From Foreclosure to Fortune, how one book changed my life.
The Downward Spiral
I was like most other people, working as many hours as possible to live paycheck to paycheck. No matter how big the paycheck there still was not enough to make it to the next paycheck. I worked at a Tool & Die shop for 20 years, the normal was 45 – 50 hours per week and, because I worked maintenance, if an emergency arose then there would be more hours. Suddenly, in 2003, the Tool & Die industry took a downturn, everybody was instantly placed on 32 hour per week, and no overtime was allowed. That is approximately a 35% DECREASE in pay. Now as I stated earlier, no matter how much money I was making I always managed to spend more than I made (How I learned to budget and manage money will be a future Hubpage).
Well as you can imagine, when you have a mortgage payment of well over $1500.00 per month and a 35% pay cut, something did not get paid. One month it was the mortgage, the next the electric and gas, we were able to pay just enough to keep our heads above water for a few extra months. Then it happened, we received the foreclosure letter in the mail, we were 120 days behind on our mortgage. I went to see a bankruptcy attorney and found out because we had done everything right that we had too much equity in our home, we could not even file for bankruptcy as an easy way out.
That ended up being the best thing that happened in my life.
I later read, “When you hit very bottom, as long as you do NOT give up, an angel will be there to lift you back up”. Now believe me; I was not religious by any stretch of the word. However, I am more of a believer in a higher power today than I ever had been. The reason is, because my angel showed up, a very successful contractor offered me a second job. I could work all the hours I wanted at a rate of around 50% of what I was making at my primary job with the Tool & Die shop. Now if you are a person that likes math you will quickly realize to fill the void I would need to work a whole lot more than just the 18 hours of lost time to make up the pay difference. Plus I had to drive to each job site costing me even more in vehicle expenses. Now you may be asking how I can honestly say, “That was the best thing that happened in my life”.
Oakwood "A" Apartment Building
Here is a picture of one of several apartment buildings we now own.
I do not say this to brag, but to impress upon you what is really possible in your life.
"Whatever the mind can conceive, and believe, the mind can achieve" (Napoleon Hill)
The Day of Discovery
The contractor I had met owned several rental properties including a small shopping plaza. I later found he was born and raised in the poorest part of town. When I asked how he succeeded he told me “no one hated being poor more than I did” and I vowed not to be poor. He also told me that I had already accomplished everything in life that I truly set out to do. Now at the time I did not understand how he could make that claim.
Then one day he handed me his secret, a simple little book. He told me all of the answers I was looking for could be found in this book. Now I never liked to read, in fact, I am not sure if I had read more than a few books from cover to cover in my entire life. Even to complete book reports in school, I just read various pages and wrote about those pages. But when a millionaire hands you a book and tells you the answers you are looking for are contained within the pages, and you are struggling to make ends meet, I think I am like most people, I became very intrigued.
As I read the book, even though it was written in the 1930’s, I was able to relate the stories to my life. When things went well and when things did not work out as I thought they should, I could relate it to the stories in the book. I thought back to the days in elementary school and during recess in the winter how I would walk the tracks left by the snowmobiles and imagine I was riding “my” snowmobile (which I did NOT own yet, in fact, no one in my family owned a snowmobile). However, before I graduated from high school I owned an Arctic Cat snowmobile. I purchased two more snowmobiles in the early 1980's.
I also related to being a teenager in the 1980’s and telling everyone that the next car I owned would have power windows, power door locks and air conditioning. In 1984 I purchased a 1979, Rally Sport, Camaro. When I put the stereo in the car I automatically installed a Kenwood stereo. I related to how I saw the ads for Kenwood Stereos in magazines and told my friends “on day I will have a Kenwood Stereo”.
And the house we are living in, the same one we almost lost to foreclosure. I came up with the illusion I wanted to create when I was about 10 years old. I started sketching ideas when I was a teenager. After I was married I told my wife of the plans and we began designing the interior of the house. The next thing I knew we owned the property and was beginning construction. I now knew why all of these things happened, all of the answers were right in front of me in this one simple little book.
