How I grew $30 to $250,000 in just 10 years

I perfected my stock investing strategy with the hope that one day I’ll be able to live off my dividends

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From the April 2016 issue of the magazine.

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investing

Gokul Jayapal, 40, Scarborough, Ont.

I came to Canada from the U.K. 12 years ago when I was 28. I had just $11,000 with me—the bare minimum for entry. In those early days, I spent that money on housing, a new laptop and other basic amenities before starting my job search in earnest. It was tough. Even though I had a PhD in agricultural sciences, I failed to get a job in my field. I was told one of three things by recruiters: either my doctoral degree from the U.K. wasn’t recognized in Canada, I had no Canadian qualification or experience, or, simply put, I just wasn’t qualified. I sent out more than 1,000 job applications and never got an interview.

Frustrated, I changed my strategy and started job hunting with a resume that listed just my master’s degree. I soon landed a marketing job where I only made a commission. I had to hustle. With just $30 in my savings account, I took a second job writing freelance articles about personal finance for Canadian Immigrant magazine.

It was during this time that I accidentally stumbled upon The Courage to be Rich by Suze Orman. That book changed my life. Determined to make a better life for me and my family (which would grow to include three children), I started attending free wealth-building seminars in my neighbourhood. When others at work were talking about how expensive groceries and gas were becoming, I was thinking about recession-proof stocks that would see some dividend growth. This became the main focus of my investing strategy.

My first investment was a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) called First Capital Realty. I loved the idea that I could become a landlord without having to own a house, earning rent in the form of dividend earnings. I still own that REIT. I also bought shares in Bombardier. I had a mad love affair with this stock until 2014, when it plunged below $3 and cancelled its dividend. I sold it right away.

Over the years I did well in my career and worked my way up the ladder. As my salary grew, so did my investment portfolio, which today consists of 65 dividend-paying stocks worth $250,000, including shares in Altrica, General-Electric, PepsiCo, Apple, Walmart, several REITs and a few gold-mining stocks.

I credit my success to living frugally and making every saved dollar count. I’ve made a concerted effort over the last few years to save $12,000 annually from my paycheque—money that goes to buy more blue-chip stocks. Sure, the stock market is volatile. Many people believe you could lose all your money, but I have spent hours at the library studying the specifics of financial investing, learning to understand price-to-earning ratios, earnings per share and debt-to-equity ratios. All so I could have a firm grasp of the basics.

I recently read the 1920s classic Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, which highlights the strategies of Jesse Livermore, a stock trader who made and lost millions through various strategies including options and shorting the market. It helped solidify my own focus on dividend-paying investments.

Getting educated and staying the course has paid off. In the past decade, my portfolio’s average annual return has been about 10%. My aim is to keep growing my investments with the goal that at some point my passive dividend income will exceed my expenses. When this happens, and I’m on track to achieve that goal in the next six years, I’ve pledged to quit my day job. Then I plan to spend my time volunteering to help poor and orphaned kids in India. For me, life is about giving back.

In the meantime, my life is centred around my family and my kids. That means trips to the Royal Ontario Museum, swimming lessons, the zoo, the Ontario Science Centre and dozens of fun family fairs. I still look for family outings that offer discount admission or free passes. I’m a saver at heart. I don’t think that will ever change.

As told to Julie Cazzin

16 comments on “How I grew $30 to $250,000 in just 10 years

  1. Yeah… nice clickbait headline. At one point the guy happened to have $30 in his savings account in his early years in Canada, but by no means did he “grow” that specific amount into $250K.

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    • Exactly! I thought the same thing when I read this in the print copy.
      Headlines like this just give Moneysense a bad name and a reputation much like the National Enquirer.
      CD

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      • I totally agree !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  2. Awesome job Julie, great to hear about success story.

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  3. Nice story, but ridiculous headline. $30 grows to $250,000 in 10 years. That’s a CAGR of 146.65%.

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  4. What a horrible title. I invest 18,000 a year currently and I will have way more than 250,000 in 10 years. Problem today is that most people are “DRIVING” their investment savings. NEVER HAVE CAR PAYMENTS AND YOU MIGHT STAND A CHANCE TO HAVE WEALTH LATER IN LIFE.

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  5. Your headline is extremely misleading …. more thought should have gone into this before publishing.

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    • Hi there,
      Apologies for the confusion! Gokul, a new immigrant to Canada 10 years ago, started with $30 in his pocket and through a dividend investment and savings philosophy he grew his portfolio to $250,000 in 10 years. That is what the headline is referring to. We didn’t mean to say that he had a secret formula for turning $30 into a vast sum! We featured him because of his thoughtful approach to money and his determination to grow it wisely. I think that’s pretty smart. Many thanks for reading, j.

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      • If a Phd in Canada make it to news for saving 250,000 in 10 years then it just reflects a very serious problem. Such highly qualified people should be rewarded a lot more by offering greater opportunities. The people how should be presented as example should have excelled in a particular area. His 30$ may have become 200CAD in 10 years but his 250k should have been 2.5 mil (min) to be in news.

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    • As one commenter mentioned, this is a horrible “click-bait” style title which ended up deprecating what would have been a fine article.
      I certainly would have expected better from Money Sense.

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  6. A very misleading article.Not worth reading

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  7. It looks like Money Sense is running out of realistic articles to focus on !!!!!!

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  8. The article seems like an ad to direct people to buying the books he’s read. While I am happy for his success, it doesn’t really outline what he did other than investing in REIT’s ..

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  9. The last line two lines make me smile. Great Article. Thank you for sharing your Gokul.

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  10. yes teach me again for me how we can make little money like you ,that time you are lucky,but not always ,don’t start again ,if you win first time good ,aftr that ,you have to stop ,this is Canada ,capitalism plain ,this is from my experience I’m talking ,sorry but ,you know ,nobody can win from casino ,same thing this ,I thing ,thank you and good luck again…

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  11. Very bad misleading headline and kind of empty article that can be summarized in one sentence: work hard, save, educate yourself in investment strategies, prosper. Nothing new. I used to subscribe to Money Sense, but then cancel as most articles are similar to this: lack substance and serious analysis.

    Reply

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