Posts Tagged ‘travel’

I’m 19 and Bought My First Car, Cash

19 year old buys her first car with cash. No loans or liens. Living the debt free lifestyle is a sure path to happiness and wealth. #happiness #debtfree #noloans

Nothing like buying your first car cash. Lien holders: NONE! Just the way it should be.

My daughters are very different from the typical young adult. Growing up in the Accountant household was never easy. I preached the Good Word of financial responsibility their entire life without any indication any of it sunk in.

As they grew older the firsts rays of hope appeared when I overheard my girls repeating my messages on frugality, saving and investing. Still, parents always worry about their children and I am no different.

My oldest daughter, Heather, cut a path I never saw coming. She travels a lot more than this accountant would ever want to and teaches English as a second language. She will be in teaching in China again this summer before returning home to teach special needs children. She uses art as a way to facilitate communication. You can see her backstory here. Things have changed a bit since that last article, but that is how life works. All I can say is she is living the dream.

My youngest daughter, Brooke, always caused me more concerns . Major medical issues have always been a part of her life so there is plenty to worry about. It’s the price of love. I published the deeply personal story here.

Brooke was never much for school. Heather loves school and books; Brooke reads after several hours of torture. . . sometimes. I jest a bit, but only a bit.

Brooke was paying attention, however. She heard about all the other personal finance bloggers and their methods of building wealth. I brought my financial wisdom home from the office to spread the message, too.  Then, just prior to graduation, she decided she wanted to publish her story on how she plans to retire the day she graduates from high school. Okay!

While Brooke may have taken a tad bit of literary license, she has the right mindset. 

 

What is Work?

Brooke may not enjoy cracking a book unless she is specifically looking for something, but she isn’t stupid either; she just enjoys different work. 

Brooke turned 19 a few months ago and has been working almost from the day she graduated high school. She — wait for it — does landscaping. Yes, Brooke, standing a full 4′ 10″, loves digging in the dirt and planting things. And she makes good money at it.

She has good teachers. My parents have a landscaping business so it was the natural place to go. (I could not interest any of my children to pursue a life in the accounting field.) For 19 she really is starting to know her stuff. And she is fussy. Do it right or get the heck outta the way so she can.

And she saves money like it’s lifeforce (which it probably is).  Every penny (and I do mean penny) is saved and invested. This has grown to a fairly nice nest egg. And now it comes time to spend some of that cash.

 

Major Life Purchase

In May of 2018 the Federal Reserve issued a report on the economic well-being of U.S households for the prior year. The most shocking statistic repeated in mass media is that nearly half of all households struggle to save a mere $400 for an emergency. 

Is she old enough to drive? Yes! At 4' 10" she needs a car she can reach the gas pedal on. And she paid for it with cash. Here is how she did it. #financialindependence #wealth #money #buyingacar #nodebt

Is she old enough to drive? Yes! At 4′ 10″ she needs a car she can reach the gas pedal on. And she paid for it with cash. Here is how she did it.

Think about that.  Almost half of all households have a financial crisis if they get a flat tire or have a minor medical bill!

What makes this more alarming is that Brooke did more than deal with a flat tire this past week, she bought the whole darn car! Along with all 4 tires. Honest! 

And she paid cash. Like I said,my girls are not typical.

Yes, Brooke, at 4’10” (on her tippy toes), with serious medical issues, bought her first car cash.

Now granted, it isn’t a “new” car. The kid is smarter than to buy a high priced wasting asset. Bad enough she had to part with $4,800 (plus licenses and sales tax), say, $5,300 when all added together) to purchase a vehicle with utility.

But it is better to want than to have. Sure, dad’s 2000 Honda Accord is almost undrivable so it was time to buy her own car. But cars cost money. Real money!

The car purchase wasn’t as bad as the insurance. A newer vehicle not part of dad’s policy is slightly — to put it politely — more than what she was paying. 

She was up earlier than ever the next day to get digging in the dirt and planting trees. The car isn’t going to pay for itself.

 

Lessons Learned

Brooke needed a car and we spent plenty of time looking for one fit for her needs. She still lives at home so her other bills are practically zero. She helps around our house, too, so mom and dad are open to her staying until she decides where (and with who) she wishes to move forward in her life.

The next day Heather confided in us that she caught Brooke in the bathroom fighting back tears. She might have paid cash, but this is the first time her account value declined because she spent it. It wasn’t a good feeling.

A valuable lesson was learned. Spending is okay to get things that benefit you as long as you realize the price for such luxury. She could have biked to work or hitched a ride. Winters would have been hard, but manageable. 

Brooke also figured out real quick what the real cost of a car is. After she added the purchase price with insurance, license, gas, oil, other maintenance and the eventual need to replace the car it became overwhelming. Then she used dad’s secret formula to determine how much that money would grow into by retirement age if you kept it invested in an index fund instead. Then the tears had to be held back.

She is one tough young lady. She bounced back and knows the car is a tool. The greatest news of all is she will never pay a penny in interest. And she still has quite a large nest egg for such a young adult. 

 

Growing Up

I share Brooke’s story because so much of my children’s lives are not traditional. Heather just graduated from college with no debt, including student loans. (Think about that for a while.) Brooke managed a cash cushion that allowed her to by a fairly cheap vehicle at the ripe age of 19 and she wrote a check. (And it cleared!)

When most people are borrowing to the hilt for an education, my daughter was getting an education and not amassing debt to achieve her goals. I mean, come on! Heather has traveled the world more at 24 than I have in nearly 55 years. And Brooke is living the dream her own way, yet on another path. The common denominator is they did it with fiscal responsibility.

And that is why I wrote this short post. To show you that anyone can do it. Even Brooke, with medical issues that may make her life very short, she is living her life on her terms. 

She is the kind of role model you want to follow.

 

 

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. 

Regaining Motivation When You Have No Debt

What happens when the thing that motivated you most of your life is removed? Here is how you can bring meaning and purpose back to your life.
What happens when the thing that motivated you most of your life is removed? Here is how you can bring meaning and purpose back to your life.

What happens when the thing that motivated you most of your life is removed? Here is how you can bring meaning and purpose back to your life.

The literature is largely silent on what you should do once you attain financial independence(FI). Plenty has been written about building wealth and how much is needed to reach FI and how much you can safely withdraw each year in retirement.

Plenty of debate has also revolved around paying off the mortgage — any debt for that matter — versus plowing the excess payments into investments that pretend to offer a return greater than the interest rate on your debt. While investments can provide outsized returns, the return isn’t guaranteed; the interest on the debt is.

As much as we preach about eliminating debt as part of a smart wealth building program designed for FI, there are some benefits to having certain kinds of debt. Risks are always present, but the advantage may be worth the risk. Buying a home without debt ever would mean most people would never have a chance at home ownership. And you can forget about income properties if you can’t use leverage to start your real estate empire unless you inherited from a rich uncle.

A mortgage (all debt) does have one powerful advantage most people overlook. Debt is the #1 motivator when it comes to getting people to sacrifice time with family and friends. Debt motivates you to work harder than you ever would if debt demands were not hanging over your head.

So if debt is so caustic to financial success a prime goal should be to remove debt from your life except for only the rarest of cases. But then what?

If you pay off your debt and build a sizable nest egg, a primary motivation to keep producing declines! How will the economic engine of progress ever survive? (I’m being facetious here.)

People will take a second, or even third, job just to pay for prior sins, plus interest. Families are destroyed; health ruined; children neglected, just to make good on your obligations. You did give your word and you’re a person of your word.

 

And then you had a come to Jesus moment. Maybe you read a blog or had a serious talk with a councilor or your accountant. Debt became enemy #1. And then the debt finally disappeared and cash kept accumulating in your investment accounts until money was no longer a reason to work; money is only a tool now.

A once powerful motivator in your life is gone. You either took an early retirement, did the traveling thing you always wanted to or started a side gig from a childhood dream. And it didn’t take long before you asked: Is this all their is? Is there no more?

Travel became dreary as it was nothing more than a replacement for the old job. Life on the road isn’t what you hoped it would be. Travel is wonderful in modest gulps, but inhaling the elixir sends it down the wrong pipe and you end up coughing it back out.

Early retirement left you with long days and nothing to do. The fellowship from the work environment is gone and you miss it.

