Casting Call: 70 Future Millionaires Wanted!

So far, this blog has covered – in a random way – perhaps 10% – 20% of what I have to offer, and over the next 2 years you can expect that to double again … so, if you can wait 4 or 5 years (and, can unscramble the order that I deliver this content in) you will know at least half of what I have to offer.

IF you can wait …

But, now I am offering another way to learn what you need to learn – quickly and in a totally ordered/guided way – AT NO COST TO YOU … NOT NOW … NEVER … EVER … really 🙂


It’s another way for me to share my ideas … and, more fuel for my next book [AJC: my first one is finished and is being hawked to publishers and agents as we speak] 😉

So, what’s this all about?

If you have been around – reading this blog – for the past two years, you will already know about my Other Site, which was host to a unique online experiment where a real multi-millionare (that would be me) offered to mentor just 7 people to make their own fortune.

Scott, Ryan, Josh, Debbie (who volunteered to leave the program to help me write a book about their experiences with this experiment), Jeff (who replaced Debbie), Diane, Mark and Lee (a retired Police Chaplan!) all participated and you can read about their experiences on that site.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, and meet a couple of very small criteria, ALL of this content is – and, will always remain – free to you!

But, I am offering you even more .. also for free / for ever …

You see, I am opening up this site to just 70 more Millionaires … in Training! and, will be offering memberships to qualified applicants for a small monthly fee … but, not for you – as a reader of this blog, I feel morally obligated (seriously!) to keep my promise that I would NEVER ask you to pay a dime for my online services.

This won’t stop me from advertising the hell out of this re-launched site elsewhere, looking for paying customers … but, NOT HERE.

[AJC: This is about as good an offer as you will ever receive in this life, so maybe you should take advantage of it]

Foundation Membership (this is exclusive for the first 70 QUALIFYING $7million7years readers) is just like the Premium Mmbership that others will need to pay for – but, you get it for LIFE and for FREE.

Joining will enable you to find:

EXACTLY how much money YOU need in order to be rich [hint: this will be different for everybody]

WHEN you need to stop working full-time and WHAT you will be doing with your new-found freedom

WHAT steps you need to take in order to amass the fortune that you need

HOW to find your passion and turn that into cash

Most importantly, you will find THE ONE THING – more than any other – that helped me move from $30k in debt to $7 million in the bank in just 7 years … and, how it is virtually guaranteed to work for you.

This is no scam or Get Rich Quick system that tells you how to invest in real-estate, stocks, online businesses, or any other method that made the author rich [or, was it just selling you the information that made the author rich?!] …

… no, this is a NEW and UNIQUE Guided Learning Experience that will show you how to get as rich as you need to be, doing whatever it is that you are most passionate about.

Haven’t found your passion?

Don’t worry, that’s one of the first things that we will cover 😉

If you want to become one of the 70 Millionaires … In Training! click here now, before 70 others jump in ahead of you!

Still reading?

There’s nothing more to know!

Just click the button … I’m offering you – just 70 of you – the Keys To Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, perhaps you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth? 🙂

Good Luck!


Is your home an asset?

I spend a LOT of time on this blog talking about your home, and rightly so; your home is often regarded as your single largest asset.

Or, is it?

TraineeInvestor reopens the debate with what I think is a really interesting – seemingly ‘throwaway’ – line in his comment to this post:

The overwhelming consensus of opinion on internet forums and blogs is that your home is not an investment. (There are even people who think it is a liability rather than an asset!!!).

The “overwhelming consesus” hasn’t made $7 million in 7 years, and probably never will 😛

But there is grounding to the home-not-an-asset way of thinking; for example, in this post I quoted Robert Kiyosaki who first told me that a home is NOT an asset [AJC: Unlike many others, I am not a Robert Kiyosaki detractor … Rich Dad Poor Dad was the first book that I ever read on personal finance and, at the time, it really opened my eyes to the value of financial education].

Here’s what RK said: 

  My Poor Dad Says   My Rich Dad Says
  “My house is an asset.”   “My house is a liability.”
  Rich dad says, “If you stop working today, an asset puts money in your pocket and a liability takes money from your pocket. Too often people call liabilities assets. It’s important to know the difference between the two.

Yet, paradoxically, TraineeInvestor also pointed to the exact opposite: study after study has shown that the wealthy own their own homes and the ‘poor’ do not!

