What if money did not matter?

In my new video interview with Jaime Tardy (EventualMillionaire.com) I talk a lot about finding your Life’s Purpose. Now, here is an even stronger argument for finding your Life’s Purpose before working out your financial plan …

Note how the philosopher, Alan Watts, suggests that if you do what you love, the money will follow!

Failing that, do what you need to, but only for a short period of time, so that you can put aside the money that you need in order to do what you want. That’s why I came up with my original ‘$5 million in 5 year’ target (that eventually became $7 million in 7 years, achieved) …

What would you do if money was no object?



Are wealthy people more unethical?

It’s nice to see science magazines writing about money 🙂

This time , it’s trying to find a link between wealth and (a lack of) ethics.

This is not a new notion, just check out Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and it’s offshoot – and my favorite cartoon character – Scrooge McDuck and you need look no further.

But, I think that these scientists – and authors and cartoonists – miss the point:

You do not have to be unethical to make money …

… and, I think that it actually harms your chances as people often can spot unethical tendencies and will take that (correctly) as a sign that they cannot trust you.

However, if the study is correct, I think one explanation may simply be that wealthy people have been exposed to more opportunities to make the “should I be ethical or unethical in this situation?” decision.

More exposure simply means more unethical behavior evidenced.

For example, working on a production line may not produce wealth …

… but, it also may not produce many opportunities to take unethical action during the 8 hours a day that you are at work.

[AJC: although, you may have plenty of opportunity to indulge in unethical behavior after hours if that is your bent]

However, being in business or running around making real-estate investments may give you plenty of extra opportunities to (a) become wealthy and (b) exhibit unethical behavior both during and after hours, thereby giving you twice the exposure to both potential outcomes.

So, I think it is a case of increased exposure rather than cause and effect …

What do you think? Do you need to be unethical to make money? If so, is that a ‘cost’ you are willing to carry?

Strategy or Tactic?

What’s the difference between a strategy and a tactic?

The obligatory post-padding dictionary definitions here and here 😉

But, let me give you a personal finance example or two to explain why it’s critical that you know the difference!

If you spend some time on google, you will find whole blogs dedicated to “financial strategies” such as:

– managing your credit cards,

– eliminating debt,

– paying yourself first,

– building an emergency fund,

… and, so on.

Each blogger (or author – there’s been whole books written on each subject) will explain how his financial strategy will turn your life around.

But, these are not strategies at all … they are tactics, a means to an unknown end.

I’ll explain why …

For each of these tactics (or any other), I can give you a perfectly valid argument for why you should do the exact opposite of what the author recommends!

Here are couple of examples:

– The False War On Debt: http://7million7years.com/2010/11/10/the-war-on-debt/

– The Zero Dollar Emergency Fund: http://7million7years.com/2010/08/08/the-zero-dollar-emergency-fund-2/

… and, if you go back through my blog [AJC: an easy way is to just search for the word “myth”] you will find counterpoints to all of these – and other – ‘recommended’ financial tactics.

The reason is that I have a personal financial strategic goal: I knew exactly where I wanted to be ($5 million), when I wanted to get there (5 years) and why.

[AJC: for an audacious goal, you need a very strong ‘why’ to help drive you there … it’s a very tough road, and you’ll need all the emotional ‘boost juice’ that you can get! This is one of my earliest posts; you should read it: http://7million7years.com/2008/03/07/fire-up-your-true-passion-hot-passion-drives-massive-action-massive-action-drives-incredible-results/].

With such a goal, I needed certain financial strategies to get there [AJC: I actually ended up with $7million in 7 years]; my strategy was:

– Increase my income dramatically (for me that was achieved by quickly growing my business),

– Invest as much of that income as possible in real-estate and stocks (instead of spending my business profits on bigger houses and faster cars).

