Scott: Welcome to BiggerPockets Money Podcast, Show Number 63, where we interview Jordan Klint.
“Don’t copy my exact story. I don’t think I can copy my exact story. Adjust it a little bit. If you’re not gifted here and you are here, change it. That’s totally fine and I’m not at all saying that mine is the only path but get with somebody and have somebody there alongside of you or behind you kicking you in the butt, whatever you need, and move this along and get the train going. Because once it rolls, the thing rolls. There’s no stopping it”.
It’s time for a new American dream, one that doesn’t involve working in a cubicle for 40 years, barely scraping by. Whether you’re looking to get your financial house in order, invest the money you already have, or discover new paths for wealth’s creation, you’re in the right place. This show is for anyone who has money or wants more, this is the BiggerPockets Money podcast.
Scott: How’s it going, everybody? I’m Scott Trench and I’m here with my co-host, Miss Mindy Jensen. How are you doing today, Mindy?
Mindy: Scott, I am doing fantastic. It’s a beautiful day. I guess maybe it’s snowing but it is—I always love snow so it’s a beautiful day. I’m really excited for today’s episode because Jordan Klint is our guest. Today, he contacted me when we—back a thousand years ago—when we said we were looking for people who had reaching financial independence while having kids.
And Jordan doesn’t just have kids, he has five kids. And conventional wisdom—I guess conventional wisdom around FI isn’t really a thing, but everybody says you can’t do this with kids. And Jordan says, okay, I’m just going to do it anyway. And he did. And this is his story.
Scott: With five of them. By age 33.
Mindy: Yes, not only did he hit FI, he hit FI with five kids by age 33. So it’s not like even 50.
Scott: Yeah, if you’re looking for a repeatable down to earth story of someone who just like words at it after a year and she’s hitting it pretty timely but not in a super flashy manner, this is the show for you, I think.
Mindy: Yes, and you know how he did it? He had a plan.
Scott: That’s right.
Mindy: This is not something that is just going to happen to you. Financial independence is something you have to plan for, but like we’ve said, in 62 other episodes, small tweaks now have huge changes, have huge effects on your financial future.
So before we bring Jordan in, let’s hear a note from today’s show sponsor.
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Mindy: Okay, huge thanks to today’s show sponsor. Jordan Klint, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money podcast. I am so excited to have you here today.
Jordan: Yeah, I’m so excited to be here.
Mindy: So can you walk us through where your journey with money begins?
Jordan: Yeah, I can do that. So it started—I’m from southwest Michigan. I know Mindy’s been there. It’s a pretty awesome place right by Lake Michigan. I was the oldest of six kids. We were all homeschooled growing up so that’s a little bit there of my background. My dad was an industrial electrician so his work was very contract-based. When there was construction, things were good. He worked 13 days, 12-hour days. That was the most you could work.
But he would do that for several years and then there would be nothing. He would be off work for the winters and stuff like that. So I really learned some of the principles I applied later in my life which is there every single day, it was something we saw. So, when times were good, it was peanut butter and jelly and hot dogs, and when times were bad, it was peanut butter and jelly and hot dogs. It was very consistent. That’s how it was.
Probably, looking back on it now, I’d say we were lower-middle class, I guess, growing up. But it didn’t feel like that because we never saw those ups and downs. As kids, we didn’t see that. It was just one of those things that just kind of happened, I guess. I always knew I wanted to stay in the area, so I eventually met my wife and we got married.
When I was 20 and she’s a little bit older than me, I was 20 when we were married and we were both in school. She was studying to be a nurse. I was studying to be an engineer. We got married, stayed in the area—I guess that’s a little bit of the background.
Mindy: So you are financially independent but you don’t have any kids, right? Because you can’t do this with kids.
Jordan: Oh, yeah. I have five kids so it’s not the same as zero. Five is a different number, yeah.
Mindy: Slightly larger.
Jordan: Definitely larger. When we got married, I had this engineering coop job while I was working through school. I would do three months of school and then three months of this coop opportunity. And I remember, it was some Sunday night and I’m like, I don’t know if I can even go back tomorrow. And my wife, we were talking through it and yeah, you can go back tomorrow. And I was like fine, I’ll go back tomorrow. I think I could do this for 20 years and then I need to be done with this.
So right then, I set this 20-year deadline in my head. I’m like, I’ve got to get out of working for the man in 20 years. I’d never heard of anybody even doing that at that point of my life. It was before I was in with Mr. Money Mustache or FI before he was even on the internet or things like that.
But it was something, I was committed. I can do this for 20 years if I set a final deadline. I didn’t know how I was going to get there. I didn’t know what it was going to look like. We didn’t have any kids at that point. But it was one of those things I committed to and we’re like we can make this happen.
Mindy: Okay, so let’s talk about your schooling for a little bit and then the 20-year mark. How old were you when you said I can only do this for 20 years?
Jordan: I guess I would have been 21, I think. But somehow the 20 years, I was going to be 42—when I turned 42, I had to be on my own, have my own thing figured out by 42. So it must have been somewhere in that neighborhood. I told you I graduated from school when I was 22, so maybe that’s what it was. Something like that. But I know 42 was my drop dead year. So by 42, I had to have this all figured out or I was going to be an internal failure.
Mindy: So no pressure.
Jordan: No pressure.
Mindy: So with your schooling, I really like this coop thing. Was this through a school or—
Jordan: Yeah. Kettering University was the school. It’s primarily engineering-based. They have a few other programs you can do. It is pretty cool. When I went and looked around—I was going to stay in Michigan for my Bachelor’s. I did two years of community college so I had an Associate’s, which is a very, very smart way to do it and I would recommend that to anybody that’s looking.
It gives you two more years to make a decision on your schooling and community colleges are one-tenth of the price of private institutions or four-year schools. Also, I had my Associate’s and I transferred over to Kettering and they had this coop program where it’s a requirement to graduate. It was this back and forth between paid internships essentially and then school and you go back and forth.
And really, it helps you develop your engineering side. I couldn’t imagine graduating and have never been in a facility before and then showing up and saying, yeah, I’m going to justify this huge paycheck that I’m earning and I don’t know how to fold a blueprint. I don’t know how to find a bathroom. I don’t have any of that. I couldn’t imagine that.
So it really was beneficial and again, if you’re interested in that, it’s Kettering University. It’s an amazing program. You could do it on your own through other institutions. I know, by us, Western Michigan, they have a good engineering program but everybody has to find their own internships. So if you have those connections, it’s worth it but Kettering was pretty cool because it was a requirement and they have guidance counselors and things like that to make it happen.
Scott: So you had a very intentional education that prepares you directly to earn a good living as son as you graduate. You do it at an extraordinarily low cost because of stuff. What is your financial position in terms of income and assets upon graduation?
Jordan: Yeah, so I did take out a little bit of a loan. We borrowed about $20,000 to get both of us through school. So we had a nursing degree and an engineering degree and we were about $21,000 in the hole from that. I think we could have done it differently. But it just wasn’t a priority to do that because it was available.
Scott: $20,000 is good.
Jordan: Again, junior college and then bleed over into those. So we graduated in nursing and engineering. Those are two of the fields. Like you could find a job in almost any economic climate, you can find those kinds of jobs. So we were able to land really good jobs in our area. We didn’t have to move or anything like that. Again, those are like vanilla, bland, basic, we can get these jobs anywhere. It’s not a problem.
Scott: So what did you do right after you got those jobs? What did you—how did you begin approaching your personal finances from the get-go?
Jordan: Yeah, I guess earlier on we hooked up with Dave Ramsey kind of thinking. Trying to avoid this debt that’s pretty bad. Again, I love Dave Ramsey if your net worth is minus up to $50,000, I think that’s really the bang for the buck area. And if you can set those principles of here’s what a budget is. I can’t spend more than that budget. Avoid monthly payments of any kind. All these kinds of things.
Those really set you up to really launch your spending going on and off from that. On a personal side, we bought our first house—it was before we were married, actually. I bought my first house. It was a live-in flip that I did. My dad financed it and then I did the work and got it done and then we split the profits on the backend after we got married. We had lived there two years and then sold that with the homeowners’ exemptions.
Mindy: I’m familiar with that plan. I like that plan a lot.
Jordan: So that rolled over. We split those profits that rolled over. My dad got half. I got half. That rolled in my down payment on our first real house where it was just my wife and I.
Scott: Was that a launching pad for your financial position going forward after that?
Jordan: I think it really did. It’s a good thing to have that down payment, you know, on your first place. People take a long time to save up for that but it really set the principle for us, was really we can do this. It doesn’t matter what it is. We can figure out a way we can kind of accomplish that.
So that’s one of the things I think that’s worked out well for us, is we’ve never had a road block. We just say, we figured it out the last time. We’ll figure out this time. What can we do to gradually change this or increase it and we can get through this next step.
