Art of Accounting: A Tale of Two Clients – One Rich and One Poor

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IMGCAP(1)]Some time ago I had breakfast with a client who was not able to make ends meet but was fortunate to have his brother-in-law send him monthly checks so he and his wife could get by without any pressure.

I had a very pleasant time talking with him and he was a truly happy and content man. It was a pleasure to be with him.

Later that day I had lunch with one of my largest and wealthiest clients. He was not in a good mood and spent time complaining about neighbors who belonged to a country club where the dues were “astronomically” high, and he questioned me about how rich do you have to be to be able to spend that kind of money each year. FYI the amount he was talking about was about 4 percent of his annual income and about triple what he was presently paying for his “not as nice” country club. He did not feel rich and actually felt he did not have enough and was not a happy man. I did not have a good time at that lunch.

By my way of thinking the breakfast client was a rich man and the lunch client a poor man. I learned that day that wealth is a state of mind. It is not necessarily how much you have, but how you feel about what you have.

As John Milton said in Paradise Lost: “The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.”

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, published by and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition,” published by the AICPA. Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or

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