Forbes Forgot A Key Ingredient For Becoming A Billionaire

Forbes came out with a fun article highlighting the 5 ingredients helpful for reaching billionaire status.  Shockingly, 3 of the ingredients pertain to me, yet I’m far from big bucks wealthy.  The only time I ever made a move towards Warren Buffet status was last November when he lost $9.6 billion on paper and I lost less.

Maybe I'll wear the tie on Monday Steve.

Maybe I'll wear the tie on Monday.

5 Key Ingredients For Becoming A Billionaire

1) Have parents with math-related careers.

2) Born in September.

3) Dropped out of college.

4) Member of a secret society like Yale’s Skull & Bones.

5) Worked a stint at Goldman Sachs.

I remember sitting next to Steve on a plane ride from Shanghai to Hong Kong 5 years ago.  The first thing I thought was, why is he flying commercial?  The second thing I thought was, I guess he really did have a lot of acne growing up!  Sorry Steve, I’m just being honest.  He was hosting a big Forbes-sponsored conference and he started going on and on about the emergence of growth in Asia.  He gave me a pep talk and said, “FS there’s no stopping what you want to do, so just go out there and grab it!”

We exchanged business cards, his saying “CEO, Editor in Chief of Forbes Magazine,” mine saying “Waterboy At Your Service” and we went about our separate ways.  Eight months later, I get an unceremonious Christmas present in the mail with a tie that says, “Corporate Tool.” Thanks Steve, what a trip!  At least you got me thinking about your flat tax mantra that generated so many comments this past week.

There’s a 6th ingredient for becoming a billionaire Steve forgot to mention.  That’s simply to be like Steve and inherit it!

Hope everybody is having a good weekend.

Related Post:

“The Less You Have The Less You Have To Lose”

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Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

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An Open Letter To Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup

Every now and again, it’s good for the little people to ask the big people for some help.  Our inaugural “Open Letter Series” is inspired by a bank teller friend of mine at Citigroup who lost her job through no fault of her own.  She recently found a new position at a private bank (congrats!) and wishes all her non-executive old colleagues to flourish again.  If you have an open letter idea in mind, please let us know!

Dear Vik,

Tax Payers Bailout, Tax Payers Buy Back & Repeat

Tax Payers Bail Out, Tax Payers Buy Back, Repeat, Get Rich.

After collecting more than $45 billion in government support last year, Citigroup is considered by many as the true “Bank of America”.  We the people own 34% of Citigroup, so we were quite disappointed when you decided to jack up our credit card interest rate from 7% to 14% earlier in the year.  We’ve never been late, have always payed in full, and are fully aware the Fed Funds and 10 year treasury yields are at record lows.  What happened to rewarding customer loyalty?  What’s more, you let go of our favorite bank teller at the main branch we went to for the past 5 years.

We’re happy you went on record last Thursday in NYC saying, “Yes, $100,000,000 in bonus money for one of your employees is too much.” However, we’re then disappointed you proceed to say “all the noise will disappear” if you continue “executing your strategy.” Trust us, as long as our credit card rate along with millions of others is usurously high, and as long as we still own a large chunk of Citigroup, the noise will never go away.

Our advice to you is quite simple Vik. First, just pay Andrew Hall his $100,000,000 in stock that vests over a 10-year period.  You know a contract is a contract and you’re going to pay him anyway despite what you were quoted earlier.  Suddenly, his bonus “only” looks like $10 million a year and critics will be tricked into appeasment.  In ten years, Andrew will probably ironically make more than $100 million given where you’re striking him today.  Second, take Timothy Geithner, Head of the US Treasury Depart out to Smith & Wollensky’s (don’t expense it though) and tell him over a hard vodka tonic and medium-rare rib-eye to hurry up and put a syndication together to offload America’s 34% stake!

You know the stock markets are back to their risk-loving ways.  As soon as the government offloads their stake, critics will have nothing to say.  You win because Citigroup essentially gets a “free” 10 month survival loan since you state the government is not all up in your business.  You’ve even been able to raise base salaries of thousands of executives by 50% this year as well.  By selling the government stake back to the very public who helped bail you out, you’re just in time to implement attractive pay packages to you and and thousands of employees for 2009. You can even hire back our hard working friend, who never caused any trouble.  Not sure if she wants to go back though!

Vik, by following our advice, you’ll be able to party like it’s 2007 again.  You can even raise base pay for executives by another 50% while the rest of America struggles if you want to (that might cause a revolt, so better not).  Given all this good advice, at the very least, can you tell your credit card department head to lower our interest rate down to 7% again?  We’re on a fixed income and what you guys did crimps our style.  Oh, and maybe you can give all the readers at Financial Samurai a reprieve as well.  If you accept the people’s assistance, please also protect your own common employees who aren’t making the mega-millions.  Thanks buddy.  Long live America!

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Financial Samurai

“Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

Family Gets Award For Paying Off Debt & Jumps Right Back In!

If you go $106,000 into personal debt, and pay it off in 5 years, you apparently get the Professional Achievement and Counseling Excellence (PACE)  2009 Graduate Client of the Year Award. I was hoping for a longer award name, but what a great nugget to put on their resume!

The kicker?  The Hildebrandt’s decided to dive back into debt with one year left on their pay back plan by buying a house! Furthermore, they took advantage of the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit. The article ends with sage advice from the Hildebrandt’s saying, “Get out of debt, it’s a choke-hold.”

One of the greatest things about America is free speech.  Good or bad, we are a society that coddles fragile self-esteem and rewards people for situations they shouldn’t be in from the onset.  Although The Hildebrandt’s aren’t practicing what they preach, they’ve got their award and are living the American dream.  Congrats guys!  We can’t wait for your next award.

Meet The Hildebrandt’s and read about their great achievement.

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“Should The First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Be Expanded And Extended?” from Xin Lu of Wise Bread and The Baglady.


Financial Samurai

“Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

Is There a Shadow Government In America?

Who's Behind The Shadow Government?

Who's Behind The Shadow Government?

After reading several of my favorite sites out there, I’m beginning to wonder whether there is a shadow government running America.  The “Cash for Clunkers” program will cost the US tax payer $3 billion to graciously put 700,000 people who drive beaters into cars costing 5-6X more.  Yay, there’s a one time boost to August US auto sales due to hundreds of thousands of people who can’t afford new cars (according to the 1/10th rule)!

Over at DINKS Finance, I’m reminded that the income limit for Roth IRA contribution for single people is $105,000.  So they’re telling us after saving a party-throwing $6,000 bucks, the moment you make over $105,000 you can no longer contribute?  Too bad for you 29 year old grad students out of business school with a median income of $105,000.  Oh yeah, and all you doctors who spent 8+ years of your life AFTER college and those bagillion hours studying, so sorry!  The government isn’t willing to help you save for retirement.  No soup for you!

Government Employee Entitled to A $100,000,000 Bonus!

Yes, I know I’m being a tad bit facetious here, but not really. After getting US$45 billion in government aid, the US government and we the people of America own roughly 36% of Citigroup. The interesting debate is whether Citigroup employee, Andrew J Hall should be paid his $100 million bonus as described in his contract.

Most initial responses are with a vehement “HELL NO!” Who on earth deserves to get paid that much, people must think. However, what if Andrew Hall was responsible for bringing in $1 billion in revenue? Is it so egregious to pay the man responsible, a 10% cut? After all, $900,000,000 sure does employ and pay for many other Citigroup employee’s salaries! Should Citigroup risk not paying their star, and his team of employees for the overall sake of the firm and shareholders? As one colleague aptly put it, “RB, we live in America not North Korea!”

The Dumpster Of Treasure

A funny thing happened yesterday when my friend and I were waiting for a space in the club parking lot. We were doing some stretches outside when an old man with a bamboo stick over his shoulder and too medium bags at each end came tiptoeing in. Where in the world was he going, we asked ourselves. Our eyes followed him to the back corner of the lot, which extends around and into the club. Like a ninja, he proceed to jump into the big recycling dumpster and start rummaging!

After about 5 minutes, he popped out, and those medium sized bags on each end morphed into bags the size of his own body. This time, he happily walked away and didn’t tiptoe around us. Cool, he’s decided to lessen the dumpster’s load and take some plastic bottles and cans for himself. Maybe the old guy can get some trade in value for his stash, although I can’t imagine very much.

The friend and I are still waiting for a spot 5 minutes later when ANOTHER man with bamboo stick and plastic bags on each end comes marching in. This fella was younger, perhaps in his 30’s and could literally have been the older man’s son. He didn’t do any tiptoeing, he just marched right in and climbed into the dumpster. After about 10 minutes, he threw himself out, and muttered in disgust, “Don’t people recycle anymore?!” and walked away.