Reshawn and Rob got married nine years ago, joining their lives, families and bank accounts. Premarital counseling revealed two different views on money—and they knew if they wanted to stay married, they needed to get themselves on the same page.
Reshawn and Rob implemented a modified version of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps program to get themselves out of debt so they could start investing. Their team approach to their finances, focusing not on who’s debt it is but instead focusing on paying it off together strengthened their marriage and their desire to attain financial independence.
They stepped away from the corporate world to pursue passion projects, Rob in real estate and Reshawn in travel planning.
Are you looking to get your spouse on board with your financial independence plans? Listen to this episode together.
Welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast, show number 61 where we interview Reshawn and Rob from Learn Hustle Grow.
But once you’ve earned a certain income, you have lifestyle creep in, you build a lifestyle around that income, it makes it very difficult to pull out and now start and to entrepreneurially make nothing.
It’s time for a new American dream, one that doesn’t involve working in a cubicle for 40 years barely scraping by. Whether you’re looking to get your financial house in order, invest the money you already have or discover new paths for wealth creation, you’re in the right place.
This show is for anyone who has money or wants more, this is the BiggerPockets Money Podcast.
Scott: How’s it going everybody? I’m Scott Trench and I’m here with my co-host Miss Mindy Jensen. How are you doing today Mindy?
Mindy: Scott, I’m doing fantastic. It’s another beautiful day in Colorado like always. I’m super excited for today’s show. I feel like I say that all the time, I’m super excited. But I am, look I’m always super excited. But I really love Reshawn and Rob’s story about figuring out financial dependence. They’re in their 40s, they have quit their corporate jobs but they still have jobs.
They just want to do these passion projects now. And spoiler alert, they’re getting ready to travel forever around the world which just sounds like super awesome fun.
Scott: And what I think is so great about this episode is both of them come from low income backgrounds. Both of them had shouldered really early in their adult lives, both of them accumulated a lot of debt. And then over the course of a 20 year career they were able to make some consolidated incomes, pay off that debt and then really go after in what I believe is a really repeatable fashion for a lot of people. If they can do it a lot of people can do it, right.
Mindy: What I think is so amazing about this story, as I’m listening to them tell their story and I don’t mean this in a negative way, but I’m thinking to myself, you know what there’s nothing special about this story. There’s nothing like unrepeatable for most people about this story.
And what it really is cement the fact that yes this is doable. Yes this whole like financial independence thing is doable, it is repeatable and it’s not that hard. You follow these steps; don’t spend as much as you make, save. You know what, it’s like that Richest Man in Babylon book.
Scott: Yeah. I mean it’s 2019, this is the American dream, this is how to do it, right. Pay off your debts, pay off your house, build a modest amount of cash flow, travel the world and do whatever the heck you want. They’re going to travel the world while being location independent entrepreneurs. Worst case scenario, they’re going to be fine and continue to have their portfolio grow and sustain itself. Best case scenario they’re going to have a tremendous amount of fun and make a ton of money doing it.
Mindy: Yeah. Near the end of the show, Rob says, anybody could do this, it just takes discipline. And that’s why nobody does it because it just takes discipline. This is not a difficult thing, and what people do is they ask me and I’m sure they ask you, “Oh how did you do it?” well here’s what I did, oh and you can watch their eyes kind of glaze over.
What they want to hear is well walked up to this wall and I pushed a button and money just rained down on me and now I’m financially independent. And that’s not how it is. You want to know how it is, listen to Rob and Reshawn’s story because that’s how you do it. Before we let you listen to Rob and Reshawn’s story we’re going to hear from today’s show sponsor.
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Mindy: Okay, huge thanks to today’s show sponsor. Reshawn and Rob, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. How is it going today?
Reshawn: Fantastic, thanks for having us.
Mindy: I’m so excited to talk to you. I haven’t seen you since FinCon and I was so happy that I got to meet you at FinCon.
Reshawn: FinCon was an awesome event. This was our first time and we loved it.
Mindy: Yeah it’s a great event, I make sure that I have babysitters for that event and then every other event is just bonus.
Reshawn: Got to find your work ties.
Mindy: Yes, that is absolutely the best event. So why don’t you walk us through where your story with money begins?
Rob: Okay, I guess I’ll do that. So nine years ago we joined our lives and our money, we started out when we go married using the Dave Ramsey Model because we were just trying to figure things out. And we got married in the authorities and we just didn’t want to fight a lot, just getting into a new marriage.
So we were paying off our debt, started paying off our debt and then we started investing in real estate and we basically paid down mostly all of our debt and we decided to start looking to our entrepreneurial dreams. We both were working day jobs by the way and eventually I became a real estate agent while working my day job. And Reshawn became a travel agent and this year we both just quit our day jobs.
Mindy: So it sounds like you combined your finances right at the very beginning. I like that you said we joined our lives and our money. And I have a friend Derek Olsen who wrote a book called One Bank, One Bank Account and I totally subscribe to this, but not everybody does. Can you share a little bit about why you decided to share your finances together or combine them together?
Reshawn: So initially two thirty-somethings both independent and living our own lives financial, it was hard to figure out exactly how we were going to manage money. We had a convoluted plan before we got married, right. We were that couple that looked at credit reports before we got engaged. You might not think it’s romantic but it was super important for us based on where we were in our lives, what the other person came to the table with.
So we’d already looked at credit reports and knew that there are some things we needed to do there. So we just thought we’d have a percentages model, we had this very convoluted model where you do this percentage of your income and I’ll do this percentage of my income. And then we’ll pay these bills and these bills and it was a mess honestly Mindy and Scott.
We would have been divorced had we stuck with that. So immediately after we got married, we had a destination wedding, in Mexico no dance for joy. So we came home and the roof needed to be repaired, or actually needed to be replaced. There was a storm. So by then that was one of big expenses. There were just a couple of things that just snowballed right away and we were looking at each other-
Rob: Who’s going to pay for this and that’s-
Reshawn: Right exactly, how is this going to happen based on our plan that we had before this was not going to work out. So Mr. Wonderful here, that’s what I call my husband, he actually-
Scott: Hold on, did you use like 30% of the roof and he used his 70%?
