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Party Expansion: When Should I Hire a CPA?

Party Expansion: When Should I Hire a CPA?: Ian answers a question he often gets from friends and clients alike "Should I Hire a CPA?" Certified Public Accountants can be very helpful professionals to add to your party. So, when should you hire one?

Transcript:

What's up Internet? Welcome to Nerd Finance. My name's Ian Bloom. I'm your resident financial life planner and huge nerd. In today's episode we are going to be talking about growing your adventuring party by doing one particular thing, which is hiring a CPA. When does the CPA work for you? How do you decide when you need one? And those sorts of things.

So the reason that I wanted to cover this topic today is simply that it's tax season. We're in the middle of February at the time of this recording and I've been asked by a couple of people "When should I switch off of TurboTax and start handing this over to a professional?" Growing your adventuring party by hiring a CPA is something that you really have to decide on a cost-benefit basis. You see, they are professional and will make your life easier, but you have to make sure that spending the money is useful for you.

So here are a couple of things to consider when hiring a CPA. The first is what is the complexity of the items that I am trying to get taken care of? Because as it turns out, if you're just getting regular W2 income, have no investment income so you're just an employee. Not to knock it, it's simple, but the tax return side of it is probably easily handled by TurboTax at that point and might even be able to be filed for free. And I use TurboTax as a stand-in for all the tax preparation software that you can use out there. So complexity is the first thing. You want to make sure that you have something that the CPA would be able to work hard on for you. Like rental properties, stop compensation, 10-99 income or owning your own business. All of these things provide ample space for a CPA to do some meaningful tax planning for you.

The next thing that you'll want to consider when looking at growing your party by hiring a CPA is simply would it be worthwhile for you? You see, hopefully, viewer, you are starting to get up there in the working world. People's incomes do tend to go up the more that they work, as long as they ask for promotions and look for new jobs, and those sorts of things. So as your income continues to rise, one of the things that you might ask yourself is "Is it worth it for me to spend money to get time back?" These are things that people typically ask when they're thinking about hiring somebody to clean their house or to cook for them or using one of those home chef type things. And all of those are good things to do to get time back. But a CPA is another one that can do that for you. Plus at higher incomes, they might be able to help you with some sorts of tax planning tips like contributing to IRAs and stuff to reduce your tax burden.

So CPAs can be very, very helpful in this regard. They will take one of the most annoying annual tasks off your plate and make sure that you have it taken care of to your liking. So in summary, hiring a CPA is not necessarily for everyone. Spending that 500 plus dollars on a professional isn't always the right answer, but it probably will be the right answer if you have a high level of complexity in your tax return with things like stock compensation, business income, or 1099 income like a contractor. The other reason that you might want to hire a CPA is if you feel like you want that time back in your life. $500 is a small price to pay if you're getting paid $500 an hour, for instance, to offload your tax return.

So I hope that this video was helpful for you. If you like the video, like, comment, subscribe, those sorts of things. But also feel free to check out my website openworldfp.com in order to learn more about the firm and how we can help you have a wonderful day.

What can 7 Wonders teach us?

7 Wonders is an awesome board game that features a drafting mechanic and a race to build the most dominant civilization. The victory points can come from structures, military, science, or even building out your Wonder! But, there's a hidden lesson in this game about finance. What can 7 Wonders teach us about money?

Transcript:

What's up, Internet? My name's Ian Bloom. Welcome to Nerd Finance. I'm your resident financial life planner and huge nerd! In today's episode, we are going to be talking about a board game, 7 Wonders. 7 Wonders is an interesting board game to bring up because, well, like all other board games, it has a hidden lesson in it. In this game, you are building your ideal civilization and starting to accrue victory points, which are essentially influence on the world. Victory points in 7 Wonders come from spending resources and building structures or objectives that will convey certain resources or benefits to your civilization. There are cards that are used to accomplish this. It is a drafting game where you get to pick a card out of each pack and pass it onto your neighbor. The different types of cards, starting with brown, are resource cards and then move on to things like science, merchants and eventually civilian structures that are incredibly beneficial to your society.

Now, the interesting thing about 7 Wonders is that while it has an economic system, there are also ways to work around it and almost never use gold. Gold allows you to buy resources from your neighbors and to accomplish certain things within your civilization like purchasing certain cards, but it does not prove to be mandatory throughout the game. And this is a lesson that I think 7 Wonders can teach us very well. You see, planning, financial planning or otherwise, is not about the money and neither is life. Money is a tool that you may need in order to accomplish the things that you want in life, but ultimately you get to decide your path. So the amount of money that somebody needs is entirely individual to them. Finances are not the purpose, but they are one of the best tools to get you closer to your purpose.

Ultimately, the other thing that 7 Wonders teaches us is that you need an infrastructure set around yourself to win the game. The people who win a game of 7 Wonders are people who have committed to a strategy and built out all of the architecture for that strategy, whether that be science or civilian structures or merchants or just building out your wonder, and it's similar in life. If you're going to accomplish something of meaning, you have to set up an infrastructure around yourself, whether that is building a business like I've done, or just simply having the social networks and support systems set up around yourself to accomplish these things.

