Some financial advice for the blogging community …

Casting Call




Click Here

 OK, I am a relatively new blogger … I obviously don’t do it for the money [AJC: no advertising, affiliate links, or product sales here!], but many do … or aspire to.

And, as Alex recently commented on this post, there’s nothing wrong with blogging for money:

If people like Guy Kawasaki, Dilbert’s author, and other wealthy people all put ads on their site to make money, then there’s no reason why we should not. John Chow is making $30,000 month off his main blog so there is always an opportunity to make money through your blog.

It is these Mega-Bloggers who are paving the way to [apparent] riches for the rest of the blogging community …

… but, as far back as 2006 there were already 50,000,000 blogs [holy sh*t!], growing by a mere 17,500 new blogs a day!

So, how is Joe Average Blogger actually doing? Check out this chart:

Blogging Income 

Source: Problogger 

Problogger does a regular survey of their readers to see what they earn; now, this isn’t a scientific survey by any means but it does seem to give a useful indication of Blogging Earning Potential.

For example, 28% of respondents don’t earn ANY money from their blogs with another 18% earning only a pittance!

Problogger says:

A quarter of those who earn something make less than 0.33 cents per day. If that’s not a reality check then I don’t know what is.

Of course, we will categorize these bloggers not as losers, but as new bloggers who are steadily winding their way up to the giddy heights of those who earn $100 – $499 per month … and, maybe even beyond 😉

Even so, this doesn’t mean that blogging is a futile exercise in self-indulgence … right?!

Of course not … it just means that you need to seriously assess exactly why you want to be in blogging:

1. Is it for strictly non-financial reasons?

ReadWriteWeb said in a recent post:

There are many different motivations for blogging and some do not involve money. Some people have a cause they are passionate about – they want to help change the world and a blog is a marvellous way to get attention for that cause. Others don’t even want to change the world or get noticed, they are just passionate about something and enjoy writing about it – attention is a by-product.

These bloggers may have Adsense ads and Amazon affiliate links. Who wants to turn away “no effort” money, however small? Just don’t judge them by their revenue, it is a by-product

2. Is it mainly for financial reasons?

I have some advice for those bloggers who do have at least some serious financial motivation:

Blogging – if pursued mainly for its potential monetary rewards – is a business, and a pretty competitive and limited one, from a strictly financial standpoint, at that.

Like any other business, it takes: commitment, planning, execution …. and, more than a little luck!

The very few guys who do make it Blogging Big (if you call $150k – $250k p.a. earned income ‘big’) probably started early in the game, and put serious effort into growing their business.

This COULD be you … but, here is my suggestion, just in case the odds don’t favor you:

i) Blog because you want to – look at the monetary reward as a bonus

ii) Blog as a form of networking – use it to build an audience for a future product or venture (e.g. a book)

iii) Blog to build content – ‘package’ your posts into an e-book or information product that you can sell

iv) Blog to provide a little extra fuel for your investment strategy – even if you are earning just a few extra dollars a week, doing something that you enjoy, put at least 50% towards your investment strategy and compounding will take care of the rest.

v) Blog because you want to combine all of these strategies … that’s the best way to get benefit from such a usually low-dollar-per-hour-invested activity.

To me, blogging is probably a bad ‘business’ in strict return-on-time-invested terms – I would never pursue it as a business; so many other activities have the potential to return much more and scale much better … and, who the hell are you going to sell it to, anyway?

But, the ‘financial’ value of blogging (if that is the path that you are pursuing)  is that you may be able you use it to eventually drive higher-dollar-per-hour outputs, elsewhere.

For the guys pursuing the blogging-to-earn-money angle, that makes blogging a great marketing tool, pure and simple!

A great example is Jason, who also left a comment on that same post:

I am using my blog to make money, but not in the way you may think. I am using it to establish the fact that I am an expert in specific areas….then when I talk to my investors I can show them the articles I wrote and how it all works. Basically to give credibility.

Next I also use the blog to sometimes promote my computer company. I have not received any sales. but it is a hope … the main thing I use it for is motivation, so that I keep going on my path to being wealthy.

So, what about me?

I may accept advertising on my blog one day … I may also write a book … but, like blogging, that is a relatively low-expected-value activity.

In the meantime, I will keep blogging simply because I enjoy sharing what I have learned in the Financial School of Hard Knocks … I have important information stored up inside me that is simply better out than in!

What about you?

