Let’s set the scene: I’m in college on the first date with my future wife. We’re walking outside; still very much trying to get to know each other. She asks the question, “What do you want to do with your life?”
Me: “I want to invest in real estate. I want to buy a fixer upper for $300K to $400K, fix it and sell it. Or refinance it based on the repaired value and rent it out to collect passive income.”
I was so proud of myself for articulating such a clear, and profitable, vision of my future. Her reaction was a little different.
First of all, where she grew up, $300K homes were luxurious mansions reserved for “the rich” (I’m a California kid where $300K is cheap). She also thought it would be impossible to get started because of how much money would be needed. Most importantly, she considered real estate to be risky because you needed to make repairs and deal with bad tenants. Who would ever want a life like that?! Not her!
Thus began our long journey to find a common ground when it came to investing in real estate.
Seek Unity First
Let’s start with the conclusion: only invest in real estate if both you and your spouse are on board. This is critically important because according to the book The Total Money Make Over by Dave Ramsey, “70% of divorcing couples attribute the breakdown of their marriages to arguments over money.” Investing in property deals with a lot of money which can result in a lot of arguments.
For example, last week we wrote a $4,000 check for an unexpected expense. We have a maintenance fund, but we were planning on spending the money on a different project. As you might imagine, this could cause a serious issue if my wife wasn’t on board. She could have easily said, “See, I told you investing was bad. Now what are you going to do?!” Thankfully she didn’t, and that’s because she’s on board and understands expenses like this happen. Given what’s at stake, it’s worth repeating: only invest in real estate if both you and your spouse are on board.
But what if your spouse is reluctant?
Don’t worry. All hope is not lost! Do not, however, decide to charge ahead and invest in something to “let the returns speak for themselves.” You need to seek unity with your wife first. Once your spouse is on board, then invest. Start by sharing your genuine excitement with them. You can do this in many ways:
Watch HGTV Together
First, start with something fun like watching a couple HGTV shows about real estate together. A couple popular shows today are “Property Brothers“and “Income Property“. Though, just turning on the HGTV channel and watching anything will at least get you talking/thinking about real estate. Now here’s the most important part: after the show is done: talk about it. Tell your spouse, calmly :), why you’re excited. Ask questions: What did you think? What did you learn? What concerned you in that show? Did anything seem unrealistic? Did anything seem fun or worth doing? Listen. Talk about it. If your spouse looks tired of the conversation, stop until the next episode.
Second, read or listen to real estate books together. While getting ready in the morning, I play podcasts. One benefit is that my wife also gets to hear what I’m listening to. You can do the same with an audiobook. I highly recommend starting out with Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki which talks about buying assets instead of liabilities and becoming financially literate. It’s told with entertaining stories and genuinely changes your thinking towards money. Plus, it worked with my wife. 🙂 Again, after reading/listening for a bit you should talk about it. Let your spouse do a lot of the talking because that means s/he is processing it all. That’s good!
Property Hunt Together
Third, when you feel it’s time, look at a properties together. Start with a couple smaller properties and drive by. This will help your spouse wrap his/her mind around the entire project. Foreclosures are particularly fun because you can peek in the windows. Then… you guessed it, talk about it. What does your spouse think? Ask, what would it take to buy this property? (Do not scoff at the answer, no matter what).
Analyze Deals Together
Fourth, chances are you’re the nerd in this relationship. So take the time to run the numbers and analyze the property. Put the results in an easy to read format and share it with your spouse. Listen to what your spouse says (“Whatever you want” is not an allowable response), take his/her input, and keep it brief. For the promising properties, suggest looking at the inside with an agent. Make sure your agent knows you’re just looking at the moment and be flexible with their schedule. Listen to your spouse during the walk thru and ask lots of questions.
You might need to do this for 50 or even 100 (!) properties before you find the right deal that you’re both comfortable with, and that’s OK. You might need to spend many hours in conversation explaining investing concepts. By patiently waiting to only invest in real estate until both you and your spouse are on board, you will avoid the biggest cause of divorce: arguments over money. Good luck!
Free PDF Download Bonus
All of these tactics require you to hold a conversation with your spouse, take a genuine interest in what s/he says, and dig deep to help each other grow. That can be intimidating if you don’t know what to say! If that’s you, you’re going to love this list of 20 Conversation Starters. These questions are designed to get you and your spouse talking about the future, create excitement about the future and uncover secret fears. You’re going to learn a great deal about your spouse with these questions, so take your time with each one and fit them in during periods when you can focus on each other.