“Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.” – P.T. Barnum
Most Americans work an average of about 40 hours a week, with an average of 10 vacation days per year. This goes on for 40 years or more until retirement is achieved. This means that 83,200 hours or so are spent working in a lifetime. Thinking about this I realized this was not acceptable for me. From the beginning of my career as a Registered Nurse I knew that working 40 hours per week for someone else was not going to make me happy. I wanted more from life. What is life if it isn’t enjoyed after all? You can exist without actually living and to me, that is exactly what being a slave to a job causes. And then I found the idea of financial independence and early retirement.
I was on maternity leave with my third child and started watching HGTV and DIY network because my little one did nothing but eat all day and frankly there wasn’t much else to do. (This time could have been much better spent looking back.) I am glad that TV was my go to at the time, however, because if I hadn’t of watched those shows about flipping houses, I would not be on this journey.
I saw how much money those people made off of one flip. I realize now however that it was “reality” TV and as such, not totally portrayed the way it goes in real life. (How ironic is the name reality tv?) However, I was inspired by this. If I could figure out how to flip houses or even own some rentals I could make the money the people on tv do and not have to work 40 hours a week anymore.
That’s when I found Biggerpockets.com. I spent hours researching real estate investing, attending webinars, listening to podcasts and reading forum posts. It was there that I realized I could do this. Plenty of “average” people do this and are successful at it! I was thinking what a powerful tool this could be to help me move toward financial freedom.
That’s where it all started. At that point I already owned my 2000 square foot single family home that was built in 1890 so I had some experience in buying a home. I was very set on using the BRRRR method to invest in real estate. It seemed to be the simplest way to invest with a small amount of money down. I went to a tax auction the following summer in my county and purchased a home I planned to BRRRR. (I will be posting more on this story in another post.) I ended up renting it out and eventually selling it, but it got my feet wet and I wanted to do more. Even though this did NOT go as planned it did not discourage me! I would say in the end I about broke even on that deal, which isn’t bad for a first deal and the learning experience!
At that point I was still researching online and listening to podcasts daily. I got through about 100 podcasts within a few months. Then, on the show, I heard of a new book that was coming out called “Set for Life” by Scott Trench. I purchased this book and it changed my life and my way of thinking about money. Of course at this point I STILL didn’t listen to the paying off your “emergency debts” part, but it got me thinking more about finances in general.
I started thinking of ways to reduce my spending. We ditched cable-I cannot believe I spent that much for TV!. We cut our grocery bill as much as possible and shopped around for insurances to get the cheapest rate. I didn’t know it at the time but this was just the start of cutting expenses.
At this point I had heard of “househacking” to some extent on the Biggerpockets podcast and webinars, but hadn’t thought of it as an option for me due to having kids and owning a home already. However, I found out I was pregnant again (this was 2 years later) with my 4th baby and I realized I wouldn’t make it through maternity leave in the current home I lived in, with its $850 mortgage and $200-$500, dependent on the season, utility bill. I started browsing the real estate section of the local shopper and some of the local broker websites and found a few duplexes for sale in my town. We looked at few that were in price range and ended up loving an up down duplex right outside of town (lower taxes!) listed for $68,900. (I will also post more about this in a separate post soon).
We purchased the home and moved in to the 2-bedroom downstairs unit July of 2018. A tenant was already in place in the 1 bedroom upper unit-and he is a perfect tenant! He accepted the higher rent during the buying process. (They had rent way below market). His rent is $500 monthly and our mortgage is $630 monthly. This leaves us paying only $130 a month to live! Our utilities are also cheaper due to the apartment being smaller!
During this time, I began listening to the Biggerpockets money podcast and as a result also Joined the Dreamcatchers facebook group (The Budgetnista’s group). I FINALLY got the message that I NEEDED to pay off all of my “emergency” debts first. I started getting serious about paying off these debts. The numbers just didn’t lie. If I could pay off all of my non-revolving debt, I wouldn’t need much to live on monthly and the rest could go toward investments.
So, at the start of my debt free journey my total debt was $27,620 (This does not count mortgages because I am not planning to pay those off at this time). I am currently at 26,782 (not much paid off I know) and going down each week. I am putting anything extra I have at this debt. I have done some side hustles both during and after maternity leave to keep up with bills and pay off extra when possible-again a post for a later time. (I am currently only per diem at work, unfortunately, because my beautiful little girl that was born in August will not allow mommy to leave at night, but my job requires you to be on call if you are full time. So far I have had enough work being per diem and I hope to continue this way.)
I have so many plans for the next year and my goal is to have all of my credit cards, student loan, line of credit and AT LEAST half of my car paid off by the end of 2019!
This is a big goal but with some determination and accountability I think anything is possible!!!
I’m so looking forward to sharing this journey and sharing my tips and tricks along the way!
Thank you for reading!
Pennies to Riches