Business for sale?

As you know, I’m a member of Networth IQ – and quite an active member, at that! I love reading and answering questions … 

[AJC: you’ve probably already seen that from the detailed responses that I try and give commenters on my posts on this blog … try me, if you have a question … I just won’t give direct personal advice, because I am not a qualified professional, but I will give general advice if I think it will benefit all of our readers]

… and this unique site provides a great platform (as does Tickerhound, which provides a great Q&A forum on everything from stocks to real-estate).

For those of you who aren’t members of Networth IQ, here is an exerpt of a great question:

I found a business for sale that has generated the following free cash flows since 1998.

1998 – $3,426.0 Mil
1999 – $3,949.0 Mil
2000 – $4,917.0 Mil
2001 – $7,133.0 Mil
2002 – $6,077.0 Mil
2003 – $8,333.0 Mil
2004 – $8,956.0 Mil
2005 – $9,245.0 Mil
2006 – $11,582.0 Mil
2007 – $12,307.0 Mil

The current owners are asking $183.49 Bil, …. I don’t have $183.49 Bil, but they said that they would sell me a smaller portion of the business if I wanted … Should I buy?

I like this question on two levels:

1. It’s a neat reminder that when we buy stocks, we’re not just buying ‘bits of paper’ … we’re buying a small piece of a real, live business!


2. It gives me an opportunity to show you the sorts of questions that I would ask – and the types of information that I would be looking at before buying into this – or any – business.

According to Warren Buffet (or sources who purport to know how he works) the intrinsic value of a business is in its discounted cashflow.

That is, a business is – or should be – a cash machine … what’s the reason for owning it, if not to get some cash out?

So, in the above example, we should be able to decide if the business is worth $183.49 Billion (not knowing the company in the above excerpt, I am assuming that this number represents the entire current market capitalization of the business) by discounting the cash-flows shown above …

… a quick look at the most recent cash-flow figure shows that it is currently producing $12 Bill. cash per year (probably growing, if history is any guide); that would mean about 15 years to get our money back … yuk.

Now you know why the stock market is generally a fool’s game … I would by far prefer to invest in my own business, or buy a private one at ‘only’ 3 to 5 years free cash-flow (better yet, Net Income), and grow it … then float it myself!

Or, at least sell it to a public company who can immediately ‘claim’ 15 times my Net Profit (hence, give me 7 to 12 times my Net Profit).

But, if we are going to play ‘the stock market’ game, what would we need to know before we can make an informed decision about ‘investing’ in this stock?

Hmmm …
As I pointed out, the free cash-flows on their own say nothing …
For example, I recently sold two similar businesses: one had been going for many years and generated ‘free cash flows’ [now that’s an oxymoron!] of $1 mill. and the other was less than 2 years old and had yet to make a dime.
Yet, I sold them both (separately) for about the same price! So, there must be more to the valuation of a business than Free Cash-flows, right? Absolutely!Let’s start with Return on Invested Capital:
I’d like to know what it has been for this company (and, the industry) over the past 5 years? I’d like to see an improving trend in excess of 15%, please.
Then, is the company growing?
Cash Flow is just one measure (but, what about operating cash-flow … have they made any strategic purchases / major capital expenditures /etc.), so what about the 10 years trends in: Earnings? Book Value? And, what about plain, old Sales?
I’d like to see a history of growth (min. 10%) in all of these …Now, how is there debt situation?
How long will it take them to cover their long-term liabilities from ‘Free Cash Flow’?
I’d like to see no more than 2 to 3 years.
Do the people who run the company own stock? Are they buying or selling?
Tell me about the company: do they have a ‘sustainable competitive advantage’ (what Warren Buffet calls a ‘Moat’ … but, that’s too much water for me!).

Do I believe this company will be around for the next 100 years … do I really want to buy THIS business in THIS industry?

Lastly, if I like the answers to all of the above (unlikely … so far I’ve only liked the answers to similar questions for 7 companies out of the 5,000+ that I can currently buy a ‘piece’ of) …

…. then how CHEAP can I get this thing!?
PS I made the ‘other’ category … waaaayyyyyy down at the bottom of the 150th Carnival of Personal Finance … whoo hoo!

Thinking of buying something on credit?

Mr Bean Cartoon Image

‘Need’ a plasma TV? Perhaps you ‘just’ need a new car?