Scott: What was your—you said you were following Dave Ramsey and all that kind of stuff. What were some of the things that you think you were maybe doing differently when it comes to your household expenditures relative to maybe some of the folks you knew that were in similar position income-wise?
Jordan: Yeah. We’ve never had a car payment. We’ve never had a new car, but those car payments—I just couldn’t even figure out how people would try to justify that kind of stuff. That’s one of the big things Dave says, is who are you going to put on your payroll? So every time you get one of those monthly payments, that’s putting Netflix on the payroll. That’s putting GM on the payroll. I don’t want them to be my first employee. I’m not going to do that.
So that kind of mentality really helped us. I mean, we have a few monthly subscriptions now, but that’s one of those things—if you can avoid those things, those things add up over time and that really kills you. So we drove rough cars. Thousand-dollar cars and things like that, but that’s one of the things you just learn over time. I can find a good deal on the purchase and I can take care of this.
Especially with YouTube now. Anybody can replace a wheel bearing. Just find somebody on there that’s done it before and you can just really copy that. So it doesn’t take much. I mean, I think I’m naturally handy and that’s what’s going to come out of my story. But I don’t think it’s a barrier to anybody now. I think you can overcome that through at least the internet or a bunch of other avenues to get over some of those things.
Again, my story is just my story. If I was ten years older, it would probably look a little bit different. If I was ten years younger, it would look different but I’m not saying you can’t do any of these things. You can get over all of these little hurdles if you just have mentality.
Mindy: Okay, I’m going to jump in here and say that I am also—I don’t want to call myself naturally handy because I’m not. I am YouTube-lly handy. You can find out how to do almost anything on YouTube. I think they don’t have like self-open heart surgery videos, but everything else, you can find on YouTube.
So if you don’t know how to change out a light switch, you can find a YouTube video that shows you exactly step-by-step. You can find a YouTube video that shows you how to fix anything, specific down to the actual thing or whatever kind of car you have. Whatever part you’re missing. YouTube is amazing.
I can imagine doing this—I mean, I did it before I had YouTube but I had books. I can’t imagine not leaning on YouTube to do this. You don’t have to be naturally handy. You can just watch somebody do it and it’s not that hard.
Jordan: Yeah, totally agree. That’s how we did our first flip. There was a couple of the skill trades, people call them, that live-in flip that we did where we didn’t do them. Like plumbing, we had somebody else do it just because that seemed complicated. But then after I paid that big bill to the plumber and that cut into my backend profit quite a bit, I’m like, I think I can figure this out.
So going forward and all the flips, I mean we do whatever we can legally do. I do want to preface that. But that’s one of the things—you can figure this stuff out. I mean, there’s no obstacle now.
Mindy: That is very interesting that you say that, whatever you can legally do. Because I only do live-in flips. So you are legally allowed to work on your own house. You don’t have to hire a plumber to do plumbing work in your own house. But that’s a good distinction because when you’re flipping a house that you’re not living in, then you do need to hire somebody. In most cases, the city or the municipality will require that you hire someone licensed. But yeah, when it’s your own house, you can learn your own self.
Scott: And a lot of that is based on insurance as well, right? So you may be allowed to do it. It just may not be insured and you may be liable for the problems that arise in the future, is that right?
Mindy: Well, when I do it, yeah I am liable for the problems that happen when I don’t do it right. I just do it right. So Jordan, how long were you married before you had kids?
Jordan: We were married three years, I think, before we had our first.
Mindy: And had you graduated college and you had real jobs?
Jordan: We had graduated college. We had gotten into our first real house—we had already done that one flip or whatever but then our first house where we were on our own kind of thing, we were in there. That was, our second house was another flip. It was another live-in flip. We added a second story on so that was pretty awesome. We started that with no kids and finished that—we definitely had some kids by the time we finished that one.
Mindy: Wait, it sounds like you didn’t just do that in 12 seconds.
Jordan: No, no. So that two-year window when you do a live-in flip, you need the two years sometimes. There’s two years’ worth of work. Again, at this point—when we started that, we both had full-time jobs. So it’s like some hours but that’s one of the things we always found enjoyable. So date nights were, you go down to Culver’s and you head down to Menard’s. We used a lot of those.
So our nights and weekends were, that’s what we called it. That’s where we found our hours to really do these kinds of things and you really built kind of a side hustle. Again, this was before we even called it a side hustle. But you built this side hustle on nights and weekends and TV time. We didn’t watch any TV so there you go.
Scott: It sounds like these first two to three years before you had kids that you’re really going all out. You graduate with very low amount of debt, you get good jobs, you’re saving a lot of money. You’re not submitting a car payment. You’re leveraging your housing position and your house to take advantage of the live-in flip and all of those tax advantages and that kind of stuff.
So what position do you kind of end up with two or three years down the road if you pay off all the debt and are starting to stock pile a sizeable amount of investable liquidity?
Jordan: Yeah, so we were—again, this is kind of where we started to diverge a little bit from that classic Ramsey approach. So we never paid off our house all the way. That wasn’t something that we did. We like the lower interest rates and we kind of just want to see what was out there and kind of stick around. And then, this is about when the crash would have started, right about this point.
So we’re like okay, we’re going to keep a little bit of this liquid as we can—we’re not going to pay off the house and things like that. So that was one of the things that we never quite did. But yes, we were investing a lot into these live-in flips at the time but we were doing pretty well. And it was definitely enjoyable.
One of the things that we enjoyed was when we had no kids, we were investing all of those times in our day jobs and then into our night and weekend activities. But that really became kind of engrained into who we were. So once things changed a little bit so the people that were going—we hustled a little bit. We worked pretty hard and we enjoyed it and that was kind of what we built on.
So I think that was the number one thing we got out, even more than the financial position was we can do this. We’ve done nights and weekends before. We can figure out how to do this. And then after we got one kid, two kids, three kids, we kind of built through that. It changes with kids. It’s definitely a little bit different but you can find a way to make it all work still, once you’ve laid that foundation.
Starting with five kids, it would be different, I’m pretty sure. But I think the principle is the same. But again, you have to lay that foundation. So for us, we just added one more brick into that and you just kept going. It wasn’t something ever that was a big change.
Mindy: Were you saving anything that this time? Did you have any sort of savings and investing outside of the live-in flip?
Jordan: So I’ve always invested up to the 401K match, our FSA match, if we were in that kind of an insurance system. But I would only put into the match because I didn’t want to invest the time it took to learn the stock market, I guess. And then just throwing money in there always seemed like a gamble if you didn’t know what you were doing. So I wasn’t going to be putting a ton more away in there. But again, we would build up.
Eventually, we had to start buying. We buy some rental properties eventually in this story, but we would save up and buy one and save up and buy one. So that’s pretty much how it worked on the back end. So we got—we were definitely probably around 50% of our income was going towards either some kind of investment or savings. But not straight into the stock market. That was one thing we didn’t really do.
Scott: I’m sorry, what was that percent? Did you say 50%?
Jordan: About 50%, yeah. I don’t have the exact numbers because that’s not how we thought about it at the time but that was probably where it was. And as I got raises through my career—I was very blessed and I did well in my field, my wife would step down. I would get a $10,000 raise, she’d step down $10,000 worth of hours.
Basically, as we were having more kids—each time we had a kid, she wouldn’t go back to as much work. Wouldn’t go back, wouldn’t go back, and then eventually it was just a stay-at-home mom now.
Scott: So can we walk through that? What did it look like when you had your first kid? What was your position like at that point?
Scott: Financially, and then how did you—
Jordan: We were strong and while we had the kid, she was still at the hospital those three days before she came home or whatever and I went back home and I installed all the windows in the house. Because she said, windows had to be in the house before she was bringing the baby home. And so I’m putting all the windows in. And when you’re putting in windows by yourself, that’s a little complicated. So I missed my partner on that, you know.
Mindy: This sounds like my life.
Scott: But you had your first kid and did your wife step down immediately to a lower number of hours?
Jordan: No, it definitely didn’t happen, I don’t think, with our first kid. So about that time, probably she changed to a relief position at the hospital, which actually pays better but you have to be more flexible in the department you work in so you don’t always work in the same department. So she was like a floater, I guess. But that would help offset some of that. And then she would do her own scheduling.
So if she wanted four days this week, she could put in for four. And then if she wanted none the next week, that just kind of worked out. That’s how the scheduling worked on that. So it worked out pretty well for us. She was on—I guess she was doing evenings at that time so there were a couple days a week where I had one kid, I guess. But I was daddy and remodeler and everything at the same time there.
Mindy: Okay, so what were you doing for child care while your wife was working and while you’re working? We have some people who ask these same questions over and over again. Child care, healthcare, and that kind of thing.
