• How To Afford Anything – Personal Finance Lessons From Ken Rockwell

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    If you’re a camera buff, especially a Nikon camera buff, you’ve probably heard of Ken Rockwell. He provides reviews of camera stuff I want.

    His style of writing is similar to personal finance type gurus – you take it or leave it, and you either love him or hate him. He has a strong opinion of things, and while they may not make the most sense, he doesn’t give a damn about what anyone else thinks. He does tend to give the bottom line with his camera reviews, especially for those who can’t stand sharpness tests or MTF charts.

    When I was cruising his website the other day, I saw an article on how to afford anything. It reads like a years worth of personal finance blogger’s posts stuck together; it is probably just as lengthy. Personally, I love it when I find personal finance articles in places I wouldn’t expect to find them.

    Here’s the article in bullet points:


    • Don’t buy a new car (he drives a used Mercedes)
    • Don’t drove to work (he only had jobs that were within walking/biking distance from his home)
    • Don’t eat out (food, you perverts)
    • Don’t buy a big house
    • Don’t buy on credit or take out loans
    • Don’t rent
    • Don’t worry about what you own (keepin’ up with the Joneses)
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for a deal
    • Don’t buy extended warranties (or any sort of insurance for any loss you could cover out-of pocket)
    • Don’t buy cheap; you’ll end up paying for it twice
    • Don’t have kids (they are the root cause of all pollution and environmental destruction)
    • Don’t become a photographer


    • Order from the dollar menu, get water
    • Go dutch all the time (he admits not very popular with the ladies)
    • Live at home
    • Read and understand the fine print (especially with mortgages, namely ARMs)
    • Return what you don’t want or need
    • Know the difference between investments and expenditures (with a Kiyosaki-like view much like the asset vs. liabilities debate of a house)
    • Only buy from stores that give full cash refunds
    • Use coupons
    • Avoid addiction: caffeine (with the obligatory latte factor reference), nicotiene, television
    • Tip big
    • Marry smart (with some questionable misogyny peppered in there…)
    • Go to college and get a real job
    • Go to college, go yachting, and get a job as a captain

    My favorite line? “It takes the guts to be a cheapskate.” Yep, sure does.

    So what has all of this gotten him? How about every Nikon camera and lens from the last 10 or so years. Or a couple of (used) Mercedes. And a lot of smugness.

    If there’s something in his writing, it is passion. He’s willing to focus his finances to get exactly what he wants in life. There’s definitely a few lessons I can learn from him.


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