There’s ALWAYS a way to find the money that you need WITHOUT putting yourself further in debt … just ask Mr Bean :

Mr Bean (a.k.a. Rowan Atkinson … played the priest in 4 Weddings and a Funeral) is not as well known in the US as he is overseas … he’s one of my favorite comedians and comedic actors.

Anyhow, I hope that you enjoyed this short clip for today’s installment of our Video on Sunday’s series as much as I did?!


My $7 Million Dollar Journey …

I am a little shy, which is one of the reasons why I write semi-anonymously. It’s also so that I can share specific (and, highly personal) financial information, so that you can travel a similar road, if you are so inclined …

But, some of you want to know where I came from? How is it that I could amass such a large amount ($7 million) in such a short time (7 years)?

Fair questions.

So it is for YOU that I humbly outline my $7million7year journey

I count my 7 years as starting in 1998:

By then I had resurrected a defunct family business as a sole proprietorship (I was $30k in debt and living off $50k a year) and started a new one that had real potential but was draining all the cash from the first business (and then some … combined the businesses were losing about $5k a month).

We owned our own home (well, the bank owned most of it) but had zero other investments.

I was what you would call “broke … with prospects”.


Since I had no idea how to fix the situation, I did what any self-respecting person would do: I lucked upon a book!

The book was called The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber and I bought it to help me get out of the hole that I was in …

… not, the financial hole – I had NO idea that the book (or any book!) could help me with that – rather the personal hole (more like hell) that I was going through working in my businesses rather than on them.

[AJC: This will be the subject for another post, but I was the classic control-freak entrepreneur (I sure as hell didn’t feel like an ‘entreprenuer’ … I was just a guy seemingly out of his depth) trying to do EVERYTHING myself … therefore, achieving NOTHING]

No, the epiphany came when I did the very first exercise in that book (and, that’s why I suggest that EVERYBODY reads it … just for that chapter) and learned the most important lesson of my financial life:

My life wasn’t about my business (or my money) … my business was there to support my life.

You have NO idea how important that was to read … and, how scary it was when the book then went on to show me how to cost that life.

You see, I realized that for the life that I wanted … actually, needed … I had to be ‘wealthy’ [AJC: damn, why couldn’t I just ‘need’ to live on a kibbutz?!].

The problem was, I had no idea how to calculate wealthy.

Fortunately, soon after I happened to go to my first ever financial seminar, and the presenter told me two things (that I simply took on face value at the time) that changed my whole life’s financial outlook:

1. To live ‘wealthy’ (nice house, cars, schools, lots of travel … no work) you need at least $250,000 a year (1998 dollars) in passive income, and

2. You need to multily that number by 20 to determine the size of your nest egg.

There you have it … $5 million … my new (first!) goal … oh sh*t!

First, the problems:

i) My businesses were small / niche businesses with limited growth potential; I calculated that I would need almost 100% penetration of the largest business prospects available in order to achieve my new goal

ii) I had just LOST my second largest client, so now I was losing $300k a year!

iii) Year 2000 was approaching and my software was no longer supported nor was it Y2K compliant.


I got over the last problem by rewriting my software, which gave me the opportunity to fully internet-enable it … this enabled me to totally change by business model, and we (accidentally) ended up with one of the world’s first complete eLogistics systems.

All of a sudden, the business that was losing money MADE money and we added new clients (thus getting over the second-last problem) and soon became profitable.


However, as soon as we became profitable, I bought a building for over $1.25 million, on the advice of my accountant of all people … this was very scary because:

Business 1 + Business 2 + Building 1 = break-even again!

However, the businesses (now, both) started growing and soon became reasonably profitable … $10k – $20k a month by 2002 … I still only took $50k a year in salary.

Our Net Worth was now the equity we had built up in our home and office property, plus whatever residual value our businesses had; probably $1 mill. to $2 mill. In fact, an overseas listed company made us a $2 million offer for Business 2, but we rejected it (at that time) … so, our Net Worth could have been as high as $3 Million if we sold, or if somebody else would ever offer us the same.

When it comes to businesses, do you ever know your true Net Worth until you sell?


We made it all the way to $7 million over the period of 2003 to 2005 simply by:

1. Repeating the process: generating profits in the business, and

2. Retaining as much of the businesses’ profits as required to maintain the businesses and grow, and

3. Ploughing as much as possible into real-estate, and

4. Keeping a lid on personal spending and maintaining zero-personal (i.e. consumer) debt other than the house [AJC: which, as I mentioned before, we eventually paid off … not that I would recommend this strategy any more … see an upcoming post for more on this].

