LEARN HOW TO INVEST

GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS: Module 3

Michael Santos Presents

INVESTMENT TACTICS

Develop investment tactics to make sure you don’t end up like most people over 40, who do not have $25,000 set aside for retirement. Learn new investment tactics to grow your wealth with five-year plans.

How to Create Investment Tactics that Work for You

In this chapter I’m offering investment tactics I rely upon to reach my financial goals. Investment strategies and tactics helped me build assets worth more than $5 million within five years. Use these same types of investment tactics to start building your prosperity.

Rely upon this article to learn more about: 

  • Different types of investment grade assets
  • Assessing potential risks and potential rewards from different types of asset classes
  • Developing investment tactics consistent with your five-year investment plan.

Align Investment Tactics With Your Investment Strategies

In the previous chapter I briefly touched on different types of asset classes. Intangible assets may include our experience and education, while tangible assets would include physical objects, licenses, or business operations. If you’re a beginning investor, and you’re setting a strategy to reach specific goal, then it’s important to give a lot of thought to the type of asset classes you want to build in your portfolio. 

Earlier chapters of The Introductory Guide to Creating Wealth by Investing expressed the importance of filling out your “learning-how-to-invest-worksheet. Your investment worksheet should help you set your strategy of going from Point-A to Point-B. The tactics you employ should be consistent with that strategy. 

As an example, I reveal how my investment tactics aligned with my investment strategy.

INVESTMENT GOAL:

I set a goal of acquiring $1 million worth of assets within five years. That wasn’t an end-game, but rather a start. After all, having $1 million worth of assets wouldn’t make me a “millionaire.” In fact, when I set that goal of building a portfolio of assets worth $1 million, I anticipated having about $700,000 in debt. That means my net worth would only be in the $300,000 range—which wouldn’t provide a lot of security for the long haul. 

Still, acquiring a portfolio of appreciating assets valued at $1 million would be an integral part of my investment strategy. 

Think about the goals that you want to achieve and make certain that your investment goals align with your strategy.

INVESTMENT STRATEGY

Building a portfolio of assets worth $1 million won’t make anyone rich in America. But it can be a good start. Acquiring assets as part of a strategy to build wealth was part of a long-term plan that I created. That strategy made sense to me for the following reasons: 

  • If I built a portfolio of appreciating, investment-grade assets, I anticipated that they would grow in value over time.
  • I could raise capital that would allow me to acquire those assets.
  • If structured the investment wisely, the assets I built should generate income to repay the money I borrowed to invest.
  • As long as I could manage the asset effectively, I could build my wealth.

My research convinced me that this strategy of building a portfolio of appreciating assets felt like the surest way to reach my investment goals. 

But it wasn’t the only way.

As my worksheet showed, after more than a quarter century in prison, I had approximately $100,000 in savings when I walked out. Some people would say that I was lucky to have that money when I got out—and I would agree. Still, the money did not fall into my lap. There were a series of decisions I had to make along the way. Strong critical-thinking skills helped me assess each decision. How would each decision influence my prospects for success—as I defined success? Each decisions was an investment in the future I wanted to build. What types of decisions would I have to make to generate those funds from inside of a prison? 

  1. I had to educate myself and learn new skills.
  2. I had to create publishing opportunities to generate an income.
  3. I had to write the projects that publishers or clients paid me to complete. 

The “good luck” of earning and saving money while in prison followed the strategies and tactics that empowered me through 26 years in prison. 

Similarly, I would need to employ new strategies and tactics to grow the $100,000 I had in savings into $1 million worth of appreciating assets.

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

Without a doubt, the preparations I made while I served time in prison put me far ahead of most people who served decades in prison. I could rely upon the intangible and the tangible assets that I created in that environment: 

Intangible Assets:

  • I had a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree.
  • I had experience writing and publishing books.
  • I spent thousands of hours studying businesses and learning how businesses operate.
  • I had a positive attitude and a mindset of success.
  • I had a strong support network that I built during my decades inside.

