HOSU 13 | Money Nerve

Bob Wheeler – Author, CPA And Founder Of The Money Nerve

Don’t make your clients feel wrong; give them other options. Matthew Sullivan’s guest in this episode is Bob Wheeler, the founder of The Money Nerve. Matthew shares with Bob his experiences in dealing with clients over the years. Some clients will never want to listen, while others are eager to know what solutions you can offer. It’s a matter of finding the right client and building a long-term relationship with them. Never transact for the sake of making a quick buck off of someone. Keep it relational, and you will find fulfillment. Tune in!

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Bob Wheeler – Author, CPA And Founder Of The Money Nerve

Bob’s witty and non-judgmental approach to personal finance provides guidance to anyone who wants to create a new path to financial freedom

How are you, Bob? I was on your show. How has time flown?

Life is good. I just took a two-week vacation. I’m refreshed and ready for more.

We bought an RV and attached it to the back of our car, much to the disdain of the car. There’s nothing else other than complain before it blew up. We decided to drive from Utah across to the East Coast and then back again. We made it as far as the Carolinas. The car exploded because it probably wasn’t supposed to pull that much weight actually to give it. It was great fun. There are six of us, plus a dog, in this fiberglass box on wheels.

Driving from one park to another and seeing the country. It was most enjoyable. The true definition of a holiday of a lifetime, never again. Having been slightly traumatized by, God knows how many hookups, poop tubes and all that stuff. We decided to sell the RV. We’re reenacted with the joy of flying and hotels, running water, fixed appliances. We’ll probably be catching planes from now on. You mentioned vacation, sorry.

I have a pop-up camper. I tell you, sometimes it’s nice to be in a hotel with running water.

The true cost of money is not what it costs to borrow. It’s what it costs when you sell it.

The pop-up camper is proper camping, like tent camping is proper camping. China has this luxury on wheels behind you. In the words of my Northern England friends, “It doth butter, no parsnips.” It doesn’t quite, it’s neither fish nor fowl.

It was an expensive bedroom. You’re just driving around with a bed. It’s a very expensive bed on wheels.

Things fall off. Everything breaks.

Here’s the great thing about camping and not so great. I went up to Glacier National Park, Grand Teton, Yellowstone. You’re very excited but you’re in a proper tent. Everywhere they tell you, “Bear aware.” Bears will kill you. I’m a little nervous and then I say to the ranger, “Do I need to have bear spray?” They’re like, “Yes, they’ll kill you.” “This is a great vacation. I’m excited.” They’re like, “Don’t leave a Tootsie Roll and a deodorant. Anything in your camper, your pop-up, they will bash through the camper and kill you.” We’re living in complete fear. We’re all like, “Are we going to die? Did we leave a Tootsie Roll in the bag? Is there a granola bar?” The second night, 3:00 in the morning, we heard a growling sound. We’re terrified. It was probably a chipmunk but we were just amplified at 3:00 in the morning.

HOSU 13 | Money Nerve

Money Nerve: People have very short-term memory expanses. You have 15 to 20 minutes to get to a client before they doze off.

My view is if a bear comes up, I could probably talk to it. I say, “Mr. Bear, we can get along. What do you need? Do you need the Tootsie Rolls? I’ll just put them over there, then I’ll back up.” I don’t think they speak that language.

I don’t think they do but I did see a grizzly. That was awesome until the ranger told us, “You’re too close, everybody.” He started screaming at us but we were 80 yards away. There were lots of people so I could run fast. I knew with a couple of pushes and accidentally tripping, I was covered.

That’s survival of the fittest. Isn’t it? What we’re designed to do is push other people in front of us if there’s a grizzly bear.

Other people will go down first.

I’m still in that mode with the idea of tents, tripping up over the wires when you get out and all that stuff. It’s funny actually because it’s leading onto the word depreciation. Having bought a camper is gradually working my way towards depreciation.

I love depreciation. That’s a great way to bring it in.

I go and buy this new camper because I’m stupid like that. It wasn’t that much. I didn’t look at the capital cost. I looked at the monthly payments like, “I can probably afford this.” I bought a camper and then everyone’s excited about it. It was great. Thankfully, the price of a camper is pretty high at the moment. I thought, “I’m going to sell it because the chances are that this time next year, when we want to go and do it again, the prices will probably fall.” I still took a massive hit in it because the amount that I paid for it and when I sold it were not quite the same. Everyone knows about cars but do you think there is anywhere near enough education about all this stuff?

When you talk about depreciation, it’s not just about stupid campers that you buy when you shouldn’t do. It’s about other assets and other things that you buy, the cost of money because the true cost of money is not what it costs to borrow. It’s what it cost me when I sold it. The overall cost of that is the finance charges and the setup charges. Is there enough discussion or education about all of the COGS that make the financial world work?

The information is out there. It’s not riveting information. People aren’t like, “I can’t wait to read about depreciation and understand the cost-benefit.” There could be more awareness around that kind of thing. I bought my used camper. It was six months old.

You’re smart and that’s why you get the big bucks. That’s why I bring my head against the wall.

I’m frugal. The poor guy before me bought it for $12,000. He bought it as COVID was starting. They’re like, “They’re not going to be any more campers. It’s the last one.” He supersized it. Put air-conditioning on it, took it on one trip and put it up for sale. I bought it for $7,000. I got a brand new camper that’s taken one trip.

Let’s talk about the guy that bought my camper. I sounded like the guy.

It’s true with cars with campers. The minute you drive off the lot brand new, it just dropped half in value, where 70% is the value. It loses value if you buy things used and buy smart. Most people get excited about the shiny new object, like when you brought it home, and everybody was super excited. Nobody is thinking about the fact when you have to back in the camper, into the site where it’s difficult and all the other campers are watching you. It’s all the pressure. It’s an emotional cost as well.

I was thinking about money. Stop me if you prefer to talk about holidays and things but with money generally, do we have any idea about how money works? I don’t mean the top level in terms of where you get your salary. A number goes into your account. You spend it. That number reduces and goes to zero. You wait until the end of the month and it goes back up again. Do we have any concept generally about how the Fed is able to provide us with checks every month? Where does that come from? We talked about quantitative easing, which in itself is almost impossible to articulate or to pronounce. If we talk about cryptocurrency, value is created literally out of thin air.

These are all concepts. The work that you do, which I could paraphrase very clumsily by making something that is incredibly sophisticated and very difficult to answer, you make it digestible as it were. You take something that starts off as huge and elephant size. You break it down. You make it digestible and understandable. With that, you create education, knowledge and understanding where it wasn’t previously. What are the complexities in those? What moments have you had where you think, “This is so complex but I begin to understand it.” How do you get across that complexity of money and funding fiat currency versus all of the digital currencies?

It’s hard because people have a very short-term memory span. They pay attention. I have maybe 15, 20 minutes to get to a client before they doze off because they’re like, “This is too much information. I don’t understand it. I’m shutting down.” It’s interesting that you’re talking about cryptocurrency and all these different complex things. One of the things that I saw in 2021, which is amazing to me, is there’s information out there that nobody paid attention to. Everybody was buying stock and selling it. That Robin hood helped all of that happen. I had several clients in 2021. I have a client I’m working on. He comes to me and says, “I think I had a million-dollar capital gain. I’m going to be in trouble.” Here’s the thing. He actually has a $2 million capital gain because of wash sales. Nobody understands wash sales.

If you buy a stock and you sell it at a loss and then you buy the stock within 30 days, you don’t get the loss. It gets moved and kicked further down. You’ll eventually get it but not now. He had $1.5 million worth of wash sales. He’s paying tax on that. A lot of people did this in 2020 and they’re like, “What are you talking about wash sales?” Nobody did the homework. It’s been this way for a very long time but so many people are not paying attention.

Be relational in the work that you do. Don’t be interested in making a quick buck off of somebody.

