Welcome back to the third part of the three-part series on physically mastering wealth. Today, Patrick Donohoe is going to talk to you about two very different stories. One is about a family that saved too much money, the other is about a family that spent it all. Join in and learn from these stories so that you can apply the three financial habits for a happier life. Force these habits into your life today!
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Physically Mastering Wealth Series: Part 2
One of the driving forces of human beings is freedom, which infers financial freedom, too. Several years ago, I set out to discover how any individual, regardless of their financial situation, could evaluate their finances in five minutes or less, and have a firm date when they could achieve financial independence. The latest version of this calculator, which is free for readers, can be found at TheWealthStandard.com/calculator. The calculator is going to take you a few minutes to complete and it’s going to provide you with a specific financial independence date. Go check it out.
This is the third part of a three-part series on Wealthy Habits. The end result of why I’m doing this series is so that an individual like yourself can show up to life even better, have a more abundant experience of each moment. I look at finance as being one of those topics that weigh on the mind of people constantly and influence the way they show up to life, which is, as you can imagine, not positive.
The First Story
I’m going to tell two stories. One of, someone who saved almost all of his family’s money and someone who was living paycheck to paycheck and how the 3 habits of 3 things I’m going to talk about that are applicable to both being able to get that same end result, which is a more enjoyable experience of life because of the specific mindset that it produces. Let’s start with the first story.
First off, if you have not read to the first two episodes of this three-part series, please go back and do that because you will understand the idea of physical mastery, which is the establishing of specific habits and how those habits will influence the lion share of your behavior. These habits are strategically designed, not the result of happenstance, which is usually the case with people but to get specific outcomes that people generally desire.
Let’s talk about this first family. This client of mine came to me and was making a ton of money through a series of unfortunate events and very painful lessons. He became the CEO of this specific company. At the time, he was making a lot of money, almost seven figures but he was saving the majority of it and came to find out the upbringing that he had drastically influenced what he did with the money. There was a very scarce mindset. They saved everything, scrimped, and did not go on many vacations or travel, even though the family had the means to do that in spades. He was carrying that same behavior into his family.
The Second Story
Saving the majority of money investing, he was very meticulous in the way that he balanced his portfolio and asset allocation very astute and well off. At the time of meaning, he didn’t necessarily have to work another day in his life but he kept working 50-60 hour weeks, saving the majority of his money but it came down to not necessarily experiencing out of life what he wanted. There are solutions to this. I’m going to go to the next story, which did not end very well.
The next story is about a couple who had a pretty nasty divorce but their entire marriage revolved around arguing about money. They were living beyond paycheck to paycheck, didn’t understand lifestyle expenses, and equated what they spent on what they thought they were making, which wasn’t what they were making. What this led to is a lot of fighting and to the point where there was a divorce and kids involved. It was bad.
At the same time, looking at where their behaviors came from, it was associated with the environments that they grew up in. One was an environment where they never had any money and that which they had to spend on food, clothes and transportation. Oftentimes, they didn’t have any money to spend. The other came from a lower-middle-class family and was making more than his parents but it was always this never saving, investing or having any plan associated with money.
Physically Mastering Wealth: When it comes to the actual implementation of these strategies, there are two ways to approach establishing habits. You can force it or you can consistently do it.
The Three Financial Habits
Here are the financial habits that ultimately impacted. The first family was a little too late with the second family that I was working with. Moving beyond that, they had made some changes once the divorce was final but I’m going to focus on this first family but in the end, these principles equally apply. I want to make sure that you understand that we all have financial habits. We didn’t necessarily strategically design them for this specific end result that we wanted. You can unpack these three financial habits in multiple layers. I’m going to speak to them generally and I’m going to give you some resources that you can learn more about them if you want.
It’s the establishing of three habits. The 1st habit is a spending strategy, 2nd habit is a savings strategy and the 3rd habit is an investment strategy. It’s not very complicated but when it comes to the actual implementation of these strategies, there are two ways to approach establishing habits. You can force it or consistently do it as I talked about in the last episode. Sixty days is the average. Forcing it, though, sometimes allows you to not have an out. Even though you do have an out, you can put yourself in an environment where the out is very difficult.
Let’s first talk about spending. There’s a principle of pay yourself first that’s talked about in a lot of different books but I agree with that and essentially have money carved out of the top of what you take home as your income as savings. It’s a 10/10/10 Rule. Ten percent off the top goes to savings, 10% goes to investment, 10% goes to charity, and ultimately, you live on 70% of your net take home.
These can vary. I’m only talking about general rules. Some might not be possible right away for some people and it may require some weaning in over some time but for this first-person, that first story I told you about, it took a lot to go from trying to save 70% to 75% of your take-home to only savings and investment about 20%. You are going to have to change some of your behaviors regardless but behind forcing it, what that does is allows you to look very closely at your spending, which is going to be 70% of your take-home.
This may require a lifestyle change. Maybe it’s living in a small house, a smaller car, going on fewer vacations but 70% we put that into what I recommend most often, which is a spending account. There’s a set amount of money that each month, that’s all that you can spend. When it’s gone, then you can’t spend any more. Go figure but you forced this upon yourself.
You set it up, which means that you can easily retract it at the same time, forcing it to happen allows your behavior to be modified very quickly. In the beginning, it’s going to be painful. It’s like someone who hasn’t worked out a long time but commits themselves and almost forces themselves into a new workout routine. You are going to feel some pain and soreness until your body gets used to it. In this case, until your financial life gets used to it.
There are instances where there are big expenses, whether it’s a college, car or vacation. What I typically recommend, what I do in my own family, is when expenses exceed a certain level that’s not within our monthly cashflow, then you essentially treat your savings as a family bank, lend it to the specific spending account so that you can go on vacation, buy a new car and XYZ your house, then you repay on a schedule that a bank would force you to repay back at. For more information on that, you can check out the new courses that we have up and running, the Wealth Map. It’s only $497. Go to the website and you can pick that up. There’s a commercial too that you have probably noticed that teaches that concept.
I’m going to go at what level do you stop those savings. I believe there is an excess of savings. First off, 6 to 12 months of liquid savings are adequate to produce that abundance mindset. Maybe one month of cash. These months equate to all of your living expenses for that specific month so 6 to 12 months in cash. Saving until it gets to that level and you can do one month in gold and Bitcoin.
Physically Mastering Wealth: Live by the 10/10/10 rule. 10% percent off the top goes to savings, the other 10% goes to investment, and the other 10% goes to charity. Ultimately, you’ll live on 70% of your net take home.
Not necessarily the activity that’s important but it’s the mindset that it produces. I don’t necessarily think Bitcoin or cryptocurrency is wise for liquid savings because there is some volatility there, whether it’s gold, cash, savings account or insurance cash value. Those are locations that can not lose value. What it does is produce a mindset. If you lose your job or you have something unforeseen that happens in an accident, there’s enough liquidity there to take care of the family until you can figure things out. That’s the savings strategy idea.
The second is when you have filled up that bucket in a sense, then it’s spilling over into your opportunity fund. This opportunity fund is meant for investment. The 10/10/10 strategy is where 10% of your net income is going into this opportunity fund. When you have 10% of savings going into your opportunity fund, then it starts to build up even more.
From an investment standpoint, this is an investment strategy. That’s why I created the Hierarchy of Wealth. The Hierarchy of Wealth is all linked to the free calculator but it’s a way in which you can look at your asset allocation. It measures your asset allocation based on the amount of risk you are taking and the amount of control that you have.
Solution: The First Story
It doesn’t do your asset allocation based on the asset class. It does your asset allocation more based on what you understand about what you are investing in. That’s truly where the risk comes from. It’s a free calculator. You can download that and see where your hierarchy of wealth is based on the asset allocation that you have. That is a mouthful but what this does, I will use the first family. I will also speculate on what would have happened if the second family had established these habits.
The first family, what this does is it starts to put your perspective of life and why you are earning, spending, and investing money in the first place, which has to have a better experience of life. This individual didn’t realize how profoundly influenced his upbringing was to the way he managed his assets and money. What he was doing was hurting his family. They did not travel very often and did not do the things over the weekend that were enjoyable because of a very scarce way of thinking about spending money.
What this strategy did is it helped to put more money in a spending bucket of all places, a spending account where this is the money that’s going to be spent monthly. It was piling up there in the beginning but what it did is it engaged the mind to look for ways in which he could provide experiences with his family, whether it was vacation, things to do on the weekend and so forth. What it does is engage what’s truly important, allowing him to experience more of life.
Speculation: The Second Story
In this instance, he agreed with it. At the same time, the habits he had were so strong and pulling him backward that he needed to force himself into these new behaviors. Speculating on the family that ended up getting divorced and messy, what it does is it forces lifestyle changes. Specifically, this family had three cars. One of which they didn’t need. They were spending stuff all over the place and had no controls there.
What this would have done was put money into this spending account and when money was gone, it couldn’t be spent. It would allow them to look at ways in which they can engage the efficiency imprudence mindset, whether it’s cutting memberships, getting rid of one car, paying attention to where money was spent and being on the same page there. That would have allowed more savings, which they didn’t have any.