Reshawn: Exactly. How do you do that? And he was like, “We need to look at combining our finances and understanding what that would take. So we learned about Dave Ramsey, got the Total Money Makeover audio book. We were married April 26th and our finances were joined by June 1st. We would not have been able to do it without Dave honestly.
Mindy: Dave is fabulous, I love Dave.
Scott: What was your kind of like savings rate and what were you kind of doing with your money after you joined finances? What was your approach there?
Reshawn: So when we first got married neither of us were saving anything well outside of retirement accounts.
Rob: Yeah retirement accounts 401K right.
Reshawn: Let me rephrase that, we were both saving in our 401Ks. I was almost debt free with the exception of my car note which I paid off a few months into the marriage.
Rob: And the house.
Reshawn: And of course the mortgage on that initial home. And then babe had his car loan and some student loans. So we really more focused on paying off the debt than we were saving at that point. We were just very fortunate that we had taken into consideration, College. So we both to the table with one kid each we’re a blended family two boys now 23 and 18 soon to be 19. But we said, “Are we going to have a baby?” you got to kind of talk about that, right.
Reshawn: We had to talk about it quickly because when we got married I was 36 and already high risk. So we decided not to, after visiting with some friends who had a similar trial. No shade on the kids but at that point in our lives we realized we just couldn’t handle it the same way we would have been had we been younger.
Rob: Yeah. Because I know guys I was looking for a wife that was going to guarantee me a baby by the way. But that changed after I realized I didn’t have the tolerance anymore for a break…
Reshawn: It’s really cute to discuss expectations in your marriage. There’s a lot we know now.
Mindy: You know what, I want to go back to that. It’s really cute to discuss expectations in your marriage.
Rob & Reshawn: Yes
Mindy: How much fun is it to go through a divorce? 0% fun.
Mindy: I’m assuming, I’m not divorced. But I could just imagine that it would really not be awesome.
Mindy: So you guys said before you discussed credit reports, that’s awesome to do that before you get married.
Rob: Yeah. We were in our thirties. We felt that we had to prepare. And I was already married before so and it didn’t work out. We were divorced in a year and in my 20s, right. And then after that I was like, “I got to do this,” I didn’t know if I was going to get married again. But I was like if I do we got to do this right. So I got all the information I could and she was with it and yeah.
Reshawn: Obviously that was a big help. If I got to give you single girls a tip, marry a divorced guy. He came with some knowledge.
Scott: You guys said you weren’t saving but you were paying off debt. But that is saving, right. You’re taking a percentage of your earned income and you’re not spending it, you’re applying that to build your net worth, in this case paying off, getting back to zero. At least getting some of your debts down to zero.
What percentage of your income would you say was going towards that in some capacity building your net worth or savings or paying down debt?
Rob: So you mean like the 401K plus paying off the bills?
Scott: Yeah exactly?
Reshawn: We made a 529.
Scott: And the college loan yeah.
Reshawn: Well that’s where I was going with the having a kid thing. When we decided not to have a child we decided to take the cost of daycare and put it into a 529.
Reshawn: Which is about $1000 a month. So we knew that number was specific. So that $12,000 a year plus we were maxing out or 401Ks, which were at 18 each.
Rob: Yeah $18,500, right.
Reshawn: Yeah. So if we did the numbers there so that’s 50 grand.
Rob: We’ve never really counted it up, right.
Reshawn: That’s 50 grand yeah we never really have. So 50 grand between the 401Ks and the 529, maybe that’d been 20% of our income.
Reshawn: Oh that’s saving. That was just savings that was not paying off the debt. And then maybe another $1000 a month towards debt.
Rob: Yeah and everything then yeah the rest-
Reshawn: Till we paid that off so we had the $12,000. So yeah I’d say maybe 25 to 30% of our incomes going towards that. We were high income earners.
Scott: You’re high yeah you’re very high income earners that allowed you to apply that. So when you were accumulating this debt, maybe the story starts maybe even before the marriage. How did you kind of accumulate some of this debt that you brought into the marriage in terms of that since you were earning these high incomes?
Reshawn: So honestly, I was professional salesperson and I didn’t start off very high earning. But I did it for over 20 years, and my debt accumulated from undergraduate. I graduated from college with a few thousand dollars in debt, maybe about $11,000 or so. And then I graduated seven months pregnant. So I came out of college with our oldest.
So immediately acquired debt from becoming a single mum so all the bills that come along with that. You don’t get to owe on daycare, they want their money now. So once you pay that then you probably accumulate some debt in other areas like credit cards and the like. I also built up some credit card debt just from being a college student who wasn’t wise enough to turn down the free credit cards.
The offers with the candy bars and they t-shirts and things like that. And I asked my son, “Do they still let them do that on campus?” and he said, “They don’t do it as much now.” But it was a big thing 20 years ago when I was in college. So that’s where mine came from.
Ron: And mine, so I was in the Marines. And all the marines, we love nice cars and trying to show off for the ladies and so I bought a new car. I was running a credit card debt constantly dating and stuff, that then I had a son. And I was living in California too by the way, San Diego. That in itself was a killer and then I had the school loans.
I had about $28,000 in school loans after I got my IT degree. So just yeah, all that the car, the kid, the school loans. And it’s my fault because just as soon as I started making any kind of money, then I actually was out spending. I’d never had any money and I was excited and getting cars.
Reshawn: He was making it rain guys.
Scott: So what was that moment where it changed, where you decided to change that pattern of spending and begin paying off the debt? Was that because your income shut up suddenly or was that because you decided to go and approach your money differently or how did that kind of work?
Rob: Well so before I met Reshawn, what happened was I got divorced. That’s what changed. I got divorced, everything was in my name, the majority of it was in my name and I was in the whole deep guys, really hole deep. And I was getting denied for everything at that point. I said, “Something’s got to change.” So I was really hustling trying to pay off all the separate cards and separate debt and whatever.
And I had like several charge offs and just when I actually looked back and paid attention to everything, got my credit report back on and all that. And then after that, that’s when I realized that I got to make a change and get myself together. And then in the midst of it then I met her.
Scott: Okay. So you’d already made the shift to begin paying these debts down I assume, rebuilding credit score. Dave Ramsey is mixed in there somehow I imagine.
