The man from the government opened his laptop and started entering in his authorization code. He was sitting at our glass kitchen table in the warm sun. "Nice view you have here," he said pleasantly as he tapped away.
He was taking a survey of my personal income and assets.
And I was mad as h*ll. I don't like intrusion of any kind. Six years ago I had closed the door in the face of the first surveyor, thinking she was a door-to-door salesperson. So I didn't get off on the right foot with this government department right from the get-go.
This was the last of an annual survey that had taken 6 years for us, each and every painful year.
It was to gather personal information from suckers like me, and put it into a database to help the country. Do what? It was never explained, but one fact about it that got me steamed up and hot under the collar - was that it was compulsory.
This was bad karma for me on two counts: The first - I DON'T like giving out personal info, specially about my finances. And the second - I DON'T like being told what to do. My lawyer was no help either. "There's nothing I can do about it, you have to give the information they want," he said over the phone back in 2004, when I was contesting it.
So I answered the questions through gritted teeth each year. There was one silver nugget that came out of it, and I'll tell you about it shortly.
But if I hate privacy violation so much, why am I answering these personal questions below?
I don't know, quite frankly. I guess part of it was an email I got yesterday that asked me: "How do I know you're a real person, and I can trust you to send my stuff to me?"
My stock answer - I've been doing this for 20 years this year, and on the net since 1995. Everyone gets their product from me.
But I guess I wanted to expose more about me... in case that standard "everyman" answer in the previous sentence was not enough for any doubters.
Some of this following info is more than I let out to the survey people, so keep it to yourself :)
How did your childhood experience influence your attitude to money?
I grew up poor (how many times do you hear that? A lot...let me tell you this - everyone is poor when they first get married!). My father built our first house, and while he was an good builder and expert in many things, he often didn't complete them. We lived in a half-completed house for years. So I make sure I ALWAYS try to complete whatever I start... and for the most part, I do finish. My childhood was a mainly happy one where money played only a small part. I certainly didn't hear my parents arguing over debt, and we never seem to miss out on life because we lacked it.
And did your poor background make you particularly cautious with money?
No, I'm a spender. My mother came from a well-off background. Her father was was a wealthy newspaper mogul and they had a large house on a clifftop... he owned one of the first American cars in the area, and they had a full-time housekeeper. As a child my mother went to a private boarding school. But she didn't marry into money, and I think she regretted it all her life. Some of her grand living has rubbed off on me, and at times I'm more likely to spend on luxuries than to save the pennies. Life is short and getting shorter, so I compensate! The other effect it had... I don't like poor quality items. I'll always try to buy the best in every field where I can. I don't like logo-ed clothing though - Ralph Lauren can keep his logo for someone else!
What's been your greatest extravagance?
Cars. Luxury European sports cars mainly. I have three at the moment and I've had several Mercedes sports cars, an Aston Martin, a Bentley Continental GT, several Lexus saloons and SUVs. I'm a car fanatic and would love to buy more if I had the garage space. My aim is to have a 12 car garage that looks like an upmarket showroom, with sofas to sit on to admire these beautiful machines.
Has having more money in recent years made you happier?
Absolutely. As Patrizia Gucci famously said, "I'd rather cry in a Rolls (Royce) than be happy on a bicycle." Money makes such a vast difference to the way I live that it's going to be impossible to return to my previous states of poorness. And I hope that never happens.
Sometimes I can't believe how some people can ignore the value that money brings, and are jealous of the rich. When spent wisely, wealth provides employment, profits that are often reinvested, pays taxes so we can all share in our country's infrastructure, and helps families stay together. Couples separate more over money than many other factors.
Are you good with money?
Yes, excellent in both handling and budgeting it. I know all my business sales, budgets and costs to the dollar and I update them daily. I rarely get financial problems. One of the reasons is that I always record everything I do to paper in some form...either as an email or a record of a phone conversation in my online diary. Many businesses and banks have been amazed when I can pull up the exact time I spoke to them and all the relevant details. Faced with that, every transaction becomes easy to verify.
Also I always pay my bills on the day I receive them, and this has made me very popular with local tradespeople. In fact, my laundry service lady said... of all her many customers - both commercial and private - I was the ONLY one who paid promptly and regularly without fail. (I do all my regular payment through automatic online banking). I also enjoy paying these workers on time and their full value, because money makes the world go round. When that happens they are able to make a profit, and thereby feed their children, invest in better equipment and so on. And so we - the recipients of their skills - benefit as the circle goes round.
