Today is the 29th edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions. We have a list of 17 questions we pose to fellow financial bloggers, and they are free to pick and choose 10 or answer all of them. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.
Chad and I see eye-to-eye on almost everything. Almost. I strongly disagree with the advice he gives about the board game Risk. Take Australia first. Australia is the key to the game.
Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
My blog is great because it explores several topics of interest to a lot of people:
- Early retirement
- Real estate investing
- Personal growth and productivity
The buzz right now at coachcarson.com is my Business-Money-Life Project. I’ve been giving myself the equivalent of a real-world PhD in Entrepreneurship, Personal Finance, and Life, and I share the best ideas from this project in my weekly newsletter.
My real estate investment business of 13 years is sort of like my experiment. I’ve used real estate income to test out retirement with long-term travel along the way, and I’ve built business systems and a small team that give me more flexibility and freedom.
With the Business-Money-Life project I’m collecting 500+ big ideas from 100+ books which when organized will be my thesis. Everything is archived on my blog, but I also plan to write a book(s).
Finally, my full financial independence (May 2016) is like my graduation and a validation that the ideas work.
If you’re curious, here are the lists of books I’ve been studying (if I’m missing some of your favorites, feel free to let me know in the comments below):
If you like listening to podcasts, you can hear two interviews I did with BiggerPockets.com about life and real estate investing:
- Getting Started With Creative Financing and Designing Your Ideal Life
- 7 Ways to Find Incredible Real Estate Deals
Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!).
My blog’s motto is: Win With Money and Live a Better Life.
I don’t believe money is the most important thing in life, but I sure find that losing with money gets in the way of a lot of the things that ARE important – like time with family, travel, personal growth, contribution to others, and jobs or projects that align with your passions.
My goal is to educate and inspire people to win with money by mastering their personal finances, investing in real estate, starting small businesses, and living more consciously (some call this frugal).
I use the name “Coach” Carson because I’ve always loved and played sports. My best coaches were always enthusiastic and caring teachers who pushed me to be our best. I like to be the old-school coach who boils down the fundamentals in a way that helps you apply them even better.
If I can positively influence a lot of people on my “team” win with money, there will be a lot of people living happier and with more fulfillment. That’s a good thing!:)
What goals do you have for your blog, short and long term?
Short-term I want to expand the number of people I write to each week. I’m already sharing the ideas, so why not have more people join the fun?!
Long-term, this is primarily an outlet for me to do what I love – thinking, writing, and connecting with awesome people. My wife knows very well that I’m a nerd when it comes to entrepreneurship, investing, and personal development. So without this outlet, I’d probably drive her CRAZY:)
I also plan to start back teaching a few online classes about real estate investment to provide some fun money while my wife and our two little girls live abroad for 1+ years in Spain or Argentina in 2016.
What post are you most proud of and why?
Oooh, that’s like choosing which child you love the most! The best I can do is narrow it down to four by my favorite categories:
- Real Estate – Live-in House Flips – real estate investing is not for everyone. I’m fine with that. But every aspiring early retiree should know about a tool to use their own home to accelerate their date to financial independence with a little part-time effort. Here is my summary of the concept of live-in house flips: A Plan to Own Your Home Free & Clear in Only 6 Years
- Money – So much of security is focused on our bank account, stock balance, etc. Those are certainly important, but I have a little different take on security at its most fundamental level: How to Get True Security
- Entrepreneurship – Too many business books and blogs are focused on venture capital style businesses who want to get big and take over the world. Here’s why I am proud to keep my business small and simple.
- Life – Optimism, or the ability to direct one’s thoughts and not have them directed by others, is a meta-virtue because so many other virtues depend upon it. If you don’t have a plan to control that crazy monkey in your mind, everything else will be an uphill battle: Optimism – the Last of the Human Freedoms.
Do you enjoy writing?
Yes, I love it. It’s maddening at times, but I know I need to write because I can’t get to sleep at night without reaching over to a pad and paper to write more ideas to share.
Tell us about you
1500 Days is about early retirement. Do you have early retirement dreams? At what age do you think you will retire?
Early retirement has always been my dream and motivation since starting my business out of college 13 years ago. For the last 4-5 years I would consider myself semi-retired, because income from rental properties has covered a big chunk of our living expenses. I’ve taken several mini-retirement trips, I’ve not worked as hard as I did early on, and I’ve branched out into multiple passion ventures (like teaching and blogging).
But we’re not all the way to our full financial independence goal, so my wife and I have our sights on May 2016 as a target date to achieve that. At that time we will go to Spain or Argentina for a year or more (Bucking the Trend style) so that we and our girls can rekindle our Spanish language skills and experience a change of pace in another culture.
