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Class Action Lawsuit Database

online money making; earn extra money, extra money, free money, earn money online; awards party; fun awards; investing; money investing; investing money; ridiculousness #wealthyaccountant #freemoney #ridiculousnessDon’t be alarmed, but The Wealthy Accountant is involved in a class action lawsuit. Mrs. Accountant and I were also dragged into the mess and we couldn’t be happier.

Class action lawsuits are everywhere as major corporations find increasingly clever ways to strip hard-earned money from your hide. Enterprising shysters, ah, I mean attorneys are  equally as enterprising in exposing this malfeasance to line their own pockets while throwing a few crumbs to the proletariat to give the whole process an air of credibility.

Except the crumbs can be mighty large at times. This last week Google deposited $485 into my business checking account as settlement from a class action lawsuit. Mrs. Accountant received unwanted telemarketing calls that ended up in a class action lawsuit and she is eligible for up to $300 per unwanted call with a max of 3 calls. Yes, my lovely bride will bring a whopping 900 bucks into the family budget for being a victim. Keep a stiff upper lip, honey. It’s for the kids.

For several years I’ve worked the class action lawsuit network with reasonable success. Even in a low spending household, the amount of money owed us ends up over $1,000 every year. Some years we break $5,000. When that happens I break down and splurge by buying a pack of gum. Ah, the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Who Qualifies?

Whenever I broach this topic, people want to know if they qualify. (Why is it always about them? I’m the victim! Honest.)

Almost everyone is the victim of some scam. Even in the low spending Accountant household we find we are victims a lot. We just don’t play the role well. We need to practice our sad faces more.

Many class action lawsuits revolve around the purchase of a product or service. Other times you qualify for a reward, ah, compensation for damages caused you and your family for things like unwanted telemarketing calls.

You may be familiar with class action lawsuits as law firms send letters letting you know you are a part of a class action suit. If you take the time to respond, acknowledging you qualify for compensation, you get a check in the mail about a year later. But you have to respond and it can be a pain in the tail.

Then there are the myriad class action suits you have to discover yourself or forever hold your peace (or is that piece—I always forget which).

Finding Class Action Lawsuits

Now we need to find all the class action lawsuits we are entitled to compensation from. Thank God, it’s a simple process.

There are multiple websites listing all the many current class actions taking place. Top Class Actions is the best in my opinion and is the site Mrs. Accountant and I use.

online money making; earn extra money; extra money; make extra money; make quick money; cash back apps; flipping money; how to get money; how to make extra money; surveys that pay cash; free money; earn money online; make extra money at home; extra money from home; apps to earn money; how to make money online; online surveys for money; surveys for money #wealthyaccountant #freemoneyVirtually all class action claims can be handled with a simple online form. A few require you to print out a claim form, fill it out and mail it in. The process takes less than a minute in most cases.

Many class action lawsuits are small in size, only a few million dollars. For a few seconds of time (if you qualify) you can get a check for a few dollars six months to a year from now. As long as you are scanning the list of suits you may as well submit a claim for all you qualify for.

Problems with Claims

The worst problem with filing a claim is proof. You probably don’t have a record of every nuisance call to determine if you should be compensated for an illegal telemarketing call. You probably don’t have a receipt, or any kind of proof, you bought xxxx between June 1, 2002 and September 24, 2012.

Some class actions require proof. Many provide a lower level of compensation with only a sworn statement you bought said product in question. When it comes to the list of telemarketing calls you can be compensated for, you enter your phone number and they’ll let you know if you’re a victim. (Ah, the new world order! Where the internet helps us determine if we should feel like a victim. Yes, we should, it seems.)

Review of Current Actions

The process is pretty simple, but this post is too short to stop here so I’ll use some current examples to spur you into action. You can send my commission check to . . .

Note: This is not an affiliate program and neither I, nor The Wealthy Accountant, receive any compensation if you use Top Class Actions and/or submit a claim to an action. However, if you see me at a conference you owe me a beer.

You've got money; how to make money online; online money making; earn extra money, extra money, free money, earn money online; awards party; fun awards; investing; money investing; investing money; ridiculousness #wealthyaccountant #freemoney #makemoneyonline #howtomakemoneyonlineI will not link to any of the current class actions I found interesting as the links will break after the suit is finalized and I’m too lazy (or stupid) to remember to come back and update this post multiple times as class actions expire.

The first one we will review is of interest to travel hackers lurking about. The Citibank American Airlines Miles Promotion Class Action Settlement is worth up to $245. It seems Citibank reported erroneous information to the IRS causing people in their program undue stress. (The IRS wanted more money than they deserved and Citibank helped the IRS get it.) So Citibank owes you the losses due the faulty IRS document they filed and refused to correct. Since it is out of statuette, tax returns can’t be amended so Citibank is paying your taxes. Gawd! I love this country!

Did you get an unwanted text from Hooters? Then you might get 50 bucks! Doesn’t really make up for the tongue lashing the missus gave you three years ago, does it. But it is enough to enjoy a night at Hooters! (What’s a hooter? The boy from the backwoods wants to know.)

Do you shop at Costco? Yup, you might want to check out the claim form.

Did Citgo send you an unwanted text? Don’t remember? Fill out the claim form. They ask for your phone number and tell you within seconds if you qualify. (Dang! I wasn’t a victim. I hate it when I’m not a victim.) The settlement amount is still undetermined.

how to make money online; why are we not funding this; online money making; earn extra money; extra money; free money; earn money online; side hustle ideas; side hustle tips #wealthyaccountant #freemoney #makemoneyonline #lawsuit #sidehustleideasDid you buy a computer in the last ten years? Then you’re a victim! Congratulations! But you better hurry. Claims must be submitted by October 31st. I’m a victim here both personally and my tax practice. Verification of purchase is not required, but may be asked for later. I have most of my records (I hope).