Therefore, the tactics that I needed included:

– Take on as much debt as possible,

– Buy insurance and have lines of credit available (instead of having cash lying around idle) in case of emergency,

– Paying myself first, second, third and fourth (i.e. saving much more than 10% of my business-generated income),

– Obeying the 20% Rule.

So, next time you are looking for financial advice, take the trouble to understand your strategic goal: how much do you want? when do you want it? and, why?

If your goal is simply to retire with $1 million in 40 years, then go ahead and buy that Kindle and load it up with personal finance best-sellers!

However, if your goal is “large and soon” then you, too, will need to ignore most of the so-called “good financial advice” that is floating around so freely. That’s why I started writing this blog 🙂



Did I fail the Ultimate Money Test?

Financial ‘personality tests’ are fun. I like doing them; you should try this one.

Unfortunately, the results don’t always speak for themselves:

[AJC: the star is my score; very average, as I am in (almost) all things in life. The $7m7y logo to the top-right is how my financial performance probably compares to 99%+ of the population]

Whilst this is a pretty good test – much better than many others that I have seen – it will only identify average performance and sub-/super-performance perhaps to one standard deviation (for those statisticians amongst you) …

… however, these tests can’t identify the factors that produce the outliers i.e. the ones (like me) who can make $7 million in 7 years.

If you want to produce (slightly) better than average financial performance over your lifetime, use this test – and others like it – to identify areas of weakness, typically:

– Not saving enough,

– Overspending,

– Credit Card Debt,

… and so on.

All valid reasons why you may be in financial trouble today, but certainly not highly relevant to your chances of retiring rich and retiring soon.

If you do want extraordinary financial performance, keep reading read this blog 😉

It’s impossible to pay for good advice …

This is not just a provocation … I think it’s true.

It may not be true in some technical professions: think of a doctor or an accountant … you pay for advice and you expect it to be good (after all, she’s got a PHD right?).

Even then, how do you know it’s good advice?

After all, in most cases, you’re hardly expert enough to judge 😉

Should you be worried?

Not  unduly. After all, those articles about the accountant who diddled his clients books is something that you only ever read about. It never happens to you. Right?

What about the guy in the picture to the left? Would you go to him for advice on a healthy lifestyle?

The picture is of a statue, but it bears an uncanny resemblance to a doctor-friend of mine, whose picture I can’t show for obvious reasons; he’s actually a top vascular physician and surgeon.

So, best case, quality of advice is difficult to determine.

But, it’s downright impossible to pay for good, personalized financial (or business) advice!

A simple example: if you want to grow a successful business, can you pay a consultant to tell you how?

Of course not! If they knew the ‘secret’ to building a truly successful business, they would be busy doing it for themselves.

The best you’ll get is some clown offering cheap advice 😉

Let’s try personal finance: people ask me how to select a good financial advisor:

The first thing that I ask them is how much money they want (and, by when)?

The answer is usually $7m7y (or, some other large Number / soon Date).

The next thing that I ask is how much of their own money their chosen advisor has made following the same recommendations that he is giving to them?!

I made $7million in 7 years, but it’s impossible for you to pay me for advice; I give it away … because I want to.

Still not sure?

OK, let’s say you want to invest in stocks.

Who do you want to pay for advice: (a) somebody who’s read about investing in stocks, or (b) somebody who’s made a lot of money investing in stocks?

If (b), why are they taking paltry fees from you?

Oh I see … they aren’t just taking fees from you, they have a managed fund. They’re not really taking money for advice, rather earning a fee for running the business of managing a huge bucket of money (including your tiny drop).

Even so, let me ask you another question:

Who do you want to pay to manage your money: (a) somebody who’s made a lot of money investing in stocks?, or (b) somebody who’s made the most money investing in stocks?

If (b), then who’s made the most money investing in stocks?

Obviously, it’s Warren Buffett (with George Soros a good second … but, if you said John Bogle you fail because he made money through his business of selling his low cost index funds to the masses, not from investing his own money in them).

