10 Steps to Avoid Becoming a Millionaire

by Kevin on May 8, 2008

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About No Debt Plan: From my about page:

My name is Kevin and I author this blog. I write No Debt Plan to help readers eliminate debt, learn how to budget and save, and move themselves towards financial freedom. I began writing on personal finance in late 2006 on my personal blog, but started No Debt Plan in January of 2008 to give my personal finance articles a permanent, focused home.

* * * * *

Jonathan over at Master Your Card recently asked his readers, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?“. He gave ten tips on how to achieve becoming a millionaire.

I thought it might be fun to provide the mirror image of those tips. In short, to show you how to not become a millionaire. Here goes!

Ten Steps to Avoid Becoming a Millionaire

  1. Accept whatever salary an employer offers. Negotiating is a hard, scary process. Don’t bother with it and just be happy you have a job.
  2. Don’t try to improve yourself at work. Stick to the status quo. Act like you’re in a union. Only do what you are told to do. Ignore naysayers or people warning you of an upcoming layoff.
  3. Never leave the company you work for. Unless you are fired or laid off, don’t leave your current employer. Remember, they gave you a shot! You owe it to them to stick around for as long as possible.
  4. Don’t track how much you earn and spend. Budgeting by far is the most difficult thing to do in personal finance. It takes a lot of time and can expose our true financial selves. That can be painful. Just don’t do it.
  5. Spend more than you earn. If the credit card company is willing to let you pay off that plasma TV next year, why shouldn’t you? You’re in your prime! You can save later and catch up. It’ll be easy then. But for now, that Porsche Boxster, 4,000 sq. ft. house for two, and an exercise machine look mighty fine.
  6. Ignore work benefits. 401k plan? Sounds kind of funny to me. Why would the company want to give me money? Plus, I’d miss that 3% in every paycheck. Honest. I’m actually going to write an entire post on this soon, so stay tuned.
  7. Ignore your tax withholdings. Huge refund checks at the end of the year always save you from financial disaster. Why would you ever want to change that? It’s so much easier to just get the big check after tax season.
  8. Don’t open any IRAs. You’re already doing that darn 401k thing — that’s more than enough! 3% of your income already hurts. Plus, doesn’t IRA stand for Independent Righteous Arsenal?
  9. Invest sometime later. Remember, you’ve got bills to pay. There isn’t enough money to sit aside for investing. Just wait. You’ll use next year’s raise, or wait until the kids move out of the house. Then you’ll have time and money.
  10. Saving is complicated. Those guys on late night TV with the $99 investment programs must have gotten it lucky. Now look at them — making money by sharing their tips with the world. Hold on. I’ll be right back. I need to go order one.

Phew, that was hard. Time to go be a couch potato. Or maybe I’ll keep sitting here…

Update: This post has been featured at MSN’s Smart Spending Blog, has been all over Stumble Upon, and has been linked to by various personal finance sites. I hope it inspires all of you readers to do the right things, and learn how to retire a millionaire. I’m here to show you how to retire with millions by first getting out of debt. We’ll get to wealth building in the future as the No Debt Plan progresses.

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

MyMoneyAdventure May 8, 2008 at 9:10 am

This is one of the best posts I have ever read.

Reply

Kevin May 8, 2008 at 9:23 am

@MyMoney: Such high praise! Thanks for the kind words. Please StumbleUpon it and upvote it on reddit. :)

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Ricky May 8, 2008 at 10:18 am

Eye opening and witty. Nice post Kevin.

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Big Cajun Man May 9, 2008 at 1:21 pm

Hey this is great I do all that stuff, wow I am going to be rich… no wait, how NOT to become a Millionaire? Oh crap… never mind.

–C8j

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The Oracle May 9, 2008 at 2:44 pm

One more is to “dogg out” those who are already millionaires. I have this friend who truly believes if you make a mil or more that you definitely did something foul -no matter how small- ot get it. I regretfully told him I guess we won’t be friends anymore.

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Philip May 9, 2008 at 3:31 pm

This plan definitely works! Until I discovered Dave Ramsey on the radio last summer this was my plan and I was almost $160,000 in debt with no idea how to fix it.

After three days of listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio I dropped this plan and switched to a better plan because I DO want to be a millionaire.

Great post!

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Dwayne May 9, 2008 at 9:57 pm

Great post there, I believe I was following it one step at a time there.

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Nintendo Games May 10, 2008 at 3:34 am

I like no.5 …quite motivating

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The Monetizer May 10, 2008 at 10:43 am

Great “reverse psych” here…I think so many people fail to do 8 through 10 because they are afraid of taking risks. They’d rather spend the money on themselves on material goods than invest it for a better retirement..

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Singapore Hosting May 10, 2008 at 3:14 pm

Very motivating indeed. time for me to start thinking what in the list i have done..

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mark May 10, 2008 at 3:18 pm

“Never leave the company you work for”
strong statement this one, I wonder if it’s aimed at the japanese way of doing things.

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Daniel May 11, 2008 at 8:07 am

Very Motivating! Nothing like a good helping of condescension to start the day!

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niteworks May 11, 2008 at 9:45 pm

Lol, this is funny advice that describes the all too common status quo. Thanks for the advice of things to avoid.

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J May 12, 2008 at 1:08 am

I wonder when there is going to anything original regarding this topic. Great post but I’ve heard and read the same advices so many times over. I wish someone would go deeper and more advanced other than the basic common sense save money advice.

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Yoshi May 12, 2008 at 8:27 am

This post is hilarious! Good stuff ;)

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Kevin May 12, 2008 at 10:17 am

Hello Carnival of PF viewers! If you enjoyed the post, please consider giving it a thumbs up on Stumble Upon or faving me on Technorati. Thanks for stopping by – I hope you find some other articles you enjoy!

Reply

Dividends4Life May 12, 2008 at 7:47 pm

Excellent post! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Best Wishes,
D4L

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Antiques May 14, 2008 at 8:31 am

“follow these steps you’ll have mad bread to break up” – notorious BIG

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John Smith May 15, 2008 at 5:50 pm

One of the best posts, ha? You will never become a millionare by just being an employee…

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GG May 17, 2008 at 7:55 pm

I agree with everyone else: great post.

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GBlogger (Can I Get Rich On A Salary) May 18, 2008 at 8:49 am

Great post!

I don’t agree with “Never leave the company you work for” as an absolute. I like what I am guessing is the underlying point: you should press yourself out of your comfort zone and change companies if your opportunities to advance aren’t there. But sometimes they are, or there is plenty of room to press yourself out of your comfort zone or to a new position within your current company.

I also don’t think I agree with, “Don’t open any IRAs.” If the underlying point is save more than what you’re doing in 401(k), I like that. Past that, IRAs are fine, but I don’t think they’re the absolute next vehicle to use after 401(k).

But I’m nit-picking or just trying to add some additional thoughts!

@John Smith (is that really your name? just wondering), how do you figure? People do it all the time.

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Anthony Imperioli May 19, 2008 at 12:26 pm

I’m glad I stumbled on this post. Or else I would’ve been a millionaire in no time. Phew!

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Riley May 20, 2008 at 8:10 am

Well let’s see.

I worked the same job, same employer, for 34 years. Belonged to a Union the entire time. Working together as a Union, we were able to negotiate fair wages and benefits. In my industry alone, there are tens of thousands of fellow long term employees, most of those I know personally are in good financial situations, both currently and for future retirement. Of course these are are a few that follow some of the other steps, so are not well off. However they will receive a decent pension, including a decent SS benefit.

I retired 6 months ago. My and spouses “paltry” SS benefit alone is 2700.00 per month, plus another 1800.00 per month in additional pensions. The SS alone is more than we spend most months. Also excellent medical coverage. Our net worth is well in excess on 1 mil, excluding house with no mortgage.

The comment about “work for the same employer” is not well thought out. If you are smart (or lucky) enough to get the right job with the right company, it can be an excellent path to financial security.

Of course, the rest of the equation is to have some luck and use sense in funding IRA and 401K plans.

