Big Story from a little Guy

2 Replies

Ok, so this is going to be quite lengthy, I would just like to share with all why real estate investment is something that has come to my plate.  I am a 37 year old male residing in Bedford, Pennsylvania.  I feel like life has always given me what I have needed to survive but never been very generous with money.  I have been married to my lovely wife for 12 years now and without her I cannot even comprehend what my life would be like.  We are blessed with four very wonderful boys.

To get things started i guess I will start with my work situation.  I have worked the normal grind since I graduated high school in 2000.  The area we live has a pretty low cost of living but the general wages of the area also display that.  In my current position I am a shop foreman of six years and I make just over 40k a year.  It is just a little but below the average in my area for a yearly income, and honestly is not horrible money.  But wait there is more,  so my wife has been a stay at home wife since we started to have children.  The main reason for this is because in our area she would literally just work to pay somebody else to raise our children.  So, in our situation we decided to live a life of love and happiness and kinda ignore the material things.  As I watch some of the informational videos from the BiggerPockets podcasts one of the main things that are talked about are cutting your unnecessary spending.  I find it kind of humorous because my daily life has been lived that way for so long. 

With all that being said it leads me to a bit more information about our first major crisis.  So, our boys are 11, 10, 8, and 4.  Our first two boys are only 15 months apart but we were so excited about having kids things happened quickly but was very planned.  But we before we had kids we did the american dream,  we went and bought our first home.  We bout a house that had 10 bedrooms and 2 baths.  I know seems crazy right.  So, the house we bought had previously been a house and a garage turned into an "old folks" house.  At one point there were 22 people living in this house at one time.  So with this situation it allowed us to rent some space to a few friends over the years.  Most of the time we didn't make much because we were providing for people that needed help.  Now for where it gets complicated.  At this time I was only making about 32k a year at my company.  With my wife not working and our friends unable to really pay us much it created a situation where we were struggling quite a bit every year.  The worst thing was winter.  Our house was but in the 1920's, it had aluminum siding that had blown in insulation put in at some point and time.  The problem we ran into is that was done in the 1970's and by this time the insulation and settled quite a bit and heating the house was absolutely horrible.  I was going through 5 plus tanks of heating oil every year.  One half of our house which was the original house was heated by heating oil.  The garage side was electric baseboard.  So by the third year my wife and I would move with our baby to the side with electric heat so that we could keep our kids warm and it was cheaper than trying to live in the regular house.  So at this point I had to go and get another job.  Luckily for me i had a friend who was working mining coal.  It was a strip job so i wasn't going to be underground, and the money was going to be phenomenal.  Sign me up right.  It was going to keep my wife at home but there was a catch of course.  My friend told be I would be working 80+ hours a week and it was an hour commute.  I sat down with my wife and we talk it over and at the time it didn't really matter we needed the money so badly and we were so tired of being broke we had to do it.

So I left my company under good conditions because I was trying to better our situation.  Was always taught to not burn bridges because you never know where life might lead you.  As I started my new job I picked things up quickly was working 80 hours a week withing 2 months.  The money was great.  However, as most everybody will tell you my wife learned to live within the means that were available.  We were so broke for so long that she just couldn't resist the fact that if she wanted something she just went and bought it.  Then I reached a point at work that my overtime increased.  I started working over 100 hours a week.  At that time my wife comes to me and says that something has to give.  I was kind of confused.  I said you agreed to this and you knew that this is how things were going to be.  The problem is when i was working all those hours if I had any spare time it was spent with my children or sleeping.  She was feeling neglected.  As she probably should have.  But in my head she had agreed to this and my response to this situation was,  "You know that I love you, I have to show the children that I love them."  So our relationship struggled as time continued.  There was a point that i worked 212 hours in a two week period.  Then we had a major problem with our coal.  We mined coal to make steel and some of the innate characteristics inside the coal chemically disappeared.  So, 2/3 of the company go laid of with no real possibility of return.  So it wasn't all bad I got to spend lots of time with my family and a drew max unemployment but compared to my regular wages was basically nothing.  I also found out at this time that our bank account had 600 dollars in it.  After three years of over 80k a year we had no more money in our bank account than what was there when i started there.  

Now I am laid off getting enough money to survive but no buffer because my wife and family really enjoyed my time at my job.  I also had to real perspective of another job.  I did preventative maintenance while i was there which is a glorified jiffy lube attendant in a town of 4k people.  With all of our struggles aside our third baby which was a bit more unplanned strictly due to the fact that financially we were not really prepared for another.  But when he was six months old, our house caught on fire due to extremely old faulty wiring.  Now there were things that happened during this time that I was very lucky for.  I am assuming that for most first time home buyers when it comes to buying home howners insurance you just copy and paste your parents or just take over the plan of the owner of the property.  I was very blessed.  I had full replacement on our house.  Again complicted because the house was valued at 275k because of all the bedrooms.  But with the loss the insurance company would not of been able to tear down the shell that was left and rebuild our house for that money so we got a check for around 240k after certain things had to happen to tear down the shell and such.  

Now at this point we start house shopping.  We found a beautiful place for 225k  got a couple acres of ground.  Now we have no house payment right, things finally started working out.  We find out that our heating system was in dire need so we take out a small home equity loan to buy a new heat pump and a brand new oil force air funace as a back up system bought all new had new duct work put in.  We are feeling really good about our situation.  However I am still currently not working.  I end up going back to my original company with the premise that I would be made a foreman within a year.  I still new the company better than 90 percent of the people that worked there.  Without hesitation the owner brought me back on board with my raise taking me to 45k a year.  Then my wife and I get surprised by another baby.  We were not upset of course just felt as if God had blessed us once again.  

So here is really where the beginning of my current story begins.  When my wife was 6 months pregnant, glowing and beautiful, she finds out that she has breast cancer, at 30!!!!  Well, we caught it early but with the baby it creates a very unique situation.  To do the best for the life of the baby and my wife we took our youngest son at 36 weeks.  Survival rate at that age is like 95 percent.  Then allow my wife to breast feed him for a month, then do chemo, then remove the tumor.  It was horrible.  In the end all ended well my wife defeated cancer and our son is health.  Also, at this time we start to find out more about our third son though.  He is diagnosed with autism and intellectual disability.  He cannot receive or produce verbal communication properly.  Over the years this has cost us so much extra money.  He has destructive habits.  But we didn't qualify for any assistance because I had a 401k worth more than 5k.  Still makes me laugh to this day.  So at this point my wife tries to do some work from home to just help with the bills.  Of course like most work at home things you have to get really lucky or it just ends up costing you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.  All the time during this time I am feeling worse and worse.  I wanted to provide my wife and family such a better life.  So my self esteem is crumbling around me.

Now the few things about me that I missed along the way.  I blew my back out at 28 years old had to have a lumbar surgery.  I then blew a disc out in my neck in 2011, more surgery.  I then killed another disc in my back in 2015, here we go again.  I then destroyed my rotator's cuff, I had to have surgery twice.

So, I have finally gotten to the point where I can discuss real estate investing.  So it all starts with two months ago my wife got breast cancer again.  4 years after the first round.  At this point I decided to go talk to my sister and brother-in-law.  They owned their own company.  It is one of those vape shops.  I had just reached a point of frustration with my job, my own health, my wife's health, I mean she has cancer again, if she would pass away, please dear God no, what would i do? We have a small life insurance policy but my wages would barely cover summer time expense for child care.  Well as i talk to my brother-in-law and he starts to tell me the investment it would take to join them on their venture and I talk to the owner of my company and a friend of mine that owns his own business, things are starting to look very shady.  That is when my good old father comes to me and asks me about real estate.  Now the funny thing is about 15 years ago we talked about doing some investing together and things just didn't pan out.  And last year my wife had gotten her real estate license to once again try to help with finances.  So, at this point i know the owner of the brokerage that she works for.  I set up a meeting and sit down and explain about half of this.  He was of course on board to help me.  To keep me going in the right direction and to help me get started properly.  I have spent every day for the last thirty days looking at properties for at least an hour a day.  I watch or listen to podcasts from BiggerPockets for at least 2-3 hours every day.  I have not made my first purchase yet, but I am feeling really good about a property that I will be looking at soon.  

At this point without even talking to another person on here, I just want to say thank you.  All of the information that  you have accumulated in one place is so fantastic.  I have goals on so many levels.  I want to be able to take care of my family for all their needs and the information that you provide here will make that possible.  I hope to post on this periodically kind of like a journal.  I am sure that as nice as people are on here that I will make a friend or two.  So, it will keep them updated as well.

Thank you all so much


Josh, my best to you and your wife getting through the health issues. BP is great but finding your local real estate investment group will be invaluable. Good luck!

Amanda, I would just like to say thank you for your reply.  The past month has been very trying.  We finally have a treatment plan set up for my wife so we have a path going forward.  Again, thank you so much!