Jordan: So healthcare, at this time, when we were fulltime, we had healthcare through my place of employment all the way through until I wasn’t there anymore, I guess. Child care wise, we are in the same time as my support structure. My family is there, so it worked out pretty good. Again, she was working second shift for most of that time. So I’d get off at 4, I guess. So she would head off at 2.
So there was only a couple of hours a day that she worked—there were only a couple of hours that we actually needed a sitter. We could leave her at my mom’s or my sister’s or something like that and then I can pick her up, having dinner there with whoever was watching them, and then take them home and finish up the project.
So again, some of that works well for our situation specifically because we had the support structure, but I think that’s one of the things you need to consider. We made the commitment at some point is, I could make way more money if we went down to Houston or out in the oil fields in North Dakota or whatever.
There were things that were way better opportunities just on the income and dollar side, but then it’s going to change your expenses on the backside. And you’ve got to consider some of that. So that’s definitely thanks to my mom and my dad. They really helped us out there. But that’s how we pulled off the sitters.
Scott: Did that continue with all of your kids?
Jordan: It gets more complicated when you say, I’m going to drop off five kids for a few hours. So it definitely changes. But again, as our life changed, we adjusted what we were doing on the side. So we changed that structure. So we do less flips now outside of the house. The live-in ones aren’t as complicated because you’re there with the kids and that’s something that’s easier to pull off. The flips in other outside residences, we do less of that now just because it’s a little more complicated.
But yeah, eventually we started to pay for a sitter because with five kids, that was a big burden for everybody. So we do have a sitter now. It’s a standing date night. She comes, watches the kids, puts them down. It’s great. But we just factor that right into, that’s just like a marriage expense, I guess. We would call it at this point. So you’ve got to put in the work that you need on that side to keep everything pretty strong and pretty healthy.
Mindy: So I have asked this question of a lot of people. I have asked this question of people in my life and people on the show. And child care just seems like something you’re going to have to plan for. If you don’t live by your family, you don’t live there, then that’s just going to be an expense.
I had somebody send me an e-mail once—what about this expense? That’s going to be an expense that’s unique to you and you’re going to factor that in. So what I’ve discovered over asking so many people the same questions is there’s no just magic button for child care.
If you want to have children, you are going to have to factor in some sort of child care options for them, whether it’s a you’re a stay-at-home mom or a stay-at-home dad and you have families that can help. Or you can’t or you can’t be a stay-at-home parent and you can’t have family, you have to hire somebody and it’s going to be an expense.
I think that’s just, there’s no magic in saying, just leave them in the truck. Like you can’t do anything that isn’t safe. You have to provide care for your child. So that’s interesting that you had made—was that a conscious choice to stay by your family or you just wanted to be there?
Jordan: So, I mean it definitely was a conscious choice. It’s a vacation community. I mean, it’s a pretty amazing place and besides January and February, the rest of the year, it’s pretty awesome. Actually, the beach picture behind me—we are in Florida right now and my mom does have my kids. It was minus ten degrees when we left and it was 78 when we landed. So it was a pretty big change.
We’re at a little getaway for my wife’s birthday but you are able to pull some of that stuff off, you know. But yeah, you just have to decide. If it’s more important to keep the income side of that and keep that elevated, you can do that. But there’s tradeoffs and we didn’t want to do two incomes the whole time. That wasn’t ever part of the plan. We didn’t want to have them at eight hours a day care.
That wasn’t really the plan ever. So we just didn’t. I mean, but I don’t think those are limiting factors, like you said. It’s just a different set of inputs into your formula.
Mindy: And you said the word “planned”. You have a plan for what you want to do and I think this is—if financial independence is your goal, then you have to make a plan. It’s not just going to happen. You can’t just be like, oh whatever, and all of a sudden, you have enough money. You have to make a plan.
Scott: So two years into this, you start having your first child. We talked about how you kind of navigated some of the hurdles with child care, obviously making the intentional choice to not go after the big income but stay around your family. When did you become intentional about building passive income?
Jordan: So again, like I said, I set this 20-year goal, had no idea what I was going to do. Didn’t really ever even—I hadn’t heard of somebody even able to pull that off. I mean, I guess there are the people that win the lottery and sell your tech startup and stuff like that. But I wasn’t in tech and I don’t play the lottery, so neither of those were going to work out pretty well for me.
So one of the reasons we started to look around was okay, what are we going to do next after we finish our second live-in flip, which we actually held onto for a while. So we didn’t sell that one right away. We did put that second story on but it took us a long time to actually decide to move from that place. But we started looking around. This is right about, probably the bottom of the recession.
So we’re up to 2008 now. I think we had three kids at that point—no, we only had two kids still. So bottom of the recession and we started to look around and was like, some of this real estate that was pretty expensive a little bit ago was starting to look cheaper. It was definitely on sale. So we started looking there in the Fall of ’08 and then picked up our first place in ’09 and that’s where we went from there.
Scott: So going into that purchase, how much did you stockpile? How did you come up with the liquidity to purchase that deal?
Jordan: Well, the very first deal, we had some cash, obviously. And then we did have a ton of equity in that house that we were living in, so the first one we actually rolled was just a line of credit on our personal residence. We were able to pull off that first property.
Scott: And that’s because you added lots of value to it. The market went down but you had added so much value to it through sweat equity that you were still able to pull out a big chunk.
Jordan: The market probably went down almost 50%, probably, in our area. Again, we’re a vacation community so things are really different. I’m sure there are some people out there that are familiar with that but the high ends are crazy high but the low ends are still pretty high because it kind of gets compressed in the middle there.
The mid-range houses got hurt pretty bad, but yeah, no, we had a ton of equity in there because we had done so much in the previous point. And we were in the position where even if the thing sat empty for the whole year, it wasn’t going to affect too much. We’re very conservative in that. That’s the value. We don’t want to get it aggressive or anything like that so our story probably went a lot slower.
Sometimes I listen to these people on here and I’m like, holy moly, they did it so much faster than I ever could even think about doing. But we weren’t ever going to put ourselves in a position where it was going to be a stressful situation if we had some vacancy or if we had some kind of major problem or whatever.
Everything went a lot slower than it could have gone but again, that’s what we were comfortable with. We weren’t looking to get rich quick. That wasn’t even one of the things we were even thinking about. Again, we had this 20-year deadline. So when you’ve got—now, it’s down to 15 years or whatever. But it’s getting shorter and shorter but you still have a long runway on something like that. So we didn’t have to get aggressive.
Scott: Let’s go to this first deal. You take out a line of credit and you buy this deal. How much passive income does this produce? This is your first cash flowing investment.
Jordan: Yeah, again, we didn’t quite know the formulas. We didn’t quite know that there was probably an easier way to this. I knew the construction side of it enough and I’m looking for solid houses. So I avoid weird additions, things like that. To me, that’s going to affect the long-term maintenance on something like that because you don’t know what kind of yahoo turned a screened-in porch into a bedroom. You don’t know what’s really going to be there.
So those are the things I kind of avoid. I avoid flabs. We do have a few flabs up in Michigan but again, it’s one of those things like, I’m not really interested in something weird. I do love roof problems, so houses that have a lot of water pouring in, that’s a good value to me. I can fix all that. But you can find your little niche there.
So this was a house, it was a foreclosure. It had some roof issues. I’m like, I can fix these pretty quick. Again, I didn’t know about the 1% or anything like that. I didn’t know that but I knew a year and a half earlier, this thing would have sold for over $100,000 and we picked it up for $59K I think, or $60K. Something like that.
Scott: So once you fixed it up, how long did it take you to fix it up and what were you renting it for?
Jordan: We put somebody in it, I may basically, immediately. The beginning rent, again we didn’t know, but I’m like, if we rent it for $650, I know we can make some money on this. I didn’t know even how to look and see what other stuff was renting for. Again, this is our first shot at this so I’m like, let’s try $650 because it’s going to more than pay this line of credit that we have and it’s going to—we knew what the insurance was and we knew what the taxes were going to be so I’m like, I think we’re going to be okay there.
$650 was way too low for the market so we had it filled up in a matter of no time with some great guys. But that became one of our principles going forward was, probably, every time we list a place, we could get a little bit more money but that wasn’t always the point. We wanted to get a little bit better tenant, is what we were looking at. So if we leave $50 on the table, that wasn’t going to be the end of the world to have a better tenant.
Scott: I love it. I think a lot of investors come at it with a completely different approach. They’re like, how do I get the most rent but deal with the least amount of repair problems? Give me a structure with the repair problems that are up my alley and then I just want a tenant that won’t give me any trouble and I’ll sacrifice the rent on that.
Jordan: Yeah, but that’s one of the things. I don’t want to put down anybody else’s perspective on this so if you have an avenue or you think that you have something else, then you should exploit that. But again, I knew what mine was. I’m an engineer. I don’t really want to interact with 40 tenants. That’s not really up my alley. But I can fix a roof problem. So give me a roof problem, let me have better tenants, and make a little bit less money and I’m going to be okay with that.
