I’m pleased to announce the 2nd interview in Real People Success Stories. These are real people who have achieved financial success on average incomes. What you will not find in this series are IT professionals, Engineers, Lawyers, and Physicians making six-figure salaries. You won’t find bloggers or people trying to sell eCourses or books; these are real blue collar people.
The format is simple, I invite them to my office (or visit them) and turn on the recorder. The only editing is to clean up punctuation and protect the identities of the innocent.
Today I’m excited to share with you the story of Rose. She and her husband reached financial independence in 1984, and they kept running their business and rentals until 2004 when they retired at the age of 60. Rose embodies the ‘millionaire next door” mindset and is proof that you can achieve success without a 6-figure salary.
My questions are in bold and Rose answers are below.
REAL PEOPLE SUCCESS STORIES
Rentals with Rose on Real Estate Week
How did you build your wealth?
My husband and I invested in rental properties. We married young and we’re living in a small apartment. The landlord lived in the same building and my husband thought ”this is what we should be doing” and we discussed getting a rental.
One day my husband decided we are getting a rental and he began searching the newspapers.
He found a place and took me to go see it, it looked like a rundown shack. The grass was knee high and I thought he was kidding.
He was convinced we could fix it up and after arguing with him in in the street he won me over.
You mention you married young how old were you?
I was 16, my husband was 18!
How did you come up with the money to buy a property that young?
We scrimped, saved, and did without anything we didn’t really need.
We had no money; we didn’t even have the money for the down payment. We went to the bank and banker said no. My husband asked him to come see the house, we got him there and asked him to imagine what the place could be. He gave us the loan, you probably couldn’t do that today.
How much work did you do to the property?
The previous owner slummed it out; there was a lock on every door. It was actually being used as a brothel, that’s how bad it was. We had to spackle, paint, redo the kitchens, bathrooms, replace appliances, and other various repairs.
We fixed one of the units at a time until we had rents coming in. We had milk delivery and it went up to almost $100.00, so my husband took a job at RCA for about 4 months to get some backup cash.
When the first unit was finished, we took all the furniture out of our home to furnish the apartment. My daughter was two, we took her dresser and put it in the first unit. Our daughter woke up in the morning and all her clothes were in a cardboard box! She was only 2 so it wasn’t too upsetting for her.
My husband and I were eating carrots and peanut butter, we made sure our daughter ate well. But we sacrificed and did without. Our furniture in the living room was that nylon lounge yard furniture that was popular at the time.
Once all the units were rented out, my husband quit his job. We never paid a mortgage out of pocket.
We put a sign out front and before my husband could even put it up, people were bringing their tv’s and VCR’s into the shop downstairs in the basement. Eventually, we got into sales as well.
We didn’t do any advertising; it was all word of mouth. We had a good reputation and stood behind the work.
How much work was it managing the property?
Once an apartment was rented, it was just annoying repairs like a dripping faucet or clogged drain.
When tenants moved out there was some work freshening the unit up. If it was a bad tenant there might be more work.
Any particular bad tenants that stick in your mind?
Yes, the little old lady had a “well-mannered dog.” They were always well-mannered and she was an old lady and we fell for it.
The night before she was planned to move in, I had a bad dream and based on the contents of the dream my husband went to see where the lady lived and there were 2 dogs, and apparently not housebroken from the sight on the floors and the smell!
Another person had a “very well-behaved dog” and again we gave in and this dog chewed up the couch!! The apartments were furnished.
Lots of blogs online are written by professionals making 6 figure salaries, who have a high savings rate or practice extreme frugality. Is earning a 6-figure income necessary to reach financial independence?
No, but you need to budget and sacrifice
Did you ever make a 6-figure salary or the inflation adjust equivalent?
Is extremely frugality necessary?
It’s not necessary, you can have a nice car, you just don’t buy the biggest car or all the options. You have to budget and plan.
How important was budgeting?
Extremely important, you need to write everything down on paper. Well, I guess now you can do it on the internet.
You write down what income you have coming in, and what bills have to get paid first. Never put big bills on credit cards, only small expenses and pay it off every month without fail.
Pay yourself first: put some money in savings every month.
Part of your retirement plan was to purchase a simple cabin and rural property, what has simple living taught you?
Living simply can save money, enjoying nature is free. We bought the property before we retired, we didn’t have to drive all over to various parks or take expensive vacations. If you have a pond or pool you can enjoy staying in spending time with your family and friends.
Do you still budget now that you are retired?
Yes, I keep track of how much is coming in and decide what I can and can’t do.
It’s not all budgeting and simple living, is it?
No, I love to travel, and we travel all over.
What are some money-saving travel tips?
Check out travel companies. AAA was very helpful when we traveled on our own; helping get train passes in other countries, booking hotels and things like that. There are also good group travel companies which are very informative while traveling and all the planning is done for you. Another good trip we took we used Tours by Locals which is good as the guide(s) knows their own country and all the places that one might not find otherwise. (For more travel advice see: living frugally as a full-time nomad)
What advice do you have for young people?
A college degree is not for everyone and many people don’t consider trade school which can often lead to going into one’s own business.
What advice do you have for people who might be tempted to retire too early or with too little saved?
My father said “what goes up must come down.” The market may not continue to do as well. Things are constantly changing, and you cannot expect that what you plan for will work that way.
Working is a good fallback for unexpected emergencies; don’t be in a rush to retire too soon.
Speaking of expenses how have expenses change during your retirement?
Almost everything we buy has gone up
More than you expected?
How do you cope with rising prices?
I have a good planner that set up retirement plan with an emphasis on guaranteed income.
Thank You! So, you really never made 6 figures?
So, there is hope for us all?