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Invest In Your Future To Eliminate Financial Stress With Jen Lee – Real Estate Women

REW Jen Lee | Eliminating Financial Stress

 

Many experience financial stress caused by debt or credit and want to eliminate them. However, people are afraid to ask for help or bring up their debt status for fear that people might think they are horrible people for having bad finances. Today, Jen Lee, the owner of Jen Lee Law Inc., expresses her thoughts on dealing with our debt situation. Jen is a debt and credit strategy attorney, a speaker, and a published author. She discusses the depth of future problems if we do not seek legitimate help with our financial problems. Let’s join them in this fascinating conversation to learn the actions we need to take and what we should consider in dealing with debt.

Watch the episode here

 

Listen to the podcast here


 

Invest In Your Future To Eliminate Financial Stress With Jen Lee – Real Estate Women

Real Estate Investing For Women

I am so excited to introduce you ladies to Jen Lee. Jen is a debt and credit attorney and Owner of Jen Lee Law, Inc., a law firm with offices in San Francisco, San Ramon, and Tracy, California. She’s in my neighborhood. She is a leading expert on debt, credit, and financial stress, having been featured in ConsumerAffairs, US News, World Report, and other national publications. Jen is a Creator of several innovative programs to deal with financial stress and rebuilding after a financial disaster. Jen is the coauthor of Preventing Credit Card Fraud: A Complete Guide for Everyone from Merchants to Consumers, published by Rowman & Littlefield in March 2017. Jen, welcome to this show.

Thank you for having me. This is great. I’m happy to be here.

I’m so excited about this conversation. Jen’s backdrop is her little elephant Bernadebt sitting there with her. It’s making me smile. We are going to learn more about Bernadebt. Tell me a little bit about yourself. How did you get into this industry? Why are you passionate about it?

I grew up in a fairly financially unstable environment. I dropped out of college because college was boring. I went to work. I worked in financial services for a while and then went back to law school. While I was in law school, I thought I would do estate planning and help people plan for retirement because that was my background. I took a class in law school on Estate Planning. I thought it was the most boring thing in the world. I was like, “I can’t do this for the rest of my life.”

When I graduated from law school in 2009, we were in the middle of a big recession at the time. If you remember, back then, real estate prices were lowered. We didn’t know what was going to go on. I got into doing bankruptcy work at that time and helping people with foreclosures. I found inadvertently through that path that people need a lot of help with debt, credit, and planning for the future. It’s not always your basic retirement plan that people need. That’s how I got to where I am, helping people out with debt and credit.

It’s true. Retirement is only one event in our life. It’s a big event but there are a lot of things that you have to go through before you get there. You need to plan it and everything around living your life. That’s awesome. Could you introduce your little elephant? Tell me the story about that. Why did you introduce her?

Bernadebt is the elephant in the room. She’s the elephant in the Zoom these days with all of the Zooming that’s going on. She was born in 2017 because I kept having people say, “I don’t know when you want debt or credit problems, so I don’t know how I could ever send someone your way.” What happened was I did some statistics and looked at the numbers.

Seventy percent of Americans have a debt or credit problem of some sort. This was before COVID. She’s pre-COVID. No one talks about it. Everyone thinks they are alone. They don’t know how to deal with these debt and credit issues because they think that everyone is going to stigmatize them and think, “You are a horrible person because you have a debt or credit problem.”

Bernadebt was born to make that topic a little bit cuddlier. She made it easier for people to talk to me. They’re like, “You see a lot of this. I’m not coming to you with a new problem.” I was like, “You are not. Your neighbor and their neighbor also have the same problems.” That’s how she came about. Everyone thought that they were alone. She stands for the idea that we are not alone. A lot of us have debt and credit problems, especially with student loans.

The best way to be financially well is to never have financial problems, but that's not realistic. What people need to do when they have a problem is look for legitimate help. Click To Tweet

She’s cute and cuddly. A lot of us have made mistakes. We have these credit problems. We have debt. We’ve made big mistakes. How do you set yourself up for success in spite of that?

There are a lot of talks out there about financial wellness and all these programs to help people stay financially well. The problem with some of the financial wellness that’s out there is it doesn’t help you recover from things. It helps you prevent it in the future. The best way to be financially well is to never have financial problems but that’s not realistic. What people need to do is, when they have a problem, look for legitimate help. Find out who you should talk to about a financial problem that you have and know that they are all fixable.

Every financial problem out there is fixable. Something can be done. It may not be stress-free and completely pain-free but things are fixable. You will feel a lot better getting it resolved than you would if you keep letting it stew out there and you are always worried about it. Find out what you can do and face it head-on instead of letting it sit there.

I find that avoidance is significantly more stressful than dealing with the situation. Avoidance can go on forever. It can go until you die. If you deal with it, it may be a couple of years of pain or maybe more. Bankruptcy can sometimes be seven years of pain but it is 7 years of an entire 90-year life. It’s finite but this avoidance thing can be infinite. Wouldn’t you say?

It can. The avoidance part of it is you don’t realize how much it’s affecting your relationships and your health. I have a lot of clients who come in. We solve their problem either with bankruptcy or through other means. They call me back 30 or 45 days later and say, “I had no idea that I hadn’t slept in 30 days before I saw you. Now, I’ve slept every night since we’ve resolved this issue.” You don’t realize what it’s doing to the people around you and your health when it’s happening to you but then when you look back, you’re like, “I can’t believe I lived with that for so long.”

Stress wears you out. You get tired. You don’t perform as well. Things tend to go wrong in other parts of your life. You can’t even get to your best. Your best is not its best. That’s true. Talk to me a little bit about the scams that people fall for out there.

We are so embarrassed by having bad finances. A lot of times, it’s because we weren’t taught it when we were young or families didn’t talk about it because it was a taboo subject. What happens is people tend to fall for the late-night television commercials that say you have the right to settle your debt for pennies on the dollar and some of the tax default scams out there too.

I see a lot of people who churn to the internet to try to DIY their problems, and they end up hiring companies that probably aren’t acting in their best interests. All that does is prolong the pain. They then have to come and see me, and we have to fix all of that as well, whereas if they had stepped in from the very beginning and said, “What’s the legitimate solution to this?” they wouldn’t have to go through that.

The big scams I see a lot are debt settlements. Most debt settlement programs don’t tell you all of your options. They sell to you. A sales pitch on what they are doing. I also see a lot of the online tax ones where they offer to settle your tax debt for pennies on the dollar. People pay a lot of money to those companies, and then they don’t get the results that they were expecting.

REW Jen Lee | Eliminating Financial Stress

Preventing Credit Card Fraud: A Complete Guide for Everyone from Merchants to Consumers

Talk to me a little bit about where they would see results. What is it that you do that’s different? Let’s talk about what you do.

My goal is to educate. I want people to know what all of their options are and the pros and cons of each one so that they can make good decisions rather than the decision someone is trying to sell them when they’re desperate. A lot of my discussions are almost like therapy. We are going through and figuring out, “What are the pros and cons of this? What’s my long-term effect going to be?”

People don’t realize that you can recover from bankruptcy in a year, your credit score recovers in a year. Everyone has this misconception that it’s this 7 or 10-year process and you can’t get a mortgage. I have clients who are investing in real estate while they are in bankruptcy because they are able to get mortgage lending while they are in a reorganization plan. My goal is to educate people to make good decisions. I’m hoping they make the decisions I recommend because my superpower is seeing the big picture. If they don’t, at least they know and are educated on those options.

I was under the understanding that it takes seven years. Could you talk a little bit more about that?

Most people who go into bankruptcy think their credit score is going to be destroyed by bankruptcy. What you don’t realize is once you get to the point where bankruptcy is a great option, your credit score is already destroyed. You have already been late on payments. You may have a house that’s in foreclosure. Things have already gone on that got you to that point.

Filing bankruptcy increases most people’s credit scores. If I have a client in the 500s filing for bankruptcy, it will immediately improve their credit score, and then they can start rebuilding right away. The credit score is how risky you are to lend money. You are way riskier if you have all this debt hanging over your head than if you were to clean it all up and be in some type of rehabilitation time in your life of financials. I have clients closed on a house in the San Francisco Bay Area. They are in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganizing some taxes but were able to still buy a house while they were in bankruptcy.

Do they get a loan for that?

Yes. FHA lends while you are in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

That’s interesting. I was going to say because most lenders that I know would not lend on that.

People don't realize that you can recover from bankruptcy in a year. Your credit score recovers in a year. Click To Tweet

Most conventional lenders would lend four years after bankruptcy.

We used to have subprime but we don’t have any of those options anymore. That’s great news. It happened in my neighborhood in the South Bay. That’s impressive to me.

It’s exciting for me to see my clients are so happy. Once all these things start getting resolved, you start seeing the stress melt away from them. It goes back to the effects that financial stress is having.

Much of my message is about having a choice, and it’s exactly for that reason. It’s not necessarily because you are in debt but that’s part of the umbrella. I want people to live in choice and freedom, not in need, desperation or stress. Being blissful means, you are not stressed. You have moments of stress. We all have moments of stress but you don’t live in that place. It’s not running your entire life and being.

Having those choices is what frees people up to be able to do more things with their money and the wealth that they can generate. Once you know your options and you are making strategic choices and not emotional choices, things start snowballing in a good direction versus a bad direction.

One of the things that I talk about when I define bliss is that bliss is this deep sense of joy and contentment and the feeling that you can handle anything that comes your way. It’s about emotional mastery or emotional resilience. It’s being able to make those decisions outside of the stress and emotional reactions instead to get yourself to a place where you can make rational decisions. Get the education that you need. Have conversations with professionals that are not based on fear but based on problem-solving.

That’s exactly what I want for all my clients. I know it’s funny to talk about bankruptcy and bliss but honestly, I want my clients to feel that sense of, “I’m making good decisions. This is a strategic reason why I’m doing these things.” We speak the same language.

I love that we speak the language of choice, like for you to educate people so that they’ve got choices. They can go with what you say or not but at least they are educated. They can make rational choices. That’s amazing. Thank you for that. Talk to me about retirement. The question that you sent me is, “When should someone start saving for retirement?” For me, it is as soon as possible but what’s your response to that?

As early as possible. I know some self-employed people have their children on payroll, so they can do Roth IRAs. The idea of compound interest is you don’t realize how much is sitting there in retirement. I see the bad side of things because my clients are often financially stressed but what I see is people constantly cashing out retirement, paying down debt, and then building up some retirement and cashing it out again. I would like people to think of retirement accounts as something you start when you are six years old, and it just sits there.

REW Jen Lee | Eliminating Financial Stress

Eliminating Financial Stress: Most people who go into bankruptcy think their credit score will be destroyed by bankruptcy. What they don’t realize is once you get to the point where bankruptcy is a great option, your credit score is already destroyed.

 

Whether you have self-directed investments or real estate in your IRA or your mutual funds in the market, let it sit there and don’t touch it. I have a lot of clients that are in their 50s, 60s, and 70s that are not able to retire. They think they have $100,000 in their retirement account, and that’s going to be enough to retire on. That’s not enough to live in the Bay Area even. It’s scary to see the retirement accounts of different generations that we have going on in the country.

It’s so interesting to me because I’ve had a lot of people on the show say, “You can take money out of your retirement account for that.” That’s not the purpose of a retirement account. If we want to self-direct it and put it into an asset that’s going to appreciate or give us cashflow, you do a self-directed IRA like a true one. That’s okay. There are so many people that are like, “You can take money out of your IRA and pay for that. Do this or pay down debt.” I’m like, “That’s exactly what you shouldn’t be doing.” The retirement account is there for you to force you to save for later because you are going to need it.

If you are so desperate as a money earner when you are young, you are still able to earn money. If you are so desperate that you have to pull money out of your future, what are you going to be like then? You’ve stolen all those years of progress from yourself towards that future. It’s about creating better financial skills, not about robbing your future so that you can have something a little bit more comfortable. I believe in that. I’ve never said that on this show because so many people contradict me on that. It’s like, “Why would you spend your retirement? You need to plan for it.” You need to plan for that. There will be a day when you cannot work anymore.

I’m happy to know that. I have so many people come to me, and they have been told by a financial advisor to take money out of their retirement to pay the debt because they didn’t think they had other options. That’s where I come in with the options. What people don’t understand is retirement accounts have special protection legally from creditors.

If you cash out retirement funds, creditors can then get to those funds if they get a judgment against you. If it’s sitting in your retirement account, you can have a million-dollar in retirement accounts and still file for bankruptcy and keep your million dollars because it’s protected in their retirement account. It has a special holier than anything, almost protection over it by leaving it in that account. I like to educate on those options too.

That was amazing. I didn’t know that. I know that most of us have to be forced to save. It’s one of those things. Have you read the book, The Richest Man in Babylon? He was like, “Pay yourself 10% first.” Who does that? If you have a retirement plan that you have funded out of your paycheck, it’s automated, and you don’t think about it, then you are doing it. You are like, “I don’t have to think about it.”

You don’t have to budget for it. You don’t have to think about it every single month like, “Can I afford the 10% this month?” It’s not a decision. It’s planning for your life. People say that it’s held captive and that you can’t use it when you need it. You will need it and use it when you need it more than ever before. It’s a good idea.

I often hear from people, “I can’t afford to put any money into retirement. My budget is so tight.” I would challenge people to look closer at their budgets to figure out because it’s not even the full amount you are putting in there. You are saving taxes as well by putting them into a retirement account. I challenge people when they tell me that they can’t put any money into retirement because almost every budget has a little bit of room in them.

From the very beginning, from when we were dead broke, my husband and I always invested in his 401(k). I have a Roth IRA. We always put money in there and maxed it out. He has been at companies over time that matched, so we got a bunch of free money. I don’t want to admit that very often on the show because it’s not a popular thing to say anymore.

Having choices frees people up to do more things with their money and the wealth they can generate. Once you know your options and you are making strategic and not emotional choices, things start snowballing in a good direction versus a bad one. Click To Tweet

I do have a self-directed IRA also. I’ve got all of these things. It’s part of the financial plan. It’s part of planning for my future. I won’t get it now but I’m going to get it when I’m 65 or 72, or whenever I decide to pull it out. I will need it then too. It has grown during that time. I didn’t rob myself for the fun of life. I’m allowing myself to have fun, freedom, and less stress later.

It will always grow. People look at the markets as shaky. If it’s not in a self-directed, if it’s in more of a standard portfolio, sometimes people freak out about market dips. You have to let it ride.

Don’t keep looking at it. That was amazing. For EXTRA, we are going to be talking about the mistakes that you see women making in finances. I love the topic but what specifically are you going to be focusing on?

We are going to be focusing on generational issues with women because we are often the caregivers. We are often trying to take care of our parents and our kids. We are going to talk about how that money issues come up in those situations.

It’s so much like the sandwich generation. You’ve got both sides that you are dealing with. We still have to protect our own futures. I’m excited about talking about that. Before we go there, could you tell people how they can get in touch with you?

My website is JenLeeLaw.com. You could contact me on LinkedIn too. I do a lot of posting on LinkedIn and sharing educational information. Those are usually the two best ways to get in contact with me.

Thank you for that. Are you ready for three Rapid-fire questions?

I am ready.

Tell us a super tip on getting started investing in real estate.

REW Jen Lee | Eliminating Financial Stress

Eliminating Financial Stress: Sit down and write out your budget. Figure out how much you have to put towards investing, and find the right professionals you need to do that.

 

My super tip is to sit down and write out your budget. Figure out how much you have to put towards investing. Find the professionals you need to do that. That’s what I would start with.

What’s the strategy for being successful as a real estate investor?

