Posts Tagged ‘wealth’

How to Retire Happy with Lots of Money

What is the secret to a happy retirement with lots of money? Here are a few who actually did it.
What is the secret to a happy retirement with lots of money? Here are a few who actually did it.

What is the secret to a happy retirement with lots of money? Here are a few who actually did it.

When I started this blog a primary goal was to share the worldview from my side of the desk. Over the years I’ve seen things I would never have seen if I were not in the profession I am in. And now I’ve seen things in the early retirement community I can no longer keep secret.

Many secrets have been shared over the last few years while new secrets have emerged as I sit smack-dab in the middle of the FIRE (financial independence/retire early) community. In many regards I represent an anti-FIRE philosophy. I espouse frugality while venting disdain for travel and anything that echoes of retirement.

As an odd apologist for the FIRE community I watched on as Suze Orman set the community on fire when she exclaimed she HATED! the FIRE movement. While card-carrying members were up in arms I muttered under my breath, “I know what you mean.”

Yes, you heard that right. I actually agreed with Orman on something, a rare occurrence. Orman’s insistence you need $5 million to retire is absolute rubbish. But there is something deeply disturbing about the FIRE community and it has the power to rip it apart.

To make matters worse, I may be the only one in the community who understands what is happening under the surface. And how I know this is due to my unique position in the community.

As readers may know (and they will now if they didn’t), I prepare taxes or advise a number of A-list bloggers within the FIRE community. I also consult with several people each week from this blog. And a concerning pattern has taken shape.




Feelings of Failure

It didn’t exactly start with Mr. Money Mustache, but the FIRE community solidified around Pete and his work. Pete retired at the ripe old age of 30 and set a new standard in early retirement.

News feeds have a litany of stories of 30-somethings living the good life as they travel abroad. Coupled with the stories of people paying off a gazillion dollars in debt in four and a half minutes and it starts to look easy.

Except it isn’t that easy! It’s actually damn hard. Personal circumstances play a vital role. Where you live, your health and education opportunities determine at least a part of the outcome.

I’ve been consulting with members of the FIRE community for close to 5 years now. At every personal finance (PF) conference I’ve attended I conducted consulting sessions. Tuesdays and Thursdays are consulting days at the office and I’m usually booked months in advance. (Okay! Sometimes I get caught up because I say “no” for a few months to every request.)

You would think consulting sessions with a “wealthy accountant” would focus on taxes. Au contraire. Personal finance issues and retirement are front and center as well.

People pay a lot of money for what frequently turns into a therapy session. Fully half of all consulting sessions start with an apology that sounds something like this: “I’m 37, but I haven’t retired yet.”

WHAT!

Your 37 and and haven’t retired? The inhumanity. But I have to take their words seriously! The words come out as contrition. These people feel like complete failures because they were still gainfully employed the day after their 30th birthday.

The steady stories of early retirees living the good life, traveling the world and loaded with cash has warped the worldview of many young people.

Another 15% or so of consulting clients already reached financial independence and partook of early retirement. Traveling grew old or they didn’t care for running around any more. They need guidance to get back into life.

Which leaves at best a third of my consulting clients who ask what I would consider normal questions of a tax guy.




Tears in Heaven

On more than one occasion it came to tears. Earlier this year a young man needed a consulting session bad. He started the session with an apology; he was 32 and still was working out of necessity. His voice broke and then the tears came.

This is why I felt somewhat the same as Suze Orman said she HATED! the FIRE community idea of frugality and early retirement. There is more to it than that. Some people take it to heart and experience depression when the extraordinary doesn’t come to pass.

Orman is wrong on many levels. She is too much of a self-promoter for me. But she does get it right often enough. That is why she reached the position she has as a trusted (by many) financial resource.

Orman is also right on a few things. A singular goal of early retirement smacks of narrow-mindedness. Exactly what do you plan on doing with all that time if not engaged in creating value? (Now you know why I’m an outlier of the FIRE community. Many stay far away due to my opinions concerned they may rub off. A recent visit to the doctor confirms I’m contagious.)

But if a community causes depression in some people it might be time to rethink the mantra. I’m only one guy and I have only so many therapy session time slots. There has to be a better way.

 

Publicly Speaking

A few weeks ago I was talking with Pete (Mr. Money Mustache) when I shared these facts with him. He was aghast. He had no idea people were experiencing these kinds of negative emotions due to the FIRE movement and his work.

Family, friends and loved ones are the true meaning of a happy and joyful life. Money and wealth don't make for an incredible retirement; you do.

Family, friends and loved ones are the true meaning of a happy and joyful life. Money and wealth don’t make for an incredible retirement; you do.

But it’s not Pete’s fault! Like many people Pete had the opportunity. Unlike many people he went for it and succeeded! His story resonated and for a reason. The MMM story provides a template for how it can be done.

Saving hard and investing gives you an advantage. If others are distressed it isn’t your fault!

I wish I had an easy answer for people struggling with FIRE community concepts. If you reached your 40th birthday, or God forbid, 50, before you retire there is no shame! Even if you retire at 70 or older there is no shame.

But the older guys are not the problem. When a 70 year old asks for a consulting session he doesn’t worry about early retirement; he wants guidance on financial issues, legacy planning, investments, taxes and medical problems. The pressure to retire early left the station long ago. And thank God for that. Pity is not a good place to begin a PF plan.

For the younger guys feeling the weight I need to convince them retirement isn’t the issue; financial independence is. Clients in their 20s want a firm game plan to reach the finish line no later than their 30th year. It’s an insane request.

