In my Investor Profile Series, I use a question & answer format to share the stories of actual real estate investors at different stages of their investing careers.
Today’s investor profile is about Rolando Archila, a 32-year-old new investor who lives in northern Kentucky (just outside of Cincinnati). Rolando participated in my premium online course & community, Real Estate Start School, earlier this year. He followed all of the steps I asked and enthusiastically took a lot of action. A successful investment property purchase was the result!
Below you’ll learn how Rolando and his wife Jenn recently bought their first investment property (a house hack). You’ll also learn how they saved their down payment, why an 8-month trip around the world inspired them to live differently, and more.
In addition to a new real estate investing venture and regular jobs, Rolando and his wife run an awesome travel website called The Art of Wanderlust. I’m a follower and a fan!
Now I’ll turn it over to Rolando …
Your home location:
Currently live in Cincinnati, OH. Born and raised in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Career/Source of regular income:
Marketing and Strategy Consultant / eCommerce Entrepreneur at Art of Wanderlust
[Chad: I love Rolando’s website. He does an awesome job sharing adventures and encouraging us all to positively impact the world.]
What hobbies do you enjoy? What do you do for fun?
- Travel. To as many countries and wonders of the world as possible. Have visited 35+ countries so far.
- Music. Have been playing guitar casually since I was 14, am considering starting drumming
- Reading. I try to tackle 2-4 books per month, mostly nonfiction
- Movies. Big fan of anything nerdy, Nolan and smart
- Languages. Fluent in Spanish and German, have picked up bits of French and Portuguese along the way
[Chad: Travel + foreign languages + music + reading + movies. Sounds like a modern renaissance man to me! I can’t claim German fluency anymore, but I did speak it well during college. So, we’ll have to have all of our conversations in German and Spanish from now on Rolando!]
A fun/interesting/ little-known fact about you?
- I starred in a few commercials as a kid, including one for Frosted Flakes where I surfed with Tony the Tiger
- My wife and I took an 8-month mini-retirement a couple of years ago, traveling to 15 countries in 4 continents
[Chad: Tony the Tiger!? We need video clips Rolando!]
Financial Independence/Retirement Plans
Do you have plans for financial independence/retirement? Or have you already reached financial independence?
Yes, I do have plans but am not there yet. I am currently in the “Growth” stage, where I am trying to multiply my savings and net worth while generating passive income.
[Chad: Rolando is referencing one of the 5 wealth stages I teach in Real Estate Start School. In the course, I emphasize that you need to identify your wealth stage before you figure out the best real estate investing strategy for yourself.]
What does financial independence mean to you? Why do you want to achieve retirement/financial independence? What kind of activities and projects will you spend more time on?
I’ve thought about this a lot over the past couple of years. Living a minimalist life by surviving out of a backpack for 8 months taught me that I don’t need too many material things to be happy (I wrote about this here). Rather, the things that truly make me happy are giving and experiences. More concretely, my wife and I decided we would maximize two things in our lives, making them the metrics by which we measure success:
- Freedom (of time, location and finances) and
- Impact (on the world, on our loved ones)
This realization led me to create my own little model, the “Freedom/Impact Quadrants”, which helped both crystallize the concept in my head and serve as a reminder of where I want to go:
Mind you, this is my own definition of success and financial independence—others might have different goals so I am not suggesting it should be everyone’s 🙂
But this has led us to truly think about the things we value and how we spend our money. We currently travel to a new place at least once per month. We give 10% of our income (as well as 10% of our business profits) to different charities and causes. If a purchase doesn’t further our freedom or give back to the world, we think twice about it.
[Chad: This. Is. Gold! Wow, Rolando … I really love how you explained that. The two criteria – Freedom and Impact concisely explain what many of us aspire to with financial independence. And the Freedom Quadrants is such a cool way to show how freedom and impact can create an awesome life.]
If you had to start over and wanted to become financially independent, what’s the most important thing you would focus on?
I might start house hacking earlier. I really enjoyed renting for a while due to the flexibility it gave me and the ability to live in different locations and types of places. But if financial independence is your goal, house hacking is really a no-brainer once you understand the concept.
This might be cheating, but I’ll add one more important thing to focus on: side hustles. Learn how to make money outside of your regular job. Not only do you make some extra cash you can save, spend or invest, you will inevitably learn a lot of valuable skills and lessons along the way. Remember, the average millionaire has 7 sources of income, so if you’re only depending on your one job you might not be fulfilling your highest earning potential.
