Debra Brede

Hard Work Pays Off: My Story of Personal Growth

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably know a bit about my career and my commitment to helping my clients meet their goals and live purpose-driven lives. But it is impossible to fully appreciate the seriousness with which I approach the work I do—the degree to which I hold myself accountable for helping my clients succeed—without first understanding how I grew up.

Everyone starts somewhere, and I certainly wasn’t born knowing how to navigate the financial landscape. Quite the opposite, in fact. 

My parents were just teenagers when I was born. There were four of us by the time my mother was twenty-three. And, as you might imagine, that put a lot of strain on my parents’ relationship. Most of my memories from growing up are of my parents fighting—always about money, because they had none. 

When my dad left my mom for another woman, it was up to us to help pay the bills. My mom signed my older brother Bruce and I up for paper routes, since we were too young to get them on our own. I was five and he was six. Then, she signed us up for second routes. For years, the money we made delivering the paper was our family’s sole income, bolstered by the other odd jobs I did for my customers—like taking their trash cans to the curb and shoveling their snowy sidewalks.

My money lessons began back then, when I was five and responsible for covering the cost of the newspapers if my customers didn’t pay. I’d leave them handwritten notes when they didn’t answer the door, and after three notes, I’d cut them off. While they’d complain about me to the newspaper office, I had already learned that I couldn’t afford to give them something for nothing.

Eventually my mother applied for food stamps, but she was too embarrassed to use them herself, so she sent me in her stead. Bruce and I were the family cooks, and we’d put together a grocery list. I’d then have to take the bus to the store, pick out the groceries, calculate how much I’d be spending (all I had was food stamps; so I definitely couldn’t go over that amount), and check out in the time it took for the bus to complete it’s route and circle back to the grocery store. 

In my childhood mind, “if we only had money,” became a common refrain. Back then, I dreamed of a different reality—and I certainly wouldn’t wish what I experienced on anyone—but it also made me who I am today: resolute, driven, entrepreneurial.

My early experiences continue to fuel my life’s work. I don’t want anyone who reaches retirement to wonder what could have been if only they had money. I do everything I can to keep my clients from knowing the struggles I did, and encourage proper estate planning so that they can protect those they love too. For more information, visit debrabrede.com.

Closing laptop without passion

The Power of Dispassion

Passion. We almost always see it in a positive light. It’s an admirable trait, the driving force that brings us closer to our hopes and dreams, something that compels us—romantically or otherwise. But when it comes to investing, there’s real power in being dispassionate. However, it’s much easier said than done.

Just like the general news media, purveyors of financial information are trading on passion. Journalists know that people are more likely to listen, watch, or read (a real challenge in a world plagued by seven-second attention spans) when there’s something at stake—especially if that something is their money. The axiom holds true: if it bleeds, it leads.

Think about it. Are you more likely to buy a newspaper with a headline that reads, “Everything’s fine” or one screaming “THE END IS NEAR!!”?

Ultimately, though—at least as far as financial reporting goes—99 times out of 100 everything is fine. And even when it’s not, it’s rarely as bad as what the media leads the public to believe. And therein lies the problem: for investors, that media-generated passion often leads to panic.

So, what does the average investor do? They ignore every financial rule in the book including buy low, sell high and that which goes down comes back up. Rather than holding out when things get a bit hairy and prices start to drop, the panicked investor scrambles to get out with the rest of the crowd.

It’s one thing if they’re still working. In that case, they can eventually refuel with funds from future paychecks. Retirees end up facing a much darker scenario. When they make passion-driven plays, there’s a lot more risk involved; they can’t just put back what they’ve let go. But it’s the logistics of their current situation that often creates the issue: the combination of too much time and money on one’s hands quickly leads to less of both. 

So, how do you make it through with your sanity—and your savings—intact? The secret is to actually be a little less passionate in your approach— dispassionate, even. How do you do that? There are a few options. The first is to simply turn off your TV, get offline, or use that newspaper as lining for your birdcage. The second is to become familiar with market cycles, which serve as far more logical—and less fear-driven—indicators of where we are and where the market is heading (for a quick overview, click here). And the third is to get someone to do it for you—a bonafide professional with years of experience navigating ups and downs, someone who can be the voice of reason regardless of what the talking heads are saying. While these options certainly provide less of a thrill than today’s twenty-four hour news cycle, I can promise you that all of them are better than falling prey to it.