I’m Debt-FREEEEEEE!

By
Education & Training with Sell with Soul

I’m often asked how I got into the “real estate training” business – usually by people who’d like to do it too. People who feel they have a message and are passionate about sharing it.

So, Jennifer, how did you make the transition from being a reasonably successful real estate agent to being a Debtreasonably successful real estate trainer and what advice would you give me if I wanted to do it, too?”

Well, truth be told (and I DO tell these people the truth that you’re about to read), I would never advise anyone to do it the way I did. Oh, I can’t say I know of a better way, although I have learned a thing or two along the journey, but unless you want to go hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt (yes, you read that right), find ANOTHER way to make your dream come true other than the path I took!

On that fateful day in April of 2006 when my business partner abruptly called it quits, leaving me high and dry with a real estate company I didn't want to manage by myself, I had $90,000 in the bank, $132,000 in my IRA and no credit card debt. That was the day I took my first step toward becoming a real estate writer and trainer.

Two and a half years later, once the dust had settled and I peered up from the bottom of the hole I’d dug for myself, my bank account was empty, my IRA was worth less than $20,000 and I had (are you sitting down?) well over $100,000 in credit card debt. For the more mathematically-inclined, yes, that means I burned through more than $300,000.

Oops.

I started digging out. I’d like to say I cut up my credit cards, lived on rice and beans and became gazelle-intense (all Dave Ramsey’isms), but that would be a lie. Even after two and a half years away from the monopoly-money paychecks of a successful real estate career, I must confess I still had trouble telling myself no, especially when it came to investing in my business.

But things started to turn around; I made more good choices than bad, and as the Sell with Soul message spread, I gratefully started to enjoy the fruits of my labors.

Last month, I paid off my last debt; a $10,000 personal loan I had to take out when the basement flooded in the house I was trying to sell. That last $10,000 came from the inheritance I received from my mother who died last year (a year ago today, actually; miss you, Mom), and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I wish I could have used her money toward something a little more meaningful than paying for a flooded basement, but oh well.

Anyway, I’m probably not going to call Dave Ramsey’s radio show and scream “I’M DEBT-FREEEEEEE,” so I’ll do it here for my friends. And yeah, it feels goooooood.

 

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Show All Comments
Rainmaker
99,154
Mollie Wasserman
Your Move Made Simple - Framingham, MA

As another soul who has given it all (and then some) to get ACRE® off the ground, congrats my friend! What a wonderful accomplishment!

August 15, 2011 10:48 AM #9
Rainmaker
681,824
Rob Arnold
Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. - Altamonte Springs, FL
Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F

Congratulations.  It is the best way to live.  Just spend the money you have and figure out how to make a boatload more.

August 15, 2011 11:14 AM #10
Anonymous
Anonymous
Lois Kubota

That is fabulous news.  Congratulations my friend.  I also read your blog again when your Mom passed away and it made me cry again.  

August 15, 2011 12:07 PM #11
Rainmaker
145,772
Ann Cordes
Towne Adams, Realtors - Waco, TX

Way to watch those pennies. They need to put you in charge paying of our national debt. 

August 15, 2011 12:12 PM #12
Ambassador
785,847
Charlie Ragonesi
AllMountainRealty.com - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

Congrats to you Jennifer. I am dealing with a couple from Florida who own clear there home and are debt free. It is great. I hope to be there to some day

August 15, 2011 04:47 PM #13
Rainmaker
1,086,451
Bryant Tutas
Bryant Tutas-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc - Poinciana, FL
Broker/REALTOR, Tutas Towne Realty, Inc

Good for you Jennifer. It takes a lot sticktoittiveness to be successful at any endeavor. TLW started Tutas Towne Realty on less than $100. We did take about 50 listings from the company I was with and had quite a few pendings. We actually used a commisison advance company to get money to order signs!!

It took us about 30 days to have our first closing. It took 12 years to go a month without one!! Now we are 15 years in and going strong.

I'm not debt free. But I do owe almost $1,000,000 less than I did in 2005.

August 15, 2011 04:58 PM #14
Rainmaker
598,880
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

YOU GO GIRL!!!  WHOO HOO!!!  WTG!!!  What an accomplishment!  I dream of the day that I can say I'm debt free.  Mark my words, it will come but it is going to be a bit of a journey.  One step at a time though - right?

August 15, 2011 05:32 PM #15
Rainmaker
433,024
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Thank you all!!!! I tell ya, it was quite a shock when I took out the calculator in 2008 and added up the damage. YOWSA! It was not a smooth journey getting to debt-free and I took several steps backwards, but I can honestly say I'm a changed woman. Not saying I won't do stupid things with my money in the future, but I'm a whole lot more fiscally aware than I was -- and (un)fortunately (?) a whole lot more suspicious and cynical when it comes to hiring people to do stuff for me.