Up to this point I just said what needed to be said, but the only way to get the message across is with an allegory. And I start with a joke so their minds open to options.

Here is what I say:

I’m not afraid of public speaking; I’m afraid people might actually believe what I tell them.

Public speaking is the number one fear for most people. People would prefer a root canal than to speak before a group.

Not me. I’ve never had an issue with speaking to a group of any size. I guess I’m weird that way.

What does scare the living bejesus out of me is that someone in the crowd may actually listen and take my words to heart. And that too is a bit strange. (It seems your favorite accountant is often half bubble off center.)

 

Easy Peasy

From the inception of this blog to today I’ve worked hard to outline where I failed and how I dealt with the issues. But no matter how hard I try people seem to think it was easy for me.

History seems preordained to future readers. The same applies to me. Readers know the outcome even when reading the struggles I faced and anguish I felt. There was no chance of failure. The outcome was known.

It was never easy and it certainly wasn’t a sure thing at the time. The nights I lay awake in bed in a cold sweat trying to figure out what to do did not guarantee an acceptable outcome. There were a few times when I thought I was finished for good. Business can mete out some bloody lessons.

And that is why public speaking doesn’t scare. I faced far worse deaths than dying on stage.

But what about my fear that people might take my words to heart?

That is where the real fear lies. When I accept a podcast or speak to a group (or even when speaking to a client in a consulting session) there is no guarantee my best advise will work. Like everyone else, my past is littered with good ideas that went bust!

My concern when working with any client is to prevent further harm. A victim of assault (yes, I’ve had a few sessions where personal safety was the primary issue) needs good advise, but the risks already exist and it is imperative I weigh my words carefully to prevent further harm.

Even when it comes to business, money and taxes I take great care. The mistakes I’ve made over the years are legend and a reminder of how fallible I am . Yes, a tax professional with my experience can get it wrong. (I know, it blows my mind, too!)

But it happens. The best laid plans often go awry. Standing in front of a group of people doesn’t cause the fear. The fear is later when I realize some of the attendees will take my words and use them. Using history as a guide I know some of those concepts will not work as designed.




Lots of Money

By now alert readers will point out the title of this post promised a happy retirement with money; lots and lots of cash.

I didn’t forget my promise and it wasn’t a click bait title either. Before I could deliver on the promise I had to expose you to the riptides under the surface of the FIRE community; a riptide even the fearless leaders of the community are probably not aware of.

Then I needed to share an allegory to illustrate the problem the leaders of the community face. The winners have a jilted view. They made it happen. They saved, invested and it worked. It is hard at times to see what is happening on the ground floor when sitting at the peak

There are many with serious medical issues not so lucky. Educational and business opportunities also play a key role.

Still, nearly anyone (I leave room for the possibility some have little to no chance of living the FIRE fantasy) can reach the goals espoused by the FIRE community.

Suze Orman was wrong to HATE! the FIRE community when she later admitted she didn’t fully understand the movement. (I think Suze Orman is a very smart lady and knew exactly what the FIRE community stood for. She also understands human psychology. She said exactly what she wanted and the FIRE community promoted her most recent book better than $100 million of advertising. We need to be smarter than that FIRE community and not be so easily baited.)

She did get one thing right. The FIRE community leaves many feeling empty when the bar is set so high that only a few can reach it (retire by 30 that is, not financial independence which is attainable by the vast majority).

The pursuit of financial independence and attaining said goal at any age is awesome! Feeling bad because some 30-something has his/her picture in the news feed enjoying another adventure around the world is the wrong impression to take.

Remember who I am! I consult with many of these people and speak with them periodically even if they aren’t clients. More than you think return to a “normal” job or start their own business after the shine comes off the bauble of early retirement.

So how do you reach financial independence? How do you get the loads of money I promised?

As my old friend Doug Nordman once said, “Your net worth is a product of

  1. your savings rate,
  2. investment fees and
  3. time.”

It’s as simple as that. The more you save and invest the better off you are, just give it a little time. The larger the percentage of your income you invest in low-cost index funds mixed with time determines your net worth. To reach your goals you only need to plug in the numbers and wait a bit.

If you want to retire sooner you have to increase your savings rate. The earlier you start the earlier your reach financial independence. Then you can toy with retirement until it gets old and you decide to start creating value again.

Of course your income will also plays a role. The higher your income the easier it is to save a larger percentage of your income. A good six-figure income can take you from zero to FI within 10 years. Minimum wage will take longer.




Retire Happy

The most viewed post of this blog was published years ago in April of 2016. In that post I share how I met Mrs. Accountant and how our relationship grew. I concluded the best way to have a rich, happy life (the best kept secret of early retirees, the wealthy and happy people) was to have a nurturing relationship with the one you love for life. In other words, I stayed married for over 30 years now (to the same woman, if I need to point that out!). This one fact is largely responsible for my level of wealth, happiness and contentment with life. (Every morning I wake and feel stunned by level of awesomeness my life has been. That same moment every morning I realize the relationship with the woman sleeping next to me is the most valuable asset I have.)

Early retirement gets all the press, but how you retire is what really matters. Retire to the life you will love at any age.

Early retirement gets all the press, but how you retire is what really matters. Retire to the life you will love at any age.

Money is the easy part! This blog and many others provide plenty of ideas to get rich. Even when I speak to a group and I fear someone might think I actually know something, I still utter a few golden nuggets you can use to have a better than even chance at knocking the ball out of the park.

Happy is the hard part because people don’t listen to what I say. There is no fear on my part when I explain what has made me happy in life.

