Hot off the presses …

It’s (finally) published … and, available on Amazon in both printed ($9.99) and Kindle ($3.99) versions.

But before you rush out and buy a copy (!), I could use your help:

You probably already know that ranking well in the Kindle bookstore relies heavily on positive reviews.

So …

If you download the Kindle version [ ] and leave a review, I will send you a printed & signed copy of the book. Once you’ve downloaded the book & left your review, send me an e-mail [ajc AT 7million7years DOT com] …


Note: if you don’t own a Kindle, you can simply download a free Kindle reader for your computer! Then you can read any Kindle version on your PC:



Author shares personal story on wealth, explains how readers can also profit

Adrian J. Cartwood explains how he made $7 million in seven years after being thousands of dollars in debt in “Share Your Number: How Much Money Do You Need to be Happy?”

(PR NewsChannel) / September 20, 2012 / CHICAGO

“Share Your Number How Much Money Do You Need to be Happy?” by Adrian J. Cartwood

When Adrian J. Cartwood decided to make some personal changes in his life in order to get out of debt, he didn’t realize that in less than a decade he would amass over $7 million in wealth. In “Share Your Number: How Much Money Do You Need to be Happy?” (ISBN 1453888004), Cartwood has partnered with freelance writer Debbie Dragon to share his secrets in hopes that readers will also find success.

“Share Your Number” is designed to help readers find a purpose to their lives, which will excite them into action, argues Cartwood. His goal is for people to realize there are possibilities that are bigger, more important and more fulfilling than their current 9-to-5 job allows. The book aims to help readers avoid potentially devastating financial mistakes while assisting them in determining how much is needed to live a dream lifestyle.

Readers are introduced to a process of steps designed to achieve one’s goal of financial independence and wealth. These steps vary from simply calculating the number you feel you need to selecting investment tools and discussing your financial plans with like-minded people who can offer support in reaching that number.

Cartwood was inspired to write the book based on the experiences with his own personal success and struggles. He believes this book can be regarded as a precursor to other personal finance books because it is the only book that aims to help readers visualize their personal goals as a clear-cut financial number to work toward. His book takes the process a step further by showing people exactly how to get their cash into the bank.

“I’ve personally seen that there is more to personal finance than what meets the eye,” says Cartwood. “I made millions in business and investing; however, there was no one to prevent me from making basic financial mistakes, which nearly bankrupted me.”

Cartwood explains that there are thousands of personal finance books informing people how to save money over the course of their working career; his approach differs in that instead of saving for the future, he details how to make money.

“Most people tell you how they did it and charge you for their secret system, which generally involves saving in a retirement fund or trading shares. I started out $30,000 in debt and made $7 million in seven years through several businesses, property investments and joint ventures,” says the author.

“Share Your Number: How Much Money Do You Need to be Happy?” is available for sale online at and other channels.

About the Author: Adrian J. Cartwood found himself $30,000 in debt, and knew he needed to change something. He decided to do some personal accounting to figure out how much money he needed to live the life of his dreams. After just seven years, Cartwood accumulated more than $7 million in his personal accounts. He now spends his time teaching others how to do the same thing.

Adrian J. Cartwood



Did I fail the Ultimate Money Test?

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Not saving enough,

– Overspending,

– Credit Card Debt,

… and so on.

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

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

The Fisherman and the Investment Banker

I first published this post in 2009 (just on 4 years ago); it’s one of my favorites because I believe that it’s an important new twist on an old story …

… but, you will see from the comments that not everybody agrees with – or, even understands – my deeper point about setting yourself up properly for the day when you can’t – or, no longer want to – work.

I’m republishing this because I’d like to hear your thoughts?


“I write to you the story of a fisherman in a Mexican Village who goes out every day on his boat to catch a fish. The fisherman goes out for three or four hours, catching a small load of fish and returning home. Every day he does this, without fail. One week, an investment banker from New York is vacationing in this Mexican village. Every day he sees this young fisherman go out, catch fish, come back, go out, catch fish, and come back. So after a few days, the investment banker approaches the fisherman. He asks the fisherman if he catches fish like that all the time.

“I do,” says the young Mexican, who is about thirty years old.

“How long have you been fishing?” asks the investment banker.

