It’s hard to imagine now how hard it was to save up that initial $5,000 to buy my first rental property back in 1989. I bought a duplex, which was owner occupied in the traditional way. Want more articles like this? Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox Sign up for free Just like many of those starting out in real estate investing, my goals were very modest at the time. In fact, I just wanted the tenant who happened to live above me (which by the way isn’t the greatest idea) to pay half of my mortgage. Shortly thereafter, my goal grew to saving up enough money from my second job to buy just one rental property a year. It wasn’t until I got to 10 or so units that I started to broaden my goal to replacing my income. Today, I look back to how funny my strategies and goals really were back then. I would never even think about saving up money today to use to invest in real estate. I would just go find a good deal and use OPM (other people’s money). But to be quite honest, it doesn’t matter how my real estate portfolio started. What really matters is that I did it, that I continue to grow it, and that I became better and better in real estate investing as time went on. I continued to cultivate my portfolio over the years, and there were some significant benefits from doing so, and by that I’m not necessarily talking about the normal stuff people think of like: depreciation, mortgage interest deductions, and various repair and maintenance expenses, or the fact that your tenants are buying your properties for you. I’m talking about some of the other not-so-obvious benefits of passive real estate investing. You Can Leave Your Day Job If it wasn’t for the fact that I got up to 20 rental units, which made my net cash flow equal to my take-home pay at my day job, it may have been much harder to quit my “Corporate America” job, especially since I had a wife and two kids to support at the time. But this one’s a biggie, and for me, I was 32 years old when I told my boss,“I’m outta here!” Related: How to Quit Your Job & Invest in Real Estate Full Time: Steps 1, 2, & 3! Now, maybe you love your job, but for me, that last day there was one of the happiest. You Can Retire Early When I was 42 years old, I had owned a painting company with up to 12 men working for me, and I had a pretty successful business with many valuable commercial accounts, and then suddenly I got hurt. It was my back, and the doctors told me I shouldn’t lift anything over 20 pounds. Needless to say, I was done. I couldn’t really work in construction anymore, especially since my business wasn’t set up properly and revolved around me too much. But there was a saving grace: I had 40 rentals by then, and my passive income from my rentals, along with money from flips, private mortgages I held for other rehabbers, was enough for me to be able to retire. You Can Start a New Venture At 42, I first went into real estate sales and investing full-time. The cool part is that I had very little pressure on me since I had so much equity and passive cash flow by this time. Even when the real estate market crashed, it didn’t really matter much, and I was able to weather the storm rather easily. Even later when things got really bad in real estate sales, my real estate portfolio enabled me to go off and start a new venture, a little note company called PPR. I’ll never forget the first two years, when my one partner and I worked with virtually no salary as we did what we could to get the business off the ground. Trust me, this would have been quite impossible without my real estate portfolio. Today, I’m fortunate enough to have a pretty successful note company, most of which was built with OPM (other people’s money) and lots of hard work. Yet, I still have to say that none of the wealth I’ve built would have been possible without those crazy little rental properties that my family and friends couldn’t believe I would even invest in. Related: 8 Crucial Points to Consider BEFORE Quitting Your Job to Invest Full Time Once your portfolio income passes your earned income, it’s a game changer. It can give you not only financial freedom but also freedom to decide what to do with your time, whether that’s spending more time with your family, retiring, or moving to Puerto Rico. So, let me ask my fellow BP tribe members: what does or will your real estate portfolio enable you to do? Leave me a comment below, and let’s discuss!