Each year in December my tradition is to reflect on the past year and plan for the next (see my Annual Review process). As part of this process, I review my progress and plans for everything in my business and personal life. In the article and podcast episode that follow, you’ll get the highlights from the 2021 version of my annual review for real estate investing, personal finance, and the Coach Carson business.
If you want to go way back, you can also check out the annual review posts from years past: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015.
This 2021 edition will include:
- Highlights and stats from 2021
- What’s next for me in 2022
Let’s start with my 2021 highlights and stats from my real estate investing, personal finance, and Coach Carson business.
Highlights and Stats from 2021
These are mainly for me to measure and review my own progress. But I thought some of you might also be interested.
Real Estate Investing Business
For those who don’t know much about me, a business partner and I have a portfolio of rentals in and around Clemson, SC. We’ve invested together for almost 20 years.
Rental Property AnalysisA course by Coach Carson that teaches you how to run the numbers so that you can confidently analyze and buy profitable rental properties. It also includes Coach’s rental analysis spreadsheet. Get the Course
Lately, things have been MUCH slower pace than it used to be when we flipped houses and bought a lot of rental units. This is deliberate. We are essentially maintaining what we have, improving our portfolio, and building more resiliency.
But there’s always SOMETHING going on. 2021 was no different.
Sold 2 rental properties:
- Property #1:was a long-term rental house in the country outside of Clemson that we had promised to sell to our long-time tenant. They had been working on their credit for years, and they finally got qualified. They used a USDA (no-money-down) loan, and we paid some of the closing costs. With the market prices moving up so fast, we made a mistake and sold it too cheap. But it was in as-is condition and our tenant got a good home. So, that’s always a good feeling.
- Property #2 was a 4-plex in Clemson that we’ve owned since 2015. At the time, we got a very good deal on this property because it was 50% vacant and needed a good bit of cosmetic work. It’s been stable since then and we’ve increased the rents. With so much equity in this property, we decided to sell it and turn over the money. It’s supposed to close right before the end of the year.
- Why sell? These two sales follow a plan we’ve been implementing for almost 10 years now to sell off some of our less optimal rentals in order to free up our time, capital, and attention for better deals (and other things that matter!). Both of these were actually pretty good rentals in the big scheme of things, and we’d buy them again. But we have enough units, and trimming down our holdings makes sense to us.
Rental Property Fire Damage Restoration Complete
- In August of 2020, we had a kitchen fire in an apartment of a 4-plex building we own. Fortunately, no one was hurt. But it was not a pleasant experience getting the call and seeing the damaged property.
- 3 units were only mildly affected. The 4th unit had extensive damage and had to have a “gut” remodel.
- By April of 2021, our contractors had finally finished the renovation and all units were rerented.
- The total cost of damage and loss of rent was $72,299. Fortunately, we got 100% of this cost reimbursed by our insurance company and the renter’s insurance company of our tenant.
- You can check out a full article with pictures and a podcast with all the details (and lessons learned!)
100-Year-Old TriPlex Remodel FINALLY Finished
- If any of you followed my YouTube channel in 2020, you saw that we remodeled a 100-year old triplex that needed a LOT of work. It started ok, but the project derailed mid-year as we had some problems with contractors (bad work on the foundation that had to be fixed and SLOW work from other contractors).
- Long story short, we switched to a great contractor midfall 2020 and the project was finally finished in spring 2021 (but WAY over budget).
- Check out the full playlist below if you’re interested in the before and after videos AND the full cost in the final video
Debt Pay Off & Increase Cash Flow Distributions:
- This year, like in years past, we paid off a chunk of debt with the cash flow we’ve saved from our properties.
- We still have a primary long-term goal of larger profit distributions (i.e. dividends) to my business partner and me from our real estate business. In the past, we retained a lot of profits to reinvest in new properties. We still may do that eventually, but for now we’re paying ourselves more and paying off debt.
Improved focus on maintenance
- Properties break down, continuously! So, it’s become clear that proactively maintaining our properties is one of the most important things we can do to ensure we continue to have quality rentals that provide good homes for our tenants and cash flow for us.
