Leybovich Family

Can You Succeed in Real Estate Investing Without Your Spouse’s Support?

In a past article, entitled What If I Fail with My First Real Estate Investing Deal, I explored some of the social implications of real estate investing, and how our struggles, which are bound to happen, can impact our relationships.

The next day after the article appeared on my blog at JustAskBenWhy.com I received this email from a Cash Flow Freedom University  student and a long-time follower.

Dan wrote:

Based on this article, perhaps your next article could be titled, “How to marry the right person.” The follow up could be, “What to do since you haven’t married the right person.”

Have a good day!

Dan

Now, I’ve known Dan and his family for a while. He was the first student in CFFU, four years and hundreds of students back. And before then, his children were students of Patrisha’s at the music school. Because I know his family well, I can tell you that Dan’s comment proves that all jokes are 90% truth and only 10% funny…:)

Risk Tolerance and Investing

Dan’s wife benefits from two distinctions. For one thing, she is a fabulous mom to their two children, and runs a tight household. Dan, who knows what the hell is good for him, and who would be totally lost if it weren’t for his wife, absolutely tends to take his cues from her. And I don’t mean this in a bad way – I am the same way, because like Dan, I also know what the hell is good for me!

The problem, if you can call it that, is that unlike my wife, Dan’s wife is the most conservative, risk-averse, investing-wise unimaginative and borderline closed-minded person you will ever meet. She doesn’t know, and she doesn’t want to know, and I don’t see that changing any time soon…or ever. This attitude has done well enough for her, as far as she is concerned, and there just isn’t any motivation for her to change her views…

What About Passive Cash Flow

So – the large reason they are doing well financially, which is the reason Dan’s wife is not interested in considering real estate investing, is because Dan has done well in his medical practice. He started at the bottom, worked his way up into partner, and as far as I know has bought out either some or all of the rest of the partners in the office.

Dan has done well, but Dan is not entirely happy!

Time and Taxes with Real Estate Investing

The thing is, whenever we talk Dan complains about two things. First, he works a lot, and when I say a lot, I mean too much kind of a lot. And secondly, Dan pays taxes, and when I say he pays taxes, I mean too much kind of pays taxes…get my drift?!

Both make Dan very unhappy, and he has isolated rentals as the one strategy that can help him with both of his problems. Real estate can create passive income, which over time will allow Dan to work less. And, real estate can lower his effective tax rate, which would mean that he doesn’t have to earn as much in order to be left with the same spendable income. Dan wants these two thing to happen desperately. Why – because he is tired…

Indeed, Dan is not a young guy any more. He works as hard now as he ever did, and the prospect of continuing in this mode is not merely unappealing to Dan, but bothers him a lot. He, at the end of the day, doesn’t think it’s safe to have all of the money coming into the family as a function of him being able to punch the clock (have you heard this before?)

Do You Need the Support of Your Spouse for Real Estate Investing?

I don’t know the definitive answer to this question, guys. What I can speak to definitively is what I know from personal experience, and what I’ve personally seen.

First of all, my wife, Patrisha, is a big part of my business, and a big partner in strategy. We have different strengths, and this fill different roles, but both are needed in order for the business to run smoothly and to grow.

This is also the case with so many of my friends who succeed in the real estate world. Whether it’s Brandon Turner, whose wife is very much a partner in crime, or Serge Shukhat and Brian Burke, whose wives were right there beside them taking the punches and keeping things going.

I don’t think that any of our spouses are currently involved to the extent they once were, but I do know that to this day no significant decision is made without consultation with our spouses.

So, from where I stand, the answer is yes – you have to have your spouse’s support. This sport is just too hard to come home at the end of a terrible day just to hear…I told you so…

I am sure there are people out there who become successful in real estate investing in spite of not having the support of their spouse, and manage to keep their relationship healthy through all that. I am sure they are out there – I just don’t personally know any 🙁

What Are Dan’s Options?

Guys – Dan’s thinking is right on, isn’t it? Wanting to create some passive income is a reasonable thing. Realizing that as he is getting older, it gets more difficult to spend ours in the practice is certainly nothing new, and is a very real concern. Wanting to create revenue streams that are not tied to his practice is also a good idea, as I discussed in this article. Needing real estate as a tool to help with taxes is certainly the right idea.

But, his wife has no interest, and she is not exactly wrong in her reasoning either. So – what are Dan’s options?

I mean this as a question. I want to start a conversation here, guys. I don’t know what to tell my friend Dan, aside for what I outlined in this article – to come clean with his wife about the real reasons for wanting to invest in real estate. I feel him, as they say, but aside for driving home the point that he is tired and they need to lay the groundwork for some sort of change to take some weight off of him in the long run, I don’t know what to tell him.

