I’ve challenged myself recently to begin writing on a regular basis. Currently, the bulk of my time is spent doing research and other things that will have meaningful impact for our clients, who are serious investors. My hope is that this project will give me a chance to influence a broader audience of younger, less-experienced investors, and dramatically reduce the learning curve for them. It may seem as if I’m writing to you, but I’m really writing to me. My Grandfather died shortly after the war and my father was raised in the state foster system. Critical financial wisdom that would have been passed from father to son never occurred, so while my father was a hard-working man, key elements were missing and our family was poor. I’m compiling all of the things I wish I had known when I was younger and telling you what I needed to hear.
America is better and stronger when each of us are better and stronger. My intention is to share thoughts, comments and methods related to the full body of knowledge required to successfully navigate one’s financial life, with an emphasis on economics and investing. That being said, I’ll open with a significant caveat. As I carry a series of Federal licenses related to my industry, I am held to a regulatory standard and interpretation of that standard, which prevents me from saying virtually anything actionable to the public. Not surprisingly, the way the law works, those who know the least are freely allowed to say or write the most. I’ll try to help steer the reader toward correct thinking where possible.
The question I’m most often asked, is “Where should I put my money?” which is, of course, a loaded question. For the audience I’m trying to reach, which are younger investors, it’s more about “assets” than money. The first thing you need to understand is that throughout your life, time will be your biggest asset and at some point, your biggest enemy. So whether time or money, start the investment process by investing in yourself. If you don’t have an education, get one. I mean a real education. I don’t mean a degree, though one may be required for your chosen endeavor, but a real education. The starting point is simply beginning to think about things. (here is a great free resource that may help).
Consider these two truths; though at odds with one another, nonetheless, both are true. The first is:
“Do something you love. If you are doing something you are passionate about, you are just naturally going to succeed, and a lot of other things will happen that you don’t need to worry.”
-Mary Barra, CEO (General Motors)
The second is:
“We need to stop telling young people that the only way to be happy is to correctly identify your passion when you’re 18, 19 and 20 years old. We basically force them to figure out what is going to make them happy and then they get this idea in their head of ‘I’m going to be a musician. Or, I’m going to be an executive or an accountant.’ While all of those are good jobs, following this mindset typically sends young people down a long road of expensive schooling and training in order to start feeling happy and fulfilled wherever they land. In the end, many people end up trapped — swimming in student loan debt, without any viable job options. Instead, they need to follow opportunity and to then take their passion with them.”
-Mike Rowe, Host (Dirty Jobs)
Both are thoughts from individuals who have attained above average results in life, while choosing wildly different paths. One of these quotes will ring particularly true for you and the path you choose will greatly affect your life opportunities and financial well-being. Three friends come to mind, an Accountant, a Plumber, and a Social Worker with a Master’s Degree in Gender Studies. No, they did not all walk into a bar together… but one is a millionaire a few times over, one feeds his family, and the last is currently trying to get the bankruptcy court to wipe out her student loan debt. A thoughtful reader might say that you don’t need money to be happy. I won’t dispute that, but will merely say that it sure helps.
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