Physically Mastering Wealth: Six to 12 months of liquid savings are adequate to produce that abundance mindset. These months equate to all of your living expenses for that specific month.
There are some primary rocks if you are familiar with Stephen R. Covey. When you are going about any goal, initiative, outcome, there are rocks, pebbles and sand. Rocks are the biggest pieces of that if you were to fill up a jar. Pebbles are next and fill in the gaps. Rocks, those big things. Number one, it’s not having and going into credit card debt, which is the result of overspending but it’s also to have this emergency fund, 6 months, 12 months. When somebody has twelve months of liquid cash that they know is there, it’s not going to be touched, it’s there in a case of a rainy day and will never lose value outside of inflation, the peace of mind that it creates is incredible. Both no credit card debt and having that type of liquidity are vital.
For me, what I have answered and thought through, oftentimes, having liquidity is more important than paying off a credit card debt. I believe that 3 months, 6 months, ideally 12 months of liquidity produces a mindset where you can produce more money and ultimately pay down debt because that increases in producing money. The idea here is to establish some of these foundational elements to your finances and do it by forcing the situation.
What that means is upfront. You had to do a budget. I’m going to put a family spending plan spreadsheet, which you can download. It’s doing a budget, spending plan gate and seeing, whether it’s within that 70% or not. If it’s not, then it’s starting to make adjustments and having that spending account set up, which is, “Here’s the money that we can spend monthly and when it’s gone, it’s gone. We can’t spend anymore.”
That right there is ripping the Band-Aid off. At the same time, it is a behavior that will allow you to feel so much better about where money is going. It allows you to have a mindset that will engage ways in which you can save money and live the same lifestyle but fit it within that 70%. It carries over to the experience you have with your kids and spouse knowing that you have a plan and you are sticking to it. Subsequently, I believe it impacts how you show up for how you produce money.
I look at the previous episode too talking about leadership, producing more and the impact of earning 10% more per year and how much return on investment you would have to make to compensate, trying to achieve 10% more per year in income. Focusing there, which comes down to a few fundamentals and habits that you can develop around leadership. The idea here is to put these in place and force them. That’s what I have done with my family and what I encourage clients to do. You can go about trying to establish financial habits for 60 days. You take action on forcing it, not being forced upon you. It’s amazing what is created as a result.
I’m going to wrap up. Three parts series, I hope you enjoyed it. Habits are one of those things where they are discounted but they do produce amazing results when you establish them. Go into financial habits. What I talked about is not that new. It has been around for a long time but individuals are taking the information and doing with it. It’s one of those things that has never been done. If you are not getting the financial results that you want in life, then forcing these habits, especially from a spending strategy, investment strategy and saving strategy standpoint. Follow these words of wisdom. It will produce the results that you want.
If you don’t have the tools to create a spending strategy, go head over to TheWealthStandard.com. If you also have taken me up on the free offer for the Financial Independence Calculator, there’s also a spending plan or budget creator. Finally, the Hierarchy of Wealth, which is included in the Wealth Map course that gives additional context to it.
You can download the Hierarchy of Wealth Calculator as well for free. Thanks for reading this series. I hope it’s produced some value for you. If you are willing to go out and share what you have learned with others, reference the show. We would love to get some new audience and subscribers on here. Take care. We will talk to you soon.
While the government’s efforts to provide stimulus packages to answer the economic issues that are happening due to the pandemic, it’s not a sustainable solution. The country is still dealing with more unemployment, and companies and businesses are facing the threat of inevitable inflation. In the first part of this interview, Ken McElroy of MC Companies sat down with Patrick Donohoe to share his investment philosophy to help people prepare for possible future opportunities in the real estate market. Today, they discuss what people can do to be on the right side of things and survive inflation: study what’s happening, gather the funds, and invest in the right stuff.
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What People Can Do To Survive The Inflation With Ken McElroy
Thank you for reading part two of an awesome interview with a real estate investment icon, Ken McElroy. If you didn’t read the last interview, go check that out, that’s part one, it will help create some context to what we’re talking about. It’s a singular topic and it’s focusing on the economy and the influence of the effect the economy is going to have on American wealth and finance and investments. I’m wrapping up a two-day financial advisor online summit that I hosted. I’m glad you’re here and you’re willing to learn. Kenny is an amazing guy. Go check out his website, go check out his books and his YouTube channel.
Let me give you a little bit of a preface before we get into this interview. The objective I took when coming up with interview questions and so forth was to bring out Ken his perspective of the economy. What’s going on? What is being done where we haven’t seen necessarily the impact yet, but we’ll see the impact in the future? There’s a lot going on right now. We try to focus on what’s going on in two areas. I believe that these are the two primary influences of the economy. Number one is monetary policy, which is the set of objectives the Federal Reserve takes to establish the reasoning behind their activities.
Second is fiscal policy. Fiscal policy is the stance the government takes, especially the administration that has the influence on how it is going to accomplish its agenda through laws, through spending bills, through modifications, through the Tax Code. The reason I’m wanting to do this is that it’s clear based on the narrative, the activities are forthcoming, they’re happening and will happen over the coming years, but the activities are in motion. The impact it’s going to have on the economy is that there’s going to be more inflation and there are going to be higher taxes. I’m not going to get into the reasons and details, Kenny and I get into some of it, but there are important details in here that I do not want you to miss. That’s why I’m going through this little monologue so I can establish context for you.
Number one, inflation is the agenda, the purchasing power of your money, which means that the money you have right now buys many things, it will buy less in the future. That’s what inflation is. You also have taxes. Taxes, whether it’s on spending, taxes on investments, taxes on gains, taxes on income, are going up, they have to go up. It’s clear based on the narrative that’s already being set, that they are going to push forth activities to make modifications. It’s important to understand what impact it’s going to have on your specific wealth. Right now, American wealth is set up to be harmed by what’s to come. Hopefully, you extract out of Kenny some nuggets so that you can start positioning your investment strategy, your wealth strategy, your business strategy, your pursuit of financial independence strategy accordingly because these things are coming and we have to navigate around them if we want to be successful. Thank you for learning again. I hope you enjoy the second part with my friend, Ken McElroy. Thank you. Take care.
Let’s move to the last point of the economy, because that is going to determine a lot of what’s going to happen, and it’s already happening. There are things that are in motion that haven’t necessarily manifested yet. How the economy is now is in large part stimulated by the government. What do you see is happening? Obviously, you don’t have a crystal ball, but you’ve experienced market’s ups and downs cycles enough where there are probably some leading indicators. What are the Feds doing? Will they continue to do? What are some of the variables that need to happen when they stop doing it?
First of all, things are going to unravel as you know. The Federal Reserve cannot continue to spend this much money on that. They have to let things emerge. There might be new tax incentives and new stimulus packages and all that stuff to make it a soft landing for people, for businesses. They’re all trying to figure that out. We’re not out of the woods yet on that side of it, but once the vaccine gets rolled out and things start getting a little safer, I don’t think we’re going to go back to the way we were, but there won’t be any longer an excuse to not go into the office and to move forward. It’s going to be a personal decision. I don’t want to go down that road because that is what it is. People decide what they want to decide. The point is that right now the Coronavirus is the reason. When that goes away, then the government is not any longer palpable, “You’re at home, here’s some cash.” We’re now back to an even playing field. Now, it’s up to you. There will be some cash available for people and some things that we’re going to have to do. What the governments are afraid of is homelessness, and that’s a big one. They’re afraid of things like food shortages and those kinds of things. They’re going to be focused on those kinds of things.
Surviving The Inflation: Inflation is inevitable because we pumped all this cash into the system.
As opposed to putting money in people’s pockets.
They’re going to maybe do that with the minimum wage and maybe some additional stimulus, but that doesn’t go far. $1,200 to somebody will give them a couple of months. I’m not saying that’s not good. I’m saying that at some point, you can’t continue to do that. It all leads to inflation of some kind. When you raise the minimum wage, what it does is squeezes the profit margin on a business that’s already in trouble. A restaurant as an example that got kicked out now has higher wages. All of that stuff turns into higher prices. A lot of people might disagree with me, but I don’t know how you can’t pay more people more money, and then you’re going to have businesses, either reducing employee, go to halftime, they’re going to try to run a little leaner or maybe the owner gets more involved, but potentially it’s going to create either more unemployment or prices are going to rise if they can.
That’s what’s interesting is you had businesses get the crap kicked out of them for a year. Instead of getting things back, filling their coffers again, now they have to pay out more money to employees, so their only option is to either take less money or raise their prices. Is it going to lead to not just what normal inflation would be if you had a normal economy pre-COVID and you raise the minimum wage? You’d have some inflation, but now the likelihood is a lot higher. Do you see the economy being able to support a lot more inflation? I know that’s subjective.
