Skip to content

Posts Tagged ‘success’

Finding Solitude in a Life of Success

End stress the way successful people do. Find solitude in the chaos of life. Reduce debt and achieve financial freedom without stress. Find solitude, stillness. #stress #stressedout #successfulpeople #success #stillness #solitudeIt’s hard to miss the train of articles flowing through the news feeds of some young person retiring after paying off a pile of debt or a gazillion dollars in student loans. 

Personal finance has turned into early retirement, world travel and extreme frugality. These things are not always compatible. Putting these goals into hyper-drive can lead to serious levels of stress. And when debt is more stubborn than indicated by the news feeds it can play with the mind.

Life is fast paced as it is. Increasing the pressure in the pressure cooker of life can have negative health consequences. We run faster and deny ourselves more in an attempt to pay down debt and reach financial independence at a young ago. The FIRE community promotes this more than any other group.

None of these things are wrong in and of themselves. Paying off debt is always a good idea and student loans are especially toxic. I understand why people want to unload the burden of debt. A future of 30 years digging out from student loans is not motivating.

Digging in for the long slog messes with the mind. Getting rid of clutter and every discretionary expense is a serious burden in Western societies where affluence is everywhere. The mind wanders to the horizon looking for a way out. World travel is very appealing and certainly beats the daily grind required to achieve lofty goals set by personal finance bloggers. 

The worst part about this is “others” setting your goals. Mr. Money Mustache (MMM) retired at 30 and the bar is now set at that level.*  I remind you that was his goal and he started early enough to accomplish it. Don’t be Pete (Mr. MMM)! Don’t be any blogger or personality! Be you.

Keeping your thoughts straight and your goals reasonable is hard. And once again my favorite author, Ryan Holiday, has delivered an important package to accomplish your goals while retaining sanity. 

 

Stillness is the Key

Holiday’s latest book hit the bookstore shelves October 1st. By October 2nd I had devoured the entire text. 

Stillness is the Key (affiliate link) is Holiday’s finest work to-date. For some reason the guy keeps getting better and better. 

Ryan Holiday is about as far outside the FIRE and personal finance communities as you can get, yet he delivers a message that sounds mighty familiar to the crowd this blog runs in.

This post is a review of Holiday’s latest; it is also a message on how to live a better life.

Life is filled with stress. Since I’m one of the few in the FIRE and PF communities taking consulting sessions I get to hear a lot of stories first hand. People have real challenges and they hurt, deep inside. They want so badly to unyoke themselves from student loans and debt. So badly want to reach financial independence so they can pursue their dreams. The ones feeling wanderlust to travel the world are the minority. So many want to start a business or explore their creativity. They have beautiful minds.

Ryan Holiday has always been a fan of slowing down and experiencing life. It is a lesson this author struggles to learn (or at least heed). In Stillness Holiday gives us 34 stories to motivate us to stillness, that peaceful calm where we are content. 

The stories resonate. Readers of this blog and others in the FIRE and PF genres are familiar with advice on “Enough”, “Beware Desire”, “Get Rid of Your Stuff”. We are attracted to minimalism. Stuff is the beginning of suffering because we know:

We don’t own stuff; stuff owns us.

Where this blog has stopped short Holiday has pushed forward. Learning to “Say No” is a good first step and one this accountant struggles with. Our lusts are not always stuff. But you can’t help anyone else unless you first take care of yourself. That is why airlines warn you to put on your mask before helping your child in the event of an emergency. It works that way in all areas of life.

 

Highlights From the Book

I hope a few highlights will whet your appetite for this incredible book. Once you are done with this post I hope you run to your library to check out a copy or pick up your own copy from the bookstore or Amazon. 

The whole point of this book is to get you to slow down and enjoy life. Stillness is the Key has three sections: Mind, Spirit, Body. For a full, satisfying life you need to attend to all three.

Find peace and quiet in a stressful world. #stress #peace #quiet #stillness #success #stressedout #stressed #stressIn these pages you will see how Churchill kept his poise while fighting against bad odds in World War II. We pay a visit to Tiger Woods as he hones his craft to be the best his sport ever saw, followed by a humiliating and public collapse; as Tiger Woods works to bring his life back with the cameras always rolling.

We also visit President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis when the whole world was at stake. Is there something we can learn from a leader during this time of ultimate challenge and risk? It is doubtful anyone reading this will ever make a decision of such importance. Yet Kennedy found a place of quietness, solitude and stillness during the crisis. It may have saved the world. We can learn from that.

Ryan Holiday is cautious with his time. He practices what he preaches. It shows. His work is not rushed. The writing tight and concise. He feels no need to puff up the size of the book. Tell and show what needs telling and showing and move on. 

Are you tired? I know I am. Often. Ryan Holiday suggests we get some sleep. The advice sounds so simple, yet so many don’t listen. Holiday shares the fall of American Apparel. He had a front row seat in the demise of this once popular brand. It was American made clothing that actually sold! But for a variety of reasons the company failed. I’ll allow Holiday to explain how lack of sleep destroyed this once great company, along with all those jobs:

When Dov Charney founded American Apparel, he had the notion that he would be a completely accessible boss. As the company grew from a dorm room operation to a global retailer and one of the largest garment manufacturers in the world, he stuck to that. In fact, his ego swelled at the idea of being at the center of every part of the business.

This “ego” Holiday speaks of we are all subject to. It is the reason we have a difficult time saying”no”. (I’m notorious at saying no, but getting better. Holiday has been a powerful guide in helping me limit demands on my time so I can focus on the important stuff.) We think we are so all-mighty important. And yes, there is a chapter on dealing with your ego.

The issues at American Apparel got worse as the company grew. Charney was under tremendous time constraints due to his always open-door policy. Ryan Holiday advised Dov Charney at the time to no avail. Again we listen to Holiday:

It was this extreme, cumulative sleep deprivation that was the root of so much of the company’s catastrophic failure. How could it not be? Research has shown that as we approach twenty or so hours without sleep, we are as cognitively impaired as a drunk person. Our brains respond more slowly and our judgement is significantly impaired.

 

Think Week

There are too many topics from the book to cover in a short blog post. An important one I heard before I want do want to share. 

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, has what he calls a “think week”. A few times a year he removes himself from all the distractions of life to read and think. Gates has this place in the woods where he brings a load of books and his thoughts. 

Gates spends almost all of think week deep in thought and reading material applicable to the challenge he is working on. This is not a vacation. This is hard work digging through the issues of a problem. He only takes time off for a walk and sometimes to play bridge for a short while.

At the end of his “think week” Gates is recharged and energized. The quiet time, while technically work, recharges his batteries. He now has a well thought out plan to deal with the problem he retired to his cabin in the woods to solve.

Neither you nor I need to rise to the level of Bill Gates to find value in a think week. I find myself over scheduling (something Ryan Holiday warns against often in his writings); struggle with saying no. When life is packed so full there is no time to think problems through. If Dov Charney could have learned to turn off sometimes American Apparel might still be a brand we talk about.

I’ve committed to my own think week. As Gates, I will stowaway to a place of quiet and solitude to immerse myself in deep thought. Twice a year is a good number of think weeks. If you notice I stop posting on social media and a blog post is suddenly missed or late you will know what happened.

Gates has enough money to have the kind of “think week” he wants. You and I are more economically challenged. I suggest a quiet hotel in some out of the way small town as a good possibility. On the way to a conference this past spring I took four extra days to sit in a hotel in southern Indiana. I read and thought. Each day I took a walk to clear the mind. It was refreshing.

Think week needs to be alone time. That may not be possible for you. Money might be tight. A hotel or cottage might not be in the budget. Is their a spare bedroom in your home or apartment? Basement? Attic? Maybe you need a friend with a spare room to let you bow out of life for a week to refocus your efforts. Be creative. This is important.

