From Making $30K per year to Millionaire; Tips for Boosting Your Income and Building Wealth Through Negotiation, Real Estate & Side Hustles w/ Andrew Giancola

Episode Number: 304

Episode 304- From Making $30K per year to Millionaire; Tips for Boosting Your Income and Building Wealth Through Negotiation, Real Estate & Side Hustles w/ Andrew Giancola

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From Making $30K per year to Millionaire; Tips for Boosting Your Income and Building Wealth Through Negotiation, Real Estate & Side Hustles w/ Andrew Giancola

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In this episode of the Journey to Launch podcast, we chat with Andrew Giancola as he shares his journey to financial independence and full-time entrepreneurship, including his foray into ethical real estate investing and the realization that helped him build wealth quickly and efficiently. 

He also talks about why he started his personal finance podcast, which now has millions of downloads, and how he became a millionaire in his 30s.

In this episode, we also discuss:

  • How Andrew went from $30k per year at age 22 to achieving his first 100k by age 25
  • A step-by-step guide on how to increase your income at your current job + negotiate your salary
  • Buying into real estate in 2020 + exiting for a new entrepreneurial path of personal finance podcasting
  • Side hustles Andrew took on to increase his wealth–including a Christmas tree stand business + more
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Andrew Giancola 0:02

Imagine what you can do if you made an extra million dollars and invested those dollars over a 30 year career. It is multi million dollars in opportunity costs. So doing this is really really valuable for your bottom line, especially if you're pursuing financial independence because just acquiring those dollars being able to put them to work is going to change your life.

Intro 0:20

T-minus 10 seconds. Welcome to the journey to launch podcast with your host Jamila souffrant. As a money expert who rocks her talk, she helps brave juniors like you get out of debt, save, invest and build real Whoa. Join her on the journey to launch to financial freedom for three.

If you want the episode show notes for this episode, go to journey to launch.com. Or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. In the show notes, you'll get the transcribed version of the conversation, the links that we mentioned and so much more. Also, whether you are an OG journeyer, or brand new to the podcast, I've created a free jumpstart guide to help you on your financial freedom journey. It includes the top episodes to listen to stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources and so much more. You can go to journey to launch that comm slash jumpstart to get your guide right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode.

Jamila Souffrant 1:30

Hey, journeyers, I have a special guest. I know I say that all the time. But I think it's going to be an enlightening conversation with today's guest, Andrew Jin Cola, who is the host of the personal finance podcast. So it's something we obviously like to talk about both and to his personal finance. And on your show you talk about side hustles, negotiating your salary, career advancement, investing, all the things that journeyers love to dive into. And your goal is to teach as many people as possible how to build generational wealth. So we are on the same page. I'm so excited to introduce you to my audience. So welcome to the podcast, Andrew

Andrew Giancola 2:06

Jamila, thank you so much for having me.

Jamila Souffrant 2:09

All right. So Andrew, I want to dive a little bit in before we press record, we're kind of going back and forth a little bit, talking about podcast equipment, and how I need to upgrade my podcast life. And yours is so cool from what I see. Because right now everyone I'm actually watching or seeing Andrew on camera. And I said to you, I was like I think my audience would love to like learn how you accomplished so far have created this life of freedom that you have for yourself. And so first, let's start about where you are. So you run your own business, you have a pretty popular finance channel, right? So share where you are in terms of followers and what you've been doing. And then we'll go back to see how you started.

Andrew Giancola 2:48

Absolutely. So what I do right now is I host the personal finance podcast, like you said, and we have about 300,000 to 400,000 downloads per month. We've been around for about two years now. And then in addition, we do some stuff on YouTube, social media and stuff, we've grown a tick tock in the last couple of months to about 120,000 followers that we started, like early June, somewhere around there. So some of the things that we did based on the podcast and how to build this out was I wanted to bring a different angle to personal finance and my different angle is bringing as much energy as possible, you can probably hear me now I get really excited about talking about this. So it's one of those things where I am just so excited about this, that it is the energy is just comes out for me. So it's one of those things that I am so incredibly passionate about teaching people how to build wealth and how they can build generational wealth for their family. And so it's that's where we kind of started this. So that's where we are right now. And I can tell you the whole journey of how we got here.

Jamila Souffrant 3:44

Yeah, I'd love to go back because you also started in a job working for someone else, and now have managed to start and run your company successfully and are on the path to financial independence. So a lot of listeners want to do the same, right? I'm doing the same. And let's start back to the beginning. How did you realize that this could be a pathway to personal finance or your own like entrepreneurship? And then how did you have the courage to go out on your own to do that?

Andrew Giancola 4:12

Absolutely. So I was really passionate about personal finance all the way back into high school. But what happened was after I graduated college, I got my first job and I was paid $30,000 A year and as most people understand $3,000 A year doesn't get you very far in this world. So I realized very quickly that I was living paycheck to paycheck. In fact, one time I went to a gas tank to fill up my gas. And I did not have enough money in my checking account to fill up that gas tank and it made me so mad and so frustrated. I said this is never going to happen again. So what I did was I figured out how to turn my money around. So how did I do that? Because I went from $30,000 a year at each 22 to going up to my first 100k and net worth at the age of 25. So how did I go about doing this? The first thing I did was I started a budget and just having that budget into place. Show me where my dollars were going And then once I had that in place, there was a number of things that I did to increase my income to get to that first 100k, then I was looking at, okay, negotiating my salary, there's a bunch of other things that I wanted to do. So we started to do things like that to increase our income. And we can go into all the details of the side hustles, all that stuff I did as well. But then the next step that I took was I was working directly under a CEO and CEO of this company. And I was creating special financial reports for them. And eventually, we got to build a relationship. And we started a real estate company outside of this company. And I started to do that full time. So I was the sweat equity partner, they were the cash partner. And so we started building wealth with real estate, we built up a portfolio of rental properties. And once we had those rental properties in place, a couple years later, I decided I can do this on my own, because they have the majority ownership since they're the cash partners. So we ended up liquidating the portfolio. And that's how I got to around COVID times. And when when COVID started, we started the personal finance podcast, and started to educate as many people as possible how to build wealth and all the tools tricks and things that I learned along that path.