And it’s more than happiness! Happiness is an event and fleeting. Winning the lottery or having a child or achieving early retirement at age 29 (eat your heart our mustachioed man) will bring happiness. Happiness creates a giddiness. And it is fleeting. Once the newness of the experience begin to fade, so does the happiness.

Instead, I encourage joy. Joy is much more than happiness and not dependent on an external event. Joy comes from in here (pointing to my head and heart) not out there. I imagine I will feel joy on my deathbed as I say goodbye to my children, family and friends. This isn’t happiness. I’ll miss the people I love and dying doesn’t sound like fun. But I will feel joy.

Joy is a more powerful emotion. In a world where people are brought to tears over a delayed retirement (delayed to some age less than 50 especially) it is important to spend less time on happiness (retiring at 30 brings happiness for a while) and more time experiencing joy. You can feel joy in any situation in any location. The choice is yours because joy is internal.

Joy is contentment, a coming to terms with oneself. Joy is gratitude for the gift of life. Even if it means a life of hardship and poverty.

Pete did a good thing when he set a goal of retiring by his 30th birthday and reaching said goal. His example can provide us with tools to achieve our own goals. (All those young people in the news feeds telling their story of early retirement provide the same material: a blueprint to help us design our own goals. Our goals; not their’s.)

If for some reason you manage to retire by the time you live 30 years on this planet I’m sure you’ll feel happiness. At least for a little while.

If you want to know the secret of happiness then you need to feel gratitude for whatever life has dealt you. Then you feel something even more powerful than happiness: JOY!

And nobody can take that away from you.

 

 

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.

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!

 



The History of Polarized Politics in the U.S. and Money

How much is polarized politics affecting your financial situation and wealth. Don’t let the politics of others destroy your dreams. Learn how you can take control and excel.

How much is polarized politics affecting your financial situation and wealth. Don’t let the politics of others destroy your dreams. Learn how you can take control and excel.

The polarized political environment in America is not unusual. What makes the current situation so incredible is the comparison to what came before.

After World War II the United States experienced a prolonged period of relative political calm. While disagreement was rife, there was a sense of compatibility between the opposing political parties. A few Republicans were more liberal than some Democrats and a few Democrats were more conservative than a few Republicans. It was a world where liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats existed.

That started to change in the 1970s and blew full force as the 1980s arrived. The reasons are varied, but not the topic of today’s discussion. We are interested in the history of polarized politics and how it affected wealth. The goal is to learn from the past so we can better position ourselves for success in the toxic environment we find ourselves.

Politics is always a dangerous topic to cover. And it might not have an immediate connection with money or wealth. But experience (with heavy doses of research) reveals politics indeed has plenty to do with wealth and wealth creation or destruction. Polarized politics has visited America before and in much worse circumstances.

We will address politics first, then personal finances.




History of Polarized Politics

 

Founding Fathers

There is no exact count as to how many Founding Fathers the U.S. had. Some say there were 7, others 10. The Constitutional Convention had 55 delegates.

Regardless the number of Founding Fathers, there are several points worth noting about their behavior. First, they were all men of the landed class. In other words, the Founding Fathers were men with at least a modest amount of wealth in real estate. This isn’t the most politically correct situation by today’s standards. But we can (or at least should) agree this group of men did a pretty good job at nation-building.

Many Founding Fathers owned slaves. Benjamin Franklin had to dance around the subject when he was the American agent in London for the colonies. The British found it ironic Americans wanted freedom while holding tight to slavery.

Storing crops was more difficult in those days so it was common to store the excess corn crop as whisky. Consumption of alcohol was high in the 18th century. Bad water also encourage more alcohol consumption. It is no exaggeration to say the men who brought America to life were inebriated much of the time. While not drunkards by the standard of the time, some might be surprised how much work these men accomplished with the blood alcohol level they regularly had.

Benjamin Franklin

We only have time to discuss one Founding Father at length; we will touch on several others for reference. Since Ben Franklin is a leading Founding Father he will make a prime example for our discussion.

Much of the polarization of modern politics revolves around the identity politics of the left and the conservative ideas of the alt-right. There isn’t a single Founding Father who wouldn’t be nauseous over the current national dialog. Or would there?

Conservative Franklin: To the chagrin of the left, most Founding Fathers were decidedly conservative. Before President Reagan, Benjamin Franklin had his own version of trickle-down economics. Franklin believed the more money the rich had the more it percolated down to the poor. Franklin stated the”rich do not work for one another…” The rich, according to Franklin, spent their money on the poor buying the goods and services they produced. (Benjamin Franklin: An American Life  by: Walter Isaacson; Simon & Schuster; 2003; pages 267-8.)

Welfare and Social Security: Franklin also warned against the welfare state. He wrote welfare had unintended consequences and promoted laziness. Modern ears may find this palatable, but Franklin went further. “I fear the giving mankind a dependence on anything for support in age or sickness, besides industry and frugality during his youth and health, tends to flatter our natural indolence, to encourage idleness and prodigality, and thereby to promote and increase poverty, the very evil it was intended to cure.” (Italics mine.)

What Franklin was saying is you either work or deserve to starve, even in old age or during illness. Social Security is something Franklin would probably not approve of. If you lacked the necessary frugality and industriousness during the vigor of youth, you serve as a living example to those who consider such sloth.

Minimum Wage: Franklin also disagreed with the minimum wage. By artificially raising wages Franklin felt it would overprice goods destined for foreign markets.

