Thursday, March 13, 2014

Take a Risk

Hello!  I am Bryan, the founder of IncomeSurfer.com.  On Income Surfer you will read about techniques and strategies to live a fulfilling and balanced life, both financially and relationally.  I offer a monthly newsletter that includes changes in my family's portfolio, assets we are looking at buying/selling, and interesting articles that give a historical perspective to the capital markets.  You will also read articles about my family's quest for balance, our travels, and how we have changed our lives to be more fulfilling.  My business partner and I currently have three outstanding valuation tools under development.  Income Surfer is also on Twitter, @IncomeSurf.

Long time readers of Passive-Income-Pursuit know just how far JC and his wife have come in their journey toward financial independence.  They took a risk and that risk has really paid off for them.  It has taken hard work and fiscal restraint, but they have made tremendous progress.  If you are a new reader of Passive-Income-Pursuit, you may be wondering what risk I'm talking about.  I'm talking about saving and investing of course, and today I am going to discuss taking risks.

I believe saving and investing is hard work, a risk, and involves a certain level of trust
Hard work because you have to be diligent to save your money instead of spending it.  It's far easier to  spend every cent you make.  Don't believe me?  Look no further than a child's instant gratification upon receiving an allowance.  If we let ourselves, we're all just big kids in a toy store.

A Risk because your investment could lose money.  If it does decline in value you will be out that money and not have the toy (the tech gadget, new car, or fancy clothes you would have otherwise bought) to console you in your loss.  That would be sad!


Trust because in addition to trusting yourself, which isn't usually much of a problem, you also have to trust that the investment (company or mutual fund family) is not some kind of fraud.  Trusting others with our money can be a sticky subject.  What people do you feel comfortable lending money to?  I imagine it's a pretty small pool of candidates.


If you have been investing for a few months, you probably don't think about the hard work or trust anymore.  I hope however that you always think about the risks.  Everything in life involves varying degrees of risk.  Even supposedly safe things, like being honest to friends/family or driving to the grocery store, involve small risks.  Bigger risks, like leaving a secure job or following your passions, are even more scary.  Like the seedling from my garden pictured above, if we don't emerge from our comfortable little bubble we'll never grow and achieve our potential.

From talking with JC, I know that his family saves and invests so they can reach their goals.  He wants to be more financially secure.  He strives to have a more flexible schedule, so he can spend more time with his family,  maybe even retire early.  Those are great goals and JC and his wife are making great progress.  I'm certain they will achieve them in the next few years, but stop and think how different their lives would have been if they hadn't taken the necessary steps years ago......

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” ~ Lao Tzu

My family's own story is quite similar to JC's.  I was trained as a civil engineer and found a good job right out of college.  It only took me a few months on the job to know I couldn't sit in an office for the next 30 years.  Office jobs are great for some people, but I have too many interests outside of those drab gray walls.  I love travel, investing, sports, business, and learning.  (I won't rehash my entire back story, but if you're interested you can read it HERE).  I have always been an investor so I ramped up my saving and investing....and began to plot my way to the life I envisioned.  (Please note these changes were NOT only about money, they were about developing a flexible life around my passions).

Fast forward a few years (past the layoff and job changes) through meeting my wife and getting married, and you find us in 2013.   I was making good money in the land development industry, but the job was grating on me.  As an aside, being a land developer is a lot like being a sailor.....it's hours of boredom interspersed with moments of shear terror.  So back to my journey.  I had begun to express my passions for writing and had built the predecessor to IncomeSurfer.com a year earlier.  Conflict between the partners at my day job had left me stressed and struggling with anxiety.  Then one day I got the news.  One of the partners, who is a longtime friend, called me into his office and laid me off.  Technically they still want me to help them put together deals, which I do, but I no longer had to be in that environment and no longer had a regular salary.    I called my wife on the ride home and told her the news.  She told me she had some news of her own.......she thought we might be pregnant.  The same day, I kid you not.  A couple days later a pregnancy test confirmed we were expecting. 

We had talked about taking a year long trip if I got laid off, but that was out the window now that we were expecting.  We had a long talk about both of us following our passions, and decided to go for it in spite of our upcoming son.  We had a few dollars in savings and a lot of ideas how we could make it all work.  It has now been 9 months.  My stress and anxiety symptoms are gone.  Our son is due next week and we are doing great.  My wife still has her job, though she's planning to step back to part time once our little guy is born.  I have created a few new income streams and built on some old ones (like our dividend portfolio). 

We have made a few sacrifices along the way.  We take fewer long distance trips right now.  We buy less stuff and we have contributed less to our retirement portfolio over the past 6 months.  Those are sacrifices we're willing to make however, to have a more flexible and fulfilling family life.  Now we spend more quality time together, where we are both less stressed and better able to focus on our growing family.  I have been able to go to the prenatal appointments with my wife and better help her when she's tired or sore.  I have had the chance to regularly volunteer with the homeless in my community.  I have developed close connections with dozens of readers!  Thank you readers for your support of IncomeSurfer.com!

When we started this journey we figured it would be scary (and at times it still is), but if we could make it work our lives and futures would be forever changed.  Worse case we decided one of us could go back to a “normal” job, but in the best case.......the possibilities were limitless.  Now as we stand on the edge of success, we can't help but think how much happier and more fulfilled we both are today.....

What is holding you back from following your dreams?  I promise you that you won't sit on your death bed and wish you had worked more hours or made more money.  You likely will think of unfulfilled dreams or your family.  How do I know?  My wife works at hospice......and most patients have the same regrets and sorrows.  I don't want you to have those regrets or sell yourself short.  As Wayne Gretzky said, “you will miss one hundred percent of the shots you don't take.”  Sit down and make a plan, either by yourself or with your spouse.  Then, set it in action.  If you don't make a plan or set goals for how you will reach your potential, you likely won't achieve them.....but if you take these steps and really work at it......ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

What risks have you taken and how did they turn out?  What risks are you planning to take in 2014?

5 comments:

  1. Bryan,

    I enjoyed the back story. It's always great to learn more about our fellow bloggers. Congrats on getting on the right path and congratulations on the pregnancy. My wife and I are trying right now ourselves. I look forward to following your journey!

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    1. Thanks AAI, and thanks for the kind words. I agree its great to learn about each other. I've been enjoying your journey as well. It sounds like your business is really doing well. Have a great day
      -Bryan

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  2. It is amazing how fear can paralyze and limit folks from pursuing their dreams. My brother is currently going through this as he evaluates some business opportunities in his life that require taking a leap of faith but match his non-day job passions. The comparison is something comfortable, stable and satisfying in a very different way. So congrats on surpassing those fears and striving for more Bryan! It really improves the quality of life and makes goals achievable!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words W2R. I don't know that any of us truly "surpass" those fears, but they definitely become a little more quiet (and distant). When it works out, it definitely improves the quality of life and that's something to strive for. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Have a great day
      -Bryan

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  3. We are taking quite a few risks in 2014 but even more scary is the amount of work I will have to put in with these new ventures in order for them to be successful. As a husband, father, and having a full time job time is already very short so 2014 will be very interesting.

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