#017 - The Wealthy Accountant
Finding True Wealth: A Life of True Abundance & Happiness
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Welcome to the 17th edition of The Wealth Letters, a collection of insights from all walks of life on the pursuit of wealth, wisdom, and meaning.
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The following entry is an open letter written by Keith TaxGuy (The Wealthy Accountant) written to his readers on his blog.
Keith shares the five aspects of wealth and how each play a role in a life worth living. He focuses on addressing issues of the mind, body, and spirit to attain true wealth; a life of true abundance and happiness.
Who is The Wealthy Accountant?
Before getting into Keith’s letter, he shares a little about his background:
“Everyone knows me as Keith TaxGuy. Thirty years ago I started an accounting practice—or more honestly, a tax preparation office—out of my home. Over the years I gathered more information than is normal for a human being.
I was born in the backwoods of Wisconsin many snowstorms ago to a family of farmers. The land and animals were always a part of my life. But the family farm was not my future. As I turned 18 the family farm was in bankruptcy and was gone well before I turned 19. My struggle to understand why things happened as they did shaped my opinions of finance.
I worked in my dad’s business fixing silo unloaders for a year and hated it with a passion. My dad was poor in those days so my paycheck was very small. To supplement my income I prepared tax returns for employees and some vendors.
Preparing tax returns part-time for a few months in spring paid better than working for dad. And once again, living out in the middle of nowhere, I spent very little.
By the time I was 22 I retired. Sounds insane, but it is true. I bought a home and a beater car and a Huffy bike. I spent my days reading, learning, hiking, biking and taking a few classes at the local college.
Business was in my blood and so was farming. After a few years working out of the basement I bought an office building, sold my home in town and bought a 10 acre farm in the country.
My tax business exploded in the new building. Many more clients and employees followed. At its peak we served over 2000 clients. A fair amount for the size of the office. I didn’t feel retired anymore. Work spilled outside tax season for me. I reduced the size of my firm to around 700 clients eventually.
Know this, I am a family man first and foremost. If you stop there you will understand who I really am. If you dig deeper you will discover I am interested in everything and love to share my discoveries. I love my wife and daughters more than life. My interests are wide. I spend time with my animals and land every day. I live to serve my clients and help them realize their dreams. Please join me. Allow me to use my experience to help you reach your dreams, too.”
- Keith TaxGuy (The Wealthy Accountant)
Before reading or listening to Keith’s letter…
Be willing to be vulnerable and open your mind to ideas and suggestions that have proven worthwhile in another’s journey. Do not blindly accept any and all advice given, but rather take in the information and distill it down to if & how it can be applied to YOU and your unique self.
Michael Jordan said that he imitated Dr. J.
Kobe Bryant said he studied and imitated Jordan.
But, they mixed in their own uniqueness.
While not everything will relate directly to one’s current situation at the exact moment, there may be some gems that will be worthwhile in time.
What is Wealth?
By: Keith TaxGuy (The Wealthy Accountant)
Wealth is often defined as having to do with money or finances. Such a narrow definition limits us to income, spending, investing, retirement and taxes. While these are important issues, this narrow definition is wrong.
Wealth involves mental, physical, spiritual, health and financial aspects. Money is the least important on the list as we will shortly see.
The expectations of a blog called the Wealthy Accountant suffers as a result. People expect a discussion on money, or worse, refuse to visit the page because the discussion involves wealth that doesn’t involve money.
There is a reason for focusing on money issues and taxes; people struggle with these issues more than most. But the goal is to help the reader achieve a wealthy life, a quality life rather than just financial abundance.
And that requires we address issues of the mind, spirit and body. There is no other way to true wealth; a life of true abundance and happiness.
Without a doubt, health is your greatest wealth. Not to be confused with physical health, Health Wealth is often times out of our control. While you can eat right and exercise, your overall health is determined by other factors.
Age brings on new health issues with each passing year. Even living a clean life and not smoking, cancer can still make an appearance. Heart disease and brittle bones are risks of age.
Much of your health is in your control. Type 2 diabetes is often a result of poor habits and decisions. Type 1 diabetes is a different story. In either case, you can make your health worse with poor diet and exercise decisions.
Probably the biggest Health Wealth issue is weight. I know I’m preaching to the choir here as my weight has become an issue recently due to some other medical issues and stress. Regardless the excuses, excess weight leads to serious health complication at some point in life.
It isn’t always too much weight either. My oldest daughter struggles to add weight. The best she can do is stay a whisker above or at 80 pounds. She is 27 years old. There is no eating disorder. She keeps eating as much as possible, but her body refuses to process it properly. We all have our challenges. Consistency is key to success.
Some might be tempted to think health is not the primary wealth. Let’s look at an example in the extreme to better understand why Health Wealth is more important than any other form of wealth.
Let’s say you are the richest person alive with more money than any human has ever had before. You can have anything you want that money can buy. Armed with this limited information you might think this person is “wealthy.”
What if I added that this person also happens to be in a hospital bed, in abject pain with no relief possible. Add to the pain a life expectancy of three months as cancer eats him alive.
Now what do you think? Is money more important as a wealth than health? Not for a second! No other wealth matters once our health is gone. That is why you MUST focus on good lifestyle choices. Eat nutritious food and, as far as you are physically able, engage in physical and aerobic exercise each day. A small amount goes a long way. Doing nothing (a sedentary life) is a crisis in the making.
I know, kind readers, that you usually come here for advice and motivation as it applies to money or tax strategies. As important as those things are, I have to focus on what is most important. The last thing I want to do is make you financially wealthy & rich, while in the hospital bed mentioned above.
Health Wealth is often determined by physical wealth. Nothing will stop the march of time. The deterioration of the body can be delayed, but it will happen.
The way to increase your quality of life along with quantity is to eat proper foods and move.
Diets heavy in plant matter and devoid of processed foods has plenty of evidence for longevity. Consuming limited quantities of meat seems to be okay for most people and is required unless certain supplements are taken.
Smoking and street drugs do massive damage the your physical wealth. Moderate alcohol consumption has indicated some health benefits. Smoking, and now vaping and oral nicotine products, must be avoided, along with illegal drugs. Alcohol? In moderation only.
Personal health issues and the related stress caused me serious weight gain. The saving grace is that I remained, and remain, active. I visit the gym three or more times per week. On the days I don’t visit the gym I can enjoy a light run on the country roads near my farm. I invested in a treadmill and several kettlebells for times when the weather prevents outdoor exercise.
One habit I started was lugging a 30 pound kettlebell with me to work and back home. I could leave the kettlebell at the office, but I want to force myself to lift and carry something heavy as part of my daily routine. During the day (at home or office) I run through a variety of kettlebell exercises. Here is a YouTube video with kettlebell exercises similar to the variety I use:
If I want a long life of Health Wealth, I need to take care of my body. Keeping active and eating quality foods have made a difference, even during a time of weight crisis. The weight will come off if I stick to the plan and focus on good food. Once again, consistency is vital to long-term wealth success.
Health Wealth also requires mental health. Here we are not limiting our horizon to things like depression or anxiety.
Medication can provide relief for some mental issues. However, it is best to moderate anxiety, stress and other mental health risks before resorting to medications, all of which have side effects (Always follow your doctor’s orders when dealing with health issues. This blog post is NOT a diagnosis or medical recommendation).
One of the best ways to improve mental wealth is by reading good books. “Good books” are defined as books that appeal to you. My “good book” might not trip your trigger. No problem. Find one that does and dig in.
Reading allows you to learn and even visit different worlds and times. People who read regularly begin to think differently, more effectively and efficiently. Reading causes your brain to evolve. Daily reading is as important as exercise.
Another aspect of good mental health is writing. Consider writing a daily journal.
Years ago I wrote a journal due to a recommendation. I got the process wrong, but it still helped. Today, my journal notes can be short. Some days I have diarrhea of the pen. It all depends on the day. I share some of these longer thoughts on social media, like the private Facebook group for this blog. Sign up for good conversation and ideas with a bonus on my journal thoughts for the day (some days).
Writing this blog is also part of the journaling exercise. The point is that your journal can be as formal or informal as you want. It isn’t for anyone else, unless you want to share.
If you want to learn more about dealing with anxiety and journaling, I recommend a free subscription to the Daily Stoic, from Ryan Holiday. It is the best I have seen to date.
Exercise and diet also play a role in mental health. As you guessed by now, wealth stacks nicely, one layer upon another; each dependent on the other.
Before anyone leaves, this is not a religious discussion. You can get spiritual nourishment by going to church and reading the Bible or other religious material. But, that is not what I mean by spiritual wealth.
Spiritual wealth is about turning off work, the world and all the other stresses pushing in. Meditation is a powerful tool in accomplishing this goal. Sam Harris has some nice videos on YouTube to guide you through a meditation session. The below selection is nine minutes:
Another part of spiritual wealth is unplugging. Turn off media and enjoy a walk in nature. Take a vacation. Travel can be very spiritual if you allow it.
Time with family, friends and even new acquaintances helps build and grow relationships. It also allows you to see the world through the eyes of people elsewhere in the world.
Once again, we see another type of wealth more important than financial wealth. That doesn’t mean financial wealth is unimportant. It just means financial wealth without the other four types of wealth is meaningless.
And now we return home to my field of practice: money. You can page through this blog to discover numerous tax strategies.
Taxes are the biggest expense most people have in life, taking 50% or more of all your income over a lifetime. Don’t think so? Here is a short list of taxes you pay:
Payroll (Social Security and Medicare)
Property taxes (you pay the landlord’s if you rent)
Corporate taxes (built into the price of the product)
Excise taxes (every time you fill your gas tank or use electricity)
Estate tax, and more.
Yes, there is a reason I spend so much time on tax reducing strategies.
Of course retirement planning and investments are a big part of financial wealth. The goal is financial independence so you can steer your own course from then on, within reason: travel, early retirement (or retirement at any age), start your own business, etc.
Health Wealth is not always in your control. What you can control requires affirmative action. Mental wealth (reading is a large part) educates you on what is possible and so you can have financial wealth. That is why I feel it is so important to show readers the world from my side of the desk.
Mostly, wealth is about living a good life. Happiness, or more accurately, joy, can be had by anyone when the important things are focused on.
My hope is to provide a tool for you, kind reader, in reaching all your wealth goals. It is more than money. Money is great, as long as you also are spiritually, mentally, and physically wealthy and healthy.
Make it a priority to nourish each type of wealth each day. It will make life worth living.
- Keith TaxGuy (The Wealthy Accountant)
Quotes That Resonated With Me
“As you guessed by now, wealth stacks nicely, one layer upon another; each dependent on the other.”
“Once again, we see another type of wealth more important than financial wealth. That doesn’t mean financial wealth is unimportant. It just means financial wealth without the other four types of wealth is meaningless.”
“Mostly, wealth is about living a good life. Happiness, or more accurately, joy, can be had by anyone when the important things are focused on.”
What are your takeaways from Keith?
Connect with Keith
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