In 10 years, Anna Kelley went from $700,000 in debt to an 8-figure net worth real estate mogul. Being in tremendous debt wasn’t the first time she hit rock bottom. As a child, she grew up in households with abusive men and had to stay in women’s shelters with her mom. Her tough childhood only made her more determined to outwork all of her friends.
“I realized that if I wanted a different life than what I had as a child if I didn't want my children to be in an abusive situation or to spend evenings in a women's shelter as I had as a child if I wanted better for myself and my family, I had to be willing to do whatever it took to succeed and to get myself out of that situation.” (08:09)
Her grit eventually landed her high-profile careers at the Bank of America and AIG. Whereas most people would just call her lucky - she disagrees:
“People say, okay, you're lucky, right? They don't understand the backstory and all the adversity to get where you are. But I do believe that when you're prepared and preparation meets opportunity - that's what we call luck.”
Getting jobs where she works with ultra-high net worth individuals opened her eyes to what’s possible in life. So, how come she got into so much debt? And how did she climb out of it?
Anna Kelley is a multifamily syndicator. She invested in her first property in 1998 and exploded in the real estate space in the last 10 years.
Adversities Anna Kelley had to overcome:
-- Grew up in section 8 housing
-- Spent evenings in a women’s shelter as a child
-- Was $700,000 in business debt with no income source
Abundance Anna Kelley created:
-- Graduated early from college
-- Worked with ultra-high net worth individuals in the Bank Of America and AIG
-- 8-figure net worth, 250 units
Lessons from Anna Kelley’s adversities
-- You have control over how your life ends up, you have to be determined to do what others won’t do to get to where you want to get to
-- Timing matters. You can be the best at what you do, but if you start a business at the wrong time, you can shoot yourself in the foot.
Tune in as Anna Kelley and Jamie talk about:
(00:00) From abuse to a star real estate investor
(04:04) Quitting a 6 figure job at AIG
(05:37) Why she became really driven (Anna’s backstory)
(14:08) How she got a lucrative job at BoA by “luck”
(16:30) What she learned from ultra-high net-worth individuals
(19:51) Rebuilding after $700,000 in business debt (and no income)
(33:27) Living below her means for 10 years: what it did for her
(37:31) Happening to me vs. happening for me: a mindset shift
(38:50) Fireside questions
(44:41) Recession and investing in real estate in this climate
(49:24) Book recommendations
(51:08) Reaching out to Anna Kelley
Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail by Ray Dalio
The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization by Peter Zeihan
Life on Air: Memoirs of a Broadcaster by David Attenborough
Multi-Family Millions: How Anyone Can Reposition Apartments for Big Profits by David Lindahl
Connect with Anna Kelley:
WEBSITE: www.reimom.com and https://greaterpurposecapital.com/
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This episode is awesome. You're going to love it. We interview on akeli we have a conversation with her. She's known as the REI mom. She can be learned more about her at REI, mom.com. But Anna went through grew up in poverty and dealt with abusive situations within her family. And however, she harness all that adversity and navigated that really well and latched onto hope and hard work and grit and sacrifice. And today, she has an eight-figure net worth. She's a huge multifamily syndicator. She has a lot of going on in the real estate space and the 10-year Journey that we really talked about from where they, she and her family were kind of at Rock Bottom, you know, within As far as their own personal financial situation and then within ten years, she really exploded in the real estate space, and she was able to work a full-time job. Be a wife and mother be a real estate syndicator and investor. And now she's an author speaker and a mentor and to just see the although there were a ton of ups and downs that on a went through to see the growth and the success and the fruits of her labor. It's just it's Thoroughly inspiring, and she's been able to, you know, work hard at the task that's in front of her and approached the day-to-day with, like I said, grit and hard work, but also kind of step back and see the big picture and now she's one of the more influential Real Estate Investors out there. So, we were very honored to have had on the show. You're going to love this. She drops a ton of knowledge and four or five. Excellent book recommendations toward the end which is Great. So buckle up you're going to love this one.
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Welcome to the form adversity to abundance podcast. Are you an entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur? Then this show is for you. Each week, we bring you in Paxil stories of real people who have overcome painful human adversity to create a life of abundance. You are not alone in your struggle, join us, and you will experience the power of true stories and gain practical Knowledge, from Founders, who have turned poverty into prosperity and weakness into wealth. This podcast will encourage you through your health relationship and financial challenges, so you can become the hero in your quest for freedom. Take ownership of the life, you are destined to live turn your adversity into abundance. Welcome everybody, to another episode of the form adversity, to abundance podcast. I am your host Jamie Bateman. And I am thrilled today to be joined by a special guest on a Kelly. The REI mom on a, how are you doing today?
I am doing great. It's so good to be here with you.
Thanks for joining us. I know you are got a lot of things going on. And, so I appreciate you taking the time and I know our audience will appreciate you taking the time to share with us your story and, and Drop us some knowledge bombs for us, that would be fantastic. So for our audience on a who is not familiar, anyone not familiar with you, what are you up to today? And give us a little bit of context from the, for, from the present day, if you.
