Are polar bears left-handed?

polar bear

Here’s some interesting ‘information’ that I picked up:

Apparently, all Polar Bears are left-handed.

Well, it seems that there are two types of people in this world: those who will now run off and propagate this ‘fact’ at trivia and pub nights, and those who will go and check their sources.

I’m in the latter … now, I’m not obsessive about it, so this information ‘seems’ right, but I’ll let a polarbearophile prove me right or wrong with these Polar Bear Myths:

A hunting bear will cover its black nose while lying in wait for a seal.

Canadian biologist Ian Stirling has spent several thousand hours watching polar bears hunt. He has never seen one hide its nose, nor have other scientists.

The great white bears are left-pawed.

Scientists observing the animals haven’t noticed a preference. In fact, polar bears seem to use their right and left paws equally.

Polar bears use tools, including blocks of ice to kill their prey.

Scientist Ian Stirling believes that this assertion can be traced to unsuccessful hunts. After failing to catch a seal, a frustrated and angry polar bear may kick the snow, slap the ground — or hurl chunks of ice.

A polar bear’s hollow hairs conduct ultraviolet light to its black skin, thus capturing energy.

This theory was tested—and disproved—by physicist Daniel Koon.

The polar bear has a symbiotic relationship with the arctic fox, sharing its food in exchange for the fox’s warning system.

Not only is the bear-fox relationship not symbiotic, the little foxes often annoy the bears. An arctic fox will sometimes tease a bear by darting in to nip at its heels and will sometimes try to drive a bear off its prey.

Orca whales prey on polar bears.

This has never been observed.

Polar bears live at both poles.

Polar bears, of course, live only in the circumpolar North. They never encounter penguins, which do not live in the same regions as polar bears.

[AJC: Polar bears = Arctic and Greenland; Penguins = Antarctic, Australia and New Zealand. Get it??!!]



Well, if this is how many myths polar bears can generate, imagine how many there are about our favorite subject: personal finance?!

Here are just some that I have tried to dispel on this site:

The myth that entrepreneurs are driven by greed

The myth that a high income equates to wealth

The myth that diversification is one of the most important personal finance tools around

The myth that retirement planning centers around replacing your income

… and, I have written many, many more (just type the word ‘myth’ into the search box at the top of this page).

What myths (personal finance or otherwise) have you recently had cause to question?


How to give your children $1 billion each …

When I was still on my own personal financial ‘seeking journey’ …

[AJC: This is the journey that you may be on right now; you know, the one where you read Every Available Book And Blog on Personal Finance Looking For the Mythical And Magical Secret To Financial Success But End Up Settling On Becoming A Miser Disguised As A Debt-Free, Frugal-Saver]

… I remember being very impressed by a tape set [AJC: Yep, that’s a cassette tape set] about a guy who had a ‘system’ to guarantee that your children could become billionaires in their own lifetime.

I no longer have the tape set, but it was all to do with putting aside $x per week (and, adjusting for inflation) and relying on the power of compounding (sic) to allow the sum to run up to $1 billion.

Sounds simple, so I ran a few numbers on my own, and here’s what I came up with:

– Put aside $5 a day, beginning the day your children are born

– Increase by 5% each year and keep up for 40 years

– Vest the sum into your children’s names when they are 80 years old

Then they will each have $63 million dollars!

Not exactly $1 billion, but not a bad sum, right?

Now, it’s really a Grandchildren’s (or, Great Grandchildren’s) Plan, because your children may not even be alive at 80, but if they do the same for their children, and so on, it’s a reasonably smart and easy Generational Wealth Plan and your progeny will thank you for it (well, you won’t be alive, but take my word for it).

But, there are (other) problems:

– Your children have to wait until they’re 80 to ‘cash out’

– You have to contribute for 40 years, starting with $1,825  year and ending with $12k a year (probably, when YOU need it more than your children do)

– And, $63 million is ‘only’ worth – a still healthy – $5.5 million in today’s dollars

Ashley Ormond (a fellow Aussie) has a more practical, shorter term plan in his book that shows you “how to give your kids $1 million each!”

It’s essentially the same kind of plan, obviously running for a shorter period, and includes interesting tweaks such as having your kids pay you back your $7k initial contributions. It also includes sensible children’s savings strategies (such as setting them up with individual ‘saving’, ‘spending’, and ‘investing’ accounts) … but, the rest of the book is Aussie-specific.

