Searching for treasures are my life. I research the tides, check the weather and look at photos/drawings/paintings to gain clues of their whereabouts. I invest in dive equipment and tools expecting to find artifacts that build a story of the past. It never crosses my mind that my theories can be wrong until a new theory has a stronger probability.

In 1990, I began a new job fresh out of college. In the beginning, there were few “treasures”. But each time their was an opporrunity to make more money because I had the leverage, seized the day. a few times, it just wasn’t in the cards. And I also knew when to pull back the troops and fight another day. But regardless of my salary, I had a “Now” plan and a “When” plan.

The first step was shelter. Moving out but not stepping back. After meeting a wonderful woman then only 17, we each had big goals, take on world goals. The plan was to get married when we had enough and made enough to do it without debt. That plan changed fast. Getting into home of our own meant giving up her savings and I had to immediately borrow my parents. I’d pay them back every dime, but I learned immediately investing sometimes meant taking steps back. But not for long. We looked for a two-family home that already was generating income. By living in one unit, we could pay $600 with the rest of the mortgage offset by the rent flow. We then opened mutual fund accounts instead of bank accounts to save and earn more equity. We paid cash for everything else so we never spent what we did not have. Important note here is I never paid any credit card interest, ever. Still can say that today. So, those three things 1- two-family home, 2- save were you can increase wealth and 3- never spend what you don’t have… are the theories. I call them that because a theory is tested and adjusted, or proved to be sound.

The next step was food. $50 a week was the number. Makes me hungry just thinking about how we stuck to our guns and ate all our meals prepared at home. There was no dining out until that budget went up to at least $100/mo. And even then, most healthy places were off limits. We liked Park & Orchard in Rutherford. Would go with my wife’s parents in hopes of them picking up the bill. It takes a village and we were beggars with a sence of humor about it. Our pride did not taste good so we opted for free fine food. We were lucky too. Our families are special. They all shared and helped the next generation learn and earn self-respect. We gained it fast.

Finally we needed earthly delights. I’m an atheist and though frugal in the beginning, I did not want to be there very long. But we waited. My wife went to a few medical schools finding her way while I climbed the ad agency ladder by forcing hands when the leverage was there. I still remember the day, she came home, after already receiving a degree in nursing, and said she was hired full-time. Work was not foreign to her. While attending school for nursing, she worked at a hospital reception desk. and that brings me to another plan. spend money that can directly deductable on our taxes. I’d try to keep my toys to advertising related, while she could write-off education and supplies. I learned enough tax law to open a practice, but I still paid a great accountant to sign off on my work. So both of us working full-time with great drive to be leaders combined with understanding every pennies value in the USA tax system lead us down the road of success.

Ultimately we earned enough to enjoy life, but we also learned another big thinking idea… saving. You can save up some for later. Yes, we enoyed our leftovers, we also put money aside for a marriage. Oh, I didn’t mention that. We had no right being married or having children without seeing if “The Catucci-Briggs corp” could generate profits. Profits would be measured in units of dollars, but also smiles. We laughed a lot even without money. I think that laughter fueled our drive to get to the next steps and make money very strategically.

So when we had a few dollars, we joined legally. We also decided no children until we truly lived and explored. A 7 year of adventure it became. We moved into a new home and keep the rental home as an invest and retirement income. We had kids. And during those years, with all the great experimenting of life, we learned about things. And Apple computers and medical supply companies were making great products. So we invested in other peoples’ great plans, but only in things we used and knew very well. I still to this day, will not invest in boring, stagnant or dying industries. No banking, no insurance, no energy, no Microsoft, IBM or HP. That approach earned us 15% on average returns for 20 years.

Then came the collapse of the world economy in 2007-2008. We had just purchased a Bermuda property and I’m being told by every news media that things suck. And they suck bad and long. So the fed rate was dropped to nothing. Well, we were not able to take a mortage out for Newstead, Bermuda. So I opted for a line of credit. Well that rate dropped and I refinanced until it below 2%. Then in a moment of clarity and resolve, I used that low interest line of credit to pay off all mortage debts. Our rental home, our primary and the remaining money from Bermuda. Then instead of burning through the monies we had spending on our mortgages, I paid down the LOC until it was gone.

So today, debt free with stock portfolio in tow and wonderful past experiences, I’m taking a new step. My wife will continue to strive for her goal of running the world for a few more years and that helps with healthcare, but I think a yoga/hockey school is in her future.

My next blog will be about you. We learned plenty from you, what to do, what not to do, so yes…you.