5 Sacrifices Every Success-Seeking Real Estate Investor Must Make

by | BiggerPockets.com

As I was making my breakfast this week, I heard a commercial on the radio about a guru coming to Philadelphia to teach people how to flip properties in two hours with no money down. During this two-hour seminar, he was also going to teach how to buy rental property with no money down as well.

All of this in just two hours!?

I just listened to this commercial and smiled, thinking, “I wish these topics could be taught in two hours — but there’s simply no way to do this! To even promise this is completely ridiculous.”

As I have learned over 10 years of investing, this business takes a lot of knowledge, education, and continuous improvement. It also takes sacrifice—and that is one topic most of these gurus don’t include in their 2-hour seminars. They just paint the picture that real estate investing is easy and that once you set up all your systems, you can just go to the beach, sip cocktails, and collect your rent checks.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it just doesn’t work that way. Real estate investing is more of a marathon than a sprint. You don’t start receiving checks overnight. It comes with a lot of sacrifice and delayed gratification. Although there is sacrifice involved, real estate investing can help you achieve a lifestyle that gives you freedom of time and money. However, new investors need to know that this takes sacrifice.

Before we get into the common areas of sacrifice, I want to discuss briefly the word “sacrifice.” Sometimes this word does not have the most positive feelings associated with it. I really like how Merriam-Webster defines it:

An act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else.

Let’s face it—most people invest in real estate to create a bigger vision for themselves, their families, and their lives. They don’t invest in real estate to stay small. So, in order to gain something larger in your life, you will have to make different choices, sacrifice areas of your life, and do what most people choose not to do!

So, let’s get to the list of areas that you will have to consider sacrificing in order to move to a larger vision for yourself.

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1. Leisure Activities

This one probably does not come to any surprise, but yes, your free time will be affected (especially at the beginning). Real estate investing is like starting your own business. I don’t know many successful entrepreneurs who watched 20 hours of TV in a week AND simultaneously started a multi-million dollar business.

Related: Not Easy, But Worth it: The Top 7 Sacrifices Real Estate Investing Demands

Many things in our world are unlimited—money, resources, solutions, etc. The one limited resource is time. We all get the same amount of time to use as we choose. So how do you spend your time? Whether you want to grow your real estate business will be a question you will have to contemplate and assess. I am not saying the sacrifice is working 100 hours a week and not doing anything but work on your real estate business. I don’t think that is healthy or smart. If you do this, you will have no relationships. However, you have to be super careful and mindful of how you spend your time and make smart time decisions so that you can grow your business and achieve the goals you set out to achieve.

2. Control Over Time

You will also have to sacrifice what I call “time control.” In a typical 9-5 job, you have time control. You know when you have to be at work. You know how much time you have for breaks, lunch, vacation, etc. You get paid for your time.

In the world of real estate investing and entrepreneurship, you do not get paid for your time; you get paid for results instead. These are very different worlds, to say the least. There are many people who quit their jobs and become very frustrated because this business is not “time controlled.” To be successful in this business, you have to be flexible with your time, get rid of the 9:00a.m.-5:00 p.m. mentality, and do whatever it takes to get a project to completion (no matter what).

3. Money

Money, money, money. Many people invest in real estate to create money freedom for themselves. And yes, real estate investing can get you there. However, you will need to sacrifice how you spend your money along the way. Back in 2005, in the same month my husband Matt and I got married, we decided the best thing for our real estate investing business would be for Matt to quit his safe, secure job. We bought a house and lived below our means in order to make this happen.

Fast forward to today. Yes, we go on vacation, go out to dinner, and enjoy life. However, we also choose to use our money differently than many other people we know who are not real estate investors. We invest our money and other people’s money in real estate. Sacrificing your money will mean that you make different decisions and choices with how to spend your money. We do spend money on fun things, but we don’t go crazy. We never have.

With this particular sacrifice, it is helpful to know exactly how you manage and deal with money. If you have a partner, you need to know their relationship to money as well. We attended a great personal growth weekend called The Millionaire Mind Intensive. We learned that my husband is more of a spender, and I am a saver. This distinction has helped us tremendously over the years when we have differing opinions on how to spend or save our money. Bottom line—in order to get what you want to get in your real estate investing efforts, you will need to make different decisions with how to both generate and use your money. It is all about where you want to go and what you want to create.

4. Security

This is another big sacrifice that most real estate investors will have to let go of as they grow their real estate investing business. Security and freedom are two very different things. It is hard to get both of these at the same time. We made a conscious decision many years ago to let go of security to gain freedom.

However, this is a tough one for many, many people. I talk to a lot of real estate investors, and the successful ones always seem to value freedom over security. Now, that does not mean you won’t have any security or develop security as you grow your business. Yes, we have more security now than we did when we started our business. We have children now (and one on the way), so some security is important to us, but freedom has always been more important to us. You need to determine what you value more—security or freedom. Typically, people sacrifice one for the other.

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5. Salary

This was probably the biggest sacrifice we made early on. When we left our jobs, we both were making good money. When my husband left his corporate job, he had a company car, company expense account, high salary, and was on track to get promoted within the year. However, none of that motivated us. We wanted to create a life of freedom and independence. We valued this more than the salary.

Related: 3 Major Sacrifices Real Estate Investors Must Be Willing to Make

Yes, when you have a job, your income is more predictable. However, what we have found since we have been self-employed for many years is that there is more upside potential when you run your business and create your own destiny. You are in charge, and you are responsible for your success or failure. Something I suggest to many people looking to quit their job to invest full-time is to get a very detailed sense of your expenses. What do you really need to live on? This is important to analyze and assess before you leave behind that salary.

Conclusion

I hope this list was helpful to you as you continue on your path of real estate investing. Sacrifice is not necessarily negative. Sacrifice can lead to a bigger and grander vision of your future.

It is all about choices.

It is all about what is important to you.

And most of all, it is all about the reason you are doing all of this.

If you are not absolutely clear on this, then don’t even get started. But if you do get clear on all of this—your “why,” your goals, what is important to you—then go for it. Keep this in front of you when you come across those challenges, keep going, and don’t ever, ever quit. In time, you will be grateful for all the sacrifices and step into that grander vision.

What are some other sacrifice’s that I might have missed?

I would love to get some chatter going! Thanks for reading and happy investing.

About Author

Elizabeth Faircloth

Liz Faircloth has been managing and investing in real estate since 2004, along with her husband, Matt. We have built our business from scratch and now own over five million dollars in residential and commercial assets. We love to help and educate investors. Our YouTube Channel, The Landlord’s Chronicles, offers short, yet educational videos that covers topics such as flipping houses, rentals, rehabs, property management, and lessons learned along the way. http://www.youtube.com/c/DerosaGroupTrenton

23 Comments

  1. Ryan Schroeder

    Good article; I’ve always been amused by the get rich quick and easy seminars although I’ve never attended one so I’m making my judgments in a vacuum I guess. With REI one also acquires additional liability/risk so we give up whatever the opposite of that is!

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Ryan,
      I have attended many of these types of seminars over the years. Some of them are actually really helpful and useful. However, the ones that I tend to stay away from are the “learn everything you need to know in 2 hours” seminars. To even promise this is ridiculous!
      Good luck to you on your journey!!
      Thanks for comments!
      Liz

    • Asem AbuAwad

      Great article Elizabeth! Very strong points mentioned. I believe in real estate as a vehicle to lead you to financial freedom. But, I am at a point where I would like to explore more business or career options that will fund my RE investing other than my W-2 9-5 job which is not easy to do. I am sure millions of people out there feel the same and it is good to always get tips and pointers on where or how to look for those options.

  2. Thanks Elizabeth,
    My wife and I are just starting to connect on finances. We have been in Real estate investing for seven years and I have joked that we were in competition, she tried to spend more than I could make while I tried to make more than she could spend. That has changed latley, she was always supportive, she got a real estate license to save on commission, she searches titles for an attorney and has went back to work part time as our daughter has gotten older.
    I agree that the whole family has to be on the same page and willing to sacrifice or there can be issues, so sit down and have a united plan form the start and life will be played as a team. Thanks again Elizabeth.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Jim,
      So glad to hear you and your wife are on the same page. My husband Matt and I have worked in so many different capacities over the years. I have worked full time, part time, and then on a more strategic level in our business over the years. The key is to determine what is best for your relationship (first) and then business (second). At times, we have put our business first and our relationship suffers a bit. We have been working together for over 10 years, and we are continually figuring it out and tweaking it!
      Good luck to you and thanks for commenting and reading!
      Liz

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      You are so welcome, Mathew!! When dealing with time control and salary – remember – it is all about “baby steps.” Meet on a weekly basis, take action, communicate, and have fun too. You CAN get there…..it just takes time, energy and focus. Have you and your wife gotten clear on your WHY – (why are you investing in real estate?) – If not, get clear on this – together- and you will be on the same page and doing it together!!
      Good luck to you!
      Liz
      PS: Biggest thing – don’t give up. Just continue to make tweaks and adapt – but never give up!!

  3. Dayn Beals

    Thank you for posting this article Elizabeth. I especially appreciated the statements about money. I believe our relationship with money is the difference between success and failure, and whether someone is an investor or not. It’s the special sauce in the gurus appeal. They attract those who wish to outearn their stupid without adding value to those around them. Thank you for clarifying the value of sacrifice in this area.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Dayn:
      You are so welcome! Thanks for reading and glad you found the article to helpful. I am constantly filling my brain with positive books on this topic. I have read a great book in the past that I am going to begin reading again this week – Dynamic Laws of Prosperity by Catherine Ponder. It is a bit spiritual (so not sure if that is your thing), but I found it super helpful years ago and was reminded of it since I am in the midst of rearranging my office. Terrific read and gets you in the “prosperity” mindframe!!
      Good luck to you!!
      Liz

  4. Jerry W.

    Elizabeth,
    Congratulations on your soon to be newest family member. As usual a great article that shows a lot of true insight into the world of real estate investing. One of the things I missed was giving up a lot of social time. I pretty much gave up my hobbies, but time i used to spend on social activities dried up a lot as well. Luckily I still had the firehall and a few other charitable activities to keep me in touch with folks. I have not given up the day job yet to go full time real estate, but I am getting closer. Thanks again for taking the time to share your experience with the rest of us.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Jerry,
      Always so nice to hear from you!! And thanks for the congratulations! I am due the end of March, so we are in full steam ahead with getting ready!! I am not a big “hobby” person either. However, I have trained for races over the years (marathons, etc) and find this to be incredibly helpful as I move towards my real estate goals. Balance is important, however, I constantly ask myself – what is the best use of my time in this situation?
      Additionally, I keep this mantra in my mind (something my father said to me growing up that has served me very well in my life) – observe the masses and do the opposite!!
      Take good care and looking forward to hopefully working together this year!!
      Liz

  5. Jeff Rabinowitz

    I don’t understand #2. When you work for yourself you gain control of your time you don’t sacrifice control. If you must report to work from 9am – 5 pm you have no control over your time. Your schedule may be predictable but you do not control it. How many missed shifts will it take before you lose your job? When you are self-employed you have complete control over your time. Want to work late and sleep in? Do it. Want to take a long lunch? Do it. Want to take a day or two off?, maybe a week? Do it. You can work whenever you wish and not work whenever you wish.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Hi Jeff,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I called #2 “time control” for the following reason…. when you work for someone else/9-5 type of job, you are more controlled with your time. There are more rules and limits re: how to spend your time. When you work for yourself, you are free to control your own time. You have no one telling you how to spend your time. So what I was saying here was that you sacrifice the structure and limits of working for someone else. Some people find this freedom to be amazing, while others waste a lot of time when they move from working for someone else to working for themselves. Sorry for the confusion. Hope this helps!!
      Good luck to you!
      Liz

  6. Terence H.

    Inspiring Article. Leaving a good pay job security to focus more on entrepreneurship /business may be a good move to make if you value freedom. Reminds me of the quotes from Rich Dad Poor Dad. A job is only a short term solution to a long term problem. Also the quote ” The more security you have, the less freedom you have”.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Thanks Terence for commenting and reading this article! So glad that you found it inspiring! I have read a lot of Robert Kiyosaki’s books. One of his best is called “Retire Young, Retire Rich” – it is all about getting out of the rat race (as he calls it). One of my favorites!
      All the best to you and good luck with everything!
      Liz

  7. Chris Field

    Everyone who worked at least a few hours today raise your hands!

    Great article! The gurus are just trying to sell themselves and we live in an instant gratification society. So learn how to do x super fast gets people to show up vs spend 20 years working very hard.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Hi Chris,
      So glad you enjoyed this article! We do live in an “instant gratification” world (which is opposite to strategies of winning in real estate investing/business)!
      Take good care, keep taking action and moving towards your goals!
      All the best,
      Liz

  8. Adrian Stamer

    I actually found it the opposite to be for me for 1-4, though I’ve always been self employed…
    1. I find being a real estate investor doesn’t take up much time compared to a traditional job. I do buy and hold so I find it is more of a game of patience, waiting for the opportunity to come along.
    2. Sure you have to respond to opportunity when it occurs, but people buy property remotely and via all sorts of creative situations. Even as a realtor I can do most of the work without seeing the property personally anywhere in the world with internet.
    3. Money… well, money is the easy part, with good deals the money will follow.
    4. The main reason I got into real estate investing was actual long term financial security. I find it less risky then other entrepreneurship or the whim of the job market
    5. N/A… never had a salary and not planning on it anytime soon

    Granted, my situation is probably not typical, but I wouldn’t say terribly uncommon.

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