Taking time to rest?

29 Replies

Good morning everyone, I’ve spent the better half of the last year busting my tail to gut and rehab my single family home (first home purchase). I did this while working for a demanding family business, and gaining more responsibility there as well. By the time the house was comfortable to live in, i was spent. I feel like I’m still trying to recover! It’s been about 4 months now where I haven’t been going at it every day. I pluck away here and there on weekends with what needs to be done, but I have also spent a lot of time working on my next deal. I’m set to close on a duplex next month (utilizing my homes equity). In today’s world, everything is go go go. It seems like there is more talk about staying up late, and waking up early. Which I’ve done, but where does rest come in? I eat well, I don’t party, I work on my mental health, I go to the gym a few times a week during lunch, etc. But I still feel guilty taking a Saturday and going to the beach. Have any of you successful investors taken time to just relax during your process?

This is why people have property managers for rentals and either have trusted contractors or project managers for flips, if you get too in the weeds and try to do everything you will burn out.  Put a dollar value on your time, that may help you figure out what you should do and what you should have hired done.

@Aaron K. thanks for your response.

Did you utilize these with your first investment property? I didn’t have the option when I first bought my home, I needed to do most of the work myself. But it has given me the opportunity to buy a duplex.

Would you advise me to go with a property management company right away?

With rentals it is nice to have a PM to help keep your sanity.  With flips it is more of a personal preference, there are a lot of people who will just trust the contractor to do the job and check everything once when the project is done.  There are some PMs that will oversee a project but they can charge up to 20% of the cost of the project to keep tabs on everything.  The cheapest solution is to find a contractor that you trust.  If you need to do most of the work yourself to make a property work there is no solution to reduce time sink.

@Aaron K. as of now I need to do the work myself. PMs get 10% of rent where I’m from, that would cut my cash flow in half. Right now it’s vital to get all the cash flow I can to cover the mortgage while I fix one of the units up.

I guess my question is, how do you keep your sanity during the beginning stages of investing?

Ideally you purchase something that doesn't need to be self managed and repaired to make it work, however you appear to be past that point.  One of the best things you can do now is set limits for yourself and stick to them for example say that you will leave the property by 8pm every night and have consequences for yourself if you don't.  Do some research on things you find difficult and see how much it costs to get done by a professional, you may find that a repair that would take you 3 hours can be done for $60 in an hour then decide if 3 hours of your time is worth $60.  

I would also do some analysis to determine if you fixing everything yourself is actually costing you more money than if you hired it done.  Let's say your unit rents for $1,500 a month and the rehab will take you 2 months but would take a contractor 3 weeks.  If you do it yourself you lose $3,000 of rent whereas if you have a contractor do it you would only lose about $1,100 in rent.

@Aaron K. @ a 250k budget, that would be tough to find in my area. Everything around that is affordable based on what I had for a down payment, needs a ton of work unfortunately. I’m surprised I was able to find this and have my offer accepted. Duplexes that don’t need work are pushing 400k around me, and prices keep climbing.

Nothing good comes easy they say! But figuring out what is worth doing myself has been difficult. I made that mistake with my home, I tried to do more than what I was capable of, tough pill to swallow with some projects. But I learned a lot along the way.

@Brian Ellis prices are similar in my area.  Again it is probably a bit late for you to put this into effect but a larger down payment can offset some of this stress as well.  It is all about trading a bit of money for your time and/ or sanity.  You only get one life and it is better to not be stressed out and spend your time in a way that is meaningful to you and that you enjoy.

@Aaron K. very true. Finding that balance is tough, not sure if I’ll ever be able to find it completely. Luckily I’m passionate about real estate, otherwise I would have bought a turn-key single family like the majority of home buyers and settled in.

The long tiring days/nights will definitely be worth it in the long run, but like you mentioned, lessening the load is important. I appreciate all the feed back and I will take your advice.

At the beginning of RE investing you're going to work your *** off, no easy way to sugar coat it. To get good returns at the beginning you're going to put in a lot of sweat equity. This gets easier as you get more units, and infinitely easier if you don't need the income to live on. I'm at a point where I don't need to, and I still work mine off :) . But I also got started much later in life, and I'm working to reverse the negative impact of time. I know you know all of this, but this is more for posterity, someone reading this thread a month or year from now :)

I can’t seem to tag you David, but if you see this I have read a few books where they are adamant on morning routines.. I’ll definitely give that podcast a listen. Thank you

@JD Martin I’m a big fan of yours 💪🏼 your help and insight gave me the courage to move forward with my next deal.

I was thinking about your rental, and how you have been doing a lot of work to it. And being a successful investor, you still put in the work. It’s very admirable.

I know there won’t be any shortcuts to success, or an easy way out. Some days it’s just hard to pick up that hammer! What do you do to stay motivated?

On a house that doesn’t cash flow much after expenses I’d be darned if I’d give a pm half my potential profits for him to babysit my property and bring his buddies in to do handywork on my dime .

Originally posted by @Brian Ellis :

JD Martin I’m a big fan of yours 💪🏼 your help and insight gave me the courage to move forward with my next deal.

I was thinking about your rental, and how you have been doing a lot of work to it. And being a successful investor, you still put in the work. It’s very admirable.

I know there won’t be any shortcuts to success, or an easy way out. Some days it’s just hard to pick up that hammer! What do you do to stay motivated?

 Drink a lot of wine! :D 

Ha! Actually, I just try to keep the end game envisioned in my head. It makes the rougher days easier to get through. Back when I was in college, I worked as a plumber. I am claustrophobic, and I also hate little things that jump out at you, like mice and bugs. So, naturally, I despised it when I was sent to a job that had a really tight crawl space. I found that what worked for me when faced with something so daunting was to 

1. Get mentally prepared

2. Get physically prepared

3. Put my head down and do the work

4. Reflect when I was finished.

So to that end, mental preparation was along the lines of : "Ok, lots of people have worked in this small crawl space. No one was killed, the homeowner is home, if I get stuck they can call for help, there's nothing that's going to kill me in there", then thinking through the job, the steps involved, the time it would take, etc. Physically prepared was putting my coveralls on, tucking my hat tight, putting on my gloves, getting all my stuff together so I went in once and went out once, etc. Put my head down & do the work, I would just bull rush through the worst stuff so I didn't have time to dwell on it, get the job done, and get out. Only when it was all over would I reflect on the job - whether I had anxiety about being in the space, etc. 

I have found this approach has worked pretty well for me in life in most everything. 

@Brian Ellis

I'm with you. This is something I've struggled with since seeing the Cashflow Quadrant at a seminar once years ago; trying to make that jump from the left side of the Quadrant, to the right side. For financial reasons, yes of course, but more importantly, to face my demons & see if I have the guts to climb the Mt. Everest of my life. To know I did it.

Starting out, you're doing everything and the energy it takes to do the necessary things that's required, takes self motivation, which isn't easy. But what really takes a toll is, when things aren't going the way you had envisioned; when you're dealing with unforeseen issues that come up; stressful situations, projects taking longer, spinning too many plates, budgeting issues, family & personal things that come up, till your emotional bucket is running on empty. 

It's true what Kiyosaki said in his book, Cashflow Quadrant; "This book is about the mental, emotional, and educational process I went through in following my rich dad's advice." 

Most people are aware that they need to study, read, listen to podcast to get started, but I'm not sure what percentage of people really know the mental & emotional change they need to go through to accomplish what they want to achieve, and if they have the fortitude to stick it out. 

You ask a great question; where does rest come in? Anytime I've tried to apply what I would read online, or hear on podcasts, about having a balanced life, taking time off, it just hasn't worked for me. You can take time off, but if your mind is elsewhere because you feel like you have a purpose, trying to reach milestones to get closer to the life you've visualized, taking time off only creates dissonance because you're putting that vision on hold. I'm not saying taking time off doesn't help you recharge. Just making a point that it doesn't necessarily bring enthusiasm if you're thoughts are elsewhere. But that's just my view. 

The flip side to that is, even if you're working 80-100 hours a week, if you can see progress, things moving, getting closer to your goals, the anticipation & excitement of it can recharge your emotional battery like no vacation can. 

With that said, there are few things that have helped me disburse my load the past year, revitalizing my enthusiasm. 

1) I hired VAs overseas to do administrative tasks that bogged me down. I put in a filtering process to weed out candidates. By nature, I don't like to repeat myself, so I used Filmora (free) to record instructional videos on what they need to do. If a VA didn't work out and I needed to find someone else, I just had to send them links to those videos for them to get up to speed. At this point, I may chat with my VAs once, maybe twice a week on Google Hangouts.

2) I've connected with a few, good, like-minded people on BP. People who have similar goals and drive. Working on projects, brainstorming, collaborating, bantering back & forth as a team really helps bring synergy to what you're doing.    

3) I've been thinking about playing volleyball again, and just got a set of golf clubs so I can incorporate some physical activity into my schedule.  

Do you have people going in the same direction you're headed?

@JD Martin I’m reading this book now called “The big leap”, and it addresses a lot on fears holding us back. Unfortunately I have some pretty unrealistic fears that have held me back in the past. The only difference today is I’m willing to get through them, as uncomfortable it is. One fear I had was the mold in the house I bought, I mentioned it before. I went out and bought the most expensive air respirator and scrubbed the s*** out of the entire house. Honestly, it probably wasn’t even that bad.

But now it’s just a distant memory and I have a beautiful home to live in!

My father always told me “suck it up”

Originally posted by @Brian Ellis :

JD Martin I’m reading this book now called “The big leap”, and it addresses a lot on fears holding us back. Unfortunately I have some pretty unrealistic fears that have held me back in the past. The only difference today is I’m willing to get through them, as uncomfortable it is. One fear I had was the mold in the house I bought, I mentioned it before. I went out and bought the most expensive air respirator and scrubbed the s*** out of the entire house. Honestly, it probably wasn’t even that bad.

But now it’s just a distant memory and I have a beautiful home to live in!

My father always told me “suck it up”

 LOL. The Ward Cleaver approach, which was actually pretty good for most things. One other thing I forgot to mention is that I try to think of things in terms of phases, meaning that the killing it phase will last for a while and then there will be another phase - and maybe that's the vacation phase. I think the idea of balance on a daily basis is kind of crazy, as there are things that just have to happen at certain times of the day/month/year. It's not like eating a four-square meal - sometimes you have to exist on pizza for 3 days. :)

@JD Martin funny that you mention that, because this post was sort of based off of what I’ve been doing lately. I feel guilty for not working like a mad man like I was 6 months ago. Ive been telling myself “I close on this duplex next month so I mine as well take it easy until I have to bust my a** again”. And by taking it easy I mean less physical labor.

So the phase you mention makes me feel a bit better, because I know the hard physical labor is coming soon lol.

@Brian Ellis ,

You need to hire help on the weekends, or during the week..  if you do it all yourself, you WILL 100% get burnt out, and will hate it.  I've learned one thing.. there's power in numbers, and renovations take a lot.. don't be afraid to hire someone to help you get it done quicker!  Not a full GC, but just someone who knows how to do the stuff and can help you finish stuff at a much faster pace!

Ps.  I sympathize with you... I'm still in the hustle phase, where i think the past 2 years, we've been waking up early  Saturday/Sunday and working 8am-5PM, in addition to our full time jobs,.... i'd say a solid 90-95% of the weekends, it takes a toll on you.. but that's what's it about.    With each renovation you get better, more efficient, and it gets easier! 

Linda D. I wish I could, right now the majority of the work I have to do myself. I may hire out someone to install carpet but that’s about it.

I hope one day I will be able to pay other people to do it, if/when I get that far.

This next deal of mine is my first investment property, technically my first house was an investment property because I went in with the same mindset. But I am pretty much tapping out the equity line of credit in the down payment. Cash reserves will cover the mortgage for a few months if needed. I’m just not willing to spend 2k right now on something I can do myself for $500.

Keep up the hard work, I’m sure we will look back and be grateful for all the hard work we put in ourselves!

@Brian Ellis This is a earnest and wise question to see you ask - good job operating in a transparent place and seeking to grow.

I am early in the stage of investing, so I can't speak from dozens of closed deals, but I have learned some lessons that I hope will be valuable.  

The biggest is this:  "balance" is a bit of a fallacy.  The idea has led me and many others to a constant state of comparing what we have/are to what we think we should have or be and either being pridefully pumped or jealously discontent.  Instead, think of those Newton's Cradle/Pendulum things:  there are a serious of things that are roughly the same.  Most of them sit still and two of them do a lot of moving.  The ones moving the most (on the end) are constantly ebbing or flowing.  That's what makes the whole system work.  Sometimes they are up, sometimes down, not "balanced."

The more salient examples of Farmer, Athlete, and Soldier are the more motivating ones to me.   The farmer doesn't strive for balance.  The farmer knows that balance during the planting season will not serve his family.  Neither will balance during the harvest season.  During these seasons they pull out all the stops and plan all they can plant, then reap all that has grown.  During the other seasons, though, they are active but in a different way.  The rest comes bit by bit in the high season and in bunches in the low season.

The champion athlete doesn't strive for balance, but for victory.  In order to accomplish that, though, they know that rest is not only necessary, but good.  So . . . Lebron James reportedly sleeps 12+ hours a night and Ussain bolt logs a solid 10 each night.  They know they play to win, so they rest as is needed to enable that.

Finally, the solider trains and rests in a way to build the skills necessary to thrive during wartime.  But . . . during wartime the stops come out for a season and the mission dictates all else.

The lesson here that I want to share is this:  know yourself and your body and don't rest as an obligatory "gotta do this or I'll collapse or have a mental breakdown" kind of thing, but rather do it from the perspective that you will perform better (in every way) when you are well rested, centered, and healthy.

As for the duties and tasks involved with real estate investing - ALL of them can be hired out.  ALL OF THEM.  I would recommend  ALWAYS building your budgets around having a GC or a property manager in the mix.  If that means that half of the potential deals you'd be looking at no longer work . . . then that means that a healthier, sustainable you can still accomplish a good number of deals.  And remember . . . deals beget deals.  So, if you only say "yes" to the deals that work with a GC handling most or all of the rehab you'll probably find more deals in that same vain.

Happy hunting!

Updated almost 3 years ago

I completely got sidetracked here: the point of the Farmer, Solider, and Athlete parallels is this: there are natural seasons in life. Instead of fighting them to seek balance, own the seasons and "make hay while the sun is up" and rest when it isn't. Train and compete to win the event, but then rest. Don't fight when it isn't war-time! We can get a good feel for when it is "the season" and when it isn't by strategic planning and goal-setting. That can provide the markers to know when we've pushed enough and should rest for a bit.

Thank you for your response Will,

I definitely have a better grasp on what I need in order to operate to my fullest potential. Mainly it’s keeping my mind rested, the physical aspect I can handle. But if my mind is tired everything else seems like a chore.

Body, mind and spirit they say. And I try to work on all of them, but usually I end up neglecting one.

Your response is a good reminder that everyone is different. I forget that there is no perfect way to do anything, even though I constantly strive for it. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing? It seems like a double edge sword sometimes.

I have 5 rentals and one more in contract. I have a full time job, average 2.5 hours of commute for my day job M-F, but I don't really get tired because I out-source everything (plus it's all out-of-state anyway).  Thank goodness for property managers!

@JD Martin is totally right - you just work your butt off, especially in the early going. My husband and I started just like you @Brian Ellis with a live-in remodel of our first two homes. We used the home equity to buy the third house and so on and so forth. Did a lot of the renovation work ourselves and all of the property management because the numbers wouldn't have worked otherwise. We had kids, jobs, etc.. and some nights we just wanted to die! BUT, sweat equity is the real deal. Years down the road, we have millions in equity and great cash flow from these properties. So there is a trade off. Sometimes its seems the sacrifice is too great. But if you hang in there and muscle through, you will reap amazing financial rewards. Good luck.

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