So, what do I think?

Well – and, this may also SEEM paradoxical – I actually agree that a home is not  an asset in the sense that it doesn’t earn an income.

Of course, you could rent to yourself.

Tell me then, though, when do you – could you – ever realize the value in that ‘asset’?

Only if you sell (you never will); or, pass it on (it’s not an asset for YOU).

Yet, there is one way to realize at least part of the value of your asset (while you still need a place to live), and that is to release some equity by refinancing.

So, technically, I agree with the ‘non-asset’ thinking, which is why I ask you to at least minimize the equity in your own home to a mere (by Dave Ramsey standards) 20% or less of your current Net Worth (and, review annually).

I also advocate buying your first home – more for some ‘human nature’ reasons rather than strict financial reasons – but, nowhere in this blog have I ever said: “… then, upgrade it”! 😉

Why bother keeping up an esoteric “is your home an asset or a liability?” debate at all, when the only real question that you need ask yourself is:

Can I reach my Number if I buy my own home, then keep [insert ‘% of current home value’ of choice: 0%; 10%; 20%; 50%; 100%; other] tied up as home equity?

My standard advice is, YES … if:

a) I buy my first home (with whatever starting equity that my bank and I can agree on), then

b) [as soon as reasonably possible, start to] maintain no more than 20% of my net worth in that – or, any future – home as equity

c) and, reassess b) annually (against both my home’s and my own net worth’s current value)

Ultimately, the equity that you choose to keep in your home either helps you to reach your Number, or it doesn’t.

For most people, “reaching their Number” means amasssing ‘real’ assets in the range of millions of dollars. Logically, tying up valuable equity in something that can’t possible reach ‘millions of dollars’ in value is wrong, so why do it?

What does this all mean for you?

My ‘rules’ of home ownership are designed to give you the best chance to reach your Number by your Date.

Depending on how YOU choose to look at it, your home is either your single largest asset or single largest liability …

… the real point of this blog is to make sure that it doesn’t stay that way 🙂

Hypothetical Mike … and, Beyond!

The story so far:

Hypothetical Mike (the hero of our story) has super income-earning powers (ranging between $250k and $350k p.a.) … his powers also extend to corporate high flying, not to mention having a super-strong handshake 😛

His mission: to amass $10 million within 14 years.

But, like every superhero, he has a weakness: he keeps too much of his current $1.7 million networth in cash … $1.3 million of it to be precise.

Cash is kryptonite to financial superheroes like Hypothetical Mike!

Does HypeMike – as he is known in superhero and rapper circles – need to fly higher and higher in order to fulfil his mission? Or, can he simply destroy that stash of kryptonite and let the natural laws of investing wisely take over?

In an unusual twist, we let the readers decide the outcome of this story …

For example, here is what Steve said:

What are Hypothetical Mike’s Talents and hobbies? Based on what he likes to do in his spare time. I might recommend starting a business, that could bring in an income and later be sold for a nice return. This could help him reach that goal quite well. It would be less like running a business cause it would be something he enjoys anyway.

If HypeMike were a mere mortal, I would agree with Steve: you and I should ramp up our Making Money 201 activities in an attempt to accelerate our income … 

… but, HypeMike already has his MM201 ‘money tree’ (i.e. his relatively high-paying job); coupled with his $1.7 million starting bank and his 14 year timeframe, he need leap no tall buildings to reach his Number.

A relatively mere 13.5% compound growth rate will do the job … PROVIDED that HypeMike doesn’t lose his main ‘super power’ i.e. his ability to keep earning superhero-like salaries.

Hypothetical Mike shouldn’t do ANYTHING to jeopardize his job, hence his income stream (e.g. moonlighting might be against company rules, or might distract him, tire him out, etc., etc.).

On the other hand, a number of readers commented that HypeMike’s money – merely sitting in cash – is his real problem. For example, Brad said:

If you are successful at running this business (you said you turned it profitable) then you should be in a position to negotiate larger and larger bonuses or equity ownership. Seems like THAT is what you are talented in. Don’t feel like you need to start investing in real estate or small biz because that is how OTHER people might have gotten rich.

I do agree that you should keep some cash positions if that makes you feel secure, but also to keep the bulk of your invest-able assets in at least an S&P500 index fund.