Rob: Not yet.
Scott: Then okay. And then is there an acceleration point once you guys meet and you get working towards it?
Scott: Okay. And that’s spurred by Dave Ramsey to some degree or alignment on that kind of thinking or how does that kind of work?
Reshawn: So like he said we both came to the table a spender and a saver, for coins. So at that point I’d already discovered just as a single mum debt wasn’t going to be acceptable as far as being able to manage our lifestyle just for me and my son. I relocated from Chicago to Dallas which was a much lower cost of living.
That was a big help on my side of things as far as getting my stuff paid off sooner. He relocated from Virginia to Dallas so neither one of us are Texas natives. And once we met and had to combine our own money, that’s when Dave Ramsey kicked in and we had a bigger plan. We understood that there was a bigger picture beyond just managing day to day balances.
Scott: Okay. Did you cut back on like going out or anything like that or did you change anything in your lifestyle besides that move? Or was that move to Dallas kind of the big catalyst there? What are some ways you kind of cut back on spending in order to increase that savings rates I guess?
Rob: I was really in debt when I first started listening to the audiobook. And we were like really on board and we still went out and stuff. We just kind of made sure we watched everything we did and we kind of said, okay we’ll go out like twice a month or whatever, and we’ll use the both of our money to pay down whatever goal we started.
We had a whole listed of them we started off with small cards and kind of went just to get a couple wins like he says couple wins and pay off a card and just like 500 bucks. And then eventually build up to the bigger bills. And we kind of did it that way and we kind of held back on just spending.
Reshawn: Yeah so we actually created a budget.
Rob: Yeah we did create a budget.
Reshawn: We actually created a budget after going through Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. And we got together to talk about the budget.
Rob: And we still do.
Reshawn: And then we got together every quarter to talk about bonuses being a professional salesperson I receive quarterly bonuses. Which is why as seniors though we didn’t spend at where we had a smaller percentage because of the quarterly bonuses. You never know what they’re going to be, right. So we were able to purchase our cars in cash and things like that once we realized that we didn’t want to have long term debt.
But all that came from starting with a budget and creating a plan to pay off the debt we had over a period of time.
Scott: Got it. So how long did it take you to pay off all that debt?
Reshawn: So we paid off the-were your student loans the last thing we paid off? Before we paid off the house. We just paid off the house this year, but the last debt we paid off-
Rob: You didn’t have any arears.
Reshawn: Were your student loans. And were we in this house at that time?
Rob: When we paid the student loans?
Reshawn: Yeah or was it before we got it?
Rob: Yeah I think it was before.
Reshawn: So four years, to pay off all the debt. And at that time we’re still saving in our retirement, we’re still saving in the 529s.
Scott: Got it.
Mindy: You’ve mentioned 529 a couple of times. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Reshawn: So there are two vehicles from our college savings, one of which and the 529 there’s no limit on how much you can invest in it. So we chose the 529 college savings because it not only was it limitless as far as what we could put in, it could also be reassigned to any family member.
So once the oldest one is done and he is, he just graduated, we can now assign the funds in that 529 to our youngest to use when he’s ready to go to college. And we also get a tax write off depending of course on what your income is and whether or not you qualify for that. But you get a tax reduction for that as well.
Scott: Awesome. Once you started paying off these debts, what was your kind of investment philosophy? How were you planning the funds that you were saving then?
Reshawn: So we were focused on paying off our first home because we were on Dave’s plan. But Rob had a vision of being a real estate mogul. That was his vision.
Rob: I was listening the BiggerPockets guys.
Reshawn: Yeah he was listening to BiggerPockets long before I knew what BiggerPockets was.
Rob: Like for like five years.
Reshawn: So he wanted to be a real mogul and I thought well let’s worry about this house. Well we’d gone out to start looking for a real estate investment, we were going to use our emergency fund. We’d actually accumulated six months in our emergency fund, six months expenses. And now it was time to go shop for a rental property… going to hope David buys it no, but this is what we decided to do. We paid off our mortgage to the point where it was only $70,000 left on the primary residence that we had at the time. We went shopping for a new place and interest rates were down but the prices had started to go up in our market.
Rob: That’s when the interest rates were like 20% guys.
Reshawn: Yeah so.
Scott: So what year is this?
Rob: That was 2013.
Rob: We were looking into it like when at first the market crashed and everybody was terrified till 2009-2010 and we waited and then as it started kind of rising back up we were like, “Oh we got to get it this is several thousands.”
Reshawn: No when he says we were looking in 2010 he means he was looking at it in 2010. Let’s be clear now. I was not yet on board with this vision.
Rob: I was like here’s four houses that are foreclosed on our block.
Reshawn: And I said aha, oh those people.
Rob: Look like what’s his name- Buffett says- jump on it when there’s blood in the streets. And that’s when I saw blood in the streets guys.
Reshawn: Yeah and what I saw was fear.
Rob: No more fear in there.
Reshawn: So in 2013 we went out to look and prices had gone up in the market. And I said, “Oh wow these prices have gone up so much maybe what we need to do is actually look for our next primary residence and see it.” Based on what I see with these interest rates, we can get a great rate on a bigger house and get the nicer home.
Because when we got married he moved into the home that I already owned, which initially he wasn’t comfortable with the idea but we paid, that’s one of the things we did, we upgraded the home. We had it freshly painted.
Rob: She let me do it all.
Reshawn: We purged the closets, we did the kitchen and the bath all that to try to make the existing house seem new. For couples who are making that decision as to whether or not they should buy a house when they get married, we just upgraded the one we had.
And we stayed there for four years, went out and looked and found our new house, a house that we just paid off now. We found that house and we turned our first primary residence into our first rental. That’s how we got into the real estate thing. That was the beginning of our real estate investing.
Scott: Okay let’s dive into that. So when you decided to keep that first home as a rental, what did that look like? Did you do anything to especially do that? Did you analyze it as if you were purchasing a rental property or you just kind of just took a tenant in there?
Reshawn: So honestly it was a dream because we had just done all those upgrades two years prior, we literally got to live in there with some of the upgrades, right. A lot of times when people get their house ready to become a rental they do all this fixing up and then they move out of it. So we got to appreciate it for a couple years.
