Creating a blissful real estate business is all about making sure that you’re doing business with the people you love doing business with. Your tenants are not just people that are paying your mortgage. They are your business partners. In this episode, the blissful investor, Moneeka Sawyer, joins Monick Halm to share how she got started in real estate investing and created a blissful business out of it. Moneeka reached her financial freedom by turning $10,000 to over $2,000,000 working only 5-10 hours per month with very little stress. Today, she reveals how you, too, can do the same.
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Creating A Blissful Business With Moneeka Sawyer
On this show, I interview incredible badass real estate investing goddesses, women that are crushing it in the real estate game. My guest is certainly no exception. I am super excited to have with us Moneeka Sawyer. In addition to having like me, a name that derived from Monick, that sounds unique. She’s a soul sister. She also has a heart to help women in real estate. I’m excited to be talking with her and to share her with you. She calls herself a blissful millionaire. She reached her financial freedom by turning $10,000 to over $2 million working only 5 to 10 hours per month with very little stress. She’s now on a mission to help as many other women as she can to do the same. She hosts one of the top-rated podcasts or radio shows, Real Estate Investing For Women, and has interviewed prestigious guests such as Leeza Gibbons, Dr. Joe Vitale, Hal Elrod. I’m very excited to count myself as one of her guests too. She’s been featured on stages with Suzanne Sommers, Martha Stewart, Ice T & Coco, at places like the NASDAQ Marketplace, Harvard and Carnegie Hall and on TV, on NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox reaching over 150 million people. She is badass. She’s amazing. I’m so excited to have her with us.
Thank you for having me. I loved our conversation on my show, so I can’t wait to chat again. It’s good to be here.
I think you’re my soul sister. I’m excited to get to know you and be able to call you a friend. As I was sharing, you started with only $10,000 and it became $2 million, which is awesome. How did you get started in real estate investing?
I’m going to tell you my story, which starts with my parents who came to the United States as immigrants, newly married with $200 in their pocket. They had heard that the way to wealth in the United States was to buy real estate. When they had me, I was their first child with their hearts full of joy, hope and excitement, they decided they were going to start buying real estate. They saved all of their nickels and dimes. When I was three years old, they bought their first property. Fast forward, they paid for my college education with real estate. They did the same for my two sisters. They paid for our weddings. Imagine they came here with $200 in their pocket. Look at what they did. When I graduated from college, it was during a recession. I couldn’t find work and I freaked out and scared.
I wanted financial independence. I was one of those women that I was like, “I need to be able to take care of myself.” I remember sitting with my dad one day and telling him about all my fears. I had seen his struggle with real estate. Many ladies who are reading, you’ve heard the stories like toilets, tenants, mortgages, the nightmares. I’d seen my dad going through a lot of stress and so I didn’t want that for myself. I was not at all interested in real estate. My dad, we’re sitting at the kitchen table one night and he said something to me that changed my life forever, “Moneeka, everybody has stress, fear and money issues. Do you want poor people money issues or do you want rich people money issues?” Can you imagine what I chose?
It was a complete paradigm shift because I thought, “Rich people don’t have money issues.” I did see my dad stressed out. My whole mind shifted in that moment. I decided I was going to get into real estate. I made that decision. It didn’t happen for a little while, but I started to hustle and learn and whatever. My husband and I, before we got married, made an offer on a house. Right after we got married, we closed on it. What we did was we asked everybody for money for a wedding. We came up with $10,000 so we put 5% down on our very first home, which was $10,000 and that’s how I started. From there, we waited for it to appreciate. We took the equity out, bought the next place, kept that as a rental, and we went from there. That’s how we started. $10,000 and over the years, slowly, easily, blissfully, without too much pressure. It stirred into multiple millions. It’s been pretty amazing.One of the things about being blissful is you want to make sure that you're doing business with the people you love doing business with. Click To Tweet
I am also a first-generation American. When my parents came here, they had little money from Haiti. Unfortunately, they did not get the memo of real estate being the way to build wealth. They got the memo that you should go to college and get a good job like a doctor, lawyer, professor to do it. Unfortunately, I did not get that memo.
My parents gave me the same memo. It was like, “What you do is you go to college, become a doctor, lawyer or engineer. You bust your butt to high side hustling with this real estate thing.” I was like, “I am so not there.” I did the whole college thing like you. You became a lawyer. I went to business school at UC Berkeley and like you I said, “No, thanks. I prefer that other way.”
You’ve built it up. What are you investing in?
I do executive homes. Here’s the thing, I wanted everything to be blissful. One of the things about being blissful is you want to make sure that you’re doing business with people you love doing business with, your tenants or your business partners. They are not people that are out there paying your mortgage. They will determine how blissful your business is. They were the biggest stress in my dad’s life. They were calling at 2:00 in the morning, they were screaming at him and not paying their rent. There were all sorts of stuff. My tenants don’t do that. Even in the beginning, when I had a starter home, I had starter executives. People that had college educations and they wanted to become execs. As I’ve grown, I deal with top starter executives, people that are VPs and CEOs. They do not want a landlord breathing down their neck. That’s how I made it so blissful. They take care of the properties. They have a high standard on how they’re going to live. I don’t have to do a lot except saying, “How are you doing?” every six months.
