Author

best investments 2018
Planning,

Best investments for 2018 – what I will do to get richer and what you can do

Best investments for 2018 – what I will do to get richer and what you can do

This year is coming to an end, so it is about time to plan the next year. I will write a bigger post on the various angles of my life, but I’d like to cover the financial aspect right away, as I review some good investments for 2018.

First I need to say that 2017 was way different than what I anticipated. I actually thought about doing a gap year, by my type-A personally didn’t let me rest as much as I needed; I was offered a well-paying part-time position, which I took, and I did more business than ever before.

Planning things for 2018

Next year, I will be dividing my time in the following way:

  • Mondays. I will continue to have a part-time position which will pay me enough money to live off of so that my basic expenses are covered.
  • Wednesdays and Sundays. These are the days I will take to rest, and I will not think about work at all. I think I will benefit from resting sparsely throughout the week, thus splitting rest between Wednesdays and Sundays. On Sundays, I will also
  • Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. These days I will be working full time on my RE company, which hopefully will grow tremendously in 2018. I am aiming for a total revenue of €75,000, which is great as I won’t have full-time employees (only people to work with me seasonally and part-time).I will also have to invest a lot of time on my second RE holding, which will be easy to manage but may consume a lot of time during the process of negotiating lines of credit and acquiring assets. The projections for this holding were calculated here.
  • Saturdays.  I will use this day to work on my side hustle, which guarantees my company a fixed amount of money every month. This is enough to pay for the fixed costs of the company and help me focus on other, variable and more risky investments that will hopefully help the company to grow.

This only applies from April 1st onwards… In the first quarter, I will be resting, as I want to fully reverse my adrenal fatigue/CFS and, even more importantly, my dizziness.

  • Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday: full rest.
  • Tuesday and Thursday: work on FromCentsToRetirement, my side hustle and on my RE company (I have suspended my part-time job in the first quarter. I will write a big post on this (and the first quarter as well).

How my RE company will operate

Having done almost €40,000 this year, I know exactly how to run the company and scale it. As I said, my goal is to hit €75,000. This is what the company will focus on:

  • Selling homes. This will be the biggest chunk of the revenue, I am sure. I have partnered up with another RE company which will probably help me sell even more. I may also hire some commission-based employees to put some gasoline in the fire. From this channel, I will probably make €50-€60k.
  • Market studies. This is a good thing to sell because you make it once and you can sell it many times. I am not sure what the size of the market is, but I guess I will learn that quickly. 🙂 This is an advertising play: I don’t think people will come up to me and ask for this service, so I will have to invest a lot into advertising (on Facebook, Adwords and e-mail marketing) to sell these reports. They are usually targeted at real estate investors who want to invest in Portugal or business owners who want to expand within the countr. I hope to sell €7,000 of these in the first year.
  • Dividends and rents. You got it – I also want to make this company a holding. This is because the dividends and rents I will get will allow me to build up some fixed income, thus allowing me to pay for the fixed expenses of the company and employees’ salaries. In the first year, I hope to bring in €1,000 from this channel (and boost it to €10,000 in 2019).
  • eBooks, online courses, and consultancy. I have identified a niche in the market which I can “easily” explore. As I bring in more people to the Facebook page and e-mail list, I will sell more. I’d be happy to have 10,000 people altogether in the lists during 2018. This should roughly translate into €10,000. In the second year though, I hope to sell more of these than selling homes, because this is way more passive.

Unless I really have to, I won’t cash out dividends from the company – I will re-invest all the profit back into the company and grow it as much as possible, so I make at least €150,000 in 2019 and €350,000 in 2020.

2 tips and info for you to invest in 2018

The stock market

As I said many times before, we’re in the second largest bull market ever. This is not a good indicator of a possible crash in the stock market, but …

As a result, there are various industries that seem to be about to break out. Thus, investing in stocks in these industries seems wise even in a very bull market as we are right now. Some of these industries are:

Cannabis

cannabis best investments 2018 2019

Ideally, the best way to invest in these startups is to create one or be involved in the process from the beginning. As this is extremely hard, my fellow blogger Cody Shirk launched explorer partnerships that allow you to invest with him in these hot markets.

Car manufacturers 

I personally think that we are walking towards a model where car ownership will be less and less relevant, and cars will be fully electric and eventually driverless. Thanks Tesla!

This will massively change the landscape of traffic, cars and… commodities. I expect that as the car industry changes, the other industries that depend on, influence or are related to cars also change.
Just so you have an idea of what is crossing my mind right now:
  • I believe that real estate will change a lot, because garages over the long run will be needed. As for short-term changes, we may see gas stations becoming obsolete and turning into stations of superchargers. Plus, as we see car ownership become less and less common, perhaps the need for parking lots will diminish.
  • Uber and uber-alike companies will become even more prominent and own the market entirely. As we move towards electric vehicles (and drones that deliver packages), we will witness massive layoffs in the transportation industry. If you drive a truck, consider starting doing something else.
  • Eventually, trains and plains will retain the technology that is being created for cars. Yes, I believe they will be electric at some point…

So, what is my point? Car manufacturers that are taking the lead in the electric revolution will be appealing investments.

Let me know if you agree or you have suggestions for good investments in 2018.

Ben

set up a company in portugal
Daily life, Lifestyle, Tricks,

Set up a company in Portugal – my experience

Set up a company in Portugal – my experience

If you are a real estate investor, creating LLCs is really a must if you want to protect your assets and optimize taxes. I have created some companies up until this point (you can find out why in my book), and I can tell you that there are some differences to the US. I’d like to comment on those differences, as I have been working with RE investors from the US who want to create an LLC for every property. Well, in Portugal, that won’t do.

To set up a company in Portugal, you will incur the following costs:

  • €360 to register the company (LLC – which is called Lda);
  • €123-€300 to register a trademark (this depends on the sector, how protected you want it to be, etc)
  • €100-€200/mo to pay for an accountant (which is mandatory);

These are the mandatory costs (except for the trademark). However, note that you will also likely incur costs such as:

  • A salary. You don’t really have to have a salary – I don’t take any salary out of my companies. Note though that, if you do, you will have to pay for social security, medical insurance and what not. Your cost will be much higher than the salary per se.
  • Rent and utilities. Depending on the type of business you run, you may have to have a brick and mortar location. Even if you don’t have to have one, in most businesses they come in handy.
  • Advertising. This may be close to nothing or a lot. In my case, 95% of the costs of a company I run is advertising (it is a digital service, of course).
  • Bringing assets to the company. You need to pay about €50 per asset you bring to the company. This doesn’t include e-assets, fortunately. 😉
  • Insurances. Depending on the type of business you run, you may have to have insurances. I always have insurances in my companies, even if I don’t have to have them.
  • Legal advice. Unless you have a very basic type of business, today you’ll need legal counseling. This can be quite expensive as well.
  • Vehicles. Depending on the type of business you run, you may have to have vehicles to operate. I keep my companies super lean and I never bought any vehicle to any of my companies.
  • Taxes. There are two things you can’t escape in life: taxes and death.

As you see, the fact that you need to spend €100-€200 per month with an accountant, opening a company for every property usually doesn’t make sense, because your profit is wiped away by this fixed cost. At the same time, it typically only makes sense to set up an LLC when you reach 3 properties.

BTW, at the company level, in Portugal, prices are usually defined as the price + VAT. VAT is the value-added tax, which you may know as the goods and services tax (GST).

