“We’re nobody special–just a couple that got really focused on our investment strategy.”
The truth is, David and Sharon are anything but an ordinary couple. They’ve both found success in corporate America, struck out on their own as entrepreneurs, and have put their capable heads together to design their ideal life and future together.
Their secret is deceptively simple. It’s all about being intentional–with time, energy, and investment.
“We’re big believers that you have to be intentional about your finances,” something David says they first picked up from budgeting and planning guru Dave Ramsey. For David and Sharon, intentional investing is about careful budgeting, planning proactively, and knowing–rather than guessing–about the future.
Illustrating the mountains they can move by being intentional together, David and Sharon recently decided to pay off a $100,000 HELOC loan on their home…in two months. “We set our minds to it, moved things around, made sacrifices, and paid it off.”
Unsurprisingly, this couple brings the same laser focus to their investment strategy.
“We’ve spent a lot of time investing in our knowledge of the stock market, and unfortunately, our return on that investment has not been great,” says David. “For the amount of education, training, and events we pursued, we haven’t found a lot of success in that arena.”
However, the couple experienced different results with real estate investment, according to Sharon. “I spent a significant amount of time listening to the Bigger Pockets podcast, and that’s actually where we found Ashcroft. We deployed some of the concepts, principles, and strategies that we picked up, and that’s how we decided to invest.”
David adds that after a wide search, they narrowed their syndicate investment firms down to a final two, and invested equal amounts with both to watch the returns. “With Ashcroft, we started out with six percent returns, delivered as promised. Then there was some overage, and we were happy to learn Ashcroft planned to step it up to seven percent the next year.” From there, David and Sharon continued to expand their real estate investment portfolio as their confidence in Ashcroft grew.
“At the beginning of 2010, I wasn’t sure I’d ever retire. Now we’re able to think about when, not if, that will be.”
But it wasn’t just the consistent returns that drew this couple to Ashcroft, David and Sharon credit their relationships with the team, other investor reviews, and deep experience and expertise as key factors in their decision.
Looking back over their years with Ashcroft, Sharon notes that one of her favorite aspects is the opportunity to build community with fellow investors. “The regular meetups help us stay connected, and we take pleasure in attending them to have face to face conversations with our contacts at Ashcroft–as well as other investors who tell us about their experiences and what else they’re looking into.”
David describes how they debrief in the car ride home after every meetup: “You compare notes and learn from each other’s mistakes. One important thing I have learned from the investment community is, ‘Don’t try to do it alone.’”
“Learning from our community is so much easier now, and we’re able to avoid many mistakes before making them.”
Learning from the Roadblocks
David isn’t shy about sharing the lessons he’s learned from his own mistakes; he loves to help educate others on business and investing. “What you get when you don’t get what you wanted is experience. And I value that.”
Recounting a particularly poignant lesson from his early investment days, David says “I made a buy on a stock when it was taking off from 50 cents to a dollar within a week. I bought in at a dollar a stock, 4000 shares, and later ended up wallpapering my office with the certificates, because that’s all they were worth.”
That experience taught David that he isn’t a “get rich quick” kind of person, and he learned about his risk tolerance along the way. “The stock market is a rollercoaster, and you can get really hurt on a wild ride; very rarely is it obvious when you should get on and get off. The biggest thing I learned is if you’re looking for a tip to beat the market, by the time it gets to you, it’s too late.”
Now, David stresses the importance of being real about how much risk you’re willing to take on. “If you don’t know your risk tolerance, you better learn or develop what you’re comfortable with. As far as real estate risk, we’re very calculative, and our best way to deal with risk is through diversification. Sharon likes to say that we own one toilet in each of our multifamily investments. And our portfolio includes about a dozen different investments right now, including short term rentals and single-family homes.”
Looking Forward to the Future
Because of their intentional investment strategy, this couple is ready to take on the future–a future that doesn’t include clocking in and out every day. According to Sharon, “We want to get to a point where we can replace our income through the investment strategies we deploy. Eventually we will retire from our W2 jobs, but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop working.”
“As we think about our retirement and the future, I would have to say we’re more confident than we’ve ever been. We know that our money is working for us and what we’re going to get.”
David echoes Sharon’s calm confidence. “We look at each other right now and say we’re okay; we’re good; we like the path we’re on–even in the economic downturn. While everything else has taken a huge dive, our real estate investments have continued to return.”
This confidence has even inspired David and Sharon to actively pursue one of their more fantastic dreams. “We’ve joked forever about a sea condo. We’re cruise people. I found one the other day, ran some numbers, and told Sharon it’s not so crazy after all! What once was a dream might just become a plan in the making,” David says with a chuckle.
Their plan for retirement bliss may be on another wavelength, but they aren’t bothered. David whispers the best part, “when people say, ‘But don’t you get bored?’ we just smile and say with pleasure, ‘Absolutely!’”
Photographed below, David Nelson and wife Sharon