Is it possible to have enough passive income to help you be “work optional” in your 30s? What does it take to achieve this? Today’s guest is Collin Montenegro, a podcast listener turned VIP client with Money Ripples, who shares his best tips and lessons that he’s learned from as he has gained experience investing in alternative investments, like real estate. Here is his advice for YOU!
Listen to the podcast here
How This 30-Year Old Got On His Path To Financial Freedom
I want to bring on a special guest. I often bring guests, and you get a lot of these guys who have been in the real estate space or the investing space for a decade-plus. Some might be newer or not but I hear a lot of you saying, “I would like to hear from somebody who’s on that journey. Maybe it’s a step ahead of me. I’m not sure how to get started. I’m not sure how to get into it.” That’s exactly why I invited Collin Montenegro to be with us. Collin is one of our clients in our Money Ripples VIP client program that we have for our financial independence game plan program.
The thing that’s awesome about Collin is that he’s a go-getter. He’s the guy that we talk about, not just being a hearer of the word but a doer as well. I want to invite him to talk about his experience. He has been in the tech and cybersecurity industry. In my opinion, he’s young. He’s roughly 30 years old. To be able to have him on to give his perspective and what he’s learning to share with you, maybe he can help you move to that next level or step. That’s exactly why we have Collin here. Collin, welcome to our show.
Thanks so much for having me, Chris. I’m probably going to get some virtual tomatoes thrown at me but I consider myself old now. I turned 30, and I’m starting to see some of the health side effects, this, and that. I’m trying to learn as I go. Honestly, one thing that I’ve been dealing with is this existential crisis of age. When you’re younger, you’re invincible. You’re going to last forever.
The notion of death or health problems doesn’t come to mind but as I start growing older, I’m starting to see people that I love dearly close to me pass away or even celebrities. They’re going through some rough times or health issues. It opens up your mind and your eyes to how mortal we are and how finite our time on Earth is. That’s what sparked me on this journey with you and Money Ripples and investing in general. Not to get too far ahead of myself but I wanted to share one of the main reasons why I wanted to start this investing journey. Thanks for having me.
You have these moments in time or crises, whether it’s personal or somebody that you know, that can inspire you to take different actions or at least move to some action.
One of the key things for me is I’m a very goal-oriented person. I’m a go-getter. Even starting the gate when I was in middle school or a high school freshman, I was like, “What do I want to do with my life?” I’ve always been interested in technology. IT was natural to me. My sixth birthday resonates with me all the time. I always think about it as the impetus for my interest in technology. My grandparents surprised me with a Nintendo 64. I got that. It was game over. Technology was my life.
Going back to high school, I was always interested in tech, and I was like, “What is my goal? Where do I want to be in ten years?” I sat down, built a roadmap, and projected myself, “At this time and this age, I want to be here. I want to be doing this.” For the most part, I’ve been able to achieve all my goals. I’m now at the point in my life where I’m very content but never complacent.
I’m very happy with everything I have but now, I’m like, “I have everything I’ve ever wanted. How do I maintain that and also buy back my time?” That was a strong impetus for me to want to move forward with investing and figure out how I could buy back my time. That’s when I came across you and the Money Ripples family. What resonates with me is, “Work because you want to, not because you have to.”
That is key for me because I love my job. I don’t plan on doing anything or leaving any time soon because I love my industry. This is what I’m passionate about but do I want to work until I’m 70 years old? Do I want to be there until I’m 80? I have family members who are still working. My grandfather is in his 70s, and he is still working. Do I want to do that? I don’t think so. There has to be more to this. That has been the strong impetus for me to want to go down this investing journey.
When you look around at your colleagues, the people that you work with, and even friends, do you think they feel the same way? Is it different for them? Do they feel like they’re trying to survive and they’re not even thinking that far ahead?
To be fully transparent, I feel like people in my generation are not focused on what their future looks like. They’re living more in the moment, and there’s nothing wrong with that because you have to have a happy balance but a lot of them are living day by day. They’re more focused on the parties and the weekends or the next nice thing they could buy. Here’s a little background story behind me. I was born and raised in Las Vegas. Those of you know, or maybe you don’t know. It’s a big rat race out there. Who’s got the nicest watch? Who’s got the nicest car? Who’s got this and that? I’m like, “I can’t do that anymore because there’s more to life than that.”
