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PFB Spotlight: Sitting Pretty Financially

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Welcome to the fourth edition of the Personal Finance Blogger Spotlight series and this week I’m proud to introduce you all to Nina from Sitting Pretty Financially. She’s been writing for five months now and she is a great example of someone who has a day job but supplements her lifestyle with extensive real estate investments, motivated by the writings of Robert Kiyosaki. Nina’s a treat to read and I’m a huge fan of the quotes she uses to start every post. Without further delay, here’s a little about Nina.

If you are a personal finance blogger and would like to be interviewed for the Personal Finance Blogger Spotlight series, send me an email with your contact info and we can set something up. See this page for details on this series and to read past interviews.

jim: Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Nina: By day, I sell mobile infrastructure software but my real estate investments have grown to become a significant part of my financial plan and also a great passion. I am 38 years old and live in Newport Beach, but grew up in Toledo, Ohio. Since moving 7 years ago to California, I have owned and lived in four homes from varied eras (three of which I upgraded and sold for tidy profits, one I occupy now with my partner). I also own four investment properties: three rental residences in Phoenix and Las Vegas and a fixer in Palm Springs that I just renovated and put back on the market last weekend.
jim: How did you get into real estate investing? And what would you say to people talking about the bubble bursting soon?
Nina: I had three good role models for real estate investing… two sisters and a brother and the healthy fear that I was going to be the one in the litter that retired poor. Each of them owned their own home and multiple rental properties. Because they all lived in Ohio, I decided that I needed to educate myself on how to buy a rental property. I went to a seminar and it gave me the confidence and all the rah-rah empowerment that I needed to make my first investment purchase. What is my view on the housing bubble? Real estate is cyclical and a correction is coming. I’m a real estate investor and not a real estate speculator. This is an important distinction as interest rates rise and demand/appreciation tapers off.
jim: What kind of car do you drive and would tell us a little about it?
Nina: I drive a pre-owned Volvo S80 (year 2000). I bought it 3 years ago and it is now paid in full. This is the first time I’ve had the luxury of living without a car payment. I love this feeling and plan to drive it into the ground. The Volvo doesn’t quite create the same stir at the valet stand as a Mercedes or BMW, but it is helping me transport myself down to the road to financial independence. It’s all the little steps that add up.
jim: When and why did you start a blog?
Nina: I have been blogging for five months and started because I desired a creative outlet. In my twenties, I was an avid journal keeper – musing about coming to terms with my sexuality. Once I came out of the closet and settled into a healthy relationship there was less conflict to work out on paper. I found over the years that I missed writing and decided that blogging might be a good alternative. Personal finance and real estate investing seemed like a relevant topic based on my current interests.
jim: Is there anything that makes your perspective unique?
Nina: As a gay woman, there was never the expectation that I would benefit from any economic uplift through marriage. Often times, straight women are conditioned (by society and well-intentioned mothers) that a man is a financial plan. I knew early on that there was never going to be a knight in shining armor to take care of me. If anything, I hope my blog encourages women (straight or gay) to be self-sufficient.
jim: I read your Knight in Shining Armor Post and how you thought most straight women are conditioned to believe they’ll get a financial uplift through marriage. What would you say to them to convince them otherwise?
Nina: To clarify, there is nothing wrong with marriage and the economic uplift that it provides. I’m in a long-term partnership and there certainly are benefits. We are able to afford a home based on two incomes rather than one. In general, living expenses are reduced when the burden can be shared. These economies of scale apply to any partnership – gay or straight. The point of the Knight post is to encourage women to create a financial plan for themselves and not delay until Mr. Right shows up.
jim: What’s your favorite personal finance book and why?
Nina: Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki — It changed my perspective on money. It taught me to buy assets with my disposable income. I put an end to the $3,000 vacations (liability), no more $600/month car-lease payment (liability), and I got a lot more conservative with the affordable luxuries (saying no to the $3 lattes… liability). Instead, I saved my money and started buying assets. Specifically, houses.
jim: What would you say to people who think Kiyosaki is a shuckster? John T. Reed for example: http://www.johntreed.com/Kiyosaki.html?
Nina: In my opinion, Kiyosaki wrote a book about the fundamentals of accounting – income/expenses and assets/liabilities. It was the first time that I really understood the impact of a personal financial statement. He preaches about value of passive income. All this is really sound advice.

He used the story of a Rich Dad and Poor Dad to explain these principles. Did Rich Dad exist? Does it matter? I haven’t met Kiyosaki personally or attended any of his seminars. I can’t speak for the guy’s character. What I can say, is that I did spend $16.95 for a book with some worthwhile advice and I have seen a good return on this investment.

jim: Which of your posts do you think are must-reads?
Nina: I do not have favorites per se, but this is a good sampling of my posting style:

[Incidentally, though she didn't point it out, I liked this post about her seeing Ben Stein on a plane. The picture's pretty funny too.]

jim: What financial “mistake” bothers you the most?
Nina: Throwing away money on rent throughout my twenties. I wish I had the insight and knowledge about real estate back then. I could have figured out some way to buy my first home much earlier.
jim: What was your best financial decision to date?
Nina: Buying my first home and my first rental property. These two decisions changed my life and gave me the leverage and ability to buy others.
jim: What is your favorite personal finance blog and why?
Nina: The two that I read on a regular basis are My Open Wallet and Clutter2Cash. I find both writers have a good sense of humor and I can identify with their struggle of living in an expensive city and trying to do it within their means. Since I follow real estate, I am also a bit of a bubble junkie. The Housing Bubble 2 and Patrick.net (Reality Parser) are two of my favorites.
jim: If your blog ended today, how would you like people to remember it?
Nina: I would wish that somewhere, someway, my journey inspired others.
jim: Finally, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Nina: With all this talk about money, maybe we should end with a favorite proverb, “If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can’t buy.”
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One Response to “PFB Spotlight: Sitting Pretty Financially”

  1. Caitlin says:

    Great interview Jim…and thanks for the shout-out Nina :) Sitting Pretty has become a fave of mine too and my real estate mogul plans are taking shape slowly but surely ;)


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