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Education + Risk = Financial Freedom

by Karl Harley, Ogden, UT   

When I moved out west after my mom died, I fell into quite a depression. My girlfriend and I were broke and living in a cruddy basement apartment with a shared kitchen and bathroom. Ick! I was about to turn 25 and finally decided I could not cope with a corporate job or any job for that matter.

I hated working for other people. I had a serious chip on my shoulder, but at the same time, I was confused. "If I am so smart, why am I broke and unhappy?" I couldn't figure it out.

I decided to see what kind of "self-employment" people did, so I visited the library and started searching. Everything took money or sounded too stupid: "Sharpen Saw Blades for Extra Profit!" Yeah, right...

Out of boredom, I picked up a couple of real estate investment books. Specifically, Nothing Down by Robert Allen and Wealth Without Risk by Charles Givens. These books blew me away. I stayed up all night reading, night after night after night... I got mad at my parents and society for not teaching me about money. I felt VERY sorry for myself.

But I began to learn. My girlfriend's dad sent me Carlton Sheet's stuff (he'd ordered but never even looked at it!), and I decided to take this creative real estate thing seriously. I had read 53 books on real estate investing that summer and finally felt somewhat ready.

I began to take risks. I remember the first real estate agent I called. I was terrorized but was able to talk for a few minutes without stumbling. I went to a bank to get "pre-qualified" HA! I cried after the 12th bank said "no." Yup, sure did. It was the 13th bank that referred me to the mortgage company, and it was there that the tide turned.

My first deal was completely "no money down." (Had to be--I didn't have any money!) My girlfriend and I moved, got free rent and $155 positive cash flow each month. Cool. Things progressed, and my girlfriend became my wife and real estate partner.

So here we are--exactly five years later. I just turned 30 this week. I am buying a seven-bedroom home for me and my family. Our son's college is paid for (he's 18 months old now). My wife raises our son and delivers babies in her spare time. (She's a midwife.)

I teach real estate full time. I am a mortgage broker. I do hard money loans. I invest full time in both real estate and stocks. In short, I am very busy, but even more fulfilled. So what have I learned that I can pass on to our young and young-at-heart investors?

EXPAND YOUR COMFORT ZONE! Stretch it by making it a habit to always try new things. Shape it by learning everything you can. And occasionally break it completely by accepting and taking risks. Life is way too short to live in fear of the unknown. I should know. After all, I'm 30!

 
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