This last one brings up a good point. Should I submit a claim when I don’t have proof? It depends. The instructions tell you which documents are required. I wouldn’t lie; it’s a good way to get into trouble. But, if you purchased a product—or at least think you did—then I would submit a claim.  In most cases it’s not a big deal. I yell across the room, “Mrs. Accountant, do we buy xxxx?” If she says yes, I submit a claim.

Terminix had some trouble with the law due to their robocalls. I had no idea if we received any such calls. Good thing they had a record on file. All I did was enter our cell phone numbers (it only applies to cell phones) to see if we were victims. Sadly, I was not victimized. Thank Jesus and all the powers that be Mrs. Accountant was! We can expect 60 smackeroos in about a year.

I could go on, but you get the point.

I check the list of class actions every couple months and apply for those that I qualify for. It seems we qualify for a lot of them. Insane!

This might be more fun than coupons, polls or tradelines without all the hassle. The only drawback is it takes forever to get paid.

One final class action settlement you might qualify for if you were a part of the Ashley Madison data breach. It’s worth a humongous $3,500! I thought it was safe when I used my brother’s name. Now I can’t collect. Dang it!

 

 

Reminder: The forum is a great place to get tax questions answered and find a tax professional in your area. The more people active in the forum the more vibrant it will become.

 

More Wealth Building Resources

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon is a good way to control costs by comparison shopping. The cost of a product includes travel to the store. When you start a shopping trip to Amazon here it also supports this blog. Thank you very much!

 

Your Garbage is Killing Me

Dreams are what make life worth living. As the years stack up we can look back at our lives and see the progression as life moves toward where we are today. Mistakes of yesteryear lose the edge of anxiety while still providing plenty of experience to draw from. What seemed like a good idea back then is painfully obvious today.

And then there are the things which blindside us. A perfect plan executed with precision yields the results we want before life throws one of the curve balls we hear so much about. Today’s story is about a man, me, who did everything right in this instance and still took a swift foot to the crotch.

So the record is straight, it’s your fault. Well, not exactly your fault unless you live in NE Wisconsin, but still your fault because you did it in your own community. Shame on you for acting the way you do. The worst part is you hurt neighbors and friends and now it will be your turn to stand still with feet slightly apart as the community takes a running start as they drive their foot home.

You’re not going to like what I have to say, but you must hear it. This is important. Your happiness is at stake.

There Once Was a Boy

There was a boy, me again, who grew up on a farm. The work was hard and dirty. The boy wanted to get away from that kind of life and managed to break away. Freedom was at hand. First he moved to a small town, buying a home and reading all day. He was happy.

A few years later a sexy young lady showed up and captured our hero’s heart. Before long our happy boy was married. Once again he moved, this time to a slightly larger town. The reason for the move this time was to establish his business. A few years later the business was on solid ground with its own storefront; no longer was the business run out of the home.

By now the boy was an adult for many years so we can call him a man. He was a sad man. He was happily married, but something was missing.

You can take the boy from the country, but you can’t take the country from the boy.

And that was the problem. When not working his business the man wanted to read and it was hard as his mind wandered to the horizon. He knew what had to be done. A small farm came up for sale near where he grew up.

Excited, he made an offer. But it was not meant to be. Someone beat him to the punch and the farm had an accepted offer. But the young man was told by his dad that the buyers were having problems getting financing. Our hero moved in and convinced the sellers to accept a contingent offer should the first fall through.

It did. The man was happy again. He owned a farm a mere mile from where he grew up; ten acres all his very own.

Now the man could raise steers and chickens on his small plot of the world. A decade of happiness passed as his business life and home life with his family and animals continued to please. Then a terrible rumor stirred in the neighborhood.

Nice Place You Have

It takes work to own a farmstead. There is always something needing attention. It’s all worth it. The ten acre farm now had a two acre pond and the old farmhouse was remodeled to include a hot tub in the 3,000 square foot castle. Beautiful fields and woods surrounded the farmstead, making the area a paradise.

By 2008 the farmstead was valued at over $450,000. This was still a reasonable valuation since in many parts of the nation the same property would be worth many times more. The rural backwoods kept the price low. But it was about to get a lot lower.

The housing crisis arrived at the farmstead. Never worry. Our humble hero is frugal, a saver and an investor. He paid the farmstead down and could easily retire the remaining mortgage if he wanted. There was no risk he would lose his dream home.

Except for the landfill. The township leaders were an unenlightened group of nitwits who sold out to the corporate interests. It still amazes they didn’t let the corporate execs have a night or three with their wives. Maybe they did. Anyone willing to sell paradise to live in a landfill would surely sell anything, including their soul.

The corporate interests did not take long to start hauling in the garbage. The landfill is now the highest elevation in the county. What a legacy the nitwits left in their wake! The hill got taller and taller and the mound longer and bigger in every direction.

Paradise was lost.

The Value of Happiness

The value of real estate around the country regained all the lost ground of the crisis, except for our humble hero’s farmstead. A landfill is not a great way to increase property values. The township is now known as the dumping ground. Other businesses have zero incentive to relocate there unless they have more garbage to dispose of.

The farmstead dropped from $450,000 in 2008 all the way to $220,000 a few years later. Now, when real estate recovered in most locations, our hero’s farm is only worth $270,000. What a waste of God’s Country. Hell has a special place for the fools who sold their soul for a mound of other people’s garbage.

Time to Move

I don’t know when it will happen, but it will. My days are numbered here. The landfill gets bigger by the day and my property will never reach the value it should. The quality of life is gone as the garbage heap reaches higher and higher. The potential for a leak or other pollution plumb is too great to risk my family. I’ll let the nitwit leaders take their chances. Besides, a little cancer never hurt anyone as long as they save a couple hundred bucks on their property tax bill.

I sold my last steers a few years back. I made an excuse about beef prices, but the truth is it was the first step in my plan to live elsewhere.

