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You Can Do Anything . . . Just Not Everything

Paula Pant of Afford Anything

As I surf around the internet I sometimes run across people commenting on me and this blog. A common refrain goes something like this: “The Wealthy Accountant blog isn’t really about accounting or taxes.”

I know!

This blog is written by a wealthy accountant. My goal is to get you to think like an accountant (a wealthy one) so you can improve your life. Sometimes that means I talk about things that don’t seem tax related on the surface.

My next blog post is on fasting: intermittent versus long-term. (Get ready for it.) I’ll get a few complaints, a few pats on the back and plenty of eye rolls. What does fasting have to do with wealth, accounting, taxes, or personal finance? Simple. Financial independence has little value if you don’t have health to enjoy it.

Sometimes the connection is hard to see. When I started this blog I wanted to show the world what it is like from my side of the desk. It’s the first post of this blog. I was still searching for the voice I wanted to use for this blog, but the tenor was there.

As time went on I wanted to step out from behind my desk and was hoping you would join me. I make no claim to being better than anyone else or have higher quality life experiences. In addition to standing behind me while I run my practice and visit with clients I want to share many of my personal life experiences. Call it a form of legal stalking.

Each story has a goal. First, I have to entertain to keep you reading. The second goal is to show how I solve problems. Everybody runs into a buzz saw now and again. The real issue is how you deal with the slice and dice.

Some messages hit you square in the face. Others are more subtle. The facts and circumstances determine the method of delivery.

Hidden Messages

Over the last several years I have had the great honor of meeting some of the most awesome personal finance bloggers walking the green Earth. In some cases I am so humbled because said bloggers then ask me to handle their tax issues. It is no exaggeration when I say I am numb from the responsibility. At no point in my professional career did I ever feel I would be held in such high esteem on a national level.

I could rattle off household names in the industry I have personally broke bread with or served professionally. The list has been published here often.

There is another group of PF bloggers I admire and even pressed palms with, but never took the relationship further. Paula Pant is one of these bloggers.

I met Paula a few times and managed to say “hi” in passing. It is my fault I didn’t build the relationship. She is an open, intelligent woman. And I love her blog. I just never took the time to get personal.

Paula writes Afford Anything; she also has a podcast.

I’m not a big podcast person due to time. I can read faster than I can listen. Writing also tends to be tighter than conversation. For the record, I didn’t even listen to my own podcast on ChooseFI.  Jonathan and Brad did great work on the podcast. The issue was me. I started listening and couldn’t stand hearing my own voice spewing advice I normally give. Very disturbing. I’m not sure I trust this Keith guy.

Afford Anything’s moniker is: You can afford anything . . . but not everything. I feel in love with the concept instantly for the opposite reason most people do. Most people spend too much and need to focus on the most important thing you want to spend on and save the rest. Me, I need a pry bar to crack my wallet open. In fact, I don’t even have a wallet. Why spend the money on something to just carry my money? Instead, I fold my money with the smallest bills showing on the outside, usually $1 bills, with credit cards and driver’s license tucked in the middle. I do this because I don’t want people to think I have too much money. It sounds stupid, but it is a mindset hard to break.

At this point I would like to give Paula a high-five for getting me to live a more balanced life with my wealth, but I can’t. You see, when I am brutally honest, my spending hasn’t changed much. Sure I travel for business a bit more now, but after incentives and tax advantages it frequently reduces, rather than increases, my spending.

Paula Pant has an awesome message yet an adoring fan was left in the ditch. You can’t win them all.


Sometimes you smack the ball out of the park and you didn’t even know the pitch was coming. I always take a bow in such circumstances so I get full credit. (What? WHAT!)

Paula had just such a moment.

The spending thing is still percolating into my skull with not much to show for the effort. But Ms. Pant did something she probably never intended. She allowed a crazy accountant from Wisconsin to balance his life in another area.

As much as I admire Paula’s moniker, I always felt there was a hidden message in the phrase specific for me.

Then it hit me. It wasn’t about “have”; it was about “do”! Where most people need guidance to spend less and save more, focusing spending on that one important thing for you, I needed the message where it applies to my time.

I want to do EVERYTHING! And it has served me well too.