If you’re thinking about setting up a start-up in the US, check out this guide on the costs of opening a company.

Duties

Opening a company in Portugal comes at a cost (although I list multiple advantages below). Some of them include:

  • Print and send the physical copy of the invoices to the accountant, every single month.
  • Issue the digital compilation of the invoices and upload it to the tax office every three months.
  • Keep the books in order (even if you’re hiring an accountant).
  • You may be held accountable as a CEO, manager or partner, for multiple things within the company, including maximizing profit for shareholders in multiple states in the US. This became quite polemic after Martin Shkreli brought it up.
  • etc…

My companies

I have set up multiple companies in Portugal, and I have a main accountant which actually charges me €75 + VAT per extra company. I currently own or co-own the following companies:

I also think that there are multiple advantages to having companies (and multiple companies) including:

Protection

As I said, this blog belongs to a company that I use to collect royalties, online businesses, etc. This also protects me, as this asset belongs to a separate entity that doesn’t hold any of my assets.

Flexibility

If I want to charge money, I can. This wasn’t the case back in the day (as I couldn’t do business because I lacked a license or was employed on an exclusive contract with an employer).

Also, having multiple companies allows you to write off way more costs than when you don’t have these companies. For instance, as an individual, you can’t write off fees and interest with mortgages even if you do get mortgages for real estate investing. For me, that is a killer.

What about yourself? Do you own a company?

Let me know if the comments down below.

Thanks

Ben

how many properties you need to retire early
Planning, Real Estate,

How many investment properties do I need to retire, Ben?

How many investment properties do I need to retire?

If you are a regular reader of From Cents To Retirement, you buy it that rental properties are a great way to fund a retirement. In my opinion, there are great advantages to rental properties, in comparison to other investments and I will go through them once again in this post. However, there are very low hanging fruit arguments: rental properties produce predictable income that is naturally indexed to inflation, have many tax advantages and allow for easy leveraged.

If you want to retire off of rental properties, you should have, in my opinion, a strategy and a philosophy. These are different things. A strategy is a plan that will tell you where to go next. A philosophy to invest in real estate is a set of rules that you’ll apply always, regardless where you are at that moment. My strategy is so complex that I actually wrote a book about it.

In this article, I will share how you should calculate how many rental properties you need to retire off of. I designed this article so that you ask yourself a bunch of questions that will give you very solid indicators on how many properties you will need. It is not a magic formula, though. It is more of a comprehensive view on the topic that will help you arrive at a number, type, and location of a rental portfolio.

How many investment properties do I need to retire?

“How many investment properties do I need to retire?” is probably in the TOP3 of questions I get, when it comes to retiring with real estate. After all, I set the goal to retire by the time I hit around 30 cash flowing units (meaning 20 more than what I have now). To be honest, I love this question, because we don’t need the same number of properties to retire… Plus, I actually found out that, working with clients abroad, this question can be easily answered if we understand some points about early retirement and real estate first.

Before we dive into the actual calculation of how many properties you will need, let’s review some real estate points before.

Why are rental properties a better way to retire than other investments?

The thing about investing in the stock market is lack of control. I love real estate because I can negotiate 1:1 and bring the cost of properties down. In fact, I love to shop around for properties and submit 30-50 offers in a matter of days. I submit these many offers because I go with very low offers – sometimes 20% of the listing price. And if I find a motivated seller, who had his/her property on the market of ages, I may walk away with a great deal. In the stock market, you can’t do this. Sure, you can find undervalued stocks but you can’t really buy a stock below market value.

Plus, you have very low flexibility with stocks. You buy them and you hope the companies you invested in do well. But you can’t run them. In real estate, you can negotiate the acquisition cost aggressively and monetize the property as you want. You can choose the renovation you want (and you can trade-off between renovation costs and income) and decide what and when to repair things (unless we’re talking about urgent things that needed to be repaired right away). The stock market is so far from this that many investors claim that if you’re going for the long term, it doesn’t really matter when exactly you buy in. Most investors think that the best thing to do is to buy a few index funds (such as a trident portfolio) and call it a day.

Retirement calculators

There are many retirement calculators that suggest you the number of properties you need to retire off of a rental property portfolio. I think that retirement calculators can be helpful but I don’t agree that they fit most people, as they are biased and usually designed towards a specific scenario. For instance, how would the same calculator work, not knowing if I live in the US, Portugal or Cambodia? Many people would say this is already factored in in the income I need to get to retire, but that completely ignores facts like the local tax code, how hard it is to leverage in those markets and how much that market will grow in the future.

I believe that the best way to determine your magical number of properties is actually my answering the questions below…

What is your goal?

My own goal is to become financially free by the time I turn 33. At least that was the goal when I started From Cents To Retirement, 2 years ago. Now, it is more like being able to retire by the time I turn 30 years old.

Your goal may be 60 years old. Or 25. It doesn’t matter, just set up the goal. The sooner you retire, the more sustainable your portfolio will have to be, but the more work it may require – at least in my perspective. Real Estate is never as passive as dividend stocks, for example. You’ll have to deal with tenants in one way or another – even if you hire a property manager. They may solve most of the property issues without needing your intervention, but you’ll have to be involved to some extent. Usually, the younger you are, the more willing you are to get involved.

So, set your goal in terms of age, income needed to retire and the level at which you’re willing to get involved in the investments.

Where do you live – and where do you want to retire?

This question is essential in two ways: first, it will help you determine how much you will need throughout your retirement. Second, it will clearly tell you whether you should invest.

As for the needed income to retire, you’ll have to come up with a reasonable figure that enables you to live well in the area you want to retire in. The good news is, you already know the area very well, and can easily determine what the perfect figure would be. Maybe it is your current salary (that would perfectly do the trick for me).

Although you want to invest in real estate that is physically close to you (unless you go with turn-key properties), you need to make sure that the markets near you are indeed profitable.

So, the bottom line is, arrive at a number – regardless you want to retire in your current location or abroad.

How much can you cash in, with the properties you’ve identified?

At this point you know where you want to invest, so you should also know how much money each property yields. This is because you’re familiar with the market, and you can quickly say how much property is supposed to cost and yield. My advice is to study the market inside out when you get to this point. Make the following questions:

  • Will there be enough rental demand over the next years?
  • What type of tenants will the market primarily be made of (e.g. students, nurses, families)?
  • Are there enough (and sufficiently competent) property management companies?
  • Are there enough contractors? Can you determine whether they are competent and affordable?

Once you answer these, the math becomes simple. Consider taxes, maintenance costs (usually 15% in the long run), vacancy costs (I use 10%) and property management fees. Then, arrive at a number of properties that enables you to retire off of (as you already know how much money you need to retire). Be conservative, as much as you can. But be realistic and don’t lie to yourself.

My own example…

My first goal is to hit a net worth of about €670k-€680k, which, considering a 2% inflation rate, should have the same purchasing power of €755,000 in 6 years from now.

In today’s euros, I estimate that such a portfolio will generate a net salary of about €29,000/yr (this takes an average net yield of 7% and 28% tax into account). Just so you know how conservative I am: I will break this down into 4% for my salary (which is €16,500/yr – if you think this is low read my post about retiring in Portugal and geographic arbitrage), 2% to cover inflation and 1% for portfolio growth.

