I just finished reading "The Ultimate Investment, Achieving Life's Highest Returns, An Allegory" by H. Bradley Stucki. It was a really short book and wasn't written very well - which is why I don't really read books like this very often - but I stuck through it and even if I didn't care for the writing, I can appreciate the message that the writer was trying to get across.
Basically, this is a self help book to learn to achieve success. The basic principal is that success does not necessarily mean making tons of money. I think there are more middle class people that are successful than a few of those millionaires that you see on TV. They may not have the same amount of money, but how many celebrities can brag about being married 20, 30 or 40 years? There aren't that many... I bet there are more middle class working shmo's that can brag that success. :-) I can understand that and can totally put my mind around that idea.
So, in this book, instead of being one of those 400 page sales pitches on how to invest your money to make a gazillion in three minutes, it's a story about a desperate man, Dan, who needs to find something that could help him make more money and be able to spend more time with his family as well.
Dan goes to one of my favorite places in the world - the library - to try to start his quest to make more money. As he starts to skim through a bunch of sales pitch investment books, he finds an old note. This note talks about the ultimate investment and gives hints as to what parts make up this ultimate investment. The clues are pretty basic - but there are so many people that don't really see it or know how to put it into practice. I guess that's why these get rich quick books and programs are so popular because the people who put these together did know how to put it all together and then how to sell it. But basically this is what they are:
- Desire - if you really want to turn your life around, you need to have that desire and be willing to do what it takes to get there. Nothing comes from just sitting back and watching everyone else do what you want to do. This is what Dan figure out when he went to the library - he knew and wanted to change things.
- Incremental Investing - this was the second clue. It talks about how to learn to invest. Only invest what you can afford to lose and invest wisely. Invest for your future, but also take into consideration what you want to do now. Want to take the kids to Disneyland? Learn what it will take to make that possible. It also talks about learning how to invest so you don't lose your shirt.
- Family - the third clue. The book talks about how nothing can be as successful without the love of a family to surround you. This makes total sense. Lots of people want to make more money in order to be able to give more to their families. That's why there are so many two income families. Families want to live in a nice house, nice neighborhood and send their kids to good schools. They want to be able to send their kids to college without getting into so much debt that they'll be paying off their student loans after retirement. But all of this costs money and you can't do that on one income alone anymore.
- Love - still part of the third clue. This part is directly related to family, but along with loving your family, a person should love what they do.
- Time - this is what is considered the ultimate investment. It was a little long winded to get there, but I got it pretty quick. (I'm good a riddles, what can I say?) This clue basically said that this is something that everyone gets pretty equally - 24 hours a day - no matter how much or how little money you make. How you choose to use it is what may make the different between what makes a person successful or not. This makes so much sense but so many choose to use their time doing what they want and not what they should to achieve success.
I can tell you from experience that the job part is probably the most difficult when it comes to this whole book. When I got my degree in accounting, I knew that I had to do something where I knew I could make a decent living. My hubby was getting his degree in English Literature and didn't want to teach... so what did that leave us with? I knew that I'd have to be the main income earner in our family - which was not all that bad because I always wanted to do that, even as a kid.
My accounting degree was working out to be pretty helpful and I was enjoying my first job out of college until the company got purchased by another. I actually had to look for another job and the next two jobs were okay, but not like the first. I learned from my classes in college that I really enjoyed the subject of taxation. I am good with numbers, but needed just a little more of a challenge than a bunch of number crunching. I was fascinated with accounting because it wasn't black and white like engineering seemed to be. Tax seemed to be even more challenging and even less black and white than regular accounting was.
I tried to get into the tax department in at my previous three jobs, but the openings were so rare that it seemed like I had to wait for someone to retire before I could get my chance... which didn't happen. This year I finally got my chance... and I really like this job! So, I'm doing something that I like - I don't love it because I'd rather be teaching instead - but I can handle doing this for a while. The people that I work with are awesome and as long as we can continue working as a team I'm pretty sure I'll be happy where I am.
Now, how do I now take the other steps of this book and apply it to my life? Well, other than trying to get out of our small debt that we built up during the time hubby got laid off last year, I know that I need to start putting aside a bit more money to invest for both the future and the present. Something safe and secure for the future, but maybe something a little more aggressive for the short term.
I know that I need to spend a little more time doing research and talking to our financial advisor about that. This will all pay off in time, but I know that I've already taken the right steps to get to where I want to be. I'll continue teaching a few classes here and there just to keep the itch at bay, but I'll continue working where I am until I feel more comfortable with this new role, then take it up to the next step. How long will it take? I don't know, but I know that I'll have fun getting there.