Real Estate Investors: Do These 5 Things Now… Or Regret It 10 Years From Now

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As people who use real estate investing to pursue their dreams, we often put our focus on short-term goals and results and neglect the more important long-term vision.

And don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame anyone! There is so much minutiae that comes with pursuing real estate that it really takes some concentration to work on the now and plan for the future simultaneously. However…

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Here are 5 things You Need to Do Right Now In Order to Secure the Future

So for todays post, I just wanted to help remind you guys and gals of some the important things you need to be working on for the long-haul, while you are making the small day-to-day things happen in your real estate business. I hope you find these helpful!

1. Define Your Lifestyle Cost

As an up-and-coming investor, you are aspiring to reach some type of defined “wealth” level.

To be “rich” is a VERY subjective concept and we all need to do some soul searching in order to figure out what it means for each of ourselves, individually.

Because we all live in different areas with different cost of living standards, to one, an annual income of $100,000 looks a lot different in terms of lifestyle than the other.

For example, I live in the San Francisco bay area, and with what I want to accomplish and the type of life I want to lead, I have found that my income goal is to build a passive income portfolio through real estate that nets me $30,0000 a month. That’s a take-home of $360,000 per year and it would provide me enough to travel at will, the ability to continue to build wealth, give back extravagantly and live very comfortably.

Now I know if I happen to live in a cheaper area, (I actually spent a large part of my life right outside Atlanta, GA) that number would look more like $150,000 per year.

It simply depends on your goals, the cost of living in the area you reside and so on.

So the take away: How much money do you want to make? What lifestyle do you want to lead?

If you don’t take the time out now to figure this out, you’re going to find yourself in 10 years being like, “What did I just do with my life?” (Not saying that in 10 years from now you’re life will be over, but a lot will be potentially wasted and you definitely won’t find yourself close to where you want to be).

You need to have a clear vision you’re working toward, otherwise your target goal will be nothing, and you’ll hit it every time!

2. Start Saving Money

It amazes me how many people (including myself at this point) live paycheck-to-paycheck, when they don’t even have to! 

Saving money is a key to building wealth, and if you don’t start now, 10 years from now you’ll regret it big time!

Let me share a story about someone I know, we’ll call him Bob.

Bob worked the majority of his life making a good living at around $80,000 a year. He played hard on the weekends and worked hard during the week. He was known as a great guy! Loved good food, good laughs and being “hostest-of-the-mostest” if you caught my drift.

Well he recently retired, without a penny to his name. When he realized he was getting older, and his body ended up making it so he could no longer work, it was to late!

He was stuck.

Being in his late 50’s his end result was to live off of disability and social security for a take home amount of about $1200 a month.

Perspective: Lived his whole life on $80,000 per year (around $6,600 per month) and gets to retire and end his days on a lifestyle budget of $14,400 per year ($1,200 per month).

Super sad right?

This is because he didn’t plan and he didn’t save. Don’t be Bob! Get a plan for the future, right now, otherwise you will regret it!

Related: What Every Investor Needs To Know About Flipping Houses (That No One EVER Talks About)

3. Open a 401K and Roth IRA

A lot of us aspiring real estate investors are entrepreneurs of some sort and don’t make a typical paycheck with benefits, perks, stock options etc.

We have to pay for our own insurance out of pocket, figure out our own taxes and so on.

Well with that, I’ve noticed that it is typical that a lot of us end up neglecting opening and contributing to a retirement fund of some kind.

Now I’m not a CPA and you totally want to seek out a professional on this, but with the basics that I understand, I know it’s better to open one and contribute to it monthly, even if it’s only $50 a month!

I hear that because of the power of compound interest, that the earlier you start, the more money you will make in the long-run.

You don’t want to wait!

I’m reading a book right now called “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” by Ramit Sethi and in it, he gives an awesome example of the power of compound interest.

Smart Sally contributed only a $100 a month for 10 years from age 25 to age 35 and then stopped. Dumb Dan started when he was 35, contributing a $100 a month as well and continued to do so for 30 years.

At age 65, at an 8% interest rate, Sally ends up beating Dan almost by $50,000 dollars!!!

(Smart Sally ended with $200,061 and Dumb Dan ended up with $149,036).

As you can see, you really need to set one of these up and get to contributing!!!

Related: BP Podcast 005: Dealing with Death – A Financial Discussion with CFP Neal Frankle

4. Make Time For a Hobby

Here we come to the importance of enjoying life.

You see, if you always focus on working and making money, you’ll end up old and regretting a lot of things in life. Take time to smell the roses, my friend!

Whether you’re into hiking or surfing or fishing, whatever it is, make sure to take time to enjoy yourself.

Life is short, don’t waste it, or you may find yourself in 10 years, wishing you had done things differently.

5. Give Back

For our final piece, in life there are always people who are ahead of us, and there are always people who are behind us.

Stop for the ones behind you.

Let’s take real estate for example. There are the experts and then there are the newbies, and then there is everyone in between.

