Hi, I'm Jason. I'll be your host here at Dividend Mantra!
First, thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read a little bit about me. I decided to revamp this page after having an original description up and live for about two years. I wanted to discuss a little bit more about my background and why I'm here. I've also hyperlinked particularly relevant areas for reference and further reading.
I was born in 1982. I grew up in an impoverished neighborhood on the east side of Detroit, Michigan. My father left my family at a very young age and my mother gave up control of my three sisters and I when I was 11 years old. After my aunt and uncle adopted my siblings and I in 1993, my life really began.
I had a fairly ordinary childhood from there on out. I had fairly strong grades throughout high school, but I never really applied myself. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, and I had a hard time finding something I would enjoy enough to spend the next 40+ years of my life doing. I entered college without a clear picture of what I wanted to accomplish, and therefore lacked the focus necessary to get anything out of it. My mother died in my junior year of college. Due to this event and my aforementioned lack of focus and clarity, I left college for an unknown future with almost $30,000 in student loan debt.
I inherited about $60,000 when I was 21, just after my mother died. I blew this entire sum of money in about two years. Not on drugs or anything crazy, but just living a normal middle-class life with no job. Oh, and I didn't pay off my student loans. Smart, huh?
After finding myself in my mid-20's as a college dropout and broke, I decided it was time to get my life in gear. I landed a great opportunity in the automotive field and have been working at car dealerships as a service advisor ever since I was 24 years old. I earn a very middle-class salary and work over 50 hours per week. 2010 was the first year I ever cracked $40,000.
In early 2010 I decided to really take a look in the mirror. I was going on 28 years old and generally unhappy. I was working far too much and had far too little to show for it. I was spending all my money, but the trappings of a normal, middle-class life didn't seem to satisfy me. Why?
I realized that something had to change. I decided to first get a complete picture and figure out my net worth. I added up all my assets, which was about $7,000 in my checking account, and subtract all my debts (about $25,000 in student loans). I realized that at 27 years old I was actually worth more as a baby ($0) than I was as an adult (-$19,000). I was shocked, but also motivated more than ever to get my act together.
I started reading about personal finance. I took note of all the basics and realized that avoiding any further debt was key, and I had to start living far below my means. Frugality and I were like a match made in heaven, and I soon started a frugal living doctrine.
I also realized that saving money and keeping it in a checking account wasn't going to get me very far, as inflation would slowly eat away at my purchasing power. Enter investing.
I took about $5,000 out of my available $7k in my checking account and used this seed money to fund an investing account. I initially invested in a mutual fund and some stocks that sounded good, like General Electric Company (GE) and Sirius XM Radio Inc. (SIRI). I quickly realized I had no idea why I was investing and what I was doing. Sounds like a plan destined for failure, right? You betcha. Luckily I quickly realized this as well.
I researched investing, the stock market and the habits of successful investors, and after two months settled on dividend growth investing as the best strategy for me going forward. I loved the fact that dividends could one day fund my expenses without having to sell the underlying equities, and that dividends from successful companies tend to grow faster than the rate of inflation. Over time, I've become a more intelligent investor, but it was during this time that I had my real epiphany and put it all together.
After investing in high quality companies that have lengthy histories of paying and raising dividends I started this blog. That was March, 2011. Since then I've become ever more dedicated to frugal living so that I can maximize the amount of free capital I can use to invest in my future. I realized early on that a successful investor focuses on saving first, as the amount of money you can save will dictate how much wealth you can build, rather than solely focusing on investment returns. I sold my car, moved to a cheaper apartment located on the bus line and ate like a college kid for about a year as I decided to focus on the Big Three. I've been able to invest at an increasingly rapid pace as my frugal living has become more ingrained in my life and my dividend income has started to snowball. I currently try to save more than 50% of my net income, and have been so far successful in that regard. I use that savings to invest in at least one undervalued or fairly valued high quality dividend growth stock per month. I try to make sure my purchases are at least $1,400 to limit the impacts of transaction fees over time.
I ignore the market noise and I focus on high quality. I refrain from valuing the market as a whole, and instead prefer to focus on individual companies and their individual valuations. I believe compounding interest will be my best friend over time, and I intend to make it a big part of my life as early as possible. Money can work harder than I ever could. It works 24/7 and never calls in sick.
Most people would have you believe that you can't earn a middle-class salary and achieve financial independence at a young age. Well, I believe that to be wrong. I devised a 5-step plan to retire before 40 years old and started this journey at 28 years old and making about $40k per year. That means I am aiming to retire from start to finish in 12 years. Am I doomed for failure? Well, in three years I built my portfolio from $5,000 to $100,000 by living frugally, and investing as wisely as I possibly can in high quality companies that pay, and consistently raise, dividends. I'm off to a nice start.
I'm here to inspire others. I'm here to make my dreams come true, and hopefully in the process I can help you reach all of your dreams as well. What do you want out of life? Who are you? What do you value in life? I value the most important commodity of all: time. I asked earlier why I wasn't happy if I was making pretty decent money and living a normal, middle-class life? It's because I had no control over my destiny. My future was at the hands of others and I had no self-empowerment. My time was not my own, and I was busy trading my valuable and dwindling time away to someone else for a lot of stuff I didn't really need. But, no longer. What more could I want to own than my own time? A good question, and one that's easily answered.
Please follow my journey to financial independence and early retirement. Hopefully we can share our aspirations as we inspire each other to greatness!
I welcome any comments, thoughts or suggestions.