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Our new TV series, Built For More, will pull back the curtain on how to create money through real estate. I will be speaking with experts who have mastered real estate – everything from flipping to rental properties to Air BnB to multi-family homes – to help inspire you, show you how to get started or give you ideas on teasing out new opportunities if you’re already established. With that said, I was so excited to speak to our first guest, Eric Bennett, of Desert Flippers fame when I was in Palm Springs earlier this year.

As a dad to three young, energetic sons, a devoted husband to wife Lindsay, an active member of his church and community, sports fan and – a little-known fact – serious Pokémon Go enthusiast, Eric could probably use a few more hours in each day. Speaking to him. It’s my privilege to share Eric’s experience and passion here today.

How Did You Start Out?

“I started early! I had a paper route when I was 12 and was bagging groceries when I was 14 for $6 an hour. These were great lessons in the value of money.”

What Drives You?

“Early on I think I was driven by fear and frustration. Growing up we didn’t have a ton and I saw a lot of relationships falling apart, including my parents, because of not enough finances. I told myself I think that I can control that. I think I can apply myself. I’m blessed enough and smart enough that I’m going to make sure I’m successful enough that finances never become the problem.

“I was driven by that to get started and that took me all the way through college and then after college, I couldn’t find a job. I was bouncing around and the path I was on was not working, so then I started doing additional learning, talking to people. Once I started tracking my financial performance, including assets and liabilities, then it became a video game and I was going for a high score. Since then, it’s just been about how well I can play the game. It’s been a very wild ride. We have all our jobs plus the HGTV show and now I’m blessed with the opportunity to throttle back a little bit and spend a ton of time with my family.”

Why Do You Love What You Do?

“I am so passionate about real estate! One of the beautiful things about investing in real estate is that people are open and transparent about what they do. People are happy to share knowledge and information and bring you in as part of a deal. If you come to me with a good deal, I’m happy to partner with you. It’s so important to educate yourself though, know the language, be able to identify an opportunity, read books, surround yourself with mentors.

“Real estate is my wheelhouse. My mom was in the game and I have watched relatives skirt close to success with it over the years.”

Do You Have a Method for Checking Your Finances?

“When I was very young, I downloaded a net worth sheet from Microsoft excel and I’ve done it almost every month for the past 12 years. It’s a very basic thing but when you realize what your actions do to the balance of the sheet, slowly, over time, it changed the way I made decisions.

“Bringing it back to the flip, when I did a flip, I would watch the graph of the net worth sheet and every time there was a spike, your brain would think that’s when I sold the property, but that’s not the case. It’s when I bought a property for less than it’s worth. It would spike whenever I bought something that was good value.

“Years ago, my goal was to save $10K a month until I got to a million dollars, A crazy goal! And we absolutely smashed that goal and have saved well above that for the past 12 years, every month.”

Are you Competitive?

“I’ve always loved sports, so I suppose there’s an element of that. I like to compete but I’m not going to win by pushing other people down. I understand the rules of the game. If I’m going to participate and play the game, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.”

What is Your Mission?

“One of the fears I’ve had throughout my life is that a family member would get sick or something very bad would happen and I wouldn’t have the means to solve that problem. When that comes up now, I can say yes and there’s a lot of comfort in that. I’m not big on expensive things. I’m not a fancy car guy. I’m more interested in helping people and my family, friends, church, and community mean the world to me.”

What Would You Say to Your 20-Year-Old Self?

“Not all education is taught in school. Pick up a book and diversify your knowledge and even more important for young people, delay satisfaction. You can save money, reinvest it. Stop yourself from going deeply into debt, pay for your college without getting student loans. All these things can be done if you’re willing to delay satisfaction now. My wife and I stole this idea from Transformers: ‘No Sacrifice, No Victory’. I actually have it printed on my checks so I see it every time I’m writing a check.

“The whole world is against you. Every business and corporation out there is trying to take money away from you. Avoiding some debt pitfalls early on can really set you up.”