Are You Following Your Passion?

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As my youngest son was heading off to Los Angeles to follow his dream in filmmaking and I was attending the Equity University Networking Conference and the BiggerPockets Meet Up in Orlando, it dawned on me that we were both doing the same thing… following our Passions.  Although his passion is writing and directing, he knows he has to head to where it’s all happening if he expects to make something happen in his life.  He knows it will take more than just being passionate about film; he has to find his own voice.  I see my son as being very fortunate because he knew at very early age exactly what he wanted to do in life.

For me, it wasn’t so easy, and I didn’t discover my voice or passion until much later in my life.  Because I had a modest upbringing, I’ve always had a strong desire to be wealthy and successful. But, like many people, I was in survival mode. It seemed that my passion was to get educated and find a way to make money. It was around the time I hit 42 that I first retired and became financially free. That’s when my passion started to shift from figuring it out myself to showing others.

Finding the Freedom to Pursue Your Passions

I’ve discovered that my greater passion in life is to show others how to have freedom of their time, which to me is probably the greatest gift out there. After all, we cannot buy time, but we can use our money to work for us so we have more time to follow our passions. I believe that to have complete freedom of time, one must first attain financial freedom. This means that you would have more cash flowing assets than expenses and liabilities (I recently wrote an article on this subject, “Are You Choosing to be Poor?”). The few folks I know that have achieved this (probably less than 5%), seem to have certain things in common.  So here’s just a few:

  • They have the courage to dream and to follow their dreams.
  • They’re willing to take risks in order to be successful.
  • They choose to plan and to set goals.
  • They’re active and tend to take control of situations.
  • They pay themselves first in order to save money for investing.
  • They love to serve others.

That last characteristic is key. As American author and businessman Zig Ziglar said “If you want to get what you want in life, help others get what they want.” In other words, the more people you serve, the more successful you will be.

But, it’s one thing to dream, and it’s another to take action.

So while I was listening to David Bach in Orlando, author of the “Automatic Millionaire” and “Smart Couples Finish Rich,” in a very humbling way he said that he wasn’t really there just to speak that weekend, but he was really there to learn about self-directed IRAs.  This is a very smart guy, who was a vice president of Morgan Stanley. He was very quick to say that he knew very little about self-directed IRA accounts and that 99% of all retirement account firms did not even offer nontraditional retirement account investments, like real estate, tax liens, and notes (just to name a few).  And, he was also there just to point out how lucky the 500+ or so in attendance were for being there and taking advantage of the well underutilized technique for wealth building and retirement planning.  And that in fact, this was going to be the topic of his next book.  Wow!

He was attending this event, which really is the hub of discussion surrounding self-directed IRA investing, in the same way my son was traveling to Los Angeles—to learn and to go to the center of the action.  I was also at the conference for this reason, but it dawned on me that I was no longer coming just to learn, and self-directed IRAs had a greater hand in my success than I’ve realized.

Utilizing a Self-Directed IRA to Become Financially Free

David Bach wants to serve as many people as he can with his book. And so, too, my passion is to serve people by spreading the word about the benefits of using these accounts (Health Savings Accounts, College Funds, and Self-Directed IRAs). The money you can save by utilizing these tax-free or tax-deferred vehicles can be a large step towards financial freedom and, therefore, freedom of time.

IRA benefits include not only tax-free profits and tax deductions, but also asset protection and estate planning. Since it’s self-directed, you get to choose the investment that is right for you, based on your own personal situation. This enables you to invest in what interests you (as long as you follow IRS guidelines) rather than be limited to what interests your company.

I think that if someone really wants to be successful or change the game, it helps to take control of your IRA accounts yourself. David Bach’s statistic struck a chord with me, because I do think that if more people were aware of the benefits of accounts like Self-Directed IRAs they would make use of them for themselves and/or for their families, as many of these accounts can be passed down as well. I, too, wish that I had learned of the benefits sooner.