Still, all these ‘power of compounding’ books and strategies show me – after spending a LOT of time, in the service of writing this blog, playing with simple spreadsheets (and, you should do the same) – is that there is no real power in compounding at all …

… it’s just simple maths and (a lot of) time, and if you rely on it for your real wealth … well … you’ll never have any 😉

How to change your life!

I’m reviewing the final draft (actually, the pre-publication draft) of my new book.

But, I’m not happy with the current intro: it talks about the Roadmap To Riches, but that’s not really what this book is about. My next one, certainly, but not this one.

I just added an epilogue based on this post (almost word for word), and I want to do something similar for the introduction.

You see, I feel that while the subject of personal finance – a.k.a. money – is supposed to be entirely rational …

… it’s actually totally the opposite.

I believe that all discussions of money are entirely rooted in emotion, then our point of view is justified rationally.

The reason for this is that our lives and our money have become so intertwined that it’s hard … nay, impossible … to separate one from the other.

Don’t believe me?

Well, do you think you’re totally rational on the subject of money? Do you think that your life comes first, and money is only a tool?

Then let’s test that, right here, right now: you have 24 hours in an ‘average working day’, how do you spend it?

If you are anything like the average US worker, you spend an ‘average work day’ (that’s around 2/3 of the average year) sleeping, eating, and maintaining your house and your family.

You spend the bulk of what’s left (8.7 hours: the largest chunk of your day) earning money. Leaving a sliver of ‘life’ for you.

Now, think about how much of that tiny slice of life you then spend thinking, worrying, arguing, balancing and maintaining your money?

And, you’ll do this through the entire 40+ years of your working life 🙁

I rest my case.

So, the angle that I want to take with my book’s intro is this:

If you were to script your life, would you choose:

– Study hard so that you can get a great job, and

– Work hard at the job – eking out the occasional high point (landing a big account, making the boss happy, bringing a new product to market, etc.) – just to earn money, and

– Spend what you have to just to support your family, saving the bulk of what’s left over just so you can retire at 60+ to do … what?

OR, would you script for yourself something like:

– Travel the world, and

– Live large on the world’s stage, and

– Give back to others,

… and, so on?

The restriction on the latter probably being money and time (and, if you had the money, you could create the time, right?).

My point?

Doesn’t it seem as though we live our lives according to money’s script …

… rather than putting money in it’s proper place, which is simply as a tool to support our Life’s Script?

What do you think? Am I on the right track?

real rich, real simple, redux

This is a redux of a 2009 post, but it’s about time that I gave my newer readers a heads-up as to what we’re all about … if I had to point somebody to just one of my posts to get them started this would be the one; putting in all of the links nearly killed me 🙂


I get a lot of questions, comments, and e-mails in general from new readers, and this one – from Chad – is reasonably typical of what I might see:

I’m turning 27; just got a job making 50k/yr.; on the market for my 1st condo to live in (and hopefully rent out a room); have 1 student loan at < 3% fixed interest. My goal is $7 million in 13 years.

1. I have very little to no knowledge of finance/investing. Do you recommend any resources to get me up to speed so I can understand what you write about?

2. Where does my situation put me in terms of Making Money 101 and 201, i.e. where do I go from here?

I appreciate ANY direction you can give me as I do not want to be stuck behind a computer in a cube for the next 30-40 years.

While I love reading these sorts of e-mails (AJC: I really do!], I have a hard time responding because I can’t / don’t give direct personal advice … but,

I can suggest that Chad think about:

1. Exactly HOW important that $7 million in 13 years is to him, and

2. Assuming it’s VERY important (critical even), how he is going to get there.

You see, my advice might change according to his Number – more importantly to his Required Annual Compound Growth Rate:

a) If low – say, no more than 10% to 15% – then I would point Chad to the various ‘frugal’ blogs (my personal favorite is Get Rich Slowly) and ‘starter books’ like The Richest Man In Babylon, or the more modern equivalent: Automatic Millionaire by David Bach, or anything by Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman.

Each would probably suggest something along the lines of:

– Keep your job; times are tough!

