Can you really get rich quickly from fix and flipping homes?

Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income.

Mark Ferguson has been a Realtor since 2001 after graduating from the University of Colorado with a business finance degree. He runs a real estate team of 10 that sells over 200 homes a year, fix and flips 10 to 15 homes a year and owns 11 rental properties. Mark also runs www.investfourmore.com, a blog that discusses Mark's fix and flips, rental properties, becoming a real estate agent and everything real estate related.

Many television shows portray fix and flipping as a very profitable business that can easily be done in your spare time. Sure there are usually a few contractor problems, but in the end the house sells for a lot of money and the owners make a killing. In reality, you can make money fix and flipping homes, but it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of flipping to make a lot of money. It is also very easy to lose a lot of money if you do not account for all the costs or overestimate the value of your flip.

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More about...Investing

Ask the Readers: Are you reaching your goals?

Remember when 2014 was new? I'd rather not think about it, but more than half the year is behind us already and we're moving into fall fairly quickly. For me, that's a good time to start thinking about whether I'm reaching my goals for the year and what I need to do to correct my course.

I would like to be in a position to tackle a “single resolution” every year like J.D. Roth did in his Year of Fitness in 2010. I like the fact that, when you eliminate distractions and focus your energy, it reduces your stress level. That makes a lot of sense, but I don't fit the criteria J.D. mentioned where “nothing else mattered.”

In my situation, there are a number of things that really matter to me, so I decided to concentrate on a small set of goals at the beginning of the year and prioritize them. (I don't call my goals “resolutions” either.)

I'm

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More about...Health & Fitness, Planning

Living in a car to pay off debt

Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income.

I don't spend lavishly on clothes, hair appointments, or travel. I drive a 12-year-old Honda Civic. I got into debt by trying different business investments, including real estate and selling refurbished tablets. I also took out a student loan that I really didn't need but couldn't turn down the money I automatically qualified for. Those are the main sources of my debt.

My debt payments began to total more than $1,100 a month. I moved in with an aunt and uncle to make ends meet. When they wanted to raise the rent, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. I was fed up with my situation. I couldn't even afford to rent a room anymore.

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More about...Debt

How do you balance multiple sinking funds?

About four years ago, Breezy and her husband opened a checking account at their local credit union so they could save for car-related payments — insurance, gas, repairs, and the like. They liked how it allowed them to separate these expenses from the rest of their spending. Soon, they established more funds.

Right now, she and her husband have four sinking funds and she is considering adding another. The way they currently have their accounts divided is:

  1. Celebrations (holidays, birthdays, weddings, etc) — checking account with credit union
  2. Car repairs (and eventual car replacement) — checking account with credit union
  3. Medical expenses — HSA account
  4. Home improvement — savings account at a bank.

But managing the different funds is becoming a bit of a nightmare. Sometimes she finds that too much has built up in the car repairs account and there's not enough in the home improvements account, so she often borrows from one account to take care of an expense in the other. In addition, she has a new goal.

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More about...Investing

Opposites Attract–What to do when you’re both of different financial mindsets

This reader story comes from Tina Sullivan. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income.

Growing up with “financially conservative” parents, I was taught to follow a budget, to save for emergencies, and to live within my means. As a teenager, I was required to get a job which mostly went to my savings account for future expenses like paying for a car and tuition.  Although I was frustrated many times because I couldn't even afford needs, the tradeoff was worth it since I was able to pay for college without taking out any student loans and paid cash for a used car (thanks to rent-free living with my parents).

My husband grew up with “financially liberal” parents that didn't encourage him to save, to budget, or to live within his means. They didn't require him to get a job while attending high school. He didn't have to pay for his first car and didn't attend college because he was set to run the family business. Their love spoke through gifts, and they willingly helped friends and family with no questions asked.  He shared a home with his brothers that his parents owned so he had no living expenses but spent his money on new cars, designer clothes, lavish gifts, etc. Don't we all want that scenario!

Ha

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More about...Frugality

The Notebook

Jim, a reader of our Facebook page, shared some of his personal finance journey in Facebook comments a while back, and readers commented that they'd like to hear his story. We reached out and asked him if he would elaborate so we could share his story with the Get Rich Slowly website readers. This is part 1.

Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income.

First, let me be clear, I never went hungry in the extreme “poverty” sense. But I did have a few mustard-and-sugar sandwiches in my life because that is what we could afford between paychecks. My parents had always given my sister and me “just enough.” If we wanted more, we needed to save our meager allowance because they were living paycheck to paycheck and couldn't afford more. To this day, I believe it's what helped me get to where I am today. I realized at an early age that it was all on me. I knew going in I was never entitled and that has been very helpful in this journey.

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More about...Budgeting

Looking ahead pays off until “boom”!

This reader story comes from JenB. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income.

I thought I had it all figured out, but the middle-of-the-night panic attacks have started again as a result of a little piece of mail I received this week. You see, I'd finally made the scary decision to quit my job and stay home with our first baby (for at least a year) when — BOOM! — our annual escrow account disclosure statement arrived in the mail.

I didn't even know this could happen, but our mortgage payment is going up $600 a month starting in three weeks with our next payment. “What?” I thought I had looked ahead for every possible snag in my plan. It turns out you may not necessarily see everything that's coming … and sometimes you don't even know what you should be looking for until it arrives in the mail.

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More about...Career, Home & Garden, Planning, Taxes

Maximizing your dollar: Renovating a historic house for the rental market

This story comes from Anastasia Mann. Anastasia Mann is an associate at Trimark Properties, a leading provider of historic house rentals, student housing and apartments in Gainesville, FL. To check out their historic infill developments, visit their website.

Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income.

Renovating a historic house isn't as easy as the experts on HGTV make it seem when they remodel older homes in the blink of an eye, especially as a private owner. As an associate at a property management firm, I am constantly confronted with the difficulties that come along with renovating historic homes. Luckily, I work with an experienced team that consists of contractors and project managers who are familiar with the city's regulations regarding historic homes. For individual property owners who do not have much knowledge about the historic housing market, there is a long list of factors to consider in order to ultimately become profitable with your rental property.

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More about...Home & Garden

When prepaid college plans work

This reader story comes from Elaina. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income.

Recently in the news I have heard more and more about the pros and cons of prepaid college plans (here, here). This type of plan allows an adult to purchase tuition for a minor and lock in the current rate, often at specific universities (e.g., in-state, public institutions). While sometimes controversial, the purchase of two prepaid college plans was likely the best investment decision my parents ever made.

My parents purchased the Michigan Education Trust (MET) for my brother and me in 1987. At the time, it cost them $7,000/child to buy 120 credits (~$58/credit). By the time I started my freshman year at my chosen in-state school in 2002, each credit cost $179.75. When my brother started at the same school three years later (and I was a senior), credits were up to $223.50. In 2011, I returned to finish a second B.A., with each credit costing $353.25. By the time we were beginning (or in) college, this seemed like an obvious investment. Looking back, buying your children college tuition at ages zero and three seems incredibly risky. Through some thoughtful and deliberate actions, our parents were able to make this investment incredibly successful. How did they do it?

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More about...Planning

Being frugal really isn’t that hard

This reader story comes to us from Bill Fay, who is a writer for Debt.org, where he is known as The Most Frugal Man in America. He spent 21 years in the newspaper business and eight more in television and radio, dealing with college and professional sports, then seven forgettable years writing speeches and marketing materials for a government agency.

Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income.

I took my wife to a local diner the other night, and things got a little cranky on the ride home. She had a Cobb salad and a Diet Coke. I had the Classic Chicken Sandwich and water. We split a dessert. The bill came to $11.51.

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More about...Frugality