So, if you want to invest in stocks, you can’t buy the right advice, because nobody’s selling … and, if you want to invest in some kind of fund you can’t pay for the best advice available …

… but, you can tap into that advice for ‘free’ just by buying Berkshire Hathaway stocks.

If I wasn’t going to manage my own money – listening to plenty of ‘advice’ but, ultimately taking my own counsel – that’s what I would do!

On disasters …

Unfortunately, life isn’t all about how much money you have.

When an earthquake hits, it matters not the size of your bank account.

Having nothing at all to do with personal finance, I thought I would tell you about a conversation that I had on Wednesday:

I met a couple who were travelling from – more like escaping from – Christchurch, New Zealand.

They had been living through the devastation there from last week’s earthquake, now horrifically overshadowed by the series of natural (and, man-contributed) disasters in Japan.

First, he told me that he lived the the horror of driving from work when the quake hit. His car was shaken badly, the suspension magnifying the effects of the quake, rather than my expectation that the shock-absorbers would diminish the effects.

He watched a 7-story building sway like a palm tree, then a rising cloud of ‘smoke’ which he soon realized was the total collapse of a much older building behind. He then was witness to a man being killed as a piece of concrete fell off a building and hit the car behind.

‘My man’ was lucky enough to escape unhurt.

But, he really brought home the magnitude of such a disaster, that extends far beyond the terrible news reports of deaths, with these two anecdotes:

1. He knew a young lady who was engaged to be married. She was caught in a building during the quake and escaped with her life but lost three limbs.

2. One family – lucky enough to escape any physical injury – is being torn apart by psychological injury as mother and son escape to Auckland, too scared to return to Christchurch which has suffered over 4,000 earthquakes in the past 6 months. Their husband/father remains in Christchurch where his business / livelihood has miraculously survived. Even the damage to their home is repairable, but their family life is not.

These two small stories bring home to me the devastating effects on lives and families far beyond those who have died in disasters such as that in Christchurch … or, in Japan, a disaster 10 to 100 times as far-reaching as that in New Zealand.

I have no advice, other than to live your life because, on a cosmic – or, even natural – scale, money just doesn’t seem that important, does it?

Winners of the SECOND $700 in 7 Days Social Giveaway

Thanks to all of those who entered my SECOND $700 In 7 Days” Social Giveaway” … if you didn’t enter, or win a prize, then you MAY get one more chance: I’m thinking about running one more similar contest before Christmas.

I’ll tell you the reasons why in due course, but if you’re familiar with marketing, I’m kind of running some very expensive (for me) A/B split marketing tests for my ‘Top Secret Project’ …

Which brings me to our lucky five winners:

1st Prize of $350 cash (as selected by Random.org) goes to Marilyn (user name = mnihill) … congratulations!!

2nd Prize of $150 cash (for referring Marilyn to the contest) goes to Barbara (user name = barbara4)

3rd Prize of $100 cash (for referring Barbara to the contest) goes to Trisha (user name = twag700)

So, here’s how it worked: Trisha entered the contest after reading my announcement post and invited some friends to enter – and some of those friends invited their own friends. One of those ‘friends of friends’ was lucky enough to win the first prize, so Trisha won a 3rd prize for indirectly referring her. Barbara won second prize because she actually did refer the lucky winner!

Since that accounted for only $600 of the $700 that I promised, I did a separate draw for the $100 left, so here’s who won that:

4thPrize of $50 cash (as selected by Random.org) goes to Michael (user name = mdralph)

… since nobody referred Michael to the contest, I did one more random draw for the 5th – and, final – winner:

5th Prize of $50 cash (as selected by Random.org) goes to Marie (user name = lwarren26).

Congratulations to the winners: please contact me [ajc AT 7million7years DOT com], using the e-mails that you provided when you entered and either send me a PayPal invoice for the prize that you won (apparently, this is very easy to do and makes sure that I don’t make any mistakes and pay the wrong person!). If I don’t receive the required confirmations by the end of the week, your prize goes to charity!

