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Three Truths I Learned About Real Estate Investing from A Toothache

Do you remember when you were a child and your tooth started to feel a bit funny, then it stopped feeling a bit funny and started to hurt? Most of the time this was a sign that your “baby” tooth was about to fall out as it made way for your “adult” tooth to come in.

If you were lucky enough this tooth came out on its own, maybe suddenly or when you were biting down on a crunchy apple. Alternatively, you may have had the “luck” to lose you tooth in a manner like one of the many viral teeth pulling videos circulating on the internet. If your experience was the latter, hopefully it wasn’t too painful.

Either way, the loss of that tooth gave you access to join one of the many childhood traditions common in the US and many other parts of the world; you could now trade in your old baby tooth to the “tooth fairy” in exchange for some monetary compensation.

The “tooth fairy,” as the folk lore goes, is a magical fairy grandmother that comes around when you have lost a tooth. The legend says that if you put your tooth under your pillow at night when you are sleeping she would exchange your tooth for some money and you would wake up to a windfall cash inheritance (or at least what you may have considered a windfall during your childhood).

Do you remember this experience? How did you feel waking up and seeing that crisp $1 bill (or even more if you were lucky) that showed up while you were sleeping?

Pretty good, I bet.

A few decades later, for the first time since childhood, I found myself suffering from a toothache. There was no wobbly baby tooth, no viral videos. All my adult teeth were in at this point. I was just stuck with a toothache and this time it was bad, so bad I couldn’t sleep.

The next day I scheduled an impromptu visit to the dentist to get the tooth checked out. After a few X-rays and an inspection by the dentist, I found the source of the pain; it was a wisdom tooth that didn’t come in properly and the surrounding tissue was inflamed. I would likely have to have another visit to the dentist to take the tooth out. Once it was all said and done, I would have to pay a co-pay after leaving the dentist’s office.

What happened to the days of putting your tooth under your pillow and waking up to a nice payday?

I have long come to know that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist, but was there a way to replicate this in adult life?

This turned my mind to real estate investing and a few insights that I gleaned from having my painful toothache experience.

See below for the three lessons I learned about real estate investing from having a toothache:

  • Making money while you sleep allows you to sleep better.

  • As an investor there is a continual growth and learning process.

  • Creative problem-solving leads to better results.

Making money while you sleep allows you to sleep better

When I have had toothaches as a child and my tooth fell out there was always a residual funny feeling that day. Granted it didn’t hurt like my most recent toothache experience but there was enough to be a distraction. Maybe you don’t have a toothache but you have other distractions and worries keeping you up at night like how you will save for your retirement, protect the financial future of your family, pay for your children’s education or long term care of your parents or all the additional work you will need to do to meet these financial priorities. The list of things keeping you from having a restful night can keep going on and on.

Although during those childhood days when I lost my tooth, I had enough distractions to keep me awake, there was something comforting knowing that once I woke up in the morning, I would have new spending money. As a matter of fact, I could barely wait until the morning. To add to the joy of that thought was the fact that I really didn’t do much but put my tooth under the pillow and went to sleep. I made money in my sleep.

Passively investing in real estate provides a similar sense of comfort and relief that allows you to sleep easy at night.

Passively investing in real estate provides a similar sense of comfort and relief that allows you to sleep easy at night. As a real estate investor, I have enjoyed going to sleep knowing that although I was not working, my money was at work. Making money passively allows you stop worrying about money and focus on other more important things (even if it is just to get a little more sleep). Each month/quarter that you wake up to a direct deposit notification you see the profits returning from your investment. You’ll sleep comfortably knowing that you are going to wake up to a payday. As matter of fact, I bet you’ll barely be able to wait until the morning.

As an investor there is a continual growth and learning process

Although I already had all my “adult” teeth in (or at least I thought I did) there were still teeth coming in and fully taking form. These teeth are traditionally called the “wisdom” teeth as they grow into your gums later in life when you are thought to be more mature.

It’s interesting to think that you have been eating your whole life, something that seems basic, innate and natural to your survival, only to find out that there is a way to do it a bit better. These wisdom teeth are supposed to help you to chew better when they come in correctly. Even if you don’t experience any issues at first with your wisdom teeth your dentist will regularly check on your wisdom teeth each visit as they can cause problems later in life if they grow in wrong.

Similarly, with investing in real estate as you gain more experience and time as an investor you continue to learn. I am sure the type of food you ate as a baby is different than the type of food you eat as an adult; there is a similar progression as an investor. You start off with less complex investments and as your understanding grows you can make smarter and wiser investing decisions.

Time and knowledge that you get from each deal allows you to have insights to identify potential good deals and stay away from potential disasters. You should never stop learning however as the market continually changes. Joining investment clubs, attending conferences, and investing in deals are a good way to continue to keep your investing skills sharp.

Creative problem-solving leads to better results.

As I was suffering from my toothache, I googled a list of potential home remedies. The list was lengthy from gargling with a salt water-mix and chewing garlic to using an ice pack. As I looked through the list of different remedies, I thought about which ones I would be able to do the quickest based on what I had available at my house. I initially tried just the saltwater gargle but that didn’t seem to help. I ended up doing a cocktail of several different remedies which finally helped me to soothe the pain while waiting for my appointment with the dentist.

Active investors are often faced with issues during their investing careers, some common and some they have never heard of before. To get the best results you can’t give up if your first attempt doesn’t work. Whether it is a failed rent bump, renovations plan gone awry or something else. You need to be able to evaluate the situation and see how you may be able to pivot or use other strategies to help achieve your original goal. It may turn out that the new strategy is a better one as it reduces some expense or increases revenue (or at least stops your pain).

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