“All my life,” says the Mexican. “Since I was a boy.”

“And you catch fish like that every time?” He looks at the sizable fish in the catch.

“Yes,” says the Mexican. “There are always fish.”

“But you only go out a few hours a day. If you catch fish like that, why don’t you go out longer—catch more fish?”

The young Mexican thinks a minute and looks down at his feet. He looks back up at the investment banker. “Well, I like to spend time with my family and play cards with my friends.”

The investment banker nods, he steps closer to the Mexican. “Look,” he says, “if you double the amount of time you fish, you’ll make double the amount of money you make now.”

“Why would I want to do that?” asks the Mexican.

“Because then you can buy another boat and hire more fishermen.”

“Why would I want to do that?” asks the Mexican again.

“Because then you’ll quadruple your earnings and pretty soon you can have your own fleet.”

“And why would I want to do that?”

“Well, once you have your own fleet, you’ll have enough fish to cut out the middle men and go directly to the distributor. You do well enough with him, you can buy his company. Then, we do an IPO, take the whole operation public. You’ll cash in. You’ll be rich.”

“And then what?”

“Then,” says the investment banker, “you can spend time with your family, and play cards with your friends …”


That’s a nice story. It’s usually used to show how ridiculous the Investment Banker’s position is, and how we should focus more on what’s important than money … which, of course, is true.

It’s just that money is a part of – or at least an enabler of – what is important …

For example, what happens when the fisherman gets sick, or too old to fish?

We can cover ‘sick’ with Fisherman’s Insurance (a couple of fish set aside from his daily catch should cover that) …

… but, how do we cover ‘old’?

I think, only by meeting the investment banker part way …

IF the fisherman’s ideal retirement is simply to spend some time with his family every day (and, eat a few fish), and have a little spare time to play cards, it shouldn’t be a very big number …

… no IPO’s necessary!

But, it will take some investing in cold-storage to build up enough fish to last as long as the fisherman does!

Perhaps it’s time to think about how many fish you need?

The New Lexus 401k Hybrid …

This is actually a post about finance, so keep reading, even when it seems to be all about cars!

I have a 2009 BMW M3 Convertible. It chews through a tank of gas at least once a week. At Aus prices of $5.30 a gallon, it’s not cheap.

But, it is a heck of a lot of fun 😉

My wife counterbalances: she owns a 2009 Lexus 400 Hybrid. She grudgingly refills about once per month … sometimes I think that she must push the car up hills just to avoid having to refill early.

But, she also thinks playing Gas Roulette is a heck of a lot of fun.

My first car (actually second) in the US was a Mustang GT convertible. It had a monster V8 engine, sounded great with the roof down. Needed a gas station on every corner. Drove like a tank.

It was also a heck of a lot of fun.

But, it was the dumbest car I ever owned …

There was an air-scoop on the hood of the car. The idea of an air-scoop is to suck in extra air to the carburetors on the car to keep the engine happy.

An air-scoop is supposed to be a performance enhancement …

… except, it sticks up out of the hood, so it destroys some of the air-flow, increasing drag, actually decreasing performance and fuel economy.

But, the engineers are made to make the hard design choices: do the increases in performance (extra efficiencies in the carbies) offset the losses (extra drag)?

Naturally, the engineers are experts at what they do so we can trust them to make the right decision. Right?

Well, I would have thought so … until I bought my Mustang. You see, I’m a layman, but even I can tell that:

1. The Mustang has NO carburetors (neither does any modern car), nor does it have any turbo-chargers or anything else that required the injection of air that a hood air-scoop would provide.

2. Now, here’s the killer (just in case we have any engineers out there to dispute my point 1.): the scoop has no air-holes in it.

That’s right, it’s simply an imitation airscoop. A fashion accessory.

As a marketing device, simply designed to make me buy the car, it worked brilliantly!

In other words, it reduces the performance of the vehicle!

Now, don’t get me wrong, the Mustang performed well, and was fun to drive, but didn’t perform better than ‘advertised’. It’s (partially) a marketing con.

My wife’s hybrid is also (partially) a con.

She paid a lot of money to have a hybrid that clearly does save money. But, just like the Mustang, it is designed to perform less than optimally, I believe just to build a marketing story to help sell the product.

