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How to Buy an Individual Stock (If You Must)

Good fortune has struck the Accountant household again. Cash has piled up while the retirement accounts are maxed out. Significant funds were added to the non-qualified index funds and there is still cash waiting for investment.

I’m generally uncomfortable with too much uninvested cash. Never one to time the market (not that I haven’t tried, but my results were as expected) I like to get my army, called capital, into battle as quickly as possible.

In the last few weeks I added selectively to my portfolio, even adding a new name to the mix. Since I preach index fund investing so heavily it requires some explaining why I did what I did.

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Camp Accountant

Over the last few weeks and months I’ve added secret messages in plain view on this blog. The easiest cipher (I thought) was on the Where Am I page. Over the last few months nobody said a word. When I finally added the easier cipher on the Where Am I page only one person contacted me shrieking, “Is it true? Is it true?” I’ll let you hunt for other clues. Hint: They are buried within posts.

To answer the question, “Is it true?” the answer is a firm “Maybe.”

For a year or longer I’ve been asked if a Camp Accountant was in the works. I generally shrugged my shoulders because I didn’t think enough people would be interested and I wasn’t sure I needed more commitments in my life.

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How to Lose a Million Dollars in a Day

There is an insidious side to the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) community nobody wants to talk about. I was aware of this issue for some time as the owner of an accounting practice. What I found most disturbing is how blatantly bloggers and talking heads in the demographic keep giving advice that will lead to tears.

It is not if, it is when it will happen. If you follow the advice of this blog and others in the genre you will eventually suffer a million dollar loss day.

I have broken bread with these people and tipped a beer or three as this issue has been discussed and to date I never found anyone to give a damn.

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Your Financial Thermometer

When Mrs. Accountant and I got married we had a bucket list. Most items on the list are private and irrelevant to the story at hand. The one item on the list I will share is our desire to have foster kids early in our marriage.

The goal was to help foster kids at a higher level than the average foster home. We also wanted to have foster children early in our marriage out of concern for having foster children after we had our own children.

Mrs. Accountant and I realized our goal. Several foster kids were placed in our home over three years. Rather than collect a stipend (the county paid us $1,000 per child per month tax free!) and ram as many kids through as possible for some quick squid, we planned on helping these kids get the start they deserved in life.

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The Fastest Way to Grow Your Net Worth

Ever since I disclosed my net worth broke eight figures strange emails have been coming in. Another milestone was passed without fanfare. Past experience had me used to the lack of excitement financial milestones caused.

A theme among many emails revolved around my rate of return. I never really thought of it that way. It was just a thing that happened because I saved a large percentage of my income and invested the bulk of my excess money in index funds. One commenter said he was impressed because my rate of return over the last 20 years was 11% while the S&P rose only 8.5% per year on average. I don’t know if it’s true; I never broke the numbers down that way. All I care is that it grew to a lot.

What the emails and comments forget when they calculate my rate of return is that I added funds over the last 20 years. If I reached my million dollar goal when I was 32 and never dropped another dime in the kitty my internal rate of return would be impressive. Instead, I added excess funds every year. If I analyzed my real return including the additional invested fund my internal rate of return would be less impressive.

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The $10 Million Net Worth Lifestyle

I remember the day I realized I crossed the seven figure mark. The actual moment of crossing was lost because I didn’t know I was doing so well. There was no party or celebration.

The year was 1996, I was 32 years old and the bank needed a personal financial statement for an investment property purchase. The real estate partnership I had with my dad and brother was in full swing, but I wanted to add a few additional properties to my personal portfolio.

The bank asked for a personal financial statement. It had been a while since I filled one out so I was interested in where I would end up.

Don’t get me wrong. I track my finances closely. Each individual investment gets reviewed annually or semi-annually. I don’t always add up all the numbers to see where my net worth is, however.

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Spending versus Cash Flow Meets the Debt Bomb

“It’s not working.”

A long time client started reading this blog and subscribed wholeheartedly into the idea of saving half her income. She discovered the blog early so she had nearly a year of effort under her belt. Student loans were the worst part of her debt, but credit cards and a mortgage also weighed heavily on her financial plan.

Saving half your income is the floor, not the ceiling. In this case, my client and her husband earn nearly $100,000 a year. They wanted to cut their spending to my levels using my yardsticks for spending. They are down to the mid 40s, a very good sign. The lament, however, has me concerned.

The only way this works is to be consistent. Years of hard work can be destroyed by a short-term spending binge. A new expensive car, a cottage up north, a trip to the casino and a new set of furniture can all be spent in a single month. The penalty will take years to fix.

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What the Wealthy Accountant Owns and Why

In my last post I discussed how difficult it is for personal finance bloggers to find fresh material. There are a few areas where fresh material is always available: spending reports, net worth reports, and investment reports. My spending is boringly low so I rarely share those numbers. Net worth reports are fun to watch as people go from zero to millionaire; afterwards it becomes bragging and tends to discourage those starting out.

Even though we all have a timeline where we reduced/eliminated debt and built our net worth, each personal story is a marker along the road to financial independence. Readers love these stories because it provides a framework as they reach for their financial goals.

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