- While we’re not perfect in this department, a couple of practical ways we’re trying to improve are:
- More regular inspections to look for issues (both my us as owners and by our property managers)
- Maintenance log spreadsheet to help us remember what’s been done and when
- Investing in higher quality materials, when warranted, to extend the life
More Private Loan Investments:
- As we did in 2020, we continued to make a few private/hard money loans. Most of our loans were on new construction houses to a local builder friend of ours.
- This has been a good way for us to produce good returns more passively. And in a worst-case scenario, these are local loans on properties we’d be ok renting out if we had to take them back.
Now let’s move from our real estate business to personal finance and investing.
Personal Finance & Investing
- My personal asset allocation is still the heaviest in real estate. I’m ok with that, but over the long run, I’m continuing to diversify into other asset classes. In particular, I want broad exposure to the US and international stock markets.
- So to continue that trend, my wife and I again allocated a big chunk of our retirement accounts from real-estate-focused assets to broad, low-cost index funds.
HSA and IRA Contributions:
- Like years past, my wife and I contributed the max to an HSA (Health Savings Account) and to our respective Traditional IRAs. We also have Roth IRAs, but as our tax rates have increased over the years we’ve chosen to get the current deduction by contributing to a Traditional IRA.
Continued Health Insurance on Public Exchanges:
- We get our health insurance through the ACA (aka Obamacare) exchanges. We only have one company (Blue Cross Blue Shield) available in our state, and in 2021 we paid $1,185/month (vs 1,209/mo in 2020) for a high-deductible policy ($6,750/individual, $11,500/family). The 2022 rate will increase by almost $100/mo to $1,281/mo. Our premium is unsubsidized since we make more than the income threshold for subsidies.
- We’ve explored other options like non-compliant, short-term plans or health sharing ministry plans, but neither of those options made us 100% comfortable. We can afford it, so we’re going with a more expensive but certain option.
Coach Carson Business
Charitable Mision of Coach Carson, LLC:
- In 2019, I committed to giving away 50% of current and future profits from Coach Carson, LLC. Soon after, my wife and I set up a donor-advised fund at Vanguard Charitable.
- So in:
- 2019 we contributed $25,000 to the donor fund.
- 2020 we donated another $20,000 to the fund.
- 2021 we’re donating over $54,000 to the fund.
- We haven’t given all the funds to charities yet. Some we set aside for worthwhile causes in the future, but we have made several significant donations to charities we care about and we plan to make several more in early 2022.
- In last year’s annual review I shared my small but awesome team at Coach Carson, LLC. I’m very fortunate to still have Megan Thompson and Michael Nguyen working closely with me to serve all of you and plan and create the content you get each week.
- Kari Carson (my wife!) is my business partner and confidant, plus she’s the bookkeeper!
- I was a finalist for “Best Real Estate Content” at the 2021 Plutus Awards.
- My friend Paula Pant at Afford Anything was the deserving winner again this year.
Newsletter Email List:
- Each week I send out a Tuesday and Friday newsletter email.
- Subscribers for this list grew from around 18,000 to over 26,600 as of this writing in early December (thank you!!!)
- The Real Estate & Financial Independence Podcast was published weekly (Monday’s) in 2021
- We will publish 53 episodes in 2021 with the help of my editor Michael Nguyen
- Our amazing listeners are on pace to download episodes 387,000 times in 2021
- We crossed over the 1 million download mark in 2021! You’ve downloaded 1,057,446 episodes total since January 2019! Thank you!
- Received a 4.9 average rating with 424 reviews on Apple Podcasts
- Still consistently in the top 200 investing podcasts (as rated by Chartable.com)
- I don’t publish as many regular articles as I used to, but I still published (or republished) a few in 2021.
- You can see the full archive for new articles and show notes of podcasts
- YouTube was a primary focus for me in 2021
- With the help of my editor Michael Nguyen, we published 55 new videos in 2021!
- Coach Carson TV (my channel) got over 929,200 views (8x the 2020 numbers), 142,800 hours of watch time, and 23,200 new subscribers in 2021!
