Chris Gardner, investor and inspiration for the film "The Pursuit of Happyness."
Chris Gardner, investor and inspiration for the film "The Pursuit of Happyness." - 
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Scott Jagow: On all the Marketplace programs, we've been asking a simple question: What are you doing? What are you doing with your money in this economy?

Today we're going to hear from Chris Gardner. You may know his story. He went from living on the streets with his son to running an investment firm. Actor Will Smith played him in the movie "The Pursuit of Happyness."

The real life Chris Gardner lives and works in Chicago. We caught up with by phone and asked him what's he doing.

Chris Gardner: I won't say that I've been doing anything differently. I've missed big run-ups in the stock market, I've missed big run-ups in real estate because I was concerned that levels were just too high. And the truth of the matter is, I'll bet it turns out, I've missed some of the upside, but I've missed all of the downside. I'm not smart, I got lucky.

I talk to a lot of people around the country and I miss hearing people say that, well, we're concerned. No matter how high the stock market marched, a lot of people were saying "I'm afraid," "I'm not certain," "I'm not sure." That encouraged me to continue my path, which was, do nothing but stock up cash -- cash is key.

I saw a survey in the paper -- I can't remember where -- but the survey says that 41 percent of people in America consider themselves to be part of the "have-nots," not the "haves." Who would have ever thought?

Do I think we'll be able to get out of this thing? Yes, we will. We've gotten out of previous situations, thought we've never seen anything quite like this. And all of these smart guys that you see on television telling you what the market is going to do, what the Fed should do, nobody knows.

My tips for or suggestions to anyone in this environment right now, which is all of us: Let's get rid of all the debt that we can. Let's think long term. Keep it tight.