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Crowdsourcing Experience

There are advantages to writing a personal finance blog that go beyond the love of writing and meeting new people. Few things in life bring as much pleasure as sharing knowledge gleaned over decades of experience. Stories are the best. Sharing stories with friends is a time honored pleasure handed down to us through countless generations.

The old adage about the teacher learning more than the student applies in blog writing as well as in formalized education settings. Additional research and looking at a situation considering perspectives wider than just your own is an eye opening experience.

The constant search for a story idea and angle is hard, yet rewarding, work. Topics I would never think of digging deeper into eventually reach the front burner. Unexpected paths are taken. I always have a plan. It never ends up the way I anticipate. Stories have a habit of taking on a life of their own. (At least I started with good intentions.)

Hurt My Feelings, Please

The original working title of this post was: Hurt My Feelings, Please. The original intent of this post was to encourage people to share their thoughts in the comments section.

Over the last few years I have learned so much from you, kind readers, I can scarcely contain my gratitude. The original premise of this blog was to allow people to step behind my desk and see the world from my point of view. Accountants get the opportunity to see the good, bad and ugly of life up close and personal.

My personal life experiences, and those of my clients, I was sure would provide powerful insights into living the good life. They have, in my opinion. I never dreamed I would get an education like I did. Decades of experience pale in comparison to the life experiences of thousands of readers. The group collective of knowledge trumps anything I can spew onto the page. I’m one guy and you, readers, as a group can outdo anything I can. There is potential power in large numbers of people working together toward a common goal.

Some examples are in order. Back in March I wrote about a novel way to get awesome internet service you can take anywhere at a low cost and get a tax deduction too. It all started when I struggled for years to get any kind of acceptable internet quality where I live out in the backwoods of Wisconsin. I tried everything to no avail. And it was expensive. If you know me it all you know how deeply the pain drove when I had to pay for a crappy product and terrible results/service.

Then I ran across a Wi-Fi hotspot that promised real results at a really good price point. Loving value as I do, I did my research and wrote about it. You can read the details of the internet service with the above link. What I want to point out here is my original post fell short. What I wrote about was still too expensive! Michael left a comment with a link for the very same product for about half the price of what I suggested! Thank you, Michael. No really. Thank You.

The tax deduction is what I felt readers here would cling to. Instead, readers pointed out the charitable deduction was negligible and even possibly questionable. What can I say? I’m an easily excitable accountant.

The tax deduction wasn’t the shtick! Backwoods of Wisconsin or no, many readers hungered for quality internet service all over the country at a reasonable price. Then Michael one-upped me. And thank God he did. I ended up buying the service he suggested. (Be sure to read the comments on the linked post above on this. I did not change my post, opting to allow Michael’s comment to carry the day. I may need to update that if people start missing the real value of that post.)

My neighbors, hearing the rumor of my internet nirvana, started to call. For a while I enjoyed a burst of popularity with my community. I would visit neighbor after neighbor with my Wi-Fi hotspot and my youngest daughter in tow who knows how to set it up. We tested the service at neighbors’ homes to make sure it worked for them and gave them the info to buy their own service.

Neighbors talked to each other as more and more opted for the service. People in my small community were getting internet service like never before at a price 70% cheaper! Imagine a prosecutor trying to seat a jury against me in my county now with so many people benefiting from my simple blog post and the ensuing comment from Michael.

Michael sounds like a nice guy. He must be. Look at all the smiles he caused. Imagine if he would have said to himself, as a nice guy, “Awe, I can’t comment that there is a better deal. It could hurt the Wealthy Accountant’s feeling.”


I mean it. The working title was only changed because I didn’t feel it reflected the content of this post. I like the working title better, however, and may change it back at some point in the future if I think it will help reach more people in need of the information.

The only reason this blog should consume electricity is if it provides value. This whole project is a waste of time if the only information comes from me. Some farm boy from the boondocks doesn’t have all the answers just because he has three plus decades running an accounting office. Not good enough.

Three is Not a Big Enough Crowd

There are plenty of additional examples where readers provided better information than I did. I’m learning more now than ever before. Even an old dog can pick up a tip or two now and again.

