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Real Estate Investing: Bank Statement Epiphany

When should you start investing in real estate? Ask the question to ten real estate professionals and you’ll probably receive a hundred different answers. However, not all answers are equal and following certain suggestions can harm or weaken your wealth and income in the future. Scary, right?!?

My real estate investments started in college. I went to a private university on a small scholarship, so tuition and fees weren’t exactly cheap, especially for a college student whose main source of income prior to college was working as a lifeguard during the summer. Sure, it was a sweet gig, but it definitely didn’t pay well ($5.75 an hour to be exact).

College was quite the experience. I still remember my first mail delivery! It was very exciting. A care package full of my favorite homemade cookies?... nope. A card from my summer fling?... another nope. A letter from my sweet grandma asking how my first week of college was going?... yet another BIG nope. Instead, it was a bank statement showing that my lifetime savings had been almost completely depleted by paying for college tuition and fees. Whoa! How the heck do tuition and fees for ONE SEMESTER literally break my lifetime piggy bank?


"Success takes dedication, patience, and oh so much hard work (never trust anyone who tells you otherwise!)."


Within .2 seconds of reading that bank statement I knew something had to change. Upon closer examination and research to make sure the payment was correct, I realized that tuition only accounted for half of the expenses. Oh... and you guessed it... unfortunately, the payment and fees were correct.

A picture of me and my university's live mascot in 2005.  Go Drake Bulldogs!
Freshman Throwback!

How was I going to reduce this payment in the future? There was no way I could make seven more payments without selling myself into some kind of indentured servitude! Well, fortunately for me, I had an awesome first year resident assistant (RA) in my dormitory who noticed my changed mood the day I opened that bank statement. After explaining the issue, she suggested I look into being an RA, which provided free room and board in exchange for some work. Wait, doesn’t that sound like an “indentured servant"? Yes, yes it does, but let’s not get into that with this post!

After that important conversation, I set my sights on achieving a coveted RA spot. In this way, I could save money and be a part of the university's property management team. To get there, I campaigned and won the position of President of my large dormitory hall, was accepted onto the university's residence board, and secured a university award for my leadership in redeveloping the common area of my dormitory. Somehow, I accomplished all of this during my freshman year of college while attending almost every class, earning great grades, and working a side gig. Then, based on these activities, I achieved one of the few RA spots reserved for university sophomores the following year. Was all the hard work and dedication worth it? I refer you to my piggy bank to answer that question, which was able to finally get healthier after almost dying a slow and painful death the year before.

I’m writing this story to provide you with few things I learned about investing in real estate and the process:

  • Starting early is key to success!

  • Find ways to reduce your housing/living payments and expenses to save money.

  • Success takes dedication, patience, and oh so much hard work (never trust anyone who tells you otherwise!).

With all this information, by no means do you need to have started investing in real estate in college. But, you should start preparing now if you haven't already. Don’t wait for your own "bank statement moment" to get a kick in the rear end! By then, it could be too late for your own real estate success.


About the Author: Ryan Fiero is the Principal Real Estate Broker and CEO of Urban District Realty, LLC, operating in Washington DC and the Commonwealth of Virginia. His successful real estate background includes sales, property management, and development. Ryan currently lives in the Truxton Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC with his husband and exceptionally large Newfoundland pup.

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