It’s almost 8 p.m. on Wednesday, the last night of April 2014. I am sitting at my desk at home using a light hooked up to my generator, staring at my iPad and wondering what to say about investments this week.
I can look out my window and see how much my life has changed this week. It actually took only a few seconds.
I was here with my family huddled in a basement bathroom when it happened: An EF-3 tornado swept through our family property and took away into the wind much of what I considered to be mine. We were lucky; we were safe.
Nevertheless, the shock of what Mother Nature had done to our family land was overwhelming. Ninety percent of the trees on our combined 12 acres of land were gone. The three family homes on our property were all significantly damaged. In only a matter of 10 or 15 seconds, the world I had known since birth was no longer the same.
After the tornado had passed through, it only took a few minutes for my nephew to show up. He had run to us from his home nearby. Minutes later one of my oldest friends showed up, crawling over tree trunks. Just an hour had gone by when my brother-in-law appeared, mud-streaked and soaking wet. His neighborhood also was hit, but they were spared and here he was.
During the balance of the afternoon my children’s youth minister, old friends from close by and some from as far away as Oxford made it to my house for no other reason than to help. Even more humbling were the people there whom I had never met.
A man from Pontotoc showed up the next morning with a tractor and worked tirelessly from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. A crew of 10 people with chainsaws and a forklift got to places that would have taken me days. My wife and children worked on the house with much help from old friends and very new friends. My daughters’ friends showed up to help.
At one time I counted 20 chainsaws working within my eyesight. We cut a path to the main roads and cleared the driveways in front of the houses. It may sound cliche, but with all the devastation around me, all I could think about was how blessed I was; how rich I had become in my life.
I know that there are good people and bad people in the world, but during a crisis it seems like the good people simply take over.
I am writing a book of rules for investors. There will be one rule a week and I have been giving a lot of thought to which rule will be No. 1. Always invest with someone you trust is an easy one. Understand the risks involved is another. One will surely be to make sure that your adviser has your best interest as their primary goal.
That is certainly what happened to me and my family last week. People put our best interest above their own and made us their priority.
But as I was thinking of things this evening, looking at a landscape that is forever changed and still looks more like a war zone than backyard, I realized that there is only one right answer to the question of which rule will be first. The first rule of investing is to invest in your friends. I know that it may sound corny and it doesn’t have the pizazz of other investment ideas, but it is absolutely No. 1.
The hard and true fact of the matter is that if you have true friends, the kind that will come to you when you need them, then you will never be poor. And if you aren’t willing to share your life with others and become the kind of friend that will be there for your friends when they need you, then you will never be rich.
Until you get that right, how much you put back for your retirement doesn’t seem so important.
Scott Reed is CEO of investment advisory firm Hardy Reed in Tupelo. Contact him at (662) 823-4722 or firstname.lastname@example.org