Do you hate the thought of working past 55 or 60? Do you hate not being able to live the life you deserve today? Do you hate not knowing what your financial future looks like? It's time to stop doing what you hate, here's your host, Mr. Harold Green.
(00:20): All right. And everybody Aloha. Welcome to the show. This is Harold greener Brightree financial group, and it is time to stop doing with hate, you know, I hope you are having a fantastic week. I know I'm having a, a good week and really excited to be bringing today's show to you. And I do have a special guest in the studio. A please welcome Mr. Curtis Noor Kawa Jr. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome Curtis. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for being here. And but before Curtis and I get started, you know, I just wanna share a little bit about what's going on this week. It's been a very interesting week and, and today's show we're gonna be talking about the ideal retirement, but right now in the world, there's a lot of stuff going on, a lot of turmoil going on and it just makes people queasy somewhat, but I gotta encourage you and say, stay patient, stay diligent because this is going to work it itself out. So I'm super excited, super, super duper excited. And so why don't we get into the show, the ideal retirement with Mr. Curtis Noor Kawa. Jr. Are you ready? 1, 2, 3. Let's get it. All right, Curtis. Welcome. How you doing today?
(01:37): Hi Harold. Thanks for having me out. I'm doing great. Good, good, good. So I'm super excited. And so we're gonna be talking about the ideal retirement, but I gotta tell you guys how this, how this thing actually came about. We were having a client event. I think it was in 2019. We were having a client event and I can't remember it was at where was it? Royce at Roy, right? We were at Roys Roys and KAA. And you know, I was going around to the tables and saying hi to all the clients. And, you know, one table was just being like, all rock is and, and loud. And I'm just like, they're having such a good time over there without me. Let me go over there and check it out. So, you know, when I got over there, one of the first things somebody said to me was Harold, we want the, what's it called? The biggest plan Vegas plan. Right. We want the Vegas and I'm like the Vegas plan. And I'm like, okay, they must have been talking about Curtis. And so we were gonna talk about the ideal retirement, and then we're gonna talk about what the Vegas plan actually is. And so I, I want to get into it with Curtis. And so Curtis again, welcome. And, and the first thing, you know, the first thing I wanna know is when did you decide to retire?
(02:42): Well, I re I decided to tire, I always knew one thing is that it would really depend on when my kids got outta college. Yep. That, that, that was the first benchmark. So when my youngest son decided to go to the I knew that four, four and a half years later, I'm gonna retire. And that's what I did. Yeah. stayed a few months after he graduated, but that's when I decided to retire. So, so I knew about four, four to five years before. Right. So you had like made up your mind, like this is it. Kid is done with school. I'm done. Yeah. It for, for me, I knew I knew my plan. I just didn't know when I was gonna execute my plan, but I knew that when my son, my youngest son graduated, that was it. And, and I knew that for like 12 years, 14 years before. Wow. So that's a long time. Nobody really thinks like 14 years out. I'm gonna write entire 14 years. Right. Most people don't think like that. Well, I had a weekly countdown on my whiteboard that weekly count. Everybody knew about it actually started, I guess at 620 weeks.
(03:52): So about 10 years, that's amazing someplace around there. That's amazing. Right. So talk to the audience a little bit about your background, like your professional background. Like what did you do while you were still working? So I'm an electrical engineer by education and by, by trade, I guess. So I, I started working in electrical engineering about 81, 80 81. Yeah. And then I moved over and I started working for the federal government over at Pearl Harbor at 84. Yeah. And then I spent 32 years there and that's where I retired from. Wow. So as an engineer, there's a lot that goes into the calculating and processing and things like that, right? Yeah. Yeah. Pretty much. Yeah. And did you, a lot of numbers, a lot of numbers, did you kind of apply that same concept to planning sort of sort the it goes actually before that, okay. I don't know if I ever tell you the story, but even when I was in high school, I always felt that social security system would go broke by the time in high school,
(05:02): In high school. So we're talking 74. Oh my God. So my, in, in my mind, yeah, I, I would, I'd never envisioned myself being dependent on social security, so it was always investing. Right. You know, investing for retirement. So as soon as I could you know, the federal government had this really neat their savings plan. Right. I started right away as soon as I could right. Putting it in. And I did that for 30 something years. And even before that, when I was in private industry, we had the, the good old IRAs $2,000 max. Yep. Yeah. I think that started in the eighties, like early eighties, as soon as I could, I was putting in $2,000 a year. Right. You know specifically, because again, I was just certain that social security wasn't gonna be there. And I wasn't about to depend on that. Right. Right. That's funny. Cuz you had the presence of mine to think about like something like that. Something as far away, you couldn't get social security until like your 62 and you're thinking like this in high school as like an 18 year old kid. It, I mean that's some pretty heady stuff.