I have stock investors at a client who sold $1 million worth of stock. I noticed he was one day shy of long-term capital gains and he’d been doing this for years. I said to him, “Do you understand that if you would sell this a day later, we would have saved 10% on all of these taxes?” He said, “I have no idea.” “You’re trading millions of dollars every year but you don’t understand the basics of long-term and short-term capital?” “I never heard of it.” It’s mind-boggling.

How would you describe your typical client? The profile, the transaction size, what would be your best stab?

Most of my clients make between $200,000 and $1 million. That’s a pretty wide range. Depending on where you are, a couple of $100,000 goes a long way. In LA, that’s the poverty level. For most of my clients, they feel pretty good about what they do but they don’t understand the concept of, “What do you mean I have lots of debt that I have to pay back? I’m making money.” “You’re making less than your debt. You’re still going to be upside down.” I don’t know if people just want to be in a bubble. Don’t confuse me with the facts. I just want to live in my fantasy world. This is Hollywood. There is a lot of people that don’t want the truth but people get overwhelmed pretty quickly.

There are all these tools out there. You talked about Robin hood and all of the online trading platforms. There are countless platforms. Did you think there’s a general lack of people who feel their way or do they learn by mistakes? In other words, do people learn? Unless you’re taught how this thing works, can you learn through experience?

You can learn through experience. It’s costly and can be painful. I’ve seen people make the same mistake 3 or 4 times until they finally say, “I guess that’s not working.” It’s not. It’s interesting. I was talking with somebody with a lot of entrepreneurs. People come up with a great idea and then they don’t do any research. They just go, “Let’s just go for it. It’s going to work out.” They don’t think about what’s the cashflow? What’s the capitalization that I need? What’s the long-term strategy? A lot of entrepreneurs love the ideas part but then when you have to do the monthly accounting and the reporting, it’s not quite as exciting. With a lot of entrepreneurs, that’s where things separate. We have a lot of crashes because it’s not quite so much fun anymore when you have to keep getting customers and you’ve got to pay the bills. It’s much more fun when you’re creating the concept and telling people about this beautiful idea.

HOSU 13 | Money Nerve

Money Nerve: A lot of people don’t want the truth. They want to live in their fantasy world.

If you were to describe the strongest suite that you have in terms of your service where you generate the most value in most cases for the people that you work with, where would that be?

It’s in tax strategy and tax planning. Our biggest value in November and December is getting together with all of our business clients and saying, “Let’s look at the snapshot of where you are. What do we expect for the rest of the year? How do we not pay any taxes or maximize our tax savings creating a defined benefit plan, setting up a 401(k), buying equipment, whatever that stuff is?” That provides a lot of value. I’m not a surprise kind of guy. Good surprise, bad surprise, I don’t like them. I want to know in December what I’m going to owe in March or April for some people. We worked hard so that we don’t have surprises when we get to the end of the year. People know what they’re going to pay and we’ve already been saving for it.

I got invaded then by an eighteen-month-old. It’s fine. I managed to brushed them away, BBC cell. You talked about surprises. How much tax planning again? It’s such a complicated thing. When we talk about investments or running a business through the lens of an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur is fixated on the idea and the fact is everything else will work out. Entrepreneurs, primarily, is that your client base? These are people that are speaking as an entrepreneur, which is almost a bit like an illness where you create and you do things?

There are many circumstances where you don’t have skillsets or experience, whether it’d be in recruiting. I was talking to some guests, who have this incredible ability to recruit management and retain people, whether it’s financial planning, business planning or tax. Tax is one thing but also your ability to mentor and to work with people to explain how important structure is. How would you rate that in terms of importance?

Structure is certainly important. When you’re first being creative and coming up with ideas, maybe you don’t want the structure but once things are in place and you’ve got an app, you’ve got a design or you’ve got some offering, there doesn’t have to be some structure. You do have to start measuring the costs and all these things. I had clients who are great programmers. They have this concept. They were going to create this app.

