Friday, December 3, 2010

Getting Rich is Simpler Than You Think


By Harry Domash

Here is the single most important thing you will ever hear about investing: Getting rich is simple.

Not easy, but simple.

And here is the second most important thing you will ever hear about investing: You have no excuse not to do it.

Only three ingredients are needed: income, discipline and time. Chances are, you already have two of them, income and time. All you need to do is add the third, discipline. And armed with the following knowledge, that key third ingredient may be a lot easier to find.

Here's how it works: Say you start with nothing, invest $500 (of your income) a month (a healthy discipline), and let your money ride (over time) in diversified investments. Long term, the stock market returns at least 10% annually. Assuming a 10% return, you'd have $102,000 after 10 years, $380,000 after 20 years, and $1.1 million in 30 years.

Here's a similar scenario: If you start with a nut of $50,000 and add only $250 per month, you'd have $180,000, $516.000 and $1.4 million after 10, 20, and 30 years, respectively. All this happens through the power of regular investing and a simple-but-powerful concept called compounding.


What is compounding?

Compounding is the reinvestment of the interest you receive from the money you set aside. For example, if you invest $1,000 and earn 10% interest on your principal at the end of each year, you'll get in $100 interest at the end of the first year. If you reinvest that interest, the second year you would start with $1,100, and thus would earn $110 interest. If you stay with it, you'd more than double your money every eight years.

"Compounding," Albert Einstein said, "is mankind's greatest invention because it allows for the reliable, systematic accumulation of wealth." Einstein was a smart man. But you hardly have to be a genius to make this concept work for you.

The real magic of investing comes when you combine the surprising power of compounding with continuous and regular investments -- in other words, discipline.

The best way to make these continuous investments happen is by setting up an account with a broker or mutual fund that automatically deducts a fixed amount from your bank account every month. "Automatic" is the operative word here. Trust me, if you don't set it up that way, it won't happen. Instead, you'll end up pouring money in when the market is soaring and skipping payments when it's heading down. Eventually you'll get discouraged and give up.

Dollar-cost averaging

The process of continuously investing a fixed dollar amount is called dollar-cost averaging -- a term that sounds much more technical than it is. Through dollar-cost averaging, you'll end up buying more shares when a stock or fund is down, and fewer when it's up. For instance, say you're investing $500 monthly in a stock trading initially at $50 per share; so the first time, you buy 10 shares. If the next month the stock moves up to $62.50 your regular purchase will net you only eight shares. However, if the stock drops to $41.67, you'll get 12 shares (not including any transaction fees).

It's easy to set up regular-investment mechanisms, thus harnessing the power of dollar-cost averaging. Mutual funds are the traditional way. But there are other outlets, as well, that allow you to apply the strategy with individual stocks or exchange-traded funds, which are baskets of stocks that identically track standard market indexes, such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU).


Sure, investing in the stock market has risk. There's always the chance the market will go nowhere for the next 20 or 30 years and you'll end up no better than where you started. But there's risk in everything, even CDs.

With CDs, your original investment isn't in danger. Most CDs are insured, and the federal government will step in and make you whole, even if your bank goes belly up.

But a problem crops up when something more sinister surfaces: inflation. At this writing, inflation, running at around 2%, is considered relatively benign. But is it?

Let's do some math. Your real return is the interest you receive less the inflation rate. If your CD is paying 3% and the inflation rate is 2%, you're only making 1% in real terms. If inflation takes off, say to 5%, your CD will probably be paying around 4%. In inflation-adjusted terms, you've lost 1%.

But it can get worse. Inflation hit 14% in the early 1980s. In such times, CDs and similar fixed-income investments don't even come close to the inflation rate, meaning you're losing serious money, in real terms.

By contrast, assets such as real estate and stocks tend to move with prices, and, over time, the stock market has outpaced inflation. For instance, in the 20-year period ending Dec. 31, 2001, the cumulative return of the market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index ($INX), was 1,606%, compared to 88% cumulative inflation over the same period.

What's the point? Yes, there's risk in investing in the market, but the odds are that continuous, regular investing combined with the power of compounding will make you rich.

The odds

If you count yourself a member of the "I want it now" generation, the idea of waiting 20 or 30 years to get rich probably sounds like a dumb idea.