Jamila Souffrant 6:03

Got it? All right. So there's so many like places we could jump into the backstory you just said, and I think would be valuable to dive deeper into how you got from just making $30,000. And when you graduated college, did you have debt? What was your degree? And what did your financial picture look like then?

Andrew Giancola 6:20

Sure. So I had about $2,500, in a mutual fund that I started investing very early on, I did not have debt at all. So I was really, really fortunate to not have any debt, any student loan debt until I got married, my wife had a little bit of student loans along that journey. And then from there, I really started from ground zero. So I started with basically a $0 net worth at 22. And in those three years, got to the first 100k at 25.

Jamila Souffrant 6:47

Got it Now were you living in low cost of area, high cost area, paint that picture for us in terms of expenses.

Andrew Giancola 6:54

Sure. So from the expense side, I live in Florida. So Tampa, Florida is the area that I live in. So we have like a middle ground cost of living now we're actually one of the top inflation areas, as we're talking today. But at the time, when I was first starting out, we were probably in the middle ground for the country there. So our expenses every single month, were just a few $1,000. I think at that time, I was paying rent at six or 700 bucks, which now that same place would be you know, $2,500 a month, just 10 years later. So it's one of those things that I think my cost of living was low enough to be able to just get by on that $30,000 a year. But I knew I couldn't build wealth on that very early on.

Jamila Souffrant 7:29

And what was your first job? What was that? What was that industry and that you started?

Andrew Giancola 7:33

So I was a financial analyst for a really large healthcare company. So my job was to create reports, like I said, for the CEO and CEO, I was on like a very special team. So we would go and figure out problems, financial problems, and then figure out ways to solve them is what we essentially did.

Jamila Souffrant 7:48

Okay, got it. All right, that background is interesting or cool to know b kind of reminds me a little bit of me because I started working in corporate America, but for a big insurance company, and also doing reporting and analytics and a lot of the areas in my function, which I think helped me when it came to plotting out how I was going to be financial independence, because I was so used to running formulas and scenarios out on the spreadsheet.

Andrew Giancola 8:14

Absolutely. It sounds like it's the exact same thing. Yeah. Okay,

Jamila Souffrant 8:17

so cool. When you now we're able to get to that $100,000 network is that just primarily investing and saving,

Andrew Giancola 8:25

it was primarily investing and saving. And when I started to kind of run the math, I very quickly realized I wanted to get to that first 100k as quickly as possible. One of my favorite investors of all time is Warren Buffett and his business partner, Charlie Munger talks about how you need to get to your first 100k as fast as you possibly can. Because the the compound interest equation starts to flip a little bit. It's not like it's absolutely magic. But what happens there is when you're saving to your first 100k, about 75% Is your savings rate and about 25% is compound interest. So getting to that point as fast as possible is one of the biggest things that we love to talk about only because it really helps you accelerate your path to wealth. And so I started to run that math being a finance guy put it into spreadsheets like a nerd. And when I started to run that math, I realized, okay, I need to accelerate my path as fast as possible. So I did a bunch of things to be able to get to that point.

Jamila Souffrant 9:14

So I'm curious because just because you're, you work in the finance field, and you know how to run these calculations doesn't always translate into personal finance. And like I knew a lot of people who could do what we did too, and they were not and are not as in tune with their finances. So how did you at such a young age No, to care about that.

Andrew Giancola 9:34

So very, very early on. I read a couple books in high school I remember these books being really really important for me one of them was The Millionaire Next Door so learning how to become frugal and doing that whole process. Another one was Rich Dad, Poor Dad learning how to put your money and assets. But there's a bunch of other ones out there and blog articles and things that I kind of learned that I need to start to build wealth early. Because once you start to build wealth early, it becomes much easier for most people than starting later on in life, so once I kind of understood that and wanted to get my dollars to work for me, then I understood that, you know, going forward, I want to make sure that I'm building wealth for the future.

Jamila Souffrant 10:08

Got it that makes sense. And what was, you know, the people around you, because I'm assuming if you started out with the people who are also making the same amount, or friends and family, were you that much different from them. And because maybe someone listening is also starting at this point. And they're like, Okay, I make this much, but I need to prioritize saving and investing. And that might not be the reality for what their friends and family are doing. So how did you prioritize that? And how was that environment with your peers?