In my [AJC: emminently unqualified] opinion, Brad is 100% correct.

Hypothetical Mike should take a close look at Brad’s advice and follow it!

[Disclaimer: Brad is likely just as unqualified as I am to offer personal financial advice … always seek professional advice!].

Is he really a clever dude?

[Disclaimer: Artist’s rendering of AJC … any resemblance to other bloggers living or dead is purely coincidental]

Have you noticed that I don’t have a category for debt on this blog?

[AJC: you can click on any of the keyword/categories in the orange header-banner above to see a list of blog posts focusing on that subject]

It’s not because we don’t talk about debt, as we clearly do

…. it’s because, to me, creating or paying off debt is just the same as investing (after adjusting for tax: a dollar saved in interest, is the same as a dollar earned in interest or investment income, right?).

That’s why I was genuinely interested in finding out what was going through fellow-blogger Clever Dude’s mind when he loudly proclaimed:

We’re Free of Consumer Debt!!!!!!

As of today, we have paid off all $113,000 of our student loans, auto loans and credit card debt.

We are debt free!!!

My fellow blogger is right to be proud of his achievement … but, does that make it the right investment choice?

Check it out:

He paid off $113k … now, this is no small achievement, some people don’t even save that in their entire lifetime! Still I couldn’t resist asking Clever Dude for some details:

The rate on the student loans was 6.25%. The 2nd mortgage is 7.875%. First was 5.25%.

I chose to pay off the student loan because it was more manageable and I could get it off the books faster than the 2nd mortgage. Mathematically, the 2nd mortgage makes more sense until you factor in the tax deduction which brings them down to about equal.

I also wanted to know a little about his current net worth (after the mammoth debt-payoff feat) – nosey, aren’t I?! Anyhow, Clever Dude was happy to share:

Don’t mind the math as I rounded:

Cash: 17%
Investments: 37%
Home Equity: 6%
Autos: 17%
Personal Property: 12% (if I could sell it all right now)
Whole Life Insurance: 5% (yep, I got it, it’s expensive, but I’m not giving it up!)

So, Clever Dude has ‘invested’:

-> $113k in loans returning (by avoiding having to pay) around 6.25% after tax

-> 17% of his net worth in cash returning (I’m guessing here) 2%?

-> 6% of his net worth in his home returning some unknowable amount in future (potential) capital gains

-> 5% of his net worth in insurance ‘investments’ of dubious value after (often) exorbitant fees

-> 29% in (presumably) depreciating ‘assets’ such as autos and personal property

Now that he is debt-free, what  will drive Clever Dude’s investment strategy from here on in? He says:

Investing and savings are next up in our planning. Honestly, we’ve spent so much time just thinking about debt, we haven’t spent much time on the future. Now is the time.

Now, I’m not here to pick holes in Clever Dude’s investment strategy as he had a strategy and moved mountains to achieve it – not to mention, that we know so little about Cleve Dude’s true financial situation that we are in no position to advise / criticize …

…. but, I do want to use this example to show why following a blind – and, in my mind totally arbitrary – investment goal such as “reducing debt” is not always the best idea:

Clever Dude has only 37% of his net worth in investments right now (OK, he is working on his Master’s Degree, so he has had other things on his mind) and has limited the bulk of his net worth’s returns to only 2% to 6% (or so) by almost-totally focusing on paying debt.


So, that he can start “investing and saving”!

Now, does that make sense to you?

What is your Number?

Well, it certainly took me a long time to ask the question (see Reader Poll: What Is Your Number?) and, it took me almost as long to answer it.


I’d like to say it was because I was forensically and actuarialy analyzing the results … I’d like to say it was, but that wouldn’t be the truth, which is much more mundane: it was mainly because I forgot all about it after our ridiculously long Australian summer holiday season (Aussie summer = USA winter) 🙂

So without further ado, here are the results:

Now, the first thing that you may notice is that the answers aren’t in any sort of obvious order; traineeinvestor was the first to notice:

The order … is not sequential. I fully expect to be awake all night trying to figure out whether this is really a cover from some experiment in behavioral finance.