The market was really good for tenants in that space we lived and it was a Class A neighborhood. The elementary and middle school are walking distance, our son walked to both of those. And then he ran cross-country so he kind of jogged to high school when he was late for the bus.
So it was a great local humor, you want a great public school system and all that good stuff. So we just found a property manager and put it out there. So we already owed 50% of the mortgage at that time, so it was cash flowing like crazy.
Rob: Right about $70,000. Yeah it was at 150 when she bought it.
Reshawn: Down to $70,000.
Rob: You’d been on it for 10 years, right. Five years it was her and then when I moved in five more years. And then it was down to 70 and we refinanced it at 3%, right.
Reshawn: With VA refinance package. So being that we’re both veterans at the time there was a refinance package with no closing costs.
Scott: That’s awesome, so this is awesome. This is a huge leverage point. See it sounds like at this point you hadn’t accumulated a lot of liquidity with which to invest, right. So you take your house which you’ve been building liquidity on, you fix it up, you reappraise it at a higher valuation, you cash out re-fi. And now you have a chunk of change that you can go out and invest.
Rob: Actually we didn’t cash out Scott.
Scott: You didn’t cash out.
Reshawn: We re-fied at 70 grand and we just had cash flow.
Scott: I see.
Reshawn: We didn’t know about cash out re-fi then.
Scott: Got it. Yeah either way though is that you turned a significant chunk of your net worth into an income producing asset, right which is now capable of sustaining more financial freedom. And so it was… to say a lot of people are unwilling to do that, right but that’s kind of I think a major step.
If you’re thinking about doing this and you’re well into your career and you’ve got a house, redeploying that equity. I usually think that a house doesn’t really count toward financial freedom, unless you’re willing to do what you guys did and kind of go in fort that. So what happens next?
Reshawn: So like I said, that house was cash flowing like crazy once we re-fied it at a 15 year with a 3% interest rate. It was only $70,000 and the house rented for $1,600 a month. So we got great cash flow, what we did is we kind of reinvested that in the real estate account, so that we would have money that would build up for repairs and things like that if we needed it.
Then also we purchased our new primary residence.
Rob: Which I didn’t want to do by the way, because that was double the price, $300,000 by then. I wanted to stick it to 150 and just get small rentals but it worked out.
Reshawn: Exactly. He didn’t want to but-
Rob: Newer house, it was you know.
Reshawn: He down on making me happy was what it really boiled down to. So we purchased our larger home at another 15 year mortgage.
Scott: Is this your current home?
Reshawn: The home we’re in right now. A lower interest rate, 2.85% yeah something like that.
Rob: It was insane.
Reshawn: And then we did 10% down, and we just decided it was time to buy our next rental. So we moved into this house in 2013 and then that same year, did we buy another rental or do we wait to 2014?
Rob: I think it was next year.
Reshawn: We bought another rental, maybe the next year yes because we kept our primary. And in 2014 went shopping for another rental. Over that period of time after we purchased this home and between purchasing our next rental, we replenished our ‘emergency fund’. And every time the emergency fund reached six months, we were out to go shop for a new rental property.
Scott: You’re using the term real estate fund and emergency fund very interchangeably.
Reshawn: Yes. They are, for us they were interchangeable. So actually 20% down was the requirement for single family homes that we were purchasing at the time. Right, and we were looking for houses that were at 150.
Reshawn: Right, so we needed 30 grand, right. So we would save this money, go shopping for the next rental.
Rob: We were aiming for that…
Reshawn: Right and we were able to do that successfully four times before the market changed.
Rob: Yes in that area.
Reshawn: Yeah, the market changed, prices went up and I was like, “Babes, time to get your real estate license.” We were paying too much money in realtor fees and everything else, but based on our goals.
Rob: No what you said was, “You know what, it’d be great if one of us got our license.”
Scott: I see.
Rob: You know what that means, right Scott.
Reshawn: One of us that isn’t me. Well Scott you sold-
Rob: Or maybe Mindy knows, Scott doesn’t, right.
Reshawn: Right. But Mindy is a realtor and Scott was in sales, right, you spent some time in sales before you came. So you know if you’re a professional salesperson you got your hands full with everything you’re doing in your corporate gig. There really isn’t a lot of time to go out and sell something else on the side.
Scott: Well Rob, was your profession performance based?
Rob: No, I was an IT guy for a hospital. My schedule was pretty set so I’ve been doing it for a long time.
Scott: So I think that is an important point, right is if your work is performance based and there’s just total upside, then you can theoretically pour in lots of extra work and that’s going to reward you. But if you’re just like earning a straight salary and the next raise is going to be 10% next year versus 7% depending on your performance, then that is just simply not as effective lever to pull putting all that extra effort.
Oh I think my parents would be mortified to hear me saying this. But that’s to earn that little bit of extra salary just isn’t going to drive you towards your goal of financial freedom soon.
Rob: And that’s why I studied at home and got the books and got my license.
Scott: Yeah. So well congrats to getting your license.
Reshawn: That’s what we could do too Scott, I was like hey if I kill it this year we can bring home a big cheque, right.
Scott: I love how you’re saying we.
Reshawn: Yeah it is all we, goes into the same account.
Rob: That’s the people we are.
Reshawn: Yeah so he was at this time already listening to BiggerPockets and he was pushing me to listen to it. But I was struggling even though we were already investing in real estate I was struggling to listen to the podcast because I worked for some really great companies. And which is why we were so fortunate to have the incomes that we had.
But with those incomes they’re very demanding, so you’re giving blood sweat and tears to these jobs in order to accomplish your goals. And I’ve been a salesperson for over 20 years and I am driven to be successful. And which means that I just very little downtime or time to myself in order to listen to the podcast.
I went through a company transition I left one company and moved to another in 2017. And that’s when I found the time to listen to BiggerPockets. I was in a hotel the night before I had client meetings, and I said let me listen to this podcast my husband keeps talking about. And I started to text him, “Oh my God this is amazing, we can do this stuff. This cash out re-fi thing have you heard about this?”
Rob: At least that’s not illegal.
Reshawn: I was like, “We could so amp up on our real estate business if we started to look at some of these principles.” And then from there everything changed and like I said we’d already been investing for four years at that point and it still made a huge difference.
