Early Retirement – Keeping the Dream Alive

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It’s been a while since I last posted on my blog which is a shame on my part. I had good momentum when I actually had it going.  I was proud of myself and somewhat inspiring to others. Yes, I am blowing my own horn but people told me, ‘I love what you are saying on your blog!.. ‘  and sometimes they ping me to seek my wisdom., Yes, that’s right. I have my moments. I can kick some knowledge time to time. Unfortunately, I failed to capitalize on the momentum, as life happened along with other small excuses.  I simply just didn’t make time for it. But it’s all about to change because I’m writing this blog to jump start my blog career or at the very least, bring myself to write another post.

Last 2 years

So many things have happened since I have last written which was over 2-years ago. I moved jobs, I got let go from a job, I let myself go from another job, I let go of other people from jobs, I became a freelancer, I attended 3months programming boot camp which was an amazing experience but I still can’t program worth a damn, grew my hair out to a bun, I cut that shit so I barely have hair now, I finally sold one house, I bought more houses, I became an Airbnb host, I became 40 nearing another birthday, I’m still cash poor as I am a broke ass investor, but I’m still working hard toward an early retirement.  The constants are my family, close friends, and goals and actions I’m taking to reach my financial freedom and I’m keeping the Dream Alive!

Working 9-5

It’s tough being at work, especially when you don’t love what you are doing and/or your mind is just somewhere else. So much good weather outside (somewhere), so many places and people to see, so many things you want to do but not enough time, a job just takes away big of a chunk of your life. I know…. It is super important having a job – the security, being able to provide for your family, growing your career, along with so many other good things that come with having a job. But the fact is, a lot of people hate their job. But If you enjoy and love what you are doing, you hit the jackpot as you are the lucky ones. You should hold on to that job long as you can.   

Truthfully, the older I’m getting, it’s becoming harder for me to work a set 9-5 forever job –  fighting that traffic, the dress code, the politics, people dictating my work and work schedule, it just feels like there is No End.  Not that I’m incapable of taking direction or trying to be a rebel, but man… it’s getting harder as I am getting older.. Is it just me?  

Case in point, since I had a chance to play both sides, as an employee and as an employer (for small Real Estate operation), I see this all the time.  I hire and fire contractors all day. I’m generalizing here, but the younger contractors are usually hungrier and more willing to take directions but the older contractors can be harder to work with, not all but a lot are set in their ways and it’s harder for them to take direction.  This is an argument I just had with a contractor over the weekend.

Contractor: ‘I been doing this for 30 years, Are you trying to tell me how to do my job?’

Me: ‘Look man, We just talked about this this morning. Which part are you not clear on?  This is what we agreed to and signed off on, Also I’m the one who is paying for your work…‘

Yes, we argue, and sometimes it goes nowhere but I get where he is coming from.  And yes, I am generalizing.  Older, wiser, but more pay..…… 

But I will say, although I’m complaining about a job, I do like short-term projects, Pays are usually nice and you get to work on different projects but most importantly you can LEAVE.  Recently I quit my day job and Right Now, I choose to work a lot longer hours for Far Less Pay Only to work for myself. 

Hyun Real Estate Empire

Yes, it’s a thing..  I’m slowly but surely growing my real estate empire. I am still very much a solo operation but currently, we grew to 12 investment properties. Mostly single family homes, one condo, and one two units.  Not all properties are occupied or even livable at the moment but I’m working to fix that. At the current rate. I am adding 3-4 properties a year.

My Real Estate Investment Strategy

My focus is providing good, livable, and affordable homes for people while growing my business. I do this by investing into undervalued homes and rehab/renovate them and bringing it back up to the market value (and livable condition) and I rent them out for passive and rental income. My rental strategy consists of traditional yearly lease, short-term vacation rentals such as Airbnb, and upcoming year, I will be shifting my focus onto Lease-options providing my tenants the opportunity to purchase and own their homes. 

I stay local as all the properties are within 10 miles radius of my primary home and near Home Depot and Lowes (which is very important). I investment into up and coming and/or decent working-class neighborhoods –  I definitely try to stay away from war zones and ghettos.  All my properties are in Cincinnati, their market values range 50k -120k, mostly ranch style homes 3/2 bath homes which tend to be easier to fix and maintain.  

Most properties are cash purchases through creative financing and private lenders, but no hard lender and never a mortgage – I try to stay away from mortgages. Most properties, I own outright and but I do have some debts. But I consider them good debts because they are manageable and I am using it toward investing. If you want to learn more about how I got started, please read my earlier blog post.  

My Short Term Financial Goals

I have clear set of financial goals I’m working toward, but details and strategy change over time including the short-term goals.  It does not mean I am certain to hit these marks, but I have to set goals (in writing) so I can work toward them and to keep myself accountable.

Goal #1. Semi-retire at 42. 

What does this mean for me? First I have a roughly 2-year runway. In order for this to happen, I need to be at least consistently hit $10k – 12k/month net profit (Revenue minus Operating expense).  And as you can imagine, I have a lot of expenses and huge burn rate, because I’m buying multiple houses/repairs a year.  Some who may be reading this may say, 10k/month?  That’s it?  I make more than that now.  Great! That maybe you, I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.  And my questions to you is how much of that are you actually keeping in your pocket or investing? 

In my case, I’m glowing my wealth by acquiring more tangible assets that generate passive income and cash flow, not just a paycheck. I am going to continue to hustle and run as fast as I can for the next 2 years to make this happen. At this mark, I will still need to be plugged into the real estate business, but I wouldn’t be working on 4 houses a year or 60-80/hrs week. I will slow down and cut down to 2 houses a year may just work 20-30hrs a week.

Goal #2: Financially Independent at 45

This means financial independence for me, my wife and possibly kid(s). Be in a position to not worry about work, money, being able to help immediate family and close friends. I am still trying to figure out what that monetary number that we need with the lifestyle we want to live.

How much do you really need to retire? Is that a million? Five million?  Also, I’m not locked on the methods to get there yet but it will likely consist of several things.  Acquiring more real estate properties through partnership, selling off a bunch of investment properties, building a small internet based business of some sort, possibly having an e-commerce business that I can operate anywhere in the world.  Yeahhhh… the DREAM.  I have some time to figure it out. First I need to hit Goal #1.  

Investing is for Everyone but Real Estate Investing is not for Everyone.

When I first went down this path just a few years ago, as the stars were aligning and the universe started clicking, I was so excited, I wanted to share this new-found knowledge with EVERYONE.  I guess that’s part of the reason I started blogging as I wanted to pass on my wisdom. Seeing first-hand financial struggles my family and I went through due to lack of financial literacy and poor financial decisions, when I recognize the daily struggles people have, I wanted to help others correct it. 

But over time I realized the type work I am involved is not for everyone.  You have to have a certain amount of passion, heart, and discipline to make it as Real Estate Investor.  And to be fair, there are many forms of real estate investing where you never have to touch a hammer or a plunger.  But I live in the rehabbing a house world, where a lot of newbie real estate investors start out after watching House Flip or similar TV shows.


The Stress – I deal with It


Just the other day, I was asked by the wife of a business partner of mine (who I bought a house with – me as cash investor and him as operating manager), “How do you deal with the stress?” The question was asked from a perspective of a new investor, overwhelmed with stressed her and her family went through on rehabbing their first investment property the past year.  

My reply was ‘I deal with it’. Honestly, I face it head-on.  It tremendously helps if a person is very organized and being able to put the right resources, time, money and effort into it. When I started out, I was probably in the same rocky boat as my friend’s wife, but over time, I learned to handle the amount of work and stress. 

But my projects vary.  I have smaller, less stressful projects and I have huge insane Level 12 Stress projects.  It comes with the territory of owning and managing multiple investment properties.  It’s little more than a tenant calling me for fixing a clogged toilet. I deal with utility companies that refuse to turn on water or gas, the drama queen contractors that want to squeeze out money from me, the copper thieves that can cause thousands in damages for $20 worth of copper, the 60 foot Giant trees sitting on awkward hill with tree limbs the size of large tree of its own hanging over the house (where the tree removals service quit before they start), warped foundation and structure damages that require replacing the entire basement structure etc.  All of this was just last two weeks.  

I deal with it because I see the upside, I can deal with it because I can get it done with the right amount of help, I can hire people to do it.  In most cases, I only have to deal with it once till I buy the next shitty house with similar problems. And when the toilet is clogged, I call the plumber.  He’s on a speed dial. 

Ok….., my challenges may be on the extreme end, but still, there are definitely work on rehabbing a house.  Now, there are just easier ways to make money in Real Estate, where it requires little to no amount of capital or having to hold any type of physical tool except for your laptop or smartphone. Such as Wholesaling, Subject to, Note buying, etc.  You could make some serious money; some you could be proud of some not. And there are tons of other investing opportunities outside of real estate. But if you are serious about investing in anything, you should definitely start or strengthen your financial education and financial literacy.  That’s the number one place I would recommend you start as you start your financial journey. 

Motivation through Inspiration

Taking Action is a Given.  If you go level deeper or the start, I think the key to success is through education, motivation, and setting goals and constantly reminding yourself of your goals. I can easily get distracted and a week, a month, a year goes by where nothing gets done and I could end up in the same place as I was before. It’s such mental battle.

I try not to stress myself even further but I just have to operate with the sense of urgency, that keeps me alert and helps me continue to move and evolve. Everyone dances to their own beat or drum but for me, that’s the only way I know How, I have to have 100 different things stacked up that I can organize, breakdown, reshuffle and navigate my way out.  Also, I don’t often write but writing this blog post (which getting little long now) is somewhat therapeutic as well. 

Keep Moving Forward 

By Don Draper

At my low points, what helps me are quotes and famous wordings that pops up in my head. One, in particular, is ‘Keep Moving Forward’. I don’t know who said it first but where it originated for me is in the episode of Mad Men. When Peggy who started out as Don Draper’s secretary, later became a copywriter, went MIA and and ended up at the hospital because she went into a surprised labor, a baby she wasn’t expecting (damn you Pete!).  She was really depressed and there was scene where she woke up one day finding Don sitting across from her hospital bed, and he told her these inspiring words to her, ‘Keep Moving Forward’. That was such a strong moment and it stuck with me. I keep that moment with me and use at the right times. When I am feeling down, I repeat those words out loud to myself, which always helps me get up on my feet and I can carry on to address that problem and get up the next day to solve another problem. You may have your own formula, that happens to be mine. 


What’s next for me?

I need to figure out how to operate more like a real business instead of Self Employed Landlord, both operation and legal point of view. Currently, if I am not involved in the operation, things will have a hard time moving forward. Next couple of years, I will be working to figure out ways to put a structure in my business operation that can be more self-sustainable. I don’t ever imagine being hands off for 6 months or a year but I need to be able to step away for a month and business is still standing.

I am also looking to expand through partnership. As mentioned, one investment property, I am a Cash Investor and my partner is the Operation Manager – who manages the rehab, maintenance, and landlord duties.  In another property, I have a different partnership, where I am the Operations Manager and I have cash Investor Partner. I hope to find more compatible partners and do more of these deals. If you have a deal that can make business sense for both of us, feel free to reach out to me.

Also, I am going to try to write more often, I also like to expand beyond real estate investing and explore other areas of investing and I hope to share my learnings on my site.  Thank you for reading and please provide comments.

All the Best!


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Jona Hyun

My name is Jona Hyun. I'm an user experience and web designer by trade and a student of investing by passion. I am relatively new to the field of investing and I am pursuing to become a smarter investor. I am currently investing in Real Estate and looking to broaden my investment knowledge and portfolio.

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