It was very reinforcing to travel to Orlando to become more educated with self-directed investing, as well as to meet more like-minded individuals, whether at the first BiggerPockets Orlando Meet Up at Two Jays deli, or the 500+ investors at the Omni Resort for Equity Trust.  I’m not sure what has been more powerful in my life: showing folks how to save taxes with self-directed IRA accounts and invest in order to effectively build wealth, pay for their children’s college, and securely retire; the personal, tax saving benefits for myself and my family; or the overall business success I’ve attained by having this unlimited source of capital through self-directed IRA accounts and note buyers who use their investment accounts to buy notes from my company. It’s great to see how everyone we deal with on a regular basis can win in this type of business model.

My only hope now is that my sons and grandsons can take these tools and utilize them to enrich their own lives, the same way that you can too, by being able to follow your passion and achieve your goals.

If you’re not pursuing your passion—maybe it would help to network with people you haven’t met yet, people who are involved in that field or have a similar passion. I can honestly say that I am not the sole reason for my success, and I have been truly blessed along the way. What money saving strategies are you using in order to follow your passion?

Photo Credit: Thor Muller

About Author

Dave Van Horn

Since 2007, Dave Van Horn has served as president and CEO of PPR The Note Co., a holding company that manages several funds that buy, sell, and hold residential mortgages nationwide. Dave’s expertise is derived from over 30 years of residential and commercial real estate experience as a licensed Realtor, a real estate investor, and a fundraiser. As the latter, Dave has raised over $100 million in both notes and commercial real estate. In addition to his investments and role as CEO, Dave’s biggest passion is to teach others how to share, build, and preserve wealth. He authored Real Estate Note Investing, an introduction to the note investing business, helping investors enter the “other side” of the real estate business.


  1. Love this article. I got into real estate to fund my music/songwriting. I also really liked your article, Are You Choosing to be Poor? It is a real eye opener on how to think like the wealthy. Those are things every school should have to teach.


    Jay von Mohr

  2. Great Article Dave,
    I don’t put much into my IRA, because I am relatively young (34) and I can’t justify investing in something that I won’t be able to touch for 30 years. That is why I invest in RE, because it has many tax benefits and I don’t have to worry about when I can touch that money.

    • Dave Van Horn

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for the positive feedback! I understand where you’re coming from. But, I do regret not putting more into my IRA earlier on. I wasn’t aware that, depending on what type of account it is, I could tap into the money. A book that I’ve learned quite a bit from that you might be interested in is “Parlay Your IRA into a Family Fortune” by Ed Slott.


  3. I absolutely love reading articles just like this one. Where you feel so lifted after reading it. RE really changed my life. Im not trying to make a full time job for myself. I have a family and a son that need me. And I want to spend my time with them. I am so proud to be learning about something that is so complex but once discovered and action is taken you can really change your life.
    Thank you for your post

    • Dave Van Horn on

      Hi Windie,

      I appreciate you sharing your story, and thanks for the positive feedback! RE has changed my life as well–it’s a great business to be in.


  4. Thanks Dave for the well-written article. I am trying to pursue my passion as well while working a 9 to 5 and I’m gradually learning something new every day. I have been trying to cover my basis by performing due diligence before I fixate my attention towards certain REI strategies and begin actively investing. On another note, Brandon had introduced me to a podcast about ‘investing in notes/non-performing mortgages’ you had facilitated more than a month ago which I had become very interested in. If possible could point to the right direction as to what resources/guides out there you recommend or I could use to better educate myself in note investing. Thanks

  5. Hi Dave,

    Something you said at the end of this post really jumped off the page for me…how important it is to hang around with other passionate people!

    Thanks and all best, Penny

  6. Great article.
    I enjoy real estate and the things that I do, but it isn’t what my end passion is.

    Currently I enjoy the flexibility this career gets me to be able to spend more time with my family and be a more involved dad than a lot of guys I know. I’m still at the work my a$$ off point of business building but I can do it on my own schedule.

    As I get everything fully established and more systematized and automated I want to enjoy more free time to be able to do things with my family like extended vacations with my family to exotic and expensive places. Like for example my younger daughter is learning Mandarin and my older one knows a little. Spending 2 weeks in China letting them practices that skill and seeing some amazing world sites would be something that I think would be amazing for them and fun for me and my wife too.
    But that would be beyond the reach of many people but I think I will be able to do that easily once they are old enough (Maybe ~10 years from now).

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