Christopher Guest Post: Coach Carson

 
I’d like to introduce you all to my friend Chad “Coach” Carson, a real estate investor, blogger, family man, and long-term international traveler. I talk about slow travel, but my three-week adventures pale in comparison to the nearly year and a half that he and his family of four is wrapping up in Cuenca, Ecuador.

I met Coach Carson on his last trip stateside in the fall of 2017 at the blogger’s conference known as FinCon. He’s as humble as he is tall and has a great mind for business. One might not expect a former All-American linebacker from Clemson and Rhodes Scholar finalist to be so grounded, but Coach does not come across as someone who annihilated quarterbacks to earn his keep in college.

He’s been living our dream with a location independent life and income streams that more than support his desired standard of living, and making it happen several years before his fortieth birthday. If he had followed through with his original plan to become a medical doctor, I don’t imagine that would have happened.

Let’s get to know Coach a little better. Ready… break!

What’s a Christopher Guest post?

 

Coach CarsonInspired by Nigel Tufnel, the character portrayed by Christopher Guest in Spinal Tap, I took Mr. 1500’s ten questions, and amped them up to eleven.

 

If you’re not familiar with the scene, take 50 seconds to watch this video and enjoy the dialog between Nigel and Rob Reiner.

 

I decided I’d start a Q&A of my own. Not satisfied with just ten questions, “this one goes to eleven”. Just like Nigel’s amplifiers.

 

 

 

Coach Carson

 

What do you do (or did you do) for a living? What do you like best about your job? If you were a physician, what type of a physician do you think you would be? Why?

 

Since I graduated from college in 2002, I have been a full-time real estate investor. I have used house flipping, rental income, and interest income to pay the bills ever since.

I most of all enjoy the freedom and flexibility that comes with being an entrepreneur. I’ve never had an office, a rigid schedule, or a boss to report to. This has allowed me to play lots of midday basketball and travel for long periods of time, like my current 17-month trip with my family to Ecuador.

 

Visiting a waterfall outside of Baños, Ecuador [PoF: De donde esta los baños?]

I actually intended to be a physician after graduating with a Biology degree in college. I observed surgeries with my football team’s orthopedic surgeon, took the MCAT, and applied to 5 medical schools. But I withdrew the applications soon thereafter.

After the grind of a college football career, I wasn’t yet ready for another long grind of more school and residency. So, I decided to try real estate entrepreneurship for a year or so, fully intending to reapply to medical school later. But you see how well that plan worked out 15 years later!

 

This was my daily job in addition to doing chemistry and botany labs (and it even paid for school!)

 

If I were a physician, sports medicine would be interesting because of my long fascination with and participation in athletics. But I also think I would enjoy the breadth and human interaction of being a general physician.

[PoF: I recall Robert Smith, another college football star with strong academics, putting off medical school for to see what he could do in the NFL. The plan, at least according to interviews at the time, was to apply to medical school, but I can’t blame him (or you) for not taking on the rigors of the education and training to become a physician when you had alternate paths to success.

As I said in the intro, your life would probably look a lot different if you had, and you would not be financially independent or location independent in your thirties.]

 

Describe your blog and tell us why your blog would appeal to a physician seeking FIRE in eleven sentences.

 

My blog coachcarson.com is about two primary topics – financial independence and real estate investing. My niche is helping people use real estate to retire early, either as a primary or secondary investment vehicle. Real estate is a great tool both to build wealth and to produce income during retirement.

I think my content would appeal to physicians because I take a bottom-up approach to my writing and education. I start with foundational principles, like how to choose a target investing market or how to run the numbers. Then I build on those with stories, case studies, and more advanced concepts.

Also, my mother was a high-earning dentist and my father was a real estate investor. They used that 1-2 combination of high earnings and rentals to build their own retirement portfolio. So, I have a lot of behind-the-scenes experience that could be helpful for physicians hoping to reach financial independence early.

[PoF: I’m the son of a dentist, so we’ve got that in common. 

I haven’t had much luck with real estate, but I’ve only used it as a place to live, rather than an investment. I also didn’t have much luck on the gridiron. I found out there weren’t many non-bench positions for a slow 95-pound sophomore in high school, as badly as I wanted to be out there.