All these positions place Franklin decidedly to the right of center. But was he really cold-hearted? Did Franklin believe people should be allowed to suffer?

While conservative readers might be licking their lips by now, the liberal folks will have something to cheer shortly.

Liberal Franklin: Benjamin Franklin had a balanced political stance. In some ways he could be called a liberal Republican by today’s measures. Franklin had no problem with taxes as long as they were coupled with representation. His lack of debate against the Stamp Act of 1765 is indicative of his political position. Only when there was a serious backlash back home did Franklin give us our first political spin campaign to right his reputation.

Policies should encourage hard work, according to Franklin. He felt hard-working people lucky enough to achieve wealth (became rich) had an obligation to serve the community. These duties should improve the lot of the community, providing for a prosperous middle class. Those in genuine need (people suffering illness before they had time to work for their keep, children and widows, et cetera) were the responsibility of the wealthy. Today we might consider many welfare programs as serving this need in a much larger population than existed in 18th century America.

There are also a few things we might find appalling in Franklin’s behavior even in the Age of President Trump.

The Un-family Man: Franklin left his wife and children to serve as colonial agent in London for the Thirteen American Colonies. Even when opportunity arose, he chose to stay in London or travel to Scotland and Paris, even as his wife’s health failed. Ask John Edwards how that helped his political career. Even the King found this behavior strange when he inquired as to why Franklin remained in England in 1774 when Franklin had no more duties there.

Womanizer: We can forgive Franklin for many of his political positions due to the age he lived in. His position on slavery softened over the years, but as Isaacson reports, Franklin used the qualifier “in time” in letters he wrote. He knew slavery wasn’t a workable prospect, buy also kicked the can down the road.

Modern eyes are ears will be most disturbed by Franklin’s behavior towards women. The list of affairs and potential affairs is long. Need I remind you Franklin was married with children during many of these flirtations.

History records Benjamin Franklin enjoyed the company of women more than men when it came to social gatherings. The flirtations weren’t always innocent and the women not always unattached. There is a crude sketch by Charles Willson Peale of a scene he walked in on of Franklin kissing Polly Stevenson, the daughter of Margaret Stevenson (Franklin’s landlady). It is possible Franklin befriended Polly’s mother for the purpose of spending time with Polly. Mary “Polly” Stevenson was 18 years old at the time Peale accidentally walked in on the kissing scene. But there is also a story of Franklin in a flirtatious conversation with Polly when she was 11 years old discussing her desire to be with an older man Franklin’s age.

Final Notes on Franklin: I spent a fair bit of time on Benjamin Franklin for a few reasons. Franklin is a Founding Father and certainly one of the most important and influential of the Founding Fathers.

He was a man with all the failings and shortcomings of men. His humor was crude at times, as we see when he recommended to the Royal Academy of Brussels that they should study the causes and cures for farts. It is unlikely Franklin was faithful to his wife and was distant to his family often. He even missed his only daughters wedding.

Franklin had strong political beliefs that would have toppled normal men. He didn’t suffer such a fate because he never held a high office. He was more a grandfather and guiding hand in the creation process of the United States. His role was certainly instrumental, but he managed to avoid the polarization politics brings once high office is held. Even Washington faced real criticism for the first time as president.

Another benefit of reviewing Benjamin Franklin is he shows us the world and human nature when the United States was just a dream and there were only American colonies as part of the British Crown.

If we fault Franklin for his short-comings that many current political leaders share, then we espouse the notion that Franklin should not have been allowed to do his work of nation-building. Such opinions at minimum presuppose the right of the United States to exist or at least ever to come into existence.

It is a truism of the ages: The worst of human nature can lead us to greatness.

Maybe we should be more open to human failings if we aspire towards a better tomorrow.




Thomas Jefferson

We will cover the next actors with less detail as they all share similar traits we find so disqualifying.

Thomas Jefferson is also a Founding Father of the United States. He wasn’t the biggest fan of slavery and history assumes he treated with slaves with dignity and respect. (How else could we remember a man as great as Jefferson and his contribution to our morals, values and standards.)

Jefferson also served as the third president of the U.S. That said, Jefferson did own slaves regardless his dialog on the subject. Over 100 years after the abolition of slavery in this country we still feel the scar it has left. The black community more than any other.

To make matter worse, Jefferson had a child with at least one of his slaves. In a modern era where people in authority are criminally liable for sexual activity with someone under their authority, this seems like a serious offense. Yet it happened and we seem unmoved by the act. Maybe time does heal every wound. Or not!

For all Thomas Jefferson gave this nation, he was still a man with failings. Failings we would consider criminal in the current environment. If modern rules were applied Jefferson would never have been president and his work may never have been created. How a man with such concerning behavior gave us rules to live by is hard to understand. But once again, the greatest of us tend to have the greatest failings, too.

President Andrew Jackson

President Andrew Jackson did more to define and solidify federalism than any other president. But could a man of such accomplishment be endowed with faults?

Polarized politics were at their worst in Jackson’s day. Jackson won the popular vote three times and the presidency twice. He also gave Native Americans the Trail of Tears.

Instead of focusing on Jackson’s flaws, I want to refocus on our topic: political polarization.

People today think the things said and done are the worst ever. Wrong! People had no problem Jackson killed a man in a duel, he was also hated enough to be the first president to have an assignation attempt on his life.

He married his wife before she was legally divorced from her husband. As you can imagine, adversaries made hay of this knowledge. They hounded Jackson and his family to the point of murder.

