Business Owner or JOB Owner?

Hey everybody, excited to have Steve Richards on the show today! Today, we are going to talk about something that we are both very passionate about and that is how to run and own a business, not a JOB. Some of the real estate investors end up in that J-O-B and they get stuck there and it’s not a good place to be.

[00:00:00] Mike: [00:00:00] Professional real estate investors are different.

We’re not afraid to go all in and take educated risks to build stronger businesses and help our families live better lives. This is the FlipNerd professional real estate investor show. And I’m your host Mike Hambright each week. I host a new episode live and bring you America’s top real estate investors as guests.

Let’s start today’s show. Everybody excited to be here with you today. Uh, today I am talking to Steve Richards and we’re talking about something that we’re both very passionate about, which is how to run and own a business, not a job. So many real estate investors end up in that job and they get stuck there.

And it’s not a good place to be. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. Steve, welcome to

Steve: [00:00:43] the show. Thanks, man. Thanks for having me. Yeah. Happy to see it. It’s

Mike: [00:00:47] funny. We were talking a head of time here. In fact, we, we can talk about like a half hour, so that’s honestly, I do all these podcasts. We’ve done over 1500 podcasts over this last, like almost seven years coming up on seven years.

For me, it’s just, it’s the ability to [00:01:00] just kind of hang out with you and network. And, you

Steve: [00:01:02] know, we usually talk for a

Mike: [00:01:03] half hour ahead of time. We’re talking afterwards and all this stuff. So it’s, it’s always fun, but you said some things and I even told you. What you just said could have just as easily come out of my mouth.

Right. Which is we, you know, we, we, we think the same in regards to actually running a business. And it took a long time for me to get there because I was just in the weeds so far and making more money than ever. So it was kind of like, well, I’m working harder than I want to, but I’m making a lot of money.

And then at some point you’re just like,

Steve: [00:01:29] ah, I just

Mike: [00:01:30] like, I don’t want to make less money, but I’m okay. I gotta get out of my own way. So I know you’ve felt the same way, right?

Steve: [00:01:36] Yeah, absolutely. It’s a trap. It’s like the curse of successful businesses. Now you’re now you find out that it actually does suck.

Mike: [00:01:46] Yeah. And the truth is isn’t, it, it hasn’t happened to me. I’m a knock on some wood here, but it happens to a lot of people when something bad happens. Right. They get sick. Family member gets sick, something happens

Steve: [00:01:58] where their

Mike: [00:01:59] time [00:02:00] has to go somewhere else. It has to is not an option. And then the business suffers and then they’re like, This, isn’t a business.

This is a job right now. So, uh, so I think what we want to talk about today is to tell folks

Steve: [00:02:12] that

Mike: [00:02:13] let’s be proactive about it. Let’s let’s get to that point. So before it becomes an issue for you and we all, nobody got in this business of real estate investing, you work 80 hours a week

Steve: [00:02:26] and be

Mike: [00:02:26] trapped where they are.

Right. So, uh, they did it to own a job to not to own a job, to own a business, but. That’s not how it usually works out. So, Hey, before we kinda jump into this, tell us your background. You’ve got a, a lot of great success, a lot of war wounds. I can see some scars on your knuckles there and stuff. So tell us a little bit about that.

Steve: [00:02:47] Yeah. So yeah, so much of the stuff, it’s funny, how it all it, to your point, a lot of the experience and you just learn and will tell people if you guys are watching this today and you’re newer to the business or [00:03:00] newer to business in general. A bunch of you guys are gonna be like, yeah, you’re, you’re probably 25 and making more money twice, as much as your parents ever made or three times as much together.

And it doesn’t really matter that you’re working all the time kind of, and you’re probably not going to listen to some of this. And then when your old guys like us, like I can, now you’re going to be like, Oh man, those guys were right. But, um, you know, I I’ve got, I know my kids are older, mine are teenagers now.

So I just have this different perspective on things, but, um, No. My quick story is I came out of business school in mid nineties, and then I

Mike: [00:03:36] started consulting

Steve: [00:03:37] in the tech world. And so my first clients were.com clients. And I was like, Oh, I just thought you had to like sneak it. So to a napkin with a business plan, and someone gives you five bucks.

I have to make a product to make a prototype, to go to a dog and pony to try to raise a hundred million dollars. And then everybody lies and just says how it’s going to be a a hundred million dollar company. And. In five years or whatever. And

Mike: [00:03:59] so

[00:04:00] Steve: [00:03:59] it was just really, it was an interesting time to come out.

There was also a lot of, uh, I worked for a big company called EDS. It was actually Ross Burroughs and being in Texas, you know,

Mike: [00:04:07] not, not too far from, uh, where I live actually. Yeah, five miles. I lived

Steve: [00:04:12] in Plano for three months when I started there, the pod, the, uh, Plano headquarters, you know, getting out was interesting during that time, because we had, we had clients that were crazy.com clients.

And then we had the defense department was one of our clients. Like literally, you know, the $10 million toilet seats that are probably paying for in other countries and stuff, there was all this like super, extra secret comply, uh, secret, uh, like trying to get compliance and everything to be in the building.

It was, it was kinda interesting, but, um, it was a cool time because I learned so much, but I had this business degree that I didn’t pay a lot of attention. You know, I was more into my fraternity and intermural sports and things like that. But. I had this business law classes, accounting and strategy classes, and I didn’t really pay a lot attention.

And that’s now all I really care about. Um, [00:05:00] and I had the foundation of business and then I went out and I was consulting for companies who really didn’t care. Like the government didn’t listen to anything. We said like, literally as a consultant for them, they just, it was so bureaucratic. It was crazy.

And then the startups would listen to everything we said, no matter how stupid it was, there was no oversight. It was like two totally weird. And I’m 25 and no, no one should have been listening to me anyway. But, um, but that was my entree into the business world. So it was interesting. And I had a front row seat in 98, 99, 2000 for the.com bust.

And, um, you know, everybody found out you can’t make money on the internet. At least that’s what they thought until you know, now Zuckerberg and everybody’s come around Amazon, you know, Bezos. Luckily they figured the internet out, but. Yeah, that was crazy. And then on the back end of that, there was a lot of Y2K projects in that tech business where they thought all the computers were going to shut down when it turned, you know, 2000 and January 1st, whatever.

And, um, you know, I, I went through all that. I didn’t even [00:06:00] realize it was a recession. Then I had no idea. And I just was getting kind of promoted up through the ranks and growing and doing different things. Um, you know, nine 11 kind of extended that recession a little longer. But when he came out of the back end of that, I continued to grow in my.

In the business world, but I had gotten bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, like pretty early. Um, and so I would say by 2003, two or three, I was getting out a startup that I got involved with and I really wanted to do something. Um, so for about a year, I was just kinda like try thinking of all these different ideas.

So I started reading a lot of different things that led me into stuff like. Think and grow rich and rich dad, poor dad. And I don’t have this story where rich dad, poor dad turned me on to real estate or whatever. Actually, I was just a guy that I played pickup basketball with at the gym was like my dad.

And I just got done. You might know some of these guys, Chris Kershner if you remember that guy. I know that name. Yeah. He was a sell houses on lightening. He was all subject to and, um, Ron Legrand and [00:07:00] then. We actually the first, anyway I met, so I met this guy and he’s telling me, I’m like, Hey man, I’ve got to start a business.

I’m sick of being in the corporate world. He’s like, well, my dad and I just dropped 30 grand going to all his real estate courses and we’re dropping mail, but now my dad was going to retire and do this and he’s not doing it. So now I’ve got 30 grand invested in bootcamps. We have three ring binders with CDs, by the way, back at that time.

And, um, he

Mike: [00:07:26] didn’t say eight tracks.

Steve: [00:07:28] No. I know. I’m sure that, you know, that was pretty bad.

Mike: [00:07:30] I definitely remember in my family, we had, uh, the, uh, cause it was like cassette tapes and it opened up this big, like plastic binder and I like six or eight cassette tapes.

Steve: [00:07:40] I had some of those too back in the day, but, um,

Mike: [00:07:43] Carlton sheets.

Steve: [00:07:44] Yup, absolutely. So anyway, kind of condensed that down, you know, he was sending out postcards then you know what to do. And I’m like, I don’t know. I mean, I. Worst cases, we’ll buy some rentals. He’s like we can get really good deals. I’m like, all right, I didn’t even want to flip a house. I was like, I’ll own some rentals.

That’s cool, but I’m going to start a [00:08:00] business. So my head was all around

Mike: [00:08:02] a business

Steve: [00:08:03] and what’s funny is I shifted. And then I saw real estate. I’m like, Oh, well, at the time, this was 2004. When I got in, um, when I started and within that first year, I quit my corporate gig, which was pretty good. And I went full time in it because you could just fog a mirror.

Like I didn’t made 15 grand every time I bought a house. Yeah, it would appraise for a hundred. I’d buy it for 80, you know, get a 90% loan on it. And I take, put 10 grand my pocket and it’d be on a three, one arm with Washington mutual. And my pain, you know, my payment would be like all in, it was like 400 bucks a month or something crazy stupid, but it was on an adjustable rate mortgage, but, and I was like, man, we could just, if I just to buy one house a month, I can make six figures and then I’ll flip a little on the side.

And so I kinda got into this and it just. Literally to what we were talking about a minute ago to kind of preface that as all I want to do is start their business. And I ended up like literally jumping into a hustle. And then when I got in, I literally committed to the hustle because I’m like, Oh, I can just hustle around and like [00:09:00] trade my time for, you know, dollars.

And I’ll just flip it up and chase money. And anyway, so, you know, I D I, we ramped up to doing up to five rehabs a month that after that first year, when I was full time and. Owning several rentals. Within a couple of years, we had 35 40 rentals. And, um, that was about the time when we saw things slow down with the market.

