We recently sat down with Thomas E. Jandt, the author of Your Money is Everything. As a seasoned Financial Advisor, Thomas has learned a lot about managing finances intelligently. See what he has to say about attaining wealth and keeping it, the best investments and how Americans are faring in today’s economic climate.
Q: Where did you come up with the idea for Your Money Is Everything?
A: A personal tragedy, coupled with two decades of service as a Financial Advisor through some of the most volatile markets in history taught me many life lessons, both personal and economic. Having become a millionaire 20 times over by the age of 30, I was blessed and fortunate to have been so lucky, but in half that time I learned personally that money is easier to make than to keep. I lost about 20 million dollars of hard earned capital by putting way too much trust and way too much money into too few opportunities and investments.
I was inspired to write down every mistake I ever made along with every successful investment strategy or savings technique ever deployed to create a “How to” book on financial wellness and the importance of saving and investing money in a safe and secure way. Money is often cast in a poor light, but the truth of the matter is, money is the single most important tool you can possess in a modern society.
Q: How did the idea evolve into a book?
A: Initially, I had always planned on writing a book called Boomer to Bust and even wrote the title on an outline for the book in the Spring of 2006 during the time I was publishing editorials in the American Chronicle and some magazines on the coming real estate crash due to the combination of overpriced homes, exotic mortgages and an aging population that would soon be downsizing from “McMansions” to smaller retirement sized homes.
However, as my predictions on real estate were realized, my business began to expand and my schedule was much too hectic to complete the book due to speaking engagements and seminar invitations to discuss how I was able to predict the housing crash and the ensuing market rally.
However, due to a family tragedy, I wouldn’t have much time to gloat in my achievements and abruptly decided to put any future public appearances on hold. On Labor Day morning in September of 2008, I received some news that shook me to my core and inspired me to pick up my laptop and begin writing, regardless of how many late nights and early mornings I would soon spend typing away.
Q: How do you think people mismanage their finances?
A: People spend too much on stuff they don’t need, they use debt too much and they don’t save nearly enough. Most importantly, they don’t invest enough to secure a strong financial future and when they do, the usually invest in the wrong assets.
Q: Are there common “money traps”?
A: Yes, the biggest money trap is putting money into the bank in cash, CDs, bonds, treasuries or any other “fixed” income investment that is supposedly safe, but will erode in value over time or will lose value if interest rates rise.
The perception of safety is dangerous. Keep in mind, six years ago the government and investment regulators like the SEC and FINRA considered Mortgage Backed Securities as a Triple A rated investment grade security. Some have lost nearly all value since the crisis! What is said to be safest is often one of the riskiest assets to hold.
Q: How do you think the recession is affecting the way people think about money?
A: Although I believe in protecting money from losses, I still strongly believe in the value of taking risk with capital to grow it for future needs and to keep up with inflation. The recession has caused a big percentage of the population to lose faith in stocks and real estate as an investment vehicle and that is probably the most harmful result of this recession.
Q. What trends are you seeing now in this country with money?
A: Government debt is outrageous, just like it is with consumers. It seems the majority of people in America have more debt than they have in cash, stock or other investments. This is a recipe for failure.
Q: Do you think people have learned anything from the recession?
A: As far as I can tell, nobody even noticed what really caused the financial crisis. We are headed for another Great Depression if they don’t wake up soon. In fact, if you look back at history, the markets recovered after the crash of 1929, too, but then rolled back over and dropped 80 percent from the highs.
I don’t think anyone respects the danger we’re currently in of rolling right back over the cliff. People are still fighting to keep homes they can’t afford, delusional that prices might come rallying back. People are still buying phones, tablets and other gadgets they don’t need, they’re buying new cars rather than just maintaining what they have and they’re still spending much more of what they earn than they are saving.
Unfortunately, due to the government sponsored stimulus, tax credits and other giveaways such as extended unemployment benefits and welfare, I don’t think many people took much away from the recession other than that they can always get money from the government to survive if things get tough. But pretty soon, the government won’t be able to keep many of those promises. That will be a reckoning day for many.
Q: If a reader had to take away one important idea from your book, what would it be?
A: Cherish life, cherish family and cherish your freedom here in America. But understand that you can’t properly enjoy, preserve and protect those things if you don’t have money. You must work hard, maintain a spending discipline and focus on a commitment to creating financial stability and wealth in order to provide for those whom you care about most.
Money isn’t bad, it’s good. The pursuit of money in and of itself known as greed is what’s negative. A pursuit of financial wellness is noble and necessary.
Thomas E. Jandt is the author of Your Money is Everything. He is currently the CEO of Hilton Thomas & Associates, Inc., a Real Estate Investment Company and the CEO of I3 Financial & Insurance Services, Inc. He also writes articles and opinion editorials to various trade journals and industry magazines.