This is my home. I lived here longer than anywhere else in my life, 22 years so far. Where will I go? Doesn’t really matter; it will never be home. To my dying breath I will dream of the home I now live in, my animals, my land. It is all gone; all that remains are the final steps.

My youngest daughter graduates in a year. Then there is no reason to stay. My heart is heavy.

It’s Your Fault (and Mine Too)

The reason I am losing my home, my farm, to paradise lost is because we humans are idiots. We buy stuff we don’t need and then throw it away.

The massive mound a few miles from my home is a testament to all the stuff people had to have, but later discovered, did not. How much wasted money sits out there in the clay? I can only imagine. And people complain they are broke. Really? Broke! Go figure.

Landfills are a warning, and reminder, of human folly. Bursting landfills are a symptom of overconsumption. Credit cards are maxed out at 18% interest and the bill isn’t even paid before the mound outside my front window grows a bit higher.

The price is dear to you, my friend. But what about the price to me. My contribution to the landfill has been disproportionately small. The waste my household produces is nearly 90% less than the average American household. My business also has a modest ecological footprint. This is by design. I plan accordingly to keep waste as low as possible. I don’t like buying stuff just to throw it away.

I pay an additional price for your wasteful ways. My farm is worth at least $200,000 less than it should be, maybe more. The loss will continue to widen as time rolls on.

What did I do to deserve such treatment? I spend less, save and waste very little. And still the price is extracted.

There is also a price money cannot account for: love. This is my home; at least it was. Soon it will be gone, owned by someone willing to accept the garbage and lower property value into the future and beyond. I don’t care about much: Mrs. Accountant, my girls, parents and extended family. And my farm. All the rest means nothing. All the other stuff is just there to fill time: work, investing, writing.

I can hear you through the computer screen, “It’s not my fault! I don’t live anywhere near you. IT’S NOT MY GARBAGE!”

But it is your garbage. I see the overflowing basket in the kitchen and the can of soda in your hand. You may not live near me, but someone in my same position is paying the price for your waste. If the landfill leaks toxins it could easily shorten the lives of the people near your landfill.

Every piece of garbage has a price. Each time you buy something only to discard it — packaging, for example — you are adding to the problem.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can save a wayward accountant, an old man clinging to his childhood vision of life as a farmer, by ending the waste. You, and only you, can make a difference. Only you can save me.

I am not asking for myself, however. In truth it is too late for me. My farm, my dream, is gone. There is only emptiness in my future. No amount of money can save me now. And when they are done destroying me, they are coming for you next.

Never Miss a Charitable Deduction Again

The Wealthy Accountant is turning into a vibrant community. Readers share their stories helping me do my job of teaching you, kind readers, how to live a joyful life without money problems. Readers also do things your favorite accountant cannot. For example, you would never ask me anything about IT. On my best days I am dangerous when given the access codes to computer files in my office. Karen, my office manager, has a standing order with the IT firm managing all our information to never give me a pass code or access to any secure files. It’s better that way.

When it comes to taxes, the story is different. I immerse myself in taxes the way a college guy plays video games. Most tax questions are front brain answers to me and minor research for most of the rest. (Every now and again someone throws me a curve requiring serious research, but we will not talk about those times to protect the ego of the innocent accountant in the room.) Then a reader sends me a link for a website that blows my mind. John Haldi did just that.

Missing Deductions

Clients tend to have the same problems when providing records to my office. Preparing an accurate return is required. Tax professionals sign tax returns they prepare under penalty of perjury. This means a tax professional better perform her due diligence. Still, the tax pro is not auditing the return, only preparing it. As long as numbers look reasonable, the tax pro will sign off on the return and move to the next. Tax season is triage. Tax accountants have no spare time to debate issues until after the due date.

One area I never gave much thought to was charitable deductions, especially the non-cash kind. If a client gives a car to charity I notice because those situations require special reporting. What I am talking about here is the mountain of clothing and household goods donated to Goodwill and other non-profit organizations.

A significant portion of clients drop receipts in their tax folder for non-cash donations. With rare exception, they put a best-guess estimate of the value of the goods donated. The client thinks they are being aggressive, but experience tells me they are under-deducting, leaving tax dollars in the government’s hands.

The Salvation Army has a worksheet they provide online to track your donations, including the thrift shop value. This is a perfect tool to maximize non-cash donations, but people rarely use it. My office prints a large stack every year for clients; most go unused because they need to be filled out by hand.

John Haldi, a long-time reader, emailed me a website he put together to track  non-cash donations. The best part is it is FREE!!! I wanted to get that out up front so people don’t tune out. John is not a tax guy, but he knows his stuff when it comes to getting the largest deduction for non-cash donations. He has his own accountant (not me) who helped him put accurate information on his site.

John’s site is 8283ez.com, in honor of the form used when itemizing non-cash deductions in excess of $500. 8283ez has simple pull down menus with all the values built in. The program automatically takes the midpoint value for each item which you can change if necessary. (Sometimes a donated desk is worth more than the listed range.)

You still need to get a receipt from the organization proving you donated the goods. What is better with 8283ez is the time it takes to record the deduction. Paging through the Salvation Army worksheet is the main reason few people use it. It takes time to find all the items on the form and tally the donation. It’s easier to just tell your tax guy (or gal) you donated $250 to Goodwill. And in most cases you just screwed yourself.

Taxes are bad enough without overpaying. Mrs. Accountant this past week did some spring cleaning, hauling unused stuff to Goodwill. In the past I would spend an hour entering all the items and adding the amounts. Using 8283ez I was done before I started. It blew my mind.

Minimalists Take Notice

The worst part of non-cash donation recordkeeping is when you move or decide to turn minimalist. The stuff you collected over the years for the first time starts to look like a mountain. In most cases the client tells me they donated, say, $3,000 of stuff. I dutifully enter the deduction on their return. People have no idea how much it is really worth, missing massive tax deductions.

My staff respectfully offers the Salvation Army worksheet for them to fill out; I get maybe three back a year. It is easier to stamp a number on the receipt and move on. Life is too short. I predict this will change with 8283ez. Plugging the numbers is fast, easy and you get a really nice printout to share with your friendly accountant. The way this thing is designed I predict many taxpayers getting a big sloppy kiss from their accountant.

The client thinking their donation was worth $3,000 is always surprised when they list each item out separately. A $100 bag of stuff donated to Goodwill is probably worth double that amount. With 8283ez you can do the right thing and get the full tax break you deserve without painful recordkeeping.

Check out John’s site. Be sure to thank him in the comments below. He created 8283ez because he likes doing that kind of stuff and he doesn’t charge a dime. Anyone who puts together a useful tax site for grins deserves a round of applause. Thanks, John. Thank you for the email introducing this old accountant to a new (and useful) way to do business. You made my life, and that of my clients, better. A good day in my book.

Hypermiling: Hybrid Mileage In a Regular Car

IMG_20160722_072147

ScanGauge on a Velcro Strip.

Grandpa told us stories of how they increased fuel economy during World War II rationing years. The technology has advanced over the years, but the goal is the same: increase the miles traveled on a gallon of gas. Today we call this behavior: hypermiling. Rationing is no longer the motivation. Saving money and reducing our personal impact on the planet are the two main drivers (pun intended) behind hypermiling today. I will share the best methods I use to achieve 46 miles per gallon in a 2007 Toyota Camry. If you are willing to work the technology harder your results will probably be even better.

The Toyota Camry is estimated to get 24 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. Moving the fuel efficiency from 24/34 to 46 mpg blended requires a few modifications to your driving and proper maintenance of your vehicle. Remember, hypermiling is a lot of fun, especially if you are competitive. Beating your best performance is addictive. Incremental progress is normal. Colder weather hurts performance as does winter gasoline blends in the northern U.S. Hot summer days without a breeze can really send your fuel efficiency through the roof. Awesome!

Maintenance

There are few things you need to do before you get behind the wheel.

  • Make sure your tires are inflated to manufacturer’s specifications. Over inflating tires can improve your mileage rate by a very small amount. I tried it and found no difference in my tests.
  • Change oil per manufacturer’s service guide. My Camry needs an oil change every 5000 miles. I change my own oil and use the lightest recommended oil, 0W-20 in my case.
  • Older cars may need a tune up or spark plugs.
  • Check the air filter for replacement.
  • Next time you replace tires get a tire with the lowest rolling resistance. I made a mistake once and bought a cheaper tire. I lost the money several times over in added fuel costs. A small investment in a quality tire pays for itself. In my case I lost over 4 miles per gallon in performance with a cheaper, higher rolling resistance tire.
  • Check tire alignment. Tires out of alignment create drag, harming fuel efficiency. Think of it as plowing versus coasting.
  • Remove all unnecessary weight. Get rid of the junk for a free boost in fuel economy.
Increase fuel economy with instant feedback from a ScanGauge.

Increase fuel economy with instant feedback from a ScanGauge.

Measuring Performance

There are two ways to measure performance. The first method is simple and free, but limited on real-time feedback. Under this method you fill your fuel tank and record your odometer. The next time you fill the tank be sure to fill all the way. Divide the number of miles travelled by the number of gallons consumed.

Example: You drove 487 miles since the last fill-up and needed 10.45 gallons to fill the tank. Your miles per gallon are calculated by dividing 487 miles by 10.45 gallons. Our last tank of gas was 46.6 mpg. Not bad.

The problem with the first method is you don’t get instant feedback on performance. Colder or windier weather can affect numbers. Relatively inexpensive devices offer real-time vehicle performance. I use a ScanGauge in my car. The ScanGauge and similar devices are simple plug and play. You plug the ScanGauge into the diagnostic port located under the steering column in most cars and trucks. When the vehicle is running ScanGauge will provide real-time fuel economy. All the testing I mention here was done with a ScanGauge.

ScanGauge mount.

ScanGauge mount.

Driving for Maximum Fuel Economy

  • Drive the speed limit. Speed kills fuel economy.
  • Accelerate to your desired speed moderately. Accelerating too slow is as bad as too fast. Avoid the jack-rabbit starts, but don’t take all day to get up to speed. The ScanGauge can help you determine your vehicles best acceleration pace. It might help to imagine accelerating with an egg on the gas pedal. Push hard enough, but not so hard as to break the egg.
  • Coast into stops whenever possible.
  • Time traffic lights so you don’t have to come to a complete stop.
  • Coast in neutral, especially with older vehicles to prevent engine drag. Avoid this strategy in hybrid cars.
  • Driving without brakes. Braking is throwing gas away. Whenever safe, avoid using the brake. Watch traffic so you do not require braking or at least reduce the amount needed.
  • Coast/decelerate up hills as much as possible; accelerate down hills.
  • Keep a steady speed, if possible.
  • Avoid idling. Idling gets zero miles to the gallon.
  • Pulse and glide is an awesome technique in a hybrid car, but also can improve fuel economy in non-hybrid vehicles, too. I spend over half my driving time coasting. Pulse and glide is done by accelerating up to speed and coasting until your speed declines to a level where you accelerate again.
  • Drive like you bike. Notice where you increase speed and coast when you bike. Use the same method when you drive since you bike more efficiently due to feeling your energy use.
  • Turn off the AC. I know what other sites say about air conditioning compared to an open window. I’ve tested this extensively and I cannot find a way to run the AC over an open window and win. I am lucky living in Wisconsin where it never gets very hot. You may need to pass on this one if you live in the bowels of hell in the summer.
  • Don’t drive. Miles never driven take no gas at all. Go figure! Bike all trips under 5 miles. Plan the shortest route to reduce miles driven.