If blogging isn’t your full time gig, what is?
I started a real estate investment business with a partner when I graduated from college 13 years ago. Right now we flip properties occasionally, we own a small management company that oversees our 55 units, and we also do some private lending against real estate. I also have my real estate license, but I rarely use it unless friends or family ask me for help.
My wife teaches Spanish part-time at Clemson University near where we live. She taught full-time before our two little ones arrived.
When you are 90 and look back on your life, what do you hope you have accomplished?
First I hope I was a good role model and a positive influence on the people closest to me. Particularly I think about my two daughters, but I hope that positive influence expands to larger circles in my life.
I also have an itch to be a thought leader that challenges wider society to think and act differently than the status quo. Right now my focus is on real estate, personal finance, and financial independence. But I’d like to get more into social entrepreneurship which solves some of society’s biggest problems using the vehicle of business. Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunnus (Book: Building Social Business) is a hero of mine in this field, and so is Whole Foods founder John Mackey (Book: Conscious Capitalism).
Money, money, money
What is the best money management or investment tool you have come across?
Real estate rentals. They sort of have a bad reputation in the early-finance world, but all of the so-called negatives I’ve heard are positives in my book.
- Illiquid – this just means it’s harder to be stupid and sell at the wrong time. So you’re forced to do what you’re supposed to do – hold on long term. This also creates opportunities to make even more money in illiquid/down markets and offload bad investments in liquid/hot markets.
- Requires time and effort – I’m also a fan of passive, index-style investing, but what’s wrong with using a little elbow grease and time to boost your investment returns? To me it sure beats waiting on the broader market to make me money. I have found most time and effort is on the front end of a purchase. After it’s rented and stable, feel free to travel around the world like I have. The RIGHT real estate can be very passive.
- Small appreciation relative to stock market – Really?? Most people forget overall returns, which include income, amortization of loans, and appreciation. Appreciation may average 0-3% for residential real estate, but if you buy at a discount that number is even higher. And unleveraged rental income yields can be anywhere from 4% – 10%. 4+3% = 7%. Very comparable to stock indexes in a worst case, but even better if you work a little harder to find the best properties. If you’re feeling frisky, you can then add nitro to your investment growth with a little safe leverage, which is easier in real estate than most other asset classes.
How do you handle people with different views on money, ie spendy people?
I write articles about them. J/k.
I don’t try to directly convert people who have different money views. I hope my life will be the message, and if they like what they see they’ll get curious and ask questions. That’s the opening to share the fun stuff.
Did you grow up with money? How did your money situation growing up influence you?
As Warren Buffett likes to say, I hit the ovarian lottery. My mother was a dentist, so she did well financially. My father was a serial entrepreneur, and I noticed first hand the flexibility and time that allowed him to be very involved with us as kids. That made a BIG impression on me, and his example is something I aspire to as a father of my own kids.
I was lucky to have examples close to home of how entrepreneurship and wise financial decisions could lead to a better life. But I was also fortunate that my parents encouraged me to build the same skills that helped them out: self discipline, hard work, and an insatiable curiosity.
Did your parents teach you about money as a kid? How so?
I can’t remember the direct lessons. We didn’t have any fancy allowance systems or anything like that. But they talked openly and unabashedly about money. That openness was a gift, because it allowed us to ask them questions and learn behind the scenes as we grew up.
I also noticed the connection between VALUE and earning more money. My parents worked hard and continuously improved themselves in order to provide excellent service to others in their chosen fields. They taught me the truth of the Earl Nightingale quote:
“Money can’t be sought directly. Money, like happiness is an effect, and the result of a cause. The cause is service.”
What is your favorite style of beer – and what is your favorite beer in that style?
Easy. A hefeweisse (wheat beer), German style. I really would prefer any small village in Germany that brews their own Hefe, but in the states I like imported Weihenstephaner.
I also enjoy plenty of other craft beers. Asheville, NC is nearby, and it’s become like the East Coast craft beer capital.
We notice a lot of frugal people are into board games – what is your favorite?
I used to play some long, hard-fought games of Risk. Hint: Don’t try to defend Europe. It won’t work. Stick to North and South America.
What is the best thing you’ve read lately.
Biography of Abe Lincoln by Ronald White. What an interesting story of personal growth, and its also a central story to the history of the United States.
What do you do for exercise?
Mix of cardio and strength. Cardio is hiking, jogging, or walking and pushing strollers with my 2 and 4 year old kids. For Strength I do a circuit that usually includes pullups, handstand pushups, pushups, squats, lunges, etc. I am also a long-time fan of Yoga.
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