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investment hunting interview
Interviews,

Interview #6 – Be Smart Rich from Be Smart Rich.com

This is the sixth interview of my interview series, where I interview bloggers blogging about Early Retirement, Personal Finance, and related topics. I have published my first book recently, and I am writing my second book, which will be on what I learned interviewing millionaires. As you can see, I love interviewing people.

This time, I bring you my fellow Canadian Be Smart Rich from Be Smart Rich.com. I hope you enjoy it.

Q1 – Who is Be Smart Rich?

Hi everyone, I run a personal finance blog BeSmartRich. I was born in Seoul, South Korea and moved to Canada alone about 10 years ago with my life savings when I was in the early 20’s. I was a high school graduate, had zero English skills and just got out of South Korean military.

be smart rich military

(I used to live in that APC (Armored Personal Carrier) for 2 years)

Similar to other immigrants, I worked anywhere as long as it paid me something. I made less than minimum wage ($7/hour) for a while but I was glad to save up money to get a proper education. I have been always good with numbers so I decided to major in accounting and studied my ass off just to survive through university. Luckily, I got a job offer from an accounting firm that changed my life. I earned CPA in 2013. This is my 7th year of my career in Canada.wife be smart rich

Toronto, Canada but I am originally from South Korea. I traveled to Vancouver first when I was 23 and I loved it so I decided to stay in Canada. I moved to Halifax (my second hometown) to do my university then came to Toronto when I was around 30. I got my Canadian citizen 1.5 years ago. Big changes so far and I am still loving it.

 

I am married to a beautiful wife that I met here in Canada about 3 years ago and have a monstrous greyhound that eats like a horse.

For more, check out About Me.

[Ben: your picture is definitely one of the best pictures I’ve had in my interview series. Awesome! And you’re a lucky dude, you’ve got a gorgeous wife! I also love the fact that you came all the way from Korea and you worked hard and became Canadian. Props to you.]

Q2 – What do you do for a living and what do you like the most about it?

I am an accountant. Currently working as Controller of a fintech startup company. The company has many challenges but is growing at 200-300% every year. Until the company becomes one of the major companies in Canada, I won’t stop. 🙂   The work is stressful but at the same time quite exciting and enjoyable. Never a dull moment and that’s how I like it.

[Ben: pretty impressive you emigrated to Canada with no English Skills and you’re working for a company that has the potential to become of the major companies in the country…]

Q3 – Why did you start your blog and what is your main goal with it?

I just wanted to I want to encourage hard working people to study, work smartly, save, being frugal and invest wisely for better future. Think about it. I was poor, had no family member living nearby, my language skills were terrible and was a high school graduate making less than minimum wage. I worked very hard with smart plans and I am quite different now as compared to who I was 10 years ago. I am nobody compared to all the successful people who sold their companies for billions but I want to share all the tips that I know with people regarding how a regular person just like me has a dream to be a millionaire and getting closer every day and people can do it as well.

Blogging is only one of few ways to reflect my thoughts. I love sharing aspect as well. I am happy to inspire people and educate them how to invest and get them focused in building their nest eggs. All they need was to be exposed to great blogs so that they can follow suit if makes senses.

I want to help anyone who reads and enjoys my blog to be more responsible for their own financial destiny. It really starts from looking in the mirror and tracking your family’s net worth and realizing where they are at and where they will be. Setting up goals and reach one goal at a time.

[Ben: we see things pretty much similarly. I wish you the best success blogging. I love your story and your blog.]

Q4 – What was the main reason for you to think about early retirement?

I have been through a bit with my life and I realized whenever I go through a rough time, only thing (other than my family and close friends) that saved me to get through was money in the bank. I learned importance of saving very early and started working ever since I was 11 years old. I used to be a newspaper delivery man, gas station assistant, convenient store cashier, dish washer, bakery assistant, flyer handout man, buffet and various restaurants server, computer store assistant etc… I saved every single penny from the work and all the saving from the jobs was used in university education in Canada. It was very worth it.