Crazy Ideas

There are several additional ideas to improve fuel economy floating around. Here are a few ideas I refuse to use or even try.

  • Ridge riding is where you hug the side of the road so your tires are outside the normal grove of road traffic. During rain it might be an okay idea. Outside weather situations, ridge riding is a waste of time.
  • Drafting is where you follow larger vehicles close so they reduce your air drag. This is just plain stupid. I want to save a few dollars, not get killed.
  • Some have suggested turning off the vehicle while you are moving. By coasting with the car off you have no idling waste. I tried this for a short while and determined it is not worth the effort. Sure it saves some gas, but it is a stupid idea and risky due to loss of many vehicle functions.

Safety

The goal is to reduce gasoline consumption. I find hypermiling fun. That said safety is the primary concern. Driving too slow for traffic can cause an accident. Don’t be a dick in the name of thirty cents in gas savings. Coasting is not always possible, so only do it when it is. Watch your ScanGauge; also keep your eyes on the road. Focus on your driving and you will have fun and better fuel economy.

My Allergic Reaction to Commercial Media

TV (2)Cable TV arrived late at my household and left early. Back in the 80s and early 90s we only had local channels available over the airwaves. As the year 2000 approached I broke down and allowed cable TV to enter my home. It was a disaster. I could not believe I was paying for something that was mostly ads to get me to waste even more money. A few years later the fix was in; cable was on the way out.

My greatest concern was my family. Mrs. Accountant and the girls liked a few shows on the glass teat (reference The Glass Teat by: Harlan Ellison). I had to devise a way to cut the cord without making it look like I was cutting the cord. My idea was to convince my family we were only temporarily suspending the DirecTV account for six months as an experiment. To my surprise nobody was bothered by my idea.

The girls were the biggest concern for me. Once again dad got a massive surprise when my oldest daughter volunteered we just dump the DirecTV permanently with the youngest agreeing. I questioned the girls about their ambivalence toward cable. They informed me most of the programs they enjoyed were either available on local, over the air, channels or available online. Even though it was harder to find programming online five and ten years ago, my girls found what they wanted online and at no cost.

Viewing Habits

Before we talk about the costs of viewing television I want to share my evolving television viewing habits. Television, radio, and other forms of mass media were always a small part of my life. Still, even modest amounts of commercial media can affect your income and net worth. It is a rare day when I sit down and actually watch a program. When the TV is on it is usually for background noise. Back in the old days when I still watched football (I am writing for an American audience so I am referring to American style football, not the football commonly known as soccer in the U.S.) I would mute the TV and read a book. I was not sure how I would handle quitting football cold turkey. Around these parts missing a Packers game can get you killed. But it all went smooth. I never missed the game. People sometimes notice I have a dazed look when they talk about Packers players. I tell them I don’t watch TV and they are supportive. I think more people want to be like me and dump TV, but can’t find the willpower.

Once DirecTV went, so did all the commercial TV. Local channels available free over the airwaves are avoided by me, but Mrs. Accountant like to catch the local news and weather. In the barn public radio plays without commercials. The chickens and steers are very educated on current events and have no idea what anyone means by “talk to your doctor”.

The library provided movies and documentaries. My viewing habits made it hard for me to sit for a movie. We still get a movie now and again from the library, but Netflix provides most of my viewing pleasure. I still use the TV as background noise. Except for educational documentaries I could not tell you a lick of what I watched on TV for the last five years. I know what was playing as background noise, but I do not know the content of the program.

There is one area where I do pay close attention. Educational videos mesmerize me. Netflix has a few; YouTube has an unlimited supply. Learning is my addiction. I can’t get enough. There are few subjects I am not interested in at some level. Learning how to do things is one of the most important parts of my day. My viewing habits should come as no surprise as you will see shortly.

The Cost of Commercial Media

The most obvious cost of commercial media is the fee for cable. My guess is cable runs about eighty bucks now, so you unload your wallet about a thousand dollars a year. (Feel free to update my numbers in the comments. I will not research cable rates, etc. as they are unimportant to the underlying premise of this post.) The crazy accountant in me also knows the TV uses electricity when it is on.

There are also hidden costs far exceeding the cost of cable itself. Advertisers know what works. The most disciplined of us cannot withstand the assault of massive amounts of programming. Commercials continually tell us we need more. That is how the companies make money, by getting you to want more.

TV-Viewing-And-IncomeStress builds when you waste a day planted in front of the box with pretty lights coming out of it. The stress of mental manipulation coupled with no exercise, and frequently, poor diet, are part and parcel for the course of television watching. Relationships do not grow when the family is tuned out. Television time is not family time together! Forty percent of marriages die and of the remaining 60% only half are happy. I doubt the happy marriages where built on television watching. Less communication with friends and family coupled with the mindless messages spewed from TV programs rob you of the juice that makes life worth living. Research has shown again and again sitting for endless hours is harmful to your health. The human body was not meant to spend the majority of its time idle. Outside 6-8 hours of sleep your body needs a full day of moderate activity with an hour or so of more extensive exercise.

There is a direct correlationTV Viewing between income and the amount of television viewing. Forty eight percent of people earning $150,000 per year or more watch one hour or less of TV a day, whereas, 67% of people earning $50,000 per year watch an hour or less per day. The interesting fact not shown in the chart is that of the one hour a day many high earners are watching is used to watch educational videos! The evidence is clear; the more you make per year the less TV you are likely to watch and what you do watch is probably educational in nature. It does make sense. If you sit in front of the idiot box all day, you will have less time to educate yourself to grow your income and build your net worth.

The depressing chart from marketingcharts.com shows how many people say they watch the bulk of their TV programming from “Live on TV”. “Live on TV” means commercial local TV and cable. The lowest group at 71% is business owners. This does not surprise me. Business owners need to focus on the important stuff if they are to survive in the business world. What does surprise me is how high the number is for business owners: 71%. Every other group is higher! It is possible the charts are showing us why we have so much income inequality and personal finance difficulties in the Western world. We watch too damn much commercial TV.

Tune In

Ever since the glass teat entered our living rooms we have been sacrificing more and more of our mind to commercial programming. We are told endlessly how unhappy we are with what we have and need more. No wonder we are such a miserable society while basking in the palm of wealth and luxury. The poorest of us are better off than most humans throughout history. Warren Buffett recently wrote how middle class people today (those earning roughly $50,000 – $70,000 per year) have more than the wealthiest man alive in 1930. It is true. Most of the stuff we take for granted today did not exist in 1930. Health care is massively better. For $9,000 or so you can cover all your basic needs (food, clothing, and shelter). All the rest is gravy. We have it so good we fail to recognize our blessing. As Zig Ziglar once said, “When foreigners immigrate to this country they say, ‘What a deal!’ while Americans here for generations say, ‘Big deal’”.

Every day when we wake we should jump out of bed excited to be alive in such an awesome time in history. Every one of us have it so good and have so many opportunities, we should constantly sing praise to our great fortune. We live longer, have more and better food, enjoy more free time if we choose, have endless entertainment choices, live in mansions compared to our parents and grandparents, and can travel almost anywhere on the planet in a day or less for a modest amount of change. It is laughable how easy our lives have become. And yet we whine, cry, and complain over our hardships. We are mentally drained and require medication to modify our brain chemistry because we are convinced we are so deprived. I argue our society has turned into spoiled brats.

There is another world out there. When is the last time you watched the heavens? The night sky is an awesome place. Spend time with your significant other and children reading the stars. Dream together. Ask the big questions. Explore!

Wean yourself from commercial media. It is impossible to avoid all advertisements. You can control the volume, however. When you read quality blogs (I hope this blog falls into that category) the ads are relevant, or at least more relevant. I am not against companies promoting their products. I am against a non-stop diet of mental junk. TV, radio, Facebook, and other social media have found a way to maximize the amount of shit they can cram into your brain before you leave. Send a return message; spend less time (or wean yourself completely) from most or all commercial media. My business has a Facebook page; so does this blog. I don’t have a personal Facebook page. The account supporting my business and blog pages have almost no activity. Only several requests from people around the planet who saw me speak recently caused me to accept any friends on my list. I still have not posted anything. I make a conscious choice to avoid commercial media. My office staff manages my social media sites for me. Mrs. Accountant handles the personal side of our lives. I focus on the business end.

There is one last gift when you wean yourself from commercial media: freedom. You cannot imagine the extra free time you will have to explore all the things that interest you. You will never miss the TV time! You now have time to spend with the people who are important to you. Who cares who is playing for the Packers? (I am now in the witness protection program.) I’d rather talk with my wife and kids, parents (while they are still alive), brother, neighbors, employees, clients, and people of the community. What an awesome age we live in! It makes me tingly inside just thinking about it.

The un-Free

Student of the MonthA letter was waiting for me on the kitchen table. My daughter had a letter from school. “What’s this?” I ask. My daughter was all smiles as she says, “I made Student-of-the-Month.” Mrs. Accountant was not as excited as she should have been and I know why. Her bullshit meter goes off as easy as mine. I read the letter and discovered there is more than one Student-of-the-Month. In fact, there are a lot of Students-of-the-Month. And here is the coup de grace that set off the BS meter in Mrs. Accountant: Our daughter gets a free meal at a certain restaurant with all the other “Students” of the Month. Of course, mom and dad have to fork out an armload for their meal and mom and dad are required to attend the function if our daughter is to get her meal gratis.

Free: The one word in the English language sure to get people to look. It is used by marketers and scam artists alike with great skill. It is the most dangerous word to a responsible lifestyle and early retirement. Free is used to get people to spend money on stuff they don’t want. In the case of my daughter, it is a tool to get people to buy overpriced meals out of obligation. The best part is that the mark is not the person you have to convince. The school is all too happy to oblige. They can hand out awards at no cost while sending the worst financial message possible to the student.

Why do schools fall for this BS? Why do parents? My daughter knew it was too good to be true because we talk about money openly in my home. We are skeptical about something “free”. My girls know “free” is seldom really free. Schools fall for it for one of two reasons:

1.) Intentionally to raise money for the school, or

2.) They don’t know better.

Free can be good as long as it is really free. The un-free offer is the worst kind on consumer purchase. Schools love to offer kids free stuff that end up costs mom and dad big-time financially. Save your carefully planned budget. Say no to the un-free. #school #free #freestuff #scam #freescam #schoolscam #parenting #freeoffers #budgeting #budget #fundraisersIt could be a bit of both. People don’t know how to handle money because nobody taught them. Mom and dad did not know and the teachers at school were just as clueless. There is no doubt in my mind why this country has so many money problems on the personal and family level. Since money is the number one reason people get divorced, it is imperative we teach our children solid financial skills. This is about more than money; it is about relationships, children, and families.

The Student of the Month scam is not the first to come home from the public school system. My children received more “free” coupons, certificates, and tokens over the years for free ice cream, desert, meals, and park admission than I can shake a fist at. And mom and dad are required to attend with junior at full price. And it works! Children put on a full-court press of guilt for not taking junior to the free meals they earned if mom and dad waver. The Wealthy Accountant wavers and the junior accountants do too. Sometimes I wonder if we should have home schooled. We talked about it.

School Is Only the Beginning

Home schooling would not have solved the problem. Life is filled with these so-called free offers.

I am what is affectionately known as a “plate-licker”.  Mrs. Accountant and I attend “free” meals meant for easy marks, I mean as informational seminars. They sell investments (annuities), energy devices (over-priced and worthless), real estate programs (less than worthless), and other sure-fire, money-making ideas. My goal is not to get a free meal, though I never turn one away. No, my goal is to learn what is out there so I can inform my clients. Since I have no intention of buying, I am known as a plate licker.

