I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. At an early age, I took an interest to the stock market. When I was 11 years old I taught myself how to read the quotes that were in the business section of the newspaper. In the seventh grade, I created a math project where I brought in a homemade chart of the NYSE page, and explained each line of it to my classmates. When I was a kid, my mother took my younger sister and I to the public library every two weeks. I’d always pick up ten books (the library’s limit), and half of them would be finance or business related. It would seem from early on that business/finance was my passion… but I didn’t go that route.
Seven years later, I’m a freshman in college and it’s time to decide what degree to pursue. I’m staring at the majors available and I skipped right past finance. Why? Because computer science was the big thing at the time and I wanted to be in an area and field that was a challenge, paid well, and for which the opportunity for employment was high. Computer science seemed to allow for all of the above. I graduated with a Computer Science degree, and was recruited immediately into the workforce upon graduation. I’m married to a wonderful woman and the proud father of three children. I am truly blessed.
My parents didn’t know or understand the stock market, but I was fortunate that they valued the idea of saving and they diligently put aside every dollar that had been given to me from family and friends as a child. When I turned 17, I asked my father if I could take the total saved ($2000) and have it invested in the stock market by a major brokerage company. My father agreed, and off to the brokerage company we went with my life savings. The risks of the stock market were explained to me by my financial advisor, and soon my life savings was invested in the market. Every month, a statement showed up indicating an increase or decrease in the value of my savings. I was away at school, and I’d return home every couple of months or so, open up the mail, and smile. Things were going great. In three years, $2000 had become roughly $6,000. I was going to be “rich”! (HA!!)
In 2000-2001, the second largest stock market crash of my lifetime occurred. The market lost roughly half of its value, with some mutual funds losing 80% of their total value. In my senior year, I didn’t go home much — I had a girlfriend at school. 🙂 The mail back home started to pile up, month after month, but it wasn’t getting opened. After being away for almost 6 months, I decided to go home. As I opened each envelope in chronological order, I saw $6000 become $5000, then $3500, then $2500, then $2000, and finally $1200. I was devastated. How could $6k become $1200 in 6 months??? It was less than what I started out with three years earlier. I asked my father to make an appointment with the brokerage company to find out what had happened. When we met, the broker calmly explained to me that the market had taken a downturn, and that “these things happen and eventually, things would turn around.”
My father and I shook hands with the broker and walked out. The broker’s explanation didn’t sit well with me, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I turned to my father as we were walking towards the car and said, “I understand that the stock market can go up or down but why wouldn’t our broker cash out of the market after the $6000 became $3500?” My father wasn’t an investing savant but his answer was quite prophetic. He said, “O., you only had $2000 invested. When the alarm went off in the market, who do you think the broker was going to save — his million dollar portfolio, or the portfolio that started out with 2K?”
I learned something that day. Both the broker and my father taught me something. The broker was right — the stock market did in fact end up coming back. I didn’t get to see that, because I ended up cashing out when the $1200 became $1000, but my father taught me something even greater. His remarks about the broker’s interests were speculation, but the lesson learned was the following: “You have to take an interest in your own financial future because if you don’t, no one else will.”
And so that is what I’ve been trying to do for the past 10+ years. And it is my hope that this website will aid others in investing in their own future as well. Investing for the Future is not About Us, but about you. It’s about learning new things that can hopefully improve your financial future.
Investing for the the Future is a journey. The blog has started out with stock recommendations and author thoughts, but will eventually move into other important aspects of financial management such as home-ownership, savings, and making practical/smart financial decisions. Most importantly, all information provided here will be done so for free. You see, empowering folks to take charge of their financial future requires something greater than just taking their dollars. It requires one to believe that they can control their situation by buying in to their own future, TODAY.