I did not really think about financial independence until I ran into some personal finance blogs. The blogs changed the way I think about money. I opened my direct investing account in September 2014 rather than putting money in mutual funds immediately after the encounter of the blogs and started tracking my net worth. It has been longer than 2.5 years and things are going pretty well.

numbers be smart rich

Thanks to the inspiring personal financial bloggers, my average annual return is at 9% and total return since September 2014 is 25.69%. TSX (Toronto Stock Exchange) stayed flat during the same period.

About a year ago I reached $200,000 from $2,000.

numbers be smart rich

[Ben: I am not sure what I like the most: your hustle and your saving mentality or your progress and gains from your investments. I am a very goal-driven dude myself.]

Q5 – At what age are you most likely to retire from your day job?

My conservative prediction is before 45. That is 10 years from now. Considering my salary growth, my wife’s financial help from her job starting in about 1 year and improving investing skills, I may be able to reach the financial freedom even before 42-43. I will retire when my expenses are covered by non-work related passive incomes.

[Ben: I checked your portfolio and I actually think you could do it before you’re 40, if you took advantage of geographic arbitrage.]

Q6 – What do you plan on doing after retirement?

We love travelling and we will travel around the world for about a year. After that we will travel at least 4-6 countries per year until we mark all countries in the world in the world map.  There are so many better things to do than working 9-6 everyday for the rest of our lives. My family will travel at least once a month or two. I will probably join a band playing the guitar and focus on enjoying the life to the fullest. I always wanted to have lots of kids because my wife and I do not have any family in Canada so as long as my boss (I mean my wife) is ok, then we will try our best.

[Ben: If you stop by Portugal, please do let me know! I am happy to know that your wife is running things at home. ;-)]

Q7 – What investments do you like the best, and why?

I like buying stocks among all investments. Several reasons. Firstly, I can do all fundamental analyses myself due to my accounting background. Second of all, I always loved the concept of owning great companies. Lastly, I believe that the world has been and will be moving forward not backward due to nature of humans’ desire for wanting better things. Companies are at front to take advantages of technological advancements.

I like investing in super high quality companies. I used to mimic Ben Graham’s value investing so I had been buying so-called severely undervalued companies that are going through troubles with chance of survival and turnaround. However, I realized more and more through experience and readings (thanks to Charlie Munger and Phillip Fisher) that quality matters the most.

I do not mind owning a house but the Toronto housing markets are quite crazy now so I will wait until correction comes and things settle.

Q8. If you could only use one metric to evaluate a stock, which one would you choose?

Dupont analysis. I wrote an article about how Warren Buffett analyze stocks.

Buffett also loves Dupont analysis. My second favorite is free cash flow analysis. No matter under any circumstance, cash flow is the king.

[Ben: Interesting. I wonder what you think of the metrics I use.]

Q9 – How about eleven places you love that you’ve visited or have lived in?

I have been to most of major cities and travel destinations in Canada – Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Halifax, St John’s Cabot Trail, Rocky Mountain, Niagara Falls etc… and been to some American cities such as Seattle, New York, Boston etc… I used to be an auditor working with an accounting firm so anytime I had to be on business trip, I took extra days off to sightseeing. It was great.

My favorite was Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia – Driving beautifully paved shoreline for an hour was unbelievably fun. Not to mention so many beautiful beaches around the shore. I went there with my girlfriend (my wife now) and our best friends couple.

picture be smart rich

Q10 – If you could go back in time, what investment advice would you give to your past self?

Start early. I mean really early. I would have been a millionaire by now if I started when I was 18. That’s quite alright though because it is never too late to start.

[Ben: So agreed!]

Q11 – What did you like the most about my blog, From Cents to Retirement? Do you have any advice for me?

I love the online income updates. It is really honest and detailed. Hard to find any other bloggers showing honest advices that work. Great job!