And so. I shifted to do rent to owns instead of flipping to from bank owns to selling to homeowners that were going to live in the property, a traditional flip, you shifted to doing rent to owns. And then within a year that subprime blew up and then it was rent rent. There was no, it wasn’t part of the deal anymore.

And so we had to too high basis and all these houses compared to the reds, you know, we had nice houses with fake 30 grand equity that we were going to get as a 30 grand pop on the back on all of them. But when we shifted her into, um, Oh, and we didn’t really care about cashflow. We just cared about the equity and I learned that rentals are a little different.

So, [00:10:00] um, during that time we started focusing differently. And once I learned that I started doing bus tours with some out-of-state RIAs and they started bringing people in and they’re like, well, find deals for me. Like you find them. And so we got into, I guess, kind of wholesale, but now I didn’t know what wholesaling was.

Mike: [00:10:16] Um,

Steve: [00:10:16] but I was just finding deals for them and they would buy them off me. And deals. I didn’t, I kinda would rather make quick money on. And then they’re like, well, if it was rehab, it’d be a lot nicer, you know, if I didn’t have to rehab it and when you’re already managing your rentals, can you manage mine?

And so like many turnkey operators, probably some people that are watching

Mike: [00:10:33] this,

Steve: [00:10:34] somehow it turned into, Oh, I can make money on the rehab. I can make money on a

Mike: [00:10:38] sale. I’ll

Steve: [00:10:39] make 10% arrests. It seems like all these revenue streams is what people talk themselves into, but it’s such a slippery slope. And I literally have watched over the last, you know, 16 years I’ve watched so many good people get destroyed on once, either as a client or the actual person in the turnkey business.

I’m sure you have too. Yeah, it is a tough, [00:11:00] tough business. Yeah. And, um, I got heavy into that. I did three, four, 500 of those, like. We do about 500 deals in a three or four year timeframe. Not all of them are turnkey, um, but they were all part of that. Um, but we really cut our teeth and we got a couple of clients out of it.

And then somehow I came up for air in 2013 and I’m like, man, we’re managing 350 houses. We’re doing 20 rehabs at a time. We’re not really wholesaling as much as we used to. Um, one reclaim, we made 600 offers for it. In that year and we got 110 houses, maybe on all those that all I’m a less offers. We had a whole team of agents.

Oh, wow. I mean, we had an office full of people, like 30 subs that worked for me in the construction. I had two different project managers that made like 50 grand a year salaries on top of like, it, it was the most silly thing. And Mike, I’m a super deep visionary. If anybody watching this as a, you know, us kind of person, I’m not an integrator.

[00:12:00] And now I can pretend to be one in spurts because I understand what it means to my bottom line and my sanity. But

Mike: [00:12:06] you have to have that. Yeah.

Steve: [00:12:07] Yeah. I just, um, it’s crazy. I looked up one day, we had a construction company, a brokerage property management company and the investment company. I was running a Rhea.

You know, it was the first year we did seven figures of business. It was literally like the most miserable year of my life. And. EOS traction. I got introduced to that actually at, um, I was at an Infusionsoft, um, conference in 2013 and some girl there who was her and her mom owned a bunch of, um, Keller Williams franchises.

And she turned me onto the book and I started reading it and I couldn’t get back to the core values. I read the book like three times, and then I made every one of my management team read it. And then we kept sitting down and trying to do the first chapter of core values. And every time they’re like, no, we don’t like what you came up with.

Here’s what we think our clients would like. And I’m like, I hate all that stuff. And then one day at lunch, I was like, the only way I can see [00:13:00] this is going to work is if we quit doing construction, quit managing houses. It’s like the core tenant of what we did. And I set it out of frustration and they all looked at me like, Oh yeah, right.

And then I’m like, wait a minute. It’s like, like the light bulb went off, you know? And I’m like, maybe we need to quit doing all that. And. I had gone from being a strategic visionary guy that everybody wanted to come get information from. And they want to know about my strategy and what I think about the market and who I like and network with me and get to know me and all this stuff.

And it turned into the only time I talked to clients anymore was, Hey, why are the reports late this month? Or my maintenance I’m getting screwed on maintenance or this tenant left too early, or your leasing is taking too long. It’s like, Oh, this horrible toilets, tenants, contractor.

Mike: [00:13:44] Yup.

Steve: [00:13:44] It was junk and, um, it was really hard.

And so I hit a reset button in 2014 and that started, um, at the end of 2014, I started a whole like 2015 was a big transition. Your form is really hard. Um, in fact, in 20, the second half [00:14:00] of 2015 to the middle of 2016, during that year, I am positive. I spent more money than most people make on therapists, coaches, counseling, uh, psychological tests.

Like I had a trainer at the gym. I had a, uh, um, a nurse practitioner. I was taking guitar lessons with my kids golf lessons. I was like, I’m going to go do all this stuff. And I’m going to like re-engage. And I, it was just interesting. Um, and I really kind of just reinvented. I didn’t even reinvent. I finally came back out of who I thought I wanted to be, and I really got to really know myself.

And, um, you’re coming out of that. We got heavy into wholesaling. And we kind of screwed around with it. Um, this will resonate with some of you guys that are watching probably, but we paid Joe McCall and one of his buddies, Peter,

Mike: [00:14:50] um,

Steve: [00:14:51] it was some stupid, like 15 grand to just set up our Podio. I mean, it was literally remember my, my, the guy that I met that that’s now my [00:15:00] business partner, Brian who’s literally like my sole business mate integrator.

I remember trying to convince him why we were going to wire them 15 grand. He’s like for what? He’s like Podio it’s free. And I’m like, Yeah, but they said they set up your carrot website and he’s like, but that’s 99 bucks a month. Like why? It was just funny, but you know, that commitment we made to spending money with somebody like that much, like why we use you as a disclaimer, I’m a client of Mike’s everybody with investor machine is

Mike: [00:15:30] literally

Steve: [00:15:31] in spite of our own issues.

We paid Joe’s office a thousand bucks a month, uh, to, to just throw mail out for us. Plus plus the spend or whatever it was. And I think it was only like 750 postcards every, every two weeks. So it’s 1500 postcards a month that was always sent. And so literally after 10 months of that, we would forget we weren’t using Colorado back then.

We used a number of years. We used number. Remember I

[00:16:00] Mike: [00:15:59] haven’t used it, but I’m familiar with it. Yeah. Like

Steve: [00:16:01] every couple of weeks we’d be like, Hey, we better go look at that and we’d go look into leads and we’d be just like, no, no, hang up, hang up. Oh, here’s a voicemail. And that really motivated, hang up, hang up voicemail, not very motivated.

We get like 20 calls in and be like, Oh, here’s one where they said they got sell tomorrow. Let’s call him back.

Mike: [00:16:17] And so some of you

Steve: [00:16:18] guys are probably laughing watching this, but like, I know you do that in your business. And if you don’t, your lead manager does and your acquisition guy does, but you’re just totally seeing we were sandbagging.

But in, in that, in that year, um, actually it was 2016 was when we did this. We spent 10 grand on marketing that, that year basically, and we did 229,000 revenue, like screwing around, like I was selling off houses still. And then my business partner was flipping some houses and we were just kind of like loosely partnering on this wholesale thing.

And we were like, gosh, I mean, what if we did that full time? You know? And of course we thought that it would all just magnificently, like. Quadruple and all that kind of stuff. But, [00:17:00] um, that was the beginning of it, man, at that point. But I was bound to build things differently and also know who I am and then have the right people around me.

But, you know, we went on from there to, um, build a team, the neck. So we went into build it. Right. But then the next big learning lesson for me was that we built a team really, really poorly that next year. And we had to dismantle all that at the end of 2017. And. Um, well, middle of 2017, it start to rebuild using cognitive testing and personality testing.

And you know, we’ve talked about this. One of the businesses I own is it helps people do that kind of stuff, but, but, but literally hiring the right people makes all the difference in the world. No. We started using vendors in 2016. I got my head straight about what I really wanted in life, which is probably the number one thing.

Most people have wrong. We started using vendors to do the things we needed to support our business. Then we started hiring the right internal people and then like in 2017, it kind of, it’s not all been roses, but it started to click. And [00:18:00] so, um, we’ve been able to run this business now and we have, we flips and wholesales and Indianapolis market.

I spent a couple hours a week in it. Probably sometimes not even that much. I mean, one of the, our dispositions guy is the direct report of mine. And we do a weekly call at noon on Wednesdays. And like, sometimes that’s the only time it’s like an open live coaching call for people. Sometimes that’s the only time he gets to talk to me.

So he’ll be asking me, Hey, can you, uh, look at your email or something on that call in front of everybody else? Cause he, like, he just can’t even, I don’t even put time into it. So. Um, anyway, I got super long winded there, but I, but I wanted to take that chance, Mike, to start to talk about some of the pivot points too.

So it’s been a weird road for the last 20 years for me, but, um, but there’s some component I started just gonna say, there’s some components we’ve learned that aren’t even about real estate. It’s literally about business. And so my current heart is, is just helping people understand how to run a business instead of on a job, which is what you started out by saying.

Mike: [00:18:57] Yeah. Yeah. Let’s talk about that for a moment. [00:19:00] So now, like, you know, it’s, it’s easy. To look back over 10 years, 15 years, a long time and say, well,

Steve: [00:19:08] now with what I know, I could have

Mike: [00:19:10] figured that out in like six months. Right. But that’s hindsight. Right? So, but the key is, is what I hope people, some people that are listening probably have gone through this as

Steve: [00:19:19] well.

You get to a point where you,

Mike: [00:19:21] you either, you know,

Steve: [00:19:23] di like proverbially, like from,

Mike: [00:19:25] well, hopefully not literally, but

Steve: [00:19:27] proverbially from like.

Mike: [00:19:28] I, this isn’t for me, I just need to go get a job or work for somebody else or whatever, if your goal is to be an entrepreneur and, um, and have your own business, like, hopefully

Steve: [00:19:37] you get to a point where you learn

Mike: [00:19:38] how to do it better, just like you did.

