The Investor Insights is all about INCOME INVESTING.
I'm Susan Lassiter-Lyons the Publisher and Founding Editor.
Investor Insights is owned by Lassiter Marketing Group, a privately held financial publishing company I founded in 2009.
I began investing in 1990 and had a long career in finance managing private equity funds and real estate syndications.
I've had a successful 28-year (and counting!) history of managing money – both my own and others’.
My highlight reel includes…
In addition to my investing efforts, I'm active with several non-profit organizations including the Beagle Freedom Project and Joyful Heart Foundation.
I graduated magna cum laude from Regis University with a B.S. in Business Administration and is a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit Honor Society.
I live in Rancho Mirage, California with my wife Annette and our dogs Harper and Hank.
It was 2:15pm Wednesday, January 4th, 2017.
My sister was calling my cell phone and I kept sending her to voice mail because I was on the other line with a business partner.
A few minutes later, my wife Annette came into my home office after receiving an urgent text from my sister and told me to call her right away – it was an emergency.
My sister is a bit of a drama queen, so I rolled my eyes as I called her back expecting the “emergency” to be no big deal.
She answered before the phone even rang and said…
“Mom is dead.”
I don't really remember much about the call after that.
My Mom was 76 years old. Divorced for several years and living alone.
She was suffering from macular degeneration, diabetes, and heart disease and we had been battling about her moving into an assisted-living facility.
She steadfastly refused to move from the 2-bedroom apartment she'd lived in for the last 15 years or so even though she couldn't afford it.
My Mom worked in the oil and gas industry as a human resources administrator for years but she had no pension and the money she had in her 401K was gone.
Half of it disappeared in 2001 after the dot-com bubble and 9/11.
The rest disappeared in 2008 and early 2009 during the “Great Recession” that followed the housing bubble in the United States.
I had been subsidizing her $1,400 a month social security income – paying for her utilities, cell phone, and groceries – and gifting her extra cash around the holidays and her birthday.
My Mom let me know that she was in bad shape financially, but I didn't know the full extent of it until I was settling her affairs after she died.
My Mom died with $366.79 to her name.
At age 76.
Once I let that sink in, I had what can only be described as a meltdown.
It was like I got a glimpse into MY future and it was ugly.
Like “I'm going to be a homeless bag lady” ugly.
At the time, I had over $200,000 in debt not including the mortgage on my million dollar home.
I had a successful business and have always been smart about money but I made two big mistakes that were threatening my current AND future financial security…
And to make things worse, my business started to suffer because I was so focused on the house and other non-revenue generating projects.
And have I mentioned that I'm the “head of my household” and the sole earner?
It was a scary place to find myself at age 52…
One big mistake I made over the years as an investor, was to have all my eggs in one basket.
Meaning I wasn't very diversified in my investments at all.
In fact, 100% of my investment portfolio at that time was in real estate.
I began investing in real estate back in 1994 and started a mortgage company in 2001 to serve real estate investors in Colorado.
When 2008 hit, my real estate portfolio lost more than half its value and luckily I was able to sell most everything at break even. I also had to close my mortgage company because no one was lending to real estate investors anymore.
After 2008, I slowly began to invest in real estate again via other people's projects.
Because I was in rebuild mode with a brand new business, dinged credit, and not much of an appetite for risk, I basically traded consulting for equity stakes in commercial buildings such as apartment and office complexes.
I taught them how to raise capital and they gave me a consulting fee and a 5% equity stake in the project.
But guess what?
Equity doesn't pay the bills.
Equity only turns into cash when there is an “exit” realized such as sale of the property or a mortgage refinance.
And none of my projects were paying off any time soon.
All I could see was this video playing over and over in my mind of me at 76 years old with $366.79 in the bank.
I don't have kids to support me.
I don't have a working spouse.
I don't have a safety net.
It freaked me out. BAD.
I realized that my dream house was a nightmare.
I had heard of the concept of “house poor” before but had never experienced it.
After throwing a 2-day pity party for myself complete with a little crying and lots of vodka, I pulled myself together and created a plan to get out of my financial mess and get back on track.
Step 1: Sell the house.
Step 2: Pay off 100% of our debt.
Step 3: Start making smart INCOME generating investments to “catch up” for retirement.
Step 4: Document the mistakes I'd made so I never repeat them!
I'm in such a great place now – both financially AND psychologically.
Being debt free gives me a lot of peace.
My days are spent “testing and investing” all sorts of income investing strategies in my portfolios.
And the cool thing is that I get to share what I do with my subscribers.
A business coach years ago told me to “make your mess your message.”
I wasn't sure what that truly meant until I realized that there are a bazillion (actual number) of people having the same “Oh, crap” epiphany that I had about being totally f@#&%d, or in more professional terms, let's say “woefully underprepared for retirement.”
Now, I get to help others get to a place where they feel totally prepared for any financial event in their lives including retirement.
It feels so good to be on the other side of my “mess” and finally feel some peace and financial security.
And I can get you there, too.
As I was solving my own problem and seeing healthy gains in a short time in my accounts, I realized two things…
Here's the deal.
Most financial advisors will tell you to start an IRA or invest as much as you can in your company 401k but that's going to get you nowhere fast.
Between the limited investment options, relatively low returns, and crazy high fees you're screwed.
Wall Street has a habit of rigging the markets against individual investors – that's us.
I realized very quickly that if I wanted to generate big gains and take advantage of the miracle of compounding like my pal Warren Buffett, I had to do something very different.
And that's how I landed on income investing.
Remember that whole problem I had with “equity?”
As in equity doesn't pay the bills?
Well, if I invest in 100 shares of a blue chip stock like Google, I generate unrealized gains when the stock increases.
Unrealized means it's just on paper because I haven't “realized” the gains yet.
The only way to realize those gains and earn income, is by selling my shares.
I have to find something else to invest in so that I can realize THAT gain and so on.
I don't want to sell my investment in order to have my investment dollars produce INCOME for me.
Because that's not INVESTING that's TRADING.
And ain't nobody got time for that.
I want to invest in something – a stock, bond, crowdfund, loan, whatever – and have that investment produce INCOME.
That income can be in the form of a dividend or an interest payment – it doesn't matter.
What does matter is that my investment is now producing income – real cash money – that I can spend today or reinvest for componded growth.
Here's how this lil miracle works.
Say I invest $5,000 into an investment that yields a 13% dividend (we have several in our portfolio).
In year one, those $5,000 dollars I put to work have done a great job earning $650 more dollars. All passively meaning I didn't have to do anything for it – it just happened.
In year two, my $5,650 is now earning that 13% and since I have more dollars out there working for me, I earned more income – $734.50 to be exact – and now I have $6,384.50 dollars working for me.
In year three, my $6,384.50 is now earning that same 13% and returning even MORE income – $829.99.
Now, I could continue to reinvest the income my money earned OR I can take the cash and spend it on something fun but I still have the initial dollars I invested working for me.
I don't have to sell any shares in order to get that money.
Once I figured this out, I made some adjustments in my portfolio and put my money only into income investments.
It's kinda like I have a whole army of dollars and I sent them out into battle with strict orders to capture as many other dollars as possible and bring them back to me as little POW's.
And that's how I ended up here with a brand new mission in life AND business.
We're creating the world's largest community of income investors and I hope you'll join us!