Hi All! I'm a college student at CSULB taking a course on Family Consumer Financial Management and one of my assignments was to do an interview. I thought many Bigger Pockets members may be interested in seeing the Q's & A's and may even want to ask themselves these questions as a foundation for what many college students are learning today. Enjoy!

Sean is a father, business owner, real estate investor, and civil engineer. His current employer is the Federal Aviation Association where he has been working for over twenty years. He is fifty years old, lives in Long Beach, CA and own his home- many homes as a matter of fact. Below are the following answers about his financial plan:

1. Do you participate in an employer sponsored retirement savings plan? If yes, tell me what kind of pension plan it is. How much do you save each month? Does your employer match or give you anything towards retirement?

“Yes, it is known as the Thrift Saving Plan. I save 12% every paycheck and the government matches me 5%.”

2.Other than your company savings plan, do you have any savings plans earmarked for retirement such as a Roth IRA, IRA, SEP IRA? etc.

"Yes, I have a small Traditional IRA with Janus." Why? “I chose Janus because it was established for a long time with a good track record and popular at the time.”

3.Do you prepare a monthly budget? Do you track your expenses on a monthly basis?

“Yes, in the beginning you must live below your means and stick to a budget. However once you make enough money where there is a surplus, you may spend and go out as you please.” Where does your surplus usually go? “Leftover money is usually reinvested into real estate.”

“Yes, I track my money by reading my bank statements daily.”

4.Do you feel like you have a good idea of exactly where your money goes?

“Yes.” Please elaborate. “12% retirement, 10% car expense, 10% family expenses, $500 for food for my family of five.”

5.Do you plan out financial goals and save for them, such as a family vacation, college savings, retirement? Tell me about some of your financial goals.

“Yes, my current financial goal is strictly retirement. I want to make $40k a month through real estate and working.”

6.Do you use credit cards?

“Yes, I have eight credit cards but I only use one or two.” What should we look for in credit cards? “Try to find one with a big credit line. The one I am currently using is Chase Reserve.” What is your advice to new credit card users? “Have two credit cards. One with a credit limit at $2k and the other at $10k. Use the $2k for online transactions and the $10k for other purchases. That way you can receive points.”

7.Do you have a balance on any credit cards?

“No, they are all Zeroed-Out and I pay them off every month.” Do you have advice for students who recently graduated with $30k in debt? “Invest in real estate. If your interest rate is more than 5%, try to pay that off as much as you can. However, if it is lower than 5% you should pay the minimum and use the money to invest. Read as many books as you can. At least ten real estate books before you start investing.”

8.Do you have a car payment?

“Yes. I have three cars but only one car payment on my Tesla. I usually buy used cars in full but for my Tesla I put a 15% down payment with payments for seven years.”

9.What do you estimate your debt to be?

“I have zero debt other than mortgage. With three houses and two apartments, I have $600k in mortgage debt.”

10.How do you feel about debt?

“Not all debt is bad debt. I feel good because I have great cash flow.”

11.Have you ever done a review of your assets - liabilities to figure out your net worth?

“Yes. I reached my goal a long time ago and now I have a new goal.”

12.Have you ever thought about how much income you may need per month in retirement?

“Yes, the cutoff for my expenses and to live comfortably is $5k a month. My new goal is to accomplish $40k in three years.”

13.Do you think you are saving enough to accomplish your retirement goal?


14.Has anyone ever done a future value calculation for you to see if what you may have in retirement based on how much you are currently saving?


15.What is your feeling about your current financial situation? Are you satisfied or uneasy? Why?

“I am very satisfied because I reached the goal of having $5k a month to where I make even more.” How much more? “I make about $10k-$15k on real estate alone.”

I learned a lot about my father through this interview. After the divorce with my mom, my dad lost the house, had an awful credit score, and was in huge debt. His score was in the low 500’s and he owed the bank $650k for an apartment mortgage (the apartment was foreclosed), thus effecting him financially and spiritually. He never had to rent from anyone before and he felt like he lost his foundation. Nonetheless, my father persevered. He fought for his apartment and figured out the answers to “how?” “How can I do this? How can I make this possible?” Over the next seven years, my father worked tirelessly to find great deals and returns on his investment. He house hacked- meaning lived in the home and rented out the other units, BRRR’d- Buy, rent, refinanced, repeat, diversified his assets by choosing multifamily, empty lots, RV units, etc, and did his own construction and creatively built units (one house he bought for $250k, built two units in the back, and now appraised for $750k).

He has been a great inspiration and taught me much knowledge in the field of finance and real estate. He is smart with his money and created an effective financial plan for himself and his family. I do expect my father to follow and achieve his financial goals for retirement and I will use his experience and knowledge to help myself achieve my own financial goals. 

Thank you for reading everyone.