[Ben: Thanks buddy!]

investment hunting interview
Interviews,

Interview #5 – Nathan from Investment Hunting

This is the fifth interview of my interview series, where I interview bloggers blogging about Early Retirement, Personal Finance, and related topics. I have published my first book recently, and I am writing my second book, which will be on what I learned interviewing millionaires. As you can see, I love interviewing people.

This time, I bring you Nathan from Investment Hunting.com. I hope you enjoy it.

Q1 – Who is Nathan?

Who is Nathan. How much time do you have. Perhaps I should just have my therapist send you her condensed version of my story ;-). Seriously though, Nathan, better know as Investment Hunting lives in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. Nathan is married, my 20-year anniversary is in two weeks. Nathan is the proud father of two children. My daughter is 19, a junior in college. My son is 15, a sophomore in high school.

My investment style is pretty simple, I’m currently a dividend stock investor and an options trader. I’ve recently started dabbling with P2P lending and real estate. But the bulk of my investments are in dividend paying stocks. My history is not typical. In 2008, I lost everything and started over. This of course sucked, but it made my family much stronger.

I bounced back and started investing again in 2013. I’ve been able to get my net worth above $400,000 in three years buy saving and investing. I’m putting away more than $50k each year in an attempt to retire comfortably before I’m 65. It will be close, but with a little luck, I’ll be able to retire and enjoy my golden years.

[I think its super inspirational that you lost everything in 2008 and you had to start over. I can see that you have a diversified portfolio, and you know more about Ponzi schemes now, so I am sure that you have been growing stronger and wiser. And great job on those $400k.]

Q2 – Why and when did you start Investment Hunting?

I was inspired to start a blog after reading blogs like Dividend Mantra, DivHut, and Dividend Diplomats. I figured, why not me, I can do this. I started blogging in December 2014 under the name Dividend Dreams. Long story short, I was forced to close this blog because a company owned the name. I launched Investment Hunting in August 0f 2015 and my second blog Options Hunting in September of 2016.

My primary goal is to document what I do, step-by-step for my children and grandchildren. Hopefully they’ll get inspired and start their own journeys towards financial independence. Afterall, if they start investing at 18, the road to retirement has far less bumps in it.

[Never heard of a shutdown because a company owned the name. I am sorry to hear that. Indeed, I can see why you do that and I agree that it will be very inspirational for them.]

Q3 – What is Investment Hunting all about?

Investment Hunting is focused on my journey to financial independence. I track every stock I buy and sell and I list my reasons for each transaction. The site isn’t and advice blog or an affiliate blog. I do have ads on my site to offset hosting costs, but I’m not in this to become a professional blogger. I want to tell my story, not to sell hosting plans or affiliate programs to my readers.

My hope is that readers find new ideas or that they get value out of my stock analysis. Lastly, Investment Hunting is about me. It’s a selfish pleasure. I get to share what I’m doing with the world and get feedback and advice from others.

[and nobody can blame you for that!]

Q4 – What are your favourite blogs?

I visit hundreds of blogs every week. I have too many favorites to list here. My top three blogs are:

Dividend Diplomats

DivHut

DivGro

Q5 – What is your end goal regarding money?

To become a billionaire; we’ll at least a millionaire. My goal is to have enough money to live comfortably and to be able to travel. I don’t need fancy cars or an expensive home.

[I too like to set the bar high and fail then setting it low and succeed. Best of luck!]

Q6 – What do you think you’re good at, when it comes to money?

I’m a good saver. My wife and I both save our money. This saving habit has allowed us to get back on our feet and to rebuild our net worth in a short amount of time. If we can maintain this we’ll retire early. She’s recently gone back to work after a 8-year stay-at-home hiatus. This new income will allow us to double-down on 401ks and invest more money.

[Awesome. Maybe the retirement date will be <65 this way?]

Q7 – What are your goals for your blog and your personal life, for 2017?

I set my 2017 goals back in December 2016. The goals are a mix of personal and investing goals. I’m focused on heavy investing, $50k into the market and $10k into P2P lending. I’m also hoping to $7,500 in dividend income and $7,500 in options income. This income gets reinvested, so if I hit these goals, I’ll add $75,000 in fresh capital this year.

