How odd jobs and investing are pointing one student towards his goal.
For Miami University senior Ryan Thompson hard work has paid off. In fact, he has $93,000 to show for it.
It all started when Thompson, 22, was 16 years old and wanted the brand new 1987 Mustang that sat in his family’s garage in Westchester, Ohio. His dad made him a deal.
“My dad told me if I put $2,000 into an IRA, I could have the car,” he said. “So I did all kinds of odd jobs around my neighborhood to make money. I painted, cleaned, mowed lawns – anything you can think of that is an odd job, I did it.”
Thompson eventually earned the funds, which in turn earned him the prized set of wheels. But the coveted set of keys started more than just the car-they ignited Thompson’s interest in investing.
Over the past six years, he has diligently invested his life savings into a now diversified portfolio consisting of a Vanguard IRA, a taxable Vanguard 500 mutual fund, a Vanguard Health Care Fund, savings accounts, and individual company stocks.
Thompson earns the money by working as a residence hall adviser at Miami. He also frequently jaunts back home to manage his own lawn service, Ryan Lawn and Landscape, an enterprise that now has three employees, more than 30 customers and rakes in about $30,000 a year.
Most of the money Thompson earns, he saves and puts towards investing.
“I’ve always had a thing for saving money,” he said. “I don’t know why. My dad also influenced me to put money away. It’s just a natural tendency.”
Thompson will graduate from Miami in December with an Organizational Leadership degree, a fiancee, a project engineering job with Messer Construction Co., and a path carved out to become a millionaire by the time he is 37.
“Assuming my current rate of savings and interest rate, I should hit my first goal of $1 million by the age of 36 or 37,” he said.
Here’s our interview with Ryan Thompson, including his words of advice for young investors.
Q: Why did you first start investing? What motivated you?
A: I was originally motivated because I wanted the brand new car sitting in my garage. My dad made me an offer.
Q: Where was the first place you invested your money?
A: In an IRA (individual retirement account).
Q: How would you describe your investment style now, six years later?
A: I would say, ah…probably conservative to moderately conservative. I don’t hold many individual stocks. I invest in more mutual funds, money market funds, CDs, and my IRA.
Q: You just accepted a job with Messer Construction Co. for after graduation. Will having a full-time job change the way you invest?
A: Yeah, only because I’ll be making more money, so I’ll have to decide where to put it in the market. I’ll have to search for some good stocks.
Q: Speaking of which, how do you pick your stocks?
A: I look at qualitative measures, ratios, and the numbers that show profitability. When I am picking individual stocks I think, do I like the company? Is it something I know? Are they something I use? I actually just got a few new stocks. I made a few additions.
Q: How much time a week do you spend researching your investments?
A: It’s more of a lifestyle thing. When I turn on the TV, I’ll flip on a financial program or watch CNBC. I read Money magazine and Forbes sometimes, but I do most of my research online – my Internet homepage is set to money.com. I just try to stay current.
Q: So do you actually do your own investing, or does someone else do it for you?
A: I’ve done it all myself. My dad helped me out at first, but yes, I make my own decisions.
Q: You’ve been investing since you were 16, but the economy had been pretty good up until last year’s recession. Being a conservative investor, how did it feel when the market took a huge downturn?
A: It didn’t really have an effect me. I’m in this for the long haul. I have a strategy and I didn’t sell or buy when the market fell. I just stuck to the strategy and rode it out. Over the long run my return stayed at around 8 or 9 percent.
Q: Is that the return you look for on your investments, around 8 percent?
A: Yes. I believe the stock market has achieved an average return of roughly 8 percent since its inception. I just think that I can get that kind of return on my money over the next 50 years, overall.
Q: So what is your ultimate goal with investing? What is the purpose? A: I have a goal of having between $2 and $3 million dollars. This sounds extreme, but my father and grandfather are self-made millionaires on the “net worth” scale. Eventually I will be a millionaire, and I want to live in Indian Hill, a community in Ohio.
Q: What is your current net-worth?
A: Right now, it’s about $93,000.
Q: Do you have any advice or tricks-of-the-trade for novice investors?
A: My great-grandmother always used to say that pennies make dollars, dollars make hundreds, hundreds make thousands, and thousands make millions. So I guess the moral of the story is that you don’t have to make a lot. It’s not how much money you make, it’s how much you keep. The end result is the most important. To save money, you need discipline. Make goals and set aside money, because once you start investing, you’ll also start earning.
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