Use the right professionals around you so that you are getting the best deals and you know what all the details are. Don’t leave it up to someone else to manage your finances. Know what is all in there yourself.

Have professionals but also keep track of them. Keep your eyeballs on them.

Use their advice but make sure that you know what’s going on and understand it because a lot of people fall into that, “Why did I trust this person to do it? I didn’t know what they were doing.”

What is one daily practice you do that contributes to your personal success?

I sit down in the morning for 30 minutes and plan out my day like, “What’s going to. What needs to happen, and what can happen if I have time?” We all get stuck in this jump into the day, and it flies away from us. That 30 minutes of planning in the morning have helped me to center myself.

This has been amazing. I’m super excited to chat in EXTRA about the mistakes that we make as women in our finances. If you are subscribed to EXTRA, stay tuned. There’s more. If not, go to RealEstateInvestingForWomenEXTRA.com so that you can check it out. Thank you so much for all that you’ve offered in this portion of this show.

Thank you for having me. I enjoyed it.

Thank you for introducing us to Bernadebt. Ladies, if you are leaving us now, thank you for joining Jen and me for this portion of the show. I look forward to seeing you next time. Until then, remember that goals without action are just dreams, so get out there, take action, and create the life your heart deeply desires. I will see you soon.

 

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The Benefits Of Building Virtual Teams For Your Business Needs With Miquella Gaunt

REW Miquella Gaunt | Virtual Team

 

Technology has shown us so much of what is possible in the workplace. Pushed by the pandemic, more and more businesses and organizations are opting for hybrid work. Thus, we have virtual teams. And while a virtual team has multiple purposes, it always has a specific goal in mind. In this episode, Moneeka Sawyer interviews Miquella Gaunt of Backdraft Home Solutions about how they transitioned to virtual teams and how they are building them to help support their specific needs. She takes us across their hiring process and marketing avenues, then shares how they’ve adapted through COVID to now as we’re coming out to the other side of it. Plus, Miquella talks about the onboarding system she uses that helps her become the successful real estate investor she is now.

Watch the episode here

 

Listen to the podcast here


 

The Benefits Of Building Virtual Teams For Your Business Needs With Miquella Gaunt

Real Estate Investing For Women

In this episode, I am so excited to welcome Miquella Gaunt. This is what she says about herself. You ladies know that I read bios. Normally, I try to change it to the third person, but this bio is so sweet the way she wrote it, so I’m just going to read what she wrote. What she says is, “My new husband and I started this home buying solutions business to add value to families and the local community. We know what hard times are and we want to be a good option for people experiencing them, especially when the typical home selling process is complicated and lengthy.

We have created an amazing experience of relief for many families that we have worked with while connecting with them on a personal level. We have always thought with a positive mindset to impact our local community and calm people during times of stress and chaos. We are ready to stand by their side to accomplish their current goals, simplify their problems and make them suddenly organized, easy, and convenient so people can move on to a stress-free life they didn’t even know was possible.” Miquella, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me.

We have a lot of people that talk about, “I do this business to help people.” Most of them mean it. You can tell a difference in people in how deep that goes in their heart. Some of it is they’ve been doing it so long so they’re like, “This is how I run my business,” and it’s not quite as connected to that anymore. They’re still out there doing those things, believing it, and feeling it, but it’s not quite as deep and connected to their heart as it might’ve been in the beginning when they started their businesses. I love the way that it came from your heart. I know that you’re young in this business and that energy is so inspiring. Thank you for that. Could you tell us high-level your story?

I wasn’t always in the real estate business. A lot of people always come and say, “My parents were in it and I was ingrained in it,” but I wasn’t. I came from a marketing side. My mom had a very successful marketing and advertising agency. I worked with her since I was thirteen making collection calls. She’s like, “You’re not busy for the summer. Come work.” Even as I got older, I was more on the project management side. I was running the orders or anything like that, but I got to see firsthand how my mom handled marketing for other businesses which helped in doing what we’re doing now.

After that, I went to work for another company that was in promotional retail merchandise. I was a project manager and operations. I was handling everything on the backend. That’s where I strive and am good at that. I met my now-husband. Talk about a visionary. If anybody has ever read the book, Rocket Fuel, it talks about the visionary and integrator. He is a visionary and I’m 100% the integrator.

You complement each other perfectly.

He comes to me sometimes with these ideas and I’m like, “What?” He’s got a big idea and I come in with how to implement it. He does as well, but it works. He originally started this business. He was a firefighter. Long story short in a custody battle for his baby girl and it was how do we make a lot of money to be able to afford attorney fees? Those things in family court rack up quickly. Both of us have read Rich Dad Poor Dad. He knew that real estate was where he want to go. I was already actively working on getting my license because I knew I wanted to end up in the real estate.

He started the wholesaling business. I ended up leaving my job to help him with his daughter. He ended up getting primary custody of her. I got to help raise a little baby girl. I decided that the retail side wasn’t for me. I liked the investing side better. I liked getting to help people because these are difficult situations for some people. Long story short, we got into it together and now we’re a few years in. We have grown exponentially. I can’t even imagine what’s going to be in store for us.

You are a client of Zack Boothe. Is that true?

Part of our original journey is we had done his Driving For Dollars course as the regular students and built our business off of originally Driving For Dollars and his whole process. As we grew, he saw that we were taking massive action. We ended up doing one-on-one coaching with him for about a year, which helped us break that learning curve and break through a lot of barriers. Instead of us having to learn by failure, he helped us through that. He married us. He was our officiant. It’s grown from a student -mentor to a best friend. I love him and his wife. That’s where we started and now we have what we have.

You can create culture without being face to face. Click To Tweet

There are so many people out there that teach wholesaling. Why did you choose him?

We’ve chosen Zack originally because when we first started out, we didn’t have all the money to invest in buying these big lists. What everybody else talks about is buying tons of data and marketing to it. That takes a lot of money and extra money that we didn’t have at that time. We knew driving for dollars was the gateway into it where it just needed your time to go and drive around, find distressed properties, and the market to them. We took his course because we had seen everywhere that he was the driving for dollars guru of it.

We did his course which was great and made a lot of processes for that. Both my husband and I would go driving. We’d take turns. He’d go for an hour for a day. I’d go for an hour for a day. It started with that and then started ramping it up. We started getting some good deals. I remember we had one big deal coming in. Zack had randomly facetimed Aaron for some reason. He was like, “I just want to check on you. You’re one of my students. I don’t think we’ve ever talk to you one-on-one.” We talk to him about what was going on. Aaron was still at the fire department at the time because we had talked about, me being the very like, “I got to have the numbers in place.”

I was like, “Let’s make sure before you quit the fire department, we have reserves so our family is okay, especially since I wasn’t working anymore.” Zack called and Aaron had him on speaker and he’s like, “Your wife is probably going to kill me right now, but I’m going to tell you to quit now.” It was because we had a large deal coming in and it gave him the opportunity to. I remember Aaron got off the phone and I looked at him like, “He’s not wrong.”

Aaron was calling out of the back of his car. He’s at the fire department. He got in trouble for this too at the fire department in between calls, of course, not going to save people’s lives. He was in the back of the car making sales calls, cold calling, and trying to seal a deal. He did whatever it took. I’m like, “You’ve already done it this hard this far. Why not bet on yourself? Imagine if you had a full day where you weren’t out putting out fires or going on a medical call, what if?” The day the deal closed which gave us enough reserves for a little bit, he put in his two weeks. He said he kept refreshing his phone and as soon as it hit, he put in his two weeks and we haven’t looked back since.

How long ago was that?

That was in June of 2020.

How long have you been working with Zack when that happened?

The course was only a few months. Aaron started studying and going through different student courses in September of 2019. He did everything pretty quickly. Once he left the fire department, we started our actual one-on-one coaching with Zack in July of 2020.

It was less than a year from when you decided to go start the wholesaling thing and take Zack’s course to where you went full-time. Is that true?

Yeah. We don’t do anything smaller around here.

REW Miquella Gaunt | Virtual Team

Virtual Team: We’re very big on “don’t message us on the side; keep it in the group because you never know somebody else that may have the same question.”

 

The thing that we’re going to talk about that you wanted to focus on was the whole idea of building a virtual team. We’ve had people come onto this show and talk about this before, but you have a little bit of a different perspective. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got to this? We were talking in the green room. I’d love for you to share that story with the ladies.

We originally steered away from the virtual. We’re both big on building a culture. We did feel like originally you needed people in the office to have that culture. It is a limiting mindset. You can’t create a culture without being face-to-face. We had a few cold calls. We had about four in-house for maybe five months. People’s lives changed. They had to go on their separate ways, which was fine. We loved everybody that was here. As we were trying to hire new people, it was hard. As Zack says it, “People in America just don’t want to work.”

I know that sounds so bad, but it was the most difficult thing. I was surprised. It blew my mind, first of all. The other thing was, even if we did, they didn’t have any experience in cold calling. It was the minimum wage in California plus then training somebody from the ground up, which takes a lot of time. We had listened to a podcast and again, somebody was talking about virtual cold-callers. Finally, we’re like, “We need to take the action and just try it.”

What’s the worst that’s going to happen? It doesn’t work and we go back to what we wanted. It’s not a big deal but we were very strategic with it. We had a hiring process. We had certain questions that were asked. We put them through training. We’ve built better training along the way as we’ve grown. It went from having four cold-callers in-house to, at one point, we had twenty virtual cold-callers.

We’re down about fifteen now, which we think is a good number. We took one of the cold-callers that was good. We put her as a manager. Now, she manages them. She trains and watches their numbers. She pulls them aside, “I listened to your calls. They need to be fixed here.” She now hires all of them. The reason why she’s able to do that is we also built processes and an onboarding process so that it makes it quick. It’s not, you have a sheet of paper and, “Do I send them this? Do I send them that?”

It’s all on a website that you just give them a login. The person goes through everything from, “Here’s the script. Here’s how you call,” down to, “Here’s how you log in to the WhatsApp group.” The WhatsApp groups are how we continue the culture. Everyone celebrates their wins. Our cold-call team is in one group. We tell everybody. They send a little bell emoji when they get a lead. They encourage and celebrate each other. That’s how we have found that keeps that culture that we wanted going. Everyone is able to hold everybody accountable. If one person has a question, we’re very big on, “Don’t message us on the side. Keep it in the group because you never know somebody else may have the same question.”

Also, a better answer because they’ve been through it themselves.

We’re quick to fire. If somebody is not matching that culture level, if they’re not taking instruction well, we get them out because we also know how toxic a bad worker can be for everybody else. We’re very uplifting people. We’d like to be uplifting, happy and encourage everybody. We want the best for everybody. We try to keep that as much as possible within our people.

You’re in California. Where in California are you guys?

We’re in Temecula. It’s in Southern California.

Is it in Burbank?

It takes money to spend money. You need to spend it to be able to make it. Click To Tweet

No. We’re an hour from LA and an hour from San Diego. We’re right in the middle. It’s a little wine country.

You’re in Temecula and you’re doing the driving for dollars locally in that area. I want to point that out there. A lot of people that read this show and they read it over and over again, “You can’t invest in California.” I do. I like to make sure that I point out that people are doing this in California because as much as people think it’s difficult here, it can be difficult in a lot of places. Just because a market might appear difficult, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful. I wanted to point that out.

This market is difficult in its own way.

There’s no such thing as the perfect easy market. You might find something that’s perfect and easy in this way, but it’s going to have different challenges. That’s true for California too. My next question is, when did you decide to start hiring help? It sounds like your hubby Aaron was doing all the calls initially. You were trading off on dialing for dollars, but when did you decide to start hiring?

We hadn’t had an office yet. We were doing this at our little condo in our dining room. We had our big old whiteboard up in the dining room. We had no dining room. He originally did dabble in a little bit of the virtual cold-callers. I think it was two people, but it didn’t work out very well. It left a bad taste in our mouths and that’s why we didn’t. We were still in 2020. We went and saw Zack’s office around October of 2020. He came back going, “We need an office. We need to get this out of our house.” The office we got is only about 900 square feet. It’s nothing crazy, but it’s something where you disconnect. You’re not at home. We’re all guilty of doing it. I’m sitting there and trying to work and going, “I should mop the floors.”

“I got to get that laundry done.”

Let me go through the laundry real quick and I’ll come right back. Now your laundry and then your dishes. It doesn’t work. Even our day is we get up. We take our little one to preschool. We come into the office. We’re here from 8:00 to 2:30. We leave at 2:30. We pick her up and we’re home because we have that six or so hour that we focus and it’s the disconnect from the house.

Don’t you work after you pick up the little one?

We do. There are escrows going on. There are people calling all the time, but we try to come in and knock everything out for that six hours so that when we go home, it’s answering a text message or a phone call. After we saw Zack, we went out to Utah in October of 2020. We literally came back and I think within a week or two, we had an office. We started hiring cold-callers within the same month, but that was the in-house people. Our last in-house person was left around June of 2021 and then we went full virtual.

Was there a series of parameters that you use to make that decision to start spending the extra money on hiring help?

Is it for the in-house?

REW Miquella Gaunt | Virtual Team

Virtual Team: We’re very big on pouring ourselves into all of our people.

 

It is for anything because that’s where you started.

We had to wait until we had some deals coming in and closing. We know that it takes money to spend money. I know it’s such a used saying, but it’s true. You need to spend it to be able to make it. We had to watch everything carefully. We are good about watching our spending and our marketing lists and where we’re at because we do believe in taking care of our people. If you take care of your people, your employees, and your team, it’s going to benefit yourself as well. We didn’t have a parameter of when to do it. It was just like, “We need to.”

First, you wanted to have in-house people and then you went virtual. Did you go with a virtual company or did you pick individual people? Tell me a little bit about how that worked out. How did you find the virtual people that you’re working with now?

We went on Upwork. Again, in a podcast or somebody posting or something, everyone talked about using this site Upwork. We would put our little job posting out there. People would apply. We had certain questions. You have to have Skype because we’ve learned that if they’re calling out of the country, they need Skype to connect to the platform we were using, which was Mojo Dialer. Have they called for investors before? He was throwing out a random questions to make sure that they were engaged. He said like, “What’s your favorite animal,” which had nothing to do with anything. It was more of like, “Are you answering the questions,” and to break up the interview a little bit.

He would then do an actual Zoom call with them to hear how they talked. You want to make sure, especially with cold-calling, that they speak clear English, that they can come across and not stumble on the script. After that, you hire them and we usually do about a month’s worth of probation per se, we were still watching their calls, critiquing, training or anything like that and then go from there.

You got them individually. There are a lot of companies that offer all of that virtual support for real estate companies, but you opted not to do that. You wanted to go with individuals. Why did you do it that way?

We could control a little bit more what they were saying. This isn’t for all the companies out there because I know some are different. We knew sometimes when they’re under a company, they are being trained a certain way. Not that our script deviates from that, but we want to be able to change it and have the flow with us. Their culture was more about working with us and not, “I work for this company that I’m contracted out to you.” It was more, “We’re a team.”

It does definitely create more work, but that’s why we made the systems and the processes that we do so that it’s simplified it over time to where now we have a cold-call manager. She posts the job out on Upwork. She sends out the Zoom interview. She goes through them and she hires them. The way she does it is exactly the way we would do it but because we wrote it down. We recorded every interview so she could see it and see how it should be so she could be in our minds so that we weren’t doing it. She was now doing it.

Does she work full-time?

She is full-time. She’s also virtual though, too.

When you started to hire these people, were they full-time? What were you offering them, 2 hours a day, 10 hours a week or 2 hours a week? How did that work initially?

