Just one page …

Yesterday, I mentioned that Trent Hamm, from a Simple Dollar is giving away a book called Everything You Ever Really Needed to Know About Personal Finance On Just One Page. You can get the eBook – for free – by clicking on that link.

But, what I really like is the first page; which you can download by clicking here => OnePage.

[click on image to enlarge]

It shows a neat summary of Trent’s thoughts on personal finance in a one page ‘system’. Sure the diagrams are hand-drawn, but everything is clear, succinct, and easy to understand.

But, I don’t agree with everything that Trent says … and, I think that there are other personal finance systems around. It’s just that nobody else has bothered to put them on one page … yet.

That’s why I announced yesterday’s giveaway!

I want to encourage others to put their thoughts on personal finance – whether those thoughts are original, or just neat encapsulations of what has been written elsewhere – into a similar ‘one page system’.

I don’t have any fixed ideas on this, but I imagine that simple diagrams and arrows with a few bullet-points sprinkled in here or there will do the trick … but, I won’t know until I see it.

Now, I have five $100 Apple Gift cards to give away to the 5 people who I think have done the best job, but only if I like what they have done. Call me sole judge, jury, and executioner 😉

But, I really do want to give all five gift cards away … that’s $500 folks … so, hit me with your best shot/s (yes, you can submit as many entries as you like)!

Remember: I’m looking for simplicity & content over appearance. Trent’s page is ‘elegant’ in its simplicity, clarity, and completeness … that’s what I want from you.

Here is a link to the giveaway page, where there are more instructions: $500 Apple Gift Card Giveaway!

Thursday November 11th is the last day for submissions, and I’ll be announcing the winners on Monday, November 15.

You can e-mail your submissions to me at ajc [at] 7million7years [dot] com – or, simply plonk a link to them in the comments of yesterday’s post (or, this one) if you’d rather publish on your own site …

… and, if you already have a blog, why not let your own readers have a one page summary of your personal finance thoughts, and win their undying gratitude … and, maybe get a $100 Apple Gift Card for your troubles? 😉

Good Luck!


Put your system onto just one page and win a $100 Apple Gift Card!

Trent at a Simple Dollar did something really neat: he put Everything You Ever Really Needed to Know About Personal Finance On Just One Page.

It’s such a great idea, that I want to do the same thing!

But, I’m lazy 🙁

So, here’s the deal: put everything that YOU know about personal finance on one page, and you could win a $100 Apple Gift Card.

In fact, I have FIVE of them to give away. But, it’s at my discretion as to who – if anybody – wins these (but, I really do want to give all 5 away).

The ideas could be yours, mine, (not Trent’s because he’s already published his), or anybody else’s (but, link to the source): the presentation (simplicity + completeness + usefulness … not “how pretty it looks”) is what’s important here!

All up, this is $500 of my own hard-earned money … that you get to spend on really cool apple gear … so, make this good!

You can post a link in the comments (if you really can’t link to anything, send it to me as an e-mail and/or attachment to ajc [at] 7million7years [dot] com).

Shall we say 14 days?

More details tomorrow!!!

I want you to start an online business …

… heck, you can blog, write eBooks, create a course and sell it. Anything!

If you are interested in starting your own online biz, though, I want you to visit Erica’s site … she’s been there done that when it comes to online businesses. She sold just one of her online businesses for $1.1 million and now travels the lecture circuit talking about what she learned about life and business.

But, don’t believe the hype: you can’t “make millions” with the latest online hooey; Erica REALLY pumps her online ‘presence’ – by blogging, writing, speaking, and creating online products left, right and center – yet here are her income figures:

Ignoring one or two big sales; it’s not enough to change the world is it? Now, with Erica’s commitment and energy, she will keep building this ‘business’.

But, this is NOT how Erica made her first million, either.

Here’s what you should know: in the world of online biz, there’s a slow-path and a fast-path … a ‘real’ online business and an online ‘job’. Which one do I want you to try?

Perhaps surprisingly, I want you ALL to try the online ‘job’!


– It’s great experience: it will teach you about marketing, online businesses, writing … and, so on

– It’s also a great source of additional income that you can use to build your investment ‘war chest’ and/or your ‘real’ business startup capital

It will also help you decide if business is for you …

Then, if business is really for you, start a ‘real’ business either online or offline: one with a brand, with customers, with trailing income … one that somebody will want to buy!

