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I was lucky enough to invest in Berkshire Hathaway after the 1987 stock market crash thanks to reading John Train’s The Money Masters book. Following Mr. Buffet’s advice in Forbes magazine, I tracked down a copy (this was in the pre-Internet days) of Phil Fischer’s Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits book through his family foundation. (It was a really hard book to find back then). I also spent months reading and re-reading the Benjamin Graham book The Intelligent Investor. Those three books (and Graham’s Security Analysis book) gave me enough information to become a pretty successful investor.
Starting my first company with $3,000 to selling my previous company for 150M. I grew up in a working class household, worked full-time through college, never took a business class, and though hard work, integrity driven focus on my customers and employees, I was able to achieve more than I dreamed. I have achieved the financial American dream many X over.
Having no cash in my pocket until after college and entering the work force I found it easy to save. I could go weeks and weeks without cashing pay checks, so saving was easy. But I had no idea how to invest so the funds did not grow. Now that I am 20 years out of the work force, and collecting Social Security I have learned how to carefully sell a few options each month to supply enough cash to cover all expenses and tuck away a dollar or two for a rainy day. I am in control of my financial well being.
And, I sure do not understand people talking about removing 4% per year to live on?? Any decent sum of money tucked away can easily earn 10 to 20% per year. Live off the income and not the nut itself.
I set goals at eighteen (really). It took the next fifty years, but I met every one of them and more. Someone else may have done better and sooner, but given my career started as a mail boy right out of high school, I’m happy and FI. Likewise for non-financial accomplishments.
I’d point to two things. First, I’m thrilled that my two kids have grown up to have good financial habits. I made a big effort to teach them about money. Even when you do that, there’s no guarantee it’ll work, but in this case it did. Second, I quit working on Wall Street after six years, leaving behind the highest-paying job I’ve ever had. It would have been so easy to keep collecting the big paycheck, but I traded money for happiness—which seems like an obvious thing to do, but it’s harder than it sounds.