If you take care of your people, your employees and team, it's going to benefit you as well. Click To Tweet

For cold callers, we don’t like to have them calling more than 4 to 5 hours a day. I feel like, after that, it gets tiring. You lose that energy. We offered two shifts. You either can do the morning shift or the night shift. Each shift was 4 to 5 hours and 5 days a week.

Was that right from the very beginning?

At the very beginning, I think we only had done a night shift. As we added more, we split them up and did half and half. Half at night and a half in the morning.

People were getting pretty good hours immediately. They weren’t feeling motivated to fill the rest of their time with other clients. Would you say?

Not really. I think some of them had other clients and we’ve weeded through the ones that did because I’m not going to stop them from filling the rest of their time. You could hear in their calls that it was affecting them working with us. We also do benefit too if one of the leads they bring in converts into a closed contract. They get a little nice bonus for it as well. We try to incentivize as well too to keep the longevity there.

It’s interesting because you said, “I try to keep it to 4 to 5 hours because calling is hard.” If they’ve got three more hours in their day that they want to fill and they fill it with calls for somebody else, now they’re doing eight hours of cold-calling. Either you or the other client is going to feel that level of exhaustion that they experienced especially if they’re doing it every single day.

We track everything. We track the number of leads a day. We average it monthly. We always are on it and we’re always looking at the numbers because numbers, at the end of the day, don’t lie. We let somebody go because our manager was like, “This one person hasn’t gotten a lead in two weeks.” I’m like, “That’s not going to work.” This is not the first time we’ve had this conversation. Aaron’s like, “I did the cold-calling. I know what to expect.” We’ve done all the parts of our business. At the end of the day, we know what should be coming through.

We’re going on a little bit of a tangent because I know that you started this business basically right before COVID. You were building it through COVID and now we’re on the other side of that. Are you seeing changes in the business, both with the work ethic of the people that work with you and also with the numbers of leads that you’re getting and the people that you’re dealing with as far as doing the wholesale deals? Talk to me a little bit about all those three pieces.

No. We’ve ramped it up so much. The market, yes, is maybe shifting. How much? No one can know for certain. We did have a pause with COVID for about two months and then it skyrocketed. We watch the numbers and we know how many leads we need to get because we know how many leads it takes to get to a contract. Our morale of people has been great. I think that has a lot to do with how we approach everything. We want to hear people’s concerns. How we can do better? How can we be better for them?

We’re very big on pouring ourselves into all of our people from our cold-callers to our texters. We have five textures that are sending out text messages all day. I have one assistant. Lead managers are positioned. Everybody involved in our business, we try to set them up to be the best they can be because the best they can be will also benefit us. It benefits everybody around. We haven’t seen a drop in morale. If anything, we’ve seen more loyalty, enthusiasm, drive, and teamwork. Everybody definitely sees that we’re here for everyone and how hard we’re pushing. They want to push just as hard as we do.

Right now, you have a cold-call team of fifteen with one cold-call manager. There are sixteen on that team. You’ve got a texting team of six and you have a virtual assistant and a virtual lead manager. How many assistants and lead managers do you have?

REW Miquella Gaunt | Virtual Team

Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business

I have one assistant. She directly works under Aaron and me. She’s our go-to. She’s amazing. She handles everybody. We have two virtual lead managers. They’ll handle all the incoming leads, and filter the ones that are nonsense and the rest of them. We have two acquisition managers. Those ones are here in California. One’s in San Diego and one’s up in Northern California. He’s technically virtual. We have a dispo manager that sells the contracts once we get them under contract.

The acquisition managers, what do they do? They take the leads and they’re the ones that do the actual acquisition. Is that true?

They get it to a contract. We have around 40 to 50 leads coming in a day from all our avenues of marketing. A lot of them are just, “You called me. Give me an offer.” Our lead managers filter through those 40 to 50, find the ones that are serious about selling and pass them to our acquisition team. The acquisition team will dig deeper. They go over numbers, go through the condition, and then get it to send out a contract.

What are the different marketing avenues that you use? I know that you started with driving for dollars, but that’s not what you’re doing anymore. Is that true? What kinds of marketing stuff do you do?

A lot of what we do is pull lists. We still market to our driving for dollars. It’s on a much smaller scale now. We pull retired landlord lists, the notice of default, and tax delinquent. The three marketing channels we’re big on right now are cold-calling, texting, and direct mail. Also, a little bit of PPC, but that is a beast in and of itself.

What is PPC?

It’s Pay-Per-Click. It’s Google Ads.

I feel like we could just keep talking forever, but we can’t. What I see in you is this well-oiled machine. I love seeing that you’ve taken it from you were doing all this work to now you’ve got these systems and they help you to drive a really good business that’s helping people. Ladies, just so you know, one of the things that Miquella has offered is to talk about that onboarding system that she uses. It’s based on a particular website with a portal so that she can do all of this onboarding.

She can hand this over to her cold-calling manager that’s going to do the hiring. It’s a system. She’s going to be talking about that in EXTRA. I’m super excited to learn more about that. Ladies, stay tuned for EXTRA for that. Before we move into our three Rapid-fire questions, could you tell us a little bit about how people can get in touch with you?

I’m on Facebook and Instagram. My Facebook is Miquella Gaunt. On Instagram, the same thing, @MiquellaGaunt. Feel free to direct message me on any of those platforms. LinkedIn, I’m on there, but not really.

I know you were going to offer some free time with you. Ladies, this is interesting. Miquella doesn’t coach, but when she does take her time out of her schedule, you can see that she and Aaron make quite a lot of money. Their time is worth a lot. She normally will charge for phone calls to help coach people or get them started or whatever, but she did offer for the first five of you to call her and connect with her on Instagram. Mention that you came from the show and that you heard her on this show and then she’ll give you an hour of free conversation, which is incredibly generous. Thank you for that.

It’s a super tip to get started in anything, but be obsessed with it, take notice, and take imperfect action. Click To Tweet

We literally were talking about this on our honeymoon.

I’ve got opinions about that. I’m not going to share that with you, but it’s still funny. This is one of the things. It’s like the blessing and the curse of working with your spouse. It’s hard to get away. It’s also necessary for the relationship to get away. There is all of that stuff. It sounds like you and Aaron are balancing that beautiful.

We’re similar but opposite enough.

Miquella was saying that she is the implementer and he’s more of a visionary. That’s a beautiful matchup.

I was telling you that in the book Rocket Fuel, when we read that, we were like, “This is why companies work because they need a visionary and integrator,” and I was like, “That’s why our marriage works.”

Miquella, you were going to offer a free trial for PropStream also. Could you tell people what that is? What is PropStream? Why is it valuable?

PropStream is your access to property information without having MLS or real estate-based sites that you can see listings on. It helps you be able to do comps and pull property information for different properties as far as who the owners are or if they have anything owed against the property. You can also use PropStream to pull lists. That’s where we have been pulling our lists from. They have a lot of great different filters down to the age of home, if it was bought in cash or under a mortgage. You can fine-tune in there if list pointing something you’re looking for. You can comp properties on there. It has a lot of that information. For the people that don’t have their license, that doesn’t have access to the multiple listing service, that’s your replacement for that.

That’s called PropStream. There’s a whole range of what you can sign up for PropStream. There is the just getting a list and then there’s, “I can get comps and everything.” There’s a whole range of things. I’m not sure exactly what you get for free, but it’s worth checking it out. I hear about PropStream from all the pros. I’m excited that you’re offering this free trial. Ladies, if you want to get that, go to BlissfulInvestor.com/PropStream. Check that out. Thank you for that, Miquella.

Anything we can do to give back.

Thank you so much for that. Ladies, you know that Miquella is a student and friend of Zack Boothe, who we’ve had before. If you’re excited about learning what she learned from him, you can still connect with him and his team. Go to BlissfulInvestor.com/Zack. You’ll get to talk to him or Stephanie, who you have already met. They do have someone else working on the phones, too. I trust that that person would be as fabulous as them. You can go to that link and set up a time to chat with them, and see if this business is a good fit for you. We saw what an amazing fit it’s been for Miquella. We’ve heard from Zack a few times. Here are our three rapid-fire questions. Give us one super tip on getting started investing in real estate.

I think it’s a super tip on getting started in anything. It’s to be obsessed with it and take imperfect action. You’re not always going to have the answer or know what the outcome’s going to be, but just do it. You’ll figure it out along the way. You may stumble and fall, but it’s better than not having done anything. It’s analysis paralysis. Many people get stuck in analysis paralysis. Stop over-analyzing it. Just do it.

REW Miquella Gaunt | Virtual Team

Virtual Team: You’re not always going to have the answer or know what the outcome’s going to be, but just do it and figure it out along the way. You may stumble or fall, but it’s better than not having done anything.

 

What is one strategy to be successful as a real estate investor?

Systems, processes, and document everything. You don’t want to be doing everything yourself. We’re all about reading books. Another good book is Who Not How. Can you do it? Yes, sure, but isn’t that the best use of your time? The only way that you can hire something like that out is by documenting how you do something. The simplest way, you don’t have to write it. If you don’t know how to write an SOP or a standard operating procedure, log in to Zoom, record yourself, share your screen, and then go through what you’re doing. That way, when you have to explain it to somebody, it’s there. You can reshare the video instead of having to re-explain and retrain over and over again.

What is one daily practice that you do that you would say contributes to your personal success?

I do try to get some kind of exercise daily as best as I can. We’re up at 5:00, especially up before the little one because working out with her is not possible. She tries to help. She’s so cute. She’ll come down, try to hold the way and count for me, but then she gets bored and then wants to play. Even if it’s going on a treadmill, getting your body moving does clear your mind. When you do start your day, go at it with purpose.

My thing is lists. On my phone, I have a notepad on there a to-do list. Every time I think of something, I jot it down, “I need to do this one.” You don’t forget it and feel like, “What was I thinking?” You are feeling overwhelmed. We come to the office for six hours and it’s just work. It’s not an eight-hour day where I got a break here and then I take lunch. I’m literally at that computer for six hours nonstop going as hard as possible getting it all done for as much as I can.

Thank you for that. Miquella, this has been amazing. Thanks for all you shared at this portion of the show.

I’m more than happy to. If anybody takes anything from it, it makes me happy because I know there are probably questions out there. Some people may not know where to start. If I could even help start somebody’s drive and passion or anything, that is something that I try to do.

You’ve been so generous. Thank you. Ladies, we’ve got more. She’s going to generously share with us her onboarding system in the portal that she uses and how she puts that together for the entire virtual team. Nobody’s ever done this before so I’m super excited. If you are subscribed to EXTRA, stay tuned. There’s more. If you’re not, go to RealEstateInvestingForWomenExtra.com. You get the first seven days for free. You could download this episode and as many others as you like and stay or not. It’s totally up to you. For those of you that are leaving right now, thank you so much for joining us for this portion of the show. I look forward to seeing you next time. Until then, remember, goals without action are just dreams. Get up there, take action, and create the life your heart deeply desires. I’ll see you soon. Bye.

 

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Repeat Success – Proven Strategy On Achieving Financial Freedom With Chris Miles

REW Chris Miles | Financial Freedom

 

What if you could find your way to financial freedom, not once, but twice? In this episode, Chris Miles, the founder of Money Ripples, tells his inspiring story of highs and ultimate lows and how he bounced back using the same principles that got him to be successful in the first place. Chris tells us how his own values pulled him through foreclosures, divorce, and massive debts. Tune in and get some lessons that will help you understand cash flow, passive income, and achieving true financial freedom from someone who learned the hard way.

Watch the episode here

 

Listen to the podcast here


 

Repeat Success – Proven Strategy On Achieving Financial Freedom With Chris Miles

Real Estate Investing for Women

In this episode, I am delighted to welcome back to the show Chris Miles, the Cash Flow Expert and Anti-Financial Advisor. He is a leading authority in teaching entrepreneurs and professionals how to get their money working for them. He’s an author and podcast host of The Chris Miles Money Show, which I’ve been on. He has been featured in US News, CNN Money, Entrepreneurs on Fire, and BiggerPockets and has a proven reputation with his company, Money Ripples, getting his clients’ fast financial results. In fact, his personal clients have increased their cashflow to almost $300 million in the last few years. Those numbers are incredible. I’m so excited to have you chatting with our ladies again. How have you been?

I’ve been great. I appreciate being back on, Moneeka.

Chris, could you give us a two-minute high-level story about how you got into what you’re doing?

Yeah. Funny enough, it wasn’t planned like a lot of things in life. Life takes you on the course it needs to take you. I was planning to become a business consultant, but I figured if I was going to do that, I should have real-life business experience. I figured I was going to drop out of college, take a one-year sabbatical and go find some business, some side hustle I could do.

I was looking around and the first opportunity that came up that zinged a little bit was becoming a financial advisor. Granted, I had no financial experience. I took a few little high school accounting and banking classes. I knew how to write a check and balance a check register back when we used check registers. That was it.

My dad only taught me to save. That’s all he taught me to do. While my mom was an artist, she was trained by the master painter that trained Bob Ross. She had this entrepreneur thing, but it was easy to come easy go with money while my dad was, “Save it and hoard it.” I didn’t know anything and I did that. She was a financial advisor. I stayed dropped out of college. I never went back. I never finished my Bachelor’s. I was one class away from finishing.

I ended up staying as an entrepreneur. I stayed as a financial advisor. I did that for a number of years. After a while, I’m one of those people who like evidence. I like to know that things work. I started to realize that even as I inherited clients from previous financial advisors, they weren’t financially free. They were still struggling, just like every other American. I had to ask myself. I’m like, “Is this working?” When your pocketbooks are tied to it, you want to turn a blind eye to some of those things.

I took it to my friend, Doug. It was just like yesterday. My friend, Doug, we’re talking to each other and he was saying how he and his dad partnered on some real estate deals. He’s double his dad’s income as a professor at the local university. I thought, “Come on. That’s too good to be true. There is no way you could do that in a matter of months.” He said, “No. We’re doing it.” After we got into this little debate because I didn’t believe him, I finally said, “Chris, let me ask you a question. How many of your clients are financially free? Really free, where they don’t worry about money?” He said, “None, because even the retired ones still worry about money.” I said, “Great job, Chris. I didn’t expect it to be that bad, but okay.”

I want to point out what you said. Even when we retire, many of us worry about money. We’ve got our number and we go for that number, but the number is based on assumptions that we’ve made when we don’t know what retirement is going to be like. I love that you’re able to acknowledge that, yes, they were able to retire, but they didn’t feel financially free. There’s a difference. Financially free gives you true time freedom. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to retire. You might still be working. You might be working on a passion project or whatever, but you don’t worry about money. It’s money, time and passion freedom. I love that you pointed that out. Thank you for that.

That’s a good point because I was thinking of a retired doctor or a physician. She may or may not have had enough money to last her lifetime and that’s the fear. Most of them don’t know if their money will last because you’re only supposed to pull out maybe 3% of your money per year. If you have $1 million, you’re only about $30,000 a year. That’s poverty.

What kind of lifestyle is that?

You’re a broke millionaire. That’s part of it. It is a numbers game, but even more so, as you’re alluding to, it’s an emotions game too. It’s a mindset game. You could have all the money in the world, but you might not feel like it’s enough because you’re in this scarcity mentality. That would definitely categorize some of the other people that maybe could retire but don’t feel free.

That was a key piece missing still for people. None of them were. He sealed the nail in the coffin a little bit when he said, “Chris, how about this? How many of you guys as financial advisors are financially free? None of the commissions you’re earning, all the renewals and everything you get paid that gives you residual income, but actually doing these mutual fund investments.”

