About That Obsession

By Robb Engen | August 11, 2010 |

As far back as I can remember I have wanted to be wealthy.  Not the “pie in the sky – hope I win the lottery” kind of wealthy (although that would be nice).  Rather by obtaining wealth through saving & investing.  When I was younger I read just about every wealth building book that I could get my hands on, such as The Wealthy Barber, Millionaire Next Door, and Smart Couples Finish Rich.

Of course, having a financial planner for a mother helped me achieve this mind-set.  From getting me set-up as a landlord in her first rental property venture, to teaching me about dividend growth investing, mom has always been there to steer me in the right direction.

Still, life happens…and after escaping a mountain of debt over the past decade I finally feel that all of my obsessing is paying off and we are on the right track financially.  Having survived year one of raising our first child, and adjusting to single income living, I think we’re ready to face the next set of challenges that life has to offer.

That’s why I wanted to start this blog.  I now feel in control of my financial future, which is the first step in what will be an exciting adventure over the next decade.  I want to share my experiences so that hopefully the younger readers learn from my mistakes and get started earlier towards their own financial freedom.  And I want to share my current and future adventures in personal finance, hopefully engaging with readers along the way to prosperity.

Boom And Bust

By Boomer | August 10, 2010 |

I have always been a saver.  Perhaps this is a trait I inherited from my depression era parents.  I started working part-time at fourteen and saved a portion of my earnings, enough that I could pay for my post secondary education while incurring minimum debt.

Much to my parents’ disappointment, I only completed three years of university and never graduated.  I married early and my savings helped purchase our first house.  Even with Women’s Lib insisting all women be empowered and have a career, I was happy enough to be a stay at home Mom and raise my two sons.

Unfortunately, inflation reared its ugly head and I was forced to go out and start earning so we wouldn’t starve.  Our initial 5-year term mortgage of 10.5% matured and we renewed at 17%, considering ourselves lucky as our neighbours across the street were stuck with up to 22% mortgage terms.  The interest on GIC’s and Canada Savings Bonds were also at an all time high, but being a young family we had a lot more debt than savings.

I worked in a bank and, over the years, I learned quite a bit about finances and ultimately took the courses to become a Personal Financial Planner.  When the banks started selling mutual funds in the late 1980’s I enthusiastically worked out my asset allocation model, set up my monthly purchase plans and had accounts for myself and trust accounts for my children.

The stock market was in a boom then and stocks (and mutual funds) were soaring.  Interest rates fell and our customers were leaving GIC’s in droves and jumping on the mutual fund bandwagon.  Then came the “Asian flu” and the first bear market that the GIC refugees had experienced.  I was lucky enough to cash in some of my funds at a good profit to purchase a rental property that one of my sons also lived in while going to university.

Next came direct trading accounts and the tech stock boom in the late 1990’s.  People couldn’t open accounts fast enough and my bank could barely cope with the applications.  I did quite well on most of the stocks I purchased but, if I had been smarter, I would have sold all my tech stock at the peak instead of waiting as the market plummeted.  I would have made at least 3 times as much profit.

This period is when I made up my mind to purchase only dividend stocks.  I know I don’t have enough skill or interest to try to time the market. Dividends seemed to be more of a sure thing, especially those paid by blue chip stocks that increase their dividends annually.  So, this was the beginning of learning about my current investment strategy of retiring with financial security.

About Me: Echo

By Robb Engen | August 9, 2010 |

I am the son of a Boomer, and a happily married ‘new dad’ who currently resides in Southern Alberta.  I have recently become slightly obsessed over my personal finances.  Maybe it has something to do with getting older and realizing that as a young married couple with a baby on the way, it might be time to get our financial house in order.  This past year has really changed my life.  I became a dad, changed jobs after 10 years, learned how to survive as a single-income family…oh yeah, and I turned 30.  Talk about a wake-up call.

I didn’t completely waste my twenties, as the past decade saw my wife and I buy a house, and pay off over $60k in student loans & credit card debt while building a somewhat respectable portfolio of mostly blue chip, dividend-paying stocks in our RRSP and TFSA.  Sound familiar? Like mother, like son I suppose…

I am also working towards an early retirement, using dividends as my main source of income.  Do I have a specific date in mind?  Not just yet, but this next decade will go a long way towards determining my fate.  I actually really enjoy my job, so my goal is not so much to retire as young as possible, but to be financially free enough to continue to do the things that I love every day.

So from the perspective of a young family, I plan to post about my savings strategies and investing tips, and share personal finance stories that I’ve lived through, and am about to live through in the near future.  Welcome to my blog, and thanks for stopping by…

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