Finally, financial infrastructure is a good thing to have in place in order to ensure that the resource of gold in 7 Wonders or money in real life is able to be provided to fit your goals. So there's my summary. In essence, 7 Wonders teaches us that life is not about money, it's about the things that money can help you do, and that in order to accomplish longterm goals, you do need to set up some sort of infrastructure around yourself to make those possible. If you enjoyed this video, like, comment, subscribe, those sorts of things. And if you find that this video leaves you wanting to learn more about my services or my firm, please head over to OpenWorldFP.com. Thanks so much for watching. Have a nice day.

Journey in Hana

Let’s start this off with a disclaimer. There are a lot of very wonderful people who mean the world to me in this story. Few of them are named, because the work is ultimately deeply personal. If you are one of those people and would like to be named, feel free to let me know!

Imagine knowing nothing of a career, not even dreaming it would exist, and then standing on its most sacred ground five years later. It’s awe-inspiring. Hana is the epicenter of life planning, brought into existence by George Kinder. With the goal of connecting the mental side of money with the meaning that we are looking for in our lives, life planning is an incredible way to work with clients. If you missed the previous blog post in this series, please go read or listen to Journey to Hana. That blog post lays the foundation for this one, focused on my three challenges in Hana, and my Journey Home which I will be releasing in the future.

Arriving in Hawaii was full of emotion. I was exhausted and annoyed because long flights and little sleep do that to a person. I was also overjoyed, because my wife rented me a convertible Camaro as a surprise. Finally, I was hopeful. I hoped that I would learn something that would allow me to serve my clients better and propel my business forward. I know that most conferences and retreats leave me filled with inspiration, and I didn’t expect this one to fall short.

The ride from Kahului to Hana is a true sight. I was used to winding mountain roads, having graduated from App State, but I was not used to seeing the ocean along winding mountain roads. Some of the overlooks gave a stunning view of waves crashing on rocks, waterfalls, and small communities down on the coast. All of it was incredible. I was beginning to understand why George spends a lot of his days in this part of the world.

Our little home-away-from-home was simple, but perfect. A suite-style apartment attached to the home of a lovely couple. We had this amazing view of the coast across a grassy field (pictured below) and I jokingly called it my office to a few clients I corresponded with the next morning. I could have worked from that porch for the whole week and the trip would have been worth it.

Before the workshop started we took one little adventure. Waioka Pond (pictured below) was less than a mile from our front door, so we decided to go on a hike.

It is a sight to behold! The pond is actually more a lagoon, an intersection of a stream, a spring, and the sea. The water level is pretty consistent and the pool is deep. We witnessed several travelers jumping off the high rock into the pool, laughing and having a great time. That’s when the first challenge of the trip set in for me. I wish I could do that. I’m afraid of heights.

Ten minutes went by. Rebecca and I took pictures of the pond. The same travellers went back to the top of the rock and jumped off half a dozen times. They were fine. I can do that. “H-hey...Becca...I think I’m going to do that.”

After deliberating for a moment, Rebecca promised to film me. I went to the top of the rocks, my heart pounding in my chest. I looked off the edge of the rock and took a deep breath. Why can’t I move? My legs were frozen in place. My chest was tight. Maybe I can’t do this.

Then the simplest, easiest solution presented itself. The path was obvious. One of the travelers who had done it before walked up behind me, clearly impatient for his turn. “Can you count me off? I’m nervous.”

“Sure. Three...two...one…”

It was actually that simple. Much like life planning, overcoming a fear is all about having a partner to talk through your obstacles with. The stranger didn’t provide the solution, I did. But him being there was necessary. It made me have to do it.

And did it feel good! The water was refreshing and cool. My adrenaline surged and laughter spilled forth from me. Joy was abundant at that moment.

Rebecca joined me in the pool, though in a more gingerly fashion. She didn’t want to jump, and I don’t blame her. It was my goal, not hers.

That evening, after a shower, we found ourselves at the opening evening for the 5-Day. It was amazing for an entirely different reason, because now I was face-to-face with so many people I knew (or knew of.) People I loved, people I admired, people I hoped to know were filling that room. I knew I’d be paired with one of these people eventually to practice with. Someone in this room was MY life planner!

Making a room of people comfortable with that notion is hard work. But, the lead trainer set in on it with a smile. We worked through some surprisingly non-painful exercises in sharing. It was all about us too. The activities required us to open up about ourselves and receive praise, smiles, laughs, and consolation from our peers. All of which were working toward the greater goal of making it easier to select a life planner to work with, and the secret goal of making it easier to share in front of people this week.

So then the next morning came, and so did the selection of our partner. This was the one thing about the training I was dreading. We were instructed to “Just feel where in the room you were pulled to.” and go to that person. It brought back flashbacks of something traumatic from my childhood, being the worst athlete I knew. Great. It’s like being picked last for kickball. Anxiety and fear bubbled up, barely contained within my calm outer demeanor.