The side gig fills some of the gaps, but still something is missing.

Finding the Meaning of Life and Motivation

While debt can be a thorn in your backside motivating you to action, it is a cruel taskmaster at best. Better the drudgery of excess travel, days of boredom or a side hustle that doesn’t completely fill the gaps of emptiness. Debt can do more than motivate; it can destroy. Best to keep the debt where it belongs; in the past.

Use the secrets wealthy, successful and happy people use to achieve anything.

Use the secrets wealthy, successful and happy people use to achieve anything.

A mixture of options can improve the attitude. Some travel is a great thing. Time off to read, think, reflect and enjoy family time is important and something to cling tenaciously to. And side hustles can be a lot of fun so why give that up.

If you really think about it, traveling, more free time and side gigs are not the problem! The problem was created by debt and you’re still suffering the consequences even when it’s gone.

For the first time in your life you can do something truly meaningful. In the past you were so focused on paying the bills you never learned how to make a real difference in the world that juiced you to the max. You were too busy helping Wells Fargo meet analysts expectations for the quarter.

The travel, family and free time and side gigs are good things to have and do. But too much of a good thing is bad. (Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But can you imagine me connected to the hip of Mrs. Accountant? I’d have a rolling pin beside the puss by the second day! There is such a thing as too close.)

So now we need to add meaning back into our lives; something that makes us excited to get out of bed and charge into the day.

Before I share what I consider the best motivational tool any FI individual can have, let me share a few other ways to bring viva! back into your life:

  1. Plan: You may have heard retired people saying their more busy once they retired than when they worked. It’s true! I see it all the time. And it was because they had a plan. They planned retirement before they got there: the travel ventures, entertainment choices, how much family time and with whom, how much time to dedicate to a hobby. If you plan you will find more than enough meaningful stuff (a purely technical term, I might add) to fill your day; more than enough to motivate you to get out bed exited daily. Too many people think they will retire and do one thing like travel or golf. That ends up the new job and drudgery. Variety is the magic potion.
  2. Turn your side hustle into a real business: A side gig can occupy a portion of time each week. Depending on the depth of your side gig determines the time and enjoyment involved. However, a side hustle doesn’t contain the drive necessary to really push. (You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.) If you really enjoy your side hustle, consider going all-in. A full-blown business takes work, but if the work is pleasurable it becomes a powerful motivator. A business provides much more to a community than a mere side gig. Not only will you provide more valuable goods and services for your community, you might even create jobs. Best of all, when you run your own business you are the captain. You can make real changes; solve real problems perplexing society.
  3. Challenge yourself: Of course travel and side gigs have challenges, but I’m talking about something more. Using travel as an example: you can take a tour or strike out on your own. Striking out on your own have various levels. Consider an extended stay in a country, learning their language and culture on a deep level. Since many reading this blog are younger, consider mountain climbing or similar challenging tasks. It takes time and dedication to learn serious climbing. It could take years or decades to reach a level on competence. (You will not climb El Capitan in Yosemite the first week. Not if you want to live long enough to get your motivation back, at least.) Striving for excellence in a large goal will have you jumping out of bed each morning early to meet the day.
  4. Set personal goals: This pertains to what was said above. Business is filled with goals; planning is a form of goal-setting; undertaking (remember we used mountain climbing as an example so the pun was intended) a massive challenge (learning a new skill to a level above mere competence) will bring motivation back into you life. Not all goals need to be grandiose. If your life is consumed by one all-encompassing goal it can cost you in other areas of life. Notice I said “personal” goals. Goals must include family and friends and should include many short, easily attainable goals. Business and rock climbing are major goals. That isn’t what I’m talking about in this point. Numerous smaller goals of things you think you’ll enjoy is what I’m suggesting. It’s all about enjoying the process and feeling motivated and alive each day.
  5. Take on a large project: Turning a side hustle into a full-fledged business is a “large” project. What I’m suggesting in this point is a bit different. The large project I’m suggesting straddles the business and personal world. For example: get a college degree in a field that interests you (history might be a poor degree choice, but now you have the time and money to really dig in). Now is the time to write that novel you always promised yourself you would write. Maybe start a blog and share your adventure from subsistence to abundance.

The whole idea of these ideas is to give you one big thing to do with your life with multiple smaller goals to keep you active and motivated. Any of these endeavors will fill a good portion of your day and provide motivation to keep moving forward.

The key is to choose something important, that makes a difference in the lives of others. Hedonism will only take you so far. When you do something that benefits others your life is filled with meaning and purpose. That is the birthplace of motivation.

And that brings us to the last and most powerful way to gain motivation, meaning and purpose in life when you’ve reached the safety of financial security.

The Meaning of Life is to Give

I work with numerous wealthy individuals in my practice. What I see in private I also see in the news: wealthy people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett giving large chunks of their net worth to charity.

The happiest people in the world have a reason to get out of bed each day. Learn the lessons the wealthy use to do the impossible.

The happiest people in the world have a reason to get out of bed each day. Learn the lessons the wealthy use to do the impossible.

It goes beyond mere financial donations. Peter Lynch, the great mutual fund manager at Fidelity Investments’s Magellan Fund from 1977 to 1990, volunteers his time and experience to charitable organizations. Bill Gates not only donated a massive chunk of his wealth; he started and funded the foundation he runs, changing the world for the better. Gates’s experience allows him to make a serious difference.

You also have skills and experiences many organizations can use. There is no greater satisfaction or satisfying job than to work with people of a common cause doing good. 

Listen, we hear all the bloggers bragging about their exotic travel and early retirement bragging. After a while the selfies get old. It must be depressing to spend so much time in self-aggrandizement.

We can do better! Let’s use the 5 points above to illustrate what I’m suggesting:

  1. Plan your giving: Each gives what each has. Maybe you have loads of money so you spend time reviewing the best organizations to fund. Maybe you’re good at helping raise money for organizations. (You’ll be in higher than demand than you can imagine if you are.) Maybe you love working with your hands. Perhaps Habitat for Humanity could use someone with excellent construction skills.  You have limited time and resources so you need a plan on how to give wisely.
  2. Experience: People tend to enjoy what they are good at. Familiarity bias is something we can use to our advantage. I work with a non-profit connected to Goodwill helping people with serious money and/or tax problems. It’s what I’m good at; it’s what I enjoy, so it is where I can do the most good. Take an inventory of the skills and experiences you have and match it with the things you most enjoy doing. Satisfaction of a job well done and demand for your skill sets will leave you massively motivated, satisfied and enjoying every day to the max.
  3. It ain’t easy, but it sure is darn fun: Life is most enjoyable when challenged. Charitable organizations are designed to deal with challenges. The work can be hard at times, even frustrating, as you try to achieve goals that make the world a better place. Working with like-minded people is one of the most pleasurable things you can do.
  4. Pace yourself: Don’t turn your good nature into drudgery. Set limits (read: goals). You can’t solve all the ills plaguing our world alone. The nice thing about FI is you can pace yourself. One day of challenges at a time instead of overwhelm is just the ticket to living the good life post-debt.
  5. Service: Serving your community is a large project by definition. Remember, you can help more than one organization. But don’t spread yourself too thin. The goal is motivation.

People are happiest when they give. (Read that again.) Giving is the meaning of life.

You spent a lifetime fighting to retire debt obligations. Now that you buried the debt-demons and built a mighty financial fortune, it’s time to find a reason to live another day.

There are so many things you can do to feel alive each morning.

I get up early; I always have. I’m excited about life. Deep down I kept a mortgage around way to long, knowing it was a powerful tool to motivate me. (You can check the links at the beginning of this post to read more about my mortgage/wealth adventures.)

Debt is a stupid way to stay motivated.

I knew once I retired my mortgage a serious motivation pillar would be removed from my life. My net worth is well above the FI threshold.

No more than the mortgage was gone and I noticed the loss of drive to set more appointments or even write so much on this blog. The nice thing about FI is you no longer have to do anything anymore; it is also the greatest problem.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can live a life filled with excitement and adventure; you can live each day knowing there are people who really need you.

Find what motivates you. Sit down and really think about it. Write your thoughts out.

The world will be a better place if you do.

 

 

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.

