I have a knack for managing my money and thinking outside the box to make the most of it.
And I can help you to do the same.
My first home was paid off in less than five years.
I own over a million dollars worth of investment real estate.
I have a credit score just under 800 (last I checked).
I earn about $60 per hour as a freelance ghostwriter, a new career I started despite having no experience, no contacts, and no credentials.
I’ve used credit card reward points to get round-trip business class seats for our family of four on flights from N. America to Asia twice so far, and it all cost me less than the cost of flying in economy.
And I’d love to show you how to do it.
It all began by playing the game of life the traditional way: get a degree, get a job, live in suburbia, send the kids to school, save for retirement.
Been there, done that. But I wanted more than an average life in suburbia. I was craving a bit of excitement in my life.
So at age 38 a drastic change was made.
And now I work as a writer from wherever in the world I want to be, the building of my retirement nest egg is on autopilot using mostly other people’s money, and I’m free to do as I please within reason.
Whatever your dream is, I’d like to help you get it too
The only catch is, I’m not going to be your how-to-get-rich-quick person. The only ways I know to do what I do require time, effort, and hard work. And that’s been the case for everyone I’ve ever met in real life who has reached success.
Most of my adult life has been based on the need to have a backup plan in case I was one day unable to work. I’ve always wanted to make sure that if the proverbial crap hit the fan, we could survive just fine (albeit with a more frugal lifestyle) with no need to declare bankruptcy.
Why the fixation with being able to survive even if I couldn’t work?
Because at the age of 18, I was told that based on my symptoms and the presence of a certain type of lesion in my brain, I had an 80-90% chance of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at some point in the future – it could be months away, perhaps years away – there was no way to know for sure. If I had good luck, it would only have a minor impact on my life. If I had bad luck, it would ruin everything.
I bought and built my first home with my husband when I was 26 years old, and we paid if off in less than 5 years using strategies I discuss in How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck. The plan was to live there until we were old and grey. At the time still haunted by the prediction of MS in my future, we built a bungalow so if worst case scenario I ended up in a wheelchair from MS someday, we wouldn’t have to move due to difficulty with stairs.
Aside from wanting to pay off our house quickly to save on interest, I also wanted it paid off fast in case I had to cut my working years short (always haunted by my high risk of a future MS diagnosis, I knew that while there are many people who are able to live mostly fully functional lives with MS, there are others who have a really lousy time with it… exhibit A: a customer at work who was in a wheelchair, incontinent, unable to walk etc.)
I’m a plan-for-the-worst-hope-for-the-best kind of girl, what can I say.
Then about 10 years ago, I made the worst decision of my entire life. I decided to treat myself to refractive surgery to enable me to see clearly without eyeglasses. It was a disaster and screwed up my eyes so much that at one time I couldn’t even work – hell, for almost a year I couldn’t even tolerate keeping my eyes open all day, plus, had to spend a few hours every day with cold packs on them to dull the pain and reduce inflammation. This just added more fuel to my determination to design a life that would be affordable even if I can’t work.
Anyhow, all this isn’t being mentioned to start a pity party. It’s only so you can get to know me and why I think the way I do.
Plenty of people have worse things to deal with than I do. And luckily, after that initial “attack” of symptoms that led to the dire (to me, anyhow) MS prediction, I recovered almost completely. And I haven’t had anything happen since that could be attributed to MS. I feel like I dodged a bullet on that one.
As for the eyes, they still suck, but not as badly as they once did thanks to the help of good doctors who cared enough to help me even though my case wasn’t easy. And I’ve learned to work around my eye troubles for now.
Anyhow, on to more positive topics.
We started our family after paying off our house, figuring that way we could afford for me to stay home with our kids while my husband worked full-time. I worked part-time when my husband was home from work, and that allowed us to avoid the need for daycare.
But I like to have a challenge outside of the home, that’s greater than what I got from working part-time.
So I suggested a new project to my husband – we’d buy our first investment property, a small condo near the local university.
Fast-forward to now and we own just over 1 million dollars worth of investment real estate – it was all purchased by the time I was 36 years old (my goal was to own 1 million dollars worth by the time I was 40… we beat that by 4 years, WAHOO!). Real estate is our inflation-proof retirement fund. By the time it’s all paid off when we’re of normal retirement age, we’ll have a tidy income from it. Or, we can sell it and invest the proceeds in something more passive.
The real estate thing is one reason why I had to learn everything I could about getting a high credit score – because a high score makes it easier to get financing for these investments. And it’s also why I had to learn to be very good at managing our money, to keep the cash flowing.
But because “you only live once”…
After I turned 38 years old, we took the plunge for a complete lifestyle overhaul. The suburban 9-5 wasn’t cutting it for us – and I didn’t want an average life in the suburbs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the typical North American lifestyle at all – it’s a nice life – it’s just that I wanted something different.
So my husband and I quit our jobs, deciding to homeschool our kids, build a new online income from scratch, and travel full-time.
But I’m having the time of my life!
This isn’t the part of the story where I tell you I spend my days sipping margaritas on the beach though.
Just like you probably do, I still work hard. To be honest, I work as much as I did in my old 9 to 5.
But the work I do now is work I choose. Work that I’m 100% in control of. I’m not being told what to do by corporate managers in a far away head office who have forgotten (or don’t care) what it’s like to be on the front lines.
These days, I earn a living by writing. I do freelance ghostwriting that usually earns me around $60 per hour, and I sell a limited number of spots for a course I teach on how to do what I do. Plus, I write and publish books.
I started all this from scratch, with no prior experience, no contacts, and no credentials.
Wondering about that real estate stuff and why we don’t just live off that? Because it’s to build our nest egg for retirement – I want to grow it large enough to minimize the odds of us ever being broke retirees. So I need other income sources to cover today’s living expenses.
Why personal finance?
Because like it or not, money is one of the things that makes the world go ’round. Maybe not literally, but without cash, most of us will struggle to survive and thrive.
I grew up in a household where money was discussed regularly. From a very young age, I was taught how to save it and why you need to – my parents opened up a bank account for me when I was around 11 years old so I’d see how I could get “free money” from the bank in the form of interest if I left my extra money there. Before that, I was encouraged to save extra money in my piggy bank, which I could crack open when I turned 18 and use as I saw fit. Although my piggy bank didn’t exactly hold enough to make me rich, as a child, feeling the weight of it grow with time (so many coins!!) was pretty cool.
As a teenager, I was advised to save half of what I earned – which is not hard to do when you don’t really need it for anything other than hanging out with your friends, plus buying odds and ends like clothes and cassette tapes (yes, I’m dating myself there). Anyhow, the savings paid for my first year’s tuition at the local university.
Growing up, I learned how to make money grow. How to make it work for me. How to earn it.
And I want to share what I’ve learned with you. To help you make the most of the money you have. To help you build wealth for your future. To help you create a better life for yourself, preferably one that you don’t need a vacation from.
Getting more from life when you’re tight on cash can seem impossible. But real change and success happens when you take action every day. My books and courses will help you do that with easy techniques that anyone can implement, starting right now. You’ll get the motivation, money saving tips, and action plan you need to maximize your chances of success.
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I’m the multiple best-selling author of the Smart Money Blueprint Series. I’ve been featured on live radio, WOR 710 “The Voice of New York,” on The Financial Quarterback which is hosted by 5-Star Wealth Manager Josh Jalinski.
I’ve also been quoted on MSN Money, GoBanking Rates, Fool.com, Time.com, Nasdaq.com, and Woman’s World Magazine, plus published on The Huffington Post.