Please help! Does anyone have better perspective on this? I am sure Dan is not the only one with this dilemma…

Leave a comment…let’s talk.

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11 Comments

  • Curt Smith Reply

    Hi Ben, I hope to heck Dan’s wife doesn’t read your intro!!! Few would understand the “business” basis vs something else entirely. :-//

    I do understand Dan’s wife’s perspective. Call it owning Bonds while dabbling in stocks (or real estate)..

    My view is that the chart of passive income rising and expenses flat or ideally dropping slightly and noting the cross over point is a powerful chart. I’ve not found that chart on the internet. Hope you know what that chart looks like, A flatish X.

    Print that chart out and talk about the value to the family (Dan and wife AND kids) of being on the right side of that cross over. Then ask Dan’s wife to put a date on the cross over point. This asks her to actually get involved and be apart of a stake in the ground for a great goal. Financial independence that has wonderful benefits for a family and relationship.

    Much was shortened to fit into 2 sentences but that’s the path and end point that I’d suggest.

    • Ben Reply

      You know why that happens, don’t you? This is an article in and of itself, but the reason this happens is because effective tax rate on passive income is much more flexible and much lower than otherwise, and considering that income taxes are THE BIGGEST expense you’ve got, earning money passively over time pushes your expenses down. And, the more passive income you’ve got, the less tax you pay. And there you go – flattish X 🙂

  • JJ Gonzalez II Reply

    Ben

    every Marriage (is a basic partnership) and rarely do both partners have the same strengths. I am blessed to be married to the same beautiful Women for 38 years. As a successful businessman she has lived in the trenches when we first started our business. She encouraged me to sell it in 1999 during a stressful time, so i did, but fortunately i bought it back for pennies on the dollar 2 years later. I have since (on her advice) sold it again this time for good. I am 65 years old and although i will continue to work for a few more years, the timing was right and so was my beautiful Wife. The point is that no one knows how long we have on this earth i had health issues, and you have health issues, so we both think in terms for our family surviving us. I beat cancer twice in the last 3 years, and now run or walk 5 miles every day and have since my recovery from my first surgery.

    I am involved in 3 syndication deals one with your friend Brian Burke, but finding a cash flowing multi family in the northeast (its doesnt exist) but i continue to look. My Wife is on board with my r.e. investing and its a great think to have your partner behind you 100%.

    Save well my friend

    Regards

    JJ Gonzalez II

    • Ben Reply

      WOW – twice! Man…no time for nonsense!

      Small world we live in. Brian and I chased but came up short on one in Atlanta couple of weeks ago. I spent the morning underwriting another one – Brian’s turn now. Both of us are trying, individually and jointly, but good buys that make sense are truly needles in the biggest haystack…

  • Eugene Reply

    Ben,
    I love reading your articles and even as a member I don’t contribute too much in terms of post I do absorb what you write. In this case, it hits home for me.

    When I first started investing in real estate I was in the same state of mind as Dan. I work with my wife 24/7 on our other businesses and even though I use the term “OUR” businesses it’s more like her businesses. Yes, they are successful but very dependent on me to make it happen.

    I wanted the passive income, the adventures of travelling to different areas, meeting new people and the excitement of finding deals. So I embarked on my adventures in 2012 without the support of my wife. She wanted nothing to do with it and was concerned that my dealings in the US will come back and destroy our nest egg. To make matters worse she wanted to divide up our assets so that she will have her share and I will have mine. I can do whatever I want with my share. Sure, legally it makes sense but it didn’t sit well with me. I thought marriage meant you support each other thru richer or poorer.

    My first year I did well. I did over 500k in deals. Too be honest, attitude has a lot to do with it. I had the conviction that I was going to succeed and I did. However, I still had no support from the wife. And this affected me. I can do whatever she wants and support her but she won’t support me for what I want to do. It just wasn’t fair. I’m not saying that in a young bratty kind of way but you know what I mean.

    It’s been a constant battle at home and even though I think I am mentally strong it does take a toll on the mind and body. I just haven’t been myself and feel that I am working at 40% capacity. I still do deals, syndications, fix and flips but obviously not at the pace I want to.

    It’s been a tough few years and I finally moved out. We are going thru with a separation. My scenario may be a little different from Dan’s in that this has been an ongoing issue since our 17 years of marriage. There has always been a lack of compromise.

    For Dan, I suggest he have a business partner (maybe Ben), to keep him moving along in the real estate business. Someone to bounce ideas off of and someone to celebrate with when a deal gets done.

    Hope that helps.

    • Ben Reply

      Eugene – thanks for a candid response, man!

      To be clear, I do believe that Dan’s marriage is a happy one. I’ve never seen anything that would remotely make me doubt that. And he’s got two gorgeous children. So, don’t know if things are anywhere near as troublesome as in your case.

      Additionally, I am not sure if Dan is committed to or excited by real estate in the same way you were and are. He would like to, I think, and it makes sense to him. But, I am not sure that he would feel unfulfilled in life if real estate never materialized. I have seen desire, just not burning desire…

      But, what you are describing is honest, and for that I thank you, and wish you to knock it out of the park. I don’t know if I could do what I do, as have done, without Patrisha’s support 🙁

  • Vitaliy Reply

    Ben, great post as always!

    I completely agree that the support of your spouse/significant other is critically important. I am in a similar situation as your friend Dan, as far as demanding jobs go. I work for a private law firm and my hours tend to get pretty crazy. My girlfriend (now my fiance) is also an attorney. When I first started investing in rentals in 2011, there was definitely some tension in our relationship. While she was certainly more open minded than Dan’s wife, she was not always as supportive as I would have liked and frequently expressed doubts about my decision to invest in real estate. I think the problem was that she did not feel included. A large part of that was of course my fault, because I probably treated my investments as more “my own thing” rather than “our thing.” After a while, I realized that in order for me to continue to invest in real estate and maintain a healthy relationship with the woman I loved, I had to make a serious effort to include her. I started sending her articles and blog posts about real estate and passive income investing. (I also got her to read Rich Dad Poor Dad :-)). I talked to her more about my goals and how these goals would benefit not only me but both of us going forward. I knew that deep down she shared my goals of some day having the freedom to leave the W2 world behind. And then last spring, I convinced her to invest in a rental property with me as a 50/50 partner. I think for her becoming closely involved and being an actual owner of an investment property was the biggest turning point. Once she saw the potential success and the direct benefit, it was really eye-opening and I could not be more happy about that.

    I am not sure how helpful my experience is for Dan, but I know that in my situation, making a concerted effort to include my fiance and to share with her my goals, dreams, and successes has made all the difference. Our experience has not always been perfect. We still have disagreements and challenges. But I do feel that when all is said and done, I can count on her support and encouragement.

    • Ben Reply

      Vitaliy – two attorneys in the house. Dude, I’ll pay you some serious money to be a fly on that wall for a day 🙂

      My take is similar to yours. Include and engage, be honest about what you want, be persistent…

      Thanks!

      • Vitaliy Reply

        If she wasn’t an attorney, I’m not sure she could put up with me. And I have yet to win an argument with her 😉 Haha!

  • Justin Reply

    Like, Ben, all I know is what I’ve lived through myself. This isn’t as much advice as it is how things have happened for me.

    My wife has been scared of us ‘losing it all’ in a bad real estate deal. Because of not having her support I’ve been stuck in the wannabe phase for years. I have played the long game of education/familiarization and risk protection for a long time now. And let me tell you, it has taken years.

    Let me tell you something else – she was right.

    Education/familiarization
    Talking about RE investing in small chunks when the subject comes up (family or friends moving or watching HGTV). Not getting too pushy about it and helping her feel safe with the subject in general. Being honest with her about my motivations.

    Risk protection
    HAVING CASH IN THE BANK and having it there for a few years. This shows that I can handle large amounts of money and that I will fight to protect it… Even from her at times 😉 This also gives us the ability to absorb unexpected bumps without impacting our day to day lives too much.

    She was right
    This is the hard one to admit many times. She knew I was not ready to take this on at the time and was rightly nervous. I’ve done a lot of growing up in the last few years and am in a much better place to take this on now. She sees it in me now too, and that feels great.

    She’s still hesitant but is on board now. Partly because of my money management mentioned above, partly her seeing my multiple income streams (job+freelance+Amazon store) making a huge difference for our family, partly because I’ve shown I can work my ass off and get shit done when it counts, and partly because I’m not ever going to let it go and she knows I’ve got to do this for me 🙂 It’s taken me a bit to get here but I am ready now, and while I’m still working on getting her ‘into’ the business with me, at least she is behind me.

    We’ve just sold our first house which was an equity share arrangement with my brother where we financed and he fixed and lived in it. We made a good profit even after splitting it with my brother and we’re using the money to pay off debt, take my parents on an awesome Caribbean vacation, and rolling the rest into another investment.

    Again, this is my personal experience and I hope it helps.

    • Ben Reply

      Well, as they say – better late than never, Justin 🙂

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