.

And these people are so darn friendly. You get a group of accountants together and if you are not one of us you get that corner of the eye look. We’ll accept you once we vet you. And you start at the bottom until you earn your stripes. Not so with the PF groupies. All you have to do is show up and it is like, “Fuck, yeah!” You are instantly part of the herd.

Orgy

If you have never attended one of these events, you need to. The sex is non-stop!

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Had ya for a minute, didn’t I? Of course I am messing with you. This isn’t like a rock concert. Half the people at these events have their own blog and the other half would like to find the time to write their own. Blogging has turned into big business, hence all the gatherings around the world. Now, there could be sex orgies I wasn’t invited to. I’ll give an update if I discover anything.

It was only a strange set of coincidences that drew me into the cult. I wanted to build a business relationship with a blogger and I was willing to travel this one time to “get it done”. I was not on the itinerary, but I changed that. I have something to say, damn it, and I’m going to talk . . . in front of people.

The original goal was to storm the Camp, do a smash and grab, and make like the wind. Except for that gravity thing. Damn Black Holes! I was sucked in so damn fast it was over before I knew it. I waited a whole year and returned to the same Camp. Now I am actually speaking for real at Camp Mustache SE this January. People actually requested to hear me talk? Sick bastards. I can live with that.

What I noticed as I built this blog is the same people are involved. I am terrible at social media. I try, I really do, but I stumble and fall a lot. In business today, especially with a blog, you must have a social media presence. Since most people love this stuff it is easy to find people willing to help me. The web designer of this site set up all the automatic postings; Karen, my office manager, helps manage Facebook and other social media sites. I try to check Facebook daily because people sometimes ask questions. I don’t interact much. That is slowly improving.

Facebook seems to be the go-to place for social media. The account sat there forever with no friends; it was only a landing page to access business accounts. In the past I had several people start and manage Facebook pages in my name to build business. Most started fast and fizzled. Those sites crashed and burned. My rule was: make me look cool so people will want to do business with me. I don’t think I was always made to look cool.

Once I attended Camp Mustache II people discovered I had an account in hiding. Suddenly I had friends! <a tear comes to my eye> People started contacting me and I had to call in Karen because I could not figure it out. Somebody left a message and I can’t find the damn thing. (I like social media like I like traveling. Bullet in the head or check Facebook. Hmmm. Let me think about that for a bit. I’m still thinking! Don’t rush me.)

I am not an idiot. (You, in the back row. Shut up!) I fully understand social media is an awesome tool to grow a blog. (Well, so is traveling to all those &^%$ PF seminars.) As my love list, ah, friend list grew, I noticed something. They are all friends with each other! This groups sticks together better than peanut butter to the roof of my mouth. And they are nonjudgmental. New groupies have questions and it turns into an instant intervention. (If this gal wants to get her finances in order she came to the right place.)

I gave Karen walking orders. Since this group is so cohesive, I asked her to start building my Facebook friend list. Years ago I grew my Twitter account with a program that automated the process. With Facebook I think you need a live person as the people on my list are more selective with FB; there needs to be a real connection. It seems the more people added to the list the more integrated the friend list became. Unofficially I have become one of the herd.

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The finest group of people you will ever meet.

The New Accountant

As the list grew and I watched what was happening, I discovered this group of people really attend a lot of programs. And I mean a lot! As much as I hate traveling, I will make it a point to attend more venues. I can learn a lot and make new friends in the real world. Many of these people I admire from afar. Since life is a learning experience I am drawn toward the center of gravity of this particular Black Hole.

The question arises: Why do people attend so many of these things? I think our group exists because intelligent people need to go somewhere to deprogram from mass media. Hearing the message “Wealth is good” and “It’s okay to spend less” are powerful and liberating messages. People are sick of debt and working a full-time job buying crap they don’t want or need.

That is what drew me to the blogs. I am sick of the garbage most people watch or listen to. It is impossible to get away. If you start a media detox your friends and acquaintances have not so mass media still affects your life.  Hearing a pure, clean, uplifting message is refreshing.

There is no doubt I will attend more of these events. I see many people I admire greatly making the rounds and it would be awesome to spend more time with them. The new accountant will travel more to see people he cares about. Finally, after all these years, the Wealthy Accountant is joining the global village.

And good thing too. The sex is awesome! Especially if Mrs. Account comes along. She is my favorite groupie.