Do you bank online?
I've been banking online shortly after it started in my country in 1997. All my payments are automated, and I can count on one finger the number of times it has failed me. Yes, that's just once - over thousands of transactions. As I mentioned earlier, I always check transactions and all balances daily.
Do you haggle when buying?
I did in my early days, but not now. Back then I started bartering and haggling when I was trying to build my confidence back after my businesses crashed 20 years ago (more about that, maybe, in a future newsletter). Now I'll pay full price for everything, especially when it involves small business people. They are operating on a shoestring anyway, so prompt and full payment is a rare benefit for them.
How do you prefer to pay – by cash, card or cheque?
Always by credit card for the convenience of a statement, and for reward points. For example, on my recent trip to Britain I was able to rent a new 5-series BMW for a week, free. I generally earn enough points to get a free rental car in the Premium bracket each year I visit my family in UK. On a previous trip I got an upgrade to an S-class Mercedes...very nice!
I don't use checks at all now. The last time I used a check was to pay my tax a couple of years ago. Writing out a check for $75,000 every few months makes me feel good - more for the fact I have the money to do this than where it goes. I keep up to $1,000 cash in my wallet because I want to feel rich, and it works. It feels really good being able to pay for most services.
Do you have many credit cards?
Just two, both Visas, for business and personal. One is a Platinum card which I can use for free travel insurance, and it has a Concierge Service (which I've never used in the 2 years I've had it). This Service will find a restaurant and book you in, book your travel, and generally do many of the boring things that are time-consuming or inconvenient.
What has been your best buy?
Our current house... it went up in registered value by a half a million dollars in the two years after we bought it! I've also lost very little money on every car I've sold, up to the last few years. This is because I look after them obsessively. All of them look like new cars after I finish with them, and so they sell more easily - and for more too. But the market for high-end cars has been harder recently, and I don't get my investment back now.
What's been your worst buy?
I can't remember any, though I'm sure there have been some rose colored bloopers. I'm ultra cautious with my purchases and do my homework beforehand, and this helps a lot.
How do you fly and where do you stay when you travel?
I always fly business class for long trips over 5 hours, but economy under that. Flying business class means I don't suffer from jetlag because everything is so comfortable, just like staying home! I have never flown first class because the main difference is the dining selection - and that's not important enough to me to upgrade. I like 4 star hotels, and will stay away from ultra-glam 5 star accommodation like the Ritz or Claridges in UK, or Waldorf Astoria in the USA... I'm just not comfortable with over-the-top luxury or fine dining.
Do you invest anywhere?
Mainly in myself. The purpose of an investment is to bring in regular cashflow, and my businesses do better than any investment on the planet. Why get 5% before tax on a huge lump sum sitting uselessly in your bank - when you could get 10,000 times more from your own talent? I looked at commercial property years back, but I don't have a 'property' mentality, and though I know all the theory on good investment there, I have no interest in it. Mortgage and tenancy details leave me cold.
I believe you should only invest in what you know and do best, and I trust my online businesses will keep producing my 'pension' for years ahead. It's certainly the easiest money I've ever earned because I LOVE WHAT I DO! It becomes a pleasant lifestyle then - not a necessity. My affiliates also do well selling my products. In fact just last week one reseller made over $30,000 in a few days from selling my products. See the Lotto Affiliate Center for how you can get involved too.. costs nothing.
And the silver nugget I talked about earlier? It was simple to avoid answering questions about my business to the surveyors... I formed a trust company.
Then I could say was that the information was in the trust and didn't involve me. It felt real good to give that reason, legally, each year!
So there's my reasons... hope that makes you feel more confident about me and my system. Maybe you'll be writing me soon with good winning news like this:
I bought your system ... after several months of receiving your tips. I read your instructions and took my time creating my profiles. I followed your advice and play the best odds game of 5 of 35. My first play was only 5 picks from my profile 1. Nothing. I then followed the draws for several weeks checking if I would have won anything. Nothing. Then saved until I could play at least the 35 picks ($35) of profile 1. I won ten dollars. Well that was good. Saved again, reinvested that $10 into playing all of profile 1 again. I WON $100,000!!!!!! on my second try. Your system works and your tips are very important to follow. I'm continuing to play and expect to win again. I'll write again when I do. Thanks for a system that works.
If you've also won any prize using my system - no matter how small - share your good fortune with us here: /winners