Actually, the reason is equally mundane: I was trying to copy the following poll from GenerationX Finance, but when you compare them, you’ll find out that I even got that wrong (!?!):

I presume that GenX ‘randomized’ the ranges to make his readers think through all the options before merely selecting the first one that looked OK; at least, that’s what I would have done had I not tried to copy him 😉

But, to help us analyze the results, I have graphed them side -by-side and in logical order:

OK, that tells me that we are on the right track:

– either I am attracting the ‘right’ audience for this blog (which is nice), or

– my readers have altered their perceptions of “how much is enough” based upon some of my preachings (which would be really nice).

Given that GenX’ers are born in the 60’s and 70’s (I was born in the – late! – 50’s … scary, huh?), I can understand why some may be aiming for only $1 mill. to $3 mill., but to my mind, it’s still too low; and for Gen Y and so on, inflation will decimate your living standard by the time you reach ‘standard’ retirement age, so you have no choice but to aim higher.

But given that so many of our readers have lofty targets – and, I just may be responsible at least in small part for at least a few – let me ask you, what would you like to see from this blog in 2010 that you haven’t seen (enough of) yet?

Be the bank!

My son asked why I don’t just plonk by money into a safety deposit box to tap into those wonderful gross margins that banks earn buy ‘buying’ your money at 3% and ‘selling’ it back to you (or to other people/businesses) at 7%.

That lead to a great discussion on P2P lending, which partially addressed the problem of risk for me: P2P offers filters to allow you to sort loans; ratings to allow you to evaluate loans; and FICO-based ‘risk rated’ interest rates (circa 10%) to go along with all of this.

But, that doesn’t satisfy me …

And, it’s not because the banks have MUCH better systems to evaluate and manage loans and it’s their core business, it’s because I can do much better with my limited capital than P2P levels of interest.

Here’s two things to think about:

– Does P2P provide the annual compound growth rate that YOU need to reach your Number?

– Do you have the bank’s virtually UNLIMITED access to capital or is the amount that you can apply to P2P as a % of your Net Worth limited?

These points are critical: you have a limited amount of investment resource available to you and (probably!) a very large Number / soon Date to achieve using what you currently have as a springboard.

Now, let’s flip to the other side:

Banks dig into their ability to borrow (which IS the basis for their entire business, investment banking / asset management services aside) and lend to us for what?

Either to SPEND (on consumer items, if we are dumb) or to INVEST (in our homes, businesses, etc.) if we are smart.

So, let’s put those things together to create our own ‘bank’:

1. We have limited cash to ‘lend’ at our disposal, so we need to find a way to tap into vast amounts of borrowing power just like the banks.

2. Well, we don’t have the Regulations, Reputations, and Resources (e.g. access to the capital markets) that allow the banks to borrow (then lend) so much, but we do have something that allows us to achieve effectively the same huge jump in personal borrowing capacity: the spare equity in our houses.

[AJC: You knew there was a catch! If you don’t have a house, have GFC’ed your equity out the window, or otherwise don’t have enough equity built up yet, bookmark this post and take the rest of the day off …]

3. If you DO have spare equity in your house, and can refi. to a fixed rate loan that locks in your borrowings circa 4% or so then you are probably now sitting on a relatively large sum of cash to lend, just like a bank (relatively speaking!).

4. So, you can either:

– Do, what the banks do and lend to somebody who needs the cash at a higher rate; e.g. P2P where you may get 10% for each 4% ‘unit’ that you supply … a VERY healthy 150% gross margin (plus, you have NO staff or overheads), OR

– Do, what I would recommend: cut out the middle-man and lend the money to yourself!

What would you do with that money that you have borrowed?

What any sensible investor would do with money that they borrow from the bank – depending upon their Number and their appetite for risk:

– Buy some investment real-estate,

– Buy stock [AJC: a friendly ‘bank manager’, no margin calls …. sweet],

– Start a business … it could even be a P2P lending business 😉

That last one isn’t such a joke; I would be more tempted to invest IN a P2P business than I would be to lend VIA a P2P. Why?

It’s simple … the former gives me ho hum 10% returns (with some credit risk attached), whilst the latter gives me access to potentially, unlimited returns!

Are you worried about the risk of business failure?

Well, if the P2P site goes under, isn’t my risk of capital loss the same as if my cash was sitting in their investment accounts [AJC: which is one of the reasons why the SEC is VERY interested in regulating P2P, all of a sudden … but, until they do … 😉 ]?