The political campaign of 1828 was brutal. The fight contained numerous ad hominem attacks. This isn’t so different from modern times. The difference was how the attacks also dragged Jackson’s wife, Rachel, into the fight.

Rachel Jackson started to suffer from what we would call today anxiety and depression. The stress became so acute it lead to a heart attack that killed her. Jackson never forgave his enemies for murdering Rachel. We have no way of knowing if the stress caused her death, but Jackson didn’t care. He blamed his enemies and hated them to then end for what they had done.

If you think politics are polarized today, you might want to read up on President Jackson. Few political leaders in the U.S. experienced such an assault in attaining office.




President Abraham Lincoln

Most Americans hold President Lincoln in high regard. They hold views of Lincoln as a moral and honest man. He freed the slaves so he must be good, right? He also preserved a nation rent in two by political division. Never before or since has our nation been so politically divided. There is nothing in the current dialog we can compare to the division our nation faced and underwent in those days of the early 1860s.

These are not the worst of times. Our nation weathered far more serious problems than a misogynist Trump. Need I remind you the great Abraham Lincoln consorted with prostitutes while married. Yeah, great leaders are riddled with flaws. Perhaps the flaws are what make them great.

Yes, I digress. It is political division that most concerns us. Except, all the discourse on said divisions seem to revolve around moralistic behavior.

FDR

Before we finish with the Supreme Court and discussing the personal finance implications, we turn to FDR, the hero of the left.

FDR also had serious flaws when it came to women. He also had an affair. (It starts to sound like a nervous tick after a while.)

The Great Depression was the issue of the age when Roosevelt took office. You would think after the economic crisis the Republicans presided over, the Democrats would have unchallenged rule. You should think again.

Before World War II became an issue, FDR had a New Deal. There was only one problem. Republicans packed the Supreme Court for years and the Court kept knocking down his programs.

Roosevelt had an idea. If the Justices wouldn’t retire so he could nominate his own choices friendly to his programs, he would expand the Supreme Court so he would have vacancies to fill.

This struck Republicans a very wrong. And what do you know, even Democrats felt it was a power grab by FDR. FDR’s own party denied him the ability to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court for political reasons. Talk about political polarization! Yes, it happens even within parties. Even worse than we see today.

Supreme Court

There is always the temptation to think this is the worst time EVER! Rarely are such thoughts true.

Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court by President Trump signals the worst ever injustice in the history of the U.S. But is it?

There is already talk of impeaching Justice Kavanaugh. Some have warned this would set a bad precedent and has never happened before. And that is a lie!

Here is a quick rundown of notable Supreme Court dramas.

Removed from Office: Supreme Court justice John Rutledge was removed from the court by the Senate in 1795. Yes, 1795! Rutledge’s wife died in 1792 and he didn’t take it well. His mind deteriorated to the point where there was no other choice.

The same year Justice John Blair suffered from such severe headaches he was unable to continue. Rather than have the Senate remove him, he resigned.

Assassination: Justice Stephen Johnson Field was nearly assassinated in 1889 by a California State Supreme Court justice in a confusing story of divorce, alimony and a lost case.

Antisemitism: The Supreme Court had a justice so hated not a single member of the court attended his funeral. Justice James Clark McReynolds was a very vocal anti-Semite. In 1916 the Jewish justice, Louis Brandeis, joined the Court. McReynolds left the room every time Brandeis started to speak.

Racism: Justice Hugo Black  belonged to the Ku Klux Klan prior to taking the bench.

There are stories of bribes and other nefarious behavior by Supreme Court justices. Justice Kavanaugh may still resign or face impeachment by the Senate at some point in the future. Regardless, we sometimes wrongly assume the Supreme Court, the final arbiter of law, rule and justice in our nation, is free from political polarization. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court is just as liable to the shortcomings of human nature as any group.

 

With the groundwork on political polarization in place, we now turn to the impact polarization has on personal finances, wealth and money.




Personal Finance in the World of Political Polarization

 

The lesson above clearly outlines a history of political polarization in the United States from before its inception until today. The luxury of self-pity falls on deaf ears when history is called into action. Things have been marching higher for a long time, as Steven Pinker notes in his landmark works: Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress and The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined

Stop burning money! Learn the secrets the wealthy have used from the beginning of time to build their financial fortune.

Stop burning money! Learn the secrets the wealthy have used from the beginning of time to build their financial fortune.

The Long March of Growing Wealth: Humans have lived on the Earth for a few hundred thousand years. We lived short lives back then and progress was slow. Life was dangerous. Basic shelter might have been a cave, tree or outcropping.

Then man (it might have been a women for all we know) discovered how to create and control fire. Cooking soon followed which improved life immensely. Cooked food was easier to digest and it killed pathogens. Life was still hard, but lives were made a bit easier with the discovery of fire.

Shelter improved slowly over the eons. Fire made the home warmer in cold climates. Still, disease and subsistence meant most lives were brutal and short.

The pace of human progress was painfully slow for the first several hundred thousand years. Rape, murder, war, disease and starvation were constant threats. Men died from injury and women in childbirth. When God informed Adam and Eve of their curse as they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, he meant it. But curses have a shelf life.

Civilization: Somewhere back there, over 10,000 years ago, humans became civilized; congregating in cities, that is. This was another improvement. War was a constant threat, but now a larger group was needed to harm the community.

Health issues were the age old problem.

Fast Forward: The pace of improvement in the human condition keeps accelerating. First rudimentary shelters, then fire, now cities. A few lucky souls avoided disease and injury, living to an old age, even by modern standards.

Cities grew and slowly man discovered ways to alleviate medical afflictions. Many remedies were more harmful than helpful. Such is the nature of progress.

Money was invented and the ancient Greeks debated what money really was and how it worked. (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind) Over half of Jesus’ parables dealt with money or wealth. Life was improving at the fastest pace ever in history and it was slowly picking up steam.

China flourished in isolation from the West; Europe enjoyed the Pax Romana. It would be nearly the thirteen hundred years before mankind experienced the Pax Americana.

From the scientific advancements of Greek and Roman culture, mankind dropped into a Dark Ages. The path of progress is steady and up, but there are plenty of detours along the way. The line is not straight, but it leans ever more so upward every day.

1870: Something happened around 1870. The Dark Ages had long passed, the Renaissance morphed into an Age of Reason and science and discovery flourished. And most important, enough humans finally existed to hit a critical mass, causing an explosion of economic growth the world has never seen before.

 

Gross World Product

 

As the graph above illustrates, economic growth was painfully slow until 1800 where we see a slight tilt north. In 1850 the Gross World Product turns decidedly higher and goes parabolic in the 20th Century.

The pace of wealth creation accelerated like never before. Things got better. A lot better! Really fast.

Pockets of suffering still exists. The 20th Century experienced two world wars, Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s famine. Many people suffered and died. But many more lived better and longer, too.

Inequality: The buzzword of the day is inequality. The rich seem to get richer while the poor get poorer. But is this really true?

Inequality still exists and surely always will as long as more than one human is alive. There has been an uptick in income and wealth inequality recently. Compared to historical norms we live is really good times.

The wealthiest people alive in 1930 rarely, if ever, had indoor plumbing. Today, with rare exception, we all enjoy indoor plumbing.

Medicine is even more widespread. Polio is a rare disease; small pox eradicated. While indoor plumbing eludes many in third-world (I hate that term) countries, modern medicine is brought in on a regular basis. Fewer women are dying in childbirth. Men have fewer dangerous jobs shortening their lives. Children live beyond infancy at a very high rate. These numbers have never been so generous ever in history. Things are as good as they’ve ever been, and believe it or not, it’s still getting better and better every day.

Walter Scheidel in his book, The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty -First Century outlines how inequality is on the decline and has been for a long time. Periodic catastrophes level the playing field immensely, but there seems to be a natural level of inequality. The good news is that everyone can have a significantly high standard of living even on the lower ends of the income distribution scale.

Optimism is the Best Financial Choice: If you have to make the call, always bet things will get better. For thousands of years things have been doing just that and at a rapid clip for over 100 years.

Warren Buffett has a reputation as a master stock investor. People spend a lot of time dicing his decisions looking for the secret sauce. I can save you the time. Buffett is the most optimistic guy you’ll ever meet. Even his good friend Bill Gates acknowledges surprise by how upbeat Warren always is.

Buffett came out in support of Hilary Clinton in her bid for the presidency. When Donald Trump won many called it the end of America and probably the world. A bit dramatic, I think. Buffett made it clear America has the “secret sauce” when it comes to economic growth and that America will do just fine even with Trump as president. I personally think the human race has a bottle of that patented sauce.

Yes, some people have it bad. Cancer might not feel like a time to be optimistic. But this isn’t about the individual level. We are talking humanity here. As a whole things are chugging higher all the time with only periodic setbacks.

The stock market reflects these facts. In the U.S. the stock market has powered higher decade after decade. Even the Great Depression is a minor speed bump when the charts are viewed over large time periods. It looked scary up close and personal. Then, a few decades later it looks like a minor dimple on the chart.

The 1987 stock market crash is the same story. The Dow dropped 22.6% in one day. The decline requires you squint your eyes to make it out now.

To the Future and Beyond: Life is good and getting better! Calls for the “end of the world” have been with us from the beginning of time. It’s a story that sells, but never delivers.

The future is bright. Today isn’t so bad either!

America and the world will have challenges ahead. That doesn’t mean optimism is wrong or dead! It is only an acknowledgement of reality. Every challenge will be confronted and re-challenged as we boldly go where no species has gone before.

Don't miss out on the progress happening all around you. Don't let polarized politics harm you financially. Use the "secret sauce" the wealth have used forever to build wealth.

Don’t miss out on the progress happening all around you. Don’t let polarized politics harm you financially. Use the “secret sauce” the wealth have used forever to build wealth.

Back to Politics: I know, I know. We never had a president like Trump. True.

We never had a Founding Father like Franklin either. How could such a womanizer, a masher, be allowed to engage in nation-building after the things he did.

And a president who fathered a child with his slave! How will the nation survive?

And don’t forget the evil of the Trail of Tears, a duel and murder and the death of a president’s wife.

A Civil War didn’t slow us down. A great president with massive flaws sewed the nation back together.

FDR tried to manipulate the Supreme Court to no avail. Talking of the Supreme Court, these are the people who gave us Dred Scott! These flawed men (most of them were men) did something wonderful as a whole. As bad as they were, their flaws made us stronger, more vibrant.

Politics is NOT more polarized than ever before. The First Lady is miffed, but not dead or even scuffed.

Things are not going to hell in a hand basket. The economy may falter from tariffs, but before long we’ll scale even higher heights. It’s almost unbelievable and then it happens again!

Never lose faith. Optimism is always the best choice. Things are good and getting better. We live longer and better lives. Economic and personal wealth is at sky high levels and rocketing higher! And any decline in the markets is a correction soon to be followed by greater heights!