I estimate that about 70% of that income will come from rental properties. As each property usually nets about €200/mo net in my region (considering a 28% tax, property management fees, etc), I would need about 9 properties to make it happen (9*200*12 = €21,600 ~= 70% * €29,000). This math assumes 0 liabilities, which is clearly not the case in my portfolio. If I take liabilities into account, then this ramps up to about 20 cash-flowing properties, the double of what I currently have.

real estate portfolio projection

Next year I should have a total of 20 properties, but my debt will be as high as never before, as I plan to use some acquisition lines of credit, mortgaging RP#3 to that end. This may mean that my debt will be higher than €200,000. A necessary way to grow…

How much do you know about real estate investing?

If you are a reader of From Cents To Retirement, you are probably an expert in real estate. However, I think that if you want to retire off of a rental portfolio, you must really know what you are doing. In particular, I think that these pointers will help you a lot, especially if you are serious about setting up a real estate business:

Simply take these tips and tricks into account when determining the number of properties you need to retire off of and starting a real estate business.

Conclusion

In my opinion, there is no magic formula that allows you to safely say how many properties you need to retire. We are all different, living in different places, needing different income to live off, and we all have different tolerance to risk and willingness to be active in our investments. However, there are a lot of questions you can make that will give you a rough idea of how many properties you’ll need. At the end of the day, it boils down to setting an income figure you want to receive every month and a plan to create as many properties as needed to create that income. Simply go through the questions and observations I’ve made in this post to determine how many.

Any comments? Let me know down below.

Your biggest fan,

Ben

online income report income diary report how to make money online
Reports,

November 2017 (Online Income: $503.17)

My online income and blog stats in November 2017

Welcome to my income diary. If you wonder how do websites make money and how to make money with a website, you may find my reports useful.

I release reports on my online income every month. In 2017, I am projected to make $15k on online income.


I’ve received many e-mails concerning this matter. Most people ask me “What can I do to start a side online business?” or “What can I do to make a few hundred bucks at the end of the month”? First, know that I offer consulting services for this, on 1:1 consultations. Either way, let me hash out a general recipe here:

0) Choose a niche. Many people choose niches based on keyword search. I highly recommend people to blog about what they are passionate about instead. If you add value, any niche will work out for you.

1) Set up a website. I host my website on Bluehost, which I highly recommend. For one, its cheap, two is highly reliable. If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, I created a tutorial here, to help you start off.

2) Blog. A lot. You may have noticed that I’ve posted twice in the month, on specific months when I started From cents to Retirement. Doesn’t work. It won’t tie people in, it won’t please search engines and your blog will rapidly be forgotten. Note that I am not saying “publish crap”. Do not, if you expect to have loyal fans and grow. But do not forget to publish.

3) Promote your blog. A big part of having your blog out there for people to see is through high-quality posts – eventually, people will share. Promoting your blog will not only get it out there faster but deeper. Promoting your blog can be very hard, but its necessary.

4) Monetize. Adsense is an option. I like Amazon a lot. If you offer consultancy services, as I do, you need to show you can do it yourself first, but clients will pop up eventually.


So, how did I make $503.17 this month? First, the breakdown:

Bluehost : $0 (vs $0 in October)
Affiliate marketing : $21.05 (vs $29.26 in October)
My book : $31.12 (vs $49.10 in October)
Consultancy fees : $0 (vs $0 in October)
Google adsense : gave up!
Paid surveys : $0 (vs $0 in September)
Sponsored posts on other sites : $300 (vs $0 in October)
Produts to review: $151

Total : $503.17

Disclaimer: the BlueHost and the Amazon links are affiliate links, which means that I get commissions if you buy products or services through them. The amounts reported above are before any fees, taxes or expenses. I can’t say exactly how much I will net from this.

This month, I haven’t consulted as I am still sick and I don’t feel like consulting. I feel dizzy and overwhelmed, and I experience nausea throughout the day.

Note that although I am committed to release my income diary and help those who want to know how to make money with a blog, if they and blogging for money, my primary focus is not to make money with the blog, but create a very valuable platform that people love.

Expenses

I ordered two infographics on Fiverr at $12 a piece.

Views

Still dizzy and nauseous (for 11 months now!), I’ve been able to post as often as I wanted. I haven’t posted as much on Quora – I actually prefer to invest my time on awesome posts for From Cents To Retirement. I have been targeting posts with at least 2000 words, that are really comprehensive on the topic I post on.

Unlike what I thought, I haven’t been featured in another big newspaper again and so the views came down to “normal”:

views november 2017

And the number of sessions:

sessions november 2017

Fortunately, I have been able to steadily increase the number of organic searches I have every month, and they finally surpassed 30% of the total number of visits. This is awesome! In fact, my next goal is to be at 1,000 views per day exclusively from organic searches until July 2018, and 25,000 likes on Facebook. If I am able to do this, my blog will have enough views to build the basis for a reference for early retirement. This is why I am so focused on hitting these two numbers!

My authority has increased: the domain authority is now at 34 and the page authority is 45. I actually thought I would have a higher increase based on last month’s acquired links, but this hasn’t been the case. Therefore, I am onto SEO once again.

My Alexa rank continued to reverse as the traffic from last month was considered:

alexa november 2017

Social Media

My Facebook page grew from 2015 likes to a total of 2059 likes. This is an increase of about 2.14%, which, compounded, would make me hit roughly 2400 likes by July 2018. Of course this is not good and I need to dramatically enhance what I am doing with my Facebook account. 🙂

As I said before, I am not keeping track of Pinterest anymore.

As for the subscriber count, I was able to grow it from 1726 to 1739, which means an increase of less than 1%. This is because I lost some subscribers as I sent too many newsletters (as I predicted before).

Goals for November 2017:

  • Increase the number of likes on my Facebook page to 2200. FAIL. I got way too excited about the results from last month.
  • Increase the number of blog subscribers to 1800. ALMOST DONE. I am now at 1739 subscribers, which is good since I lost many subscribers last month as I sent too many newsletters.
  • Write at least 2 guest posts. FAIL. I got way too excited about the results from last month as well 🙂 I could not write a single guest post.
  • Make about $200 online. DONE. Not because affiliate or book royalties were good but I was able to do really well this month.

Goals for December 2017:

  • Increase the number of likes on my Facebook page to 2200.
  • Maintain the number of blog subscribers, as I will clean up some that don’t open newsletters.
  • Write at least 1 guest post.
  • Make about $250 online.

In the meantime, let me know if this information is useful to you by commenting down below.

Your biggest fan,
Ben Davis

net worth update
Reports,

Net worth update: November 2017 (260,235.25€)

My current net worth is €260,235.25 (38.84% of my first goal – €670K).

net worth november 2017

Never a net worth decrease was this tasty! Not sure if you realized that, but RP#4 is not on the books anymore. The perfect flip is now over! I sold RP#4 for a $10,000 profit! Plus all that in a matter of 45 days. Yay!

This profit comes in handy because RP#3 is starving and I need to pay off the bills of the second renovation phase as they come.

Here’s the rest of the expenses on RP#3 that I expect until the end of the year:

  • Renovation materials: about €2,000.
  • Kitchens: about €2,500.
  • Windows and exterior doors: €4,000.
  • Appliances: about €900.
  • Labor: about €13,500.

I have also replanned where this money will come from:

  • €2,000 (renovation materials) from my main checking account;
  • €2,500 (kitchens) from a job bonus I should collect in January;
  • €13,500 (labor) profit from RP#4 and dividends from my real estate company;
  • €5,000 from my toxic credit (which I hope to recover until February 2018).

Hopefully, there will be no hidden costs and this will be all of it.

This means that I will be able to invest my savings starting from January 2018. 🙂

My state of mind

Although I made peace with the growth rate of my net worth, I am always thinking of ways to grow it. In fact, I have been carefully planning 2018 over the past 2 months, in terms of what I am going to do to grow my net worth, what I will work on, etc. Finding good balance between working on increasing my net worth and enjoying life and do stuff I love. I have actually started to put together a rough sketch of what 2018 is going to look like:

  • From Cents To Retirement – I am looking to partner up with some friends and hire someone to do most of the work that doesn’t pertain to actually blogging. I estimate that I will spend 1 week every month writing the posts for the blog and producing content. I am currently posting 2x/week (on Monday + Thursday or Tuesday + Friday) and I am OK with the current amount of time From Cents To Retirement requires from me.
  • Health – 2018 will revolve around fixing myself. The dizziness spells, the strong neck pain and the tiredness that I suffered during 2017 were a serious advice from my body: I am doing something very wrong in terms of stress or lifestyle and it will be my number one priority to fix that next year. I will write a series of extended posts on this.
  • My Real Estate companyOur company grew a little bit this quarter and I do expect a significant growth during next year. I don’t want to shoot for projections at this point, but I am confident I will be able to cash out more than €50,000 in dividends or retain that in the company to further scale the company’s portfolio.
  • Consultancy – I have been consulting less and less as time goes by (expect in the real estate company, where we sometimes get clients that manage RE investing funds and what not – those are juicy consultancy jobs, to be honest). I am not sure how much consultancy I will do through 2018, but it will probably not be much. If you want to get some consultation with me, check out my service. I am now at $150/h – otherwise, it is not a good return on my time.
  • Part-time job – I love science and I see myself having a part-time “career in science” if that makes sense to you. I am fortunate to have a part-time job that pays so well and lets me do other things I like – or doesn’t force me to go to the office when I am not OK. If I had a classic 9-to-6 job I would have been fired a long time ago. In 2018, I will continue with this job.

Rental income

RP#1 is now my Primary Property (PP), as I said before, so it will show up as such in the next reports.

The rental income in November was €1,460. Honestly, I thought I would be doing more at this point but things are just taking longer – it is not like they are not being done.

I also said many times that in December I would be very close to €2,000, but this will not be so anymore as I sold RP#4.

In December, I should get €1,255 and in January I should get over €1,700, as the renovation or RP#3 will certainly be over.

Next year, I expect to reach €3,500/mo at some point and I am positive I will do that.

Online income

My online income in November was low on the conventional channels – because I let it go on autopilot – but did experience a considerable boost on new channels. As I said before, I either increment my SEO quality badly or it will be difficult to reach an amount that makes it a real business (at the very least €15,000/yr).

As I also said before, I don’t think that I can make a lot of money on my blog if I don’t push it or I start displaying ads, which is something I am not particularly keen on doing. The strategy to my blog will definitely have to be carefully planned, but for now I am not desperate to make money with it, so I will just stick to the original plan (no ads, no monetization, focus on growing the blog organically as much as possible).

If you want to have instant cash do NOT replicate my strategy; this one is for the long haul!

My Real Estate business

My Real Estate business is still growing steadily. I still expect to make about €25,000 net with my company until the end of the year. Next year, I will try to make about €100,000 and cash out €50,000 in dividends or buy real estate for the company.

Goals for October

  1. Continue to calm the f* down even more, and make it a commitment to enjoy life every single day. Use the power of attraction (beyond visualization) by starting the day with a simple question. FAIL. I really need to create a schedule and stick to it. I haven’t been able to do this as much as I want to.
  2. Finish my second book and upload it. FAIL. I did write another chapter of my book, but I certainly didn’t finish it. It will take me another 2 weeks if I dedicate full-time to it (so possibly not this year).
  3. Put the computer away on Sundays. FAIL. This was failed all along. I wasn’t able to do a single Sunday. 🙁
  4. Write 8 posts on the blog. DONE. I am happy with the current yield of posts on my blog. It does take me A LOT of time, but I actually enjoy it. You may have also noticed that I focused on very large posts (such as flipping houses with no money or investing in small towns), so now one post takes me about 3-4 times as much time as a single post use to take me back in the day.
  5. Write at least 3 guest posts. FAIL. There is a month every now and then that makes me believe I am superman, as I publish like 10 guest posts. I tend to maintain my superman mood and then I get disappointed as I realize I can’t keep up.
  6. Go to bed before 10.30pm every day – this is a serious 30-day challenge. ALMOST DONE. I failed in the last 2 weeks (some days were OK, others weren’t). Thi is something that pertains to my perfect routine (as in 1.) and I seriously want to reverse this.
  7. Follow the nofap protocol aggressively (for health reasons, not social phobia or anything like that). ALMOST DONE. I failed occasionally but overall I did a good job.
  8. Make at least $200 online. DONE. Stay tuned for the report.
  9. Increase my page authority beyond 50. ALMOST DONE. Maybe next month – it bumped to 45 already.

Goals for December

  1. Create and stick to my perfect routine (I will write a post on this).
  2. Write at least another chapter of my second book.
  3. Put the computer away on Sundays – every single Sunday.
  4. Write 8 posts on the blog.
  5. Write at least 1 guest post.
  6. Go to bed before 10.30pm every day.
  7. Follow the nofap protocol aggressively (for health reasons, not social phobia or anything like that).
  8. Make at least $200 online.
  9. Increase my page authority beyond 50.

Enjoy life guys!

Ben

how to flip houses without money flip houses with no money
Real Estate,

How to start flipping houses with no money

The lessons I learned on how to start flipping houses with no money

Wanna know what happened to me last week? I met a Portuguese real estate investor (let’s call him John) who made a fortune in 4 years. He was generous enough to tell me exactly how he did it and offered himself to help me doing the same. (Yes, little did he know that I already have a master plan under execution).

Although I am sticking to my own plan, I found his story so compelling that I had to share it.

This guy started flipping houses in the worst financial moment of his life. He had just divorced from his wife, and he had about $1000 on his account. He had a brick and mortar business, which he had to shut down because of the divorce, in 2008. John basically started flipping houses with no money! I actually got so intrigued by John’s story and I realized that there are more people flipping houses without money! In fact, there are signs that will tell you if you should flip houses!

Fortunately for him, the housing market crash was at its peak at the time, and he had taken a course, two years before that, on flipping houses…

After determining how much house flippers make, he jumped right into it. But how, since he had no money? Here’s what I learned…

#1 – If you have no money, you better have perfect timing!

Like I said above, John divorced right in the middle of the last housing market crash. I soon learned that that was a determining factor for success. There was a ton of foreclosures and a lot of short sales as well. John started with a short sale: the owners had their second house damaged by water and didn’t have the money to repair it.

Eventually, the housing market crash hit and they couldn’t their mortgage. They owed the bank almost $60.000 on a property that cost them almost $200.000. John was able to buy this property for $55.000 and the owners got to keep their mortgage on the first property (if the bank didn’t agree on the short-sale, the owners would default on their primary property as well and the bank would get another house to their inventory – which was growing fast at that time). “I sold it the first day I walked inside. I had a toolbox and I was up to some repairs, but a neighbor saw me coming and offered me $80.000, which I took. That day I realized I could make a ton of money flipping homes…”

Of course that to replicate this, you would have to predict when the real estate market is going to crash. Or not. You can simply time the market in a different way. I mean, not in terms of crashes, but situations where owners are willing to sell for a loss. The key point is to get a property that can be bought way under its market value (maybe my portfolio will inspire you).

