This week we are going to go back to the podcast listener mailbag for an Ask Kim question. Dini asks:
“What is the biggest mistake that you have made as an investor? What advice would you give to an investor like me to avoid making the same mistake?”
For me, this one is really easy… I literally wrote a book about it, called How to Be the Family CFO: Four Simple Steps to Putting Your Financial House in Order.
My biggest mistake was abdicating responsibility for my investments to someone else, without understanding the conflict of interest they had… without understanding anything, really!
The quick and dirty version is that, after college, through some combination of dumb luck and a series of pretty improbable events, I ended up in senior management at what we now know as “a unicorn”.
On the day the company went public, I was theoretically, if I played my cards right, set for life. And I hadn’t turned 30 yet!
But, as you can guess, I didn’t play my cards right. Far from it.
Even though I had been to some of the best schools this country has to offer, I knew absolutely nothing about personal finance and investing. So I did the thing that conventional wisdom told me I should do…
I turned all that money over to a broker at a big name, well known, Wall Street brokerage firm who said that they would take care of everything.
Two years later, the phone rang and someone says, “Ms. Snider? Sorry to be the one to tell you this, but your money’s all gone.”
Every penny that I had not managed to spend, which admittedly was a lot of money on a lot of really foolish things, they had managed to lose.
So yeah! That was, by far, my biggest investing mistake. But fortunately, for me, the story didn’t end there.
It took years… because not only had I lost everything, but I was in debt up to my eyeballs! Over a hundred thousand dollars in debt.
But what I know now, with the benefit 20/20 hindsight, is I would not trade that experience for anything in the world.
Everything that I am today, everything that I believe, everything that I have learned as a result, everything I have… I have BECAUSE of that experience. Not in spite of it.
I was determined that I was going to figure this investment thing out. I was going to learn this.
I alone would be responsible, from that day forward, for whatever financial situation I found myself in … not the government, not my employer, not my husband, my CPA, and certainly not a stock-broker. Me!
And that is how I ended up on a very winding path toward helping people with personal finance and investing.
Since that time, I have had the privilege and the honor of helping literally tens of thousands of people take control of their financial future by learning how to manage their money and invest for retirement.
I invented an investment method, for my own use, that later came to be called, not very originally, The Snider Investment Method.
My registered investment advisor firm, which I have since sold, had at one point over half a billion dollars under management and consulting using The Snider Method, and we were on the Inc List of Fastest Growing Companies in America two years running… 2008 and 2009.
I never set out to be a financial engineer or investment advisor. It just happened. So, yeah! Now, 25 years later, I wouldn’t trade that mistake for anything.
“What advice would you give to an investor like me to avoid making the same mistake?”… Learn!
Find someone who is getting the verifiable results you want and learn from them.
In the absence of anything better, do what they do until you have enough knowledge and confidence to make it your own. That is exactly how I started.
Don’t wait. Start now.
Did you know…
Of the elderly living in poverty, 3 out of 4 are women — and 80% of them were not poor when their husbands were alive?
In the first year after a divorce, a woman’s standard of living drops an average of 73%?
The time to learn to swim is not after the boat has capsized!
Personal finance and investing is perhaps the most important education you will ever have because more than anything else, it will dictate whether you live out your old age comfortably or miserably…
It is the difference between being able to do what you want to do or constantly worried about every dime.
It’s the difference between living in a nice home and having good care as you age or living under a bridge eating cat food!
The fact that the schools still don’t teach it is just a dereliction of duty in my book!
Do not put this off!
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. Or to put another way, “It’s a lot easier to keep up than to catch up.”
No one tells you this forcefully enough… and young people especially need to hear me when I say this.
I know the financial crisis freaked out a lot of people, but you MUST invest. Because you can’t possibly save enough to pay for 40 years or more in retirement.
That didn’t use to be the case when we had employment for life and guaranteed pensions and a life expectancy of 70 years old. People just retired then died.
A 65-year-old couple has a 39% chance one or both will live to age 90 and a 14% chance of living to 95.
That is from 2004 actuarial tables. I feel certain we are about to push those numbers quite a lot, if we haven’t already, with the advances in medicine and genetics that are just around the corner.
So you must learn how to invest as early as possible because, if possible, you want to be the tortoise, not the hare!
Wall Street wants you to think this is rocket science and you need to pay them to do it for you.
But it isn’t. Anyone can do it. I am living proof of that.
But you cannot wing it. You need to learn and implement a few basic principles and then leave it alone… which is the hard part.
Any honest investment manager will tell you, the less you do, the better you do.
A good place to start is my Family CFO Curriculum and Resources page.
If I had to pick just one book, on that list to read, it would be mine. Not because it is mine!
I don’t even get the royalties from it anymore. I sold it, with the intellectual property, when I sold the investment firm.
But I wrote it to specifically fill that role.
It is fast and easy and I wrote it just like I was sitting down for coffee with my best friend who asked me, “What was your biggest mistake and what can I learn so I don’t make the same one?”
Huh! What a coincidence!
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