“I want to be able to walk
into the grocery store and
not look at the prices.
I just want to buy what I need
and not worry about it.”
Late last year, a book came out called, “How I Invest My Money: Finance Experts Reveal How They Save, Spend, and Invest.” The thought behind the book was that while these “experts” tell us how to save and spend, we rarely get to hear how they treat their finances. The funny thing is all of these “experts” have different “why’s” for their behaviors and various stories for how they came to invest/save their way.
I recently celebrated my 12-year anniversary with KWB Wealth; it’s been an extremely rewarding career thus far and I believe this will be the last place I work. However, many of our clients don’t know “the guy behind the portfolios” and that’s great! It means your advisor is thoroughly explaining our process and the reasoning behind our model portfolios. So, this Quarterly Newsletter, I decided to introduce myself more formally, offer my background, and share how I handle my personal finances.
Hi, everyone! I’m Steve Gormley the Director of Portfolio Management for KWB Wealth. I grew up in Ontario (always been an Inland Empire boy) and was the middle child of three kids. My parents did the best they could when I was young, but when it comes down to it, we were poor. There were stretches of my life where we lived with other family members, in hotels, in the back of my parents’ truck, or even sneakily living at my mom’s work. I’ve never really talked to my parents about this time in my life (never been sure if they would have even been comfortable talking about it), but it definitely shaped who I am today.
Thankfully, at about age six or so, my home situation became more stable. We never had much, but we never really wanted for anything either. My parents worked really hard to give us a better life after all we went through earlier. I grew up playing baseball and I was good – always making All-Star teams and even played through college. I was also a very good student, pretty much getting straight As through high school. I always knew I was going to go to college, but I never really spoke about it with my parents. They kind of just expected me to make my decisions for myself, and they’d help out as much as they could. I ended up at the University of Redlands. I loved the campus and wanted to stay close to home – my dad was in poor health and would pass away soon after I graduated. However, despite his poor health, he and my mom made it to EVERY SINGLE baseball game I had in college.
After college, I got a job through Monster.com at a small firm in Redlands. I was there for three and a half years before the Great Financial Crisis hit. I lost my job in November 2008. I was unemployed for a little over six months, and during that time I scraped by on Ramen noodles and had my car repossessed.
However, in May 2009 I was hired at KWB and things started to turn around. I met my wife the next year, married her in 2013, bought a house in Yucaipa later that year, and have since had two kids, Daniel (7) and Maggie (3).
So, what does all that backstory have to do with how I save/invest my money? EVERYTHING.
First, I’ll start with my emergency savings. I always have at least 3-6 months’ worth of cash on hand for anything life throws at my family. This number might swell higher as my wife and I save for an annual vacation (a vacation was something I never really went on as a kid). While we aren’t afraid of using credit cards, we always pay them off at the end of each month – we love those rewards.
In the last few years, my wife and I finally paid off our student loans. The only debt we have is our mortgage and one car loan. After losing my job in 2008, I never thought I’d own a home. To me, the difference between renting and owning was negligible after you take ownership costs into account. But, when my wife was pregnant with Daniel, my view totally changed. Having stable shelter - something I couldn’t count on as a young child - became of the utmost importance. We bought near the real estate lows in 2013, and since then our home has appreciated steadily in value. We have refinanced our home twice, and our interest rate is now 2.25%. Recently, we purchased 20-year term life insurance (we should have done it sooner) and are in the process of setting up a trust (ditto).
As for investing, you’d think a Director of Portfolio Management would have a portfolio mixed with assets, like stocks and options and maybe even some cryptocurrencies. Nope! I’m as plain vanilla as they come. I invest my 401(k) contributions in low-cost products in the same style as our Benchmark — Aggressive model. I am confident in the long-term prospects of companies and the economy, so I’m comfortable being 100% in equities for now. My wife invests her 401(k) in the same way. We also have a profit-sharing plan here at KWB, and we invest it in our models as well. So, all my investable assets are invested the same way we invest our clients’ accounts. I believe we’ve constructed great models for our clients, and I want to be invested right alongside them.
As for individual stocks and things like cryptocurrencies, I just can’t see myself ever getting involved in them. I think for a specific type of person with a certain temperament, they can make sense. But, for that little kid living in the back of a truck, and that young adult who lost his job and his car, I can’t go down that road...at least not yet. For now, I would rather get rich slowly, letting compounding do the work over the rest of my life. Saving all that I can today for the future me, while still enjoying life today once we’ve saved enough.
My wife and I love to travel and want to give our kids more opportunities to see the world than we ever had growing up. I also enjoy golf and drinking Irish whiskey and bourbon. So, I get to spend a little bit on me every once in a while, too.
I’ll finish where this newsletter started. The quote at the beginning of the newsletter is my own.
About a year or so after I started at KWB, Kerry brought me into his office and we were talking about life and what I wanted for myself. I told him about going to the grocery store. Every time I’d ever gone to the grocery store, my entire life, I had to pay attention to how much I was spending. I didn’t want to do that anymore. If I wanted to buy a steak or a nice piece of fish, I didn’t want to have to check my bank account first.Now, I still do check my bank account, but just out of habit at this point.
A few years ago, Kerry made a few of us partners at KWB.While I know the market will fluctuate, I think I have put my family on a solid foundation for the future. It might be a little conservative, but I take the risks I think will put my kids on a successful path. One where they can take more risks because of the foundation of love and opportunity that my wife and I have given them. I promise to be more open with my kids than my parents were, but it’s a lot easier to be open when things have gone so much better for me. I’m so grateful for all my parents did for my siblings and I growing up. They put us on the path to success, even if times were hard for them. We are the American Dream realized.
Now, my colleagues at KWB invest very differently from me and from each other. Their stories and backgrounds have led them to their investing mentality. There is no “right” way to save, invest, and spend your money. You have to do what’s best for you and what helps you sleep at night. It’s our job at KWB to help you along that path. We don’t judge our clients for what they have or how they got to where they are. We just want to help them do the best they can to realize their goals and dreams.
As always, if you have any questions please contact us and stay safe.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested directly.
No strategy assures success or protects against loss. The economic forecasts set forth in this newsletter may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through KWB Wealth, a registered investment advisor and separate entity from LPL Financial.