One constant about life is that it always throws wrenches into well thought out plans. My goals this year have changed. I just bought a house, this was unplanned. The house came with a bunch of equity ($400,00), so I couldn’t pass on it. This acquisition will force me to reduce my stock market investments. This transaction was a true win-win opportunity. It’s sort of a reverse mortgage. I’ll write a detailed post about this purchase sometime next month.

My goal for my blog is to start posting regularly. The regularity of my posts has fallen over a cliff the past 3-months. Work has gotten crazy, and honestly, I’ve lost some of my inspiration to blog. I’m working on getting this back and returning to multiple posts per week. Taking part in interviews like this one helps me to recharge my batteries. Thanks for interviewing me.

[As a goal driven guy – see my goals for 2017 here -, I love to read this type of stuff. It seems that you’ll throw a lot of money into growing your investments. Please do let us know about the property you bought and what you gained! I’d like to see more posts from you, so good luck with that. Thank you for being here.]

investment hunting interview
Interviews,

Interview #4 – ESI from ESI Money

This is the fourth interview of my interview series, where I interview bloggers blogging about Early Retirement, Personal Finances, and related topics. I have published my first book recently, and I am writing my second book, which will be on what I learned interviewing millionaires. As you can see, I love interviewing people.

This time, I bring you ESI from ESI Money. I hope you enjoy it.

Who is ESI?

I’m an early 50’s guy who’s been married 25 years and has two kids (son, 20; daughter 18). We live in Colorado (and LOVE it!).

I enjoy exercising, hiking, soccer, chess, and money — not necessarily in that order. 🙂

I reached financial independence a few years ago, retired nine months ago, and now share the steps I took to develop a multi-million dollar net worth.

[So many people living in and loving Colorado.

You’re one of the first people I interviewed who has already achieved financial independence, this will be fun!] 

 

What did you do for a living and what did you like the most about it?

My 28-year career was spent as a business executive, initially in marketing and then in general management later in my career.

After college I got an MBA, then worked for a combination of Fortune 500 companies as well as smaller businesses.

Eventually I became the president of a $100 million company with 800 employees.

I enjoyed the challenges of business the most. There are always obstacles with multiple ways to potentially solve them. Selecting one and then working on it to meet company objectives was a blast.

[It sounds like you had an awesome career and I bet it helped you reach financial independence much faster!] 

Why did you start your blog and what is your main goal with it?

My site, ESI Money, is a blog about achieving financial independence through earning, saving, and investing (ESI). There’s a bit more to personal finance, of course, but if a person concentrates on these three areas, they will do quite well financially. As such I focus on the few topics that will get readers the most results.

What makes the blog different is that it’s written by someone who is wealthy taking about what he’s done to amass a sizable net worth. I combine this knowledge with concise, practical, and proven tips. If I can do it, anyone can. But they can do it better as they can avoid the mistakes I made along the way.

For those who are interested, I’ve written a free ebook on how to reach financial independence that gives the highlights.

[Indeed, that makes a huge difference. I didn’t know you had this ebook, I am certainly going to read it!!!]

Any big plans for your blog for the near future?

My goals are all long-term. I just started blogging seriously a few months ago (when I retired). Over the next two to three years I just want to write good content and have it impact people’s lives.

Eventually I’d like to get to the point where the blog delivers $10k-$20k per year in profit. Doing this will allow me to diversify my retirement income which is currently heavily weighted on real estate.

[I will follow you as much as possible, because I know it will be awesome. And I second you on creating another source of income and diversifying your income streams!!!]

What do you do now that you’re retired?

