My Journey to Becoming a Millionaire.


My journey started when I was about 12.  I was lucky to have two smart and wonderful parents.  Mom taught me the value of savings and compound interest (future blog).  Dad taught me the value of hard work and self-improvement. I remember the day we drove to the bank and opened a savings account.  I was excited because I always enjoyed saving money!!  Mom deposited some money, I think about $25.  And I immediately started adding small deposits, from gifts and any money earned.  Believe it or not banks use to pay us for our money with a good interest rate!  

But it was my favorite Uncle who showed me how to start my own businesses, at about 12.  My Uncle showed me how to grow shrubbery, like azaleas, a very popular flowering plant in NC that even has its own azalea festival in Wilmington, NC.

My Uncle was a high school science teacher, farmer and eventually owned 30+ rental properties.   I thought and still believe, he knew everything!  He was also a frugal man and decided he would grow his own azaleas for his four acre yard.  Yep- four acres!   And as I was his shadow, he taught me just how easy it is.  I would guess rooting (using new growth cuttings, placing in sand, covering in plastic and in about 8 weeks, you have a small plant with roots) at that time cost less than $50 for 500 plants.  Buying an azalea at a nursery (prior to Walmart’s coming to my town) cost $5 each.  Huge savings.  So I grew hundreds of azaleas of my own.  I filled my parents’ yard (only three acres) with hundreds of these plants and people started stopping asking if they could buy my plants.  I sold for $0.50, later $1.00, compared to the local Nursery selling for $5.  My business and journey to wealth was given a tremendous catalyst.  I still recall the day, when I sold $100 of plants one Saturday.  For a 14 year old in that day, I was The Black Warren Buffet and Uncle Nathaniel was my Charlie Munger!  Ninety percent of my sales dollars went into my savings account.  And that money was later used for my undergrad college tuition.  Turns out I am a great saver!

My 2nd lesson/opportunity came with learning the value of “other people’s money”.  I decided to take student loans the last two years of college.  I did not need the money, (remember that azalea money, plus tuition was only a couple thousand a year) so I put the loan dollars in my savings account.  With the intention of collecting the interest and repaying the balance after college.  But then I realized I had enough for a down payment for a condo, versus paying rent for an apartment.  I still own that condo and the mortgage was paid off years ago by the tenants- “Other People’s Money”.  I now own 10 rental properties.  Several with no mortgage and the other mortgages being paid by- come on you know the answer- Other People’s Money.  By the way, my two grad degrees were paid for by my employer-Other People’s Money!

I was sitting at lunch, at my 2nd job out of college.  My peers asked me what CD’s I owned.  I proudly said some Michael Jackson and Luther Vandross (You don’t know Luther!  Shame on you people.  Use Pandora or Spotify {FYI-Spotify will have a publicly traded stock in 2018} and listen to the velvet VOICE!) I was getting ready to call a few more artist names, when I noticed their expressions.  You’ve seen the look.  Everyone is looking at you like you are the dumbest thing in the room. Why?  Because you are!  They politely smiled and said, we meant monetary Certificates of Deposits-CDs.  Embarrassing? Yes.  But excellent lesson.  I then went out and learned about CD’s and other bank products such as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).  If you want to become wealthy, you must learn what you do not know.  Admit your lack of knowledge and people will often help you.

My first and best mentor from my work life, was Wendell Williams.  He taught me about Mutual Funds and encouraged me to add more rental properties to my portfolio. Wendell was a big fan of Peter Lynch, Fidelity Magellan Mutual Fund Manager.  Who may be the best mutual fund manager of all time.  So I read a little bit about the Magellan fund and purchased some.  This was my first equity investment and I was doing well.  But then Black Monday came, 19 Oct 1987.  A 22% decline! OMG!   In a matter of minutes, I had a lot less money than I originally invested.  I did, what I considered the logical thing- I panicked and sold EVERYTHING!  Just one problem with that strategy.  When do you go back in?  By the time I went back in, I had missed 50% or more of the recovery.  Lesson Learned-I CANNOT Time the Market!  Last Friday, February 2, 2018, the market had a small correction.  And many relatively new investors panicked and sold perfectly good companies.  MISTAKE.  You are either an investor (think years or decades) or a trader (may only own the stock for a few minutes).   I am NOT smart enough to be a trader.  I try and only buy good companies I plan on owning decades or forever.  And when the market goes down I sit on my hands (to avoid panic selling) or buy more, if my research shows the company really is good. 

Let me skip ahead a few decades.  Today I own S&P 500 ETFs, some bond funds and individual stocks.  My honest opinion- unless you have time to do hours and hours of research, DO NOT buy individual stocks or specialty mutual funds.  Put your money in slow and steady Market Index ETF’s.   Why do I own individual stocks? Two reasons.  1.  I understand my risk tolerance.  2.  I have put 1,000’s of hours studying the stock market and specifically the stocks I own. Here is my advice.  Do the same level or more of due diligence, homework, studying the purchase of a company’s stock, as you do prior to buying that beautiful truck, motorcycle, etc.  The stock can add to your wealth for a lifetime, compared to that new vehicle that loses ~15% of value the second you own it.  DO YOUR HOMEWORK. 

I hope above helps you understand my journey.  It has been fraught with excitement, disappointments and loads of valuable lessons.  I am writing this blog to help teach what so many good people gave to me- steady and good advice.

Powers Investments Management, LLC

This blog will provide, information and simple strategies, that will assist you to achieve YOUR financial objectives and long term targets. For over 30 years, I solved multi-million dollar problems, for Fortune 10-250, companies. My formal education includes: Business, Finance and Chemical Engineering {Problem Solving} at: Harvard, Rutgers and North Carolina State. And an additional 30+ years, managing my family’s investment decisions. I currently manage/advise people with net-worths ranging from the tens of thousands to several million dollars.

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