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Sacrifice – Key to Successful Investing while Holding a Full-Time Job

by Michael Zuber on January 9, 2012 · 28 comments


As an investor who holds a full-time job, I feel compelled to share the reason I have been successful over the last 10 years.

It all boils down to one word: “Sacrifice.”

I believe that one word holds the key to success for investors who work full-time and chose to be active real estate investors.

Let’s define Sacrifice as the simple act of giving up something for the sake of doing something else.  For example, I give up eating desserts, which I love, because I want to lose some weight.  I stop doing something I like to do because I have a more important goal of losing weight.  With that context, let’s look at all the things a Real Estate Investor working full-time will have to sacrifice, at least on occasion, in order to be successful long term.


Having a full-time job does not give you a lot of flexibility to learn, research, and build a portfolio of rental homes.  You will undoubtedly have to sacrifice a lot of time to your new business venture.  You will need to wake up early, stay up late, leverage your weekends, and even give up your lunch break on many occasions to be successful in this business.

One reality in life is we are all given the same amount of time in the day.  However, people choose to leverage their time in many different ways.  I suggest investors with full time jobs go in with their eyes wide open, as they are going to sacrifice a lot of time to this business.

Get ready for it, get comfortable, and make sure you are getting a great return for your sacrifice!


Contrary to popular belief, it does take some money to make this business work.  Even if you are a buy-and-hold investor like me, you will need some cash for repairs, maintenance and unexpected surprises.  Never run your business so tight that one surprise causes you to miss mortgage payments.

In addition to normal working capital, many of you will be shrinking your savings or investment portfolios by placing sizable down payments.  I have seen this simple act cause investors or people close to the investor to freak out as their liquidity dries up.  The simple fact is that real estate is not as liquid as cash or stocks, so if you need that security, don’t make the sacrifice and stay out of real estate.

You need to be comfortable with sacrificing money for down payments and working capital to grow/maintain your portfolio.

Toys and Extras:

One of the great truths I have learned about real estate investing is that as you start out and build your portfolio, you will need to sacrifice extras in life at the beginning.   You simply don’t have an option to turn extra cash into anything other than more real estate.  Don’t ever stop the momentum of building your portfolio.

After 10 years, I still turn 100% of my available cash into more real estate.  This is especially true given the depressed prices in the current market.

You need to get 100% from your significant other before you start.  You might be willing to sacrifice, but are they willing to sacrifice to the same level?  You can’t sacrifice alone, as you could be shocked to learn your sacrifice has been turned into some other expense, commitment or activity.

Sacrifice can be fun if you are prepared and see the short term cost as the price of doing business in the beginning.

Good Investing

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon Vornholt January 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Great article Michael. I think the “sacrifice part” is what so many folks don’t understand when you are starting and building a business. It is something you have to be prepared to do.

I have a saying taped to my monitor that says, “If you are willing to do what most folks won’t do for a few years, you can have what most folks won’t have for the rest or your life”. I don’t know who the author is, but it is so true. When things get a little tough, reading that saying puts me back on track every time.


Mike Z January 12, 2012 at 7:38 am


I love that saying and you are so right most new folks forget this business requires work and sacrifice. Especially at the start

Good investing


Tia January 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Great article. The major problem with today’s population is instant gratification and many fail when it comes to sacrificing. Thanks!


Mike Z January 12, 2012 at 7:38 am

I agree, thanks for the feedback


Bilgefisher January 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm


Along with time sacrifice, I think those that start their business before going full time have a leg up. They must get very good at using their time very wisely. Wasting the precious few hours before and after work on trivial matters can be disastrous. Learning to tackle the most important items first. Like my coach says “Take actions that result in paydays.”
Very good post Michael.



Mike Z January 12, 2012 at 7:39 am


Your coach is very wise

Good Investing


Greg January 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I like Dave Ramsey’s statement, “live like no one else so that you can eventually live like no one else.” I don’t own any investment property yet, but I have a plan my wife and I share, and we are putting the final link in the chain to start some positive cash flow soon.


Mike Z January 12, 2012 at 7:40 am


Planning is where it starts.

