Growing up I had an unusual set of parents which I imagine was based on their own upbringing. My dad came from Italian immigrants, who believe in getting a job and working hard. My mom went from a showbusiness family who believe in talent and opportunity. I was a product of both of them of course, I knew I had to work, but I was always looking for opportunities to get ahead, realize my dreams, get rich, etc. That would serve me well in later years, at least until the real estate bubble burst in 2008.
Here I am – everyone uses an old photo when they post online, right? So this is 2 years ago when I visited Italy:
But long before I even knew where Italy was I had my first lesson in finance.
My first lesson in finance can start at around age 10, I needed, had to have, the latest Schwinn bike, a 10-speed model that was sure to make me the envy of the neighborhood. The problem was, it was expensive at the time, and while I never went hungry, we didn’t have money to spare. So when I asked my dad if I could get the new bike, he grimaced a little, looked at me and said, “Son, that would take all the money I have, and we need it for groceries, you’ll have to be patient for a little while.” That wasn’t something I could argue with, even at age10 I saw the logic, but as the days turned into weeks, then months, my patience started to wear thin. I knew at that moment if I wanted that bike, and I did, then I’d have to get it for myself.
There weren’t a lot of jobs for a kid, but I mowed lawns, delivered the paper on Sunday mornings, painted house numbers on the curb, and little by little my small savings grew until I could afford that Schwinn bike.
When we went to the bike dealer, my mom and dad were both proud of me, and my grin was gleaming. I’d done it, I’d worked, planned, saved and now, and here was the reward.
That set the stage for my adolescent years, and when I was old enough, I was able to afford a pretty sweet ride, a Buick Gran Sport. It was fast and sporty and while it may not have been the latest model, it was mine, with no payments. I was feeling pretty good with myself.
It was during these years, my Uncle sent me a book for my birthday, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. If you haven’t already read it, you should give it a read. It speaks of how two dads loved their children, but one dad sent his money out to work for him, while the other dad didn’t. The one dad, over time, built a family fortune, while the other dad lived from hand to mouth, and couldn’t care for his family the way he wanted to. I won’t say that my eyes were immediately thrown wide open to the world of investing, but I knew even then if you wanted your money to grow, you had to invest it, not spend every cent.
This is not to say I was a perfect kid, far from it and I got in my share of trouble, still I made it through high school without a juvie record and headed to college where I’d major in business, thinking I already had a good head on my shoulders and understood how the business world worked, I had a lot to learn.
I graduated college with a degree in business and felt that a move to NYC and a job on Wall Street was the path that would lead to money and success. And while I did learn a lot about life, that’s not where I acquired my money, which came from real estate.
I left New York with a bit of money in my pocket and headed back to Nashville, TN, where my parents still lived and immediately set out to conquer the real estate market. I’d buy the worst house in the best neighborhood, fix it up, then flip it for a profit. Over the next several years I was doing great, even got my picture in the newspaper as an up and coming real estate developer. At that moment I was living the dream with no idea a real estate crash was coming. I was making money, but I was highly leveraged and had already made the mistake that would eventually lead to the creation of this website.
I wasn’t diversifying my investments, and the fortune I was building was critically balanced on the real estate market continuing its ride to the stars, but that wasn’t to be, and the crash of 2008 had the banks calling in my loans and me unable to meet my obligations.
Now don’t take this as me crying, I’m not, in fact, I had it good for a lot of years and had I handled things better, maybe I wouldn’t be writing this, and then this website couldn’t help you, which I’m hopeful it does.
If you’re not familiar with the real estate bubble I’m speaking of, you can read about it here.
These were dark days for a lot of people in America, but probably not everyone, the smart guys and gals were diversified, and while they may have lost money in real estate, they made up for it in other markets. One friend of mine, seemed to weather the crash without batting an eye when I asked him about it, he didn’t give me details, but he told me his money was spread around and he was doing okay.
On my end, I had to pay the bills; there was no way I was going to ask my parents for a loan, they were retired and lived in a house they’d bought for $18,000 that was now worth plenty, let them enjoy themselves.
What I did was get a job with H&R Block doing taxes, I’d become skilled that when I was in New York, and a few guys I still knew gave me a glowing recommendation, so I had work, but it wasn’t where I wanted to be, but it was a paycheck with benefits, so I couldn’t complain.
It was this job that would initially, send my life in a new direction, different investments, one of which was bull semen. Yes, bull semen, there’s a lot of money to be made if you know what you’re doing, and the rugged, looking guy who walked in the door at H&R Block, was brilliant in the field. As I ran the numbers for his tax returns, I asked him casual questions about his business, not wanting to appear to pry, but curious about the amount of money he’d made in the previous year.
No, this didn’t send me into the bull semen market, but it did awaken my mind to the fact there was a multitude of ways to invest your money, many of which the general public had never heard of. They ranged the gambit from bull semen, as mentioned, to Baseball cards and a hundred things in between.
Indeed there was still a reason to park some of your money in traditional investments, but if you limited yourself to only these, you’d be missing out on a boatload of opportunities.
When I finished the tax return for the farmer, shook his hand and escorted him to the door, I knew I’d learned something, diversity. What had made me rich was real estate, but it had also caused me to nearly go bankrupt when the bank called in my loans and I never wanted to be in that spot again.
My job at H&R Block lasted another six months, but it was during that time I realized I had a new quest, find out as much as possible about different ways to invest, both traditional and non-traditional. In other words, don’t limit your options. Eventually, that decision led to the creation of this website and writing about investing. Hopefully, at least some of what you’ll find here will spark an idea and help you learn to diversify and yes, take some risks. I’m not adverse to risk, nor should you be, there are some tremendous gains to be made with risks, but never again would I put all my eggs in one basket. That’s an old adage, but the truth in that statement has lasted through the ages and is no less valid today.
If you have any questions about anything you see written here, please get in touch, I’m happy to answer any investment related questions, though sometimes it make take a few days to get back to you.
Let me close this About Us section by stating would might be obvious to some, but it wasn’t to me, be open to new ideas and opportunities, then strike when the time is right.