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Money Advice for the Easily Tricked

Money Advice for the Easily Tricked

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2010

Erik is out of the office this week, so we are reprinting a column from 2003.

When we began our new year, I made several resolutions, including becoming a millionaire. I realize it was largely unachievable, but I feel better if I fail at something other than the "eat right, exercise more" resolution everyone else blows.

However, I may finally have a fast path to reaching my goal. I learned an amazing financial secret from a motivational speaker several years ago. I won't name any names, but let's just say this person is the president, owner, and founder of Peter Lowe Seminars.

This person, who we'll call "Pete" to protect his identity, shared an incredible secret to becoming a millionaire. And he spent half of his hour-long presentation telling us about it:

Take one US dollar and — are you ready for this? — double it 20 times!

This wasn't just an interesting bit of trivia he mentioned in his first 30 minutes. It was the entire 30 minutes, and he spent it covering the different ways he could say, "take a dollar and double it, not 10 times, not 15 times, but 20 times, and you'll have a million dollars."

Actually, you'll have $1,048,576, but I won't split hairs.

Maybe the real money is in motivational speaking: take a painfully obvious piece of information, tell a stadium full of people, and charge them $50 each to hear it.

Motivational speaker: You should buy stocks at a low price and sell them at a high price!

He didn't actually tell us how to do it, or he would have charged us more. He just reminded us over and over that if we doubled a dollar 20 times, we would have a million dollars.

But don't think "Pete" spent all his time explaining this amazing process. He also cautioned us about the dangerous pitfalls along the "doubling your money" path.

(Did I mention that if you double a dollar 20 times, you'll have a million dollars?)

"Don't just double your dollar 10 times — reaching $1,024 — and blow it on a refrigerator," he warned us. "Then you'll have to start all over. Just double it 10 more times, and you'll have your million dollars."

Wow, thanks "Pete." You've somehow managed to stretch a simple idea into a 30 minute lecture. What's next, "Beating a dead horse: What to do when your arms get tired?"

Since "Pete" didn't actually tell us how to double our money 20 times, I've devised another method to become wealthy: I'm going to become a financial advisor. After all, financial advisors on TV seem to have all the answers. They must be fabulously wealthy, and only do their job because otherwise they would get bored with living in the same mansions and driving the same luxury automobiles day after day.

My goal is to have people pay me to give them money-saving advice, such as "stop giving money to people who tell you stuff you can find in personal finance books."

Unfortunately, I know absolutely nothing about this field. But that doesn't seem to stop a lot of people, including TV preachers who say that if you send them money, God will make you successful in your personal finances (step one: "stop wasting money on TV preachers").

So what does it take to become a financial advisor on the radio? You have to know all the Wall Street tricks like buying stocks and bonds, insider trading, defrauding investors, and embezzlement. And apparently, you also have to give painfully obvious advice to your radio audience.

Caller: I'm having problems controlling my credit card debt. I've tried using different cards, applying for new cards, and even swiping the cards with my other hand. What should I do?

Financial advisor: Stop buying things with your credit cards. But first, buy my book, "1,001 Ways to Stop Buying Things With Your Credit Cards." It's only $49.95.

But this seems too hard. Maybe I can improve "Pete's" doubling trick instead.

Take one US dollar and TRIPLE it just 13 times. Then you'll have $1.5 million. Forget all this "doubling" business. That's for the timid and weak. The real go-getters triple their money. But don't stop there. If you triple that dollar just 19 times, you'll actually have $1 BILLION! You'd have to double a dollar 30 times to hit that.

Instead of charging you $50 for this bit of information, like most motivational speakers, I'm only charging $10. Now if I can just find 100,000 people to fall for this, I'll have my first million.

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