 

Final Sale

This is my final chance to make the sale. I have to do it because it is so important. Because you will benefit so much from this information.

Here is a quick rundown of a few more topics covered:

Stillness is the Key to a life a happiness and contentment. Shut out the noise of modern living and enjoy the stillness of true happiness. #happy #happiness #RyanHoliday #stillness #peace #solitude #quiet #stress #stressedoutFind stillness (quiet, solitude, rest) by being present. Live in the moment. Slow down enough to know what the moment is, experience it.

Limit your inputs! Radio, TV, and social media in moderate doses only. We hear this all the time on personal finance blogs. We hear it so often because it is important. Learn to tune out the noise.

Slow down, think deeply, empty your mind. Cultivate silence. Learn to enjoy solitude. In the quietness we discover who we really are.

Seek wisdom. Start a journal. Avoid ego. And most of all, let go. Let go of all the things hurting you or holding you back. These roadblocks become apparent in the stillness. 

Choose a virtuous life. Beware desire as this is the path to pain and suffering. Bathe in beauty. Experience the gift of life and all the wondrous things around you. You can travel the world sitting still in one spot. 

Conquer your anger, hate and thoughts of revenge. Accept a higher power. Cultivate relationships that are nurturing. 

Take a walk every day. You will enjoy this chapter. It is so important to step away and collect your thoughts daily. A casual walk does magic. 

Build a routine. Seek solitude. Find a hobby. Routine provides framework to your life. Once again we use the word solitude. It is an important word to remember. A hobby allows your mind to expand and think while you create. What a wonderful gift!

Finally, act bravely. In the stillness you will find courage; in the stillness you will find meaning. 

I highly recommend reading Stillness is the Key. It is well worth the investment of your time and money. It is a book you will return to often for guidance. 

Now close your eyes and feel the silence, the stillness, the solitude, the freedom from stress. 

 

 

* About 20% of my consulting sessions come from people following the FIRE community and feeling like a failure because they are approaching 40 and haven’t retired yet. Even had a few struggling emotionally in their late 20s as they realize they will not be retired or financially independent by their 30th birthday.

 

 

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. 

Motivational Goals

Build goals that motivate you, allowing you to live your dreams. Dream big, but follow these steps to keep balance in life. #Life #work/lifebalance #success #goals #motivationWhen I was a child I wanted to be President of the United States and an astronaut. At the same time, if possible.

My uncle, Kev, wanted to be the first person to farm on the moon. 

Growing up poor in the backwoods of Wisconsin caused us to dream of a life like that on our old black and white console television. The world looked so much more exciting on the glass teat (a term from the days when the television screen was a protruding bulb) than in our settled rural lifestyle. 

Such are the dreams of youth when our imagination knew no limits.

Many children dream of growing up to be a doctor, policeman or fireman. The visible (and exciting) occupations all make the list.

Some keep the extraordinary dreams. Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are modern examples of people who created a whole new world we all live in. 

A hundred years ago it was Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse and Nicola Tesla creating the world people lived in. Amazing how a century can turn incredible technologies into mundane necessities of life we only acknowledge when the electricity goes out or the car refuses to start.

 

Big Dreams

Dreaming big is what made our modern world. It is hard to believe electric vehicles would be where they are currently without Elon Musk.

In the past few days Richard Branson is reported to be floating the idea of the first publicly traded space tourism company. 

A hundred years ago industrialists gave us the airplane, automobile and a host of household conveniences. In one century we went from horses and wood stoves to space travel and computers. Space launches are becoming so common few get excited anymore when a rocket lights up unless Elon Musk has something exciting for us.

But you, like me, probably don’t have dreams quite as big as Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin). And even if you did you probably don’t have the resources, or access to the resources, to have any chance of realizing the goal.

Branson, Musk and Bezos are in a unique position of possessing the resources to realize the space dream. 

For the rest of us with fewer resources, we find goals that large the equivalent to Don Quixote chasing windmills.

 

Appropriate Goals

Goals of space travel are good to have. The space cowboys in the private sector must have had these dreams long before they could reasonably undertake their projects. Their dream of space travel, and more to the point, people living in space and permanent colonies on the moon and Mars, evolved from dream to goal. And once a dream reaches goal status it takes on a life of its own.

Most of us understand large goals are a step-by-step process. In other words, smaller goals are needed to attain the significant. 

You might not get a star if you reach for one, but you sure will not come up with a fistful of dirt. Dream big! Create goals that motivate. Create goals that make your life better. Create goals you will use to better your life. #life #goals #stars #goalsettingStarting a business and planning for retirement are large goals. The business doesn’t have to be a S&P 500 company to be significant. A local company is just as important as the big guys. Communities are more vibrant if there are more local businesses. A one-company town lives only as long as the board of directors thousands of miles away don’t decide to downsize or outsource. Small business does provide stability.

Retirement planning is something we can all understand. If your ultimate goal is to build a $1 million nest egg you don’t start by investing $100,000 per week until it’s done 2 1/2 months later! No, you plan. Each paycheck half goes to the retirement account. This allows tax advantages over several years so you can save even more.

A decade of investing in low-cost index funds leads to serious sized retirement accounts. Each pay period is a goal. Increasing contributions annually is a goal. 

Big goals require consistent smaller goals. Early retirement is a process you start at an early age. If you decide to retire at 45 you better have taken steps before you turned 44. Unless you are already loaded or a trust baby, one year is not enough for that large a goal.

We see the same practices in massive firms attempting the near impossible. Elon Musk has a goal of putting humans on Mars. But first he needs a reliable rocket! Musk has pushed the envelope with interesting reusable rockets that land themselves. It is a sight to behold. Then he needs to figure out. . . 

Ultimate endgame goals often require more time than anticipated. Musk may not get humans to Mars as soon as he wants. (He has a hard time keeping to his delivery promises at Tesla.) He will get a lot closer if he focuses on the task (goal) at hand.

 

Shooting for the Stars

We used to call lofty goals “shooting for the stars”. Today we are actually shooting for the stars. For real!

The advantages to society will be even greater than those provided by the Apollo program. In the 1960s the government (NASA) ran the program for the U.S. The only competition was the Soviet Union. Today many private firms are vying for a piece of the space market. More enter every year.

One of these new space ventures will succeed. Probably more than one. More competition will keep coming assuring humans will call more than Earth home. 

If you share the space dream it can be disheartening. Most people reading this will not lead a company blazing a trail into space. Most will not even be lucky enough to work for such a company.

But there are lessons we can all learn from these modern pioneers. Life on earth has never been so grand. Steven Pinker has done the research. We live longer and better than at any time in history. There is even less war. Check the data. Fewer of us die of violence than ever in history! And by all accounts it looks to be getting even better!

Small goals can motivate for a short time. A goal to visit Spain next spring is a good goal. If you had to plan for 30 years for that one trip and everything else was sacrificed, you might not hold interest in said goal for long.

Large goals hold our imagination. Financial freedom and retirement occupies the majority of adult thinking. It never gets old dreaming of retirement, or planning accordingly once retired, so we can continue enjoying the life of luxury. 

 

Goals that Motivate

Like my uncle, Kev, you might have extreme goals like farming on the moon. These massive goals will change mankind forever (when achieved) and have the ability to motivate, especially if you can take steps (smaller goals) toward achieving the large goal today.

However, life is a series of smaller goals. We want to pay off the mortgage, building a plan (goal) to do so. Starting a business is a serious undertaking many want to explore. And retirement is always looming (time keeps counting). 

Yet, before we can pay off the mortgage we must save a down payment and buy the house! 

This illustrates today’s message. People waste time thinking about paying off the mortgage when they should be thinking about saving as large a down payment as possible. You need a mortgage (or will have one soon) before you can plan to pay it off. Or as we say on the farm: putting the cart before the horse.