[Chad: House hacking … you all know how much I love to talk about it. If I could get every 20 and 30-something to begin their adult life house hacking, we’d all be in a different place financially. And side hustles are a great tip. Depending only on one source of income – be it rentals, a job, or anything else – isn’t smart. Diversified sources of income (or potential sources of income) helps you sleep well at night.]
Real Estate Investing
Why do you like real estate investing?
I’m just getting started, but there are a few things I like about the concept:
- First, real estate is almost as old as humanity itself. For all of the complexities and spreadsheets associated with it, real estate is ultimately about shelter, about putting people in people boxes. People have always needed housing and will always need housing. Moreover, millions of people throughout history have amassed small and large amounts of wealth from real estate investing. Therefore, the lessons are there and they’re replicable to anyone who is willing to listen and work.
- Second, real estate is concrete (no pun intended). Unlike investing in things like Bitcoin or the stock market, which are almost entirely conceptual, real estate is physical and relatively easy to understand. The house is there, it has four walls and a roof, and a few things inside of it that make it function. My impression is it doesn’t require a PhD to get started or be successful… just experience, patience, courage and hard work.
- Lastly, I like the creative aspect of it. This is going to sound weird, but I always loved playing with Legos. I like building and making things. Nowadays, pretty much 100% of my work and business is digital, so I stare at a computer screen all day. I look forward to working with my hands for a change, learning to become handier. And I love the idea of getting an old space to creatively restore and renovate it.
[Chad: “People boxes” – ha, ha. I think I might start using that in my rental ads. “People box for rent – $1,000!” And it’s so true that real estate is concrete, simple, and understandable. It has true utility (people need shelter), and in locations with increasing populations and jobs, the economics get better and better over time.
I was also totally into Legos. I also loved long-term, strategy computer or board games like Monopoly, Risk, Civilization, etc. The tangible and strategic side of real estate investing has certainly been like a fun game for me, too.]
Can you describe your approach to real estate investing? For example, do you do flips, rentals, house hacks, wholesaling, notes, or more than one? And what niche(s) and type of properties do you buy?
For the moment I am house hacking. In the near future, I will seek to do one or two additional multi-family and/or house hack investments.
How did you get started? How did you get the money? Did you have any help?
We have always been big savers. For many years we’ve implemented systems that automatically withdraw certain amounts or percentages from every paycheck. Whenever we would get a bonus, tax return or other windfall, it went into savings. Of course, it helped that we were both earning pretty good salaries at our consulting jobs and that we spent way less than what we made (our savings rate has always hovered around 30-60%).
We stayed debt-free for the most part. We sold one car and used that money to pay the other. It takes a bit of coordination to have two people with one car, but it’s really not a huge deal. We decided to stay in an urban-ish area, so it makes it easy to walk, bike, bus or Uber to most places if needed.
For a long time, we didn’t even know what we would do with the savings. Conventional wisdom tells you to max out retirement accounts and save an Emergency Fund, so we did that.
Once we had enough there we focused on saving to meet our freedom goals.
We continued by saving enough to take a mini-retirement (an 8-month trip around the world) and then carried on saving for future investments. We called it our “Freedom Fund,” knowing only we’d want to invest it eventually in education and assets that helped us reach financial independence. The Freedom Fund helped us kick off our e-Commerce business and real estate investing.
[Chad: I love how Rolando and his wife Jenn demonstrate the power of saving. In some ways, there are no secrets about how to succeed in wealth building and real estate. You need to increase earnings, decrease spending, and SAVE. It’s the essence of the simple math that leads to early retirement.]
What were the biggest obstacles you faced when starting? How did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacle is just wrapping your head around the whole thing. What strategy should I choose? How much cash should I spend? How do I finance the deal? And how do I know if it’s a good deal in the first place?
The thing I’ve realized is inaction is often caused by fear of the unknown. So, the single best thing we did to overcome those fears and obstacles was to get educated. Specifically, Coach Carson’s Real Estate Start School helped us understand the big picture in real estate, helped us understand the different investment and financing strategies, and helped kick our butts into gear to get our first deal done.
(Disclaimer: I promise Chad did not pay or ask me to plug this. I just enjoyed it and highly recommend it 😀 ).
[Chad: Thanks Rolando! Education has always been my best return on investment. I’m glad you found it helpful as well. Your participation and enthusiasm within the course have been awesome.]
What % of your net worth (roughly) is in real estate?
Currently about 15%.
What other types of assets do you invest in? Why? How do they fit with/complement real estate investments?
Right now we have a mix of cash and IRAs. Jenn (my wife) and I also co-wrote a long-term travel planning book and started an eCommerce business called Art of Wanderlust, where we sell décor and apparel for travelers. This helps provide some additional passive income while inspiring others to travel the world, something we feel very passionate about.
In my mind, our real estate investment—specifically house hacking—fulfills two main goals:
- reducing or even eliminating our single largest expense, which was housing (we were paying $1,100 in rent); and
- providing a foundation of passive income that will allow us to continue to have the life of freedom and impact we seek.
Real Estate Deal
What’s the best or most memorable real estate deal you’ve made? Why?
Considering this is our first deal, this one 🙂
How did you find the deal? Why did the owner sell?
I met with a few different real estate agents and signed up to receive listings of multi-family properties in the Greater Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky region. This property showed up, which looked nicer and much more kept up than many others we’d seen, so we moved fast to set up a visit.
[Chad: Although finding properties through Realtors on the MLS (multiple listing service) can become very competitive, it still represents a wealth of potential purchases because most houses sell through this channel. Rolando demonstrated that you can still find deals even in a competitive market like 2018!]
What were the basic numbers like purchase price, remodel costs, rent, resale price (if applicable)
- Purchase Price: The house was listed at $175K but we ended up negotiating it down to $157K.
- Remodel Costs: It’s in fairly good shape already, so we just plan on putting another ~$10K into minor fixes and renovations.
- Rent: One unit rents for ~$800 and we live in the other unit, which we could rent for ~$950-1,000, for a total of ~$1,700-1,800 in rent.
[Chad: I have written about the 1% rule in the past. It’s a good rule of thumb that says a property should rent for 1% or more of the total purchase price. So, in this case Rolando could rent his building for $1,700 to $1,800 (although he lives in one for now), which meets the 1% rule with his total investment of $157,000 + $10,000 = $167,000.
Most importantly for now – Rolando and Jenn reduced their housing payment from $1,100/month rent to $300-400/month in net costs because of the extra rental income from their duplex.]
How did you finance the deal and raise down payment funds?
Paid for down payment with savings and got a conventional 30-year fixed mortgage.
What has been the overall effect of this deal on your life? Lessons learned?
We closed a month ago and just moved in, so the jury’s still out :). But so far, it has been an exciting and eventful journey. Definitely many bits and pieces we hadn’t thought through, but nothing we can’t handle. The lessons on dealing with contractors and tenants are already rolling in!
[Chad: I like to tell people that the REAL education begins when you actually own a property. That’s why so much of my job here at coachcarson.com is getting you out into the real world where you learn so many lessons! Rolando and Jenn have set themselves up very nicely with this first acquisition. They will learn a lot while still not taking enormous risks. And they’ll be even more prepared for the next purchase!]
Do you have any tools that help you manage your life, like a physical planner or digital software?
I am pretty scatterbrained, so I rely on a few tools to make my day productive. Some of my recent finds and all-time favorites include:
- Evernote – Have used it for years to keep all kinds of notes, photos, lists and documents organized across all my devices
- Toby – Organizes the million tabs I often have open on Google Chrome
- Pocket – Great app/Chrome extension to save articles or videos for later viewing
- Planoly – Helps schedule and auto-post Instagram photos in an easy-to-use grid
- Airtable – My amazing, wonder-planner wife found this. We have recently started using it as a project management tool and it’s amazing
- Unroll.me – Aggregates all of your email subscriptions into one convenient, easy to navigate newsletter. Reduced my email traffic by 80%
- TaskRabbit – Have been using it for housing stuff lately and it’s awesome
- Google Suite – Docs, Sheets, Gmail, Keep, Ads… I’m a slave to the Google Gods
I also rely on a handy ol’ notebook for notes, sketches, habit tracking and weekly to-do lists.
[Chad: Wow – love this list! I just checked out unroll.me and I think it may change my life! I went from over 100 subscriptions to just 14 in my inbox. I’ll let everyone know how it goes.]
What does a typical morning routine look like for you?
I’m a big fan of the routine laid out in “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod. It takes 45-60 minutes each morning and consists of six parts, laid out in the acronym SAVERS:
S – Silence. I meditate for 10-20 minutes
A – Affirmations. I recite affirmations of who I am and where I want to go
V – Visioning. I read or listen to an audio recording of my 5-year life vision
E – Exercise. I do 10-15 minutes of yoga or elliptical
R – Read. I read ~10 pages of an inspiring and/or educational book
S – Scribing. I write down my goals, as well as three things I’m grateful for
I’ll admit I don’t follow the routine in its entirety 100% of the time (who does?), but I try to do most of it, on most mornings. It makes a huge difference in my mood, motivation and energy for the rest of the day.
