I’m on a journey to financial freedom. I’ve actually been on this journey since I was 15, but now I’m actively pursuing that goal every day and will get out of the rat race in 2014! My blog follows my self development, education, “ah ha” moments, actions, costs, etc. that I will go through on my journey. My hope is that by blogging the entire process, others will be able to replicate and/or get inspired within themselves to achieve financial freedom for themselves.
Here is my back story on what has led me to this point.
High School – 2003 to 2005
I was inspired when I was 15 my uncle took me to a Jim Rohn seminar. It blew my mind to create a business instead of work for someone – that there was an alternative to the mentality I had grown up with. After that I read Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and then continued to eat up all his books and other financial books all through high school. I even persuaded my English teacher senior year to let me do reports on financial books instead of the class reading.
College – Fall 2005
Not going to college was never an option in my household. My parents are educators with BA and MAs. I was planning on working my way through community college but got accepted to the Honors College at the University of Houston. So off I went to college and decided to major in business since I knew my goal was to start a business. I quickly learned that I would spend the next 2 years taking basics (all the stuff I just did in high school!) before I would even learn anything about business. So about 6 weeks, if that, into college I stopped going, withdrew from classes and decided I was going to be a real estate investor with my aunt and uncle. My parents were not happy about that choice to say the least especially since I cost them a few thousand dollars in lost tuition, board, etc. I actually saved them thousands more by not continuing college, (especially since so many people have degrees they don’t even use) but they didn’t see it that way!
Real Estate Investor at 18 – January to May 2006
I moved out to Los Angeles in January to live with my aunt and uncle and learn to become a real estate investor. Shortly thereafter I went to my first full REI workshop lead by Kris Kirschner. They took me to a few more seminars like Ron LeGrand (their mentor), Bruce Norris, and a few REI club meetings. I was commended for being young, smart and motivated. I was inspired!!! Real estate investing was easy and this was my path!
Well, I found real estate investing wasn’t so easy and after 4 months I moved out. I gave myself the solid month of May just to work on putting all the stuff I learned into place. And I tried. I really did as much as can be done with no money. I drove around looking for ugly, boarded up houses, used a skip trace service to find the owners and mailed them handwritten yellow letters according to the script I had learned in the seminars. And I kept looking for ugly houses. And kept writing letters. And kept searching and kept writing letters. My phone never rang. After that month I had to get a job as bills were piling up. That was the end of my real estate investing career before it started.
Jobs – Summer 2006 to Summer 2008
I found a job working with animals doing birthday parties and classes for kids. My two passions!! I loved it. After being there for several months I offered to help out the owner on running her business. I put up a website and started marketing in Google PPC (Pay Per Click). She wouldn’t / couldn’t pay me for my time so I just got a commission for all parties booked from my efforts. I enjoyed running her business, learned a lot but I never got paid more than just a flat commission that came out to 10% or less.
Reptacular Animals – April 2008 to Summer 2013
Almost 2 years into the job I had a completely random conversation with one of the other workers who I didn’t know very well. She confessed she did an animal party with some of her own pets. We ended up talking for hours about doing animal parties on our own that Friday night. She had the animals and I knew about to run the business. Three days later on Monday morning we went down to the court-house to open our new business Reptacular Animals.
We worked 7 days a week for over 4 years getting Reptacular Animals to be successful. We had no money to invest to get it going so we worked other jobs to fund the business and put everything we made back into growing our business. We launched in June and by September I was able to make Reptacular full-time and we could get a small salary. We started out with nothing and finally we’re able to pay ourselves a good salary a few years later! Wow!! Big money right?! We literally worked 24/7 and that was OK because we were now getting paid what we deserved! True I had only had 2 vacations totaling 9 days that I had to deduct from my pay, but working 24/7 was needed to keep the business going.
The shift started when I adopted my kids in July 2012. I didn’t want to work 24/7 anymore; I wanted normal hours and have my weekends to spend time with them. Gradually I worked less but I needed the same money.
Afterall isn’t that the rat race? As our income grows so do our expenses for that nicer house, nicer car, and of course more doodads! I had fallen into the rat race and built myself a job, not an asset by being a business owner!
When I didn’t want to put in the same time and effort we had been for 4 years getting Reptacular off the ground, hadn’t we earned the privilege of working fewer hours after working so hard for so long?! And to keep it fair then both my business partner and I deserve to work less and keep our higher pay since we had worked for hard. Wasn’t it time to enjoy the fruits of our labor?
We gradually realized our business’s money was going down and we weren’t able to save anything. Finally in July 2013 we had to admit to ourselves we couldn’t keep the same pay and not work 24/7. It’s not fair to work 24/7 but the business couldn’t afford to pay us what we “deserved” for all our hard work for 5 years.
Decision Time – September 2013
So five years after I started Reptacular Animals I looked up and realized: “Woah! What happened to my goals of being out of the rat race! I’ve haven’t been a business owner – just self-EMPLOYED!! Employed! Job! Trading my time for money!! No passive income! I had fallen into the way of life I had been educating myself not to become in high school!! Noooooooo!!!!” So began my newfound commitment to getting out of the rat race once and for all. And this is where my financial freedom journey really kicks off!
I had a decision to make – go back to working long hours 7 days a week to keep my higher pay or take a pay cut to keep normal hours and weekends off. Can I use my time differently to produce different financial results? Well, that’s my intention to regain my time so my journey to financial freedom will succeed!