Saturday, April 29, 2006

7 Steps to Financial Freedom

Back in 2000 John Burley published a book, called (Australia’s) Money Secrets of the Rich! - Learn the 7 Steps to Financial Freedom. A couple months ago I saw a copy go up for auction on eBay, and decided I’d buy it, even though the shipping cost from Australia would be a bit steep (It turned out that I was the only bidder, and the shipping cost was twice the price of the book!). Oh, the things I do in the service of keeping you informed! In the book’s introduction, Burley makes reference to a US version that was supposedly completed before the Australian edition. When I read that I thought, “Crap! All that shipping cost wasted!” Strangely, though, such a version apparently doesn’t actually exist—at least in published form—yet. Whew!

Before I go into detail about many of the things I don’t like about this book, let me begin by going over what I do like about it: It’s not an awful book. You could do a lot worse than following the advice it contains (most of it, anyway). That having been said, it is plagued with the same problems that permeate all the rest of Burley’s products. Much of the good advice that Burley gives has been said better elsewhere. It over-promises and under-delivers. It’s 450ish pages long, but its core messages can be had—for free, mind you—much more compactly, in various places around the web. If you've been paying attention, you'll no doubt notice that the "7 Steps" in the book are basically a rehashing of the "7 habits" that I've mentioned before. Why not simply read those links and save yourself the $20?

Speaking of that, it seems highly likely that the guy at DPD Marketing is telling the truth when he says that this $20 book contains more useful information than you’ll get at Burley’s $5000 Phoenix boot camp. I base this theory on my prior experience with some of Burley’s other products. This is particularly ironic, given what Burley has to say in chapter 10, Money Step #6: Financial Competence, in a section called “25 Financial Competence Purchasing Techniques.” In item 3, on page 100, Burley writes:

Be aware of the persuasion techniques (‘weapons of influence’) used to get you to spend more. Typical techniques are: exploiting the stereotype of ‘expensive = good’ by inflating prices to make an item seem desirable and/or then discounting it to make it seem a bargain for its quality; the ‘contrast principle’ whereby an expensive or overpriced item is presented and/or sold first in order to lessen the perceived cost and increase the saleability of subsequent cheaper presented items, or options; or the scarcity technique whereby items are marked ‘For 5 days only’ or ‘A limited time only’ or ‘Limited edition’, etc. These are just a few of the many influence techniques described by Robert Cialdini in his groundbreaking book Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion. Be aware of these techniques. [emphasis original]
A few pages further on, Burley expands on the “expensive = good” concept, writing:

In western nations we are conditioned that we need to pay more to get more. That precept may seem logical. In fact it is, for the companies selling you products! It is an assumption that sits at the very foundation of advertising. [emphasis original]
In Item 10 of Burley’s 25 purchasing techniques Burley writes that it is “lunacy” to ever pay retail. I certainly can’t argue—but here’s the irony to all this: In effect, Burley is counseling his readers to never buy any of the crap he’s selling on his web page, since he himself uses all of the advertising techniques he’s warning you against. This is one bit of Burley advice that I can get fully behind!

The book’s peculiarities start well before chapter 10, however. In its introduction, Burley gets briefly autobiographical:

I was 29 years old, newly married...but despite my well-above-average income, I was broke, in debt and going nowhere fast.

I realized that just making more money was not the answer. I had to learn how to properly manage my money.

For the next 10 solid years I made it my mission to locate and study all the information I could find on the subject of money: making it, keeping it, spending it and investing it... I developed, experimented and took action...

By age 32 I was in a financial position to be able to retire! I was in a position to be able to live off the positive cash flow from my investments, and if I so desired, never have to work again! [emphasis original]
Some of the oddities in those paragraphs might simply be chalked up to poor editing. For example, the claim that he was broke at 29, studied money “solidly” for 10 years, and yet could have retired at 32 makes little sense. Maybe it’s a typo, and it should say “1 year,” instead. For what do we know about John Burley?

Burley was 29 in 1990. He was a financial planner (a glorified insurance salesman) making $140K/year, living in Felton, CA. That year he purchased 5 VA foreclosure properties (likely for zero down + VA transaction fees, though about that I’m not entirely sure), quit his, um, financial planning practice, then moved to Phoenix and into a $220,640 home (bought very creatively for zero down using a combination of seller financing and future balloon payments). These are sure ballsy moves for someone who supposedly was broke, deeply in debt, wanted to “properly manage his money,” and didn’t know what he was doing! Needless to say, I am a little incredulous.

I’ll explore this a little more, as well as delve into other sections of the book, in upcoming posts.

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Shaved Pussy

It's that time of year again. Gamera has started to shed. More importantly, however, he brought home two ticks this weekend - two that I know about, anyway. Their arrival sparked a whirlwind of obsessive vacuuming on my part, as well as a dousing of Gamera with some flea and tick repellant. That stuff is nasty, though. It smells awful, gives me a headache, and clearly irritates Gamera, as well. Thus, the shaving.

Gamera tolerates the process well enough, as long as it's in sessions that last 20 seconds or less. Any longer and he starts complaining. I can usually push it another 20 seconds before he starts biting - as long as I'm not trying to shave his tail or the backs of his hind legs, in which case he gets mad immediately. To mitigate this problem I break up the shaving process into many short sessions over several days.