Retirement is the same. Too many spend time thinking of all the awesome things they will do in retirement and forget to actually plan to have a retirement. (Saving and investing.)

As an accountant I have several examples of clients who died shortly after retiring. In the last year a business-owner client died three days after retiring. He wasn’t that much older than your dearly, not yet departed, friendly accountant. My staff has reminded me of this with my recent personal health scare (not yet resolved). 

Goals should help you live better. Yes, grand goals of jet-setting around the galaxy with Captain Kirk is fine as long as you don’t forget to live while still walking God’s green earth. 

Musk and all the others are working to make space quotidian. They are also making the world a better place now in our everyday life with electric cars and with new ways to buy and sell goods and services.

 

Goal is a Four-Letter Word

The word goal has taken on dreaded status. Over the decades I’ve attended several informational and motivational seminars. Whenever the topic of goals comes up, heads duck. It shouldn’t be that way.

I think people dread goals because they feel obligated once they are on paper. There is also some fear of stating your goals because they entail your deepest desires. 

Sometimes the best thing that can happen is for someone to throe sand into the gears. Learn how to properly set goals for business, financial independence and retirement. #retirement #goals #financial goalsThe thing is, goals should change. Not every goal deserves consideration. It would be nice to skydive. Sure it would. But after careful consideration other goals might interest you more. More family time might be the goal you wish to pursue instead and the rewards (in your mind) might be better than falling from 10,000 feet.

Goals can take on a life of their own, taking you where you don’t want to go. A wise person will notice the subtle course change and review their direction to ascertain they are heading where they want to go.

For a decade now I’ve worked hard on a course change for my tax practice. I dived head first into the DIY tax preparation opportunity. The first foray was a disaster costing me nearly $80,000 in loses. (Tax deductible, I should add.)

My second attempt was rebuffed and fundamentally changed the normal part of my practice. What was a quiet tax office turning a reasonable profit erupted into a madhouse ending with burnout and health issues. 

My goal took a different direction and I felt obligated to more people than I really was.  The goal turned into a four-letter word. And a goal should never be treated as such.

Goals are guidelines you set up so you stay focused. When the telescope is moved you need to reevaluate. 

Sometimes the best thing that can happen is for someone to throw sand in the gears. You can get comfortable (I got comfortable). Then things can go really wrong which causes bitterness and loss of direction.

Yeah, you might have fewer clients and less income, but you will have a more satisfying life; you might have to work one year longer before retirement , but you can slow to a reasonable pace instead of trying to beat the record earliest retirement among your friends. Always, quality over quantity.

When used properly, goals are the most powerful force on earth. They can take us to the moon and make electric cars mainstream. 

Goals should help you manage dreams and help you live a better life. Maybe all the way to the stars.

And sometimes a quality goal is to quietly read a good book (or blog). To slowly absorb the story.

Take the time to live, kind readers. We only get one go at this. May as well enjoy the journey.

Remember, I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together. (Red Green)

 

 

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. 

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

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

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

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

Beg for Hard Times

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

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

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

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

Burn the Ships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

More Wealth Building Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Winning the Game of Life

Winning the game of life takes perseverance. Winners don't quit. Each action is a step toward their goals. The winning attitude wins. #gameoflife #success #motivationThe original working title of this post was If You’re Rich You Don’t Quit. I loved the title, but it didn’t encompass the entire theme I wanted to present. Life isn’t just about money! (Sounds crazy coming from a wealthy accountant, right?) Money is important when in need of life necessities like food, clothing, shelter and medical care. After the basics are covered money is either a game, and for some even an annoyance, since it distracts them from what they are really interested in.

Motivation is a powerful tool. Life is a never-ending series of groin kicks. People want to knock you down. Sometimes it’s life. Sometimes it’s a malicious act. Regardless, the only way you can get from where you are to where you want to be is find the motivation deep inside your soul.

“Winning isn’t everything; it’s how you play the game.” True. “It’s the journey, not the destination.” Another true adage. These short catchphrases can be used by your own mind as a way to stop striving for your goals. Self-talk will drive you forward or into the ground. Best to be cognizant of your thoughts!

Winning is important to me. (Surprise, surprise!) My interests are catholic (little c). This requires I find the most important interests so I can focus on the ones that matter most. The other interests may live as hobbies or may go unsatisfied. The mark of a true winner is focus on the single goal (or few complimentary goals).

Failure is for Winners

We all know the story of Edison and the light bulb. He tried 1,000 times and failed. He kept pulling himself up by the bootstraps and eventually produced a working incandescent light bulb on try 1,001 (or something like that).

Closer to home we have an unnamed accountant who likes to write. I wrote my first complete novel my senior year (or was I a junior) of high school. It was never published, but it gave me experience telling a story, building a world, creating characters.

After I graduated I bought a Tandy computer at Radio Shack. That bugger set me back $4,000 and it didn’t even have a hard drive! You had to insert a 5 ¼ inch floppy disk and twist a lever down to lock the disk in place before turning on the computer for it to boot. Yeah, that was one awesome OS! I think it was DOS 1.0. (Really!)

I still have 5 ¼ inch floppy disks floating around someplace with short stories on them. My second novel and two (or possibly three) nonfiction books also exist in a format I have no way of accessing anymore.

My writing sales were dismal. I sent out a lot of stories, and—being an optimist—never kept the stack of rejects. A few still float around the office, but most rejects had no value to me. I always focused on learning from each experience and moving on to the next level. What I’m saying is that I didn’t exit the womb with pen and paper ready.

In the late 1980s, shortly after I went full-time in taxes, I started a financial audio newsletter called The Wealth Builder’s Guide. Six times a year you would receive a wonderful (it’s my story so I’ll tell it the way I want) cassette tape with 90 minutes of financial advice from me along with a printed newsletter with information on which banks had the best investment rates nationally and other important financial articles.

Successful people never give up. You can have the career, family and financial success you want as long as you strive forward each day. #Success #motivation #personalfinanceI wrote, edited and produced the whole kit and caboodle. It was a lot of work. After three years it was time to hang up my cleats. My tax practice had grown too large to do both.

If you are lucky enough to still have an original copy of my audio newsletter I hear they go for a pretty penny on eBay. (Yes, that is a joke. If you find one of those suckers on eBay I would like to buy it so I have my own copy.) My basement was filled with audio equipment, tapes and booklets. After enough years went by I dumped the remaining stuff in one of my intermittent personal belongings purges.

It doesn’t sound like much, but I had around 100 subscribers at the peak. If memory serves, I charged $199 per year. I wasn’t getting rich, but it covered costs and once again, I was learning.

Up to this point you might consider my writing efforts a success. Let me help you gain perspective. My total writing sold to traditional press earned me less than $1,000 over ten to fifteen years. The newsletter, while somewhat successful, wasn’t putting food on the table. All the money brought in went to recording and dubbing machines.

I still wasn’t ready to quit, dammit!

By the mid 1990s my tax practice hit full stride. I was taking market share and I was able to find time to write. A competitor jealous of my success almost destroyed my business. It hurts (and still hurts). But I never quit. Wouldn’t think of it.

The new millennium had me punching the keyboard more than ever. Another novel ended up unpublished and several false starts kept the number of unpublished novels at a reasonable level. This was actually good news. I was starting to realize good writing from bad. Bad stories that just didn’t have a chance were ended. To prove the point, some material was selling to online sites, though the pay was a pittance.

To further hone my skills I wrote for content farms like HubPages for a few years. Most articles there were bad, but it was a place to write things I needed to get out and to build my skills.

Not all of my work was bad. Stuff was selling. Even my fiction got some notice. A few hubs on HubPages were picked up by industry journals. Traffic was growing. I was learning to write and market online.

