Personal Development

I’m Really Gonna Like Creating This Case Study

Expertise: Personal Development, Personal Finance, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate News & Commentary, Business Management, Real Estate Investing Basics, Flipping Houses
250 Articles Written
Real Estate

Every now and then I’m reminded in the most visceral of ways how much I love what I do.

My favorite example happened many years ago. Long time clients had recently had their first baby, a girl. At the time of this office meeting their daughter was about a week past her second birthday. We’d been reviewing their portfolio when outa nowhere the wife totally reversed her thinking, and announced she was way past ready to be a stay-at-home mom. But, she said, “We’ve always gone for capital growth, not cash flow. When will I be able to quit my job?” Since her husband had confided this to me, we’d been colluding privately, and I’d been having him be more hands on with the rents. Also, the Mother of all bubbles was around three years old. Bottom line? I got to have this short, but oh so sweet conversation.

“Brenda, I’ve been assessing your current cash flow. It’s all completely tax sheltered, with room for more. You’ll be a little tight, but if you really wanna quit your job, you have enough cash flow to do it, as long as Steve’s job is safe.” 

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She began to sob. Then Steve caved. At that point I was a gonner with no hope whatsoever. The conference room had window-walls, so I’ve always wondered what folks thought as they saw all three of us wiping tears away. 🙂 That conversation made my year for me. Even now it never fails to get me smiling.

Monday at Lunch

An Ethiopian immigrant who’s been here about 25 years, found BiggerPockets and began reading and listening insatiably. She liked much of what she read and heard, then noticed I lived just down the I-5 freeway from her. Would I be willing to meet her sometime? You bet I would. She’s a 49 year old newly single mother of eight year old fraternal twins. One of them is a special needs child. Think your days are challenging sometimes? Every day’s challenging for her. Yet she smiles most of the time, genuinely infusing you with the need to smile yourself.

At 49 time isn’t her BFF, but with the modest assets at her disposal, and an upcoming capital injection from back home, she can make a real difference in her ultimate retirement income. At this point she’d be working ’til she couldn’t, go through her savings, then hope Social Security was still viable. Fortunately she has a close girlfriend her age who also has some savings. They’re interested in partnering if that would help. For me that’ll end up as a twofer as far as fixes go. It doesn’t get any better than that.

A Reminder

During our lunch I was gifted to hear about life in Ethiopia. She made a very telling observation when comparing her mother country to the U.S. “I was lucky to have been born to what’s known in Ethiopia as the upper class. (It wouldn’t be anything like that here.) The middle class there is very, very small. The lower economic class his huge. The difference is that in America everyone has the opportunity to be whatever they want, as long as they’re willing to pay the price and work for it. The only way an Ethiopian born dirt poor can ever really move up the economic ladder is to have been born with highly superior intelligence, and then the odds are long. They much figure most things out themselves, without help.”

Yes, I’ll stick with this incredible lady like glue. Creating a retirement in which she’s not working well into her 70s, but living comfortably has already begun to emerge as a mission for which failure isn’t an option. Imagine yourself at 49, and having come from another country long ago. A couple kids under 10, one a major special needs child. Yet, due to her faith in the American tradition of opportunity to eventually triumph, she reminded me of how lucky we all are to have been born here.

Driving home I felt blessed on so many levels. Yup, this case study is gonna be big time fun.

Photo: Maureen Flynn-Burhoe

Licensed since 1969, broker/owner since 1977. Extensively trained and experienced in tax deferred exchanges, and long term retirement planning.
    John Knappmann
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Two great stories in one post. My money is on the lady from Ethiopia succeeding.
    Jeff Brown
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Mine too, John.
    Roy Schauer
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Jeff, I love your blogs! One of my main reasons I like being an investor is finding a creative way of helping someone with multiple wins involved. Currently working with a soon to be single mom in her late 30’s who is currently unable to work a “normal” job due to a car wreck and degenerative bone problems. The husband was willing to let the bank foreclose on the house even though they had been living there for 10 years and had a nice chunk of equity. While she won’t be set for life, as of now the court awarded her sole title to the property with a clerks deed so she could work with our company, stop the foreclosure, and get it sold. We will be setting her up in a condo and after all expenses are paid, she will have enough in her account to give her almost a year of breathing space to figure out where she wants to go from there. She is so thankful because at the time we started working together she had less than 45 days before the auction date and no options. This is why I love this work!
    Jeff Brown
    Replied over 7 years ago
    What a great story, Roy. Over time, many of us in the business learn that it’s those moments that are our highest pay.
    Replied about 7 years ago
    I’ve often reflected on the fact that I feel very lucky to have been born here and your story of the Ethiopian woman just solidifies that for me. I am happy for her that she found someone like you who will help her and work for her best interests. And kudos to her for moving forward with plans for her future with all that she must have to deal with on a daily basis.