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Id like to introduce you all to my friendChad Coach Carson, a real estate investor, blogger, family man, and long-term international traveler.I talk about slow travel, but my three-week adventures pale in comparison to the nearly year and a half that he and his family of four is wrapping up in Cuenca, Ecuador.
I met Coach Carson on his last trip stateside in the fall of 2017 at the bloggers conference known asFinCon. Hes as humble as he is tall and has a great mind for business. One might not expect a former All-American linebacker from Clemson and Rhodes Scholar finalist to be so grounded, but Coach does not come across as someone who annihilated quarterbacks to earn his keep in college.
Hes been living our dream with a location independent life and income streams that more than support his desired standard of living, and making it happen several years before his fortieth birthday. If he had followed through with his original plan to become a medical doctor, I dont imagine that would have happened.
Lets get to know Coach a little better. Ready break!
Inspired by Nigel Tufnel, the character portrayed byChristopher GuestinSpinal Tap, I tookMr. 1500s
If youre not familiar with the scene, take 50 seconds to watchthis videoand enjoy the dialog between Nigel and Rob Reiner.
I decided Id start a Q&A of my own. Not satisfied with just ten questions, this one goes to eleven. Just like Nigels amplifiers.
What do you do (or did you do) for a living? What do you like best about your job? If you were a physician, what type of a physician do you think you would be? Why?
Since I graduated from college in 2002, I have been a full-time real estate investor. I have used house flipping, rental income, and interest income to pay the bills ever since.
I most of all enjoy the freedom and flexibility that comes with being an entrepreneur. Ive never had an office, a rigid schedule, or a boss to report to. This has allowed me to play lots of midday basketball and travel for long periods of time, like my current 17-month trip with my family to Ecuador.
Visiting a waterfall outside of Baños, Ecuador[PoF: De donde esta los baños?]
I actually intended to be a physician after graduating with a Biology degree in college. I observed surgeries with my football teams orthopedic surgeon, took the MCAT, and applied to 5 medical schools. But I withdrew the applications soon thereafter.
After the grind of a college football career, I wasnt yet ready for another long grind of more school and residency. So, I decided to try real estate entrepreneurship for a year or so, fully intending to reapply to medical school later. But you see how well that plan worked out 15 years later!
This was my daily job in addition to doing chemistry and botany labs (and it even paid for school!)
If I were a physician, sports medicine would be interesting because of my long fascination with and participation in athletics. But I also think I would enjoy the breadth and human interaction of being a general physician.
[PoF: I recall Robert Smith, another college football star with strong academics, putting off medical school for to see what he could do in the NFL. The plan, at least according to interviews at the time, was to apply to medical school, but I cant blame him (or you) for not taking on the rigors of the education and training to become a physician when you had alternate paths to success.
As I said in the intro, your life would probably look a lot different if you had, and you would not be financiallyindependent or location independent in your thirties.]
My is about two primary topics financial independence and real estate investing. My niche is helping people use real estate to retire early, either as a primary or secondary investment vehicle. Real estate is a great tool both to build wealth and to produce income during retirement.
I think my content would appeal to physicians because I take a bottom-up approach to my writing and education. I start with foundational principles, like how to choose a target investing market or how to run the numbers. Then I build on those with stories, case studies, and more advanced concepts.
Also, my mother was a high-earning dentist and my father was a real estate investor. They used that 1-2 combination of high earnings and rentals to build their own retirement portfolio. So, I have a lot of behind-the-scenes experience that could be helpful for physicians hoping to reach financial independence early.
[PoF: Im the son of a dentist, so weve got that in common.
I havent had much luck with real estate, but Ive only used it as a place to live, rather than an investment. I also didnt have much luck on the gridiron. I found out there werent many non-bench positions for a slow 95-pound sophomore in high school, as badly as I wanted to be out there.