Andrew Giancola 10:40

I realized very early that most people don't do this. And this is one thing where it started an impetus, right, my first financial thing that I actually did online was I started a blog called dollar after dollar. And we don't post on there anymore, it still exists, you can go read it, if you want. But that was a financial blog that I had very early on. And so I tried to start to teach people about this stuff, because I realized nobody was really doing this. And what I did was I have a very systematic way of breaking down goals. And I kind of learned this early on. So I looked at what my three year plan was, and then I broke it down into a one year plan, then what do I need to do every single quarter? And what do I need to do every month? And then what do I need to do every week, and then every day and breaking it down into really small daily chunks, was really helpful. For me, it's like that 1% better every single day, and that's kind of what I focused on was getting 1% better with my money every single day. And by doing that, it really helped me very slowly, it felt slow in the moment, but over time, it happened very quickly, to be able to kind of build that wealth to get to that point within those three years. So I could get to that first 100k And then accelerate the path after that.

Jamila Souffrant 11:41

Right? I know you started the blog, but how did your family or friends react to that? What did they know about it because I know when I first started journey to launch, I wasn't as vocal with the people in my life about it. You know, if that makes sense, it was more for the internet friends that like because I kind of wanted to keep it a secret or to myself for a bit

Andrew Giancola 11:58

very early on, I do the same thing. So for the first six months, nobody really knew about it. And I think after those six months, nobody was really reading the blog, it was still very early on. And then what happened was, I would start to talk to friends about this. And I noticed most of them just did not want to hear it, they didn't want to want to hear what I was talking about or what could happen with their money because I hadn't really fully done it yet. So once I got to the point where I saved enough money and had an example, that you can kind of get to this point, then they started to listen a little bit more and understood what was going on. And eventually what they saw was that over time, the example was showing that if you do some of these things, you can live a different lifestyle than what most people have to live where you have to grind every single day work your nine to five live in that cubicle. And what I want to do is free as many people as possible from the cubicle life as possible if they don't like their job, and if they love their job. And obviously you want to do that as long as possible. But if you don't like your job, there is a way out. And that's what financial freedom helps you do.

Jamila Souffrant 12:51

Totally agree. Now talk a little bit about increasing your skill sets and earning more money. And you said you have a specific system on how to do that. So let's talk about it.

Andrew Giancola 13:00

Absolutely. So the first thing I did was I knew that I wanted to increase my income. And I wanted to do it at my job because that's where I spent the most of my time. So we have a very specific system on how to increase your income at your job. And it starts with talking and communicating with your boss. And the way that you communicate with your boss is you set up a meeting maybe before your performance review six months in advance. And what you do is you say, Hey, here's what I want to do. I want to increase my income, I want to make more money. But I also want to help profitability, I want to help production with the company, how can we do this? How can we get to this point and doing this in advance means that nobody is going to be surprised when you come to the performance review. You're not going to walk into your boss's office that day and say, hey, I want to raise and they're surprised they have to go talk to a bunch of people, instead, you're going to ask them about this, you're going to talk through it and they're gonna say what do I have to do to get to that point, within six months, then three months later, you're going to check back in with your boss and see if you're on track, they're going to give you a couple of things that you need to be doing. Maybe it's taking on more projects, maybe it's speaking up in meetings, there's a bunch of different things you could be doing. But at the three month review, then you're going to check in and say, Hey, am I on track for this. So both of you were still on the same page, because a lot of times in the corporate world, especially bosses get really busy. And a lot of times they forget the conversation that you had six months ago. So you want to be checking in at least every couple of months to get to that point, then one month out again, you're going to check in one more time. And then by the time you walk into that performance review, they know what's coming, they know you're going to ask for a raise, and they know that you can have that negotiation process there. So that is kind of the quick version of how we talk about this to get to that point. So I did that a number of times my wife has done the same system a number of times. And now we've had a bunch of people who listen to podcasts who do it who have gotten 1000s and 1000s of dollars worth of raise. We've had people get $50,000 raises by just doing this process. So it's one of those cool things where it's just a communication process between you and your boss and you can really get to that point by doing that. In addition, after actually negotiating my salary I took on a bunch of different side hustles so what One of my favorite ones was flipping items. So I did Amazon FBA, FBA, where I would flip items by going doing retail arbitrage, for example. So what that is you go to say, Walmart or Target, and you go scan items in the Amazon app and see if it's going to be profitable on Amazon, then you can ship those items out to Amazon. And then they sell on Amazon and Amazon does the rest, they ship it to the everybody. So it's a very simple process to start to make additional income. And then another thing I did was I started a Christmas tree stand one of those side of the road Christmas tree stands, where we had, my wife had a family friend who that's all she did was she had two Christmas tree stands. And she made $100,000 a year, just two months out of the year with two Christmas tree stands. So I decided, let me try this. So we opened up a Christmas tree stand. And that was like our first entry point into our own business. And we did this nights and weekends. It would be open nights and weekends, and we would get the trees in. And then we would display them. And we did really well our first year. So we continue to do that fora little while.

Jamila Souffrant 15:56

Wait, where do you get the Christmas trees from?

Andrew Giancola 15:59

So there's a farm in North Carolina that we got them from. So luckily, having that connection with my wife's aunt helped us actually get to that point where we could talk to that farm. And I think the initial investment was $7,000 In the beginning, which was a ton of money for us. And luckily, they helped us do like a credit for half of it to get that inventory. And then the other half we paid them afterwards.

Jamila Souffrant 16:17

Got it and I have never spent flora. Are you still in Florida? I am still informed still in Tampa, okay, and I've never spent Christmas down south or in Florida. So I'm assuming though Christmas trees, still something that you guys love having without the snow?

