August 26, 2019

JF1818: Don’t Save For Retirement #SkillSetSunday with Daniel Ameduri

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Daniel is returning today after he has already given his Best Ever Advice. Today, Joe and Daniel will be focusing the conversation to a topic that Daniel recently wrote a book about. We’ll hear how Daniel recommends people save their money, and even work towards retirement, just not the conventional way. Daniel looked at the wealthy class and the middle class to differentiate what they are doing with their money and discovered some insightful observations. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!

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“Preserve capital and buy things that produce income” – Daniel Ameduri

Daniel Ameduri Real Estate Background:


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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast, where we only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff.

With us today, Daniel Ameduri. How are you doing, Daniel?

Daniel Ameduri: I’m doing great, thanks for having me back on the show.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, my pleasure. You mentioned it already, back on the show, so Best Ever listeners, if you wanna check out Daniel’s best ever advice, you can go to episode 1106, titled “How to find owner-financing deals.”

Daniel is the co-founder of Future Money Trends. He also recently wrote the book “Don’t save for retirement.” That’s gonna be our focus for our conversation today. He has over 40 transactions, owns 15 rental units, 7 homes, 2 duplexes and a fourplex. Based in San Diego, California.

Best Ever listeners, first off, I hope you’re having a best ever weekend. Because today is Sunday, we have a special segment called Skillset Sunday. The skillset we’re gonna be talking about is around the focus of the book that Daniel has, “Don’t save for retirement.” Daniel, if we don’t save for retirement, what the hell are we supposed to do?

Daniel Ameduri: Exactly. Well, first of all, “Don’t save for retirement” – really what I mean by that is don’t save for conventional retirement… Because all these different things are great for the retirement industry. They’re making a fortune – the brokers, the mutual funds, the ETFs, the 401Ks… They are making money hand over fist. It’s just not working out for the clients and the baby boomers.

And what does work is something that’s been proven for thousands of years, and that’s preserving your capital and buying things that produce income. It’s as simple as that. Instead of saving for retirement and deferring and using all these different things, like a 401K, where you don’t even know where it’s gonna be in 30 years, or what the tax rate for the withdraws are gonna be, how about focusing on passive income?

What I did was I looked at what are the wealthy doing? What are the middle class doing? There’s a huge divide. The middle class, of course, they’re trying to get rich, and most of  them overnight. The wealthy – they’re preserving; they’re focused on income. But it is the one proven way that works, what they’re doing.

The whole retirement idea – really, the 401K is legislation passed in the ’70s, but it’s been around since the 1980’s. Same thing with IRAs. I think there’s just a better way to go about living your life and having your life becoming financially free.

Joe Fairless: I pride myself on thinking through the opposing opinion on basically anything, and just thinking “Okay, if we think this, then what would the other group say that’s the opposite? What would their points be?” Just because I think it’s good to have that ability to be able to do that, so that the initial perspective that I have – I can make that stronger, or perhaps I retreat from that and I open up my mind to this other stuff.

This I’m gonna have a hard time doing, because I agree with you, and I don’t really do stock market investing. I agree with everything you said, so what I’m gonna have to do is I’m gonna have to ask you – because I’m sure you’ve come across people who are heavily in the stock market, and they have other retirement accounts… And you’ve mentioned this to them, and then they have some counter-points. So help me ask some good questions about it – what are their counter-points to the things you’ve just mentioned?

Daniel Ameduri: Well, it’s interesting you bring it up like that, because yesterday I was emailed by a New York Times reporter who was looking at the book and wanted to ask me some questions. And he says “How many people are making $100,000 a year from passive income, that started as the middle class? How many people have subscribed to your letter and have done this with passive income and have quit their jobs?” He’s asking me questions he knows there’s no data point; there’s no data on that.

So I actually flipped it on him. I said “How about we do this? Let’s go over the data for what you’re advocating.” I said “Vanguard, the biggest mutual fund company on the planet – they are saying according to their data the median 401K-er (65 and older) has $58,000 in their account.”

Then you look at social security, which doesn’t even equate to the cost of survival increases annually anymore. Then you look at savings accounts, which is part of that three-legged stool retirement plan, and they’re offering 0% interest. So I kind of flipped it back to them and said “Look, I don’t have a lot of data points for how many people have come from nothing and gone to passive income, or have done a partial retirement, but I do have a ton of data to show you that the other way that you guys are advocating for is an absolute failure.”

Joe Fairless: What was his response?

Daniel Ameduri: I haven’t gotten a response; that was literally yesterday. So I’ll let you know if he does.

Joe Fairless: Was it via email?

Daniel Ameduri: It was via email.

Joe Fairless: Oh, okay.

Daniel Ameduri: We’ll see what he says. But look, I’m not advocating for people to quit their jobs with passive income tomorrow, or even replace completely the idea of retirement. What I’m saying is passive income has been much more beneficial to people who’ve adopted it. I have used passive income to pay my bills. I have used passive income to go on vacations, and I simply don’t worry about retirement at all, because I love what I do – which we do talk about what you’re going to do in life as far as work, and how healthy it is… But we also talk about in the book that you do have that option, and that is where that real financial security and peace and freedom comes from, wherein “Hey, maybe your dream was to be an engineer, or maybe you’re a prosecutor who puts away certain criminals that you really are passionate about doing that job.” Do that job. But what I’m saying is when you buy passive income and reshift your mind from capital appreciation to income, it opens up all kinds of opportunities and a peace of mind and a feeling of wealth that is worth pursuing.

Joe Fairless: Okay, I’ll do my best to pretend I’m the reporter and continue his line of questions. So you mentioned passive, but investing in real estate really is not passive, because there’s some form of activity we’ve got to do. I have three single-family homes outside of the apartment communities that we have, and those three single-family homes – once a year I’ve got to pay the insurance bill, and once a month I maybe get an email from a property manager about something that happened… And that’s on the management side. But going into purchasing those, there was work involved to educate myself, find the right city, and find the right team… Versus I go on Vanguard and I could pick whatever options they have and just passively – and that truly is a  passive investment – and just let it ride on the stock market.

Daniel Ameduri: Yeah. The stock market to me is not a good diversifier for most people. They’re probably not sophisticated enough to even know what stock to buy. Warren Buffett even hasn’t beaten the S&P 500 in the last ten years. So I’m not big into stock picking; I do dabble into venture capitalism, but I’d say for people who are comparing the two – sure, you do have to do a little legwork, or a lot of legwork if you wanna make a lot of money in real estate, and it is a great way to have passive income, but there really isn’t too many passive incomes where you have nothing to do, at least if you wanna maximize it, like in physical properties.

Now, there are private REITs — there are public REITs too, but there are private REITs, or even the crowdfunding stuff… You’ve heard of PeerStreet and Fundrise – there are a lot of ways to make money, and it can be 100% passive to you, but just know you’re never gonna get that same return as if you had gone out and purchased the apartment, or purchased the single-family home. Those are gonna be your best returns.

Now, if you wanna just give the money to a private equity group that owns fractional shares of J.W. Marriotts, or maybe they build skyscrapers, you’re gonna get your 7% to 11% return, but the best returns and the best tax benefits are always gonna be owning physical real estate. But yeah, sure, they got me that it’s not 100% passive on owning physical real estate, but I think we’ve got them check-mated that the alternative is you don’t even know half the time what you’re buying, and you have no idea what that 401K is gonna be at.

At least when I have a property – not only do I have the tax benefits, but I have the income, the potential appreciation, though it’s not important… But you look at a 401K, for example, and people have no idea what the withdraw rate is. Think about how risky that is. You’re borrowing money from the IRS essentially by taking that deduction and not paying the tax, and you have no idea what your tax rate will be… Even though what you do know for certain is taxes are lower than they’ve been since 1931. And you’re gonna speculate that with 22 trillion dollars in debt and ballooning entitlement – an entire movement out there to tax people more, that taxes are gonna be lower. No, taxes are gonna be higher, so why wouldn’t you focus on passive income, rather than deferring things in a 401K?

Joe Fairless: How do you have the book outlined? Or how does it flow?

Daniel Ameduri: It starts off with my wife and I’s journey. It literally starts actually in a bankruptcy attorney’s office. I have the first chapter and the intro, for your readers, if they wanna go to – they can read it free. There’s an Amazon link there, of course, if they wanna continue reading… And it essentially starts with what did my wife and I do; how did we just start pointing — a lot of people say “What’s the first step? What do I do if I wanna become financially free?”

Then it goes into really what is wealth, and what is wealth ultimately going to mean for you? And then we go over the actual investments that I’m involved in, and different things that I have discovered. What I’ve done is — I’m not worth 50 million dollars, but I’ve been to a lot of these family wealth offices where everybody else in the room is worth 50 million, or 100 million, or even a billion. I’ve spoken and interviewed many billionaires over the last few years here, and I’ve always just been looking for what are they doing, and I’ll tell you – and your listeners will love this, because they’re listening to a real estate show – in the end, all roads lead back to real estate when it comes to the super-wealthy.

