About Retire Certain
Retire Certain is a website that provides inspiration, strategies, and solutions for people to have the money to live how they really want from both traditional investments and alternative assets.
While I hold an AFC© (Accredited Financial Counselor) credential to support my work as a financial coach, most of what I write about is from my own research and lifelong experience as an investor in making, sustaining, and increasing that amazing, paradoxical, satisfying, and necessary thing we call money.
The Inspiration for Retire Certain…
Following a major career disruption, a startling late midlife realization that we weren’t on track to support our comfortable lifestyle for life from traditional stock and bond investments, and two giant bear markets in one decade, my husband and I began a wonderful adventure to create diversified income streams from investments and alternative assets.
(I so naively asked: “Other people are doing it; why can’t we?” Oh, the things we’ve learned since posing that question over 15 years ago!:)
Eventually, this bold endeavor completely replaced job income and it also allowed us to “work” when and where we wanted. In this process, we pursued lifelong passions and capitalized on areas of expertise from previous careers while establishing long term income streams. As a result, it turned out to be both fulfilling and financially rewarding.
At first, however, we were really confused about how to begin paying the bills with something other than someone else’s paychecks, especially since there was a lack of reliable information on anything other than saving (cutting lattes, etc.), employment, and investing in stocks and bonds (for decades).
Along the way, unfortunately, we made lots of mistakes, but we also, fortunately, learned a ton and finally succeeded in creating financial independence.
What we learned on this journey is the inspiration for this website.
About the Creator and Author at Retire Certain
At the urging of the smartest investor I’ve ever known, my dad, I bought my first mutual fund when I was twenty-one; a Fidelity Select Utility Fund that had dropped in value significantly. Since then, I’ve personally invested in thousands of companies (mostly in stocks, but a very few private offerings that have yet to hit the jackpot!), hundreds of funds of all types (ETFs, CEFs, hedge, index, mutual), hired and worked with multiple financial advisors, sold hundreds (thousands?) of covered calls, launched and run online businesses, and bought and managed multiple real estate properties.
I don’t say this to brag, but to demonstrate my degree of both passion and experience over the decades around the taboo topic of investing. (I just don’t get why everyone doesn’t LOVE finding new ways to make money!)
While it may sound like I’m a bit over diversified, these strategies have all been huge learning (sometimes painful!) experiences done with lots of refining and pruning over the decades. Also, these strategies are all done on a relatively small scale because I’m just a regular investor/now tiny entrepreneur, maybe much like you if you’re here.
As you may have guessed, I actually enjoy analyzing and making investments, growing online businesses, and then writing about those experiences. This is more than a hobby because it pays the bills instead of creating more of them, yet I enjoy it every bit as much as my occasional (and expensive!) oil painting and snow skiing hobbies.
Larry, my husband, and co-conspirator, is well known for his successful options trading education programs and trading software at our website, PowerCycleTrading.com. Years ago, we married my online business experience with Larry’s in depth expertise after over three decades as a professional commodities and options trader. (We met in the 1980s while I was working as the “avoid as much as possible” accountant for Larry’s trading group.)
Maybe like you, we were taught that financial independence would come from saving enough money for our investment accounts to allow us to withdraw 4% a year during retirement, thereby spending down our life long savings. This unappealing plan, plus social security, would allow us to retire comfortably IF we cut back our spending and slowly depleted our savings.
This has worked well for a lot of investors, but we didn’t want to count on it. Besides, who really wants to live on less as they get older?
While we rely on a nice diversified portfolio in stocks, bonds, and commodities for a solid foundation for long-term wealth accumulation, we discovered that financial independence came from having income streams to fund our lifestyle, leaving our investments to grow as much as possible. This meant delaying if not avoiding entirely the popular plan for 4% “retirement withdrawals”; we simply weren’t rich enough to relax into that strategy, and we didn’t want to spend our investment savings to live, anyway, because it just felt wrong and limiting.
The reality is that even one or two million dollars in stocks and bonds don’t generate much income given all time low yields. Plus, investment capital in traditional asset allocation portfolios goes through unexpected bear markets every few years, adding to the uncertainty of having funds for life.
“All time lows” of anything means we are in unprecedented times, which calls for a new way of thinking because old strategies simply no longer work for most investors. Long gone are the days of generous bond income that retirees lived on, along with a pension, in decades past. Yet few traditional financial advisors have appealing solutions for this new reality.
Plus, the Fed’s monetary intervention is usually inflationary; we have seen unprecedented amounts of it since 2008, leading us to personally implement stronger risk management strategies to protect both our savings and our lifestyle in anticipation of the value of our money further deteriorating in the decades ahead.
But, forgive me; here I go down a financial rabbit hole when you only want to know what Retire Certain is all about so you can see if it might offer something useful for you.
Here, I write about what we have learned and continue to learn daily on this financial independence and income stream adventure. If you would like to:
- Discover doable ways to build wealth besides passively investing in stocks and bonds
- Want to enjoy life now (instead of later after you have finally saved “enough”)
- Be fulfilled and financially rewarded at the same time
- Feel more confident in your knowledge and financial plan…
…Then I’ll go so far as to say that you’re going to love it here! Welcome. Check out my articles, videos, and training here, and share them with your friends on social media if you found them helpful.
My humble mission is to inspire, educate and motivate others who may feel as though they’ll never be able to maintain their desired standard of living both now and later. You can; we’re living proof.
My related YouTube channel has over 450,000 views and can be seen here.