– Save as much of your salary as you can (max your 401k’s, then your IRA’s)

– Pay down ALL debt, following a Debt Avalanche or Debt Snowball, whichever is your favorite

– Invest any ‘spare change’ (after all debts are paid off and the requisite ’emergency fund’ has been built up) into a low cost Index Fund

… and, wait until your government-directed – or, employer-forced if you are retrenched and become unhireable – ‘retirement’. This is where that fully paid off home and a lot of candles and canned food stockpiled will really pay off … you won’t be able to afford real food 😉

a) If high – say, more than 10% to 15% (and, I would venture that $7 million in just 13 years would well and truly put Chad in the 50+% required annual compound growth rate category!) – then I would instead point Chad to books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad and The E-Myth Revisited and then towards this blog and its 7 Millionaires … In Training! ‘sister blog’ and suggest that he starts working his way through the back issues (well, posts).

After reading/digesting properly, he should be able to come up with his own plan … something along the lines of:

– Keep your job, but get into active stock and/or real-estate investing – better yet, start a side-business; because times are really tough(!):

i) A mildly successful part-time business might provide additional income to help you weather the financial storm and supercharge your savings, investment, and debt repayment plans

ii) A more successful part-time business might provide a built-in ’emergency fund’, tiding you over should you lose your job and/or unexpected expenses crop up

iii) An even more successful part-time business that can be started and/or survive during a recession may prove to become wildly successful once the clouds of the recession begin to lift, maybe even carrying you directly to your Number [AJC: do not pass Go, but do collect $200 million 🙂 ]

Control your spending, and save as much of your salary as you can to build a war chest for starting / running your business

– Pay down ALL expensive debt, following the method laid out in the Cash Cascade, but keep your mortgage (lock in to current low rates) subject to the 20% Rule and the 25% Income Rule and seriously think about keeping your other cheap debt loans.

– Invest any ‘spare change’ from your job and business (after all expensive debts are paid off and the requisite ‘business startup fund’ has been built up) into quality ‘recession-priced’ stocks and/or true cashflow positive real-estate.

… and, wait until you have reached your Number (through sale of business and/or conservative valuation of your equity in your investment assets).

That’s it 🙂

My circle, my prison.

1998 capped a long period in my life when I was imprisoned by a circle.

I suspect this is the same for most. What separates me from the others – and, I suspect you, too – is that I broke out.

The ‘circle’ was my life and the things that I was trying to deal with:

– Keeping myself sane in an increasingly mad world

– Keeping my family safe, fed, and healthy

– Trying to earn a decent living to pay the bills and keep a roof over our heads.

This type of existence is inherently inwardly focused … we focus on ourselves, our immediate family, our friends, and our work colleagues (probably in that order) and little else.

The reason why it’s a prison – well, a financial reason (there are others beyond this scope of a humble personal finance blog) – is that our ‘investments’ are similarly inwardly focused; aside from what little we manage to save in our bank accounts and 401k’s, our so-called investments center around the things that make our inner-circle lives a little better.

We invest in our health (as much as we can – or feel motivated to do), our education (often because our parents tell us that “it’s an investment in our future”), our home (because that’s what our parents did) and, of course, our cars & possessions (because that’s what our friends and colleagues do), and so on.

Why do we invest?

So that when our income stops we can try and continue living within our circle and simply maintain what we have?

But, when I broke out of that circle my life began to change!

My First Big Realization was that my life wasn’t about my money … so why was I spending so much of my life – that precious, finite resource – attempting to earn money?

When, in 1998, I found my Life’s Purpose, which included what was in the circle (family, health, and so on) but also a lot more than I had ever felt desirable or even possible, I was forced to look outside the circle … way out.

Interestingly, and logically, I also realized that the investments that I had been making for my circle-bound future would no longer be adequate for a far less bounded life.

Not only did my thinking have to move beyond the circle, but so did my finances. And, if my finances wouldn’t be adequate for the life that I really wanted to lead, then neither would my investments!

So, in 1998, my investment strategy also shifted … and, shifted dramatically.

[AJC: if you want to understand a little more about this process, then check out this free site:]

No longer would I try and upgrade my home and my car.

No longer would I try and upgrade my lifestyle in an attempt to keep up with the Jones’ (and, I had plenty of those to try and keep up with!) …

… I would simply begin to apply every spare penny to investing outside of the circle: in true investments that I could not eat, live in, drive, or share over a beer.

