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L Bee and the Moneytree

How to Start Real Estate Investing

Tips for How to Start Real Estate Investing. Be smart, strategic, slow and steady.

I was 26 when I bought my first house, and people thought I was crazy for doing it, given that it was such an up and coming area.

And maybe they were right. But while my home has been a seemingly endless source of stress and heartache, I still feel like I made a good choice investing in real estate. Here’s how to get started with your first real estate investment and tips to avoid some of the disasters I encountered.

Find the Right Investment

When it comes to real estate investing, you should start out by getting an idea of what you want to invest in.

  • Are you looking to buy a home for yourself?
  • A rental property?
  • Or maybe even a whole complex?

This is what most people think of when they are considering real estate investment: the idea is to buy a property and rent it to a tenant, whose rent will cover the cost of the mortgage and any other expenses.

While rental properties are becoming more desirable, keep in mind that being a landlord will essentially become another job. You’ll need to be available for tenants to reach if they have an issue with the property, which you’ll then have to pay for and manage.

On the other hand, Real Estate Investment Groups can offer the financial benefits of owning a property without the hassle of being a landlord. Essentially you can buy one or many units in an apartment complex, for example, and the investment group will manage it and take care of advertising, filling vacancies, and maintenance. While it may be a safer option, know that you’ll be paying extra for the convenience of their management.

Another investment is a real estate investment trust – or REIT. These operate largely like a stock would, except that stock is buying property and paying dividends to you. It’s a solid investment for a regular income stream, but can fluctuate depending on the current housing market.

How to Start Real Estate Investing: Shop the Market (Or All of Them!)

Whether it’s a property, investment group, or REIT, you need to do your research.

Real estate is a hot market right now with the economy in recovery, and that means that the more you know, the more you can make and save. When looking for a property to buy, make a checklist of what you would want as a tenant. Does the house or unit fit those qualifications or would you have to renovate and purchase amenities?

The same thing goes for investment groups and REITs. Look for reputable groups that manage properties you would be interested in. If the complex has vacancies, what are they doing to advertise them and get them filled? Keep in mind that you don’t make money from empty units!

When it comes to REITs, look for one that manages properties you can see increasing in value. REITs can be a great supplementary income stream that can fund your retirement or just pay the bills, all while increasing in value.

What Comes Next?

If you think you know what you’re interested in opting into, congrats! Now here comes the hard stuff. Real estate investing can require quite a bit of on-hand cash for purchasing a home or unit, buying stock in a trust, or paying property managers. It might be a good idea to start small and then build your real estate empire from the profits you make.

For example, I had a friend who bought at the bottom of the market and ended up with over $50,000 in equity in their primary home. They then leveraged that equity to buy two more houses and put tenants in those houses. Now they make $1,400 per month in real estate income.

There are tons of stories like this if you can be smart with your money. Many people, like my awesome friend Paula from Afford Anything, have been able to quit their day jobs and be investors and real estate moguls full-time. It can be done!

Speaking of Paula…

I was lucky enough to have Paula come on my web series, Awkward Money Chat, to give some of her tips for how to start real estate investing.

If you haven’t investigated her site, Afford Anything, yet, I recommend you should. It’s a GOLD MINE of info for how to real estate invest I also like Bigger Pockets (both the site and the podcast are amazing!)

Watch the video below to hear how Paula creates passive income through real estate investing, the creepiest thing one of her tenants has ever done, and how I like my massages.

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Tips for How to Start Real Estate Investing. Be smart, strategic, slow and steady.



Advantages of Living a Car Free Lifestyle

car free lifestyle

Living in Atlanta has frequently made me daydream about living a car free lifestyle. Traffic here is terrible.

When I lived in New York it wasn’t necessary – I could either walk or take the subway to anywhere I needed to go. There’s no such luxury here in the ATL. You’re lucky if your commute somehow manages to avoid rush hour or goes the opposite direction.

My point is, it seems like owning a vehicle is an absolute these days unless you live in a highly urban area.

But what about those of us who can’t afford a vehicle or just don’t want to? Believe it or not there are actually some pretty awesome advantages to living a car-free lifestyle. (more…)

The Millennial Homeowner: The Ultimate First Time Home Buying Guide

millennial homeowner

It’s launch day! I can’t believe it’s finally here. My first full length e-book, The Millennial Homeowner, is now out and available to the public today!

Three years ago I bought a house.. Here’s the DL on that story.

Even to this day, I get a lot of homeownership questions from readers who come to this site in search of advice for navigating their own first time home buying experience.

And now, I’m happy to say, I’ve written a book about it.


How One Woman Paid off $30,000 Using Debt Consolidation

debt consolidation

One of my biggest financial challenges has been learning to live with credit cards while battling a lifelong shopping problem. It is how I got started thinking seriously about money and something that I have written thousands of words about at this point in my career.

So why am I writing about debt (yet) again?

Because people are still struggling with the same things I struggled with, and there are constantly new practices and techniques that can help.

One such strategy is debt consolidation. And I know what you’re thinking, debt consolidation is for people:

  • in dire straits
  • who have lost everything
  • or are being harassed by creditors at every hour of the day.