Would sure. So, I am primarily a multi-family syndicator doing both value-add deals and new development multifamily properties, primarily in Texas, and in Pennsylvania, and the Raleigh North Carolina area. I have been investing in real estate since 1998, that much more serious about it in 2009. After the great financial crisis since the Great Recession and I have done everything from fix and flips to small single houses to Vacation Rentals. I have 11 short term rentals to small multi families and that's really where I grew my wealth. I replaced my six-figure corporate career at AIG about four years ago and then moved into Too much larger syndications from.
There. Now that's great. And our audience is largely entrepreneurs within that entrepreneurial, you know, category there's certainly a large subset of Real Estate Investors like myself, and I was able to quit my W2 last year so there's a lot to talk about a lot. We can unpack their from a business, you know, an entrepreneurial standpoint as well. So and we will certainly Dive back into later in the show as to touch on kind of market conditions and what you have going on. Today, I look forward to that. So before we get there though, We gotta talk about some adversity unfortunately. So you know, as you know, on a not everything is rainbows and butterflies and unicorns and, you know, I just quit my job and I just sit Mai Tais on the beach. So, talk to us about some struggles that you have been through, pick it up where you'd like to start, you know, you know, and let us dive into your backstory.
Absolutely yeah, I love that this show for focuses on adversity because at Birth Is part of the human condition, and we all experience some type of diversity at different points of our lives. And ultimately those that are successful often or not, those that were handed an easy life on a silver platter or wealth to begin with there, really people who have struggled and have made something of themselves despite adversity. So it's a really great topic. And something that I think is really important one to motivate people that regardless of what you're going through, You better is possible and you can control what that looks like into the future. And too just to show that it's not all sunshine. And Roses even if we seem to have arrived, there're many things that can go wrong, you know, health and relationships and you know, bad deals Etc. So a little bit about my back story that I think is important when I think about how I have overcome diversity. I also did not grow up with wealth or any and any knowledge of The or how to become an entrepreneur or even the thoughts of becoming an entrepreneur. Real Estate Mogul, if you will, I grew up in Section, 8 housing. So my parents divorced when I was very young and my mom was a single mom, had a couple of very abusive husbands, and so I am the oldest of six of us and my mom worked really hard to get out of abusive situations. Unfortunately got back in, and so she worked, you know, to job. Has to be able to survive. And that left, me basically a turnkey child of a mother who loved me and who worked hard and supported me and encouraged me to be the best at whatever I could to work on getting an education and getting out of the type of environment that we were in. But there was a lot of sadness in my childhood and a lot of fear in my childhood but those things are really what propelled me to become very driven and to realize that if I wanted it Life than what I had as a child. If I didn't want my children to be in an abusive situation, or to spend evenings in a women's shelter. Like, I had as a child if I wanted better for myself and my family, I had to be willing to do whatever it took to succeed and to get myself out of that situation. So I am thankful that I knew I had a choice and that there were things I could do but I certainly did not have an easy.
Childhood. Yeah. And obviously, we're not. Not going to, you know, take it that apart too far. But you know, it's unfortunately, it sounds like you have dealt with. We find on this show. Most of the types of adversity, or most of the examples of adversity, fall into primarily one of one or more of three categories, Health, financial or relationship. That's been one of my observations and having done this show for almost a year now. And we all deal with that on some level challenges within those. Three categories on some level sounds like you have certainly dealt with at least two of those three categories. You know, that the relationship and financial and talk to us a little bit more. Just give us a little bit more context as to how things were growing up for you if you would.
Yeah, I will say this my again my mother loved us, and she was a very good mother, but she just wasn't home a lot because of what she was dealing with, and my parents were divorced, my father, and stepmother married. A few years after my parents divorced, and they, I thought were very rich in reality. My dad was a construction worker and my stepmother was a school teacher. And so, they were an average, you know, working class family. But I did see that, you know, when there's not drugs and alcohol involved when there's a cohesive family unit, you know, going to church together really focusing on the family that it's like, Night and day. What it's like to grow up in Section 8 housing, you know, with a single parent that's struggling to survive. And, so I really had a lens of, you know, world view that allowed me to see if I want my life to look like this. There are steps. I am going to need to take to ensure that it looks like this versus if I don't change, you know, certain things and this is what that would look like. And so you know it's one of the things that kept me from ever doing drugs or drinking excessive alcohol. All because I understood that was very common and some of that's because in poverty, there's not a lot of Hope children and adults don't have a lot of hope that things will get better. And so, you know, they're, they're self-medicating in some ways emotionally. And that's another thing that I said, you know, I can't give up. I remember sitting in this big tree and it's interesting because I went back to this apartment complex that I grew up in for, I think 12 years of my life. I used to sit in this tree and just cry and kind of And I remember thinking there's no ho and then battling with myself and saying. Yes, there is, I see what it looks like for my friends. Whose parents went to school, who have degrees, who have a little bit more money. And I know that I there is hope that I can have a life like that in the future. And, so I think that's really important and something innate and me I think even from a very young age said I can change what my future looks like but that means I have to be very determined and Very focused. And every decision I make can either lead to more abundance or more challenges in life. So, I think that's kind of theme of my life from the point of, you know, middle school, trying to be the best, you know, flute player that I could or make Straight A's trying to get a scholarship. When I went to school, I graduated from high school early and I went to school year round while I worked full-time year-round and graduated early from college. I was just very Driven and determined that I am going to work harder than my friends. I am going to study harder than my friends. I am going to, you know, succeed and get this degree. And in my mind once I graduated from college and had a really good job, all my problems would be over, you know, it was naive of me, but I am glad that the mindset at least allowed me to get to that first level to say, I can be independent, I can have nice things and I don't have to worry about a man taking care of me quite honest. Italy.