The key reasons why this is so important is so that you can make a large profit on the flip, but above all, so that you get 100% financed. Plus, there are many types of loans that also grant you money for the renovation works.

#2 – Is it what you know, or who you know?

OK, easier said than done, right? How easy is it to get a sweet deal, where you buy a property for way less than what it is worth? Not easy… unless you know the right people.

In this case, I will speak based on personal experience. I’ve always bought real estate on discount. I was always able to buy properties at least 30% less than what they are actually worth.

To accomplish this, I believe that real estate investors need either time-consuming or sophisticated strategies… unless you know the right people. And who can be the right people in this market? Real estate agents and brokers, of course! Get along with them, let them know you’re a serious buyer but you’ll only buy underprice because that is your business.

#3 – Still no 0-dollar deals? Ask family and friends!

Let’s assume you cannot find 100% financed deals. Your timing is not ideal and even though you got along with many agents, none was able to bring you the sweet deals you are looking for… those that can be 100% financed. There are proper ways to ask for loans to flip houses, you knew that?

If you are still presented deals where you can make a profit if you flip the property but you need to put 20% down.

If that is the case, you have no alternative other than raising money from friends, family or partners. Ideally, you should raise a bit more than 20% of the downpayment, as you’ll need money to renovate the property as well. If you do find great deals, which the bank will finance at 100%, you will still have to raise money for the closing costs and the renovation of the property.

Partners are easier to obtain, but you’ll need a tracking record. I know a bunch of people who would partner up with you if you show them a really good deal and you’re willing to do the hard work. Go to real estate seminars. Go to real estate events in general. Ask your broker for contacts – he will most likely provide them to you (as you’ll be buying from him if you’re able to find a partner).

No money from friends and family? Can’t find a partner? Check out the next tip…

#4 – Credit cards

I don’t personally like to use credit cards and their cash advance offers because the risk increases considerably. However, if someone wants to start investing and has no money, they can be a solution.

If you want to flip homes and you have no money, you will need to raise money for:

  1. Buying the house. If you find a great deal, you’ll be able to be 100% financed. Essentially, the appraisal of the home must be way higher than the purchasing price. This way, you’ll be giving the bank a collateral way higher than the mortgage you’ll get. When this happens, you will not only increase your chance to be 100% financed, but you increase the chances to have better interest rates.
  2. Closing costs. These are notary costs, fees, and taxes. BTW – here’s a hack: if you are planning on buying multiple homes, you should perhaps think about getting your own real estate license. If you get your own license, you’ll receive half of the buying commission, which may well cover notary costs, fees, and taxes!
  3. Renovation costs. Tip number #6 will teach you a hack on this, but you’ll need to raise money for this anyways. This is perhaps where cash advance on your credit card can come in handy. Renovation costs can be quite high, and you have to factor them in when estimating how much you’ll need.

If you try to sell the property (after you flip it) through a real estate agency, you don’t need to have the money for the commission right away: remember that you only pay the agency when the house is sold.

Your credit is so bad that you won’t qualify for a credit card? Check tip number 5…

#5 – Sell stuff (or work part-time) to buy a home

If you have bad credit, you may not have access to credit cards. You can still do great deals and get 100% financed, to the best of my knowledge.

To solve this problem, you can sell stuff you have a home and you don’t use anymore… and use it for a downpayment. I have done this myself. Just go to the attic and look around for things you don’t use anymore and you can sell online. Make a list and consider 20% below the worst case scenario. I personally found this to be a great activity: I made money to buy a home and I cleaned my parents’ home at the same time.”

This is actually one of my tips to quickly make some bucks. If you don’t have stuff at home, you can always buy stuff online and flip it buy selling it later on for a profit.

Working part-time can be another solution. You can quickly save up for closing costs (assuming you get 100% financed) by working part-time. Making some money quickly is not hard. It simply takes effort and persistence.

#6 – Negotiate awesome payment terms

OK, this is a really big one.

Having favorable payment terms is the best thing one can do when flipping homes with little or no money.

This goes for renovation material and contractors (assuming you cannot do the work yourself). I typically negociate installments, when I have the cash, but I negotiate 30-90 day payment dues when I don’t have the money. This may give me 90 days after the renovation is done to pay the contractor. If we apply this to flips, we could actually end up selling the home before we have to pay for the renovation work!

So, always negotiate 30-90 payment dues with the contractor and the retailer that will provide with the material for the renovation.

#7 – Sell it before you flip it

This is really what really makes a difference when flipping a home with no money. It is also the best scenario that may happen, for a variety of reasons.

But what does it mean to sell a home before we flip it?

There are two different types of flips that can be done this way.

The first one is what I described in a previous post on a perfect flip. These are typically homes that you know you can sell for more than you bought them for, even without any renovation. Let us be realistic: some homes simply lack promotion and end up not selling for the right price. Sometimes you bump into really motivated sellers who want to sell really quick, resulting in incredibly low prices.

The second type is based on selling the home you bought to flip before you renovate it, but based on what the renovation is going to be. For example, you could tell the real estate agencies that you are willing to allow the end client to choose the tiles used in the renovation, or any other material they like. This will attract more buyers and increase your odds of selling the house fast.

Either, promting the house while you are flipping it is key to sell fast…

#8 – Promote the home during the flip

Take pictures while you are guttering the house. Take pictures of the tiles you choose. And pictures of the tub! Then, ask your friends on Facebook whether they like it. And ask them to tag their friends who may be looking for a new home.

This will pay off big time.

First off, if buyers can choose the materials for the flip, they will be inclined to buy your home over another. People love personalized homes. If they can choose what goes in there, they will definitely shift their attention towards that home, and forget others.

Second, asking your friends on Facebook what tiles/tubs/taps/whatever look better will entice them to the project. This can both help you with the flip, choosing materials that will be preferred by more people, and increase your chances to sell – especially if they share your pictures. People love home renovation. Not actually doing it, or ordering it. But following one closely. How many TV shows that are based on home renovations do you know? A few, at least, right? That is because there is a market!

John actually set up a Facebook page – called “Undergoing renovations” or something similar (I actually forgot it down the road) to promote his flips. A very clever thing to do! Once you have more practice with this market, and you start doing flips often, you’ll come up with clever methods to sell your flips faster. In fact, this is almost what this is all about…

#9 – Eventually, you may well become a real estate mogul like John…

Today, John is a real estate mogul. He almost never lost money on any deal, and he does about 20 flips a year. Pretty awesome!

He actually told me it is easy to become a real estate mogul. To have a successful flipping business, you need two things, according to him: finding deals where you buy way undervalue, and sell fast (even if you sell at discount sometimes). These are, according to him, the two key ingredients of a successful business.

I personally prefer to buy and hold, to be honest. However, I recognize that there is a lot of money in the flipping market. If you have the right infrastructure in place, you can do very well, even if you are looking to start flipping some homes with no money.

Are you a flipper yourself? What is your experience? Let me know in the comments down below!

mastering lines of credit Helocs to building a rental property portfolio
Planning, Real Estate,

Mastering lines of credit to invest in Real Estate

As you know, I will start to use lines of credit to grow my real estate portfolio. After I decided my early retirement portfolio would come essentially from a rental property portfolio, I decided to look at lines of credit from a different angle. Just so you know, big rental portfolios have been proven to be some of the fastest ways to reach long-term wealth.

