In order to reach the top of the real estate investing mountain, you're going to want – and need – to utilize all of the tools available to you in your financial tool belt. While you can theoretically build a house with just a few tools, the quality of the house can suffer if you don't have certain specialized tools at your disposal. The same holds true when you're trying to finance your real estate transactions.
First, a key truth in real estate: You don't need to have a sterling credit record or access to a ton of cash in order to make a fortune as a real estate investor. But you'll reach the real estate investing Promised Land much more quickly if you do.
Because your ultimate goal is to create a thick real estate portfolio and a large residual monthly income that comes in regardless of whether you decide to pull yourself out of bed every morning or you choose to sleep in, you will want to ensure that your finances are in a maximum state of health. That requires you to give your finances an intensive check-up, much like your personal physician would do ensure that you're the picture of good health.
Step One: Get in the Right Frame of Mind
The most critical step of analyzing your financial situation lies in realizing that the way you approach money and financial decisions plays a massive role in your ultimate success or failure. If you have a proven track record of shooting yourself in the foot with bad financial decisions, it's imperative that you do a radical about-face and change your spending habits.
If you waste a ton of money on music downloads, splurge daily on over-priced gourmet coffee, or you are on a first-name basis with the greeter at Walmart, I have a newsflash for you: Your budget has more pork in it than a Congressional spending bill. By cutting much of the waste out of your personal economy, you can generate cash out of thin air that you can use for much better purposes than instant
Instead, you can change your life for the better. But the choice is yours alone to make.
Step Two: Relentlessly Cut Expenses
When you're done paying bills at the end of the month, do you usually have cash left over or do you tend to spend everything within a day or two of payday – and then limp through until your next
paycheck comes in? Most people spend the lion's share of their paycheck on bills, food, and other necessities. If they're lucky, they are able to set a few dollars aside for a rainy day. The difference between those who have control of their finances and those whose financial life is in disarray is that having control involves taking control – and keeping control. While many people have trouble increasing their income (although I can help you with that more on that later), it is possible to reduce spending. In order to do that, you need to get a handle on your expenses and identify areas of your budget that can be trimmed back.
While this isn't the sexiest topic of conversation, it's absolutely vital to your ultimate success as a real estate investor. Budgeting for monthly expenditures and spending only what is on your list is one of the most difficult aspects of taking control of your financial life. By eliminating unnecessary expenditures, you'll reach your goals more quickly. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Gut the Cable Pig – That's right; cancel your cable. You're constantly complaining that there's nothing good on anyway, right?Instead, talk to your spouse, take a walk, or read a good investing book.
- Cut Your Cell Phone Plan Down to Size – Most people load up on costly and wasteful cell phone package deals. Unlimited texting, mobile web, and massive calling plans are great, but most people don't use all of their phone's features. Do you need mobile browsing – or is it just a toy you use to watch YouTube videos when you should be doing something else? Do you need unlimited texting or can you give your thumbs a rest if it will save you $20 per month?
- Stay Out of the Drive-through – Your waistline and your wallet will thank you. These often-daily trips to McDonald's and other fast food joints are killing your health and your budget, sometimes to the tune of $5-$10 per trip.
Step Three: Pay off Excessive Debt
Another area that's probably holding you back is excessive debt. High credit card balances, store charge card balances, and computer payments are a fact of life for millions of us. However, if they're holding you back financially, they need to go the way of the 8-track tape and join the growing list of things that once had a useful purpose and no longer do. Make extra payments, have a yard sale, or do whatever else it takes to eliminate excessive debt.
If you can't find the cash to pay off some of these accounts, consolidate them, or at least make larger payments. If what's in your wallet – credit cards – are consuming too much of your cash, it's time to take control and protect your financial interests. Nobody else will.
Step Four: Check Your Credit Report and Score
What's your credit history like? Do you have a long track record of consistently paying your bills on time or do you tend to pay a lot of your bills late, if at all? If you are like most people, your on-time billpaying record is somewhere in the middle. The first step in making that determination is to examine your credit report and to find out what your credit score is. Once you know those details, you can get to work improving your credit and positioning your finances to take advantage of real estate opportunities when they present themselves to you.
The good news is that you won't have to spend a small fortune obtaining your credit report. The Federal government – for once – finally had a pro-consumer idea that makes sense. The three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax have teamed up with a single website (www.annualcreditreport.com) that allows you to get your credit report once per year for free. Whether you get all three at the same time, or you stagger them so that you examine a different one every four months is your choice.
The important thing is that you get these reports and see what information is on them. They will have the majority of your credit transactions on them, as well as any charge-offs, late payments, etc., along with your current balances.
If you find that your report contains errors, omissions, or fraudulent accounts (accounts listed in your name that were opened by somebody other than you), there is a mechanism in place to correct these entries. Because your ability to borrow money – and the interest rate you'll pay – hinges upon the accuracy of these reports, it's in your best interest to ensure that the story your credit report is the truth.
While you don't get free credit scores with your free credit reports, it's still important that you have an accurate understanding of your current credit score as part of a comprehensive examination of your finances. You're much more than a number, but to a potential lender, numbers are all that matter. If your FICO score is too low, your chances of getting a loan approval are reduced. This knowledge will allow you to act decisively in improving your credit score – and the rate and terms you can demand in all of your financial transactions.
Step Five: Increasing your Income
You have two choices in increasing your income: work harder at your job or find an entrepreneurial opportunity that can put you on the path of financial success. Real estate investing is a proven method of creating wealth, residual monthly income, and life-changing opportunity.
I aim to continue giving you many of the tools you can put to work in your life today to increase your income and build real, sustainable wealth. What you do with this knowledge is up to you.