Sure. Now, that's, that's great. I mean, it's an obviously unfortunate that you had to go through all those. The struggles with regard to poverty and, and being involved in, at least seeing abuse and that kind of, kind of thing. But it sounds like on some level. What popped into my head was the Rich Dad, Poor Dad. You it sounds like you kind of had a little bit of a glimpse into Both Worlds, kind of the poor world and the quote-unquote rich world. And what I am also hearing is that You realized fairly early on that? A hope is critical and be that you do actually have a lot of control in your life as to how your life ends up. And I think that's, that's one thing that, you know, I made a mindset shift, I don't know if I am 78 years ago, where instead of and just speaking personally here, instead of watching the national news and being absorbed with international issues, That I have zero control and influence over. How about I start looking at whose in my network? What strengths do I bring to the table and what can I absolutely influence and control? Because we certainly can't, they're plenty of things we can't control but I think we do have a lot more control over a lot of things in our life than we often give ourselves credit for. So I will get off my slightly. I will get off my soapbox but no walk us through. You mentioned graduating from college early. Walk us through from that point kind of up through today, if you would.
Absolutely. So, one of the things that happen and again, I think, you know, luck people say okay? You're lucky right. They don't understand the backstory and all the adversity to get where you are. But I do believe that, you know, when you're prepared and preparation meets opportunity, that's what we call as luck. And, so I will say, I had a roommate who had gotten a job at Bank of America, and they were starting a private banking Department back in 1919. 97 or early 1998, and they were looking for Masters MBA people to come and join their private banking program to teach us to become financial advisors and go through our Securities licenses. And then work with the top, most wealthy clients in the bank, the top 10% ultra-high net worth. And my roommate said, hey my roommate doesn't have an MBA, but she worked full time, she just graduated from college. She's been an employee of the year at her company. You should really interview her. And so, they asked me to come interview for this position. And I went in, not with oh, I am not qualified. But man, if I could get through what I did, I can do anything. And I am going to go in and wow them and I did and you know, I am very, very thankful that they took a chance on me, but they gave me a position in private banking and taught me for the first time in my life about money and how wealthy people continue to preserve and grow their wealth as well as their income. And so that was a huge turning point in my life where I understood discipline and determination. But you also have to understand money and how it works to know that you can create a better financial future than what the average American has, you know, much less poverty, which is really hard to get out of but even the average American, you know, 70% live Check to Check no matter how much money they make. And so there's a struggle in chasing this American Dream. So getting that job and private banking and working with very wealthy, people opened my eyes to the kinds of choices that I could make. Once I had money and I learned from them about what did you do to get to where you are today and just to kind of piggy board, you know piggy back to the next level? I remember talking to one of our clients back, then we offered a CD. It was in the eight percent range in the late 90s and I remember this older gentleman laughing at me and saying so sweetheart. You know, I make much more than that in my real estate Investments and I realized two years in into private banking that I hadn't taken a single course on real estate and I knew nothing about it and I thought well wealthy people own real estate, and they make better returns than they do here. I need to at least start giving it some thought and start researching and that led me to buy my first property which was just a condo that I moved into instead of paying rent on an apartment building. And then I went to work for a, i G and working for AIG. It's one of the largest financial institutions in the world. I started working with products and product development working with ultra-high, net worth individuals, Banks and institutions and learning. How do they invest their money? How do they grow wealth? And that really led me to starting to decide. I am going to keep my corporate job. I am going to keep moving up the corporate ladder, keep making my income, but we are going to strive hard to pay off all the school loans to pay off. Off the cars to get out of debt and to start really investing, and real estate was, was one of the ways that I started investing from there.
