Loose Lips Sink Ships (or The Strategy of Silence in REI)

by | BiggerPockets.com

Recently, during a relatively calm and drama-free conversation, daughter #3 (the cheeky one running around the kitchen at this very moment with a doily on her head) asked, “Mom? Now that you’ve plastered your name all over the internet, I guess its okay to tell people we’re landlords, right?

Ignoring for a moment the habit of certain individuals to exaggerate during annoyance maneuvers, this does bring up an interesting point. It is a fact that for years, certain parties of the first part did threaten certain child-units into silence. “Don’t tell anyone we’re thinking about buying real estate, hear me? Don’t tell anyone we bought that house in town, Hear me? Don’t tell anyone we’re landlords, Hear me?”

J. Edgar was an amateur.

Perhaps the kiddies resented it just a touch, but my paranoia was firmly rooted somewhere in the general vicinity of reasonableness. Investing in rent houses was so far outside our comfort zone and our newly blossoming ideas on money management so fragile, I was afraid someone might squish them. And to be honest, I just didn’t want to deal.

You’re planning to invest in What??!!

How About I Run Those Numbers For You? (And other helpful phrases you’ll never hear from friends and family)

Family and friends generally mean well-they want to help, really they do. Sometimes, they are afraid and they help by making sure you share their trepidation. They help by warning, scolding, waving giant red flags and employing any necessary means to throw the proverbial cold water all over the tiny embers of change which flicker in the bosom in bondage (said the drama queen as she threw herself upon her bed of suffering).

Having arrived in this world during the turbulent ‘60’s with a bunch of hippie-older brothers leading the charge, I’d learned to do my own thing, man. The mister and I’d been swimming upstream since we married at 19 (against everyone else’s better judgment) so I wasn’t exactly desperate for approval. I was only afraid of myself… afraid my inner-child would pitch a fit and toss my inner-investor in a corner-where she’d stay for several more years before getting up the gumption to try again. Afraid I’d be unable to move forward under the onslaught of faulty reasoning that once-upon-a-time I’d believed more fiercely than anyone.

It was time to change or else. And there were plenty of negative voices in my head already without adding to the chorus.

Change Takes Time (and Other Witty Sayings to Soothe the Battered Ego When Landing Upon the Backside)

Our financial transformation took about 7 years. In that time, we moved steadily forward without any visible results for 5 of those years. I started a home business performing background checks for small businesses owners and nonprofit groups which failed to make a profit. From our standpoint (and with a healthy application of hindsight), it was imminently successful. I learned to organize a business, understand and apply Texas business practices, and run a pretty mean background check. Before, concepts like marketing, ecommerce, and website development were foreign to this nursing major. And probably most important, by the time we became landlords, our office was in place, our books in order and everything we learned magically applied to real estate. But try explaining that to someone sitting across the table at the mall telling you that your failed business venture perfectly illustrates the reason they would never do anything so foolish.

Eventually, our success in real estate began to show. We went from living in a 1300 sq. ft. doublewide trailer to a larger custom home. Our clothes were purchased from upscale places like Penneys and Target instead of Goodwill. I was able to give gifts that didn’t come from the dollar store.

And, when people started to notice, I was strong enough mentally to share if anyone really wanted to hear.

Silence equals Self-preservation

A word of advice: If you simply must talk, find someone, somewhere who actually invests. Go to real estate meetings, visit forums, check out blogs and post comments.

And at the risk of winning the official title for Most Cliché’s Ever in a Single Blog Entry-don’t allow anyone to yank up your new baby plans before they develop deep enough roots to take the tugging. Silence is Golden. Don’t let anyone steal your dreams, dude.


Honestly! Who in their right mind would try to save you from a project like this?

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