Momentum Series Interview: The Retirement Spot – Finances, Family & Retirement
This marks feature #13 in the Momentum Series – an interview series to share the stories of bloggers from across the personal finance community.
The goal is to showcase their story, the wins, the losses and the actionable advice that others can take value from and insights about their blogging journey. Whether that be conquering debt, maximizing career earnings, the road to financial independence or other strategies for financial and blogging success.
This week’s Momentum Series Interview is with Mark from The Retirement Spot.
Mark is a retired Accountant with over $4 million in net worth. He and his wife have 2 children and 3 grand children. On his blog, The Retirement Spot, Mark shares content on building wealth, conquering debt, retirement and Social Security Disability.
If you want to connect with Mark:
With that said, let’s get started. Ladies and gentlemen please welcome Mark! Here is the Momentum Series Interview: The Retirement Spot – Finances, Family & Retirement.
TRS (The Retirement Spot) for my blog. Mark for anything else
BS in Accounting from San Jose State University, MBA in Management from Golden Gate University.
I’m retired but was an Accounting manager at Triad Systems, a 150 million dollar software company in Livermore, CA.
Can you share the coles notes version of your financial journey with us? When did you first get interested in taking control of your money and how has that progressed to the current day?
I first became interested at age 29, and it progressed by saving 40% of our income for a good portion of my investing career. My current net worth is about 4.5 million including the house.
On August 29, I will have a Millionaire Interview with ESI Money.
You wrote about paying off your mortgage early, was that a goal you had from the moment you signed the mortgage or how did that become a major focus for you?
Yes I had always intended to pay it off early. I don’t like debt and that included the mortgage. From a previous duplex we sold, I used 40k from the sale as a down payment on a $121,000 home. That made my home mortgage manageable. Now, the house is worth $1,115,000.
What were the strategies that helped you accomplish that goal of being mortgage free? Is there anything specific you can recommend to other readers who might have the same goal?
I don’t like 15 year mortgages, so I purchased a 30 yr. mortgage, and doubled up on payments. At age 42, I paid the remaining balance making it a 10 yr loan. I know that 30 yr. mortgages are more expensive than 15 yr. mortgages, but I consider the extra expense as insurance should something unforeseen happen where I couldn’t pay off the mortgage early.
I recommend buying a 30 yr mortgage doubling up on payments and paying off in ten 10 to 15 yrs. Always put 20% down payment to avoid PMI, and never buy a variable rate.
In regards to your financial journey, have you made any major financial mistakes? If so, what was the outcome and what did you learn from these mistakes?
In my upcoming Millionaire Interview (part of ESI Money’s series) I discuss Enron being my first mistake so I will cite another here. I have made plenty of mistakes.
One of my mistakes is selling our duplex instead of keeping it for passive income at retirement. The duplex is worth in excess of a million dollars. We bought it for $81,000. The outcome, of course, was less diversification and less net-worth. Now the only real estate we have is my primary residence. I learned I should have real estate in my portfolio.
I want to buy another house but prices are astronomical so we shall see. At my age, do I really want a rental headache? Not sure.
Is there an area or area(s) of your own personal finances that you’re still looking to better master and improve?
I am at the stage where I now begin withdrawing from my portfolio. I am looking how to best master that withdrawal process and from which accounts first.
My intention is to live off the income of my portfolio without touching the principal. I need to learn how to master that.
If you could send a memo to every 18-22 year old about better managing their finances and understanding money but it could only be 3 sentences long, what would that memo be?
First, invest in yourself (profession). Second, start early (compound interest), and save until it hurts. Third, take advantage of all company offerings (ie: 401(K), education, etc.).
What are some of the most influential resources that have shaped your money mindset or financial situation?
Reading the writings of Warren Buffett, Liz Ann Sonders (VP of Schwab), hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson, Morningstar and The Motley Fool. The individuals are experts in their respective fields.
Morningstar and The Motley Fool have taught me about investing in individual securities. The Motley Fool gave me the wherewithal and knowledge to invest in individual stocks.
