In our last blog post, we talked about what we’ve learned from some of our biggest failures. In PART TWO of this 4-part series, we wanted to open up to you about how we “failed forward” in the area of our finances (heads up: vulnerability to the max).

When Zach and I started in this business, we had high hopes and an optimistic outlook. We went to training classes where we were told to say affirmations like “I am a money magnet.” In one class, we literally laid on the floor while people threw money at us telling us we were money magnets. I mean….I just can’t. (**facepalm**).

I understand the importance of maintaining a positive outlook, but sometimes this positivity can backfire and leave you feeling more discouraged and drained than you were just thinking normally about yourself. Over the weekend, Zach and I were reading the book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck” by Mark Manson (please excuse the language!). We haven’t read through the whole thing yet, but it is a book I highly recommend so far. In it, Mark states: The desire for more positive experiences is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience. What a great mindset shift to one that’s more realistic! Zach and I are NOT money magnets – in fact, while getting started in this business we were the exact opposite. I don’t even care about being a “money magnet” – I just wanted to be able to EAT! It was hard and especially soul-crushing to start out because we heard all of these stories about people being super successful right out of the gate. When that is not you, it’s hard to keep pushing forward.

I’m not exactly sure why it’s on my heart to share this story with you, but it has been for a while. I think my goal is to show people that just because something is hard and it seems like there are so many obstacles in the way of your goals, it does not mean it’s the wrong thing to pursue. It also does not mean that you are a failure and you should give up. In a society where we all want what someone else has and we want success and glory in THIS moment, having faith in yourself and your future even through the times you can’t afford to eat lunch will get you through. Believe in what’s coming, NOT in what is there.

To start, let me tell you a little about the reality of my situation in my first few months of starting my business:


  • Before real estate, I was working a $30K/year job and could barely afford my bills. I had NO “nest egg” saved up to start my business and I borrowed $3,000 from my mom because I thought that would be enough (LOL).

  • At one point my mom lent me $20 so I could afford food for the week. I took a picture of that $20 bill because I had no money in my bank account and I wanted to remember that moment because I thought it couldn’t get any worse. (FYI, it could get worse, and it did).

  • Zach and I were only dating at this time, and he would make fun of me because I would only buy one roll of toilet paper or paper towel at a time. I had to explain to him that I was doing that because I couldn’t afford to buy things in “bulk” and had to scrounge up change just to afford the single rolls.

  • I maxed out 3 credit cards and got denied for any other credit cards so I had nowhere else to turn. I had -$265 in my bank account at the time as well.

  • Every Tuesday, other Realtors would host “Broker Opens” where they would invite other agents to their listings and they usually provided lunch. I went to numerous broker opens every Tuesday so I could fill up for the day (Thank you fellow Realtors for keeping me going!)

  • For weeks I ate 69-cent cheese and peanut butter crackers from the gas station for nearly every meal (BARF).

  • I went to a local bank to see if I could get a personal loan, and got declined. I ended up crying at the bank in front of everyone.

Things were pretty bad and I really couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. I looked almost every day for other jobs to apply to, but knew I’d end up in the same dead-end 9-5 job that wasn’t going to sustain me financially or fulfill me emotionally. So, I had to keep going somehow.

 

Even after Zach and I got married and started our real estate team together, we still had to fight past many hurdles (and we still do to this day!). Most importantly – we had to have faith that, while we may never be “money magnets” (**eyroll**), we will be successful if we keep putting in the work. While we are definitely not financial advisors, here are 3 of the WORST money tips that helped us survive our first year building a new business (hopefully Dave Ramsey is not reading this….LOL).


  1. Don’t Look at Your Bank Account – This is an absolutely terrible idea, but it helped us keep our eyes on the prize, LOL. Obviously you need to be smart about it and not acquire overdraft fees (or not too many of them at least….), but it helped us just push forward and not fixate on how broke we were in the moment (out of sight, out of mind – am I right!?).

  2. Calm Down About Credit Card Debt – For the first year, I survived off of my credit cards for every purchase and even bills. It was very hard for me to see the credit card debt piling up each month and it stressed me out immensely. I sat down with a friend who’s also a financial planner who started his own business from scratch, and he told me not to worry about it. He said it would just be a little bump in the road and soon enough I’d be able to pay it all off. Obviously you don’t want to be opening up Kohl’s and Victoria’s secret cards, but don’t freak out about the absolutely necessary (that being the key word!) expenses that you have to put on your credit card. You WILL be able to pay it off eventually if you have a plan.

  3. Have a Plan and Stick to it (Mostly) – There are two parts to this. For your personal finances – know your budget. We had to sit down and hammer through things and decide which bills can be paid later and what needs to be paid now (or yesterday, ha). From there, try to stick to your budget – but it’s okay if you mess up. Don’t focus so much on being perfect, or you’ll end up getting frustrated and be tempted to give up and take that 9-5 job you know you don’t really want. From a business standpoint – it’s important not to get “shiny object syndrome.” Be clear about your business plan and what you’re agreeing to spend money on. We’ve definitely made mistakes in this area and spent money on useless business expenses that were not part of our plan. Don’t be like us! 🙂 When you’re clear about your goals, you don’t have to feel guilty about investing into your business, knowing that it’s a calculated decision.

So there you have it – some terrible financial advice, but advice that got us through our first year. Sometimes you have to take risks and bet on yourself. I’m very thankful we’ve pushed through because we are continuing to take steps to get us closer to the life we design instead of feeling stuck in a life that designs us. So whatever path you’re taking, know that the suffering will be REAL, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be worth it.

 

 

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.