The wisecrack about Unions shows nothing but ignorance and is totally inappropriate. It detracts from the message you are sending.

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Kevin May 20, 2008 at 8:37 am

@Riley: First off, thanks for commenting and joining the discussion. Positive or negative feedback… is all appreciated.

Secondly, congratulations on working the same job for so long. I can imagine the pension and pay you enjoyed during that time are paying off quite nicely now.

Third, you are entitled to your opinion.

However. You are talking about a time period of 1974-2008 (34 years). The world is not the same place it was in 1974. Don’t get me wrong. I am pro-union. Truly I am. But only in situations where they truly are beneficial to workers who are truly being abused. (Think kids in third world countries getting paid pennies to make Nike shoes.)

I am sure there are instances where it still happens in the US, but I would imagine they are more isolated compared to the waste that unions create in our country.

A quick example: A recent article on the AP wire yesterday regarding the American Axle and UAW deal. Workers were getting paid $28/hr to put together axles. $28/hr is an amazing $58,240 per year. For putting together axles. Are you kidding me? They are taking concessions to drop pay down to $18.50/hr. I understand that is a huge drop and being unhappy about it is definitely understandable. But nearly $60k per year to put together axles? I think it is easy to see why so many factories are relocating overseas where the labor is that much cheaper.

I’ve read numerous articles in magazines like Inc Magazine (small business target audience) where one of the writers (Norm Brodsky) has hired a private firm to build a new warehouse for his records storage business. The local union came out and protested for a few weeks to try to pressure him to use them. Nevermind the fact that they were something like 100-200% more expensive than the company he hired out of West Virginia to come up to NYC, did a high quality job, and got the job done in a very short time span. (The union said it would take much longer. Of course. When Laborer 1 can only pick up ladders, and Laborer 2 can only swing hammers, it will obviously take longer.)

Now my wife is a teacher and enjoys the benefits of her union. That benefit? If she is sued she has someone on her side to back her up. It’s a purely defensive measure.

I’m 24 and work in the recruiting industry. My generation lives in a different time than yours. Gone are the days of working for the same employer for 35 years, getting the gold watch, and retiring. I would bet less than 5% of my generation does that throughout their lifetimes. Employees move around and the last I heard (if I remember correctly) is most people will switch jobs 5-7 times. That’s just the way the job market is now. Could it change in the future? Sure.

I’m not wisecracking on unions. I’m telling how it is — and how it is going to be — in this country.

And it’s my opinion, too.

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Hustle Strategy May 20, 2008 at 10:08 am

I thought this was a great post. I agree with most of these and see how all of them could apply to many people. You have to remember number one and what is best for number one. As far was working for the same employer, I feel the comment relates to the fear of leaving. You do not have to work for the same employer, you can move along.

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Foxie May 20, 2008 at 10:48 pm

Why not buy the Porsche Boxster? I just looked at a 2003 with just over 40k miles on her for under $25,000… Last I checked, there are plenty of people with car loans much bigger than that, and she’s the Porsche. (If I would have had more patience, I could have two Porsche’s in my driveway instead of a Mazda and a Honda. No lie.)

The only downside is some people may laugh at you a bit for buying the slowest Porsche in production. My Honda may not be a Porsche, but she will beat a Boxster. :)

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Buy My House May 21, 2008 at 3:43 pm

It is a good idea to track your net worth and cash flow each or every other month. Then make it a goal to incrase both on a monthly or bimonthly basis. If you don’t track it you won’t know where you are.

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Hustle Strategy May 21, 2008 at 3:56 pm

And set goals for those time frames.

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Pelagiius May 22, 2008 at 8:41 am

Tip 11: The loan firm which charges the highest annual % interest is the most impressive one to chose
Tip 12: Always wait until the third year of a bear market in stocks before selling
Tip 13: Remember to leave home too late for the underground so you must use taxis
Tip 14: Insure yourself against every possible misfortune, no matter how unlikely it is or how high the premium charged

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Rob May 22, 2008 at 9:59 am

All of these problems would be avoided if the criminal corporations in the fake democracy were actually forced to pay wages that matched job descriptions, and were forced to pay raises based on “real” inflation data.

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Kelly May 28, 2008 at 2:17 am

Why is it that some people seem to think money just falls out of the sky. I take 3% for my 401K and it’s magic! Another 3% materializes out of thin air and the electric bill still gets paid.

I have news for you. Sometimes the salary you get covers things like rent, food, electric, water, clothes, groceries, medical bills, etc etc and sometimes there really isn’t 3% left over at the end of the month. Sometimes there isn’t even 1%.

Now I would really like to espouse that old “pay yourself first” thing I’ve heard, but there is something interesting there. What’s interesting is that I don’t send myself a cutoff if I miss the electric bill, I don’t send myself an eviction notice if I don’t pay myself the rent.

Some of us don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of and whether you believe it or not, it can really not be from lack of trying or failure to relocate or some other cockamammy reason that’s always given for being poor. So cut us some slack, OK? Not everyone can “afford” to save or invest and we’re getting damn tired of other people acting like that’s a moral failure!

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Kevin May 28, 2008 at 8:50 am

I will be addressing some of Kelly’s concerns later on today at: http://tinyurl.com/6esw35

Cheers,
Kevin

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Hustle Strategy May 28, 2008 at 9:53 am

I will be looking forward to that. A lot of times living below your means is easier said then done. It is also easier said then done to change jobs. But in the long run those are key to being happy. And if you are happy in your current place and can make ends meet, then why change, you are happy.

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Best CD Rates May 29, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Very funny, and nice advice on what not to do!

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Spas in New York City June 26, 2008 at 4:16 am

I know you made this post with an ambition to become a Millionaire :)

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Gavin June 27, 2008 at 10:12 am

“I need that 3%”, “Always spend more than you make”! LOL So funny and so true! Wonderful post!!

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Motorcycle Loans June 27, 2008 at 11:31 am

I enjoyed this and am on board with most of them. I do, however, wonder just how much we should save for later. By the time I do 401K, 529 plans for 2 kids, and a little bit of savings, I’m about out of extra money. Lots of savings/investment people would have us live in a tent and save everything extra until age 65. I’m still struggling to find the true balance of having some fun up to 65 and having a good retirement after that.

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Ray The Money Man November 17, 2008 at 9:33 pm

My favorite post of the day!

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rodrigo May 9, 2009 at 7:41 am

Why would anybody want to take such a slow approach. This method would take much too long to achieve. Sure it will happen if you learn to be frugal and disciplined. Try starting a homebased business or something. Its faster and you have more tax advantages. There are plenty of people making six figure incomes in network marketing after only 2 to 5 years and thats income that will stay with you all your life. Don’t blow. This plan sucks!

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Personal Finance Articles May 9, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I like the comment above about living in a tent. It does seem important to me to strike a balance between saving for retirement and having some fun in the present.

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Kevin May 16, 2009 at 1:56 pm

There is definitely a balance that needs to be maintained between living for today and planning for tomorrow. I don’t have a perfect balance yet. But, generally speaking, Americans are on the opposite end of the spectrum from “planning for tomorrow”.

Just my opinion.

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ace June 18, 2009 at 3:57 am

Funny. That is actually everything millionaires do.

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Michael June 24, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Very good article. It is about taking control of one’s life and investment future.

In my opinion, it is all a matter of market timing. It does not matter if it is gold, oil, or Microsoft, if you have access to good market timing signals, they will help you get in and out at a profit.

No guarantees in this business, but if they are right most of the time, you can still make $s.

There are may web sites providing them out there (search Google). Just find one that works and use it! Check out [website deleted] as an example.

Its Dow Jones timing signals are up 44.7% as of 6/24/09 while the Dow is up just 26% off its March lows.

Following a market timing system works!

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Kevin June 24, 2009 at 7:32 pm

@Michael: Unfortunately I wholeheartedly disagree with you.

Now late me state that yes, timing does work — if you can see the future. If I knew this stock was going to double tomorrow of course I would do well to dump all of my money into it.

That having been said, doing just that is near impossible. Yesterday’s hot “timing indicator” is tomorrow’s forgotten waste of money and capital.

The better way is slow and steady through index funds.

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Michael June 24, 2009 at 8:16 pm

@Kevin

You have a very good point. But the kind of timing I am talking about is not about predicting the future, but just about looking at what has recently happened and what is happening now!

Example: you see Microsoft moving up from 15 to 16 to 17 to 18… There is a trend. You jump in and buy at 19. It goes to 20, to 21, to 22, to 23. If it goes even higher 2 or 3 points you sell at a great profit.

If it moves lower to 21 you sell for a good profit. What happens if from 19 you bought goes to 17? You sell at a small loss to avoid a bigger loss!

You do this over and over again, and you are doing much better than buy and hold!

It does not work all the times, but it works most of the times, and that is all that counts!

Timing signals can help you figure out the entry and exit points!

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Kevin June 26, 2009 at 8:05 pm

@Michael: I still disagree. You are trying to time the market. That doesn’t work consistently.

For example. Can you tell me what the market is going to do on Monday? Up or down? What about Tuesday? The numbers are just numbers…up, down, up, down. Impossible to tell which way it is going to go in the short-term.

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Michael June 26, 2009 at 10:09 pm

@Kevin: No, One cannot predict the future with certainty. They can only make an educated guess using software tools to help them and a judgment call.

The Down Jones timing signals on the [website removed] web site are just that: prior to market open, they say if the market at the close of that day will be up, down, or unknown. It turns out, they have made 44.7% as of 6/24/09.

No guarantee they will continue doing the same. Sometimes they are wrong. But many times they are right. The numbers tell it all!

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Debt Cancellation December 1, 2009 at 6:24 pm

I like #5 – spend more than you make

I think this has become commonplace for most folks. Credit cards should be for convenience and not for running a balance. I think that this economic downturn will have people taking a closer look at this.

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Rachael January 10, 2010 at 10:58 am

Good advice :) I am on my journey on becoming a millionaire and just started a blog about my life and my journey. I am just a regular mom of 3 working hard at my goal. In my blog I tell about my life and what I am doing to become a millionaire. It is a slow process for now but I believe as long as I don’t give up and I have a plan then it will come to pass. Have a great day and thanks again for the info!

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Finance February 8, 2010 at 3:57 am

I enjoyed reading it! Great article!

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Real Estate IRA February 20, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Bottom line…we can make all the excuses we want, but not planning for your financial success is your fault. You just need to get started soon and contribute what you can.

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Financialbondage.org May 17, 2010 at 5:24 am

If I had a dollar for every book and blog post about being a millionaire or wealthy or rich, I would be rich.

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Chandler AZ CPA August 2, 2010 at 9:36 pm

We can make all the promises we want, but if you fail to plan then you plan to fail. Don’t get left behind.

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judaica March 22, 2011 at 6:43 am

Excellent work always good to come across a really thoughtful site – I’ve bookmarked it.

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JB - TioAdmin June 25, 2011 at 12:03 am

Your post is funny! But, to some it’s no joke because they’ve gotten themselves deep into debt and are now in a bad credit situation. I know because I see people daily in this situation.

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Upload Pictures July 14, 2011 at 6:36 am

It inspires me :)

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Reply

John April 10, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Hey great tips, obviously I meant that in a ironical way, but at least they are funny. That is what I though of it at the beginning, but unfortunately these tips are reality for so many people. I guess I always knew that not everyone can be a billionaire.
There is one great flaw or great strength in your tips, depending on how you look at them. What will an unemployed person think of these? Based on these tips they might just think to be on the right track to become a millionaire. :)

John Snow @ Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy Lawsuits

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ASEAN ETF October 17, 2012 at 4:44 am

The Global X FTSE ASEAN 40 ETF targets the 40 largest companies in the five ASEAN countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines.

Reply

Wealth Titan November 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm

HAHAHA such a brilliant article :), I spend all my time looking for the right ways to do things, this article will definatly motivate me more to stick to my financial path. Keep up the good work.

Reply

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