You remained a fairly conservative investor, considering the times. What kept your inner Donald Trump in check?
Two things kept me going. One, I was young and determined. I was going to just go all out and do this as fast as I could in my early 20s. I knew it was all going to be a house of cards, so if one property failed me, it really could affect all of my other properties. So I would make sure that none of the properties went bad.
The other thing was, in the back of my head, worst-case scenario, I lose it all and go bankrupt. I would still be 26 and could start over. Some people are just starting out at 26. I never wanted to be there (bankrupt), but at the same time, all things considered, there were ways to recover from my worst-case scenario.
Any words of advice for would-be millionaires?
Two things. First, there is always a way to get money to buy whatever you want, but you have to be smart about it. You really have to do the numbers: How much is this going to cost me a month and how much money am I going to make a month? As long as the money coming in is more than the money going out, the banks will lend you money and it's a good investment for you.
Second, always overestimate your expenses. If they were giving me figures on the heating bill or the water bill on a house, whatever they told me I would basically double it. I took all of the expenses as worst-case scenario and I took all my income as worst-case scenario. Say I get laid off in three months, or say I don't get that raise or bonus -- I wouldn't count things that were uncertain as income and I wouldn't count the (expense) numbers they quoted me as exact numbers; I would always add $50 or $100 to pump it up.