I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this. Our good friend, Andy Tanner, I bet he’s here more than you know, trying to figure this out because he is a massive student of this. We were in Japan together. We were talking with Robert Kiyosaki and we were there on Rich Dad. People are saying they’re on like QE 30 or something crazy. Their GDP is the highest in the world, and yet they’re not seeing this massive inflation. I call them up, “Andy, when we were in Tokyo, how can the government continue to pour all this cash into an economy, and then not see it?” What he described to me, which I thought was a good example. This is Andy, and I’m still learning like all of us, he said that the balloon has been inflated and the government has been putting money in and the balloons inflated to what it is. It could be gas prices, food prices, real estate. It’s not all just an inflation number. Everything’s a little bit different. He said that there’s a hole in it and that’s deflationary.
There are things that could be potentially deflationary, but they keep putting money in it to keep it at its size. That’s what’s happening now. We do have inflation on things. This phone here when I bought it, it’s worthless. I get more. That’s an easy thing to pick on. There are things that are deflationary and there are things that are inflationary, and it’s all bundled together. I do believe that we’re going to have inflation because we pumped all this cash into the system. There are going to be more goods chasing those things at some point in time.
What are some final thoughts you have in regard to the state of things and the individual investor in mind, and how they can stay even-tempered? You have the Bitcoin soaring, the crypto craze, you have the GameStop and you have forums that are trying to short squeeze some of the big, short positions that are out there. There’s a lot of buzzes. What do you do to maintain an even keel temperament? What do you talk about frequently with investors that sometimes get off the rails because of the craziness?
There’s a bunch of things. One, it’s a horrible time for a lot of people, and that’s inevitable and there’s not a darn thing we can do about it. What you can do is you can start to study what’s happening and you can be on the right side of that, whatever that is. I mentioned that with my trainer, “No one invests a bunch of money now because you’re going to have a bunch of gyms goes out of business in the next several years. Go find out what funds those are and figure that out.” It’s a long-term strategy. People, generally, like things quick and easy. Bitcoin, GameStop, that’s lazy man’s money. It’s easy to throw money into that and then watch it. That is not investing in my opinion. That’s speculative in its biggest nature. You can go online and there will be tons of people that say this is a certainty. There’s nothing certain except debt and taxes, even real estate isn’t certain.
The one thing I love about real estate is if you look at the numbers, and I thought and did this in 2008, I went through this ‘08, ‘09, ‘10, massive people dumped out of housing, out of mortgages, and they dumped into rental housing and they put this incredible pressure on rental housing. Then it moved back out again and that’s where we are. Take a look at the numbers, follow the math, and then try to be out in front of it. This is going to be the biggest transfer of wealth that we will see in a long time. That could be wrong, I don’t know what the future is going to be like. In my lifetime, this is it. This is a time that you need to have the education and be out in front of that stuff, and then put together your team so that you can go out and do things.
There are many things happening. It’s right in front of us. The hotel businesses are closed, the micro hotels especially. Nobody is going to those, nobody is paying those. There is nobody traveling. I was on the phone with my friend that owns a bunch of it. He’s getting killed, 10%, 20%, 30% occupancy. There are already funds being put together to buy those and convert those to housing. That’s what I’m talking about. All of this is right in front of you. There are people already swirling around the malls, looking at redevelopment. That’s real estate, it is what it is. You’ve got to pay attention to those kinds of things and ask a lot of questions and get educated.
Kenny, we could probably talk for a few more hours. I have 10 million questions, but let’s do this. I know you have some new digital resources that you are making available to people that teach a lot of these types of principles. Would you speak to that as we end the interview?
This has been the greatest part of the pandemic for me. I haven’t been a big social media guy or a big YouTube guy. I’ve been trudging along on real estate and buying real estate. We have 250 employees and we’re busy and flying all over the place looking at stuff. The pandemic, I was like, “I’m going to get camera crews here and I’m going to start teaching.” We started teaching in March 2020, I start putting these YouTube videos out. Now we’re up over 200,000 subscribers. We started doing these videos to help people and we put them on our website, KenMcElroy.com. It’s been great. We put out a masterclass that people could get. They can subscribe to these videos of stuff they are interested in and learning some of the things. We have a forum that people can go and talk to other members. We have thousands of people helping people now, which has been great. It’s all been collaborative. The premium membership is $19 a month. That’s $200 for a year and you could go look at all these different videos and all these what we’re talking about and get educated and learn. That’s the key to this next step.
Surviving The Inflation: Start to study what’s happening so you can be on the right side of whatever that is that you’re investing on.
Sometimes chaos is the mother of invention. I know it was always out there for you because you always have been teaching, but what a great opportunity to pivot a little bit. I know there are people that rave about some of the stuff that you’re doing. Kenny, you’re amazing. Thank you for what you do. Thanks for teaching people. Thanks for your time. We’ll have to do this again, maybe as to 2021 comes to an end and 2022 starts to rear its head, and we’ll see whether it’s ugly or pretty.
It’s going to be an interesting time. People have some hope, you can be on the other side of this. It’s going to be some rough roads, but you can be on the other side of it.
I appreciate that, Kenny. Thanks again for teaching us. We’ll talk to you next time.
For over two decades, Ken McElroy has experienced great success in the real estate world through investment analysis, acquisitions, property management, and property development. Ken believes in sharing these successes, as well as his setbacks, to help educate and inspire investors to bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be. In addition to sharing his expertise, Ken also shares his mindset, because building wealth isn’t simply about putting money in the right place at the right time. It’s about understanding that determination and self-motivation are the real keys to thriving. Here you’ll discover a place that reflects Ken’s passion for real estate and helping others, where investors from all walks of life can learn, grow, and thrive. We believe that everyone deserves financial freedom. Let us show you how to get there.
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There’s no getting around the fact that we are going to experience a crisis in the financial system, and no amount of government efforts to introduce liquidity is going to solve it. How can you survive, nay, thrive amid a crisis of this unprecedented scale? Joining Patrick Donohoe on the podcast today, financial strategist Russell Gray thinks this is the best time to focus on our personal investment philosophy. Russell is a co-host of The Real Estate Guys™. He has been a financial strategist since 1986. The financial system is going to behave as it will, and we hardly have any control over anything that goes on within it. Robert sees this time as the perfect opportunity for real estate investors to educate themselves and build their networks to be at their best form for whatever comes next. In every crisis, there will always be winners and losers. Listen in and learn about the things you have to consider if you are to thrive in the REI business amid a crisis.
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Opportunity In Crisis: What Real Estate Investors Need To Think About During This Crisis With Russell Gray
I’m excited for you to read this interview with a good friend of mine, Russell Gray. Russell is one of the Real Estate Guys Radio Show that I believe is still the longest-running real estate investment show. They’ve been on air since 1997. I got to know Russell back in 2010. I was invited to be a faculty member on the Investor Summit at Sea, which is more than a week-long cruise where investors from all over the world get and learn together. It’s an interesting dynamic. I was a faculty member there for nine years and there were other famous speakers as well. Robert Kiyosaki has gone on their multiple times, G. Edward Griffin, Peter Schiff, Douglas Duncan, who is the Chief Economist of Fannie Mae, Chris Martenson, and countless others. There are some experiences that changed my life. I did record podcasts when I was on the cruise.
I’m going to cut to the interview. Before that, thank you for the support of comments, questions, likes, shares. It’s been awesome. We’ve definitely had a tick-up in awareness of the show and the subsequent episodes. We’re active on Instagram and Facebook. Make sure you’re following us there, as well as a subscriber to the email list. We’re actively sitting on messages there and head over to TheWealthStandard.com. The resource section that I’ve spoken about. Specifically, a program that Mike Dillard has for entrepreneurs, that’s all life. You guys can check that out the resource section at TheWealthStandard.com. Finally, at the end of the interview, I’m going to do some Q&A, some commentary based on the crazy events that are going on. I hope you enjoy the interview with my good friend, Russell Gray.
Welcome to this interview with an incredible guest, and he is no stranger to the show as well as other mentions in writing, blogs, newsletters. He’s a good friend of mine. His name is Russell Gray. He’s mentored me, I think it’s been several years.
We met each other in the wake of the 2008 crisis. We were both in rebuild mode.
Through the experiences of seeing how the Real Estate Guys Radio took off, how you guys have expanded your network to all ends, it’s been impressive. I appreciate it. I’m grateful for the mentorship you’ve provided me for many years. I’m excited to extract out of you some of your insights into what’s going on with this new world and the new economy. On the thick of it, at the same time, there are some signals that would lead us to potential conclusions. I’m grateful for your time and grateful for your expertise. I would also say that the RealEstateGuysRadio.com is an incredible resource, subscribe to their podcast. Russ also writes personally a newsletter. It is well-written, full of good insights. His mind took off after 2008, 2009, in my opinion. He became an incredible writer. That being said, I welcome you to this interview.
It’s great to be here. They can decide after they’ve heard me ramble here a little bit if they think I’m worth somebody they want to listen to more, but let’s get into it.
Financial Crisis: The health crisis is going to create an economic crisis, not because of the health crisis itself, but because of the reaction to it.
The consensus of our audience is on edge in a sense where things have been disrupted in all sectors. We’ve been hit with a black swan that no one anticipated, especially the response of the government to it, which I believe is a big earthquake. It’s going to have some ripple effects. First off, because we haven’t connected in a while, how are you processing the last couple of months when it comes to the economy and your role in providing guidance, insight, and wisdom to a broad audience?