There was one area which drove me crazy: flash fiction. I had periodic moments of brilliance in all areas I wrote with the exception of flash fiction. The money in flash fiction would never feed a parakeet so I wasn’t too upset until a chance opportunity accidentally fell in my lap.

A flash fiction blog ran across my screen. I quickly noticed the traffic was massive—millions of pageviews per year. I researched similar blogs and realized many get modest to good traffic. None monetized! The accountant in me couldn’t help himself.

I started writing flash fiction for my new blog in said genre. A small amount of research showed me how the other guys were getting their traffic. My traffic never rose as high as the best in the category, but still was respectable. I started a second similar blog once the first got going. Both those blogs had many millions of pageviews.

I quickly reached a ceiling in the genre. The reason these bloggers didn’t monetize is because you could only make so much unless you also wrote and sold genre specific novels to compliment your site. I wasn’t willing to spend that much time on the topic involved since I wasn’t really interested in the topic. (For the curious, it involved transgender issues; something dear to my heart since my youngest daughter was born intersex.)

I earned reasonable money on the flash fiction blogs, but I didn’t want to spend a lifetime repeating the same genre drivel. I was burning out the flash fiction bug.

The good news is that it allowed me to hone my skills even more. I was learning brevity. Storytelling is an important part of writing. When it works the reader steps into your world for a short while and enjoys the experience. They also tend to return like a good friend.

Failing All the Way to the Top

Decades of writing prepared me for the big event I wasn’t even planning on attending. Mr. Money Mustache asked to be my client and he was going to publish on his uber-blog how I helped him. The words weren’t even out of MMM’s mouth when people started asking about my blog. Ahhhhhh.

Yeah, you get what I mean.

This blog was an idea I hadn’t moved on. The URL was purchased to preserve the link. I played a bit with Bluehost (too much work). I hired a local firm to whip my blog into shape. They dropped the ball. The big push came while my blog was still a mess.

A year and nine months later this blog won the Plutus Award for Best New Personal Finance Blog of the Year. Now I know what you’re thinking. It seems so easy for me. I write for a bit more than a year on this blog and get a massive reward. True, but did anyone consider the 10 million words I wrestled to the page over three and a half decades?

I threw my hat in the ring this year for Blog of the Year. You can vote/nominate here. (That reminds me; I still need to vote!)

The amount of time I put into writing is obscene. It was something I loved (well thought out communication), but it never came naturally to me. I had to work on it.

Traffic still bugs me as more is always better in my book. Maybe the blog isn’t failing, but growing is very important to me. (I have a secret I think I’ll publish in a flash post this Saturday.)

After peer acknowledgement and traffic, money is a powerful guide to gauge success. I haven’t published much in the way of blog financial progress reports. Let me give a taste of the trailing twelve months here:

Ad Revenue: $11,000

Amazon: $1,200

Credit Cards affiliate: $4,000

Miscellaneous affiliates: $2,000

Specialty affiliate 1: $9,200

Specialty affiliate 2: $6,000

Specialty affiliate 3: $4,800

Consulting: $23,500

Tax clients from blog: I don’t know? Maybe half my practice already.

The numbers are estimated as I’m writing at home late at night while my data is at the office behind a very secure firewall.

The specialty affiliate listings are unique situations I created. When I saw a few powerful products I helped create an affiliate program for me only. There is no competition meaning the revenue is encouraging.

Bloggers underestimate the power of consulting with readers. Consulting may reach as high as $40,000 this calendar year with the new tax laws in place. I handle consulting sessions Tuesday and Thursday only, except for tax season and wide spaces around holidays.

Traffic peaked at slightly over 130,000 pageviews per month last year leading up to the Plutus Awards. To my disappointment, traffic is now a hair below 70,000. (This is my own fault. I expected with a Plutus Award I could focus on writing instead to promoting. Didn’t work any better than it does in my tax practice.)

There are plenty of failures along the way as I reached for my writing goals. Each failure was a corpse I could pile higher so I could climb to my goal. I turned the corner on traffic as I’m now focusing on my ego blog as a business.

More failures will bump along as I strive for new heights. It is never easy! Each failure is really just a lesson on the road to success. Remembering this makes it a whole lot easier.

One More Goal

When I entered the demographic as a blogger I received some harassment. Early retirement (ER) is MMM’s shtick; not mine. Many people found this blog through Mr. Money Mustache. My readers only mesh slightly with the ER movement. The ER folks are still good people and welcome to drop in.

People started to remind me I had “one more year-itis”. Well, I do. And I have a feeling it will not end until they plant me six feet below sea level. I enjoy what I do even when I complain. Remember that.

Taking on too much work leads to burnout. Elon Musk is a business hero of mine who has recently concerned me. A recent investor conference call was handled in what I considered a very unprofessional manner (investors have a right to know how they’re investment is being managed). We see some Twitter issues and Musk doesn’t have Teflon skin like President Trump. Part of Musk’s issue, I think, is his heavy workload. Tesla is a huge time demand. Musk is building cutting edge products nobody else is either thinking of or feels is impossible. Then Musk does it. He also admits to fatigue. Reports say he has slept on the factory floor to achieve numbers; no time for driving to work or other distractions when in crisis mode.

You win at life if you don't run the race. RUN THE RACE! You can do anything you set your mind too long enough. Your financial goals are within reach. #goals #winning #earlyretirementAt a fraction of the workload Musk carries, my back shows a serious strain. I look like a mule carrying a heavy weight in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Tax season is the worst. I cut back from publishing three times a week to two. I think it helps with quality. Quantity should be a secondary consideration only.

Tax season stress doesn’t end instantly and clients sometimes think I have nothing to do all day April 16th so tax season really stretches into June before things really slow. I was so stressed I threatened a countdown clock and wrote (published) about it. I also published a countdown clock on the Where Am I page. When the number on the bottom of the page hits zero I will have published 500 posts here. (I checked statistics last week and can proudly proclaim this blog has 713,000 words already.) Then I walk away.

Except, I probably won’t.

By publishing a countdown clock, I reminded myself of the Warren Buffett 20 slot rule. You only get so many chances to tell a story so you better tell it right the first time. (I’m batting around .500 which is awesome in baseball; not so awesome when writing.) The countdown clock reminds me a day will come when the typewriter stops clicking. It focused my attention and got me thinking about life without writing. It wasn’t a pretty fantasy.

The Plutus Awards published an interview with me earlier this spring. I let the Plutus Awards know about the countdown clock and that I probably wasn’t headed for the sunset.

 

I tell the story of my writing life for a reason. There were plenty of painful moments when I didn’t know what to do. I was lost and spent hours thinking about how I would learn to communicate effectively in the written form. Even when I met success I felt pain. As soon as I reached a goal I made another bigger goal. I get nominated for a Plutus; I want to win a Plutus. I get 130,000 month of pageviews; I want 200,000 pageviews. This 70,000 pageview stuff ticks me off.

Success is defined in different ways. My marriage has different goals with less stressful demands. Career is what causes me to push. I want it all when “all” isn’t possible.

Retirement goals and financial independence are important issues. If you’re rich you don’t quit because the “rich” mindset never quits. Before you amass your first dollar, you are already rich if your mindset is right. Your body just has to wait for the money to catch up.

That is why I changed the title of this post. Winning the game of life is the most important part of life. Money plays a modest role. The quality of your life, your dreams, career, goals, family, health and joy, are what count. “Rich” means you’re always looking for the next challenge when a task is complete because you know that it is what brings meaning to life. Rich people never settle for mediocre.

But rich people also know mediocre days are the price you pay to get to the top.

 

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. 

Success is the Best Revenge

It happens to everyone: a business partner embezzles funds destroying the company and leaving you with the mess, an ex betrays your trust, a co-worker or supervisor harasses you. It is easy to get angry and fire from the hip. But reaction only makes it worse. To make matters even worse, the person who slighted you gets away clean while your response is dealt with harshly. There is something true to the adage: the second one to throw a punch gets caught.

There is a better way that doesn’t harm any party involved: success. Success is said to be the best form of revenge, but it only works if it isn’t done for traditional revenge reasons.

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said if your life has a why you can bear almost any how. This is a fancy way of saying your life needs purpose to strive for the important goals.

Money will drive you if your finances are in desperate straits. Once the basics are covered new motivations are needed to keep striving for goals. Sheer love of the process drives some, but this is the minority. The vast multitudes need something more, a prod to keep them moving forward.

Dreamscape

Failure happens. All your hard work and planning sometimes ends up in flames. Your financial dreams are tested in these dark times and to make it worse, people delight in your pain, some more than others. A certain crowd enjoys watching people suffer. Sometimes it is a crowd specific to you.

People are jealous of other people’s success. The people closest to you can be the worst, secretly delighting in your misfortune. Building financial success is one thing. As the market claws higher, over-spenders of the world secretly pray for the day when the market collapses or at least your investments take a serious haircut. A jealous brother or friend despises you because you had the discipline to spend less than you earn and invest the excess in index funds.

An ex is the worst of all. In their mind you don’t deserve success or any pleasure after your relationship with them ends. There is something decidedly psychopathic about such attitudes. When you move on with your life and start dating again she takes great pleasure in each relationship that doesn’t work out. It’s as if their worth in life is tied to your failures.

Failure happens more than success so the haters have plenty to gloat on. Your financial investments will have plenty of down days, some remarkably so. Staying the course means time will be kind to you so you get more revenge than your nemesis.

All these feelings, unfortunately, are counterproductive. Revenge is the acid which destroys the vessel which holds it. We all attract haters as we grow. People will do incredibly horrific things to tear you down. The higher you climb the more excuses these people have to hate you for your success. They will work tirelessly to harm you.

Perspective

This is where you need perspective. While people may hate you for your success and feel you don’t deserve it (who does?), the truly successful know the truth of human nature. Jordan B. Peterson wrote in his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, “Most individuals are dealing with one or more serious health problems while going productively and uncomplainingly about their business.” (I recommend purchase of Peterson’s book. Read it, mark it up and then use it as a constant reference manual on living well.)

It is so easy to sink to the level of those who wish you harm. Striking back is a reflexive response. Mature individuals, however, know everyone is carrying a heavy burden. As Peterson noted, the majority of people are fighting a medical issue or a close family member or friend is. When you think about it that way it is easier to forgive a past transgression.

Forgive does not mean forget. If a friend betrays your trust you can respect the difficulties they are experiencing in their life. But you don’t have to trust them! This is a personal finance blog so we’ll use a financial example. If a friend steals from you or doesn’t repay money you borrowed him you don’t have to keep giving them more. That isn’t what friends do; that is how people enable addicts and other people in serious need to change in their life.

Hating a cheating ex is natural. The bitter feelings need to come out. But get them out quickly or they turn into a cancer harming you! Yes, you have been betrayed. Don’t allow the betrayer to continue harming you!

Motivation

Past bad experiences can be a powerful motivation tool. Anger and bitterness will eventually destroy you. The “I’ll show them” mentality also wears you out in the end. There is a better way to channel this energy.

Revenge is usually not the real motivation. You are hurt over a betrayal and you want to show “them” what they missed. Using success as a form of revenge is really about showing the world how valuable you are. The people who hurt you in the past are not allowed near you and your newfound success.

Revenge over a prior slight is a long-term steady emotion. Deep down it isn’t about revenge; it’s about acceptance. You are projecting your success as a way to let everyone around you know you are valuable. Every action is motivated discovery. Am I really able to do this? The person who slighted you may not even know you are growing and winning. It doesn’t matter. The person you are really trying to impress is yourself.

Failure brings out the worst in people. Failure is a natural and normal part of the success process.

Elon Musk is struggling with production at Tesla. His efforts to build enough cars to turn his company cash flow positive are necessary if he wants his company to survive. He has tweeted several times in the past about his detractors. He warned people selling him short they will learn a valuable lesson soon. Musk isn’t technically out for revenge, though he is working to prove all the naysayers wrong. The motivation is so powerful he is reported to sleep on the factory floor so he has as many waking hours as possible available to apply toward his goals.

Initial thoughts of revenge are counterproductive. Your first reaction is to strike out at the person hurting you. This will cause you more trouble than anyone else. After the initial sting, the steady state of numbness can go one of two ways: you can fold your tent and withdraw or you can focus on the goal. Quitting is an unfortunate reaction. Stepping back and thinking about what you really want and how to go about getting it is far more productive.

Benefits of Success as Revenge

People visiting this blog generally are looking for ideas to lower their taxes, build wealth, start a business or insights on retirement, early or otherwise. All these things are forms of success. Efforts to create something suffer inevitable setbacks. Many slights are only perceived. We think people are laughing at us or rebuking us due to our misfortune. This isn’t always the case.

A parent may show disappointment when an adult child gets arrested for DWI. The instinct is to withdraw. Burying your instinct is important. To move forward, to grow, you need to use your mistake as a motivator for change. You parents aren’t out to get you, nor do they derive pleasure from your failure. They want what is best for you so they show disappointment. And they can’t do it for you. Your anger isn’t really directed at them; it’s directed at you.

Lottery winners learn fast how many friends and family members they have. When the money runs out they find out how many true friends they have. The same applies to all of us to a lesser degree. When you bust your tail at a business or investing for early retirement or world travel plenty of people will dissuade you. Your friends are limited as you are in the building process. Not many people want to stick around. They’re afraid you might put them to work.

As the goal approaches the number of friends increases. Now you have money; now you are successful. The fun part is celebrating a victory and crowds of friends show up for that. Most you never met before in your life. Such is the nature of fair weather friends.

The same applies in the blogosphere. Everyone wants to know the bloggers slamming it. The guy eking out 72 pageviews isn’t fun to be around. It’s all work, research, and discovery. Success isn’t guaranteed. The fun part is when playtime is available. It takes courage to continue. Thoughts of revenge rarely play a key role. But thoughts of showing people in your sphere of influence you have the right stuff does.

One of the most disgusting displays of fair weather friend behavior involves interpersonal relationships. Staring and building a business takes long hours of hard work and sacrifice. Money is tight; every penny is funneled into the project. Relationships are destroyed sometimes. All parties may not be as committed to the project as you. Over my three and a half decades of practice I’ve seem divorces over this kind of thing. What I find disgusting is when success finally arrives the person who left frequently finds their old partner more attractive then. Rekindling such a relationship rarely works because it is based on one party being exceptionally shallow.

When in the trenches, look around you. When you are sleeping on the factory floor giving every ounce of energy to bring an idea to life, stop for a moment to take an inventory of the people with you. One, maybe two, of these people are true friends. When things turn the corner and success is in full bloom it will be more difficult to determine who your friends are as everyone wants to be your friend.

Enemies will be obvious. They’re the ones constantly gloating at every minor failure. They play an important—if not ignorant—role, too. They are a constant source of motivation to climb to the next level. Not to show them, but to remind you of what you are capable of.

 

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. 

 

Our Heroes Have Failed Us

Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade were ripped from our lives in the past week in what early reports suggests are suicides. Robin Williams is another star extinguished before his time.

Kevin Spacey betrayed our trust along with a litany of actors and producers and comedians. It seems like an endless parade of successful men ran to the cliff like lemmings bent on self destruction.

