In May 2012 my wife switched jobs, giving her an opportunity to rollover her 401K. Like many, she was (and remains) intimidated by investing. Together, we setup a small portfolio with her rollover that followed some investing principles I’d been using since 1980.
Unlike my own portfolio, which has had many deposits & withdrawals, my wife’s was simpler. One deposit, zero withdrawals. Any additional contributions to her retirement would be made elsewhere to capture the matching benefit provided by her new employer.
Over time I’d track her portfolio and give her updates when good things happened (when she got a raise each month, some months two raises). These summaries got her interested (for the first time) in her progress.
Our discussions helped me realize that I had a knack for explaining this stuff in an engaging and meaningful way. At the same time, the simplicity of her portfolio clarified a lot of the benefits of my investing principles, in a way I hadn’t realized managing my own accounts (which have grown in complexity over time).
In July 2012, I started writing (I’d be at ‘Wichcraft at 7:00AM and write until I had to start working). Not only was I having fun, it crystalized my own personal core competency. Explaining the complex, simply and meaningfully. That last bit, ‘meaningfully’ is important. So often smart people explain things so well, the audience is left with a big “why should I care?”.
Over time, I developed a bit of a marketing strategy that led me to initially focus on 401K rollovers. The Elephant’s Paycheck Blueprint applies equally well to non-retirement accounts, it’s just harder to explain simply. Two examples of the complexity eliminated by focusing on retirement accounts are taking a long term view and the impact of taxes. An IRA account is by definition long term investing because of the penalties involved with early withdrawals. Also, IRA’s are tax deferred so there are no tax calculations to consider. The tax calculations only make the justification more complicated and I really wanted to simplify as much as possible. Of course, people rolling over their 401K’s are a segment that is easy to identify. Since I could identify them, I could communicate to them more clearly than I could to a broader audience.
Not only am I having fun writing, I’m having fun creating something that people can use to invest well. I believe that wealth requires investing, but that there’s so much fear and confusion around the topic of money, most people can’t get started. It bugs the heck out of me that people are too afraid to open their statements at the end of the month! As a young teenager, I remember anxiously waiting for my quarterly statements in the mail showing me how much my investment (and investment income) had grown. It was only pennies, but clearly there was something that resonated with me if I’m sitting here 30+ years later writing about it.
With the Elephant’s Paycheck Blueprint, you can get started with as little as $5 (none of which comes to me). And, I’ve been coaching a few close friends as I write to develop my ideas in a way that can be communicated clearly. Actors, freelancers, young professionals… they’re not rolling over their 401K’s, but they’re using the Elephant’s Paycheck Blueprint to get their start at building wealth. In fact, just this morning, someone emailed me:
I like that I have more of a “personal” relationship to the companies in which I am investing with the elephant’s paycheck plan.
It’s the craft of creating that’s teaching me a lot, and the real reason (for now) that I’m doing this. I like the terminology Guy Kawasaki uses in his book ‘APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur — How to Publish a Book’. He uses the phrase “artisanal publishing”. It’s about the craft. The craft of writing. The craft of getting this website done. The craft of marketing my ideas in a way that builds value & community. These are crafts important to my day job (as a software marketing person), and using them differently than normal is helping me understand them much better.
Since the blueprint focuses on income investing, I came up with the idea to use a metaphor of The Elephant in the Room (personal investing, a topic people hardly talk about honestly) as the subject of the blueprint. We put the Elephant in the Room to work, and he comes home with a paycheck. In fact, he gets better raises than most of us, at least as far as the payroll statistics seem to indicate.
That brings us to the present. This site will help me build an audience and develop my ideas so that I can publish the Elephant’s Paycheck Blueprint. However, it’s not just about me. I’ve created a free 10-part email course for you that explains the whole thing — the theory, how to get started, and how to maintain your portfolio over time. The course includes an investment selection worksheet and a tracking spreadsheet so you can monitor your results over time. No prior investing experience required.
You should join over 1,200 smart investors today, and sign up:
Money Making Money
I wrote a free email course specifically for people who want to get started investing. In it, I will teach you how to get started with as little as $10 using Stockpile, and then walk you through my unique metrics designed for you to have fun and stay motivated to build a healthy investing habit.
Course attendees can download a spreadsheet template that I’ve created to highlight these metrics. I even share a tutorial that you can use to setup your own tracker.