Mar 19, 2013 ~ Interviews    No Comments
Posted by Dan Mastromonaco

Marvin: A Path To Financial Freedom Through Self Actualization, Transparency & Investing

Personal finance investment leader and advocate for the ‘Average Joe,’ Marvin from shares how the economic fall of 2008 lead him to seek true financial freedom. His stance of self education, coupled with a transparent looking into his personal stock portfolio, gives users a glimpse into what they can achieve for themselves. Here’s Marvin:

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do?

I am a 29 year old husband, father, and blogger who has a deep passion for personal finance and investing. I come from a military family, my parents served for 20 years and I have served as well. While I did not serve 20 years like my parents I have been a part of public service for close to 3 decades. It is ingrained in my soul and something that I hold very close to my moral compass. During the 2007-2008 economic collapse I saw many lives destroyed (economically) in a very short time period without warning. This made me question the financial system that I thought I knew so well. How could someone who did everything right by investing in a 401k, having an emergency fund, and investing in a home lose half of their wealth in such a short time period.
This began my journey towards educating others about personal finance and investing.

2. On your site, you post your income reports and your personal finance goals for 2013. What makes you so candid when talking about your own finances. How can this transparency benefit others?

I believe in integrity and accountability. A lot of people talk about making money in the stock market but rarely display their finances. I believe if I’m going to earn anyone’s trust complete transparency is the way to go about it. Additionally, by posting my monthly income reports it forces me to stay focused and motivated to achieve my goals. I wish I could articulate the feeling I have when I post my goals to the world, but in short I hate the feeling of failure and work my butt off to ensure I accomplish my goals.

3. As a budgeting resources website, we believe in money management as a way to reach personal finance goals. In your opinion, how can budgeting practices lead to personal finance success? What advice would you give to users who aren’t currently budgeting to get ahead of the financial curve?

If people want any chance of financial security and independence, establishing a budget is the number one thing they must do, period. No matter how much money you or your family makes, you must simply spend less than you earn. Unbeknownst to many people, there is a war being waged against your personal finances. I know some may laugh at that statement, but it’s the truth. Every single day your dollars are under attack and if you don’t have a well defined strategy and defense (budget) you will find your Army wiped out! Ok enough Army jargon.

If you want any real shot of building wealth that you can pass to your children and your children’s children you must acquire assets. Whether they be stocks, real estate, businesses, etc it really doesn’t matter, but what does matter is you will never be able to acquire these assets if you don’t have the capital because you are in significant debt or don’t have any money leftover at the end of the month.

4. What does financial freedom mean to you. What role does investing play in becoming financially free?

In my opinion too many people let Hollywood or the mainstream media define “financial freedom.” Financial freedom to me is a very simple equation, when my investments provide enough passive income to cover my monthly expenses I am financially free. Plain and simple, I don’t need nor want a fancy car or a McMansion. I am a simple man who loves spending time with his family. This is why I have dedicated the last 5 years of my life educating my self on investing and diligently building a dividend growth portfolio. My goal is to reinvest the dividends from my positions over the next 10-20 years until they can cover our family’s expenses.

5. What are some tips that you can give to beginner investors who are just starting out?

In short, learn how to properly value a business. Do not purchase a single stock without knowing how the company operates and makes money. Research the history of the stock market, more specifically focus on understanding what creates secular bull and bear markets. After this I advise you read, read, then read some more. I believe that education is critical, not schooling but self education. Reading is absolutely vital for an ambitious mind. For example, my goal is to read 30 books this year with the vast majority being financial, business or self-help. By reading, I not only learn more information on the topic I’m studying, but I also become better at analyzing an argument, forming my own, articulating my ideas, and especially writing. These are all critical things that are vital for an aspiring person or venture. It could mean the difference between stumbling over a business idea in an elevator speech, or blowing someone away with the clarity and brevity of an idea.

6. Do you have any examples or stories of anyone who has struggled in the area of personal finance and overcame their obstacles to reach their financial goals? Please share.

Unfortunately talking about money is viewed as taboo in our society. Why, I will never understand. I have never really had anyone open up to me about their entire personal finance problems. I can say that my wife had approximately $20k in student loans and $10k auto loan when we moved in together and after a year they were completely paid off. I wish I could say she did something drastic and phenomenal but she didn’t. We simply didn’t eat out for an entire year, cancelled all luxury subscriptions (cable, magazines, gym, etc). Of course us splitting rent helped a lot but at the end of the day she simply saved about 75% of her take home pay.

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