Mindy: So how many rentals do you have now?
Reshawn: So as part of the strategy we’ve learned from BiggerPockets and Brandon and Josh and you guys, we actually converted one of our single family homes, we did a 1031 exchange and converted it into a small six unit mostly family out of state.
Reshawn: Yeah so we completed that. We recognized that we needed to focus on the number of doors first as the number of units and that was a change in strategy really.
Rob: We had about five at first.
Reshawn: We had four in our primary residence.
Rob: Oh yeah four.
Reshawn: Yeah we had four in our primary residence, we sold one and went to this 10-
Rob: 1031 exchange.
Reshawn: 1031 exchange and did a six unit out of state. Then we did a cash out re-fi on our first property which at this point was-
Rob: We did on our first one yeah.
Reshawn: Which at this point was paid off.
Scott: This is the single family home.
Scott: That you guys lived in previously.
Reshawn: Yes. It has gone up in value significantly, it has appreciated.
Reshawn: We did a cash out re-fi for the original 150, and paid off our current residence.
Rob: Not anybody would agree, we know.
Reshawn: We know, but they’re like, “You could use that later to buy more properties.” Well we just wanted the opportunity to go down the entrepreneurial route without the stress of having a primary mortgage.
Scott: So that’s really interesting. So you guys in your separate debt on your primary residence versus in your rental properties.
Scott: And you chose to pay off your primary residence and treat the other one like an investment, right. That’s fascinating to me.
Reshawn: Well our rental properties have never been vacant. Outside of a month maybe two on that first property. So we have been very fortunate, we have a fund to cover vacancies if we need it. We do have that money in an account. But they cash flow and they pay for a property manager.
Rob: And they’re good areas, really good areas.
Reshawn: So the mortgage is always paid.
Rob: Right next to schools, but they’re never empty.
Reshawn: So since we haven’t had any of those issues we thought well we don’t have to worry about homes as much as we do our own residence.
Rob: Right. It’s just the biggest liability and it was like coming out parking with that big chunk of money every month and we were like, man.
Scott: But you’re still coming with that same amount of money but it’s coming right out the rental but it’s coming out of the business now.
Reshawn: Yes it’s coming out the business account.
Scott: Okay I see.
Mindy: Okay so well there’s this huge argument on BiggerPockets the website biggerpockets.com about should I pay off my mortgage or should I not? I am in this should not pay off my mortgage because I have such a low interest rate, but I can sleep at night with having this mortgage. I mean my mortgage is $1,100 a month because I bought this cheap house that I then fixed up and made big.
But I think it’s really important to point out that you guys are approaching this in a systematic way, it doesn’t sound you’re overleveraging yourself even on the rental properties. Your rent coming in more than pays all the expenses and the mortgage of the property. And I think that’s really important to point out because a lot of people will hear this kind of story and say, “Oh I can just mortgage myself to the hill.”
Well what happens if that school burns down or whatever? And now nobody wants to live in your area and you’re stuck with all these mortgages. It sounds like you can still foot those bills for a long time before you would have to really scramble.
And I think that that’s really important to point out that you’re doing this intentionally. And look if you want to pay off your mortgage, if that helps you sleep at night, if that helps you pursue entrepreneurship, then go for it. Anybody who tells you different is wrong, you tell them I said so.
Scott: So how much cash flow is your portfolio producing? Is it enough to live off of at this point?
Reshawn: No, it’s not enough to live off of. Our mortgage for this primary residence was $2,600 a month because we had a 15 year mortgage on a $300,000 home. So that’s $2,600 less that we worry about.
Scott: Yeah covering each month.
Rob: That’s what I mean yeah.
Reshawn: And we call it cash flow.
Scott: No I think that’s great. And that’s coming out now and you refinanced I assume with a 30 year mortgage so that had a lesser effect on your cash flow from your rental or is that also 15?
Reshawn: That’s correct, it’s 30.
Scott: The move was designed to free up a lot of cash flow.
Scott: And you guys are now leveraging that cash flow to make a lifestyle change, right.
Scott: You left your jobs, right. So can you walk us through that process? How did you feel comfortable with that? Was that a combination of cash flow, savings and low expenses or?
Reshawn: So all of that. So after over 20 years of being in sales you can’t certainly get burnt out. If you’ve done it for any amount of time, I know people who he’s hang in there for five years or less before they make career changes if they started out in sales.
So after over 20 years I wanted a career change but I did not want it to impact our family’s lifestyle to the extent that we have to leave our home or sell our home. That’s always possible, there are people in the FI movement that are selling everything, we weren’t at that point.
In our 40s we’re comfortable where we are and we need to be able to stay where we are but still make the change. So paying off the house allowed us to do that. So as a travel agent you actually don’t make any money until after the person takes a trip. So just a hint. So if you want to become a travel agent, there’s no upfront money.
Scott: Makes it sound like it’s hard to get in and then hard to leave.
Reshawn: Exactly. So I enjoyed doing it and I have an opportunity to help people plan the vacations of their dreams. I get a lot of travel perks and we like to travel. So that was a big break.
Rob: We love it, to stop everything yeah.
Reshawn: Right, that was a big driver for us. What we looked at was what are we working for now that the oldest one in out of college and the youngest one is still trying to figure out what he wants to do? So now why would I stay in this job that’s very stressful, physically stress wise taxing? Why would I stay now? What is the motivation to stay? And that was it. Once we figured out that we could get our bills low, because the rest of our bills are about $500 a month.
Rob: Yeah really next to nothing, so.
Reshawn: We haven’t had car notes in eight years.
Scott: You spend 500, so wait hold on, your total expenses to fund your lifestyle are what?
Reshawn: No, that’s for our household expenses. For our utility bills and car insurance and things of that nature is about 500 a month. And if you look at our grocery bill and restaurant, are the biggest expenses.
Rob: Those are the biggest things now, right.
Scott: But you can do that because you live almost for free.
Scott: And you get around almost for free.
Reshawn: Right. So that’s probably between groceries and eating out we’re still living at between three and $400 a month. But there are plenty of people who do it for less.
Scott: Plenty of people who do it for more.
Mindy: Yeah it’s $800 a month are your living expenses?
Rob: 12,000 right.