In theory, you need some assets to ask for lines of credit, but you can also start this process with a personal line of credit or an unsecured line of credit if you don’t have any collateral to show. If you do use a line of credit to buy a rental property, I recommend you to choose a rental property with very good changes of being rented out. Otherwise, it is risky… very risky

Yet, lines of credit can be a great tool to expand operating rental portfolios. Just to be clear, in this post, I am covering home equity lines of credit, which are typically called HELOCs.

Before I proceed with my own model, I want to first review the generic model behind HELOCs.

Say you want to retire early with real estate (just so you know, it is among the best ways to retire early). You have a real estate portfolio composed of, let’s say, 3 homes. Two homes were purchased all cash, and so you haven’t mortgaged them. This means that they can be provided as collateral for a new mortgage:

3 houses no mortagage

You’re bored with your growth and you think of using a line of credit for investing further. Note that this is yet another way to finance yourself – you’ve got several options. The cool thing about lines of credit is that you don’t really need to guess much because the collateral is already yours. Plus, should you need money, it will be on your account pretty soon (after it has been established, that is). You can simply have it appraised and ask for a credit line. If you use the line of credit merely for investment, this is typically called an investment line of credit.

Now, as your property no. 1 and no. 2 are free and clear, you can have them mortgaged as a collateral for a line of credit. For the sake of discussion, this gives you access to a line of credit of $100,000:

mortgaged portfolio line of credit

For the sake of discussion, it doesn’t matter whether you mortgage one or two homes to get access to a line of credit. Now, given that you have access to $100,000, you buy a new investment property:

mortgaged portfolio line of credit

The best thing about this is that that investment property is free of any mortgage. Therefore, you can replicate this process essentially forever. The only things that are required to replicate this on and on are 1) that you don’t default and 2) your appraisals are enough so that the bank lends you enough money to buy a new rental property. An interesting question is “can I still get a line of credit if my credit score is low?”. I am not an oracle, but I’d say you need a decent credit score, so get yourself a secured loan and build that thing up!

mortgaged portfolio line of credit

Keep in mind that lines of credit typically work on a 70% Loan To Value (LTV) basis. That means that is your homes are appraised for say $100k, the bank will lend you $70k. This is why I am only interested in homes whose appraisal is way higher than the acquisition cost.

A new LLC – my second holding

As I said before, I am establishing a line of credit of $180k, given that RP#3 was appraised at more than that. Plus, I have renovated it, so I can ask for a line of credit giving RP#3 as a collateral. I am creating a new LLC for that, although it is not simply to hold assets. I want to turn it into a big holding, but also a company to sell services, eventually. This new LLC will start with at least 150k of fresh capital. Essentially, I will have to build a rental property portfolio from scratch…

Within this new LLC, I hope to ask for a few lines of credit until the point I ask one or more every quarter. Eventually, I will simply be managing the ratio debt/income of the company. This company won’t be built just so that I build another real estate investment portfolio. My intention here is to leverage a lot and use HELOCs to build a very large rental property portfolio…

I believe that there will be a sweet spot of the income-to-debt ratio as time goes by. Here is a projection of what I want the company to make:

2018

Worst case scenario: revenue = $8,000/yr ; costs = $0 ; equity built $0 ; profit = $5,600

I will start this company with 150k and 0 debt (the 150k will be obtained at the cost of mortgaging RP#3, which belongs to another LLC), and it will take me a while to get my first line of credit accepted. Therefore, I am projecting 8 months to be running at full capacity (meaning having bought all properties and be drawing cash from them), which will create a revenue of $8,000 for the year. This is not particularly good, but it will be a start. In this scenario, I assume that, because the LLC is new, the bank won’t lend me money, which means I can only buy €150,000 worth of real estate. This should be enough to buy and renovate about 6-8 units.

  • Assets worth = $250,000 (remember that I will buy way undervalue)
  • Costs = $0 (I only factor in big costs – general company expenses such an accountant are factored in the final profit)
  • Equity built = $0 because I won’t have any debt
  • Profit = $5,600 as I am using a 70% operating margin

In the math above, take into account that the debt on the 150k belongs to my other LLC that owns RP#3. That company will then have some debt on the balance sheets, but the rental income from RP#3 alone (projected to be more than €1,400 by February 2018) will be enough to pay for the installments of that line of credit.

Best case scenario: revenue = $16,000/yr ; costs = $6,400 ; debt = $120 ; equity built $4000 ; profit = $6,000

If the bank lends me money, I will assume I can get $120k in debt. This means a monthly payment of $1,000 which is roughly $666 principal and $333 interest, on a 13-year mortgage.

In this case, I could potentially hit 15 units, which would mean an annual revenue of $32,000. However, I’d need time to buy and renovate the properties. Projecting 6 months to find, buy and renovate some properties, I’d say I would hit about $16k in revenue and pay down $4,000 in principle. The profit would be 60% of ($16,000 – $6,000), which means $6,000. This means that I would create $10k in actual wealth, as I pay down $4k in principle.

2019

I will assume I ended up with the worst case scenario in 2018…

Revenue = $37,000/yr ; costs >= $15,000 ; debt = $150-200k ; com. equity built $9,800 ; profit = $13,000

If the bank doesn’t lend me money in 2018, it will certainly lend me money in 2019.

In this case, I could get about $150k in debt, which, on a 13-year, 3% interest mortgage would mean about $1,200/mo and roughly $385/mo interest and $815 in principle. I would operate at 100% the entire year, thus making over $37,000 in revenue. With $15k in cost, I’d make over $13,000 in profit and build almost $10,000 in equity.

At the end of the year, I need to have at least 18 units, regardless of what happens in 2018.

  • Assets worth = $550,000
  • Costs = $15,000
  • Equity built = $9,800
  • Profit = $13,000

2020

In 2020, I will definitely resort to lines of credit…

Revenue = $55,000/yr ; costs = $27,000 ; debt = around $300k ; com. equity built $26,000 ; profit = $16,000

Assuming I could create another $100k in debt during 2020, I will have 26 units in this LLC. This means that I would hit $55,000 in revenue for the year and have monthly payments of $2,300. This would roughly mean about $18,000 in equity, which builds up to $26,000. As for profit, we are talking about $16,000. With debt summing up to about $300,000, the company would hit $875,000 in assets and a net worth of more than half a million bucks.

  • Assets worth = $875,000
  • Costs = $27,000
  • Equity built = $26,000 (includes $9,800 from 2019)
  • Profit = $16,000

If everything goes well, I could retire at this point and live solely on the profit of this LLC, while making sure that there are no mistakes maken from this point on.

Any thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments down below!

Ben

geographic arbitrage portugal
Planning,

Early retirement in Portugal: geographic arbitrage on steroids

Early retirement in Portugal: geographic arbitrage on steroids

I talked about geographic arbitrage before, when I first considered moving to Portugal for good. Today I want to go deeper on this topic, as I’ve had lots of questions lately. First off, geographic arbitrage means taking advantage of different prices in different markets, for tax-, dividend-, rent-, or even the purpose of lowering your living costs.

In my book “My strategy to retire early“, I go over the reasons why I chose Portugal to retire in, and why it maximizes my chances to attain my goal of retiring by 33. In this post, I will go thoroughly over the nuts and bolts of that decision, as well as clarify important concepts and ideas under geographic arbitrage in general.

If you are looking for a geographic arbitrage example as you are planning on moving to a different country for tax or living costs purposes, you’ll likely enjoy this post.

Research

When I first considered moving to Portugal, I checked a few countries around the world and their suitability for early retirement. Geographic arbitrage is not exactly a new concept in this regard. People immigrate to other countries to earn larger salaries all the time. They usually immigrate, save hard and come back. The key idea is that the standard living cost and the standard salary is way higher in the country people immigrate to. When they come back, it all of a sudden looks like they are rich.

The first thing to do in order to consider moving to another country for geographic arbitrage reasons is to look at some key elements, including the average salary, the tax code, etc.

I too considered several countries in my research:

infographics geographic arbitrage taxes salary united states

…and Portugal looked like the best country out there to roll out my plan. Here’s why.

Average salary: the #1 factor to consider geographic arbitrage

Prior to moving to Portugal, I worked in Germany for 5 good years. My salary in 2015 was 52k/yr, which means €2400 net monthly. In Germany, this can go a very long way if you save hard. I could live off of 800€, which means that I had €1,600 per month to invest. In 5 years, that is almost €100,000 free cash flow. This has allowed me to renovate my real estate portfolio (the killer being rental property #3, which I renovated in two different phases) and buy rental property #4.

In Portugal, the average salary is considerably lower. Officially, according to this source, Portugal’s average salary is $24,529. Having lived in the country for a few years, I can tell you I know very few people living off such a salary. Most people I know walk away with at least 33% less than that, averaging about €1,000 net per month (or €12,000 per year). Please remember that the minimum wage in Portugal is €650,00 per month!

Let that sink for a moment. If you wanted to retire early, in Portugal, with the minimum wage, you’d need about €200,000, assuming you could net 4% on that portfolio. Incredible, right?

The fact that salaries are so low in Portugal is the first hint that Portugal is a great candidate for early retirement. The country offers high living standards, and attaining the minimum wage is kinda “easy”, so choosing Portugal seems quite straightforward…

Now, the magic question: Ben, how much do you need to live well in Portugal? As I live in one of my rental units, I don’t have to pay rent anymore (although I do pay condo fees and property taxes, yes). As a result, my biggest expense is immediately taken care of. Could I live off €650,00 considering that I don’t need to pay any rent? You bet I could!

Taxes: a really important factor on geographic arbitrage

Ben, the infographics doesn’t say anything pertaining to taxes. Is Portugal still #1 when it comes to taxes?

The short answer: yes.

The long answer is more complex. Portugal has many advantages when it comes to taxes, especially if you are not a Portuguese citizen. If you retire in Portugal and collect a retirement pension from abroad, you don’t pay taxes. How cool is that?

At the same time, due to the progressive tax bracket system of the national IRS, you’ll be penalized if you earn too much. In Portugal, your actual tax bracket depends on the number of kids you have. Pretty cool huh? Because there are more than 25 brackets, you really need to make a lot of money to be taxed a lot. For instance, up to almost €3,000, the IRS will only tax you at 28.5%. Plus, you don’t have to sum up all your income (including rental income and dividends). As of today, that can be taxed separately, at 28%.

Unlike other countries, such as Germany, traveling to your home country doesn’t allow you any write-offs, though.

As I have a PhD and I am paid through grants (which are NOT considered income, i.e. they are tax-free), I can sum up my rental income and dividends and be taxed accordingly. As I also did a lot of renovation this year, I will have a lot of write-offs so I don’t expect to pay much to the IRS in 2017 and 2018…

Rental income

As I said above, rental income can be taxed on its own at 28% (unless it comes from a holding, which is even more tax friendly).

For both tax and security reasons, opening up a holding for real estate may be a smart move for RE investors in Portugal. This will both minimize taxes on rental income and provide the investor with some security in case of lawsuits. This is why I only keep one property under my own name – the rest is held in a holding.

Real Estate Investing (REI) during geographic arbitrage

In most countries I know, rental income in a different country is never taxed in the country we live in. In Portugal, that is no different. The same way you’ll still pay your rental income in Portugal, even if you immigrate to the US, you’ll not be taxed for rental income in the US if you decide to live in Portugal. Although this may look almost irrelevant, it is actually very important for geographic arbitrage.

Because Portugal’s real estate is so cheap, it is common to see US citizens coming to Portugal and acquiring properties over here. I think this is a great hedge to have if you plan on living in Portugal for geographic arbitrage reasons because your income will increase if living costs increase. In fact, I can’t think of a better hedge to have against increased living costs.

At the same time, Portugal’s real estate is one of the cheapest in western Europe. While it would not be wise to talk about market corrections in the future, I personally think it is safe to assume it can’t go any lower. This, along with the following reasons make it interesting to invest in Portugal.

In fact, from the countries, I considered when doing my geographic arbitrage analysis, I determined that Portugal offered the cheapest and the highest-yield real estate. As I said before, buying real estate where you retire is a great hedge against increased living costs, so this is great news if you ever plan to retire in Portugal.

Rent

Although you may invest in Real estate, you may come to the conclusion that renting your own place is better for you. Say you want to retire in Lisbon. Most likely, as of today, it would be clever to rent instead of buying.

Now, more great news: renting in Portugal is cheaper than in comparison to other countries.

Wait, is that good if I invest in Real Estate?

Yes, as long as you use different tactics to rent a place for yourself and invest in real estate. This is why I love multi-units in Portugal. A x-plex doesn’t cost x times more than a single condo, but it can rent for way more than x times what the condo rents for. In mid-sized cities in Portugal, you can definitely find nice flats for under €500 or even €400, which compares really well against countries like the UK, Germany, and Finland.

Weather and quality of life during geographic arbitrage

It cannot be all about the money! Moving to a new country due to geographic arbitrage reasons should not be only about saving or making more money.

If I were to tell you that Lisbon is the sunniest capital city in Europe, with an astonishing 2,799 hours of sunshine per year… wouldn’t that be great to add to your geographic arbitrage masterplan? 🙂 Plus, the entire country, on average, gets about 3,300 hours of sunshine per year, meaning more sunny days than almost anywhere else in Europe. How much would you save on Vitamin D supplements? 🙂 Just kidding…

But Portugal is not only about the sun and saving money on supplements. In my humble opinion, it is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, if not the most beautiful one. Have you been reading FromCentsToRetirement for long enough so you recall my previous header? 🙂

retirement site views landscape portugal

 

Food

Having lived in many countries to this day, I can certainly attest that food is generally cheaper in Portugal. What I really like about the prices of food in Portugal is that going out for lunch or dinner is incredibly cheap in Portugal.

cheap meals portugal role geographic arbitrage in early retirement

There are cheap prices everywhere. When I order take away, I can actually split the mean and eat it for lunch and dinner, because the Portuguese are used to big portions. Eating out at restaurants is also very cheap, and I usually eat at a restaurant nearby, for $3,5. That includes a meal like in the picture, one drink and one expresso at the end of the meal (which the Portuguese cannot go without).

I also order take away a lot, like I said, and that typically costs €4 to €5 but that is almost always enough food to have lunch and dinner.

Compared to the other countries I lived in, this is peanuts. Plus, the food is great. I think that restaurant prices are well congruent with the average salaries, in most countries. Therefore, a country with low average salaries cannot afford to have expensive restaurants, as food is a commodity. This is, of course, if you don’t decide to go and live in a touristic place, like the Algarve.

