In Part I, I began to discuss how a career as an investor could be a way for mothers to create a flow of income while staying home with their children. This week, Christina Suter, a real estate investor and founder of Ground Level Consulting will explain how she created this type of career for herself.
Before we jump into how to create this lifestyle, we should take an introspective look at why this type of lifestyle rarely exists in society. If creating passive income can offer mothers more control over their time, then why don’t we have more female investors?
Christine mentioned that it could be that women are not inherently wired to consider making an income this way. It’s an interesting topic and worth delving into. In prehistoric times and even in more recent times, men have provided for their families. It’s feminine instinct to look to the man to provide for the female and her children. Christine encourages women to become more conscious of their thoughts and actions and create a different mindset when it comes to managing finances. Rather than say, “HE can deliver the kind of life that I want”, Christina encourages women to say “WE can deliver the life that I want. I am the one with the prestige. I am the one with the job. I am the one with the thing that I respect in him. I’m the one that holds that.”
Maybe it’s a women’s maternal instinct to not be involved in planning financially to be a stay-at-home mom or maybe women have never been presented with the idea that they can stay at home and have a career as an investor. According to this article, women are looking for better educational tools to understand how to invest. It’s an interesting topic and something to think about as we raise and mentor our children, especially daughters and the coming generations.
Now let’s explore how Christina was able to create a stay-at-home lifestyle through investing:
That’s Pretty Powerful (TPP): How did you get started?
Christina Suter (CS): I started at 17 and I’ve been investing for over 20 years. I’ve owned about 350 units over the 20 years. I use that experience to help investors reinvest their portfolio to make sure it fits their personality and their retirement.
TPP: You started investing early in life, so at what point did you decide you were going to use your investments to be a stay-at-home mom? How did you begin to plan for this type of lifestyle?
CS: Looking back at it, it was in the moment. Something let go inside of me and said that I can have children. I didn’t completely realize. I knew in my 20’s that I was planning my career so I could have children. I knew I had this prospective because I was raised in a matriarch. My mother earned the money in the family and my step-dad worked with my mom at her company. I was raised with a role model where the woman really was one of the primary breadwinners in the family. So I had this role model that said you can do it this way. She was a single mom with three kids running her own company until she got remarried.
When I had developed enough capital, in that moment I heard myself say “I have enough now I can have children. But wait, I’m dating someone who doesn’t want to have children. I’m having a crisis.” I was 35 at the time where my capital had hit that point. That was the point where I knew, with a husband, without a husband, I could do it alone, but I didn’t want to do it alone. That was never my plan. But I heard the voice in my head say, “I’ve reached it. Ok, now I have to change partners. I hope I find someone who wants to have a child with me. I’m now 36.” The plan was in me when I was young. It was a given because of my matriarch upbringing.
That’s why I would say to someone who is 17 or 25 years old, you have that choice. If you commit to that choice you can have that type of life. If you start planning your investments at 17, you can have a child at 27. If you start at 22, you can have a child at 32. You can make it so.
TPP: What was it at age 35 that you knew you had this number? You said you had this voice in your head. How do you suggest someone strategically plan for your type of lifestyle?
CS: Easy, it’s an envisioning process I do with my clients all the time. You can’t save without vision. You need to know why [you’re saving]. The good news about women is that we will sacrifice once we know what the vision is. We think, “No one is messing with my baby”. It might be ten years away, but no one is messing with it.
You go inside of your head and ask “what do I want it to look like”? If I commit to being a participant fiscally with my child, what does that look like? Does it look like a home or does it look like an apartment? Do you have a dog? Are you living in Pasadena or are you living in Santa Monica? What does it look like if I’m paying for 50% or more of what’s happening? What do I need in able to be able to pay for that lifestyle?
Second, you need to come up with a cash flow number per month. In other words, how much does this lifestyle cost and how much money do I need to make to keep up this lifestyle? How much do I need to be a Mom?
So do you need to have multiple sources of income coming in at the same time? Yes. Here’s what was going in on my head [in my 20’s], “I want to be a teacher. A teacher makes $42,000 a year. That’s $3,500 a month. I need $9,000 per month to have the child. $3,500 per month is not enough for a 50% or more participant in my child’s life. I only need about another $1000 to make it work. What if I had my investments working in such a way that I had another $1000 in passive investments coming in to supplement me being a teacher so I can be a mom?
The last financial thing you need to know if you want to earn $1000 per month is you figure how much capital you need to get 4% return off that capital. Four percent is a very conservative number. If you want to be aggressive you can say 8% return.
TPP: Why 4% return?
CS: 4% is the traditional standard return for stocks and bonds. For instance, if you plan your retirement, how much capital do you need to plan your retirement? If you do stocks and bonds then you can try to get dividends of about 4% so you are not eating into capital.
The 8% is my personal experience in real estate. I can put my money into relatively passive deals like hard money or into a fund and usually get 8%.
Lastly, you figure out how much capital you need to get $1000 per month at 4%?
$300,000 at 4% return gives you a $1,000 per passive income a month. [An investment of $300,000 with 4% return per year gives you an income of $12,000 per year or $1,000 per month] Now the way I work, I need $350k because I always have cash reserves. And cash does not bring you any money. The more I have out there, the more reserves I want at home in case something happens. At 8% return, you need half that amount so you would need $150,000.
TPP: How does someone find an investment that will net $1,000 per month?
CS: Either get a professional or get educated. Real estate, dividend stocks (research who is paying a 4% dividend),
But there are so many options, even getting educated is difficult.
Put yourself where investments are available to you. Get educated or find a professional or both. Then you put yourself in an environment that allows you to find investments. In real estate it’s incredibly easy. You go onto Meetup.com and type in the word real estate, and attend networking events.
TPP: I attend these events, but I feel like I only get the topline information. How do I dive deeper into individual investments?
CS: You find a low cost course on the type of investment that interests you. For instance in real estate, it can be Bruce Norris, Bill Tan, Kevin Ward, or Reggie Lal’s courses. Plan on taking a couple of those from a couple of different people. Set aside $500. Plan on going to one meeting a week for a minimum of six months. Plus there’s a load of YouTube videos out there like J Massey, Bigger Pockets, FotuneBuilders, and Rich Dad. After six months, you’re going to feel like you finally understand what real estate is composed of. Maybe you have no sense where to start, but you have some idea of what is the horizon look like, what does a CAP rate mean, what does a GRM mean?
Then you can hire a professional to cross check you. And you will at least have enough knowledge to start the conversation.
Investing can be confusing, but put yourself in the middle of the confusion until it make sense.
TPP: How does someone who already has children find time to learn about investing?
CS: It doesn’t mean you can’t start now. It doesn’t mean you can have your baby right next to you while you’re watching the YouTube video. It doesn’t mean you can’t have your sister, your mom, or husband watch them when you go to a meeting once a week. You can go to short classes. You can arrange for babysitting. You don’t have to pay for babysitting. You are only going to do three of them over three years. One weekend out of every year. Can you find someone to watch your baby? Yes you can. It doesn’t take that much. Can you do it? Yes you can.
SUMMARY ON HOW TO CREATE PASSIVE INCOME
- Envision the lifestyle you want:
You will need to also envision the type of lifestyle you want. For instance, do you see your child attending public school or private school? What types of activities do they participate in?
- Calculate your cash flow:
Now that you can envision the type of lifestyle you want to live, calculate how much that lifestyle will cost. In other words, you need to know how much money you spend per month. That’s the minimum you need to make in passive income to cover your expenses. If you don’t know how much that lifestyle will cost, do some research. For example, if you want your kid to attend private school, find out how much that will cost.
- Figure out how much capital you need to create a 4% return:
Once you know how much you spend each month, then figure out how much capital you will need to create at least 4% in passive income per month. For instance, if you’re expenses are $1,000 per month, you will need $300,000 in reserves to create $1,000 per month in passive income. (example: an investment of $300,000 with 4% return per year gives you an income of $12,000 per year or $1,000 per month)
- Hire A Professional
A professional can help you create a strategy based on your goal. They also have the expertise to get you where you need to go within your timeline. As I mentioned before, make sure you hire the right person with great qualifications and a strong track record. You may want to take small steps with the professional advisor so you can get to know each other before making any big decisions.
- Get Educated:
It’s important to understand what your professional financial advisor is recommending, so read up on the subject, attend a course, join an investor group in Meetup.com.
Two of my favorite quotes are “Time is the new money” and “Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time”. Spending time on the things you want to focus on is today’s version of hitting the lotto. People are more creative than ever about how they create an income. Most entrepreneurs create more than one type of income stream and investing can be one of those ways.
The key to remember is that it’s never too late to start. Whether you’re in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and beyond.
What questions do you have about creating this type of lifestyle?