Now that those investments have born fruit, finally freeing me up to live my Life’s Purpose, I realize that living outside of the circle has actually also helped me live within.

The difference is that my inner circle is no longer my prison but my sanctuary.

The sooner that you identify what is in your circle and what – if anything – outside of the circle truly drives you, the sooner you will be motivated to seriously start making money and investing.

Then this blog will suddenly become very interesting to you 😉

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?

Anatomy Of A Startup – Part IV

If you caught my podcast (Jaime from Eventual Millionaire interviewed me here) then you will know that I am obsessed with business … after all, it’s how I made my second $7m7y!

My passion remains personal finance (which is how I made my first $7m7y): living, breathing, writing, teaching …

But, my hobby (lucrative or expensive, as fate and fortune may rule) is to work on startups; I am already ‘angel funding’ a few … this series is the story of one of them.

I eat my own dog food (actually, it’s cheap, and I kind of like the crunchiness): I just used this tool for my new startup. In fact, I use it for every startup that I have worked on … and, there have been quite a few:

If you’re buying or starting a business, the first thing you absolutely MUST be able to do is put your ‘reason for being’ into a sentence or two.

This is commonly called your ‘elevator pitch’ because you should be able to use it to tell a stranger what you do in between getting on and getting off an elevator!

But, it’s use is far more important than that … it’s to help you make sure that you really have something unique. If you don’t have anything unique in your offering, you will be struggling to sell it to your customers let alone to the people who will one day (you hope) want to buy your business!

For that reason, some call it your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), but whatever you call it, this tool will make it dead simple to come up with yours:

NoteI found this tool a long time ago, but can’t remember the source; if I could, I would share the link here. Until then, use it well. The example provided is from a real business that I looked at starting, and the USP is the real one that we came up with using this tool.

Click to download the Automatic-USP-Generator <<<<==== CLICK HERE

[click on the image to expand in new window]


1. Download the Automatic USP Generator and answer the questions in the right hand column as best you can.

2. Use those answers to “fill in the blanks” in the two sentences just below the question/answer box.

3. Rewrite in plain english – you may need to fiddle a little with both your answers and the sentences that you come up with to make them read well.

Remember: you are trying to come up with something unique!

This tool will take you 90% of the way there, the other 10% is iteration until somebody that you trust, but who knows nothing about your business concept, says “wow”.

Why don’t you share your elevator pitch – it can be for your business, your startup, or just for an idea you are working on – with our readers (in the comments section below)?

I’ll send the best one $100 by PayPal towards your own startup idea. No strings attached!

A very short vacation …

I’m still technically on vacation – half way around the globe from my usual abode as I write this – but, I did promise to share the ‘missing piece’ of the Formula for Wealth:

This formula – were it not for the one factor that I added – would fail on two counts:

1. Wealth being a function of Capital and Time is merely another way of confirming the so-called ‘power of compounding’, which is no great shakes as 1,000 others have already sung its praises and hardly justifies me adding my voice, and

2. It doesn’t explain The Bill Gates Effect: why Bill Gates (and, Steve Jobs, and Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerburg, and Oprah) is rich and the rest of us (present company excepted) are not.

That’s why I added the key: the X-Factor …

… which, in itself would be totally useless, if I couldn’t explain it so:

For the non-mathematically minded (and, you have to be, because as a strict formula this is nonsense), the first part of the ‘formula’ expresses the classic Risk (Ri) versus Reward (Re) tradeoff.

This is logical: “Bill Gates is richer because he takes bigger risks. I’m risk-averse so I cannot be rich. No problem, back to frugality and 401K’s …”

The good news is that Risk and Reward are related: for every financial activity there is a built-in level of risk. Choose one and you automatically choose the other.

To a greater or lesser extent, you can treat this Risk/Reward Tradeoff as a constant (actually, a curve, but there is a fixed point on the curve for whatever financial investment activity that you undertake).

In other words:

1. You choose the level of Wealth (W) that you want to achieve i.e this is your Number

2. You choose the Time (T) that you have available i.e. this is your Date

3. You have a set amount of Capital (C) that you start with i.e. this is your savings

4. You calculate the required Annual Compound Growth Rate, which tells you what financial activity you need to undertake (e.g. stocks, business, real-estate, etc.)