Now, that you see how easy it is, I hope that you will enter the next contest, which – I promise – will be even easier next time (I just spent $270 to try yet another software contest package!)…


P.S. Looks like names beginning with ‘M’ scooped more than half the pool 🙂

Speaking of the ‘more bug’ I want MORE people to enter my latest contest … so far, I have given away $1,300 in cash and gift cards as I test a new project that I’m working on.

My financial pain is your cash gain 😉

It’s a new kind of contest and I’m running this as an experiment. NEW because not only do you get a chance to win the $350 First Prize (that’s CASH, transfered straight to your PayPal account), but …

Once you have entered, simply let your friends know the User Name that you chose, and when they enter (using your user name) and win a prize, so do you!

Now, here comes the twist: when they enter they will be able to invite their own friends, not only will they win a prize if one of their friends wins a prize, but SO WILL YOU.

Your chances of winning a prize (of $50, $150, or even the $350 first prize … all in cash) can easily be 7, 15, 27, 56, … or MORE than in any other type of giveaway contest!

Instructions: Choose a short User Name (eg “Steve12”) for yourself and enter AJC42 as the user name for the person who referred you (unless you already have a user name from a friend who referred you) then send this link http://7million7years.com/contest/ (+ your User Name instead of mine) to all of your friends (via e-mail, Twitter, and FaceBook) and let the fun begin!

Win $700 In 7 Days!
Join our second $700 in 7 Days Contest + refer friends for EVEN more chances to win! You win prizes if ANY of your friends win a prize!
Your Email *
Your First Name *
Choose A User Name *
Who Referred You? (Type Their User name) *
* Required Field

[See http://7million7years.com/contest/ for full contest details]

$700 in 7 Days Social Giveaway!

This is my  SECOND EVER “$700 In 7 Days” Social Giveaway”, just in time for Xmas … why ‘social‘?

In exactly 7 days I am giving away $700 cash with a $350 first prize and the remaining $350 split between whoever referred the winner to this page and who referred them and so on … There are NO CATCHES (other than I will only pay by PayPal transfer).

Barbara was the Lucky First Prize Winner of our first ‘$700 In 7 Days Social Giveaway’ (Steve and Trisha split the remaining prizes):

I just want to say thank you! WOW I am still in shock that I won the contest…. it was a great Thanksgiving Day Surprise. Congrats to both Steve and Trisha who won prizes as well.

All you need to do is ENTER for your chance to win your share of $700 cash in just 7 days (first prize is a cool $350), when I announce the winners exactly one week from today … simply enter your details below for your chance to win …

Instructions: Choose a short User Name (eg “Steve12”) for yourself and enter AJC42 as the user name for the person that referred you (only one entry per person; refer friends – giving them YOUR username for even more chances to win a cash prize, see below for details):

Win $700 In 7 Days!
Join our second $700 in 7 Days Contest + refer friends for EVEN more chances to win! You win prizes if ANY of your friends win a prize!
Your Email *
Your First Name *
Choose A User Name *
Who Referred You? (Type Their User name) *
* Required Field

Wait! There’s More!

If you refer your friends using the link below and they enter USING YOUR USER NAME as the person who referred them (eg “Steve12”), then if they win a prize so do you!

After you sign up to join the $700 In 7 Days Giveaway, send (e-mail, tweet, facebook, etc.) your friends this invitation link: http://7million7years.com/contest/ + your User Name

Example: “I joined the $700 in 7 Days Giveaway, you can join too by visiting http://balloon.mit.edu (my User Name is Betty16)”

If anyone you invite, or anyone they invite, or anyone they invite (…and so on) win money, then so will you!

We’re giving $350 to the first User Name that we pull out of the hat, but that’s not all — we’re also giving $150 to the person who invited them. Then we’re giving $100 to whoever invited the inviter, and $50 to whoever invited them, and so on… until we have given away the ENTIRE $700!

