Real estate investing provides financial rewards but be aware of what could hold you back.
As someone who successfully climbed the mountain to financial independence, I have witnessed “uncomfortable truths” that stop many people. Real estate investing can be a rewarding way out of the “rat race,” but we must recognize, discuss, and overcome these uncomfortable truths if we hope to help more investors achieve financial independence.
Uncomfortable Truth #1
It takes sacrifice to consistently invest in rental properties year after year. You must look for ways to cut expenses, ignore the urge to upgrade and quite simply live a frugal life. Think: earn, save, invest, and repeat.
I share this truth with compassion as it hit us hard in the beginning. When we started investing 15+ years ago, we would spend 100 percent of our income without blinking. We knew if we were going to see financial independence that we had to cut back. We started living on 90 percent of our income and progressively got down to living on 50 percent of our income. This cushion became a reserve and ultimately a piggy bank to buy more properties.
The lower your required monthly expenses are, the easier it is to be financially free.
Uncomfortable Truth #2
I wish I could tell you REI was a quick process, but it simply is not. It takes years for those little drops of cashflow to build into a trickle and ultimately a stream of cashflow you can live on consistently.
Our journey included the wave up to the 2008 peak, the crash, and the ultimately the return — and boy was it a wild ride! I believe most people can complete their journey to financial independence in 10 years, and thus, you must think in decades not months or years if you want to reap the maximum rewards of REI.
Uncomfortable Truth #3
The people you spend the most time with are critical when starting out. In the beginning you don’t have any real success to hold on to, so if you choose to surround yourself with people who zap your energy, it will be hard to keep moving forward. Identifying these battery drainers can be hard; unfortunately, they can be family or close friends who think they are protecting you.
In addition to removing or at least reducing contact with some individuals, you must look to expand your circle with like-minded individuals. I strongly encourage new and experienced investors to go to meetups. Network and share stories with individuals who will be battery chargers and give you a huge boost you can hold on to.
Your network can ensure success or failure — we all need the extra boost of positive energy sometimes.
Uncomfortable Truth #4
Bad things happen in this business as tenants will miss rent, need to be evicted, things will break, and so much more. People will disappoint you, and stuff will break or wear out.
My hope is this does not surprise you and that you build in reserves and conservative numbers to make sure any little hiccup does not crush you. Over the years we have had fires, floods, and evictions; yet, we just kept moving forward as we had insurance and financial reserves for just such negative surprises.
Uncomfortable Truth #5
I believe anyone who decides to be a real estate investor can be successful if they put in the work, think long term, and are conservative. Over the years, I have met high school dropouts, ex-cons, and teenagers who are wildly successful in this business.
Real estate is a non-emotional asset. It does not care about your history, age, religion, sex, etc. If you want to be successful at this business, there are thousands of people just like you who have taken steps to achieve financial independence through real estate.
I wanted to shine a bright light on all five of these truths, even though they are uncomfortable to consider. But they are real. And while some may not impact you directly, they will impact someone in your circle, and if you can recognize it early, you can help them.
These truths should not stop anyone from being successful. Recognize them, learn from them and you’ll be a wiser investor. •