Andrew Giancola 16:32

They absolutely are makes your house smell amazing if you have a live one. But you can go to the beach in Florida A lot of times on Christmas. So it's so much hotter here than it is up north, we don't have a white Christmas like most people do.

Jamila Souffrant 16:42

Right? Right. Well, I want to go back a bit to negotiating salary. And I'm definitely not one to try to argue for limitations here. Meaning I know the benefits of advocating for yourself, negotiating your salary and all those things. And I'm sure people do also like they know what they should do. But a lot of times what prevents them are the mental blocks like competence. And you seem like a very confident person like you go going for what you want. How would you talk to someone who doesn't necessarily feel as confident maybe feels if they lead with money, or talk about this in this way, they may seem unlikable, or they may be judged. And I know for and I don't mean to, like make a blanket blanket statement. But I know for some women, that's also which shouldn't be true. And and it's not necessarily true is that they're more hesitant versus maybe their male counterparts who just go in and act like they own the room. So talk to us a bit more about increasing confidence and having that ability to go in and ask for what you want.

Andrew Giancola 17:40

I absolutely love this because I was scared to death. The first time I did this, and I was I'm an introvert really at heart. And I've kind of learned to come out of my shell over time. The thing about negotiating the thing about negotiating your salary is this is actually a skill and it takes practice to be able to get good at it the first time you do it, you're not going to be that great at it. But you have to start somewhere. And so kind of building that confidence in one one big thing to build that confidence that helped me was learning the math behind this. Now, a lot of people aren't going to do the math. But there were studies done like Business Insider came out with a study that was done that if you just negotiate your salary 3% every every four years, and you negotiate a salary at 5%, when you first get your job, then you would make a million dollars more than a person who did not negotiate their salary. So this is really a million dollar problem that you can solve for yourself, if you learn how to build up this skill. So practicing is the first thing I would do. Meaning I would get with your friends or maybe even someone you'd be uncomfortable practicing with. And seeing if you can start to practice this negotiation process. A lot of times we use scripts, so we talked about having a script in place learning that script, and then you can get more comfortable with it and make it a little more natural. That's the first thing I would look at is practicing because it is a skill to be able to do that. Then if you can do it in low stakes environment, maybe there's a middle level manager that you can talk to first and start having that conversation before you go to the decision maker. That's going to also help you practice this go through the process and see what it actually feels like because sometimes you can get into a negotiation, you can walk into your boss's office and freeze. I know one time I did that where it was something that I just got a little too nervous and you would freeze instead once you start to build up the skill and exercise this muscle, it is going to be something that you can get much better at and develop that skill. So this is something where you definitely want to keep practicing if you don't have the money to practice with practice in the mirror but just keep going through the process and getting reps and it's going to really help you when it comes to negotiation time.

Jamila Souffrant 19:36

Right and I also find that even outside of the actual scenario practicing and just real life is helpful. So at a restaurant or in a store just asking questions, I find that this problem was speaking up is not just within the job area or for career like I noticed the people who can't do it in that area. Don't do it another areas where Okay, let's start small than right. It could just be boundaries. Setting and talking with your family about something right where you're practicing a little bit, increasing your confidence and speaking up.

Andrew Giancola 20:06

And there's a guy named Noah Kagan, who he talks about doing this all the time, he founded a company called App Sumo. And what he talks about is he actually goes into to practice this muscle, he goes into restaurants, for example, or he'll go to a coffee shop, and he'll negotiate the price of the coffee. And he'll just do this to practice the reps. And it's really uncomfortable. And it's really awkward, and it's something you may not want to do, but it just helps you through that process. And just thinking about it this way, if I practice this over and over and over again, it's a million dollar difference to my bottom line, by retirement time, imagine what you can do, if you made an extra million dollars and invested those dollars over a 30 year career, it is multi million dollars in opportunity costs. So doing this is really, really valuable for your bottom line, especially if you're pursuing financial independence, because just acquiring those dollars, being able to put them to work is going to change your life.

Jamila Souffrant 20:53

Right. And also looking at it from the perspective of okay, you're not treating the other person as an adversary or trying to take advantage. But looking at it as I am asking for my worth, or in the case of it's funny negotiating for your coffee. It's more like a practice, right? Like it's, it's done in a way, which I can't see myself doing, but I could see potentially benefit in it is, is like, here's just a dance that I'm learning to do with a stranger, which will help me in other areas.

Andrew Giancola 21:19

Exactly. It's just a win win situation. So you're providing as much value as you possibly can, and you're providing what you're worth, and then they are just giving you the value back. So that is kind of you want to make sure it's a win win here. So that it's not some cutthroat negotiation, you want to make sure this is a win win situation so that you both are on the same page. And that's why the communication for that long period of time is really, really important.

Jamila Souffrant 21:39

And you did say, right, like, it's when you go into that office and say, hey, I want to earn more money. But I also want to do this for the company. And I want to you always tell them what's in it for them. Here's what I want to do for you. That's really important key that I think we should highlight.

Andrew Giancola 21:52

Absolutely, that's the that's one of the biggest things is you're providing that value.

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Jamila Souffrant 22:50

In the same company, that's where you rose to the point where the CEO actually to start a real estate company or was that another company?

Andrew Giancola 22:57

That was the same company? So I worked in the department that he actually sanctioned an entire department that would do these special reports for him. So I worked in that department. And then we built a relationship over the next couple of years.

Jamila Souffrant 23:09

And with that this real estate, like what's this? So real estate had nothing to do with the what job you guys were doing at the time. It was a interest that he had or was investing in, and you were able to connect and then do this.