You Must Give to Receive
Shortly after finishing the book I woke one day with the thought I must lead the project to install lights on the football field at Cochranton Jr.-Sr. High School. Now I never played sports in school, my parents always told me we could not afford it. I did not even like to watch football. So for me to have this thought almost haunted me, I did not even tell anyone for over a week. When I could not get the thought out of my mind I finally told my wife about it. I told her it was something I had to do even though I did not understand why.
When I told fellow employees, that lived in Cochranton, of my plan, they told me it would never happen, people had been trying for over twenty years to get lights on the football field and had not succeeded. I was not discouraged, I contacted the school board and they were receptive to the idea. I then contacted the newspaper; this was the point of no return, I had to do what I said I would do, I had no choice.
Long story short, I wanted my oldest daughter, who was a cheerleader, to cheer under the lights before she graduated. This gave me only five years to complete the project. The project was completed in four years. Everything I needed simply appeared as I needed it. Even when we learned the crane I had lined up for the job was too small and I had called everyone I could find to call about a larger crane, my phone rang and the person on the other end simple said “I hear you are looking for a crane”.
During this project I learned the power of giving, how when you give you get. Every time we hit a milestone something good happened in our personal lives. I found a “new” truck (eleven years old and eleven years newer than what I was driving). A gas well was drilled on our property providing free heat to our home. And the list goes on. Now I’m not suggesting you give to receive, you must give from the heart and you will always receive more in return.
The Turning Point
In 2005 we purchased our first duplex by and by February of 2008 we owned forty four rental units. This growth was difficult to manage at first, almost overwhelming. However, we have adjusted and began to expand even more. Now, at the beginning of 2011, we have a total of fifty rental units and are in negotiations on nine more units in Erie. And have begun preliminary negotiations on even more units in Conneaut Lake.Update, February 14, 2013. We now own 70 rental units including the nine in Erie, PA and along with several more in the Meadville, PA area. A side note, one of the properties we recently acquired, at one time, belonged to my wife's grandfather. We knew he owned rental property but we did not know this property had belonged to him until the day before the closing. Conneaut Lake,PA
Once again, this is not being said to brag, it is my hopes that I can encourage you, no matter what stage of your life you are in, to realize the power you have within yourself, the power to be whatever you choice to be. You do NOT have to settle for life, you can create your life, the life of your dreams.
By now, I am hoping you are sitting on the edge of your seat to learn the name of this one simple book. I purposely waited to the very end to disclose the title of the book. I believe if I had not you would not realize the full power of the book. The millionaire that handed me the book told me he had given a copy of the book to a lot of people and no one had ever done with the book what I had done with it. If you do NOT follow the instructions in the book you cannot expect the results from the book. This is equally true if you were baking a cake, reading the recipe will not create the cake, you must take action. And for you guys, you know you can buy every road atlas and map available but you will not get out of your driveway without taking action and getting into the car.
There is one more point I must make. In life you must expect plateaus, as you read and apply the principles in the book you will move toward your goals. However, the pace may not be continuously, you may even believe you are moving backwards at times. This is where most people give up; they say I told you this would not work.
I want to ask a simple question, have you ever planned a trip? Did you stop for gas along the way? If you did and when you were back in the driver’s seat did you look at the time and say we have been sitting still for the last 5 minutes, we have made no progress toward our goal, let’s just go back home because we will NEVER make it. Maybe you had a detour, a flat tire, or an accident that caused delays, in any case, did you simply tell yourself it will just take a little longer to reach your goal or did you give up? It sounds stupid in these scenarios but people do it all of the time in other areas of their life. Why, I do not know, however I know in the past I was guilty of it myself.
Now if you really want to change your life, you will simply click on one of the links below to order one version or another of the book that changed my life, Think and Grow Rich. That is action, if you think you can search the internet to find a cheaper copy, or any use some other excuse, then I know you are not ready for the lessons in the book.
When Napoleon Hill was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie to write the book, he did not know Mr. Carnegie had only given one minute to decide, fortunately for all of us that truly want to change our lives Mr. Hill decided in less than 40 seconds.