What our past teaches us about investing with your family?

My husband and I traveled to Seattle for a week to celebrate our two-year anniversary. Yipeee! In addition to the respite and fun, we came back with so many revelations, one of which has implications for how you can invest in the future.  

SIDE NOTE: If you haven’t visited Seattle, put it on your destination list because the city is rich in culture, a paradise for seafood lovers like me, and a great place for the family photographer to take plenty of pictures of spectacular views. It only rained two days while we were there, so make sure you go in August or September to stay away from the mist. And, the city just smells like lavender and pine – ahh, I miss it already! 


The American Studies major in me could not help but dissect the city through the lens of race, gender, and class. And, the Economics major in me always makes me question how wealth is distributed in communities.


Thus, I learned that Asian-immigrant families who settled in Seattle during the turn of the 20th century invested in each other’s businesses and pooled their money together for the benefit of the entire community. These immigrant families did not have much individually, but collectively, they were a force to be reckoned with.


Our revelation came as we visited the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, set in Seattle’s Chinatown. I engrossed myself in the stories of the Asian Pacific immigrant experience in Seattle and along the coast. These stories are also a part of my history; My paternal grandfather immigrated to California from the Philippines in the early 1920s when he was 13-years old.


Early immigrants set up organizations called family associations to help fellow immigrants settle. Martial artist and philosopher Bruce Lee directly benefited from the Lee Chinese family association, which helped fund his akido dojo that trained and developed many marital artists from around the country. If your Caribbean American, I’m sure you’re very familiar with the susu concept, which is basically a group savings vehicle.


It sounds simple and logical to fund businesses with pooled family money, right? Then why don’t many families follow this example, or maybe it is happening and I’m just not hearing about it (or seeing it in action en masse). If you invest or pool your money with your family, I want to hear your story so we can all learn about your successes. I must admit, however, my extended family tried to invest together about eight years ago. But, we faced a few hurdles - finding an idea we could all could rally behind, family members were at different places financially, and finding a legal structure that worked.


Perhaps, it is time for us, and for you, to (re)visit an opportunity to pool your money. If you experienced some roadblocks in the past, then maybe it’s time to take another look. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself and your family if you want to invest together.


  1. How do you define family for investment purposes? If you have a ton of family, ask yourself whether you like each other enough to try and invest together. Remember, there is benefit to large numbers but not at the cost of wrecking havoc on those relationships. If you can invest with your blood family, then you are blessed. If not, then I am also a big believer that your family is what you make it.


If have friends who are like family, then consider widening the circle to include them. Finally, perhaps you attended business school together or are members of the same religious community. In this case, you probably have similar values, and this can be your family for investing together. However you define family, cling together and get to work.


If you are amongst the fortunate who knows others who are part of successful family investment endeavors, ask them for their perspective and advice.


  1. How can you exploit each other’s talents? Every family is a collection of gifts and talents. Each of you probably is really good at one thing, whether it’s selling, singing, or remaining silent, which is a wonderful gift! We are better as a whole than our individual parts, so how can you find your whole self through your other members? I took a flight to New York a few weeks ago and I met the CEO of Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, which offers handcrafted wine and modern casual dining. Before introducing myself, I observed how he perused through 5 industry magazines in about 10 minutes and ripped out articles from restaurant success to sources of capital for wineries. Yes, I was stalking him because I was fascinated by his commitment to his craft!


He eventually told me that he started his restaurant with his wife after pooling money with family and friends. He use to work in restaurants as a kid and this endeavor was a natural extension for him even though he had no formal business training. The whole community rallied behind him and invested together. We can all learn from this success story.


  1. How do you want to make your first move? Don’t get trapped in analysis paralysis so that you do not do anything. Instead, have at least one meeting with your family members and define what success if for you – do you want to make money, support each other, and/or provide opportunity or a legacy for the younger or disadvantaged members of your family? Even if you do not spend the entire meeting discussing the “family business,” the important thing is to have this topic as part of the agenda. If your family is spread out around the world, then there’s a huge opportunity for cross-pollination of ideas over Skype of Google Hangout.


And, then decide what you want to invest in. For some families, it will be investing in a business together or their time to work on a business together. For other families, investing will take the form of a stock investment club or real estate ventures. Whatever your flavor of investing, do some research on the best way to organize yourselves. There are plenty of tools out there to help you create your own susu or investment club.


Get Moving

Now, I know that some of you may still be skeptical about investing with your family. I say to you, taste and see – you might surprise yourself. We have a lot to learn from our ancestors. If immigrant communities can make it work in Seattle, I have no doubt that you can make it work.



Best Investment Tips When Moving

Let’s face it – moving is stressful. You’re leaving behind the old for something new. Although stressful as you go through the process, moving can be one of the best times to rethink, and capitalize on, investments. Here are three strategies to take advantage of a moving opportunity for yourself, or someone you know:  

1. Use the difference in housing cost to invest. If you are expected to pay less in your housing cost, then you have investment opportunity. Let’s say you were paying $3,000 in housing costs, and now move to a place that costs $2,000. [SIDE NOTE – you must realize that my reference points are NYC and Chicago, so for all of you paying much less, good for you.] Assuming your income is the same or greater, take the $1,000 difference and put it to the side for your investment opportunity. Now, your investment opportunity may take the form of stocks, bonds, real estate, a child’s education, your own education, or something else. The point is that if you downsize and pay less in housing costs, consider investing the money you would have paid in housing costs.

And, if you now live with a partner or spouse who is still employed when you move, you now can leverage your combined incomes. Common logic might suggest that you should pay more in housing with more incomes, but perhaps you can keep your housing costs the same (or less), and bank that money in an investment vehicle. Even if you implement this strategy for a year, you will be astonished by how much money you can invest for the future. This will take discipline on your part, but I guarantee that it will be worth it.


2. Sell stuff to make room for investing. Most people HATE the stress of moving, and I am no different. For me, it’s the last 10% of whatever I have to move that really makes me tired. I balance this stress with the positive opportunity that comes from selling stuff that can give me extra cash to invest.

I suggest checking in with your network to see if your family and friends want first dibs on your stuff. A simple email or text with pictures usually does the trick and is faster than the telephone. Now, I’m sure you’ll be fair with a price or even consider donating your items with family and friends. But, for things you cannot get rid of, put them on Craigslist, Ebay, or even a local university’s marketplace, like the University of Chicago marketplace near me. If you’re selling big ticket items like a car, these local marketplaces can be great resources to off-load your goods for quality prices. If you are not directly affiliated with the institution, find someone in your network who is, and have them put the listing up for you.

For you clothes hogs, donate what you haven’t worn in at least 6 months. If you cannot donate to friends, donate to a charitable organization and keep the donation receipts to get a tax deduction for your charitable contribution at tax time. If you’ve been holding onto clothes for sentimental value, take a picture and keep it moving.

And, if you do not need these funds for moving costs, consider putting them in an investment vehicle for the future.


3. Keep your eyes out for new businesses. Whether your moving between cities in the United States or internationally, you now will have a unique perspective on new businesses. Find out what industries drive local businesses and employment. There might be a new venture opportunity or investment opportunity lurking in the winds in your new home.

One of the greatest ways to get plugged into your new community is through developing a new network. If you have at least one friend in your new city, chances are that he or she will give you a hook up to their networks. She or he might not realize that this is a goal of yours, so let them know that you want to meet some new people and I’m sure they will oblige. If that doesn’t work, then you might have bigger problems. If you do not one anyone in your new home, perhaps there are local government meetings, churches, or organizations for which you can volunteer and get better acquainted.

Either way, new city equals new investment opportunity. You are bringing a fresh perspective while also enjoying a new perspective. Perhaps your next big investment is waiting for you – go out and get it!


Feel free to share any tips you have on moving!!



Is investing in a timeshare a great investment?

