The Wealthy Accountant gave away money this week! On Wednesday I set the random number generator a spinning and in a nanosecond a subscriber was $100 richer.

Sara N of Buffalo, NY was our winner. I give a choice of a PayPal transfer or an Amazon gift card. Sara asked for the gift card and Amazon emailed the code straight to Sara. Congratulations, Sara! Thank you for subscribing.

If you didn’t win this drawing there are plenty more. The dates and terms are published on the Where Am I calendar. There are two drawings for three winners in February. I never recommend the lottery, but if you get a ticket for free, why not!

 

I poked the hornets this week and ran like hell to no avail. I was stung. I made the mistake of mentioning on Facebook I moved to my highest cash position of my adult life in late January. Then the market introduced some reality this week.

Of course, if you call for a bitcoin decline and then it happens and do the same for the stock market you qualify as a guru. On the farm we call it being luckier than a two peckered Billy goat.

Before anyone starts to bow, please reference Elaine Garzarelli. She is the kind lady who accurately called the market crash of 1987 and hasn’t made many accurate calls since. A few, but not many.

My reasoning for the cash position is simple; I no longer understand how the market can go higher. Yesterday’s post explains my reasoning in more detail.

And now I’m getting lots of questions on how I think people should invest. Nothing has changed, kind readers!!! Steady as she goes.

Keep filling retirement accounts to the max. Stop watching market news if it bothers you or freaks you out. And for the love of God, DON’T SELL BECAUSE YOU ARE SCARED BECAUSE THE MARKET IS DOWN!!!

For readers with large net worth’s, consider moving some percentage of your portfolio to cash. Locking in a gain isn’t a crime, especially when the gains in the last decade exceed 400%.

I’m at 52% cash and my cash balance will not go higher. I’m willing to forgo future gains at this point. This level of cash is still a six figure income even with the low money market rates. I’m in no danger of starvation! (Though I have been looking a bit pale lately.)

Where will the market go from here? people are asking. How would I know? I’m just a country accountant from the backwoods of Nowhere, Wisconsin. But since you asked . . .

There tends to be a repeating pattern when the market gets carried away (goes parabolic). Without belaboring all the details, it seems to this accountant we are headed for a market crash. The tax cuts will overstimulate the economy, cause inflation (read yesterday’s post again), interest rates will rise and the market will catch a case of the hives.

This said, DON’T TRY TO TRADE AROUND THIS MARKET!!! If you do, I will find you and kick you in the . . .

The “crash” pattern usually starts with the warning shot across the bow as we had this last week. There generally is some type of recovery as the last buyers (the general public, aka the weaker hands) push in. New highs are not reached and the decline renews, accelerating until massive fear sets in and people rush the exits faster than they greedily wanted in.

If you have cash sitting around, I recommend casually buying when you see blood in the streets. When the crowd is in full panic mode start loading up on those index funds!

As your portfolio grows you might want pretty charts and data on your growing stash. PERSONAL CAPITAL is a program perfect for monitoring your net worth. You can’t control what you don’t know so it’s a good idea to have a firm understanding where you stand financially.

‘nough said about the markets. Time for some FUN!

 

What I’m Reading

This is the second book I’ve read in the last few months involving climate change and extinction. Chris D. Thomas did an excellent job of discussing the facts in our modern world as it relates to extinction of species. Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature is Thriving in an Age of Extinction set my heart at ease. All the Chicken Littles screaming something about the sky falling are way off base! Yes, species are going extinct, but diversity is increasing at an incredible rate, a rate even faster than the extinction rate. A highly recommended read.

 

What I’m Watching

There was plenty of cool stuff I saw when reviewing my YouTube history. The first was this short video from the Mars Curiosity Explorer showing a panoramic of everywhere the explorer traveled.

 

Here is an interesting video on the farthest look our species has ever looked into space. Fascinating.

 

Finally, a money nerd like me couldn’t go a week without falling prey to a money video on how the Federal Reserve works.

 

What I’m Listening to

Here is an oldie that rocked my office as I plugged numbers. It’s a catchy tune. If you remember when this song was all the rage, you’ve been dated.

 

Have an awesome weekend, kind readers!!!

Be good.

See y’all Monday!

Tax season is here with concerns about tax law changes effective this year while we still use the old rules for preparing the 2017 return. Several new tools are available to help you determine how the tax code changes will affect you.

Drake Software, the program I use in my office, has developed a Tax Planner incorporating the changes in the TAX CUTS AND JOBS ACT. If we prepare your return you will get a copy of this diagnostic automatically at no additional cost showing what your taxes would have been if the changes applied to 2017. No more guessing.

I am also officially opening my doors for additional tax clients! This is important. This summer will be busy as serious planning is needed for all taxpayers with rental properties or business income. Past advice is out the window as new rules mean new advice! Some people will need to consider different entity structures to take advantage of the new rules. Regular clients will have first pick of consulting sessions. If slots are available after serving clients I will open the doors for non-clients. I’ll keep you informed.

If you prepare your own return you should consider Drake’s DIY program with the link below and in the right column. You will receive the same diagnostic tax professionals using Drake provide.

 

If your tax professional uses software without an effective planner or you prepare your own return outside this blog you might consider the Tax Proposal Calculator offered by the Tax Policy Center. I’ve played with the calculator and find it helpful.

[After I published, Jeff from Maximum Cents (a blog you should consider reading) left a comment with a link to an even better tax calculator than I provided above.

https://www.maximumcents.com/tax-reform-calculator-much-will-save-pay/

This is what I love about the blogging community. Our group intelligence blows away anything I can do on my own. Thanks for sharing, Jeff.]

 

The stock market has been on a tear. Now is the time to consider monitoring your wealth building with Personal Capital. The easy money has been made with the massive market run-up. Having a plan and clear visual of where you stand financially is a powerful resource. Clicking the image below takes you to Personal Capital. Remember, you can’t manage what you don’t know.

 

Concerns over the market also have people thinking about different places to invest their money. Lending Club and Prosper were a great alternative until issues arose a year or so ago. I’m currently withdrawing all my funds from Lending Club and Prosper due to the high level of risk compared to the declining returns. This is a slow process, but nearing the end.

A similar investing model backed by real estate is offered by Peer Street with comparable returns. Lending Club and Prosper are unsecured loans with a higher level of risk. Peer Street isn’t a perfect answer, but certainly a consideration for a limited percentage of your portfolio. Clicking the image below takes you to Peer Street. Kick the tires and let us know what you think in the comments.

 

Student loans came up in the comments this week. Debt is the number one enemy of wealth and student loans are structured with serious risks to the borrower. I’ve pasted a link below to SoFi. At the very minimum kick the tires. Before interest rates climb higher you want to get your loans under control.

 

Before we get to the fun stuff, remember next week is our drawing for $100! The drawing is open to all subscribers. Check the Where Am I page calendar for more drawing dates and details.

 

Now for the fun stuff to enjoy the rest of your weekend!

 

What I’m Reading

Richard Branson has made a name for himself doing business differently and having fun in the process. I bought several of his books a few weeks ago and cracked open The Virgin Way: If It’s Not Fun, It’s Not Worth Doing.

Richard’s style is different and it resonates with me. I fell in love with the FIRE community for their frugal ways. Early retirement always sounds nice, but retirement in its traditional form isn’t for me. Enter Sir Branson.

Branson convinced with his words and lifestyle you can have the best of both worlds: free time with family and doing the things you enjoy, plus keeping the business. He also provided me with ample evidence I need to listen more and better. I tend to talk too much. (If you’re reading this dad do not comment. We, ah, you can laugh about this at the card table.)

Branson has a refreshing style I enjoyed more than I originally thought. If you want a fun, entertaining and informative read, I recommend The Virgin Way.

 

What I’m Watching

Natural history and science are common threads in my viewing habits. My guess is you’ll enjoy as much as I did this YouTube video on how the Earth’s landmasses moved over millions of years. [240 million years ago to 250 million years in the future]

 

Professor Brian Cox is a favorite. In the video embedded below Cox explains The Biggest Threat to our Civilization.

 

All that serious talk requires balance with a humor piece. Jim Jefferies is a riot. His humor reminds me of George Carlin with an Australian accent. Here Jefferies explains the situation between North Korea and the U.S. Enjoy.

 

What I’m Listening to

Talking about Australia, here’s a song from Midnight Oil I listened to this week. [Beds are Burning]

 

Finally, I rarely listen to recent music releases. The following video of Somebody That I Used to Know played at the gym ad nauseam a while back and YouTube must have heard about it. Now I can’t get the darn tune outta my head. I’m passing the blessing on to you.

 

Enjoy your weekend, kind readers! Can’t wait to get back with you again Monday.

As tax season approaches I start to fall into a familiar pattern I’ve developed over the years to help focus my attention.

Some people like listening to music while they read; I don’t. I prefer absolute quite, huddled in a dimly lit corner while I devour pages of knowledge or embark on an adventure through space and time.