Sure, there are faster ways to get rich. You could win the lottery, or pick the next Intel (INTC, news, msgs) or Wal-Mart Stores (WMT, news, msgs). But don't quit your day job just yet. Your chances of winning big in the lottery run around 15 million to 1, at best.

Meantime, naturally, you would be sitting pretty if you had had the foresight to plunk significant cash into Intel or Wal-Mart 20 years ago. But consider this: You would have lost money if you'd picked Advanced Micro Devices (AMD, news, msgs) instead of Intel, and you'd be broke if you'd picked Kmart (SHLD, news, msgs) (which ended up merging with Sears Roebuck) instead of Wal-Mart. In both instances, your retirement plans would be history.

Here's the bottom line, like it or not: The fate of your retirement, your comfort in older age, probably lies in your commitment to the concepts laid out in the paragraphs above. For the vast majority of us, wealth creation is a slow and steady -- and powerful -- process. The tortoise almost always beats the hare.

It's not easy. But it's very, very simple.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Rags to Riches Billionaire Story # 1


Ingvar Kamprad
Net worth: $31 billion

World’s richest retailer and founder of furniture store Ikea.

Kamprad began to develop a business as a young boy, selling matches to neighbors from his bicycle. He found that he could buy matches in bulk very cheaply from Stockholm, sell them individually at a low price and still make a good profit. From matches, he expanded to selling fish, Christmas tree decorations, seeds and later ball-point pens and pencils. When Kamprad was 17, his father gave him a reward for succeeding in his studies. He used this money to establish what has grown into IKEA.

The acronym IKEA is made up of the initials of his name (Ingvar Kamprad) plus those of Elmtaryd, the family farm where he was born; and the nearby village Agunnaryd.

Kamprad has admitted that his dyslexia played a large part in the inner workings of the company. For example, the Swedish-sounding names of the furniture sold by IKEA were originally chosen by Kamprad because he had difficulty remembering numeral stock-keeping units.

Reputed to be quite frugal: flies economy class, frequents inexpensive restaurants, furnishes his home with Ikea ware.

Rags to Riches Billionaire Story # 2


Li Ka-shing
Net worth: $26.5 billion

Li fled turbulent China in 1940 and resettled in Hong Kong. Li’s father died in Hong Kong.

Shouldering the responsibility of looking after the livelihood of the family, Li was forced to leave school before the age of 15 and found a job in a plastics trading company where he labored 16 hours a day.

By 1950, his hard work, prudence and his pursuit of excellence had enabled him to start his own company, Cheung Kong Industries. From manufacturing plastics, Li led and developed his company into a leading real estate investment company in Hong Kong that was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1972.

Rags to Riches Billionaire Story # 3


Roman Abramovich
Net worth: $23.5 billion

Orphaned at age 4, Abramovich was raised by his uncle and grandmother. He dropped out of college and eventually made a fortune after taking over Russian oil giant Sibneft, which he later sold.

Roman, was gifted with a talent for business and being in the right place at the right time as he started his career as an entrepreneur just as Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms permitted the opening of small private businesses.

He began his business career selling plastic ducks from a grim Moscow apartment but, within a few years, Abramovich’s vast wealth spread from oil conglomerates to pig farms, and secured his place within Yeltsin’s inner circle. However, even today, his task force of bodyguards and armoured Mercedes testify to the high-risk nature of capitalism in post-Soviet Russia.

Rags to Riches Billionaire Story # 4


Sheldon Adelson
Net worth: $26 billion

The son of a Boston cabdriver, he borrowed $200 from an uncle to sell newspapers at age 12. Later, he dropped out of college to become a court reporter. Now a casino and hotel magnate, Adelson took his Las Vegas Sands public in December 2004.

He worked at a young age selling newspapers on local street corners and owned his first business by the time he was twelve. In the years that followed, he worked as a mortgage broker, investment adviser and financial consultant. He started a business selling toiletry kits, and in the 1960s he started a charter tours business with two friends. He went to college at City College of New York but did not complete a degree there.

The basis for Adelson’s wealth and current investments was the computer trade show COMDEX, which he and his partners developed for the computer industry; the first show was in 1979. It was the premier computer trade show through much of the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1988, Adelson and his partners purchased the Sands Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, the former hangout of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, in order to bring Las Vegas to a new phase of business centricity through the exhibition industry.