Yeah, no, that's, I can relate to a lot of that, you know. And one thing I want to just emphasize is that you didn't have the whole path revealed to you beforehand. Right? And you know, none of us do, right? But it sounds like you were able to kind of focus on the task at hand and really step up with regard to schooling or your prior employment and just doing the best job you could with what you were given at that time. Yes. And then opportunity presented itself and then you made the most of that as well. So for people, for the listener out there, who They don't maybe see the opportunity right now. They haven't been presented that opportunity. I would just encourage people that just do the best you can right now with what you're working on, you know. It's not to say you shouldn't analyze things or strategize or plan. But ultimately, you know if we're given kind of smaller responsibilities initially to work through and work, we work with and produce in that capacity and then opportunity presents itself and it sounds like you Made the most of that and then you were also able to learn from these high net worth individuals. Hey, what are they doing in? You know, and I am sure you have reinvented the wheel on some level, but if this is working for this person, let me copy what they're doing and see kind of pull out lessons learned from them. And again I am putting words in your mouth but I know for me that's what I do. It's like why this is working for someone else. I can follow what they're doing on some And kind of make it lie that my circumstances and go.
Fire for sure. And I think you know, one of the things that just it's really important. What you just said is doing the best, you know, how to do, you know, you're not going to have it all figured out and I will say that because of my background, I am very much a planner like this is my next goal. This is how I am going to achieve it. I am going to drive to reach those goals, and so I do have that. But what I realize is you can make a lot of plans and you can get really good at something, but then there're other things in life. Life that can completely derail that and it doesn't mean that what you have done or what you have learned is for not. But they become building blocks and lessons for you. To say, okay, I have got this piece, now, this things going wrong. Now, let me really focus on learning and growing in the next area and just keep doing the next right thing. And so, you know, an example of that is after a few years of being, it was about ten years and the financial World working with the highest net worth individuals Banks and Brokers and advisors, I thought I had gotten really smart about Investments. Now, I wasn't wealthy yet, but I was starting to save and most of it at that time was in my 401k I had dabbled in real estate but I didn't have big down payments to put on things. And, so I just kept investing in my 401k and I have to tell you Jamie in 2009, I was completely blindsided and devastated by the Great Recession, you know, AIG being in the news that they were shutting their offices in New York. And these companies I had been invested in were failing and I will never forget like the most load another than in my childhood was you know, in 2009 a day that we were on the news. I was told we're probably going to lose our jobs and I looked at my 401k and it had lost about three quarters of its value and that was all that we owned. And the same week I found out I was pregnant with baby number three, and we had just started a business in 2007. You know, we talked about these building blocks, I went from being an employee and having that mindset to I want to be home with my kids, and I want to grow wealth. So my husband needs to become an entrepreneur, and he needs to start his own business and work for himself. So we moved my whole family across the country and started a job with a lot of debt in 2007. So we had paid off all this debt early, a personal debt, but I had been convinced that were at the top, were at a great economy. It's only going to get better. You got to go into business. Debt, and it's different from personal debt. And so, we made that mistake, we learned from no personal debt, but we didn't learn about no business debt, or starting a business. When we understood nothing about economic cycles, and the fact that we were heading in a downward recession. There were warning signs, but we didn't know anything about it. So for a while I beat myself up, you know, for a couple months and 2009 going, how did I miss this? How did we miss this? I try to do all the right things and yet, here we are wiped out. About seven hundred thousand dollars in business, startup debt, plus the building, no 401K pregnant with a third baby and AIG was our only income and it was a devastating few months that I had that decision again. Like am I going to learn from these things? Be thankful that I made the best decisions that I knew at the time. But say now that there's a diversity, I am either going to give up, or I am going to say I have hope. And once again I am going to figure out how to make the next best decision until I climb out of. The debt and build up, you know, the retirement again. Etc, etc.
Yeah. That's a lot to deal with for sure. Can't even imagine I mean and, you know, it's easy to say but no one saw it coming really on the level that it did happen it. So you weren't alone in that sense, you know, I don't think anyone fully predicted to the crash that occurred. But so, how did you what lessons did you learn? I mean, you Hard to know, business debt to you is that are you just completely anti business debt or how do you approach that?