But, we did pump as much as we could back into the business and bought a number of smaller, residential investment properties (one condo @ bought 2003 for $145k now worth about $300k, one quadruplex bought 2005 for $1 million now worth $1.75 million, and paid off our own home eventually sold for $800k, plus the office building recently sold for $2.5 million).

If you think about it, these are the EXACT SAME STEPS that every PF blogger writes about (debt free, save, reinvest) … I just multiplied the scale and was VERY CLEAR on my cashout $ and time.

But what about my opening comment:

I deliberately chose a provocative title for my blog … whilst partially true, I chose it … well … because it sounded good!

Why only “partially true”?

Well, I did make it to $7 million in the seven years between 1998 and 2005 –  and, by then, my other assets probably had Net Equity of: Business # 1 ($2 million … $1.5 million in cash + whatever value the business could sell for); Home # 1 ($650k); Office ($1.25 million); Residential investments ($1 million).

So, that period sets the scene for our [more than] $7 million 7 year journey, made the good old fashioned way (grow an income stream or two, live frugally within reason, and invest, invest, invest) … and, provides many of the lessons that I had to learn the hard way, but you no longer need to.

But, ‘partially true’ because my journey has an unexpected (but, pleasantly surprising) postscript …

2006 – 2008

I had totally miscalculated the earning potential of my two existing businesses [AJC: actually, three, by then I had started a small training company with a partner, Business # 3]: post year-2000 reengineering, Business # 2 on its own was now capable of producing (and did) $1,000,000 a year net earnings (2006), almost all reinvested in some unexpected new ‘opportunities’:

You see, way back in 2002 I still didn’t know the potential of the new eLogistics-driven business model, yet I still had a $5 million bird to catch …

… so I had already put in train a parallel set of actions that saw me close a deal in 2004 to open two overseas offices (commencing in 2005) – both as ‘no money down’ joint ventures – unfortunately, there went my profits (yet again):

Business # 1 + Business # 2 + Business # 3 + Business # 4 + Business # 5 + Properties # 1 thru’ 4 = Break-Even again!

I was still only taking a $50k salary … my wife still had to work … don’t I EVER get to spend anything??!!

Finally, I sold something: Business # 2 in 2006 for more than 3 times what I was offered in 2002.

… and, the next 3 years sets the scene for an unbelieveable set of negotiations, opportunities, and manoueverings tied to Business # 4 and Business # 5 (which was the reason why we moved to the USA) selling both after only 2 years of operation, more than doubling our net worth again …

… and, funding properties # 4 ($2 mill … paid cash) and # 5 ($4mill. … churned #4 + paid cash) as well as now being able to fund my retirement at age 49.

I kept Business # 1 as well as Business # 5 (although, I soon plan to ‘gift’ my share in that one to my hard-working partner): they both run well and profitably in another country, with separate staff in separate locations, and without me … Michael Gerber taught me how – and why – to do that, too!

But, this period is not the subject of this blog:

Whilst entertaining – and, it might teach you a trick or two about negotiating (I sure as hell learned something!) and/or running a business ‘hands free’ – it hardly counts as Personal Finance, so I might just save the details of that story for ‘the one-day book’ 🙂

What is the best way to make more money? Payrise? Blogging? Consulting? Investing? Starting a business?

Let me fill you in on a great guest post by FMF of Free Money Finance, a blog devoted to helping readers grow their net worth” that I recently read on I Will Teach You To Be Rich, a blog by Ramit Seth … FMF said:

I’ve faced a money making question a few times in my life and I’d like to get your thoughts on it. Here’s the question: as we all try to grow our incomes, which is better, doing more of what we’re currently doing or trying something totally new?

Here are some options I had for making money in my spare time:

  • Focusing on my investments — I had them fairly under control, but I needed to spend some good hours really sorting through my strategy for dealing with some past bad decisions. I knew that getting things straightened out totally would net me a decent return.
  • Consulting — I had a few people asking me to do some side work for them and help them out in their businesses. The per hour rates were equivalent to what I make at work if you include the benefits from my current job.
  • Blogging — Back then, no one thought you could make any money blogging. But it was something I could do easily and I thought it had potential.
  • Starting a new business — Or maybe even buying an existing business. I had a few ideas for this option, but I wasn’t sure of the time commitment (which I thought would likely be high).

