Dateline: 1 March 2017
My income tax preparer lives in a nearby city, in an older house about three blocks from Main Street. Today I visited him and got the "good news" on my 2016 taxes. Actually, this year, for the first year in a very long time, I really did get some good news. My income last year was so much less than the year before that the quarterly tax payments I made amounted to nearly twice as much as they needed to be.
Instead of a refund, I opted to apply the overage to this year's quarterly payments... and I'll have to make only a single, small 4th quarter payment. This is the silver lining in a less-than-stellar year of mail-order business!
But the most interesting thing about today's visit was the surprising financial advice I got. I should preface this by telling you that this is only the second year this man has done my taxes. Prior to that, I had the same man prepare my taxes for more than 20 years. When he closed up his business, he recommended I go to the man I had an appointment with this morning. I don't know this new tax preparer very well. We met for half an hour last year, and then about the same this year.
In the course of today's meeting, as he was asking me a few questions, and staring into his computer, typing information into it, we made small talk, and the subject of stamp collecting came up. I mentioned that I was an avid stamp collector when I was a kid. I was even in the stamp club at school. My tax man expressed some interest in that, and then he told me he collects coins.
I mentioned that it makes sense to have some hard assets, especially if we start to get a lot of inflation. To which he replied that the money we have now is just paper. Then I said: "And every paper money system in the history of the world has eventually gone to zero."
When I said that, he stopped doing what he was doing on the computer, looked at me for a moment, and said "Isn't that something?"
I nodded my head and he went back to the computer.
A minute or so later, he stopped with the computer again and said, "You know what the best investment you can make is?"
Before I could get a "What?" out he said, "It's land. Because if you have land you can grow your own food and get water, and we need those things more than anything."
I said, "I agree." and that was the end of that conversation.
Now, mind you, this man lives and works out of his home in a city. And he has a big-screen television on the wall in front of his desk tuned into a financial station (it was the same last year). He's keeping a steady eye on the stock market (I noticed it was at 21,000 when I was there) and he's telling me the best investment anyone can make is land, because land provides security.
I never expected that.
The Confederate note at the top of the page is one of many examples of paper money that eventually became worthless, like our American dollars will one day be.
But, I guess that if you wait long enough, even "worthless" paper money becomes worth something again. It so happens that a $100 Confederate note like in the picture is currently selling for $109 on Ebay.