You know, I think a couple of really big Lessons Learned one is that you can be really smart and really good and specialized in one area for example, being an entrepreneur, and a certain type of business. So my husband was a chiropractor, right? He could be the best chiropractor that you could be, I could be the best real estate investor I could be but if I didn't understand, The economic factors that could impact me, even if I try to make all the right decisions at the same time, then I may make poor decisions about the timing of when I start a business when I take on that debt, what type of debt and how much I take on? For example. So if I had watched the economy, even though we were blindsided and major, major financial institutions were kind of Blindsided. There were warning signs since too early 2006. And there were people writing articles saying, there's a And crisis going to happen. This is there's this price is going to happen. There's too much, derivatives in debt risk, and, you know, in these financial institutions but I wasn't reading any of that. I didn't think economics really mattered. I thought I had more control than I really did. So I learned to become a student of the economy, understand real estate Cycles because I am now all in real estate and understand economic Cycles. At least to the point that I watched the warning signs to say, are we closer to the peak or are there signs that we might be in a Mining economy aren't hitting a recession. So that was the first thing. The second thing was that, that debt. Generally speaking, I am opposed personally, to any debt. Unless it's very, very, very stable, low, leverage, and able to be covered by the income that comes in. So, real estate that I am very comfortable with, I have tens of millions of dollars in real estate that literally, but it's debt that for the most part is fixed for a long period of time. And has Providing housing in areas that have significant housing, demand, very low housing Supply, really great jobs, great schools and low crime. Those are kind of my checkmark that if it doesn't have that quality of asset, I don't want to put a lot of debt on it. The quality of the asset and the location of the asset. In very financially, strong areas makes a big difference as to the level of risk taking on that debt has and then the third thing and I will turn it back over to you. That I really learned was again just a reminder that we are we have a choice in our life of the kind of life that we want to create. And I determined that despite lots of knows right? I wanted to own more real estate. I realized my husband's job, his entrepreneurial ship business wasn't going to save us. I couldn't depend on even one of the largest employers in the world for my job security or our family's Financial Security or my retirement accounts. What everybody was still doing was Paying me, rent, despite not, but despite the economy. So I realized I need to take more control and build my income as well as my future on things that I had more control of. And, so I moved really completely to real estate from that point on and made the decision that every decision. Every day I am going to not take no for an answer lenders, weren't lending, properties were there, but I couldn't get financing not to take now and to continue to push And get creative and find other ways to buy property for example, so that I could continue to create the life of my dreams, one step at a time, one action at a time, no matter how long it took.
Yeah, it's fantastic. I mean you just very well articulated. The three lessons that you learned from all that financial hardship and I just loved it. It's a central theme for our show here is just taking ownership not continuing to have Victim, mentality. Yes, we are all victims in some sense, right? If certain circumstances and things, but it doesn't get you very far to just stay there mentally. So, I love that mindset shift of taking action, but also, as you emphasize, not just one step, it is one step at a time, but it does sound like you also kind of, were able to take a wider view of things as well and say. How does the market play into all of this? You know and kind of be more be strategic about it. But then able to kind of Zoom back in and focus on the day-to-day. So that I have heard this referred to as a rubber band and marketing where you kind of your blast out to about a bigger audience, if you will. And then you zoom back in and sounds like you have been able to kind of navigate that from a planning and action, you know, Point of view, if you will.
Yeah, I think, in hindsight, it seems more that way than it probably was in my mindset at the time, it was like, what happened, what can I learn from this? It was really initially, like fight or flight, right? Like okay, I have lost almost all my 401k. Here's an example of making just a good like nuanced micro decision lost. Most of my 401k companies are still going under. I need to pull it out. I know as a financial Sir, we're told never, ever, ever take out your 401 k. I said, if I lose my job, I get a severance package. I may have to pay this back but I took a 401k loan and I saw a building for sale across the street of four unit and it would bring in about twelve hundred dollars a month after all expenses and I thought I am having a baby in a few months, I could lose my job, but if I have another $1200 a month, that will pay for formula. If I can't nurse, it will pay for, you know, for food, Etc, to put on. Table. And I knew that at least we would be okay, like my mortgage was covered by my tenants by lived in a four unit, which was another good decision. I made the year before to just live below. My means so we had tenants paying. We bought that building and I thought maybe in the future, I will regret that I took out the money, but right now, here's one thing I can control, I can buy that building have a thousand dollars, more a month, and we will be okay today. So it was very micro decisions like that like just make the best decision I can. And Then, as I started really studying the economy. And as Banks kept saying, no, I am like, why are they saying? No, I have a great job. I have great. Credit AIG, was in the news every day that they were laying people off and real estate was crashing. So, no, I wasn't a good risk to these lenders. But I thought what is happening? And will it change? And when I started studying the markets, I learned about economic cycles that the most opportunity is at the bottom, when everyone's afraid, so that did kind of open my eyes. To go. Wait a second. If this is the bottom and I have more opportunity, and there're tons of properties out here, like I have never seen before. I just have to figure out how to get them finance and how to buy them when I have no money. So that became the macro picture was, I am not going to say no, there are ways that investors are still doing deals without their own money, right? That's what we were sold in late night, infomercials about no money down deals. Now, I need to figure out how can I buy properties with no money because I knew if I could buy a bunch at the bottom when there's no competition that over time, those properties would go back up and value, create me more cash flow. And so at that point, I started to think a little more, you know, the of the big picture that I just got to make one decision every day by day. One more property, one more property. Get as much as I can. However, long it takes. And from then on, I have had a very macro perspective of where is the market and how should that impact? What I do? What I When I sell that cetera.
What makes sense, you have just gotten more sophisticated in your investing approach, but I will say, I thought Brandon Turner and BiggerPockets created house hacking. So there's, you know, there's no way you could have been doing that back then. Now, I am kidding. You don't have, you don't have to respond to that one, but, no, it is a very powerful way to go, for sure. If someone's in that position, you know, to live in a four unit, for example, and collect rent from three. Three sets of tenants and have them pay your mortgage. So that's a, that's really smart. So kind of if you.