5. This automatically puts you on a set point of the Risk/Reward curve.

So, by selecting your Number and Date in advance, you have – in effect – taken away all decisions and the Wealth Formula works automatically for you.

You have only two levers to pull that will determine if you succeed – and how well (Bill Gates well, AJC well, work-for-40-years well, or hobo well):

Leverage (L) and Drag (D).

I’ll explain these in the New Year 🙂

What’s the best financial move that you’ve made?

Michael asks What was the best financial move you’ve made so far? and then tells this story about his car:

I’ve concluded my best financial move to date has been my decision to keep cars for very long periods of time. I drove my first car for over seven years before it died. My second car just passed 100,000 miles this last weekend and is over nine years old.  So, here I am in my late thirties and I’m still on my second car.

Having no car payment during 9 of the last 14 years has allowed me to spend more in other areas of my life where I value such spending while still permitting me to save substantially for my future.

What an excellent question!

I’ll tell you my best financial move, then perhaps you can share yours?

I have a few ‘best financial move’ candidates (including moving to the USA, selling out just before the Great Recession, and others that I will tell you about some other time), but I can pin my ‘best’ financial move – not my biggest, but my best from a pure financial strategy point of view – down to one:

My accountant talked me into buying my own building (I had a small’ish call center operation but was renting office space at the time).

Making the purchase was very tight, financially, as the business wasn’t making a lot of money (there was a bit of juggling to come up with the cash for the deposit and making the monthly payments!). I really sweated as I was making the bids at the onsite auction (that’s how most properties are sold in my home town).

[AJC: Property valuation technique # 1: Q: How did I know how much to pay? A: I didn’t! But, I did know who I was bidding against (very important to know who your ‘opposition’ is) … a property developer. Logic told me that he would not buy for more that true current value, because it would be reasonable to expect him to buy-rehab-sell or buy-rebuild-sell. If – on the other hand – I intended to buy/use/hold, then it stands to reason that I could afford to pay AT LEAST as much as him. So, I just kept bidding until he stopped, and ended up paying just $1,000 more than his highest bid.]

To backtrack a little, I had already decided that I would buy prime real-estate in prime location, instead of buying a cheap building in an industrial area (typical for call centers, to keep costs low).

So, instead of spending, say $500k or so on a cheap industrial-area building, that’s how I found myself spending $1.35 mill up front at that auction and another $500k (100% financed) on the rehab and fitout, once I closed on the deal.


Well, I saw two major benefits:

1. It was a show-case building that I thought would be my ‘shop front’ for our ‘Fortune 500’-type corporate clients, making them think we were bigger (therefore better/safer to deal with than our opposition) than we really were, and

2. I guessed that it would have great resale or redevelopment value down the line.

As things would turn out, this was one of those rare occasions when I was right … on both fronts!

Our business grew substantially in that building with many a deal completed in our own board room.

[AJC: Once the Internet era arrived circa 2000, we created a fully web-enabled system – way ahead of its time – at which point it became advantageous for us to make our sales at our clients own premises. Once they saw the drop-dead gorgeous – by 2000 standards – web-enabled charts and graphs, they virtually signed our standard contract on the spot! Our office could have been in a garbage dump then, and it would no longer have mattered. Oh, good times … good times!]

In doing so, I avoided 5 years of rent, reduced my taxes by $500k (because of the rehab), paid down about $500k of the principal, and eventually sold the  building for $2.4 million.

Once business picked up (again, partly because of the marketing / credibility benefits of such a professionally fitted out building in such a prime location) I barely noticed the payments, and probably would simply have raised my personal spending had some of the profits not gone into the mortgage and rehab repayments.

Instead, after 5 years of mostly tax-deductible ‘forced savings’ I walked away with what felt like an extra $1.5 million in my pocket. Not my grandest move, as things would turn out, but certainly my (financially) most astute …

… I encourage every business owner to do the same!

So, what’s your best – not necessarily your grandest – financial move?

The key to untold wealth!

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may have the sneaking suspicion that I’m also a bit of a ‘mad scientist’.

For example, I told you that, like Albert Einstein, I’ve been working on a ‘unified theory’ [AJC: I’m rather proud of this post, so go ahead and pull it out of the 7m7y archives by clicking on this link: The Big Papa lives in the 11th Dimension!].

Unlike Albert Einstein, though, I am (a little more) kempt; (very slightly) less absent-minded;  (a lot) less than genius (even a little more ‘less’ each year); and, have no Germanic accent, although my parents spoke the language fluently (but, never allowed me to learn it … it was their ‘secret language’).

On the positive side, unlike Albert Einstein who reportedly went to his grave with his secret, I have found the Unified Theory of Finance!

After literally years of searching – and, this blog has been a way for me to publicly articulate my thoughts, and get the feedback that I needed along the way [AJC: so, I will need to remember to thank all of my readers – that’s you! – at my Nobel Prize for Finance acceptance speech] – I finally made this Great Discovery (?!) on the weekend.

In fact, the breakthrough came in two parts:

The Search

Because I am (still) enamored with Sponge Bob, I was attracted to “Eugene Krabs“, who left his version of the secret formula for wealth in a seemingly innocuous comment on Free Money Finance’s blog:

I’ve boiled what I’ve read myself down to the following equation:

Wealth = Capital + Risk + Time

(To be clear, capital is the money you have right now to make more money with.)

Technically, any one of those factors can do it for you. For example, if you have a massive amount of capital, or if you take massive amounts of risk and beat the odds, or if you have a lot of time to build your wealth, then you can still become wealthy at the expense of the other two factors.

However, there are downsides to all of these individual factors.

Sensational stuff!

Unfortunately, I can’t thank “Mr Krabs” because he didn’t include any links with his moniker. On the other hand, you may quickly spot a few issues:

1. Clearly Wealth isn’t an additive of capital, risk, and time, it’s really a complex function. But, that can be solved by rewriting the equation as W = C * R * T or, even better yet, as:

W = Fn {C,R,T} i.e. Wealth is a (perhaps, complex) function of Capital, Risk, and Time.

But, understanding the math is not the point – I’m sure that Mr Krabs’ formula is meant as conceptual, not mathematically rigorous – it’s understanding that you need to balance Capital, Risk, and Time, if you want to become wealthy, that’s important … at least, according to a fictional cartoon character who saves every penny that he can get his claws on 😉

2. The more important point is that this version of the formula forgets Return; and, if we substitute Return (e.g. the 9% or 0.09 return that you supposedly get if you stick your money in the stock market for long enough), you actually have something very similar to the basic formula for compounding (which, at least according to Einstein, is the ‘most powerful force in the universe’:

3. Even if I somehow modified Mr Krabs’ simple version (and/or the more complex – but, correct – mathematical representation of compounding) to include both Risk and Return (a.k.a. Reward), the formula IMHO still wouldn’t explain why Warren Buffett is sensationally rich investing in exactly the same stocks that we invest in, yet we manage to lose money (in the short term, in absolute value, and even in the long term, certainly after inflation is taken into account)!?!

Until I can explain that, there is no formula 🙁

The Breakthrough

Still my gut told me that Mr Krabs [AJC: I love using his pen name … I’ll see how many more times I can fit it into this really very serious post!] was on the right track, because his representation did provide the missing simplification that I needed.

But, I kept hitting brick wall after brick wall …

… until last Sunday.

Last Sunday, I took my son and a few friends to play in their weekly teenage tennis competition [AJC: we all got free ‘slurpies’ from a 7-11 Convenience store on the way back home from tennis because it was 7-11 Day: November 7, 2010. Go figure!].

Instead of watching the game, I sat in the car with all my notes – pages and pages of complex math, simple math, all trying to fit Risk, Return, Capital, Time, and so on into a simple, conceptual ‘formula’ … all the while, trying to use it to explain the difference between you, me, and Warren Buffett.

As I said, until I could do that, I had nothing!

It was driving me crazy! So, I did the only sensible thing: I laid back the car seat and dozed off … but, when I woke up half an hour later, I had it:

“Is that all?”, you say [yawn]

Hell, yes!

Really understand this, and you have the key to untold wealth … in any field of endeavor.

I’ll explain the X-Factor (it can be explained!) in an upcoming post …


PS Remember: this ‘formula’ is conceptual and is more correctly (but, still grossly) simplified as:

W = Fn {C,X,T} i.e. Wealth is a (definitely, very) complex function of Capital, The ‘X-Factor’, and Time.