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.
Let that sink in.
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 I luckily 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 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 strategies in my portfolios.
And my retirement is looking rosy. 🙂
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 retirement (or any financial event in their lives, really).
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. (Keep reading for the plan)
As I was solving my own problem and seeing healthy gains in a short time in my accounts, I realized two things…
And that's how I ended up here with a brand new mission in life AND business.
But before I get to that, here are some of the sad facts I found out about how people are prepared for retirement.
If you're overwhelmed by the financial responsibilities of day-to-day life and more focused on making it to the end of the month than on the possibility of being able to save for the distant future, you're not alone.
In fact, the vast majority of Americans have under $1,000 saved and half of all Americans have nothing at all put away for retirement.
“Nearly half of families have no retirement account savings at all,” the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reported, even in savings vehicles such as IRAs and 401(k)s.
And, according to a 2016 GOBankingRates survey, 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and 34 percent have zero savings.
That's a big chunk of the US population headed for disaster in a few years.
And it's not just the older crowd.
Even millennials are having a tough time just making ends meet let alone save any money with rising costs and wage stagnation.
So, let's try to answer two questions I'm sure you have right about now.
This is a great guide courtesy of JP Morgan. It shows you your savings target based on your age and current annual income.
If you are 55 and make $100,000 a year you should have 6.9x your annual income saved for retirement – $690,000.
If you are 35 and make $75,000 a year you should have 1.6x your annual income saved for retirement – $120,000.
Now take a look at the model assumptions on the right of the chart that show the rate of return you should be earning.
If you have some catching up to do, how are you EVER going to when your money is only earning 6%?!
Spoiler Alert: You aren't.
Even if you have a decent savings and are starting young, you still won't have enough to retire if your money is making that small of a return.
The perfect example of this is my niece, Marina.
Marina is 24 years old and has $225,000 in a trust fund as a result of her Mother dying tragically and unexpectedly when Marina was 18.
Marina's grandfather set her up with a financial advisor at Wells Fargo to manage and grow her trust fund.
In 2017 her investment portfolio return was 2.3%.
2.3% during one of the greatest bull markets of all time.
Her financial advisor made more on her account in 2017 than she did!
I felt bad telling her that my portfolio had returned close to 200% in 2017. (I wasn't kidding when I said I was going to pump up the jam!)
The answer is putting your money to work.
Send every dollar out into the world with strict orders to come back in a year (or less) with $0.12 – $1.79 in earnings.
And then reinvest those earnings and let the miracle of compounding work as hard for you as it has for Warren Buffett all these years.
I love investing my dollars in “asymmetric” investment opportunities.
Typically in order to get a high return in your investments, you have to take high risk. High risk/high reward.
And usually the converse is also true – that in order to reduce your risk, you have to reduce your returns. Low risk/low reward.
But I call BS on that.
I specialize in identifying (and testing) low risk/high reward opportunities aka asymmetric opportunities so that we can generate a big return without taking a big risk.
For example, in May 2017 I began investing in cannabis stocks.
Now, most people would think that's really risky especially since most cannabis stocks are penny stocks.
But I built a portfolio of cannabis stocks (my pot-folio) that produced realized gains of $4,273.27 which was a 300.67% return in 2017.
The cool thing is that I didn't have to sell off all my shares to make that money.
I just sold a few shares of my big gainers (one stock in the pot-folio gained over 500%!) to reinvest in other income-producing opportunities and the remaining stocks are still producing unrealized gains of 179%!
So, if you’re already retired, or retirement is on the horizon…
Or if you’re still struggling to recover from the 2008 crash…
Or if you are suddenly realizing how underfunded your savings is…
Or even if you’re just trying to generate some extra income so you can take an epic trip or fund college for the kids…
… then I'd love to show YOU how to build a perfect portfolio for income now.
Here at the Investor Insights, we focus on passive, income investing strategies in real estate, stocks, options, peer to peer lending, crowdfunding, baby bonds, private hedge funds, and more.
Here's just a sample of what we've accomplished from our investment model:
If this sounds good to you, then I'd love to have you join us here at the Investor Insights.
Our process is simple.
Look, you don't want a greedy investment advisor to make more with your money than you do like my niece Marina.
And you can't afford to just throw your hard-earned money into a robot-managed index fund and subject yourself to the volatility of the stock market because who knows when the next 2001 or 2008 will wipe you out.
What you need is to get started TODAY investing for income so that you can send your $1 soldiers out into the world to capture a healthy, low risk/high return.
We have a plan to get you there. The only question is are you ready to take action?