My Ultimate RISE Wealth Plan summarizes our financial independence journey into 4 actionable steps you are not going to get elsewhere, all for less than the cost of a good bag of organic groceries (but will pretty much change your life should you choose, unlike the groceries).
Camille Gaines’ Experience
Now you’re probably thinking: who is this woman? I get why she started this website, but what has she really done?
And can she help me get what I want based on what she has done?
(She sure looks like she is just an old stay at home mom or wife with gray hair:)
I sort of am that, but I have a serious compulsion that may possibly align with your interests….
I am slightly obsessed with investing and tiny businesses.
That, and I think money is sort of….good to have and great to invest, grow and manage.
Having shared that, here’s the down and dirty.
Officially, I retired at 29 to become a kept woman.
Let me back up; I left my corporate accounting job to become my own boss in commercial real estate at 27. (That is a nice way to say zero income for a while.)
Fortunately, I had maxed out my employer’s dollar for dollar matched retirement plan and invested it in stocks in a favorable market; this was my life raft. I had saved $10 grand, enough for me to live on for 6 months back then.
As soon as I began making decent money in commercial real estate, I moved to Bermuda to start a family with longtime boyfriend Larry Gaines, who I met while I was the accountant for his group’s oil trading operations at the firm where we both worked. (Of course, now at least one of us would go to jail, but that was then and not now, fortunately.)
Suddenly I was living on the ocean in a little green house on Harbour Road with a cat named Becky, which came with the little green house as often happens in Bermuda, and not having to worry about income.
I was absolutely miserable.
I still wonder how that was possible, but the truth was, for me, retirement was horribly boring from a mental perspective.
I discovered that I am one of many people who enjoy the stimulation work provides. I committed to have brain stimulation in my life as long as I wanted it (I still do). I sought to land a job on the island, rich with insurance and bonking, but challenging for ex-patriots.
While I got a couple of nice potential job opportunities, I wanted the freedom to work when and how I wanted, even more than I had when I left my accounting job.
Having bought my first mutual fund at age 22, and my own home at 26 (which I had turned into a rental), Larry and I agreed that I would become the family investor rather than work at another corporation.
My parents were a huge influence in my life; my mom was the “cash flow queen” and dad was the most successful investor I have ever known; he began teaching me about stock and bond investing in my 20’s.
So, I subscribed to Value Line and Barron’s, and often read them on the beach until the internet was born.
There was more than a lifetime of information and possibilities to provide the brain stimulation I craved while investing the money we saved into funds and individual stocks and bonds, handling taxes, estate planning, and other “family CFO” tasks.
Below is some of what I have done over the years. I share this not to brag, but so you can see if what I know about aligns with your interests. Also, readers are often confused because I don’t manage wealth for others, yet I write about it. (Fortunately, this allows me to be unbiased.)
If it does, I hope you’ll subscribe to my weekly newsletter here.
Managed several “large” family portfolios for several decades
Interviewed, hired, monitored, and evaluated the work of 5 financial advisors on behalf of family members (over a decade until I began investing portfolios myself)
Researched, evaluated and created my own simple, no cost ETF portfolio made up of several tactical but defensive investment strategies that were developed by top financial professionals. It rotates based on changing economic, price or other factors to produce, thus far, a higher return than an index based 60/40 stock bond portfolio, with considerably lower and shorter loss periods, over the past forty plus years of reliable performance data. (The “way smarter than me” strategy experts basically just tell me what to do through simple technology; many financial advisors use these same strategies that I use; takes 1-2 hours a month to implement)
Evaluated, bought, and sold hundreds (or over a thousand now?) of stock positions for dividends or growth, often sold covered calls for extra income, as well as closed end funds, hedge funds, mutual funds, index funds and/or ETFs (over about 40 years)
Wealth Management/Family CFO
Acted as CFO of what I now affectionately call our “tiny family office”, handling various aspects of financial and legal issues, including risk management, entity structuring (LLC, C Corp, S Corp, LP), estate planning, taxes, hiring and working with CPAs and attorneys as needed.
Assess after tax and fee investment performance, risk exposure, and overall allocation of our own investment capital for its optimal use, and make investments accordingly based on valuations and current opportunities between paper assets (stocks, bonds, commodities, etc.), real estate and/or small business
Online Business Owner
Pitched and got offer from a VC firm for financial publication website
Launched an online business that has gone on to make several million dollars revenue
Ran a small but profitable Amazon store for several years where I sold my own branded products I designed, had manufactured and imported.
At our financial online businesses, now I hire and manage our team, develop strategy, act as CFO, oversee technology and online property development (websites, YouTube and social), create and publish content, and implementation of marketing initiatives.
Financial Professional Consulting
Consulted with financial advisors on online marketing and business expansion
Financial Coaching Services
Investment coaching for numerous clients, including financial advisors
Presented investment education webinars for financial advisor’s clients
Wrote and marketed an Amazon best seller book.
Bought and now manage multiple rental properties (over 30 years)
Worked professionally for 5 years as an oil and gas accountant for $10 to $50 million dollar futures and physical product transactions where I created the accounting process for futures trading the firm began futures trading. (I got comfortable with big numbers finance.)
Created first database of all commercial retail real estate properties over 250,000 square foot in Houston, Texas
Decided to get a Accredited Financial Counselor credential for some reason:)
BBA with Focus on Accounting
Graduate Texas State Ramp Corp Entrepreneur Program for Women
Digital Marketer Funnel Certified
My AFC Certification and Random Images