Physicians have the money to invest in real estate, but not many have the time (or take the time) to learn the trade, do proper due diligence, and manage properties (or build a team to do so). The proliferation ofcrowdfunded REsites has made it a bit easier to dabble in it, but of course, thats not the same.]
What inspired you to start a blog of your own? Was there a particular event you remember that made you feel your blog had arrived? Any big plans for your blog in the future?
I started my blog because I love to learn. It was an outlet to organize and share my ideas as I learned and applied them in my own financial journey.
In the beginning, I just wrote for a small email list of people who had taken local classes or done consulting with me in and around my home of South Carolina. Then I finally realized by attendingFinConin 2015 that there was a BIGGER world out there on the internet.
Soon after, I got an article calledHow to Retire Rich With Embarrassing Old Cars and Ugly Housesfeatured m. It then got mentioned in a Toronto newspaper column, and my site was bombarded by visitors. That got me hooked.
[PoF: The wider your reach and the bigger the audience, the more fun blogging can be. I was excited to get a few hundredpageviewsa day after a few months. A few thousand adayis even more addicting!]
Ill break my recommendations into categories.
The Money-Life Manifesto How to Win With Money, Stop Selling Out, and Do What Matters
This is my mission statement at coachcarson.com. Its what keeps me fired up to keep sharing each day.
Destination Financial Independence The Peak & Plateaus of Retirement
This describes the final peak destination of financial independence, but it also gives important milestones to celebrate along the way (like mini-retirements and semi-retirement).
How Many Rental Properties Do You Need to Retire?
The math of retirement planning with real estate is fairly simple. Heres how I do it with rental investments.
The Debt Snowball Plan How to Get Free & Clear Rentals
This is an example of how to build a rental portfolio and then quickly get the loans paid off to increase income and reduce risk.
House Hacking How to Hack Your Housing, Live For Free, & Start Investing in Real Estate
I love this real estate technique. If every homeowner began with this instead of buying a regular house, wed have a lot of wealthy people out there.
Real Estate Investing 101 9 Steps to Get Started (or Restarted)
This is my step-by-step approach to getting started in real estate investing. No hype or guru stuff. Just practical advice.
How to Run the Numbers For Rental Properties Back of the Envelope Analysis
Real estate analysis does not require fancy spreadsheets, especially up front. This shows you the essential numbers you need to know.
The 35 Best Niches For Real Estate Investing (& How to Choose Yours)
Doctors specialize in niches, and so do real estate investors. Being a specialist makes you a lot more money.
How to Pick the Ideal Locations For Investment Properties A Comprehensive Guide
Real estate profits always starts with the right location. This guide shows you how to pick the right market on a macro and micro level.
How to Save For College With Real Estate Investing
I share my plan to use two houses to save for my two daughters college educations.
85+ Recommended Tools & Resources For Real Estate Investors
I share the software, tools, books, and blogs I use the most as a 15-year real estate investor.
[PoF: The titles alone have me tempted to hit sell on my index funds! Well, not quite, but this is an outstanding list of resources, and I know youve got more than eleven posts with high quality, actionable advice on real estate investing.]
At what age are you most likely to retire (or at what age did you retire) from full-time work? What are you doing to help realize your retirement target?
I dont ever plan to stop working in some form or fashion. Entrepreneurship is more of a game than work for me. But starting in 2017, I drastically cut the number of hours I spend in my real estate investing business. I average about 1-2 hours per week, which I primarily use for paying bills, reviewing accounting statements, and communicating with my property managers.
I now like to spend most of my time doing the most enjoyable activities that also make a big impact. Writing and teaching is one such activity. And putting together deals and managing my portfolio from a higher level is another.
Its much easier to step away when the money keeps coming in after you stop working. Real estate, in particular, is attractive for this purpose because you dont have to sell properties in order to earn that income. Rental or interest income (from real estate notes) just keep paying you month after month.
