Hey Readers, today I have Tracy Ma from Financial Nirvana Mama! Tracy is amazing. Not only is she a mother to twin daughters, but she’s built a mini-real estate empire part-time over the past several years. I have already learned a lot interviewing her and I am happy to pass along her wisdom here. So without further adieu…
Walk me through how and why you started your personal finance blog?
I share the truth about real estate investing. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Years ago, I searched for reputable websites to help guide me in my real estate investing journey but I had trouble finding people I can relate too.
And when I did find websites – I couldn’t relate to these people. They were either full-time real estate investors with no kids, or shady money grabber gurus who only sold wonderful stories of how real estate investing is sooo awesome. They didn’t resonate with me.
I’m a busy mom with a career and investing in real estate part-time so I wanted to see others like me doing it too that can help me out in my journey.
Rather than sitting back and waiting for someone else to do it, and HOPING someone would do it….
I decided to launch Financial Nirvana Mama.
I’ve been investing in real estate part-time for the last ten years. I feel this immense desire to share my experience and help others. This is why I started Financial Nirvana Mama.
Was the decision easy or hard, why?
It was an easy decision because I felt this immense urge to fix this problem and share my experiences and help others. I felt stuck ten years ago, I needed someone to help guide me.
Now that I’ve gone through the school of life, I feel like it’s my turn to contribute and help others, just like others have helped me during my journey.
What’s your core message you’re trying to share?
Stop Settling in Life, Take Action and Create a Life you want to Lead! – Tracy Ma
My mission is to inspire you to stop settling in life, take action to do what you love to do, help and inspire you to kick ass and make your life amazing. Financial Nirvana Mama is for the ambitious, the hustlers, the entrepreneurs, and the action takers who are building their wealth through real estate, businesses and investments, and accelerating their path to financial independence.
And that it is possible to build a real estate mini-empire while you juggle a career, life and a young family.
I wanted to share the world all the tips, tricks, and pitfalls I’ve learned to help busy professionals to invest the right way.
For example, I shared on Rockstar Finance my 1-year experiment on retire early living off rental cash flow and how it went:
Michael here – I love that Tracy is sharing the pros and cons of real estate investing. It’s absolutely true that real estate investing can really boost your journey to FIRE, but it takes a lot of knowledge and experience to reap the benefits consistently.
Describe your past relationship with money.
I grew up in a rough neighborhood and my parents were first generation immigrants.
Growing up, my parents didn’t have a lot of money but I also never felt like needing a lot of money either.
Even when I started making real money as an engineering summer student, I saved a huge chunk of my paycheck to invest in stocks, while in school. I know, I’m a nerd.
I opened an online brokerage account, first of its kind back in the day. It was real, real painfully slow. Remember the days of dialing in online using your phone connection?
When I doubled my money, I cashed out. Rather than blowing the money on clothes and fancy purses, I decided to save 50% of it because I had no desire to spend it. Yes, I’m a nerd.
I am a natural saver.
How has it evolved into your present views today? How do you want it to change in the future?
I spend more now, it’s natural when you have kids! But I’m lucky that I don’t have a lot of wants so it balances it all out.
Money are like employees. I have an unstoppable desire for money to be productive. Lazy money is no good.
I have this immense crazy desire to invest my money so it’s working for me.
As for the future –I want to pass on this knowledge and life skills to my kids so they are set up for financial success and most importantly, live a fulfilling purposeful life.
And to continue to share my knowledge, my journey and mentor readers through Financial Nirvana Mama.
Describe 1 empowering belief you have about money and how it positively affected your life. On the flip side, describe 1 disempowering belief about money (past or present). What has been the effect on your financial goals?
One empowering belief – money is in abundance.
This mindset has positively changed my life since I graduated from university. There are many, many ways to make money and I’ve never been worried about making more since that realization.
One disempowering belief: money is scarcity. Money is really in abundance but I learned that the HARD way.
When I was younger, I felt this urgency to save money all the time because I felt money was scarce. For example, I always had to order the cheapest item on the menu, even at McDonalds. My earliest memory of that was when I was 8 years old.
Thankfully this has changed.
Money is like a seed. You sprinkle it, nurture it and it’ll grow.
Michael here again – I’m glad you brought this up, Tracy. I believe it’s okay to be frugal to a certain extent, but I’d much rather live in an abundance mindset because it frees you up to work and give more freely.
Who taught or influenced you about money when you were growing up? What was the impact?
My family struggled in China. My great-grandfather was a very successful businessman. He owned land and ran businesses including banks.
During WWII, my great-grandfather was executed and overnight my family was left penniless and begging on the streets.
Fortunately, a few of my family members, including my great-aunt, made her trek to Canada and slowly became a multi-millionaire in Vancouver all due to real estate investing. AND more importantly, helped my father and mother start a life in Canada.
My great-aunt is a strong female role model, not only did she help her family come to Canada but also create a strong foundation for her kids by creating a legacy for them and inspiring them to invest in real estate. All of which has inspired me to do the same and continue on doing so, to create a future for the future.
These family stories give me the confidence and drive to look at Canada as a land of opportunity.
To be courageous, that anything is possible if you have the right mindset.