Preparing taxes is different. Plugging numbers as an elegant return is formed requires background noise. I find certain long pieces (frequently an entire album) and repeat the material again and again all day long. It drives the office crazy because sometimes my choices are really out there.

Life requires balance so I try to distract my mind with something intellectually stimulating for at least a few hours per week as well.

With these thoughts in mind, here are some of the things I was doing over the last week:

 

What I’ve Been Reading

The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions by Peter Brannen

Climate change and the extinction of species is a hot topic sure to fire up the political agenda. Strip away the politics and your IQ jumps better than 40 points. The Ends of the World is a longer-term look at life and extinction events on Earth. If you think man is causing the sixth great extinction you might want to think again. You should see what trees did to early life on the planet. If man wants to get serious about creating a mass extinction we will need to up our game.

Before the politically minded become smug, know climate change is real and man is a large part of the current changes. There will be consequences! As George Carlin said, “The planet will be fine. The planet isn’t going anywhere. We are!”

The Ends of the World is must-read material for people interested in how climate change in the past affected Earth along with the evidence from prior mass extinctions. Stripped of political dialog, you might find this a powerful education helpful in your daily life as you choose how to live.

 

What I’m Watching

This week I want to share two YouTube videos I found mentally stimulating.

The Unbelievable Powers of Electricity shocked me. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) My understanding of electricity isn’t vast, but still notable. This documentary added to my knowledge base.

How can a documentary about the oldest living thing on the planet be interesting? Well, I’m glad I took a chance. Oldest Tree on Earth: The Curse of the Methuselah Tree proved far more interesting than I ever imagined.  Highly recommended.

 

What I’m Listening To

I tend toward long play music to fill in the background when I’m working numbers. The sounds can get really strange as tax season rambles on. So far I’m on this side of the line of normal with Pink Floyd echoing from my office.

The Wall is the best concept album (double album, actually) ever produced, IMHO. It also qualifies for long play at nearly an hour and a half before the sound ends.

https://youtu.be/S6Ibw-3nlaE

 

Updates and Reminders

Tax season is here and I want to grow the DIY tax preparation part of this blog. Please consider using the same tax software my office uses online when doing your own return. I published on preparing your own tax return recently. It might be worth another read before filing.

 

As a reminder, the forum is a great place to interact with other like-minded people. The more people who use the forum the more vibrant the platform becomes.

 

I’ve added two affiliate programs recently. SoFi is a great program to reduce your student loan interest so you can build your net worth faster. They also offer personal loans and mortgages.

This said, I encourage you to use SoFi (or any lending) in a responsible way. Debt is caustic to wealth! SoFi could reduce your interest rate allowing you faster retirement of the debt. If I find out you added to your debt burden I will find you and give you a very stern look.

 

Personal Capital is a growing platform for managing your net worth. It’s hard to manage what you don’t know and Personal Capital is a good way to visualize and manage your financial empire

 

Finally, don’t forget we have a number of cash giveaways coming up. The first is only a week and a half away from the date of this post’s publication. The drawing dates are reported on the Where Am I page. Click the notice for the rules.

Have a great weekend, kind readers. See y’all Monday.

There is an ancient story told by the Kikuyu people of Kenya about a scorpion at the edge of a river wanting to cross. The water was too deep for the scorpion to even attempt a crossing; if he wanted to ford the river he would need help.

The scorpion noticed a frog not far away. “Frog,” he said, “let me crawl on your back and take me to the other side of the river.”

“Are you insane,” said the frog! “You are a scorpion and scorpions sting frogs. If I carry you across the river on my back you will sting me as we cross and I’ll die.”

“Nonsense,” said the scorpion. “If I sting you as we cross the river I will drown same as you. No, I promise not to harm you in any way as my gift for helping me cross the river.”

The frog thought for a moment and realized the logic of the scorpion’s argument.

The frog let the scorpion climb on his back and then started his swim across the river. Near the halfway point the scorpion stung the frog. The toxin locked the frog’s muscles in place as he started to sink. The scorpion was also in the water facing his last moments of life.

Just before the frog went under he asked the scorpion, “Why? Why did you sting me? Now you will die with me.”

The scorpion replied, “I am a scorpion. Scorpions sting frogs. It’s what we do.”

 

That is why I write so much. Writers write; it’s what we do.

My journey through life was well into the twilight zone this week. I either read or heard something about number stations. I’ve played with these things in the past and decided to waste the good part of an evening digging into the situation again.

Number stations are shortwave radio broadcasts used by spy agencies around the world. Shortwave radio is a blast even if you aren’t checking up on James Bond. It’s your weekend so I’ll give you enough links and a YouTube video to get you started. From there you’ll see how easy it is to blow an entire weekend playing with this stuff.

Hackaday has a boatload of information on secret radio stations.

You need a shortwave radio to listen, but . . .

. . .  you can hear some of the most interesting recordings of number station from the Conet Project.

This will be a bit strange to the uninitiated. Number stations get their name from the periodic broadcasts of short number sequences assumed to be messages to spies out in the field. There are also numerous other strange sounds too. One even has Yosemite Sam, the cartoon character.

I’d apologize for wasting so much of your time, but you are going to have soooooo much fun. Here’s the YouTube video:

https://youtu.be/eyuiNWp-pfU

 

What I’m Reading

The Retreat of Western Liberalism by Edward Luce  Institutions put in place after the Second World War to protect society from the stresses which led to both Great Wars of the 20th Century are in desperate need of repair. The crumbling of liberal institutions is of interest to all people today from either side of the isle. Luce’s short essay on income inequality and attitudes towards economic winners and losers is addicting. I couldn’t put the book down.

 

More Stuff I’m Watching

I’ve been watching some questionable comedy and religious YouTube videos this week. So we don’t get a roar of blowback I’ll keep that stuff to myself.

On a brighter note, I have a neat math video sure to entertain the analytically minded:

I found the mind game fascinating. If deep math problems cause you to break out in hives feel free to skip this video.

 

I enjoy conspiracy theories for the entertainment value only. I don’t believe aliens are coming to get us, et cetera, but sometimes there are interesting historical facts sure to make a guy sit back and think for a few minutes.

 

Music I’m Listening To

I rarely listen to newer releases. Here is one of the oldies I enjoyed this past week sure to date this farm boy from the backwoods:

 

Show Me the Money!

We are giving away you free audio books of Jim Collins’s The Simple Path to Wealth to subscribers. The first winner is:

Svetlana of Pennsylvania.

The second winner unsubscribed after the random number generator called his name so we spun the wheel again and heard no response.

I will pick a random subscriber next week to get the free audio book in one of your hands.

 

Now for the exciting news. This blog will give away over $1,000 over the next few months!

There are several ways to win money. I will list the dates and how I will determine the cash winner on the Where Am I page. Check there often as I will periodically add new drawings. Payment will be made via PayPal or an Amazon gift card code if you prefer. (It makes no difference to me.)

Some of the winners will be chosen from subscribers (so subscribe and stay subscribed). The subscribe button is at the top right of each post and after each post.

Other winners will come from a random pick of comments made.

If I can figure out a logical way of picking a forum winner I will. (Don’t underestimate this accountant’s resolve.) So get active in The Wealthy Accountant forum. There could be some cash in socializing with money and tax nerds.

Winners will be listed in future Stalking the Accountant weekend posts. If a winner doesn’t reply to my email within a week informing them they won (and where to send the money) a new winner will be picked. White list The Wealthy Accountant emails so you don’t lose your prize.

 

That’s it for now. See y’all next week.

The IRS was nice enough to tell us yesterday when they’ll open tax season this year: Business returns January 8th and January 29th for individuals.

Talking about tax season, things have been exciting around the office this week as a year of planning is nearly complete.

Finding qualified tax professionals locally is impossible in my small community. If only I could utilize some of the best minds in the industry from around the country.

Enter technology. I might know a thing or three about taxes, but technology eludes your favorite accountant. I do get there; I’m just incredibly slow to reach the destination.

Hiring a very experienced tax professional three states ways is a problem. I don’t want to expose client data to even a hint of risk. This summer I discovered I can have a tax professional work from anywhere with a setup as secure as if they were sitting in the office next to me.

That means I hired new people for the upcoming tax season. The final steps are falling into place. The best news of all is that when I asked my software provider about this they already had the process built into their software. Was I the last person to know about this?

Once I am comfortable the setup is secure (remote employees only see the returns they’re working on and no more) I’ll start responding to requests from people who want to be clients. Monday is the final test and we might be ready to rock ‘n roll then.

The best part (for me) is information never leaves my office or system. I am anal about security so bear with me as I finalize this expansion of Tax Prep & Accounting Services, Inc.

DIY

A common question floating in over the last week is: Should I do my own return on the program you offer on your blog? Usually a few details of the return are included.

My advice is: If you’re comfortable preparing your own return, then do it. If you run into an issue you can always call in the cavalry. You probably know if you are doing it right. And you can kick the tires for free.

The banner ad around the blog and provided here is the same company and software I use in my office. It’s a good program. They have plenty of Q&A like other online DIY software, but they keep it more reasonable. You can also go straight to screens to enter data to cut your preparation time.

They’re about the lowest in cost, too.

Finally, if we get enough people filing their own return from this blog I’ll swing for the $25,000 to turn it into a proprietary program with special features created by me personally. Realistically I need at least 1,000 people using the software to consider investing the time and money. About 280 used it last year from this blog.

What I’m Reading

Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times  President Hoover always fascinated me because he presided over the start of The Great Depression and the 1929 stock market crash. I finished this book a bit ago and highly recommend it. Hoover’s work ethic is incredible and inspirational! You will never see our 31st President in the same light again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I’m Watching

One YouTube video I watched this week stood out from the others. It discusses health care in America as compared to the rest of the world. I found it very interesting.

Music I’m Listening To

Once again my taste in music might surprise you. This week I read a news article that mentioned the Voyager spacecrafts. This led to the Golden Record attached to Voyager 1 and 2. The YouTube video below is the first message. After each video you should see a list of the remainder of the recordings. There is quite a selection of sounds and music we send into the ether.

 

Hope you enjoyed the small slice of my life this past week. Have an awesome weekend, kind readers.

I can clearly remember the first time I heard about the Pay it Forward philosophy. The year was 2002; the location Schenectady, New York; the event Albacon.

Back in those days Mrs. Accountant and I were groupies of the science fiction convention circuit. The insanity only lasted a few years, but it was a fun ride while it lasted. We met scores of bestselling writers. I can’t speak for Mrs. Accountant, but I drank in every word.

I had recently discovered Mike Resnick. His only novel to grace the bestseller list hooked me.  Why Resnick never became a household name is beyond me.

Albacon is a science fiction convention held in the Albany, New York vicinity most years. It’s a small convention, at least it was back in 2002.

It’ll be rare if I don’t mention a book I just finished or am working on. Television is a wasteland, so don’t expect a mention of some popular program or sporting event. I have Netflix. I have to confess I haven’t been watching that much either lately. (It’s been a few months since I watched Netflix.)

I do enjoy YouTube, however. Documentaries are always an attraction, while humor is a fine pastime as well. Then comes music. Yes, I listen to some really strange sounds. Tax season is the worst. I use certain music as a way of closing the door and getting work done.

The “stalking” posts will always be short. I’ll use links so you can follow what I’m up to. I’ll share blog posts that moved me and periodically regurgitate a random thought onto the digital page. I hope you didn’t expect me to be the World’s Most Exciting Man.

But I might be somewhat interesting. Or at least mildly stimulating.

What I’m Reading

 Energy and Civilization: A History by: Vaclav Smil

My curiosity surrounding energy and how it fuels human development is legend. I just started this book and I’m already hooked. Smil outlines how humanity has been shaped by how we employed energy throughout history. This book isn’t just a modern rendition of human energy consumption either. Early energy use included simple things like harnessing animal power and later wind and water and fossil fuels. From what I’ve read so far: highly recommended.

 

What I’m Watching

Last night I watched an interesting video of an interview of Nobel prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman, as he discussed tax reform.

 

Music I’m Listening To

I warned you. That said, it’s good music to work to.

 

Who I’m Stalking

In the past week or so I started following @richardbranson on Twitter. It has exploded into a full-blown bromance.

I’ve been familiar with Branson for ages. His accomplishments in the business world are extraordinary. Twitter thought we should hookup so I did. Branson tweets fairly often things about his life. I was most moved by his dedication to family. It created a new-found respect for the man. I was so impressed I purchased three of his books:

The Virgin Way: If It’s Not Fun. It’s Not Worth Doing

Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School

Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way

 

Crazy Thing I’m Doing

It’s -9 degrees F this morning and I’m enjoying a crisp walk around the back of the farm. The sound of snow crunching below my boot when the temperatures drops below 10 degrees F is addicting. To me. Care to come?

 

Final Thoughts

Before anyone complains about the time I publish on Saturday, know I have no set schedule for the weekend. In short, I’ll get to it when I get to it. During the depths of tax season I may even miss a week, but unlikely, as I like to tell people what deviant behavior I’m up to.

And last, a short discussion on buying books. This community is frugal; I get it. A common question, however, is: Frugal people tend to have one thing they splurge on to keep balance in their financial life. What’s yours?

Books. I buy and read lots of books.

I also raid the library on a regular basis. But I love my personal library; frugality be damned.

My attitude toward traveling is less than exuberant. Still, I’ve traveled the world more than nearly anyone alive. I’ve also traveled through space and time, visited alien worlds and met the greatest actors the human race ever created.

I did all that reading a book.