The 1 objection I get from would-be real estate investors is that its not passive enough. I also hear that they dont want to deal with tenants or toilets. This can all be solved with systems and by delegating to competent people who can run those systems. Real estate is best understood as a hybrid business-investment, so you have to treat it as such in order to free your time. Two books,the EmythandCash Flow Quadrants, really got me started with this passive income from systems mindset.
[PoF: Entrepreneurship is more of a game than work for me. Excellent point. I have a hard time reconciling why I put in as much time and effort as I do into this online enterprise of mine, but I do like to see how well I can do in this game.
Ive never been good at delegating or hiring help. Thats another thing I could learn from you. I also like your comments on retirement. I feel that anyone industrious enough to become financially independent at an early age is unlikely to just kick back and do nothing productive.]
An ideal day for me hiking with my family and taking in beautiful natural scenery in Cajas National Park, Ecuador
An ideal retirement or really an ideal life for me includes:
I enjoy getting better and always striving to be my best. I enjoy new challenges and opportunities. Parenting has certainly been my biggest growth experience thus far. Exercise, travel, learning foreign languages, entrepreneurship, blogging, and teaching.
I dont want to exit this short life having only focused on myself. I want my wife, kids, family, work colleagues, business partners, blog readers, and society to know that I cared and strove to make a difference in their lives.
Lifes too short to not enjoy the process. I love playing basketball, traveling, hiking in nature, learning foreign languages, reading, and listening to music. I also love spending time with my family, including some crazy Friday night dance parties with my 4 and 6 year-olds in the kitchen!
Your breakdown represents a life that sounds both ideal and noble. Active in many ways, all of which are for personal and greater good. Bravo.]
Ill give you eleven sentences to dish out advice to a young physician. Any and all advice is welcome. We talk about personal finance, so money is fair game, but if you have advice on being a better doctor, a better parent / spouse / friend / human, were all ears.
I have two pieces of advice for a young physician one practical and one more philosophical.
First, dont make the mistake of buying a dream house too early. You can loseHUNDREDS of thousands of dollarsin opportunity cost because you didnt pursue a financially smarter housing option first likehouse hacking,live-in flips, orlive-in-then-rents.[PoF: Forget opportunity cost.I lost hundreds of thousands of actual dollarswhen we sold the dream house we had built.]
You have plenty of years left to live in a dream house, so take the first 5 to 10 years of your working life to think of your housing as an investment.
Second, think long and hard about what matters to you. Its easy to get caught in the momentum of life, a career, and a family to the point that you lose sight of the hopes and dreams you had when you were younger. Those earlier-in-life insights are an important part of yourself, so figure out a way to acknowledge and realize them in some way.
For me, it was the idea of extended travel internationally. My wife shared that dream, and were now building our life around that as a priority while still in our 30s. FIRE and successful wealth building is an important step to help you regain autonomy over the activities and direction of your life.
[PoF: I already blew it on number one, but were doing our best to embrace number two. I didnt think to reflect too much on what we wanted out of life as a young physician. We were too busy living in the present.
Once we realizedwe were financially independentbased on our invested assets, we started to create a vision for our future that looked a lot different than our current life. Extended international travel is a part of our vision, too.]
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Im currently in month 13 of a 17-month trip abroad with my family. So, travel within the US actually appeals to me more right now when I get back.
So, I think I would use the money to travel to Yosemite National Park in California with my family. Wed probably camp in the high-country most of the time, so I doubt wed use all the money. But Id buy the best damn camping food and craft beer possible, and Id hire some dirt-bag hikers and rock climbers to come along with us to help carry our supplies and to hang out. After the trip was done, Id give them the rest of the money thats left over so they could keep being dirtbags a little longer:)
[PoF: Thats interesting to hear you say that. International travel is glorified, and there are some good reasons for that, but there certainly is a lot of natural beauty and good times to be had right here in the United States.
An RV is definitely in our near future, and weve got plans to spend time as a family visiting all 50 U.S. States.We just checked off Hawaii, and we plan to return to Alaska, the setting of our honeymoon, with our then teenage boys for our 20th wedding anniversary. That gives us nine and a half years to hit up the rest of the continental 48.]
I havent had the pleasure of drinking some of PoFs home brews, or they would certainly make the list. But heres what came to mind.
Fresh-squeezed juice of any kind, but especially orange or mango juice
Morocho an Ecuadorian favorite, served warm and made of corn, milk, cinnamon, and other yummy spices
Belgian Tripel-style beer if in Cuenca, Ecuador you can find my favorite atJodeco Belgian Brewery
IPA (India Pale Ale) Dales Pale Ale fro
m Oskar Blues nearby in Brevard, NC is always a favorite
Herbal tea hereis my favorite flavor and brand
Sweet tea Im from the south, what can I say:) Its so sweet that I can only have it a couple times per year
Pina Colada especially with fresh coconut milk and pineapple!
Red wine especially a good cabernet sauvignon from California or Malbec from Argentina
Enjoying my favorite Belgian brew with my wife
[PoF: Perhaps Ill bring some of my homebrew down to Camp FI Midwest here in Minnesota to rectify the situation of having never sampled my handiwork. Great list!]
Scrambled eggs with spinach, cheese, and a side of toast
Waffles with fresh fruit and some of the famous PoF maple syrup Ive heard about
A BIG fruit bowl with bananas, apples, mango, peaches, grapes topped with granola and yogurt
Corn cheese grits, patty-sausage, and home-made biscuits (another deep-south favorite)
Paella especially when in Valencia in Spain
A simple, hot, steaming bowl of vegetable soup on a cold day
Artesanal chocolate dark, high percentage of cocoa, and sourced in Ecuador
Peanut-butter and banana sandwich (my specialty)
[PoF: I do notice a breakfast theme. It started with the Dales Pale Ale above and continued here in the food section. ?
No Annual Fee, a$500 welcome bonuswith $3k spent in 3 mo. & up to 5% cash back on certain purchases. More on why its one of my favorite cash back business cardshere.
We enjoyed thetacos al pastor in Guanajuatoas you did, and Ive been to New Orleans nearly a dozen times. No shortage good food in The Big Easy.
I cant say Im on board with the peanut butter banana sandwich, but I probably shouldnt knock it til Ive tried it.]
You didnt ask what didnt make my list? Like cuey (i.e. pit-rotisseried guinea pig), an ahem delicacy in Ecuador. Not my favorite:)
I think I saw you first with an article on m. I liked your writing style and shared your love of craft beer:)
Advice? Sip your beer slowly. Travel often. Enjoy your time with family. Give abundantly of your knowledge and resources. Never stop growing. And have fun.
It seems youre doing those well already!
Thanks for the opportunity to answer your questions and share with your audience. Its been a blast!
[PoF: The pleasures been all mine, Coach! Well, the cuey picture wasnt all that pleasing, but I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of it. I look forward to continuing to learn from you from both a blogging and real estate perspective. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and wisdom with us.
Readers, be sure tovisit Coach Carson. I guarantee youll learn something about both real estate investing and living a fulfilling life.]
Interested in hearing how other top personal finance bloggers have answered these questions? Check out a few of these Christopher Guest Posts:
This may be my favorite Christopher Guest post that Ive read so far, POF. And thats coming from a guy who married into a Carolina Gamecock family (The picture above hurts my heart).
Coach Carson seems like a stand-up guy with a wealth of information. I hadnt heard of his site before, I am going to check it out (and probably add it to my recommended sites).
I think you nailed it on the head earlier in the post talking about toilets and tennants. We currently live in our little starter house that we have been in for 10 years. Going to move in 18 months or so. The thought has crossed my mind to rent it out given that it is close to the hospital (been here since medical school). But the toilets and tenants are exactly what keeps that thought at bay.