As I thought about the guys that have been working there since the late 1970s and still could not retire, I said, “None. I guess none of them are.” You have to understand. If you ever want to create real financial freedom, you want to model more of what you want to become like. He slapped me in the face with that one because as I was looking, I was like, “Is anybody in that company financially free?” Even the people I looked up to that maybe had good incomes still weren’t in a place where they could retire. I then realized, “You got me.”

He didn’t believe that I was open at that point because I was very obstinate for a minute. He’s like, “Chris, if you’re serious and you do want to know about this, please give me an answer here. Tell me something. Give me something.” He said, “If you’re serious, get this book called Who Took My Money by Robert Kiyosaki, which is a lesser-known Rich Dad Poor Dad book. To save you the three hours of an audiobook, mutual funds suck. That’s the basic message. They don’t work and that includes 401(k)s and IRAs.

If you ever want to create real financial freedom, you want to model more of what you want to become. Click To Tweet

He then said, “Now listen to this radio show.” Like you’re doing right now, you’re reading this. This was an AM talk radio show pre-podcasts. He’s like, “Listen to these guys that are real estate investors and tell me what you think. I did. I listened to those guys for probably about 2 to 3 months. After a while, I get to this point of choice. I could either keep doing what I was doing because my practice is at an all-time high or because I’d built it up over the years. Either I can keep going knowing that my heart’s going to be a war and that I’m teaching something that doesn’t work. I can leave and go teach ballroom dancing on the side and also do mortgages and be a mortgage broker.

I chose the latter. As I said, my integrity is worth more than just trying to make money. I became a mortgage broker. I helped at the college and the local university, teaching some ballroom dancing, but it drove me nuts that I didn’t know what these guys knew because these were people younger than me. I was 28 at that time. There were people that were in their mid-twenties, like 25 and 26 years old, who are financially free.

I’m like, “How did they do that? I thought I had to save forever. If I saved every little penny I could, maybe by the time I was 40, I could retire with $60,000 a year. My goal was to save $2 million. Now, I started to realize that you don’t have to do that. As I started to learn what they did and started to understand cashflow and passive income, I was able to retire later that year when I was almost 29. I was like, “That was way easier than I thought.” It opened my eyes. This is a whole new world that I never knew was there. Everything I was teaching from a financial advisor standpoint wasn’t working. That’s where in 2007, I said, “What am I going to do with my life?”

I’ve got a lot of it ahead of me still, hopefully. I came out of retirement to essentially teach people how to do what I did. We may or may not go into the details. I went broke during the recession. I went over a million dollars in debt. I didn’t file for bankruptcy, but I had to pay that money back and get myself back out of the rat race a second time, which I was able to do by the end of 2016. I had to go through that recession. I got my butt kicked hard because I got lazy. I didn’t follow the rules that got me to be financially free in the first place.

I would love to hear that story. Can you share that with us?

Yeah. As I said, in 2007 I came out of retirement and I was like, “I’m going to teach people how to become financially independent just like I did. How to get out of the rat race.” I even partnered with a bunch of other guys that did the same thing. We were practicing what we were preaching.

I wanted to interrupt with a couple of things before we go on, on this. There are a couple of things I want to highlight that I want my ladies to hear. The first thing is you said something so important. We look up to people but the people that you want to take advice on where you want to be, take advice from people that are already there.

The very first question that might come up in our mind is, “I’m looking for a financial planner. How am I going to find a financial planner that’s financial-free? They won’t be working. It then comes to the next point. A lot of us work because we love working. We love helping people. Retirement doesn’t mean that you’re sitting on the beach for the rest of your life. That’s a really boring life. It can be very blissful for a period of time. I’ve done it, but everybody, especially successful people, needs to have their minds and their hearts constantly working. It helps us to grow and stay alive.

As you become successful, you will need that too. It doesn’t need to mean that you’re making money, but it does mean that you have to be fully engaged. You have to have something that fully engages your heart, mind, soul and your time because you’d get bored. I love when we talk about retirement the way that you’re like, “I came out of retirement.” If you’re at 30, you’ve got 60 more years of your life to go, “What are you going to do for 60 years if you’re not building something that fills you up?”

It’s the same for me. I could retire, but I can’t. There is too much going on in my mind. I can’t. There’s too much that I want for people. I love when you talk about retirement, coming out of retirement and also, who should we be looking up to? You want to make sure that you’re taking advice from people who are where you want to be. They’re not on that same journey. They’re not still struggling. I wanted to highlight those points. I’m sorry to interrupt.

Those are great points. Sometimes people will ask me, “Chris, are you retired?” Retirement is a funny thing because I’ve tried it. I did it twice and I became financially independent. I didn’t have to work anymore, but every time I tried not to do anything, it was maddening. In fact, it was depressing.

You get depressed.

You do. Compare it to fire. You got to keep that fire going within you. It doesn’t mean you have to burn out. You can overwork. You can overdo it and burn out. That’s not a fun place to be either, but I also realized that in my case, even if I’m doing what I love, like doing this. I love teaching. In my podcast, I was still doing that even after I became financially independent in 2016. I was still doing through ‘17, ‘18 and beyond. That was the one thing I was doing. I’m still working with a few people, consulting with them, but I was doing it at a very low scale, very low key. I was only working 5 or 10 hours a week. I realized that if I only worked for five hours a week, that flame, instead of burning out, started smoldering.

It was starting to fizzle out. For me, the magic number is around 10 to 20 hours a week. Working more than that now, we’ve got like documentaries coming out about our company and my story. We’ve got all this kind of stuff happening because the podcast kept growing. I had to get to a place of choice. Either I start turning people away and telling them no or do I believe in the mission of Money Ripples, which the whole aspect of Money Ripples is the ripple effect you create as you become financially free.

REW Chris Miles | Financial Freedom

Financial Freedom: Money ripples are the ripple effect you create as you become financially free. You can create a ripple effect before financial freedom and you can create even a bigger ripple effect after you’re financially independent.

 

Is that it doesn’t stop there. You can create a ripple effect before financial freedom and you can create even a bigger ripple effect after you’re financially independent. That’s the thing I had to say as well. Money Ripples, the whole mission of it is that ripple effect I’m trying to create across people’s individual lives, their families and generations beyond them, their communities and across the world. If I let it die out saying, “I don’t have to do more work. No, go away. That’s one less person’s life that can be blessed. We already know exactly how to get people out of the rat race and we’ve done it with not just myself, but many other clients. Why hold that back? Why keep that information back from people? For me, that’s become a mission. You become more mission-driven versus being more money-driven.

I love your idea of Money Ripples. I feel the very same way that the wealthier you are, the bigger impact you can make and who you are as a wealthy person is going to determine what impact you make. That’s why I focus so much on bliss. If we continue to work on being blissful, which raises our heart and our vibe, as we become wealthier and wealthier, that ripple effect is going to be a good ripple effect. It’s going to be blissful. It’s going to help the world. Right from the bottom up, you want to make sure that as you’re building, you know that once I’m wealthy, there are going to be ripples out in the world based on what I’m doing. What do I want those rules to be?

That’s where I say money is a magnifier of the soul. It makes us more who we already are. It doesn’t make somebody different. It magnifies what’s already within you. It’s like what happened to me in the last recession as I became financially independent. Remember, I was a guy that grew up in an impoverished mentality household. I didn’t understand abundance. I started to learn about it and that’s what helped me become financially independent, but I was just starting to learn it. I hadn’t fully internalized it.

As I started getting more and more money, what I was doing was trying to cover up my insecurities. What it was is I didn’t want people to look at me because I felt insecure about myself. I want people to look at my stuff and my outer world. I’m not saying this is the case with everybody, but it’s like when people are starting to flash walking onto their jet planes, which is not even their own jet plane. They just happened to see a jet plane or have somebody that they know who can do it. They pay to get their pictures taken next to a jet plane or next to a Ferrari or Lamborghini.

They try to portray something amazing that’s going on in their life and you should follow it too. I’m probably going to end up doing a TikTok video about my car because I’ve got two Nissans. Even though I make more than enough money to buy the Lamborghinis, the Mercedes McLarens, or anything else, I don’t. I’m not a car guy. I don’t give a crap.

It’s great to spend money, but do it on things that are important to you, that provide value to your soul and that are not just status symbols. That’s another thing about being wealthy that I love is that you can choose that. I don’t care what anybody else. We’re doing a building project right now and it’s so funny because my business partner is all about the name brands for the faucets and everything. I’m like, “I don’t care. They’re buying a $3 million home. Buy something that is beautiful. I don’t care about the name brands.”

He’s like, “People will buy this and this. They need the brands.” I’m like, “I can’t relate to that because it’s not my life. It’s not who I am. It’s not what I want.” Certainly, it’s okay that people are like that, but I love that you say that. This is why I love chatting with you, Chris. I feel like we’re so aligned on what feeds our souls. That’s the most important thing. Wealth helps to feed our souls and then create ripples.

I wasn’t always that way because, as I said, I had this insecurity. I went and I bought a Mercedes. I bought a nice Mercedes that had nice rims and everything. I’d show it off to people. I remember I picked up a financial advisor at my old office one time. I picked him up in a Mercedes only to drive him across the parking lot to where the restaurant was to show them like, “Look how much better my life is now that I’m not one of you guys.” It’s so trashy.

Even the house, I remember telling the realtor. I was like, “I want to walk into this house where someone says like, “Whoa.” I want that wow factor. I want the nice, cool little chandelier with the nice little dome lighting around and things like that. I was trying to wow people and that’s fine. I could have just kept paying for it the way I was, but the problem was that again, I was taking the focus off of what got me to be financially independent in the first place, which was passive income and cashflow. I started getting lazy. I started thinking, “I’m awesome. Look how well I’m doing. You know what, maybe I’ll take a little bit more risk. Maybe I’m going to start buying properties just so we can flip them.”

Which right before the last recession was not a wise idea. I was like, “I can buy a $100,000 property and if it appreciates 10% because I was banking on appreciation, I make $10,000. If I buy a $500,000 property at 10%, it appreciates $50,000. Maybe I should buy bigger properties. I’d rationalize these things hoping that there would be appreciation. I didn’t care about the cashflow. I didn’t care that it actually was profitable if I had a renter in it. It doesn’t matter because eventually, appreciation will make up for that loss that I have. The renters didn’t make sense.

When everything was hitting the fan, plus I’d launched a new business and that business, we were focused on teaching real estate investors that were doing the same thing, banking on appreciation. Pretty soon, they’re all broke. Our clientele is pretty much non-existent at this point or becoming non-existent. My own personal finances are a mess because I ran up my expenses and I also wasn’t focusing on the cashflow for the properties I had which also ran up expenses, but not necessarily the income to go with it. The next thing I knew, when I finally decided to look at my money, I was in the whole $15,000, $16,000 a month. I was making $5,000 or $6,000 a month because we were struggling in our business. After everything was said and done and paid for, I was short because the expenses were like $21,000 to $22,000 a month.

Where are you located?

I’m in Utah.

I just wanted an idea of the market.

Take advice from people who are already there. Click To Tweet

If that were California, you’d be like, “That’s nothing.”

I didn’t have that experience, but it’s okay. I did all appreciation plays also, but we were able to cover everything. We showed no losses during that time.

They never have to make sense. You have to make it work and that’s the thing. It worked for a time, but eventually, that luck ran out. Here’s a mistake I made because I listened to Dave Ramsey before. Bless his heart. He is a wonderful man. He does great. Good for people. If you think of it, like if you’re going to college, they have Math 101, but then they also have the Math 99R for remedial. It’s like, “You got to take this Math even to get to 101. That’s what Dave Ramsey teaches. That entry-level like, “Here’s how to essentially0:20:40.”

There are some financial something so that you’ve got some education on this.

His first two baby steps are trying to track your money. Having a little emergency fund is great stuff. Going beyond that, though, you are pretty much going to go broke following his advice. I love hi poster children. The graduates, the ones that did go debt-free, but then they say, “I’m not free. I have no passive income coming in. I have to keep working, even though I’m debt-free and I saved and all these mutual funds, but yet I can’t retire.” I’m like, “Guess what. We can get you retired next year.”

Those are my favorite people because they did what he gave, but the problem is if you ever want to create wealth, it doesn’t work. I followed some of his advice, too, because again, I keep that traditional financial advisor background. The one mistake I made is I was putting all my money and equity into my house, my own personal residence, because I thought, “Worst case, you can always get a line of credit because you can pretty much cash out anything.”]

Remember, I was a mortgage broker. I was born in the market where you can even do stated income loans. As long as you had a good credit score, you could pretty much get anything you wanted, which is not the case anymore. Since post-recession, they’ve changed all those rules, which is why I tell people there’s not a market crash coming for real estate that way, because it was because of things like that why the banks were failing and everything was just a big, hot mess.

I was making the mistake of throwing money into equity thinking, “I just get it back out later.” In the middle of 2007, when I was realizing I was negative cashflow, I said, “I better go to the bank.” They said, “We stopped lending money to you guys.” All this equity was trapped and as we saw prices depreciate, I lost all that equity to the point where I ended up foreclosing on that house in 2009. A week after my fourth child was born, we ended up having to pack up and move out of her house and move into a new rental that was a quarter of the cost of the house that we had.

It was demoralizing because it was the house of my dreams and I lost it. I put those stuff in front of me to show my value. I didn’t want people to see my internal. I would use that as the front to show value, but now that stuff was all taken away. I’d already turned in the Mercedes. I turned it in before they repossessed it because I said, “I can’t make the $1,169 payment. Take it.” They auction it off. I owed $30,000 negative from the auction. Luckily with the house, I was able to get out from under that, even though they ended up selling it for about $300,000 less than what I owed on it.

I got out from that, but it was rough. I still had several hundred thousand dollars I had to make makeup. I borrowed money from friends and family thinking, “This is going to be a short moment. We’re going to pull through this thing. I’ll work my way out of it.” No, I didn’t. I was in a rough spot. I was in a hole. I remember the movie Cinderella Man with Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger. It was such a good movie based on a true story of boxers in the Great Depression. I had very similar experiences. There were times when I was going in and getting welfare, food stamps from storehouses, and food because I couldn’t afford to buy groceries for my family.

A guy dressed up in a suit telling people, “You can get out of that race too.” I was back in the rat race trying to deal with all this stuff. I was struggling. My wife at that time was threatening to take the kids and move in with her sister until I figured my stuff out. All this kind of stuff was going on and not to mention the collector calls were coming in daily, multiple times a day. In fact, my friends stopped calling, but those collectors sure didn’t. They kept calling better than my friends did at that time. When you lose everything, that’s when you find out you have everything because when I lost it all, it was just me left.

I had to be okay with that. It’s like, “Am I okay with who I am? Am I okay with this value?” As I started to strip that away and strip away the ego, the pride and everything and started to surrender to the experience. It’s surrender in the sense that I should’ve gone bankrupt. That would have been so much easier. Bankruptcy would have been easiest if that reset button then worked from zero, but I had to work from a negative a million. I had to work my way back out. The best time is when you get that place of surrender and knowing, “I keep doing the same values and applying the same principles in my life that got me to be successful in the first place, specifically cashflow.”

I started to rebuild and focus on that. How do I get my expenses under control? How do I start creating more value for people, which generates more income? The real secret to making more money is creating more value for people, even if it’s for your boss. It’s always about how you go about creating value for them. As I started to do that more and more and more, that’s where things started to turn around. It took time and it was about six months after we were foreclosed on, my son was born, my fourth child, and things started to turn around a little bit.

I was able to dig my way out more. I still had ups and downs because as things started to get going good. The partnership I had broken up and I had launched Money Ripples with a two-year non-compete and I had to go to the brand new market. The market I focused on what were women entrepreneurs in Utah specifically because I knew that was the market that he hated because he was a chauvinist.

REW Chris Miles | Financial Freedom

Financial Freedom: If you follow the right principles and the strategies back it up, it’s going to work. Every single time it will work if you just apply the right principles.

 

He was not great. He did not like women coming and becoming clients. I said, “I’ll play in the sandbox that you don’t want to be in. I’ll focus on women and entrepreneurs and stuff.” That’s where I went and built Money Ripples from scratch. I had to get through that. Even with the divorce in 2015, that got me laser-focused on that cashflow and passive income, especially. I was already starting to have dug myself mostly out of the debt I was in. I was focusing on how do we get that passive income up? It then gets to the point where I can work because I want to, not because I have to.

I was being very intentional about it. Focusing and watching the numbers, I was able to do by the end of 2016, right after I remarried. It was awesome. It was a hard, hard path, hard road. I learned so much from that because it wasn’t just, “I got lucky.” It wasn’t like that. I had to redo it during the middle of a recession, almost the depression that we were in. To do it a second time really showed me that this stuff works. If you follow the right principles and then the strategies to back it up, it’s going to work. Every single time it will work if you apply the right principles.

Talk to me a little bit about the idea of bankruptcy. What you said was, “It would have been so much easier, but I decided to pull ourselves out.” Why did you make that decision even though the other option was easier?

It was more of a spiritual decision, actually. I was praying about it a lot. I was like, “Should I do this or not?” Someone told me, “Don’t do it.” In hindsight, now I can see it was the best choice because being in the financial space like I’m in, where you hold certain licenses, it’s nice to know that you don’t have to keep answering that dumb question of, “Have you filed bankruptcy before in your lifetime?” I have to explain that every time. It’s nice not to have to do that, but it was hard because all those collections, judgments, and liens were eating away at me. I had to re-contextualize it. Right before I got out of that hole or things started to turn around, I turned around my attitude too. I started calling those collectors calls I love you calls.

When they would call, I thought, “My friends don’t call anymore. These are the only guys calling me.” When they call up, I would answer them like it’s my friend’s calling and be like, How’s it going?” “Good. I’m here to call to collect a debt.” “Yeah.” “Great. Are you going to pay that debt?” “No. Not today. I don’t have any money, but I would if I did.” “When are you going to pay it?” “I have no clue, but I promise you I will.” “Okay. You know we’re going to call back again. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week.” “Yep. I hope so. I look forward to seeing you. I love you.”

It made it fun to answer these collector calls because before, I would ignore them and every time the phone rang while I was in meetings, it would bring the energy down. That stress would weigh on you so much and be able to let that go and say, “You know what? I don’t know how I’m going to get out of it. I just know I will.” That was the thing that I felt that there were no accidents. It’s that law of synchronicity. Everything happens for a reason and I thought, “Maybe if it was just one person’s life was blessed from the pain I went through. If my pain became somebody else’s gain, would that be worth it for one person?”

I thought about it and I was like, “No. I think it would be.” “How about two people?” “Yeah.” “Ten people?” “Yeah.” I haven’t realized that now. Literally, thousands, if not hundreds and hundreds of thousand people have heard my story and my experience and even use some of the financial strategies that we teach to be able to help out of that situation.

I know a lot of people have been more blessed than that, but it’s one of those things that I felt like, “No. I felt that bankruptcy for me,” and this is a personal choice. I’m not judging either way again. Look who you’re talking to right here. If you think I can judge, “Hello.” If anybody can judge, I was over a million dollars in debt. I can guarantee your situation has never been as bad as mine. Rarely do I ever find that person that does have that bad a situation? Usually, they’re multimillionaires or billionaires now. If they did, I guess I did. That makes sense. I am a multimillionaire, but not a billionaire. That’s the thing. It was one of those things that you can’t judge for.

Sometimes bankruptcy is the best decision. For my credit, it would have been way easier to rebuild my credit if I had hit the bankruptcy button. Resetting things and starting over and building new credit again would have been easier than having all these judgments and liens and collections on my credit for years and carrying over and then they show us old history. You then finally get it all paid off years later versus hitting the reset button. They’re all gone and then you start over.

Sometimes it makes sense, but for me, I knew. I’m like, “Listen, I’m in a position that I can do this. I negotiated with some collectors. I paid less than what I owed, but they were happy. They were like, “At least pay us something.” I said, “Will you take this much money?” “Yes, we’ll take it. That’s worth it to us.” “Great. Deal.” Like that Mercedes, I owed $30,000 after it got auctioned off and fees and everything. We settled for about $7,000. I was able to negotiate out of that and it was tough.

I had to have my dad loan me money to do that and then had to pay my dad back. We got through it, but the thing is that it took some time. It took a lot of effort, focus and commitment but looking back, I feel no regrets. I do feel regret that I borrowed money from friends and family. I feel bad about that because some of them had to wait years before they got paid back, but I don’t regret the experience I received.

We’re not going to be able to go through your questions, but I feel that just your story helps people to realize how real life is for us as investors. It’s not a cakewalk. There are moments where it feels like a cakewalk and it’s wonderful. I love my life too, but I think that most of us have been through some rough times. Much of the time, my readers are reading about people that are very successful. I only bring people onto the phone onto the show that are successful because I want my readers to learn about success from people who are successful.

What we don’t often hear about is the story behind the success and I think that’s important not only to make us understand that it happens to all of us and if you’re in a low place, what’s possible for you. I think when you talk about how you pull out of those low places, those things that you focused on, the things that you talked about, the things that you did, that you shared with us, can be a model or a beacon for what other people can do.

I think it’s a real learning moment when you get to hear a story from a successful person about what happened to them. Ladies, don’t disregard that. You want to make sure that you read this with an ear for what were the lessons that Chris learned and what are the lessons that I can take away from that so that you can learn from his mistakes rather than experiencing them yourself. I think that’s the power of stories and the stories of successful people. That’s one of those things that I love listening to. They’re interesting, but they also have so much information that I can learn from and model after.

Money is a magnifier of the soul. It only makes us more who we already are. It doesn't make somebody different, it just magnifies what's already within you. Click To Tweet

Thank you for that. Chris, I’m going to have you on the show again because you’ve got so much to share. I know my ladies are like, “How did you create that passive income? I want to know more.” They also know that you talk about infinite banking and I love that topic. I’d love to talk about that also. I’ll bring you back on the show a few more times, but thank you so much for sharing your story and being so vulnerable with us. That was powerful.

If there’s anything you learned from my story, that there’s always hope. If I can battle back from a negative million bucks and become financially independent and free, obviously, you have more hope than I do at that time. That’s the good news.

I love that you made decisions based on your own core values because in the end, no matter what we do, we’ve got to live with ourselves. We’ve got to sleep with ourselves at night, we’ve got to wake up in the morning with ourselves. We’ve got to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and know that we’re right by ourselves. It’s a really hard thing to live that way when you’re feeling desperate and when everything has hit the fan. I know myself how tough that can be and I love that you model that, one, it was a spiritual decision and that’s why I made that. It doesn’t have to make sense to anybody, but your soul needs to feel good about what you’re doing in your world.

I would like to talk about in EXTRA knowing your numbers because I think that’s a big piece of pulling yourself out of a hole, but also when you move to create financial freedom, you need to know where that is or what those numbers are like. I do want to talk about that in EXTRA. Before we go, can you tell everybody about the free gift that you have for them? Could you tell me a little bit about your free gift?

Absolutely. All the pain and the effort that we had can become your gain. We started coaching clients on how to free up cash. I stopped teaching them to go to the rat race and started teaching them how to find the money. How do I get the money so that you can get to the next phase of starting to create more passive income?

We have an eBook on there called Beyond Rice & Beans: Seven Secrets To Free Up Cash Today. Yes, you don’t have to be like Dave Ramsey and live on rice and beans, but you can live free and still have more. We have a free download for you guys. It’s a very short read. That’s the good news, but it talks about the seven main ways that not just myself but hundreds of my clients were able to free up on average $34,000 a year. You find that internal link there, MoneyRipples.com/women.

That’s for you, ladies. Go check it out and use that link, please. When I give you a specific link, there are a couple of things that can happen. Usually, it’s a marketing tool so that we understand how many of you ladies are interested in this topic. It helps me to decide whether to bring people back on the show or not and what topics you guys want to hear more about. It helps to direct the show. That’s one thing.

The other thing is sometimes, it’s an affiliate link and it supports the show, so that it helps to pay for me to continue to produce this because it’s an expensive thing to run a high-quality podcast. That’s what I want to do for you, but I need some support, too, around that. Sometimes it’s an affiliate link and I do get paid on that. There are two benefits. Please, when you hear a link on the show, please do use that specific link even if you can go to other places to get the same information. In this case, it is MoneyRipples.com/women. Thank you for that. Before we sign off on this show, Chris, let’s do three rapid-fire questions. Tell us when super tip on getting started investing in real estate.

Besides just getting an education, start to find ways to find your money. I call it getting money out of prison. There are usually three big places where people keep money trapped. That’s because financial advice tells you to do it. One is your home. I mentioned this before. I made the mistake of keeping money trapped in my house. Find ways to see if we can get that out.

A lot of times, you get up to 80% of your equity out like a Home Equity Line of Credit. Look at ways to get access to that money, such as a Home Equity Line of Credit. Number two is savings. A lot of people have been billing savings but let it sit there and they’re losing to inflation, but that’s one place. That’s a good funding source beyond your emergency fund that you have to have there to use to fund that.

The third place is often old retirement accounts, IRAs, 401(k)s and things like that. Definitely, I’m not a big fan of 401(k)s because it locks your money in prison and you don’t have any control of your money, your life or your destiny if you keep it locked up there. Being able to get that money away from that place allows you then to be able to make more money with it.

What is one strategy for being successful as a real estate investor?

One of the best strategies, I call it boring and sexy. That’s the one thing I learned. I learned that trying to chase the hot things like, “What’s that newest crypto or what’s the latest stock you might go for like GameStop or whatever. All the stuff that’s hyped-up topics in the news is the things you should keep your money away from. You want to go where people aren’t going. Focus on, “What are people not talking about? Where are people not going? Where’s the steady, predictable place I can put the money that allows me to have that steady stream of income? To know what I’m going to make, not in gambling it hoping that you’re going to make a huge home run where most of the time you’ll end up striking out.

Hope is not a strategy.

REW Chris Miles | Financial Freedom

Beyond Rice And Beans Seven Secrets To Free Up Cash Today

No, we don’t like to live on hopium.

Give us one daily practice that you do, Chris that contributes to your personal success.

This is actually a daily practice I was doing when I was going through those worst, roughest times and it pulled me through. It pulled me through my divorce when I was going through that, which was rough. I do a morning ritual like a lot of successful people have done. Maybe you heard me talk about the subject. Tony Robbins has this Hour of Power. There’s The Miracle Morning and all that stuff. I have my own morning routine. I focused on really three areas. I call them the three Es, which are exercise, education and enlightenment. Exercise, I try to get my body moving and focus on pumping to wake myself up because I’m in my mid-40s. I need something to wake me up in the morning. I exercise first. I can do things like more enlightenment-type stuff.

I can do prayers of gratitude. If I’m out for a little jog, counting my blessings and doing prayers of gratitude. It could be doing a gratitude journal. It could be yoga. That could be a little of both. It could be reading scriptures, the Bible or whatever it is that you like to do. Those things tune you into your highest self or God and then in education. Learning your trade. It could be learning different skills. It could be emotional intelligence that you’re trying to create and whatever it might be. Whatever it is you need, you do that through audiobooks or reading books. You can do that through podcasts like this. All these ways you can have access, to increase your knowledge. What it does is it gets you the best wind for the day. You start the day and you know that no matter how bad things are, you have a win.

You have something going for you and you start with the right frame of mind and everything seems to just work better throughout the day.

In Choose Bliss, that’s the first chapter. It is about our morning routine because I think the thing that we all need to realize is we all have a morning routine. Most of us don’t have an intentional morning routine. Most of us have a morning routine that supports our frazzled crazy getting started in the late morning.

We all have a routine, but once you make it an intentional routine, you can have it support your bliss and your business and your life significantly better. Also, choosing your priorities for those mornings, that morning routine, I can’t choose your priorities. Chris can’t. Hal Elrod can’t. Tony Robbins can’t. We can choose the priorities. A big part of my morning routine is the walk with the dog and my husband, sitting and having coffee and making eye contact with him before we start the day.

That’s a big piece. Connection is a big piece of who I am. It’s a big piece of my bliss and my morning routine, so you get to choose what’s important to you. Certainly, you can structure it after successful people. We found that there are strategies for success. You probably want to include those in your morning routine, but you need to include what is important to you too. Take steps towards success and support yourself also. Thank you for that.

I’m looking forward to EXTRA and talking about money, like knowing our numbers, knowing what’s necessary to create passive income, and what our real expenses are. I was telling Chris that for me, I haven’t had a budget in a very long time. I’m very lucky and grateful that we’ve built a life where I don’t have to worry about a budget.

As I think about real financial freedom, like really being able to retire and live my life with passion, I’m looking at more passive income, so I need to know what those numbers are. I’m interested in going back to the basics. Chris and I are going to do that in EXTRA. If you are subscribed to EXTRA, stay tuned. We’ve got more and if you’re not, please go to RealEstateInvestingForWomenEXTRA.com.

For those of you that are leaving Chris and me now, thank you so much for joining us for this portion of the show. I look forward to seeing you next time and until then, remember, goals without action are just dreams. Get out there, take action and create the life your heart deeply desires. I’ll talk to you soon.

 

 Important Links

 

About Chris Miles

REW Chris Miles | Financial FreedomI’m not your boring, suit-wearing financial guy telling you to give me your money. Instead, I am the CASH FLOW EXPERT, and ANTI-Financial Advisor, teaching you how to increase your cash flow, create passive streams of income, and make a boat-load more money than what traditional financial “experts” teach.

In other words, I get your MONEY working for you TODAY so you don’t always work for MONEY!

As founder of Money Ripples, I am a leading authority on quickly creating wealth by increasing monthly cash flow. I have shown hundreds of entrepreneurs, high-paid employees, and hundreds of thousands internationally, how to free up or generate TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars each year! I was the VP of Coaching for the highly reputable Freedom Fast Track company, and have been featured in US News, CNN Money, Bankrate.com, Bigger Pockets, and have a high reputation for getting my clients fast, life-altering results. Many of my clients accelerate their results where they have the option to retire in less than 5-10 years!

My passion is helping entrepreneurs, and high-income employees, become financially prosperous TODAY, and in the future, by finding & fixing their money leaks and creating passive income, so they can live the life they want NOW. To date, we have helped over 850 of our clients find an average of $34K a year!

 

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Learn how to create a consistent income stream by only working 5 hours a month the Blissful Investor Way.

Grab my FREE guide at http://www.BlissfulInvestor.com

Buying Freedom By Working Your Money: Investing In Real Estate And The Stock Market With Walli Miller

REW Walli | Investing Money

 

The best way to make your money work for you is to start investing. Stop spending aimlessly and start cutting the fat. Do you really need that brand new pair of shoes? Instead, you can invest that money so that you can build towards your goal and your future. You are buying your freedom so that one day you don’t have to work anymore.  Join Moneeka Sawyer as she talks to money nerd and money coach, Walli Miller about proper investing. She helps young professionals take control of their finances without sacrificing luxury. Learn how to become work-optional so that you can have that freedom you always wanted. Find out the importance of having a diversified portfolio, why you should invest in the stock market, and why you should have multiple savings accounts.

Watch the episode here

 

Listen to the podcast here


 

Buying Freedom By Working Your Money: Investing In Real Estate And The Stock Market With Walli Miller

I am so excited to welcome to the show Walli Miller. She is a financial coach and a self-proclaimed money nerd. She loves spreadsheets and has been known to watch PBS Specials about retirement for fun. It’s exactly this passion for all things money, including spending it, that put her on the path to her true calling, helping high achieving young professionals become work optional by taking control of their finances without sacrificing their lattes and brunches.

While she didn’t start as an expert, she is a first-generation college graduate and daughter of immigrants. She didn’t always understand money or building wealth. She didn’t grow up looking at stock charts with her dad or balancing the checkbook with her mom. They didn’t talk about money much in her family. It took a Forbes article to make her reevaluate what she was spending money on and the true cost of her purchases.

After that, Walli began listening to podcasts, reading personal finance books and ingesting every bit of financial information she could find. She will be working optional and is committed to putting as many people as possible on that path to financial freedom through balance spending, saving and wealth-building without deprivation. Walli, that is quite a bio. Welcome to the show.

Thank you so much for having me, Moneeka. I’m excited about talking about all things money.

I love that this conversation is going to be a little bit different. Ladies, Walli came to me from somebody who books many of my guests on my show. She was also referred to me by two other people. I don’t know if you know this, Walli. She’s part of the FIRE movement, Financially Independence, Retire Early. Her idea about retirement is very similar to mine, which is not retiring on the beach with a drink and an umbrella in it. It’s more about being work optional. What are you going to do with all that time when you’re fully retired?

I’m sure many of us could find the things to do but it’s nice to be able to have the option. Either you work or you don’t work, you’re on vacation or aren’t on vacation. We were talking about Africa and she was like, “I’d like to go hang out there for three months.” It’s being able to make those choices. There’s all of that with Walli and that’s why she was referred to me by so many people. What’s also interesting is although Walli is a real estate investor, she does not consider that her primary wealth-building tool. She tends to invest more in the stock market. What I love about that is, first of all, that it’s very aligned with my strategy. I manage real estate. My husband manages the stock market.

We discuss both. Both of us are fully aware of what’s happening. We help each other with decisions but each of us is responsible. There’s a division of labor as far as who’s watching what. It’s very important the diversification of investments so that you have different levels of liquidity, appreciation and cashflow. Different asset types give you different kinds of benefits. Walli is going to tell us a little bit about her real estate story. What I want you to talk about is how did you reach financial freedom? How to do that with the stock market?

Diversifying is really important in real estate. Counting on one tenant only can be a really scary thing. Click To Tweet

Ladies, that will give you a little bit better idea of how you might add that if you want to into your portfolio. If you have very little money and you’re just getting started, you need to pick one strategy. I want to be clear about that. You grow that and diversify. It’s good to have the knowledge base to know, “This is something that I aspire to.” If you’ve already got enough of a portfolio that you can diversify, this might be the way to do it. We’ve had a few other people on the show talk about stock. You already knew this but it’s been a little while. I thought it was appropriate to bring Walli on.

There’s one of the key things that you said there. Diversifying is important. When we’re thinking even about real estate, having 1 property and counting on 1 tenant only can be scary. We know that the markets fluctuate. Sometimes it’s a hot stock market and a bullish market. Sometimes real estate is doing much better. Having a diversified portfolio is important for your financial independence and the success of your nest egg.

You get a lot more volatility with the stock market, which you can benefit from. The real estate market is much more stable. It’s a hard asset. Even when it goes down, you can hold onto it and eventually, it will usually recover, not 100% all the time. They’re different kinds of assets that can give you a different level of safety and stability but also different levels of growth and losses.

I am a buy-and-hold real estate investor and a buy-and-hold stock market investor. If you’re thinking about turning $1,000 now into $1 million tomorrow, that is not the strategy that I use. I don’t know how many people can do that but with that, the volatility evens out. The risk of losing as much money is lessened. For example, if you’re going to do a flip, you need to make sure that you flip that house right away. You have holding costs that you might need to take into consideration, whether or not you’re going to have a buyer. There are all these different ways of investing both in the stock market and real estate.

The reason why I like the stock market is not necessarily because the growth is so much better or worse. It’s because it’s the lazy way. It is one of the easiest and simplest ways for me that I have found, even as a real estate investor. My husband and I have tried to add properties, being under contract and looking at all these things. There are some ways to mitigate that if you have a great team but when you’re starting, I’ve found that I can set it and forget it when it comes to stock market investing. That’s why I prefer it a little bit better.

It’s so interesting that you say that because my real estate business is a set it and forget it. There is a lot of front-end research and stuff like that that has to happen when I’m buying a new property. I find that the same with my husband with the stock market. He’s reading newsletters and doing research. He does a ton of research on every stock that he buys because we hold them long-term. There is also a lot of front-end research that happens. He does a set-and-forget type of thing too.

You can do that on both sides. Although I will say on both sides, there are opportunities to work a lot harder depending on what you’re doing, how quickly you want to make your money and how much risk you’re willing to take all of those things. There are a lot of different ways to make money on both sides, whether it’s stock, real estate or any investing.

REW Walli | Investing Money

Investing Money: The reason why it’s better to invest in the stock market is not necessarily because the growth is so much better or worse. It’s because it’s the lazy way compared to real estate.

 

One of the reasons why I like real estate is because of the cashflow, which is very different than investing in the stock market. It’s understanding first what type of investor you want to be. Do you want to have a more active role or a more passive role? My real estate is pretty passive. I have a property manager. I get about two phone calls a year and that’s about it.

It’s not as passive as I could make it for me but so is my stock market investing. There’s an active investor and a passive investor. It’s one of the ways to be a more passive investor in the stock market, instead of thinking about all of the research in separate companies or individual companies. I don’t have the time for that.

I don’t want to look at sixteen different screens, read financial reports and look at all of the different analysts and out in the list reports. I want to do all analyzing. I prefer the index market and investing in index funds. It’s a little bit of investing in the stock market. What is an index fund? When most people come to me, they’re like, “I want to start investing. What should I buy?”

I’m like,” I wish I could tell you these 2, 5 or 10 companies are going to be the next best thing and are going to give you the most bang for your buck.” We don’t know. When we think about Kodak, for example, back in the day, Kodak was the monster. They were the beast in their fields. Now, you ask the Gen-Z and they’re like, “What’s a Kodak?”

Don’t try to think about what are the companies that are going to be the next best thing. It has this risk because we don’t know. Past indicators are no indication of what’s going to happen in the future. Rather than trying to find individual companies, I like to invest in an index. For example, the S&P 500 index. What is S&P 500? We probably heard, “The NASDAQ is up. The Dow Jones is down.” The S&P 500 is simply the top 500 companies in the United States. I don’t have to think about what company should I invest in?

I purchased an index fund and got the best top 500 companies out there. I get a lot of diversifications that way. Maybe my investing style might be even more passive. That’s why I say it’s the lazy way. I don’t need to look at research, reports and things like that. It’s a self-cleansing index. If the companies start doing poorly, they get taken out and the next best companies put in without me having to do anything. That is one of the ways that I invest and why I consider myself a lazy investor.

How did you start and build your portfolio so that you can become job optional or work optional?

If you don't have a clear goal about what you're saving for and why that's important, you won't be motivated to save money. Click To Tweet

I made some bad mistakes when I was in my twenties. I got a good-paying job. I was able to stay out of credit card debt. I was paying off my student loans but I didn’t know what to do with the leftover money. I did put some money into savings but how much are you supposed to save? This is one of the biggest hurdles that people have to get motivated to save.

If you do not have a clear goal, purpose and passionate why about what you’re saving for and why that’s important to you, it’s not motivating to save money. I didn’t have a clear passion for what I was saving for. I wasn’t even thinking about retirement. I was in my twenties and retirement seemed so far away. I didn’t even know how to do that properly.

What did I do with the leftover money? I spent it. I enjoyed life, went to restaurants, traveled and bought a lot of shoes and clothes. It wasn’t until I realized I had received a Social Security earnings statement. You get it, maybe after a decade of work. You can go to the Social Security Administration website and it gives you a listing of your whole lifetime earnings.

When I looked at that and added up every dollar that I had ever made from my first job when I was fourteen years old to the present day, I couldn’t believe the amount of money that I had made. I had nothing to show for it. I didn’t have my savings account. My bank account balance did not reflect that and that was when I realized that I had to do something different.

The second thing that happened was that I was in a 9:00 to 5:00 career corporate job. I liked my job until things changed. We had a shift in management. There was a lot of bureaucracy. My ideal workplace became very toxic. It was at that moment that I realized, “I am going to have to be here for the next 20 or 30 years.” It seems so devastating to me because even if I had switched employers, I knew that something like this could happen. That was when I realized, “I need to do something. I am missing the mark here. What is it that I can do?”

I went to the land of Google to figure out how I could retire early? What am I missing? What is this wealth-building journey? It was at that point that I discovered that the component that I was missing was wealth building. I didn’t even connect with that word. To me, when I thought about wealth, I thought of it as an older man in a velvet robe, smoking a cigar. I didn’t even know what wealth-building meant to me. What does wealth mean? I wasn’t an actor, a singer or an athlete.

I was like, “How am I going to build wealth?” I had to redefine what wealth meant to me and what I wanted was freedom over my time. I wanted to spend with loved ones and travel. I couldn’t do that in a 9:00 to 5:00 job, even with paid vacation. There are some limitations there. That was when I turned to that component that I was missing, which was wealth building.

REW Walli | Investing Money

Investing Money: Before you start investing, understand first what type of investor you want to be. Do you want to have a more active role or a more passive role?

 

How did you start that journey? What were the steps that you took?

One of the first things I said was, “I don’t have money to invest.” I understand that compounding growth is the key but I don’t have any money to invest but that wasn’t true. I had to get intentional and real about what I was doing with my money. I looked at what my take-home pay was and my most essential expense. Keeping the lights on, a roof over my head and food on the table was essential expenses. When I looked at the difference between what my take-home pay was and what my expenses were, I said, “I don’t have this leftover money every month. What is going on?”

I had a shopping problem. I was a pretty impulsive shopper. I began to reel that in. What I began to think when I went to make purchases was, “Is this shirt or pair of pants worth it?” I could buy this pair of shoes, shirt, pants, whatever it was or I could use this to build wealth. What I was saying was I could use this to buy my freedom. I began to be more intentional. I went from impulsive shopping and being a mindless vendor to being a more intentional spender.

It was at that point that I widened the gap between what I needed every month and what I was spending every month and with that leftover, I began to invest. This is not about deprivation. It wasn’t that I wanted to cut out all the things that I loved but when we think about expenses, we need to think about this acronym, cutting the FATT, Food, Accommodation, Transportation and Taxes, those four things.

As a higher-income earner, I realized a lot of my paycheck was going to taxes. I realized that the IRS rewards those who save for their future. I began to use those types of accounts like a 401(k), 403(b) or an IRA. If you’re self-employed, you have even more tax benefits. I began to learn a little bit more about that. I took the passive way, the easiest and the simplest road to start investing, which was that I realized that I didn’t have to do all of the analysis on all of the companies.

I didn’t have to sit down and do all of the research. I could buy something like the S&P 500 index, which would give me that diversification and growth that I needed. When we think about 2020 in the middle of the pandemic, the S&P 500, the average growth of the top 500 companies was 20%. In 2021, it was 27%. That’s not going to happen every year but think about savings accounts, which I don’t know about you, Moneeka but my savings account earns me less than 1%. Saving money isn’t going to be enough. Finding ways to find a better growth and rate of return is what made the difference.

Did you have a strategy each month? Here are a couple of different things that my husband and I did to get the money flowing into our other investment accounts. We had an automatic withdrawal. Every single month, he would get paid on the 1st and the 15th or I would get paid on the 1st and the 15th. Every single paycheck that went in, 10% came out and immediately went to our brokerage account.

When you think about expenses, cut the FATT. Cut your food, accommodations, transportation, and taxes. Click To Tweet

It was a literal automatic transfer and $500 goes every month to this. It was a budget item. I don’t budget now because I didn’t have to but back then, I certainly did. It was a budget item. That was not something we cut. We would cut going out to dinner or vacation but we wouldn’t cut that. Did you have some strategies on how to grow the funds that went into your investing?

I had to get clear about where my money was going. I realized that I had something called budget leaks or wallet leaks. I would go to Target to buy toilet paper and laundry detergents. The next thing you know, I spent $100 on home decor. I was becoming more aware of my spending habits and spending patterns. I realized, “If I can become a more intentional spender and mindful about where my money is going and what I’m spending my money on, I can increase and widen that gap between the amount of money that I spend every month and what’s leftover.”

What was leftover? I did a couple of things. The first thing was that I believe and I know you’ve talked about this too, your cash, emergency fund and rainy day fund need to be there. That is not investing money and it is not meant to grow. That money is there to provide that safety net or cash cushion. That was the first thing that I did. I focused on making sure that I had cash reserves available to me for when the tire was going to blow out in the car, I needed to replace something in the house or whatever that case might be. If I had a loss of income from my job, I was able to cover my most essential expenses. Once I had enough money in cash reserves, I went into investing and I believe in automation.

With the cash reserves, where did you put that? Was that a savings account or a money market account?

The cash reserves were in a money market account and savings account. I have a little bit of a different strategy because we’re in a unique situation. Back in the day, CDs or Certificate of Deposits could help you grow a little bit. You would get a little bit higher interest on that money. I remember when CDs were 5% and 6%. Long gone are those days. My husband and I have about a year’s worth of cash. A lot of people are going to cringe because they’re like, “Inflation is eating that away.” My husband would go with much less but I need to sleep at night and I like to have a bigger cash cushion. What we decided to do was that we had about three months available in cash sitting in a savings account.

We have the remaining money in something called an I Bond. That can be a little bit technical. If you have not read up on I Bonds, it’s something to consider if you are someone who likes to have a lot of cash on hand and sitting in a savings account earning 1% or less may not be there for you. I like to consider I Bonds not as an investment but more as a CD because your money does need to be locked away for about twelve months. I Bonds are returning 7% and are going to be returning 9%. It’s not going to be forever but at least for the next several months, a little bit of money that I have put in there can grow that 7% and 9%.

You built your cushion and then after that, you started to create an investing account and invest. Talk to me about that. How did that go?

REW Walli | Investing Money

Investing Money: Ask yourself, is this shirt or pair of pants worth it? You could either buy those pants or you can use this to build your wealth. In other words, you could use it to buy your freedom.

 

The first thing that I did was focus on how high my taxes were. I began to use my workplace retirement accounts to reduce my taxable income. Let’s say, for example, you bring home $70,000 a year in a 401(k), 403(b) or a thrift savings plan, depending on what type of retirement plan you have. In the year 2022, you can contribute up to $20,500. That doesn’t mean you have to do the total amount but that’s the amount that the IRS allows for you. If you are making $70,000 and you contribute $20,000 into a 401(k), you have instantly reduced your taxable income.

Your taxable income which is in that $70,000 salary, is down to $50,000. This is where we have those debates. “How come I make a lot less and pay more taxes than you?” This is one of the ways. This is not a tax loophole. This is a tax rule and tax benefit. That was one of the first places that I started focusing on. I wanted to increase slowly.

It took me about two years because I couldn’t do it all in one shot. Going from being an over-spender, I needed to reel in that spending. As I did that slowly, every month, I increased the contributions to my workplace retirement account until I was able to give the maximum contribution. Back then, it wasn’t $20,000. It was about $16,000.