Physicians have the money to invest in real estate, but not many have the time (or take the time) to learn the trade, do proper due diligence, and manage properties (or build a team to do so). The proliferation of crowdfunded RE sites has made it a bit easier to dabble in it, but of course, that’s not the same.]

What inspired you to start a blog of your own? Was there a particular event you remember that made you feel your blog had arrived? Any big plans for your blog in the future?

 

I started my blog because I love to learn. It was an outlet to organize and share my ideas as I learned and applied them in my own financial journey.

In the beginning, I just wrote for a small email list of people who had taken local classes or done consulting with me in and around my home of South Carolina. Then I finally realized by attending FinCon in 2015 that there was a BIGGER world out there on the internet.

Soon after, I got an article called How to Retire Rich With Embarrassing Old Cars and Ugly Houses featured on RockStarFinance.com. It then got mentioned in a Toronto newspaper column, and my site was bombarded by visitors. That got me hooked.

[PoF: The wider your reach and the bigger the audience, the more fun blogging can be. I was excited to get a few hundred pageviews a day after a few months. A few thousand a day is even more addicting!]

 

Give me eleven posts you think Physician on FIRE readers might want to read.

I’ll break my recommendations into categories.

Financial Independence/Early Retirement

 

 

Real Estate Investing Fundamentals:

Other Interesting Reads

[PoF: The titles alone have me tempted to hit “sell” on my index funds! Well, not quite, but this is an outstanding list of resources, and I know you’ve got more than eleven posts with high quality, actionable advice on real estate investing.]

 

At what age are you most likely to retire (or at what age did you retire) from full-time work? What are you doing to help realize your retirement target?

 

I don’t ever plan to stop working in some form or fashion. Entrepreneurship is more of a game than work for me. But starting in 2017, I drastically cut the number of hours I spend in my real estate investing business. I average about 1-2 hours per week, which I primarily use for paying bills, reviewing accounting statements, and communicating with my property managers.

I now like to spend most of my time doing the most enjoyable activities that also make a big impact. Writing and teaching is one such activity. And putting together deals and managing my portfolio from a higher level is another.

I got to this point by focusing on:

  1. Income generation – It’s much easier to step away when the money keeps coming in after you stop working. Real estate, in particular, is attractive for this purpose because you don’t have to sell properties in order to earn that income. Rental or interest income (from real estate notes) just keep paying you month after month.
  2. Systems and processes – The #1 objection I get from would-be real estate investors is that it’s not passive enough. I also hear that they don’t want to deal with tenants or toilets. This can all be solved with systems and by delegating to competent people who can run those systems. Real estate is best understood as a hybrid business-investment, so you have to treat it as such in order to free your time. Two books, the Emyth and Cash Flow Quadrants, really got me started with this “passive income from systems” mindset.

[PoF: “Entrepreneurship is more of a game than work for me.” Excellent point. I have a hard time reconciling why I put in as much time and effort as I do into this online enterprise of mine, but I do like to see how well I can do in this game.

I’ve never been good at delegating or hiring help. That’s another thing I could learn from you. I also like your comments on “retirement.” I feel that anyone industrious enough to become financially independent at an early age is unlikely to just kick back and do nothing productive.]

 

What does an ideal retirement look like for you? What will you do with your time when full-time work is in your rearview mirror?

 

An ideal day for me – hiking with my family and taking in beautiful natural scenery in Cajas National Park, Ecuador

An ideal retirement or really an ideal life for me includes:

  • Growth – I enjoy getting better and always striving to be my best. I enjoy new challenges and opportunities. Parenting has certainly been my biggest growth experience thus far. Exercise, travel, learning foreign languages, entrepreneurship, blogging, and teaching.
  • Service – I don’t want to exit this short life having only focused on myself. I want my wife, kids, family, work colleagues, business partners, blog readers, and society to know that I cared and strove to make a difference in their lives.
  • Fun – Life’s too short to not enjoy the process. I love playing basketball, traveling, hiking in nature, learning foreign languages, reading, and listening to music. I also love spending time with my family, including some crazy Friday night dance parties with my 4 and 6 year-olds in the kitchen!

[PoF: Everybody dance now! 

Your breakdown represents a life that sounds both ideal and noble. Active in many ways, all of which are for personal and greater good. Bravo.]

 

I’ll give you eleven sentences to dish out advice to a young physician. Any and all advice is welcome. We talk about personal finance, so money is fair game, but if you have advice on being a better doctor, a better parent / spouse / friend / human, we’re all ears.

 

I have two pieces of advice for a young physician – one practical and one more philosophical.

First, don’t make the mistake of buying a dream house too early. You can lose HUNDREDS of thousands of dollars in opportunity cost because you didn’t pursue a financially smarter housing option first – like house hacking, live-in flips, or live-in-then-rents[PoF: Forget opportunity cost. I lost hundreds of thousands of actual dollars when we sold the dream house we had built.]

You have plenty of years left to live in a dream house, so take the first 5 to 10 years of your working life to think of your housing as an investment.

Second, think long and hard about what matters to you. It’s easy to get caught in the momentum of life, a career, and a family to the point that you lose sight of the hopes and dreams you had when you were younger. Those earlier-in-life insights are an important part of yourself, so figure out a way to acknowledge and realize them in some way.

For me, it was the idea of extended travel internationally. My wife shared that dream, and we’re now building our life around that as a priority while still in our 30s. FIRE and successful wealth building is an important step to help you regain autonomy over the activities and direction of your life.

[PoF: I already blew it on number one, but we’re doing our best to embrace number two. I didn’t think to reflect too much on what we wanted out of life as a young physician. We were too busy living in the present.

Once we realized we were financially independent based on our invested assets, we started to create a vision for our future that looked a lot different than our current life. Extended international travel is a part of our vision, too.]

 

Real Estate Investing Platform

1% Extra Yield on 1st PeerStreet Investment for Accredited Investors

 

You’ve got eleven days to visit anyplace in the world with an $11,000 budget. Where do you go and what do you do?

 

I’m currently in month 13 of a 17-month trip abroad with my family. So, travel within the US actually appeals to me more right now when I get back.

So, I think I would use the money to travel to Yosemite National Park in California with my family. We’d probably camp in the high-country most of the time, so I doubt we’d use all the money. But I’d buy the best damn camping food and craft beer possible, and I’d hire some dirt-bag hikers and rock climbers to come along with us to help carry our supplies and to hang out. After the trip was done, I’d give them the rest of the money that’s left over so they could keep being dirtbags a little longer:)

[PoF: That’s interesting to hear you say that. International travel is glorified, and there are some good reasons for that, but there certainly is a lot of natural beauty and good times to be had right here in the United States. 

An RV is definitely in our near future, and we’ve got plans to spend time as a family visiting all 50 U.S. States. We just checked off Hawaii, and we plan to return to Alaska, the setting of our honeymoon, with our then teenage boys for our 20th wedding anniversary. That gives us nine and a half years to hit up the rest of the continental 48.]

Name eleven beverages you enjoy. You can be as general or specific as you like.

 

I haven’t had the pleasure of drinking some of PoF’s home brews, or they would certainly make the list. But here’s what came to mind.

  1. Water
  2. Fresh-squeezed juice of any kind, but especially orange or mango juice
  3. Morocho – an Ecuadorian favorite, served warm and made of corn, milk, cinnamon, and other yummy spices
  4. Belgian Tripel-style beer – if in Cuenca, Ecuador you can find my favorite at Jodeco Belgian Brewery
  5. German-style Hefeweisse (wheat beer)
  6. Czech-style Pilsner
  7. IPA (India Pale Ale) – Dales Pale Ale from Oskar Blues nearby in Brevard, NC is always a favorite
  8. Herbal tea – here is my favorite flavor and brand
  9. Sweet tea – I’m from the south, what can I say:) It’s so sweet that I can only have it a couple times per year
  10. Pina Colada – especially with fresh coconut milk and pineapple!
  11. Red wine – especially a good cabernet sauvignon from California or Malbec from Argentina

 

Enjoying my favorite Belgian brew with my wife

 

[PoF: Perhaps I’ll bring some of my homebrew down to Camp FI Midwest here in Minnesota to rectify the situation of having never sampled my handiwork. Great list!]

 

Now, eleven foods.

 

See you if notice a breakfast theme:)

  1. Scrambled eggs with spinach, cheese, and a side of toast
  2. Waffles with fresh fruit and some of the famous PoF maple syrup I’ve heard about
  3. A BIG fruit bowl with bananas, apples, mango, peaches, grapes topped with granola and yogurt
  4. Corn cheese grits, patty-sausage, and home-made biscuits (another deep-south favorite)
  5. Paella – especially when in Valencia in Spain
  6. A simple, hot, steaming bowl of vegetable soup on a cold day
  7. Tacos al pastor from Mexico
  8. My brother’s home-made chocolate cake
  9. Any food from New Orleans
  10. Artesanal chocolate – dark, high percentage of cocoa, and sourced in Ecuador
  11. Peanut-butter and banana sandwich (my specialty)

[PoF: I do notice a breakfast theme. It started with the Dale’s Pale Ale above and continued here in the food section. 😉

Earn quick & easy 1099 income with Incrowd's microsurveys for healthcare professionals. 

We enjoyed the tacos al pastor in Guanajuato as you did, and I’ve been to New Orleans nearly a dozen times. No shortage good food in The Big Easy. 

I can’t say I’m on board with the peanut butter banana sandwich, but I probably shouldn’t knock it ’til I’ve tried it.]

 

You didn’t ask what didn’t make my list? Like cuey (i.e. pit-rotisseried guinea pig), an – ahem – delicacy in Ecuador. Not my favorite:)

 

Fried Guinnea Pig anyone?

 

How did you first learn about PhysicianonFIRE.com? What one piece of advice do you have for me?

 

I think I saw you first with an article on RockStarFinance.com. I liked your writing style and shared your love of craft beer:)

Advice? Sip your beer slowly. Travel often. Enjoy your time with family. Give abundantly of your knowledge and resources. Never stop growing. And have fun.

It seems you’re doing those well already!

Thanks for the opportunity to answer your questions and share with your audience. It’s been a blast!

 

[PoF: The pleasure’s been all mine, Coach! Well, the cuey picture wasn’t all that pleasing, but I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of it. I look forward to continuing to learn from you from both a blogging and real estate perspective. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and wisdom with us.

Readers, be sure to visit Coach Carson. I guarantee you’ll learn something about both real estate investing and living a fulfilling life.]

 


Track your investments for free with Personal Capital. That's how I track the PoF portfolio

 

Interested in hearing how other top personal finance bloggers have answered these questions? Check out a few of these Christopher Guest Posts:

 

28 comments

  • This may be my favorite Christopher Guest post that I’ve read so far, POF. And that’s coming from a guy who married into a Carolina Gamecock family… (The picture above hurts my heart).

    Coach Carson seems like a stand-up guy with a wealth of information. I hadn’t heard of his site before, I am going to check it out (and probably add it to my recommended sites).

    I think you nailed it on the head earlier in the post talking about toilets and tennants. We currently live in our little starter house that we have been in for 10 years. Going to move in 18 months or so. The thought has crossed my mind to rent it out given that it is close to the hospital (been here since medical school). But the toilets and tenants are exactly what keeps that thought at bay.

    I’m gonna go read Coach Carson’s advice on his site and see if I think differently after that.

    P.S. I agree with POF that you (Coach Carson) would likely not be where you are now financially if you went into medicine. After just finishing training, at a ripe age of 32, I am now trying to make my net worth zero 🙂 As WCI likes to point out, the bum on the street corner has a much better net worth than most of us when we finish training. Which is why I am taking your advice to stay in my starter house for the first few years after being done with training.

    Thanks for the great read!

    TPP

    • Thanks TPP! The gamecock/Clemson rivalry is all in fun for me these days. But sacking the Carolina quarterback was still one of my favorite moments!

      For a busy medical professional, I think a property manager could be a great idea if you rent your house. It will cost you, but that is an investment in your sanity and free time. And it will probably make it more fun and keep you in the rental game vs the DIY route. I also recommend a healthy cash reserve. I started with about $5k.

      Good luck and thanks for checking out my site!

  • Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  • Zac

    I’m glad you got to interview Coach Carson! Investment-wise, real estate has been the thing that interests me most despite it being the main avenue I have yet to invest in deeply (mainly capital restraints). I remember first hearing him speak on the Mad Fientist’s podcast and ever since I’ve subscribed to his blog and hold him as an example to the kind of rental portfolio I’d like to have some day. He has tons of material on his site, is approachable, and even teaches some students periodically throughout the year. Great interview!

    • Thanks for the positive feedback, Zac. Good luck getting that first deal up and going. A house hack or live-in-then-rent are often the best ways to start building if capital is the main constraint. There are low down payment mortgage programs for owner occupants.

  • I love the way you describe your ideal life with growth, service and fun. It seems so simple but it’s just so perfect. I think you’ve stumbled on the key to happiness here. Great interview! Thanks for sharing.

  • Hello Coach Carson,

    I must check your site out. I guess we “house hacked” since I have always lived in a duplex and even rented out our current home for a decade before moving here. My husband managed our rental properties while doing a general surgery residency. So yeah it can be done. He just used reliable tradesmen.

    We LOVE real estate and have seen the mighty force of it especially in high cost of living areas. Now we want to venture into more cash flow RE again. We reached FI mainly with RE and cash. So there are many ways to reach the peak.

    • Congrats on your success with FI and real estate! And I’m impressed your husband managed your properties while doing surgery residency. I agree it can be done once you find those good contractors to visit the house. The rest of the work is just taking calls and writing checks (or pressing buttons with online bill pay these days).

      • Exactly! The renters’ cheques were deposited automatically online. He called reliable trademen and our renters were reliable firemen, bankers, professors, teachers, senior government officials, etc. They treated our homes like their own. We are very grateful for that. We played it very simple and safe. I will send my husband to your site tonight. You will probably see a thousand hits once he sits down and studies your work!

        Thank you again for all your information!

  • Hey Chad,

    Awesome interview! It’s kind of crazy how house hacking is becoming a buzz word now a days when just 3 years ago (when I started), it was not really talked about…

    What’s funny, I bought my first house at 22… so that might be a little bit too young, but it worked out! Real estate and house hacking has set me up for great success. I was able to grow my net worth over $100,000 through house hacking and it’s been quite a launching pad for my financial future.

    Thanks for sharing your story in this post and looking forward to playing some hoops next FinCon 🙂

    Erik

    • Hey Erik, I’ll be your rebounder in a hoops game anytime;) I have not totaled my savings + profits from house hacking, but you’ve inspired me to do it now. And I’m sure it’s been a huge financial decision for me as well.

      I’m glad house hacking is catching on. It makes sense in many markets, but particularly in high priced markets it can be the difference between treading water and actually moving ahead financially.

  • Great interview, PoF! And thanks for sharing, Coach Carson. I’m starting to dabble in real estate a bit (mainly online crowdfunding at the moment), so I’ll be sure to check out your site.

    • Which crowdfunding platforms are you dabbling in? I’m starting to do the same, and I plan to write some articles on my experiences in the near future.

      • I currently have investments with PeerStreet and RealtyShares. I’m tracking a few others on RealtyMogul and CrowdStreet but haven’t committed any capital yet. I’m also working on a few articles about crowdfunding myself, but I’ll definitely check out yours when they come out.

        • I look forward to following your crowdfunding articles. I have Peer Street and EquityMultiple so far, and I’m also looking at Patch of Land, Realty Shares, and Alpha Flow. It’s hard to keep up with all of them!

  • Great article. Lots of smart stuff. Probably the smartest was ditching the shackles of corporate medicine and going straight for financial independence. Kudos to you!!

    • I didn’t realize it would be the smartest move at the time to skip on medicine. But it’s been the right move for me, do doubt. I had a lot of flexibility and opportunities early on in my career.

  • Great interview, I like your description of entrepreneurship as a game. I didn’t have the risk tolerance to play that game until I became FI since I had no safety net. But now that I’m playing it’s really fun.

    And kudos on the Yosemite choice. One of my favorite places in America, just jaw-dropping and peaceful all at the same time!

    • I haven’t been to Yosemite yet, but I need to soon! That’s why it was on my mind.

      My favorite type of entrepreneurship is the low or no risk kind. By that I mean investing time and energy but not a lot of money, testing to see if it works, and starting over or pivoting if it fails. FI also gives you an abundance of time that makes that type of entrepreneurship possible.