Andrew Giancola 23:23

Sure. So we I had a really big interest in real estate, I was actually actively looking for properties or listened to like the bigger pockets podcast, for example. And I would listen all the way to back to Episode one and go through it. And I was sitting in my cubicle and just listen to this all the time. Like, oh, this is a great way to get to financial freedom. And I couldn't stop talking about it. So we were at lunch one time, and I was I was talking about it. And I noticed he was kind of watching and kind of thinking through it a little bit. And then a couple months later pulled me aside had the conversation and said, Hey, listen, we have this cash, because they owned a bunch of different businesses on the side. They said we had this cash, if you want to start a company, we can do this together, and we'll put the cash up. And then you do the sweat equity, you do all the work, managing the properties, finding the properties, all of those different things.

Jamila Souffrant 24:02

Well, isn't it interesting, right? Like you had this interest interest outside of your nine to five and you were open and talking about it and then you know, people around you you just don't know who also was interested in it or has the ability or means to help you move further. I think it's fascinating, because sometimes you're scared to talk about that with other people. Because you know, rightfully so you don't know if they may take that negatively. Like, if I talk about this, they may think I'm leaving the job. So I'll keep it to myself. But in your case, it seems like talking about your interest helped move you along further.

Andrew Giancola 24:33

Exactly. I think it definitely has to be the right person to to absorb that information. And so I knew I knew that they owned a bunch of other businesses. So I thought that was kind of like one of the things that they'd be interested in just talking about. I was just kind of talking about the same interest and it was interesting because you could actually see the light bulb going off in their head as I had that conversation with him which is cool.

Jamila Souffrant 24:50

So this is interesting. Now you decided to leave your this corporate job. Start this on the side with the CEO of the job you left. Is that clear? it correct How did you feel comfortable enough to? I mean, unless there was some guarantee some contract sign. But now I'm just wondering, you're leaving this behind a start something new? How did you financially feel okay with taking that risk.

Andrew Giancola 25:11

So I saved up a big chunk of cash in my emergency fund. So I could kind of have a runway here. So I had about eight to nine months of runway here. And I figured in nine months, if this didn't work, I'll at least have this runway. In addition, my wife still had her job as well. So that helps supplement the income on that front. And then what we did was we did signed contracts immediately. So that was another surety that we had there, where they hired lawyers, they had them come in, we signed contracts, so that I could actually trust them throughout that process. So it seemed like a very surefire thing to do. We open an LLC, and all of our names, all of our names are on the LLC. So we had all of those things in place before we started. So I wanted to make sure I had enough cash on hand, so I can actually take this risk. I didn't have kids yet. If I had kids, I probably wouldn't have taken the risk. But I'm so glad that I did. Because it led to so many different things after that.

Jamila Souffrant 25:56

Well, let's talk about that. So you now go to this new company. What is your role there? What are you doing? And give us that picture?

Andrew Giancola 26:03

Sure. So I am literally doing everything. So I didn't have any employees or anything like that. So the first thing I did was I would go try to find property so we could find rental property. So a big thing for me was I was making a whole lot of offers. So I got my real estate license just to make these offers because I knew a real estate agent probably wouldn't want to make 100 offers every single month to be able to acquire property. So I wasn't making offers on every single MLS property that was out there. And

Jamila Souffrant 26:27

are these residential properties or what kind of properties are we talking about? They are so

Andrew Giancola 26:31

my we specialize in single family houses, and then really small multifamily. So for plexes triplexes, and quad duplexes. So those were the properties that we were looking for. And the single family properties I really loved just because the tenants a lot of times would stay a lot longer than they wouldn't have small apartments and small multifamily properties. And so in addition, once we would acquire those properties, and my job was also to manage them. And I found very quickly that you have to learn how to have systems into place when you're managing property. So we found a bunch of systems, put them into the business and then kind of implemented all of those as well. And then in addition, if we had to renovate some of these properties, I was managing all the contractors and all that side. And we would require about one to two properties every single month. And that was kind of our goal. And why wish I bought everything in sight. But 2020 is hindsight. So that's that's one of the cool things about that. So I was running ever I was wearing every single hat within this company.

Jamila Souffrant 27:23

Wow, that's impressive. i My background is in real estate too. I was asset manager. But for multifamily units. And I know all the work it takes to do something like that, even though I was I had a lot more structure because I worked in a corporate environment. But with that, right, you were getting all this experience in real estate was this translating into your like actual wealth also, or was this just for the company?

Andrew Giancola 27:47

It absolutely was. So because I was a minority owner, they owned 80%, I own 20% Because I was that minority owner, every single property that we acquired, I own 20% of it. So our wealth started to build that way. And that was kind of the cool thing about this in. And what we kind of did was eventually we built a relationship with the hedge fund and the hedge fund would give us properties that maybe they had problem tenants in, or properties that just weren't performing as well as they wanted. And then we would take them over and increase and help appreciate those properties, so that we can get them to the next level.

Jamila Souffrant 28:17

got it got it. Now what was then the moment that you decided that that chapter was ending to where you're doing what you're doing now full time.