They were spending about $200,000 a year of their spouse’s income to create this thing. It was going to be amazing. Four years in, after about $800,000, they finally said, “I don’t think it’s going anywhere. We’ll just close the company.” That was $800,000. They didn’t get a write-off. It did create a court but that was painful for me to watch $800,000 go blindly because they didn’t have a real plan. They didn’t have any structure other than, “We think that’s a great idea. We’re going to figure out how to make it work.” “We didn’t figure it out. Okay, next.”

How much resistance do you have? Only from experience, I’m a huge believer in mentoring because I spent a large part of my early years thinking that I could be all things to all people. I made some huge, expensive mistakes as a result of that. Do you find that there are some people that are coachable and other people that you have to start bit by bit and gradually work up to them, understanding that they do need to listen to other people?

There are some people that I realize are never going to listen, then I’m probably not the best fit for them because, at some point, they’re going to crash and burn and want to blame everybody else. I don’t want to be around when that happens. Most of my clients, it may take them a little bit but they eventually will see, “I do see the value in this. We saved you this money.” I had a client who incorporated. They came back to me after three years and said, “Bob, I used to get big refunds on my checks and now I don’t get big refunds. I’m always cutting checks to the government.” I said, “Let me ask you something. Do you have an extra $500,000 in your bank account?” “Yeah.” “You’re not getting the refund but here’s the thing. Here’s how much money I saved you over the last several years. You just have to change your thinking.” You’re in the mentality of, “I get a refund.” That was the money that was withheld on you and you weren’t getting any deductions.

Once I laid it out and explained it to them, they went, “Nevermind. I’ll never ask this question again.” I said, “I’ll tell you when it’s not benefiting you but you’re saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax over time.” Not everybody wants to see it. People are like, “I want to be creative. I work with a lot of creative folks.” Some people just want to stay creative. It’s too taxing to talk about taxes. I don’t want to muddle my brain with that.

Do you find that you turned down more people as clients than you accept?

If I like somebody and they appreciate what we do, even if they don’t understand anything and they’ll say to me, “I don’t want to understand any of it but I trust you,” I’ll work with them. If I have people coming in that don’t want to do anything different, they don’t want to change their ways, they’re not such great people, I don’t work with them. I’m in a fortunate position that I get to pick and choose who we work with. We like working with nice people that appreciate what we do and see the value because I want people to know that we’re helping them.

HOSU 13 | Money Nerve

Money Nerve: We work hard, so we don’t have surprises when we get to the end of the year.

From a marketing perspective, are you in the position where most of your leads come through referrals?

They’ve always been referrals. With my tax practice, I started with 100 clients and built it over to 1,000 referrals only. Sometimes I took referrals that I wished I didn’t because I needed them. I’m in a position that we get to be selective and we work with people we liked.

Your business is a combination of consulting but with that solid CPA background. Would you describe yourself very much as the atypical accountant?

Most people assume that a CPA can’t even hold a conversation. At the bat, I’m ahead of the game. A lot of accountants, people in finance and myself, included initially, like the safety of the numbers. It’s always 2 plus 2 is 4 and if it’s not, you made a mistake. There’s comfort in that but at some point, you have to be able to think outside the box and understand the rules, then you can manipulate them to your favor. Not breaking the law but knowing how to push. Not need to stay well within the line but to push the line. I’m comfortable with that.

It’s understanding what these boundaries are and what they mean in relation to your clients. Is that something that you’ve always had that approach, which is very much the personality first and the accounting second? Is that something that you can teach people? I’m thinking about people that have CPA businesses. How do you differentiate yourself? You’re right. The numbers are absolute. How do you deal with clients? Clients are metaphysical. How do you blend those two together? Is there a way of trying to break out of this perception that most CPAs have of not being able to deal with clients?

Here’s the thing. I have a different, varied background than maybe a lot of CPAs. I did stand-up comedy, CFO of The World Famous Comedy Store. I’ve had my own other side businesses besides the accounting. I’ve written a book and taught workshops. I do a lot of people’s works. I’m very clear that I’m relational in the work that I do. I’m not transactional. I’m interested in the long-term relationship. I’m not interested in making a quick buck off of somebody. I don’t know that I can convince a lot of other CPAs to get past their comfort zone because a lot of them aren’t comfortable. I was forced early on to sit down in front of 200 people with a screen up front and change numbers on a budget while everybody’s like, “No, it’s $1 million. It’s this and that.” I just learned to get comfortable with it, even though I was maybe inside terrified.