Inspiration at the pump …

When your car runs out of gas, you go to the gas pump …

… when I run out of inspiration (as sometimes happens … not often, but sometimes) I go to the bloggers ‘gas pump’:, a compilation of articles from the best blogs on the web in almost any category that you would care to name.

I got excited when I saw the headline, there, of a CNNMoney article titled: Real estate in your retirement portfolio.

Excited, that is, until I read the first paragraph:

Question: How do REITs work? And is it prudent to have them in a diversified retirement portfolio?

This is the problem with the financial press in the USA: it’s directed to packaged financial products e.g. stocks, funds, REITS, and the list goes on … this is why average (and, 99% of  ‘above average’) Americans will remain relatively poor.

It’s ironic then that the wealthiest Americans (and, I would suggest this to also be the case in all developed countries) made their money in business (including the business of investing) and keep their money in real-estate.

According to an otherwise (and, unfortunately) highly flawed book that I reviewed some time ago, the rich keep their money for generations ONLY if they split their assets roughly one-third in a business, one-third in paper (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.) and one-third in real-estate (incl. their own home) … since I called this “the most dangerous idea in retirement planning that I have ever read” (and, you will have to read this post to find out why), I had better give you my much simpler formula:

As I transition into Making Money 301 [protecting my wealth], I would happily keep 95% of my net worth in real-estate (incl. no more than 20% in my own home; remember The 20% Rule?) … and, I am NOT talking about REITs here, I’m talking buy/hold income-producing real-estate.

It’s certainly not the only strategy, but it’s one of the simplest and, IMHO still the best 🙂

Instant Net Worth Fix?


What is the relationship between your income and your Net Worth? Does paying down a mortgage increase your Net Worth … these are the comments made by Diane to a reader who said that they had income that was going into CD’s, but still had a mortgage:

[If] you are paying down your mortgage some – rather than just interest …  then your net worth may be going up [?]

I told Diane that it doesn’t work that way ( Where Diane is right that putting money into CD’s while you hold a mortgage is probably a sub-optimal financial decision, it’s NOT because your Net Worth would change … paying down your mortgage does NOT change your Net Worth – it just reduces both your CASH (on hand) and MORTGAGE balance columns in your NWiQ profile …

… your total of Assets – Liabilities (hence, your Net Worth) remains the same!

Diane took me to task:

I assume [that you would be] applying income to [your] net worth and that is NOT reflected in the assets/debt columns of the networth calculations – it’s future cash for the most part (those who have incomes ;)) — or did I miss how else the income is reflected other than as a header above (along with our education)???

These are very good ‘technical’ questions, that I can explain (for those who are business/finance minded) as follows:

Income/expenses is/are a bit like a business’ P&L (Profit and Loss Statement), and your Net Worth is like a Balance Sheet … the former is a ‘work in progress’ and the latter is a ‘snapshot’ at a specific point in time.

Both cash and loans sit on the Balance Sheet … or, in our case, on our statement of Net Worth. Simply moving amounts around does not change either. Your Balance Sheet only changes if you make or lose money, grow or reduce assets (as long as you are not turning them into cash or some other balance sheet item).

Similarly for your Net Worth: decreasing a positive bank balance (on one side of your Net Worth statement) in order to similarly decrease a negative house balance (a.k.a. a mortgage) on the other side hasn’t changed anything – except where you keep various components of your Net Worth.

On the other hand, earning more profits (reflected in a businesses P&L) is similar to earning a salary or other income for a person (income) provided that you don’t spend it all (expenses) …

… they all help to increase your Net Worth (or improve the value of the business, as reflected in an improved Balance Sheet).

BUT, it doesn’t matter if you ‘store’ that extra income in a bank account (i.e. the CASH column of your NWiQ profile) or in your mortgage (effectively reducing it) … your Net Worth goes up by the amount of income that you saved since you last calculated your Net Worth.

As Scott says:

As long as you are living in your home, it is a liability and costing you money if anything.

That is, unless you are prepared to tap into that home’s equity and use that money to invest.

Yes, it’s what you ’save’ from your income (i.e. after expenses) that goes into improving your Net Worth regardless of whether you use it to build up your bank balace, pay down debt, or – as Scott suggests – buy a new asset.