A Rocky Journey into Investing

I have always known that I should be investing for my future but I was always able to come up with an excuse to put it off until later. When I was around 19 or 20 years old I did invest a small amount into some mutual funds. I wound up pulling the money out after a short period of time because I “needed” it. Later on I had a 401k through my employer. When I left that job I cashed out my 401k and paid the penalties and taxes. The biggest reason I did this was because I did not know how to roll it over. It was only about $10,000. I wish I had done more research and figured out how to roll it over into an IRA. This was back in 2003 and information was not as readily available as it is now.

My next job was full of promise. The company said it was looking to grow rapidly. Well, within a year the company was out of business. The year was now 2005. The job market was not in good shape in Michigan. It was very difficult for me to find a job in the plastic injection molding industry. I had been working in the automotive sector for over 10 years at this point. I wound up finding a job making toys but it paid less than I was making before. At the time I was living pretty much paycheck to paycheck. I did not invest at all. This company did have a “profit sharing” plan, but it was more like a retirement plan. The company would put money into an account for employees. This was automatic and the employees did nothing. Employees could not make contributions to the account. The amount was based on how well the company was doing. Most years it was about 6%, but towards the end of my time there it dipped down to 3%. The employees had no control over how the money was invested. Every year would get a statement of how the account was doing but I never knew what the money was being invested in. After 14+ years at this company I decided it was time to move on.

I left the company in late August. I knew the funds from the “profit sharing” would not be available to me until the following year. Around October I began researching how to roll this money over into an IRA. I was determined not to pay the penalties like I did previously with my old 401k. I also knew I was way behind on saving for retirement. I opened my Traditional IRA in November of 2019 with a small amount of money, $100 and set up monthly contributions of $35. I did not have a lot of money to invest and wanted my main focus to be on paying down debt. I started out with some mutual funds because that was what I knew at the time. I had never bought an individual stock and was not sure what an ETF was. I began researching investing through books, YouTube and news articles. At this time, investing seemed a little overwhelming to me. As I continued to do more research I realized that investing was not as difficult as I had believed. I wanted to be ready when the money from my previous employer’s retirement fund rolled over into my IRA.

As the end of 2019 came I made sure to reach out to my former employer to make sure everything was on track to rollover the funds to my IRA. The whole process was rather easy. It involved two or three emails to my former employer, some paper work to fill out and a phone call to Fidelity which is where I had opened up my Traditional IRA. On March 24, 2020 the funds, $69,200, were rolled over into my IRA. I really could not ask for better timing as this was pretty close to the bottom of the pandemic crash. I was nervous but proceeded to purchase individual stocks for the first time in my life. Some of the stocks I bought in this time frame include General Motors (GM), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), CVS Health Corp. (CVS), Delta Airlines (DAL), Disney (DIS), Exxon Mobil (XOM), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Sysco (SYY), 3M (MMM), Proctor & Gamble (PG), Waste Management (WM), Tyson Foods (TSN), Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B), U.S. Bancorp (USB) and DTE Energy (DTE). I still hold positions in GM, BMY, CVS, DIS, JNJ, MMM, PG, USB and DTE which has provided me with some nice unrealized capital gains as well as dividends from most of these positions. The others I sold out for a healthy profit in each.

Since then I have continued to learn about investing and have adjusted my strategy over time. I mainly invest for dividends but also have some growth aspects in my portfolio. I am no where near being an expert on investing. At the time of this writing in early July 2021 the IRA has grown from about $69,500 to around $116,000. Over that time period I have only contributed roughly $1,000 to the account. The growth is from capital appreciation, dividends being reinvested and premium from making options trade. Admittedly, I got really lucky with the timing when I started investing. It was real easy to make big gains by investing in March 2020 until now. This has helped to boost my confidence as an investor.

One of the reasons I write this blog is to track my progress and hold myself accountable for investing for my future. Another reason is show that anyone can invest. I am a 50 year old factory worker that does not make a ton of money. I have made many financial mistakes through the years. I waited way too long to start investing. Despite all of this, I have now started to take charge of my finances. I am making progress towards my goals. If I can do it, so can you. With the how easy it is to open a brokerage account and/or IRA along with low fees and fractional shares the opportunity is there for everyone to begin investing to build wealth. It takes some effort but in the long run the effort is well worth it.

*Disclaimer – I am not a financial professional. The information shared here should not be considered financial advice. I am just a factory worker sharing my experience as I strive to achieve financial freedom. Before investing or making any financial decision do your own research and due diligence or consider seeking the advice of a financial and/or tax professional.

Here are some of the businesses that I use that I thought some of you might be interested in.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2021-02-28-roth.png

I use the free version on trackyourdividends.com. This is a quick an easy way for me to track my estimated annual income from dividends.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2021-02-28-7.png

Lolli has a variety of stores that it is affiliated with and offers rewards for shopping at these stores. I use Lolli when I shop on Chewy and I get bitcoin as a reward. Who doesn’t want free bitcoin! If you are interested in Lolli and want to help support the blog here is my referral link: https://www.lolli.com/share/XP7gxDgqC4

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2021-02-28-m1-logo.png

I use M1 Finance for my taxable growth account. M1 Finance offers promotions for signing up. At the time of writing this post, the promotion is for $30. These promotions vary from time to time but is usually a $10 bonus. If you are interested M1 Finance and want to support the blog here is my referral link: https://m1.finance/ktIiFeOI5zDr

If you use the referral links listed above I could receive compensation. Please take the time to read the terms and conditions before signing up.

Published by Bill

I am just a blue collar factory worker trying to reach financial independence by spending less, earning more, saving and investing.

2 thoughts on “A Rocky Journey into Investing

  1. Many people I know (and grew up with) who are in their 50s and 60s have at one time said to me the same quote “I have always known that I should be investing for my future”. Difference between you and them is they chose to ignore the issue because they believe it was too late or just too difficult. But you are tackling it head on!

    It is empowering when you own assets that produce a cash flow and and just jeep growing. Sure there are days we fret the portfolio isn’t growing fast enough and can be discouraging but it is not the same financial stress you were under before you took control.

    You remind me of my older brother who did not start investing until he was 55, he just came to me one day and asked for help and said this was his responsibility and he wanted to work on fixing it. That was 4 years ago and he is an entirely different person today. I am extremely impressed and in awe when people late in their career overcome fear and start a journey to investing.

    Bravo to you good sir.

    1. Thank you for the kind words and encouragement. Getting started can be challenging but I am definitely glad I did. My whole mindset towards money and finances has changed since I started this journey. It used to be work to make money and spend more money. Now it is work to make money so I can put money to work for me. I am in such a better place now since I took charge of my financial life.

      Thanks again and I appreciate you following along on my journey and offering your feedback.

Leave a Reply