Don’t make your clients feel wrong or look bad. Just give them other options.

It’s not just CPAs. It’s any profession, whether it’s doctor, dentist, CPA or anything like that where you’re dealing with people. I have to ask and I knew this was something I wanted to bring up. With the standup, that must be A, the most terrifying and B, the most fulfilling thing that you can do with your clothes on, I would’ve thought.

We don’t have to do it with your clothes on. You can always get a good laugh that way.

That was guaranteed to have everyone rolling around in the aisles.

For a lot of people, it is terrifying but for me, I feel safe behind the mic. I could say things that I might not say in real life.

Then you realized you have to switch the mic on.

There’s always that. Plug it in and have an audience. It’s probably one of the most fulfilling things when you’re in a room with 1,000 people and everybody is laughing at your joke or laughing at the way you took a breath. They’re with you. It’s the best drug ever. It’s amazing to have a whole group of people completely in alignment with what you’re sharing. It’s a lot of fun because it’s not just about me. It’s about us collectively. It’s interesting. I watched some comics that will get angry at the crowd and say, “This is your fault.” No, it’s always the comic’s fault. The crowd is there to have a good time. We just have to not be so needy that we need them to love us. We need to just be there to have fun and have a good time.

I also think they’re good stand-ups. There’s an enormous amount of intelligence, both emotional intelligence and the ability to read the audience, the ability to pick up tiny nuances and then think, “What am I going to say?” You have to be several steps ahead of where they are to be able to deliver. There are a number of parallels. You talked about the difference between the absolute and the metaphysical there. Those are steps where you’re looking at options. “I can go this route. Am I going to end up in a comedic cul-de-sac? If I take this route, does that open up all other options?” I’m wondering if anyone has done any studies to look at the logical approach of the successful stand-ups compared to the logical approach of engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for example.

I don’t know if they’ve done studies. One of the things that is different about comics than a lot of people is we’re in the world and we’re observing the world. We’re not fully in one or the other. Even as a performer in that performance, the comic is still observing the audience as they’re performing. I noticed myself and with other comics. We’re present. We’re going to the concert but we’re also observing the concert. We’re also looking at the funniness. We’re constantly analyzing. It’s something that happens. It’s not like, “Let me turn on the brain.” It’s something that I do. It’s part of my nature.

That’s analytical ability. It’s something that’s hugely transferable but also it is compelling in the sense that you look at things from a different perspective and that is what gives you the ability to provide solutions. You use this very overused expression to think out of the box. If you’re within a set of rules yet on the outside asking, “Why are these rules like this? Why is this?” Would you say that gives you the ability to provide recommendations to clients? Not just accounting but a general business that perhaps they would never have considered.

Yes, and it’s also what allows me to do because as a performer, I want the audience on my side and with my client, I want them on my side. I can use humor. I can tell a story that’s not directly them that can give them the information to go, “That’s me, isn’t it?” I go, “That’s coincidental. I didn’t realize.” I use that to help educate people so that I’m not making them wrong and bad. I’m trying to give them other options. That’s the other piece where clients appreciate the fact where I’m not shaming them or making them bad. They come in and do something that’s crazy. I’m like, “We got to fix this. It wasn’t the best choice but let’s go from here instead of how could you be so stupid that I have to work extra hard.” I’m not shaming my clients. I’m like, “Let’s collaborate together. Let’s make this work.”

If you look at the components with the expenses you have, is there a mass-market approach that you think you can take? There are lots of second-rate classes, educational materials or courses. Have you ever been tempted to try and distill some of the things that you’ve learned through your experiences and deliver those in steps so that people at the very beginning of the process can begin to understand the basics and build up from there rather than trying to repair something at the very end?