It’s not a Dream; Success is Real: I’ve been around long enough to personally hear many of the doomsayers. They fall by the wayside every time. Yes, much of the Western world in more polarized than it has been for many decades. Let me remind you of the above chart. From 1850 to 1900 the U.S. exploded higher economically. During this time we experienced the Civil War and what many in the south thought was the end of the world, the freeing of the slaves.

Not only didn’t the world end when we took the moral high ground, we excelled. But we had to experience the debauchery and evil of slavery to propel us from the ignorance. We certainly don’t want to go back. It will require vigilance to retain our hard fought gains.

This is not the End: In recent times we were told the U.S. was caput because  a womanizer like Clinton was president. Did anyone take the time to research Franklin and Jefferson? Caput! I think not!

Then Bush was a sign of the End Days. Nope! President George W. Bush proved to have human failings, but we did fine.

President Obama was the worst. I had clients who came into my office saying their life’s mission was to prevent Obama from getting a second term. What a waste of time! The economy grew, the stock market was up and America and the world did great after a serious economic debacle.

And now we have the hated President Trump. Many tears have been shed. The Supreme Court is forever tainted (unless you read few history books where you’ll discover it was always tainted). I’m not a fan of Trump. I disagree with many of his policies. But not all! An honest person will find issues where agreement exists. Who doesn’t like lower taxes? We can debate who gets how much and the fairness of taxes, but com’on! I also agree with more infrastructure spending. I’m against tariffs which are nothing more than a tax on consumers. Call it a quasi value added tax, if you will.

The Beginning: In the darkest hours of World War II, Winston Churchill gave encouragement to the British people as Nazi bombs decimated London. His immortal words are as vital today as they were then as we worry ourselves sick over geopolitical events. His words are a reminder things always get better and setbacks are only temporary.

Now this is not the end.

It is not even the beginning of the end.

But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

 

 

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.

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!

 



How to be Admired and Have the Wealth You Want

Respect is the most important wealth there is. Respect is earned, not given. Live your life in a way everyone around you will admire how you live and act. Be the person everyone else aspires to be. #wealthyaccountant #respect #winners #success #successful #admiration #aspiration #succeed #money #financialindependence #FIRE #mrmoneymustacheThe mid-eighteenth century was a difficult time for people living on the North American continent. Before the United States there was a list of British colonies on the American east coast. The French occupied the great wilderness of the north while the British controlled the mid-latitudes and Caribbean.

Native Americans suffered greatly. Disease and war took a devastating toll on the Indian tribes. Itinerant preachers (lay and ordained) provided respite for Native Americans in the church services where they could feel like equals for a short period of time. Still, racism was rampant even in the Christian circles. White evangelicals pointed out lapses in the faith of natives quicker than of fellow whites. Out of this world was born Samson Occom.

Occom was from the Mohegan tribe. He converted at the tender age of 16 when James Davenport preached on his reservation. Samson Occom was eager to learn more. He became the first student of an academy set up by Eleazar Wheelock, the brother-in-law of Davenport. Later, Occom taught for a missionary society. White missionaries received £100 for their services; Occom received £15 and was required to perform double duties. This left a bitter taste in Occom’s mouth.

An opportunity for a better life beckoned when Wheelock sent Samson Occom to England to preach so money could be raised to pay for educating Indians back home. English crowds were eager to hear a native from the American continent preach the gospel. Occom was so eloquent in his oratory he raised an astounding £11,000!

Samson Occom returned to his homeland and to disappointment. The money was raised for educating Indians. Instead, Wheelock diverted all the money to found a new college that educated mostly whites and only a token number of Indians. The college Wheelock founded is Dartmouth.




Character

Benjamin Franklin in his youth would fill a wheelbarrow with papers and wheel it up and down Main Street of his town when business was slow. He wanted to give the community the impression he was industrious.

As history records, he was well rewarded for his efforts. The list of Franklin’s accomplishments is long, including a very successful print shop.

By allowing people to see his non-stop efforts to get work done, Franklin sent a subliminal message to all who saw him push that wheelbarrow up and down the street as if he were busy delivering and picking up print jobs.

The secret to wealth. money and riches is leadership. Acquire the traits all successful people have. Lead by example and learn from the best. Winners learn to be winners from other winners. #wealthyaccountant #winners #secret #wealth #success #leadership #money #business #richesBen Franklin had character. So did Samson Occom.

At first blush it might seem Franklin benefited from his quality characteristics and Occom did not. True, Franklin did achieve significant financial wealth in his lifetime. But money wasn’t the most important or overriding factor; character was. Yes, Benjamin Franklin enjoyed wealth, but always knew his true and only wealth lay with his character. This is why Samson Occom, despite white prejudice and racism, still was wealthy beyond human understanding. Occom had character; Wheelock did not.

It can be disheartening when you work your tail off and get abused for the effort. All the time and effort to build a quality business can be destroyed in an instant no fault of your own. An angry or jealous individual can tear you down with a lie that sticks with you a lifetime. It is totally out of your control.

You don’t control external events. The actions of others can damage you, but you are powerless to stop a determined individual bent on spreading lies. A competitor may want to tear you down and destroy you so they have easy access to your assets and clients. Sometimes it works for the better as in Franklin’s case. Sometimes you spend a lifetime of abuse due to your race or gender as Occom did.

It is doubtful Occom would have experienced a better life if he succumbed to temptation and attacked his attackers. The eighteenth century was not a kind time for Native Americans. (It’s not always that kind now!) Occom wasn’t the only Indian to suffer racism. What hurt the deepest was how hard he worked helping white man and getting no respect for his efforts. Wheelock must have known from the beginning he was using Occom to raise money on false pretenses.