Rags to Riches Billionaire Story # 5


Amancio Ortega
Net worth: $20.2 billion

Son of a railway worker Ortega apparently got started as a clerk in a shirt store. With $25 and help from his then wife Rosalia Mera, now also a billionaire, he began making gowns in his living room.

In 1975 he opened the first store in what would grow into the enormously popular chain of fashion stores called Zara.

Rags to Riches Billionaire Story # 6


Kirk Kerkorian
Net worth: $16 billion

Son of Armenian immigrants, he dropped out of school in the eighth grade and took up boxing.

Kirk Kerkorian was born on June 6, 1917 in Fresno, California, to Armenian immigrant parents. Dropping out of school in 8th grade, he became a fairly skilled amateur boxer under the tutelage of his older brother, fighting under the name “Rifle Right Kerkorian” to win the Pacific amateur welterweight champion.

After the war, having saved most of his wages, Kerkorian spent $5,000 on a Cessna. He worked as a general aviation pilot, and made his first visit to Las Vegas in 1944. After spending much time in Las Vegas during the 1940s, Kerkorian quit gambling and in 1947 paid $60,000 for Trans International Airlines, which was a small air-charter service which flew gamblers from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

He then bid on some war surplus bombers, using money on loan from the Seagrams family. Gasoline, and especially airplane fuel, was in short supply at the time, so he sold the fuel from the planes’ tanks, paid off his loan – and still had the airplanes. He operated the airline until 1968 when he sold it for $104 million to the Transamerica Corporation.

Later, he made billions buying and selling movie studio MGM. Today his MGM Mirage owns more than half the hotel rooms on the Las Vegas Strip

Rags to Riches Billionaire Story # 7


Oprah Winfrey
Net worth: $2.5 billion

Born in rural Mississippi to a poor unwed teenaged mother, and later raised in an inner city Milwaukee neighborhood, Winfrey was raped at the age of nine, and at fourteen, gave birth to a son who died in infancy. Sent to live with the man she calls her father, a barber in Tennessee, Winfrey landed a job in radio while still in high school and began co-anchoring the local evening news at the age of 19.

Her emotional ad-lib delivery eventually got her transferred to the daytime talk show arena, and after boosting a third-rated local Chicago talk show to first place, she launched her own production company and became internationally syndicated.

Winfrey became a millionaire at age 32 when her talk show went national. Because of the amount of revenue the show generated, Winfrey was in a position to negotiate ownership of the show and start her own production company. By 1994 the show’s ratings were still thriving and Winfrey negotiated a contract that earned her nine figures a year.

Considered the richest woman in entertainment

by the early 1990s, at age 41 Winfrey’s wealth crossed another milestone when with a net worth of $340 million, she replaced Bill Cosby as the only African American on the Forbes 400. Although blacks are 12% of the U.S. population, Winfrey has remained the only black person wealthy enough to rank among America’s 400 richest people nearly every year since 1995.

Rags to Riches Billionaire Story # 8


Micky Jagtiani
Net worth: $2.5 billion

Jagtiani flunked out of accounting school in London and took up driving taxis and cleaning hotel rooms to pay the bills and support a bottle of whiskey a day habit. He then lost his entire family to illness in the span of one year.

Just 21 and alone in Bahrain with $6,000 of his and his family’s savings, he took over the retail space his brother had leased before dying of cancer and started selling baby products. Chain is now one of the most profitable retail groups in the Middle East.

Thirty years after he landed up in Bahrain the Dubai-based CEO of Landmark group has built himself one the largest and most profitable retail chains in the Middle East, with more than 280 stores, 6,000 employees and an estimated $650 million in revenues

Rags to Riches Billionaire Story # 9


Richard Desmond
Net worth: $2 billion

After his parents divorced, Desmond lived with his mother in a garage apartment. Quit school at age 14 to become a drummer and worked in a coat-check room to help pay the bills.

His first job was for Thomson Newspapers, working in classified advertisements. He moved on to another company and by the age of 21 he owned two record shops. He acquired an interest in publishing and in 1974 published a magazine called International Musician and Recording World.

Started his first magazine at age 22 and now owns dozens of titles, including celebrity rag OK!.


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