FIRE Crossroads 022: Giving Up $700,000 a Year

In his late thirties, he’s about to leave a lucrative business he’s built up and start anew.

He and his wife are also about to start a family, and a life-changing event like this seems like a perfect time for them to make a life-changing move.

They’re not quite yet financially independent, but well on their way. Would you walk away from the potential to break into a seven-figure annual income? I have a hunch that could happen in a few short years if they were to maintain the status quo.

If you’re interested in participating in one of three interview series, please download the most appropriate form for your life situation: FIRE Starter, FIRE Crossroads, or Post-FI Notes. To see other posts in the series, visit our Q&A archive.

 

 

Getting to Know You

 

Where are you on your financial independence journey? Have you crossed the halfway point in terms of net worth and/or passive income?

My wife (36) and I (38) are about to disrupt very calm and predictable waters and make a big shift.

We have solid stable jobs and are 72% of the way to our net worth goal of $5 million. In addition to a $5 million net worth, we want a $200,000 a year income from a self-owned business.

 

Tell us about your household. How many people and at what ages? Are you supporting anyone outside of your home? Where do you live?

My wife is 36, I am 38 and we plan to have our first child in 2022.

From the coast of Del Mar, CA our life is pretty simple by design and we only support our orange freckled English Setter, Bridget.

 

In what field are you working? How is your career going? What do you like best and least about your chosen profession?

My wife and I have had record years as a Loan Officer and me as a Real Estate Agent.

Being face to face with people is what I like best about the job AND what I like least. It’s great to meet and see people that need help but it is so demanding to be physically present.

 

Do you feel you’ve come to a crossroads of sorts? If so, tell us about it. What options are you contemplating?

We are 100% at a crossroads. We are in our late 30s and will gross $700,000+ this year. We both want more freedom, choice, and options in our life, so we have passed our Tennessee Broker License exam and will be moving into property management making about $20,000/yr over the next 2 years before our business starts to build.

In five years we will build this company up to where it needs to be and be able to leverage 80% of the work so we do not have to be physically present anywhere we don’t want to be. This will allow us to vacation more, see family/friends more, and be rockstars.

 

Investing

 

How is your nest egg invested? Approximately what percentage is allocated to stocks, bonds, real estate, and alternatives?

Roughly, our nest egg is $3.6 million and we are currently heavy in stocks at about 60% due to us recently selling our primary residence and moving those proceeds into the stock market.

30% is in real estate and 10% in cash.

We’ve decided to rent near the beach for our last year in beautiful San Diego and plan to get a primary residence again in a couple of years.

 

Are your investments primarily in tax-deferred, Roth, or “taxable” post-tax accounts?

Our stocks are about 50/50 in 401(k) and post tax accounts.

 

Do you have investments in an HSA? How about 529 Plans?

We do not have HSA or 529.

 

What has been your best investment?

I randomly bought a duplex rental when visiting my sister on a weekend vacation. Buying an out-of-state house wasn’t planned but after my sister brought a listing to my attention we found a realtor and viewed it that Saturday.

I pulled $100,000 via a cash-out refi from a previously purchased FHA home in Arizona to use as the down payment for that cashflowing duplex in Steamboat Springs, CO. A ‘free’ cashflowing rental in Steamboat is pretty awesome!!

Years later, I did a 1031 exchange for that duplex and exchanged it for 2 other rentals. If I had to guess, that deal made me $500,000 over the years. Either way, I should probably thank my sister and buy her lunch.

 

Your worst investment?

Knock on wood and ego check. Fortunately, I haven’t made any dumb investments over $1,000.00. The worst investment I made is inaction and having cash sit in my savings too long before making a decision on what to do with money.

I’ve lost THOUSANDS of dollars by waiting to put money into a mutual fund. Once, in my early 20s I gave $5,000 to a financial advisor for 3 years before pulling it after poor returns and high fees started shrinking my tiny portfolio.

 

Into the FIRE

 

Numerically, what is your FI goal?

Our FI goal is $5 million net worth PLUS a passive business that produces $200,000/year.

 

When do you suspect you will achieve financial independence? Will you retire from your career once you’re comfortably FI?

We expect to reach our $5 million net worth and have a business that produces $200,000 per year by 2027, in five years. Three years ago, I stopped saying the phrase “retirement” which has reduced stress for me. I don’t need to retire, I just don’t want to ‘work’.

I love month-long vacations and being lazy on the couch, but I will never retire. I do want to have a business that has several admins and a CEO/manager running the business so I am 80-90% removed. I will be the visionary and around for phone calls and advice.

 

What are your post-FI plans? How will your life change? What do you look forward to the most?

We have ocean views from our 1950s beach shanty and love where we live. We are excited to move across the country where we can have 50 acres of property, a dream home, and horses. In our short lives, my wife and I have both gone from college debt to self-made millionaires.

Despite big accomplishments, we feel our life is just about to get started with a big move, first child and starting a new company from scratch. I look forward to seeing how this all plays out.

 

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Have you made any major changes in your lifestyle or investments to accelerate your FI path?

Yes, we are about to quit our jobs and start our own business to get to the lifestyle we want. A big step back to launch us forward indefinitely.

 

Are you facing any unique challenges making FI or RE more difficult?

Our biggest challenge is figuring out our primary residence. This will become a big chunk of our portfolio and will be hard to categorize it as an ‘investment’.

Buying large land and building a custom home will be challenging and won’t be easy to resell. We will have to get it right and be able to commit to living there for at least 10+ years. Wish us luck.

[PoF: Good luck! I’m doing something similar.]

 

What advice do you have for others who are seeking financial independence?

People deserve to be honest with themselves and not sell themselves short. I was raised in the cornfields of Illinois by great parents that never went to college. When I graduated college, in debt, I said “If I can just make $70,000 a year, I’ll be set for life.”

My mindset changed quickly and I realized my capabilities are much higher, as our household income will be $700,000+ this year. Crazy how life happens.

The information to be financially successful and people that are willing to help you are out there. People deserve to give themselves the best life they can. Take calculated action quickly.

 

How have the two of you been able to generate such a great income with the jobs you have?

I have worked my entire life. At age 11, I told my neighbor “I quit” and would no longer be working for him taking care of his yard and grounds for $4.00 an hour because I got a new job detasseling corn at $5.50 an hour with more hours. By the time I graduated high school I had saved $10,000 from summer jobs over the years.

The longest period of unemployment in my life was when I graduated from a state college in June and started my full-time job in August as an inside tech salesman for a Fortune 500 company on 100% commission. I made $13,000 that second ½ of my first year.

My next full year, I made $50,000 and I earned $80,000 the year after. By my second full year, I started maxing out my 401(k) and bought my first property with $7,000 down that has now tripled in value since 2010. Over the nine years at this company I averaged about $140,000 a year, maxing out with my best year at $195,000. Not bad for a guy in his 20s.

I went through a similar income cycle when I made the move from tech sales to real estate. It took me 6 months to close my first transaction, which was brutal and is the industry average for a new agent. I finished out that year making $50,000 and then the following years I made $80,000, $250,000, $250,000, and $500,000 ($226,000/avg).

 

Finally, is there anything under the sun that you’d like some help with? The hive mind would be happy to weigh in.

I would like help with commercial residential investment purchases. I’d like to hear stories about people that analyzed and purchased apartment complexes from 5-100+ units.

Success and failures. Nothing 4 units and under. Our next investment game is larger multi units. Thank you!

 

PoF: Catch all the future interviews from those just getting started, at a crossroads, or at the end of their FI journey with a free subscription to Physician on FIRE.

 

 

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I thank today’s interviewee for sharing their story, and I’ve shared my feedback privately with them. I wouldn’t want my opinions to influence yours. Please give your take and answer any questions they have had in the space below!

Again, if you’d like to partake in a future Q&A, please download a FIRE Starter, FIRE Crossroads, or Post-FI Notes interview form.

 

3 thoughts on “FIRE Crossroads 022: Giving Up $700,000 a Year”

  1. Wow! I don’t think I’d be able to leave what you’ve built in beautiful San Diego.

    It sounds like you’ve given this tremendous thought and have mapped out a sound plan. Can you share your thoughts on why you didn’t stay the course, work for 5-10 more years, and retire in SD?

    Thanks and good luck!

    Reply
  2. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  3. Sounds like we’re on a similar journey. I’m leaving a medical group I’ve been with for nearly 10 years, and moving to “Tennessee” in a few months, with my family. In a similar place in terms of journey to FI, but am super jealous that you and your wife have a plan or means to build a business that can lead to less “actively earned” income. As a physician, making that transition seems a little out of reach, at the moment (other than stock investments, and single family rentals). High-five and “good luck!” Find the place that works for you and your family and live your best life!

    Reply
  4. For multi family re investments I highly recommend the book “the perfect investment” by Paul Moore.

    I haven’t personally invested In that area yet simply because I don’t have sufficient capital to dedicate to that specific investment, but it is a planned future investment.

    Reply

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