LIVING THE DREAM
Dare To Share
It was only a few years ago in the corporate world that I would greet someone with “How’s it going?” They would sometimes reply back with “Living the dream.” An obvious note of sarcasm was in their voice.
We were working in our field of choice. For me it was aerospace. We solved interesting and challenging problems. I was working with flight simulators and testing them. On the best days I even got to fly the simulator. There were some great times.
But there were problems with the way that dream was working out. Someone else always controlled the budgets, programs got behind schedule, and overtime became mandatory. Someone else always had control over making the decisions that affected me and my family.
Raises were followed by something else we wanted to buy. We felt caught in a trap.
As our family grew, so did our expenses.
Some of our friends started businesses. Another “American Dream.” They could create something of their own. They thought they would have more flexible schedules and get paid what they were really worth. And create something someone else would enjoy.
Some of the businesses have prospered. Others have not.
Some of these friends ended up with 60 hour weeks. Another divorced.
I also wanted to own a business. But not the 60-80 hour work weeks.
It seems many of us get caught up working harder to get more stuff. There were enough of us that George Carlin had a comedy routine about it. When you get more stuff, you buy a bigger house. You buy a bigger house and then you buy more stuff. The American Dream.
We want the nice house, nice cars, and to provide our kids with the best education possible. We also wanted to travel and spend time with family and friends.
Welcome to the rat race.
Do we really want the things we see our neighbors have? Or is it FOMO?
We are bombarded with advertising telling us what we need to buy.
We think we need the new car with the latest safety features.
Most Americans are caught in a trap. The more they make, the more they finance.
As they buy more stuff to achieve their dreams they also go into more debt. I don’t think the debt was part of their dream.
A friend of mine, Karl, would frequently say, “Don’t try to keep up with the Jones. They will refinance and beat you every time. And you’ll go broke in the process.”
Let that sink in. Not only will you get beat, but you’ll go broke just because you are trying to keep up with someone else.
There are two parts to the problem. Spending and Income. Frequently the spending exceeds the income or comes very close. So we keep trying to increase the income.
Real estate investors are not immune. Many new investors feel caught up in the rat race and are seeking a way out.
SEEKING FINANCIAL FREEDOM
What we are really seeking is financial freedom to do the things we want to do with the people we want to spend time with. Then we would truly be living the dream.
How do we get there?
Financial literacy is not taught in most schools. Neither is religion.
Schools teach us what we need to know to get a job or run a business. They don’t really teach values, do they?
We must pass on important values to the next generation.
We must learn how to control money or it will control us.
We need to recognize the difference between active and passive income. Active income is that which we must work for. It could be a W-2 job or self-employed. Even flipping houses is an active job. It must be continually worked for the money to come in.
Passive income, on the other hand, does not require constant activity to produce income. Your money works for you while you are sleeping or away on vacation.
When your passive income exceeds your expenses you are able to get out of the rat race. But that is only a start. For many of us we still want something beyond the necessities of life. Like a nicer house, ability to travel with friends and family, and the ability to give more to our favorite charity. For many people, this is a new and improved dream to live.
But the dream seems distant for many.
A few years back I heard about the FIRE Movement and was encouraged. It stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early.
While the idea of retiring early appeals to many people, the real power of the concept is that it enables people to achieve financial independence earlier. When your passive income exceeds your expenses you have more choices.
It is not just about quitting your day job.
It is about giving you options to live your dream when you don’t HAVE to work for someone else.
My wife loved being a nurse and it was very rewarding for her. Now she chooses to work one day a week when we are in town because she really enjoys helping patients. But she no longer has to work late spending hours documenting her visits. It is very rewarding to her.
Financial independence gives you more freedom to live your dream now.
FIRE places a huge emphasis on reducing and controlling your expenses until you achieve Financial Independence. That enables you to invest a larger percentage of your income. By investing more and investing well you can achieve FI earlier in life.
That gives you more options. You can learn more about FIRE here.
REAL ESTATE SOLUTIONS
Real estate can provide solutions for both the active and passive income. There are many ways to make money in real estate. Wholesaling, flipping, buying tax deeds. You can also buy single-family homes to hold as rentals, buy mobile homes, multi-family housing including apartments and mobile home parks. Other investors prefer self-storage buildings.
They all work. But you must take the time to learn the niche and put forth the effort to get the desired results.
Each one is someone’s vision of how to achieve financial freedom.
If you are new to real estate, it is best to explore some of these options, but don’t chase a new one every month. This is called “shiny object syndrome.” There will always be someone trying to convince you that their way is the best.
Before choosing a niche, take a personal inventory. What do you like to do? What are you good at? How much time do you plan to invest getting started? How much time do you have? What skills are needed that you don’t have? Do you need to find someone else with those skills to teach you or do those tasks?
How flexible is your current schedule? Can you start a new business while working your current job or an existing business? Or are you better off as a passive investor?
Remember to value your time if you really want to live your dream. Don’t get caught up doing minimum wage activities that may save you money on a rehab but prevent you from having the time to look for other opportunities.
The goal is to find and implement a solution that enables your dream. Define the lifestyle that you want, including the time for various activities. Then choose a niche that works for you and allows you to live your dream. Most people design and grow a business then try to find time to live. Instead, design your business or niche around your dream.
Some niches offer high percentage rates of return, but also take a lot of time. You might find that you prefer investing passively instead of hunting great deals and talking to sellers.
LIVING YOUR DREAM
Once you have achieved Financial Independence, you have leverage. If you are working for someone else the threat of losing your job is not as great. You can survive. You also have the ability to take advantage of other opportunities as you see them. Imagine telling your boss, “I don’t have to be here.” You have other choices.
Another aspect frequently overlooked is our health. It is important to achieve our dreams while we are healthy enough to enjoy them with others. My wife has seen many patients in their 40s and 50s who are not very mobile. Some have lost a foot to diabetes, or are limited due to another illness. The older we get the harder it is to get our health back. So be sure to allow time to stay healthy and fit when designing your plan to achieve your dreams.
Another part of the dream is living a legacy. Not merely leave one, but to live it. Share your opportunities and experiences with the next generation so they can benefit. Find a charity you like to work with. Giving back can be one of the most gratifying aspects of living the dream.
LET’S GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER BETTER
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Mike is a retired aerospace engineer with a passion for real estate investing and teaching financial literacy. He lives with his wife in Daytona Beach, Florida.