Liz Taylor entertained us for decades. As a role model she left us with issues. Marriages came and went until she reached eight husbands over her lifetime. We see the same behavior today without the distraction of marriage in our modern starlets. Adored musicians race from one bed to the next until the world crashes in.

Closer to home we see bloggers and podcasters who failed us. Some crack under pressure while others lose themselves in drugs and cheap whisky. We idolize these people and want to be like them. Then, when we get a closer look, they have warts like the rest of us.

Friends and even parents can let us down. The perfect marriage collapses and nobody can figure out why. We watch as people we admire undertake destructive behavior. At some level it is entertaining. Deep down we know it ends badly.

We want our heroes to live forever. We want their example to help us live a better life. We want them to entertain us the way we remembered them at the height of their career.

Then something horrible goes wrong as we discover the emperor has no clothes.

Out of Left Field

Professionals who work with a lot of people for long periods of time start noticing patterns. In all the years I’ve been in practice only two clients ever surprised me with their divorce. In both cases I liked my client too much to see the forest from the trees. All the telltale signs were there to see if only I opened my eyes. A third case is impending. I didn’t see it coming, but it isn’t good.

My track record is pretty good. I can tell you within a few minutes of seeing a new client if their marriage or business will last and about how long it’ll last or how much wealth they’ll amass. Then I swing and catch air once every decade or so.

I’m not alone in this unique talent. Clients who are therapists tell me they tell the same thing, which begs the question: If I can see so clearly who will and will not succeed, why don’t I tell them so they can avoid the pain?

If only it were so easy! When it comes to financial matters I do speak up. I am brutally honest with clients contemplating an investment or planning a business venture. It’s rare, but I’ve helped clients I noticed were teetering on the emotional edge by recommending appropriate help. That is easy compared to telling a client their marriage doesn’t stand a chance in hell.

Two divorces surprised me. Not every client I had concerns over actually divorced (yet)! Investments are easy to advise on compared to interpersonal relationships. It’s not my place to warn clients they might not have a strong relationship.

Never Ending Failures

How can super successful people like Anthony Bourdain feel so low they feel the need to end their life? How can a loved rock star sink into drugs and other illicit behavior sure to destroy their career and health?

We can explain away the tragedy by blaming depression or other mental illness.  While I give credence to the explanation, I think a lot more is going on under the hood. Mental illness isn’t a good explanation for why a football mega star is caught beating his girlfriend in a public elevator. Mental illness doesn’t explain why seemingly good people turn dark when they become celebrities.

There s another explanation I want to explore.

Why Good People Do Bad Things

I notice something many people fail to realize: our heroes are normal people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. The international rock star, sports phenom, bestselling author, Hollywood celebrities and even bloggers are real people who were once something else.

Anthony Bourdain wasn’t always there helping us connect with food. Before he became a household name he was something else. Before fame he was a student and before that a child and before that an infant curious about the world around him. Something happened between then and here to cause him to take his own life. What could possibly have gone wrong?

First, it is unlikely a single defining moment which turns people down the wrong path. It can be a single event (divorce, illness, death of a loved one), but usually it is an accumulation of events that leads to their demise. It happens slowly so people adjust and accept the new behavior. Only after the defining moment is it clear—as hindsight so often is—do we recognize the problem.

But the real problem is that these are normal people! The demands on them once they gain fame must be crushing. Hell, your favorite accountant bends under pressure that wouldn’t even register on the scale real celebrities use just running a small business.

Another thing I’ve noticed is how small these people are in real life. Have you ever discovered an author, actor, musician or blogger you really connect with? Of course! Everyone has. We build up an impression of who and what these people are. Then we meet them in real life and they seem so small, so . . .  like everyone else, sans the press of people wanting their attention. Our heroes are frequently underwhelming when seen in real life. They are the furthest thing from a superhero. They just belt out blog posts or books, or act in movies or sing really good. Otherwise they are just like you and me.

Can We Help the People We Admire Survive?

Perception is what drives people to act the way they do. After the Plutus Award ceremony last year where this blog won the Best New Personal Finance Blog of the Year a few of us talked before heading to the party. Congratulations went around as we drank in the moment.

As we prepared to attend the after ceremony party a few in our group felt good about so many people seeing our work. I plagiarized an author I met in Albany two decades ago at a sci-fi convention when I said, “If you walk outside this hotel and ask random people if they know what a Plutus Award is nobody will know what you are talking about.”

That’s the truth of the matter. People inside the demographic might know what a Plutus Award is, but virtually nobody outside the demographic will have a clue. It brings it all back into perspective.

Later this week there is a ChooseFI meetup in Appleton. I was invited to attend. (I’ll be there.) The host mentioned they needed a celebrity to draw more people. I asked who the celebrity they were thinking of inviting. Then it hit me. They meant me! I was flattered as all get-out. But I don’t feel like a celebrity. And in the real world I’m not. But if you love my work and read it regularly you might have a perception I’m some bigger than life individual. I’m not.

Real celebrities are constantly on the go. Travel is hell even when you are on vacation. To be on the road the way Bourdain was had to have been painful (and lonely).

The worst part of popularity is the demands on time. People think they know you because they see your work. No harm is meant when they seek interaction. When the flow is manageable I love the recognition. When the water runs too fast I start drowning.

I never met an author who didn’t enjoy shaking hands and autographing her books. I never met a blogger who didn’t love talking shop and sharing ideas. Really, really famous people are different. Twenty people at a meetup or conference is a manageable group to communicate with. The press of thousands is destabilizing.

We can help our heroes. They are normal people who happened to strike a chord with a vast audience. They went viral so to speak. Books, songs, movies and blog posts all enjoy going viral. The more the better. But time is limited so a viral song or movie can push us to the extreme when it happens.

There are no excuses for what Kevin Spacey did. We can’t condone violence from our heroes. But we have to ask ourselves why so many of our heroes, people who have it all, fail so often. Personally, I think they crack under pressure. I for one would never withstand such an assault! In varying degrees none of our heroes do either. Fame always extracts a cost.

There is nothing wrong with admiring our heroes and role models. We must always be respectful of their time and wishes as it relates to their personal time. We can’t fix our heroes; they have to do that on their own. Support is always welcome, however, when it is unattached to a time demand.

Fame isn’t glorious. Even on a micro scale—the way a local businessperson sees the world—it is demanding. A modestly successful blogger gets several requests per day. People want a piece of you long before you do anything really big.

Many goals require acknowledgement to succeed. As a blogger I want traffic to justify my writing efforts. Traffic means more people will be interested in who this character is writing the blog. It’s natural to want to meet people who have shaped our lives.

Our heroes are normal people known by many. When you see a master at work it is clear they have given their life for their craft. Anthony Bourdain literally did.

Mrs. Accountant and my girls are sacred. I would give a lot for success in my business and this blog. If the price includes any harm to my girls I’d walk in a heartbeat.

But it happens so slowly, building over time, you probably never see it coming. Heroes need more than our admiration; they need our support. When we see one of our heroes, role models, begin to waver we need to take action. Most of us had no ability to help Bourdain. But there are people around you who may need your help: role models, heroes, parents, friends, our children. It is your responsibility to be the hero, the role model, when they do.

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?

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. 

Optimism and the Fountain of Youth

When Donald Trump won the Presidency many people were elated. Many more were depressed. Others felt scorn, concern, nervousness, helplessness and betrayal. How could this happen? A man with no political experience and a fire brand built on controversy win the election?

Shortly after the election Warren Buffett was quoted as saying America would be just fine with Trump as President even though Buffett supported Hillary Clinton. He said America has the “secret sauce” to keep the nation strong and growing. It did little to sooth the nerves of people fearful what damage a political unknown could do to the country or the world.

Warren Buffett made a career out of optimism. From an early age he always felt America would keep growing and the standard of living would keep rising. Recently in a Berkshire (a public company he runs) annual report he espoused how good things were. (This was before the election season started.) Buffett outlined how even 2% GDP growth coupled with the low population growth of the U.S. would add 34.4% to real growth over the next generation. This is on top of our already high standard of living.

Where does such optimism originate? Better still, can we have some? Buffett’s optimism has made him one of the richest people to have ever lived. He sees brighter days no matter what the economic conditions.

Today we will discover how and why optimism is the source of all wealth and a virtual fountain of youth. We can have more and live longer. Warren Buffett is pushing against 90 years of age and is spry as ever. He drinks soda and eats junk food every day. If anyone has a secret sauce to happiness, financial independence and long life Buffett is the guy.

The Numbers are so Depressing

There is so much to be depressed about. Income inequality means the rising standard of living will leave many behind. The economy is stuck in low gear. And, OMG!, what if it starts growing faster now. Trump will get the credit, or worse, a second term.

Finding optimistic people to spend time with is difficult because so few are optimistic. Instead they are broke and for good reason.

Reading is even harder. You need to read to learn, but news reports as practically assisted suicide. I’m waiting for a prosecutor looking to make a name for himself to cash in on this bonanza.

Normally the books I read are uplifting. Two recent books I read are testing my resolve. I finished The Great Leveler by Walter Scheidel. The book was good, packed full of useful information and backed by solid research about income and wealth inequality throughout history.

Unfortunately history doesn’t have many sample of income/wealth inequality leveling out unless enforced by mass military mobilization (especially for the loser of the war), plague/famine, revolution or societal collapse. The record is clear and not reassuring. History is clear inequality continues to grow in starts and spurts until it finally is released by a violent event forcing a leveling between the top 1% and the lower or average income/wealth levels.

Scheidel tried hard to be upbeat in the face of such information. At the end he put on a brave face and provided the best examples of leveling that was not accompanied by devastation. He was grasping at straws. History is clear, but not without hope.

I am currently reading The World as it Is by Chris Hedges. Hedges could turn a lottery win into an opportunity to slit your wrists. He doesn’t even try to put on a happy face. The World as it Is is comprised of 66 short essays on world events. So you understand what I am talking about, here are a few essay titles: It’s Not Going to be OK, So Much for the Promised Land, Liberals are Useless (don’t feel bad conservative, he gave you the same treatment), Man is a Cruel Animal, Confronting the Terrorist Within, The American Empire is Bankrupt and No One Cares.

Forget about any attempt for a happy ending. It is endless whining and complaining. All is bad, all is hopeless, why even bother to try. Ich!

I bought Hedges’s book after hearing him speak. (I don’t remember where. It was on TV or a video or something.) Hedges is an intelligent and articulate man with a compelling story. His voice resonates and draws you in. I enjoy the reading while I disagree with the message.

I bring up these two negative books for a reason. Before we can delve into optimism we have to define the enemy of optimism so we can avoid it.

I recommend both books above. The Great Leveler is powerful information we can use to avoid the pitfalls of history. The World as it Is provides an alternative look at the difficulties facing America and the world. Rather than part with hard-earned coin I would visit the library for both books. If you need a research tool The Great Leveler might be worth the purchase.

I’m Feeling Much Better Now

You, as I, will face negative messages daily as we travel through life. Warren Buffett faces the same headwinds you and I do while remaining as unflinching in his optimistic determination the world is getting better.

The facts support Buffett. Crime is down in virtually every category in most Western nations and even most non-Western nations around the planet. As I write we are approaching a decade of steady economic expansion. Growth is slow, yet steady. No overheating to destabilize the economic growth pattern. Interest rates are low, inflation too. In America taxes are among the lowest of the developed nations.

Our standard of living is continually rising. Even the poorest are significantly better off than a mere 50 years ago. We live longer and have more opportunity than ever.

Health care might be exorbitant in the U.S., but we have more therapies to live longer. Cancer and heart disease are no longer a guaranteed death sentence. We can even abuse our bodies smoking, overeating and neglecting proper exercise and still enjoy a longer life expectancy than our parents. God, we are lucky to be living in such an awesome time and place.

Work is easier too. I grew up milking cows.  The number of cows one man (or woman) can milk at a time is astounding compared to how I did it back in the late 1970s.

Tax preparation is radically different! The amount of work we get done would have taken double the employees five years ago. My clients will be happy to hear I upgraded several new pieces of technology in the office. Tax returns will be finished faster this year due to this new technology. We tested the system on a live return earlier this week with impressive results.

Traveling in modern times is a pleasure (unless you plan on flying). We can get anywhere on the planet in a day or less if we had to. Travel across country is started and finished all while the sun shines for one single day.

Travel is also safer than ever. We can visit Aunt Edna in Tupelo as a day trip if we desire; we can visit Uncle Fred in Adelaide, Australia with no real inconvenience at all.

When I graduated from high school 35 years ago gasoline was $2 a gallon. It’s not much more now than back then. And the percentage of our income needed to feed ourselves is lower than ever.

We have more and it goes further. We are always connected (not always a good thing) if we want to be. We can visit grandma on the other side of the globe at zero cost. Just dial in your Facebook or Twitter account.

Not all is good news, I understand. Education costs are exploding. However, the cost of learning is cheaper than ever. Books are free from the library or at your doorstep in hours or the next day from Amazon. Training courses are cheap and available in nearly every city of any size. Blogs and other online resources have more information than you can possibly consume.

Medical costs are an issue in the U.S. However, Americans can hop on a plane and get better and cheaper health care for procedures with any significant costs attached. Emergency care is still an issue, but we are optimists. We will find a way.

Life is good. It has always been good. We choose to be miserable.

Optimism does something to us. Optimism allows us to feel satiated and happy, content. Knowing tomorrow will be better than today is a powerful mental tool for appreciating every moment of precious life we have.

Why is Warren Buffett still working at his age? Because he is happy doing what he does. He sees the world as a glass completely full and overflowing with wealth. He picks some up for himself and his shareholders, leaving plenty for you and me to enjoy as well.

Wealth is between the ears. Wealth is not about money, but optimists generally have more of that too.

Optimists also found a fountain of youth. Have you ever notice guys like Buffett look so darn young for their age? It’s not money either. I know plenty of rich people who look like something the cat dragged in at a young age. Optimism takes years off. Buffett skips to work every day not to get more money (that is just the game he plays and the scorecard) but to see up close and personal the constant improvement of the human condition each and every day.

Elon Musk, another mentor I admire, warns of A.I. and other catastrophes humans are certain to eventually face. But Musk is an optimist! He doesn’t cry about the risk or inevitability; he defines the problem and then rolls up his sleeves to solve it. Musk knows you need to identify problems before taking actions to resolve them.

America, China, the West and humanity are not dead! These are the best of times and better still are coming. There will be bumps along the way, of course. A meaningful optimism needs periodic excitement.

You and I are lucky. The first step toward wealth is to recognize this fact. All I had all those years ago on the family farm was optimism. I knew I could do it. Had no idea how, but I knew it would happen. From that moment forward I was wealthy. It wasn’t long before it revealed itself in my investment portfolio.

Or, you can be a sad Gus complaining about every minor inconvenience, endlessly calling for the next market crash, Great Depression or the end of time. All we ask is you sit over there in the corner where we don’t have to see you. It’s such a bummer when you are around.

Perennial Seller, Part 1

Have you ever wondered why Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz continue to thrill audiences nearly a century later while the box office leader three years ago over Christmas weekend can’t be sold by Wal-Mart for less than a dollar from the remainder bin? Why does The Shawshank Redemption still perform well after more than two decades?

Closer to home, why do some personal finance blogs find a massive and growing audience while others languish? Mr. Money Mustache publishes a few times a month and still generates 5 million page views or more per month. What characteristics do perennial sellers have? More important, can we replicate their success?

Last week one of my all-time favorite authors, Ryan Holiday, published Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts answering the above questions. Holiday has ample experience to draw from in his work with companies such as Google and cultural icons like Tim Ferris.

You can reinvent the wheel or you can learn from the best. Perennial Seller breaks the process of creating long-term success into four parts: The Creative Process, Positioning, Marketing and Platform. We will touch on each of these before we end with a real world example from our personal finance (PF) community.

The Creative Process

Before something becomes a long-term successful seller it has to be created. Too many people want to jump ahead to marketing. They want money and they want it now. Unfortunately they will not like what the marketing section has to say if they do.

Creating a blog with a growing audience and dedicated fans willing to support the blogger, you first need to create the product. Books need to be written before they show up at the bookstore.

Holiday spends most of the book talking about creating a perennial seller in the arts: books, movies, music. He does expand the discussion to his days working for American Apparel before the CEO went off the rails. His advice can easily encompass business models for goods and services, too.  The PF community will find the process valuable for their side gigs.

Creating a product, writing a book, composing a song is all hard work. The tendency is to follow a hot trend or create a knockoff of another successful product. It rarely works. You might get some success, but it never lasts. The original has the advantage when it comes to standing the test of time.

When I started this blog I wanted to follow in the footsteps of Mr. Money Mustache. And why not? His readers would be my readers. Working with an icon of the early retirement community meant people would find me by reading MMM. At first.

I knew I would be different, but I always found myself apologizing for the differences, especially the idea of retiring early. Read my early work here. It drips with desperation. Slowly I moved into the open prairie where I felt most comfortable. I started writing my stuff my way. No apologies.

I always told storing which is my hallmark. But the idea I’d be a successful follow-on of the MMM crowd gave me a momentary boost the first few weeks before curling up in submission. My traffic has since exceeded anything I managed those early days.

I stopped apologizing and started doing what I needed to do. I was different and knew it. When I allowed the differences to show through I found my audience. And good thing.

A recent reader emailed to let me know he reads over a thousand PF blogs and never saw one with a picture of Hitler on the front page above the fold. Yeah, I knew it was different.

Readers beg me to publish a book (it’s in the works) of blog posts. More on that in a bit.

The creative process is hard work. You need more than one idea, one book, one blog post. No matter how brilliant you are you need to create more.

Positioning

As you think about your product, service, book, blog, or song, you need to know who it will appeal to.

Ryan Holiday has provided excellent guides to determining what your work is about and whom it is for. Positioning within a genre is vital if you want to produce a perennial seller.

Success of any kind, long- or short-term, almost always is classified in a category or genre. Nothing appeals to everyone! Too many bloggers, writers, singers think they are serving everyone. Bull!

You can make a comfortable living with a mere 1,000 dedicated fans who buy everything you produce. (Holiday said it in the book and shows how.) Imagine a humble blog, like, ah, this one. Selling t-shirts, ad revenue, third-party affiliates, and Amazon can provide a nice income stream. A thousand dedicated fans buying your book or program can add up. A simple $100 from a thousand dedicated fans gets you to a six figure income.

The trick is getting to a thousand “dedicated” fans. Part II of Perennial Seller is dripping with information on how to position your brand, You, Inc., to acquire those thousand dedicated fans. In all likelihood you will end up with many more as your cult grows.

Marketing

Now we get to the section everyone wants to talk about. Well, forget about it.

Ryan Holiday is a smart young man and he knows he can’t tell you to do this and do that and you will sell a million copies of your book or get a million page views.

I’ll talk about marketing more in Part 2 of this post to be published on Wednesday.

So no one ruptures an internal organ I will share a taste before moving on.

You do not need a publicist, Google or Facebook advertising, or any other expensive promotional activities to sell well. Most money spend on advertising is useless.

You know what might work? Giving away free copies of your book to the right person. A certain tax guy might want to provide free tax preparation or advisory services to a mustachioed gentleman from Colorado. Or the same tax guy might speak for free at conferences and help attendees gratis as a goodwill gesture.

Doing these things and a few similar gestures will give you more work than you can handle. Then you need to go back to the creative process and create more and develop the brand You Inc. further. It is also time to move toward building your

Platform

You can (and should) start building your platform even as you begin the creative process. Gathering followers is how you will generate buzz and early adopters of your book, blog, song or product. I’ll share an idea Ryan Holiday used (mentioned in the book) and that caught me early in his career.

Before Holiday had a product he knew he needed a platform from which to sell his books. He tried blogs/web pages, but eventually settled with the idea of building a mailing list of his monthly book recommendations. By the time his first book came out he had 5,000 people on his email list he could recommend “his” book to. The list has since grown to over 80,000.

As you can imagine, the mailing list is a powerful tool Holiday used to sell his books. And it worked. His books continue to sell better and to a wider audience as the mailing list grows.

Before I include a personal story not in the book I want to share a special gift Holiday gives to his readers. At the end of the book he includes a web address for additional case studies and interviews not in the book. The web address is: perennialseller.com/gift. Or you can email Holiday at hello@perennialseller.com. He will email back the bonus information.

Before you consider me a lout for sharing this information before you even buy the book or borrow it from the library, know that Ryan Holiday is building his email list as you take him up on the offer. He is building his platform while you get additional free information. A bit of quid pro quo.

In the Real World

Well, who in the heck is this Ryan guy anyway? You may have never heard of him until now. How about we use a live example from our own community: Jim Collins. (If you are reading this Jim, sorry. I needed a guinea pig and you were an available victim. Should sell a couple of books for you though if it is any consolation.)

Last year Jim published The Simple Path to Wealth. You probably heard me extol the virtues of the book. It is pulled from the Stock Series of his blog.

When talking to Jim you will hear him say there is nothing new in his book; it’s all in the blog. It’s a lie. (Sorry to rat you out like that, buddy. Somebody had to expose you.)

Jim’s book is all in his blog, of course. What he doesn’t tell you is he reworked the entire set of blog posts, fixing grammar errors and tightening up the text.

Then he sent the finished product to qualified first readers who promptly pulled the whole thing apart, exposing massive (several hundred) problems. Jim fixed them all. Then he sent it out to another qualified first reader confident he fixed all the boo-boos only to learn a few hundred more were missed the first round.

This went on for a while until the book was as clean and tight as any professionally published book from a major publishing house. As an end user I can assure you The Simple Path to Wealth is better edited than 95% of the stuff from the professional houses. That is saying a lot.

And it’s a self published book! It was the reason I delayed reading the thing. I know how self published books can be. Then I made the mistake of reading a few pages. I was hooked.

My good friend, Mister Collins, has had excellent sales figures on his book. A high quality work, well edited, well created, is a masterpiece. Here is how he did it using Ryan Holiday’s formula.

Jim wrote (the creative process) the blog and later edited part of that into the book, polishing to a bright shine. He positioned his blog and book right down the middle of his genres: personal finance, early retirement and financial independence.

Jim marketed his book through his blog and asked Mr. Money Mustache to write the forward, which he did. Jim already had an awesome platform with his blog and mailing list. People were buying Jim’s book to give as gifts! Camp Mustache SE in January 2017 gave a free copy to every attendee. Nothing beats word of mouth as a marketing tool (also in Holiday’s book).

One Last Thing

Normally I tell people they can either buy the book or pick it up at the library. This book is different. If you write a blog (many readers do), run a business (many readers do) or have a side gig (many readers do) then you want to own Perennial Seller. If you do not fall into one of these categories feel free to visit the library on this one.

If you are a writer, blogger, musician, artist, business owner or have a side gig you will want to hold this one in your hand and keep it within arm’s reach in your personal library. Better bring your highlighter too. You’re going to need it.