Letter: Invest in your future

Invest in your future

Choosing the right career is an important part of life. The average person works at least one-third of their life. Choose something you enjoy and are good at. College or tech school is an important part of the choice, but also think about retirement and health care. Some companies offer retirement and medical plans upon your retirement. The military offers great retirement and lifelong medical plans if you retire after at least 20 years of service. My dad was a jet mechanic for the Air Force and served 26 years in a career he loved with a good retirement plan. Two of my uncles retired from Coca-Cola with good plans and never hurt for money after they retired. They invested and saved. One uncle put $25 into savings from every check, starting in the 1960s and retiring in the 1970s — $25 went a lot further then than now.

Young people may have a hard time saving due to bills when starting out, but even $5 or $10 a paycheck will add up, and you can increase the amount as you get older and more stable. Save it and don’t touch it; you will be amazed at how much you can save.

There are a lot of ways to invest — stocks, real estate and more. If I had borrowed $10,000 and bought stock in Home Depot when the first store opened right down the road from where I lived at the time in Georgia, I’d be very wealthy today. But choose wisely and educate yourself.

Personally, I was in the construction business all of my adult life, welding for about three years after tech school, then taking auto mechanics. I was good at it and enjoyed it. Not really a healthy trade, so I started my own business at age 21, asphalt maintenance, seal-coating, paint striping. It was easy to get into without a lot of startup costs, but the work was seasonal so I branched out into construction. I started small and grew, always asking questions and learning more.

I did well with real estate over the past 20 years, buying and selling fixer-uppers. I once bought an acre with a house that needed to be torn down and tons of debris in the yard for about $2,000 plus a plane ticket for the owner to move south, and sold the property for $50,000 with 8 percent interest, making a nice profit after cleaning and debris removal.

Rentals have not been as good for us, with too many bad renters. I’d suggest hiring a property manager; they get a portion of the monthly payment, but it is worth it for the owner.

Study, ask questions from people who have done what you want to do before making an investment. Educate yourself as much as possible; I cannot emphasize that enough.

Carlos Cody Hartley,