HOSU 13 | Money Nerve

Money Nerve: Some people are never going to listen, and you’re probably not the best fit for them because, at some point, they’re going to crash and burn and want to blame everybody else.

I certainly do have that desire to be able to go out like, “Let me give you all this information.” Here’s what I’ve also learned over the years. Most people don’t want the information. With that old saying, you can lead a horse to water, I could go out and tell everybody, “If you focus on relationships, if you do this and you do that.” People are like, “Whatever.” Unfortunately, mostly I have to wait for people to come to me and say, “This seems to be working for you. Can you give me some insight?” I need that curiosity and participation. When people come to me to work on money struggles, emotional, mental blocks and things like that, the first question I ask people is, “Are you willing to do the work and feel uncomfortable?”

Ninety-five percent of the people will say, “I’m willing to do the work and feel uncomfortable.” I’ve had people come in and say, “I’m not willing to do the work.” I’m like, “We’re done. Thank you so much. The session is over.” You have to be willing. Most people, until the pain point gets to such that they need to change, are going to stay in that comfort level rather than make a shift. As much as I’d love to go out and tell people, “Here’s what you can do and here’s how it could be better,” I need people to be motivated to want to make the change.

The problem is though that motivation normally comes from something bad that’s happened. The only reason you go to a dentist normally is when there’s a problem, certainly if you’re British. I’m going to the doctor if I’m slightly dead. The concept of preventative accounting is something that you have to try and teach them.

It’s interesting that you mentioned dentists. They have the highest rate of suicide. It’s one of the most stressful medical professions. I had a client say to me one time when they came in for a meeting. They said, “I was more concerned about coming to visit you for my taxes than I was finding out whether or not I had cancer.” I said, “Your priorities are messed up. Cancer is life or death. Taxes, we can figure it out.”

Look at the situation from multiple perspectives and analyze how you can make it work.

It’s that feeling that you’re in the machine, the unstoppability and other myths that you come across frequently. This concept that if you have a tax issue or if you have an accounting issue, it’s unfixable. You’re on the road to nowhere.

There’s a myth out there and people take one side or the other. One myth is if you file on the tax date, you’re going to get audited. Other people think if you file exactly on the tax, you won’t get audited. If you go on extension, you’re going to get audited. The people that believe you’re going to get audited if you go on extension, I can’t convince them otherwise. The people that think you should file early, I can’t convince them otherwise. These are beliefs that they have. They’re so strong. They’re based on nothing. There’s a belief out there that the IRS looks at everything you do. Every time you use a credit card, the IRS is like, “Look what Betty spent her money on.” They’re not that far-reaching.

That’s the equivalent of going to a pedestrian crossing and pressing it. There’s this magic code. If you press the crossing button in a certain way, the lights will immediately turn red. That same craziness.

I’m getting on the elevator. I’ve pushed the button to take me up to my office. A lady walks in right behind me and pushes the button again. “The light is red. I’ve pushed the button. The elevator is not coming any quicker because you pushed it again.”

There’s a line of code in the lift software. It says, “If this button is pressed three times, make it get extra fast. Turn back time.” What are the highlights? What are the moments where dealing with clients and people can be very challenging but can also be pretty rewarding? Not just in terms of the amount that you save them. What are the moments that you look back on and talk with your clients?

There are several clients that have come back to me and said, “I’m so excited that I owe this much in tax because I saved all the money and I get to pay it. Had we not done these strategies, I wouldn’t have been prepared.” That’s cool when people are excited that they’ve saved the money and they’re not angry at me when I tell them the numbers because we’ve planned for it. That feels good. There’s been a couple of times where I helped people get a house. We started with a duplex so that they could build some equity. One of my clients said to me, “We wouldn’t have our two kids if you hadn’t helped us get into that first house, which gave us the permission to start a family and then we were able to build a bigger house.” Stuff like that is rewarding.

Is it that you’re enabling people, you’re giving people a pathway to do things that they never thought that they could do?

It’s about helping people see that they do have the power. They can create the future that they want with a little bit of structure and guidance. For me, the big reward is when I see people come back to me and say, “I’ve started a savings account. I’ve paid off my debt. I’m helping my mom out.” I’ve had people come to me and say, “I saved so much money. I’m able to make a down payment in a year.” They followed it to the letter. They got so obsessed that they expedite it.

The thing that you’re not saying, which is probably the most critical thing is the creativity that you bring. If you think about all of those things that we talked about like the stand-up and the solutions, it’s creativity. It’s the creativity to look at a set of circumstances through the eyes or through the lens of your client. Come up with solutions that work, that are deliverable, that they would never have thought of in a million years. That’s the thing that probably drives you because each client is different. We live and die by the excitement as entrepreneurs that we get from solving problems. Is it the creativity of being presented with a set of circumstances and then trying to create this real living solution that derives benefits to the client?

HOSU 13 | Money Nerve

Money Nerve: It’s cool when people are excited that they’ve saved money.

It’s funny you say that because I’m realizing that one of the things that helped me get ahead when I worked at a firm was the ability to come up with creative solutions where somebody would have 2 or 3 corporations. I would look at stuff and say, “If we move over here and we do this, we wipe out this tax liability.” “That’s a great idea.” I didn’t realize it at the time but that was one of the reasons that I moved forward and advanced. Clients wanted to talk to me. Initially, I didn’t want to talk to clients. I’m like, “Let me just sit in the backroom and create.” I do think that people appreciate it that I was looking at it from multiple perspectives and trying to like, “How can we make this work? What’s the impact if we go down this way? If we follow your path, not just short-term, how’s that going to layout?”

It is this great combination of empathy so in it being able to put yourself in the shoes of the client and understand what they want out of it without having sufficient life experience to be able to be empathetic to that person’s needs and to understand probably what it would be like in their shoes, combined with the creativity to be able to look at certain situations through using different set of rules but at the same time, still maintaining the tramlines of regulation. To have those combinations is pretty rare. I would have thought for someone in the tax profession that’s trying to get that across. That’s why guests most of yours, if not all of your business is referral because trying to put that out in an ad is quite difficult.

The other two pieces that add to my background are one, I was set on being a lawyer since I was a kid, I had a lot of law courses that I had taken, also legal research. I don’t always think it’s prepping for law school but I met a bunch of attorneys and I thought, “I don’t like these guys.” The first thing was I never wanted to be an accountant. It was just something that was easy. I felt like, “I know it’s too easy to get paid for it. I want to do law. That’s challenging.” The fact that I didn’t want to be an accountant that I said, “I’ve got this law background and this is something that comes easy. Let’s do this.” I didn’t come into it the normal route.

You can see the attraction of the absolute nature of accounting. It’s a very interesting combination because you’ve got creativity, yet it’s a bit like being a stonemason, I suppose, where you can be incredibly creative but at the end of the day, the angles have to be right and the thing has to fit. It doesn’t matter how much you chip away. If it’s not strong enough or if it doesn’t fit where it’s supposed to fit, then it’s of no use. I would be delighted to be a client of yours to be able to find someone who has such a rare blend. Do you get people coming up to you saying, “Bob, I heard you’re a stand-up comedian? What’s your favorite joke?” It’s a bit like going to a dentist and say, “You’re a dentist. Could you look at this tooth for me?”

It’s funny, I get both. If people find out I’m an accountant, people are giving me all their tax problems. Can I figure it out? Like at the dinner party, “This one little thing, I’m thinking of doing this. Tell us a joke right now. You need two drinks.” Calm down. It’s funny.

You get an audience and $20,000.

Comedy also has to be set up in a way. You don’t just tell a stand-up joke. You got to know your audience. A funeral is probably not the best place to layout your ten minutes of new material.

I suppose you could do deadpan.

People love to tell me the joke that I can go like, “Here’s a joke you can use. It’s your joke. You can just take it.”

You must have seen that movie Good Morning, Vietnam with Robin Williams. When the guy takes over from him and he’s got the horn and says, “I’m funny. I can be funny. I can tell jokes and we’re not going to play poker.” There must be so many times when you thought, you come across people and you can’t study this stuff. You’ve either got to be on frequency or not.

I had a friend come to me one time and said, “Bob, I was doing this set. I was in a spot and so I used some of your material. It didn’t go over very well.” I’m like, “That’s because it’s my material. It was my experience. You’re telling a story that’s not you.”

Tell your own story, not somebody else’s.

That’s that nuance. It’s that magic. It’s the fairy dust that you sprinkle on the audience and they don’t see it. We’re going to switch gears. I have my ten show quick fire questions from the questionnaire. Hopefully, you haven’t come across this. Let’s start with number one. Bob Wheeler, what is your favorite word?


What is your least favorite word?


Question number three, what are you most excited about?

I’m most excited about hitting 150 on my podcast episodes.

Question number four is what turns off?

What turns me off is people that know everything and let me know it.

Question number five, what sound or noise do you love?

The sound of laughter.

What sound or noise do you hate?


Question number seven, what is your favorite curse word?

That starts with an F. I love fuck.

It is best. There’s no end to the flexibility of that word. Apparently, I was reading somewhere that it stands for fornication under the command of the king. I’m not sure if that’s complete rubbish. It’s worth investigating.

I’ve done a lot of research on it and I have seen that. Regardless of how we got it, I love it. It’s awesome.

Question number eight, what profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?

Airline pilot.

Question number nine, what profession would you not like to attempt?


The final question, if heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

I’m glad you’re here. It’s your turn to take over.

Bob, it’s been such a pleasure having you on. Thank you so much. How do people get ahold of you? How do they find out how to work with you and all the great things that you’re doing?

The best way to find me is TheMoneyNerve.com. It’s got the website to my accounting practice, information on the coaching that I do with people, information about my book and my podcast. We’ve got all resources on there, whether it’s emotional or practical when it comes to money. Check us out. Reach out. We love chatting with people.

Bob, it’s been such a pleasure. Thank you for coming on. I can’t wait to stay in touch and follow your progress.

Thank you so much. We’ll talk soon. If you get another RV, I’d love to buy it.

See you soon.

Important Links:

  • Show – Finding Freedom In Home Equity with Matthew Sullivan on Money You Should Ask Podcast
  • TheMoneyNerve.com

About Bob Wheeler

HOSU 13 | Money NerveAs a man of true integrity with infectious energy, Bob Wheeler offers a simple and effective method for creating a healthy relationship with money. A popular radio show and podcast guest, Bob also hosts a weekly podcast, Money You Should Ask, where he shares his concept of personal finance and invites guests to share their personal financial journey.

Bob conducts numerous Radical Abundance and Money at its CORE seminars internationally and across the U.S.A. Bob is a ‘CORE Energetics’ and Radical Aliveness Practitioner. His crusade for holistic personal growth has cross-pollinated with his accounting practice to deliver a new approach to personal finance. Bob explores the emotions surrounding money management in his book, The Money Nerve: Navigating the Emotions of Money.

His passion is to help others gain insight into why their emotions trigger financial decisions. While building his accounting practice, Bob Wheeler simultaneously pursued his love of satire and ventured into the realm of standup comedy. Blending his wittiness with 25 years of helping clients, Bob’s approach to money integrates warmth and humor. He shares his budgeting directives with a liberal dose of inspiration and motivation to anyone with monetary concerns. In addition to his CPA practice, Bob is also the CFO for The World Famous Comedy Store in West Hollywood and La Jolla, California. Bob Wheeler graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. His world travels lead him to all points on the globe, especially those at high altitudes.

He climbed Africa’s Mt. Kilimanjaro, ascended 17,598 feet in Nepal to the Mount Everest Base Camp and reached the summit of several smaller mountains in between. Bob’s experiences on the road, facing his personal struggles, and assisting clients in the office have inspired him to assist others. Bob’s witty and non-judgmental approach to personal finance provides guidance to anyone who wants to create a new path to financial freedom.