Andrew Giancola 28:25

So I figured very early on, since they had the majority of it, I figured I could do this on my own. I'm doing all of this work. But this is something that could definitely do on my own because I had all the skills that they didn't even have much of a say in terms of what we were doing day to day. So we kind of built it up just just me on my own. But I needed them, obviously to have the cash there. So eventually we came to an agreement that they were happy with it that we would do an exit because the properties had appreciated so much that we were able to sell them at a much higher rate, and then exit from there. So you know, hindsight, I wish I would have just bought them off the off of them. But it was definitely something that was worthwhile because it allowed us to get to this next step. We're where we are now.

Jamila Souffrant 29:01

Right now I you know, as you were talking about the buying, especially the single family in a smaller unit homes, I'm wondering if you can provide some insight. Because there's, you know, the conversation of investing and buying real estate, whether it's flipping it and proving it while it for the person that can make you a lot of money, or the company, right, like how does it affect the communities that that's happening to? And you know, I'm not sure the way you guys did it. But I'm wondering if there's some insight for people who are straddling that line. And this is kind of a heavy question, but how do you do it in make sure you're doing it in an ethical way, right, where you are not displacing or pricing out people because you do want to if you're buying something, earn a profit. So wonder if you have any insight on that?

Andrew Giancola 29:46

Absolutely. So the biggest thing that we did, we would help improve the properties right off the bat. So we would take them over and a lot of times these were really problem properties. It was either struggling landlords that just weren't taking care of the property. So the properties were just completely demolished. Sometimes I remember one We acquired I went in there, the tenant completely abandoned the property and left a ton of different just items and things that we had to pull out. And so they were just completely destroyed inside sometimes. So we would actually improve the property, which kind of helped improve the values around that area. And in addition, when we priced them, our biggest thing was making sure that we were at lower than the, you know, we were at a competitive price within that area, so that we can have, you know, adequate housing for people in that area. So one of the big things was we never had the highest price even remotely close to there. And I did that intentionally. There's a couple of there's business reasons why I did that, which was you can get a renter faster, because if you have a vacant property for a very long period of time, it's something that you definitely don't want to have in place. But also, we wanted to have the best property at that fair value. So that's kind of what our our business model was, was making sure that we were right in the middle ground on those properties so that we can, you know, have a profitable business, but at the same time, have the best property on that street. So those two things were what we combined to try to improve those properties. Because that is a major, major factor for me. And one thing that I really, truly cared about was making sure that we had fair pricing on our rents and making sure we had the best possible house for those tenants.

Jamila Souffrant 31:09

Got it. Now, again, you're now got you decided, wait, I'm doing all this work, I could probably do this on my own to do something else. Tell me about that decision. And what happens next.

Andrew Giancola 31:19

So that decision came into play, we had the conversation, then immediately they were they were for it, they were happy with it. Because of that appreciation of the properties, they have so many businesses that it was one of those things where, you know, they're you know, out of sight, out of mind type of thing. So it was a very easy process to go through. And immediately the properties sold very quickly. And then exiting that, I decided, What am I going to do next? So this and then all of a sudden, COVID came around. So COVID came around, and I was like, Okay, well, what I'm going to do is I'm going to start this podcast, and I'm gonna try to teach as many people as possible, what I've learned along the way, from my personal finance side, to everything I know from the real estate side. And kind of combining all of these things, the career side, all of these different things, we started the podcast. And originally it was just my mom and my wife who listened to podcast, we kind of had zero audience there. And then and then started to grow at very, very slowly. So I think in the first six months, we maybe had just a few 1000 downloads over that timeframe. But then eventually, it started to get shared, and it started to grow. And in the first year, we had 100,000 downloads a month, which we were really excited about, and then kind of started to grow it from there and do some other things, but most of it and almost all of it was organic.

Jamila Souffrant 32:25

That's That's great. Now I want to go a little bit back to your decision to branch out and almost to be like a generalist in this like talk about all parts of personal finance versus just real estate. Because it seems like you obviously you have a robust experience. So you could have just went and started like a bigger pockets kind of podcast, or just have a specific business right based on real estate and forget the podcast and media side. But continuing to invest in real estate could have been just your only straight pathway to financial independence like a lot of people do. So I'd love to hear the decision making around choosing to go on this route versus the others.

Andrew Giancola 33:01

One thing I want people to know about real estate and this is a big thing to understand is real estate is actually a lot of work. And when you go through the process, especially when you're doing all of it at once a lot of people make it seem like it's something where you can just kind of invest in the properties, put a property manager in place, and you don't have to do anything else. But really, it's a lot more work than other investment vehicles. So one big thing that we love to invest in as index funds, for example, passive, low cost index funds, and real estate is much harder than that. And there's a lot of things you have to know before getting into real estate, I think it's higher risk, but it's high reward that you can have in place. But it is a lot more work. So the reason why we went the route for a little bit of everything is because that's really what I'm doing day to day, I have some real estate in my portfolio, I have a lot of index funds in my portfolio. And this is kind of what I'm doing. And I'm trying to teach exactly what I'm doing every single day. So I have my hand and a bunch of other things. But this is kind of what I'm doing with my personal finance. And that's kind of what why we went with the broad range. Because I think it's one of the things that a lot of people can follow the same steps and be able to get to that point where they can build generational wealth for their families.