I’ve I have a lot of experiences like that too. But for those that are

Steve: [00:19:46] earlier in their career, not kind of where you want to be at, and you feel like

Mike: [00:19:49] you’re at a job, like maybe it will take a couple minutes to talk about like how to jump that learning curve because. You can do that by surrounding yourself with people that have been through that before.

And basically [00:20:00] just it’s a quantum leap forward, right? It’s like, I don’t have to go through all those things. I don’t have to touch the hot stove to learn. I shouldn’t touch a hot stove. It’s like, no, let me just tell you don’t touch a hot stove. Right. And so, uh, But some people, some people are, and they just have to learn.

Like, my son is 13 and my wife talks about it all the time. He’s, you know, he like stuck his finger awhile back in, uh, you know, it was just it’s, they’re not like cigarette lighters in your car anymore. It was just like a power Jack, but apparently you can still get burned from sticking your finger in there.

Cause that’s when I saw it, it’s just like that he has to learn. He has to smell his own burning flesh before he. I told him not to do it and he did it anyway. And it’s like, that’s just how he is. He just has to experience it, to learn what not to be wished. Some people are like that. I’m probably like that in summer yards, but you know, if you surround yourself with the right people, if you listen to people that have been through this before, um, you can jump in.

Let’s talk about that a bit. How can folks, what are some of the kind of key lessons that you’ve learned about treating, do like a business, um, and not getting stuck in a [00:21:00] job cause so many, most. Get stuck in a job at best might be if they do well, maybe they’re a high paid, they have a high paid job, but it’s still a job, right?

Steve: [00:21:09] Yeah, for sure. Um, so I could talk on this for years, so I’ll try to keep it concise, but I do have to start with something funny that I have twin boys and they’re a 14, so about the same age as your son, but, um, I remember. Getting kind of annoyed at my wife being so diligent about one, all those plug covers in the plate.

You know what I mean? When a child proof things. Yeah. I remember telling her one time, like those are so stupid once the kids get a little older, but like when they’re toddlers and run around, I’m like, you ha you would have to have some small little metal object that could shove inside of it. At least like half an inch to actually get shocked.

I’m like, it’s so dumb. And then one day, somehow one of my boys found some metal thing and had to shut up, short it out. Uh, I mean, that’s incredible. I was like, it will never happen. But anyway, you have teenage boys, like when they’re young, anything will happen

Mike: [00:21:58] by the way.

Steve: [00:21:59] You know, [00:22:00] I think Mike, to answer your question.

Um, so yeah, there’s four, there’s four pieces. And so one of the businesses you are talking about, you know, one of the places where I spend. Um, the business I spend the most time in, which is maybe five to 10 hours a week is the CEO nation. And then we have a, this four pillar model in there. And so I’ll kind of answer it that way to keep myself on track or else I’ll talk for an hour again.

But, um, I’m going to go in reverse order because we teach them in a certain order because I think they’re easier to implement, but you’re going to go in order of importance, starting with the most important. Is the alignment in the business is personal alignment. Like having the business set up to give you what you want.

And here’s the problem. I don’t think setting the business up to give you what you want is the hard part. I think most people fail at it. Um, but it’s actually pretty easy. It’s not so it’s, I’m sorry. It’s pretty simple, but it’s not very easy, but actually the hard part of that is the other side of the equation of setting the business up to know what you want to give [00:23:00] you what you want.

It’s actually knowing what you want. I w if we do this thing, um, if you’re keeping score at home, you guys can do this exercise. We won’t have time to do it on here, but in our, when we do mastermind events or different live events, there’s a couple of things we do that are really cool. So one of them is the four questions and it’s more powerful if I took time, but I’ll just run through it.

So it’s, what do you want, what are you doing to get it? How’s that working for you and what are you going to do next? And when you ask them slowly and meticulously and be like, pick one area of your life, what do you want? Most people have don’t even know what they want. A lot of what they want is. And I’ll just share this with you guys, especially, um, if, if you’re young, it’s hard to have a lot of perspective.

I’m not slamming anybody. Who’s not married with kids yet, but you get a lot of world’s perspective. Once you have kids and you get married and then other people’s lives, like I’ve got two dogs, a cat, three teenage kids, and a wife. And literally they will all die. If I don’t do my part to take care of them, I guess I could probably [00:24:00] die.

They wouldn’t die, but you know what I mean?

Mike: [00:24:02] They might thrive, you know, somebody

Steve: [00:24:05] like to

Mike: [00:24:05] believe that they would, uh,

Steve: [00:24:07] they might be like, pretty sure couldn’t get out, but, uh, but when they’re babies, right? Like you gotta take care of it. It’s so funny. You just get this different perspective. But my point is you get a lot, you get a lot of what, what.

You when you’re forced with these decisions about marriage and kids and life and owning the business for years and taxes and all, all of a sudden you start to really hear differently about life. And you’re like, Oh, I have an opinion on things I didn’t think I used to care about. So it’s hard when you’re young.

It’s also hard when you get stuck in a rut, which a lot of us have, which is like, go to school, get a job, put, pay your dues work, you know, Work hard, get promoted, you know, whatever, um, jumped jobs, but only do it every year and a half. Cause it doesn’t look as bad or whatever it is, but you get stuck in this rut and then it’s like, this is the best way I can explain it.

When you go to a [00:25:00] superhero movie, you don’t sit there the whole time and get pissed because well Superman’s flying and people can’t fly. So I don’t want to watch this movie cause that’s not real. Like you suspend reality when you’re watching a movie, but. We don’t do that when we dream anymore. When we get old, especially when you have kids and a family and a corporate job, you start thinking about what moves you could like.

Well mean, I make 150 grand a year salary plus benefits. So you start thinking how much I got to hit that exact number, right? Like if you just, or my wife, because of this, or my husband, like, I need to be here for this, or I couldn’t work weekends or whatever it is, but you, you get caught in like the expectations of the people around you.

Right. And what you think you’re good at what you don’t think you’re good at. And so you don’t dream openly anymore with being detached from reality. So

Mike: [00:25:51] one,

Steve: [00:25:52] one big segment of people in business that are younger, don’t have a lot of life perspective to really know what matters to them yet, because they just don’t know.

I mean, and it’s fine. [00:26:00] I don’t know what’s possible. Yeah. And they don’t know what they care about or they haven’t got to know themselves. Um, And another set of people that get older that find entrepreneurship later in life are kind of already stuck in it. Right. And so they, they start formulating they’re there, they have blinds, massive blind spots like, or got our blinders on.

Right. And, um, those two things suck for helping you dream to create a business that will give you what you want. And what it really sucks for is deciding what you want. And so that was the biggest epiphany for me and the other ones all fall into place. After that, I mean, Once you really know what you want.

When you’re honest with yourself about what you want, then you just have to know how much money and time do I need you do that stuff. And it’s not like I want to make a million bucks. If I want to make a million bucks, I’m going to use it for where my kids are going to go to school. Where do I vacation?

How many homes do I? What kind of car do I drive? How much do I give to my church? How much time do I work out? What do I eat? Like getting really clear about what you want out of [00:27:00] life is the number one thing. And then after that you said some key lessons and they fall into place where it’s like, okay, well, what business model can give me that?

And then after that there’s businesses business, like, like you said, I just pay cash. I mean, I don’t have to figure anything out anymore. I can pay somebody. I can pay a coach or I can hire an operator or I can pay for a training. Whatever, like the tech part of it is what so many people I’m sure in coaching, because you’re so much, you’ve done so much more coaching than me.

I can’t imagine how many times you’ve been asked all these technical questions. Like people think that they need to learn how to wrap a subject to deal and do a double closing and they want to know all that stuff and that’s not really their problem. Right. And so I just think that’s the big setup is knowing what you want.

And then after that, going out and finding a business model that can give that to you. I mean, those are the two big pieces. Then everybody misses. Cause they get inserted right in behind the business model and they just start doing deals. Right. [00:28:00] You really pick the model, you know, and they didn’t pick the model cause they knew what they wanted.

They just got inserted and they started making money, like you said, and they’re just like throwing money off and now they’re like stuck in the middle of something. Yeah.

Mike: [00:28:10] There’s a couple of things. I think people, especially if you left corporate America,

Steve: [00:28:14] you’re,

Mike: [00:28:14] you’re used to being this employee mindset.

Like I, I

Steve: [00:28:18] work right. And

Mike: [00:28:19] I don’t, so I don’t know how to not work. Cause I just that’s that’s I like to work. I’m a hard worker, you know, work ethic from my family that, um, has carried me a long way, but it’s hard for me to do nothing, but which I don’t ever do. Cause I can’t do it. Can’t do it. Um, but uh, I think when you have that employee mindset, like sometimes people are like, well, I can hire somebody to do my first off.

We either think, well, nobody else could do my job, which is. Not true for anybody, like literally not

Steve: [00:28:50] in real estate. Um,

Mike: [00:28:52] cause you’re not as good as you think you are. Uh, and by the way, you don’t want, you don’t want that to be the case. Like you want to be able [00:29:00] to hire somebody to replace you and take you out.

Right. And so, or people say, well, when I, when I’m, when my business starts to do better, I can afford it. Right. And it’s like, well, what if you can’t afford not to do it? Right. So one of the things that’s interesting about, um, Ben David Richter is in our investor people group and been spending some time with him talking about the profit first model.

Cause he’s, he’s actually kind of licensed profit first

Steve: [00:29:23] for,

Mike: [00:29:26] and you know, it’s just this idea of, well, how much are you worth? Like what should you pay yourself? And start to think about what that seed is worth, not you, what is the seat worth? What’s the role worth? Because once you develop that role, it’s like, okay, well that’s that job pays 60,000 a year or whatever.

It’s like, okay, But then you’re going to find out that you’re sitting in a seat half the time. That’s like a $10 an hour job. It’s like, okay, I need to replace myself there because I’m worth more than that. And even the $60,000 job or 80 that whatever, whatever it is, like find a way to do enough business to offset that because that’s, that’s what you do as a business owner.

You’re [00:30:00] not, that’s how you get out of the employee kind of rut, right. Start to think of. I kind of advise people there. Here start to think about every job in your company, every seat, whether it’s an admin or acquisitions manager, disposition manager, lead generator, whatever it is, lead manager, like what, what does that job pay and what job, what seats are you sitting in and how do you get yourself out of those seats?

Cause you know, you should believe in your mind that you’re way too expensive for any of those seats. No,

Steve: [00:30:27] absolutely. Yeah. Working on your business versus ENA is no joke. I mean, there’s a reason to work in it. Hustling grind is not a business model or a strategy, but if it’s done correctly, it’s, it’s part of mastering your business and innovating and creating best practices.

And then you do that to study it and master it and be able to hand it off and know how long it takes and knowing what to do. The leading activity metrics are. And you understand as you, but you don’t do it just to get done and make money, but you do it so that you’re making money while you’re learning as they can train somebody.

Right. There’s a means [00:31:00] to an end there. Yeah. Right?

Mike: [00:31:01] Yup. Well, let’s talk real fast about, um, you know, sometimes we build a team to do stuff. Sometimes we

Steve: [00:31:06] bring

Mike: [00:31:07] in vendors or we outsource stuff to somebody that’s virtual assistants on it’s call centers, lead generation stuff. There’s a number of ways that you can.

You know, if it’s, this is how I kind of, how I think about it. If it’s not a full time job for somebody in your business, or even if it is like, I know for a lot of people that I hire, I’m

Steve: [00:31:24] like, we could figure

Mike: [00:31:25] that out, but we’re going to be playing catch up with somebody that does that professionally forever.

Like if that’s all they do, we’re never going to be as good as them. So why not just hire them? And so, but just talk about, you know, how you think about what parts to outsource versus what parts to kind of build internally.

Steve: [00:31:40] Yeah, absolutely. Um, I put some notes here too. I want to. I’ll answer your question, but I want to start, cause I know we don’t have a ton of time.

I want to circle back to something on, on employees I think will tie in really well. Um, but here’s the key like, think of it this way. I like to think of an analogy is I think this will help people. So when we w w well, this, this is what [00:32:00] predicates it. So when we did the turnkey business, all the time, guys would be like, well, I just want to buy the house off you, and then I’m going to manage it.

And I’d be like, okay, why do you want to manage it? I already know it’s cause they think they’re going to save 10%. Right? Think they’re going to say money. And they were like, Oh, it’s cause I want to learn. I want to kind of get my feet well that I want to understand. And I’m like, all right, if that’s really your philosophy, like literally the only reason you would ever do that because you want to become a property management company.

Like that’s literally like going to back to school for five years to get an accounting degree and then sitting for the CPA exam and passing it. Just so that you know, what the account is going to do when he did it as your taxes like that is no. Nobody could do that. Your point. I mean, one of the reasons we hire several vendors in, I mean, just like for instance, you guys were the investor machine.

I, I can buy list source stuff, dirt cheap. I can skip trace probably in a very similar way, dirt cheap. We have spent years accumulating all this access to do things, and it is a fricking nightmare to deal with it. And then one of the things I said about John [00:33:00] McCall, when they were doing our mail and what, what, what did I love about you guys now?

All these years later, we look at it as a, um, we plugged you guys into a need. When I did it with Joe, all those years later, I didn’t know what I was doing. But like, we would get busy with our lives and no matter what, all of a sudden we’d be like thinking team, Oh, nail hit. Because like all of a sudden we’re getting all these notifications.

So in spite of our busy schedule, it was like, we still had leads. And that’s a big key you guys with, with these vendor relationships and things, whether it’s like building a website or, or like with investor machine with you guys, that’s the way we use you guys for that. Or. Um, just, we do several things with title and there’s other pieces of components where just to do all that, just like that property management example, people think I’m saving 10%, but there’s two real costs.

One of them is a physical cost of spending your time doing stuff.

Mike: [00:33:56] Yeah. And secondly,

Steve: [00:33:58] there’s a huge opportunity cost, [00:34:00] not only of spending your time, not doing something else, but there’s an opportunity cost of sucking management. That’s right here to property manager and your vacancies are twice as long.

And your maintenance projects go out of hand and you don’t know how to proactively look around the corners cause you haven’t done it. Right. And you don’t get economies of scale. Like with printing with PR with, with mailers or whether it’s your property manager, that’s doing mow and yards. Cause there they’re more than 400 of them.

It’s, you know, it’s just crazy that people are constantly tripping over dollars to pick up pennies in the business. And we’re kind of wired that way as real estate investors. We think we’re getting a deal, but just because something the cheapest or we’re in control of it, it absolutely doesn’t. It’s not part of owning a business.

If you’re a street hustler and you want to get the best deal. Cool. But my dad used to like drive halfway across the city to fill his gas tank up because it was like 3 cents cheaper. And I’m like, right. Yeah. I’m like quite positive. That’s not worth your spot. [00:35:00] Yeah. But

Mike: [00:35:00] you know, what’s funny is, uh, and I’m still, you know, when you’re a real estate, you’re always kind of frugal, right.

I I’ve always been a cheap ass, so, but, uh, I’m getting better. What I’ll say now is I appreciate like services and stuff. That’s like gonna save my time. I used to, like for many, many years, I w if I was going to buy something online, I always like sort, and. Usually it’s sorted by like price lowest to highest or whatever.

And so now there’s a whole bunch of stuff that I, the first thing I do is filter. What’s the highest price thing. It’s weird, but it’s like, I’m trying to buy my time back. Like I

Steve: [00:35:31] don’t, if it’s time-related or I don’t,

Mike: [00:35:34] I don’t really buy a lot of like junk. I mean, I buy some junk. My wife says every day is Christmas for me.

Cause I get an Amazon package when it’s usually like mosquito spray. I’m just like buying stuff on it. It’s not like I’m like. Buying myself gifts every day. I’m buying stuff that we think we need and I saved my time going to the store, but I often look at like, what’s the highest price thing. It’s not that I always buy that, but I’m

Steve: [00:35:54] like,

Mike: [00:35:54] I want, what’s the best.

I don’t want it to break. If it’s a service, like tell me what the best is [00:36:00] because I’m trying to buy my time back,

Steve: [00:36:01] you know?

Mike: [00:36:01] So not everybody’s in that position and I’m not saying that to brag because I’m not talking about, you know, I’m not looking at like the most expensive cars, like necessarily, right.

But.

Steve: [00:36:12] I just value

Mike: [00:36:13] quality, like the product and time, uh, over anything else right now,

Steve: [00:36:19] you know, young that way too. I mean, I just, I overlap the user ratings or consumer ratings out high price. So I do the highest price funds and the consumer ratings. I look for the highest rated. Highest price one. I like the balances there, you know, but it’s funny.

I don’t, I don’t have fences. She watches like now I’m sure I have a more, I don’t want to watch him

Mike: [00:36:44] 15 years. I mean, I don’t, I don’t it’s it’s right here on my phone. Like, why do I

Steve: [00:36:48] need that? Exactly. But I’m the same way as you, like, if I go anywhere VIP or upgrade or like, I mean, when I go the airport, I just, I always valet park [00:37:00] because.

It’s an extra hundred bucks. If I’m gone for three or four days to like literally have my car dropped off at the door that I walk in and it’s running for me, either warm or cool, what I need to do it. But like, you know, that’s convenience is a big deal and that’s, but, but, but getting back to something that we were talking about to drive this point home, I think is that when you really understand what you want and you and I have decided that.

Having crap that breaks that’s cheap. Like I’m going to exactly the same way you are. Like, I get pissed when my wife will buy stuff and it’s always like, she’s like I was trying to save money and I’m like, but now we don’t have whatever it is. Cause it broke or it wore out or I would’ve much rather got something that was nicer.

But, um, Hey, I want to say, I know I’m probably breaking a flow a little bit. We’re probably short on time, but I think this would be super helpful for your people. If I can, can I throw three things in really quick?

Mike: [00:37:46] Let’s

Steve: [00:37:46] do it. Okay. So we recovered something that I wrote notes down. Like while you were talking, I was like feverishly.

Cause you really reminded me of something important when people are hiring somebody, there should be a return on investment that’s with a [00:38:00] vendor or a person. And so when you’re bringing a vendor on, you would look at, don’t look at it as an expense. This is, I wrote it down when we were talking. I appreciate it too.

Right. But I want you guys to think about this. Um, Because it goes for vendors or employees. And I think this is there’s three reasons that what we found with the CEO nation, you know, the research and stuff we’ve done is what people get limited, why they don’t outsource stuff and why they don’t hire people.

Um, number one is they don’t, they think it’s an expense, but it’s really an investment. And the typically you’re going to get a three to five X return on a good employee or a good vendor. Hmm. I don’t have time to break that down to. I know we’re trying to stay on time. Just realize. The money you put in should have a three to five X bottom line effect into your business over the coming months, or it could take a year.

Sometimes it just depends on what it is. Um, but, but even if you hire a $30,000 a year admin, I mean, That person should be freeing up. Somebody who frees up somebody who frees up your sales guy [00:39:00] that goes out and does a hundred grand more business. You know, it should, that three X is legit and we’ve seen it time and end time out is what you should be looking for.

Um, another thing is just think about it this way. If you don’t think someone’s as good as you, like, you can, you can do your magic. They’ll do better than anyone in the world or whatever. You have a screws, first of all, but, um, or you can do acquisitions better than anybody. So even if you’re 120% good, like you’re a hundred percent is great.

You’re 120% of that activity, but you’re doing five things at any given time, right?

Mike: [00:39:30] Let’s call it six things

Steve: [00:39:31] for easy math. You’re 120% good, but you only do it 20% of your time. That’s effectively. If I make up my Steve math, that’s 24% effectiveness cause I did. It’s 20% of time, 120%. Good. But if I found someone who an employer and a vendor is even only 80% good, but they do it a hundred percent of their time.

I mean, I’ve literally got like a triple that’s that three times X, like literally they’re 80% effective. Cause their 80% is good, but they’re 100% of their time. Right. And so [00:40:00] that’s how that comes into play. So they don’t have to be as good as you. Right. And the second and the third thing, um, people don’t think they can afford somebody else.

But if you bring someone on, especially like an employee, like hiring a 2000 or $36,000 a year, employee, girl, or gal to work in your office is three grand a month. It’s not $36,000 check. Right. And just like, when you hire a vendor, if you’re going to pay five, 10 grand, or 20 grand a month for a vendor, some of our marketing vendors are expensive.

Um, our VA’s are people. We look at like that, right. But they have an immediate return on the bottom line. And so all we have to do is affordable. We call it runway. So like when you hire someone, you just have to know when the break, even point of that person, that circus usually going to take about a month to find out about a month, you get them in trained in about a month or ramp up.

So about nine 90 days, they should be paying for themselves by effect on your bottom line. Same with the vendor. It’s not overnight. So you can’t bring someone on for a month and quit or hire someone to fire them two months later. But I know I want to, I [00:41:00] know we’re running on time and I wanted to, I say those Mike, because I just think if, if we wanted to leave people with really important stuff on how to own a business, instead of a job.

I think thinking that things are expenses thinking nobody’s as good as me and thinking I can’t afford things are literally three of the worst, like cancerous thoughts that you can have in your head. And it’s, they’re so normal for people to have, especially when you’re entrepreneurial and you’re smart.

Yeah, I know. And nobody works as hard as me and they’re just all lies that we tell themselves and not even lies. It’s just, we don’t have the right perspective. So anyway, go box.

Mike: [00:41:34] No, you’re good. You’re good. Hey buddy. Yeah, I know. You’re, you’ve got to run here shortly and we’ve been going at this for a while, so we could probably talk all day about this stuff, but I’m real fast that folks wanted to connect with you.

You’ve got a number of things going on. You’ve got your own podcast now, where do they go to kind of connect? I want to be able to share some links. Yeah,

Steve: [00:41:49] appreciate that. Um, so just. Steve Richards on Facebook. That’s a great way to go.  DMA if you want to chat, but I’m the CEO nation. So our podcast is iTunes or [00:42:00] Stitcher.

Wherever you listen. The CEO nation, we have a Facebook group, thus CDO nation. And I’m the CEO nation.com. It’s okay. Anywhere around there is where I’m my heart. Is there the team architect? Yeah, we have that helps people, teams kind of filter through their real estate business. We do some coaching. We do all kinds of different things, but everything.

For me filters through trying to create impact for entrepreneurs. And it all starts with the CEO nation. So you have me on it’s been

Mike: [00:42:27] cool. Absolutely. And I was on your show here for the reason. I think he just publish that one. So, uh, um,

Steve: [00:42:33] you and your twin. Yeah.

Mike: [00:42:36] Does it Dave?

Steve: [00:42:37] Yeah.

Mike: [00:42:42] yeah.

Steve: [00:42:43] Yeah. So I’ve

Mike: [00:42:44] been called, I always say I’ve been called worse.

Steve: [00:42:47] Yeah.

Mike: [00:42:48] Cool, man. Well, Hey, appreciate you spending some time with us. We’ll have links for a bunch of these things down below in the show notes here. For those of you, uh, by the way, were,

Steve: [00:42:55] I could say we were

Mike: [00:42:56] recording the show live. Of course we record every show live.

We’re actually broadcasting [00:43:00] live when we recorded this and, uh, our Facebook group, which is called the professional real estate investor network long name. But if you go to flipnerd.com/professional, we’ll redirect you there. So we’re shooting about one show a week, the professional real estate investor show on average about one show a week, live in the group.

And if you joined the group, we’ll notify you when the shows are coming up and. You can join live. We can do a little Q and a when we have time. So go to flipper.com/professional to join our group and, uh, and learn more. And it’s, it’s, it’s not a huge group. It’s whenever going to be a group of tens of thousands of people, because, uh, again, professional as the name sounds is not a new beast.

We love newbies. If you’re new, that’s great. We were all new ones too, but there’s a lot of other groups that service you guys, and not a lot that really focus on professional folks that are doing a lot of volume and have a lot of questions. So, um, Steve, thanks again for joining us today. Great to see you, my friend.

Steve: [00:43:49] Yeah, I just want to enclose it and say it, the reason why I’m here for any show you do or asked you to be on my podcast or connect with, you know, this Facebook group, I’m excited for it to grow [00:44:00] because everything you do is top notch, brother. I appreciate everything you do. And anyone

Mike: [00:44:03] less than 10

Steve: [00:44:04] words should be check out anything Mike’s dealing because, um, I think very highly of you and what you’ve done.

So I appreciate it. I appreciate that, man. I appreciate

Mike: [00:44:11] that. It means a lot. Sometimes you wonder, what were you doing? Podcasts? I’d be like, is anybody listening? Right. Well, that’s a,

Steve: [00:44:17] anyway, I appreciate those kinds of words. And everybody

Mike: [00:44:19] we’ve been at this for a long time. This jazzes me up just to get, to spend time with friends and bring you folks that can share some, some great insights and knowledge and wisdom.

And some it says for sure. So you can check out all of our podcasts on flipnerd.com and again, go to  dot com slash professional to join our professional real estate investor group. So everybody have a great day. We’ll see you on the next show. Thanks for joining me on today’s episode, there are three ways I help successful real estate investors take their businesses and their lives to the next level.

First, if you’re in search of a community of successful real estate investors that help one another, take their businesses to the next level and a life changing [00:45:00] community of lifelong friends. Please learn more about my investor fuel real estate mastermind. By visiting investor fuel.

Steve: [00:45:11] If

Mike: [00:45:12] you’d like a cutting edge solution for the very best done for youth lead generation on the planet

Steve: [00:45:18] where we’re handling the lead generation

Mike: [00:45:20] for many of America’s top real estate investors, please learn [email protected]

And lastly, if you’re interested in them, Free online community of professional real estate investors that isn’t full of spam solicitations and newbie questions. Please

Steve: [00:45:39] join my free

Mike: [00:45:41] professional real estate investor Facebook group by visiting flipnerd.com/professional. [00:46:00]

Source: flipnerd.com

The Millionaire Next Door Book Review [6 Important Lessons]

You know that plumber who lives on your street and drives the beat up pickup truck? He’s much more likely to be a millionaire than the executive next door driving the BMW.

Don’t believe me? Well that was a common theme found in The Millionaire Next Door:The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by William Danko and Thomas Stanley.

The Millionaire Next DoorThe Millionaire Next Door
The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy

The authors surveyed thousands of real millionaires and their answers revealed many surprising lessons, such as:

1. The wealthy don’t always look wealthy and vice-versa.

People who look rich may not actually be rich.

They spend more than they can afford on symbols of wealth but have modest portfolios. Some are living paycheck to paycheck, heavily in debt with little or no savings.

Conversely, real millionaires usually live in middle class neighborhoods, drive cars they own outright, and don’t spend extravagantly on material things.

2. They don’t spend a lot of money on cars.

The authors point out that cars are the second biggest material expense in our lifetime.

If you add up all the money you’ve spent on cars over the years it can be really eye-opening.

Even if you’re young, the amount you’ve spent on cars compared to how much money you’ve earned is usually pretty high.

According to their survey results, most real millionaires buy a nice car, like an Acura or Lexus. They buy it with cash, or make payments until they own it, and ultimately hold on to the car for at least a decade.

Forbes backs this up, stating 61% of those earning at least $250,000 a year are driving Honda, Toyota, Acura and Volkswagens.

3. They save and consistently invest.

In America, our average household savings rate dipped into the negative in 2005, for the first time since the Great Depression. The savings rate has improved but is still only 5% currently.

Which brings us back to your original question; What are the secrets only the wealthy now and the middle class is unaware of?

Now, we all know saving money to acquire wealth is not a secret. But clearly this is an area the middle class can improve in

Compare that negative savings rate to that of the average millionaire, who invests nearly 20% of their income.

In its simplest form, that’s really all wealth is; earning more than you spend and investing the difference — consistently.

Consistently investing means you are fully capitalizing on compounding interest.

It means you are turning small contributions into large sums over time.

4. They adhere to a budget.

The majority of millionaires stick to a budget.

Even among those who don’t budget, they pay themselves first with money directly to their savings and investment accounts. They then work from the remaining funds.

But the majority do take the time to budget, even if they don’t want to, because the know the long-term benefits first-hand.

5. They spend a lot of time managing their money.

managing money

managing money

The wealthy spend a lot of time budgeting, goal setting and managing their portfolios.

According to Danko and Stanley, the wealthy spend nearly twice as many hours per month managing their finances as those without wealth.

The good news?

You don’t have to earn a big six-figure salary to accumulate wealth, as long as you plan for it.

In their survey of 854 middle-income workers, the authors found a strong correlation between investment planning and wealth accumulation citing; “Most prodigious accumulators of wealth have a regimented planning schedule. Each week, each month, each year, they plan their investments.”

6. They own their own business or work for themselves.

Not everyone that gets rich owns their own businesses.

But in The Millionaire Next Door, they discovered a lot of folks who ran their own service businesses such as landscapers, plumbers, electricians, commercial cleaners and so on.

One of the key takeaways of this book for me is many millionaires attributed their dedication to financial planning as a requirement of doing business.

Because their business finances and personal finances are so closely intertwined, they really have no choice but to consistently examine their finances in order to survive — and thrive.

There’s many more lessons in the book but I wanted to mention some of the biggest takeaways for me.

Thumbs Up

I initially read The Millionaire Next Door around the year 2000.  I don’t remember the exact year.  But it was very impactful in my life, so much so that I’ve read it several times since then.

It’s a mindset book as much as it’s a nuts-and-bolts how-to book.  Much of the advice is tried and true stuff your parents or grandparents would tell you.   You’d be wise to listen to it, as tried-and-true tactics provide the best template to follow for proven success.

At the same time, the data from their surveys also uncovers many surprising similarities among millionaires.   Tendencies and habits that challenge conventional wisdom and make you rethink your employment, lifestyle and personal finance decisions.

It’s definitely one of my favorite personal finance books, which is why I wanted to share the lessons I’ve learned from it here.

The Millionaire Next Door is a must-read, no matter where you are in your personal finance journey.  It really provides the proper mindset needed to successfully manage your money.

It sets the right foundation for your money goals.  When you see the common habits of hundreds of millionaires, along with the logic behind those habits, it’s becomes painfully obvious the personal choices you need to make to become a millionaire yourself, or at least improve your personal finances significantly.

Have you read The Millionaire Next Door?  What is the biggest lesson you learned from reading it?

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Source: incomist.com

How much does it cost to drive? Driving cost calculators and tools

My girlfriend recently bought a new car. After 23 years, she sold her 1997 Honda Accord to a guy who’s more mechanically inclined than we are. Kim upgraded to a 2016 Toyota RAV4, and she loves it.

One of her primary considerations when searching for a new car was the cost to drive it. In her ideal world, she would have purchased a fully-electric vehicle but it just wasn’t in her budget. The RAV4 hybrid was a compromise. According to fueleconomy.gov, it gets an estimated 32 miles per gallon. (And actual users report 34.7 miles per gallon.)

Cost to drive a RAV4 hybrid

Kim’s quest for a fuel-efficient car prompted me to revisit apps and online tools that help users track their driving and fuel habits. I’ve written about these in the past — and, in fact, this is an updated article from 2008! — but haven’t looked into them recently.

Here’s a quick look at some of my favorite driving cost calculators, tools, and apps.

Cost to Drive

Cost to Drive (stylized Cost2Drive) is an easy-to-use web app that estimates how much you’ll spend to drive from point A to point B. Enter your starting point (address, city, state, or zip code) and your destination, enter your vehicle information, then click a button.

Cost to Drive input

That’s it. Cost to Drive calculates travel distance, approximate driving time, and an estimate of your fuel costs. Here, for instance, is how much it would cost to drive from Portland to visit Kim’s brother in Groveland, California.

Cost to Drive output

This tool is handy for road trips, of course, but it’s also useful for extended journeys. Before Kim and I set out on our R.V. trip across the U.S., I used Cost to Drive to estimate how much we’d spend on fuel. (I was way off, but that’s not the fault of the tool. I overestimated the fuel economy of our motorhome!)

This isn’t the sort of tool that you’ll use every day, but it’s certainly useful enough to bookmark for later use.

Folks in Europe — and possibly the rest of the world — might want to play with the Via Michelin app, which offers route planning and driving cost calculations.

Fuelly

While we only used the Cost to Drive once for our R.V. trip, we used the Fuelly app every single day. And I still use it today.

Fuelly is primarily a smartphone app with which you can track your vehicle’s fuel economy. Whenever you stop to pump gas, you enter mileage and pricing info into the app, and it computes how much it costs to drive.

Here, for instance, are two screencaps from Fuelly showing how it tracked info for our motorhome.

Fuelly cost to drive screenshot  Fuelly cost to drive info

To get more accurate estimates of the cost to drive your vehicle, you can also log maintenance info in Fuelly. And, as you can see, the free version of the app is ad supported. Ad-free premium versions are available, and they include added features.

While the Fuelly website doesn’t offer a lot, there’s one feature that I think GRS readers will find interesting. If you select the browse vehicles option from the main menu, you, you can get a profile of driving info for all Fuelly users. Here, for instance, is what the app has tracked for other folks who own a 2004 Mini Cooper, like me.

Fuelly individual model info

Fuelly cost to drive info

GasBuddy

A decade ago, GasBuddy was a gas price aggregation tool. It collected fuel price info from across the United States, and served it up so that visitors could find the best prices in their area.

Today, GasBuddy is still that website, but it’s a whole lot more. For instance, you can look up a chart of gas price trends over the past couple of years.

Gas price trends

Or you can find local maps and national maps of current gas prices.

Local gas prices

National gas prices

And because it’s 2020 now, GasBuddy offers a smartphone app featuring all sorts of tools to help you calculate (and reduce) your fuel costs.

FuelEconomy.gov

FuelEconomy.gov is the official U.S. government source for fuel economy info. Like all U.S. government sites, it’s a treasure trove of data and resources.

The site includes a car finder (and comparison) tool (also available for iOS and Android devices), a vehicle power search, a fuel savings calculator, and more. There’s even a page exploring extreme MPG!

The site also provides some widgets for site owners (like me!) to share with their audience. Here’s

Find a Car Tool

This tool lets you look up official EPA fuel economy ratings for vehicles back to the 1984 model year.

   

Gas Mileage Tips

This tool displays a fuel-saving tips and provides links to additional tips on fueleconomy.gov.

Each year, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency produce a Fuel Economy Guide to help buyers choose fuel-efficient vehicles. You can find guides from recent years in the Get Rich Slowly file vault, if you’re interested: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015.

If you’re into alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles, the U.S. Department of Energy has a bunch of different widgets to play with at their Alternative Fuels Data Center.

Sidenote: Many folks want a new Tesla or Prius in order to minimize their impact on the environment. This isn’t as straight-forward as it might seem. The calculations are complicated but the bottom line is this: In many cases, it makes more sense to keep (or buy) an older fuel-efficient vehicle than to buy a new one. That’s because the manufacturing process itself is the source of roughly 25% of a car’s environmental impact.

The Bottom Line

It’s important to note that even the best driving cost calculator has limitations. Most of these tools track only fuel costs, which are a small portion of the overall cost to drive your car.

Your true cost of car ownership includes the purchase price,insurance, maintenance, and more. According to the American Automobile Association, the average new vehicle costs 62 cents per mile to drive. AAA figures the average driver spends $9,282 per year on her automobile.

To truly determine how much you’re spending to get around, you need to take matters into your own hands. Find a cheap notebook or pad of paper. Grab a pen or pencil. Whenever you make a trip – even if it’s just down the street – log the time and the distance. Write down how much you spend on fuel and maintenance. Tally your car and insurance payments.

Do this long enough and you’ll begin to get a picture of your personal driving costs. At any point, you can simply divide the amount you’ve spent on your vehicle by the number of miles you’ve driven to learn how much it costs to drive.

What you do with this info is up to you!

Note: This is an updated article from the GRS archives. The original version from 03 December 2008 was woefully out of date. Some older comments have been retained.

Source: getrichslowly.org

5 Sacrifices to Help You Max Out Your Retirement Account Next Year

Are you at the point where you’re ready to invest more in retirement each month but aren’t quite sure how? Maybe you want to increase your savings rate but the numbers don’t add up. I’ve always said that saving something is better than nothing. If you can’t max out savings like your retirement account, it’s not a big deal and you can always work your way up to this goal year after year. We’ve put together 5 sacrifices to max out your retirement account.

Right now, the maximum contribution limits for a 401(k) is $19,000 and $6,000 a traditional or Roth IRA. This year, I was finally able to max out my retirement account contributions for the first time. I know how it seems like you’d have to fork over a lot of money each year to do the same thing, and that’s because you will. However, you can save enough to max out your retirement for the year and still live a comfortable life.

You may have to make some sacrifices, but they may not produce super drastic changes to your budget or your lifestyle. Here are 5 reasonable sacrifices to help max out your retirement account next year and every year afterward.

Your Car

One thing that you can sacrifice to help you max out your retirement account is your car. While you can probably save a ton of money by not having a car especially if you live in a big city, you don’t have to give up owning a car completely. My husband and I both drive older paid-off cars and we love it. With the average car payment hovering around $400 to $500 per month, that’s a lot of money to fork over each month just to drive.

In fact, $500 per month is all you need to max out an IRA right now since the annual contribution limit for anyone under 50 is $6,000. Since cars depreciate in value so much, it often doesn’t make financial sense to buy a brand new car. Used cars can be paid off quicker and you may even be able to buy a decent used car in cash. From there, you can use that money that you would save by not having a car loan and put it toward retirement savings.

 Here are 5 reasonable sacrifices to help max out your retirement account . Click To Tweet

Live in a Smaller Home

My husband and I are sacrificing our dream home right now and I’m totally fine with that. We bought our first home a few years ago when we were 26 and 29 years old. It’s a nice starter home and it’s small. We don’t even have a basement but our family size is small right now so it’s fine. By having a smaller home and making it work, we save a ton of money on our mortgage, maintenance, repairs, and cleaning.

Now, would I love to have more space, walk-in closets or an extra enclosed room to serve as my office? Sure, but it’s not killing me that we live in a 1,300 sq ft home and instead I’m choosing to focus on what I love and enjoy about our home. I love how we have an extra bathroom and a nice fireplace in the family. We always have a decent-sized yard with a wrap-around deck and garden boxes that were already set up when we moved. Even though we are technically ‘sacrificing’ our dream home right now, I know that we will buy it later down the line and I’m content with where we’re at now.

RELATED: 6+ Easy Ways to Save Thousands on Home Repair

Frugal Travel

Some people give up traveling to pay off debt and save more. You don’t have to do this even if you’re willing to make sacrifices to max out your retirement next year. Instead of giving up travel altogether, find ways to make it more affordable so you can go on trips, and still invest generously. This is why I love frugality. Being frugal allows you to get creative and use the resources available to spend wisely on your values and save where you can.