It’s the summer and I hope vacation is on your mind as much it’s on my mind. Eventually, I want to get to a place where vacation occurs everyday between 9am and 5pm, and work is what happens only 3-4 weeks per year. In the interim, I strive to find ways to go on vacation several times a year without incurring debt. One way that I accomplish this goal is to use my timeshare, which I purchased seven years ago.  

Several clients have asked me whether investing in a timeshare is worth it. I want to first share my experience, define what a timeshare offers, and then give the verdict along with tips to increase your chances of success.


My timeshare experience and how to buy a timeshare?


Let me start off by saying that I have a love-hate relationship with my timeshare.


If you haven’t been haggled by a timeshare salesperson, you’ve missed an important experience in adulthood. It happened to me when I was with a group of friends in the Poconos at my friend’s Wyndham timeshare. I went to a mandatory “welcome” meeting and I ended up buying a timeshare with 168,000 points to use every other year for $10,000.


They started off at $16,000 and a finance charge of 15%. After calling my Mom (who owned a timeshare) and getting her advice, I said “no thank you” to the finance charge and asked if I could pay over 6 months with 0%. I then negotiated down to $10,000. Now, that 168,000 points usually equates to 5-10 nights depending on the location and time of travel.


Now, I decided to pay cash over six months because I had a savings stash at the time that I purchased the timeshare. Since I already had some money in the stock market and I loved traveling, I thought it provided a good diversification strategy. I also knew that I wanted to put in the investment now while I had the money so that I could have someplace to go in the future in case I didn’t have a salary but still wanted to get away for vacation. It offered me a good retreat from the world during my early entrepreneurial journey, when I spent a lot of my money on the business. The timeshare has also come in handy for family and friend retreats.


What is a timeshare?


When you “own” a timeshare, you only own a piece of a property that usually resides in well-traveled vacation areas, like Florida or Mexico. Other people also own that same property and you share the use and cost of maintaining the resort over the course of the year. I compare a timeshare to partially owning a condo at a beautiful resort with a kitchen, washer and dryer unit; you pay for the property upfront and you also pay annual maintenance fees.


The main difference in owning a timeshare relative to other properties (including the condo), however, is that if you want to sell your timeshare, you will most likely get less than what you’ve paid for it upfront. So, you are buying a depreciating asset on the hope that you get a ton of intangible value such as:

  • Fond memories in a spot that is not a hotel, someone else’s house, or an Airbnb location. [I definitely have fond memories of utilizing my parents’ timeshare as a child and even sometimes as an adult – thanks Mom and Dad]
  • A consistent place to go on vacation with family and friends.
  • The convenience of booking and knowing that you’ll be in a particular location well in advance, especially if you can book early and place is available.


Now, you buy depreciating assets like cars or clothes all the time when you believe that there are benefits and intangible value. But, the key is to recognize that you are making such a decision, minimize the lifetime costs and still acquire a quality purchase, and try to extract as much value as you can.


There are additional tangible benefits such as the fact that you can potentially lower the cost of lodging. This is particularly true if you have a big family, thereby eliminating the need for multiple hotel rooms. You can also cook and clean your clothes in a timeshare unit, so you potentially save real dollars in your vacation expense.


So, is a timeshare a great investment?


No, I believe a timeshare does not reflect a great financial investment, where one would expect a positive return on their money. Rather, I believe that a timeshare really reflects an alternative way to go on vacation, with a lot of intangible and some tangible value. Great financial investments usually go up in value, and your timeshare will not. Furthermore, many people do not pay cash upfront for a timeshare, and thus must pay a finance charge that can be 15- 20% to pay for the timeshare in installments – just like taking out an expensive mortgage to buy a home – which drives up the total cost of the timeshare. And, let’s not forget those annual maintenance fees, which can run $500-$1,000 per year.


With disruptive companies like Airbnb.com and luxurylink.com, you now have more vacation alternatives that drive down the cost of lodging. And, if you’re a bargain shopper on sites like Orbitz or hotels.com, you will dig deep for a low lodging costs. Also, if you’re single or like the flexibility of travel, a timeshare can feel like a money drain because you cannot extract as much value as the big families can.


