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The 2011 "Noble" Prizes for Personal Finance

Posted: 10/11/11 07:09 PM ET

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden is unlikely to attend.

The awards venue will not be the Blue Hall of the City Hall in Stockholm, and the menu will not include Galantine de canard, Turbot aux truffes or Bavarois au chocolat.

The dress code will be less formal, too. While white ties and tails and evening gowns are the usual attire for the Nobel Prize ceremony, our ceremonies are more informal -- in keeping with the fiscal sensibilities inherent in honoring those whose contributions to the field of personal finance merit global recognition.

Indeed, the Noble Prizes for Personal Finance are not the Nobel Prizes, but they are high honors recognizing the highest levels of achievement in the field of consumer finances.

When the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm annually bestows its prize upon laureates in multiple fields, including physics, chemistry and economics, their work may or may not ever have a direct impact on the lives and lifestyles of the common citizen.

The exact opposite is true of Noble Prize winners

Our recipients, both human and corporate, have already made enormous contributions to the wealth, financial security, economic literacy, quality of life, and/or peace of mind of millions of people the world over.

The Nobel Prizes are named after Alfred Nobel, best known as the inventor of dynamite. The Noble Prizes are named for those who've taken to perfecting personal finance as an exalted moral calling -- dignified and courageous -- and hence, true nobles in the dictionary sense of the word.

In reporting on Dan Schectman, the Israeli who won the 2011 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, the Los Angeles Times noted that Schectman "endured years of criticism and isolation for his discovery..."

So, too, has the typical Noble Prize winner had to prevail against strong academic, media, and institutional bias. Going up against The Machine -- the nonstop, omnipresent propaganda generated by self-serving and powerful banks, brokerages and other financial services concerns -- is a Herculean task.

With that introduction out of the way, it is now my deep honor and privilege to introduce and induct these unconventional individuals and institutions into the Noble Prizes for Personal Finance -- Class of 2011:

Lifetime Achievement Award: R. Nelson Nash

Nash, 80, is a pioneer in the strategic use of dividend-paying whole life insurance to accumulate wealth and self-finance major purchases, such as cars, vacations, and even ownership of a home.

Nash's ground-breaking book, Becoming Your Own Banker: Unlock the Infinite Banking Concept, is a foundational text on the bookshelf of every self-reliant investor and saver.

Nash reveals how -- and why -- the banking function should be held at the "you and me" level. His credo is that "if you know what's really happening, you'll know what to do."

Nash continues to maintain a vigorous lecture and training schedule, crisscrossing the country to demonstrate to members of his rapt audience how they can keep the profits most people -- not knowing they have a better alternative -- hand over to banks, credit unions, brokerage houses and other mammoth consumer lenders.

Consumer Savings Award: Skype Limited

Free, global, digital-quality, person-to-person calls over the computer have revolutionized the way hundreds of millions of people communicate. In out-of-pocket saving alone -- when compared with landline-to-landline initiated phone calls -- Skype has saved consumers untold billions of dollars.

There is no price tag, however, on the joy Skype brings to loved ones and friends who are separated by distance, yet can peer into one another's eyes during a Skype video call and make the entire world feel as if is just next door.

Founded in 2003 and based in Luxembourg, Skype is in the process of being acquired by Microsoft Corporation. Tony Bates currently serves as CEO and Jonathan Chadwick as Chief Financial Officer.

Special Funding Award: Timothy J. Austin

Austin, 46, co-founder and president of the National Association of College Funding Advisors (NACFA), has directly or indirectly helped hundreds of thousands of families realize their dream: affordably paying for their children's college education.

NACFA offers vigorous training and certification to college funding advisors who in turn help individual families save tens -- if not hundreds -- of thousands of dollars when compared with conventionally financed student loans.

With the average cost of tuition at a private nonprofit four-year college now approaching $30,000 a year, Austin and NACFA are making every tuition dollar stretch further than ever.

The Bank On Yourself Authorized Advisors' Media Myth Busters Award: Brett Philip Arends

This special award is presented on behalf of the more than 200 Bank On Yourself licensed financial advisors or life insurance agents who battle on a daily basis against the mainstream myths that undermine the financial well-being of so many American families.

The Media Myth Busters Award honors a kindred spirit currently working in the mainstream news media.

Arends, 43, a personal finance columnist with The Wall Street Journal, often finds himself going against the herd -- even at his own newspaper.

A financial journalist in Europe and the U.S. since the 1990s, Arends writes the daily R.O.I. column for WSJ.com, examining the intersection of personal finance and current affairs. His articles also regularly appear in the print edition of the Journal and at MarketWatch.com.

Arends notes in the introduction to his 2009 book, Storm Proof Your Money...

'I never really trust somebody until I've heard them say two things: 'I don't know' and 'I was wrong.'"

Among the recent myth-busting notches on his editorial belt: Ten Stock Market Myths That Just Won't Die (July 25, 2010); The Ten Biggest Myths About Gold (September 17, 2010); Seven Myths and Realities About Taxes (September 28, 2010); and 10 Market Myths Debunked (October 5, 2011).

Courage of One's Convictions Award: Standard & Poor's Rating Services

On August 5, 2011, despite unprecedented pressure put upon the company NOT to act, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered its long-term credit rating on the United States from AAA to AA+.

The action engendered a tsunami of debate and criticism, which the S&P certainly anticipated would be forthcoming. The ratings service went ahead regardless, committed to presenting its positions and analyses free from outside influences.

In evaluating the United States, as it does 125 other sovereign governments, the S&P evaluated five pillars: political risk, economic risk, external risk, debt and fiscal risk.

Regardless of whether the public agrees with the S&P's conclusions, the service provided our country and consumers a great benefit in focusing our collective attention on the creditworthiness of our nation and what it will take to maintain and bolster it.

Heading the S&P team was David Beers, global head of sovereign ratings and managing director; and John Chambers, managing director and chairman of the sovereign ratings committee. S&P is a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

What do you think?

Do you agree with our choices? Are there other worthy individuals and organizations we've overlooked? Please share your comments and nominations in the comments box below.

New York Times bestselling author Pamela Yellen is the founder of www.BankOnYourselfNation.com, a website dedicated to helping people achieve lifetime financial security and self-reliance. As president of www.BankOnYourself.com, she's helped hundreds of thousands grow their wealth safely and predictably.

 
 
 

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