Too Many Responsibilities/Desires/Choices?

Let me see if this sounds familiar.  You go to the dentist for a cleaning.  The hygienist goes through the cleaning and looks your teeth over.  At the end the dentist or hygienist tells you that you have several problems. You need to brush more and floss more, and you also need to get a special toothbrush.  Then your furnace goes out, so you call the HVAC man to come in.  He fixes the problem and tells you that you need to make sure you get your ducts cleaned annually, your furnace maintained annually and that you need to change the filter every month.  Then you take your car in for an oil change and the mechanic tells you that you need to make sure you come in every 3,000 miles instead of 5,000 miles, that you need to use a special gasoline additive and that you aren’t rotating your tires often enough.  I could go on and on…

And now some fool with a blog is telling you – Accounting, Who Needs It?  You do.

The number of things you need to take care of sometimes seems infinite and I haven’t even brought up making choices about the fun things in life like playing tennis, going to movies, taking trips and going out to dinner, etc.  Finally, consider all the major decisions you need to make, such as choice of career, finding a romantic partner, buying a house or making a large investment and it is easy to start feeling overwhelmed about the enormity of it all.

How does one choose from everything life has to offer and everything life requires of us?  How does one even find the time to make the choices?  My answer, which I plan to pursue in several posts, is wrapped up in one word: value. Continue reading

Accounting, Who Needs It?

If you are reading this, then you have spent some money to be able to do so.  You have purchased a computer or a smart phone, some software, an internet service or phone plan and electricity at the bare minimum.  For the next activity you engage in after reading this, unless it is a walk in the park with no clothes on, you have purchased something to engage in that too.  In the culture we live in, everything you do in order to live your life requires you to purchase something in order to do it.

Far from decrying the material crassness of such a culture (as you would undoubtedly encounter from many commentators), I embrace this culture fully because of the immense freedom it provides to shape my own life.  For the time being, nobody forces anyone to buy what they don’t want to buy.  Given the admittedly dwindling freedom we still have, there remain an almost unlimited number of choices available on which to spend your money and your time.

The difficulty with such a world lies, then, in this tremendous number of choices, because everybody has only a limited amount of money available to use in pursuing them.  In order to get the most out of your own life, it is incumbent on you to do the best thinking possible about what you value most in life and then figure out a way to acquire it.  Amazingly enough, accounting is essential to this process.

If you don’t believe it, then consider how else you are going to keep track of the limited resources you have available so they are used in the manner you most want them to be used for.  Accounting cannot tell you what your values are or how to organize their importance in your life– how to go about that process is the subject of a future blog post.   But once you have decided what you want to accomplish, doing some kind of accounting is the only way you are going to know whether you are reaching your goals, whether your money is sufficient to achieve your goals, and whether your future plans are realistic or not.  Without accounting you are truly swimming in the dark because you have no information about where your money is being spent, and therefore you have no information about whether you are achieving your goals or not.

Like it or not, and I very much do, you must earn and spend money in order to live a full, successful, happy life.  Accounting is one very important part of making that happen.  So, Accounting, who needs it?  You do.

My Basic Philosophy

Hello, I’m Russ Shurts.  This is the first of what I hope to be many posts to this website, Shurts Accounting, as well as its sister website, Shurts Tennis.  Though the purpose of these websites is avowedly commercial- the selling of two services I have a great deal of expertise in providing- I hope these blog posts will provide something more than just good marketing.

I hope everyone who reads this blog will aspire to something better in their lives, and not just in accounting and tennis.  But before I begin, I think it is important, in the words of talk show host Mike Rosen, to ‘tell you where I sit before I tell you where I stand’.

In addition to accounting and tennis, for the past 16 years there has been one more passion in my life: philosophy.  In particular it has been one philosophy, Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.  Before encountering Miss Rand’s writings, I had no idea of the importance of philosophy in everyone’s life.  Now, 16 years later, I know that philosophy, more than anything else, is what makes the world go round.  It is supremely important because everything human beings do comes from how they use (or don’t use) their minds, and it is philosophy that provides the underlying set of first principles (the blueprint if you will) for how each person uses his or her mind.

For further clarification of Objectivism, the philosophy that I follow, I offer what Ayn Rand said when she was asked to present the essence of her philosophy while standing on one foot.

“She said the following [about the four branches of philosophy]:

  1. Metaphysics [the study of reality] –  Objective Reality
  2. Epistemology [the study of knowledge] –  Reason
  3. Ethics –  Self-interest
  4. Politics –  Capitalism

If you want this translated into simple language, it would read: 1. ‘Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed’ or ‘Wishing won’t make it so.’ 2. ‘You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.’ 3. ‘Man is an end in himself.’ 4. ‘Give me liberty or give me death.’”

None of this is to imply I am an authority on either philosophy or Objectivism.  I am an avid layman who has seriously studied this philosophy for the last quarter of my life and applied it, to great benefit, to living my life.  I owe a great debt of gratitude obviously to Ayn Rand for discovering the philosophy, but also to philosophers such as Yaron Brook, Harry Binswanger, Leonard Peikoff and all of the intellectuals associated with the Ayn Rand Institute who have taught it to me.

And with that now said it is my intention with this blog to continually demonstrate and emphasize how to better your life, not merely your accounting or your tennis.  I want to show you how simple it is to apply the best thinking you can to each and every problem, in order to give yourself the best solutions to those problems.  If you are doing this, then it won’t be too long before you are enjoying the best and happiest life you can imagine.