Each of these, like my hobby income, had their own list of pros and cons — potential income, time commitment, “hassle factor”, and so on. But before I selected one I had to decide what was my best option — to keep doing more of what I had been doing or whether I should try something new?

As FMF went on to say: Millions of Americans face similar decisions every day.

So, which option/s would you choose? Before, I give you my opinion, let me share some personal history:

I joined one the world’s best companies to work for, straight out of college … I was sure that I would only be there for two years, then I would be able use that employer’s prestigious ‘name’ on my resume to look for an even better-paying job.

Therefore, I never even bothered joining the company’s very generous stock purchase plan (exploring my stupidity will be a great subject for a future post!).

I had a great – even wonderful career, but at Year 6 a light-bulb inexplicably went off in my head: I suddenly wanted to – in fact, simply had to – do something for myself!

The problem was, I didn’t know what that ‘something’ was …

So, it took me another 4 years to finally ‘make the jump’ (exploring my ability to procrastinate will be a great subject for a future post!) – but, what attracted me to FMF’s great guest post was that he seemed to be covering all the same decisions now that I went through then:

 – Focus on my investments and/or blog: Given that I didn’t have any investments to speak of then, having spent all of my money chasing a couple of failed long-distance relationships (exploring my ability to make bad life choices will be a great subject for a future post!), and given that blogging didn’t yet exist (although, we had – just – moved past the abacus onto the slide rule stage), that left me with …

Staying in my job: I was past the point of no return on this …. when that ‘light bulb’ finally does go off in your head, you just realize that there is virtually no amount that you can earn in a job that can make you financially free, unless your expectations are very low and you intend to work for a very long time OR you can fight your way to the very top of the corporate food chain.

Consulting: So that left me with only a couple of choices … consulting was tempting because that’s essentially what I did for this company that I was working for, and I was pretty good at it. But, I quickly realized that consulting was constrained by time and hourly rate … in other words, I was the product that I was selling, and there was only a limited amount of me to sell. And, I would have to divide that limited amount of time between: (a) doing consulting gigs (b) finding more consulting gigs (c) administering my consulting gigs … only one of which paid!

Go into business: So, I was left with the entrepreneurial path … the path that ultimately lead me to wealth. Why was this path so attractive? I can sum that up in one word … leverage. There is no other activity that – when it works – can produce so much cash (to fuel your passive investments!) for so little investment – other than in blood, sweat and tears – than your own business. None … period.

And, the good thing about a business is that you can minimize your risks by investing little in the way of time (start part time) and costs (bootstrap!) – if you so choose – or, you can jump in boots and all … the choice is entirely yours!

So, here’s what I recommend to all of those facing the same choices as FMF and I faced …

1. Make a decision that you will (eventually) go into your own business.

2. Prepare by (a) starting/maximizing your ‘pay yourself first’ savings plan (b) paying down bad/consumer debt as quickly as possible (c) building up a 3 – 6 month income savings buffer.

3. Minimize your risks (financial and otherwise) by starting a business on the side (blogging, writing, consulting, online, hobby-turned-into-income, manically trading stocks or options, aggressively rehabbing/flipping real-estate, whatever) … if it ‘works’ great … if not, start another …

4. Put at least 50% of the excess business income (i.e. after reinvestments in anything that will help you quickly grow the business) into your Savings/Investment Plan

5. Wait until either your business income grows enough to support you or your passive income from investments grows enough to support you.

6. Then fire your boss before he fires you! At least, it would be nice to have the option 😉

BTW: By now, I’m sure that you have picked up the fatal flaw in my original plan, back when I was still working for ‘The Man’:

If I did choose to start my own consulting practice then, I could have eventually turned it into a consulting business by hiring other consultants to do the consulting work; hiring marketing staff to do the selling; and, hiring administration staff to do the rest … there have been plenty of mega-consulting-businesses started in exactly this way (exploring my ability to fail to see the obvious will be a great subject for future post …).

… but, I think you get the point?

What is the lowest cost, lowest risk way to start a business?

[AJC: Please do me a favor … I have added a Stumble Upon button to my right-hand tool bar …. if you click it, write a very short comment about my article – How much interest does one million dollars earn – and put it in the “Wealth” category, I would be VERY appreciative! Stumble Upon is one of the VERY BEST ways for me to increase my readership, which is good for all of us! Thanks.]