To understand the answer, I’m going to tell a bit of the story. Back in 2008, it’s no secret. Going into 2008, I was in the mortgage business. I had accumulated a lot of properties all over the place. I was levered to the hilt, but I had great cashflow from my mortgage business. I was in the hottest industry at the hottest time. I looked like a genius, then all of a sudden, what happens is life hands you a bunch of humility, but I realized is that I was only structured for sunshine. When the mortgage industry imploded, it took my income with it, which was supporting this huge portfolio over-leveraged properties that were in many cases sitting empty.
I was speculating on real estate asset prices instead of focusing on investing in the production of income, which seemed boring at the time. Equity was easy money and I still believe in equity, but equity is a byproduct. Cashflow, not just rampant speculation, so there is a difference. I didn’t understand that back then. Coming out of that, I dedicated myself to understanding how could a guy like me that is relatively attentive, studious, not see such a disaster calming when I was in the epicenter of it. The net result of it was I had my nose too close to the ground grindstone. I was myopic.
We went out on a search and we started looking for people who had accurately predicted what had happened and got it right for the right reasons. One of those people, Peter Schiff, who we became friends with. He’s always been a part of our Investor Summit at Sea since 2013. Peter was a guy who began that process of explaining. I’d already read G. Edward Griffin’s book, The Creature from Jekyll Island, somebody else that we’re mutual friends with and whose book that we’ve read and it changed our lives. It began to understand the way the financial system operated and what it meant on a human level. That’s one thing to understand is how the system operates.
You may not like it. You may not think it’s great, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t care what you think of it. It’s going to behave the way it’s going to behave. Sometimes we have to set aside our political or economic proclivities and accept it for what it is and try to navigate it. When this thing hit part of that 2008, the recovery process was building out our network of smart people that we were around. Robert and I were always among the smartest people in the rooms that we were in going up to 2008. After 2008, we made it our mission to be the lowest guys on the totem pole to be around people much smarter, better connection, much wiser, much more efficient, and much more articulate than we were. It cost us a lot of growth.
Two of those guys were Chris Martenson and Adam Taggart at Peak Prosperity. They were at the forefront of understanding how bad this Coronavirus crisis was going to become. I was on the phone with Adam and he told me. I started to pay attention to. I was less concerned about the health crisis component of it. I was more concerned about the economic crisis component. What I was interested in was the chain of events. You asked me the question, how did I process it? I’m a big believer that before you can process a lot of content, there’s a lot of noise, a lot of information, a lot of opinions coming at you from all angles, I needed to set a context.
The context for me is looking at what happened. He said, “The health crisis is going to create an economic crisis, not because of the health crisis itself, but because of the reaction or arguably the overreaction to it.” Whether you think they were handling it responsibly or whether they went way over the top or they’re not doing enough, it doesn’t matter what you think. They’re doing, what they’re doing. It effectively has shut down the economy. It went from a health crisis to an economics crisis. What is an economic crisis? It’s a cessation of commerce.
That means no revenue to businesses, no paychecks to employees. What does that mean? It means that debts can’t be serviced. It goes from being at an economic crisis. It has the potential and arguably is going to metastasize or spread into a financial system crisis where it threatens both the banks and the bond markets. The Fed, in anticipation of that, is printing money like nobody’s business, trying to prop up the lack of economic equity activity. It’s like having a heart attack and your blood stops pumping by injecting a lot more liquidity, which is like giving somebody who’s had a heart attack a transfusion and hoping the pressure alone will force the heart to start to beat. It’s not going to happen.
The financial markets are in trouble and that’s what triggered the 2008 crisis. The job loss of 2008 was a byproduct of the collapse of credit markets, which caused a cessation of commerce. Here, the job market, which was the cessation of commerce created the financial crisis or is going to create the final answer crisis, in my opinion. That will reinforce the economics. In order to prevent this correct, what Peter calls, “The real crash,” which is going to be much bigger than 2008. The Fed is approaching it by printing trillions of dollars at a rate that is impressive, it’s not even funny. I have a question in my mind then is, can the dollar survive all of the pressure that is being put on it to prop up the system? I don’t know the answer to that, but that’s what I’m paying attention to. The context for me is understanding from health crisis to economic crisis to financial system crisis the dollar crisis. How do I see that coming? How do I position myself not just to survive it, but thrive? The flip side of all chaos is going to be an opportunity.
Let me unpack this. You established some good bullet points that we can address. Let me unpack the first idea, which is important to identify. The system is going to operate the way it’s going to operate. As much as we think that things should be this way or should be that way, the economy, and society, it is what it is. There’s only so much you can influence. Back in 2008, 2009, whether things should have been set up a different way or shouldn’t have, that’s beside the point. It comes down to what are you going to do with what happened? There’s a similar environment where there’s a lot happening that’s outside of your control.
There is a lot that maybe could have been done to prevent it or should have been done, whether it’s from health or an economic standpoint, but that’s beside the point. It happened. You don’t have any influence over it. What are you going to do now? You led to what happened was people stopped, period. School, work, spending, the list goes on, the economy is based on spending. Businesses need money and revenue from spending to pay their bills, to pay their taxes, to pay their employees. That disruption has created a void, I would say, of capital enough to pay bills, service debts.
The Federal Reserve has stepped in and it’s been around the world too. Central banks have filled that void. Because they filled that void, things are continuing on. Hopefully, things open up and so forth. At the same time, there are some fundamentals that I don’t think most people are aware of. As we look at leadership and how our education system is to teach us that there are those that are smarter than us that we should listen to. I believe that there are a lot of, why is people at the head making certain decisions? Most people are just following. Let’s talk about the unintended consequences or what could potentially happen because the void is being filled with artificial money, artificial resources.
You talked about unintended consequences. You could leave off intended or unintended because it doesn’t matter, it’s just consequences. It’s cause and effect. About the financial system, I think of the old game I played when I was a little kid called Mouse Trap. In Mouse Trap, a chain of events would happen. You put the little marble in the chute and it would go down. It would hit the boot that would kick the thing and another marble would go. Anyway, it went through this whole convoluted process, cause and effect, until ultimately the trap came down on the mouse. When I look at the economy, it’s that way. One of the things that I spent a lot of time doing was understanding the way the system worked so I could begin to anticipate when I saw a trigger event, I could follow it up through the chain and have more advanced notice on what I thought was coming.
Way before the Coronavirus crisis happened, I go back to my friendship with Chris Martenson and Adam Taggart. Back in September of 2019 in my daily perusal of the news. I was looking for what I call clues in the news. I saw this thing happening in the repo market. I wasn’t that familiar with the repo market, but I saw that the Fed was injecting hundreds of billions of dollars into this thing called the repo market. I said, “I don’t know what’s going on under the hood, but there’s a heck of a lot of smoke coming out. Something’s going on down there.” I did a little homework on it. To keep it in layman’s terms, in short, the repo market is like a pawnshop for banks to take their treasuries, which are their assets, like you hocking a watch or a piece of jewelry when you’re short on cash.
They show up at the repo market and they give the pawnshop, the pawnbroker the treasury and they walk away with their cash. They go put their cash fire out and then they come back and buy back their assets. They don’t have to give the asset up. They don’t have to write it off on their financials, which is what that’s all about is doctoring their financials so that their insolvency it can be hidden. We could talk about mark to market and all kinds of things that they changed in order to hide. There are many things in the accounting system they use to hide the weaknesses in the financial system. You don’t know what’s going on, but if you watch for these clues, so that happened.
We called Chris and Adam up and said, “I don’t know what this means.” They said, “We don’t know what this means either, but there’s clearly something wrong.” There was a cash problem brewing. There was a banking problem brewing in September way in advance of this. My antenna was up at that point and we wrote a few newsletters. I talked about it and did a couple of shows on it. I’m not being an expert but encouraging people to pay attention to it. It started there. The other thing too is after going through reverse-engineering the implosion of the 2000 financial crisis, one of the things that I became aware of was the hypothecation of bonds and what derivatives were.
Warren Buffett famously wrote in his Berkshire Hathaway letter to his investors that he considered derivatives to be weapons of mass financial destruction. This was back in the late ‘90s, it was oppression. With that said, what it means is that people who are speculating in the bond markets, and the bond market is the largest market except maybe the currency market, but the bond market is ginormous and much bigger than the stock market. Everybody pays attention to the stock market. Few people pay attention to the bond market unless you’re a financial geek. In the bond market, prices of the bonds, the value of the bond is inversely correlated to the yield on the bond.
If I want to drive interest rates down if I’m the Fed, then I’m going to bid up the price of the bond. For real estate investors, that’s like bidding up the price of an income property lowers the capitalization rate. It lowers the yield on your investment. It’s the same concept. When you understand that people don’t buy bonds for the yields because the yields are nonexistent, in some cases worldwide, they’re negative. Why would anybody buy that? They’re speculating on the bond price because they know that the central banks are committed to driving interest rates down.
They’re front running the Central banks, knowing if I can buy a bond before a Federal Reserve bond-buying program, then I can turn right around and flip it to the Fed at a profit. You say, “Why would the Fed continue to push interest rates down?” It is much bigger than simply stimulating the economy, making it easy for already impoverished borrowers to borrow more. It’s more than about making money available to corporations to do stock, buybacks programs so that they can go to the stock market. It’s even greater than trying to simply supply and overspending federal government with gobs of money so that they can buy votes, pay for programs, and do whatever legitimate activities that they do.
At the end of the day, they are holding together the financial system. Here’s how that works. If I have a bond on my balance sheet, it’s my asset. If you’re the bond issuer, it’s your liability. It’s the same relationship people have with their banks. If you have a bank account, it’s your asset on your balance sheet, but to the bank, it’s their liability. They owe you the money. That gives you something called counterparty risk, which is rife in this system. You’ve got this asset on your balance sheet and you decide, you need some liquidity. Whether you go to the repo market or anywhere else, you can borrow against that. When you borrow against it, you do it using margin. Now I’ve borrowed against that bond on the margin the way you could on your stock portfolio. The problem you have is if the bond price goes down. Why would it go down? If interest rates go up, you get a margin call.
The margin call means that you either have to post more cash, which means you have a cash crisis, or you’re going to sell the bond at a loss. Take the loss on your balance sheet and show your insolvency. You’ve got to find a way to raise cash. A repo market is a place that you can do that. That activity in the repo market was like a warning sign, a canary in a coal mine that there were things going on in the bond market. The Fed is obligated to try to continually keep interest rates suppressed in order to prop up the bond markets where they get a repeat of 2008. The difference is the number of bonds, the amount of debt, and the number of derivatives in the system dwarfs what we had in 2008. Therefore, the impact of losing control of that would dwarf the impact that we felt in 2008.
I don’t have any way of knowing this for sure, but I suspect a lot of what’s going on is trying to figure out how to keep the bond market going because when they tried to raise interest rates, Peter Schiff predicted they’re not going to be able to do it. They’re in the monetary, “Roach Motel,” as what Peter calls it. The good news is especially for real estate investors, it means you’re going to be in an environment of low-interest rates for the foreseeable future. You need to be able to use debt to make money. That’s a whole investment strategy in and of itself.
It means that if you’re a saver if you’re investing in hoping to get a yield on your savings, probably going to end up being a loser. It’s why Robert Kiyosaki says, “Savers are losers.” There’s a lot there. The main concept to understand is to pay attention to the bond market, understand the inverse relationship between interest rates and bond prices. The pressure on the Fed in many areas, but mostly in propping up the financial system. It’s got to keep those bond prices down or bond yields down to keep the bond prices up. They have to print money to do it. A lot of pressure on the dollar.
Financial Crisis: Residential real estate is a great place to be because people will always need a roof over their heads.
This is a worldwide phenomenon. It isn’t just the United States problem. Some of the reactions and that impact on real estate in general, which I think is the only tool that the governments have which is to continue to push liquidity into the system, money into the system. It’s in the form of a stimulus check to people, so they can pay their bills. That’s most likely going to continue with multiple stimuli. If that’s the case, interest rates are going to stay low. At the same time between mid-February, March maybe, going into the summer, the disruption caused many businesses to struggle as well as people. That impacts whether they’re rents, mortgage payments. Let’s talk about how the disruption it has caused some challenges when it comes to people being able to serve as debt or to pay landlords. It ultimately is going to impact real estate prices and create opportunities, but also some reshuffling of resources where some real estate may not be as valuable as it once was given the disruption.
There’s a ton there when most people think of real estate, especially people who aren’t in real estate as investing. They think about houses and apartment buildings. That’s the easiest thing to talk about to start with, but retail was already in huge trouble with the Amazon effect. Things going on there, it was a boon to industrial with warehouses, distribution centers, and markets that supported that. There are always winners, there are always losers. There are shifts sometimes. When you look at residential, it is a great place to be because people will always need a roof over their heads. Either they’re going to own the property or someone else is going to own the property. These people get poorer, the probability is that someone else is going to own the property who’s less poor and going to have some mechanism by which to generate income, getting a share of that worker’s productivity.
Rental real estate, income-producing real estate, residential real estate, all are predicated on jobs. I had the chance to interview Donald Trump, I only got a chance to ask him one question. When he was running for president, we were at Freedom Fest. I asked him, “Mr. Donald Trump, a lot of people look at what happened in 2008 and the financial crisis lay that at the foot of the Fed, monetary policy and government policy. What does a healthy housing market look like in a Donald Trump administration?” He gave me a one-word answer, “Jobs.” When he got into office, that was what his emphasis was on jobs. That was his big claim to fame was jobs, “I’m going to bring manufacturing back to America.” Every rally was jobs. We just lost 30 million-plus jobs. To your point, some of those are never going to come back. Human behavior has altered permanently. People have discovered they can work at home. If I can work at home, why do I want to pay $5,000 a month for a 400-square-foot apartment in New York City, if I can go live in Central Florida in a nice house, on the beach, in the sunny weather and do the same job?
There are going to be markets that are winners and losers. Landlords that are going to be winners and losers. One thing about real estate is it’s not an asset class, it’s not a commodity. It’s not like gold, currency, or oil where there’s one price for the same product universally around the world. Every property, neighborhood, ownership, and financial structure is unique. Because of that inefficiency and uniqueness, real estate is a lot more art than it is science. That’s what makes it fun. There are going to be gobs of opportunities, but there are also going to be problems and it’s all going to be predicated on the disruption of income. We have enhanced unemployment. We have helicopter money, direct infusions of cash, although you’d make the argument it’s not much. You have the Paycheck Protection Program, which is designed to keep people employed and cashflowing in that regard.
Forgivable loans and all the bad debt now with the Fed stepping in buying local bonds, muni bonds, and ETFs. In addition to treasuries, a whole lot of other things they’ve been buying any way through proxies behind the scenes cropping up the stock market. Mostly for optics because a lot of people look at the stock market as a proxy for the economy. The stock market isn’t bad, therefore, the economy is not so bad. That’s not true, but that’s the way people feel. The people in power understand how to manipulate the optics to create the scenarios they want. In this day and age, because of technology and guys like you and me being able to get out there and have a conversation whose voices would never ever be heard.
If it was mainstream financial media were our outlets, there are more people informed about what’s going on and alert. It’s harder to manipulate the optics, but you do have to avail yourself of what’s going on. Residential real estate is going to get a lot of attention from the government. Protect the resident level forbearance agreements. Last time in 2008, when everybody started to default, the banks are dragging their feet. Nobody wanted to take the hit. They were all afraid. Now, there have been many changes made to the way the banks report from the market. I talked about that activity, the repo market, and the Fed overtly. We’ve got your back, we’ll buy anything that you have so you can stay solvent.
It means that the banks are okay, and the government is stepping in right away with forbearance, anti-eviction, providing a paycheck, subsidies, subsidizing loan servicers, and propping up everybody in the food chain from Main Street to Wall Street. That even though it’s scary and you have to pay attention, there are going to be disruptions. You also, to a large degree, have the wind at your back when it comes to residential real estate because people always need a place to live. Politicians, industry, and bankers are all highly motivated to prop it up. I don’t even know exactly what that’s going to look like. To your point, they don’t always hit what they’re aiming at. However, you can be assured that you’ve got a lot of folks on your side if you’re in that space.
It remains one of my favorites in this environment. You’ve got to look at the specific deal, feel the specific market, specific management team, specific financing structure against the backdrop of your own specific financial situation and how much risk you can bear. There are going to be some bargains available in the next many months and years. It’s a good time to be aggregating capital and building your team and your knowledge. Whether you’re going to be a hands-on direct investor where you’re going to look at properties, cut your own deals, or work through your team. If you’re going to be a passive investor, buying into portfolios that private syndicators put together, which is like buying a mutual fund of properties, but you’re not buying through Wall Street. You just buying through private individuals. We have a lot of people in our world that do that. We think it’s one of the great business opportunities in all of the business, but especially in real estate.
What’s your litmus test for making a decision? Because we have biases, we try to gain a lot of insight and information to reinforce that. Everyone has a blind spot. Feasibly, the Fed could continue to print around the world and we can get back on track. You look at that being another perspective and bias. When it comes to what you had said, which I agree with, that the shift in employment where businesses are learning how to work remotely and they were forced into it. I would say experiencing a lot of success.
Some success, from what I’ve heard, and that is going to put in jeopardy potential, local markets, especially when they’re not climate-friendly. When you have harsh seasons where you can potentially move to a nicer climate. With all that being said, there are many different variables that could lead to potential opportunities. Is there a litmus test that you use to identify an opportunity and then subsequently do due diligence in a specific way, to ensure thatwhat’s being pitched to you is in fact as much truth as possible? Their truth is to sell you the deal but to have enough truth in there, enough details, facts for you to make a wise decision.
I don’t know if I have a litmus test. I have a methodology. Robert is the host of the Real Estate Guys Radio Show. We teach a lot together. We’ve invested quite a bit together over the years. Our basic approach, number one is you need to develop your own personal investment philosophy. You have to figure out what it is you are trying to accomplish, what you’re willing and not willing to do in order to get there. That’s done based on your life experience. It’s done based on looking at other people who’ve had success and failure. I learned a lot more through my 2008 failures and all my successes leading up to that. It’s interesting because I forgot. I had mentioned my one question of Donald Trump, but I had a chance to interview him the first time in Iowa before he was a candidate. I asked him that exact question, “Mr. Donald Trump, you’ve seen good times and bad times. What did you learn in the good times? What did you learn in the bad times? If you decide to run for president, how will that help you?” He didn’t answer the last part of the question, but in the first part of the question he goes, “I didn’t learn anything in the good times, but in the bad times, I learned it’s always good to have a little cash.”
I took that to the bank literally because it is important always to make sure that you have a little cash. Anyway, you come up with your personal investment philosophy, “Am I looking to grow my capital? Am I looking to preserve my capital? Am I looking for the production of income? Am I looking for tax breaks? Am I looking for privacy? Am I looking for lifestyle?” There’s a way to invest in real estate for lifestyle. You can buy properties that you’d be happy to live in, vacation in, and rent them out when you’re not using those. There are lots of ways to approach the game of real estate. That’s number one.
Number two is whether you want to be hands-on or hands-off. That’s an important decision to make. Regardless of how you choose to do that, once you’ve got it figured out economically, you’re looking for geographic marketplaces, first of all, product niches, and then demographics. When I say the word market, I don’t just mean geographies, I mean product niches and demography also, in other words, people. For example, if you believe in the Baby Boomer generation and you’re like, “The Baby Boomer generation has been an economic driver for all kinds of industries as they’ve gone through the cycles of life.” That begs a big question, “What cycle of life are they in now?” It’s healthcare.
We have a mutual friend who teaches people how to create residential assistant living facilities, nursing homes. Not big ones, little ones, in homes. If you followed what’s been going on in the news, all the big homes are coming under attack and they were being told it’s safer because of this virus to be in smaller homes. If you’re investing in the big boxes, that’s a loser. If you’re investing in the small ones, that’s a winner. Winners and losers always. There’s a lot of people look at the Millennial generation, which is even bigger than the Baby Boomers. I want to cater to that generation. They have challenges with student debt and jobs things like that. If you focus on affordable housing, a certain lifestyle type housing that appeals to Millennials.
You get the idea, so you’re going to figure out your market. You want to figure out geography where you are going to have good economic drivers more than one. Back when shale oil fracking and all that was the rage before we overproduced and oil prices crashed. It was not oversupplying, it was a collapse of demand because of the shutdown. Be that as it may, the markets that are primarily dependent upon oil and oil production, as the oil prices crashed, they didn’t have another leg to stand on. They were a one-legged stool up in North Dakota and places like that. We never got involved in those markets because they weren’t diverse enough for us.
You look at the market next, then you look at the team. If you’re investing in the production of income over a period of time in a market, the most important person on your team is your property manager. That’s the person who’s responsible for producing the income and whose income, if the compensation structure is correct, is directly indexed to the performance of the property. Now you have aligned interest. You don’t have a broker who’s trying to sell you a hyped-up, glossy pitch deck and get you to buy. Then they move on with their fat commission and you’re left holding the bag.
I liked to work with property managers. Once I picked the niche in the marketplace, I work with property managers to try to figure out who I am going to hire to manage the properties. I ask them what markets and specific neighborhoods I should be in. I had them help me find the property. Now, I’m getting someone. I can always find it a broker to represent me. A lot of times they’ll have relationships, but I think property managers. There’s a lot of talk about unsung heroes of frontline heroes in different industries after 9/11, it was the first responders.
The Coronavirus, it’s the healthcare workers. In real estate, it is the property managers. They’re the unsung heroes. You focus on that. That’s the approach. The financing approach in nowadays environment. Could interest rates go lower? They could, but I don’t think they can go lower. Locking in long-term financing is a smart move. If you borrow long and cheap to control an asset, it’s likely to be the beneficiary of inflation, we may get a little deflation to start with. It may drop before it goes up. The long-term history based on the economy is built on and the way it’s operating. The people are pulling levers. Like the book says, “Equity happens.”
Over time, prices are going to go up. If you fix in that dollar for the long haul spread between what it’s worth in dollars, nominally worth, not in utility. It’s still going to be a three-bedroom, two-bath. Nothing’s going to change in terms of how useful it is, but it could go from $50,000 to $500,000. If you bought that with a $40,000 mortgage, the inflation makes the debt atrophy. It makes it go away. People don’t realize that when it comes to a potentially inflationary environment, the safest best investment you could make is leveraged real estate because you acquire a cheap long-term debt fixed. You secure the rental income to service the debt. Tax breaks to mitigate especially with nowadays’ Tax Code and the bonus depreciation.
You only have a fraction of your own money, maybe 20% 30%, which means you could endure a lot of deflation before you take a hit, as long as you don’t lose the property. Even if you bought a property for $100,000 now, 30 years from now, it was only worth $50,000. If you put $20,000 down and the tenant paid off the mortgage, at the end of the day, you still own a $50,000 house in 30 years. You’re up in dollar terms. More importantly, in any environment at whatever price point, a home that’s paid for that’s generating rent is a real valuable asset. Real estate works in this environment, but you do need to be careful in your market selection especially in your team selection and your financing structure.
Financial Crisis: Think about what you want to do with your capital and decide on your personal investment philosophy.
The philosophy of three-bed, two-bath goes to three-bed, two-bath in a home office. That maybe is a point for another conversation.
There are a lot of opportunities in that regard as you could make the argument in some neighborhoods. There’s a lot of opportunity in one-story houses because Boomers can’t climb stairs. This is you get to understand how your customer uses property and what they need from it. Giving them what they need. To your point, from internet connectivity to workspace or workout space. I live alone and I have a five-bedroom house, but I have a studio in one room, an office in another room, a bedroom in another room. I have a den or reading room, and then I have a guest bedroom because I have a family that comes to stay with me. Then I have a big loft area where I have a gym. I can live a lot of my life productivity in my own home. It doesn’t feel like it’s a big house for a guy living by himself. There are a lot of things going on it. There’s going to be more demand for folks to have more space, which is a trend is shifting, a little bit from where we were headed prior to the Coronavirus.
All real estate is appeasing demand. Demands, tastes, preferences, they’re always changing. Keeping a pulse on that is important. One thing I wanted to pick your brain on. Going back to 2008, 2009 and I’m assuming that some people that are reading now, there are properties they do own that may not be able to weather this storm. Even though there may be liquidity in the bank account of the investor, how do you approach vacancy? How do you approach when you decide to either supplement the mortgage with your income, with liquidity, or maybe the property is it’s time to let it go? I’m assuming similar decisions are going to be made now. What would you have done differently if you were to go back during that period? What would you recommend based on that experience to those that are going to potentially face out in the future?
First of all, you want to make sure you have adequate liquidity. I had none, I was 100% dependent upon healthy credit markets across everything. I brokered debt to generate income. When credit markets collapsed, I had nothing to sell. I operated my business on my credit lines. When those credit lines got shut off through no fault of my own, just banks limiting their risk and a collapsing credit, all of a sudden, I lost operating capital. That limited my ability to shift the focus of my business and develop income streams. On a personal level, I had a lot of credit card debt. I was carrying a lot of debt because I felt like paying it off. I had higher-yielding uses of capital. Putting it in a business, putting it into properties. It all penciled on paper. Businesses do a thing called a SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Every prudent investor should do that. It’s one of the things that I learned and would have done. I wished I would have done is looked at everything I was doing and do a SWOT analysis. It would have helped me see the things that I had to work on with, so that when the stuff hit the fan, instead of being in panic mode. Blair Singer says, “When emotions run high, intelligence runs low.” When you’re panicked, your brain freezes. I could not see all of the resources I had available. All I can think about is what I didn’t have and what was going wrong. By the time I woke up out of the fog, some of my assets had atrophied or been completely lost. I wasn’t able to react, not because I didn’t have things to work with, but because I didn’t have the mental capacity and the emotional strength or the right advisory team to help me see it, so strengths.
Weaknesses, you always want to be aware of your weaknesses. You want to be aware of your individual weaknesses as a person. Your weaknesses in your personal financials and your portfolio. If you have your own business and if you have a job, that alone is a weakness because you don’t have control. One of the most resilient things you can do is at the least create some type of side hustle. Give some serious consideration in figuring out of how to start a business that you want to control or more than one. That is a whole art unto itself. Be aware of your weaknesses. You want to do that for each and every property on an individual basis. You’re going to look at the market, you’re going to look at the team, you’re going to look at the demographic you serve and you’re going to look at the financial structure. Ask yourself, “Is this a strong property? Is it a marginal property? Is it a dangerous property?”
You want to know to clear the deadwood. You want to, in a market like this, jettison your marginal properties and then reinforce your stronger properties. Better to only maintain 20% or 30% of your portfolio than try to hold onto 100% of it and lose 100% of it. That was one of the other things I did. I tried valuing to hold on like a lot of stock traders do. I traded stocks for a little while and studied stock trading. I don’t advocate it as a way to make money or to maintain certainly. It’s great for understanding investor emotions and experiencing investor emotions. I had 37 straight consecutive winning trades, but the 38th trade I could not take the loss. I could not admit that I made a bad trade. I wrote it all the way down to the bottom. I lost way more money than I should have. It was simply because of my own pride and unwillingness. As long as I don’t sell, I haven’t taken the hit. Robert calls this zero-sum thinking.
When you look at your portfolio, whatever you’re doing, you say, “If I didn’t already own this, would I buy it now? If not, then why are you keeping it?” Sometimes you are holding a position because you say, “It’s going to come back.” The shortest path to coming back might be a different property, a different market, maybe a completely different investment or investment strategy. You got to keep an open mind to using what the market will give you. Strengths and weaknesses, that transitions into opportunities. Opportunities are a combination of what the market is giving you and what you have to work with. That’s how you do strategy. What’s available to me both that I have control over and things that are available to me that I can get in the marketplace?
Threats are things that are directly glaring up. I have a process when threats rear their ugly head. The first step is triage. I’ve got to stop the bleeding, nothing matters. It’s urgent. The first priority is anything having to do with survival. The next thing is rehab, which means I’ve got to patch things up and get a stable base. I can’t get stronger until I reinforce what’s going on. I got a property, for example, that’s bleeding out. I’ve got negative cashflow. I’ve got tenancy issues. They’re trashing the property. I’ve got a big problem. I got to go in and step in right away. I got to get the problem tenant out. I’ve got to patch up the property right away and secure it to make sure that I don’t have squatters or anything going on. I got to do rehab, which is, how did my property manager let this happen? I got to replace that property manager.
Now I can get to phase three, which is strength and conditioning. If you’re strong like with this Coronavirus if you’ve already been paying attention to your immune system, your nutrition, your health, and you’re a sanity protocols and whatnot, you’re a lot less at risk than a person who hasn’t paid attention to any of those things whose lifestyle is inviting of health issues. I hope a lot of people will be cleaning up both their financial areas as they go through this, as I certainly did after 2008. The others are also going to clean up their health issues. We’re learning a lot of lessons. That’s one of the things that I would have done differently and I’m doing differently now.
It’s interesting the relationship between opportunity and emotion. In many respects, there’s an inverse relationship where the biggest opportunities come from when there’s the greatest amount of fear. The most amount of euphoria or excitement is when there’s the least amount of opportunities. It’s an interesting relationship. I would look at it of unpacking one of the things that you said, which is during that period of time, there’s going to be an emotional reaction. Oftentimes, emotion leads to bad decisions and increasing information, education, as well as perspective will help mitigate poor decisions. It goes both ways because there may be those that have liquidity going into this a downturn and there are going to be opportunities that present themselves.
It could be a retail strip mall they’re trying to sell for $0.10 on the dollar. Because it’s $0.10 on the dollar doesn’t mean that you should invest in it. There are going to be opportunities when it comes to making good decisions with current investments that may go sideways, but also opportunities to pass on a deal. Even though on the surface it may seem a good deal based on principles and variables of the past. Do you also see that potential coming where I saw a lot of people make good decisions in 2010 and 2011? What an incredible time to buy. I also saw a lot of bad decisions.
If you study failure, which I think you need to, then you begin to understand how those things happen. Nobody sets out to fail. I certainly didn’t. Nobody constructs a life to be weak and vulnerable, but yet people do it all the time. They don’t take care of themselves, don’t take care of their finances, don’t take care of their relationships, don’t take care of their business, don’t take care of their property. The list goes on. I’m guessing the type of person who’s read this far into a program like this is probably not in that camp. They’re investing time. Pay attention to what’s going on. The two investor emotions are greed and fear.
If you’re driven by either one, a greedy person will charge in and they will see nothing but sunshine. They will go after the opportunity with reckless abandon. That’s the operative word of a reckless abandon. End up getting in over their head and having a problem. A fearful person will sit on the sideline waiting for everything. Conservative people tend to be that way. In some ways, that’s the greater danger because it’s easy if you get in over your head to find people who can help you. It’s scary but you can find people that can help you. There are a lot of fixers out there. A lot of times, the problems you’re having seem overwhelming to you because of your lack of experience or access to resources.
Whereas an experienced investor would come in like, “We can handle that.” Remember the first time I was having a financial meltdown, my dad came and he looked over all my finances and he’d already gone broke in the 1987 stock market crash. He says, “You still have a lot to work with.” It was just a perspective. I couldn’t see it. I was hitting the panic button because that stock trading trade I did was a big one and I got it all wrong. I thought I was going to have to sell my house. I freaked out. When you are in over your head, you can get help. The challenge about when you’re sitting on the sideline in isolation, there’s a lot of that going on now, waiting for the smoke to clear, there’s nobody available to help you.
There’s nothing to fix except what’s going on between your ears. You won’t know that you’ve made a mistake until you go out and you can’t buy anything that’s worth buying because all of the buyers have already done what they do. Here’s what’s going on. The way a bottom gets put in a market is the brave and the bold, the aware and prepared, the experienced, and equipped. The people that have the right teams, step into the market and they begin to go bargain shopping. The act of snapping up those bargains bring the stability that you’re waiting for. By definition, it means all the bargains are picking over by the time you get there.
Warren Buffett famously said, “Buy when there’s blood in the streets.” You’re not being a vulture. You’re being a white core puzzle. The problem exists with or without you, you’re not capitalizing or victimizing someone. You’re often solving a problem because people who were selling because they don’t want or can’t handle the property for whatever reason, it could be mental, emotional, relational, financial. It doesn’t matter what it is. Their problem becomes your opportunity. Some people are wired that way. This is not easy.
You can’t sit in your crib with your trading app and just order up real estate. Even though people are building online marketplaces, one of the biggest mistakes is taking a look at a property on an online portal. Having never met the market, not knowing anything about the team, buying it because the numbers make sense based on some YouTube video. They will watch how to do a financial analysis and then they buy it. They go looking for a property manager. They start trying to understand the market that they bought in. They do everything backward.
It starts with personal investment philosophy, market, team, property. A lot of people start with the property and then figure out the rest. The problem is by the time they get the first personal investment philosophy, they’re there because it’s been painful. They’ve discovered all the things they don’t like and can’t stand. Sadly, a lot of people will walk away from real estate. I have to confess after 2008, I was a little sour here. I’m a real estate guy, wrote a book on it, Equity Happens, and how great real estate is. I went and reread the book, making sure that we weren’t pitching snake oil, but it’s still penciled after the fact.
My problem wasn’t what we wrote. It’s what I did knowing what to do and doing it. There are lots of people who aren’t at their idea of weight. It’s not because they don’t know what to do, it’s because for whatever reason they aren’t doing it. It was the same thing as me. I knew what to do, I for whatever reason wasn’t doing it. That largely had to do with split focus and arrogance and thinking that I could make more money and in business than managing my properties. Anyway, the mistake is to sit on the sidelines. Now are the time and I commend everybody who’s made it this far into this monologue or this epic discussion.
It’s good. Now is the time to be investing in your education. It is time to be investing in your network and getting plugged into people who are already doing the thing that you want to be doing. There are clubs or mentoring programs you can join. None of those things should cost you money. They should make you money. You might have to front a little bit of money till you get up to speed and get going. Their investments like any professional education, the intent is that you’re going to make money, but this is a relationship business.
Once you’re plugged in and you have your finances in order, you’ve worked through your investment philosophy and you’ve got your team in place, and you’re starting to understand markets and product types and all that stuff. Your relationships are going to be the people that are going to get you into deals. You’re going to be active. You’re going to need more education and a different kind of education. If you’re passive, then you need to understand what it is to be a passive investor. You need to start looking at some offering documents. Understand how to understand the risks. They’re all in the prospectus. A lot of people buy stocks and they can handle prospectus. Both of us know, nobody ever reads them, but they should.
When you get a private placement, a real estate syndication, for example, you’re going to get handed a subscription agreement. Part of that in the subscription agreement, in your offering documents for private placement memorandum is going to be sobering, explanation of all of the potential risks. Remember, you’re not looking for a reason not to do the deal. You’re looking for reasons to do the deal, but you want to go in there, eyes wide open. Sam Zell is one of the most iconic, real estate investors ever, much bigger than Donald Trump and not a controversial figure, at least not in the same way Mr. Trump is. Sam Zell wrote in his book, Am I Being too Subtle?, that the thing he attributed his success to was not his ability to see the upside. He goes, “Everybody sees the upside. It was my ability to see the downside and still move forward.”
The marketplace is showing everybody a lot of the downside. Your ability, my ability to be successful isn’t going to be to sit on the sideline and wait for things to stabilize. It’s going to be to see the opportunity and the risks and find a way forward. You’re going to do that through education and other people. Don’t camp out on the internet while you’re sheltering in place. Try to find ways to join virtual or God forbid, risk your health and go out and get in some real-world conversations, get together with some folks and get connected. It’s a fun community. If you get into the right tribe, we build those. I know you put on events. You’ve been at many of our events. The kind of people we attract and what we do. We’re not giving up on the event side of our business or getting people together.
