Is there truly ‘Financial Freedom’ with debt?
I submit to you, No, not fully.
The borrower is a slave to the lender, right?
And Slavery and Freedom cannot co-exist.
Before I get any further, I will tell you that I have a lot of ‘good’ debt.
And I’ve been building my business and playing the game of leverage for going on 18 years now.
Through 49 years of living, I can also say that I’ve paid 100% of my financial obligations and have been financially successful along the way.
But late last year, I began to think more and more about the obligations that come with debt.
And I began to consider eliminating 100% of all of my debt.
To be clear, that means 100% of my Real Estate debt, because other than a couple of company vehicle loans, I have no other debt.
Some close to me are asking why I would even consider this.
I understand that question.
I didn’t even like the thought popping up in my head, to be honest.
But as Byron Katie says, ‘the thought appears’, so it means it’s time to explore.
So I began to explore it.
I asked myself what I wanted at this stage of my life/business.
The answer to that question came very quickly.
I wanted the exact same thing as when I started:
I want to be a FREE MAN.
But then I asked myself, am I truly Free?
The answer came back: Not fully.
I’m free in many areas of life, but with Financial Obligations (mainly, masses of ‘good debt’) come the trappings of responsibility.
Some of these responsibilities require my time.
Some of these responsibilities require my Mind.
And some of these responsibilities require my Peace (or lack thereof during certain situations).
With debt, thoughts appear…..worry, doubt, liabilities, pressure, responsibilities, etc.
Even when you have a team and property managers as I do, there is still Management that must take place from you.
I’m clear on this: You are not fully experiencing financial ‘freedom’ with Debt
This includes Good Debt (AKA: Leverage)
That cloud of debt will always be hovering around in your mind.
Yes, high equity helps but it’s still debt.
We’ve seen this happening recently, especially in Multi-family
Leverage is obviously a great way to create wealth, but it will always linger in your mind and there is never true passivity when there is liability.
Non-recourse still means you can lose your capital, or worse, your investor’s capital
Let’s take a second and define the word Freedom.
1. The condition of not being in prison or captivity.
2. The condition of being free of restraints, especially the ability to act without control or interference by another or by circumstance.
One of the common interpretations of financial freedom is when your ‘passive’ or recurring income meets or exceeds your expenses, you are financially free.
I used to believe in that 100%
Damn near had it tattoo’d on my forehead when I first got started in real esate.
What I’ve seen and experienced, financial burdens force us to make choices that we may not want to make.
Either that, they can rob us of our time.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing all the time.
This is actually how we learn to grow as individuals and entrepreneurs.
I know that some of my greatest growth in life has been facing the financial fears and challenges I’ve faced along the way.
But for many (if not for most), it leads people to get caught in the ‘golden handcuffs’, and become trapped by the investments and lifestyle of liabilities they’ve created.
Look, everyone has a greed gland.
And many just want more for the sake of more.
I’ve fallen into this trap, so I get it.
But it’s no way to live.
For me, I guess because I’ve gotten older, perhaps wiser, and I just want to play the game differently.
One of my very first mentors told me over 18 years ago, that ‘you will spend the first part of your business life working your ass off to build wealth, but you’ll work even harder after that to keep it’.
So here’s where I’ve landed after soaking all of this in over the last few months since the ‘thought appeared’
The easy answer at first was that I could simply sell the bulk of my real estate, and pay off the debt of the properties that I want to keep.
I already have free and clear real estate, so I could just add to that portion of my portfolio, and sell the rest.
But then I asked:
How could I keep my real estate and be debt-free?
I shared in a recent post about the comparison of Dave Ramsey and Kiyosaki.
Both had a huge impact on my life.
Ramsey in the beginning when I was financially illiterate, I learned how to pay off dumb debt, do the snowball, and the ‘baby steps’ kind of stuff.
Then immediately after, I read ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ and learned about ‘Good Debt’ and quickly learned how to play the leverage game to begin buying rental property.
Ultimately, here is where I’ve arrived.
And no, I will preface that this isn’t a new concept.
But I thought to myself, what about creating a Fund with Zero Debt, so all assets owned we have ZERO BANKS and ZERO LEVERAGE?
I’ve actually done a couple of other Syndications on land deals with this structure.
But moving a portfolio of rentals, owner finance notes, and multiple mobile home & RV parks with 6 figure monthly revenues to this model, well, I had to take a few deep breaths.
And this is where I landed…
In the near future, I will either sell all real estate or convert to 100% debt-free via Fund that utilizes 0% bank debt.
This is the path I’m heading down.
Yes, it means I will have to say no to some future opportunities.
I get it, we will never be the biggest.
Which actually fits one of my business mantras:
Small, but Mighty.
And I will likely ultimately make less by giving more to my lenders than to banks.
But me and my partners will own all of our real estate 100% and there is:
~ Strength in numbers
~Freedom without Banks
~Rewards for living without Leverage
I guess, another way to frame it I’ve thought of, is Doing real estate God’s way.
I’m not sure how many Investors reading this that it will resonate with, but I hope it helps a few of you.
Some of you are playing the game of leverage and you’re worrying yourself sick and can’t sleep some nights.
I understand because this is the way we’ve been taught.
So don’t beat yourself up, but consider….
Just consider that there may be a better way to play the game.
Yes, there is a way to keep doing real estate deals without bank debt.
You have options and those options may lead you to more freedom than you’ve ever experienced while helping more people than ever before.
For me, I realize that venturing down this path will likely mean my net worth will likely be less than it would be if I kept playing the leverage game I’m playing now.
But I can tell you that my asset and cash column will be stacked and my balance sheet will have $0 in liabilities when I accomplish this mission.
And that my friends, is how a Free Man lives.
I know some of you are disagreeing with me
That’s 100% fine, always.
I’m not judging.
I’m just sharing the path I’ve chosen by leading a life that demands me to follow the calling in my heart.
Even when it’s uncharted and a bit scary at times.
Either way, I would love to hear your thoughts.
I intend to share some of my experiences along the way, so stay tuned for more.