Tangible Assets:

  • I had $100,000 in a savings account.

Those assets were definitely my strengths. But there were also weaknesses, including: 

Weaknesses:

  • I was a convicted felon who had been in prison since 1987.
  • I didn’t have any verifiable work history.
  • I didn’t have a credit score.
  • I didn’t know how to use technology like email, the Internet, or smart phones because it didn’t exist when I went to prison.
  • I didn’t have any clothes, a car, a phone, or a computer when I got out of prison.

My investment strategy would need to take all of those strengths and weaknesses into account. Then I could set a plan in place, with clear tactics that I could follow.

WHAT INVESTMENT TACTICS ALIGN WITH YOUR STRATEGY?

We’re all responsible for the decisions we make. If you want to reach the financial goals that you identified in the investment worksheet you created, then make sure you consider all of your resources, including intangible assets, tangible assets, and your weaknesses.

Using Critical-Thinking Skills to Develop my Investment Strategy:

By considering my resources, I narrowed down four potential options I could pursue to build a portfolio of assets worth $1 million within five years. They included the following:

  1. Developing my Career
  2. Investing in the Stock Market
  3. Building a Business
  4. Investing in Real Estate

Other options existed, of course. But after considering my personal circumstances and all of my resources, I narrowed down the four types of asset classes above as being the most likely to deliver.

When you’re developing the investment strategy that you want to use to create wealth, give a lot of thought to every option. Consider the likelihood of reaching your potential, while simultaneously assessing the opportunity cost if you make the wrong decision.

My thought process considered the following:

OPTION 1: DEVELOPING MY CAREER

Like anyone else, I could have deployed all of my time and energy on preparing for the best possible job. One option would even be to return to school to advance my education, earning a law degree or some other type of professional degree. I ruled out returning to school because I did not want to remove myself from the work force to study. Nor did I see the potential of a return on investment if I were to take on student-loan debt. I’d much rather earn money and put the resources I had to work. 

Even if I didn’t return to school, I could have used all of my skills to position myself for a job with potentially high earnings. The problem would be that I was late to the game when it came to the employment market. I was 49-years-old when I finished my prison term, and I’d never worked for a business before. I understood that there would be “teams” in place. Team members may or may not welcome me. So trying to establish myself in the job market presented a risk. 

Further, I thought about potential earnings. My research suggested that when I got out of prison, only 3% of the work force earned an income in excess of $200,000 per year. Given my background, it would be highly unlikely that an employer would pay me such wages for several years. 

Even if I did earn $200,000 per year, state and federal government would tax me heavily. After-tax pay might amount to $125,000 per year. It’s a lot of money, no doubt. But unless I found other opportunities, giving all of my attention to a job would not lead to my goal of building a portfolio of assets worth $1 million within five years. 

I needed a different strategy.

Option 2: Investing in the Stock Market

Those who’ve read any of my earlier books know of my earlier investment experiences with the stock market. To give you the short story, while I incarcerated, my published writings began to generate resources. Through my sister, I opened an account with an online-trading broker. Starting with an investment of $2,000 from my earnings, and another $1,000 that I borrowed from the broker on a margin loan, I began to invest in stocks. 

It was 1998, which was the dawn of the Internet. My stock picks included America Online and Yahoo! Those were two of the best-performing stocks during that era. As the stocks rose in value, I continued to borrow more money from the broker on margin. With my rising equity levels from the stocks I owned, I kept increasing the size of my position. Over time, I acquired large positions and built more than $1 million in equity. When the dot-com bubble popped, I lost hundreds of thousands in equity within a few trading days. 

Those experiences in the stock market taught me a great deal about business. But they also helped me appreciate the danger of speculating with stocks as a strategy to acquire a $1 million in assets. 

To be clear, given the amount of savings I had put together from my publishing activities while in prison, the stock market was a definite option. But using margin to acquire stocks would be risky. At 49-years-old, I did not want to take the risk of stocks. I could see other strategies where I could use leverage, but without the exposure to risk that I would have to accept if I chose stocks as my investment strategy.