(06:19): Well, I always thought my biggest challenge is that I'd have to live to be 62. Oh my. So, you know, so you made it, I thought that, you know, that was the challenging part, but yeah. I made it and so that it's now I'm just gonna look forward from there. Right, right, right, right. So I wanna talk a little bit about how we first met because I think that's very interesting, you know, how we first met and, and, and things like that. So I think it was at this restaurant called willows here in Hawaii. That was it willows? No, a a actually the first time was, Dave busters, Dave and busters. That sound. I forgot that. Yeah. And we had a client event at willows that's right. So we met at Dave busters and it was a breakfast on a Saturday morning. Yep. And it was for what college, right? About college. We had already had the retirement part figured out like right. Actually I already had the, I had 5 29, so yeah, that's right. You had the five 20 nines. You had everything. So what was it that it come like check out the, the Daveen Buster's event
(07:21): Be perfectly honest, Harold. It said free breakfast, free, free breakfast. I talked to my wife and I said, Hey, look, free breakfast. Let's go grab a free breakfast. And to be perfectly honest, I just figured you're gonna be stand up there and talk about all the, just the normal stuff. Hey, I can help you fill out the with grants and everything like that. She started talking about your insurance policies and the plans strategies. Yeah. And, and that was different. I remember telling my wife, Hey, this is not what I expected, by the way, the breakfast was confidential. Breakfast not was great, But sorry, Curtis. And that's why, because it was something I thought was unique, right. That we signed up for, you know, you had, and you still, I think you still have it that, that first session free. And I know that after the first session, my wife was still skeptical. Yeah. So she didn't go right away. But I said, Hey, you know I'm going to, to give it a shot. Right. And, and so I gave it a
(08:23): Shot and, and it wasn't like high sales pitchy or anything like that. It was no, not at all, not at, and that's, that's one of the things that kind of drew me to, towards you is that as long as I've known you, it's never been about, Hey, you know, you got, you have to do this, you have to do this, you have to do this. Right, right, right. It's always, you'd always ask what I want. Right. and I would, you know, we'd talk and then from there you'd formulate the plan. And I, I think that's one of the things I tell people about that, you know I really like working with you because you take the client's interest and try to mold your strategy to the client's interest. Right. And thus the Vegas plan and so we're gonna talk about the Vegas plan in a little bit, but main strategies we use were a combination of different things. Like the bank on self strategy was one of the strategies we used. And then it kind of like morphed into everything that it is like right now we've used annuities in the planning partially and we're in the market. So everything is just kind of tied in. And I know one of the biggest things that you were talking about was were though not to pay off the house before you retire, but I don't think we, we actually paid off the house per se. We did what a lot of credit.
(09:51): Yeah. So part of my strategy was I wanted to be debt free when I retired and I was moving there. And as far as my financial position and right. When I retired, my mortgage was down to 20 grand. Yeah. I would pay it off in less than a year. Right. And then we extended our house. We did in a day. Yeah. And so one of the things I tell people is that about a year after I retired, I, I was in more debt than I've ever been in my life. Right. but I didn't really take out a more, I took out a home equity line of credit. Exactly. And I've been taking advantage of, of the low interest rates. Right. Ever since. so I know, I know I did a show a while back about paying mortgage versus no mortgage. And when does it make sense to pay off a house versus keeping a mortgage? And a lot of times people get into this mindset that they do want to hurry and pay off the house before they're retired, because then they would have what extra money to spend, or they don't have to worry about it. Right. But in this day and age is very, very different. And so I want to ask another question, like what impact did paying for college have on your retirement plan when you had to send the boys through school, did you actually feel it or not really?