Who Do You Want to Be?

The YouTube video in this post is preset to start at a point in the presentation important to today’s lesson. You can listen to the whole video, but just listen to the part pertinent to this post by clicking the video. It’ll start almost at the end.

Warren Buffett has given us countless stories on life, investing, economics, money and happiness. In the video Warren outlines how to become the person you want to be. He mentions Ben Franklin and his mentor, Ben Graham, used the same method to discover the person they wanted to be.

Reinventing the wheel is too slow. Learning from people around us and those who have come before is the best way to shortcut to the desired result. According to Buffett, we should look around for people we admire. Then we need to examine why we admire them and why others admire this person.

Once you know what you and others admire in an individual, you can nurture those traits in yourself. By building those traits internally it increases the odd people will admire you too.

Money is important. So is admiration and other forms of wealth. Building a reputation takes work and there are no guarantees. #wealthyaccountant #wealth #admiration #success #money #fame #riches #wealthySome people may consider this selling out. Nothing is further from the truth. Searching for traits in people you admire is the only way to discover what you really want! To guess correctly by chance is a helluva gamble. The odds of you finding the right formula without outside information are slim.

Each person has a different dream, but many of us have a shared dream, or at least portions of dreams. Most people want some level of affluence. Money makes a big difference in life. Most people want at least a few close and dedicated friends. We want a loving family; a loving significant other; good children who are respected and respectful.

This is why you can’t just focus on one individual! Some readers may find my long-term marriage and business success traits they’d like to emulate. Some may envy my writing skills. Or, you might find my rural lifestyle intriguing. There are also things not as endearing. I tend to work too hard and get grumpy when tired. My disdain for travel is legendary. It is okay to pick and choose the traits you find most appealing.

Most people seem to have wanderlust. They want the opportunity to travel more and further. That’s okay! You can pick my traits you want to incorporate and leave the rest. You DON’T want to be a mini-me running around. As Riddick said, “They don’t know what to do with one of me.”




Equal Opportunity

It might not be fair, but outcome with be unequal. Samson Occom had it better than most other Indians because of his efforts. He still suffered racism. Nothing was going to stop that. The same effort by Ben Franklin has left Franklin’s name as a household word. When you think of Ben Franklin you think of industriousness. When you think of Samson Occom (if you ever thought of him at all) you should think of resilience. Occom isn’t a household name, but he is remembered. A footnote in the history books is more than most get.

Warren Buffett studied Ben Graham and then was a student under him. I think you’ll agree Buffett went further than Graham. Graham did just fine in life, but Warren became the richest man on the planet for a number of years. He is also loved and adored by many. Graham is mostly remembered due to Buffett.

Occom was admired, too. When he preached Christianity people quieted and listened. Life could be cruel out there, but in here he was at the front of the room spreading the Good News to his fellow Indians and even white settlers.

Samson Occom was bitter over his treatment; he was beside himself when he discovered the money he raised to help educate Indians was diverted to a new college mostly for whites; the knife cut deep. But he never stopped preaching! He held firm to his faith. He always remembered the words of Davenport that fateful day when he was not much more than a child. Occom found the traits he found most endearing and incorporated them all the way down to his soul.




Show Me the Money

No one, not even your favorite accountant, can guarantee you the outcome of your efforts. You can follow in my footsteps exactly and get a different final outcome. That’s life. Not everyone who followed the industrious example of Franklin in the eighteenth century became famous and wealthy. What I can tell you is that everyone who practiced those qualities did tremendously better than if they had not.

The early retirement and financial independence community have an endless variety of characters. Some traits are admired, others not so much.

You have to do what the rich do if you want to be rich. Find the traits that make people fabulously wealthy with all the money they could ever want. #wealthyaccountant #wealth #rich #money #respect #traits #successThink of it this way. Tim Ferris has a massive following. He has many positive qualities (traits) we should all consider. There are also things you may not like about the guy. The same can be said for the super-bloggers and super-podcasters. I think it’s insane when people want to consult with me so they can learn to be more like Mr. Money Mustache, another blogger or me.

I write a blog and publish a lot more than Pete (Mr. Money Mustache). But my statistics are nowhere near his. If you see a beach spread to the horizon, this blog is a grain on said beach compared to MMM. That said, there are many traits you might want to acquire from Pete. I hope not every trait because one Pete is also enough. Maybe you can pick up a few traits from numerous people.

Certain characteristics tend to show up again and again. If you admire people with money you might notice they tend towards frugality and index fund investing or own a business. You can emulate that easy enough. You might notice many travel and want to do the same. By following their example you increase the odds you will accumulate more resources to travel.

There is no guarantee you will get the same results. A person in prison will have limitations from the rest of the population. Nelson Mandela is a perfect example. He gained the respect of the guards and the people of a nation while imprisoned. He was fortunate that he was released and led South Africa for many years. Other people doing the same thing will almost certainly get a different result.

This blog is about wealth. It might depress you when I say you can search the traits of those you admire and incorporate those traits only to find less admiration than those you worked to emulate. That misses the whole point. Successful integration of quality traits do not guarantee anything and shouldn’t even be the goal! It is the daily effort to improve yourself with the traits you acquired that makes you wealthy.

The daily journey is the reward, the riches you seek. You can examine the admired of your community and work to integrate those positive traits into your persona. But please, kind readers, make plenty of room for you. Explore the qualities already inside you.

Then you will be the person admired.

 

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!