Jamila Souffrant 34:04

And it sounds like you just stay true to your willingness to be active within the investments. And I think it's just a great point or side to show because you'll see online like okay, if you like you said, invest this money, you'll get these returns, like real estate is the way to go, which it can be if you have the energy time and care to do that. But like you I also thought Millions would come in real estate I was so interested in it, and that I never got as far as you I own the condo that I first bought. And then my husband and I ended up buying a condo that we rented out and I still own the condo I rent out but we sold the second one and even just when I had tenants and I could have hired someone but it was just a small property. It was you know, a small 600 square foot unit. I just realized like, I don't want to have to manage this. If there's an easier way to build wealth and do this. I will go that way and if another opportunity comes up with real estate, I'll do that but it's just great to see the other side of someone who actually knows real estate can probably make a ton of money. Investing and chooses not to, because it's just not for them. It is.

Andrew Giancola 35:05

And it's just one of those things where you have to, it's not a lot of people just make it like you go on tick tock or Instagram, for example. And you just see all these real estate investors saying it's the easiest thing in the world to just buy a property and start the cash flow. But it's really not that way. And in reality, it's one of those things where it is a very difficult thing unless you know exactly what you're doing. And knowing exactly what you're doing takes a lot of time and skill and practice. And so putting the right systems into place is a big thing. And even if you have a property manager, you still have to manage that property manager. And so you're still managing people, you're still doing a lot of different things, because nobody cares about your property as much as you do. So that is one thing to just remember is that over time, it's a lot. There's other investments that are a lot easier. And they may even be just as profitable, depending on where you're investing.

Jamila Souffrant 35:47

Yeah, solid points. Now talk a little bit about your growth within entrepreneurship. I think for anyone who's starting out, right, maybe they're right now in a cubicle in a job, and they're just like, I don't want to do this, I want to do my own thing. But how do I go from zero followers, zero listeners to millions of downloads and millions of followers? For you. I know that that didn't happen overnight. Obviously, you just shared a little bit of that. But how did you start to stick out? What were some of the strategic things you started to do to grow? Because it's only been two years now. Right? That you started the podcast? How did you? How did you grow in my mind what's or just anyone from the outside looking in, within those two years, so quickly.

Andrew Giancola 36:25

So the cool thing is with doing side hustles, and having the blog and things like that, I think side hustles are low risk entrepreneurship. And so you learn a lot of lessons just by doing side hustles, I had a lot of failed niche sites, for example, and other things that I did online. And one of the biggest things I realized very early on is consistency, for example. So one big thing was on the blog, I should have consistently been posting, you know, two, three times a week. But instead, I was inconsistent when I went throughout that process. So there's a bunch of lessons I took from my old entrepreneurship days, very early on in my early 20s. And I brought them to the podcast, meaning understanding what you need to do and the right things to do and the right steps to take in order to grow something. So the first thing obviously was at least having one episode every single week. And then from there, kind of growing it and building it out. So I wanted to make it the most shareable bingeable, personal finance podcast, I could. So we would try to bring energy into it, we were trying to take different angles on a lot of different things. We had shorter episodes. And so doing some of those things, hopefully, people would kind of binge through the podcast and go throughout that process. And I took a lot of inspiration from a lot of people. So I would take inspiration from all over the internet, say, what are these people doing well, and then what are they not doing as well, that I kind of want to avoid. And so I would make lists and do all of these different things to kind of try to make it the best possible podcast I possibly could. And then eventually, we branched out into YouTube and other places as well. But that's kind of where we started. And then from there, just figuring out how to grow it. Now one big thing that I'm learning as of late is how to build out your network because understanding that you can't do this alone. And I do this alone for a very long period of time. But understanding that if you can build out a network and ask questions and really ask for help, then people are usually willing to help you out. And you can grow that much faster if you do that. So there's a couple of lessons that I'm learning along the way here, because this is still a new business. But at the same time, a lot of my old businesses, I learned a ton of lessons as well, how did

Jamila Souffrant 38:17

you begin to build the networks that you have now where you can ask that question.

Andrew Giancola 38:22

So early on the podcast had zero guests, it was just me talking. And then I realized, you know, I want to get some other perspectives and have other guests on. So the first thing I did was I had other guests on, then I would start to go to conferences and meet a lot of people at those conferences and start to build that network that way. I had Jordan Harbinger on the show about a year ago or so. And he has some great content on building a network. And I've actually started to follow his system, where what a system is, is you can actually reach out to three or four people a day just can be a quick email or text or something along those lines. And it's a very quick way five minutes a day to be able to reach out to your network because I think your network is one of the most important things that you can have. And I really learned that along the along this journey. But it's one of the most important things that you can have. Because if you need something or if you need help, you can help them but you want to help other people as well. So making sure that you are helping others to build your network is one of the biggest things that you can do.

Jamila Souffrant 39:12

Okay, give us an example of reaching out to someone because even I have this issue. I have a great network, I think because I've been doing the podcast so long and I get to meet all you amazing, all my amazing guests, right? Which is very helpful, right in my journey. But you know, what I often find is that I don't need anything mostly from anyone for a lot of the time, right? And I don't want to go and ask the person for a favor. I mean, I can but most times that's when people feel awkward like why I'm just reaching out for the first time in years for this favor. So I know Jordan, I think I looked over the way he does things but I'd love for an example of how whether it's just a keep in touch kind of connection email or text versus an Ask email or text.

