Chris Raeder, Autocraft Body Werks: “Cash is king”


Chris Raeder team

After 19 years, Chris Raeder retired from Advanced Micro Devices. He took a year off, and during that year considered his next career move; he was ready to try something different. Retirement wasn’t calling his name quite yet, and he knew that creating a new cash flow would allow him and his family to continue on their current trajectory.

When he was working for AMD, Chris developed an interest in racing cars. He raced vintage cars around the country, and has a penchant for Alfa Romeos. He also loved fixing up earlier models of BMWs. When the opportunity crossed his path to purchase a collision repair shop – now Autocraft Bodywerks – specializing in Tesla and Lexus, he found a perfect match.

While Chris didn’t have experience managing an auto body company, he knew he could learn quickly and the business had a solid foundation.

“I was nervous,” he admits. “But I work really hard, and I knew there was a lot of potential.”

Chris and his wife have seven children, the youngest entering kindergarten this year and the oldest just finished college. They have private school bills for each child, and education is a priority line item for their family even though it necessitates a large cash burn.

“I guess I was always a cash flow guy,” he says. “My grandparents raised me, and they were savers. They paid for my college degree in cash. They didn’t believe in loans, and I don’t either.”

As a child, Chris learned the value of working to pay his own way. He bagged groceries and did other odd jobs along the way before attending college and starting his career at AMD. For the entirety of his tenure in the corporate world, he maxed out his 401(k). Today, that 401(k) is his retirement fund, and all of his other cash has been poured into his business.

“My family believes strongly in cash in, cash out. Cash is king,” he says with a smile.

He manages accounts receivable and his wife manages accounts payable for their family. He says when he was at AMD, he would sit in front of the computer all day and managed all of their money in the process, but that it works better when each of them play a role.

Chris and his wife are both teaching their brood about the power of earning money and managing cash flow.

“For Christmas last year, I gave one of my daughters a candy machine of her own to run at the body shop,” he says. “We go to Sam’s and buy stuff to fill it, and she runs that as her own little business; she even has a spreadsheet and checks inventory.”

Another daughter runs the soda machine, and his second son cuts grass to earn money. Chris’ oldest son just got a full time job with Ameripro Mortgage after graduating from college with a degree in finance.  Each of his seven children has his or her own savings accounts, and they are learning how to steer their own future.

Chris says that he and his family are still formulating their financial dreams. With their cash flow savvy and strong investment instincts, it looks like it’s all coming true for them.


Chris Raeder

Smith Wealth Advisors


Kristin Shaw is a writer, blogger, and marketing professional. She was named a BlogHer Voice Of The Year in 2014 and 2015, and her work has been featured nationally at sites like The Huffington Post and The Washington Post. Her blog, Two Cannoli, is a vehicle for her own personal essays and photos and was named a Babble blog of the year in 2013. Kristin lives with her family in Austin, Texas. - See more at: