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Dick Proenneke

There are two kinds of stories people like to read in the personal finance community: personal finance reports and “What am I doing” stories. Pete over at Mr. Money Mustache released his spending report for 2016 this past week and Jim at jlcollinsnh provided us with a report on life in the comfortable Wisconsin south woods.

Spending reports/progress reports toward financial independence interest me, too, even though my financial situation has been solid for a few decades. Spending reports motivate me, giving me ideas to cut consumption without sacrificing quality of life. Progress reports are always interesting. The writers of such reports usually express an emotion with where they are at on the scale of financial independence. From my viewpoint it seems so obvious they are in much better financial shape than they imagine. It is intoxicating watching these good people make their way to the Promised Land.

It’s been a while since I offered my own spending report. Sorry. Spending is so boring to me. God willing, I will get my 2016 report out before the end of 2017.

Kevin has started the redesign of this blog (I’ll pay him a soon as my new bonus credit card arrives).

Collins shared his life these past few weeks on his blog. I enjoyed his story and I was there part of the time! Such are the simple pleasures of life.

Your favorite accountant has a few interesting tidbits in his life you might find of value, too. Whereas, a lot of people in this community talk about their sedentary or retired life or world travels, I am busy acting like a mini Elon Musk. Call it a sickness.

Brain Storm and the Plaque on the Wall

I was invited to attend an online training class Saturday. A vendor paid my way. A large part of the course was tax related (there is so much to learn about cost segregation) with markets and finance rounding out the day. And I could do it all from my couch.

It was my whole day. The online class was 8 hours. Continuing education credits were offered for CPAs and attorneys, of which I am neither. As an enrolled agent I received no credit for participating in the course. So why did I spend a whole day of my life listening to deep tax issues?

First off, it never felt like a waste of time to me. It was a productive use of a day! I expanded my understanding of cost segregation and the Research & Development Credit, an area I am interested in helping clients with.

Learning is never a waste of time. I have a cute piece of paper on the wall that says I am Smarticus when it comes to taxes. You can wipe your ass with it. It’s just a piece of paper. The only time that piece of paper means anything is when I represent you before the IRS. That’s it! No more.

What clients are interested in is if I can help them. They do not care if I have a fancy piece of paper hanging on the wall. They want to know if I can help. Most people don’t even know what an EA is. (BTW, a CPA is an accounting professional who may or may not focus on tax issues; an attorney is a legal professional who may or may not focus on tax issues; an enrolled agent is a tax professional who may or may not engage in light accounting or bookkeeping issues.)

Learning is the most powerful thing any human being can engage in. Much learning is gained from reading; more from experience. Conferences are places where people can apprentice for a day or three with people with massive experience they are willing to share.

Personal Gain

Not all gain is geared toward helping others. Learning helps me in all cases. Sometimes I can share that knowledge in my practice or with readers here; sometimes it is for personal consumption only.

Tuesday I am at it again, except this time it is all for me, me, me. I like me! Google has a one-hour online seminar focusing on improving results and traffic on this blog. No credits offered. The focus is on Google Analytics. In an hour or so Google will help me understand my traffic better so I can get more. Since traffic is a major stroke to my ego it is worth an hour of my life. It also educates me; worth much more than an hour of life.

Well, when somebody wants to help me grow and succeed I am all ears. I’ll find time to attend. It’s that important.

All this learning is neither selfish nor altruistic. Learning is about improving self, but also about sharing skills and experiences. Clients need my experience and skills to serve them. (And yes, serving can be fun. It’s not servitude or slavery. I serve of my own free will. There is a difference.)

After spending Saturday and part of Tuesday in formalized education, I hop on a plane Wednesday for Seattle, where I will share stories at Camp Mustache IV. My newfound knowledge, decades of experience, and finely honed skills will come into play as I serve the attendees of the Camp. It all goes round.

A Valuable Life

Why do so many people who reach financial independence early have a burning desire to write a blog on the subject? The answer is simple. Learning something is worthless until it is shared.

People like to give Mr. Money Mustache BS from time to time. The argument is he is not retired if he does a construction job on the side or writes a blog. The whiny pants don’t get it. Pete writes his blog to share his story and his experiences so others can join him. There is no value in creating a world where you are then locked in solitary confinement because you refuse to share information and experience so others of like mind can join you. None!

Most bloggers make peanuts. If you are doing it for the money I have a surprise for you. Don’t get me wrong, some make large amounts of money. Most do not earn enough to cover their costs, none the less compensation for their time. I wouldn’t be here if it was only money. I expect to do well (don’t we all), but money is not the motivator. Sharing is.

GoCurryCracker has one of the best—if not the best—personal finance/early retirement/financial independence blogs on the net. Here he shares his tax return for 2016. He’s not doing it for the money! And he is at the top of the pile. Sure, MMM earns more, but plenty earn less.

You can trust me when I say this. (Nothing good happens when somebody tells you those words.) I am one of the few tax guys in the genre writing like a Wildman. As a result I get to see (and prepare) a lot of tax returns for said bloggers. I know what they make! And it ain’t pretty. If you don’t love writing, blogging is not a place to earn some easy money.

Life is only worth something when you share it. Dick Proenneke lived alone in the wilderness of Alaska for 30 years. Yet his life only had value when he shared his story by recording his life for Public Television. Millions of people have heard Proenneke’s story and gained powerful insights on how to live life better all because he shared his story. This accountant’s life has been improved immeasurably by his story and life.

What a Waste

Learning can improve your life; teaching improves your life more. The teacher always gets more than the student. You owe it to your family, friends, community, the species, and yourself to learn every day. You are also required by an unwritten code to share this knowledge far and wide. It does not create competition; it creates a vibrant community.

Read widely every day. It is as important and eating, sleeping and breathing. Share. I write a lot on this blog. You are not required to go to such extremes.

You must share to increase your own learning! Never be selfish with your knowledge and experiences. Life is wasted by never engaging; you can also waste your life by learning everything and sharing none of it.

Smart people take every opportunity to learn. True leaders learn at every opportunity. If you want financial independence, if you want early retirement (any retirement at any age for that matter) you must focus your life around learning. And sharing.

Wednesday I get on a plane and head to Seattle and return the favor by teaching some of the most intelligent people walking the Earth. No credit; only lots of learning and fun. Sharing my story with friends new and old. I am Smarticus.

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Friendly Russian

Monday 22nd of May 2017

You're absolutely right indeed. Learning can improve your life; teaching will improve it even more. Couple of years ago I decided to help new immigrants in my local areas with programming and quality assurance. I offered a free class where I taught people basic coding skills and SQA methods and techniques. I used to think I know enough, boy I was wrong. After the first course I learned a lot of new things, after the second even more ; teaching people does help.

The same with FI and lifestyle, sharing your own stories, upsides and downsides helps you to grow, to find new ways for improvement.