Are they long-term tenants that happen to be executives or they’re short-term consecutive tenants?
They’re long-term. Most of my tenants stay for 7 to 10 years. Why would you make $500,000 a year in rent? They do because they come here on a contract and they keep thinking they’re going to get to move home. They don’t want to invest in the crazy prices in California so they don’t invest. It makes me crazy, but it’s good for my business because I’m talking to the wives like, “Why are you not buying? Do a lease option. Do something.” They won’t do it.
I do know some people. I had some mentors that are real estate investors who own hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of real estate and were renting because they didn’t want to put their money into a liability. The Rich Dad Poor Dad, the Robert Kiyosaki method, the home you live in is a liability. They were renting and then using the money to invest in rental properties. They were buying properties. They were renting their house, which I found interesting. A lot of people think that you have to buy your own home and that’s the first step. It doesn’t have to be.
It doesn’t have to be but it’s a lot easier than buying rental properties. You put a lot less down. You can get into the market, you start getting appreciation immediately. I disagree with Robert Kiyosaki. He’s a famous guy. He’s so much richer than me and I’m disagreeing with me.
I’m all about the Kiyosaki method. Tell me why you disagree?
He said that and I stopped reading. I don’t know that much about his methods but I will say this. When you’re making a decision to buy real estate, you have to have money, time and resources. You’re going to pay rent anyway, so your money is already going into rent. If you can pay the same amount and get into a property that’s going to appreciate, I don’t believe that’s a liability. You might as well have control over your life. You’re not going to get kicked out of your rental. The other thing is, it’s so much easier to get into a primary residence. You can pay 3.5% down, get into real estate, it appreciates and you can leverage that to buy an entire empire. Why would you wait instead to have to come up with 25% or 35% down unless you’re doing other things? There are many other strategies. The single most intuitive strategy is to own your home, leverage it, buy something else. It’s what people have been doing since the beginning of time. It’s an intuitive way. It’s a way to get started and you’re going to be paying rent anyways, so why not have it be paying to yourself rather than somebody else so you have control over your own life? That’s how I think about it.
I still believe that investing in things put money back into your pocket. I started by buying my house but I bought a house and I house hack. I was able to get in and shared my space so my tenants are paying my mortgage and my rent. That’s a way to do it too. With a lot of people, they think they have to buy their house first. They put their money in and then they’re not thinking down the line. It’s like, “Go and invest.” All they get is the memo to buy your house. That is not a good strategy for wealth building. I want to ask you a question that I ask all my guests. I ask this because we learned so much more when things don’t go right on what they do. What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
I bought my dream home in 2008. It was $1 million. We closed and within three months, we lost $500,000. I thought I was going to die. I say that as I laugh, that was a very nervous giggle because that was a horrible time. One of the things that I learned from that is, first of all, I am so much stronger than I am. I hope this doesn’t sound a brag, but I’m a lot smarter than I think I am too. I am all about bliss. Strategies on how to keep emotional. Let me define that so your people don’t think that I’m doped up or whatever they think about when they hear the word bliss. Bliss, to me, is about emotional mastery and emotional resilience. It’s about living in a place of joy and contentment.
As I was freaking out like everybody else around me, I could have made the same choices everybody else made. I’m underwater, sell the place, give it back to the bank, file for bankruptcy, foreclosure, whatever. There are a lot of people that had to make those decisions. There are a lot of people that didn’t have to make those decisions and made those decisions anyways. As I looked around and saw what was going on, I made a different decision. We couldn’t afford our house anymore because my husband lost his job. Instead of doing that thing, that would have been so much more easy, we rented it out. We’d rent out my dream home, which broke my heart and we moved into a place we could afford, which was a complete dump.
We bought another place. We fixed it up. I had $15,000 to clean up this dump. We did it and I went on with my life. Fast forward nine years after that, the dump appreciated $500,000. My dream home recovered and appreciated another $500,000. By keeping my head, I made $1 million through that. What I learned was I know what I’m doing. I trust myself. I trust my gut. When I buy a place, make sure it’s a property that I feel like I can keep and will hold its value or at least recover. To stick to my guns, to not freak out, not watch what’s going out there in the world and let it impact my own decisions. We need to be aware. We need to be watching. Don’t be like, “I’m always right.” It’s not like that. It’s more like, “In times of fear, use my mind and not my emotions.”The single most intuitive strategy is to own your home, leverage it, and buy something else. Click To Tweet
We find ourselves in another turning point in the economy. Do you see anything differently right now?
No. I’m doing the same thing. Fortunately, my husband has not lost his job and my business is doing fine. We’re not in that same situation. We’re watching the market. There’s a lot going on. Our stock portfolio dropped quite a lot. Our real estate portfolio hasn’t dropped a lot. We’ll see what happens. I believe in my properties, I’m going to hold on to them. I’m going to allow my tenants to stay as long as they needed to stay. Years later, we have a nice nest egg. There are rent moratoriums right now. If they can’t pay rent, I can cover them and negotiate with them. We’re in a good place. We’re going to do the same thing. We’ve got a lot more houses so there’s a lot more possibility of things going wrong. I’ve been here before, I trusted myself then and I’m going to trust myself now.
Moneeka, what are you most proud of?
I’m proud of that story. Through the years, I learned a lot and discovered what I made of when the stuff hit the fan. I am proud of the way that I reacted then, I’m proud of the way that I’m reacting now. You discover who you are in the deepest challenges of your life and I’m loving what I’m discovering about me and my husband. Together we are a wow team.
What do you attribute your success?
Determination, patience and a belief in myself. Willingness to learn, a belief in myself and then sticking with it. When they didn’t recover in two years, I could have sold those places but I had patience with myself and with my investments. I’m sticking with it, not giving up on myself.
What advice do you have for a woman who’s starting out in this field?
Get in. Do the thing because we can think about it, we can prepare for it, we can learn, we can do so much stuff and not do anything. You have to take action. Watch the market. A good time is coming. We don’t exactly know where it is but we will see some correction. Even if you don’t catch the bottom, it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re in for the long haul. What I mean by that is ten years, you’re going to be fine. Do your research on your market and get in because nothing happens until you take that first step.
What do you wish you’d known at the beginning that you now know?
Always hold property. Do not sell anything. When you do single-family homes in the California market, in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles or certain markets, you get in. I feel so silly. We had this house that we spent $10,000 on. I had my very first renters in there. It was a complete nightmare. I had the full experience that my dad had because that was what was modeled for me. I was like, “I never do this again.” “Sold it, it’s not worth $2 million.” I could have been providing cashflow. It also depends on what you’re doing. For me, because I was doing single-family homes in a particular market, that was the thing that I wish I had paid attention to.
In the Bay Area, that’s good.
It’s not true for everybody. That was a thing I would think of.
Not all markets are like that. Not all will appreciate that way. Not all markets will do that. If you can afford to get in, it’s quite a high bar to enter. If you can afford to get in, then those have been historically appreciating a lot. Before we get into our fame, the end of show Trinity, which is the brag, gratitude and desire, how can people reach you?
Go to BlissfulInvestor.com. I have a little gift for your goddesses, which is my path. How I started with that $10,000, what I did, what happened when I bought in 2001 and 2008 at the top of the market. Also, what my journey was and how I turned it into the multiple millions with very little stress. If they’re interested in going on that journey with me and hopefully picking up some ideas for themselves, they can get that at the website.Nothing happens until you take that first step. Click To Tweet
It’s time for our Trinity. What is one thing you are celebrating right now? What’s your brag?
I hope nobody takes offense to this, but I am loving the quarantine. I’m loving being at home. I’m loving not traveling and loving all of that stuff. For my podcast, which is Real Estate Investing For Women, I’m loving having all the conversations. I’m loving meeting all these amazing women and what this is making possible for me. That’s my brag.
What is one thing you’re grateful for?
I’m grateful that I love being at home and my husband. Many people are struggling with this and I feel so much gratitude that I’m loving having him home because it could be a completely different experience if I didn’t.
I was feeling that gratitude too. I am grateful that I love the people I’m home with right now, my hubby and my kids. What is one thing you desire? It can be a real estate desire or any other desire in life.
For my podcast, I’m feeling like that’s my passion. It’s called Real Estate Investing For Women because I want to reach more women like you. My desire is for my audience to grow exponentially. That’s what I’m working on during this quarantine is to grow that audience, so that I can reach more ears and empower more women to take the steps, to empower their lives and create financial freedom for themselves.
So shall your desire to be are so much better than you can imagine.
You’re welcome. Thank you for coming on. This was so fun. It’s another great conversation with you. You guys can reach Moneeka at BlissfulInvestor.com. Find out and get more details, learn how she made $10,000 into $2 million-plus and how you can too. You can find me at REIGoddesses.com, @REIGoddesses on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and on all the things. Reach out to me as well. You can join also our Investor Club there and get access to our investing opportunities that we have for you. Join us next time for another amazing Real Estate Investor Goddesses episode.
- Moneeka Sawyer
- Leeza Gibbons – previous episode of Real Estate Investing For Women
- Dr. Joe Vitale – previous episode of Real Estate Investing For Women
- Hal Elrod – previous episode of Real Estate Investing For Women
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- Real Estate Investing For Women
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- @REIGoddesses – Instagram
- Twitter – Monick Halm
- Facebook – REI Goddesses
- Investor Club
About Moneeka Sawyer
Moneeka Sawyer is the blissful millionaire. She reached her financial freedom by turning $10,000 to over $2,000,000 working only 5-10 hours per MONTH with very little stress. She is now on a mission to help as many other women as she can to do the same.
Moneeka hosts the top rated podcast and radio show Real Estate Investing for Women and has interviewed prestigious guests such as Leeza Gibbons, Dr. Joe Vitale, and Hal Elrod. Moneeka has also been featured on stages with Suzanne Sommers, Martha Stewart, and Ice T & Coco at places like the Nasdaq Marketplace, Harvard, and Carnegie Hall, and on TV on NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox reaching over 150 million people.
Connect with Moneeka at Blissfulinvestor.com