It can be unsettling to know that our 401(k)s and IRA money are actually not under our control. Qualified retirement plans let you take the power back over your own money so you can use it to acquire property. This is what Damion Lupo offers to all listeners out there who want to do something with their money that does not involve some anonymous Wall Street guy. Damion is a bestselling author and expert on alternative retirement investing and money psychology. He joins Monick Halm on the show as an “honorary goddess” to share how you can checkbook-control your retirement money and invest it in real estate and other alternative assets. Damion’s mission is to free a million people from financial bondage. Listen as he takes us through the ultimate retirement plan he uses to do just that.
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Tax-Free Investing & Qualified Retirement Plans – Interview With Damion Lupo
We usually interview badass real estate investor women who have resources to help other investors and share their stories, trials, and successes. Here, we have an exception. I’m interviewing a man. He’s our honorary goddess, our Adonis. The reason I invited this particular man to speak is because he provides an extremely valuable resource that I haven’t seen anybody else provide. I didn’t want to let his gender get in the way of sharing this message. I am bringing you Damion Lupo.
Damion is a bestselling author in alternative retirement investing and money psychology. He’s an expert on delivering checkbook control of your retirement money and investing tax-free in non-Wall Street assets like real estate, precious metals, and cryptocurrency. He has written nine books. He’s a 5th-degree black belt. He founded Yokido. He has owned more than 40 companies. He has been viewed more than two million times on YouTube and is the host of the Transformation Nation podcast. His mission is to free one million people from financial bondage. He’s here with us. I’m excited to have him. Welcome, Damion.
It’s good to be here. Thanks for having me.
Before we get into real estate and retirement accounts and all that good stuff, tell me what Yokido is.
Yokido is a blend of yoga and aikido. I started training with aikido in 2000. For years I was training it. If you do something long enough, it starts to become who you are. Something starts to bubble up and it’s your own version of something. That something for me was Yokido. It’s the essence of who I am when I teach. It spills into business too. If something is that deep into you, it tends to show up in everything you do and every conversation you have. It’s a blend. It’s a healing art where you’re not only defending yourself but you’re also able to heal an attacker, whether it’s a conversation or physically, in the process of blending and protecting yourself.
We might have to have another interview where I interview you about that because that sounds fascinating. I want to know more about that, maybe a little bit later. What I do want you to share and what I invited you for is to talk about qualified retirement plans, which is something that you offer, which is unique. Before we get into that, I want you to share a little bit about your background with real estate investing. You’re a badass real estate investor yourself. Give us a brief rundown on your real estate investing experiences.
I am the person that did every single thing wrong that you could ever imagine. If you can learn from me, you could probably avoid massive amounts of pain. I picked up a book years ago that Robert Kiyosaki wrote and I said, “That’s awesome. I want to do real estate.” I was selling insurance. I went and bought a house using my Visa card and I thought, “This is cool. This is normal. Everybody buys houses on their Visa.” I did. After that, I was like, “What do I do?” I went to a seminar and I was watching some people. Robert Kiyosaki was speaking. I watched him and I bought everybody’s programs. These were tapes back then. I bought all these tapes and packed them up in my suitcase and did what they said to do and didn’t try to reinvent something at that point. I did it.
Over the next five years, I bought 150 houses in seven different states and built up a big real estate portfolio. I was successful and had a massive pile of money. I thought I was a badass and then I blew it all up and lost $20 million in 2008. I had to start over. That was an experience. It was called a major seminar. I started over. It didn’t kill me. That was one of the beautiful things because I can share that experience and leverage from it. I realized that the value in the mistakes is that they give you this internal fortitude and emotional intelligence that you can’t get from a book. I can look at things differently from the perspective of going through cycles and understanding that it’s not about money. It’s about a mission, about an impact. If that’s baked into the work that you’re doing, whether it’s investing or other work, then you’ve got a chance at being sustainable. If it’s about more money, you’re probably doomed to have a 2008 experience like I did.
Many nuggets in what you said there. First, I love how you started, which is education and not trying to reinvent the wheel but learning from other people that were successful, following their model, and doing it yourself. Another nugget was about learning from your mistakes and that being the greatest teacher. I always ask my guests, what was your biggest mistake, and what did you learn from it? I truly believe that that is where we get the most. That is the main seminar. People can get that lesson and hopefully, our readers can learn from it and not make your mistakes. We all make mistakes, but they may not make $20 million mistakes. If they can learn, then that’s golden. If you have learned a lesson, then it’s been valuable too.