We’re taking a time out and we’re doing more virtual stuff, but the concept of tribe is super important. That’s the season we’re at now. There’s a lot more to learn, but you got to pay attention. This is a slow-motion train wreck. It doesn’t mean you have to be run over by it or injured by it. You need to know what’s happening because when the collision occurs, there are going to be parts and pieces and things flying all over the place. You want to make sure that you’re not in the path. A few treasure chests are going to crack open and you can go bargain hunting too. That’s part of the reason we like to pay attention.
Financial Crisis: The shortest path to coming back might be a different property, a different market, or a completely different investment strategy. Keep an open mind to using what the market will give you.
Your mission statement is, “Education for effective action.” You look at the environment in which we operate, summarize what we’ve been talking about. It’s an environment that we can’t control. There are lots of things that are going to happen. Ultimately, we can control what we do, our actions. I look at something I learned but understood it didn’t necessarily implement. There’s no such thing as a perfect deal and pass a certain point, trying to get more information and have more, “This detail has to fit,” only increases the benefit marginally. It comes down to having more pros than cons.
Also having multiple perspectives, which is a good benefit from having a tribe, having a network and having different perspectives in this information age. Let’s end with that. How do you balance your perspective? You’re in the thick of real estate. You have the longest-running podcast radio show focused on real estate investment of anyone. You have a certain perspective that has been added to by multiple perspectives. Who do you continually follow and pay attention to that helps you have a different supplementing perspective that helps you grow and learn and be clearer about what’s happening so that you can take effective action?
I’m a student first. I have a huge library and I read every day. I budget an hour every morning, from 5:00 AM to 6:00 AM to read. I do that when I have an uncluttered mind. Enjoying my coffee gives me an excuse not to have to get up and get going. That’s part of it. I listen to podcasts, many of the people that I’ve become friends with because I find people through different mechanisms or books or podcasts. We then seek them out. We leverage the fact that we have this show, as you do, to talk to people. We both host and participate in mastermind groups, on various topics both business and investing. We do our annual Investor Summit. We’ve been doing it now. This will be the eighteenth year. Normally, we do it on a cruise ship. We’re not sure that’s going to happen this year. We’re still cautiously optimistic, but it’s uncertain. We’re supposed to be leaving in a few weeks. I don’t know, we’re going to see. Somehow, someway we will get together.
I was on a call with a mutual friend, Richard Duncan, who wrote the book, The Dollar Crisis. We were talking about life from his perspective. I’m going to be on the phone with Brian London, who’s a gold expert and runs a New Orleans investment conference. He’s a plugged-in guy. I’m sitting here talking to you and you have a perspective, I mentioned Chris and Adam, I’ve done webinars for them. We do some joint stuff together. They have a way of looking at the world. It goes back to using what you have, whatever you have. It could be the ability to write a check and pay to be part of a club. It could be if you have a show or some outlet where you can talk to people if you have time to read.
Most of us have something we can work with. Try to find a way to put good ideas in your head and then try to get into conversations with other people that are interested in the subject matter as well. Even if it’s the blind leading the blind, concentrate on what the author, the podcaster, or the video host is saying. Talk about it and process it. That’s a way to learn. If you can get somebody who’s got some professional expertise or real-world experience or whether it’s a CPA, an attorney, a 1031 tax-deferred exchange guy.
Somebody that does infinite banking or mortgages, bring them into the conversation whether those are conference calls or Zoom calls. Eventually, you could start your own investment club. We did a white paper. You send an email to Club@RealEstateGuysRadio.com. We’ve been putting together investment clubs for a long time. We’ll send you a free white paper. You can look at it and figure out how to start your own investment club. Tips and tricks from guys that have done it on how you can start one on the cheap. Grow it, have it be successful and begin to attract people into your world.
The point is to do what you can do. I have a saying, “My dedication is to be diligent about doing the things that I can do so that I am best prepared to handle the things that I can’t control.” In other words, be diligent to control the things you can control so that you are in the best position to react to the things that you cannot control. There are so many things that you cannot control. There are only a few things that you can control. The good news is if you focus on them, you can control things. The idea is you put in your head the people you hang around with, your self-talk, and your emotions.
What happens on your balance sheet, in your physical body, in your environment, you can control all those things. Those things will help you react better when there’s a Coronavirus crisis, an economic shutdown, a financial market collapse, a banking crisis. The list goes on and it will never end. This is not the last crisis. Certainly, not the first. It’s going to continue to happen. It’s part of being alive going from crisis to crisis. Don’t withdraw, lean in. There is an opportunity on the flip side and going through all these problems. Your mission is to try to figure out which opportunities are for you. Who you need on your team, what you have to work with to make it happen, and then never to put all your eggs in one basket? It’s to take reasonable risks that you’re aware of the threats.
Equity Happens: Building Lifelong Wealth with Real Estate
You have a mitigation strategy so that if we have a fire, I know to run out this window or this door. If somebody breaks in the house, I know where the phone is and how to call 911, or maybe where the weapon is or however you choose to defend your home. Have a plan A if everything goes great. Have a plan B in case certain things go wrong. Try to anticipate as much as you can. To your earlier comment, understand there will always be an unexpected event that nobody saw coming that you couldn’t plan for. The best you can do is have some liquidity, have a great tribe, have some stability in your financials especially avoiding counterparty risk is one of the things that I’d be concerned about.
That way you may lose a piece of your portfolio, but you don’t lose a whole thing. Be ready for inflation, be ready for deflation, be ready for a banking collapse, be ready for hyperinflation. Be ready for high taxes, be ready for high-interest rates. None of those things may happen, all of them may happen, we don’t know. Something’s going to happen. Think it through, be ready, and have people on tap that you can tap into when you’re not sure what to think. If you make those investments now, then I think your future is bright come what may. I encourage you to do that.
There’s been so much we’ve covered. Russ, thank you. It’s always amazing talking to you and I definitely learned a lot.
I appreciate it. I’ll make it easy for everybody and makes it easy for you. They can send an email to WealthStandard@RealEstateGuysRadio.com. You get a quick autoresponder with the latest copy of our newsletter and links to everything that we do. That is if you’re interested, if not, then unsubscribe and no harm, no foul.
We’ll have to do a follow-up as things unfold.
I look forward to it.
Thank you for reading my interview with Russell Gray. He is an amazing guy and hopefully, you can follow the Real Estate Guys Radio Program. It’s an incredible podcast. They have awesome guests on. They’re insightful in the way in which they analyze things. You will get much value out of following them. Russ also writes his newsletter, which is also incredibly insightful, somewhat comedic. It’s informative and I believe you get a ton of value from it, plus it’s doesn’t cost anything. That’s it for now. Thank you for your support.
Russell Gray is co-host of The Real Estate Guys™ Radio and TV Shows. He has been a financial strategist since 1986. As a faculty member for the California Association of Realtors, Russ taught Real Estate Finance to Realtors® pursuing the prestigious GRI designation. He is a popular speaker and author.
Robert and Russ have co-authored the very highly rated book “Equity Happens: Building Lifelong Wealth with Real Estate.”
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Patrick is the President and CEO and started Paradigm Life in 2007 after learning from his mentor Kim Butler about financial strategies outside of Wall Street.
With a background in economics and marketing, Patrick immediately realized the opportunity to teach investors, business owners, professionals and families on a large scale using modern digital media and communication technology. Since 2007 Paradigm Life has worked with thousands of individuals in all 50 states.
Run-of-the-mill advice is everywhere. But in order to achieve different results, your strategy has to be different.
In this book, you're going to learn about a hundred year old strategy that's tried and proven to give results. Are you ready to
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Once in a great while, a person comes along who can explain financial concepts so clearlu that all of a sudden,
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Author of Tax-Free Wealth, of the Rich Dad Advisor Series
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Patrick Donohoe is the Founder and CEO of Paradigm Life and PL Wealth Advisors. Patrick and his team teach thousands how
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Patrick was recently honored by Investopedia as one of the Nation's Top 100 Most Financial Advisors. He is a highly sought
after presenter and speaker at financial-based events around the country and is the host of The Wealth Standard podcast.
Patrick grew up in West Hartford, Connecticut, and attended the University of Utah, where he received his bachelor's degree in economics.
He lives in Salt Lake city with his wife and three children.
WHAT'S INSIDE THE BOOK?
THE CHAPTER LIST:
1. ORIGINS OF THE AMERICAN DREAM
2. THE PERPETUAL WEALTH STRATEGY™
3. QUESTION EVERYTHING
4. BREAK AWAY FROM WALL STREET
5. AVOIDING THE INVESTING AND LENDING TRAP
6. THINK FOR YOURSELF
7. A SOLID FOUNDATION
8. B ELIKE THE WEALTHY
9. MYTHS AND TRUTHS OF INSURANCE
10. SAVE, BORROW, INVEST, AND BUILD WEALTH
11. START, BUILD, AND PROSPER YOUR BUSINESS
12. YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE
13. MAKE THE SHIFT
14. TAKE BACK CONTROL