Really powerful that was another lesson, you know, I knew that in order to expand, my means in the future and really, at that time, all I wanted Jamie was to be home with my kids. I am like if I can just get my husband's business up or it makes what I make, I will be home, I wasn't even thinking about wealth. I was just thinking I want to be home with my kids have enough income and so, you know, I made that decision that in order for Need to move across the country and take on the risk of a new business, which we knew 95 percent of businesses fail in the first 5 years or so, then we need to downsize our life and not turn around and buy another big house. So we learn that. And so we lived below our means, and to this day, if we hadn't lived below, our means and house hacking was a way for us to do that, we never would have had the extra money to start investing again, and to even work toward expanding our means. And because we have always had that mindset of Let us live below. Our means while we work to expand, our means both of those things have to happen at the same time if you really want to change your financial future and really want to grow.
Wealth. Now that's a very, very good point because it's really easy for us to gloss over that point as far as the personal sacrifice that it requires to tighten your, your belts and tighten your budget. At that point. This you didn't necessarily need to maybe but for your future you needed to So compare and contrast, if you would kind of that low Point versus today, what do things look like for you.
Today? You know. Jamie I pinch myself. I truly am. I am extremely blessed and I believe that you know, I believe that God has blessed us and opened up opportunity at the same time that I recognize that I made some really good decisions thankfully out of the really poor decisions but in you know from 2009 until 2018. 2019. Actually is when I actually retired from AIG, I didn't lose my job during that ten-year period, which was shocking, because we kept saying we were going to, and so I had a really good position that was not easy to replace. But essentially for 10 years, we lived below. Our means we did not buy a house for years, will be rent after we house hacked. We ended up with four children, so we ended up renting a house for several years while we bought other small, Properties with the money instead of a down payment on a home but that 10 years of significant sacrifice where we did, you know, everything we made in our real estate Investments. We put back into buying a more, we didn't live on any of it. And so we lived below. Our means for 10 years and then four years ago when I retired from AIG, I had enough cash flow consistent in our rentals. At that point I built about 100 units of my own in that 10-year period that seemed to take forever. It was 78. E hours a week of sacrifice and then I started doing joint ventures of larger apartment buildings before I actually left AIG four years ago and then syndication. So, you know, now I have an eight-figure net worth, I have done a couple thousand dollars in multifamily real estate myself and two partners own, another 250 units. And then we do syndications of, you know, several thousand units at this point. So it's been its night and day the position that I am in today. You know, my husband's now retired from his Chiropractic business. I am retired from AIG, I still work but you know, for me, instead of 70, 80 hour weeks for a decade, now I work because I want to because I get to build a bigger Legacy and help investors and things of that nature. But I work significantly Fewer hours than I ever have probably 30 to 35 hours a week. But I am blessed that because we started this journey and didn't give up 10 years ago that if I never did another deal, Deal a day in our lives, we would be set for the rest of our lives, because of what we built in the sacrifices. We made for a decade.
That's fantastic, that's congrats. I mean that's phenomenal. And, you know, it's so easy to look at someone's success and say, well, they have you know, must be nice or there an overnight success and if, you know, it was a long journey to get where you are. I know it was. And if you look back on where you were in your childhood, It certainly was not an up and to the right straight line to the successor ton of ups and downs, and a lot of sacrifice for sure, but it's just fantastic. I mean to see that, you know, for the listener out there that it is possible. You know, they may not end up exactly how you are. You know, how your, whatever your lifestyle is today, but, but they absolutely, if you have a long-term View and you're willing to sacrifice, put in the work, You absolutely can get from adversity to abundance and you know lately I don't pretend on this show that on a Kelly has no more problems and you know we know that we all still have problems but it's amazing the growth that you have experienced through your life. So just kudos to you. It's.
Fantastic. Yeah, thank you. One thing I will just throw out there to I am really a firm believer being able to look back on my life and I think you first reached out to me because of a book that I wrote We kind of talked about, you know, that journey to abundance from that adversity, but I have really learned to look at every challenge in life as not happening to me, but happening for me. Because when we go through adversity, when we go through challenges it, forces UPS us to rise up and not accept complacency in the status quo or victim, mentality, we have to say, Okay, this is a challenge. How am I going to use this Challenge and see it as a blessing and an opportunity that's going to set me up for or that next lever level of growth. And if I hadn't been through all the challenges I have been through, I never would have even gone down the path of real estate. My life would have been easy and comfortable and I would have thought, okay, this is fine but those challenges made me think what can I do to overcome this? This is happening for me. And I can either take advantage of what's happening for me or I can stop and play the victim mentality and say this is happening to me. I am just not the kind of person that good things happen to, and so I think It's an important mindset shift as you go through adversity and you will many times in your life. How can you use this to better you as a person to make you wiser to make you more compassionate? And then just make good decisions through every challenge as a blessing and an opportunity rather than happening to you.