The last nugget was having a mission when you’re doing any of this. This is a big part of my personal philosophy too. I personally believe in investing only in a property, a community where I can leave it better than I found it and looking for win-wins and having a positive impact on everyone who is touched by the deal as possible. That has made such a big difference for me. You’re the first guest I’ve had that has talked about that and stated it eloquently. That was some more goals in that short answer. There were a lot of nuggets and a lot of wisdom you dropped on us there. Thank you. I was going to ask you a question but since you brought up mistakes, I will ask you before we get into the self-directed retirement accounts stuff, what would you say were your biggest mistakes and what did you learn from it?
There’s a book that sums this up, it’s called Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. It’s fantastic. I’m going to be with him in Denver. I’m excited about this because I’ve been studying his work. The reason that it’s important and the value in that lesson was that when I look back, the point where I started going off a cliff and didn’t realize it was when my ego took over and it was driving everything. I wasn’t humble. This is one of the reasons that I love working with women. In fact, I like that more than I do with men because women show up without ego and they’re open to learning. I deal with so much egos and it’s hard because people think they know everything and I’m like, “I know what that’s like.”
I went to a place where I had millions in the bank and I said, “I am smart. I’m 10 feet tall and bulletproof.” As soon as that happened, I was about to have the universe drive over me with a freight train because it’s not true and it was my enemy, but I didn’t know it. I’m constantly checking myself by asking people, “What am I missing? What am I not seeing?” I always have mentors. I always have people that are grayer or balder, older and have been through things and that I can trust enough to give me the truth. That’s a big thing. We need to make sure that we have people constantly telling us the truth and that we will listen to it.The value in mistakes is that they give you internal fortitude and emotional intelligence that you can’t just get from a book. Click To Tweet
We’re going to switch gears and talk about why I invited you on. It’s because of a special self-directed retirement account program that you have. Before we get into that, can you tell our readers what is a self-directed retirement account? Get a little more basic for people who aren’t familiar with it.
When we think about retirement accounts and we think about retirement in general, usually a 401(k) or an IRA or a thrift savings plan or a 403(b), all these things, these acronyms, these numbers are all part of the Tax Code. We think about those and then we think, “Those are for the thing at my job. I have some mutual funds in there.” We’re told that you have these options of mutual fund A, B, C or D. That’s what’s beat into our brains for the entire time that we’re out there working. What’s interesting is that there’s a different world, an alternative world where you can take control of that money and invest in things outside of Wall Street, things that you can control like the real estate world.
You’re not stuck on this Wall Street roller coaster. You’re in control where you have a checkbook with your money and you can invest it the way you want to and things that make sense where you have an impact. You’re not subject to the whims of the economy or politics where you’re doing something the way you want to do it. That’s what self-directed is, it’s an opportunity for you to be in control and design your retirement or your future. It’s not a hope and a chance because I don’t think smoking hopium is a good strategy. You’ve got to plan things.
I’ve pretty much had all my retirement money into self-directed accounts and it was great. It saved my life when I found out that this was a possibility and thought, “You can do this?” You have Yokido, you’re an investor and doing all this stuff. What made you get into this business? What made you get into the self-directed retirement account business?
Like most things, it was a complete accident. It’s a rough story. I was sitting there with my dad years ago and we were having a conversation. He was sick. It was about a month before he died. He said, “There were many things that I wanted to do.” I sat there and I experienced regret. I thought, “That’s not an example. That’s a warning.” I need to make sure that I don’t ever have that experience. What I realized is that I was not doing things that were fulfilling my potential. I wasn’t impacting the world. I thought, “What is it that the world needs?” I realized the world was in financial shackles. It’s because people are afraid of their future, financially.
At the same time, I thought, “I know about a tool that I can help people find out about and I can help them use. This tool will set them free because this tool requires self-responsibility.” With self-responsibility owning your life, you can take this tool and design the life that you want instead of being in a space of fear and being a victim to whatever’s happening around you. I said, “I am not going to sit there and look back at my kids down the road and say that same thing.” I’m going to look at them and say, “My life was amazing. I left it all out there. I’m good.” That’s why I’m doing this work. It’s why this makes so much sense because it’s a tool of empowerment.
