I am starting a new series about Do-It-Yourself Investing, and I would like to conduct interviews on how investors got started and document their successes and failures. For me, I have learned a tremendous amount from others. Especially those with far more investing experience.
I know its lame, but instead of finding a willing volunteer, I thought I would interview myself and then open it up to readers and other bloggers. If you are interested in being interviewed, please contact me or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send the questionnaire.
Do-It-Yourself investing has been a part of my life for almost 20 years. It started very small. I wiped out the balances multiple times for beer money in college, to pay down debt and for a down payment on our first home. The balances were built back up and won’t be wiped out again except to buy a cash generating asset. Here is how I got started.
Name: Turning Point Money
Age (or Age Range within 5 years): 37
Marital Status: Married
Children: 2 (ages 1 & 4)
Highest Education: MBA
Occupation: IT Consultant (resigned as IT Director)
Household Income Range today:
- $250,000 – $500,000
Were you raised frugal or did you learn it?
I don’t consider myself overly frugal, we live pretty comfortably. We make it a point to save a large portion of our income however. I was not raised extremely frugal, I was taught to work hard for the things I wanted but never really was taught about saving or investing that I can remember.
If married, is your spouse frugal?
My spouse is frugal and was raised in a home with extremely frugal parents. She carries traits of her parents, but has eased up some over the last couple years now that we are parents.
What was your investing turning point, when did you start investing for your future?
At age 18 I read my first book on the stock market and investing. I convinced my parents to help me open a brokerage account. It was really small dollars, but I loved learning about it.
What is the size of your investment portfolio?
- $1,000,000 – $2,000,000
How many individual stocks do you hold?
Thirty, any more than thirty and I start to have a hard time following all the companies. Any less than twenty and my portfolio volatility is uncomfortably high.
What is your largest individual stock holding?
Fiat Chrysler (as of today). I recently told my story on this company.
How many mutual funds or exchange traded funds do you hold?
Ten due to availability, mostly scattered in various retirement accounts. This is far more than I need. As I centralize my old 401k’s, I will shrink the number of ETF’s. I generally invest in index funds in tax deferred accounts. I hold no mutual funds.
Which fund is the largest?
State Street S&P 500 Index Fund
Do you hold individual bonds, if so how many? What is your portfolio allocation to bonds?
No, none. I hold a few bond funds. Across all of our accounts our portfolio is weighted to almost 25% bonds.
Have you ever purchased options, futures, precious metals or sold a stock short? Please explain.
Yes, I have purchased call options a handful of times. Options are only purchased from my small speculative allocation.
What are your long-term goals for your investments?
To fund a comfortable life and provide my family with a work optional lifestyle. We want to move in five to seven years to the coast in the south-east. Currently our careers make this option virtually impossible unless I want to go back to traveling every week. In a few years, we will redefine our lifestyle and the amount we work, if at all. Most likely we will buy or start a small business.
What was the biggest hurdle to overcome to start investing?
Access to capital. When we were starting out in life after college, we were burdened with debt and paying for a basic lifestyle. Balancing your wants and needs with investing can be challenging.
How often do you contribute money to your investments?
Monthly through retirement accounts and DSPP’s. Also, larger purchases are placed ad hoc when I find something of value.
What is your favorite investing story or lesson learned?
I don’t know if this is a great story, but I learned from it so I will share. When I started investing I bought only blue chip companies. However, during my MBA I purchased Sirius (far from a blue chip) for under a dollar and sold for over $6 per share in a relatively short period of time. I was hooked. I thought it would always be this easy, but it’s not. This was extremely lucky on my end.
This transaction reminds me that quick fortunes can be made, but also lost when investing in speculative type investments. Its better to focus on quality companies when valuation metrics are showing a under or a fair valuation and just hold. Enjoy the benefits of being a shareholder of a profitable enterprise.
What steps did you take to learn about investing?
I read, a lot. I also obtained an MBA in Finance which included a course or two on investments.
When you started investing, did you have a known plan?
I had absolutely no idea what I was doing or had a very little plan for the funds. I knew I wanted to put away money in case I lost my job and putting the money to work made sense.
Do you read blogs or websites about investing, what is your favorite?
How much does it cost per year to research your investments, what are your favorite things to read?
Everything I read is free except for the occasional magazine or book. For example:
- Valueline – I read at the library for free
- Morningstar – I read the website and analyst reports for free in my brokerage account.
- Seeking Alpha – There are some great writers on this site, but others are hit and miss.
- Personal Finance Blogs
- Quarterly and Annual Reports
- Trade journals and websites
- Free analyst reports from brokerage accounts.
How much time do you spend on investments?
Between 5 and 10 hours per week.
How frequently do you buy investments and how long do you typically hold?
I buy on a monthly basis. I typically hold for 5 years or more. Generally I want to hold the stocks I buy for a long time unless there is a special situation.
What was the worst investing mistake you ever made?
I purchased a restaurant company where I loved the product. It was a turnaround situation. This company had a wonderful product, but could never really turn a profit. I believed they could and believed in management. I held onto this one and even bought more over the years until I got fed up probably after nearly 8 years. Recently this company went bankrupt. I learned that there is more to investing than a fantastic sandwich. In fact, I generally stay away from this industry because it is fiercely competitive.
What is or was your best performing stock(s) or investment?
Harris, Middleby, Bank of America, Visa, and Fiat Chrysler. Two of these I sold for a nice gain.
What is or was your worst performing stock(s) or investment?
BP and Kinder Morgan
Describe your investment approach in a few words.
I am a blend of quality dividend growth investing and value investing, always long orientated. I love dividends, but I don’t eliminate non-dividend payers from consideration.
Is possible for a Do-It-Yourself investor to beat the market consistently?
Yes, I have beaten the market for the last 5 years that I have tracked.
What holds people back from investing?
I think there are a lot of myths about investing that scares people from investing in stocks. Also, overconsumption and a lack of capital.
What is the best piece of investing advice you could give to individual investors?
First, after paying off debts and building an emergency fund, invest regularly in tax deferred and taxable accounts. Contribute something every month. This process will become second nature and over time the amount you contribute will grow month over month.
The second is persistence. Avoid the temptation to dip into your principal balance to consume things. Maybe you feel you deserve a larger house or luxury car. Avoid the temptations and focus on your goal of financial freedom or whatever it might be. Understand the opportunity cost of your decisions.
Have you ever inherited money or is an inheritance part of your long-term plan?
No, we most likely will inherit very little if anything.
How do you factor in Social Security into your long-term plan?
We do not consider social security into our retirement plans. Our benefit will start in thirty years from now. If we receive something, we will consider it an unplanned gift for us to spoil our future grandchildren with or to spend freely.