The Lexus Hybrid includes a dynamic dash that shows the power flow between the gas engine, the wheels, and the electric motors.

If you don’t understand how a hybrid works check out this video:

In essence, it’s a closed system that uses electric motors (and batteries) to augment the traditional 6 cylinder gasoline engine:

– The gas motor drives the vehicle at all times except when the car’s at rest

– It saves gas simply by ‘switching off’ the engine whenever the vehicle stops.

– The electric motors then restart the engine as the car begins to move (like ‘jump starting’ a car by pushing it downhill … you can even feel a very slight ‘jump’ as the engine kicks in)

– The gas engine then takes over again when the car is moving at a mile or two an hour

– The electric motor’s batteries never need recharging: they are simply charged by an alternator and whenever the car is coasting or braking (it’s called ‘regenerative braking’)

Now, just like the Mustang’s air-scoop, the problem is in the ‘performance enhancement’ of the recharging system. For example, let’s take a closer look at regenerative braking:

Whenever the car is coasting down a hill, it needs to be able to retain as much momentum as possible to help carry it up the next hill, otherwise you have to hit the gas pedal that tiny bit earlier.

The regenerative braking takes a bit of the car’s energy and turns it into electricity, creating additional friction which slows down the car. So you do have to hit the gas pedal that tinier bit earlier.

If you know your physics, introducing this extra step MUST reduce overall efficiency hence increase gas usage.

So, the hybrid works (because when you have to come to a complete stop, such as at a traffic light then you might as well put some energy into the batteries rather than simply heating up the brake pads), but it would work BETTER by turning OFF its regenerative braking ‘performance feature’ when coasting.

But, then that pretty display (image at top of post) wouldn’t be nearly so pretty 😉

What does this have to do with finance?

Well, your 401k is pretty much like my wife’s hybrid!

Sure, it helps to save money. Sure, it’s employer matched. Sure, it’s tax-protected.

But, it could be a lot BETTER simply by turning OFF some of the ‘performance enhancements’ that they’ve added to make the products SEEM more attractive to both employers and employees e.g.:

1. Choices of funds: it has been shown time and time again that long-term buy/hold investors would be better off either selecting their own stocks (if they have the necessary desire and aptitude) or simply putting their money into an ultra-low-cost Index Fund (e.g. S&P500).

All those other high-fee fund choices perform more poorly over the long run. So, why not eliminate them from the fund choices offered? Simple: marketing!

2. Additional services: Fund managers, and the guys that put together benefits plans for employers, offer all sorts of freebies & incentives to the employer to encourage them to buy THEIR funds and services; the problem is, these help the employer – not you. Worst of all, they cost you money. So, why not eliminate them? Simple: marketing!

So, a 401k performs a lot worse than it should, just so the marketing guys can pitch a better story.

Forget the Lexus Hybrid – and, your 401k – they don’t deliver on their promise.

Instead, hop into a BMW M3 – or, direct stocks, real-estate, or business investments – and, supercharge your life.

Unlike my wife’s Lexus Hybrid, or your 401k, their promise – living a little on the edge, but being thrilled with the results – is delivered in spades!

Marketing and performance, for once, are totally aligned 🙂


Have you entered the $700 in 7 Days Social Giveaway, yet?

If you haven’t yet entered my $700 In 7 Days” Social Giveaway”, what are you waiting for?

It’s a great chance for me to test some new ideas that I’m working on and a great chance to win a cash prize for you!

You only need to join to be in the running to win the $350 First Prize!

Then, if you also want to multiply your chances of winning a cash prize of at least $50, simply send this link to your friends: + your User Name

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

Win $700 In 7 Days!
Join our second $700 in 7 Days Contest + refer friends for EVEN more chances to win! You win prizes if ANY of your friends win a prize!
Your Email *
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[See for full contest details]

I’ve committed a blogging faux pas …

It seems that I’ve committed a blogging faux pas … unintentional, but a faux pas nonetheless.

You see, Planting Dollars ‘tagged me’ way back in January and I was supposed to tell you 8 Random Things about Me!

The fact that I only stumbled across the back-link now – not to mention that I have no idea what ‘tagging’ really means, but I’m guessing it’s some sort of ‘chain letter’ in blogging post form – tells you a little about how much I really know about blogging (even though I’ve been doing it for a couple of years, now).