Reshawn: Yeah, right.
Mindy: That’s $12,000 a year.
Rob: This is brand new to us though guys, it’s just as… but we’ve been calculating like what? I mean it changed from here to here.
Reshawn: Yeah it doesn’t include any vacation or anything like that.
Rob: Right and that’s what we’re working on now.
Reshawn: Any travel expenses, just to live if we didn’t go anywhere that’s what it would cost us to stay.
Mindy: Well but I think that’s important. Travel is extra. If something happens catastrophic, you could work at Starbucks and get health insurance and pay all your bills. I mean maybe you don’t get a lot of travel out of it but you can still pay all your bills. I love that your expenses are less than $1,000 a month.
Reshawn: No, and let me add something to that because there’s somebody from Texas who’s going to listen to this and go, “They have high property taxes.” And we do.
Rob: Yes, we do.
Reshawn: Our property taxes are about $8,000 a year. So add that 8000 to the 12,000 we’re more like $20,000 a year in expenses.
Scott: It’s more like about $2,000 a month in expenses which does seem like a minimum threshold that you can relate to like in essence what you probably need to do to live a baseline there. And it sounds like you guys are able to do that very happily.
Rob: Yeah. Now looking at the fun stuff.
Mindy: Well thank you for clarifying that because if you had not, somebody would have called you out on that because like we’re addressing that in advance. I can’t promise that nobody is going to call you out anyway. So do you consider yourselves financially independent? Where are you on the FI path in your mind?
Reshawn: Oh yeah.
Reshawn: So for us it was just the ability to leave our leave our corporate jobs to pursue the careers that we wanted. Right, I’ve always wanted to do something more entrepreneurial. But you earn a certain income, you have lifestyle creep and you build a lifestyle around that income, makes it very difficult to pull out and now start to entrepreneurially make nothing.
So the real estate investments we’ve made and the properties that we’ve sold even have helped us tremendously. So you asked us earlier what we have left, and what we have now in real estate investments, we have two single families and a six unit apartment complex. So we’re at eight doors. We went from four doors to eight doors in one year.
Reshawn: That was awesome, right.
Rob: The goal was 15.
Mindy: His goal was 15. You know what, I like the modest goal because on the real estate podcast I have co-hosted or guest hosted I guess is the right word to say that, a couple of times and on the BiggerPockets real estate investing podcast which is available wherever podcasts are, people there seem to have this most people have this like giant goal.
Mindy: I want to own 1,000 doors. I don’t want to own 1,000 doors.
Rob & Reshawn: No.
Mindy: I think10 sounds great. 15, totally doable. You’re not going to go crazy unless you get terrible tenants, you’re not going to go crazy with 15 doors. Whereas 1,000 doors just like seems so overwhelming. And I think a lot of people who hear that who maybe aren’t just so crazy about real estate like all of us are, might be like, “Oh forget it, I can’t do real estate if I don’t have 1,000 doors and I don’t want 1,000 doors.” You can do real estate with one door, you can do real estate right now you guys have eight doors and it allows you to live the life that you want.
Rob: And in the meantime I’m still a real estate agent. So that still pretty decent money.
Mindy: Yeah, you’re an active agent that’s like you do that with other people.
Rob: Yeah. So I was working in IT and I worked at a hospital. And I was selling houses to the nurses, by mistake.
Reshawn: Not by mistake. He talks about real estate to everyone.
Rob: I do.
Reshawn: Anybody who will listen, he is telling the real estate story.
Rob: Especially if they want to be an investor. So I mean I was like, “I am your investor real estate agent.” And they’re like, “Wait a minute, have you invested?” “Well as a matter of fact I have, I have this amount of houses.” “What, you must be rich.” “No, I’m not rich but I can help you get there.”
Reshawn: You would never believe he’d never sold anything before.
Mindy: Yeah that kind of lines, when I was reading over your bio, I thought he was the salesperson.
Reshawn: That’s funny.
Scott: So to kind of recap your whole story here, it sounds like you started off in this position of debt. And then big fundamental thing is you have a budget and you start sticking to that budget, and applying everything I a systematic way that is growing net worth. You don’t call it saving but it is saving. You’re contributing to your 401K, you’re maxing out 529 plan, you’re paying off debt.
But you get to zero and then you redeploy your biggest asset which is the home equity, right and you turn that into an investment property. Now it’s producing cash flow. Right you buy another house but you continue with that savings rate and then you use that to buy more and more real estate.
And within a couple more years, you now have all of this flexibility and freedom with your jobs and you can kind of go round the world, live wherever you want, take the real estate job and start this entrepreneurial journey, because of this kind of few simple leverage that you’ve tweaked in your financial position.
Reshawn: We couldn’t believe it. We couldn’t believe that it was possible.
Rob: Yeah until now.
Scott: Fantastic. It’s not repeatable. A part of that suppose I’m listening to this and I’m earning good income and I’m starting in your position. Why couldn’t I do what you’ve done?
Mindy: I’m going to jump in here and I’m going to answer or make a comment or this and say as I was listening to their story I’m like this isn’t rocket science.
Rob: No it’s not.
Mindy: This isn’t some crazy set of circumstances that would never happen again. This is so easy isn’t the right word I know there’s people-
Reshawn: But doable, how about doable.
Mindy: Totally doable.
Scott: Worth it.
Mindy: There’s people who have like crippling medical debt and made really bad decisions their whole life and whatever, but this isn’t that hard to do.
Rob: It just takes discipline guys. That’s all it needs.
Mindy: It just takes discipline that is an excellent quote.
Reshawn: I will say and teamwork. If we hadn’t both been on board it would have made it a lot more difficult.
Rob: Yeah because we know people and it’s hard sometime to get both people on board.
Scott: Well I will also say I’ve picked up that you guys had had some disagreements about how you want to kind of approach the major decisions like building of the home or whatever. And what you’ve done I think that’s really great is you said, “Hey I’m going to back off my position.”
And I’m going to go and do what you want. And do what the other side wants.” And that hey maybe there’s different ways you could have gone about it but that’s what worked for you guys. And that’s gotten the result and it’s within a five year period, right.
Reshawn: Yeah. And we’re married. If there are married people without disagreements, they don’t even like each other. You got to have some fire in the relationship, if there are no disagreements they’re on the road to divorce.
Rob: And the truth is that the very first one and you probably picked up on was I didn’t want to buy the $300,000 house and move into it. I was thinking at the back of my mind, I’m still going to get a rental out of this because if I don’t agree with this, then we’re not going to move and if we don’t move then I’m not going to get my first rental. I mean she’s not going to see how great this whole situation is.
Reshawn: It was a win-win.
Rob: So it’s going to be right.
Scott: Love it. Anything we should ask you about your journey or any other topics you want to cover before we move on to the famous four?
Rob: Well what are going to do next, right?
Reshawn: Yeah. Are you going to tell them?
Scott: Yes there we go, what’s next?
Rob: So right now we decided we’re going to take a sabbatical and we’re going to take a year off. So we quit our day jobs, Reshawn is still going to do the travel agency thing because she can do anywhere.
Reshawn: Location independent.
Rob: Yeah, I’m going to pause on the real estate because I won’t be able to do it while I’m here. We are going to Argentina and we’re going to travel few months, come back home for a couple of weeks. And we’re going to just travel and we’re going to do it and hit all the different continents for the whole year of 2019.
Scott: So do you know anybody that can help you plan those kinds of trips?
Rob: I think there’s one to try.
Reshawn: Travel perks.
Scott: That’s awesome. That sounds fantastic.
Rob: We’re going to travel for the whole year yeah.
Scott: That’s the ultimate, is spend 20 years learning all the ins and outs.
Reshawn: Yeah become a travel agent.
Rob: We knew we were going when she got good at it so we’re doing it.
Mindy: So a few weeks ago on episode 55 we interviewed Christie and Bryce from Millennial Revolution and I actually had a chance to meet them in person a few months ago in October I guess. And I asked them how do you deal with all these different languages because you can’t speak everything?” and she said, “We use Duolingo and it is fabulous.”
Rob: I use that, yeah I’m learning that right now.
Mindy: Yeah it is fabulous for learning the key phrases for travel and do you speak English in whatever language they have. So I wanted to give you that tip but you already know it so never mind.
Rob: That’s okay.
Scott: They had some great tips as well for health insurance, which if you’re going to be traveling to other countries, you may find a lot of that to be like a very pleasant surprise on how to handle that and the cost of all that kind of stuff.
Reshawn: Okay we’re going to have to go back and listen to episode 55.
Mindy: You can find that at biggerpockets.com/moneyshow55.
Scott: Apparently health insurance is this huge deal if you’re trying to earn a huge income and live. But if you don’t have a high income there’s a lot of really good options. And then if you want to travel the world, they were getting away with murder with that. That was yeah.
Reshawn: Honestly, what we have discovered is the less money you make the better deal you get on health insurance for sure.
Rob: We’re actually going through that right now, we’re trying to figure out what we’re going to do as far as that after leaving corporate right now. It’s not cheap out there.
Reshawn: Yeah we have to pay more now but we’ll pay less, later, because our income will go down so much in 2019.
Mindy: Well once you’re travelling, they have this plan that’ll cover you if you’re in the United States less than six months, you can get a plan for the United States. If you’re going to be all over the- and I think they were paying something like $20 a month.
Reshawn & Rob: Wow.
Mindy: For their insurance outside of the US.
Mindy: So yeah definitely go back and give that episode a listen, there’s lots of travel tips in there.
Reshawn: Definitely have to check it out.
Mindy: Okay it is now time for the famous four questions. These are the same four questions and one command that we ask of all of our guests. What is your favorite finance book? And you guys can each answer separately.
Rob: I got so many. Can you go first?
Reshawn: Set For Life by Scott Trench.
Rob: I love that book.
Scott: Plug yeah.
Reshawn: We gave that one to our 23 year old.
Rob: He’s reading it right now.
Reshawn: He’s reading it right now.
Scott: Thank you.
Mindy: And one to your 18 year old too.
Reshawn: Right? So we’ve actually told everybody about Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, we’ve given that one away actually in the audiobook. With Dave that’s a great place to start if you’re in the beginning. Love The Millionaire Next Door and the Millionaire Real Estate Investor.
Rob: I thought we only get one.
Reshawn: Sorry guys. You read a lot of books when you’re-
Scott: Those are all great books.
Reshawn: When you’re researching financial independence, we’ve gone through quite a few books.
Rob: Yeah every month we would get out of it. So yeah if I had to choose one, wow it would probably be The Millionaire Real Estate Investor.
Rob: That one lit a fire under me years ago.
Scott: Love it.
Mindy: Yeah that’s an excellent one, that’s by-
Rob: Right, Scott you’re in my top three though.
Scott: Alright I’ll take it.
Rob: Seriously man.
Scott: I appreciate it thank you. What was your biggest money mistake?
Rob: I know mine.
Reshawn: Go for it.
Rob: Mine was blowing my GI bill money on living expenses. Instead of paying for college out of the military, they were sending me cash money and cheque right which I think is a bad idea personally. But as that money came in, I didn’t use it on my actual school expenses, I just used it for living in San Diego because it was so expensive to live there.
Reshawn: Balling out.
Rob: I should have lived more modest and then paid off the debt and I would have been done, I would have been doing this way ahead of the game at least five or 10 years ahead of the game. And I swear if I can go back and tell my young self, don’t do it man. Start saving immediately and start investing immediately.
Scott: Five or 10 years.
Rob: Yeah that’s how I feel.
Mindy: Wow, that’s something we haven’t really covered yet on this show Scott is the opportunity cost concept.
Rob: At least five yeah.
Mindy: Was living large in San Diego worth five years? I’m not ranting-
Reshawn: You should have seen your face by the way. We turn off the video from our side.
Rob: It was good, but now that I’m older and I’m 43, I would give it up. I would because I believe that I think my opinion in the end, all the fun stuff come, the earlier you get done with it and the earlier you’re out of debt and the earlier you invest the more fun you can have early. Like our kids think we’re super young they’re like, “You guys are way too young to be travelling around the world and doing this in your 40s, right. Now imagine if we could do it our 30s, right.
Reshawn: Our son’s best friend told us that we were going through a midlife crisis.
Rob: Everybody thinks we’re crazy like everybody is used to status quo, right. Go to work, work, work till you’re 60-something, but no.
Reshawn: So biggest money mistake trying to get us back on track sorry guys. Biggest money mistake for me I’m sure was the credit cards in college. Becoming a mom early helped me to avoid a lot of money mistakes honestly. So people advice you not to become a young parent, outside of getting married to my husband, becoming my son’s mom, single best decision I have ever made, guys.
Mindy: I know, I’m a mom. You need to have kids.
Reshawn: So whatever foolish mistakes I would have made were cut off quickly because now I’m somebody’s mom. So not only did I have to get my life together financially, you’ve got to do everything different when you become somebody’s mom if you want to do it right. So credit cards, worst mistake, mom thing best thing ever done.
Mindy: Awesome. What is your best piece of advice for people who are just starting out?
Rob: Stop creating debt immediately. Don’t spend anything. Pay off the stuff that you have and try to save so you can invest. That’s just my opinion.
Scott: Love it.
Rob: The earlier you invest the better your life will be sooner.
Reshawn: Research. Be open to learning something new. The sales environment is full of type A personalities and that means oftentimes you’re probably not the most open to learning new things, which is why it may have taken me a little time to listening to the podcasts. So the biggest lesson I’ve learned is just be open to learning new things and receiving new information.
Because without all of the testimonials that were shared via podcasts like BiggerPockets, Journey to Launch, Paula Pant’s Afford Anything. Without all of the people willing to share with us via those vehicles we would certainly not have had the courage to explore and to get to where are today much faster than what we’d originally planned.
Scott: Love it. Yeah we didn’t really cover that a ton today. But this sounds like that was a very integral part of your journey as well is just the relentless consumption of information or at least it became a part of your journey. And we hear that every single time, from every single story there’s no change. Right it’s always the change and the rapid acceleration toward financial freedom or a significant financial result always comes from that relentless accumulation of knowledge.
Reshawn: that’s how we came up with Learn Hustle Grow because essentially that’s what we were doing accumulating as much information and knowledge as we could from the vehicles that were available.
Rob: Can’t believe this stuff is free man. I mean it’s like it’s an amazing gift from God.
Scott: Feel free to send us a cheque. But no, it’s all free.
Mindy: That’s Mindy Jensen J-E-N-S-E-N.
Scott: Alright well what’s your favorite joke to tell at parties?
Rob: Oh man, joke no.
Reshawn: So we don’t have jokes but we are observers. So if we have something funny to say it’s an observation that we’ve made about the environment and maybe some of the people in it. So probably not good to ask us about jokes.
Mindy: Okay I have a joke, Rob do you know the joke?
Rob: I don’t.
Mindy: Okay. How many apples grow on a tree?
Reshawn: How many?
Rob: I don’t know, hundreds.
Mindy: All of them. Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon?
Rob & Reshawn: No.
Mindy: Great food no atmosphere.
Scott: Oh Mindy with the jokes today, I love it.
Reshawn: I think I’ve listened to this before usually Scott’s got all the jokes. You’re doing great Mindy.
Mindy: Yeah it’s a great contest. Okay.
Rob: Great keep going.
Mindy: Want to hear a joke about paper?
Mindy: Never mind it’s tear-able.
Reshawn: That was good, I like that.
Scott: Alright. I love it. I have a pointless pencil joke but we’ll that some other time.
Mindy: Oh God.
Rob: Pointless pencil.
Mindy: Okay now it’s time for the command. Tell us where people can find out more about you.
Reshawn: So we have a blog learnhustlegrow.com, they can also follow us on Instagram @Learn Hustle Grow. And we’re in the process of starting a YouTube Channel. So we haven’t gotten it launched yet but we’re working on it.
Rob: Even though we hate being on video.
Mindy: learnhustlgrow.com and Learn Hustle Grow on Instagram. Reshawn and Rob, thank you so much for coming on the show today. I really appreciate your time and I hope you have a lovely trip to Argentina and the other five continents.
Scott: Rest of the world.
Rob: Thank you.
Reshawn: Thank you guys.
Scott: Yeah thank you.
Reshawn: Thanks for having us on.
Rob: Yeah same here.
Scott: Alright that was Reshawn and Rob from Learn Hustle Grow. Mindy what did you think?
Mindy: Oh I love their story. I love that their story is not exciting. It’s not and then I won the lottery and then I got a zebra and then I got like they don’t have all that. What they have is this- I don’t want to say boring because it’s definitely not boring- they have real estate rentals.
And I love real estate and it’s exciting but they have a very clear path to their financial independence. And it is pay off my debt, save some money, save some more money, become financially independent, oh and invest. There’s invest in there too. But I mean it’s not hard.
Scott: No, I agree. And I’m a bit of a video gamer. Right, so if anyone out there plays video games will relate to this but in some of these games you need to like maximize your guy. Get really powerful and do every single thing perfectly and then go out and kind of figure things out. And the term for this is called Man Maxing.
Right and that’s what a lot of people we hear about on the show here do, they’ll literally just go all out, cut everything out. And then invest in the most optimal way that they possibly can with a few very minor variations on it and go after it, right.
And they didn’t do that, they made solid decisions one after the other, they made tradeoffs based on what the other partner wanted in terms of what they want in their life. And they got there, and they’re in a golden situation and extremely happy.
And it didn’t really make that big a difference because they got the few big things right with their housing choice, with saving their incomes and with focusing on producing some sustainable cash flow. Like why do we make it so much harder than it has to be with some of these other episodes? I don’t know. I talk about every time that man their path just again seems so repeatable for so many people.
Mindy: Yeah. It’s not rocket science. And I like what you said, I like that you brought up the fact that they had compromises. If you go into a marriage thinking I’m going to get my way all the time, you are so wrong. It’s just not how that works, and they talked about money, which is huge.
They talked about money before they got married. They make mutually beneficial decisions and they talk about their money. Did you hear them say that they have a money date every month still even after they’ve gotten their finances fixed? I mean it’s so repeatable.
Scott: Yeah. Should we get out of here Mindy?
Mindy: We should. From episode 61 of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast this is Scott Trench and Mindy Jensen and we are out the door dinosaur.
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