Instead of paying for flights full price, you can wait for sales or sign up for a rewards credit card. Instead of spending tons of money on a hotel, see if you can stay with a friend or relative when you travel or book an Airbnb. Usually, when I travel, I’m not super picky about where I stay so long as it’s clean. I also plan to cook some meals if possible if our accommodations allow it.

I’ll usually book an Airbnb or a suite with full kitchen access so I can prepare breakfast and snacks. You don’t have to dine out for all 3 meals when you travel and breakfast is one of the easiest meals to prepare whether you have full access to a kitchen or not.

RELATED: How to Plan for Budget Travel This Year

Delay Your Gratification

We live in a society where people want everything fast and right now. This often leads to getting items and services before you can pay for them in full. If you want to avoid debt and living above your means, practice delayed gratification regularly and budget for larger purchases instead of financing them.

My husband and I used to have a ton of credit card debt, student loans, personal loans, and car loans. This debt really ate into our disposable income. Even after paying it off, I’ve still been tempted to finance things like furniture and other purchases. I choose not to and to delay my gratification. By simply waiting and planning, I save a lot of money and do a better job of committing to live below my means.

When you slow down on financing purchases and making impulse buys regularly, you’ll find that your budget is not so tight. You may even wind up with thousands extra each year that you can invest.

Your Time

Time is not a renewable asset. Once you use your time, it’s gone. You can never go back or relive a day where you wasted time. Keep this in mind when considering sacrifices to max out your retirement account. However, it should also be motivation to make good use of your time especially when it comes to working and earning extra money. If you’re looking to start maxing out your retirement account, odds are you’re still earning an active income where you’re trading time for money. If you want to earn more or increase your savings rate, you may have to get a second job or a side hustle.

Even if you want to establish a passive stream of income, you’ll need to dedicate time or energy to get that idea off the ground. Of course, sacrificing your time to work is not a waste. You can even make the most of your effort by choosing work that is enjoyable and fulfilling. Or start a side business where you can do things you love and still make good money.

Try to stick to your budget and save your money wisely to make it all worth it in the end. Pay yourself first consistently and remain dedicated to your goal in order to max out your retirement next year and each year afterward.

Source: everythingfinanceblog.com

Seven things college freshmen don’t need — and ten they do

This article originally appeared on NerdWalletThose ubiquitous checklists of “dorm room essentials” for college freshmen are filled with items that will be ditched by the end of first semester.

Some parents “go to the store and grab a list like they did when their kids were in elementary and high school and just go straight down the list,” says Lisa Heffernan, mother of three sons and a college-shopping veteran. Or they buy things they only wish their students will use (looking at you, cleaning products).

You can safely skip about 70% of things on those lists, estimates Asha Dornfest, the author of Parent Hacks and mother of a rising college sophomore who’s home for the summer.

What Not to Buy or Bring

Freshmen really need just two things, says Heffernan, co-founder of the blog Grown and Flown: a good mattress topper and a laptop.

Here are seven items you can skip:

  • Printer. Don’t waste desk space or, worse, store it under the bed; printers are plentiful on campus.
  • TV. Students may watch on laptops or on TVs in common areas or in someone else’s room. Bonus: Your teen gets out and meets others.
  • Speakers. Small spaces don’t require powerful speakers; earphones may be a good idea and respectful of roommates.
  • Car. Some colleges bar freshmen from having cars on campus or limit their parking. You also may save on insurance by keeping the car at home.
  • Luggage. If you bring it, you must store it. Heffernan suggests collapsible blue Ikea storage bags with zippers.
  • Toiletries to last until May. Bulk buying may save money, but you need storage space.
  • Duplicates of anything provided by the college, such as a lamp, wastebasket, desk chair or dresser.

Items left behind when students pack for the summer are telling. Luke Jones, director of housing and residence life at Boise State University, sees unopened food — a lot of ramen and candy — and stuffed animals and mirrors.

Jones says many students regret bringing high school T-shirts and memorabilia and some of their clothes (dorm closets typically are tiny).

What Can You Buy, Then?

Before you shop, find out what the college forbids (candles, space heaters, electric blankets and halogen lights are common). Have your student check with assigned roommates about appliances (who’s bringing a fridge or microwave?) and color scheme if they want to set one. Know the dimensions of the room and the size of the bed. And most of all, know your budget. Not everything has to be brand new.

Ten things — besides the all-important mattress topper and laptop — that many students consider dorm room essentials include:

  • One or two fitted sheets in the correct bed size, plus pillowcases. Heffernan says most students don’t use top sheets.
  • Comforter or duvet with washable cover.
  • Towels in a distinctive pattern or light enough for labeling with laundry marker, plus shower sandals.
  • Power cord with surge protector and USB ports.
  • Basic first aid kit.
  • Easy-to-use storage. If it’s a lot of work to get something out, your student won’t, Heffernan says.
  • Cleaning wipes. Students might not touch products that require multiple steps, but they might use wipes, according to Heffernan.
  • Reading pillow with back support for studying in bed.
  • Area rug. Floors are often hard and cold.
  • Comfort items. Dornfest says it could be a blanket or a picture of the dog — something from home that will make the space a bit more personal.

Afraid you’ll forget something important? You might, Heffernan says. But chances are, you or your student can order it online and get it delivered. Consider doing this with some items simply to avoid the hassle of bringing them yourself, and remember that “dorm necessities” often go on sale once school starts.

Do a Reality Check

If you or your student still want to replicate the rooms you’ve seen on Instagram and Pinterest, think about how the room will actually be used.

Once your son or daughter moves in, the room will never look like that again. Opt for sturdy items and be realistic. Will throw pillows make the place look more homey and inviting, or will they be tossed on the floor until parents’ weekend?

Dornfest, a co-host of the Edit Your Life podcast, offers a compelling reason not to make things too comfortable. “A freshman needs to be encouraged to get out of the dorm room,” she says. “Anything that pulls you into campus life can be good.”

She’s not advocating a monk-like environment, but rather one that encourages breaking out of routines. College should be a time to try new things and meet people from different backgrounds. Dornfest advises making the bed as comfortable as possible and keeping a few reminders of home. The ideal dorm room is more launch pad than cocoon.

More from Nerdwallet

The article 7 Things College Freshmen Don’t Need — and 10 They Do originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Source: getrichslowly.org

21 Things You Should Never Buy Online

Woman using a portable phone charger
StaceStock / Shutterstock.com

Online shopping has changed how we purchase everything from books to birthday gifts. It’s so easy to page through a list of items while stretched out on your couch — and sometimes too convenient to hit that “buy it now” button.

But online shopping isn’t for everything. Just because you can order a swimming pool online — or a 72-pound bag of dog food — doesn’t mean you should.

Here’s a look at some items that you should buy the old-fashioned way — in person.

Items you can’t return

Stokkete / Shutterstock.com

Buying an item that can’t be returned is a gamble even in a brick-and-mortar store, where you can try on clothing or get a good look at a piece of furniture. Your risks increase enormously when you buy such an item online, especially from an unfamiliar store.

Once the money has left your account, you’re at the mercy of the seller. And even on Amazon, you will find plenty of things that you can’t send back, as we detail in “9 Things You Really Can’t Return to Amazon.”

Pillows

wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

How much do you know about the pillow you sleep on? Is it considered soft, medium or firm? Do you prefer down, feathers or memory foam?

Because sleeping is so important, you want to feel and even test out a bed pillow before you buy it — and that’s tough to do through a computer screen.

Bicycles

Tom Wang / Shutterstock.com

Try out the bike you’re interested in at a local store before putting the pedal down on a purchase. Local salespeople can help you choose a bike that fits your size, experience and the kind of riding you hope to do.

And if the bike you buy needs adjustments or repairs, it’s easy to just head back to that same local shop for help.

After you get one, you can also make a little money with your new ride. For more, check out “5 Ways a Bicycle Can Make You Richer.”

Produce

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Buying groceries online can be a true time-saver. But while buying pantry staples (flour, sugar, canned goods) is usually fine, purchasing fresh produce that way can be a “berry” big problem.

Choosing fruit and veggies is a hands-on, visual experience. It’s hard to tell an online shopper just what level of yellow you want in your bananas, or that you need one very ripe avocado and another that will sit comfortably for a couple of days.

Large appliances

wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

Photos of appliances online can look dazzling, but many details can only be seen in person. For example, is that refrigerator water dispenser really deep enough to hold your favorite drinking glasses?

Shopping for big-ticket appliances in person allows you plenty of time to ask questions about everything from simple instructions to warranties. And returns are easier.

Just make sure you choose wisely. Start with a little research by reading “America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise.”

Wedding gowns

oliveromg / Shutterstock.com

A wedding gown may be the single most expensive piece of clothing a woman ever buys. And internet sites, especially international ones, dangle tempting photos of dreamy designs that a bride won’t see in her local wedding salon.

But learn a lesson from the disastrous purchases of other wannabe fashionistas: If a wedding gown’s price looks too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t let “Here comes the bride” turn into “Here comes the sucker.”

Vehicles

Zoriana Zaitseva / Shutterstock.com

Few drivers love shopping for a car. It is expensive and stressful, and many buyers feel pressured by salespeople. It seems so easy just to offload the entire process online.

But tap the brakes on that dream. At a minimum, you’ll want to touch, feel and drive the same model and make of the vehicle you want to buy — it’s just too large a purchase to make sight unseen. Used cars can pose other problems: You’ll want a trusted mechanic to check one out for any problems before you buy.

Here’s more on this topic: “8 Tips for Buying Your Next Car for Less.”

Pets

Soloviova Liudmyla / Shutterstock.com

The Humane Society of the United States urges pet buyers to avoid internet shopping, noting that many of the puppies sold online come from puppy mills, high-volume dog breeding operations that contribute to overpopulation and animal suffering.

The Humane Society encourages pet buyers to get their next puppy or kitten from a local rescue group or shelter, noting that shelters often have a blend of mixes and purebreds.

Paint

Couple painting a room in their home
sirtravelalot / Shutterstock.com

If you’re looking to color your world, you’re best off at a local paint store. Eggshell and ecru look awfully similar while you’re poring over a webpage full of samples, but those differences can be glaring once you’ve slapped them on your walls.

Planning a DIY project? Check out “Paint Your Home Like a Pro With These 12 Tips.”

Pricey jewelry

Nestor Rizhniak / Shutterstock.com

As with any big-ticket item, you want to see and touch and try on expensive jewelry, whether that’s an engagement ring or anniversary necklace. The International Gem Society notes that diamond dealers don’t buy their diamonds sight unseen, and neither should you.

Musical instruments

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Try not to hit a sour note by buying an instrument online. It can be tough to know how your new instrument will sound without playing it first. Most musicians want to get a feel for a certain instrument before plunking down cold hard cash.

Also, instruments are fragile, and many sellers aren’t professional packers. You want your violin to arrive in one piece, not splinters.

Instead, look in person for used instruments, especially for kids who are first starting out. Visit a local music store that has used instruments, or check out Craigslist to see used products from sellers in your area.

Flowers

Nikolas Saevich / Shutterstock.com

I’ve bought flowers online many times, and the results are a mixed bouquet. Sometimes the item ordered was beautiful, just as pictured, perfect for a friend’s birthday or hospital stay. Other times, I felt misled by carefully staged photos.

If you are ordering online, choose a reputable, local florist. And note the size of the bouquet you’re looking at online. Many florists show the largest, most expensive arrangement available. If you order a smaller size, your recipient may receive a shrimpy handful of stems.

Swimsuits

Alena Ozerova / Shutterstock.com

The old “Cathy” comic strips didn’t lie: Shopping for a bathing suit can be a nightmare. Few clothing items make a person feel more exposed, so we understand the attraction of making this choice without entering a dressing room. But in reality, few items are tougher to buy successfully online.

In a store, you can try on numerous sizes and styles and quickly discard those that would only work on a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. And online photos usually feature trim size-zero types who could make a gunny sack look gorgeous.

Prom dresses

Huntstock.com / Shutterstock.com

Like a wedding gown, a prom dress is a special investment for a special day. But youthful buyers may be even more inclined than brides to shop online and to assume (incorrectly) that a photograph on a webpage is a true representation of how the dress will look.

Besides, half the fun of shopping for a prom dress is trying on different looks with friends and parents.

Perfume or makeup that’s new to you

Woman applying makeup
Subbotina Anna / Shutterstock.com

If you’ve been wearing a certain scent or mascara for years, it’s OK to buy it from a reputable source.

But perfume descriptions can be as loopy as wine menus. Before trying a new scent or makeup product you’ve found online, either test it in a store or order a tiny sample bottle from a reliable vendor. Wear it for a week before you decide if that giant gift set is really for you.

Art you’re trying to color-match

Nataliia Zhekova / Shutterstock.com

One person’s teal is another’s turquoise. As with paint, colors you see on your computer monitors may be very different from the ones that appear on a painting or other artwork you’ve fallen for online.

If you like a certain piece or want to support a certain artist, that’s wonderful. But if it isn’t exactly what you expect, just don’t go there. It’s possible you’ve been framed.

No-name tech

Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com

Your smartphone might be a name brand, but surely it’s OK to cheap out when it comes to tech accessories, right? Maybe not. No-name smartphone and laptop chargers and other items can offer a great deal, but those cords and connections often fray and break.

The last thing you want is the risk of an electrical shock or fire — not to mention the tragedy of losing your thesis or work project when that questionable charger dies at the exact wrong time. Control-alt-delete, indeed.

Kids shoes

LightField Studios / Shutterstock.com

Even adults can have trouble getting properly fitting shoes. So, getting a good fit is even tougher with children, whose feet grow like weeds. Kids also can be super picky about fit and style.

Best to lug the kiddos to the mall and have a trained employee measure their feet, especially for special footwear.

Last-minute purchases

TukkataMoji / Shutterstock.com

Sure, one-day delivery is becoming more common online, but that doesn’t mean you should leave online gift-buying to the last minute. You may have an Amazon Prime membership, but not all items that online marketplace sells are available with Prime shipping — and that isn’t always obvious until you’re loading up your shopping cart.

If there’s a birthday gift, party decoration or Halloween costume you simply have to have on time, either order well in advance or hit a good old-fashioned brick-and-mortar store.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Good Debt and Bad Debt: Is There Really a Difference?

Many people think all debt is bad, others think it is okay to have good debt, and still some like all kinds of debt! Is there a difference between good debt and bad debt and what is good debt vs bad debt? Most people will tell you that good debt is debt that is against an appreciating asset like a house while bad debt is on a depreciating asset like most cars or furniture. Other people will tell you that all debt is bad! I am a real estate broker, investor, and author, and while I understand the good debt vs bad debt argument I do not agree with it. I do not think the most important factor when considering debt is what the debt is against, but what you use the debt for. Some people like Mark Zuckerberg, are able to pay cash for most everything but still use debt because they see the value of borrowing at a low-interest rate and investing to get a much higher interest rate.

The no-debt argument

Dave Ramsey has tried to turn the world into a no debt society. He thinks that all debt is bad and no one should have debt if they want to get ahead in life. Dave uses his real estate fails to prove his point but his failure is not even possible to duplicate in today’s world. He was using risky 90-day mortgages on commercial properties to take advantage of a tax rule. That tax rule was changed and he went bankrupt when the banks called his loans due.

The tax rules he was taking advantage of do not exist today and it is very tough to get a 90-day commercial loan for 99% of the population. When you get a traditional rental property loan the term is usually 15 or 30 years but some commercial loans may have a balloon payment due in 5 years which means the loan has a 5-year term. The bank cannot come to call your loans due when things go bad as long as you are making your payments.

I do not care for the no debt argument because it makes it impossible for most people to get ahead in life using real estate. I am a real estate investor and debt is a wonderful tool if used in the right way. I make so much more money using debt than paying all cash. It takes most people decades to save up to buy a property with cash if they are even able to.

I talk much more about the advantages of using debt over cash here.

Mark Zuckerberg bought a house in 2012 for $6 million when he was worth $15 billion. Even though he was a billionaire he got a mortgage on the home! He knew that he could invest that money and make much more than the mortgage cost him.

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Good debt vs bad debt

For those who like debt, there is the argument that there is good debt and bad debt. The argument goes like this:

Good debt is debt that is against an asset that will appreciate or make you money. Rental properties would be an example of an asset that will make you money, but a car most likely will not make you money and most cars go down in value not up. Bad debt would be a loan used to buy a car.

The idea of good debt verse bad debt is that you should only borrow money for something that is an investment. Something that will make you money. On the surface, this seems like a good idea. “Don’t borrow money against things that may decrease in value.” However,  I am still not a fan of good verse bad debt.

Why I don’t think the asset matters when it comes to debt

I agree that people can get themselves into trouble when taking out loans and you need to be careful about getting into too much debt. However, debt can be a wonderful tool to build wealth as well. Where I differ with the good debt bad debt argument is that I do not think the asset the debt is against matters.

I think the most important aspect of debt is that you make more money from the investment you use the debt for than the debt costs you. If the debt costs you 5%, the investment needs to make more than 5%, hopefully, quite a bit more than 5%.

“But if you buy a car with a loan you obviously are not making any money from it!”

On the surface this is true. However, I need a car to work and I also have many other cars that I own because I love cars. I am going to buy those cars whether I use a loan or cash. I have the cash to buy the cars if needed, but I get loans on some of those cars because I can make way more money investing the cash, than what the loan costs me.

For example:

  • I buy a car for $100,000 with a loan that has a 5% interest rate (we assume 100% financing)
  • That loan costs me $5,000 a year as opposed to using cash
  • If I can make 10% with that money I will make $10,000 a year

Even though the loan is against an asset that may go down in value (many of my cars go up, but most go down), it can be a good loan!

Another example:

  • You need a car for work that costs $30,000.
  • You have the cash to buy it, but that means you cannot buy your first rental property.
  • The interest rate is 3% which means the car loan costs you $900 a year.
  • You have studied how to get a great rental. You are getting an awesome deal that will give you $30,000 in equity, and $400 a month in cash flow.
  • That rental could make you more than the car costs in one year!

In both of these examples, it makes more sense to me to use debt to buy the car than to use cash even if the asset may go down in value. I care about how much money the debt will make me, not the asset the debt is against.

What about over-leveraging or bad purchases?

There are limits to this strategy. It is not an excuse to go buy everything because all debt is good. I did not say all debt is good, I said a debt against a depreciating asset can be good.

  • If you want to buy a Ferrari but it will put you in a dire financial position, do not buy a Ferrari!
  • If you really want a nice couch but the only way you can afford it is to take out a credit card with the furniture store, that is not good debt.
  • If you are operating on a razor-thin margin every month but you like the looks of the new Ford Bronco, getting a loan to buy that car is probably not a good idea.

When I talk about using debt on any asset to make more money, I mean that you are actually using the money to invest. Too many people use debt to spend and they never have anything left to invest. If you are in a position where you can’t pay off your credit cards every month, more debt may not be the answer (unless that debt is used to pay off credit cards at a much lower rate).

Conclusion

I do not believe in good debt and bad debt based on the asset that is financed. I do believe there is good debt and bad debt based on why a purchase was made and the borrower’s financial position. Car loans can be a good or bad debt depending on the situation. Even a rental property loan can be good debt or bad debt depending on the situation. Not all real estate loans are a good idea. Just like with most of my advice, there is no one size fits all answer. We are all different, have different goals, and different financial situations. Make sure you analyze your situation and what makes sense for you, not blindly trust people who write articles online. ?

Source: investfourmore.com