- As of December 23rd, 2021 we have 33,440 subscribers (from 10,000+ last year!) – please subscribe HERE
- Teaching is my professional calling. I love it! And I feel privileged to get the opportunity to teach hundreds of students each year in my online courses.
- My current courses include my premier course Real Estate Deal School (changed name from Real Estate Start School), which only opens for enrollment in March and September of each year
- In 2021 I created a new course with my friend and mentor Dyches Boddiford called Creative Financing For Real Estate Investors. It includes a physical course book, a full set of document templates, and hours of instruction from me and Dyches about how to use seller financing, private money, lease options, and more to do better real estate deals. You can see a full list of all my courses HERE.
Book – Retire Early With Real Estate:
- My book Retire Early With Real Estate was published by Bigger Pockets in 2018, but unbelievably it’s sold over 27,500 copies in print, Kindle, and audiobook formats (through Qtr 2, 2021). This still blows my mind!
But more importantly than all of these stats, I hope at least some of my efforts this year have helped you in some way. Because that’s why I do this!
Now, in case you’re interested here are some books I read in 2021.
Books I Read in 2021
I love reading books. It’s one of my biggest pleasures in life.
In 2021 like in prior years, I did a lot of reading. And in a couple of cases, I listened on audible.
But this year I tried to add more fiction and biographies into the mix.
Fiction & Biography Books in 2021
Here’s a list of the fiction and biography books I read (notice I’m a Sci-Fi nerd):
- Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, Jack Weatherford
- Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus’s Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior, James Stockdale
- Zeckendorf, The autobiography of the man who played a real-life game of Monopoly and won the largest real estate empire in history, by William Zeckendorf
- Just Mercy – A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson
- The 3 Body Problem, by Cixin Liu
- The Dark Forest, by Cixin Liu
- Death’s End, by Cixin Liu (this trilogy is one of the best I’ve ever read. Amazing sci-fi!)
- The Martian, by Andy Wier
- Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk
- Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
- Ready Player Two, by Ernest Cline
Non-Fiction Books in 2021
Here’s a list of the non-fiction books I read in 2021:
- Building a Vibrant Community, by Quint Studor
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, by Cal Newport
- A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload, by Cal Newport
- Call My Name Clemson: Documenting the Black Experience in an American University Community, by Rhondda Thomas
- Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, by Matthew Walker
- The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness, by Morgan Housel
- The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness, by Epictetus / Sharon Lebell
- The Shortness of Life: Life Is Long If You Know How to Use It, by Seneca
- The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, by Jared Diamond
- The YouTube Formula: How Anyone Can Unlock the Algorithm to Drive Views, Build an Audience, and Grow Revenue, by Darrel Eaves
- Richer, Wiser, Happier: How the World’s Greatest Investors Win in Markets and Life, by William Green
- Confessions of a Recovering Engineer: Transportation For a Strong Town, Chuck Marohn
- Rennaisance Man: The Life of Tommy Wyche, by Lynne Lucas
- First to a Million: A Teenager’s Guide to Achieving Early Financial Independence, by Dan Sheeks
- Short-Term Rentals, Long-Term Wealth: Your Guide to Analyzing, Buying, and Managing Vacation Properties, by Avery Carl
- Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling, by Matthew Dicks
- The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth About Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
Now, let’s take a look at my top Podcast episodes and YouTube videos of 2021.
The Top 10 Podcast Episodes of 2021
I published a total of 53 new podcast episodes in 2021, which was my third year of the Real Estate & Financial Independence Podcast. The episodes below were the 10 most popular new episodes based on the total number of downloads.
Did you have a personal favorite?
You can find all of these episodes at coachcarson.com/podcast or just search for “Real Estate & Financial Independence” on your favorite podcast player.