Good Luck


Steve January 9, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Good post. Maybe one day soon I can drive a better car then my tenants do.


Bilgefisher January 10, 2012 at 5:58 am

To funny Steve. My wife and I were laughing about that the other day. Our rental properties use to be far better than our house.



Joe Parham January 10, 2012 at 8:05 am

So true. They always have a nicer car than me! I don’t envy them though… I bought my car with cash.


Mike Z January 12, 2012 at 7:41 am

Funny, I can’t count how many times I went into my rentals and found my tenants had MUCH bigger TV’s than I had …


Nick M January 16, 2012 at 9:36 am

All my tenants drive nicer cars than me. Actually, when I reviewed prospective tenants for a recent rental, almost all had better car then me. Couple of them were driving luxurious cars with less than 2 months of rent money in their bank accounts.


Al Williamson January 10, 2012 at 8:18 am

Thanks for your post. Good to know I’m not alone in this area. However I’m learning that sacrifice doesn’t mean not enjoying yourself. Pleasures tend to be costly, but enjoyable activities are often free.


Mike Z January 12, 2012 at 7:42 am


Agreed you can do lots of things without burning your investment capital


Freddy C. January 10, 2012 at 8:19 am

This really hits home for me, Michael- thanks for the timely post. I work full-time, live in the suburbs but work downtown, commute via metro, three kids (oldest is 5). Same story as many of the RE investors out there, I’m sure. I’d like to invest more into RE and lately I have been trying to find the best strategy for us. “Buy & hold” is looking more and more like the most appealing rout and as you said, “sacrifice” will be one of the keys to success. The work we do now will pay-off down the road not only for ourselves but for our loved ones.


Mike Z January 12, 2012 at 7:43 am


I can’t speak for all markets but I can tell you I wouldn’t want to be a seller in this market. SO Buy and Hold seems like a pretty good option


Bethany January 10, 2012 at 10:01 am

It is all about finding the right balance, making time for your investments without sacrificing family, etc. Great tips here.


Mike Z January 12, 2012 at 7:43 am

Agree 100%


Marsha January 10, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Great piece of interesting work, Michael! I so agree with the things you mentioned here as I too believe that “Sweat plus sacrifice equals success”. I am not a professional RE investor but with sticking to those “magic words” I was able to buy my own home even I am just a regular middle-earning employee. Thanks for sharing this, Michael!


Mike Z January 12, 2012 at 7:45 am


Congrats on your purchase


Josh January 15, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Great article! Do you have an opinion on how many properties can be successfully managed without being full time into real estate. We are up to 15 now, and the problems come in waves, so some weeks are great, while others are seem to get pretty busy with a full time job.


Mike Z January 16, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Hi Josh

Tough call as I never managed any of my property. I live 3 hours from my investment market and I travel 100K miles a year and spend 60+ nights in hotels.

I focus on finding deals and securing capital and I let the PM’s do the hard work

Good Investing


Daniel Wiafe January 15, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Awesome post Mike. Currently, I am starting my REI career as a wholesaler… but have the long-term goal of investing in cash flow properties in my portfolio. Question: Do you personally manage all of your properties… or do you use a managment company?


Mike Z January 16, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Hi Daniel,

I don’t manage any of my properties. I focus on finding deals and securing capital

Good Investing


Robert Steele January 15, 2012 at 11:24 pm

“You need to get 100% from your significant other before you start. You might be willing to sacrifice, but are they willing to sacrifice to the same level? You can’t sacrifice alone, as you could be shocked to learn your sacrifice has been turned into some other expense, commitment or activity.”

It definitely helps to have a partner that doesn’t have a full time job like you. Such as a wife.


Mike Z January 16, 2012 at 3:22 pm

I agree 100% commitment from the significant other is critical!!!


Rusty Thompson January 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Great article. I’m a strong believer in “sacrifice”. But I think “maximize” should be the next tenant. I think a solid schedule helps. I block out time in 30min. Increments for each week & account for everything including sleep. Its the same basic categories every week so I have consistency, then I infill with specific tasks. It keeps me from floundering for something to do.


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