Scott: So I think what would be awesome to hear next is, how did this kind of progress right up until the point where you actually discover the concept of financial independence and began going down that rabbit hole. What was the journey up until that point from here?
Jordan: So probably all through this point, and we’re going to get to it later, but I was probably thinking, oh—a construction company. If I open up a construction company, that way, I wouldn’t be working for the man anymore and I can have that rolling and then I can phase out of my W-2 employment and then more into this self-employment thing.
So for the first, at least ten years, that’s what I would have been thinking, is something more along that line. Like I could find—I’ll do the work that I want to do. I’ll be honest. I’ll call people back because if you can call people back, you’ll have a business. And that’s all I really need to do.
So that’s probably where I was thinking that I was going to go, had not thought at all about passive income being the key there. Definitely, you learn that over time as you’re more involved in this and less involved in that. And you start figuring out, hey maybe this is a better path. So that’s where we were at.
Scott: After that rental property, did you acquire more rentals? Did you invest your money somewhere else? Did you stockpile cash? What did that look like?
Jordan: Yeah. So we got our first rental and we were like, this one worked out great. Had a great tenant. Then we’re like, hey, we’ll just look for the next one. So then the next one was a short sale, which I had never done a short sale. I didn’t know what a short sale was going to be, so we put in our offer and it was like six months, the bank sat on it. And we were like, okay, it’s probably not going to happen. So we didn’t worry about that one.
So then I went, hey, there’s going to be an auction right down the street from my first rental property. I go over to this auction and take a look over here. So I show up at the auction and there’s only two bidders at the auction and one is a couple that I really respect, or one of the people that I always kind of thought, hey maybe they’re doing this thing—I had never actually spoken to them about it but I’m like, the Millionaire Next Door kind of thing.
They didn’t look like it but I always had this suspicion. I’m like, I think they’ve got something going on there. So they were there at the auction, and then my tenant at my first property was there. So those were the only people that were there. The older couple said, okay, we’re not going to do this. And then I’m like, I can beat out my own tenant for a house. This is going to be easy.
So I beat him out and then I got my second one there. And then the short sale called up and they wanted to close. So we closed on the same day on our rental house number two and three, we closed the same day, which was kind of stressful. And again, not probably how you would have planned it.
But that’s definitely how that went. And then my good tenant, he did eventually find his own place and he moved out. So you kind of find out he’s looking when he shows up at the auction with you.
Scott: So you have these three properties now. I assume you fixed it up or do you get a tenant right in there? Going from there, basically I want to know, how does that portfolio keep building over time until you—
Jordan: It goes exactly like this. It was slow and it was boring and there was nothing just amazing to say about the whole story. So we basically—we added pretty much two doors a year. That’s kind of how we were looking. That’s about how we could cash flow on our own side.
We occasionally would pay for them straight in cash and sometimes we would have enough saved up to pull it off and pay for it or use the home equity. So we would pay off the home equities and then fill them back up and pay them off and fill them back up.
Before the banking rules changed, I was able to get a home equity on one of my investment properties, which was pretty awesome. I know they’ve adjusted the rules like four or five times since then. But we had that one for a long time. So that’s how we kind of used it. So it just went up and down, up and down, and add another couple here and there. We were looking for the stuff.
I was very selective. I wasn’t going to stretch it. I wasn’t going to buy something that wasn’t a good fit for us. I wasn’t going to buy something that was far away. Every house we owned was within five miles of our house or something like that. I wasn’t interested in something else. There’s a couple of markets that are a little bit further away that you can do better. Your numbers will look better.
But we were like, we’re not going to touch those. Those are out of our scope. So we really limited it down and that way, you knew when you were going to find those two houses a year because there’s only going to be like four houses that fit your criteria and you’re not going to win all four of them. So you’re going to win a couple of them. That’s kind of how we looked at it.
Scott: I love that. What you’re talking about is so repeatable, right? You have a strong savings rate. You have low expense rates in your housing, transportation, I assume you’re living responsibility everywhere else. So you’re stockpiling a lot of cash.
So you’re buying solid singles. One after another that you’re extremely comfortable with that are really convenient for you at every aspect. And you’re just doing it slow and steady over a period of years. Where do you end up? What’s next?
Jordan: I had a couple of different jobs. My next W-2 jobs changed a couple of times. I wasn’t really in tune with what my goal was yet. I still had this age 42 number sitting out there that I was thinking about once in a while and I would adjust my ten-year goals and my five-year goals and everything and make sure that they were somehow on track for this. But again, I didn’t really know how I was going to get there.
Eventually, I was out of a job and I got this great promotion and I was super stoked about this promotion. And within three months, they promoted somebody else from below me to above me and then it pushed me down and it got all messy and I was not thrilled about this. And I’m like, well, this is kind of a good thing and I was really excited about it. What am I going to do now that I have this boss that I didn’t want to have?
I would never have signed up to come and work for this position so it just kind of happened. And I’m like, you know what I’m going to do? I’m just going to knuckle down. So that’s really when we figured out, hey, we’re going to get this whole thing up and going. We’re going to make sure we hit our numbers. We’re going to make sure we get the right number of houses, we get them paid off, and we’re going to be able to pull this off.
Because I loved my employers that I had but when it comes time to it, your W-2 employer is going to let you go. If it’s good for them, it’s what they have to do. I mean, there’s no other way to look at it. So that stable income that you get every other week or every month or whatever that you’re getting paid—that’s not really that stable because you don’t have control over the back end.
So they lose a contract, they have to let some people go. And one of those days, it’s going to be you. I did survive a few layoffs but when you see that happen, you’re like, how did I survive this layoff and he didn’t survive this layoff and that was just kind of just how it went? So you learn ways to stay employed and then you learn like this is not that stable of a paycheck, honestly.
Scott: So it sounds to me like this line of thinking became more concerning to you because the position at work changed for the worst. So you were liking it but it wasn’t really essential to mind that the paycheck could evaporate. But then as soon as this new boss came in place and you weren’t liking your position as much, the risks became magnified. You’re like, not only do I not like this but it’s also risky and as of this thing that came to light. Is that fair to say
Jordan: It was definitely—it put that sense of urgency. It really kind of kicked me in the pants. That would have been 2013, I think. 2012, 2013, somewhere around there. And I’m like, we’re going to step on this now. And again, step on it again—I’m pretty flow, I’m pretty conservative.
So it wasn’t like that next year, we had it all rolling or anything like that. But we really ramped it up so we started to do some stuff. We doubled up on a few things. We made sure we had some flips going outside and personally flips. We moved. We moved back.
Scott: What was your position like at that point? How many properties did you have and what was your passive position at that point, when you kind of had this motivation?
Jordan: Yeah, so we would have had probably six properties or seven properties or something like that. We had a couple of loans. The rest of them would have been paid off. We weren’t up to the point like they wouldn’t have paid for our lifestyle at that point, but we were very conscious like, hey, we’re going to really double down and commit to this.
So we had a pretty level—we hadn’t bumped our lifestyle that much but we did cut some things out like, we’re going to cut back. We’re going to save a little bit. We’re going to scrimp. We’re going to try to lower our spending side. The quicker you lower that spending side, the quicker you’re going to get to it on that passive income side. So it’s one of the things we really hit it pretty well there.
Scott: What were some of the changes on the spending side?
Jordan: So we dropped eating out. It just went away. We cut back on a few other things like that. We didn’t do a ton of vacations before but we dropped all the vacations, things like that. Most of the times, a vacation day for me was we would take it off to work on a big project.
So some of it, you get a roof or whatever, you can’t always pull a roof off on a weekend. So you take a Friday off and a Monday off from your day job, you can get a roof done in a four-day week. You can make that happen. So that was one of the things we looked at.
We started to pick up some work, like just actual contractor work. I have my builder’s license, so I’m approved in Michigan to do some of that stuff. We picked up some side work and did that, too. My wife helped out a ton. She enjoys that. And again, we had built a lifestyle where we were able to stay on our feet and keep going for lots of hours every day. And weekends, and things like that.
But she was supportive of me and she wanted to make sure that we were in a position where we were going to be stable. And again, I love my employers. That wasn’t the thing. It was just you realize at some point, you’re like, if it comes down to it, they’re going to let you go and you’re going to be back on the street and you’re looking for a new job and nobody wants to do that, especially an engineer. We hate looking for new jobs.
Mindy: So what sort of passive income were your properties generating at this time?
Jordan: So in 2013, we were probably doing—I mean each house does a couple of hundred bucks, probably. It was probably stable. So we were up in the $1400 a month, maybe something like that, I guess.
Mindy: Okay. So that’s not replacing.
Jordan: Definitely not at that point. But that’s why we had to step on it and we knew we had to step on it.
Scott: What were your lifestyle expenses before and after your kick in the pants there?
Jordan: We probably were able to cut probably $600 a month out of our expense side and not change our backend of our lifestyle a whole lot. But again, we were very aware of our spending and we’re very in tune. As a marriage, we’re on the same page. So some of those decisions are a lot easier for us.
But again, we ramped up some of the side income stuff and then really committed that we were going to get some more doors, basically, and make that happen. Did a couple more flips. Then it really started to roll. Again, this is a great time. If you’re going to pick a time in history to really start doing this stuff—starting 2009 and then ramp it up in 2013, it’s a great time to do this stuff. So again, I’m definitely blessed by the situation that we were in.
Scott: Let’s fast forward to the next milestone that you receive in the journey.
Jordan: Yeah, so that would have been November. We go down to my uncle’s for Thanksgiving, so I love going down there. And he has a different outlook on life and a different take on things. And that’s one of the things. So we sit there and we talk and we go over some stuff. And we realized probably in November of ’15 that we had gotten to a number—it wasn’t the number that I originally thought.
But if we scale back our lifestyle just a little bit, we would be stable. So I was within spitting distance of that FI position and we’re like, okay. If we just build up the courage here over the next little bit and get a little bit more passive income coming in, we’ll be in a position where we can back this down all the way. But it took me all the way from November of ’15 all the way until August of ’16 to actually step up and commit to that position. So again, I’m slow. I’m a little nervous and jittery, so it took me a little bit of time.
Scott: That’s not that long. But let’s walk through that ten-month period.
Jordan: Yeah, so August of ’16, we were definitely in a spot. I wasn’t sure how my W-2 employer was going to take it when I came in and said, I’m going to retire. They’re not prepared. I would have been—that would have been, 33 or 34. Something like that.
Scott: Seven or eight years ahead of schedule.
Jordan: Yeah. But again, we had really pushed down on the spending side. That was one of the things I want to make sure people understand. If you can commit—it’s so much easier to cut a dollar of spending than increase a dollar of income coming in. I mean, I can’t express that enough. Raise your hand and clap, whatever you need to do, but that is a point.
So if you’re at $4000 a month spending and if you can get that to $3000, that changes your 4% Rule. It changes any kind of passive income. I mean, those are just huge numbers. And think about what you’re going to gain if you can give up eight hours a day of sitting at a desk or whatever you’re doing. I mean, think about that.
So we were at the position in August of ’16 where worst case, if I had to do a little bit of outside work, I could pay the bills. So I went in, sat down with my boss, and explained this. And you could just see the like—what? I’m obviously a little bit different. I’ve got the big, red beard and everything so people don’t always know how to take you in a position like this. And again, you’re getting up into the FU money numbers, so you have a whole different outlook on life and it changes how you perform at your job.
That’s one of the big things. Like, I can do what needs to be done and I don’t have to worry about somebody having a problem with me because, have a problem with me. I’m going to do what’s right for the company every single time. That’s not an issue. You can’t really touch me. So that’s one of the things, I think it’s really good for the employer in the backend. But it makes for some weird conversations because they’re not used to losing that leverage all the time.
So you come in and say, hey, I’m going to make a change here. If you want to work something out, we can work something else out. Otherwise, if it’s all or nothing, I’m going to take the nothing instead of the all. So that’s where we were. They were very, very gracious and decided that some of me was better than none of me so we did work out a part-time position going forward.
My role did change a little bit but I was still able to help them part-time. Which again, that cushions—if the plane is coming down to land or whatever, you’ve got a nice, soft runway then.
Scott: And that’s what you wanted, right? That was the best possible outcome for you?
Jordan: It probably was the best possible outcome. I went into that meeting 100% uncertain of the outcome. Like, I had no idea if they were going to rip away my key card and throw me out the door that day, or if they were going to work out some kind of part-time deal. I was not at all sure. Probably should have been more confident that they would have worked something out, but again, I was uncertain and that’s why I waited so long because it’s just a little scary to go in and tell them.
If I were to do it again today, I would probably be just as scared. I mean, that’s not something—if you’re in that position, take a shot at it and do it but realize that if you’re a solid employee, they’re going to want you to stay around and I know I hear stories about this happening all the time where people are able to work out remote gigs or part-time gigs as a way to cushion and do a gradual step down. So it definitely worked out for me and it can work out for you.
Scott: So when you went into this, one of the big, I think, concerns that a lot of people have when they’re about to do this is healthcare. So I got all the numbers in place but that’s an expense that now all of a sudden comes in place. Were you prepared to handle healthcare expense if they cut you off?
Jordan: Yeah, I started preparing that day that they gave me that new boss that I wasn’t super thrilled about. I’m like, I’m going to make sure this is all ready to go in case this gets really bad, I’ve got to have something lined up that day even though—
Scott: Even though you have five kids.
Jordan: Yeah, even though my passive income wasn’t going to be there back in 2013, I’m like, I’ve got to be ready for this. So yeah, we are on one of those medi-shares type deal. That’s what it’s called, right?
Mindy: Yeah, the medical health shares.
Jordan: So it does qualify for Obamacare insurance but it’s not insurance so don’t get them confused. It’s like an inner agency donation program kind of thing where essentially we’re just helping each other out. So it’s a little bit different and you’ve got to get used to that. But every insurance now is a little bit different than when they were in two years ago, so there’s some getting used to even for some regular W-2 insurance.
Pricewise, we pay less than we paid at my other job. So even though I don’t have anybody else contributing, my personal payment is less every month than my payment was before. So it definitely works out good. Ours does have a religious component—we had talked about that before but it works out well for us because we are appropriately religious.
Mindy: Yeah, and I think Phillip Taylor from Episode 38 went into the health share plans a little bit as well. They can be a really great option when health insurance is so expensive. You still have a job though, right?
Jordan: I still work at that same employer, yep. I’m still part-time there. My wife says I like it too much to quit. I don’t know if that’s true. I’m not certain. But I’m still there. I really enjoy helping people out and my actual skillset lines up really well with what they need. So it works really well and I don’t have a lot of reason to change it at this point, so if you want to say semi-FI, I’m fine with that. Semi-retired, I’m fine with that.
I don’t really need the definition. That’s not going to change it. I’m pretty happy with my current position and as long as it stays something that we both can be happy, it’s going to stay. I don’t see any reason to really speed it up and change it.
Scott: How many days a week were you working—obviously, you were full-time before. How did that change after the conversation and what’s it like now?
Jordan: Yeah, so it took a little bit of time to actually change my role so I was engineering manager at the time. I had a bunch of reports and things like that so we gradually phased out some of that. I went into more of a project-based position and still engineering projects. A lot of cost-savings and improvement ideas, things like that. And I also picked up some software stuff that wasn’t in my background before. I’m not a software engineer. So I did pick out some of that just because the role was available so now that’s one of the things I do with quite a bit of my time.
It went down—as soon as we got the transition, it went down to three days a week. So I work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. So my Wednesday is my Wednesday-Friday. If you want to know a way to make your other employees smirk and hate you, call it Wednesday-Friday every single week and you don’t show up until Monday and they work Thursday and Friday and then text them on Thursday and Friday a bunch of times that you’re off and you’re home and you’re doing other stuff. So that’s a good way to motivate other employees, right? So my Wednesday-Friday, that’s my big thing, is Wednesday-Friday.
Scott: That’s awesome. And you still work the three days a week now?
Jordan: Yup, still three days a week. Again, it’s pretty flexible. I do work from home some and I kind of come and go when I need to so it doesn’t really get in the way, and when you have time off like that, I don’t need to take—I do have some vacation time. It’s a little bit different in this position, but you don’t have to take days off to go to doctor’s appointments and things like that so you don’t have to worry about a lot of those kinds of things because I do have open days every week already, so it really kind of works out pretty well.
Scott: What has changed about your lifestyle, then? Do you go on a lot more trips, travel—what are some of the perks?
Jordan: So again, one of the things that’s important to us is obviously our family and our kids, so we homeschool our kids as well—the ones that are old enough, I guess. We have a 12, 10, 8, and then two four-year-olds so the four-year-olds are young still.
So I help out on Thursday and Friday. I guess I’m part stay-at-home dad but then we push a lot of our project work on some of the rentals or any of the flips that we’re doing. We do push that to Thursdays and Fridays as best as we can.
There’s still the emergency calls. But I’ll do that. I went back to school and started to get my doctorate, so I work on that some. But pretty much, I mean I think that’s what retired life is supposed to look like so I’m doing whatever a 35-year-old semi-retired guy would do.
Scott: That’s awesome. So as far as finances go, do you have plans to continue building the portfolio or are you kind of done there?