It’s a tool of self-responsibility. It allows people to design their life. That’s what I’m all about. You’re smarter than anybody else with your money and with your life. You know better than anybody else. You’ll take better care of your stuff and your money than anybody else. I believe in you and I want to give you every tool, every idea, every possibility that’s out there. That’s what the QRP is all about. It’s about you having total control and nobody being able to take that away from you. I’m all about that thing that gives you that power.
You mentioned the QRP. Explain to our readers what a QRP, Qualified Retirement Plan, is.
What we do is we have something called the eQRP. It’s Elevated Qualified Retirement Plan. It’s more of an evolved plan. A qualified plan is like a 401(k). The reason we call it eQRP is that it’s elevated and evolved to where you have control of your own retirement plan. If you can imagine you work for a big company and there’s a 401(k), you don’t have any control. You have this thing with those tax benefits. Wall Street controls that thing. What we do is we give you the ability to have all the power and tools and all the tax benefits of this plan and you’re in charge of it. You can invest in what you want. If you want to structure it the way that we suggest, you can pay no taxes both as you’re growing your money and when you take it out. Talking about power, imagine the 70% of your wealth that you give away to the government in taxes over your lifetime, imagine keeping all of that money. That’s what this has the power to do. It’s crazy. Most people don’t even know about it.
For the people that do know about self-directed retirement accounts, they are probably most familiar with self-directed IRAs. There’s also self-directed 401(k)s. Tell us what the difference is between a self-directed IRA and a self-directed 401(k).
The self-directed IRA always gives you different levels of ability to invest in alternative assets. The problem with a self-directed IRA is a couple of things you don’t have total control because there’s still a custodian involved. It costs a lot of money and there are a lot of delays and friction. It’s a pain in the neck. The other problem is if you’re investing in real estate, and I happen to love real estate, we like to use debt with real estate. We like to have mortgages because it’s cheap money and you can get lots of it to buy real estate. People use their IRAs to buy real estate, but there’s a secret tax that most of them don’t know about called UBIT tax. It will take about 35% of your profits. You won’t even know about it until you get a tax bill and it’s terrifying. People are getting hit with this and they say, “Nobody told me about this.” Why would they tell you about it? They were trying to set you up with a self-directed IRA. It’s unfortunate, but that’s what people are running into.
The other, the self-directed 401(k), they’re similar in how they’re run compared to the eQRP but they don’t have liability protection that’s in place for big 401(k)s. You can think America is the land of the free and the home of the lawsuit. You’ve got to be careful about not getting sued. If you do get sued, you don’t want to lose your stuff. If you have a solo 401(k) or one of these plans that is the mainstream self-directed 401(k), you could easily lose all your money or almost all of it in there because some judge decides that they want to make some other person rich, some victim. That’s what we solve. We solved this so that you have the power, the control, and all the options, plus you have liability protection. What we do with the eQRP is different from everything else that’s out there in the entire country. It’s the best in class. It’s the best that’s available. There isn’t anything else that does better.
That’s why I wanted to have you on here because I didn’t realize this about the self-directed IRA. I have a self-directed 401(k). There are other differences too. You can invest more in a self-directed 401(k). What are some of the other differences between that and a self-directed IRA that most people don’t know about?
The reason that you’ve heard about them is that there are a lot of custodians out there and they make a lot of fees. They spend a lot of money on marketing, like Wall Street. That’s why you’ve heard about them. That’s why probably most of us have had them. What are the limits? You can only put $5,500 a year. With the self-directed 401(k) and the eQRP, you can put $55,000 a year. It’s ten times as much. That’s a massive difference. You’re never going to get rich if you put $5,000 a year into something. You’ve got to have something that has more power than that. You’re going to get old but not rich. We’ve got to change the tool.
You can invest in things like precious metals and take possession of them in eQRP. I happen to like gold a lot. I’m sure a lot of our readers like gold. You can hold it. That’s something that’s powerful because you don’t want to have all your assets held up by somebody else in some faraway land. It’s nice to hold your own stuff. You can have your plan to buy precious metals and then hold them. Like with real estate, you can touch it. It’s the dirt. It’s the sticks and the bricks. There’s something powerful about being able to touch these things.
How can investors use an eQRP to invest in real estate or invest in something other than the limited menus of funds and bonds that most standard retirement accounts offer?
What’s going to happen is once you have an eQRP setup, you’re going to have a checkbook with your money. If you see a deal that you want to do, whether you find a house or a piece of land or you find an apartment deal that you want to invest with somebody like a syndication or somebody else’s project that they put together, you simply write a check and it’s that simple. It’s that fast. You can invest in five seconds. You can do it when you want to. You can do however much you want to. That’s the main way to invest.
One other neat thing that most people don’t know about is that you have the ability to borrow money out of your plan up to $50,000 for anything you want. You can borrow it and put it in your own personal account and do your own thing. Maybe that means you’re going to finance your car. Maybe it means you want to do a personal investment that’s not part of your plan. One of the things I like about that best is you can take some of that money that’s in your retirement plan and you can invest it in education by borrowing it out.
I love that because of the leverage. You can leverage off of people like you that are teaching. People can say, “I want to coach. I don’t want to spend $1 million. Like Damion, I don’t want to lose $20 million learning. I want to invest $10,000, $20,000.” By the way, it is smarter to spend that money versus going out and blowing off your kneecaps as I did. I would encourage people to look at that. Investing in yourself is absolutely the best investment you’ll ever make. This gives you a way to take that retirement money that’s trapped and start using that to invest in yourself and grow you because it will be exponential in terms of returns.You are smarter than anybody else when it comes to your money and your life. Click To Tweet
You were sharing a lot of different things you can do, but are there some things you can’t do with an eQRP?
Yes. There are restrictions. It’s called a disqualified person or a disqualified investment. You can’t invest in things like rugs or wine or collectible coins or property that you’re going to use for yourself. It’s called a current benefit. You can’t invest in anything that you get a benefit from now. This is meant to be money that’s invested in things that are for your future. As long as you’re not investing in one of these deals that you’re going to get a benefit from. If you were to invest in a project or a house and you are the real estate agent and you’ve got commission, that would be disqualified. There are some nuances around that.
Also, if you live in the house.
You can’t live in the house. The IRS is great because they say, “Here are the nine things you can’t do. Everything else, go for it.” It’s great. They don’t tell you what you can do. They say, “Don’t do these things and you’re fine.” It’s easy to stay safe.
We are getting towards the end. This has been good. How can people find out more about eQRP and what you do?
The best place to go and do the best thing to do is to educate yourself. I wrote a book on the QRP, so people can get a copy of that. I want to give people a copy.
In the description, you can click on it and you can get a free copy of the book. We’ll send you a free copy of it.
You’re going to get to hold the book. I’m going to mail it out to you, so you’ll get a copy of it.
It’s a real legit book and it’s well-written and it’s easy to read. It breaks it all down for you. We didn’t have that much time. In the book, he lays out the differences in how you can invest it, how you can use it and why it’s such a great tool. There is nothing exactly like this in the market and it’s best in class. That’s why I have him here as an honorary goddess. Thank you, Damion. We’re going to end with our famed end of show trinity. A trinity is a brag, gratitude, and desire. What’s one thing you’re celebrating? What’s your brag?
I’m celebrating the fact that I got to spend some time with the gorillas in Rwanda and I survived the jungle experience and that was amazing. If you can walk with the gorillas, absolutely do it. Find a way to go. It will change your life.
What’s one thing you’re grateful for?
I’m grateful for the people that are helping me to share this, that are helping me on this mission to free one million people like you and that are saying, “Come and share with the people that are following me.” It’s hard to make an impact on your own. When you have a tribe and people that are supporting, it makes it much more fun and interesting, better, and easier. I’m grateful for you and for people that are willing to open up their networks. I truly thank you.
Thank you. Last but not least, what’s one thing you desire?
To spend my life with a goddess would be probably the greatest gift ever. I’m hopeful for that. That’s what I’m looking for.
Ladies, he’s single. He’s coming to the event. Real Estate Investor Goddesses is throwing their first national conference called the Wealth Through Real Estate. You can find out more about it at WealthThroughRealEstateEvent.com. He’s going to be there and he’ll have his books there. He’s single, goddesses. I hope you all are there too. Thank you so much for being on and for sharing your wisdom and your mission. I love that. I join you in helping free people from financial bondage as well. Thank you so much and thanks to all of you, readers. Join us next time for another real estate investor goddess interview.
About Damion Lupo
American Sensei. Yokido Founder. 5th Degree Black Belt.
Financial Mentor and host of Financial Underdogs Podcast.
Creator of Black Belt Wealth. Best selling author in personal finance. Rewriting the rules and plan for retirement.
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