- Ep #180 – How a Guy With a Full-Time Job Invests in Rentals Long-Distance From California – With Travis Dodge (7,000 downloads)
- Ep #156 – 2021 Housing Bubble – My Thoughts on How to Invest Wisely (6,531 downloads)
- Ep #186 – How to Build $10,000 Per Month of Income From Rentals – With Kyle McCorkel (6,517 downloads)
- Ep #174 – Old School Tactics That Still Work in the 2021 Housing Market – With John Schaub (6,507 downloads)
- Ep #179 – A Doctor’s Recommendation For Financial Independence – Interview With the Physician on FIRE (6,361 downloads)
- Ep #182 – How to Quit Your Job Invest in Real Estate Full Time – Interview with Justin Foster (6,344 downloads)
- Ep #150 – My Step-by-Step Due Diligence Process to Avoid Big Real Estate Mistakes (5,980 downloads)
- Ep #169 – Early Financial Independence by Living & Investing in a Small City – with 3 Sisters Investments (5,980 downloads)
- Ep #157 – How One Investor Replaced His Salary With Multiple Streams Of Income – with Bradley LaBrie (5,849 downloads)
- Ep #155: How to Estimate Rehab Costs For Investment Properties – Interview With J Scott (5,676 downloads)
Now let’s take a look at the top 10 most popular new videos on my channel from 2021.
The Top 10 New YouTube Videos of 2021
**I based the video ranking on total views in 2021 (i.e. the number of times someone opened the video). This means the videos from earlier in the year have an advantage with more time to accumulate views. And I did not include any older videos, which actually get a lot more views than these.
1. The Top 5 Mistakes I’ve Made When Buying an Investment Property [9,769 views]
2. My First Rental Property (17 Years Later) – How Much Cashflow I Actually Made [8,500 views]
3. How to Retire in 10 Years With Real Estate Investing [6,700 views]
4. How to Calculate Internal Rate of Return (IRR) for Real Estate Investing [5,788 views]
5. Cap Rate Explained (Plus a Formula I Like Better to Analyze Investment Properties) [5,029 views]
6. How Much Money Do You Need to Buy a Rental Property [4,979 views]
7. 12 Amazing Strategies to Find Great Real Estate Investing Deals [4,333 views]
8. How to Confidently Buy Your First Rental Property (10-Steps) [4,033 views]
9. 2021 Housing Crash Predictions Are Foolish. Do This Instead [3,937 views]
10. How to Recession-Proof Your Real Estate Investments Like Warren Buffett & Dave Ramsey [3,926 page views]
To be notified of my latest YouTube video each Friday morning, subscribe HERE.
Now I’d like to share a little of what you can expect with me in 2022.
What to Expect in 2022
Perhaps the most exciting change for me and my family in 2022 is another planned international move. We’re doing the groundwork to move to Spain for 12 months beginning August 2022.
We don’t know the actual location yet, but we want our daughters to enroll in local schools to rekindle their Spanish.
I’ll share more details when we have them later this year!
Real Estate Investing:
In 2022, we will probably again sell a property or two and continue making some hard money loans. And we’ll continue to improve our maintenance and bookkeeping systems.
Sounds sort of boring right?!
But as my mentor John Schaub says, “boring” with your investments is good! Get your excitement in some other area of your life.
And honestly, this is the stage I always made a goal to achieve over 19 years ago. I wanted a simple, relatively boring cash flow generator when I started. Now that’s what we’ve got!
I plan to continue offering all my free content with a new podcast each Monday and a new YouTube video each Friday. I also share unique content, snippets, and behind-the-scenes pictures and stories on Instagram and Facebook.
Twice per year (March and September), I will also continue offering my premier course and community, Real Estate Deal School to help many of you become a better deal-maker so you can confidently buy your next investment.
My other course offerings will still be available anytime.
I’m also cooking up the possibility of writing another book in 2021 with BiggerPockets. The lag time on these is LONG, so if it happens it won’t be published until 2023. I’ll keep you posted!
Now let’s move on to my top podcast episodes and videos from 2021.
Thank you for being a part of coachcarson.com in 2021! It’s a privilege to be able to share with you. I hope you’ll stick around for more in 2022!
Did you have a favorite article, podcast, or video from 2021? What would you like to see more (or less of) next year?
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