Jordan: Yeah, again, I’m going to build it the same way. We’re going to go slow. We’re going to be appropriately cautious. We’re going to let it grow a little bit. We switched over. We’ve done a lot of things in the community to kind of change that, so I feel like I don’t know if ‘made it’ is the right word, but I’ve gotten to the point now where I want to help other people and I want to give back a little bit.
So we’ve done some land contracts with some people where we’ve given them pretty good deals and made that happen where they might not have been financeable at a regular bank. So we’ve helped some people like that. And I really—I mean, I like it. It’s kind of fun. And then we’ve done like that. We’ve looked at a few other different kinds of projects because you can open up your horizon a little bit when you get that flexibility.
So we’ve looked at some weird stuff and haven’t always decided if we want to do weird stuff yet. We do have an offer accepted on an apartment so that will be our first multifamily at all that’s there. So we’re going to try baby steps again. It’s a five-unit with a standalone single-family. So it’s six doors together but we don’t have anything like that so it’s a little bit different and it needs a ton of work.
But I think we know how to make that happen. So again, go slow. Go steady. And then we’ll just keep going. I don’t know where it will take me in the next five years, ten years, I’m not really sure. There’s nothing pressing at this point. There’s no need to change it up a ton.
I did some construction work this summer outside and found some stuff that I liked and some stuff that I didn’t like as much so I think there’s a guy that I’ve been working with so maybe next summer, we’ll do a little bit of that and maybe we won’t but it’s one of those things, you don’t do it in the winter but that’s no fun, so we don’t do that in the winter.
Scott: I love it. I mean, you’ve won and you’re just like, great, I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to figure it out.
Jordan: I definitely don’t want to say we’ve won. That doesn’t sound right. I don’t want to say we’ve won.
Mindy: You’ve won! I will say that you have won. You don’t have to work anymore. You get to work at a job you love. You choose what you want to do. You don’t do what you want to not do. There are people who have to be doing all that stuff in the wintertime because they have no choice. You won because now you can choose to not do that stuff when you don’t want to do it. I will say it.
Jordan: The Lord has blessed us a lot so.
Scott: You did it slow but you speed it up. Those people don’t have five kids while they’re doing this and they’re not doing it at 33.
Mindy: I have two and my live-in flip was really, really difficult.
Jordan: Yeah, we bought a farm. We did move. We bought a farm. It needs a ton of work. It’s a hundred and something years old, which is pretty old for Michigan. So it is cool and we’re trying to claim it back from the wilderness. The wilderness takes over so quick. So that’s our new little treat. We don’t have any animals yet.
We don’t have it cleared up to that point but I know the kids are kind of interested in doing some of that stuff and that’s something we’ll play out. I don’t think we’re going to get a combine and do all that type of farming or anything like that, but it’s pretty cool. You never know.
Mindy: My friend, Mr. Frugalwoods, has this awesome tractor. And maybe not a combine—what’s a combine, is that the one that picks the corn?
Jordan: It’s the one that harvests the corn, the giant one.
Mindy: Yeah, okay. You don’t need that. But you definitely need a tractor. If you have a farm, you need a tractor.
Jordan: I’ve got a backhoe. As soon as I got the farm, I went out and got a backhoe. Everybody wants a backhoe.
Mindy: I want a backhoe.
Jordan: I know. You can smash so much stuff. It’s so fun. So yeah, I had to go out and get the backhoe. It was the first big purchase. I did not take it on payments, so it was a cash purchase. Don’t buy a backhoe on payments. If you can’t buy it in cash, don’t buy it.
Scott: That will be the quote we’ll do to market the show.
Jordan: Yeah, so that’s the fun stuff. Again, I’m super excited to see where it goes from here. One of the things that I’ve really tried to work on now is talking to other people and trying to figure out, how do you actually change somebody and get them the perspective they need? So nobody came to me and said hey, you can do this.
So between 18 and 24, I could have used somebody to come and say what this was and tell me what it was. But I didn’t have anybody. Nobody—or maybe they did and I was just too dumb to hear it. I don’t know. But there was nobody picking that stuff.
Mindy: I was going to say, did you listen? Would you have listened?
Jordan: I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. But now I’m here and I’m like, hey, you can do this. We’ve got to figure out, what actually does it take? So one of the things—I try to do a lot of work with my W-2 employment there where I talk with other people. People love to complain and they love to tell you how much they hate their job. And I do not like listening to people tell me how much they hate their job. Because you can change some of that stuff. There’s tons of stuff.
So I had one guy come up to me and say, I hate this thing, or whatever. And my daughter, she was probably 11 at the time or whatever. And I’m like, okay. Well, what are you going to do where in ten years when my daughter comes to work here, and she’s not your supervisor? And he’s like, what do you mean? Your daughter is like younger than me.
I’m like, yeah. But if she’s on a path, she’s going to be your boss in ten years and you’re going to be doing the same job and you’re going to say, I hate this job and you’re going to tell her you hate this job. And I don’t want that for her and I don’t want that for you. So what can we do for next year where you have either a different outlook on your position or you have a different position?
These are all things that can change. Well, I don’t have a degree in this. You don’t need a degree in social work to help people. Don’t tell me that. You can help people. There are so many ways to help people. You can have your current job and on the side, you can help people. You don’t even need to change positions.
So like, when people tell me these things, that’s one of the big things that I try to work through is what can I do to try to help them see that they have this barrier in front of them and they’re using this as like an immediate roadblock. I have five kids. You can do it. It’s just going to look a little different. I don’t have a degree. I can’t do it.
No, you don’t have a degree so it’s going to look a little different. But we can get over this. And that’s one of the things. Like, I want to be the one that’s there that says, hey, you can do this. This is really doable.
Mindy: That’s perfect. I can’t add to anything on that. This is doable. You can do this. In the beginning, you said that your story isn’t—what did you say? It wasn’t exciting or it wasn’t like—
Jordan: There’s nothing flashy. Yeah, like—
Mindy: Yeah, there’s nothing flashy. But you know what? That means that it’s repeatable. Scott and I talk about this over and over again. These stories that, oh, first I was born into wealth and then I won the lottery. That’s not repeatable. Hey, I bought a property I could afford and I put a tenant in there who was really awesome and then I bought another property that I could afford. And then I put a tenant in that one who was really awesome.
And that’s the story that other people can do, too. You can do this. Anybody can do this. You just have to make the plan to do it and then follow through. You can’t just sit there. Oh, I wish I was. Well, what is this saying—you can wish in one hand and blink in the other and see which one gets filled up first? So yeah.
Scott: Well, if you do wish, then Jordan’s daughter will be your supervisor in ten years and you will be complaining about it.
Jordan: Totally. Yeah. I’m going to make sure she gets on that track where she can come in and actually pull that off or something. But it’s more just, you just have to have these conversation points where you can get somebody awake and alert to where you can actually talk about. Because most of the time, people hear the words that you say and they make a sentence, but that sentence doesn’t mean anything to them. It just goes right in.
And I’m like, how can I say this stuff where it’s not just a sentence full of words that don’t mean anything and actually try to make the difference and really try to help somebody out? I mean, this isn’t—again, don’t copy my exact story. I don’t think I can copy my exact story. Adjust it a little bit. If you’re not gifted here and you are here, change it. That’s totally fine and I’m not at all saying that mine is the only path.
But get with somebody and have somebody there alongside of you or behind you kicking you in the butt, whatever you need and move this along and get the train going. Because once it rolls, the thing rolls. There’s no stopping it. It’s Newton’s first law, right? An object in motion tends to stay in motion. An object at rest stays at rest.
So if you’re at rest, and you dissatisfied in your job, you’re going to be in it and you’re going to be in a different position, in a different company in ten years. You’re not going to change that. But if you get this ball rolling, you can make a little incremental improvement and you can be somewhere different.
Mindy: And once it starts rolling, you can’t even stop it. You just watch it. It’s almost like it’s doing it on its own. After—you’ve got to push it a little bit but then it starts going and yeah, that is Newton’s first law. There you go. That is perfect. I didn’t know it was his first law. I didn’t study that. In college, I studied fashion design and we don’t talk about Newton there.
Okay, Jordan, is there anything else that you want to share with us before we move onto the Famous Four?
Jordan: I want to make sure that my kids get a perspective of money that’s very similar to what I have. But I can’t replicate what my parents did for me. Because my situation is different. Just like my situation is different than yours and my parents were different than your parents. I understand that. But I want to make sure that they’re picking up some of those highlights. And again, I’m not at all saying that I’m doing this right. But I’m trying and I’m going to make some mistakes and make some adjustments.
I’ve got five kids so there’s a chance that I’ll get one of them to work out just right. But I want to make sure—again, being well off or arrived or whatever you want to say, we can afford a lot of stuff. But stuff isn’t the thing that’s going to make you happy. And I want my kids to realize that. That’s one of the things that I try to press on them.
