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Can You Make a Lot of Money in Real Estate Without Spending a Penny?

If you think that the title above is hype, read the following six items that are 100% true, as you will learn and internalize the deeper you read into this article.

  • I never spent one penny on real estate training!

  • I never spent money on carpet in a house I was renovating. In fact, I have avoided spending any money whatsoever on HVAC, roofs, kitchens or bathrooms in any house I was renovating.

  • I never spent time reading a book on real estate investing.

  • I didn’t even spend money to buy the best state-specific lease from the #1 landlord-tenant attorney in the two counties of my rentals. That attorney does more evictions than any other attorney in both those counties. That’s why he’s the best.

  • I didn’t spend any money getting proper title work done or for proper documentation used at formal settlements for private lending (in the olden days when I still made private loans, which I no longer do).

  • I wouldn’t consider spending money to learn about the mechanics and strategies to establish and build tax-free net worth and tax-free positive cash flow from investments using self-directed Roth retirement funds.

Yet I have made a lot of money by investing in real estate, including hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax-free equity that generate significant tax-free positive cash flow that will be crucial for “my retirement” (I don’t understand the concept of “retirement” but I’ll leave that topic for another article).

How is it possible that I never spent any money to learn about real estate investing, yet I made a lot of money investing in real estate?

Was I able to magically get the training for free, the legal documents for free, the contractor work for free, never pay a coach and get experts to line up for free to teach me about self-directed Roth 401k?

No. I got none of that for free.

So how did I not spend any money on all that valuable knowledge, materials, labor and documentation?

I will answer that question with a question.

Are you a real estate investor or are you a real estate spender?

Yes, you read that right…I asked you if you are a real estate spender. Does the phrase “real estate spender” sound strange? If “real estate spender” sounds absurd to you, that is a good thing. A very good thing. So, good, that there is hope that you will be very successful (or more successful).

What is the difference between the word “spend” and the word “invest?” Think about that. Think hard about that. Try to articulate in words what is the difference. Write it down. I mean it, write it down. Then explain it to your partner. Then explain the difference to a child! I bet the child will quickly understand the difference between “spend” and “invest” as you explain it and then you, as an authority figure, will be teaching that child a HUGE lesson in life that may be one of the most valuable lessons he/she may ever learn!

When you change the internal vocabulary in your mind when you speak to yourself, it will change your performance in life.

Note that I still haven’t explained the difference between “spending” and “investing.” I only asked you to figure out the difference and articulate it.

Now I have another question for you.

How much is in the budget for US government investing in the current fiscal year? If you don’t understand the question, please copy the previous sentence (in red font) into the google search bar and hit enter. Seriously, do that right now. I mean it. Do it right now.

Did you find the number?

I didn’t think so.

Now copy into the google search bar the same exact sentence but replace the word “investing” with the word “spending”. In other words, search for how much is in the budget for US government spending in the current fiscal year? Do you see a number now? You bet. You see a number in every single google result!

I just did that google search on May 30, 2017 and shown below is the first hit.

I still didn’t define the difference between investing and spending. But I would rather hear fingernails on a chalkboard than hear the words “real estate spending” or “government investing”. The words “real estate investing” and the words “government spending” flow smoothly and naturally, right?

Now I would like you to read the six bullet points at the beginning of this article, out loud (or under your breath, even if you are in a room by yourself) and audibly say the word “invest” in place of the words “never spent” or “didn’t spend” in each of the six points and modify the rest of each sentence accordingly. Seriously, do this. You will be happy you did. I promise.

For example, say out loud “I invested money in real estate training” or “I invested money in carpet in every house I renovated.”

Now read the title of the article again. The answer is “yes.” I have never spent any money investing in real estate. I quite obviously invested money investing in real estate, by definition. If you need to read that last two sentences again, please do so until they make perfect sense.

From this moment on and for the rest of your life, every time you hear someone say “I spent money on…” or I spent time on…”, you will feel as if someone is scratching fingernails on a chalkboard and you will correct them and tell them to say something like “I invested money to replace the old noisy dishwasher that was driving me crazy” or “I invested quality time with my children yesterday at the park.”

Do you think we could get Congress to talk about “government investing” instead of government spending?” Well, no. I’m realistic. But imagine how your tax money would be INVESTED if the money was not considered SPENDING. Yes, words matter. The internal words inside your head do matter.

Train your kids in your own words about how they want to INVEST their allowance. Don’t even use the words “how do you intend to SPEND your allowance?” Change their mindset. But first change YOUR mindset. Imagine how you will feel when your kid comes home from school and says that she asked her friend how she INVESTS her allowance and her friend looked at her as if she was crazy before your daughter taught her friend that “in our house, we talk about INVESTING our allowance…SPENDING allowance just sounds silly to me!” That’s what happens when you use the right language at home.

You might be wondering what prompted me to write on this topic for this month’s “Smarter Real Estate Investing Tip of the Month.”

It was a simple offensive question in an E-mail I received earlier today. Someone asked me for links to the two lectures I gave about tax-free self-directed Roth IRA’s/401k’s. I sent him the links and I noted that each of those two lectures have free 8-minute trailers that contain valuable technical information with zero-hype.

A little later he sent me a 1-line E-mail that read: “Must I pay to see your educational content?”

I was offended at first, then realized he thinks like a “spender” not an “investor.”

I am pasting here my E-mail response: “Yes, I invested more than 100 hours to put together and edit many high quality zero-hype lectures to teach people how to make and/or save hundreds of thousands of dollars and then people can decide if it is worth $9.99 to hear for 30 days the valuable topic of their choice, out of material I present that often is not available anywhere else.”

Remember that his question was about how to save huge amounts of tax money in self-directed Roth IRA’s and I am the only person in my close sphere of influence who I know actually invests Roth money to buy free and clear rentals titled in my self-directed Roth 401k.

Whether or not people invest-rent these highly specialized lectures at $9.99 each, it will not change my financial life so much to for me to risk my credibility for 10 bucks. I wish I could have heard such detailed lectures on SD Roth 401k’s when I started mine 9 years ago. I would have saved huge amounts of time trying to find hard-to-find information. I would have avoided “mistakes” that today I readily share about how a timely Roth conversion would have saved me many tens of thousands of dollars legally. Would that have been worth $9.99? Would that have been worth $997, like the other gurus charge?

By the way, we are in the process of re-editing and uploading my lectures to where they are for rent. When we reach 20 hours, we will sell the set of lectures for purchase and download (not just rent streaming video for 30 days). But this article is not an advertisement as much as it is a wake up call to understand the difference between spend and invest.

I urge you not to SPEND a penny on my lectures. I do however suggest that if you think you might make and/or save thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars by learning the advanced techniques with which I have made and/or saved hundreds of thousands of dollars myself (so far) as a part-time investor, you might consider INVESTING in renting or purchasing these lectures. If you invest or don’t invest in this valuable training, it will not change my financial life, though it will be nice for me. Frankly, I INVEST the money I make from these lectures in activities that create memories with my grandchildren. Whether you invest the money in this training or not is up to you and your decision should be based on whether you think the return on your investment of money and time will be at least 100 times or 1,000 times what you invest in renting, buying and listening to the training.

Now forget about my training. What should be YOUR action steps after reading this article that have nothing to do with me?


  1. Every time you are about to use the word “spend” in any sentence from now until the end of time, you will instead use the word “invest”. After a while when you hear the word “spend” coming out of your mouth or the mouths of others, it will sound as profane as the F-word.

  2. If you have children, always use the word “invest” and never use the word “spend” when you talk about time or money. Say things like “how will you invest your allowance” or “would you like to invest quality time with me in the park?”

If you change your internal vocabulary in your mind, you will change your performance in finances, occupation, relationships and life. Don’t take my word for it. Do it and see if it changes your happiness when you INVEST your time and when you INVEST your money.


Biography: Marc Halpern is a successful part-time investor who has achieved financial freedom in terms of passive income and net worth mostly through rentals and flips using “regular” money and self-directed 401(k) funds.

E-mail Marc Halpern directly if you want to improve your profits through coaching by a local expert in South Jersey/Philadelphia with track record.

Do not take any action or make any decisions based in whole or in part on the content of this article. ALWAYS consult with licensed professionals in YOUR state before making any investment.

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