Let me introduce you to my friend Craig Curelop. I met him at a real estate meet up. His story is quite impressive but, at the same time, absolutely repeatable by you. His story was so notable that I invited him to speak to my students, and he’s been willing to do so on many occasions.
He went from a 23-year-old college graduate with $90,000 in student loan debt (yikes!) and a negative net worth of $30,000 to a 26-year-old real estate enthusiast who owns three properties and has no student loans. The biggest accomplishment: he is financially independent.
If you didn’t do the math, I’ll do it for you. He did all that in 3 years. And, just in case you missed it, he has reached FI at age 26. He is a FREAK. And you can be one, too.
Here is his story:
Craig grew up on the east coast in an average middle-class family. He did well in high school. After Craig graduated he attended Northeastern University in Boston. After college, he got a 9-5 job in finance making pretty good money.
Sound familiar? This path is probably very similar to the road you’re on right now. But here’s where Craig’s journey took a sharp right turn into Freakland.
He hated his job.
“My first job out of college was awful. It only took me a couple of months to realize that I wanted something different. Much different.”
So he Googled, “How do I quit my job?” What he found was loads of websites, blogs, and podcasts telling him how to live like a freak. (BTW, those sites, blogs, and podcasts are all still out there if you want to Google them.) He read books, listened to podcasts, and talked to people in the real estate and personal finance community.
After learning everything he could about retiring early and building up passive income, he made the jump. He quit his good-paying, secure job and moved to Denver, Colorado. There he found a job working for a start-up company. Why that company? Because it happens to be the largest online community of real estate investors, and Craig knew he could learn a ton by working there.
Right after moving to Denver, Craig bought his first property. A duplex. After he bought it, he used a strategy called “househacking.” He rented out the extra unit and extra bedrooms while living in his bedroom. The rent he brought in paid for all his living expenses (mortgage, taxes, insurance, utilities, repairs, maintenance, etc.) and then some. He had extra money each month. He was getting paid to live there and manage the duplex!
“I highly recommend house hacking to anyone, especially those who are under 25 years old. It’s by far the best way to build wealth quickly and for the long term.”
After living in his duplex for a year, he bought a five-bedroom house and moved into it. He lived in one bedroom while he rented out the others to four roommates. Once again, his roommates’ rent payments more than paid his expenses. He was getting paid to live there, too. And he kept the duplex as a rental, which also brought in even more money.
A year later, he moved out of that house and into another large house that he bought. He’s doing the same strategy there, househacking, and renting out his old bedroom in the other house. Passive income is coming in from three properties.
If you think this is not for you, think again. It’s really not that hard. You don’t need tons of money. You don’t need any experience. (Everyone bought their first house sometime.) You just need to learn. And, lucky for you, what you need to know is available for free.
Craig now has $3,000 a month in passive cash flow from the money he earns off his properties and some smaller investments. He is aiming to hit $10,000 or $20,000 a month when he has a family by continuing to do more of what he’s doing.
Craig aggressively saved and invested to become financially independent, primarily through his real estate investments. Your journey will likely look similar but different. You can take the turns and forks in the road that make you the most comfortable.
Your journey will hopefully look different when it comes to student loans. Craig says, “One of my biggest regrets is the amount of student loans I had when I graduated. If that amount would have been just half of what it was, I could have reached financial independence a couple of years earlier and would be much further along now.”
He used various tactics to make more, spend less, and invest the difference wisely to become financially independent. But most importantly, he educated himself. This blog and the SheeksFreaks Instagram page will get you started on your path to FI and Superstar Freakness.