Many people wonder how we are able to own a single family home and investment property in Washington D.C., as well as travel Internationally at least twice a year at such a “young” age. Well, It is totally doable and we want the world to know!

THE GAME THAT CHANGED OUR LIVES

A few years ago we were introduced to a game called Cash Flow and it changed. our. lives. The object of the game is to have your passive income be greater than your expenses so that you can get out of the “rat race” of life. We walked away from the game with a totally different view of what our future should look like. We agreed that we did not want to take the traditional route, and we have been scheming ever since. One day I told someone that I would retire today if I could and they said “You can’t retire yet, you have to pay your dues.” And my response was… “But why? Who do I owe these dues to?!”

Who made that rule anyway? My husband and I are determined to deviate from the norm and get out of the rat race ASAP. Here’s what we are doing to put our plan in motion:

BUYING PROPERTY

When buying a property, the biggest hurdle is the down payment. Saving tens of thousands of dollars for a down payment could take years, but did you know that if you work for the Federal Government you can borrow money from your TSP specifically for the purchase of a primary residence? TSP also allows for General Purpose Loans (which is what we used, since we were using it for an investment property). Yep! You are essentially borrowing money from yourself!  If you are like us, and retirement is years down the road, borrowing money from your TSP is quick, easy, safe, the interest rates are low and the best part is- you are paying the interest back to yourself. If you do not have a TSP account, no worries! Here are a few more methods we used to save money and prepare for buying property:

  1. Estimate how much the monthly mortgage payment will be using a mortgage calculator and start putting that amount of money aside, in a separate bank account at least 6 months before purchasing the property. By putting aside this “mock mortgage money” you will ensure that you can consistently afford the mortgage payment and you will build up a nice cushion for any unforeseen expenses after the purchase.
  2. Shop around for realtors, loan officers and banks. We did our homework and only went with those that offered the best monetary incentives. Some companies will offer cash back upon closing or cash for opening a bank account.
  3. Don’t shy away from short sales and foreclosures- you may find a hidden gem if you look! Just make sure that your real estate agent is well versed in whichever you decide to go with. Also, don’t be fooled by the term “short sale”. Short sales can take months. Ours took 6 months but was well worth the wait!

Another option, that we did not explore, is borrowing money from your IRA. You are allowed to borrow a certain amount without penalty when purchasing a home. Look into the rules and see if it is a good fit for you.

RENTAL INCOME

We bought our duplex investment property back in May. We focused on renovating one of the units right away so that we could start bringing in rental income. During the renovation period, we used the “mock mortgage money” we had put aside to pay the mortgage. Once the first unit starting bringing in income, we were able to put that towards the mortgage as well as the renovations for the 2nd unit.

When it comes to renting out an investment property, there are several opportunities to explore but knowing your market is key. Consider the following options:

  • Section 8 Program
  • Veterans Housing Program
  • Short Term Housing (for interns, etc.)
  • Long Term Housing (1+ year lease)

SAVE FOR SPLURGING

We believe that investing in ourselves is just as important as any other investment we make. Owning property does not mean you can’t live well and travel well! We were able to get a custom closet built in our master bedroom, and travel to Costa Rica, Italy and the Dominican Republic all with the money we saved doing the 52 week challenge. This is our absolute favorite way to save for travel and other splurges. The past two years we decided to double the amounts so that we could save more. Try it! You will love the results!

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

Just a few months ago we decided to become a one-car household. We sold both of our cars and bought a used car that suited our needs (Well…. that mostly suited my need to fit large pieces of furniture that I find on the Craigslist FREE section. Ha! ). Living in D.C. means we barely use our cars during the week since we take the bus and metro to work. Our cars would sit for days at a time without being used. Remember when I said we were trying to get out the rat race ASAP? This is one of those things we decided to do to get closer to that goal. Now we’ve cut our maintenance, and insurance costs, and we got some cash for selling our cars. What’s even better is- we used the cash to invest back into our rental property! When it comes to cutting back on monthly bills, think outside of the box! Perhaps you can get rid of cable, downgrade your phone bill, or pack your lunch during the week. Don’t be afraid to make small sacrifices today, that will put you in a better financial situation tomorrow!

Owning a home, investing, saving and traveling the world are all within reach and you do not have to sacrifice one for the other! If you have any questions, or just want to say hello, our email is: kendra@getthekeyresource.com

-Kendra

 

Kendra is an Economist by day and the owner of The Key Resource , a real estate investment resource site. In her spare time you can find her thrifting, conquering a new DIY project or baking some gluten-free goodies. Kendra was born and raised in Virginia and now resides in D.C. with her husband Reggie.