For people who say, “I already contributed the maximum amount to my retirement account. Is there something else?” Here’s another retirement type of account that has awesome benefits. It’s a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA. I prefer the Roth IRA but not everybody can qualify for that because there are some income limitations. If you don’t qualify for a Roth IRA or you are able to put money into a Roth IRA and you put money into that Roth IRA as well, what do you do?

Open a taxable brokerage account. This is where you can have an account at Vanguard, Fidelity or Charles Schwab, some of the dinosaurs in the world. They’re reputable. Find low-cost funds. One of the mistakes that people will do is that they will say, “I invested $1,000 but there were these fees, management fees and expenses.”

Be aware of what type of investments you’re purchasing so that you’re not paying those transaction fees. You can keep them to a minimum. That was what I did. I first worked on my workplace retirement account, worked on my Roth IRA and the money that I had leftover was when I started investing into a taxable brokerage account but my philosophy stayed the same. I didn’t go into more speculative bets and risky investments. I either invested in a total stock market or the S&P 500 index.

Since 2015, my husband and I have been able to build a seven-figure portfolio. A lot of people do not like the idea of retirement accounts because it’s not very sexy. They’re like, “I want to do the game stop or the AMC.” It is getting rich slowly. If you think from 2015 to 2021, which was when we hit our seven figures for the first time, it can happen. You have to be consistent. I love what you mentioned about keeping it automated. Do these automated returns, set it and forget it. The only time you should think about it again is when you get your next raise. “I got a 3% raise. Can I raise my investment?”

Be aware of what type of investments you're purchasing so that you're not paying extra transaction fees. Click To Tweet

With your 401(k), IRAs or Roths, all of those things you do, you can also invest. Usually, they’ll say it’s self-directed IRA, which on this show, it means a different thing. What they’re talking about if it’s a brokerage account is it means that you can pick your investments. With those custodians, you can then pick whatever fund, stock or index you want to be in. Any of those things can be picked. Her strategy is consistent throughout the entire thing, from the very beginning down to where she’s got a lot more freedom with what she’s investing in and she’s still picking the same types of investments.

I love your example. From 2015 to 2021, if you think about this, let’s say, for instance, you’re going for the next game stop, AMC, Bitcoin or whatever it is that you’re going for, you make a huge return, lose, make a huge return and lose again. You’re going to be wrong some of the time too. Doing that, you’re much less likely to reach 7 figures in 6 years than if you were to grow slowly consistently. This is something people need to hear in real estate too. Sometimes we’re chasing so hard that we forget that if we stopped chasing and allowed that, it would grow.

Many people that have a huge nest egg are like, “I want to grow it fast.” They lose the whole nest egg. If you allow it to grow slowly, 6 years is not slow but you can cause a lot of damage in 6 years if you’re chasing the high return, high-risk type of investments. We all have different levels of risk aversion. I have my play accounts that are very high risk.

We have our safe accounts. We do our ESPP. I don’t know if you did this too. This was also forced investment. If you work at a company, they’ll often have an Employee Stock Purchase Plan. What’s cool about these is most of the time, you can take a look at it in your company but you get the stock at 15% of its value. On the very first day that you buy it, you can sell it with a 15% profit. That’s 15% in 2 days.

You can take that money either sell it or not because you have to pay taxes on it, short-term gains and it’s your income tax rate. We tend to hold it for a year because it becomes capital gains, which is only 20%, which is low for us. When you look at the ESPP, a lot of people are like, “I don’t want to do the ESPP. It doesn’t make sense. We can’t afford it.” You’re making 15% in 1 day. Even if you pay income tax rates, so let’s say you’re at a 25% income tax rate, you’re still only paying 25%.

It’s 25% of 15%. You’re still way over 11% that you made in that 1 day on that ESPP. That was a lot of numbers. They’re probably not correct but it gives you an idea of when you’re looking at where to put your money, there’s only a certain percentage of your money that can go into the ESPP. It’s the same as with a 401(k). David and I max out everything. Why? It’s forced savings. This is all automation. We don’t think about this.

When he switched jobs, he said, “Here are all the things and our benefits. What do you want?” We consistently pick the same things. We’re going to do the 401(k) and max out our ESPP and charitable contribution matching that they do. In our 401(k), they do matching. We are consistent about putting in the accounts that will match because some investments and our contributions won’t match.

REW Walli | Investing Money

Investing Money: Focus on making sure that you have cash reserves available at all times. Build that safety net. Once you have enough money in cash reserves, then you can start investing.

 

We look at these different things and say, “These are the things.” We don’t think about it. It doesn’t matter. I know what my paycheck is. When it comes in twice a month, I know what my budget is. I’m not debating every single month, should we be saving this or that? We’ve got our liquid assets, which go into another account that comes out automatically. I’ve got my real estate money. We’ve got it distributed in a way that we don’t ever think about the money except what to do with it because that’s fun. We’re not thinking about what’s going where?

David and I have been together for many years. This is a plan that has been worked on by us for many years. It didn’t happen at all in the very beginning. In the very beginning, we were dead broke when we first got together. It was a recession. Things were a nightmare. We were both right out of college. I couldn’t find a job. It was hard. We house hacked our first house. We could only put 5% down. It took time for us to get here but it’s a thoughtless process and automated.

I love what you’re talking about, Walli. There has to be some intention. I love that you set the plan. We need to have a buffer in our life to save us every single time something goes wrong. We had a little puppy that I loved to pieces. I loved Humphrey. He was in the hospital at least once a month. That little guy, probably in 1 year, cost me $20,000. He was so sick. I didn’t want to have to think about, “Should I pay for this and that for Humphrey?” We just did it because it was there. That doesn’t have to be important to everybody but that was important to us.

When you have a buffer, it saves you if you lose your job. David and I got laid off once. Suddenly, we had no job. I got no package. He got a package. Things happen in life. You have it in your life, in your business and real estate business. We have real estate money in case we’re losing rent. We have vacancies and a mold problem, which I had twice in 2022. We need new garages, water heaters or whatever it is. We’ve got our buffer there. I never stress about those things that are built into the business since I’ve got this buffer account. That was a lot of talking but I love how you’re talking about how you start. I remember so many years ago when I started that same way.

It’s important too to have the different buckets. One of the mistakes that I make and I see a lot of my coaching clients do is that they say, “I have a savings account.” All of the money for their savings is in one bucket. I’m like, “How much of that is for a pet emergency fund? How much of that is for a replacement car or a car maintenance fund? If you were to lose your job, how much of that could be dedicated to paying the mortgage?”

A lot of bank accounts will allow you to do that. You can have multiple savings accounts and label them in that way. I have a family emergency fund dedicated simply for when family emergencies happen. If I get a phone call that someone might need some money, I have money set aside. I have a travel fund. I’m not going into that travel fund to buy a new pair of boots. I have a real estate fund as well that is specifically for any issues that come up. I had to pay for a brand new HVAC system but I didn’t bat an eye because I knew that I had been putting money aside specifically for those things.

Everything hits the fan fund. Label every single account for those things rather than having all of the money in one pot. For some people, maybe it’s easy to have all that money in one pot but you need to have it written down somewhere or on an Excel spreadsheet, whatever the case might be, so that you know how much money is that pot dedicated to the different categories. That is something that I recommend to people because if you mix it all in, it can give us a distorted view of what our safety net is.

Keep your investments automated. Do these automated returns. Set it and forget it. Click To Tweet

Thank you for that. I do a similar thing but not quite as distributed that way with our brokerage accounts that are allocated for different needs. Here’s another thing. I don’t know if you ever did this but this was helpful for me in the initial budgeting and trying to figure out what I could cut out. We went from cash purchases and checked purchases to everything on our credit cards. Not because we wanted to carry credit cards but because we never pay interest on credit cards. I have not done it since I was 25 years old. With the credit card, it’s a great budgeting tool because they will give you at the end of the month, “This is how much of your pie you spent on this.”

They tell you on your credit card how much of your monthly pie that went in was spent on what category like food, restaurants, entertainment, travel or whatever infinity utility services but also you can go through and look at it. I went to Target to spend $5 and spent $100. You see where it got spent. There was no question about where that money got spent. David and I would go through at the end of the month like, “These are the things that I can take out. We want to go on a trip. Maybe we stop eating at restaurants. We cook in for one month.” One month made enough of a difference.

We were able to use it as a budgeting tool. For whatever reason, I had to write five checks but I knew so we would go through our credit card bill where all the expenses were. I had 5 checks and we’d each pull $200 to put in our wallets if we needed it and we had spent it the last month. We could follow every single thing. It’s not like you have to write it down and think about it. It was all right there in black and white at the end of the month every single month. Do you do that or something like that?

I do but I do not think that credit cards are for everyone. If you have not been able to be responsible in the past, this may not be a strategy for you but I rarely ever carry cash, use my debit card or write checks. I put almost anything that I could do on a credit card. I don’t pay any interest. I pay off my credit card every two weeks. When I get paid, I’m going to log into my credit card, check out the transactions and make sure what I had allocated in certain categories like groceries, eating out or whatever the case might be, so it gets taken out. That is one strategy that I do.

The other reason why I like credit cards is I like to collect reward points and airline miles. My husband and I paid for our honeymoon to the Maldives using credit card points and airline miles. Given the pandemic, my husband and I take yearly international vacations and rack up those points. We’re rewarded. Credit cards hate us because we take advantage of every single point and we’re not paying interest. You can be strategic in using credit cards and it can be helpful.

I divide my credit card usage. I have one credit card that goes specifically for all my automated bills like my cell phones, utilities and things like that. I don’t use any discretionary spending on that card. The other one goes for all the discretionary spending. It’s things that I have in my budget. For example, haircuts, dining out, convenience dining, date nights or whatever those things might be. That goes on a separate credit card, so that makes sure that I have control of my essential expenses and I also know exactly what’s going on with that discretionary.

I do that same thing too. What I love about the credit card for all your automatic payments is I put that on my desk. If the other one gets stolen or hacked, I don’t have to change all those automatic payments again to the next credit card. It’s one that all my payments go into, like PG&E, T-Mobile and whatever I’m using. That monthly stuff all goes on this one credit card that nobody ever sees, not even me because I don’t want it to get lost, stolen and change all those accounts. I love that tip. I started that very early also.

REW Walli | Investing Money

Investing Money: It’s important to have multiple savings accounts. One of the mistakes that people do is that they have only one bucket for all their things. Have multiple buckets and label them accordingly.

 

I hadn’t even thought about that but I never had a card stolen or lost and had to change all of that. I love that idea.

That’s one of my big strategies.

Moneeka, I know you don’t consider yourself a money nerd. You’re a real estate maven but you are a hidden money nerd.

I am a money nerd but I don’t admit it often. In EXTRA, we’re going to be talking about you needing to decide what life you want and say no to everything else. Before we go there, let’s quickly talk about how people can get in touch with you.

Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a great conversation. I am most active on Instagram but you can visit me on my website, FinanciallyThriving.com and find all my social media handles there.

I’m not going to ask the three rapid-fire questions, ladies. Please forgive me because I do want to get to EXTRA. If you are subscribed to EXTRA, go there because we’re going to be talking about deciding what life you want, what we are shooting for this optional work lifestyle and how to say no to everything else. If you’re not subscribed, go to RealEstateInvestingForWomenEXTRA.com. For those of you that are leaving, Walli and I thank you so much for joining us for this portion of the show. I look forward to seeing you next time. Until then, remember, goals without action are just dreams. Get out there, take action and create the life your heart deeply desires. Talk to you later.

 

 Important Links

 

About Walli Miller

REW Walli | Investing MoneyI’m a financial coach and money mentor who went from overspending and compulsive shopper to being debt-free and building multiple six-figure investment portfolio.

After spending my 20s spending every dollar I earned and saving very little I knew I had to start doing something different. The thought of working for the next 30 to 40 years just to survive wasn’t the life I wanted.

After gaining control of my finances and creating a plan, I’m on my way to being work-optional before the age of 40!

I’m a first generation college graduate, Latina, and daughter of an immigrant. Born and raised in the Bronx, I’m the first millionaire in my family.

 

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Join the Real Estate Investing for Women Community today:

 

To listen to the EXTRA portion of this show go to RealEstateInvestingForWomenExtra.com

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Learn how to create a consistent income stream by only working 5 hours a month the Blissful Investor Way.

Grab my FREE guide at http://www.BlissfulInvestor.com

 

Creating Passive Cash Flow With Non-Performing Notes With Paige Panzarello – Real Estate Women

REW Paige Panzarello | Passive Cash Flow

 

Can you imagine what it’s like $20 million dollars just when you’re starting to perform well in real estate? Paige Panzarello went through this ordeal in 2007, and it almost ended her real estate career. But now she’s bouncing back and she’s doing well with passive cash flow. And she’s doing it with non-performing notes! Listen to this episode as Paige tells it all to Moneeka Sawyer.

Watch the episode here

Listen to the podcast here


 

Creating Passive Cash Flow With Non-Performing Notes With Paige Panzarello – Real Estate Women

Real Estate Investing For Women

I am so excited to welcome to our show, Paige Panzarello. Having been a real estate investor and entrepreneur for many years, Paige has experienced many facets of real estate investing. Her experience includes founding and running her own residential and commercial construction and acquisition company.

She does buy and hold residential and commercial real estate investing, tax deeds and liens investing, and fix and flip residential remodeling and other forms, to name a few. She focuses on non-performing notes that she purchases all across the United States. Whether in residential or commercial real estate in California, Arizona or nationwide, Paige has been successful in completing over $150 million in real estate transactions to date. Welcome to the show, Paige. How are you?

Thank you so much for having me on. I’m so excited to be here.

Let’s start with your story. Tell us where you have been.

I have been a real estate investor for many years. I started my real estate investing career a little differently than most people. I literally was thrown into the deep end of the pool by virtue of inheritance. I knew nothing about real estate investing or real estate, much less investing. My grandmother passed away.

She had a rather sizable estate, half of which was in California and half of which was in Arizona. Off I went at a very young age to Arizona, knowing nothing about real estate or real estate investing. We had 38 townhome units that were only about 40% occupied. We had a sewer treatment plant and some land. I knew nothing about anything. Unfortunately, the estate was about $4 million in debt.

I was thrown into the deep end of the pool and learned quickly that all I had to do was ask questions and surround myself with people that had the answers. I was good at that and doing what I said I was going to do. If I said I was going to do something and asked the people that we owed money, I asked them to work with me, and they did. The flip side is that I was able to do what I said I was going to do. I quickly built a reputation, a good one, which was paramount.

I was able in three years to turn the properties around. We brought it back into the black in about three years. We were in a boutique market in Arizona, and I realized that we weren’t going to be able to sustain profitability. I went to my family and said, “I want to build on the land, sell the units and the sewer treatment plant.” They were all for selling the sewer treatment plant, by the way. I wanted to leverage that and go into building the land.

My family said, “I don’t want any part of that.” I said, “I want to buy the company, which I did.” I started to develop the land and hired a contractor. I realized very quickly that he was going to bankrupt me before I was even coming out of the ground. I fired him and found somebody else that would be my qualifying party. I started a construction company knowing nothing about construction. I set the pace to put us on the fast track. We were rocking and rolling. In three years’ time, we had 36 employees. We held all our licenses except HVAC and roofing.

The reason that we didn’t have those is that the insurance was way too high. We were building our own projects, everybody else’s projects, and it was great. Except that, even at that young age, I was exhausted and working myself 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, into an early grave. I was making money hand over fist. I had a lot of assets and liquidity. I thought I was having a good time, and 2007 happened.