(11:09): I actually didn't feel it didn't feel it. It was really interesting. And I think one of the things I have to mention is that my oldest boy, I have two sons, my oldest boy, he got accepted to Michigan. Yep. I remember and with no scholarship. Yep. Which really made me happy. But anyway, and I mentioned the five 20 nines earlier, and Harold says, I'm a planner, but I did it as soon as my sons were born, I started saving for college. Yep. Almost like $600 a month for both of 'em. So $300 each. Yeah. And when they were first born, didn't have five 20 nines. Right. And then as soon as the five 20 nines came in I basically cashed out and put it in five 20 nines. And one of the stories I tell is for 18 years, I saved for my oldest son and would only cover three semesters at Michigan. So I took out a I already had a home equity line of credit. Yep. And, and the other part of the story, he graduated in 2008 and the market just crashed two in an eight financial crisis.
(12:14): I lost about 33% of the, of the 5 29 value in like about a month, month and half or two, something like that. And I told myself, you can't touch it. Yeah. You cannot touch it. So what I did was for the first two years or so, I, I paid for his tuition or the combination of home equity low and my current salary. Cause my plan was always to pay for half of their, the tuition with the five 20 nines and the other half with current current earnings and lo and behold, two years, two and a half years later, my 5 29 had bounced back to what it was in 2008 called up my financial advisor. And I said, take all the risk out of it. You know, I'm gonna, I'm gonna use it, put it in bonds and things like that. Yeah. That's before we started working together on that stuff. Yes. And so we did that. I he ended up going to grad school too. So it's another joy of my life. But anyway, essentially we, we drained his account 5 29 account, which was always the plan, but, you know, because with the home equity and, and the combination of that, the five 20 nines, and I think one of the important things and Harold and I talk about it. I didn't panic when the, when, when the market went down. Right. I, I felt I just needed time for it to recover. Right. And that's why I, I did the strategy of using my home EC goodie. Right. while I was
(13:36): Hoping letting your stuff recover. That is a phenomenal strategy. And I'm gonna talk about that in a little bit, but I'll let you, you know, I'll, I'll defer this one to Curtis, because this is a very phenomenal strategy. I really want to talk about that real quick, but yeah. The Curtis things for, for sharing that. So do you have any more on that? Like not really. And so that, that's how the difficult part was with my oldest son, because he, he went to that went to Michigan great school, by the way, although growing up as Ohio state fan, but that's a different story. Right. so, and I said before, as soon as my, his son said that he was gonna go to university of Hawaii, I knew already I, I five 20 nines a cover I was done, you know? Right. I could see. And by the way, I loved my job, loved the people I was working with. But you know, I wasn't, the reason why I was working was to provide for my family and, you know, I, that phase of my life I felt was over.
(14:35): Right. Right. You know, the name of the show is called stop doing what you hate an interesting thing. Curtis loved exactly what it was that he was doing, you know, but I'm, I'm sure there are some things that he didn't like along the way. And so now he, you know, that part of the job, he really doesn't have to deal with it. But so speaking of work, are you working part-time right now? Yeah, I, I, I did I was asked if I would be interested to come back to work on this project that I, I mentioned before I retired that one, one of the few reasons why I would ever come back to work. So yeah, Marla, that story is what, watch out what you say before you retire. Cause people might remember exactly. But anyway, I, I got asked and, you know, we was COVID was just, you know, they had shut down Vegas actually, that's one of the keys, so I wasn't doing anything. I was sitting around not doing anything. And I said, no, why not? Right. So I went back and, you know, that was in August of 2020. And I I'm, you know, I love working on the project and the people I'm working with. And so I'll probably continue for another, probably six months or so, and then call it a really call it a career. I
(15:43): Really call it a career. Right. Done, like done is done, which is cool. And when you talk about the planning that we do together now, and the work that we do together now with other people, Hawaii is real big on family and friends and Ohana and things like that. And when you share it with your friends and family, what you're doing with me, like, what is their initial reaction to what you're saying? Well, a lot of time, it it's, they just wanna your strategy, you know, what just general strategy and, and, and learn. And some of just very basic stuff. Right. You know just how to social security work, you know, the, the 62 versus the full retirement age and all this kinda other good stuff. Right. And, but what I share with them most of is the exit strategy for traditional IRAs and, and the tax consequences, which Harold, I'll give you all the credit in the world that early on, like a, a year or two, before I retired, we started talking about what you called an exit strategy. And I will say that and I preach that to everyone, basically, if you got a traditional yep. The extraction,
(16:55): IRA, the IRA off ramp and, and yeah. And to be perfectly honest. Yeah. You know when my parents passed away and I started to receive inheritance from them, there there's other nuances of inheriting IRAs from, from your parents that I would never have known. And so the cause I experienced some of that and it's basically all tax based. Yep. I'm gonna work with Harold a as to kind of positioning myself to pass on wealth to my sons so that they won't have, or they'll have a minimized tax burden. Right. So between the life insurance policies and the trust and the Roth I raises and all of these different things the goal is to, to leave behind a, a super efficient estate, which is very, very important. And so let's talk a little bit about the Vegas plan and wrapping up, what the hell is the Vegas plan Curtis? Well, one of the things that, that, that my, my, one of my passions is life is going to Vegas. I don't have a, I always say I don't have a gambling problem. I have a Vegas problem. Right. I like to go to Vegas and just take advantage of all the, the com the promos and things like that. As well as trying to maintain platinum status in Hawaiian air, right? So in order to maintain platinum status in by air, I gotta take seven trips to Vegas, which I did in 2019. And I was on my way in 2020 before COVID hit. And I mentioned that to Harold is, is, is that, that's one of the things I wanna do have enough money to go to Vegas seven times a year, but also that I wanted to get take one special trip for about $10,000 with my wife, because she doesn't come with me to Vegas every year.
(18:47): And so he actually set me up to do. And so, as far as the Vegas plan is that I'd have enough money to be able to go to Vegas seven times a year and for the rest of my life. And to be perfectly honest, not only that I also had a bunch of cash just lying around my gambling money. So I said here, how the, this sitting around not doing anything is earning zero interest in envelopes at my house. And in, I think that was at just before the pandemic hit in 2020. And, and if I look at the value of it now, I'm basically, I would've hit like three or four Royal flushes. You know, that's a amount of money I made just have Harold manage it. Now I have even more money to go to Vegas. So that being said, I'm leaving for Vegas in about three days, but yep. And the other strategy is as far as I'm concerned, as much as possible, I'm flying first class.
(19:42): Exactly. There we go all the way, all the way. And that's, and that's how you do it. So basically the ideal retirement is building, building to become a plan that would allow you to enjoy your dreams, your goals. And, you know, is it lavish? I mean, at the back end of it, maybe, but you gotta think about the beginning of it. Somebody who said at 18 social security is gonna be dead by the time I get there, if I make it there and then to start putting aside and I'll give Curtis credit, one of the things he probably didn't do is he didn't splurge on a lot of things in life. No, I don't think I PLUR, but I didn't deny myself. Right. I had a, I have a bunch of hobbies. Yeah. And that, that I, I, I look back and I, I can honestly say, well, I didn't, I just felt that I didn't buy unnecessary things. Exactly. That's what we're talking about. Yeah. but I didn't deny myself. Right. You know when I was working, I didn't go to Vegas seven times, but I did go about four times a year for about 20 years. They said, that's pretty cool. And you were, you were able to do all of that work with me, put the planning together, send the boys to college and a mass enough money that, what do we call it?