What is your favorite personal finance book? What’s the best actionable takeaway you got from it?
The Magic Of Thinking Big . It isn’t a finance book but it is a mind shifting book.
This amazing book is one that I refer to over and over again because it has a ton of content that is invaluable. You can literally pick any chapter and dive into it.
This book provides insight into how the mind works and how you can use it to achieve success in all aspects in life, including family, career, businesses, etc. Because of the way it can impact your perspective on beliefs, goals, and success, this is a book everyone should read.
It has changed my attitude and mental outlook on life, and possibly for you too. It is the top of my life changing books.
What are your top 3 favorite personal finance blogs, and why?
Rockstar Finance because it has a wonderful collection of finance articles that I can binge on.
Financial Samurai for its well-researched and massive ‘rich’ content.
And honestly, I can’t stick to three!! There are too many. I read 10 to 15 blogs a week depending on my mood.
Describe one investment type/class that excites you the most, and why?
Hands down – hard money lending (mortgage investing) secured by real estate.
It’s the least time-consuming way to get into real estate without owning a single property.
I invest in syndicated mortgages, which is a fancy pants way of pooling your money with other people to lend out to homeowners who need mortgages.
What I love about it – it is a secured loan on a concrete asset that is already built. And I get to invest in smaller amounts, and receive an ongoing source income with a fixed return, like a dividend paying stock. And it is a predictable source of income because the borrowers in this pooled mortgage fund are paying towards their mortgages monthly. And most importantly, I have the option to liquidate once a year, which traditional brick and mortar properties don’t offer, especially when you get hit with an economic downturn and it becomes an illiquid asset.
One of the biggest advantages is there are no ongoing maintenance costs nor tenants involved. Just last week, I had to deal with fixing an air conditioner and deal with a tenant leaving in one of my rental properties.
One of the main drawbacks is that there is no leverage involved, you only make a one to one ratio with the money you invest in. It isn’t the same as buying a rental property and having the bank lend you most of the money to do that.
Michael here again – I love this vehicle. For you budding real estate investors, there are many different niches within real estate investing. Hard money lending, and now crowd funded real estate investing, is a way to participate as an investor without assuming all the risk of an individual investment.
How much passive income would you need per month to live happily ever after? What would life look like for you at this level?
Honestly, I live happily ever after now and it has nothing to do with money. But if I had to put a number to it, it wouldn’t take much, maybe 100K per year. But at this passive income range, I’m massively afraid I’d lose my desire to grow and contribute to the world because I’m busy playing on the other side of the world.
But seriously, I hope my family could join me the entire time otherwise I wouldn’t stop what I’m doing now.
And I wouldn’t stop ‘working’, I’ll work until my body dies but focus on greater causes, probably focusing my attention to non-profit organizations. There are so many things to learn and accomplish that I couldn’t see myself stopping.
As for fun personal stuff – I’d take more sabbaticals, travel, and race around the world with my family.
Do you discuss money or financial matters with friends and family? Why, or why not?
Sometimes. It depends on who. If they are keen to talk about money then I love talking about it. But I realize that most of my friends and families are not money nerds. And most importantly, they don’t get excited about financial matters.
What’s your purpose in life in a “tweet” (ie. 140 characters or less)?
“Stop Settling in Life, Take Action and Create a Life you want to Lead!”
Describe a memorable financial blunder you’ve made in the past. What did you learn from it?
My worst memorable financial blunder is probably investing a significant amount of money learning to day trade. I day traded futures for a while….and decided to quit a year later.
I spent a good portion of my fabulous year off learning to day trade.
Yep. Day trading.
I was always fascinated in the financial markets and been studying it for almost 18 years…so it seemed like a natural transition to me.
What a big mistake.
Imagine life during your one sabbatical: staring at screens, analyzing numbers and clicking on buttons to make an income. And doing this for more than eight months, working long days and weekends to learn to day trade.
This was a massive opportunity cost. My one year off was supposed to be filled with fun, travel, and fulfillment. Fortunately, I accomplished the first two, and fell on my butt when it came to ‘fulfillment’.
Day trading isn’t me. It was such a lonely experience trading at home. I yearned to talk to people.
Turns out my top values are 1) contribution 2) growth.
Day trading is not fulfilling. In no way shape or form did I improve anyone else’s life by day trading.
I realized this too late. I made a sizeable investment in the education. I made money, but not enough to recover my investment. And the industry is zero sum money a game which doesn’t align with my values nor my personality.
Although a costly mistake. It also helped me realize what I really wanted to do in life so I managed out ok.
Are you actively seeking FIRE (financial independence & early retirement)? If so, what’s your game plan or strategy?
Kinda. I feel like I’m already there.
And in the very near future, I will be able to retire early by consolidating my rental properties.
But the thing is, there is so much I want to do with my family, contribute to the world and produce based on interests, to learn and create new things that I will work until my body caves in and forces me to ‘retire’ traditionally.
Michael here – That’s so awesome! This really goes to show you the power of real estate investing and how it can affect your lifestyle and those around you in a positive manner. If you’d like to learn more about Tracy’s journey and lessons learned, head over to her site – http://financialnirvanamama.com.
Readers, what was your favorite takeaway from this interview?
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