I give people advice about what to do with their money. Therefore, you have a right to know how I personally invest, and my attitude toward money. I've been wanting to do this for awhile. Recently, I noticed some of my Twitter finance influencers talking about how they invest. They've inspired me to do the same.
In my opinion, transparency is king. It's also the quickest way to cut through the BS. I have a buddy that makes a good living as a real estate investor. He's single with no kids. A financial advisor was pitching him a Whole Life insurance policy. My buddy astutely asked the advisor if he was doing the same thing with his personal money. The advisor turned bright red mumbling a non-answer and fumbled through the rest of his pitch. By asking the right question, my friend avoided a catastrophe.
Wouldn't you like to know if your advisor was pitching you something they wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole?
Let's get to it.
I have an IRA that is invested in an individual stock index we created at Pure Portfolios. I own it alongside many of our clients. For better or worse, I hardly ever look at it.
My wife has an IRA. She doesn't know much about investing nor does she care to learn. But she loves coffee. In a feeble attempt to spark her interest, I bought her Starbucks stock to tie something she knows to investing (it didn't work and that's okay).
My two daughters have 529 plans are invested in a low-cost S&P index fund. We recently had a baby boy and I'll be setting up a 529 for him shortly. I've set up save, spend, and donate jars for my oldest daughter (she turns six this fall) to help her make decisions about money and develop math skills.
We purchased 20-year term life insurance when we had our first child in 2013 (one policy for my wife, one for me). Shortly thereafter, we created a basic estate plan to make sure our assets transferred seamlessly to our kids (our pet Lhasa Apso was also included).
On the liability side, we own a house and carry a mortgage. I don't really view our house as an investment rather than a place to raise our family. We still have some student loan debt which should be paid off in the next two to three years. I believe debt can be a powerful tool if used prudently, especially in the era of low interest rates.
Since most of my income is tied to financial markets, I'd like to invest in an unrelated business. I entertained real estate investing, but I had a bad experience as a landlord and decided it wasn't for me. I admire those that can make the complexities of real estate investing work for them. It isn't easy, but can be very rewarding.
We don't live a fancy lifestyle, but I wouldn't say we are overly frugal either. We spend money on our kids; youth sports, day camps, swimming lessons, early education. We don't eat out often or take any extravagant vacations (it's tough to travel with little ones). I update our income, expenses, and balance sheet every month via Excel. I keep pushing our family to accumulate less "stuff" and focus more on experiences (it's an ongoing battle).
Golf is my passion hobby. It's my outlet to compete. I'll readily spend money tinkering with equipment and apparel, but will shudder at the thought of spending money at Whole Foods. It's funny how we justify expenses that are close to heart.
Both of our cars are used. I quickly learned kids destroy anything nice, hence we drive modest cars.
My parents and brother have money invested at Pure Portfolios (permission received to disclose). They are plugged into our asset allocation framework alongside our clients. Being a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), I have an obligation to treat them the same as every other client. I have a rule to never solicit family or friends for our services. They know what I do for a living and I'm happy to help, but I leave it to them to ask.
My overarching beliefs about building wealth are simple; live within your means, invest, focus on maximizing earnings. Ignore the personal finance gurus that shout about the daily latte derailing your retirement. Get the big things right and you'll be fine.
Talking about money may be taboo in social circles but you have every right to know if your financial advisor adheres to his or her own advice. Don't be afraid to ask. An advisor that "eats what they cook" will readily share. You could avoid a catastrophe.