Mentoring groups of stock option traders was not what I envisioned I'd be doing when I grew up. Heck, I didn't even know what stock option traders were, much less what the term investing meant. We were poor and poverty was all I had ever known.
I grew up in a small town in Virginia. Initially we lived in a small home with no running water or bathroom.
We kept a 5 gallon bucket in a spare bedroom that we used as a toilet. During the day we used an outhouse.
There was a well outside the kitchen door with a hand pump attached to it; this was our water source. We heated up bath water on the kitchen stove and all five family members took a bath in this huge galvanized tin tub.
Because of how long it took to heat up the water (1-2 hours), we all had to take a bath in the same water. Being one of the youngest, I always seemed to go last; it was disgusting, but I didn't know any better. To me this was normal.
We lived in those conditions until I was 10 and then we moved into a home with more modern amenities. As you can see from the pictures, we didn't move very far up the economic ladder.
It was only four of us at this point. My little brother died a year earlier; he choked on a sandwich at the babysitters.
The same year we moved into the new home, we found out my dad had a brain tumor. I watched my father wilt away, bit by bit, day by day. He died the next year and our family essentially fell apart. It's easy to remember the day because he died on Valentine's Day.
I spent the next seven years being mischievous and mad at the world. I was abused by a family member, suffered from depression, and had frequent suicidal thoughts. This path of destruction continued until I was standing in front of a judge for felony theft charges.
A few weeks earlier my car was shot up by a guy that owed me some money and he did not like the fact that I came to collect. I can't recall how many shots were fired, but I do remember where two of the bullets lodged themselves.
One 2-inches from my head rest and the other in my gas tank. I never knew a bullet hit my gas tank until a mechanic pointing it out months later. I really didn't care about any of it though; I had honestly stopped caring at that point.
My public defender evaluated my court case and advised that I take some kind of positive action to show that I was ready to turn my life around. Reluctantly, I joined the military a week later.
The public defenders advice proved to be invaluable. Joining the Army saved my life. For the first time since my father's passing, I had structure, discipline, and a standard to follow. I realized that I was tired of being tired and it was time to change.
I started going to church on base and here is where I met my first mentor, it was the pastor. He took me under his wing and began to mentor me. Spending time with him and his family changed my character for the better.
He was also the first person to ever talk to me about investing. I had never heard the term before so I had to ask him to explain what investing was. Here it was that I was an adult and I was learning about investing, in its general sense, for the first time in my life.
So now is when I tell you I became an instant millionaire and started showing other stock option traders how to do the same right? Not hardly!
It's amazing what greed can do to you. He taught me a lot, but I grew fond of what he said about real estate.
"Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble..." 1 Timothy 6:10 (contemporary version)
While still in the military, I attempted to apply what the pastor taught me and tried to purchase my first rental property. Because of fear, I backed out of the deal. However, I continued to educate myself on real estate investing.
Once I left the military, the seed that was planted sparked an interest that could not be quenched fast enough. All I could think about was making money and becoming financially independent.
I managed to buy a few properties and once the cash flow was sufficient, I quit my regular job and became a full time real estate investor. I was quickly amassing my empire.
Ignorance, greed, pride, and a poverty mindset are not qualities that will enable you to financially succeed in life, yet I had all of them. Without being versed in good money management skills, I had overextended myself on credit and had absolutely no backup plan.
My exact thoughts were, "I don't need an emergency fund or 401K. I'm going to be rich!" I dreamed of nothing but mountain tops (success). I didn't factor any valleys (problems) into my plan.
At this point in my life I still had no idea what stock option traders were. I was so focused on real estate that I forgot one of the cardinal rules of investing, diversify.
I took every bit of savings I had and poured it all into real estate. Things were going great for the first three years until I encountered my first major problem. This is when I realized how flawed my plan was.
It started with one problem, one unit, and it slowly escalated into several back to back problems.
It took me three years to build up my business. It took less than six months for everything to fall apart. It's amazing how that happens!
With three homes about to be foreclosed on and zero dollars in the bank, I reached out for help.
A few friends and family members lent me money to prolong the foreclosure process.
During this time a friend of mine introduced me to a multi-millionaire who was a stock option trader.
Seeing the power of stock options verses real estate I decided to pursue it further. I sold my new car, bought an old 1989 Honda Accord, and used the leftover money to trade stock options.
That guy taught me how to trade stock options and within three months I had made enough money trading stock options to pay everyone back and sell my homes.
I was roughly $452,000 in debt at the time. I sold everything that I could and when it was all said in done I still had about $130,000 in unsecured debt to pay off.
This was certainly a low point in my life financially. It was either give up on my hopes and dreams and get a real job, or buckle down and dig myself out of debt.
I went to several lawyers and consumer credit counseling and both recommended bankruptcy. I couldn't understand why. I felt that it was my debt and my responsibility so I should pay it off, not file for bankruptcy...
I used to wonder how things would have turned out if I had learned about stock options before I became a real estate investor.
Eventually I realized the "investing method" never matters. It's all about mindset and my mindset was the problem. I was programmed for failure.
"In life there have been people who have had it better than you and done worse, and there have been people who have had it worse than you and done better." There are no excuses only results... -Anthony Robbins- (emphasis added)
This story does in fact have a happy ending, but I'll have to share that with you later as this page is already long enough (smile).