BB - $1M? Now that's some serious monopoly money! Although now that I think about it - I did liquidate some of my real estate, so maybe I could say something similar... back to the calculator.

August 15, 2011 06:15 PM #16
Ambassador
758,641
Brenda Mullen
RE/MAX Access - Schertz, TX
Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!!

Wow!!  That has got to feel like such a BURDEN lifted Jennifer!  How absolutely wonderful!  Well...guess I can't be too much of a crybaby with the debt I have.  I just keep paying it down...and one day I pray to say the same thing :)!

Congrats!

August 15, 2011 06:43 PM #17
Rainmaker
278,003
Steven Pahl
Keller Williams Tampa Properties - Tampa, FL
Real Estate Consultant Tampa, FL 813-319-6423

I am going on a short 5 day vacation to Colorado on the 17th for a vacation/wedding (not mine), the two books already packed to read are Prospect with Soul and The Total Money Makover, coincidence, I think not! Congratulations!

August 15, 2011 10:44 PM #18
Rainmaker
808,325
Gail Robinson
William Raveis Real Estate - Southport, CT
CRS, GRI, e-PRO Fairfield County, CT

Jennifer - It's amazing that you did this given that you started your business at the beginning of the recession.  That must feel so good!!!  Now start building up your retirement account again. 

August 15, 2011 11:41 PM #19
Rainmaker
433,024
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Gail - I've thought of that - like many newer agents who began when the market was plummeting - Imagine how much fun this will be when we're stable again! I did pay off big chunks of the debt with sales of rental properties that actually still had reasonable equity - whew!!

Steven - Wow - that is a coincidence???!!! Have a great trip to Colorado!

Brenda - You'll get there!!!

August 16, 2011 06:44 AM #20
Anonymous
Anonymous
carl stars

I am passionite about debt reduction. Never saw results until I started paying myself first " Congrats.

August 16, 2011 05:07 PM #21
Rainer
48,652
Teresa Fiveash, ABR
Keller Williams Realty - Memphis, TN

That is the best news Jennifer!  Congratulations.  We, too, are trying to get there...not always easy, but attainable!  Thanks for sharing that and inspiring us!

PS...I read your magnet on my refrigerator this morning...had to smile! 

August 20, 2011 03:59 PM #22
Rainer
86,659
Ron Fowler
Coldwell Banker Seal - Vancouver, WA
Coldwell Banker Seal

Jennifer, I've been an avid fan of yours for a while now and now I am even more of one. In Dave Ramsey's words "you are so weird!".  Congrats on being debt free (my wife and I also accomplished this in the past year) and my condolences on your mom, I lost my dad last year and know the pain. Keep up the great work!

August 23, 2011 10:29 AM #23
Ambassador
1,878,531
Nestor & Katerina Gasset
International Properties and Investments LLC - Wellington, FL
Realtors, Wellington Florida Homes For Sale

Jennifer- I am so Proud of you! You should tell Dave Ramsey your story! It is so liberating to be debt free! We are on our way there. Interestingly, an inheritance may also be what helps us all the way there. But last year, even though we do very well in our businesses, I decided to learn how to do couponing. I cut our food bill down from $1200 a month to less than $400 per month by using coupons. Then what I did was pretend that the food bill was still $1200 a month and took that excess and put it towards Nestor's car payments and paid off his car last year. Now I am doing the same thing with my mercedes. It is almost paid off now. Then we will pay off the credit line, and so one just like Dave says to do. I will tell you, it feels great! 

August 25, 2011 09:28 PM #24
Rainmaker
433,024
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Katerina - that's great! I'd love to learn more about this couponing... we never go out to eat, so our grocery bills are crazy, so tell me moooooore!!!!!

August 26, 2011 06:38 AM #25
Rainmaker
366,576
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker

I've been working that DR plan for the last year, Jennifer, and we have reduced our debt by about 25% since then.  Still a ways to go before I can join in your debt free scream but I just had to stop and say how happy I am for you!!!!

September 01, 2011 01:29 PM #26
Rainmaker
996,632
Michael Jacobs
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Pasadena, CA
Pasadena Real Estate Representation 818.516.4393

Jennifer, I am a new subscriber to your blog so I just came across this post.   First, congratulations!  Second, do you feel better than you deserve?   

November 03, 2011 01:48 AM #27
Rainmaker
433,024
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Indeed I do, Michael... in SO many ways ;-]

November 03, 2011 07:34 AM #28
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Rainmaker
433,024

Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn

Author of Sell with Soul
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