Option 3: Building A Business

A third option I could consider would be to build a business. All through my prison journey, I felt entrepreneurial—meaning I created opportunities out of nothing. Consider the experience: 

  • I persuaded universities to admit me, even though I didn’t have any money, I was in prison, and I’d been a poor student in high school.
  • I persuaded three separate publishing houses to issue me publishing contracts.
  • I had a solid-work ethic and I was self-directed. 

The challenge, however, was that I lacked experience in the real world. I’d never hired anyone, and again, was woefully challenged when it came to understanding technology. Until the day I got out of prison, I never sent an email or used the Internet. 

I knew that I would have a lot to learn. And I didn’t want to risk my capital while I was learning. 

While I was incarcerated, I learned a lot from business leaders. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, wrote that as business people we should take calculated risks. And famed investor, Warren Buffet, wrote that we should invest in businesses that were so well established that they could run themselves. He also said that there were two rules to investing: 

  • Rule Number 1 to Investing: Don’t lose money.
  • Rule Number 2 to Investing: Don’t forget Rule Number 1 

Despite my entrepreneurial tendencies, I concluded that about the only business I would be qualified to operate when I got out of prison would be something low-tech, like a hot dog stand. But even a hot-dog would have some complications, as I’ll explain in the chapters to follow. 

With regard to my strategy, I ruled out starting a business.

Option 4: Investing in Real Estate

Finally, I can describe my fourth option. The strategy I chose would be to invest in real estate. A strategy of investing in real estate appealed to me for several reasons, including: 

  • I transitioned from a federal prison to a halfway house in San Francisco in 2012. At the time, the county had been in deep recession for several years. Real estate values had plummeted. I perceived it as a good time to start investing.
    • One tactic would be to study markets to see where property values would most likely increase.
  • If I used all of the intangible skills I developed while serving time in prison, I believed that I could raise capital to begin acquiring assets.
    • One tactic would be to put a presentation package together that I could use to raise capital for my first acquisition. Then, I could repeat the tactic to raise more capital.
  • Investing in real estate would satisfy the advice I learned from Bill Gates about taking calculated risks. Historically, California was one of the best places to invest in real estate. Markets had taken a beating and I believed that when the economy improved, real estate values would recuperate. I wanted to own property.
    • One tactic would be to build relationships with real estate professionals that could connect me to motivated sellers and persuade them to do business with me.
  • Investing in real estate would satisfy the advice I learned from Warren Buffet. The “business” of owning real estate would run itself. If I could own the asset, and the asset appreciated in value, I would prosper.
    • To begin my acquisition strategy, I would need to invest in real estate that could potentially generate revenues from tenants. Those revenues would cover my debt obligations. This tactic could allow me to build equity with appreciating asset values, while simultaneously reducing debt.
  • My “experience” of business came from reading. Although that type of intangible asset wouldn’t translate well into running a business that required operations, it could serve me well as a real estate investor.

I could use business tactics to raise capital through unconventional financing sources, conventional financing sources, and by building equity partnerships.

Being Decisive and Taking Action

Given the above considerations, I chose real estate as the best strategy to build $1 million worth of assets within five years. My business tactics were consistent with the strategy that I set. And within five years, I far surpassed my goal. 

Yet had I not taken the time to develop an intangible asset—of business knowledge—I would not have had the confidence to invest so heavily in real estate. As of this writing, in October of 2018 the value of my assets exceeds $7.6 million and the value of my debt exceeds $5.4 million. The strategy of building a portfolio of real estate assets financed with tactics of using equity and debt was only possible because I took the time to learn the basics of business. 

For that reason, I’ll devote the next several chapters of The Introductory Guide to Creating Wealth by Investing to business development. I’m convinced that a basic understanding of business will not only make you a better investor, it will also help you create wealth!

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