Anyhow, it seems that Planting Dollars and I have some commonality, so here goes:

Planting Dollars has been unlucky enough to break bones on 5 separate occasions. I’ve only done this once, but it was a beauty: broke my tibula (shin bone) and fibula in a compound (multiple breaks i.e. I broke both bones) and complex (because I got to see a sharp end of bone poking through my skin), and have 4 screws in my leg (still there, to this day) and a nice long (36 stitch) scar to remind me of the unpleasant teenage episode.

He can’t get enough of scuba and sharks! In fact Planting Dollars studied abroad in Australia for the sole purpose of having the ability to dive in the Great Barrier Reef and with sharks. On the other hand, I already live in Australia, can barely swim (although, I somehow managed to get some sort of swimming certificate for swimming the length of a pool fully clothed, including shoes … I think I was just progressively drowning, and randomly ended up at the other end), and much prefer card sharks to white pointers. 

Planting Dollars is a myers-brigg ENTP personality type.  Apparently that means he’s “most attracted to the idea of being a renaissance man or jack of all trades.  New experiences and ideas are what motivate me, I cannot stand routine.” As much as I hate ‘pop psychology’, I must also be an ENTP-type as this describes me to a tee … I detest routine, but love “new experiences and ideas”. 

His highest bench press thus far is 350lbs. Mine? About 35 lbs … haven’t you seen my videos?! But, I used to be pretty athletic: an excellent runner, and an avid lacrosse player (I had no idea that those uniforms denoted FULL CONTACT until it was too late!).

Planting Dollars plays the piano and drums and will eventually learn the cello. I love music but have almost zero talent; I try to sing (a lot), but even my kids don’t let me! But my musical tastes are eclectic, to say the least: I have everything from (the real) AC/DC to Pavarotti, Il Divo, Eminem, and The Fugs on my iPod. Oh yes, I also have Kelly Clarkson, and I’m proud of it 🙂

As a kid, Planting Dollars drove his mom crazy wanting to have a lizard as a pet. Now, I’m not sure what this says about me psychologically (but, I can assure you that I have no homicidal tendencies), as a child my sister and I used to hunt for little lizards (calls skinks) when on vacation in the Australian countryside. We would invariably come back with a few in a box (of course, some would always escape and run around the house, which my mom just loved …. not!). I won’t tell you how I fed them … 

Most of his role models are dropouts. I have no role models. I think everyone is equally flawed (no doubt, Ghandi picked his nose; Warren Buffett gossips; and, the Queen swears in private), so we should all be our own man / woman / or both. Still, it doesn’t hurt to learn from others, but I strictly look for ‘how to’ lessons: so, if I go to a Warren Buffett AGM I’m looking for a tidbit of information, not how to duplicate his style. 

Planting Dollars absolutely loves Blue Moon Ice Cream. I’m lactose – and, people (mainly family) – intolerant.

‘Nuff said 🙂

10 Paths To Wealth?

Ken Fisher is a well-known money manager – I know, because I’ve had to endure phone call after phone call when I stupidly signed up for one of his ‘free’ reports!

However, watching this video (and, maybe even buying his book) seems like a fairly non-threatening way to learn some of his wisdom.

Personally, I think you need to mix’n’match some of these methods to have a bats-chance-in-hades of making your Large Number / Soon Date.

On the other hand, I’m all for marrying into wealth, but who’d have me? 🙂

The broke actuary …

All this talk of ‘safe withdrawal rates’ begs the question: can you build a perpetual money machine from stocks and bonds?

I’m going to go out on a limb, here, and say NO.

To help us find out why, let’s try and answer Rick’s question:

I agree if you can live on what your investments produce over inflation you’ll never run out of money.

Does it still make sense to plan using the rule of 20 when you don’t think you will be able to reliably pull out 5%?

It seems to me use a more conservative rule say 25 or 30.

Also, you could still use stocks- you would need some other income sources too- bonds or cash to draw upon in down years.

Rick raises a three part question:

1. Why base the Rule of 20 on a 5% withdrawal rate, when that doesn’t appear to be safe?

Well, given that I don’t think ANY withdrawal rate is safe, for me at least, the Rule of 20 should only be used as a PLANNING figure i.e. to help you convert  your required annual income into your Number.

As a planning figure, I think the Rule of 20 underestimates your Number; the chances are that you will overachieve it rather than underachieve it.

Given that it’s extremely unlikely that you will exactly achieve your Number, you will either undershoot or overshoot it … if you wait until your Number is a virtual gimme before selling your [Insert Number Reaching System Of Choice: business, real-estate, stocks, horses, etc., etc.] you will probably find that it takes time to decide what/how/when to sell and in that time, your assets have appreciated even more.

If you don’t think that’s the case for you, use a higher multiplier … I just don’t think it’s necessary to stress over it 🙂

2. Why can’t you use stocks to create your ‘perpetual money machine’?

It is a rare stock that provides the kind of income that we need without compromising the underlying business, but they certainly do exist: you would need to find a business (that you can buy stock in) that generates at least a 4% dividend, yet still grows the stock price at least according to inflation … consistently, over 30 to 50 years after you stop work!

However, using “bonds or cash to draw upon in down years” is a losing proposition (it’s not income … you are spending your capital!); I think that a two year emergency fund is a great idea … but, is there a reasonable chance of a stock downswing that will deplete that fund?

If so, I would not like this stock+bonds+cash retirement strategy one little bit … which brings me to the final – and, key – question:

3. Can’t we use a more conservative rule say 25 or 30?

Here’s the crux; the Trinity Study (for example) says that we have a small chance of running out of money, even if we choose a “safe” 4% withdrawal rate …

… the longer we expect to live – hence have our money last – the larger the failure rate (which can be as low as 2%).

Here’s my question to you: if you are facing even a 2% failure rate, what are the chances that your money will last as long as you do?


Well, you would think so, but I once asked a doctor friend a similar question when – in a moment of rare weakness (thankfully now passed) – I actually thought about getting a vasectomy.

I told him that I heard that the operation was quite reversible. I asked him what the reversal success rate was. 

 “In your case” he said ” exactly 50/50 …

… either it will work, or it won’t!” 

So, Rick, find an actuary to help you choose any multiplier that you like and the chance is still 50/50 for you: either your Number will be enough to last as long as you do, or it won’t 😉

Xmas in Australia …


Being able to call two countries ‘home’ is a luxury that few can afford, and it opens up some interesting points – and counterpoints – of view.

For example, I came back to Australia with a new appreciation for the infrastructure that such a sparsely populated country has. To put it into perspective, my two homes of Australia and Illinois share around the same population (circa 20 million), yet Australia:

– has the land mass of the entire contiguous states of the USA (i.e. the 48 U.S. states located on the North American continent south of the U.S. border with Canada),

– has 4 or 5 major national banks (IL has no equivalently sized banks of its own),

– 2 national (and international) airlines (IL has none that I am aware of),

– A national system of roads, a number of ports, 3 layers of government, etc., etc.

Other points of difference are more subtle, yet even more interesting (at least, to me); one of my favorite being that Xmas and New Year in Australia is summertime!

This means that Australia partially shuts down from about the last week in December until the end of the first week or two in January; for example, attorneys and accountants will shut their offices entirely for 2 to 4 weeks and most factories will shut off production entirely for at least 2 weeks.

And, bloggers will put down their ‘pens’ 😉

What do Aussies do in that time?

We vacation!

For example, I am writing this post from my rented vacation apartment in a very warm part of Australia while my daughter finishes her first ever surfing lesson …

Aussies have no trouble vacationing, in fact every Aussie worker from the humblest production line worker to the highest paid corporate executive receives a minimum of 4 weeks paid vacation each year (plus 5 to 8 days paid ‘sick leave’, and 9 or so paid public holdays, all for a normal 36 to 40 hour work week).

Oh, and until recently, employers had to pay an additional 17% bonus on their employees’ normal salary while they were on vacation!

I remember laughing when I first arrived in the USA, where vacations are usually accrued at only 2 weeks per year, at seeing advertisements urging Americans to take their vacations … it seems that we have the opposite problem in Australia, we have to encourage our employees back to work!

Tomorrow, I’ll try and bring this preamble back to some sort of personal finance angle 🙂