It might play out like this:

Angie joins the giveaway contest, selecting the User Name “Angie52”. http://7million7years.com/contest/.

Angie then e-mails the link http://7million7years.com/contest/ + her User Name to Bob, who uses it to also join the contest. Bob enters, choosing the User Name “Bob11”, who posts the link http://7million7years.com/contest/ + his User Name to Facebook. His friend Charlie sees it, signs up, then twitters about http://7million7years.com/contest/ + her User Name. Dave clicks the link and uses Charlie’s User Name to join…

… then his name is pulled out of the hat!

Dave is the person who wins the main prize. Once that happens, we send Dave $350 via payPal for winning. Charlie gets $150 for inviting Dave, Bob gets $100 for inviting Charlie, and Angie gets $50 for inviting Bob. The remaining $50 is donated to charity.

Easy and fun to win!

Remember: You only need to join to be in the running to win the $350 First Prize. Then, if you also want to multiply your chances of winning a cash prize of at least $50 simply send this link http://7million7years.com/contest/ + your User Name to all of your friends … the rest happens automatically!
Instructions: Choose a short User Name (eg “Steve12”) for yourself and enter AJC42 as the user name for the person who referred you (unless you already have a user name from a friend who referred you) then send this link http://7million7years.com/contest/ (+ your User Name instead of mine) to all of your friends (via e-mail, Twitter, and FaceBook) and let the fun begin!

Win $700 In 7 Days!
Join our second $700 in 7 Days Contest + refer friends for EVEN more chances to win! You win prizes if ANY of your friends win a prize!
Your Email *
Your First Name *
Choose A User Name *
Who Referred You? (Type Their User name) *
* Required Field

[See http://7million7years.com/contest/ for full contest details]

Win $700 In 7 Days!

UPDATE: We have a winner in my $700 in 7 Days Giveaway … yep, ‘barbaramontgom’ (with 6 points) was chosen by random drawing (see below) and wins the entire $700 Cash!!!!!! Barbara just needs to send me an e-mail ajc [at] 7million7years [dot] com to claim her $700 cash prize (less any PayPal fees)!

Bet you wished that you had entered 😉

Special thanks to Steve and Trisha who tied at the top of the leader board … if you send me an e-mail with your name/mailing address I will send each of you a $60 Apple Gift Card! Thanks to all of the others who entered and promoted the contest like crazy!

LAST CHANCE to enter my free contest: CONTEST OVER: in just ONE more today, I am giving away $700 cash to one lucky reader (drawn at random) as part of my $700 in 7 Days No Strings Attached promotion. It’s free to enter simply by clicking here.


I am giving away $700 cash to one lucky reader. There are NO CATCHES other than I will only pay by transfer from my PayPal account to yours.

The contest is entirely free to enter … NO gotchas!

So, why am I simply throwing away $700 cash?

Well, I like the number ‘7’ (this site is called $7 million 7 years) … but, it’s really to test an idea that I have for my new startup venture! I do a lot of “off the wall” stuff on this site, and I like to share what I’m up to with my readers.

This time, I want to see how many people join, what the referral sources are, and how active various readers are in promoting this contest, and so on.

My experiment is your gain … all you need to do is ENTER for your chance to win $700 cash in just 7 days, when I announce the winner exactly one week from today! Who knows, it might even be you!

Optional: For even more chances to win, get your links (below) and promote the contest to earn more points (each point = 1 entry). You can promote via Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and you are even rewarded with more points (‘points’ = more chances to win) for leaving comments here.

Good Luck!

[contest_links contest=”win_700_in_7_days_”]

Rules: there are none, except that I will only pay by transfer from my US PayPal account to yours (it’s up to YOU to make sure that you can accept payments via PayPal from the USA).

This is the world’s easiest contest. Simply enter for your chance to win.

Optional: Spread the word for even more chances to win. And, help a new experiment in social marketing while you’re at it!