  • Brandy

    Hi Chad
    Thought I would give a shoutout for you.
    Another example of why you are lucky not to have got into medicine, but choose instead to get into real estate investing . how many paid of rentals was that you had?!
    Sharing your giveaway link
    https://www.coachcarson.com/giveaways/march-2018/?lucky=756
    Thanks

    • Thanks for sharing the contest, Brandy. And I don’t share the exact number publicly, but I definitely have more rentals producing income than I would have had going down other paths! I think a career in medicine would have been very intellectually stimulating, but I don’t regret the flexibility and freedom of the path I took.

  • Hi Coach!

    Excellent interview. It really inspires me to take a closer look at real estate investing and the “passive income from systems” mindset.

    And PoF is on point. For all your accomplishments before 40, you are extreme humble. And it’s really refreshing! And I like your life story and description of an ideal life. By the way, which languages have you learned and are currently learning? I think language learning and acquisition is great for mental growth and it gives you the ability to communicate and understand others well. What methods do you use for learning language? I appreciate your fresh ideas.

    I’m going to subscribe to your site!

    P.S. the cuey picture breaks my heart too. But that’s how I feel about all living creatures 😀

    • Thanks Dr. McFrugal! Passive income from systems is an important component of many retirement plans, whether it’s real estate or other businesses. Real estate is a little simpler to systematize because there are a lot of processes and team members already in place (like property managers).

      I learned German in high school and college (although I’d be embarrassed to try speaking it now). And I learned Spanish in 2009 in Peru, and of course I’ve been trying to improve it during this trip in Ecuador.

      My wife is a spanish teacher, so we have a lot of discussions about language learning. For me, there are three keys:
      1) Commitment to vocabulary and basic grammar learning. You just have to do it daily and consistently. I like to use the free software Anki (like a virtual flashcard program that remembers your weaknesses and helps with spaced repitition learning).
      2) Immersion in a native speaking location. The longer the better. If you speak it most of the day (like living with a family in a home-stay), 2-3 months can produce dramatic results.
      3) Regular conversation practice so that you get “live-fire” listening and speaking practice. Learning grammar & vocab on your own is one thing, but using it in a real situation is a completely different growth process. I love intercambios (1-2 hours with native speaker, 50% in english and 50% in their language)

      We’d like to return to Germany some day so I can rekindle my skills and so my wife and kids can learn it. After that … who knows!

      • That is so awesome! I speak a little (very little) German and Spanish too! I took Spanish from middle school to my first year in college. I got pretty good at it, but I really think you have to be immersed in it and really “think” in the language to become proficiently fluent (which I am not). Maybe one day when I take a sabbatical or mini retirement in a Latin American country with my future family, I will finally be truly fluent 🙂

        I learned a little German four years ago in the four months between the end of my residency and before I started my first job. I went with my best friend and his wife who has family there. We stayed with them in a small village near Mainz in the Rhineland. It was an amazing extended trip, especially since we lived in the village among locals. Because we were there in winter time for the Christmas markets, it was really magical! The two months prior to that trip, i learned basic German using audio recordings from Pimsleur, German for dummies, and basic vocab on the Duolingo app. I definitely wasn’t fluent, but I spoke well enough (and my pronunciation was pretty good) to make my German friends semi-understand me and laugh! 😀.

        Thanks again for all the tips and I appreciate all that you do!

        • I love the courage and self-started learning you did. And the German Christmas markets are so amazing. And it’s nice to have those tasty beers to compensate for it getting dark at like 3:30 or 4:00pm!

          Good luck with your future travels, FIRE goals, and blog! Let me know if I can help.

  • Nina

    Great interview. I like Chad’s point about turning entrepreneurship into more of a game. It’s kind of exciting and fun to think of all your efforts as more of a quest than just toil. This reminds me of a book I read a couple of years ago along the same lines, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal. I’m so glad Coach went to that FinCon conference and expanded from his small email list!

    • Thanks Nina! And I think I’ve watched a Ted Talk by Jane McGonigal, but that book sounds awesome! I’ll have to check it out. And I’m glad I decided to reach out to people all over the place through my blog. I’ve got to meet great people like you!

  • Pingback: Retire Early with Real Estate & Real Estate Start School - Physician on FIRE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *