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Daring to Dream Big

April 12, 2019 by  
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Years ago, I dreamed of being wealthy. I studied the lives of the rich, especially the ones who started from scratch. I mean, I really studied them and analyzed everything they did and how they did it. I discovered that millionaires are not a hundred times, or even ten times, smarter than you and me. And they aren’t working ten times longer or harder. How could they? There are only 168 hours in a week — no one gets any more than that. The difference was an honest to goodness and simple wealth formula that, if followed, works.

Before I discovered this wealthy formula, I lived in Denver, Colorado in a cramped and tumbled down house at 2545 S. High Street, near the University of Denver. I felt desperate and forced into a corner. I had to borrow a $150 from my father and another $150 from my father in law just to buy groceries and help pay the rent. If that wasn’t enough, I was several thousand dollars in debt, but I still kept studying the lives of the rich and dreaming of being a millionaire.

Then it happened. I met Larry Rosenberg, a man who became my mentor and showed me the simple formula that had made millions for him. He convinced me that I could do the same thing.

I began to apply the formula I had been shown. The results were amazing! I couldn’t believe how simple it was. In fact, it seemed too simple. (Please note, I said simple, not easy!) It did take work but oh, how that work was so very worth it!

For the next 3 ½ years, I worked very hard to refine and improve the formula that I’d been shown so it would be easier to get quicker results. As I did this, my assets and income multiplied very rapidly to the point that I didn’t have to work at my regular job. I quit!

The simple formula that I had been shown was to leverage income producing real estate —-as in small houses and apartment buildings. The key to building my fortune was to find run down properties that I loved to call “dirt bag properties”. These were properties that I could fix up and improve the value by 10 or 20 percent and then I could turn that 10% or 20% increase in value to 100% return on my investment, because of that great thing called “leverage”.

And as I’m sure you know a 100% return on your money can and will increase your net worth quite quickly! In my experience leverage income producing properties is the most reliable, fastest, and safest method of making big time money. Most people have a little bit of that “leveraged real estate” in the home they bought. But if you have to go a step further and but some dirt-bag or rental properties and fix them up and make those huge 100% percent returns. If you buy right, it will work wonders for you.

 

The Shotgun Investment Strategy

March 8, 2019 by  
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In my opinion, and from my experience, the best type of asset that lends itself to forced improved value is good ol’ real estate, and specifically properties that need a face lift. These are beat up houses, duplexes, apartment buildings or what I have often refer to as dirt bag properties.

The key is to just do a face lift, not perform bone surgery, so you would need to find properties that are run down mainly on a cosmetic level. You really don’t want a property that needs to be fully rewired, have plumbing pulled, or the foundation replaced. I look for properties that haven’t been painted for 25 years or the front lawn is dead and the fence is falling apart. It may just need new carpet and window coverings to turn it around. Those kinds of properties can make you a fortune and can do so in a few short years.

I do want to add that when I was introduced to leverage, I was a stock broker. I began trying to use leverage with stocks and bonds, but I found out very quickly that the real problem was I really couldn’t fix up a stock and I didn’t have any control over the company whose stock I was buying or the stock market itself. I did, however, have some control over a little beat up house that I would buy, even though that is where the real work began.

Once you have found the dirt bag property, the next big chunk of work is actually doing the fix up to greatly improve its value and give you those big fat returns on your invested dollar. So how do you find those fixer uppers and exactly what kind of work does it take?

There are several ways this can be done. You could drive through the right neighborhoods that are a bit run down and in your price range, but that is the hard way to do it and it takes a ton of time. Since time is one of those things that none of us seems to have enough of, I recommend what I call the shotgun method. The concept of a shotgun is that when a hunter shoots at a bird the shotgun blasts hundreds of BBs that spread out as they speed toward the target. Most of those BBs miss the mark but it only takes one or two BBs to bring down the target. Likewise, my shotgun method of finding the right properties is very efficient and a real time saver and it only takes one or two hits to score your target.

