Americans are chronically bad savers and investors. We all see the statistics on how half of Americans say they wouldn’t be able to cover an unexpected $500 expense and many others that frankly are troubling to see. On the other end of the spectrum, the top 10% of Americans own around 80% of all stocks held in our country. What are these people doing right you might ask? While many people assume you need to be rich to build a market fortune, success stories of hardworking citizens building 7-figure net-worths are not unheard of. We caught up with our friend who knows a thing or two about investing or finance. David Dardashti is a mid 40s father of two who fled racist persecution in the Middle East at a young age. After graduating from UC Berkeley, a top school which he regards highly, he has been investing and working in Chicago’s financial district ever since.
David believes the path to financial freedom has a fairly simple formula with easy to understand components. “You have your income and your spending. Now to get started, we first need to make a budget and make sure that all spending, everything from your mortgage payment and car to Netflix and nights out is less than what you make. Then we want to subtract the difference and build a position in the stock market”, he tells us. David recommends low-cost index funds and doesn’t recommend the average person buys individual stocks, to begin with. “The whole point is for you to slowly build up wealth. It might be hard at first but as months pass and years go on, this habit will become second nature and the benefits will show”, he said.
David believes in saving a minimum of 10-15% of post-tax income, and more if possible. “The key is to make use of time and compound interest. Use your 20s and 30s to your advantage to build positions in the market that will compound until you are ready to retire”. While David invests in real estate himself through positive cash-flowing rental properties, he doesn’t recommend it for the average person simply trying to take control of their finances. “For the vast majority of people, real estate takes a lot more time than setting up a recurring investment into an index fund that you will forget is even happening”. Evermore important arguably is taking advantage of tax-preferred investment accounts. “Check if your employer offers a company 401k and they might even match your deposits. If not then open up a Roth IRA and let your money grow with the advantage of a tax-benefited account.
As far as how to get motivated to begin this process, David speaks about how financial freedom has changed his life. “I do not believe that money buys happiness but it gives you time and options to do things that make you happy. I remember moving to this country and being broke. Instead of spending time with my family and doing what I loved, I had to work to survive.” David also believes that once the process of continual investing begins, small goes will work as motivation. Hitting milestones such as your first $10,000 in the market becomes exciting and before you know it, that amount grows to $100,000, and if you’re lucky, into a million at some point.
Follow David on twitter: @DavidDardashti_
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