Lessons from The Force

Lessons from The Force

When most people learn that I formerly was a police officer, they raise their eyebrows and will usually say something like, “Really?  Why would you quit?”

To most, the idea of being a police officer has an exotic feel to it.  It’s because they have envisioned the Hollywood cliché of law enforcement – heroic exploits of men and women in a daily struggle against crime and corruption.  While there are some of those moments on the street, that’s not what happens behind the scenes within the department.  Most of the stuff that happens is boring, day-to-day decisions just like you have at your job. 

Who do I want to work with? 
Am I correctly filling out this new paperwork?
What educational path should I pursue for my career?
Where should I go to lunch?

Most of that’s not interesting to share.

However, why I got into law enforcement, what I learned about it and personal finance, and why I eventually left are things I believe are worth sharing.

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Are You Telling Your Friends and Family Too Much?

Are You Telling Your Friends and Family Too Much?

A friend of mine, Andrew (not his real name), is married with two kids.  A few years ago, his life was like many Americans – he carried consumer debt, had no savings, and was stressed out.  Life was not turning out the way he’d hoped.  Then he realized he was responsible for the mess he was in and set about to change things.

He worked hard to improve his financial position.  He eliminated all his consumer debt, leaving only his home mortgage which he has now paid off more than half.  He owns a single rental property which he recently paid off completely.  Due to his and his wife’s diligence in paying down their debt, his wife recently stopped working to stay home and care for their children full-time.

Andrew’s family lives in a nice home, but he and his wife drive older, paid-off cars.  They don’t take annual, expensive vacations.  They aren’t flashy.

Andrew listens to financial podcasts like The Money Peach, reads books like The Richest Man in Babylon, and is excited about his future.

Although some would like to think so, this isn’t easy for them.  Andrew works two jobs.  One is seasonal while the other is commissioned-based so there are good months and bad months, good years and not-so-good years.  This requires frugality and communication.  Sometimes the couple is on the same page about purchases and sometimes they are at odds (like all of us), but they are always focused on the same goal – staying debt free so they can live a life that most can’t achieve.

While I’m in the office, I touch base with Andrew about our financial journeys.  It’s one of our favorite topics to weigh-in on and we’re very open about how each of us is doing.

One morning recently, he was slightly bothered.  I asked him what was wrong, to which he replied, “I learned something disturbing this weekend.”

“What?” I asked.

“You can’t talk about how you’re doing to most people.  They’re either going to be jealous or expect you to start paying for everything.”

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What are the Poor Four?  And are They Keeping You from Being Wealthy?

What are the Poor Four?  And are They Keeping You from Being Wealthy?

I read the most astounding paragraph in the June 19th, 2018 edition of USA Today.  In Wealth of Millionaires Surges 10.6% to top $70 Trillion for the First Time, David Carrig was reporting on the World Wealth Report 2018 recently released from global consulting firm Capgemini.  It was the third paragraph of the article that really caught my attention,

The number of high net worth individuals (HNWI) – which Capgemini defines as those having investable assets of $1 million or more excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables and consumer durables – grew almost 10 percent, or 1.6 million to 18.1 million in 2017.

After reading the title of the article, I wondered if this was supposed to be a shocking paragraph?  Was it something to get the readership wound up enough to raise their collective fist in anger and yell, “Life’s unfair?”

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The Investment Property Process

The Investment Property Process

If you’re looking to purchase an investment property, whether it be a residential single-family home or a commercial building, the purchasing process is very similar.  While there are some differences between the two processes, I thought they are close enough that I thought we should take a quick run through to get a discussion in place for future articles.

For discussion purposes, residential properties are single family homes, duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes.  Commercial properties encompass everything else including retail, office and industrial buildings as well as multi-family projects of five units or more.

The investment purchase process for both residential and commercial properties looks like this:

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Investing is Risky. So is Life. Get over it.

Investing is Risky.  So is Life.  Get over it.

We spend our lives with risk.

There is everyday risk like driving to and from work, school, or some event with our spouse.  At any moment, we put ourselves on the road with other people who may or may not be in full control of themselves whether it be from alcohol, lack of sleep, or relationship induced stress.  Some of these people are just plain morons who should not be allowed to drive - but they're given a license anyway and we willingly chose to get on the road with them.

A collision could cost us financially from as little as a few hundred dollars to fix a ding to hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.  However, we’ve learned to accept and manage this daily risk as we go about our lives.

There’s also the health risk we must accept just being part of the human experience.  Genetic health issues may cause elevated concerns throughout our life or they may show up in later years.  Poor food choices or bad exercise habits may not elevate our risk immediately, but sustained patterns will eventually result in some sort of health concern.  This is risk we either accept or ignore, but it’s there nonetheless.

People are killed every year by lighting.  People have been killed by an air-conditioner falling out of a building window.  Life is f'ing dangerous, at times.

Yet, even the riskiest adventurers as well as the experts in covert operations have learned to mitigate their risks.  They don’t jump out of planes without parachutes and they practice repeatedly so that an actual event becomes second nature.

We can’t escape risk so, therefore, we all must learn to deal with it.

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6 Real Ways to Build Long-Term Wealth

6 Real Ways to Build Long-Term Wealth

Becoming wealthy is not something that happens overnight. Sure, some people win the lottery or have a windfall of money from an unexpected inheritance, but you should not be holding your breath for something like that to happen to you.

Instead, to build real wealth, you need to think long-term. Rather than living lavishly, it’s important to adopt a lifestyle of disciplined saving and investing. These simple actions can help almost anybody grow a massive nest egg over time.

Here are six of my favorite ways to gradually grow real wealth.

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A Cell Phone Is Everything It's Cracked up to Be

A Cell Phone Is Everything It's Cracked up to Be

I stood at the hotel room door, shortly after 5:30 a.m., with a hot coffee in my left hand and my cell phone and a banana in my right hand. 

This obviously wasn’t my normal routine and it had been further thrown off by the lack of coffee.  There should be coffee makers in every hotel room, but this was Las Vegas and if you stay in one of the casinos, they want to do everything they can to force you down onto the casino floor.  Hence, no coffee makers.

I’d arrived in Vegas the morning before after attending Rock on the Range, a three-day rock festival in Columbus, Ohio.  I was now in Sin City for the annual ICSC real estate convention that’s connected to my livelihood. 

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Do the Wealthy Get Tattoos?

Do the Wealthy Get Tattoos?

I’m afforded a position where I work daily with a wealthy clientele.  Most of this group came to their affluence through hard work and creativity.  In other words, it wasn’t generational, gifted upon them by a relative after their passing.  These men and women had to get up every morning to earn their piece of the pie.  The majority of them are baby boomers and Gen Xers.  However, some of my clients are now millennials who have out-hustled others and created their wealth early in life.  I consider myself lucky to work with these clients because I’m able to learn by their example.

I have many customers who have tattoos, but they don’t fall into the wealthy category.  This group is often just starting out or have been working for years, still struggling to make it to the next level, often held back due to the decisions they made in their lives.

In paying attention to the two groups, it’s the wealthy clients and their lack of tattoos that recently caught my attention.

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