Passive investing is one of the best things you can do if you want to achieve financial independence and retire early (FIRE). In a podcast interview with an online blogger and radiologist, we looked at how passive investments helped him become financially stable following a horrible divorce. To protect his anonymity, we will refer to our guest as XRAYVSN.
He Lost Everything Before Rebuilding Again as a Passive Investor
Before his divorce, XRAYVSN was financially stable. He lost more than $1 million following the divorce, and his work as a radiologist was not enough to rebuild his nest egg. Commercial real estate and passive investments allowed him to regain the money he lost.
During his 2010 divorce, XRAYVSN spent $300,000 on just his legal counsel fees. By the time everything was done, his net worth was $800,000 in the red. At almost 40 years old, he was completely devastated. His life savings were gone, and he had nothing to look forward to.
Instead of giving up, he began deploying his income in intelligent ways. After a lot of research, he decided to use his earnings to generate passive income. Inspired by the White Coat Investor and Passive Income MD, he began investing in new income streams.
How He Achieved His FIRE Goals
Within the FIRE movement, there are different levels of independence. Lean FIRE is when you are able to cover your basic needs. Meanwhile, Fat FIRE is when you can take luxurious vacations and afford almost anything you want. At this point, XRAYVSN is between these two levels of financial independence.
There are a variety of ways that an accredited investor can make money, but XRAYVSN already had a day job. Because he spent so much time working as a physician, he did not want to get started with active investing. Soon, he began researching different real estate investments.
Unlike many FIRE fans, XRAYVSN already had some experience with real estate investing. Before the divorce happened, he had owned several condos. Unfortunately, managing the condos had taken up a significant portion of his time. He knew that he had no interest in becoming a landlord again.
Because of the way the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taxes earned income, real estate investments were especially appealing. Real estate investments come with extra tax breaks. Each tax break saved XRAYVSN more money, which he could reinvest in real estate properties.
Real Estate Investment Trusts
He ultimately decided to use real estate investment trusts (REITs). If you do not want the hassle of being a landlord, a REIT is an excellent alternative. It is essentially a stock that is made up of real estate investments.
Basically, you start by investing your money in a REIT. Then, they invest your money in real estate properties. Each quarter, you are paid distributions based on the REIT’s earnings. While you get paid like a normal real estate investor, you do not have to do any of the work. Because REITs function like stocks, you can easily sell your shares if you need to.
Since REITs are essentially stocks, their value can fluctuate. If the stock market tanks, your investment can disappear along with it. As long as you do not plan on selling your shares in the near future, this is not a major issue.
RealtyShares and crowdfunding platforms allow normal investors to invest in major real estate properties. Before the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, wealthy households were the only people who could invest in certain properties. The JOBS Act made it possible for average investors to invest in these real estate properties.
With many crowdfunding platforms, you can get started with a minimum investment of just $5,000 to $10,000. These investments work by pooling funds from a variety of different investors. If you achieve a net worth of $1 million or more, then you can become an accredited investor. You can also achieve this status if you make $200,000 or more per year.
Securing a Syndicator
Accredited investing is designed for sophisticated investors. Once you achieve this status, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) allows you to buy unregistered securities. The SEC assumes investors who reach the accredited level are sophisticated enough to understand the added risk that occurs when you buy unregistered securities.
XRAYVSN quickly attained accredited status, which meant he could get new opportunities through private syndicators. He reached out to these syndicators through their websites and arranged for interviews. Because of how they are designed, these investments typically require a lot more research than standard investments.
Private syndicators spend their time searching for investment ideas. When they find a good one, they send an email blast to their investors. Then, they will generally host a demonstration for investors. Most syndicators require a minimum investment of at least $50,000. These investments are also illiquid, so it is difficult to access your money after you have invested it.
Obviously, this means that you do not want to use these types of investments if you need your money right away. If you want to make a long-term investment, working with private syndicators is a good idea. People can also get started by learning about the program through Syndication School. Because there are good and bad syndicators, it is important to look for red flags before you start passive investing with them. If you are comfortable working with a certain kind of commercial real estate, you should find a private syndicator that works in that sector.
As you look at different syndicators, you should read reviews from people who have already invested with them. You should also look at their results. How do they compare to similar organizations?
Some syndicators like to inflate how much they earn, so watch out for this issue. If one apartment complex is twice as profitable as other complexes in the same area, you should be suspicious. The company needs to have a good explanation for why they are earning so much more money than everyone else. If they do not have a reasonable explanation, you should invest with someone else.
Forging Your Own Path to FIRE
In order to become financially independent, you need to look at your burn rate. This figure is the amount you end up spending on your lifestyle and living expenses each year. To retire early, you must be able to cover your burn rate each year. You need to make a passive income stream that can cover your burn rate. If passive investing brings in more money than your burn rate, then you can afford to live a more luxurious lifestyle.
Do not be discouraged if you cannot retire right away. Because of compound interest, your earnings will grow over time. In order to retire comfortably, you will need to save 25 times your annual expenses. This means that you will need $1.5 million in the bank if you need $60,000 a year.
XRAYVSN is working toward an even more conservative goal. Instead of pulling 4 percent out of his retirement savings each year, he plans on only using 3 to 3.5 percent. To achieve this goal, he is bringing in passive income through his blog, private syndicators, and commercial real estate.
As an accredited investor, he can access more investment types than the average investor. Despite his accredited status today, he originally started out with simple crowdfunding investments. Even if all you can do is start small, you can eventually work your way up to accredited investing and achieve your FIRE goals.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.