This week’s interview is with Paula Pant, founder of Afford Anything. Paula is an incredible goal achiever who will inspire you. She has traveled to 32 countries, owns 7 rental property units and about five years ago, formed the goal of creating complete financial independence. Paula has been featured or mentioned in a long list of newspapers, magazines, websites, podcasts and conferences. Her writing has been published on names like Forbes, Kiplinger, US News, AARP, AOL and more.
The Achievers Story
Blake: Tell us who you are, where you’re from and something that people would find interesting about you?
Paula: My basic bio is straightforward: My name’s Paula Pant; I was born in Nepal, raised in Ohio, went to college in Colorado, and got a job as a newspaper reporter shortly after graduation. I worked at the newspaper from 2005 to 2008.
But in 2008, I quit a job that I loved. Most people find this fact a little bit shocking. Why would I walk away from a career that I enjoyed?
The answer is simple: I wanted more freedom. I wanted to be able to travel, make my own hours, and have absolutely no limit on my potential income. Since that time, I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to more than 30 countries, running my own business, investing in real estate, and achieving complete financial independence, which means that I earn enough money from my passive income to fully pay my bills.
Blake: Give us a brief overview about the goal you achieved and why it was so important?
Paula: About five years ago, I formed the goal of creating complete financial independence. I wanted the freedom from ever needing to work for an income. I could choose to work if I wanted to, of course, but I wanted the peace of mind that comes from knowing that I don’t have to work.
In other words, if I had some type of family commitment or health issue that precluded me from working, I wanted to know that I could still support myself and my family from investment assets.
I achieved this goal by saving more than 50% of my income and using it to invest in businesses and real estate. I now write a blog encouraging others to do the same. Even if you don’t want to invest in real estate per se, you can obtain a lot of freedom simply by setting aside a portion of every paycheck to put into investments.
Blake: Every story has a beginning, middle, and an end; where we’ve been, where we’re going, and everything in between. Give us an example of what your life was like before achieving this goal?
Paula: Prior to achieving this goal, I was just like most people. I earned a lower-mid-range income ($31,000 at the time I quit my 9-to-5 job) and I assumed that I would have to work for 40 years in order to enjoy retirement in my 60’s. That is the myth that most of us are taught as children, and unfortunately many people never question this idea.
Blake: Help us understand what caused you to move in a different direction?
Paula: I began moving in a different direction once I realized that I could earn money passively, which means that I don’t need to trade my time for money.
I began by learning everything I could about rental properties. Initially, I thought that I would have to do all of the work myself: fixing toilets, hanging window blinds, screening tenants. But the more I learned, the more I realized that I could outsource all of this, build a team of property managers and contractors around me, and keep all of the remaining profits as purely passive income. The goal is to work smarter, not harder.
Blake: Give us an example of what your life is like today, since achieving the goal?
Paula: These days I can do anything I want. If I decide that I want to spend a month in Europe, I’ll go to Europe and spend a month there. If I decide that I’d like to fly to the Caribbean next week, there’s nothing stopping me from doing it.
Overcoming The Obstacles
Blake: If there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that obstacles like fear, time and money among other things can prevent us from or motivate us towards achieving goals. What are the top 3 obstacles you faced, why were they obstacles to begin with, and how were they conquered?
Paula: My top obstacle was confidence. I thought that feats of greatness could be achieved by other people, but not be me. My lack of confidence resulted in many years of delaying my dreams. I was scared of leaving my job, so I delayed this by a year. Similarly, I was scared of making an investing mistake, so I delayed by one or two years.
Confidence is gained with time and experience. In reality, you just have to start and take one step at a time.
The second obstacle is the Naysayer Brigade. When you begin doing anything unusual, whether it’s launching your own business, building streams of passive income or traveling the globe, you’ll discover that suddenly everyone has an opinion and, typically, they voice those opinions in discouraging ways. They’ll mask this discouragement as concern, by making comments like “what if you never get a job again?” or “how will you support yourself?” or “do you really think that you can do it?”
In reality, the people who belong to this Naysayer Brigade aren’t worried about you. They lack confidence in themselves and they’re projecting their own internal self-doubt onto you. You need to silence the voices.
The third obstacle is time management. People often treat time as though it’s free when, in reality, time is our most precious asset. Once it’s spent, we can never get it back and there’s no way to create more.
It took me years to learn the value of time. I used to try to do all of the heavy lifting myself, thinking that an investment of five hours of my own time, but zero dollars, was the equivalent of getting something for “free.” In fact, now I know that if something takes a bunch of time, you are paying the highest price, not the lowest.
Blake: The next part of the interview is the Triumph. The triumph is all about taking the success of achievement to the next level of personal greatness. The idea of greatness can be different for everyone. For me, greatness is all about the pursuit rather than the destination. What does greatness mean to you and how has achieving this goal contributed to that idea?
Paula: Greatness means forming your own goal, regardless of what society thinks. It’s okay for your dreams to be unconventional.
You don’t need to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company if you don’t want to. Creating your own online business that allows you to spend six months of the year in Italy, France, or the Caribbean and gives you the time, freedom and flexibility to pursue hobbies and hang out with your family is perhaps one of the greatest achievements that you can make.
Roadmap To Goal Achievement
What is the best advice you ever received that helped you clarify and/or achieve this goal?
Paula: Some of the best advice I received came from someone who encouraged me to understand the difference between being self-employed versus being a business owner. This relates back to the idea of valuing your time.
Rather than keeping all of the profits for yourself and trying to become a one-man or one-woman show, it’s better to spread out the wealth among your team and put yourself into the role of leader, rather than the role of the harried person trying to do it all and achieving nothing in the process.
Blake: What are some of the resources or tools that helped you achieve this goal?
Paula: I read many books around financial planning, real estate investing, money management, time management, leadership and business development. In fact, for a year, I averaged about one book per week and I reviewed every book on my blog, Afford Anything. These are some of the best resources that helped me get to where I am today.
Blake: What did you do to stay motivated throughout the process?
Paula: To maintain my motivation, I spent a lot of time on websites and blogs written by people who had also achieved financial independence or were building streams of passive income. It’s helpful to be surrounded by a community of people who are all pursuing the same goal.
Blake: Is there a book that helped you achieve this goal? If so, how?
Paula: There are many books that have helped me achieve my goals, not just one in particular. I’ve reviewed many of them on my website. However, if I had to pick just one, I would recommend Rich Dad’s CASHFLOW Quadrant: Rich Dad’s Guide to Financial Freedom by Robert Kiyosaki.
Blake: Paula wrote a blog post titled How to Create an Owner Mindset. In the post, she goes into detail about the Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki. In Paula’s Final Thoughts about the book she writes “ This book is for you if: you want to read a conceptual framework that explores the nature of investments, ownership, work and freedom.”
Blake: What blogs and podcasts do you recommend?
Paula: Of course, I recommend my own website, Afford Anything, which is dedicated to financial freedom and investing. I also love the podcast Stacking Benjamins, which makes money entertaining and is geared towards an audience that doesn’t know much about money management. I myself will also be starting a podcast in the upcoming months, so I recommend that.
Blake: If you were advising someone on how to achieve the same goal or something similar, what specific steps would you have them follow?
Paula: The steps I’d recommend depend on your starting point. I can’t give a one-size-fits-all, step-by-step formula, because that formula varies depending on where you currently are within your life. Are you in debt? How much do you have in savings? How good is your credit?
I would encourage people to visit Afford Anything in order to first put themselves on proper financial track. Pay off high interest debt, build credit, create savings, take The 1% Challenge and regain their basic financial footing.
After that, step two is to start building businesses and investments on the side, while you’re still working within your day job.
Step three is to quit your day job so you can focus entirely on your businesses and investments. At this point, you’ll be making enough stronger businesses and investments to support the lifestyle that you desire.
Again, this question is a little bit strange, because the very nature of the question doesn’t give heed to how individual and unique each person’s circumstance is. Depending on your current situation, the steps that you follow are going to be different.
Blake: Your point about the general nature of the question is accurate. Let’s assume you’re advising someone with the following profile:
- Early to mid 20’s just graduated from college with a Computer Science Degree
- Entry level job earning $35,000 a year
- No established credit
- Very little savings (under $5k)
- $30,000 in student loan debt
- Owe $10k on car loan
- Monthly bills add up to $1,200 a month
- Currently renting an apartment
What specific steps would you have them follow to be financially independent ASAP?
Paula: First, start looking for additional side income. With a computer science degree, you should be able to get well-paid freelance work. Another 10-20 hours per week could yield up to $500 per week, or an extra $26,000 per year.
Put all your side income towards building savings and repaying debt. After a year and a half of hustling on the side, you’ll have every loan paid-in-full ($10k/car and $30k/student) and you should have some extra saved on top. In the meantime, during those two years, you’ll be building credit, as well.
In Year Three, you can use these savings to buy your first rental property, or make investments, or travel — whatever your dream might be.
Blake: What’s the best way for people to connect with you?
Paula: The best way to connect with me is by reading my website, Afford Anything. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Finally, you can connect with a community of likeminded people on The 1% Challenge Facebook page.