Joe Fairless: Well, can you drill down into some specific things from a cashflow standpoint that have worked best for you, and then some things that did not work well for you?

Daniel Ameduri: Well, when it comes to cashflow, I’ve tried to diversify it as much as possible. One of the things that works very well for me is I have been participating in private equity, either by multi-units, say 30-50 units, and then doing value-adds… Or even getting into where we purchase farmland and lease out the equipment. Now, the farmer obviously will make more money because they can actually profit from the crops, but they also carry the most risk. So it’s a fair trade. They get more risk, and they get more profit, but we get more safety. And again, my focus is preserving, so I love farmland. Then the income – we’re getting rents from the farmland and we’re leasing  out the equipment to the farmers.

On the income disaster side – I would say one of my worst experiences is trying to vet and do individual mortgage notes or loans on my own. I’m just not a credit analyst. So when it comes to that, if you wanna have some debt income, I would highly recommend, defer to people or organizations that have been very successful.

One thing I’ve done is I always try to find organizations that have been around for a long time, ideally (it’s almost a must) that they’ve been around before the 2008 crisis. If I’m gonna partner my money with a group that’s buying mortgages specifically, I wanna partner with a group that has been through the 2008 crisis, frankly… Because that was one of the worst crises and I don’t see us going into something like that again for a long time, because when those types of things happen, investors tend to be more on the conservative side for some time.

Probably my worst experience is me trying to actively involve myself in things I’m not an expert in, I don’t know about. I would start simple when it comes to cashflow – single-family homes, move into apartments, and then definitely, if you’re getting into bigger things, move into partnerships or places like your website where people can get educated and trained… Because this stuff is all repeatable; you can mimic what other people are doing. What other people are doing, you can do. That’s one of the things I always tell our subscribers, and even my kids – “Look, what one man can do, another can.” So it’s all possible, but I highly recommend people partnering with people who know what they’re doing, prior to just jumping out there and throwing money at something.

Joe Fairless: Out of 1,800 or so interviews, the term “farmland” has come up maybe 5 times, so let’s talk about that… How did you get into investing in farmland?

Daniel Ameduri: You know, it always has been something I wanted to do, and I just could not find the right partners. I would look at foreign farmland, where you buy a parcel, and the internal rate of return was like 20%, and all these things, and I was like “But I don’t know about that…” I’d go to Panama and look at these farms, I’m like “If grandma dies on the farm, it’s over. She’s running the entire operation.” In fact, I know a group who got into coffee farmland, and the guy who was the main farmer died, and all the investors lost their money because just one guy was not part of the operation anymore.

So I’d been wanting to get in it for the last decade, and finally a group out of Southern California – if anybody knows Sprott Asset Management. They’re a very good group; they have commodity, resource-related investment companies, and they had brought the opportunity up to me. It’s a private fund, private equity, and that was the pitch – they were gonna buy farmland all throughout the Midwestern United States, they were gonna buy the equipment, they were gonna lease the equipment to the farmers, and it’s done really well. It’s appreciated probably about 7% or 8% annually, but the income is about a 10% yield on my money… So it’s a great way to expose myself to farmland without owning a physical farm, which I know nothing about.

Joe Fairless: And on that note, investing in something that you don’t know much about, what gives you the comfort level to invest in something that you don’t know a whole lot about?

Daniel Ameduri: Well, I’ll give you an example in some of these mining stocks I’ve had a lot of success in… What I’ve done is I’ve just been religious about making sure whoever I’m investing with is on their second go-around. So I identified a handful of people – about 12 of them – and I wanted to find the guys who had already created a 5-million-dollar or a 10-million-dollar company to a billion-dollar company. And I took those guys and I looked at what they were doing, and the asset and the project met what I wanted.

I think if you’re going to involve yourself in a thing you’re not that familiar with, you wanna make sure you’re with somebody who’s on their second go-around. Not the CPA who’s decided he wants to be a gold-mining expert, or somebody who last year was managing a Subway, and this year they wanna buy a 25-unit apartment building with you. So try to find people on their second go-around.

Now, I will tell you this from first-hand experience, and I’m sure a lot of listeners can relate to this – typically, when I venture too far away from things that I know, I usually don’t make that much money. Whatever you’re doing right now that’s making you the most money… As entrepreneurs and investors, we love to go out and find new things. But for the most part – and this is my own personal experience – you’re far better off just doubling down on what you’re doing right now, whatever is making you money. If you wanna monetize your job and make your employer your first client and expand that industry, or if you’re an investor who’s killing it in apartments, or killing it in single-family homes, just keep killing it in single-family homes, or keep killing it in apartments, and just stay focused.

They asked Bill Gates and Warren Buffett if they could say one word that’s been the most important thing in their lives, and both of them said “focus”. I really believe that, because I made a lot of money in stocks and real estate, and I remember one time I wanted to venture out into the payday loan business, because I saw these returns, and… Let me just tell you, it was not a pretty thing. That business is so gone you can’t even find it on the internet.

So you’re better off sticking with what you do know, but if you don’t, make sure you’re partnering with somebody who’s on their second go-around.

Joe Fairless: Anything else you think we should talk about as it relates to your experience and the topic at hand, that we haven’t discussed already?

Daniel Ameduri: As far as income, no. But I would say one thing that helped me become financially independent was cutting spending in an aggressive way. If you google right now “how to save money” or “I need to save money”, it’ll say switch your credit card, switch your checking account, don’t drink coffee at Starbucks… When my wife and I wanted to become financially free, and our definition was passive income paying for your basic needs in life (not extravagances), and just making sure that that was taken care of, we moved. That cut our expenses 50%. We got rid of our pets, because they had a $150/month bill. We stopped eating meat.

Joe Fairless: You got rid of your pets because of the money?

Daniel Ameduri: We did crazy things. She wanted to quit her job, I hated my job…

Joe Fairless: What did you do with your pets?

Daniel Ameduri: We gave them to a very nice family who actually kept a lot of these different type of dogs [unintelligible [00:18:50].15] This goes back to 2009-2010…

Joe Fairless: Oh, okay. Tough time.

Daniel Ameduri: Much different life, right?

Joe Fairless: Right, right.

Daniel Ameduri: So that was us crushing all expenses… And what that allowed us to do – it freed us up to buy even more passive income. And of course, that snowballed and compounded. My wife was able to quit her job, and then I quit my job, and today we live a very good life. Even though I was financially independent, I still drove a 2003 Nissan Altima in 2012.

Now, I’m not telling people that’s how it’s gonna be permanently. That’s not how it is now. My wife and now – we just got done traveling for 60 days, in Africa and Japan and Israel, and we took an Atlantic cruise with Disney from Miami to Barcelona. So I’m not telling people you’re sucking up and living a poor, minimalist life; I’m saying we need to cut deep. Because most of us aren’t living sustainable lives, because we have adopted what we’ve been conditioned to do… Just like the retirement savings, having a 5 to 8-year auto loan, having an auto loan that’s equal to your annual income… That’s just stupid stuff that we do because we think it’s normal.

The book really goes into how do you deep, deep cut spending. Because you’re doing it not permanently; you’re just doing it because what you wanna do is you need to free up as much money as you can to buy income. You need to put those dollar bills out there and put them to work.

I have the mindset — when I go check my mailbox or log in to my checking account, I’m looking for ACH deposits, I’m looking for checks in the mail. And that’s a very rewarding and healthy lifestyle I think everybody can benefit from.

Joe Fairless: How can the Best Ever listeners learn more about what you’ve got going on?

Daniel Ameduri: I would love for you guys to just go to You’ll get to read a part of the book for free. It also subscribes you to my weekly wealth digest. I share stories of what my wife and I have done, and what we’re actively doing right now.

Joe Fairless: Well, thank you so much for sharing your approach to making sure we’re ready for retirement, having cashflow, and having income-producing assets. Then how you go about doing that, what has worked and what hasn’t worked.

Daniel, I really appreciate the conversation. I’m interested to hear how the New York Times reporter reacts to your email… I’m thinking you’re just not gonna get a reply, because they’re probably looking for one perspective only. But if they are good reporters, then they’ll actually get really curious about what you’re saying.

Daniel Ameduri: My publisher was the one who had the email, so I’m sure he’ll get back to them, just because he’s probably regularly in contact with the publisher… But when I emailed them, I said “He’s either going to hate this, or he might actually become curious and wanna dig further.”

Joe Fairless: Yup. Well, I agree, and… Hey, I really appreciate it. I hope you have a best ever weekend, and we’ll talk to you again soon.

Daniel Ameduri: Thank you very much, Joe.

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