But it isn’t. It is increasingly a more popular option for those struggling to keep up with student loan payments, their mortgage, or medical debt. And no one talks about it because of the perceived amount of shame involved.  (more…)

How to Start a Blog Side Hustle

How To Start a Blog


I’ve been blogging since 2012. First it was about personal finance, but really it’s about thinking creatively to generate more income so you can spend more time doing the things you want to do, and less time doing what you have to do.

It’s not about getting rich, it’s about financial stability.

And creating a money making blog, full time digital business, or side business with a website that generates money on top of your 9-5 is one of the best ways to provide yourself with both financial stability and freedom.

In the first 3 years I ran this blog I made over $50,000 off my blog, and in year four I was able to leave my full-time job and make over in marketing to come run this blog as my full time gig. I’m so incredibly grateful for this journey life has taken me on, and now I make more money than I ever did working for someone else. (See my latest online income report, here.)

But the most important part of having a money making blog and thriving digital business is the “digital” aspect of it, which means having reliable technology partners and a great blog hosting service. Bluehost (my hosting provider) and WordPress are the only companies I’ve trusted with my blog and brand since the beginning.


5 Reasons to Rent Instead of Buy

reasons to rent instead of buy

When I worked in NYC, we got ridiculous Christmas bonuses at the hedge fund where I was employed. RIDICULOUS. So large, in fact, that we joked about how everyone started shopping for newer, bigger, apartments in January because of the yearly Christmas cash influx.

My colleague Jen, (who is a now a famous author, mentor and friend) thought the idea of owning a home was ridiculous. I began slowly warming to the idea and she strongly discouraged me against it.

“Lauren, houses have roofs that leak, and heaters that break.” She’d say.

“But renting is so expensive!” I countered.

“Yes, but you pay for the luxury of not having to worry about those things.”

And you know what? It turns out she was right.

I don’t regret purchasing my home, but there are little incidentals that will blindside you if you’re used to living in an apartment. Aside from that, owning a home is also a big lifestyle change. I love being a home owner, but I’m also here to argue when it makes sense to rent instead of buy.  (more…)

5 Ways to Save Money On Baby

ways to save money on baby

Having a baby is one of the most wonderful and life-changing events someone can experience (or so I’m told.)

While I may only be a puppy-mom right now, I’m now at the age where I constantly see my friends and family show up to events with new little ones running around.

It’s awesome when your friend group grows to include a new teeeeeny tiny little person.

What’s not awesome? The statistics and sticker price of having a kid – the estimated cost of having a baby and raising that child to adulthood in 2014 was $245,340! Yowza.

No matter how financially savvy you are, that’s a scary number. Thankfully I know some parents with the inside info on how to easily save money on your baby, and they gave me some of their best tips.


How Much Does a DUI Cost? (Financially Speaking)

financial costs of a DUI

As I’m sure many of my readers know, I’m a little bit of a wino.

If you follow me on Insta or Snapchat (@lbeemoneytree), you can see hard evidence that I enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or cocktails during nights out with friends.

So why am I telling you about my drinking habits? Because as a purveyor of fine financial advice, I think it’s important to be honest.

And when it comes to other serious topics such as drunk driving I want my readers to know that I’m coming from a place of understanding, not just standing on my soapbox telling other people how to live their lives.

So what are the financial costs of driving under the influence? (more…)

How I Made My First $1,000 in Affiliate Sales

how to earn affiliate income

If you’ve been following along you’ve read all about my entrepreneurial struggles, how at the beginning of 2016 I completely pivoted my business, and how I’ve been able to make more money online. A large part of that has been by strategizing and restructuring my site so that the blog itself makes more income, so I can write less for other outlets and spend more time on this site and providing my (thoroughly awesome) readers with more value.

Since I started posting my online income reports in April, I’ve been getting lots of questions, mostly asking how I’ve been able to ramp up my blog income. The answer? Affiliates!

But here’s a confession: I made a whopping $90 in affiliate income last year. Affiliates just weren’t a way I was monetizing my site. 

And 2015 was the first year I did any type of affiliate marketing. 2015! After three years of blogging and building an audience.

But after three years of hard work (and getting a little burnt out on writing, honestly) I wanted to monetize my website in a more passive way so I could a) make more money, like my girlcrush/dream girl Michelle and b) free up some mental and emotional bandwidth to do other things besides chase the content writing dragon.

And it worked! Putting my energy into monetizing my site has increased my income, especially in affiliates. Here’s how I made it to my first $1k in affiliate sales.  (more…)

How to Talk About Money With the People You Love

how to talk about money with the people you love
  • Do you have one of those friends who is always forgetting their wallet at home?
  • Or maybe a boyfriend or girlfriend who puts everything on a credit card?
  • Any of those people you just want to take by the shoulders and shake for a while when it comes to what they’re doing with their money?

I personally believe that talking about money with those you love is a necessary evil. Even if it’s a little awkward, it’s important that you are honest with your loved ones when it comes to money.

Money management is one of those issues that, if not confronted head on, can totally ruin a once-great relationship.


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