How I Hustled at the Beginning – Going From a $1k – $30k War Chest in 1 Month

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In my first blog post for BiggerPockets I talked about people breaking into real estate and how they oftentimes skip the most important part of their investing career: getting their financial house in order. I’ll expand on that a little by telling my own story. It’s by no means pretty and I made numerous mistakes and just enough good decisions to make $35k+ profit on my first flip.

Whats more, this post (and the next several) will chronicle how I transformed from spending $3k+ a month in miscellaneous expenses, gambling, and partying to being a successful real estate investor with a new outlook on life in the span of 4 months. I have the unique distinction of saying that not only did real estate put more money in my pocket but it changed my perspective on life, changed the way I handle money, and put purpose into my everyday actions.

Real estate saved my life; It can save yours too. Heres my story and how my first deal went down – the mistakes, drama and the dirt. Most importantly, the cold hard hustlin’.

We’ll start from the beginning and every week I’ll breakdown the most important lessons:

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Step One: Education and Reviewing Financials

April 01, 2011 2:00 AM –  I was bit by the real estate bug – HARD. I don’t remember the exact trigger per se, but something got a hold of me and I was eating, sleeping, drinking real estate. For an entire month I devoured book after book, blog after blog, thread after thread. I  barely slept 3 hours a night. Eventually I made a decision to start off with a flip and that allowed me to focus my education on flipping and rehabbing books and resources.

A background on my financials: I had just graduated from college the year before, was making really good money (spending a lot too!), and not really saving. At this time in my life I was pretty young and dumb. I had just bought a $30k+ brand new car I had no business buying, spent nearly $15k in man toys in the span of a year, and was leasing a swank high rise apartment with a floor to ceiling glass window that overlooked the city (talk about awesome!). I only had $1255.82 in my savings account after one year of working professionally! Luckily, I wasn’t going into debt and my credit score was actually really good.

So right after being bit by the REI bug I started tightening up my expenses and started pouring money into my savings. I sold a lot of man toys – TV’s, high end cameras, project cars, computers, extra laptops, old cell phones (lets just say I was an electronics geek). All told I went from $1,255.82 in April to $10,710.20 in early May. At this time I also went out and took out a 0% interest credit card for $4k as well as asked my credit union to increase the credit limit on my current card from $4k to $15k. Grand total = $29,710.20 of “cash” to mess with. Others will balk at credit cards (and rightfully so) but just wait and see how they came into play later on.

Enter the awesome, financially sound, no fear girlfriend who for some reason had faith in her crazy boyfriend. Together we had great credit and she had a few thousand saved of which she wouldn’t tell me the real amount (smart on her part I suppose).

Lesson #1: Education, education, education. Read everything you can get your hands on. Be obsessed. Do not read to just read, but read to understand. Not gonna harp on this because its the obvious. If you don’t find a way to enjoy the education portion of real estate – you won’t make the cut.

Lesson #2:   You have to get your financial house in order! Save, stop spending, sell stuff, and get your credit in check. Second, get the support of friends and family if possible. In one month I went from just a little more that $1k to a $30k+ war chest and was ready to start looking for deals.  

Next week I’ll cover – Networking 101 and Finding the Deal.

What was your life like before being bit by the Real Estate bug? Was it anything like mine? Let me know in the comments below!
Photo:Max Klingensmith

About Author

Glenn is the founder of Fresh Start Homes, a real estate investment company in Hampton Roads, Va. that focuses on eco-friendly rentals and rehabs. He also owns and operates BundleBaths, an online bathroom supply store catering to real estate investors.


    • Thanks Sharon. Yes, it is very amazing what massive, focused action can do in such a short amount of time. A lot of people don’t realize the resources they have in front of them when in reality they just aren’t willing to go out and grab it.

      The story gets a lot more interesting as I go from 0 to 60 in what seemed like no time at all. Stay tuned!


  1. Boy this sounds all too familiar. I ended 2011 with a dream job paying more than anyone my age should make, no cash to my name and a nice mound of debt. (but some sweet car(s)!)

    Ended 2012 COMPLETELY the other direction with 8 home purchases under my belt, cash reserves and a clear direction! Loved reading the story as it not only hit home for me, but i could sense the energy in your words. Keep it up.

    • Sam,

      Boy, did we luck out by discovering real estate! I know a handful of guys who were in my shoes and did the same thing as you and I. Some are still living the “life” but are probably living paycheck to paycheck. No matter how big the check, you’re still broke at the end of the day if you don’t live within means.

      Would love to hear your story sometime. Let’s connect!


  2. Melodee Lucido on

    One of the sweet things about forum meeting places like this is meeting awesome people like you and John. You are my favorite two young men and I admire you both for your crrrazzzzy zeal.

    The little bit we’ve worked together has shown me that there is lot we could do together in the future.

    This is a great post and I hope it inspires other young people to get IN the game—not just watch from the sidelines wishing.

    You rock Glenn.
    Many blessings to you, John and your team :>

  3. William Williams on

    Hey Glen,
    Just signed up today. Took a seminar in Houston, Tx with Fortune Builder. Really good information. They told me I was a good candidate for taking their “Mastery” course in Real Estate Investing. The cost was prohibitive and I got on the website to research their success… I found Bigger Pockets and some good advice from Tom A. so I joined. Looking forward to “Networking 101 and Finding the Deal” next week!

  4. Glenn,

    sounds like you’ve taken one step higher in a ladder of maturity. I don’t have a great paying job but I’ve been saving as much as I could. Hopefully by end of July or August this year, I would have around $21k saved for me to start investing. Hopefully I could get promoted this year, which means I will be able to live more frugal and save more ammo. I think saving money is the easy part and pulling the trigger on wisely spending it for investments is the hard part.

    Good luck and keep posting. I’m interested to see how you will be using your war chest and what kind of investments you will be involved in. That will motivate me as well!

    • Joon,

      I’m a gambler at heart so Its easy for me to pull the trigger when the odds are stacked in my favor. If you’ve done your homework, the numbers work and you’ve checked and rechecked everything – do not let opportunities pass you by. The downside for me on my first flip was that I’d lose a couple thousand but gain a lot of first hand experience. I was ok with that downside so pulling the trigger was easy.

      Protect your bottom line and your the upside is just bonus.


  5. Great Story Glen,

    Out of curiosity what was your occupation out of college? If I remember correctly you did something at hospitals during the night shift. Do you still do this for a career or have you made the transition to RE full time yet?

    Keep up the good work

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