Welcome to the very first episode of UnCommon Cents.
I'm your host, Jennifer Foster, and I am so grateful that you have decided to join me today. And, I thought- what better way to start this podcast than by giving you an opportunity to get to know me better. So if it's okay, I'm going to share my story with you. Like many others, I grew up in a broken home. My parents had divorced before I was even two years old and at the age of eight, I moved to the beautiful town of Jupiter, Florida to live with my father and my stepmother Prior to moving, I had experienced abuse. And to be honest, I'm not telling you this to make you uncomfortable. But when I was in school, I found it really hard to focus because I thought that everybody knew what was happening to me. And in fact, I thought they were all in on the plan. It just made it really hard for me to focus in school. So I grew up not being a good student. In fact, I'm the girl who should have never, ever have graduated high school. In my senior year, I had a teacher who asked me what grade I wanted in math class, and I was just shocked. My teacher is asking me what grade I wanted, and she wasn't asking me in a way, like to encourage me to get that grade. She literally asked me what grade I wanted. So I told her a "C", and then she said to me "are you sure?" I'm like, OK, "B", she asks if that is it. I was thinking there is no way my parents would believe that I got an "A" in math. Well, to this teacher's defense, I found out later that she had a tumor the size of a golf ball on her brain. I also had other teachers who tried helping me pass, they would just tell me to write some current events, and they would give me so many points for each one. I just had to figure out how many current events I'd have to write in order to get enough points to pass. Literally , I should have never graduated high school.
Shortly after graduating high school, I found myself pregnant and homeless.
And, as you can imagine as a single parent things were pretty tough financially. To add to that I didn't really learn much about managing money, budgeting, saving, or any of that growing up, so that only added to the difficulties financially.
I decided I needed to go to college. And even though I hadn't been a good student in the past, and I had to start with all prep classes- I found out that I was pretty smart. My problem growing up wasn't a lack of intelligence. It was just a lack of focus. After a few years of college, I was in a car accident and in 2003 I had undergone a spinal surgery. At that time, I couldn't return to the work I was doing before, so I needed to do something else. Remember when I told you at the age of 20 I found myself pregnant and homeless? I had walked into a crisis pregnancy center and I met this amazing woman who gave me a pregnancy test, and she sat down with me and talked with me. She told me that if I needed anything that she was there to help, and honestly, I left that day thinking I'll be fine. But the very next day I called her and I needed help. From that day on, she remained in my life. She helped me find a place to live while I was pregnant. And then after my surgery, she helped me find a place to work.
I ended up going to work for her husband, Roy, who had a Tax and Accounting firm , and may I remind you, I'm the girl who should have never graduated high school. I don't know anything about Accounting, and remember, my teacher gave me a "B" in math. Nonetheless, I was hired to be an assistant basically to file, answer phones, and do all those clerical types of tasks. I was so excited. I had a big girl job for the first time. I even went out and bought some nice office clothes and a brief case lithesome post-it-notes, and pens.
Soon after arriving at the job, he put me to work learning how to do data entry. I think he did that just so I could stop annoying him asking him by asking what to do next? I also was able to learn how to accounts payable, accounts receivable, run payroll, and even process payroll tax reports. I was learning the business and so many valuable skills, yet I still struggled financially.
My boss, Roy, he's the CPA, had previously worked in the Investing Services industry. However, he was so fed up with the industry that he decided to focus on his tax and accounting firm. What had him so frustrated that he would go to these conventions and they parade these different money managers across the stage, and then they'd be encouraging their advisers to put their money with these managers, and then they wouldn't perform like they had in the past. Here he was putting clients with these managers expecting great results. He was so frustrated and decided he just had to get out of the industry and focus on his Tax business.
While Roy was preparing tax returns, he had noticed that two specific elderly female clients had losses on their investments in the years when the markets were up. He thought, what is going on here? They should be making money, and they're not. A few short years before this he had gone to Mason, Ohio. Have you been to Mason, Ohio. It is probably the last place on the planet anybody would want to go. Miles of cornfields, and let's not talk about the winter, it's super cold and miserable. Reluctantly, Roy gets on a plane and flies out to Mason, Ohio, to meet this young guy, his name is Mark. He went because he heard that he has this different approach to investing. Roy's former employer, told him that he needs to go see this. Skeptically he decides to go check it out. When he arrives, he gets an opportunity to hear debate between two men. One is an active money manager and one uses Academic Investing Principles. Now, he finally found the solution he had been looking for. He knew at this point he had a solution for his elderly clients, and he knew he had to help them.
This approach that he was about to embark on wasn't a typical investing approach, but it was focused on Academic Investing, while coaching and educating investors, not to sell them something. Roy comes to me one day, you know me, the girl who should have never graduated high school, who has no marketing experience whatsoever, and asks me to invite people to an event. I end up sending out an email, and it basically says this "Join us for Separating the Myths from the Truths of Investing, on this day, at this time, and at this location - that was about it. Then I started getting phone calls and people were asking me what the event was about. I was like, I have no idea. That's what you come for right? Come to find out what it's about. I realized very quickly that I needed to let them know what it was going to be about. I started reading all the workbooks, studying the power points, and watching the videos of our coach Mark leading these various events. And, this is how I started learning investing.