I love it. Yeah, not much for me to add there. That's fantastic. I am going to fire off some questions, and we will see where it goes. What's one, what's one? Thing that people misunderstand about.
You, I think people think that I have always been, you know, really driven by money or success or a job and really, that's not the case. I was always driven by, I just want to be okay. I want to not ever be in a situation that if my husband died or left me or was disabled that I couldn't take care of myself and my children. And so, it really was just about being able to take care of myself and it led to so much more. And so, you know, Now, I work and I do deals, not because I need more money or want more money. I am really not driven by the money, but what kind of impact and Legacy? Now, can I leave? Because I don't want to just sit on the beach and eat bonbons every day, although that would be really enjoyable. It would really help me to live up to a greater purpose to give back to this world. And so today, I work and do deals because I can I am blessed to be able to do it. And I see they're a bigger purpose for the rest of my life than just You know, doing more deals or things that are going to make me millions of dollars more.
I love it. It's both things. Can be true. At the same time, money can be very important and I believe it is money. And wealth are very important and can be used in very positive or negative ways, you know. It's so it's I don't like that. Unfortunately. Some people bury their heads in the sand, and they said, well, you know, money is not the answer. Well, it's pretty important to understand how money works and it's but The end of the day, it's not the end goal, it's not the end all, be all. So you have been able to kind of keep that in perspective. So that's great. What's one of your biggest failures or something that you'd prefer to maybe have a?
Do-over on? You know, in that 10 years that I was really working hard to be able to be home with my kids, I was so laser focused on the goal that I was not going to take my foot off the gas ever. I filled every waking possible moment with looking for deals, renovating deals, you know, becoming a better real estate investor and I did all of that for my kids. I wanted to be home with my kids, but I missed out on a lot of opportunities to be more fully present with my kids to take Vacations to take weekends off to take breaks. And so, you know, I am glad that everything worked out, but my biggest regret is that I didn't just say, you know, time with them, for example, my 19 year old, who's now in college, he wants to do real estate full-time but for years, he hated it. He's like, I hated it. We missed birthdays, we missed events. We never went on vacation. I slept on Grody apartment floors while you painted in the middle of the night. Like it wasn't even though I thought. Well, there will Me but wasn't present and it wasn't a great experience for them. So I wish I had a do-over for that took even though the another couple of years to retire.
Right, right. And I can empathize is just any whether it's in real estate or not just being in entrepreneurs, it's very easy. No one's there to tell you to stop. Working.
You work full time like you did before, you know, exactly, well time and right now my husband's business and doing real estate, it's easy to fill up, you know, your entire day. With just trying to create Financial Freedom and if you're not careful, you can become a slave to the pursuit of Financial Freedom and that's not good either.
Yeah, absolutely. If you had to write another book this year, what would the topic be?
I am actually working on one another go. And it's really about creating Life by Design and for a greater purpose and just the resilience to never give up on creating the future that you hope.
For its fantastic. Any When that will be out?
Hopefully by the end of this year. Awesome, I have got work to do.
That's it. Yeah, I have never written a book, but I used to be an editor and I know there is there's a lot behind the scenes that goes into that. So what's one thing in your business or real estate investing that you just didn't expect, you know, surprise, good bad or ugly? Otherwise, something that's real surprised. You Look.
Back. Just how incredible the opportunities are out there to create wealth, real estate really is the greatest wealth, Creator known to man and it has been historically. And, you know, in the beginning, I was a little cynical that I could do it until I had enough money saved up to retire because we're told by our financial advisors. And every you know, thing that you read out there that the goal is to just set a little aside all the time and eventually, you know, when you're 60 I have you can enjoy life. I was really surprised that especially starting at the bottom at how quickly you really can create. Well, even when you don't have a lot of money, it's not easy to do so it's hard work. It takes a significant amount of time but it is possible. And I was really surprised by that because at first, I just dabbled in real estate for years. I flipped a house thinking I would make a bunch of money because HGTV told me I could write and it didn't work out so easily or the market crash and it Didn't work out so easily. So although it's not easy or get-rich-quick, real estate. When I look back and say, wow, I was able to go from negative. Net worth to eight figures in a decade. I really still surprised when I look back that. Wow, I can't believe I was actually able to achieve.
That. That's great. That's really good. So what's one thing that you're working on right now? What's a challenge you're facing in your business right now?
Oh, that's a really good question, you know, in this market where Back to very similar conditions in terms of the credit lending markets as we were post 2009. So, because there's rapid volatility and changes in the fed's monetary policy and basically interest rates and there're questions about how long it's going to last, when will the FED pivot? Well, we have a deep recession. Well, we have mass inflation banks are extremely nervous. And so what's that? What that's doing is, even if you're extremely credited worthy, have lots of assets And net worth and experience. They're offering very low loan-to-value loans today compared to where they were, you know, a year ago and really compared to where they have been since about 2012. So you know, we are post decade of easy monetary policy and an upward upwardly, mobile economy. And so, you know, we have had big apartment deals, both existing value-add and development. Where lenders are issuing term sheet saying yes, we can do it. Many 5% LTD, and they call you back a week later and say, oh my goodness. Our board says pencils down no more loans, or we can only lend, you 45 percent or fifty-five percent despite the strength of US, despite the strength of the acid and the location, the market really is really difficult to finance deals right now. And so, that's a challenge.