51mTGgqDJGL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_It starts so innocent. A post card or other mass mailing with an offer you can’t refuse and it is FREE! arrives in the mail. Leave your checkbook at home, they say. Enjoy a free meal with your spouse, they say. Learn what the wealthy and insiders know, they say. Bah! Every one of these FREE! seminars are the same. The advice is worse than bad, the products over-priced, and the whole presentation is dressed up to look like it all works as illustrated. I have seen twenty or so of these seminars and they all have the same pattern: buy annuities, install radiant barrier in your home, and give us $25,000 and we will teach you how to flip houses and make millions. What you get is: shitty investment advice to buy a fixed or index annuity that pays the sales rep a massive commission so he can pay for all those free meals, pay $3,000 to install some cheap products to reduce your utility bill (you can do-it-yourself for a couple hundred bucks), or advice on house flipping you can get online for free. There is always a grain of truth. Remember, the con man never takes your money; you give it to him of your own free will

And why do people get suckered into this crap ad nauseam? Because they were taught in school it must be good if it is free.

I know, you don’t go to those seminars. Good for you. You are richer for it. Free is damn expensive. But you get suckered with free stuff every day. It comes walking in your home and you welcome it with open arms.

Free Software/Apps

The worst example I ever saw was the Microsoft Windows 10 rollout. Microsoft wanted to sell you the heroin so bad they gave you your first hit for free. Several hits in fact. Got to get you hooked, you know. As a pusher, they are insistent. Any corporation that is as annoying and invasive as Microsoft was when they rolled out Windows 10 is up to no good. They don’t give anything for free without a reason. It was their version of “You are the Student of the Month”.

My security team put an end to all the pop-ups Microsoft installed in their updates to all earlier Windows versions. Now I read in the news Microsoft is disabling your ability to use other products if you are using Windows 10. Microsoft wants to force you to use (and pay for) only Microsoft products. I am sure they will never apply monopoly pricing on their monopoly of your computer. Your computer.

Recently, Microsoft Outlook stopped working at the office when we used the online version unless you used Internet Explorer. Microsoft is trying to force us to use their browser. Unfortunately, I don’t take kindly to such underhanded tactics. We are not switching to Internet Explorer; we are switching from Outlook to a non-Microsoft product. We are actually moving everything from Microsoft we can. I don’t trust the corporation anymore. They need to learn respect before I’ll ever consider them in my office again.

In personal finance it is recommended you work to become debt free. Schools demand students harass their parents to give the school money for stupid fundraisers. Don't let the school destroy your carefully planned budget. Learn to say no to the un-free. #wealthyaccountant #schoolscams #notfree #debtfree #frugal #freescams What about Google?

Google gives just about everything away for free. Is Google also a bad deal? Not in my opinion. Not to sound like a hypocrite, but I use the same tactic in my business Google does. When you walk in my office I offer free soda, coffee, tea, along with other goodies. The difference between Microsoft and me is I don’t hold my clients hostage if they drink the Kool-Aid. You can have a free soda or Keurig coffee regardless if you are a client. I have people stop by just for the freebie and to say hi. Obligation is not attached to the free gift.

Google does the same. They have loads of free software. I track this blog with Google Analytics and Google AdSense. Google has tools that allow me to research topics I am writing on. Search is free. Traffic research is free.

Truth Revealed

Why is it okay when Google and I hand out a freebie and not for Microsoft, the free seminar guys, and the school? The difference is in disclosure. You know I want your business and I give a free refreshment to get an opportunity to gain your business. Google gives free stuff so you use their search engine and hopefully engage the ads. That is how Google makes money. There is no obligation, nor are you forced.

The school on the other hand sends kids home to pressure mom and dad into a really bad money spending situation; Microsoft makes it almost impossible to work on your own computer unless you cough up control. (Microsoft crossed the line with the Windows 10 rollout and now uses Windows 10 to force non-Microsoft products from working.) And don’t get me started again on how the seminar guys work.

Free is not free; somebody is paying for it. Free soda is covered by the company which gets its money from paying customers. The next time you are offered something “free” you might want to step back and ask if it is really a good decision to accept the free gift. It might cost more than you are willing to pay.

Anyone up for a free meal (you may have won a free iPod) just for attending an informational seminar on a timeshare?

 

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?

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

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

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

Amazon is a good way to control costs by comparison shopping. The cost of a product includes travel to the store. When you start a shopping trip to Amazon here it also supports this blog. Thank you.

 

Buying Stuff Just to Throw it Away

The Number 1 way to save money is also the easiest. Reach financial independence with frugal habits that take no effort. When it's easy you stick with it. Frugal tips. #wealthyaccountant #frugal #money #saving #1 #frugality #spending #spendinghabits #frugalhabits #frugaltipsOut in the boondocks where I live the garbage is picked up every two weeks; recycling once per month. Until a few months ago this arrangement worked well. Garbage was placed in a large barrel the garbage truck could automatically empty into the truck hopper. Recycling was placed in blue plastic bags with paper and cardboard placed in either a box or tied in a bundle. A few months ago the system was changed for recycling. Bags were replaced with a blue barrel the same size as the garbage barrel. I understand why the change took place. Under the new system the recycling company could run the route with only one employee. The truck has a lift (like the garbage truck) to grab the barrel and empty the contents.

The problem comes from the amount of recycling I have. All the recycling from my office, farm and home went into the barrel and it was not big enough. It was hard to believe I had so much crap every month. The garbage barrel was almost empty; we have one small kitchen garbage bag for disposal every two weeks. But the recycling did not fit. At first I wanted to blame all the stuff (a technical term used by hard-core wealthy accountants) on the office and farm. Certainly, they played a roll, but personal recyclables still would fill the barrel monthly.

Whenever I see stuff going to the landfill or recycling center I start thinking. Why am I buying all this stuff only to throw it away? The only way to understand a problem is to research it. I had to know where all the recyclables (waste) were coming from.

To make for fair research, I excluded the loads of junk mail and other paper from the office and feed bags from the farm. My goal was to understand my personal waste. My garbage waste is so small I don’t think it pays to spend much time reducing the small kitchen bag of garbage. Mostly, we change the kitchen garbage every two weeks whether it needs it or not to prevent odor. But how in the heck do we fill a recycling barrel to overflowing monthly?

First off, I notice we have a lot of plastic jugs. I mean lots! We could mention the whisky bottle, but we will not go there to protect the reputations of the not so innocent. (Mrs. Accountant does not drink whisky… that I know of.) The real mass of plastic is dominated by juice bottles and milk jugs.51Asry1yxuL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_

I prefer drinking fresh, home-grown juice. Sometimes I buy apple juice at a local orchard in the fall. I drink milk, but not often. So I can place all the blame on Mrs. Accountant and my two Jr. Accountant daughters. Except it would not be fair.

Milk containers collapse down and don’t take a lot of space, but we guzzle three gallons a week. Juice containers are more rigid and collapse to a point. The barrel would fill slowly each day. There was also one other bulky item that consumed a lot of space other than office paper, feed bags and plastics.

Before I tell you the criminal in the recycling barrel I want to defend the Accountant household. The item causing all the problems came mostly from the office with only a few coming from the household. The culprit: packaging (cardboard boxes).

Food packaging is the worst. The ladies at the office love to ship in lunch on a regular basis. Example: one of my employees had a birthday recently so it was decided the boss would pay for lunch. (We have a petty cash account for special treats for the staff.) I had no say in the purchase. They decided on Subway. The plastic container holding all the sandwiches was huge! I had no doubt more cost went into the plastic packaging than the amount of food purchased. Two lessons here: 1.) the plastic package did not collapse down well so it took a lot of space, and 2.) the cost of the food was probably less than the cost of the packaging which was purchased for no other reason than to throw it away.

Since we know packaging is not free, we have an opportunity to reduce costs in our life without sacrificing lifestyle. I am on a mission at home and at the office to reduce recycling waste. Stuff tossed in recycling is still waste! And you paid for it; just as much as you paid for all your regular garbage. If we can find ways to reduce all waste, including recycling waste, it would do wonders for our personal bottom line. Call it frugality without giving anything up.

A Few Solutions

When you have a farm, office building and a large home you need a fair number of light bulbs. I use LEDs in all my buildings. Some LEDs are packaged with so much plastic I have to visit the shop to pry open the packaging. I discovered some LEDs use less packaging, especially when multi-packs are involved. I visited a few local stores to see if I could do better when buying stuff, LEDs in this case. Using my trusty pocket calculator I determined multipacks were a much better deal and used a significant amount less packaging. Lesson: More packaging equals either a higher cost or a lower quality to cover the packaging cost.

The easiest frugal habit also gives you financial freedom. Save money, get rich! Early retirement is possible when you have powerful spending habits. Frugal tips. Spending tips. Grow net worth. #wealthyaccountant #frugal #spending #saving #savingstips #frugaltips #spendingtips #frugalhabitsPackaged food is bad for your health and pocketbook. All the boxed foods my kids love (and I eat right along with them) are hurting my body while wasting a lot of money on packaging. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be somewhat more expensive, but after considering health they are a bargain. I have a plan to buy more in bulk to reduce packaging costs and to reduce prepackaged foods like cereals. In my defense, I eat eggs every morning and I get them from my barn. When I say ‘Farm Fresh’ I mean it. My breakfast: laid this morning. (BTW: you can buy my eggs (brown eggs) if you stop in the office. First come, first serve.)

On the farm I buy egg mash in 50 pound bags. I will move to bulk delivery without any bags and store the mash in a spare gravity box. I use about a ton of mash a month and when I checked it is cheaper for the same exact product. Savings: $40 per month. Farmers are noted for their frugality. I still cannot explain what took me so long to figure out I could save $500 a year with this simple change.

The accounting office will be a tougher nut to crack. I don’t always have control over the waste flow. Junk mail will keep coming no matter what I do. Boxes from Amazon for supplies or paper take a lot of space and cannot be easily replaced.

I reuse many plastic containers and cardboard. The cardboard works on the farm around trees or in the garden to control weeds and protect soil moisture. Juice contains store homemade wine well (ahem). In the end it will end up as either garbage or recycling, but used many times before discarded.

I saved food waste for last. We don’t have food waste in our house. What the chickens, steers and barn cats don’t eat goes into the mulch bin. It is estimated 50% of all food grown is discarded from farm to the table. We certainly have waste in the Accountant household. Garden waste is common during the summer and fall. Not all things grown should be eaten. Unfortunately, there is waste from the kitchen as well. Wasted food is going to happen. Things sitting in the fridge too long have to be tossed. Unless you have a farm you will have more food waste going to the landfill than my household.

Make a Difference

Every household has different waste/recycling issues. Any waste bothers me; it goes against my upbringing. My paternal grandmother used to remind us kids that during the Great Depression they ate lard sandwiches “and liked it”. We joked back that today we have Butter Flavored Crisco. Truth is it is not funny. Waste delays retirement plans as money funneled to retirement investments get a ride to the landfill or recycling center. Waste reduces quality of lifestyle. It also feels really good knowing you are acting as a responsible steward of the gifts life has granted you when reducing waste. Be vigilant. Whenever spending hard earned money (or easily gotten money, too), pay attention to the waste products you are buying with the stuff you want. It’s how wealthy accountants roll.

 

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.

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.

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.

Amazon is a good way to control costs by comparison shopping. The cost of a product includes travel to the store. When you start a shopping trip to Amazon here it also supports this blog. Thank you very much!