So you could stand in the line at the store and we could buy every single Lego, whatever. We can clean out the shelf at Wal-Mart. And that’s really just going to be Legos to step on. It’s not going to actually change it. It’s not going to make you happy. And it’s probably not a good use of money. And they don’t have a path of income stream and they don’t have an active income stream where they’re going to generate that kind of money.
So one of the things I want to make sure that they pick up is what are these underlying principles? Yes, my background’s a little different than my folks was, but how can I get the same attitude of life to pass through? So growing up, we didn’t talk about the actual dollars and cents that much. Like, I didn’t know what my dad made. I didn’t know what a mortgage costs. My folks paid off their house and I didn’t even know it.
Like, it didn’t even come up in conversation. Maybe they said it but it wasn’t—they had those deed or mortgage burning parties now or whatever. But like I didn’t even know that they did that. So that’s one of those things. I try to be way more upfront with those details and be like, this is what it costs. This is what a tenant pays every single month and this is what it costs us to have that asset sitting there, you know. And you can see the little difference there.
But I want them to start picking up on the stuff that I just go through daily as a responsible grownup. I guess you don’t even think about all the things that come in and out. So they understand bills aren’t just mail. Bills are different than just mail. Do you want a lot of bills or do you want a little pile of bills?
So that’s one of the things that we try to make sure they’re picking up because I mean, society is even different and there’s a lot more things going on and you can spend a lot of money. I really hate those monthly subscriptions. They get you. It’s $9 bucks. Who cares, $9 bucks. Well, it’s $9 every month and then once you open that floodgate, $9 turns into $90 and who knows what’s going on after that.
Cut your cable. Get rid of that. That’s the first thing. Because it’s wasting your time. You’re stuck at home. You’re not making money watching TV. I’ve never heard of anybody saying they’re making money watching TV. You find me that guy.
Scott: If you can cut all of that stuff, then you can buy a backhoe, which does buy happiness.
Jordan: You can buy a backhoe. I don’t know if it buys happiness, but it’s fun. But you can smash stuff. The smashing stuff, you can’t overrate smashing stuff.
Scott: Do you let the kids smash stuff?
Jordan: I have let the kids smash stuff.
Scott: That’s awesome.
Mindy: I think that a backhoe equals happiness so I will—
Jordan: Put that on a t-shirt, Mindy. I bet you could sell a lot of those t-shirts.
Mindy: A backhoe equals happiness? Okay. What’s your address? I’ll send you one. With royalties. Okay, it is now time for our Famous Four. These are the same four questions and one demand that we ask of all of our guests.
Jordan, what is your favorite finance book?
Jordan: So I love a lot of the books that are talked about all of the time, so I think Millionaire Next Door really changed my mindset a lot. Thou Shall Prosper was a great one. All the Kiyosaki one kind of stuff. Those are all great. That’s not the one I want to talk about. Here’s the one I want to talk about. It’s called Leadership and Self-Deceptions. It might not sound like a business book or a finance book. And then it’s a super easy read.
You’re going to breathe right through it and it’s not going to make you comfortable. You’re going to squirm. So if you want a book that’s going to make you squirm a little bit and you’re going to realize that you’ve been doing some stuff wrong. But I think on my point is it’s going to change the outlook on your family, your job, your kids, your marriage. All those things. There’s a chance that you could affect all of those.
And that’s like the underlying foundation that you’re going to build your wealth on anyhow. So if you can make some adjustments to that part of your life, you’re going to be surprised as to how far you can go.
Scott: Wow, I’ll have to check that one out.
Mindy: Yeah, I’ve never even heard of that book before.
Jordan: I know. Nobody ever talks about it. So I went through a real tough patch four years ago and then this was like a thing and it opens up your mind. You’re like, I never even thought about this. But if you can change some of that, again, it’s that internal head perspective.
I think that’s really where you’re going to build all of these monetary decisions and you’re going to get a ball started rolling and everything like that. You’ve got to get it out of your head space so you’ve got to get some of that head space cleared up. This is going to help you. You’re going to like it.
Scott: Great. I’ll definitely check that one out.
Jordan: It’s written by like Anne Binger Institute or Arbinger Institute, something like that. I would tell you the author’s name but it doesn’t have an author.
Mindy: Okay. We’ll check that out.
Scott: Number two here. What was your biggest money mistake?
Jordan: So I kind of went back and forth on this one. But here’s the one I’m going to talk about for sure. In 2010, so recession—we’ve got to remember recession. Working at a manufacturing shop, engineer, great job. They say, we’re moving the plant down to North Carolina. I was like, well, I’m not moving to North Carolina. They said, there’s nine months’ runway on this move.
And I’m like well, perfect. There’s nine months—in nine months, I’ll be able to find a job, even in the recession, I’ll be able to find a job, right? Engineer, no problem. They’re like, and because you’ve been here so long, you get a severance. And it was like a six months’ severance. So I’m like, this will be great. So I’ll just roll right into this other W-2 job. I’ll take my nine month severance. I’ll double income myself for six months, or whatever it was, and this will be fabulous, right?
And that’s exactly how it played out. Which just sounds super boring, right? But here’s the thing. If I had been a little bit aware they were going to pay me for six months to do something else, right? Which was what they did. They paid me to go work at a different place for six months. They could have paid me to actually start something and I didn’t really use that as an opportunity to kick my own self in the butt, but I could have rolled, probably at that time it would have been more of a construction company or something like that.
But if you have a six months’ head start where you’re getting your full old paycheck for six months, that really is going to transition you well into that next thing. So I do think about probably, I mean again, it didn’t cost me money. But that was one of those things, you never get another chance like, I’ve never had another shot where somebody pays me for six months to do nothing.
Scott: That’s the best mistake I’ve heard on all of the money shows. That’s the best mistake.
Jordan: I didn’t want it to sound like that. That’s just something that, it just sucks that you don’t really think about it in the right sense. I thought I was doing the safe thing. I thought I was being responsible or whatever but that might not have been the best thing to do. And we know a ton of builders got ate up in the recession. So again, if you could have called people back, you could have started a company in 2010, probably. It’s all it takes.
Scott: Hey, six months, huge opportunity, and I missed it. I think that’s just great perspective that we don’t get very often from folks about hey, I missed a shot, an opportunity that I could have taken right here, that might have played out. I could have reached my goal faster.
Jordan: I know they talk about engineering and layoffs to do that—there’s that book, right? One of those guys, I don’t remember who it was, but he wants you to like set it up where they let you off and give you this severance so you can go do your next thing. And I had it and it was all laid out and I just didn’t even think about it.
Mindy: That is Sam from Financial Samurai who has that engineering layout. He engineered his own layoff and that’s great, but you also need to look at, okay, I got double salary for six months. And who knows, I’m sure you’re awesome at building but who knows that you would have been able to make this.
Jordan: Totally. I used that six months, I actually bought a house and it was horrible and I fixed it and I still have that house and it’s beautiful. So that’s what I did with it instead. But it’s one of those things like, if I had to go back and I did that like ten times over again and you gave me ten more chances, I’d probably try the other thing ten times straight.
Mindy: What is your best piece of advice for people who are just starting out?
Jordan: So my best piece of advice is right along the lines that we talked about a little bit earlier but there’s this interview question—I’ve done a lot of technical interviewing, which technical interviewing is you see the resume, the resume is going to work but then you’ve got to figure out who this actual person is and if they’re going to mesh with your culture and things like that.
So one of the questions I always ask in my technical interviews is I ask them how they would rate themselves. A scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate yourself? Scott, how would you rate yourself overall? Life, relationships, work, finances—how would you rate yourself right now?
Scott: Oh, man. Maybe like a 6 or 7. 8?
Jordan: 6, 7, 8. Those are the answers I always get. It’s like a ton of 6, 7, 8. And like I say, I didn’t care what their answers are. I don’t tell them that. They stress about the number so bad because they don’t want to sound too good and they don’t want to sound too bad. So they don’t want to stress about it. So I didn’t even care about what they say. As long as they didn’t say 10.
That’s the only thing. I don’t want them to say 10. So, I’m giving away my interview questions now, too. But then I say, what are you going to do a year from now—what are you going to change in your life so you can come back a year from now and tell me, instead of being a 6 or a 7, you’re a 7 or an 8? What are the things you’re going to do?
I sit there and I listen. What I’m trying to pick up is, are they able to identify some weakness in themselves, something that they are causing or a way to look at an opportunity as a roadblock or whatever and are they going to be able to turn that into something else?
What I hate hearing is, I need to get a job where I make more. Or, my boss sucks or something like that. Don’t ever tell somebody in an interview your boss sucks. Don’t ever tell a landlord when you’re looking at a new place that your landlord sucks. Don’t ever say any of that stuff because like—
Mindy: Preach. Totally.