Sure. And it's a lot bigger challenge than, you know, when you were buying your first, you know, single family rental, you know, because if they're a lot more moving parts and partners and the whole Equity stack and all that and there's a lot of going on there.
So it forces you again to get creative and say, okay, there's lots of money out there. How do we structure a deal in a way that's going to make the lender happy private Equity Partners? Happy private investors happy and still generate good risk-adjusted returns. So it forces us to always up our game when we have new challenges for sure.
Absolutely, you mentioned the three markets that you're Focused on is there, can you speak to that a little bit? Why those three markets.
Absolutely. So one of the things that I have really learned over time, as if you want a Dependable business plan, you want, Dependable finances. You need to invest where the income is dependable. And the way that you do that is you make sure that you're in markets, where jobs are plentiful, that all the people that are living in your apartment complexes, for example, or your single-family home, if they lost a job tomorrow, they could find another job in there. Backyard without having to move or without having to go on assistance and not be able to pay you. So while I am very philanthropic, in terms of what I do with my money, I have learned to not cater to those that don't have enough money that are living. Check to check that 60% of them are not going to be able to pay rent, right? I have also lived through the pandemic, which we didn't even talk about with a couple thousand units. Having to figure out how do we deal with paying bills and contractors and mortgages if our tenants can't pay? So having gone through that, it's really important, in terms of, you know where you buy your Investments, that you're in cities, that are pro-growth pro-jobs low taxes, Good Cost of Living, Great Schools, low crime. All of those factors are really, really important and primarily where we find that I might be partial because I am a Texan but is in Texas. And, so I am investing heavily in the Dallas-Fort Worth Market Houston, Texas suburbs. Some suburbs of Austin. But those are markets that are very Pro growth and pro-business, and bring a ton of people. So people are leaving States, like California, and New York and New Jersey, and Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, and they're moving to Texas and Florida and Georgia Raleigh, North Carolina has a lot like Austin without all the homelessness and it's still politically pretty conservative and landlord friendly. But there's a ton of high-tech high-paying jobs. It's a financial Bob and there is not enough supply for all the people that are moving there, and that's a big factor is supply and demand. If you're investing in great areas but it's been over built and there's not a lot of demand or population growth. Then you're going to struggle with rents into a recession just like you would if you're, you know, in a Class cc- Type neighborhood. So those are the reasons that I invest in, you know, Raleigh North Carolina and Texas primarily I have also and a couple complexes in Atlanta Georgia and it has really strong Metals as well.
Got it. That's a very thorough answer. It's very good before we talk about how our listeners can reach out to you. What's a, what's a book or two besides your own that you could recommend for my.
Audience. Okay. So when it comes to economics because that was one of my big lessons by would really follow the principles for a changing world order by Ray dalio. He's someone who thinks very big picture and helps And what kind of shifts are happening in the world and in a demographics in order to help you understand how those things could impact your investing? Another one is, the end of the world is just the beginning buys on. It's a newer book. That also really talks a lot about demographic shifts. Another book to others at all recommend one is more of a personal book and it's called life and are. And it really talks about creating your life by Design, living the life that you want. Today not having to wait for the future to live it. Highly recommend that and then in terms of real estate investing, if you're a multi-family investor, there's a great book. That's still one of my favorites. It's the only book I ever read before I started this path of this 10-year journey to create wealth and it was Dave Lindell is multi-family millions and to this day it's a great reference book to just show you what's possible and how you can create great wealth through multi-family. Busting.
That's fantastic. You have made this interview, very easy for me. It's your very well. Well, spoken, and we have offered a ton of knowledge for The Listener out there. And again, thank you, thank you for joining us. Congrats on all the success. I know it's been a ton of work for a listener who does want to reach out to you. Where can they find you online?
Great. So if you are an accredited investor, when you're looking for Passive real estate Investments, you can find me at our purpose capital.com for opportunities there. And if you're looking for a coach or a mentor to help you through various types of real estate investing the things that I have experienced with. You can find me on my website at REI mom.com and send me a friend request on social media at on akeli, REI mom.
Perfect. Yeah, that's really what? It boils down to is active and passive. I found that in my own mortgage note business is, you know, so that's another strategic. Kick move on your part for sure. So, to our listener out there, a highly recommend you follow on and reach out to her. If you're either, either active or passive or just want to learn more about multifamily syndications and, and all the, you know, the lessons that on has learned through her ups and downs along this journey. So, on a, thank you so much again for joining us. Really appreciate your.
Time. You're so welcome. Thanks so much for having me.
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