PeerSteet is an alternative way to invest in the real estate market without the hassle of management. Investing in mortgages has never been easier. 7-12% historical APRs. Here is my review of PeerStreet.

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 segregations studies work and how to get one yourself.

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

 

 

The One Place World Travelers Forget to Visit

Travel to exotic destinations. Even seasoned travelers miss some of the best places to visit. Here is a travel tip to a destination that will change your life forever. #wealthyaccountant #travel #traveltips #destination #exoticI have a confession; I’m a hypocrite. My greatest platform has been a complete lie. Please don’t blame me. It got out of control and before I knew it the lie was so big I had no way out with the exception of telling the truth.

From the beginning I railed against traveling while I’ve visited most of the U.S. states, Canada several times, Jamaica and Costa Rica. And here I am pounding out a post while traveling and sitting at the kitchen table of my first Airbnb stay. For a guy who whines so much about traveling I certainly do a lot of it.

Traveling has certainly been a love/hate relationship for me. The anxiety is almost overwhelming (sometimes it is and I collapse). This post will publish Thursday and I’m writing Tuesday night and the clock claims the night is closing in on 10:30. For several weeks leading up to FinCon the anxiety increased. Sleep turned fitful, my thought disorganized. I dreaded the flight. Most of all I dreaded all the people. Farm boys from the backwoods of Nowhere, Wisconsin never truly adjust when pushed into civilization. The savage is always there.

It is in this fog of insanity I realized I travel too damn much, but also realized I travel to places even the most seasoned travelers rarely go.

Give Me Space

Wanderlust is something I understand. I fear the crowds, the bright lights. The newness will heighten my senses activating the fight or flight reflex. Yet this is still a lie!

There is a form of traveling I lust for ceaselessly. When I see people driving toward early retirement so they can travel the world I roll my eyes. Who in their right mind would want to do that? There is nothing more painful I can think of. And still, I can’t stop the deceit.

See places few visit. Your travels are incomplete until you travel through time to this exotic and wondrous destination. #wealthyaccountant #travel #ventures #travelplanning #travelideas I better clarify. Many Most people have a strong desire to travel, to see new places, meet new people, enjoy new experiences. There is something in the DNA of humans to want to crawl to the horizon and beyond. From the very beginning when our ancestors wandered out of Africa to our post-modern times where eyes are turned glistening to the moon, Mars and the stars beyond, there has been a powerful urge in humans to explore. The chance to grow and learn is an irresistible pull.

But people have traveling all wrong so they miss the one place more important to visit than any other.

The mistake is all about space. The desire to travel is never satiated because you travel spatially. The mode of transportation is plane, train, boat, car and even bike and hoof. Whatever it takes to get from here to the other side of the hill.

I bet you make the same mistake. You travel from here to there and no more. A trip to Europe or some other continent holds the promise of exciting new cultures to sip from. And it works. Most people are awesome and love communicating with people from far away. They share as you share; learn as you learn.

There are serious limits to spatial travel. You can only see places where the transportation can take you. Mars is off the docket. . . for now. Anther serious limit to spatial travel is time. You need more than an afternoon to tour Africa. We can discuss cost, but you already understand that part.

New Dimensions

This is where we entered our story. My lie isn’t exactly about spatial travel. While I’ve imbibed often enough, I believe my personal constitution absolves me from serious travel crime. Yes, I have gallivanted around a section of the globe relatively close to the home farm, but gallivant I have.

I still abhor travel in the traditional sense. The anxiety is so powerful and overwhelming I’m surprised I can function at all in those situations. You can’t imagine what I see in my mind as I struggle through yet another bout of time away from familiar surroundings. (The lights are not as pretty as I pretend.)

But this is where truth ends. In a bad year I leave the yard three times. In a good year I cross the road a mere once. And then there are the times where I’m in heaven as Pinky (my cat) notices I stay snuggled close for over a year uninterrupted. But just because my tail is planted firmly in the couch doesn’t mean I’m not traveling. In fact, it’s a journey too few ever take. Seasoned world travelers wander the planet for decades and never see the places or people I’ve seen.

You see, I travel in time.

I know, I know. Your favorite accountant has gone and flipped his lid. (I am writing this while traveling. Remember the Airbnb kitchen table.)

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof and I’m prepared to provide it. (If I didn’t it would be a really stupid post. (You in the back: sit down. If I wanted your opinion I would have asked.))

The best way for me to prove I time travel is to explain the people and places I visit.

There are so many stories; where to begin. I time travel so much, see so many wondrous place, enjoy intelligent conversation with so many great minds I sometimes forget how incredibly lucky I am to experience such travel.  I may as well spill it all.

Time Travels

It may be hard to believe, but I was there when they spiked Christ to the cross. I knelt with His mother before the cross and comforted her. I was there when Socrates drank the hemlock and when Plato left the city and the school he founded “lest Athens sin against philosophy twice.”

When Voltaire exposed the government, religion, science and philosophy with the biting satire of Candide and when Rousseau fomented revolution I was there. Just another trip down Memory Lane. I warned Voltaire his humor would not be appreciated for centuries when comedians were allowed to live (usually) after exposing the  hypocrisy of said institutions.

When the Dark Ages descended over Europe and the Black Death spread fear I was there. I felt their pain, felt their fear. When the light of Renaissance flickered after the long night I experienced the enlightenment first hand. I was there when the Renaissance flourished into an Age of Reason and a Reformation in Christianity.

I saw all these things and more. And you can travel to these places, too! All you need is a book.

Space and Time

Plenty can be said for spatial travel. There is a thrill of newness in the act even if a crazy accountant in the room suffers emotional distress while engaged in the process. There are serious and great benefits from travel. Spatial travel brings people together as the world shrinks into a single community.

Need travel ideas? How about a low-cost vacation to an exotic location few know how to book. Be different! Travel further than anyone else. #wealthyaccountant #travel #vacation #travelideas #vacationideas #destinations #cheaptravel #lowcosttravelBooks are awesome, of course. Some of the flavor is lost in the mists of time unfortunately. Plato and I had plenty to talk about, but the people around him are relatively unknown or completely forgotten. It was also a one-sided conversation. How I would love to have asked questions. All but the major players are relegated into oblivion. There story is untold, lost in the sands of history.

The filter of time determines which stories we are exposed to. Aristotle was almost lost to us in the Dark Ages. When the Library of Alexandria burned much knowledge and understanding was irrevocably destroyed. Many stories died that day forever. If ever there was a genocide, it was that day. Many great minds gasped their last breath that day. If I could have been there. But, alas, time travel doesn’t allow changes to the time stream.

Time travel is important! It is the great men and women of the past who gave us our chance at greatness today. We build on the shoulders of giants.

To truly experience a culture and place while spatially traveling you need to understand the foundation that brought that place and culture to the current condition. The only way to do that is with time travel, with a book.

Coda

When I express my issues with travel I’m asked if I hate the travel (airport, car, et cetera) or actually being there. Yes.

Not funny, I know. The traveling part of travel is the worst, of course. The exhausting nature of travel is also a part and so is being away from home.

The people are always incredible. I still prefer a book because I can absorb at my pace and see so much more of the world faster when I can avoid the wasted time of airports. I was born out of my time in some ways. Regardless, I still feel the pull of the horizon. I’m human! What did you expect?

It is getting late as I finish this post. The Airbnb hosts were traveling (surprise!) so they had Rand and Joy step in to run control on the accountant clan visiting. We had some deep and interesting conversations. (Airbnb beats a hotel by a gazzillion miles. I’m sold. Future travel will be Airbnb whenever possible.)

Some travel destinations are like traveling through time. The less beaten path is one with more wonders and awe. No crowds. Plenty of fun and adventure. All low-cost. Plan today before everyone else discovers these gems. #wealthyaccountant #travelplans #travel #exotic #vacation #cheap #rare #undiscoveredI was interrupted as I completed the first paragraph of this post by Rand and Joy. I explained what I planned to write (it turned out slightly different than I expected; a common occurrence in writing)  when Joy lit up. Her eyes flashed wide as she realized why all the stuff I said sounded so familiar. A friend of hers has been sending her links to this blog when she found good stuff. (My guess is she didn’t need a lot of time with that kind of filter.)

