Sweet Savings - Page 2 of 2

Sweet Savings

about $30,000. The shares he bought at IBM are worth about $14,000. And he now has two IRA accounts, one worth $80,000 and the other $30,000.

Sweets also had the foresight to purchase real estate as part of his investment strategy. He has accumulated four properties with the help of his wife, Tamara. His first home, which was bought in Raleigh, North Carolina, for $88,000 in 1994, is now valued at $120,000. In 2000, he bought a single-family home in Baltimore for $38,000 that is now valued at $50,000. A townhouse he bought for $15,000 now appraises at $26,000. And in January 2003, the Sweets used $16,000 of their savings to buy their current home in Raleigh, which cost $157,000 and is now valued at $165,000.

Looking back at his financial moves, Sweets says it was critical that he took control of his money. He stresses that you should make sure you understand where your money is going and what projected yields are expected from each investment. Other keys to his sweet success at investing are:

Don’t measure success by someone else’s standards. Financial success is an individual thing because financial goals change as life progresses. “My financial goals in 1994 when I earned $37,000 were different from my financial goals in 2003 with a wife and two children,” Sweets notes.

Sweets advises people not to make financial decisions alone. He speaks from experience: “Between 2001 and 2003, I lost about $35,000 in the stock market. I was buying stock and could not really manage it on my own,” he admits. “I had to seek good, solid advice, and it has paid off.”

Sweets says buying real estate is one of the smartest ways to build wealth. Real estate provides significant tax write-offs, builds equity, and contributes to additional monthly income. “We have to be smarter at making our money work harder for us, but it takes discipline,” Sweets says. “You have to honor your financial goals, you have to have the courage to take risks, and you have to have the commitment to see it through.”