Remember, you still have to get to the timeshare, albeit by plane or car, and this is no different than any other vacation. Also, if your schedule changes at the last minute or your family cannot coordinate a time to go, the timeshare is worthless because you are not utilizing it.


At best, I think a timeshare is a mediocre investment if you extract a lot of value from it. You have to know how the game is played to outsmart the timeshare industry, which generated $7.6 billion in sales volume in 2014. In an industry this big, you know it has figured out a formula that preys on the uninformed and vulnerable.


How do you extract value from your timeshare?


Here are my top 10 ways to extract value from your timeshare and outsmart the timeshare industry.


  1. Know why you want to use your timeshare, albeit as a primary or secondary vacation alternative.
  2. Minimize the cost of your timeshare by paying no finance charge or a very low one, and looking for units with low maintenance fees.
  3. Negotiate the cost of your timeshare – it can be done.
  4. Don’t fall prey to the “nice” and aggressive salespeople, who entice you with gift cards and other prizes. Be strong and smart, and you can come out on top if it’s what you want. If the salespeople hate you, as they do me, that’s a good sign you’re negotiating well.
  5. Always ask a few people who’ve bought timeshares from the same company their advice on the financing deal, maintenance fees, perks, and drawbacks.
  6. Ask one of your friends with a timeshare to refer you for a weekend getaway to experience the product before you buy (If you’re interested in Wyndham’s Vacation Resorts, which is mine, email me).
  7. Ask if there are additional fees if you gift your timeshare, or allow a family or friend to go in your place. I’ve gifted several friends and family members several nights, and I did not have to pay additional feeds.
  8. Go for the points instead of the weeks. With points, you get more flexibility in where you can stay.
  9. See if you can a buy a timeshare in the secondary market (on Craigslist or Ebay) instead of buying it at a timeshare resort
  10. Ask the timeshare people what the process and cost of selling the timeshare will be.


Remember, the whole point of a timeshare is to go on vacation. And, you want to be stress-free in doing so. Only you can determine if a timeshare is right for you, but now you’re armed with some tools to help you on your journey.


Let me know your timeshare experience and how you’ve outsmarted the industry!

Goals Implementation Plan

Suspendisse id dignissim leo. Aliquam imperdiet tellus non hendrerit fringilla. Nunc ac ipsum turpis. Nam eu fringilla orci, sit amet semper leo. Etiam vulputate dui nunc, nec iaculis velit interdum at. Donec id elit lobortis, gravida leo et, convallis leo. Phasellus nec velit et arcu semper sollicitudin id sed nulla. Ut gravida malesuada interdum.  Proin convallis urna malesuada lacus tempor, eu condimentum turpis auctor. Aenean lacus metus, placerat at dapibus nec, fermentum non magna. Proin eleifend nibh non diam imperdiet, ac euismod neque vestibulum. Fusce auctor vulputate neque, at ullamcorper mi pellentesque in. In hendrerit sagittis mauris vel blandit. Nunc cursus facilisis quam vitae commodo. Maecenas nisl ex, aliquet sit amet fringilla vel, varius eu arcu. Sed pretium dui et odio blandit, ac mattis quam tincidunt. Etiam ut purus aliquet, mollis massa a, tempor massa. Aliquam sit amet ornare odio. Aenean nisi quam, sollicitudin eu euismod at, faucibus a dolor. Vivamus viverra non libero sed auctor.

Web Analytics Dictionary

Fusce venenatis, massa vitae dapibus pretium, neque ipsum elementum nisl, non vulputate quam dui a mauris. Maecenas bibendum tellus vel pellentesque suscipit. Proin feugiat felis nec lacus mattis eleifend. Nullam consequat quam massa, at condimentum nibh viverra non. Aenean dictum dui vel velit condimentum, vitae faucibus felis imperdiet. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Phasellus dignissim, nibh et congue suscipit, sem erat aliquet velit, consectetur finibus nulla felis a orci. Vestibulum a purus est.

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged.