MoneyWise Live | July 20, 2018

Forrest Fenn’s Treasure

The recording for this episode is not available yet, it usually takes a day or two after the live broadcast.

Show Notes

In Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, Treasure Island, “X” marked the spot where the notorious pirate Captain Flint buried his treasure. But did you know there’s a real life treasure chest possibly worth millions buried somewhere in the Rocky Mountains?  This fun story about Forrest Fenn is entertaining enough on its own but it also brings up what the Bible says about having a "get rich quick" mentality.

Forrest Fenn is an 87-year old former Vietnam fighter pilot and amateur archaeologist who reportedly amassed a fortune in gold and jewels during sometimes controversial explorations in the Southwest.  A self-described millionaire— Fenn came under F-B-I scrutiny 10 years ago for selling artifacts he picked up in the Four Corners area but no charges were filed.  Folks have also criticized him for buying outright and excavating the San Lazaro Pueblo Indian site in New Mexico.

So how do we know the treasure is real? Witnesses claim they’ve seen the chest stuffed with valuables.  They say it’s nearly a square foot and fully loaded with emeralds, diamonds and gold coins— and weighs about 40 pounds.

Forrest Fenn says that when he was diagnosed with cancer in 1988, he filled the chest with treasure and planned to take it up into the Rockies and die beside it. Maybe he thought he could take it with him.  But when he survived cancer, Fenn just tucked the chest away in his house for 20 years. Fast forward the recession of 2008 and that’s when he decided to bury it in the Rockies and launch what has become a massive treasure hunt.  Fenn says he did it to give hope to people who might have lost their jobs— and to encourage families to get outside and get fresh air.  Fenn published a poem with clues to where X marks the spot for his treasure and challenged anyone to go and find it. All we know is that it's somewhere in the thousand mile stretch of the Rockies between Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Canadian border.

Fenn says as many as 350-thousand people have trekked through the mountains looking for his treasure chest but so far no one has found it. He says he hasn’t told anyone the location, not even his wife.  So if he dies, the secret goes with him. At least 4 people have reportedly died searching for Fenn's treasure. And while the Bible doesn't tell us that searching for buried treasure is a sin, risking your life in the sometimes harsh environment of the Rocky Mountains is certainly ill-advised.

Whether it's your brother-in-law's hot stock tip or crypto-currency or buried treasure, the Bible does warn us about having a "get rich quick" mentality. Proverbs 21:5— "The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty" and in the case of Fenn’s treasure, maybe even death. 

Next, Rob and Steve tackle listener questions at 800-525-7000 and via email to on a variety of topics:

  • If you just started a new job that offers a 401(k) that doesn't offer any matching, should you join the plan?
  • If you have more equity in your home than what you owe on your mortgage, should you get a Home Equity Line of Credit to pay off the mortgage?
  • What is a UTMA mutual fund?
  • If you're 41 with a 16 year old youngster and a wife that doesn't make a lot of money, should you consider buying life insurance?
  • If you've allow some credit card debt to swell to $20,000, would it be a good idea to a.) pull some money from a 401(k) or get a home equity loan to pay off the debt?
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness     If you have about $12000 of spare money, participate in a 457, have student loan debt and a mortgage, should you put the extra money in the 457 or pay a lump sum to the student loan? 
  • If you've co-signed a loan for someone who isn't paying the loan and you're getting collection calls, what are your options?
  • If you're about to turn 63, have a small 401(k) and don't plan to work much and are thinking of applying for Social Security, what are the differences between applying at age 63 as to age 65?  
  • What do you do if your financial advisor passes away? 

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