[Chad: I love Miracle Morning! I have had a morning routine for years, but about a year ago I also tried out and adapted Hal Elrod’s for myself. I like to have a mini-miracle morning that I can do in 5 minutes (for those rushed, hectic days) and a more normal version that takes 30 minutes. Starting the day on a positive, quite, deliberate note is one of the best habits I’ve ever begun. Sounds like Rolando finds it helpful as well.]
What’s your #1 habit to stay personally productive and fully engaged in life?
Meditation. It has had a tremendous impact on my focus and creativity, helping me stay present and productive. I notice a marked difference in my brain on the days I meditate versus ones I don’t.
[Chad: Agree! I practice meditation and find the same difference when I do or don’t meditate that morning.]
As usual, Jerry Seinfeld does a really good job of explaining the energizing benefits of meditation when describing his particular meditation technique:
“You know that tremendous feeling of power when your phone is fully charged? ‘I am loaded with juice!’ That’s what meditation is. It’s like having a charger for your whole body and mind.”
Who have been your most important heroes, mentors, and/or teachers?
My parents have always been—and continue to be—big influences in my life. My dad taught me to work harder than everyone else, to always act with integrity, to have goals and to pursue them relentlessly. And my mom taught me to follow my passion, to love family over everything, to be bring my creativity into everything I do and to never forget to be playful.
Jenn, my beautiful wife and partner in crime in all our crazy adventures, is also a huge inspiration and support every day.
What are your favorite books, blogs, or authors? Can be categories in business, investing, or life/philosophy (other than a sacred book)?
Some of my all time favorite books include:
- The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
- The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau
- The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
As you can tell, I have quite a few favorites. Possibly too many to list! Luckily, I have a “Digital Bookshelf” of books I recommend, organized by topic, here.
[Chad: Awesome list Rolando! Chris Guillebeau and his blog and books have been very helpful for me as well. And as someone with too many favorite books, you’ve just inspired me to make my own Digital Bookshelf! Coming soon …]
What legacy do you want to leave personally and in your career?
Such a deep (and difficult) question! Love it.
I would like to be remembered as someone who lived boldly, differently, courageously, passionately. I want to be remembered as one who gave generously, who made a gigantic impact on the world. One who encouraged others to answer their call to adventure, to travel, to live creative, playful, and ultimately happy, lives.
[Chad: Sounds like a life well-lived to me!!]
Final Advice For Other Investors?
Any big mistakes you’ve made that others should avoid?
I’d say if you are looking to start in real estate investing, start house hacking as soon as possible, as long as your life circumstances allow you to do so. If you do the right deal and get your financial and landlord ducks in a row, it can help catapult you into financial freedom sooner than you’d expect.
As far as mistakes, it might be too early to tell, but so far one thing I’ve learned is you have to be polite yet firm with tenants! For some reason, I’ve found that if you give people a small opening they’ll take advantage of it. So have clear rules, communicate them well, and hold your ground.
[Chad: Polite but firm – DEFINITELY agree. I believe we do well as a landlord by serving and taking care of our tenants, and at the same time, the tenants have a job to do – paying their rent on time, taking care of their home, and not disturbing others. If they don’t do their job, they need to know it and have clear consequences.]
What advice do you have for a young person just considering their future career and life as an adult?
I actually wrote an article about the things I would tell my 20-year old self here. But here are some of my key pieces of advice:
- Learn to be happy. Happiness is a skill, it’s a habit. For the most part, it’s in your control. Read books on happiness, develop yourself, explore, talk to those wiser than you. The sooner you learn what truly makes you happy the sooner you can pursue what truly matters and make your impact on the world.
- Find your purpose. A purpose is a self-defined destiny. Find out what really makes you tick, discover what you’re truly good at, research what people pay money for, and define the change you want to see in the world. Combine all of these to find your purpose. Once you discover it, pursue it relentlessly.
- Question everything. Everything around us that we call ‘the world’—our clothes, houses, religions, governments, even real estate investing!—was invented by people who are no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can reinvent it. You can design any life you can dream of, especially in this day and age. Dare to be different!
[Chad: You’re a wise dude, Rolando!]
Any final tips for others looking to invest in real estate and achieve financial independence?
Take Action Today.
[Chad: Wow. I have the luckiest job in the world getting to interview and interact with amazing people like Rolando. Thank you Rolando for sharing your story and wisdom!
Do you have a wanderlust to travel and explore the world? Where would you like to go? What impact do you want to make? Please leave your comments and questions for Rolando in the comments section below.
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