A few days ago I wrote about my experience helping my oldest daughter get a good car below Blue Book from the dealer. I thought I discovered the greatest thing since sliced bread. It appears sliced bread was not all that great an invention.

My car buying idea in this instance was solid, filled with good advice. But Wes commented a few links where you could get even better deals! Once again, thank God Wes didn’t refrain over fear of hurting my feelings!

Crowdsourcing is all the rage today. Ideas that would never have seen the light of day now have a chance at life. Medical expenses can be crowd sourced; non-profit organizations can build and grow programs to make our communities better; artists can fund projects. The list of opportunities is endless in the new world paradigm.

But crowdsourcing doesn’t end with financial projects! Blogs like The Wealth Accountant start a dialog on a variety of ideas. More personal finance bloggers means more ideas get aired. The blogger only starts the conversation. The readers are the real story. The comments section can be livelier and provide more information than the actual post! I never expected that.

Growth only happens when evolution takes place. This blog is no different. I have seen subtle changes over the last year and a half as I grow my audience and find my voice for this venue. The blog evolves as I grow. And you are the reason I grow and this blog evolves.

Your ideas make all the difference. Many crowdsourcing projects require a cash commitment on your part. If the project is completed you may get some compensation for your contribution. Sharing your ideas in the comments section doesn’t cost you a dime. The rewards are immense because when you share it encourages others to do the same. As a group we are more powerful, wiser and more knowledgeable than any individual of this group, this author included.

Zig Ziglar told a story about how much a horse could pull. I may get a few details wrong in the story—it has been a while—but you will get the message. Zig said, “A single horse hooked to a wagon can pull 4,000 pounds. If you hook two horses to the wagon and train them to work together they can pull 12,000 pounds.” The lesson is clear: the sum is greater than the parts working alone.

We are that team of horses.

Together we can make a difference in our communities, family and personal life. Crowdfunding is more than raising funds. It is possible to crowd source and crowd fund knowledge and experience. We live in a brave new world with more opportunities than any other time in human history.

Never be afraid to share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog. What you may consider unimportant may change another reader life in a fundamental way. It might change the author’s life too.

Everyone has plenty to share. The forum started with a bang and has slowed lately. I encourage greater use of the forum. I added a section for accountants who read this blog and share my philosophy to share their contact information. Just like I don’t know everything, I can’t prepare, or even consult, with every deserving reader.

Together we will create a better world. We will, and are, making a difference. Never be afraid to share. Your unique thoughts and experiences must be shared with the world or we are all irrevocably harmed. You are part of this community, you are friends.

We are a family (if we have the courage).

Sarah Li Cain

Saturday 24th of June 2017

And this is why I always read the comments in blog posts. I love asking for the help from others. I forgot who told me this, but always be the dumbest person in the room, it'll take you farther than you realize.

Off to go check that cheap internet service! I'm tired of paying too much for my crappy one.


Friday 23rd of June 2017

Personal finance, what MMM and ERE have born, has produced much fruit. Empowering people instead of depending on the man.

I believe there's an idea out there even more radical, more empowering, than personal finance.

Years ago, I thought health had to do with how close I lived to a hospital. Especially if I had a heart attack. I have since learned, that heart attacks, and other degenerative diseases, are absent in our closest mammalian relatives.

We've evolved from times of scarcity to extreme abundance. Not only kings and queens in the past could dine to excess, but today foods are hyper-palatable, hyper-refined and high in fat. Every time we eat we do a cost-benefit analysis on how to get the most calories for the least buck.

Just look around, we're eating ourselves to death. Obesity, overweight is acceptable. Being of normal weight now is not called normal, because "normal" is overweight. It's now called average.

I can't more highly recommend a book called "The Pleasure Trap", by Doug Lisle and Alan Goldhamer. Also, "youtube" Doug Lisle and/or Goldhamer and listen to one of their talks.

Keith Schroeder

Friday 23rd of June 2017

I think you started something, Mike. We need people to start recommending books they found beneficial. That might be my Monday post.