Even if you know nothing about real estate, you can still pursue a business within the industry. Click To Tweet

The funny thing is I saw it coming but I was naive in the fact that I thought, “This is not going to happen to me because I’m only leveraged about 10%.” I was wrong. It happened right on top of my head. Everybody that owed me money, their funding froze up. I was in the unique position that I did not have to go through bankruptcy to discharge the debts that I owed. I sold off everything that I owned. I had liquidity and cash. It took me about three years but I paid everybody off. I had a fire sale, everything. At the end of the day, I lost $20 million.

I walked away with my head held high, which was important to me. I still have investors that I work with now because of that. I wanted to make everybody else hold. That was important to me. I walked away from real estate investing for a little while, but I came back like everybody else. I had to rebuild. I didn’t have the money to put it together but I did have a good brain for real estate. I love it. I have a passion for it and a passion for helping people. I went the same route that everybody goes, wholesaling, fixing, and flipping. Some buy and hold as you grow, tax liens, and tax deeds.

I was also looking into and studying non-performing notes. About a year after I started studying it, I bought my first one. Angels sang for me. When you lose $20 million, that has a tendency to shape you as an investor. I know all of my risk tolerance. I know exactly where I’m going. When I landed in the note space, I was ecstatic because it has everything I possibly want as an investor. I never looked back.

Tell me a little bit about notes.

Notes basically are your promise to pay. There’s a variety of different kinds of notes that you can buy. I focus on the first position, meaning I’m the first one to get paid. First position non-performing notes that are secured by residential real estate. You can buy notes that are against cars. You can buy notes that are credit card debt. All those things are promises to pay.

When you finance anything, that’s your promise to pay. That’s a note. I focus on the non-performing space as opposed to the performing space. The performing space is the borrower paying their monthly payment. The non-performing space is where the borrower has stopped paying their monthly payments. My notes again are secured by residential real estate.

Why would you do non-performing?

I get that a lot, “Why on Earth would you buy a non-performing note when someone stopped paying?” The answer is there’s a variety of different reasons but the biggest one is that we would get a big discount. When you buy something at a steep discount, you build in a cushion of equity. That gives you power and control where you can mitigate your risk. After 2007, I was all about power, control, and mitigating risk.

REW Paige Panzarello | Passive Cash Flow

Passive Cash Flow: Ask questions and surround yourself with people who have the answers.

 

As an investor, can you make money with non-performing notes? How does that work?

When we buy a non-performing note, there is a face value of the note. The Unpaid Principal Balance is also called the UPB. Let’s say that’s $100,000, but the market value of the property is only $80,000. That note is underwater. Those borrowers are underwater. When I buy a note, I buy it based on the current market value of the securing collateral, also known as the house. It’s $80,000, and I will buy it at a deep discount from there. It used to be we were able to buy notes anywhere between 40% and 50%, sometimes even a little less. Now it’s hovering around 55% to 60%, still quite a nice size equity cushion.

For that same $80,000 house, I’m spending $45,000 for the note. They will buy and build in a huge equity cushion. The borrower still owes me $100,000 because the unpaid principal balance is $100,000. I have a lot of flexibility and maneuverability to work with that borrower to either get them to reperform and start paying on their mortgage or sometimes our borrowers will give us what’s called a deed in lieu of foreclosure. They don’t want the house anymore but don’t want the foreclosure on their record.

They will deed us the property as payment in full. I can turn around and sell that house for $80,000 because that’s the market value of the property. That’s how I make money as a note investor in buying non-performing notes. The best part, though, is if we get it to reperform, not only am I generating chunks of cash. I’m also generating streams of monthly cashflow. I’m creating two different avenues of money coming into my pocket in the same vehicle, which is tremendous as far as I’m concerned.

Tell me a little bit more about that. How does that work?

In terms of the reperformance or the exit strategies because we have 23 different exit strategies in note investing. Remember, I’m risk-averse. With 23 different exit strategies that are avail, we are able to mitigate that risk. Were you asking about the reperforming situation and how we generate chunks and streams of cash?

Yes.

Getting a borrower to reperform is my favorite exit strategy that we use. It happens about a third of the time. We generally only use four main exit strategies but we still have 23 at our avail. Everybody knows about foreclosure. That’s one of our exit strategies. Sometimes, we have two. Short sale, everybody knows what a short sale is. It’s $100,000, and the borrower comes to us and says, “I have somebody that’s willing to buy it for $80,000. Will you accept it?” How fast do you think I’m going to say yes?

When you say something you need to do, just do it. Click To Tweet

Deed in lieu of foreclosure, I’ve already explained. The reperforming situation is my favorite. The borrower comes to us through our loss mitigation team. This is something I understand that I have a team in place. I have direct contact with our borrowers because I’ve got a very big heart, and everybody has got a story. I am not a licensed debt collector. The team that I pay is licensed, debt collectors.

They know all the CFPB rules and regulations. It’s well worth the small fee that I pay them per asset, per month, to deal directly with our borrowers. They are the liaison. Through our team, we talk with our borrowers and let us know that they want to stay. Let’s say that the same unpaid principal balance is $100,000, the house is only worth $80,000, and they haven’t paid for 2 or 3 years.

We get a lot of these that haven’t paid 2, 3, 4, even sometimes longer. They now owe us another $20,000 between arrearage, and maybe we have fronted some property taxes, so we don’t lose our collateral that’s securing our invested dollars. Let’s say the total amount due, the total legal balance is $120,000 but the house is only worth $80,000. There’s $40,000 on the hole.

They say they want to stay, had a medical condition, whatever, but now, they can pay. We are in a position where we can go to that borrower, and eventually, we do this through what’s called a forbearance agreement. We don’t do a permanent loan modification immediately. The borrower hasn’t paid for a while. They have to have a little skin in the game.

We will say to them, “We are going to require a reinstatement fee.” It’s usually somewhere around $2,500 to $5,000, depending. Believe me, when people want to stay in their homes, they figure out a way to come up with that money. There’s that chunk of cash. We will say to them, “We will put on hold the $40,000 that is underwater.”

We will do the forbearance agreement and a trial payment plan. You pay your reinstatement fee. We can do so many different things. We can lower interest rates and payments. We can create a new amortization schedule. We can stretch out their payments and make their payments lower. We can forgive some of the principal balance.

We will work out a payment plan that works for that borrower that works for us in terms of our numbers as well. If they pay for the first 4 to 6 months on time, every time, we will take half of that $40,000 and forgive it. If they pay on time, every time for the next 4 to 6 months, we will forgive the other half. At that point, we will put a permanent modification in place at $80,000, which is the market value of the property.

It is a more manageable mortgage for our borrower, at $80,000. We’ve created a chunk of cash at the beginning of this whole process. We’ve monthly cashflowed every single month. There are your streams of cash. At the end of the twelve months, we have a decision to make because we now have what’s called a season’s note.

REW Paige Panzarello | Passive Cash Flow

Passive Cash Flow: When you buy something at a steep discount, you build in a cushion of equity and that gives you power and control where you can mitigate your risk.

 

There are plenty of note investors that are out there that like the performing notes because they like the monthly cashflow but they don’t want to be a landlord. They don’t want the tenants and toilets. They are willing to buy that performing seasoned note from us. We slightly discount it to another note investor. They are willing to buy that close to close to par, which is close to the $80,000. We will discount it a little bit and give them an equity cushion. You can see how that’s very profitable or we can hold onto it and keep cashflowing it. We do choose to do that as well.

That’s one of your exit strategies. I can totally see that you have a big heart. You want people to be able to keep their homes, and I feel the same way. It’s beautiful.

Especially after the 2007 crash, I have had life happen to me, and sometimes I have to take off my heart hat and put on my hard hat, and that’s never fun to do. My goal is to set out to help people. I’m in a position, by becoming the bank as a note investor, to do that for those that qualify, and not everybody qualifies but that’s a big thing for me.

You told us a little bit about your exit strategy, why don’t you walk us through the steps of acquiring a non-performing note?

Acquiring a non-performing note is very similar to any other type of real estate investing. There are two things that everybody looks for in real estate investing. One is deals, and the other is money. Note investing is no different. It’s about your network and networking. I like to think of investing as a more gentle form of real estate investing.

There is competition but it’s not nearly as fierce as the fix and flip market. You need to network. As everybody knows, your net worth is determined by your network. You need to get out there, start asking questions, start talking to people, go to REIA meetings, join BiggerPockets, and listen to podcasts. All those things are important to get you into the note space.

The interesting thing about the note space is at the asset managers. I used that word as an all-encompassing word. These are the people that handle portfolios for a variety of different sources, banks, hedge funds, other note investors, smaller commercial banks, community banks, credit unions, etc. The asset manager is the one that handles the portfolio and the disposition of the assets. Asset managers in the note space it’s very collaborative.

As you develop your relationship and your reputation with these asset managers, they will introduce you to other asset managers, which blew me away the first time that that happened to me. I thought, “Why on Earth would he do that?” You would think that there would be a lot more competition but there isn’t. That’s great too. If you do what you say you are going to do in the note space, and by the way, that is paramount, please do not waste these asset managers’ time. They do not like it, and you won’t get any more products. As long as you develop that relationship, they will help to catapult you to the next level.

You have to put action behind the desire. That's how you start. Click To Tweet

That’s true with everybody, do what you say you are going to do. It’s also interesting how we don’t do what we say we are going to do for ourselves. There’s one thing about doing what you say you are going to do for other people but what about for yourself too? Part of building a blissful wealth empire is keeping your commitments to yourself, making yourself a priority and your promises a priority to yourself and others.

That’s such a hard thing for entrepreneurs because, as entrepreneurs, we put everybody else in front of us all the time, and it’s almost like we feel guilty if we take a spa day.

There are other ways. Yes, in the take care of yourself. That’s very important. The other thing is I’m committed to learning about real estate, and these are the steps that I’m going to take. Instead of putting off those steps, it’s to keep those promises. “Now I’m going to research notes or I’m going to send to this person to further that business.” Much of the timepieces of this can be intimidating.

It can be scary. They can feel overwhelming. Instead of keeping our promises, we procrastinate. That slowly chips away at our self-confidence. On all levels, whether it’s for your business, yourself or your family, keep your promises to yourself and the people around you. Tell me, what is the most rewarding part of investing in notes?

I get to create win-win situations for everybody. If I can help a borrower reperform and stay in their home, that is the most rewarding. We have had situations where we have had families and single moms that have a couple of kids that are going through a divorce. The big banks didn’t care. We came in and were able to help keep that family, that single mom, and her kids and their home. That is fulfilling and rewarding to me, more so than any amount of money. Having gone through and had life happen to me is the most rewarding part for me all day long.

Haven’t you loved hearing Paige talk about her notes investing strategy? Do you want to learn more from her? You can learn how to create real wealth with real estate-backed non-performing notes from June 10th to 12th. In Paige’s three-day, hands-on, interactive, virtual, and packed with information event, you will learn how to get started investing in notes so you can grow your nest egg, achieve your goals faster, retire early with peace of mind, create chunks of cash and streams of monthly cashflow. The options are endless, and you will be helping people stay in their homes.

Ladies in the green room before the show, Paige mentioned that this is the only event she’s offering this year. Don’t miss it. Otherwise, you will have to wait a long time to get this opportunity again. Take action now, so you can take advantage of this market. The opportunities in notes are staggering. See what all the buzz is about and reserve your seat now at BlissfulInvestor.com/notes. The virtual live event is from June 10th to 12th. Are you ready for three rapid-fire questions?

I am.

REW Paige Panzarello | Passive Cash Flow

Passive Cash Flow: Just as long as you stand in integrity and you behave that way, people will be understanding because life does happen. Mistakes are made but don’t lie to people and don’t try and pull the wool over their eyes, just stand in your integrity, own up to it.

 

Tell us one super tip on getting started in real estate investing?

Take action. You can educate yourself to the cows come home but if you have analysis paralysis, you are never going to go anywhere. You got to put action behind the desire. That’s how you start.

What is one strategy for being successful in real estate investing?

This is a big one. To be successful, you have got to make the deal conform to you and who you are as an investor, not the other way around, do not ever conform to a deal. You set the guidelines, the outline, the bullet points, and what is your good risk tolerance and make the deal conform to you, do not conform to the deal.

What is one daily practice that you do that you would say contributes to your personal success?

I have integrity. We are all human. We all make mistakes. I don’t ever try and pull the wool over somebody’s eyes. If I make a mistake, I own up to it. People know when you are dealing with people and teams, money and emotions, there’s a big swirling around of all of that. As long as you stand in integrity and you behave that way, people will be understanding because life does happen. Mistakes are made, but don’t lie to people and don’t try and pull the wool over their eyes. Stand in your integrity, and own up to it. Believe me, and you will have more forgiveness and a better, stronger relationship if you behave that way. That’s how I conduct not only my business but my life.

Thank you so much for all of your words of wisdom for my audience. This show has been amazing.

Thank you for having me. I enjoyed it.

Don’t miss Paige’s upcoming three-day virtual live event from June 10th to 12th. It will be a long time before she’s going to be doing this again. Don’t miss it. Sign up now at BlissfulInvestor.com/notes. Thank you so much for joining Paige and me for this show. I look forward to seeing you next time. Until then, remember, goals without action are just streams. Get out there, take action and create the life your heart most deeply desires.

 

 Important Links

 

About Paige Panzarello

REW Paige Panzarello | Passive Cash FlowPaige Panzarello is the “Cashflow Chick”. Having been a Real Estate investor and entrepreneur for almost 25 years, Paige has experienced many facets of real estate investing. Her experience includes founding and running her own Residential and Commercial Construction and Acquisition companies, Buy and Hold residential and commercial real estate investing, Tax Deeds/Liens Investing, Fix and Flip (Residential Remodeling), and other forms to name a few. She currently focuses on Non-Performing Notes that she purchases all across the United States. Whether in notes, residential or commercial real estate, in California, Arizona, or nationwide, Paige has been successful in completing over $150 million in real estate transactions to date.

She has been a regularly featured guest on “The Cashflow Guys” podcast, and you can also find her on the “Best Ever Show” with Joe Fairless, “The Note Closers Show”, “Cashflow Ninja”, “Secrets to Real Estate Investing” and “Real Estate Investor Goddesses” podcasts, among many others. Paige has also been interviewed and highlighted in an article in the Wall Street Journal. She also speaks at various different Real Estate Investing clubs and conferences across the country.

Paige has been purchasing Non-Performing Notes (NPNs) since 2014, and she formed The Tryllion Group, which invests in Notes across the country.

Paige teaches the “Building Wealth with Notes” Workshop that drills down into the details of how to buy Non-Performing Notes, what to look for, due diligence to perform, and most importantly, how to mitigate risk. Her 10-week Master Class is a hands-on deep dive where Paige walks you through the nitty-gritty details to be a successful Note buyer.

Having experienced the hardship of the economic downturn of 2007, and what she calls “a very difficult learning experience”, Paige knows first-hand how “life can happen” to everyone. Her company was founded to help people in distress. Paige is also driven to help educate people on the importance of passive income, deal evaluation, money and debt management. She wants everyone to elevate their situation and become free of dependence on anyone or anything, so that when “life happens”, people will be ready, not broken.

Whether it is improving communities one house at a time, helping borrowers stay in their homes, or working with other investors to learn a new way to potentially earn higher returns for their investment dollars toward money cash flow or their retirement years, Paige is dedicated to helping people improve their lives in every way. She lives by the motto, “People first, profit second.”

 

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To listen to the EXTRA portion of this show go to RealEstateInvestingForWomenExtra.com

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Search on Roku for Real Estate Investing 4 Women or go to this link: https://blissfulinvestor.com/biroku

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