- Steve Jobs: A Biography by Walter Isaacson
- Only The Paranoid Survive by Andrew Grove
- A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkeil
I enjoy reading biographies of successful people. You garner success by emulating those who are successful. I also enjoy reading biographies of presidents. There is no better way to understand the greatness of our country than by reading about the men who helped shape it.
I haven’t really listened to many podcasts. On occasion I will but no one in particular.
When I read blogs, I have a dual purpose: 1) to learn something new and 2) to look for examples of what I can use in my blog (style, technique, etc.).
Apps or Service(s)
- Personal Capital: I see it everywhere advertised, but it is one of the best free apps I have seen that gathers all banking and investing information in one spot.
- Morningstar StockInvestor
- SMULE: A little off topic but it’s a karaoke app. I have 10,000 followers. Now, if only I could mimic that on Twitter.
How did you approach education in regards to your children?
Education was a top priority. My daughter was adopted from the foster care system. She was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Effect.
The doctors were wrong. I purchased an entire curriculum in Math and English and supplemented her education. I gave her my own homework. As a result she is now an Emergency Room RN.
I also supplemented my son’s education. He now works at AT&T.
In terms of speaking with your children about money, what was the process and out come there?
I talked about money and the importance of saving for retirement to my children. I also spoke of the importance of getting their first home and avoid renting. Although, I don’t know how much it sank in.
My daughter hates finances. My son has purchased his own home, and is also in his 401(k). We are at my daughter’s (the RN) right now. Last time I was here, I signed her up for her 401(k). I should have upped the amount I take out. She hasn’t even noticed her paycheck was less.
Is there any advice you can share with other parents on discussing personal finances and money management with their kids?
You wrote a post on your blog about how three million dollars may not be enough to retire on, can you share some of the biggest takeaway and findings you had when exploring that topic?
Yes, as noted in the post, I have found that even when earning a paycheck, there is a lot of stress with the gyrations of the market. When you retire and there is no paycheck, there is even more stress. You don’t need that kind of stress.
I have heard retirees should have a 40/60 portfolio 40% in stocks 60% in bonds. I say why? That is a lot of exposure to the market. The better strategy is to de-risk your portfolio to around 20% stocks if you retire early. You can maybe up it a bit when you begin receiving Social Security or if you have another pension. I certainly do not want to think my portfolio I saved my entire life is at risk now that I am retired. You want to sleep well at night.
If you can’t derisk your portfolio to 20% and live comfortably, maybe it is too soon to retire.
If you had to give 1 pro and 1 con of retirement in regards to finances that aren’t discussed frequently, what would those be?
It is up to us to save for retirement. In my dad’s era, he never really thought about it much. Companies provided pensions. I think more people are aware that the risk has gone to the individual and away from the company.
I think the mean of all retirement savings for those approaching retirement age is around 200K. With such a low amount, more people will have to rely on social security for their entire retirement or live in poverty. That is a sad state of affairs. Companies should be required to withhold an amount for 401Ks, and financial literacy should be required in academia.
When did you first start blogging? Was there a specific launching off point or what influenced you to do so?
I started about two months ago. I like money and writing about it. The specific launching point was when I started reading Financial Samurai. He made it sound so easy lol. It is anything but easy.
Is there a mission statement or underlying purpose to what you intend to accomplish with The Retirement Spot?
To help people become wealthy and get out of debt. I hope I can influence their behavior through my life experiences.
Do you have any specific goals with your blog(s) over the next 12 months? What tactics are you planning to leverage to accomplish these?
I will just play it my ear. Currently, I am talking to someone on how to monetize it, and bring in content that my readers want. I will know more next week.
If you could recommend 3 of your blog posts for Making Momentum readers to check out, what would those be?
Any final pieces of advice or recommendations?
Yes, when you are young take risks. This goes with your job and your investments. If a house goes up for sale next door, buy it. Risk is how you create wealth.
When you retire, derisk. Take the risk off the table, you have arrived. Now is the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Any special shoutouts?
A special shoutout to my wife without whom I would not be where I am today.