Joy has been reading this blog for about two years. Rand checked it out earlier today. (Stalker!) He only mentioned one post: my obituary. I understand. No, really!

What I find amazing is that the population in the U.S. tips north of 300 million and a couple hundred thousand people visit this blog every year at least once and somehow I ended up in an Airbnb with a reader. How cool is that?

I am amazed and also humbled. You, kind readers, are lost in the glare when I write. I know you’re there, but I can’t see you or feed off your reactions as a stage actor would.

Then it all turns real when a reader appears in an unexpected place. I expect a few people to know of my work at FinCon. But out on the street I have no illusions of my celebrity. I’m a bit player on a historical stage. In short, I was Plato’s water boy, forgotten in time.

After 1,500 words I’ve realized how wrong my original supposition has been. As much as I enjoy traveling in time with armloads of books, it is meaningless unless I also travel spatially. Both are intricately connected. One does not exist without the other.

A mere 1,500 words and I discovered I MUST travel in time AND space.

Anxiety will always be a problem. Damn anxiety. They have pills for that now.

 

More Wealth Building Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Day Jordan Peterson Schooled the FIRE Community

The day Jordan Peterson schooled the early retirement community. Follow your dreams, but beware the world's advice to check out. Life isn't travel and sleeping on the beach. #FIRE #jordanpeterson #planning #changing #livingright #dreamjobMost people familiar with Jordan Peterson and his work comes from the litany of YouTube videos. From college classroom lectures to podcasts to interviews, Peterson has covered a wide variety of topics. Sometimes he is controversial in his stance, bringing him viral traffic. Most of the time his presentations are extraordinarily deep probes of the human psyche.

Whether you love or hate him, the one thing we should all agree on is that he makes us think. His latest book (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos) is must-read material. Unlike most books, this one you must own. A library copy will not be enough. You will read and re-read this material again. The message is so deep that one reading only scratches the surface. As I read Peterson’s book I could rarely finish a page without stopping to think about what I just read. Sometime I had to walk away and make sense of what I was just presented. By far, this is the slowest reading of a book for me in over a decade.

For over 730,000 words I’ve been trying to convey a message with this blog. While reading 12 Rules I discovered Peterson said more clearly what I intended in only 500 words. (Yeah, I feel exactly how you would expect.)

For home-gamers following along, we will be discussing pages 210 and 211 of the hardcover edition. Jordan Peterson put into perfect format the essence of the early retirement and financial independence movement (FIRE). In effect, he schooled all of us and if we are smart we would listen.

When I read the two pages listed I was so moved by it I had to take a walk around the block to work it off. It was 11:30 at night and here in the boondocks of Wisconsin a walk around the block is 4.85 miles. When I finished my walk I wasn’t’ done talking it trough with myself so I turned around and walked back. By the time I stopped walking around the block and around the back acres of the farm the eastern horizon was beginning to brighten.

Do You Really Want That?

The issues at hand come under Rule #8: Tell the Truth—Or at Least Don’t Lie. Of all the lessons in the book this was the hardest to internalize. I consider myself an honest person, but Peterson quickly pointed out how I might be deluding myself. Then it got personal. Peterson writes:

I have seen people define their utopia and then bend their lives into knots trying to make it reality.

The yellow highlighter came out. This was important and I knew it. Not only am I guilty of this periodically, but I see it abundantly within the FIRE community. Bloggers and readers alike build this mental idea of what life should be like. Financial independence isn’t enough. Early retirement is the only badge of respect.

Time to stop crying and complaining about all the things wrong with your life. Reach financial independence,. Live your life on your terms. #stepforward #jordanpeterson #earlyretirement #retirement #newjob #sidegig #sidehustleI’ve preached a different story from the first day of this blog. Retirement is a trap! This idea of you are a failure if you haven’t retired by age 30 is insane. Yes, Mr. Money Mustache did it. As much as it hurts to say it, he isn’t the gold standard. Early retirement isn’t for everyone! I’ve toyed with quitting for decades and every time I think of it I changed my mind. I’m doing what I want to do and gain tremendous pleasure from my work. I might change gears, but formal retirement isn’t in the cards. (Disclaimer: Mr. Money Mustache is my client.)

This whole concept of retiring as early as possible and traveling the world seems silly to me. I tend to avoid travel whenever possible. Business will get me on a plane. I’ve also been known to travel for pleasure. But in the end it feels best when I’m in familiar surroundings doing what I do best: working with clients and writing.

Here are Peterson’s words that hit me between the eyes:

An eighteen-year–old decides, arbitrarily, that she wants to retire at fifty-two. She works for three decades to make that happen, failing to notice that she made that decision when she was little more than a child. (Emphasis mine.) What did she know about her fifty-two-year-old self, when still a teenager? Even now, many years later, she has only the vaguest, low-resolution idea of her post-work Eden. She refuses to notice. What did her life mean, if that initial goal was wrong?

This encapsulates a lot of what I see in the FIRE community. People setting immutable goals at an early age and feeling disappointed when things don’t work exactly as planned. The real goal seems to be retirement. For some reason the community I firmly reside in has a central tenant of not working. But then what? If the goal is to not work, what will you fill your days with? Idle chit-chat with friends and neighbors?

Reality Check

I’ve been preaching the gospel for some time now. The goal of financial independence is something I understand. Having the financial resources to pursue the path in life that most enlightens you is a worthy goal. Travel is fine. Time off to recharge is also part of a responsible lifestyle. Peterson again:

A naively formulated goal transmutes, with time, into the sinister form of the life-lie.

And this is where I felt the stab of truth pierce deep. How often have we subverted our own desires to satisfy the demands of family or a friend? I was lucky in breaking away from the family business to follow my dream. But I didn’t avoid the entire life-lie! Sometimes I took a path in my business that went against my personal agenda. I did what I thought others wanted me to do. Every time I took such a path I was disappointed. Worse, my performance was subpar and I wasted a portion of my life, a portion I can never get back.

It would be easy to tell you how easy it was for me to follow my path. It wasn’t. I fought hard to find my true meaning in life. I experimented often. People accused me of changing my mind a lot. Well, I did! I evolved and quickly. If I examined a course and discovered it to be wanting I moved on. Even today I am still growing and evolving. What tickles my fancy as we speak might be drudgery in the future. I have the right, no, actually, the obligation to change when reason dictates. More money can’t be the driving force once a reasonable level of wealth is accumulated. Afterwards, my work better do more than add to an already bloated pile of financial largess.

Peterson continues:

One forty-something client told me his vision, formulated by his younger self: “I see myself retired, sitting on a tropical beach, drinking margaritas in the sunshine.” That’s not a plan. That’s a travel poster.

If you are honest you see this attitude writ large in the FIRE community. The desire to check out is high. The idea is to travel to exotic places while sharing on social media so anyone you have ever known is jealous able to enjoy your good fortune. It also serves to pay forward to delusion life is only an ass planted in the beach sucking down sweet drinks.

But Peterson gets more brutal:

After eight margaritas, you’re fit only to await the hangover. After three weeks of margarita-filled days, if you have any sense, you’re bored stiff and self-disgusted. In a year, or less, you’re pathetic. It’s just not a sustainable approach to later life. This kind of oversimplification and falsification is particularly typical of ideologues.

Can Peterson be more graphic? His point is clear and dead-on. The goal to checking out is not conducive to a fulfilling life. Travel is wonderful in moderate doses. Some people travel better than others. Forcing yourself to travel to satisfy a group is over the line into the realm of insanity.

Sustainable Approach to Life

Peterson’s words probably hit you as hard as they smacked me. If the general goals of the FIRE community are short-sighted, then what should we do? This is what I had to think about as I walked around the long rural block and back. Financial independence is an honorable goal and Peterson did nothing to dissuade my opinion in that matter.

You're not married to decisions you made in youth. You can change, evolve, into something better. Live the life you want, not the life others expect of you. Jordan Peterson teaches you how to live your life. #jordanpeterson #millennials #goals #financialplansI already knew there was something wrong with this early retirement idea, but didn’t know out to clearly communicate the message. Peterson put it into focus. It took hours of self-debate to reach a coherent meaning on the issue.

Checking out as soon as you can is a meaningless life. If you don’t do something productive and constructive on a regular basis you will lose meaning in your life. Human beings are social creatures. We need to interact and create. When we work, as much as some jobs are drudgery, we produce something of value. Nothing is worse than a dead-end job with days filled with meaningless activities, or worse, no activity at all.

Financial independence gives you additional options. Jumping ship the first chance you get seems foolish to this country accountant. Quitting your job should only happen after you have seriously reviewed why you want to quit. If you hate your job, you need to ask: What would make my job more nurturing? If you have valid reasons for quitting (bad boss, not the kind of work you want to do, only took the job for money), then quit. But don’t bow out. Instead, move up. Find the job that will cause you to jump out of bed each morning excited to be alive. Or, start the business you always wanted to.

Remember, your dreams are not immutable. If you don’t change, evolve, you will decay. Once upon a time I thought it a good idea to own lots of real estate. It was somebody else’s idea of what I should do. I did it for money and hated every step. You may love investment properties. Excellent! Somebody has to do it so it may as well be you. If I ever dip my toe back into investment properties it will be as a buyer only. All the management will be performed by managers.

What you thought was a good idea yesterday can change today. Changing your career path is the right thing to do when you discover you're no longer interested in your current path. #jordanpeterson #college #career #quitjobYour work should have meaning for you. Growing up on a farm I hated cleaning the barn. Pushing manure around for hours wasn’t the highlight of my life. After the family farm dissolved I moved away and started my practice. They say you can take the boy from the country, but you can’t take the country from the boy. Truer words were never spoken. Years later I bought a small farm and raised beef. Then, after a couple decades of cow punching, it was time to evolve. I miss my boys and loved the work. But it was time to move on.

I will always have the memories of each step of my evolution. Plenty of mistakes were made along the way. The mistakes taught me valuable lessons I could apply as I evolved to the next level. (Notice I didn’t say higher level. The next level isn’t always higher. Sometimes a step down is needed to grow to new heights.)

In conclusion, I strongly encourage purchase of Jordan Peterson’s book. It really is that good. Don’t get hung up on dreams you had as a child. Not every dream should be realized. Not every dream will deliver the pleasure you think when you walk the steps in real life.

Find meaningful activities to you. Don’t let anyone dictate how you should live your life. As long as you pursue a legal, moral and ethical path you have my blessing. Meaningful work, meaningful activities, lead to a productive, happy and joyful life. And I think that’s a rule even Jordan Peterson would appreciate.

 

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. 

Teach Children to Follow Their Dreams

This isn’t your parent’s China. China is an ultra modern society with the people curious about the world at large.

From a young age I knew exactly wanted to do. Then I changed my mind.

Such is youth. My dad had different plans for me. My childhood was spent on the family farm and it was an awesome life. My dad owned an agricultural repair business and the plan was in place for me to slide right into the company. There was only one problem: I hated the work.

My children are now adults. One is in China while the youngest just graduated high school. My fondest hope was that at least one of the two would be interested in tax and accounting work. No dice.

Forcing your children into a family business is always a bad idea. The kids might love the work and they should then be welcomed with open arms if they do. But most kids don’t want to follow in their parent’s footsteps. Their dreams are different. Most often they follow their parent’s path because they don’t know where else to turn.

Rural areas face the same issue. When few career opportunities exist young people must either leave the area or work in the coal mine. It’s the perfect recipe for unhappiness.

Heather, my oldest, is spending a month in China teaching a 5-year old girl English as a second language. The host family is treating Heather great.

Brooke, the youngest, prefers working in dirt. She works for my dad’s company landscaping. She also has a few side jobs working for people in town clean their yard and garden.

Both my girls are happy. I couldn’t ask for a better gift. I never forced either of my girls into living my life. The goal was to always help them follow their dream. The only constant from dad was the endless indoctrination of personal finance advice. As a result my girls are handling money better than 99%. I guess that means they’ll be the future 1%. Good for them.

Nothing to Lose

Steve Jobs said “you have nothing to lose” in his Stanford commencement address in 2005. Jordan Peterson has said the same thing in many of his videos. What both mean is that in the end we are all dead. Nothing we say or do will change that. Knowing someday you’ll be dead is a humbling attitude you can channel into productive projects. You have nothing to lose by following your dreams.

Failing is part of the process. As much as failure hurts, we know it will all be forgotten someday as the hands of times sweep all our actions into the depths of history. Nobody remembers the details of the numerous failures of Thomas Edison as he worked toward the light bulb. We just remember the one that worked.

Starting a business or side hustle is the ultimate leap of faith. Failure will be displayed to our embarrassment. Or will it? If I didn’t share my many business failures over the years none of you would know! I share the mishaps because that is where learning takes place. Success is a poor teacher so I show where things went wrong.

Go East, Young Girl. Far East

I tried to ingrain the “you have nothing to lose” attitude in my girls. I drilled the lessons into their heads daily without remorse. Early on I was worried they may not be getting the message. Then, as the years progressed, it became obvious they were listening after all.

Heather at a jewelry expo in Beijing. She always loves her art.

Heather worked in my office for a short while and still fills in periodically. She worked in my office at first for the same reason many kids work in the family business: it’s an easy option. It didn’t take long to learn she wasn’t interested in the tax or accounting life. Personal finance was as far as she wanted to go in the accounting world. Dad took a deep breath and allowed his sweetie to cut her own path. It was the right thing to do.

From high school on Heather was interested in East Asia. She built plans to go to college in Thailand and South Korea. Later she learned she could teach English as a second language in countries around the world. Good grades and an unrelenting drive made it a reality. Fundraising and financial tricks learned from dad gave her the chance to see China as an insider rather than a tourist for practically no money!

Her host family is awesome! Heather is seeing China from the perspective of a Chinese family. She lives with her host family, tutoring their five year old daughter, Dora. Dora is such a sweetheart. WeChat allows us to communicate without cost. Dora speaks good English and is a bundle of energy. Heather will be heartbroken when she has to return home. She will always have memories (and friends) in a land far away. The modern world makes it easy to stay in touch.

In middle school you would never have guessed Heather would take the path she did. On a family trip to South Dakota Heather was so anxious we had to stop at every turn off for a bathroom break. We even created a few new rest stops along the way. It was bad. (Heather will probably read this while still in China. She’ll be embarrassed when she does. Consider it dad’s revenge for making him stop every quarter mile.)

Heather inherited the early travel anxiety from dad. I’m crazy when I have to travel. It always sounds like a good idea until the departure date approaches. Mrs. Accountant can tell you many stories of the strangle behaviors I’ve undertake when on the road. I travel for business with rare exception. I keep myself hyper busy so I can control the anxiety. If I’m not chatty, running my mouth a million miles an hour, I withdraw into my own fantasy world. The best non-business trip I ever took was to Costa Rica. My parents invited Mrs. Accountant and me. This allowed for some normalcy with more family around. Still, I didn’t say much during the trip as I mentally withdrew.

Heather and Dora. The world is an awesome (and smaller) place.

Heather outgrew her travel anxiety. Thank god for that. Heather is there, in China, learning their culture and teaching at the same time. The world is much smaller now.

I get to see the world through her eyes and from the perspective of her host family. They seem a lot like people here. They have strong family ties and enjoy time together. They are interested in the world around them. More people speak Mandarin as a native language than any other; English in number three behind Spanish. Still, Heather traveled to China to teach English, whereas Chinese people speak English when they come to the U.S. Strange how they are such an enlightened society as not to demand everyone conform to their culture and language.

The activities Heather enjoys with Dora make me smile. They do so many fun things together. She sends pictures every day. Dora is a well-adjusted young lady. When we video chat Dora keeps hopping in and out of the camera view. We are just normal people to her. Our smaller world reminds us we are all normal people, regardless of culture.

Imagine if I would have demanded Heather work in the family business? All this would have been lost. Heather would have felt a longing for a different life while I dealt with an employee unhappy with her job.

As much as I want to point my girls in a certain direction, I can’t. There was no way I could have guessed Heather would end up where she is. She is better for it too. She called yesterday (about 9:30 p.m. in Beijing) because her car overheated in standstill traffic. I talked her through it. She eventually contacted her host family. The dad stayed behind to handle the auto repairs while mom brought Dora and Heather home. I am so proud of how Heather handled the situation. She really has grown up. She grew up because I allowed her to fly.

The Ground is the Same over Here

Brooke took a path I didn’t expect either. She never even tried to work in my office. She did stuff tax organizers into envelopes over the holidays each year. But her heart was never in the office—any office.

Brooke is interested in computers, but schooling is something she wants to put off for a bit. She has a few coins saved so she has time to decide the path she wishes to travel. In the mean time she likes working in the ground. Heather is traveling land in China while Brooke turns dirt in the backwoods of Wisconsin. It’s a living. And she enjoys it!

Brooke left the door open for college a year or so down the road when she is more certain she wants to learn more about computers. Landscaping and nurseries are acceptable ways to fill a day and gain an income in the mean time.

Again, if I would have forced the issue, requiring Brooke to take a path I thought appropriate for her, she would have been miserable. There is no way a parent can know what will appeal to their children.

There is a way we can help, but is takes a lot of fortitude.

The Guiding Hand of Parents

You can teach your children how to follow their dreams. Engage them. Require them to think about the things they want to do in life. Pay attention to their interests and encourage them to pursue their dreams.

Heather and Dora rollerblading in the middle of Beijing at night. Those two are having a great time and are the terror of China. They’re both cuties.

That doesn’t mean the kids get a blank check to do what they want. Quite the contrary. My girls had to earn whatever path they choose to walk. I didn’t pay Heather’s way to China.

College wasn’t a free ride either. Heather struggled with getting to college. I didn’t support her attempts at several higher education ideas financially. She had to earn her way before I stepped in and helped. Once she buckled down and got serious about full-time college she was able to raise the funds necessary to attend school without selling investments to get there. She got so close before she couldn’t do it anymore. I immediately stepped in and provided the rest. For the record, my contribution was very small, a few thousand dollars. Think about that. Heather will leave college with a degree, no student loans, no debt and dad will still be solvent having invested less than $5,000. And Heather got to travel to China (Netherlands next year). She also has a job tutoring people in China from home (online) while she finishes school. She has a bright future!

While Heather is starting to create a path she is likely to travel most or all of her life, Brooke is just starting out. She is 18 and experimenting with her choices. I can’t say as much about her because her story is only beginning. I see the same pattern in Brooke that I saw in Heather. The only difference will be the ultimate path taken.

Parents worry about their kids. It’s only natural. Here is what I did:

  • Provide a supporting hand.
  • Be consistent.
  • Freely offer advice and guidance without doing it for them.
  • Let them explore the available options.
  • Don’t force them into the family business.
  • Let them fail. Failure is the only way to learn.
  • Let them fly. All the way to China, if you must. Your heart will eventually begin beating again.
  • Love them regardless their choice.
  • Share your stories, your wisdom.
  • Use humor.
  • Hug them. It matters.

Most of all, always welcome them home. It’s hard letting go. It is for the best. It is so much sweeter when they return.

 

 

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. 

Friends All Over the World

Rooster Run: As we arrived at our temporary home in Kentucky we saw this . I had to have a picture. You can only imagine the jokes your favorite accountant spit out rapid fire. I would share those jokes, but they are less than flattering to those involved.

I have a confession. I was jealous of Mr. Money Mustache. Well, not exactly of Pete himself, but of something he has been able to do for a long time that has eluded me.

Several years ago before I met Pete I read how he periodically traveled the country and rarely paid for a hotel room. There was always someone willing to put him up. One summer he spent in Hawaii at a guy’s house and he helped him with some remodeling as payment. There were several other incidents where he mentioned couch surfing.

My first attempts at this fell flat. You can’t just bed down in anyone’s home. What if your host is a serial killer (notice the empty corn flakes boxes behind the house)? What if the host thinks you’re a serial killer?

It really wasn’t Pete’s fault. I just hadn’t learned the fine art of securing accommodations outside the hospitality industry. I didn’t know enough people from around the country where this would work on a regular basis and couch surfing at a stranger’s home seemed to me fraught with risks.

Then I got an email.

Meet My Hero

Somewhere around the early 2000s Mrs. Accountant and I loved attending science fiction conventions. One of my favorite authors was going to be the guest of honor at a small SF convention in Schenectady, NY. The missus and I loaded the car and off to New York we went.

Meet Pharaoh, the new mascot of The Wealthy Accountant. Bernie’s little buddy was as awesome as our host.

The convention was very homey and of course my favorite writer at the time was there. Except there was a problem. The conference was cliquey. The author stuck tight to his close group of friends. I never had a chance to introduce myself or chat for a few moments. I was hurt.

It was really my fault. The author did stick with his acquaintances, but he did so to pass the time. It was a very small gathering and I doubt he would have felt comfortable standing around with his hands in his pockets. Sure, he could have made a move towards me when he saw me constantly looking on, but it had to have felt weird for him also. I never made the move and never got to meet my favorite author. . .

. . . until years later at WorldCon, the largest annual science fiction convention on the planet. This time I matured enough to speak with the author. There was also a small round table with said author that I attended as well.

I promised myself to never do what that author did to me: to leave a fan standing there, hands in pockets. I know how hard it is to introduce yourself to someone you only know by their published work. It’s hard on the author too. Engaging every guest at an event is impossible and exhausting. The talk is always light because there is no commonality.

At first.

Dealing with the Problem

The same problem I had taking advantage of an opening to speak with an author I admired was the same problem I has securing opportunities to visit with people anywhere in the country I was traveling.

In the beginning it was all about knowing how to do it. There isn’t an author on God’s green Earth I couldn’t walk up to and chat with today. I evolved. As easy as it is to work with clients locally, I was out of my league when the net was cast wider. In a few minutes I will share how I recommend you avoid my pitfalls and move right to the fun stuff of building relationships.

Remember the email? Well, at some point a month or so ago I must have mentioned publicly I was going to see the eclipse with my family. I kept it hush-hush for the most part so I could focus on the event. Seeing my first eclipse was important to me!

The hotel was booked and travel plans set. Then the email.

A reader, Bernie Keene, emailed offering shelter during my stay for the eclipse. My response was so quiet you could hear crickets. Which brings up a good point. If you contact me and I don’t respond it doesn’t mean I haven’t seen your email. Sometimes I think about it and want to think about it more later. Frequently it is forwarded to my office manager. Some I delete; it doesn’t work for me at this time. And other contacts are saved in a digital filing cabinet for review in the future. The worst part is you don’t know what I am doing or thinking. Due to time restrictions I am unable to personally respond to every request. It sucks and I know it.

Bernie had no idea what I was thinking or if I even read his offer. What I was really doing was checking the weather in my original location and Bernie’s for the day of the eclipse. Finally, the Friday before the big day I responded to Bernie and said I would be happy to show up the next day with the crew for several days. It was a happy acceptance.

To be fair, I did email Bernie around Wednesday to let him know what I was thinking. But his email was in my inbox for quite some time as I played with the idea.

New Friends

When considering spending the night at the home of someone I don’t know requires a minimal amount of research. If it was only me I would not be as concerned. With Mrs. Accountant and the girls involved I decided to check Bernie out. He has a Facebook and LinkedIn page which made him look like a normal guy. I can attest he is a very normal guy after enjoying three nights in his home.

Here is where it happened , folks. Every problem plaguing modern society was solved in this room over a bottle of Spotted Cow beer. (Note: I always can break the ice by bring a case or two of Wisconsin’s finest brew.)

This brings up a good point. If you want to do something like this you should have at least a minimal social media presence available to the general public. No accounts make me wonder if it is who they say they are and all hidden accounts means potential drama.

A hotel is easier, but you never get to enjoy the local community the way you do when living with a local. For example, one of the things that impressed me most about Bernie was his pride in the accomplishments of his family. He showed me pictures of his parents (mom died in 2005 and dad is in a nursing home where Bernie visits frequently) and siblings. He told stories about each.

The home where we stayed belonged to his parents. It was converted into a bed and breakfast years ago where mom and dad Keene entertained guests for a decade. More stories were told. And you know how I love telling and hearing good stories. It is arguably the only real reason to live and is what makes life worth living.

We talked every evening until about 10:00 solving the entire world’s problems. Bernie had more than a few questions and I was happy to share my knowledge or at least my viewpoint. Which is yet another interesting point. When you open your home or visit another’s home you will have such an awesome experience. You learn so much and can share so many ideas. It is hard to sleep from the excitement.

I included several pictures of the weekend. It’s impossible to share all the things that happened and some was private. What I can tell you is how awesome a time my whole family and I had. And it all started from a simple email offering us a place to stay during the eclipse.

Now I knew why Pete did it. If I would have known how special these Conclaves are I would have been more jealous still.

Now It’s Your Turn

How can you have your special weekend at Bernie’s? It takes a special kind of person to feel comfortable couch surfing in a stranger’s home. Reaching out to a blogger you enjoy reading can work, but until a connection is made might not.

It’s easier for me now because of my position with this blog’s growing readership. I also attend plenty of personal finance conferences now and know many of my readers personally as a result.

That is the best starting place for you as well. If you want the opportunity to visit for several days with a blogger or other people of like mind in your home or theirs, consider attending a few conferences first. Talk with people. Don’t make my mistake and stand in the corner afraid to talk because you don’t know anyone. My inactions didn’t fix that problem!

In back, our host Bernie Keene holding mascot Pharaoh. In front from left to right we have Mrs. Accountant, two junior accountants and some crazy accountant who couldn’t keep his puss out of the picture. (This my first selfie ever. Holding the phone while taking a picture makes my face look a bit, ah, more than you want. But I am happy.)

I know I can travel to virtually any area of the country and find a place to bed down. This blog might be the reason, but without attendance at conferences I would not have made the personal connection most people need to feel comfortable opening their home to what amounts to a total stranger.

There have been a few instances when someone was traveling to the backwoods of Wisconsin and asked for shelter. I agreed. Understand this isn’t a daily or even monthly occurrence. It happens now and again which makes it special.

By meeting people you have alternatives if you desire saving hotel costs with couch surfing. Schedules frequently don’t mesh so you end up speaking with several people before finding accommodations. Sometimes you end up in a hotel.

Each time a connection is made is special. You learn more about people than anywhere else when sharing an apartment. When all parties share the same values the gathering is always special.

Now it’s your turn. There is a world of friends out there waiting for you.

This is one of the few blog posts on The Wealthy Accountant where reading the captioned photos add to the story. Please, enjoy.

Finally, there has never been an instance when I stayed at someone’s home where they did not become a friend. Sure, there is geographical distance. The friendship is long-distance, but in our modern world that is not a problem when you decide to stay in touch. You don’t have to be connected at the hip and it’s best if your weren’t anyway.

We live a brave new world where we no longer need to cry out into the night alone. We have friends everywhere we turn. I have friends.

You have friends.

Camp Mustache IV Roundup (Seattle)

The view from the top of Mt. Si.

There has never been a conference I didn’t learn something from. Camp Mustache IV in Seattle this past weekend was the best ever for learning. Others may have had a different experience. Where you are on your journey determines how valuable a conference like Camp Mustache is.

Two years ago I attended my first ever Camp Mustache. My goals were simple. I wanted to meet Pete, Mr. Money Mustache himself, and make a business proposition. It went better than expected which is why I am here and you are reading this.

Unfortunately, my mind was on business so I missed most learning opportunities save one: humility. I went into Camp overconfident in my abilities and had no clue how smart Mustachians are. My thought was to offer my services in a breakout session on taxes. This was the highlight of my first Camp Mustache. I achieved something I hadn’t planned on and it was a whopper. Mr. Money Mustache was now my client! How awesome is that?

Later I carried out my original goal and shared the business proposition with MMM. He didn’t care enough for the idea to take it on, but graciously offered to promote the idea on his site for me. Once again, how cool is that?

Then the worst part came. It would be easy to blame my actions on not knowing most other bloggers there, but it would be a lame excuse only. The Mad Fientist was there and was scheduled for a tax break-out session, too. The MF was gracious enough to invite me to share the stage during his presentation. Right out of the gate I took over the session like an ass. Good thing the MF is even tempered or I’d have been backhanded. Only later did I realize how much of a dick I was.

You have to give the MF a hand. He never gave me what I deserved. He always treated me with respect, including the following year at the next Camp Mustache. For the record, he is a better man than me. ‘nough said.

Last year at Camp Mustache I was a bit more prepared and willing to learn. Whereas, the first Camp was productive, my second Camp was filled with relationship building. There was plenty of learning, too, but the relationships were the most powerful outcome of that Camp for me.

Let’s recap. My first Camp was about business. My second Camp was about making friends and relaxing a bit. This year I shut my mouth a tiny bit more than usual and listened, and boy did I learn. Do we have a minute so I can share?

Big Mouth Strikes Again

Nervousness and doubt causes some people to blabber non-stop. The nervousness was gone and my doubts were seriously curtailed. I still talked plenty, but the domination of every conversation was not part of the weekend.

Listening and learning were the only real goals for this year’s Camp. I had no idea how much I would learn for these highly intelligent people if I just closed my mouth and opened my mind. I was two years behind. It was time I sat back and accepted the gifts others were willing to share.

The information digested was immense. Two things percolate to the top for me. The value of these two pieces of information are easily worth more than $50,000 per year for life. The first was completely new to me. Joe Olson (his wife, Ali, writes books on the side in her retirement) is a retired teacher (age 31, I think) talked about a new idea he was working on called trade lines. Rather than bog you down on what this is I will save it for a future post when I am more versed in the matter.

Joe worked trade lines for the past year and came out of retirement (still financially independent, he reminded me) three weeks ago to start a business involving trade lines. With his prior experience he is certain to build an awesome company in a field filled with potential issues. I would never touch trade lines with my level of knowledge. But, knowing Joe, I will jump as soon as he is willing to add me as a client. Besides, if a firm is going to make some coin it may as well be someone I know and like.

The second nugget of knowledge that blasted into my thick skull and rattled around is multilayered. Later this year I will attend FinCon in Dallas. A man I admire greatly gave me advice from his ample experience of past FinCons. His name is Doug Nordman (affectionately called Nords by his friends). He reads this blog religiously so I better get this right.

He said I should skip the sessions at FinCon (I can watch the videos later on YouTube) and instead should focus on meeting people and sharing ideas. It’s all about relationships again. Much of his advice was specific to me so I will save your eyes the drudgery of what interests me. What I can say is I am certain I will get significantly greater value from my first FinCon because I shut my yap and listened to somebody with experience.

More Camp Mustache Highlights

There are several additional important points I’d be remiss if I left them out. Most revolve around breakout sessions and additional forms of entertainment. I did not attend every session because two tracks ran simultaneously.

Your favorite accountant had a session on Anti-Mustachianism. I had a feeling Pete would show up. He did. Took a chair and sat straight in front of me in the middle of the isle. There were no warning looks. My heart couldn’t have taken it.

Pete (MMM), Nords and his wife, Marge.

The goal of my session was to point out the areas of Mustachianism where my opinion differed from Pete’s. By the end of the session Pete made it clear he agreed with me with rare exception. What I communicated was that Mustachianism is a foundation for everyone to build on, but you don’t have to be a carbon copy of Pete.. If you don’t like DIY, then don’t

As a side note, I am very defensive of Pete. He gave me a massive chance two years ago with modest information about me. Even when I don’t always agree with Pete, I still trust him so much I would do as he asked because he has never been unreasonable and the guy is all common sense. I made it clear at the outset, my session would not devolve into a “complain about Pete” session. There was never any risk. I think everyone left the room better, including Pete, than when they came in. Goal accomplished.

Hunter Post gave us another awesome session on Decision Making. As a former NCIS agent, Hunter has stories to illustrate his advice. Few readers will ever experience the high-level decisions Hunter made in his career. Remaining cool under pressure requires training. Everyone benefitted from his advice.

Back to my good friend, Nords. Doug had a session focusing on a simple point with massive ramifications: an individual’s savings rate. As he outlined the major market events of his adult life and the financial mistakes he made, it became clear you don’t have to hit the stock market perfect to succeed. There is a direct correlation between the percentage of your income you save/invest and wealth/financial independence. The message is so simple it is frequently missed. You must save a significant portion (50%ish) of your income and invest in index funds. The rest takes care of itself.

Our gang nearing the top of Mt. Si.