All the stories published here are true and I intentionally leave out many more to protect the guilty. Some literary license is taken to fit the story into a tight space and to keep it interesting. In other words (sorry Mister Strunk (writers will know what I’m talking about)), I cut out the boring details or unrelated pieces so the story moves. The truth of the story is never modified!

It doesn’t take long to realize I am always up to something. Still, curiosity has been known to kill cats. . . and wayward accountants.

You will never find a more powerful blog or podcast than Afford Anything. Paula’s style is inviting and informative. And the lessons learned are not always floating on the surface. I encourage you to read and listen to her work.

I Want It All

You can afford anything, but not everything. You will never have enough money to buy every shiny bauble that catches your eye.

You can also do anything, but not everything. We are all granted the same amount of time each day regardless of wealth or status. It is the great equalizer. What you do with that day is up to you and will in large part determine your level of happiness in life.

In my quest to experience and know everything possible I have paid a dear price. Sometimes the price was very high, even higher than I wanted to pay. Even when the price wasn’t dear, it caused sacrifices.

This isn’t the first blog I’ve written. Two of the many blogs I’ve written over the years are flash fiction. I always wanted to publish fiction. After several years of writing these blogs I think I made a mistake.

Even in business I can bite off more than my teeth can chew. Before Elon Musk I wanted to be Elon Musk. Musk has Tesla, SpaceX, Solar City and the Boring Company. He is spread thin.

Like Musk, I wanted to be all things within my industry. My small office did everything the accounting/tax industry offered. I worked (and still do) massive hours to get good at as many facets of the industry as I could. At one time I was this close to getting my license to practice in Tax Court. Finally I realized I would never have time to actually take a case from start to finish in Tax Court. I settled for providing research in Tax Court cases.

Recently I delegated payroll accounts in my office to a team at a national firm I trained. People calling the office need payroll. But my tiny office can’t handle payroll from around the country, even locally. So I trained a team and set them lose.

Bookkeeping is next on the chopping block.

I’ll still supervise and review accounts when needed. Clients are not left to the wind. It’s just that one person can’t do everything. (Did I say that? What is wrong with me?)

These are two massive areas I want my clients to have access to with quality service. I couldn’t do quality when I was spread so thin. So I delegated intelligently, protecting my clients (and readers) while preserving the last vestiges of my sanity. (Keep comments on my sanity to yourself.)

This still leaves tax preparation/planning/consulting and this blog. If you think about it my plate is still plenty full.

I can’t give up these last things I love to do!


Yes, Paula, I know. I can do anything, but not everything.

Don’t tell Paula, but in my fantasies I am a god. (Enough of my delusions of grandeur.)

I want to do a lot of things. I still do. I miss the things I give up, but the 24 hours you get to use today are the same 24 I get. No more, no less. Net worth has nothing to do with it.

Slowly I improve. I hope my story helps you find balance in your life. Perfect is not the goal. Slowly, like a stubborn clam, my wallet is opening and some minor spending is juicing the economy. (You have noticed the low unemployment rate? Right? That was me.)

Slowly I increase life balance in the things I really enjoy doing.

Just because I like doing something doesn’t mean I have to do everything I enjoy all the time. There is no foul in focusing.

I pray Paula is okay with my butchering of her moniker. No harm was intended.

I know I don’t always talk about taxes, accounting and money like a broken record. But do you understand the connection now?

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Wednesday 9th of August 2017

Love the aspect of looking at it as "you can do anything..." rather than "you can have anything..." I feel like most of us on this path to FI (and those already there) got there because we can't sit still, and it's good to have that reminder that we can stretch ourselves too thin and we have to be aware of that.

I've been reading your archives since the beginning of summer, and only now am I catching up to the present day. Love all of the posts, even if the tax ones are a bit over my head (I'm working on it...). Many thanks for sharing the stories you've decided to share with us, and look forward to the next ones!

P.S. Thanks for linking Queen in there. They're my jam.


Monday 7th of August 2017

So true. My wife and I both attempt to tackle way too much sometimes, trying to do it all. We've had to learn the discipline of holding back - and it happens that when we do, we often find even *better* opportunities to do those few things we want to focus our time on. Also, I may try this no wallet idea...that's very appealing.