Just like Erica:

By the end of 2003, my fledgling web hosting company, Simpli Hosting, was making more than my consulting gigs. The problem was, I was spending 40+ hours a week doing web development, and maybe 5-10 hours a week on hosting. I figured I had nothing to lose. I met with all my consulting clients and arranged transitions. I would be a full-time web hosting company owner in 6 months.

[lots of problems]

Things turned around. Just four months later, on September 7, 2007, I sold my company for $1.1 million to a competitor.

See the path that Erica took?

She started a business part-time … kept her full-time job (well contracts) … eventually took the plunge and went full-time into her business (this is the really hard step!) … battled all the usual BS that business owners have to put up with … and, eventually sold the business to somebody who didn’t want to go through all of that BS again to grow their own business.

That was (part of) my path to $7 million in 7 years, too. Maybe it should be yours?

Who cares what a millionaire won’t tell you?

I love (not!) these “secrets of how a millionaire thinks” types of articles, like this one called 10 Things A Millionaire Won’t Tell You [AJC: actually, this one really is quite interesting] …

… the problem is that they mix the poor millionaires in with the rich ones!

I’m not sure that I can define a ‘rich millionaire’ for you (seems like a tautology, but isn’t), but it’s something GREATER than $7 million, because I don’t ‘feel’ rich yet. Wealthy, yes. Wealthy enough to live my Life’s Purpose without ever needing to work again … just.

Extravagant, no … but, it would seem extravagant to you, wherein lies one of the problems: you may consider house with swimming pool and tennis court extravagant now. You may consider private schooling for your kids extravagant now. You may consider a BMW M3 Convertible and a Lexus Hybrid extravagant now.

But, when you become a ‘millionaire’ you won’t: you’ll expect the house + a second home in the country. You’ll expect the BMW and Lexus on the street + the ‘exotic’ in the garage. And, you will only want the best for your kids (unless you already live in a top public school district … then, watch your land taxes!).

You need to pin this down … now … when you are working on your required annual living expenses. Inflate this by 4% per year until you expect to retire (a.k.a. begin Life After Work). Multiply by 20. Add in your one-time costs (e.g. house/s). There’s your Number.

Which brings me back to my point; as the article says:

Some 10 million households have a net worth above $1 million, excluding home equity, almost double the number in 2002. Moreover, a recent survey by Fidelity found just 8 percent of millionaires think they’re “very” or “extremely” wealthy, while 19 percent don’t feel rich at all.

A millionaire, these days, can ‘safely’ spin off about $30k to $50k a year. That’s it.

If that makes me rich, then I was rich when I was still working my first job in my mid-twenties.

So, what does it take to truly feel rich, these days. Somewhere north of $7 million …

… Fidelity says the ‘magic number’ is about $23 million [AJC: citation needed; can anyone find the original Fidelity source for this?] before fat boy gets thong girl.

I won’t argue with that! 😉

Enough is enough!

Early Retirement Extreme wants to slay the ‘enough’ dragon; while, for many, ‘enough’ refers to their income and/or spending, in ERE’s case it refers to his investment net worth:

In terms of the invested assets dragon, I have several. I want to have a $500k net-worth. Once I hit that, I want $750k; then I want $1M. It’s been like that all along. It might just be my biggest source of stress— not being able to rapidly save money, which, rationally, I’m not going to spend anyway. It’s pretty stupid, I know.

And, before you think that “when I’m rich, then I’ll have enough” remember that when people who you and I think are rich (i.e. with net assets in the $5 million to $25 million range) are asked how much they will need before they consider themselves rich, they tend to say: “about double”.

That is, they tend to think that they need about twice their current net worth in order to feel comfortably rich!?

The solution is to prepare your definition of ‘rich’ … in advance!

… and, that should be to have enough money to live your Life’s Purpose. We call that number your Number.

When you get there, STOP because that is – for you – truly ENOUGH.

On the other hand, my ‘dragon’ isn’t income, investment assets, spending, etc., it’s my entrepreneurial gene … I see opportunity in everything and want to invest in it.

Right now, I’m working on my real-estate development projects, partnering with a young entrepreneur in his first bricks-and-mortar venture, and have any number of browser windows open with new technologies that I want to pursue.


While it’s all fun, and mentally challenging, and fits totally within my Life’s Purpose, it all still takes money … so, in some ways, it’s no different to any of the other forms of ‘enough dragons’ out there.

So, how do I deal with my ‘enough dragon’?

Well, I built enough ‘fat’ into my Number to allow both the free time and the free cashflow to play with these new ventures: about 10 @ $50k a pop. Unfortunately, just one of my non-property business ventures is already in $100k territory, so I need to tweak by reducing the number of other ventures that I back.

And, as I’ve already said, this is easier said than done 😉

Pay off debt or invest?

I’m publishing a whole series of posts targeting Debt … it has very little to do with conventional financial wisdom on this critical subject. Here is the second post (I have another one coming up, soon) …


Gen-X Finance is polling his readers as to whether they would prefer to pay down debt or save:

If you have both debt and a need to save money, how do you prioritize? Some people will pay off debt at all costs before saving a penny. Others will be fine getting by with minimum payments while dumping as much money into savings or investments as possible. While others try to do a little bit of both. That’s why the poll today asks how you view this subject.

You should go ahead and answer the poll.

Now, this is such an important decision – perhaps one of the MOST important mindset changes that you need to make if you want to follow in my $7 million in 7years footsteps – that, for my new readers, I will point you again to my trademark Cash Cascade™ system (don’t worry, it’s simple and free) that replaces the Debt Snowball, the Debt Avalanche and most of the other other debt repayment systems that you may have previously tried.

Here’s why it works:

People make the mistake of thinking that there is GOOD DEBT (typically, investment debt) and BAD DEBT (typically, consumer debt) … but, this is only true BEFORE YOU TAKE ON THE DEBT.

Once you are in debt, then there is only CHEAP DEBT and EXPENSIVE DEBT. Put simply, pay down your expensive debt, until only the single digit ones (on an after tax basis) are left, THEN start investing.

This goes against the ‘pay down all debt’ theories, but works both logically and practically. Try it … and, let me know how it’s working for you?

What does Apollo 13 have to do with your business?

I was trawling around the internet for a suitable ‘square peg / round hole’ graphic for my web-site … yes I admit that I occasionally nick a pic! … and, I came across this youtube clip from the movie Apollo 13.

This clip shows an amazing engineering feat required (just using bits that the astronauts will be able to find – and spare – on the spacecraft).

I can’t find the follow-up clip, but it shows the ground-based engineering team then telling the astronauts how to make the same device … only, they can’t show the astronauts, they can only tell them … by radio … with time lag … under do-or-die time-based stress!

If you run a business, this demonstrates the power of initiative and teamwork.

But, and this (to me) is even more important: it also shows the absolute power of a good system; by ‘system’, it can be something computerized or something documented – in either case, it ensures that the same experience is repeated over and over again.

It’s one of the secrets of building a GREAT business, and a salable one at that!

The chain letter has a new incarnation …

Some people are very smart; if you have a web-site or blog, do EXACTLY what I’m doing here and you’ll get traffic … a LOT of it! Here’s the link to visit and follow the steps, if you’re curious:

We are ranked #1 on TrafficSword.com!

Here are just some of the problems:

1. The traffic you get is NOT qualified in any way, so you may make a few $$$ in google ad impressions (I don’t advertise, so there’s no benefit to me), so it’s unlikely that ANYBODY will actually buy what you have  to sell (or, stay on as a reader if you have a blog), unless you have a GREAT landing page.

2. All chain letters suffer from the same problem: eventually, you run out of people. On the other hand, this is the internet, so there’s LOT’S of people and going around a few times wouldn’t hurt.

3. Here is the most pressing problem: this kind of marketing doesn’t add ANY value to the recipient. All of your marketing must add value: the person being exposed to your message must get out of it more than they need to put in.

Still, I give this high marks in the Innovative Useless Internet idea Awards for 2010, and I am curious to see if I get any clicks/conversions … it could just be the Million Dollar Home Page for the modern era (in internet terms, this means anything more recent than the last two months).

I’m quite happy in my mansion, thankyou!

This is the view from my tennis court (taken just as the house was almost ready to move into). Which neatly brings me to Budgets are Sexy, who asks: “do you you still want to live in a mansion?”

D’uh, yeah!

The problem is that the example that he cites is so far away from being a mansion, that it barely qualifies as my second house which, BTW, I am still trying to get rid of!

On the other hand, this guy is carrying a monthly mortgage payment of $2,200 which, at 4.75%, means roughly a $450k loan, plus his equity of $500k (now) to $1.2million (pre bubble) means that his idea of a ‘mansion’ is a house b/w $1 million and $2 million. About the same value as my house in the USA.

Oh, and I paid cash for both of my houses.

The point here is not to brag, that would be unseemly and [AJC: I know it’s hard to believe from what you read here] is a little out of character. The point is to set your expectations, particularly if your Number points you to a similar $7 Million 7 Year lifestyle.

Look, a $1 – $2 million house is nice, and in a poor area, where land and building costs are cheap, it may very well qualify as a ‘mansion’ …

… but, in a reasonable area, I don’t even think that my new house qualifies as a ‘mansion’ – well, IMHO, barely – yet it cost $5million+ and has a tennis court, heated swimming pool, home theater, sauna room, and each bedroom has it’s own study and en-suite!

Having said that, I agree that the running costs are huge: you can’t wash this many windows and glass balcony panels yourself (we spent $50k+ to install the glass panels plus another $70k on glass windows and doors, alone); you can’t clean a house this big yourself (we have a cleaning lady almost 2 full days a week); you can’t garden a place this big yourself (well, you probably could, but I hate gardening); and, imagine the cost of heating, cooling, and lighting the damn house.

But, if you have the money to live your Life’s Purpose (without ever needing to work again), you give back in more ways than one, and you still have enough money left over to buy the house of your dreams … then I can highly recommend getting the mansion …

… so far, it’s everything it’s cracked up to be 🙂

Becoming debt-free is a tactic …

My uncle had a wish: he wanted to stay healthy. He heard that eating apples is good for you (you know, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away …’), so he started eating apples.

If one apple is good, he thought, then two must be better. In fact, he started eating apples religiously. He got Vitamin A poisoning. He stopped eating apples.

There is such a thing as ‘too much of a good thing’ 😉

I sent out the tweet in the graphic at the top of this page because too many Twitterers/Bloggers – and their followers – eat too many apples.

Here’s what I mean …

If you’re healthy you get to run and run and run, just like a puppy does. Fun!

If you’re financially-free you get to do pretty much whatever your ‘freedom’ allows, and you no longer need to spend 8 hours a day (or more) at work for The Man. Whoohee!

But, being healthy and being financially-free are ‘wishes’ – something that you want. Just wanting something doesn’t mean that you’ll get it.

So, you eat an apple a day because a doctor told you it’s good for you … or you start paying off debt because a blogger told you that’s it’s good for your financial well-being.

But, the problem with these proscriptions is that there’s no prescription [AJC: yet another bad pun] … you need to be told exactly how much of a good thing is really a good thing, before you keep going and overdose!

You see, eating apples – as my uncle found – and paying down debt – as many blog-readers find out too late – can be good or bad for you, depending on how much you under- or over-do things. Eating apples and paying down debt are just tactics promising to help you get you to where you want to go.

With debt-reduction – as with apples – there’s an optimal point: it’s the point where it contributes most to your real goal.

If your wish is to become financially-free then your goal should be able to be expressed as a specific Number and a specific Date; you should apply debt reduction in such a way that it maximizes your chances of reaching that Number by that Date.

I have a hypothesis that the Number/Date bell-curve for my reader population – nay, the entire personal finance blogosphere’s readership – is well and truly centered where paying down debt only makes:

– absolute sense in the double-digits i.e. where most credit card, personal, and (many) auto loans sit today

– no sense (nonsense?) in the low-to-mid single digits i.e. roughly where home mortgage rates and student loans sit today

And, the remaining debts (say, between 5% and 10%), they can be paid off, if you have low financial aspirations but if you are aiming for $7 million in 7 years, I’m suggesting that these, too, need to be set aside for a while in favor of funding your latest startup and/or active investment.