I'm a private investor looking for investment ideas for my personal retirement that will hopefully arrive in 2030. After hiring advisers and just barely breaking even for many years, I started taking control of my own investing in 2005. I started out learning from the Motley Fool Stock Advisor and Hidden Gems newsletter services. I learned a lot about basic investing, but found the recommendations very hit or miss. I fared pretty well during the great recession of 2008/2009 and had the fortitude to be a buyer instead of a seller. My portfolio recovered well, but as my portfolio grew I began to dread the earnings announcements of my high growth companies and their volatility. I started seeking an alternative way to invest and found Seeking Alpha and David Van Knapp, whose articles just made sense to me. Since 2010 have been focused on building a widely diversified dividend growth portfolio. I am President and sole owner of a small corporation that performs Process Control/SCADA IT related consulting for the Oil and Gas industry. I also formerly owned a small number of rental properties in Alberta and Texas.
I'm retired. Bought the farm -- literally (in NE Texas).
I'm a boomer, not a depression era kid (it was my parents who lived through that mess). So I'm exaggerating a bit when I state that the "Great Depression" ran into the late 50's where I grew up (the Appalachia of the West). But I did go to bed hungry, dreaming of food, because there was literally nothing to eat. The family's grocery problem was eventually solved through the good graces of a religious charity, the assistance of friends and neighbors, the perseverance of my parents, and more than a little luck.
I believe those early lean times provided a wee-bit of incentive to not let those circumstances repeat themselves... I really dislike going hungry.
But I was lucky. I had clothes; usually ate on a regular basis; got a bath once a week in a tin wash tub, whether it was needed or wanted; got medical treatment for the slices, dices and broken bones that would have crippled me, treatment for the diseases that, left untreated, would have killed me; and had the opportunity to go to school. That was an opportunity I seized with both hands and did not let go.
I am by nature inherently lazy... given the choice between digging ditch with pick and shovel at $0.10/hour or sitting behind a desk writing software at hundreds of times that hourly rate... I decided not to dig ditches.
Now that I'm retired and own the farm, I dig ditches for free.
As a kid I read constantly... pretty much everything on just about anything. Cleaned out the local libraries (it was a very small town). "The Richest Man in Babylon", biographies of Hughes, Carnegie, Rockefeller, and others, histories, westerns, mysteries, SF. Remembered various parables about being unable to grasp opportunities because one had wasted his resources.
Can't say I always succeeded, but I tried. Towards the end of my career, managed to live on about 1/3 of my gross, saving and investing what was left after taxes and insurance, and still had opportunities for fun, recreation, travel and friends.
As a NASA Engineer, I wrote a large variety of software. Some of the more notable items were:
• an email management system for the Agency and its contractors (the project included writing the procedures; reporting and correcting third party data errors;
• designing, writing and testing the software; designing and implementing the database schema and queries; navigating inter-center politics; etc);
• a moving map software that flew twice aboard the Shuttle and displayed alternate landing sites in the event of a launch emergency;
• post landing wheel-tire-brake analysis software for the Shuttle (STS-1 to final-flight);
• a graphical, real-time dynamic software simulator for a 7-joint robot;
• a FMEA/CIL data processing system (software and procedures) for Return-to-Flight after the Challenger disaster;
• data structures & translation software for the Shuttle's Wake Shield Experiment; and
• a Shuttle-Station docking simulator.
Also designed, developed, tested and used a simulation language, a graphics processing language, and various computer language processing and analysis tools.
And then there was the "fun" NASA stuff... logging 40 minutes of zero-G time (and 40 minutes of 2G time), riding a 6-DOF shuttle simulator, working (and biking) with a handful of astronauts, SCUBA-ing in the WETF whilst observing astronauts using the tools my group designed, witnessing a Shuttle launch, doing Shuttle post-landing ground penetrometer studies at Edwards AFB, simulating shuttle tile repair whilst mounted horizontally on an air-bearing floor, mentoring younger engineers, and working with some of the best and brightest people I've met in my life.
In my free time:
• I developed commercial library management, scheduling and reporting software packages, wrote the user manuals, made onsite visits and learned a lot of humility;
• guest lectured and taught software development at universities.
• lived for years in various locales in northern Japan, participated in a traditional Japanese marriage ceremony (my own), helped my father-in-law with a bit of traditional Japanese construction near Sendai, and played Shogi whenever possible (Shogi is the Japanese version of chess. The local shogi master's shocked expression of total surprise when I beat him at the game was priceless ... To the master I was just an idiot "gaijin" [foreigner] and not worth his full attention. He won the next game.);
• lived for three months in Hawaii;
• made brief excursions to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
While at one time I could read, write, think, dream, and speak (without accent) in standard Japanese and could understand a bit of the Tsugaru and Zuzu-ben dialects, I don't practice much anymore.
My time in the US Army made me appreciate my MOS (a retired crypto sub-specialty) was not 11B.
I am a Civil Engineer, who is married with three kids under the age of 6. In early 2013 I took a more active role in managing my IRA for retirement and decided to publicly share my experiences in building the portfolio. My hope is to provide a positive example for other young do-it-yourself investors as they save for retirement on a limited budget.
My interest in investing mostly began in 2005 when I started up an investment club with a few friends from college and has accelerated as I've been reading and learning along the way. Since then, investing and the stock market has become a passion and favorite hobby and I've enjoyed writing about stocks and sharing ideas I have here on Seeking Alpha.
My investing goals are to build a nest egg for retirement and fund college education accounts for my kids. I invest mainly in dividend paying stocks that have shown a history of consistent growth in earnings and dividend payouts.
Building a portfolio of dividend-paying high-quality stocks to create a reliable and growing income stream starting in 2014.
For anyone starting out new on this path, I suggest reading everything written by following folks: Chowder, David Crosetti, Dividend Dynasty, Mike Nadel, David van Knapp, Robert Schwartz, Six, RichJoy, Bob Wells, and David Fish (CCC list).
Also read Single Best Investment by Lowell Miller (free pdf available using Google search), The Most Important Thing Illuminated by Howard Marks, get access to MorningStar Dividend Newsletter and ValueLine reports (both usually free at your local library).
Michael Hooper is a freelance writer and value investor. Hooper was previously business editor of The Topeka Capital-Journal for nearly 10 years, then worked four years as a trust officer. He has been a stock market investor since 1993.
I'm a self-directed investor who shares my experience in investing. I read, learn, and apply every day.
I write about value, dividend, and growth investing from the perspective of a Canadian. I invest in individual stocks on the US stock exchanges and the Toronto Stock Exchange.
I also offer an exclusive Marketplace service, DGI Across North America, which updates the buy targets of quality U.S. and Canadian dividend-growth stocks every month.
I have little experience with stocks. My theory is to be like a turtle, slow and steady until I can make it to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
I only buy 1 or 2 stocks a year. My stocks have to have a dividend and I only sell if the dividend goes to zero.
Investor since 1990, mostly index funds. Learning the art of value investing.
Education: B.A 1988 Tufts Univ., MBA 1994 Thunderbird School of Global Management
Career: Latin American Sales in Building Materials. Lived overseas 22 years.