I provide regular retirement updates to my readers (here’s my six month update) to keep them in the loop, but here are the highlights so far:

  • I run ESI Money. As you know, a blog takes a lot of time and effort and I probably spend four hours a day on some aspect of it.
  • Exercise. I do cardio three times a week and weights three times a week. In addition I walk at least 10,000 steps a day (I’m training to hike up Pikes Peak). I’m in the best shape/health of my life.
  • Spend time with family. My kids are still both at home so we regularly go out to eat, catch a movie (Tuesdays are reduced prices and no one is ever there, so that’s when we go), and explore nature (lots of hiking trails around here). I walk a couple times a day with my wife for 30 to 60 minutes each time.
  • Volunteer. I’m on the board of a local non-profit that helps the homeless.
  • Read. I read a ton — blogs, magazines, and books. Now that I have the time I can read for enjoyment as much as education.
  • Travel. It’s been mostly driving trips so far, but we’re headed to Seattle, Portland, D.C., and Dallas later this year. Next year we’re looking at spending the entire month of January in the Caribbean (see below for how many islands there we love).
  • Taking life slow. My stress levels are at all-time lows and I enjoy letting each day simply happen. It now annoys me a bit when I actually have a meeting or appointment scheduled. 🙂

[Love how close you are with your audience – I do the same. Indeed, blogging takes up A LOT of time, if you want to take it seriously. Sounds like you do a lof of the same I think about doing once I retire myself.]

What investments do you like the best and why?

While I was growing my net worth, low cost index funds were my main choice. For years and years we socked away a good amount in them, investing with Vanguard.

In 2010 shortly after the real estate crash, I bought 14 rental units which I still have today. I knew I needed retirement income and these places provide 70% of our income now, allowing us not to have to spend any of our assets in retirement. Because I bought near the bottom of the market, the places have performed well both from an income and appreciation standpoint.

[I’ve come to think that ETFs are really the best investment if you are not a hands-on guy. 14 rental units is HUGE. Many congrats!]

How about eleven places you love that you’ve visited or have lived in?

Here they are, not in any particular order:

  • Colorado Springs, CO — We live here now and it’s AWESOME! The weather is great and there’s so much to do in Colorado.
  • Nashville, TN — We lived in Nashville for five years in the mid 90’s and loved it. It’s a lot more fun and a lot less “country” than most people think.
  • Michigan — We lived in West Michigan for 14 years and it’s where my kids still consider “home”. Winters are brutal but summers are great.
  • Washington, D.C. — Been there several times and headed back this fall. Love the city — so much to see and do. My daughter will be attending college nearby starting this fall, so we’ll get there even more often.
  • Chicago — Love the vibe and stuff to do in the Windy City. Oh, and the pizza is to die for!!!
  • Moscow, Russia — We have been here three times and love the history and culture.
  • St. Martin — We’ve been to many Caribbean islands and this is one of our favorites. Clean, safe, and beautiful.
  • St. Thomas — One of the U.S. Virgin Islands, it’s an awesome spot to vacation. It’s centrally located which makes it easy to get from here to several other great islands. This is our leading candidate for our January stay next winter.
  • Barbados — The clearest, warmest water we’ve seen in the Caribbean.
  • Antigua — We have been on a catamaran that spent the whole day going around the island (we did this twice). Simply beautiful.
  • Aruba — Went here with my parents before we had kids and want to get back soon.

[St. Martin, St. Thomas and Barbados… you’re into the good stuff! Never been there.]

What are your goals for 2017?

My blog goals are detailed here. The site had its first post in November of 2015, but I didn’t begin posting regularly until August 2016, so I still consider myself less than a year old. My main plan is to simply keep writing great content that readers want to read.

As for personal goals, I break those down into categories — family, finances, fitness, etc. There are too many goals to share but suffice to say I have both daily tasks and annual goals I want to hit in every area.

[Awesome, enjoy the post-financial freedom road!]

What do you like most about my blog, From Cents to Retirement? Do you have any advice for me?

I like 1) that you live outside the US (it’s good to have different perspectives), 2) that you’re young and starting out (so interesting to see how people make their way), and 3) you have a big goal (retiring at 36.)

My advice would be to earn, save, and invest as much as you can as soon as you can. Everything else will take care of itself if you do those three.

[Thanks for the tips, and thanks for the interview bud! All the best.]