The Mount Si climb this year was hot! In the previous two years I drank only a small portion of water on the climb. This year I guzzled water, ran out, and became dehydrated. It was a painful slog and I wasn’t alone.

I mention the Mount Si hike because your favorite accountant offered to do a comedy skit this year and I performed after the hike. Camp Mustache facilitator, Joe (a different Joe from above), loved the idea. It was a lot of work and a tremendous amount of additional planning than a breakout session. The good news is they only threw tomatoes three times before they called the police to haul me away.

Ah, you know I was joking. The skit went well. It was my first ever standup comedy routine. I never attended, nor performed, at an open mic before. A few jokes were dudes; to be expected. But there was also some hysterical laughter which made my night. (You were awesome, Marla.) Mission accomplished. I was also glad when it was over. The hike was brutal and I was in pain while I performed. I was also nervous. Then it was over and all went well. Whew!

Final notes: Camp Mustache is getting bigger every year. This year attendance was by lottery of those registered. There are Camps starting up all over now! Florida had Camp Mustache SE this January. Yes, I was there and delivered words of wisdom. CMSE for January 2018 is already filled so they are doing two Camps in a row so more can attend. The second weekend has a few spots left, I think. I have been asked to speak at both. It is a large commitment so close to tax season so I am uncertain as of this writing if I will do one or both weekends.

If you must absolutely, positively see me, I will be at FinCon in Dallas. There are no speaking commitments as of this time, but I am open to the idea if asked, but will not pursue. I am on a relationship and fact finding mission for my first FinCon. No more stupid, take over the show, showing off. I understand the Mad Fientist will be there. He might actually backhand me if I pull that stunt again.

The Knuckle Dragging Neanderthal Meets Uber and Airbnb

Tax Collector? They opened an office for me when I visited Florida!

Earlier this year Mrs. Accountant and I attended Camp Mustache in Gainesville, Florida. We were offered a ride to the Camp, but we also had several additional days planned around the event. Renting a car in such a situation is expensive since the car would just sit there for days while my wallet was financially abused.

My youngest daughter rolled her eyes when I mentioned I needed the phone number to the Gainesville taxi service. She grabbed my phone and started working on it. This is an unusual event for anyone who knows me. I use my phone as a phone. Period. I don’t care about, nor do I want to know about any of the other things smart phone can do. I make my own breakfast, thank you.

In a few minutes my daughter completed her assault on my virgin phone. She added an app to my phone. (To this day I have no idea what an app is. Whenever the kids talk about apps I joke that we are living on The Planet of the Apps.)

I told her it was nice of her to put an app on my phone, but I’ll never use it. Another eye roll. “Here, dad,” she said pointing to the Uber icon now conveniently located in the middle of my screen. “All you do is touch the icon and tell the phone where you want to go.”

Huh?

Well, my fingers don’t work well with all the small letters and stuff on a phone so I have made a habit of avoiding the issue. Now I find out I can talk to my phone and it responds. Awesome!

I know, I know. You readers are rolling your eyes like my daughter. This stuff has probably been around for a long time. Somehow I missed it. I refuse to blame my stubbornness on “missing it” even though it is probably the reason why.

The Sickness Spreads

The money I saved by using Uber rather than renting a car was significant. Better still, I didn’t waste time figuring out how to get anywhere in town; the Uber driver did that. I discovered they have apps to. (Welcome to The Planet of the Apps. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.) Once I told my phone where I wanted to go the screen showed me where the car was that would take me there. Who thinks of this stuff?

When the Uber driver arrived he knew where we wanted to go and he had neat stuff on his phone telling him the shortest way to get there.

Okay, I still don’t know how to use apps, but I can touch an icon and speak. The best part is I don’t really have to know where I’m going! This is a more common issue than you might imagine. For example, Mrs. Accountant and I wanted to go to the museum by the college. I told my phone just that and lo and behold the Uber guy took us there. It seems technology has advanced to a level where knuckle dragging Neanderthals can use it. And I have calluses on the back side of my fingers to prove it.

Later this year (October) I will be headed to FinCon in Dallas. This time we used Airbnb for the first time. There are no apps I am aware of for this. The same daughter (the older one might be a slacker) helped me sign up for/rent (whatever you call it) an apartment/room for the time we will be in Dallas for the event. Once again there were savings involved.

Stupid Everywhere

Before you laugh too hard at my ignorance, I want to share a story that proves I am not alone. A few years ago I was talking to the sole judge in my county. It was election season and I sometimes get involved in the process in unusual ways. As we talked I mentioned how my business has expanded by magnitudes of order and in profitability by using social media. This happened without expanding the size of the building I operate from.

The judge smiled as he told me he has no clue about social media and look how far he rose in life. Without missing a beat I said, “So you want me to take your job because I’m more qualified?”

I got the dumb look.

I am not alone in my ignorance with large portions of modern technology. Truth is I don’t do social media either. As a businessman I am fully aware the old methods of promoting a business don’t work or work poorly today (i.e. newspapers). I am also aware of the power of social media to spread a message. Rather than spend my days horsing around on Facebook or Twitter (you need to be President of the United States to have time for that foolishness) I hire the work done for me.

Employees seem to be happy to keep my public persona on social media alive and well. When it comes to bigger projects my firm hires third parties to manage the process. I know what I want. Then I hire the people to actually do it. I can be blissfully stupid to the issue while abstaining from ignorance. There is a difference.

Sure, you can be successful without using modern technology tools. The judge is still a judge and I still grow my practice without social media. But the judge is on social media; so am I. The county has professionals plastering the judge’s puss all over the internet and the county’s web page just like I have people doing the same for me in a the business setting.

Leverage

I don’t encourage stupidity. The judge and I are not your go-to guy for high levels of intelligent IT planning. Heck, it was only a few years ago when somebody explained to me why it was called IT (information technology). It seems I was too caught up in being a top-notch tax guy that I forgot about learning things most people consider common knowledge.

You don’t have to understand surgery to know you might need a surgeon. Without ever placing my hand on a hot stove I instinctively know it would hurt like the devil to do it.

The dumb look. We all have it now and again.

The same applies to many new forms of technology. Ignorance is one thing; stupidity another. Ignorance is refusing to accept the technology as a part of modern life and society. Stupidity is just not understanding how to use it. Time is a factor. So is desire. I don’t want to fondle my phone incessantly as many people do. I have Mrs. Accountant for that. You will never catch me texting and driving because I don’t text. I have kids for that.

Before I come across as a real ignorant fool, understand I use technology more than many people do, including accounting firms. While most people are playing with the latest app, I am hard at work reading about how certain apps and other technology can be used efficiently and productively in a business. It explains why I have one of the highest margins in the industry.

I’m in business to make money. When I am not working the business I want to spend my time with people I care about. Technology is background noise in life when it works and is utilized best. There is no reason to finger your phone so much. Put it down. You will survive. For the first 300,000 years of human existence the species did fine without a smartphone or an app. You can make it fifteen minutes without such a crutch.

This blog is currently under a major redesign. Kevin will bring this blog into the Twenty-First Century. Good thing because I don’t have a clue of how to design and program a web page. I write and hit publish. After that I call in the troops.

Does this mean Kevin will be the only creative design behind the new look out later this summer? In part, yes. But only in part. Kevin and I spent serious time discussing what I wanted. I can see the final product in my mind. The problem is programming it. I have leverage with Kevin. I have the idea, he improves on it, I provide more feedback and then he creates the product. The whole is better/more than the sum of the parts, as it should be.

Not So Dumb After All

The local judge may not understand social media. I hope if he ever presides over a case involving social media he educates himself so he can do his job. It is arrogance to think you understand all the facts when you don’t understand the basics. You can’t trust your own team either. They feed you what they want you to hear and what they think is important. Without knowledge you are at their mercy and less competent.

The same applies to me and my business. I extend outside my sphere of influence when making decisions. Kevin and his awesome talent are the result of my stretching beyond my normal circle. Knowing everything is not the goal! You can’t—and don’t want to—know everything. The greatest skill is learning to use the talents and knowledge of people around you for the greater good. It takes time to hone this ability. Knowing when you need additional input from a qualified expert is more art than science.

If you don’t master this skill you will have the same dumb look the judge had when I asked if he was proposing I take his job.