I swear his hair, when shaved, violates the law of the conservation of mass. It makes a huge mess all over the bathroom, but the 5 months of zero shedding and considerably less worry about fleas and ticks make it well worth the effort.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

John Burley's Foreclosures

My friend Jim read my previous Burley post and asked me if I could provide more detail about how often John Burley’s buyers default on their loans and have to be evicted. I figured it would be a good idea to address the issue here on Die Eigenheit, rather than only in a private response to Jim.

Below is a list of links to the public records available at the Maricopa County Recorder’s office. More specifically, the links bring up lists of the Affidavits and Declarations of Forfeiture associated with John R Burley, his legal entities, and his investor partners (the one’s I know of so far, anyway). Some overlap is inevitable, as many documents have both Burley’s name and the name of his partners on them, but you can see that the lower limit is 32 foreclosures. Follow some of the links and you’ll discover that there are, in truth, many more than that.

Burley, in his guest lecture (for lack of a better word) on Kiyosaki's Financial Literacy tape set, says, rather unequivocally, that he likes it when his buyers default. Since Phoenix AZ saw explosive real estate price increases from 1990 to around 2005, that attitude is not hard to understand (leaving aside the ethical issues - as Burley has done). Once Burley gets the house back he can turn around and sell it to someone else for a higher price and larger monthly spread - now there's some Progressive Profits for ya!

Burley And Associates – also here
John Burley – also here
Adrian barrow – also here
Bill Burley aka William burley – also here
Bill Tyma
Charles Norris
Christian Cluff
Donald Burley
Donald Quinn
Frank Batmale
Old Southwest LP
Gloria Iorio
Bubbas treasure chest LP
James Mullaney
Mark Hoose
Michael Rossum
Monte Bosch – also here
Robert Aikman
Sukan Makmuri
Thomas Bartlett
Todd Severson
Southwestern Endowment Fund
Maxwell – also here
Old Southwestern LP

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Hayek Would Approve

And all the anarchists say, "What took you so long?!"

hat tip, Catallarchy.

The Coin's Flip Side

Since Burley's homebuyer's web page is, I'm kicking myself for not thinking earlier that he'd also want to have for distressed home sellers, but there it is!

Now all we need is

Oh, check out this quote from the link above:

This dynamic man has helped thousands of families avoid foreclosure and financial ruin through his home purchasing program.
Gotta love it! If that's not incontrovertible evidence that John Burley is after a cult of personality then I don't know what is.

Let's take his dubious "thousands" claim at face value, for the moment. He, of course, fails to mention this corollary fact: He has "helped" many "thousands" more families into foreclosure and financial ruin by selling overpriced homes at exhorbitant interest rates to people with poor money-management skills, and then kicking them out when they can't pay.

Apologists would argue - amid cries of "Psychobabble!" - that it's not Burley's fault his buyers can't live up to their part of the purchase agreement. That is no doubt true. But if John Burley is genuinely interested in helping people "achieve a rich, full life, filled with prosperity and abundance," then how can he keep a clear conscience when he sells to an unsophisticated neophyte homebuyer with poor credit - someone he knows has a high likelihood of defaulting on the loan? Can he really have it both ways?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Burleyist?

Corner of Utterback Store Road and Leesburg PikeThese signs just went up a few days ago. They are all along my route to work, so I'm sure there are many more like them scattered all throughout the Great Falls/Reston area. The top one is on the corner of Utterback Store and Leesburg Pike. The one below is at Bowman Towne and Fountain, and the third one is at New Dominion and Towne Center.

Bowman Towne Dr and Bracknell DrIs the owner of these signs a Burleyist? Well, given that there are a finite number of ways to invest in and market real estate, but a seemingly endless number of "gurus" interested in selling you all their supposed "investing secrets," probably not. On the other hand... the corrugated plastic sign... the phrase "zero down"... doing it on the cheap... the recorded message... no mention of the home's price... all are indeed Burley techniques.

I haven't listened to the message(s), yet, but I bet it also doesn't mention an asking price - only how much to "get in" and how much per month.

Note that there are two different extensions mentioned. I initially thought that this meant the investor had two places for sale. However, I used one of these recorded message systems while I was a Realtor, and the way it worked was the first two numbers were the mailbox number, while the second two numbers were up to you. They're designed to be an indicator to you about which ads - if any - generate the best response.

I'll be watching the signs closely to gauge how long it takes the place(s) to sell.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Lie Down and Be Counted

Yes, I know my camera takes pictures of terrible quality
Friday night I went with Steve and Chris to see The Orb.

Technically it was my third time seeing them, though, in actuality, I probably shouldn't count the first two. My first time was in Los Angeles in 1993 at The Shrine. At the time, sadly, I didn't grok the rave scene, so my girlfriend, Allison, and I found it annoying that people were literally lying down at the show.

The second time was in June of 1996. By that time I definitely did grok the rave scene. However, it was at the absolutely amazing Organic 96 show, in the mountains Northeast of L.A., where, among a ton of the best LA DJs, Orbital, MBM, Loop Guru, Underworld, and Chemical Brothers also appeared. The Orb didn't even go on until 6 in the morning! By that time I and my friends were totally spent. We heard the strains of The Blue Room wafting over us in the parking lot as we got in the car to go home.

I am hoping that Steve posts some higher quality photos of the show over at his blog!