Im gonna go read Coach Carsons advice on his site and see if I think differently after that.
P.S. I agree with POF that you (Coach Carson) would likely not be where you are now financially if you went into medicine. After just finishing training, at a ripe age of 32, I am now trying to make my net worth zero ? As WCI likes to point out, the bum on the street corner has a much better net worth than most of us when we finish training. Which is why I am taking your advice to stay in my starter house for the first few years after being done with training.
Thanks TPP! The gamecock/Clemson rivalry is all in fun for me these days. But sacking the Carolina quarterback was still one of my favorite moments!
For a busy medical professional, I think a property manager could be a great idea if you rent your house. It will cost you, but that is an investment in your sanity and free time. And it will probably make it more fun and keep you in the rental game vs the DIY route. I also recommend a healthy cash reserve. I started with about $5k.
Good luck and thanks for checking out my site!
Im glad you got to interview Coach Carson! Investment-wise, real estate has been the thing that interests me most despite it being the main avenue I have yet to invest in deeply (mainly capital restraints). I remember first hearing him speak on the Mad Fientists podcast and ever since Ive subscribed to his blog and hold him as an example to the kind of rental portfolio Id like to have some day. He has tons of material on his site, is approachable, and even teaches some students periodically throughout the year. Great interview!
Thanks for the positive feedback, Zac. Good luck getting that first deal up and going. A house hack or live-in-then-rent are often the best ways to start building if capital is the main constraint. There are low down payment mortgage programs for owner occupants.
I love the way you describe your ideal life with growth, service and fun. It seems so simple but its just so perfect. I think youve stumbled on the key to happiness here. Great interview! Thanks for sharing.
Growth, service, and fun are certainly the keys to my happiness! Thanks for reading and commenting!
I must check your site out. I guess we house hacked since I have always lived in a duplex and even rented out our current home for a decade before moving here. My husband managed our rental properties while doing a general surgery residency. So yeah it can be done. He just used reliable tradesmen.
We LOVE real estate and have seen the mighty force of it especially in high cost of living areas. Now we want to venture into more cash flow RE again. We reached FI mainly with RE and cash. So there are many ways to reach the peak.
Congrats on your success with FI and real estate! And Im impressed your husband managed your properties while doing surgery residency. I agree it can be done once you find those good contractors to visit the house. The rest of the work is just taking calls and writing checks (or pressing buttons with online bill pay these days).
Exactly! The renters cheques were deposited automatically online. He called reliable trademen and our renters were reliable firemen, bankers, professors, teachers, senior government officials, etc. They treated our homes like their own. We are very grateful for that. We played it very simple and safe. I will send my husband to your site tonight. You will probably see a thousand hits once he sits down and studies your work!
Awesome interview! Its kind of crazy how house hacking is becoming a buzz word now a days when just 3 years ago (when I started), it was not really talked about
Whats funny, I bought my first house at 22 so that might be a little bit too young, but it worked out! Real estate and house hacking has set me up for great success. I was able to grow my net worth over $100,000 through house hacking and its been quite a launching pad for my financial future.
Thanks for sharing your story in this post and looking forward to playing some hoops next FinCon ?
Hey Erik, Ill be your rebounder in a hoops game anytime;) I have not totaled my savings + profits from house hacking, but youve inspired me to do it now. And Im sure its been a huge financial decision for me as well.
Im glad house hacking is catching on. It makes sense in many markets, but particularly in high priced markets it can be the difference between treading water and actually moving ahead financially.
Great interview, PoF! And thanks for sharing, Coach Carson. Im starting to dabble in real estate a bit (mainly online crowdfunding at the moment), so Ill be sure to check out your site.
Which crowdfunding platforms are you dabbling in? Im starting to do the same, and I plan to write some articles on my experiences in the near future.
I currently have investments with PeerStreet and RealtyShares. Im tracking a few others on RealtyMogul and CrowdStreet but havent committed any capital yet. Im also working on a few articles about crowdfunding myself, but Ill definitely check out yours when they come out.
I look forward to following your crowdfunding articles. I have Peer Street and EquityMultiple so far, and Im also looking at Patch of Land, Realty Shares, and Alpha Flow. Its hard to keep up with all of them!
Great article. Lots of smart stuff. Probably the smartest was ditching the shackles of corporate medicine and going straight for financial independence. Kudos to you!!
I didnt realize it would be the smartest move at the time to skip on medicine. But its been the right move for me, do doubt. I had a lot of flexibility and opportunities early on in my career.
Great interview, I like your description of entrepreneurship as a game. I didnt have the risk tolerance to play that game until I became FI since I had no safety net. But now that Im playing its really fun.
And kudos on the Yosemite choice. One of my favorite places in America, just jaw-dropping and peaceful all at the same time!
I havent been to Yosemite yet, but I need to soon! Thats why it was on my mind.
My favorite type of entrepreneurship is the low or no risk kind. By that I mean investing time and energy but not a lot of money, testing to see if it works, and starting over or pivoting if it fails. FI also gives you an abundance of time that makes that type of entrepreneurship possible.
Another example of why you are lucky not to have got into medicine, but choose instead to get into real estate investing . how many paid of rentals was that you had?!
Thanks for sharing the contest, Brandy. And I dont share the exact number publicly, but I definitely have more rentals producing income than I would have had going down other paths! I think a career in medicine would have been very intellectually stimulating, but I dont regret the flexibility and freedom of the path I took.
Excellent interview. It really inspires me to take a closer look at real estate investing and the passive income from systems mindset.
And PoF is on point. For all your accomplishments before 40, you are extreme humble. And its really refreshing! And I like your life story and description of an ideal life. By the way, which languages have you learned and are currently learning? I think language learning and acquisition is great for mental growth and it gives you the ability to communicate and understand others well. What methods do you use for learning language? I appreciate your fresh ideas.
P.S. the cuey picture breaks my heart too. But thats how I feel about all living creatures ?
Thanks Dr. McFrugal! Passive income from systems is an important component of many retirement plans, whether its real estate or other businesses. Real estate is a little simpler to systematize because there are a lot of processes and team members already in place (like property managers).
I learned German in high school and college (although Id be embarrassed to try speaking it now). And I learned Spanish in 2009 in Peru, and of course Ive been trying to improve it during this trip in Ecuador.
My wife is a spanish teacher, so we have a lot of discussions about language learning. For me, there are three keys:
1) Commitment to vocabulary and basic grammar learning. You just have to do it daily and consistently. I like to use the free software Anki (like a virtual flashcard program that remembers your weaknesses and helps with spaced repitition learning).
2) Immersion in a native speaking location. The longer the better. If you speak it most of the day (like living with a family in a home-stay), 2-3 months can produce dramatic results.
3) Regular conversation practice so that you get live-fire listening and speaking practice. Learning grammar & vocab on your own is one thing, but using it in a real situation is a completely different growth process. I love intercambios (1-2 hours with native speaker, 50% in english and 50% in their language)
Wed like to return to Germany some day so I can rekindle my skills and so my wife and kids can learn it. After that who knows!
That is so awesome! I speak a little (very little) German and Spanish too! I took Spanish from middle school to my first year in college. I got pretty good at it, but I really think you have to be immersed in it and really think in the language to become proficiently fluent (which I am not). Maybe one day when I take a sabbatical or mini retirement in a Latin American country with my future family, I will finally be truly fluent ?
I learned a little German four years ago in the four months between the end of my residency and before I started my first job. I went with my best friend and his wife who has family there. We stayed with them in a small village near Mainz in the Rhineland. It was an amazing extended trip, especially since we lived in the village among locals. Because we were there in winter time for the Christmas markets, it was really magical! The two mo