Right now, make time to pour into someone who doesn’t know as much as you. Give back the knowledge that you’ve acquired because you will find that in 10 years, those will be some of the most lucrative and valuable relationships of your life.

I believe that if you give you will receive, and that’s not just with money.

Is there anything else you’d add?

Be sure to leave your comments below!

About Author

Jaren Barnes

Jaren Barnes is passionate about what the BiggerPockets community has to offer and is very active in his local real estate market. Come say hi to him on Twitter!


  1. Jaren, excellent post. I would add one to that list. Make time for family and friends. In any job or business it is easy to get engrossed in making money and forget the people who matter.

    • Jaren Barnes

      Hi Walt! I would totally agree… that one is super crucial! Thanks for the input. For those who struggle with that balance, do you have any additional advice on how to do it practically? I bet your insight would be really helpful.

  2. dorothy smith on

    Yes, we all have this little voice inside of us to set a short term goal or short term goals. I really truly appreciated your blog, If you dont set short term goals and then ultimate long term goals, you will look back and ask yourself why you didnt focus just enough to set those goals for yourself, so you are not disappointed with where you ended up. You could regret that you didnt accomplish where you needed to be at a certain time in your life. We all dont have complete control of our every step, but we need to keep bringing ourselves back to what our goals are. As far as life being short, life was not meant to be short. The original plan was to enjoy life on earth in perfect health, no old age, plenty of good food, and plenty of beautiful living conditions for everyone. This is the kind of future i look forward to very soon, given to us by our loving creator. For now i invest in real estate to provide good housing, improve neighborhoods, and provide for our family. Take time to thank your creator and enjoy the gifts he has given you, including your precious family.

  3. My wife and I are working too hard on our rehabs. A new rental going into service every 2-3 months using some contractors. It’s not letting us have the life that REI / passive income was supposed to allow.

    This topic reminds me of the book I recently read, Lifeonaire . Add a dot com to that and you’ll find their domain and the book is selling well on amazon. It’s a good read about life style vs assets. Assets aren’t worth much if you’re worked to death to support them. 🙂

    Worthy topic for sure.

    • Jaren Barnes

      Hi Curt thanks for that! I’ll check it out and I totally agree! I used to briddog for a fix and flip company for a while and I realized it wasn’t for me. I don’t know how investing could be considered 6-7 days a week, with 10-15 hour days. For me passive income is really where it’s at!

  4. Maureen McCann on

    Jaren~Thanks for the informative article. I know a lot of “Bob” types who call me in their 50’s or 60’s and they are trying to make what money they have left (after the 2008 stock market beating) make money for them. Investing in passive income real estate is an excellent way to build wealth slowly over time. I appreciate the reminder to save (not one of my strong suits) so you have encouraged me to go open that Roth IRA. Thanks and keep the articles coming.

  5. Michael Jobe on

    Great read Jaren! I especially like #5. In this day & age so many people take, take, and then take some more but forget to give back something in return. I say each one teach one and we’ll all be better for it.

  6. “Open a 401k and Roth” seems to be a duplicate of “Start Saving Money”. On top of that, I simply don’t agree that this is a good idea in many cases. Too many people just latch onto this. Personally, I’d recommend considering saving in assets or accounts that you can control.

    I also don’t think making time for a hobby is all that critical. It’s much more important to make time for family and close friends. Finally, I’d highly recommend making time for your maker. I don’t think our country can last long term without a moral citizenry and I’m afraid we’re losing it. Think about why you’re here, what you’re going to do while you are, and how you want to be remembered.

    • Jaren Barnes

      Alan… #hatersgunnahate 😉 lol jk.

      I hear you man, and I agree family and friends are super important and time with your Maker is the most important! 🙂

      I like how there’s been a lot of talk of God on this post awesome stuff!

  7. Marcus Maloney


    Great post man, many of us are so engrossed in the x & o we do not mind the things that are more important and more valuable. Not to say that I am perfect but God, Family, Friends is main desires in life. Money is just a resource and as long as you work for it you will lose a ton of it.

    Again, great post

  8. Stacey Olson on

    So glad to see your post on here, Jaren! I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of long term vision lately. I wanted to pass along a resource I came across awhile back that has been super inspiring and helpful in terms of clarifying vision/mission statement/establishing clarity, etc. There are a few key podcasts by Steve Pavlina that I keep returning to. If you’re interested, check out his website/podcasts (I seem to be having a hard time bringing up his podcasts on my feed tonight, so I can’t give specific episodes, but if you’re interested, please let me know and I’ll shoot you some specifics). I think you’re right on in reminding us of the importance of keeping the big picture in mind. It is so easy to lose sight of heart-centered passion and vision as we get caught up in the (sometimes tedious and overwhelming, and often necessary) processes involved in the many faces of real estate investment. I remember this Bible verse from one of my past lives: “Without a vision the people perish…” Ultimately it is so much easier to find sustaining energy and to avoid burnout when we remember why we are striving to establish substantial passive income.

    Golden advice! Thank you for sharing.

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