It’s a great reminder that in a room full of people, it’s entirely possible to feel alone.

Then I locked eyes with my partner, grinned, and sat back down immediately. Meg Bartelt, someone I admired greatly, had chosen me. A kindred spirit, someone who stayed glued to the exact spot they stood up in. I could not have been happier to have that awkwardness behind me. I happen to know very keenly that a number of my colleagues were feeling the same emotions, partly because of an aside I had with one of them where tears were shed. But, the torrent of emotion was behind us. Kinda.

The next three days were full of sessions exploring the Kinder methodology, known as EVOKE, and becoming deeply familiar with the emotions of our partner. What were the things that made up their ideal life? What were the emotions driving them to want or need those things? How could we bring those things into reality soon? Not five years from now.

Whereas the selection of our partners brought forth a torrent of emotion, I would call these three days a slow burn. Imagine always feeling strong emotion, so much so that your eyes are a little sore every day. It’s not that you’re denying yourself tears, it’s just that the tears don’t need to be shed. There’s a fair mix of positive and negative in life planning.

Someone needs to get a divorce, but their life will be better on the other side.

Another person needs to leave the career they’ve had for the last 30 years, the one that’s supported their family. But, their new work is more meaningful, and leaves more time for their spouse and children.

These things provide the full range of emotion. Joy, happiness, and excitement, but never without anxiety, longing, and change.

As one trainer said about life planning “Emotion is energy.” This is true whether it’s positive or negative. Emotion provides motivation for us. Life planning is mostly concentrated on the aspirational emotions, but it does not ignore the negative. It breathes, sits with that emotion, then smiles and asks “How would you like it to be instead?” Life planning is about the present and the future.

My second challenge for the week presented itself in the form of my partner. Throughout the three days, some aspects of Meg’s personality stood out in particular - hard-edged skepticism, discomfort, unease in this space. What I would later learn is that this was a transformation my partner was going through, compared to me she was new to the world of life planning and had not fully embraced the potential results. I can imagine that being told what you’ve been doing for years is only a part of the bigger picture is jarring, and that’s what I imagine she was feeling.

Yet the amazing thing about life planning still stood true, as we removed the focus from the workshop and focused on her and our conversations, some wonderful emotions blossomed forth. Meg had a deep caring for her family and getting to see them more often. There was a reading chair, a sanctuary in which she could relax and be herself. Lastly, there was a longing for an adventure with her children, something very particular and beautiful. All of that was unpacked through our work, which showed me the whole person as opposed to the image we so carefully cultivate and show to the wider world.

All of that was stunning and wondrous, but also nerve-wracking in a way. It’s incredible to work with someone on their ideal life (not perfect, nothing is perfect and life changes always), but it’s also challenging to be there with someone emotionally as they discover what really matters to them. You have to practice it, both staying calm yourself and mirroring the other person so that they know you’re listening. That’s how you become a truly great life planner. So while I got over the speed bump on that challenge, there’s still a long way for me to go.

It would be dishonest for me to end this post here, despite the fact that my written posts are in danger of becoming small books. I’ve already pointed the lense at my partner, but now let’s talk about myself. Pointing the lense at myself was my third challenge. Being life planned was an emotional journey.

What I realized, both in private conversation with my amazing partner, and in the demo session we did in front of the whole workshop full of people, was that my old enemy had returned to me in a way. I often hold myself back from success with self-limiting belief. I’m too young. I need a bigger practice. I need more time. I can’t do this.

These mantras are insidious. They don’t show up visibly in my life often, but they’re just under the surface, directing me toward self-doubt at inopportune moments. They slow down my growth, both as a person and in business.

It was obvious to me, tears welling up in front of all of my peers, that I don’t have to let this happen. The pathway forward was clear. It all crystallized in the moment she asked me “How can you make sure this happens?” My partner and I worked together to set deadlines, a pathway toward the life and business that I want for myself and my wife. I smiled, and breathed out, with no more tears sitting just behind my eyes.

Having those deadlines has already done incredible things for me.

Since Hana, just under a month ago, I’ve:

-Published My Life Planning Story (My highest performing piece of content ever)

-Gotten A Spot at a 100+ Person Conference to Speak (About life planning and my journey)

-Signed Contracts with Two Wonderful Clients

-Rebuilt All of My Firm’s Processes (To focus on life planning and serving clients better)

-Hired and Begun Training an Associate Planner

-Scheduled My Wife’s Dream Trip (With the family, to Belize!)

-Rebuilt My Calendar (To focus on giving me time back with my wife)

I’ve also done plenty of other things that aren’t mentioned here, but that have renewed my vigor for my business and life.

Where I would like to end this post is on a high note. The journey is emotional, certainly, and the work is challenging. But, the reward is great. Life planning is incredible. We should all do more of it and help ourselves and our clients live into their dreams. The world will be better for it.

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