Riding the wave: David Ong, Ph.D.

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Riding the wave: David Ong, Ph.D.

July 10, 2009

“I'm not sure I won't find myself having to cut back,” said recent retiree David Ong, Ph.D., whose income goal in retirement is 100 percent of working income. An habitué of a few of Nashville's rock, blues and jazz venues, Ong also cultivates bonsai and keeps a woodworking shop. (photo by Joe Howell)

The recession dealt a blow to the savings of David Ong, Ph.D.

“I have two-thirds of what I had at the high-point for stocks in October 2007. … I don't think I'm going to have as much money as I thought I was going to have,” he said.

Having joined Vanderbilt as a postdoctoral fellow in 1970, Ong, 65, retired as professor of Biochemistry last October. Ong began putting aside money for retirement in his 30s, “back when the Vanderbilt match was 10 percent,” he said. Approximately 40 percent of his retirement savings are in fixed income investments and the rest is in the stock market and real estate. His income goal in retirement is 100 percent of his working income.

After the burst of the dot-com bubble in 2000-2001, Ong began picking his own stocks, and today a substantial portion of his portfolio remains with individual companies. He says he has managed to beat or match the returns of the S. & P. 500 in six of the last seven years.

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