These low prices actually spread to other commodities. For instance, expressos are really cheap, if you are a coffee lover. In Portugal, they typically sell for 60 cents.

 

How about yourself? Up to geographic arbitrage? Want to share your experience? Let me know in the comments down below!

 

Your biggest fan,

Ben Davis

guest post
Interviews,

Guest post by Derek Sall: How We’re Killing It on Just One Income

Today I bring you a guest post, written by Derek Sall, a well-known blogger and speaker at LifeAndMyFinances.com. His road to wealth is different than what I typically preach on From Cents to Retirement (as I love debt), but that is exactly why I invited Derek over to write an article on being debt free and provide you with a new perspective once in a while. Check out how Derek and his family are succeeding financially, even while his wife stays at home with their young daughter. Take it away Derek…

Ever think about living on just one income? I mean, do people really still do that? Is it financially possible?

One word: absolutely.

My wife stays at home with our daughter while I work a job that earns far less than $100k, and we still chunk $2,600 into savings every. single. month.

Sound impossible? It’s not, but there’s definitely steps that you’ll need to take if you want to get there.

How We’re Killing It on Just One Income

Your eyes are already rolling, aren’t they? I know, I know, you’re getting prepped for me to preach to you about minimalism or the tiny house movement, right?

Not so.

While I don’t think either of these things are inherently bad, they just aren’t for us. Instead, we decided to succeed in life via a different avenue: by getting out of debt.

Step #1: Beginning with the End in Mind

Before anyone can succeed at anything, I firmly believe that they need to know their ‘why’. What’s their purpose in what they’re doing? How will their actions make them a better, happier person in the end?

Our why – our reasons for taking action on our finances – was to live a very traditional, simple life. One where Liz would stay home with our kids, where I would go to work, and where we’d live relatively basic, but happy lives. This doesn’t just happen these days. Not with the rising cost of education, healthcare, and the general cost of living. This future euphoria of ours wasn’t just going to fall into our laps by chance. It was going to take some very intentional planning.

But you know what? We were up for the challenge. We always are. 🙂

What’s Your Why?

Our ‘why’ was to get my wife home with our child, but this might not interest you in the least. Before you even think about moving on to step #2, you’ve got to figure out what it is that’s going to make you move!

What do you want more than anything else in this life?

  • Retiring early?
  • Working a job you love instead of one you dread?
  • Setting your kids up with a beefy college fund?
  • Or maybe, it’s just to have the option to do whatever you want down the road!

Find your ‘why’ and your drive will improve dramatically. Things will absolutely change in your life. Ignore this step, and your dreaded life will continue as usual…

Step #2: Getting Out of Debt

So….this is pretty much the opposite plan that Benjamin talks about here on this blog, but that’s okay. There’s more than one way to financial stability and independence. In fact, we’ve already mentioned four in this article alone!

When Liz and I met, we had roughly $20,000 in consumer debt and another $54,000 in mortgage loan debt (I say we…but we all know the truth…it was all mine). The payments on those debts totaled about $1,500 a month. Pretty steep on a $3,000 a month income.

Almost immediately, we decided to tackle this debt head on. I did everything imaginable to make a few more bucks here and there:

  • I wrote articles for bloggers,
  • mowed lawns,
  • flipped some cars, and
  • Liz became a pro at living on the cheap.

We cleared all of our debts in just two years! Suddenly, our payments went away and we didn’t owe a single cent to anyone.

Related: How the Debt Snowball Really Works (Free Tool Included for YOUR Debt Snowball!!)

How Much Debt Do You Have?

Step back for a second, grab a pen and paper, and start writing out your debts:

  • Car loan – $$
  • Credit card balance – $
  • Student loans – $$$
  • Personal loans – $

Total up the entire loan amount and then total up the monthly payments.

Pretty ugly, huh?

Now what if all that was gone. You don’t owe anyone a single penny and every dollar that comes into your account is earmarked for you – not a creditor, not the bank, and not the dealership – it’s all yours to do whatever you want to do with it!

It’s 100% possible.

Just enter your info into the debt snowball (you can find it in the related article above), figure out how much extra you could pay on your debts each month, and then take a look at how long it would take. I know it’s scary, but for most people, they’re actually surprised at how quickly they could get out of debt.

Step #3: Increasing Our Income

When we got out of debt, our drive didn’t stop. We knew there was more work to do to make our dreams a reality. We needed to develop some more income!

Our main goal: keep stock-piling money and use it to buy a rental property with cash.

Ha, yup. You heard that right. Not only do we go against the grain by paying off all our debts. Now we’re investing in real estate with cash!

On November 30th, 2015, we stroked a check for $81,000 and bought ourselves a fixer-upper – a 3 bedroom, 1 bath house in a pretty decent part of town. Today, just two years later, that property is worth $140,000 AND it’s improved our cash flow by $10,000 a year as well.

On top of this, Liz has started a photography business on the side. The dollars aren’t huge, but they’re something! And, I’ve got a bit of income coming in from my personal finance website.

Currently, we have just one day-job, but by working hard and constantly thinking of other ways to make money, we actually have four active streams of income!

How Could You Increase Your Income?

We decided to ramp up our income with a rental property, photography, and a personal finance website, but these avenues might not be right for you. Everyone has their own unique talents. All you have to do is discover yours and figure out how to make money with it.

Here’s some ideas that can get you started:

  • Furniture refurbishing
  • Mechanic
  • Carpentry
  • Tutoring
  • Singing or playing an instrument (for weddings, church functions, night clubs)
  • Phone repair
  • Website builder
  • Buying cheap, selling at retail
  • Cutting/styling hair

The list could really go on and on. Once you figure out what you’d like to do, tell everyone you can and just get started! If you do well, they’ll refer you to their friends and the ball will just keep on rolling!

Step #4: Constantly Re-Investing

While I believe that the first three steps are necessary to live a stress-free, balanced life, this step is the key to actually building wealth with it.

When I started mentioning our plans of renting out real estate a couple years ago, many people were supportive (which was nice), but I noticed a trend when it came to their comments:

“Rental income sure is nice. We had a rental to help pay for our kids’ college years ago…”

“We made a few bucks with our rental property – heck, it even helped fund our vacation – but it just got to be too much of a hassle.”

In other words, they all earned a bit of income, but they missed the most crucial step — re-investing with it. Most people just use the extra money to spend on depreciating assets, which really defeats the purpose of having another stream of income – and in my mind, it just wastes it!

Liz and I saved every penny from our first rental property. AND, we also stashed away as much as we could from my full-time job. Because we were so aggressive in doing this, we’ve already saved enough money to buy a second rental property. In fact, we’re closing on it this week! This will double our rental income and will allow us to buy a third house (with cash) less than two years from today – and remember, we’ve only got one full-time job!

When you constantly re-invest and let your money work for you, life just gets easier and easier.

What About You? How Would You Like to Have Just One Full-Time Job?

It’s your turn. Now you’ve learned another method to kick-butt financially, and it’s super simple to get just started and succeed.

  • Just set a goal,
  • get completely out of debt,
  • build up some passive income on the side, and
  • re-invest again and again and again!

Seriously. Anyone can do this. What are you waiting for?

Remember…if you do nothing today, nothing will change tomorrow. Make a change, however, and your future can be whatever you want it to be. Just continually drive toward your goals and you’ll get there!