All you do is use the internet to observe all the for-sale properties that even roughly fit your specs and then make low ball offers which would be around 20% to 25% lower than the asking price. You do this without even driving by the property. The real key here is to be sure you have a “subject to” clause in your offer, which basically says that this offer is good only if certain conditions are met. Those conditions can be acceptable financing or even something simple like “subject to my spouse or partners approval.”

So now when you shoot your shotgun at many dozens of properties each week or each month, you only get in your car and drive by and/or do an inspection after you get a counter offer or, sometimes, an actual acceptance on your super low-ball price! It does happen once in a while!

Using the shotgun method works if you make enough offers. Eventually, you’ll score a property and then the physical work begins. It’s not easy but it’s simple and, most importantly, increasing its value is within your control.

The 100% Return Goal

January 18, 2019 by  
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As we begin a new year it’s a very good time to remember the basics, specifically the basics of financial independence through which you make and keep your own fortune.  It’s so easy to forget the basics, especially when we are all caught up in the details of our daily lives, even those details that are involved with building our wealth. For example, if you have a big problem with the plumbing at a rental property or the property taxes just got bumped up, it’s easy to focus on just that, but that can get you frustrated or make you kind of space out on your overall plan.

What you should not forget is that you have to continue to look at the big picture, looking for ways to take advantage of leverage whereby you could earn as much as 100% of your money due to compounding. I’ve certainly been there and done that. Even on the very property that is giving me fits, I many times have failed to step back and realize that my equity on that very property has already exceeded a 100% return on my money and I should be motivated and reminded to keep doing that.

There is a simple example that I used in my fist book, How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You, where I showed how 1 single penny a day compounded at 100% a day turns into just over $339 million on the 35th day alone. Now I know there is no way you can compound your money at 100% per day, but it is possible to compound your money at 100% per year, especially in the first few years. The key to those huge numbers is using other people’s money (your leverage). So, maybe only 10, 20 or 30% of the price you pay is with your own money and then the rest is in a loan from the bank or the seller for the balance. It’s not only possible but many people are doing just that, every day, including myself and many people that I know and have helped.

I do know that finding beat up properties these days can be a bit more difficult, depending on where your market is, but things change and prices go up and down and you and I need to always be looking for those bargains, especially those properties that need fixing up, the ones I like to call “dirt bag properties”. Then, always remember that good ole leverage formula:
If your down payment is only 10%, and you improve the property enough to increase the value by 10% you have made a 100% return on your money. That formula is a little simplistic since it doesn’t take into account your expenses, but you can keep those pretty darn low if you do most of the work yourself. Just don’t let the goal of a 100% return on your investment scare you away because it seems too difficult. If you can get even part way there, say just a 30% return on your money per year on only $10,000, that fraction of the big goal will still add up to over $1,124,000 in just 18 years.

My big point here is that we must keep the big picture in mind and remember that those potential returns are there. If you do, it becomes easier to not be deterred or discouraged by those plumbing issues, property tax increases, or other relatively minor problems.  Keep your eye and your dreams focused on the big prize, because it is all together very possible to achieve that big goal.

Save Time to Make Millions

June 1, 2018 by  
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It is so easy to squander your time in a way that you hardly notice.  Most time is wasted in minutes, not hours. The average person squanders enough time in ten years to have earned a college degree. Some people may have lost enough time to have earned 2 or 3 degrees or could have made a few extra thousands of dollars, or even a million dollars.  So maybe next time you find yourself watching TV, turn it off and, using strategies that will save time and expand your opportunities, do some easy chair investing.

Just pick up the newspaper or go on line and take a look at some properties that are for sale. There is no need to drive all over town looking for those “For Sale” signs. That’s a huge waste of time. Instead, stake a claim to a little piece of time one day a week to search for just one good deal. You may be very surprised at how many properties are available. When you do see a property or two that look even somewhat promising, then start doing some delegating. And the fast, easy way to delegate now is too start writing offers and then call a few real estate agents to deliver your offers.  Most agents will be more than happy to do all this beginning legwork.

Of course, never forget those critical words that every offer to purchase needs to have – “This offer is subject to the buyer’s inspection and acceptance of the property,” or words to that effect. This, of course, means that you can walk away from the deal for any reason without any liability to you. You also won’t want to waste any time driving to the property and doing your inspection until the seller has agreed to your price and terms.

These strategies, along with delegating what you can to an agent, will save you a lot of time and will greatly expanded your opportunities. Years ago, when I was buying small properties, I would make dozens of offers each week using these strategies. It worked miracles for me and it can work for anyone. Then once I completed a purchase, I would begin the process of improving the property.

Here, again, I wanted to expand my time by delegating to others.  If you are like me, and do not relish the idea of fixing up a house or apartment building, you can easily find help by putting an ad online or in the newspaper, or ask around for a young, energetic person or a retired handyman.  There are always good workers out there looking to pick up a little extra income. By using their efforts and hard work, you have expanded your world, increased your available time, and greatly improved your odds of making millions through wise strategies and delegation!

Courage for Living the Life You Want

March 9, 2018 by  
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Back on Feb 7, 2014, I wrote about how important “Courage” is in so many parts of our lives and gave my definition of it, which is, “Courage is going against the odds, against popular opinion. It’s doing what most people are unwilling to do because of the criticism and flak they know they will receive from family, friends or even strangers. Courage is living your life for you. It’s setting your own rules and policies and taking full responsibility when you fail or stumble. It’s resisting other people’s attempted manipulations of you. Courageous people do not accept all traditions, conventional wisdom, or pat answers without close scrutiny and severe questioning.”

I certainly know how very critical courage is and as the title of Susan Jeffers great book states, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. This is a mantra to live your life by. It can bring huge success, not only in financial matters but in most every aspect of your life.

Today I picked up a book I wrote in 1983 titled, The Courage to Be Rich. In it, I read what I wrote about courage and “The Keys to Success” that, for the most part, are still relevant today 25 years later. Here is a section from what I read about my financial success.

A reporter once asked me to give him a list of what I considered to be the keys to success. Here’s the list I gave him.

  1. Everyone is going to die someday, so you might as well really go for it. Don’t be afraid of making a fool of yourself.
  2. Guts are not for sale; only you can supply that.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions even if you think they sound dumb–that’s how you learn.
  4. Use other people’s money; always, always, always ask the seller to carry the financing on whatever assets you’re buying.
  5. Seek out and find motivated sellers–people who want to sell something so badly they are desperate.
  6. Earn big bucks by purchasing the “yucks”—the property that nobody else wants. That’s where the money is.
  7. Use the tax laws to cut your taxes to zero.
  8. Success in anything is a numbers game. Do it enough times and you will become good at it; do it a bunch more times and you will become famous.

All these years later, I must say, that, for the most part, what I wrote back then still applies today for living a life with courage and making a good financial living.

By the way, I think my old book, The Courage to Be Rich, can be bought for around $8 on Amazon if you have any interest in reading it.

P.S. If you know someone who needs to lift their courage factor, you might pass this post on to them. Except maybe not to a teenager. It may give him, or her, too much courage and they might try to set their own rules and push back at you and the family. But when they are ready, these may be the words they need to conquer their fears and the world.

Getting Into Good Debt

January 26, 2018 by  
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Last June, I shared 9 key items, found in Paul J. Meyer’s great booklet “Being Smart with Your Money”, that will help you attain a healthy financial life. Number 6 was “Get out of debt”.  This is, of course, great advice but the real key is knowing what kind of debt to get out of and what kind to go after.

One of the biggest keys to making a fortune–and this was a huge key for myself—is to take on the right kind of debt, the kind that has others paying that debt down. Paul’s advice was about credit card debt. Back then, in 2004, the average person in the U.S.A. had between $5,000 and $6,000 in credit card debt with the average for couples seeking a divorce having $37,000 in debt. As most people know (or should know) the interest rates on credit card debt is huge—as high as 29.99%.

Paul goes on to note that debt does more than ruin marriages. It also:

  • Saps your creative thinking.
  • Drains you physically and mentally.
  • Burdens you with pressure.
  • Limits your investing opportunities.

The good kind of debt, however, that helps make you big money is mortgage debt on income producing properties. That debt could be on a small rental house or, as it was in my case when I was in the first few years of my investing career, many, many rental houses and later, apartment buildings. I loved it. Every month, when my tenants would pay their rent, I paid down my debt and the more of this kind of debt I took on, the more the debt was paid down.

Just look at the numbers. I’m using small numbers for this example but if you double the number or add a zero, the rate of return will still be the same. If you bought a rental property for say $110,000 with $20,000 down, in the first year alone the pay down of a 4.5% loan would total $2,841 or a 14.2% rate of return to you.

So, a person’s net worth can grow at a good rate even without that other factor called inflation. But if you have, let’s say, only 2% inflation a year, ten years later that property would be worth over 10% more and your debt would be substantially paid down.  If you put in some fix up money on a property that needs it, you can often push your rate of return much, much higher, even to 100% as I’ve done many times.

Bottom line here is, yes, Paul Meyer is right to get out of the “wrong kind” of debt but you will greatly profit if you get into the “right kind” of debt—mortgage debt on rental properties.

There can be a big double bonus when taking on the right kind of debt too. You can greatly increase your rate of return by using that thing called leverage. If you were able to buy property with only a 10% down payment and had that same 2% inflation, that would push your return to 20% in the first year alone. But then if you had bought what I call a “dirt bag” property that needed an inexpensive cleaning and fix up, using mainly elbow grease and just a small investment of money, you might be able to push that rate of return to over 100%. I’ve done this many, many times. For example, a $100,000 property with a $10,000 down payment plus say $5000 in fix up costs could push up the value to $130,000–your return would now be a whopping 100% of your initial investment of the down payment and the fix up costs!

So, I encourage you to pass this advice onto your friends, kids, and anyone you want to help, especially those that you see getting into the wrong kind of debt, and then push yourself to get out of the bad debt and into the good debt and watch your fortune grow.

 

Finding Focus Through Our Natural Talents

August 26, 2017 by  
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To continue with the theme of these past couple weeks, here are some more key traits of super successful people. And when I say successful, I mean in any part of a person’s life as well as financially.

A big part of being successful is being focused and staying focused. That is a super vital trait that all millionaires and multi-millionaires seem to possess. Finding Focus Through Our Natural Talents in his book, Outliers, makes the claim that anyone who spends 10,000 hours focused on one thing will be become the best or one of the best in the world.  I agree in part, but I also believe a person needs to look at themselves and determine what their natural abilities and strengths actually are. You can’t be great at everything, so it’s wise to look at ourselves and ask the question.  “What is it that I really want to do and become very successful at?”

Also, it’s important to ask yourself, “What do I love to do?”, because if you hate what you are doing there is a very strong possibility that you can’t and won’t stay focused on that thing that you would otherwise become super successful doing.

So, if you want to become highly successful in a chosen endeavor, you must first take a look at yourself and determine what you’re naturally good at and what you really love to do before you start setting goals to rise to the top.  I have noticed that all the millionaires and billionaires I’ve known have been very focused on making their business or investment work, becoming and staying profitable on their way to making millions of dollars. Granted, once they have arrived at the goals that they set for themselves their focus is usually diminished or starts to focus on something else.

In my own life and experience, I set a goal to make a million dollars by age 30. I had noticed that I was really good with numbers and had read how important this was in making a fortune. I also had a passion for negotiating and making deals. Those two natural talents gave me a great advantage, especially when, after researching different methods of making millions, I discovered that many millions have been made, starting from scratch, by the use of leverage on assets that can be fixed up and improved. That, combined with meeting my first of many mentors, led me to that first million dollars.

Wow. Did I ever stay focused! That’s all I thought about and all that I did and I kept that focus because I loved what I was doing. Yes, my focus has changed now and it’s more on tennis and helping others including trying to give back because so many people helped me along the way and I felt a need to pay it forward. I have so much gratitude. I’m working hard to have more of that great thing called “An Attitude of Gratitude”.

If you want super success or just want to add more to your current success, take a hard look at yourself to determine your natural talents and what you are or can become passionate about, then set some goals and get started! And don’t forget to pass it on to your kids, grandkids, friends and anyone you want to help.

 

A Darling Little House

July 15, 2017 by  
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Many years ago, I wrote a book called The Courage to be Rich. This week, I re-read some of that book and, in particular, a chapter entitled “How Yuks Can Create Big Bucks”. It reminded me again that making money by acquiring beat up, old, dirt bag properties and adding your own sweat equity can make a person rich today in the exact same way it did 30 and 40 years ago. In fact, right now, with many properties selling for top dollar, it makes even more sense to lower your financial risk by investing in these kinds of properties. Here is an excerpt from that section of the book.

Changing a Tacky Dump into a Swiss Chalet

I really couldn’t believe what I saw. A few years ago, while driving down a street in Salt Lake City, I glanced over at a little white house, maybe a thousand square feet at the most, and I just about drove off the road. The formerly grungy house had been completely transformed. Instead of a tacky little house complete with cluttered yard, worn grass, and garbage cans by the porch, I saw a cute, Swiss chalet cottage. The change was so stunning that I pulled over to stop and stare.

At first glance, it seemed that someone had spent a ton of dough making the property shine. Upon closer inspection, I found that the changes made on the outside of the property were quite inexpensive. The dirty sides of the house had been covered up by a fresh coat of paint, and Swiss style shutters with decorative patterns had been placed on either side of the windows. The garbage cans had been moved from the front yard to the back. For extra frosting, a white picket fence had been put along the front of the yard. One other conspicuous difference was a FOR SALE sign prominently displayed.

I was totally amazed at the change, but even more amazed at my reaction to the changes! I had, for years, been in the business of buying properties that needed fixing up and, after some work, would resell or refinance them at substantial profits.

Prior to stopping at this house, I considered myself very smart and successful at what I did. But here is the huge shocking part of this experience. My first reaction was: “What a cute little house! It’s absolutely darling. I should buy it!”

Talk about dumb–really dumb. Here I am in the business of buying dirt bag properties, fixing them up and making big money selling them and this little house almost fooled me into buying it. But now as I think about it, that experience is teaching me a big lesson.

Almost everybody would rather buy a property that looks nice and new and pretty. That’s just normal in us human beings. That’s why people are making money by fixing and fancying up beat up houses and apartments. And now in today’s market where a lot of properties are at top prices, these types of properties are the safer investment. You can greatly increase your chance of making money by doing the simple fixes that stand out and grab people’s attention!

That darling Swiss looking house certainly did it for me and needs to be duplicated. Or should I say, “Hey, here is another way showing how you can make big bucks from yuks.”

Losing Out to Fear

May 5, 2017 by  
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I am totally convinced that most people don’t end up making big money–especially when you are talking millions of dollars—not because they aren’t smart enough but because of their fears. It is a fear of failing and/or the fear of losing what little money they may have. Believe me, I totally understand those fears because that is exactly what held me back for a long time.  But that’s when my wonderful friend and mentor, Larry Rosenberg stepped in and gave me the courage to overcome my fears or at least reduce my level of fear. At the same time, he showed me exactly how to do the big deals and reduce the risks which, of course, reduced the amount of fear I had.

Don’t get me wrong there are always risks but even so, Larry convinced me that if I wanted to hit it really big, I would have to take some bigger risks. At that point, I reasoned with myself and agreed with that old saying, “Better to try and fail than never to try at all.”  I never forgot being told repeatedly when I was young, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

There is no question that when you use financial leverage on a purchase that you increase the risk to yourself.  Like that old example I’ve used over and over—if you put 10% down on a $500,000 dollar property, you could lose all your money if that property dropped in value by 10% and you had to sell it. That’s $50k gone just like that.

That kind of risk is scary but on the other hand, if that property increases in value by 10% then you’ve just doubled your money or made a 100% return. Remember what huge numbers 100% returns do to your money over time–just one penny compounded at 100% a year grows to well over $10 million in just 30 years! That’s the great power of compounding. Of course, you can reduce your risks, big time, by using your brain and your brawn to fix up a property which greatly increases the chance of raising its value and greatly reduces your risk.

If you want to reduce your risk even more, you may want to do what one of my long time students did early on in his acquisition of property. I’m talking about Dell Loy Hansen who now owns properties valued in the billions. He started from scratch after he read my first book, How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You. How did he reduce his risk?  He went out and found partners which allowed him to buy property with much bigger down payments, so they went into these investments with a lot more equity and hence less risk. That, of course, reduces the possible return on the amount invested but, for Mr. Hansen, it greatly increased his leverage and allowed him to buy bigger and bigger properties, hence his multibillion-dollar portfolio.

So remember, if you want to hit it big, be prepared to take some risks and if you want to cut those risks a bit, go find some good partners to share in the initial down payment. Just be sure to take good care of those partners.

 

 

Lifting our Lives in 2017

December 30, 2016 by  
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As you look at or contemplate what you will be doing in 2017 and beyond, be sure to take a very hard look at the financial category. Life is certainly much more than just money but with plenty of money your options and success with many of your other goals in life can be greatly expanded.

For example, I just discovered that before the great actor and governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was famous, he became a millionaire from … yep, you guessed it … investing in good ole real estate! So even if you’ve not yet started an investment program you can do so now with savings and investing goals for 2017. It may take some time to build your fortune and you may feel you have so little to contribute right now, but try never to forget the huge power of compounding your money. Compounding can multiply even a very small amount of money into millions of dollars. Certainly Arnold knows that from his experience and so do I.

Eight years ago, when I starting writing my weekly blog it was almost exclusively about taking a small amount of money and wisely investing it, mainly in real estate, to build a fortune for yourself or at least for you to make enough to live very comfortably and retire without ever diminishing your lifestyle. But I’ve also written about health and well-being, relationships and friends, and traveling to broaden one’s perspectives on living, along with many other subjects. But I’m thinking now that as we face another year it would be wise to refocus our attention and goal setting back to that money thing that can lift so many parts of our lives including the lives of those around us.

In the foreword of the book Tools of Titans, the author Tim Ferris quotes Schwarzenegger’s thoughts not only about real estate making Arnold a millionaire but about his many other accomplishments. “I am not a self-made man,” Schwarzenegger says. “I got a lot of help … I stood on the shoulders of giants,” which was his way of giving credit to his parents, coaches, and teachers.

We all need to realize and give so much credit to others that have helped us along the way and then step up and let others climb on our shoulders to lift them up. For me I give tons of credit for my success to my wonderful parents and to the great Bill Nickerson and what his book, How I Turned $1,000 into a Million in My Spare Time, did for me. I also need to credit the great Denver real estate guru, – who took me under his wing and showed me exactly how he turned a few thousand dollars into multi-millions over the years. You can read more about that great story on my June 24th, 2016 blog.

I’ve tried to help others through my investing advice, directions, books, lectures and conversations. I have received rewards of great appreciation and many thank-you’s which are worth so much more than money. One of my resolutions for 2017 is to be more helpful to others. To accomplish this, I need to go to work right now and write down the details and specific steps or actions that I am going to take to accomplish that very goal. What are your goals and do you have them written down yet? If not, let’s do it. There is no time to waste.

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