For myself the idea of investing money in the stock market began whilst I was selling cellular phones at a small shop in Bellevue, Washington in the late 1990’s when a colleague of mine who was 15-years older began talking to me about investing in my future. We would talk for hours about investment strategies when no customers were present.
Jay helped introduce and educate on the stock market. His guidance and wisdom had us buying up small shares of blue chip stocks like Pepsi, Chevron, Disney and other fortune 500 companies. Over a few years of working full-time and attending college full-time, I had amassed a nice little nest-egg.
Then it all came apart when I decided to sell everything and move to Australia to pursue other career paths and to complete a Bachelor’s degree. The nest-egg was sold off, as was everything that I owned: truck, clothes, computer, camera collection, skiing equipment and more.
As I boarded United Airlines flight 5205 for Brisbane, Queensland Australia the journey was just about to begin. Standing in the airport with a backpack of clothes, a Minolta X700 camera, a variety of lenses and $9,500.00 US dollars in my account. I was ready to face the country known as “down under”.
Fast forward a decade and we’ve just returned from a two year stint of teaching English in South Korea. On our way back we decided to swing through Colorado for a SURPRISE family visit at my younger brother’s house as he invited the whole family down for Thanksgiving.
During the event my younger brother the ex-stock broker and I started talking about investments as well as retirement as we both know our mother is not a wealthy lady and will probably require family assistance when she’s in her late 70’s and onward. A conversation ensues with her to try and understand her financial situation. She doesn’t want anything to do with this conversation. We both realize the reality of this non-conversation starter. “She probably doesn’t have much,” begins my younger brother and the words just trail on out after the sunset.
Months later I land a new job at a telecom firm with its headquarters in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. The new boss informs they have a retirement plan package that kicks in after you have successfully completed the 90-day probationary period. He lets me know I’m able to enrol the day after. We talk about investing strategies and I feel like I’m back at the cellphone shop talking trade positions with Jay while awaiting customers to arrive.
A few Friday’s after I’ve been working at the new firm, the wife and I decided to head out for a date night meal at Tasty Vietnamese in Spruce Grove. Over dinner I start explaining about the retirement program which my boss Jeff was talking about earlier in the week. She nods her head in agreement about starting the program once I’m able to do so. “I’m a bit timid about it though,” I start with followed by, “its been nearly a decade since I last invested money into the stock market. And that was back in my late twenties. I’m not really certain where to begin?”
Smiling over the top of her Vietnamese coffee she says, “you figured it out the first time right?” I nod my head yes, “well then. I think you will figure it out this time.”
It was just enough encouragement to get my brains churning about the possibilities of investment. But where to start? What strategy to embrace? And 1-million other questions began populating inside my cranium the rest of dinner.
Don’t look for the needle in the haystack, just buy the haystackJohn C. Bogle, Founder of Vanguard
A couple weeks passed by as I was getting used to the rigours of commuting 30-minutes from our condo in Stony Plain to the City for the daily commute. One night after work I dropped by the local book store and found a book called The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. After flipping through the book I knew this would be a good start to our current financial requirements.
Dave’s book teaches you how-to reduce your current debt, paying it off with a snowball approach and realign what is most important to you: Becoming Debt Free.
After you have reached this hurdle, Dave begins to explain how-to build an emergency stash fund of money for a rainy day. And why it is important for people who are trying to get out of the habit of living in debt, to have this emergency fund. As its for those unexpected financial burdens like the dishwasher crapping out, or a leak in the basement, or the check-engine light on your automobile comes on the day after your warranty expires.
Once you’ve completed the debt free and emergency fund hurdles (typically takes 12-months or more depending on individual circumstances) then you can begin to focus on building an investment portfolio.
Personally I liked this approach on how-to get out of debt, stay out of debt, build an emergency fund and eventually reclaim how-to begin building an investment strategy.
- Step 1, debt free, took us just shy of 16-months.
- Step 2, build an emergency fund, took us 10-months to amass a $5k CAD fund
- Step 3, reclaim your financial investment strategy, took us 5-months
- Overall 31-months just shy of 3-years
Whilst we were working through Dave’s strategies on how-to reclaim our financial situations, we began reading a series of books by famed author Robin Sharma. We started with The Leader Who Had No Title then went into The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. Basically these books taught us that every circumstance can be overcome with the right strategy and mindset.
We were determined to learn how-to remove the debt above our heads and figure out our own next steps into financial freedom.