To make $7 million in 7 years (then keep it!) you need to master all the basic financial tools of multi-millionaires: businesses, stocks, real-estate … and many, many more.

So, let’s start by talking a little about ways to start your own business … having started and sold many ‘small’ businesses, I feel somewhat qualified to pontificate on this subject.

If you are looking to start the ideal small business, my suggestion is to start by looking for the business with the greatest UPSIDE rather than the one that protects your DOWNSIDE.

But, to delve a little into the question of risk:

In the old days, if we wanted to start our own business, you would find some stock, sign a lease on a storefront, hang out your shingle, advertise, and …. wait for customers.

IF the customers came, you made a small profit (competition was always sure to keep prices and profit margins low).

IF the customers failed to come, you went bankrupt (sorry!), because you: paid up front for the stock (you didn’t have a track record with the supplier yet, so COD was the best ‘deal’ they would give you); you put up personal guarantees on the storefront lease; you paid for advertising and salaries and wages; and so on.

But, that was then, and this is NOW:

Now, you can open an e-Bay store, find some leftover goods at local manufacturers and/or wholesalers and sell them … no staff, no leases, very few costs … and, grow from there.

Or, you can go right to the other extreme of Internet-based businesses and come up with the next Facebook.

And, there are a zillion opportunities to make money on the Internet, in between the e-Bay and Facebook ideas, and you can do most of them without even leaving your current job … here are the 10 dumbest ways that people made $1,000,000 on the Internet. If they can do it, so can you!

No matter how you look at it …

… the INTERNET, my friend, is the new Small Business Frontier.

Hook up the saddlebags and go West … Yeehah!

The one question that you should always ask when it seems too good to be true

I’m only 4 months into this blogging thing, but it has already broadened my horizons.

For example, here’s a blog that may not normally have made it to my ‘must read list’, but the guy is quite funny. I found him because he left a comment on one of my posts (it’s the one with the Mad Magazine, Alfred E Neuman avatar) … seems this is the way that blogs work.

[AJC: Leads me to wonder if the only people who read/comment on blogs are other bloggers?]

…. there is a [admittedly, small] finance point to this, so stick with me.

I saw this post on his blog: Why Don’t Psychics Win The Lottery? 

Here’s an “oh, so true” snippet from his post:

Being able to tell the future and predict events should give all Psychics the ability to become rich beyond their wildest dreams. So why aren’t they?

They should be able to win the lottery, predict stock market gains and losses, predict business trends, and win in Vegas–big time. With this knowledge, they should be able to run circles around experienced financial advisers.

This caught my eye, because about a month ago, my wife and I went to a charity event (my wife was one of the organizers, so I had to go … damn, hate those events), an event that just happened to have a semi-well-known ‘mind magician’ (a.k.a. a mentalist or psychic).

Apparently, he’d been on TV …

He was quite good and managed to guess a friend’s chosen number (it was 99) as well as a bunch of other, non-numeric stuff. Now, we all know that these types of shows are all staged and the people on the stage are all ‘stooges’, right?

Well, that’s what I assumed until … wouldn’t you know it, he called my wife up to the stage.

Now, my wife is nobody’s stooge and I have the bruises to prove it 🙂

Apparently, she does have a ‘thing’ for George Clooney … the psychic guessed that – but, I didn’t know it (time for that face-and-body-lift for me … pronto!). He also guessed her ‘number’ (it was  63).

Does that make him a psychic … perhaps. Are my wife and her friends ‘new believers’ … absolutely!

But, not me; I like to apply the ‘common sense’ test to these things … the questions that I ask are simple:

1. How many digits can this guy correctly ‘read’ in one night?

Looks like 4 digits per night at 100% accuracy, from what I saw.

2. How much did he get paid for this extraordinary feat?

Not sure, but it was a local charity event (it wasn’t Vegas), so I’m guessing a few hundred bucks.

3. What would I do if I were this guy?

Now isn’t this the Litmus Test question; the one that we should always ask when confronted with a seemingly ‘too good to be true’ situation?

If I were this guy, I guess I would go to Switzerland, and stand outside a bank for a few days … waiting for one of those mysterious looking men going into their equally mysterious looking bank to access their really, really mysterious ‘secret bank’ account using only their 10 digit access code, conveniently committed to memory.