We recently moved about a year ago to Orlando, Florida, and there’s a lot better tempo for us here. It’s a lot more down to Earth. We’re enjoying it. Back to your question, the people that I grew up with get caught up in that rat race, and they’re focused on the nice things that they can have now as opposed to, “Nice things come and go but what about experiences? Those things last forever.”
It’s about having a nice life.
Health and time are the most important things to me and my family.
Here’s a shout-out to your beautiful wife, Natalie. She’s not here with us but I’m sure she’s cheering you on. How did you even find us in the first place? Was it through the show? How did you even hear about us?
It’s a funny story. We have a friend in Vegas who is an orthodontist, and he ended up connecting us with you via him. That’s when I ended up reaching out to you. He sent an email, and then we got connected. Once we had our first sync with you, it was like, “This is meant to be.” This can be transferred or used in any type of industry other than investing like technology or any business, career, or path you want to go down to. It’s mentorship and surrounding yourself with like-minded people.
Believe it or not, I’m very much introverted. It takes a lot for me to come out of my shell and do things like this or join groups but I know that if I want to be better, I need to surround myself with like-minded people or even people who are higher than me and who I can look up to and use them as examples of who I want to be or how I want to get there. That was one of the core reasons why I also wanted to join this family because there are all these like-minded people who can guide me. At the same time, I can pass it on to the next investment that wants to come on board that may be new.
What would be some of your advice? As you came on, what were some of the things that surprised you? We had our initial conversation together. You’re an amazing saver. You were very disciplined. We see that with a lot of the people who come to us. What were you expecting? What did you see that might have surprised you?
I expected that it wasn’t going to be easy because what I’ve learned over time is that nothing good comes easy. I didn’t have any unreasonable expectations, “In a year, I’m going to meet my financial goal. I’m good to go. I’m off to the races.” I knew it was going to be a journey but with that being said, there have been lots of walls that I’ve been hitting. If I were to give one major piece of advice, and this can be relatable to any type of industry job you’re going after, pursuing a job, or a personal goal, or investing, it’s throwing yourself in the fire. You have to go in there and get burned a little bit because that’s how you learn and grow. That’s a personal insight into that.
In one of the first investment properties that we purchased, I’ve been dealing with quite a few issues. It was the first house we bought, and it has been one thing after the other, “This is breaking. We have to purchase that. We have a drainage issue. We have to deal with that.” It’s one thing after the other but you have to look at the silver lining because sooner or later, something is bound to happen.
Why not happen now? I’m learning from this. I’m learning how to do better due diligence and what to look out for. In the future, I can take that, and then I know what to do in those situations. It’s learning. I’m in the fire, and while I’m getting burned, I’m learning and growing. That’s one of the key things. You can use that recipe for anything. I did that in my IT career or my cybersecurity career. You can’t be afraid. You have to go out there, put your best foot forward, and then roll with the punches.
I like that advice. I often tell people this. If my kids decide they want to go to Vegas, my hope for them is they go to Vegas and lose money. I want them to lose money immediately because the worst thing that can happen is they go to Vegas, make a bunch of money, and think that’s always going to be the case because you’re going to try to project whatever you experience out into your future. You’re going to try to say, “It’s always going to be this way.” If they lose money, they’re always going to lose money. I would rather have that than them always think they will make money. I’m not saying I ever wish anybody to say, “Let’s have some challenges, bumps, and bruises along the way.”
We talk about how passive income doesn’t always mean it’s fully 100% passive. There are going to be some potential obstacles in the way. If you’re going to experience it, might as well experience it up upfront as long as you don’t project it, saying, “This is what it’s always going to be like.” Some people rent investment properties. Nothing ever goes wrong. They think, “It’s always going to be perfect.” They get that one property and then say, “This is horrible. Why did that happen?” They’re almost more upset than those who start with a harder time upfront, and then it gets better as it goes on.
Going back to what I said, nothing good ever comes easy. I’m a man of faith. I truly believe that God puts obstacles in our way, and that’s how we learn, grow, and become better. That is how it has been in my life. The majority of it has been in my career, “Why did this store close? That’s because there was a way better opportunity that I wasn’t even looking at.” It’s the same thing with this. I take everything as it is and figure out how I can make the best of the situation, learn, and grow.
Back to Vegas, here’s a funny story. On my 21st birthday, I went onto the blackjack table, threw down $100, and lost it in ten seconds, and I was like, “Never again.” Thank God I never got hooked on gambling but that was a prime experience. I was like, “I’m not interested in this.” It was hard-earned $100, and I lost in ten seconds. I don’t care if I could have doubled it. It’s not for me. Throw yourself in the fire. You will learn, grow, and come out a lot better and more prepared.
How have the rest of your investments been? How have they gone? Has it always been white-knuckling it the whole way? Have you had other investments that have been pretty easy?
The keyword is passive here. A lot of the things that we’re investing in Money Ripples are passive. The aspect of real estate is a little bit more hands-on. I have a property manager. Thank goodness that helps alleviate a lot of that workload. There are a lot of other passive investments like syndications and funds that I’ve been a part of that have been easy. I have a good working relationship with some of the advisors over there of those companies and groups. It has been as simple as figuring out what I want to purchase or how much I want to put down, and the rest is off to the races receiving daily emails from this specific one about what’s going on in that specific industry. I’ve been soaking up that knowledge.
That has truly been extremely passive. There’s nothing for me other than the initial, “Here’s the money,” and then there you go. Wait and collect. This is something that I’ve learned quickly in this industry. It doesn’t happen immediately. It takes time to ramp up. I’ll take what I said back earlier. I did have some unreasonable expectations, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to throw money at the wall and be good to go.” That’s not true. You have to do your due diligence. You have to understand what you’re investing in and also understand how the market and how the whole process works.
For this one particular investment, I found out it takes time for it to ramp up. Initially, the returns might not be as good as you were hoping for but a couple of months later, once processing and production starts ramping up, then all of a sudden, it’s a nice return. Be patient. That is probably the most important word to emphasize here. Patience is key. That translates to anything in this life. Patience is always key. There’s a reason why you’re going through the process and why it’s taking time. Wait it out. If you do your due diligence, and if it has been years and there’s nothing happening, then you should probably reconsider what you invested in and re-strategize.Initially, the returns might not be as good as you hoped, but be patient because it might be a nice return after a few months. Click To Tweet
It’s so important. It’s that flywheel concept that they talk about. When you’re peddling a bicycle, it takes a little bit of effort to get it moving but then pretty soon, you’re pedaling almost the same rotation but because it’s in a different gear, you’re able to go a lot faster. That’s the case. You get that little exponential curve that you get there as you’re moving along.
That’s a good point too because I have some people who will come in, join the Money Ripples family that way, and become one of our VIP clients. They will say, “I did that calculator on MoneyRipples.com. I took that calculator there. It said I’ll make 25,000 over the next twelve months.” That’s true once you start investing. We always have to tell people upfront, “There are at least a good couple of months.” Unless you already know what’s out there, you want to have good connections. Some people might move faster but you’re opening up this whole new Willy Wonka world of investing, and you’re like, “Where do I turn next? What do I do?”
You’re going to take a few months to start learning what they’re doing, what investments are out there, or what are good matches for you, and then from there, you can jump in. Some of them will pay right off the bat or maybe the next month while others might be the next quarter, and then others might be a good solid year before you start getting some decent returns. It depends on what you invest in.
Another thing that is important to mention is that nothing is guaranteed. There’s nothing in this life that is ever guaranteed. That’s something that I’ve learned early on in general in life. You should never expect something, “I deserve this. This is how it’s supposed to be.” That’s not reality. You change your perspective and realize that we live in a world and that things are dynamic. Nothing is ever guaranteed. Even though things may look good on paper, that may not be the reality at least initially. Going back to the patience word, you have to give it some time, do your due diligence, and go from there.
What advice would you give people? Maybe it’s your coworker. I’m not saying anybody specifically but let’s say you have a coworker that is still putting money in their 401(k)s and doing that kind of thing. Knowing what you now know, what would you say to them?
I’ve always been a W-2 employee. I put a percentage into my 401(k). I’m like, “This is good,” especially when I got my first job. I started doing calculations. I’m like, “When I turn 60, I’m going to have $3 million. I’m set,” but reality hits. That’s not the reality of this world, especially with inflation and all that. When all these bubbles hit the housing market crash, I saw my grandparents and my family members’ 401(k)s get cut in half overnight. That was an instant shocker to me. I go back to Vegas.
The stock market is no better than gambling. It could skyrocket up 100% in one day, and the next day, it’s down and you lose everything. I can’t cope with that. The type of personality that I am, I like to have at least somewhat control. There’s no guarantee in anything in life but at least now, I have some control. I would recommend to my coworkers to invest in things that are tangible assets. That’s what I prefer, like a house. I’m paying money but I own a physical structure. That’s mine. If anything ever goes south, I at least own a house.
In the stock market, you have a virtual stock. It’s like cryptocurrency. It’s non-existent. You throw money in there and have these shares. I like tangible assets. I would recommend that. There are other opportunities like syndications, getting involved in apartment complexes, or even franchises. I prefer things that you have somewhat of a say, and you can always fall back on knowing that there is a physical type of object there that you own as opposed to some virtual shares.
That’s a great advice. Is there any other advice you would offer to anybody? What would you recommend that they do, whether it’s the next step or a mindset shift?
Silence the voice in your head that’s telling you that you should not be reaching out and that you’re not good enough, “It’s all snake oil. They’re trying to steal your money,” because that’s not the reality. There are some malicious actors out there. I’m using cybersecurity terms. There are threat actors out there who are always trying to steal your money or whatnot but you do your due diligence. Take that first step.
It doesn’t hurt you at all to reach out to a group like Money Ripples or any other investment group to put your foot in the water and see what it’s about because I will tell you that you will gain a bunch of lifelong connections and a lot of investing connections. Overall, you will gain a lot of knowledge in friendships over time. Don’t be afraid to take that next step, and don’t be afraid to fail. That’s how you learn. If you fail, fail fast, learn from it, pick yourself up, move forward, adapt, and change your strategy.
That would be my recommendation for everyone. Anyone can do this. Take the next step. Make that call. Do some research. Due diligence is the most important thing. When I say due diligence, do some Google sleuthing. Go online. Figure out the company that you’re interested in. Give them a call. Maybe talk to people who have been involved in that group. Find them on Facebook. Do some due diligence and then take the next step because as Kobe said, “You miss every shot you don’t take,” or at least I think that’s what Kobe said. Someone intelligent said that. That also resonates with me.
Other people attribute it to Michael Jordan.
I don’t know anything about basketball. I like the quote.
That’s a wise advice. Are you sure you’re 30?
I consider myself old now. I filled the virtual tomato. I’m bobbing and weaving. In all reality, I know that I have time in my favor. I’m very appreciative of you, Chris, Craig, and the Money Ripples family. It has been eye-opening. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m continuing to learn a lot. It has been a good experience because I know that I have people like you, Craig, and the rest of everyone in Money Ripples that I can fall back on and shoot off ideas. I know that everyone has my back and can help me on the journey. You can only go so far by yourself. Even in your career, you go so far but you need to surround yourself with like-minded people, and that’s how you truly grow.Surround yourself with like-minded people to truly grow. Click To Tweet
That’s a wise advice. Likewise, we appreciate you being a part of the community and being a great mentor. I can already tell you. Even if you’re 30 with some of the stuff you’ve shared, I’m sure there are some in their 50s and 60s saying, “I need to listen to him. I need to follow Collin’s advice here.” I appreciate you being on. That’s very valuable information. That’s a great advice for anybody.
I appreciate it. Thanks so much for having me.
This is the thing. You are where you are, and that’s perfect, wherever that might be. There are going to be fears. There are going to be obstacles. There are always going to be things in your way. The question I’ll have you ask yourself is, “What if this is happening to you for a very specific reason?” What if this is exactly what you need to be able to take you to another level to help you face a different direction and say, “Maybe the direction I was on or the path I was on wasn’t great. Maybe I should go over here. Maybe this is the path that will change my life.”
I recommend it. Whatever it is, find that thing that you need to be facing. Follow that path. Follow your heart. Follow your gut. Do what you know is right and then take that risk. As Collin said, be willing to take a risk on yourself. Gamble on yourself a little bit because at least you can control that. You can’t control the markets but you can control your life and your path. Go and make it a wonderful and prosperous week. We will see you later.
- Collin Montenegro – LinkedIn
About Collin Montenegro
Collin has worked in the tech industry for several years and has loved learning about real estate investing. From having an interest in investing to now becoming a successful passive investor, Collin is on his way towards financial independence within the next 10 years!