(21:00): The angel fund. The, the, yeah, because, you know, when I was first think, get about retiring, you know, you always wonder how much money do I really need in retirement. Right. Sat down and talked to Harold. And I realized I'll never be able to spend all this money even never even going to, to Vegas seven times a year flying first class. So we created this term angel Curtis, where angel Curtis I'm actually gonna be putting money aside or in investing money or a plan. That's gonna go to my sons, even as I am going to Vegas seven times a year flying first class and my wife and I, we're going to Japan this year, too. Yeah. Flying first class. And so we're not denying ourselves anything. And, and, and yet I'm gonna be putting away from my sons in the future.
(21:49): That's amazing. So that when you pass on, they can remember you and, and, you know, we talked about like making the money, do the work versus you doing all the heavy lifting. And one of the things I was alluding to earlier is leveraging the market when it's time to do so. I get all investments, carry risk of loss before you invest, you know, go do your own due diligence because past performance is no indicator of future results. However, right now we are in a time where stocks have been beaten down for a lot of different reasons. And so we're kind of back to where we were at the beginning of the pandemic where stocks got beat up 10, 15, 20%. That's when I leveraged for a lot of my clients through things like margin loans, using rental property equity, just a lot of different things, leverage life insurance, whatever.
(22:50): It's kind of like we found money to throw at these things. And then some of the accounts were of 50, 60, 70%. And we're kind of back there, like right now with the Russian thing causing downward pressure on the prices. And so today what we're doing is we're buying back into certain holding and we're leveraging, we're leveraging these opportunities. And so one of the things about the Vegas plan, it's, you have to make bold and aggressive moves when it's time to make bold and aggressive moves. There's a time to be cautious, but then there's a time to be bold and aggressive. And so when everybody is running for the fences and crying and just selling everything they have, that's when you look at the opportunities and say, boom, this is what I'm gonna strike. Go ahead, Curtis.
(23:40): Yeah. You know, Harold, one of the things that, that I know I did was when the pandemic hit and the market just tanked. Yep. I, I remember calling you up and says, Harold, this is an opportunity. And I gave him more money. I gave him more cash, more cash money. And I said, Harold, I'm doubling down more money. Basically it's Vegas cash by the way. But so that I, I, I looked at it as, Hey, it's a gamble and just give more money at double down. I'm better for it right now. We're better for, and so the, the key is don't look at it as don't panic, just look at as, almost like, as an opportunity, it is. Yep. And we're using money that you don't need tomorrow. So don't call me with money that you're gonna need in 30 days. Cause we're not playing that game. If you got extra money, it's money that you're not gonna need for at least a year to two years, possibly three or four, then we can make something happen with that. And also if you haven't set up a, a time with me yet, go click on my show notes, get on my calendar and then let's sit down and figure out your wildest plan ever and see if we can make that happen. But thank you, Curtis so much for coming on this show, Curtis introduced his sister to me. You introduced other people to me too. And I can't remember who all Curtis introduced to me, but I'm so thankful for the opportunity to serve and humble by the opportunity to, to serve. And then we just moved part of Lori's account over from her retire when she just retired. Right. And I'm so thankful for that because it took a while. Yeah.
(25:12): Yeah. Like I said, in the beginning, she, you know, she was, she was a little skeptical, but you know, even looked him up on better business bureau. Oh yeah. And things like that. I mean, and well that was what 2008, she finally came around and says, Hey, you know, cause I keep on telling her how well I'm, I'm doing it. You know, as far as rolling my TSP, my, your saving plan into the IRA and, and things like that. So, so she finally did it. She finally started rolled over her TSP and with Harold. So yep. Thank you very much, much for that. And so excited. Thank you very much, Curtis, looking forward to hearing about your adventures out in Vegas and if you hit it big, we know exactly what to do. So until next time everybody, 1, 2, 3, let's get it.
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