If I could guess 4 digits per day at close to 100% accuracy, then I’m pretty sure that I could guess 10 digits, if I stood outside the bank for, say, a week and made at least 3 or 4 attempts … I might need a couple of different fake moustaches

I wouldn’t net a few hundred dollars in a night, I would net the $1 Bill. or $2 Bill. sitting in some chump’s secret bank account in a week.

So, our psychic … real or not?

Your answer probably dictates whether you have any chance of making some serious money in your life … because so much of financial success [AJC: see, I promised a ‘financial’ point] depends on being able to apply simple, perhaps ‘uncommon’ sense to sort out the ‘too good to be true’ from the ‘thank god it’s true’.

Don't like your boss? That's just plain, old too bad.

It seems inevitable that from time to time, life’s just gonna’ suck

For example, are you suffering from ‘Mondayitis’? Now, imagine:

It’s already 5.45 pm but you’re still stuck in your little cubicle, stapling some dumb papers together that your annoying boss said that he had to have on his desk first thing in the morning or “It’s your ass!” 

 It’s just about then that you start thinking that maybe opening up your own business and throwing in this whole ‘work thing’ is what you should be doing, because then …

you won’t have some stupid boss telling you what to do!


Having sucessfully started (and sold) many businesses across a number of countries, I can honestly say that going into business because you “don’t want a boss telling you what to do” is probably the dumbest reason that you can come up with to go into business for yourself.

[AJC: High up on that same list are: money, fame, freedom … but, that’s a whole series of posts, sitting right there!]

Having a boss can really suck … I know, because I’ve had ’em and I’ve been one – and, I would not want to work for me 😉

So what?! 

If you really don’t want anybody telling you what to do:

1. Don’t get married

2. Don’t sign up for a loan

3. Don’t take on a contract

4. Don’t have any customers

Get it? But, don’t let that hold you back …

5. Do start a business because it is still the greatest opportunity to make money that you will ever see!

Just don’t do it because of your boss …

So, while you are still in the ‘planning stages’ for that new venture, just remember to treat the little time that you have left with your boss as a ‘training exercise’ to learn how to grovel to: spouses, customers, and bankers …

… oh, and the traffic cop who pulls you over because you’re driving the spoils of your business success a little too fast down that hill in The Valley 😉


PS Oh, and while you are on your mid-morning coffee break, why don’t you trot over to the 149th Canival of Personal Finance being hosted over at Happy Rock to see what I and other PF bloggers have to say?

Add to: | blinklist | | digg | yahoo! | furl | rawsugar | shadows | netvouz

If I were a rich man …

Here is the classic song from Fiddler on the Roof for our ongoing Video on Sundays series:

I like this version because it has the incomparable Topol singing the role of Tevye (now, those are two names that I could just as easily have swapped and nobody would have noticed!) …

… but, I also like it because it has subtitles, even though Topol sings in Y’english (English with a Russian/Yiddish accent).

I couldn’t help but think that here is a guy who wants all the trappings of wealth, but had no ‘driving emotive reason’ to get there … until the very end, where you can see the real reason why he wants to be rich: so that he can study and debate the ancient Hebrew texts with other idle academics!

He needs to buy time with money … a very common reason for aiming for wealth (actually, this was my reason).

You see, I believe that without that driving emotive reason, there will be no wealth!


Well, as Tevye says:

If I were a biddy biddy rich… I wouldn’t have to work hard diddy diddy dum

He doesn’t get the point: you have to work 10 times as hard NOW in order to become rich LATER … so that you don’t have to work hard diddy diddy dum … get it?!

That’s why you need that driving emotive reason … without it, you will never have the passion and stamina to push a very big rock up a very big hill … or, in Tevye’s case, pull a cart without a donkey!

Well that’s enough work for today … diddy diddy dum 😉 



How much interest do you earn on one million dollars?

Welcome new readers!

Here are three of my favorite posts to get you started; if you want to find out:

1. If $1 million will be enough to retire with, then click here, or

2. How much house you can afford, then click here, or

3. Why buying a new car is such a losing proposition, then click here.

Otherwise, please enjoy this article, then bookmark my home page (click here) and come back often …


How much interest do you earn on one million dollars?

This was the question that Clint at Accumulating Money asked in a ‘classic’ post – I commented on it earlier this year and still receive click-through’s two or three months later. It must be a very popular question!

I’m not sure why, because it implies that people are happy to just have their life savings ‘sit’ in CD’s …

… but, here’s the answer to the “million dollar” question courtesty of Accumulating Money anyway:

So, to answer the question, how much interest do you earn on One Million Dollars (assuming a 4% interest rate, compounded monthly)?

One Day – $109.59

One Month – $3,333.33

One Year – $40,741.54

Five Years – $220,996.59

Ten Years – $490,832.68

Twenty Years – $1,222,582.09

I think this related question asked by Afroblanco at Ask Metafilter – repeated on Get Rich Slowly (which is where I picked it up) – really goes to show how The Savers (as opposed to The Investors) think:

What’s the safest possible thing that I can do with my money?” :

I take bearishness to an extreme. Having witnessed the 2000 tech crash, I have no faith in the stock market or the US economy. I keep all of my money (USD) in a savings account. However, with the recent financial turmoil, I have a few questions:

  1. Is it conceivable for the FDIC to fail?
  2. If so, is there a place where I can put my money that will be safer than a savings account?
  3. What’s the safest, most risk-free way for me to save money and not get killed by inflation and the tanking US dollar?
  4. If there is a safe way for me to save money and not be punished by inflation and the depreciating dollar, is there a way that I can do this without having to stress out and micromanage my finances? I don’t want to be checking the finance page and making adjustments every day.

Even though I follow finance news, I’ve never done any investing or money management other than socking money away in my savings account. I’m a n00b, I admit it.

OK … I confess …. I am like our friend, Afroblanco … very risk-averse; yet I have become rich by understanding that it is actually safer to invest than not.

The GREATEST RISK that our friend can take is NOT TO INVEST … inflation will just eat up any bank deposit/CD strategy.

Take Accumulating Money’s example above:

One million dollars approximately doubles in 20 years … but, inflation will halve its buying power!

Think about it, if the average bank interest rate is 4% (pushing the value of your savings UP) and inflation averages 4% (pushing the buying power or value of your savings DOWN), what have you gained in 20 years?

Nothing …

Now, if you just push your savings into a low cost Index Fund that averages, say, an 8% return over the 20 years, then the same 4% inflation means that you should effectively DOUBLE the value (or ‘buying power’) of your million dollars over 20 years.

But, Afroblanco is even better off BUYING The Bank [i.e. investing in the Bank’s stock] than putting his money in The Bank. The risk of failure is about the same (if the bank fails you will lose the money that you have IN the bank’s vault as well as the money IN the bank’s stock), yet, as long as he has a long-term view (minimum 20 to 30 years), the former strategy will make him rich and the latter broke.

If the bank stock averages just 12% average growth over 20 years – as any well-picked Value Stock, can easily do – then Afroblanco won’t just double the buying power of his money ONCE, he will get to double it TWICE … that’s $4 million AFTER the effect of inflation (or, the $1 million grows to $10 million in ‘raw’ dollars).

What about risk? Aren’t bank deposits FDIC Insured?

[AJC: Well, yeah … up to a paltry $100kof course, you could open up 4 bank accounts at 4 different banks  … but, $400k is hardly what I hope my readers are aiming at!]

But, inflation is a much bigger risk: 100% certain to eat up your money … and, would the Federal Government (the same entity backing the FDIC) allow a Major US Retail Bank to fail?

I guess we’ll find out in the next few months!

If you don’t believe that’s likely, then isn’t your money just as safe in The Bank as it is in the bank?

[AJC: think about it 😉 ]

And, doesn’t The Bank’s stock at least meet the overall market returns which averaged 8% p.a. for the past 100 years … what have bank deposits averaged in that time? 3%? 5%?

The point here is not necessarily to buy stock in The Bank … rather it’s to think about Investing rather than Saving …

Before suggesting WHAT to invest in, we need to know HOW long is our friend is expecting his money to last? Assuming that our friend is a hands-off investor, here’s what I suggest as the lowest-risk strategies possible:

If less than 30 years, then TIPS are a an option – PROVIDED that he can live off the inflation-adjusted interest (unfortunately, very unlikely in the current low interest environment – but, in 5/10 years, who knows?).

If 30 years or more, then a low-cost Index Fund is ideal for a hands-off investor. There has been NO 30 year period since the recording of the stock market indices where the market has not produced a positive return well above inflation.

If he is more hands on and/or more knowledgeable, then I would recommend no more than 4 or 5 well-selected individual stocks and direct investment in real-estate, for any time period 10 years or greater.

Inflation forces us to invest … because of this, inflation is our friend!