Never in a million years did I see myself where I am today. Sure, I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart.   Someday I knew I would eventually own my own business. Though, I thought I knew the path to get there. It could not have been any different.

My plan to entrepreneurship.
In college, I had a series of entrepreneurial ventures. My business experience consisted of a résumé´ writing service, a career consulting practice, and a note-taking service. Yes, I was even paid by my  school to take notes for various classes! All in all, I enjoyed being an entrepreneur while attending class and going to work. As a student, I still had to pay the bills!

Naturally, I figured the way to own a business was to go to business school and obtain a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). Being a researcher, I found a pre-MBA program from a top-tier business school. Unsure if I would get in,  I applied anyways. To my surprise, I was accepted into the program. The goal of the program was to prepare candidates for entrance into business school. As one of the few undergraduates admitted into the program, I was the youngest of the group since many of my peers were already working and out of college.

As a member of the program, we were required to meet regularly with the Program Director to discuss our goals. Eager to share, I told the Director of my desire to become an entrepreneur. Though, the feedback given to me consisted of a plan where I’ would have to work a few years after college, go to business school, work some more to gain experience and ultimately pursue my dream of setting up my own shop. Since I was young and naïve, I thought this would be my path to entrepreneurship.

The book that changed my life.
After graduation, I took the advice of the program to work a few years before applying to business school. So, I took a job as a business-to-business sales executive for a Fortune 500 company. Day in and day out, life was all about work. When I came home, all I wanted to do was relax. Though, I enjoyed visiting my local bookstore. This is where things changed. One day I picked up a purple colored book that caught my eye titled Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. This book changed my life forever.

In reading this book, I learned the concept of passive income to achieve complete financial independence. It was a new and foreign concept to me; one I had never heard about.  We often hear about investing in Forex, for example, via AvaTrade, but this was more than that.  It’s about time and freedom from money. Time is valuable, not the money. The one asset we all have whether you are rich or poor is the same amount of time. We can choose to use that time to work or we can figure out a way to have more time to enjoy life and do the things we want to do, not have to do. After reading the book, I decided real estate would be my path to financial freedom.

My first year as a real estate investor.
During my first year as a real estate investor, life was chaotic. Initially, I felt like I was going in different directions. Though, I made a plan to build up cash so that I could buy properties for cash flow. In turn, the cash flow from each property would provide me with the passive income I had read about. With my sales skills in hand, I hit the streets running. On one of my earliest deals, I made a whole year’s salary. I could not believe it! Deciding to continue, I eventually started to buy and hold properties.

Life investing in real estate.
Over the years, I built up a small portfolio of rental properties. Though, it did take time. I put in a lot of hours and a lot of work. There were days when I questioned exactly what I was doing. While many of my friends had gone on to graduate school and earned higher salaries, here I was hard at work still plugging away and building up the business. At one point, one of my friends who had an MBA asked me “Why do you work so hard?” Honestly, I felt behind.

It’s not about money; it’s about freedom from money.
Through experience, eventually I found my niche with mobile home investing. Yes, I was laughed at by my peers. Clearly, this was not the path I had imagined. But, you know what? It gave me the life I wanted — one where I could do the things I wanted to do, not had to do. No longer did I have the time restraints as others did working at a regular 9-5 job.  I lived life on my own terms; I set my own hours. This is what it was all about from the get-go.

The advice I received from my mentor.
A couple of years after the program, my mentor (who eventually received an MBA already having a PhD and a master’s degree from top Ivy League schools) told me it was wise I chose the path to entrepreneurship. Despite having all the degrees in the world, my mentor realized that you just cannot buy time. Sure, the money was good. But, what was the point of making all this money if you do not have the time to enjoy it? Due to this lifestyle, raising a family was difficult and  finding free time to spend became a chore in itself.

After over a decade of investing in real estate, I can honestly say it was worth it. Sure, I gave up the opportunity to attend graduate school and receive my MBA. I even walked away from the possibility of receiving a high salary such as my friends and mentor while struggling to build up a business. While this may not be the path for some, it was the one I chose. At times, it was tempting to just throw in the towel. Money can do that to you sometimes. Everyone around me had nice cars and nice clothes. But, I had to question it all. At the end of the day, the one thing people could never have enough of was time. And, that was valuable. So valuable that I decided to give up everything to have it. I’m sure glad I did.

Rachel Hernandez spent several years as a landlord before taking the leap to specializing in mobile home investing. Rachel, also known as Mobile Home Gurl, writes and produces videos regularly about her stories and adventures in mobile home investing. Rachel Hernandez is the author of the book, Adventures in Mobile Homes: How I Got Started in Mobile Home Investing and How You Can Too!.