Unknown Speaker 39:55

So really, I never truly I'm the same way I usually never ask for anything. I usually when trying to help people first. And that's kind of the the biggest thing with relationship building is you want to make this connection in a way that you are helping first. And it's truly, genuinely you're helping these folks. And then what happens is kind of things just start to happen. And that's kind of a weird way to say it. But things just start to happen where it helps open up your network. The same thing happened in the real estate side, for example, were on the real estate investing, I used to go to real estate meetups all the time. And I would build up a network of other real estate investors. And all of a sudden, I was getting more properties and more deals were coming my way, because maybe they had properties they didn't want anymore. And so having that network in place saying, Hey, if you guys don't want any properties, let me know. And I'll take them off your hands, I have my cash investors here, we can do a cash deal and do it really quickly. And so if there's properties you don't want, let me help you by taking them off your hands. And that would have, that'd be one example of things happening there. In addition, just having conversations with people, for example, at conferences, walking up, just I would walk up to people and start talking to them. And like I said, I am introverted at heart. So that was kind of hard to do very early on. But I would start to just walk up to people start talking to them, tell them about my business, asked how I can help them, I would tell them some of the things that maybe that I knew that they weren't doing those types of things. And that relationship building helped grow out some of the things that we're doing now. All right,

Jamila Souffrant 41:10

let's just say we end this podcast, right conversation, and six months from now, you're like, I'm on your list of, okay, I'm gonna, you know, follow Jordan style and just keep in touch. What would you then email or say to me, or text me to keep in touch in a way where you're not asking for anything? What do you know that script yet.

Andrew Giancola 41:29

So I do it a bunch of different ways. So a lot of times, I'll see people, for example, doing something really cool. So I'll follow all my network socials and things like that. And I won't comment on social, that's very important to not do it on social because so many people will comment on their socials, the big way to kind of sit and you could do that if you want to keep in touch, you know, on a weekly basis or something like that. But the big thing I would do is say, say for example, someone hit a new podcast download number, for example, this is amazing that you hit this podcast download number, you know, so excited for you let me know if I can help you in any way. Or if there's anything going on that type of thing. And so kind of celebrating their wins is the best way I know how to kind of reach out to people and most people will post their wins, or they'll talk about some of their wins. Or you can say, Oh, you had an amazing episode with this guest really loved that and kind of go through that stuff as well. And you can kind of start a conversation that way. So really, it's just starting conversation, being friends with someone is the better way to do this. And then things just start to actually start happening.

Jamila Souffrant 42:19

That makes sense. Okay, so and you talk a little bit about where you are on the journey to financial independence. So I'm assuming you have not reached it yet. Maybe you haven't you just like working. But what does that look like for you? What what's the end goal? How long do you have left? I know you're a number guy. So you probably have calculated out so what does that look like for you.

Andrew Giancola 42:39

So we've actually hit like our bare bones financial independence number I am more interested. Now. At first, I thought this was the number I kind of wanted to hit. And you know early on would follow like Mister Money, mustache should be really frugal. Everything has changed since I had kids. And there's a lot of differences that have changed since that point in time. Now I'm actually more prone to going towards fat fire. If you don't want fat fire, it's kind of like having a higher net worth and living off a higher number. So for us, we hit the bare bones, which is so comforting, because once you hit that bare bones number, then you can kind of have play with it, from then on out. And so now this podcast and building out, everything we're doing with Master money and helping people is one of the biggest passions I've ever had in my life. It's one of the most amazing things to do. So I think I'm going to do this forever. It's gonna be one of those things that because I absolutely love it every single day. That's kind of where we are in the path. And I would like to get to another point now so that we can reach closer to fat fire, just a higher number that we could live off in retirement if we want to.

Jamila Souffrant 43:31

Yeah, isn't it interesting how when you first when I first found out about financial independence, I thought to like, oh, I'll just be super frugal, and be able to consistently live this like lifestyle. And then I was done having my kids by them, but they were pretty young. And I was like, Well, who am I kidding? Like, I want more. I want to do more. And I want to change. So it's I think that's that happens for a lot of people, which is the point I think that's the point you have to think through your mind will change your your tastes will change, you may realize that, hey, you know what, I will give up x to get y and it's all gonna be a personal decision. But it's important to know that if your mind does change, like that's all part of the journey.

Andrew Giancola 44:08

Exactly. It's really financial independence is really like an evolving journey. It's a journey that once you start, it does not mean you have to stay with that number the entire way. And I think a lot of people get stuck on that where they think, okay, I hit my number, but this is not really where I want to be. I've hit the point and I'm uncomfortable still. So there's a lot of things that you can do to people to make those adjustments. But just realize this is an evolving thing. You do not have to just stick to one number one path one plan.

Jamila Souffrant 44:32

Right right now, Andrew, can you tell us anything else you have going on? What's up next for you?

Andrew Giancola 44:39

Absolutely. So we have a new thing that we're doing is we're gonna be making a major push on YouTube as well. So we started a YouTube channel a couple of months ago. In addition, we have master money.co is launching at the end of the month. So that is one where we're going to have courses and coaching and a bunch of other things that we're going to be offering on there, free courses, all that kind of stuff as well. So we're really excited about some of the stuff that we're doing up for And like I said, our goal is just to teach as many people as possible how to build wealth. And I think everybody can build wealth. It's just learning and having that financial education.

Jamila Souffrant 45:07

Yes. And tell me once again, your podcast so they can check it out.

Unknown Speaker 45:11

Sure, the podcast is the personal finance podcast and you can listen to us on any podcast player that you love.

Jamila Souffrant 45:17

Alright, Andrew, thank you so much. I'll also put all that in the episode show notes for everyone. So thanks again for coming on the show.

Andrew Giancola 45:23

Thank you so much for having me. This was so much fun.

Outro 45:27

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