Scott: That’s good advice.
Jordan: It’s one of those things, like, let’s limit these obstacles and identify it in yourself and let’s make a change because you can make these changes and I’d love to be part of the one helping you make them or somebody else can help you. But if you can identify that in yourself, you are prepared to actually go out and nail this.
Scott: I love it. I actually, just to share a little tangent here—every year, I have this little journal that I work in and I basically rank myself. How’s my fitness? How’s my profession, my business going? How’s my personal financial situation going? How’s my relationship going? How’s my lifestyle? How’s my spirituality? How’s my mental segment? And there’s probably one more in there I’m forgetting.
And then I rank myself on those and I go okay, where’s my biggest weakness? And that frames my goals for the following year. Kind of along the same lines. I think that’s a very good exercise. And for a while, it was finance. But then after you probably reached some of your financial goals, the weaknesses in your other area becomes glaring and you go after that.
Jordan: That brings up one more thing. You guys can put it here or you can stick it somewhere else. In that first year that we were semi-retired or whatever, between my wife and I, we really kind of did a health focus and we changed a little bit of the structure on how we were living our lives on that side. Because when you’re just going and going and going, it’s so easy to—I deserve this or that, or I want a whole cake, not just a piece of cake. I’m going to get a whole cake.
Things like that. So we actually lost a ton of weight. Between the two of us, I think we actually lost like 90 pounds. And that was pretty awesome. So we had gotten a little bit lax on looking at that, and that wasn’t something we had even considered. So that’s another opportunity. Quit your job, go down part-time, and then lose some weight.
Scott: Well, then. So now that you’re retired, you attend a lot more parties because you have Wednesday-Friday, Thursday-Friday, Friday-Friday, Saturday and Sunday, right?
Jordan: No parties. I don’t go to any parties. And even the ones you have to go to now, because what are they going to do?
Mindy: We’re breaking stereotypes here. Now, you’re a party animal.
Scott: Well, when you do go to parties, what kind of jokes do you tell? Do you have a favorite joke you tell at parties?
Jordan: So I do have a joke and it’s pretty good. But I also have a landlord story. I don’t know if I can say a landlord story in my jokes section?
Scott: Let’s do both.
Jordan: Okay. So here’s the joke. We’ll get that one first. How can you tell if you’re talking to an extroverted engineer?
Scott: Because you’re talking to them.
Jordan: No. They look at your shoes instead of their own. It really is true.
Scott: All right, so what’s the landlord story?
Jordan: So that’s my joke. My landlord story—this is my best landlord story. I do tell this one a lot. So I got a house, there’s a lady living there, a young lady. She says, can she have a roommate move in, and I’m like yeah, yeah. We’ll work it out. This is before I knew you probably should get your lease change when you let a roommate move in and all those kinds of things. Maybe there was a party or two or a few.
It had a clay tile for the drain. I don’t know if you guys are familiar with clay tile. The thing that happens with clay tile is it gets little holes in it and the roots get in and yadda yadda yadda. So this was a house that had that problem and we’d get it rooted out every once in a while. It wasn’t that big of a deal—
Mindy: I already know where this story is going.
Jordan: They had a party. Yeah, this is—I don’t know what the term I’m supposed to use for the family show, right? So they call me up and say, the toilet is not flushing. Okay. So I do all my own calls at this point. I show up there, get it out, start roller-rooting, pull it out. There’s—I don’t know what I’m supposed to say here—a condom. You get a condom. That’s a word.
I send it back in. I get like five more. Send it back in. I get a lot more than five. I have like a five-gallon bucket and there’s a ton of them in here. I have no idea—like, what am I supposed to say now? Because these are two younger ladies and I don’t want to say anything exactly. So in my best passive landlord way, I left the bucket there. I left it there for like three days and then came back a few days later to pick it up. I’m like, I think that they’ll get the message about it.
Because I didn’t know how to have that conversation and maybe that makes me a bad landlord or whatever. But I wasn’t quite sure how to deal with that. But very honestly, I left the bucket, came back a few days later and picked it up. Didn’t have anymore problems related to those kind of things.
Mindy: Oh, my goodness. Yes, only flush human waste and toilet paper down a toilet.
Jordan: I did eventually, we dug it up and we got the PVC put in. So it’s great now, whoever the prospective tenant will be next. Don’t worry about it.
Mindy: Yuck! Yes—I’m listening to your story and I’m like, that’s me. That’s my life. That’s my husband. That’s my experiences. Those people are the people that—the ladies that have the party. They live down the street from me. I have a house down the street from me and they have adult parties where people can come over and do adult things together.
Jordan: Maybe it had happened over a period of time, too. I don’t know. I didn’t ask. That was for sure.
Scott: You’re not joining any of these religious coops for health care.
Jordan: Yeah, I don’t know. Don’t ask.
Mindy: Well, that was a delightful story.
Jordan: Not a good joke, but a good story, yeah.
Mindy: Okay, Jordan Klint, where can people find out more about you?
Jordan: I’m on Facebook with my wife, Leah Jordan Klint. I’m also on Facebook. I’ve got a, I don’t know, a different page or whatever that I post some of my musings and interesting stuff. That’s called, It’s Not Just About Me and My Dream of Doing Nothing, which if you get the reference, points for you. But find me there. Probably Facebook’s the best way. On LinkedIn, too. You’ll see the giant red beard. You can try to track me down there.
Mindy: Awesome. We will link to all of these in the show notes for the show. It can be found at BiggerPockets.com/MoneyShow63. Jordan, this was awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. Thank you for sharing that you can in fact have financial independence with children, with more than one children, with five children. Which is, as you said in your pre-interview, more than some people have.
Jordan: More than zero, yeah.
Mindy: That’s more than zero. That’s a lot more than zero. That’s five more than zero. Learning grade school math as my children are going through grade school math. I do not remember any of the sixth grade math that my sixth-grader is going through right now. But that’s another story for another time. Okay, Jordan. Thank you so much for taking time out of your vacation to chat with us today. I really appreciate it.
Jordan: It was a pleasure.
Scott: Yeah, thank you.
Mindy: Okay, we will talk to you again soon.
Scott: All right, that was Jordan Klint. Mindy, what do you think?
Mindy: I love his story. I love that he didn’t listen to conventional wisdom. Again, I said conventional wisdom. There is no conventional wisdom when it comes to financial independence, but I love that he listened to other people and he said, you know what? I don’t want to work there anymore. So I’m going to do what I want to do. I’m going to have five kids and I’m going to be retired and real estate plays a big part in his life because real estate is kind of a really great way to reach financial independence.
Scott: Yeah, I also love how he’s a bit competitive. He didn’t like that someone got promoted ahead of him at work and he said, I’m going to use that as fuel to leapfrog right into financial independence. I thought it was great that he started out the entire process without having a game plan handed to him. I had a game plan handed to me.
I had the fortune of reading Mr. Money Mustache and learning from Brandon Turner about the house-hacking strategy right out the gate for my career to kind of accelerate towards this. He didn’t have those things and he still was able to kind of go about this in a really intelligent way and build financial information for himself just by figuring it out.
Mindy: And do you know why? Because he had a plan and this whole thing is not that hard.
Scott: He had a goal. Right? He had a goal. And then that plan shaped together over the course of years, right? Four, five, six, seven years.
Mindy: Yes, he had a goal. He devised a plan to reach his goal. He got there eight years early and with five kids. And I don’t think that we stressed enough during the show that he has five kids. He has five kids. And that’s five mouths to feed—that’s seven mouths to feed because he’s got a wife, too, plus him. It’s a doable thing. You have to make a plan. What does your life look like? What do you want your life to look like? And then form your finances to help you reach that goal. It’s not rocket science.
Scott: I also like how he was pretty helpful in some cases as well where he’s like, yeah, I don’t know if I’ve won or not—he’s won. He’s won.
Mindy: He’s won. Yes. You win life when you get to retire when you’re 34. With five kids.
Scott: I’ve got a friend who brags about his finances all the time. He’ll tell me, my credit card company calls me almost every day to tell me that my balance is outstanding.
Mindy: Hahaha. That’s horrible, Scott.
Scott: The blame for that joke can fall on Garrett, who sent me that joke. Garrett is a listener from Woodbridge, Illinois.
Mindy: Garrett, that’s a terrible joke.
Scott: I’ve been waiting to use that one. I don’t know, I have to force it there but—I thought it was great. I chuckled.
Mindy: Well, I’m glad you chuckled. That makes one of us. No, I actually did laugh. That was kind of funny. I was just kidding, Garrett. That’s a lovely joke. Thank you for sharing with us. Okay, Scott, should we get out of here?
Scott: Let’s do it.
Mindy: From Episode 63 of the BiggerPockets Money podcast, this is Mindy Jensen and Scott Trench, saying sayonara.