Todd Baldwin: “No need to bet the farm on an exciting opportunity that might not work out”

There are certainly investments with exciting opportunities because the market is uncertain. But at the end of the day if you focus on real estate and the S&P 500, over the long term you will do quite well. No need to bet the farm on an exciting opportunity that might not work out. As a part […]

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There are certainly investments with exciting opportunities because the market is uncertain. But at the end of the day if you focus on real estate and the S&P 500, over the long term you will do quite well. No need to bet the farm on an exciting opportunity that might not work out.


As a part of my series about “Investing During The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Todd Baldwin, known on CNBC as the Millennial Millionaire, is an American entrepreneur, investor, and real estate enthusiast. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife Angela where the two of them have amassed a House Hacking and Airbnb Empire. He is using the knowledge he has learned in these endeavors on his YouTube channel to help others build wealth and gain financial independence.


Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?

Unfortunately, my story is not uncommon. I was raised by a single mother who struggled every day to put food on the table for three kids. Seeing my mom worry tirelessly about finances led me to decide at 12 years old that someday I would become a millionaire.

By the time I was 22 I was making 6 figures working in sales, and I used every last penny to buy real estate. My wife and I retired at age 29.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

I own a real estate company, and one time I intercepted an explicit photo from one of my tenants. It was quite shocking, and something I hope never happens again.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am actively seeking an apartment building specifically for section 8. This will be to help folks who are low income find safe, affordable housing that is really nice. I will be working with section 8 so that the government guarantees the rent.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Every morning I listen to interviews from Warren Buffet, Cathie Wood, and Charlie Munger. In a way they are my unofficial teachers.

Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

To help combat anxiety, get daily exercise, take walks in the sunshine, and meditate. This will help with overall mental health and it will be great for your body too.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know the stock market and the economy in general have become extremely volatile and uncertain. Many people “dollar cost average” and put aside a monthly sum into a long term savings plan for retirement, college, or a home purchase. If a loved one or a client came to you and said, “I have been saving and investing 500 dollars every month in an S&P 500 index fund. Over the next few months until the dust settles, should I be doing something else with my money?”, what would you say to them?

It sort of depends on the age of the person looking for advice. My suggestions would be different for a 25 year old investor than a 75 year old investor. But, as a general rule, I’m a buy and hold kind of guy so I would say never get out of the market.

Eventually the economy will recover and rebound. Certain sectors, like travel and hospitality might be hurting for a while. But other sectors, like technology and healthcare, might do very well. If someone wanted to prepare today to take advantage of the future recovery, what would you suggest they do?

Invest in Tech, specifically software as a service. The work from home economy is here to stay and there is a lot of potential to profit from smart investing.

Are there sectors that provide exciting and lucrative investment opportunities today, specifically because of the volatility and uncertainty?

There are certainly investments with exciting opportunities because the market is uncertain. But at the end of the day if you focus on real estate and the S&P 500, over the long term you will do quite well. No need to bet the farm on an exciting opportunity that might not work out.

Are there alternative investments that you think more people should look more deeply at?

I made my money the old fashioned way. Real Estate. But, tech stocks and crypto have a lot of opportunities. Just only invest what you can afford to lose.

If a person in their thirties and forties came to you today and said that they have 10,000 dollars that they want to put away today for a long term investment what would you advise them to do with it?

If they don’t already have a home, I would tell them to put that towards a down payment of a primary residence. You can buy a duplex, triplex, or even a fourplex as a primary residence. Live in one unit and rent out the rest. You’ll be living for free.

Ok, thank you! Here is a more general finance question. You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

  1. Pay yourself first. Out of each paycheck, before anything else, set aside a percentage that you can afford to live without. Do this with every paycheck, and invest the portion that you set aside.
  2. House Hack. Buy a home for you to live in, and then rent out the extra bedrooms (or extra units if you bought a duplex, triplex, or fourplex) and live for free.
  3. As your income increases, increase the percentage that you invest. In other words, let’s say today you make 50,000 dollars per year and you invest 10% of that salary per year. If you get a raise and all the sudden you’re making 60,000 dollars per year, invest 12% of that every year. Keep investing more and more of a percentage as your income goes up. At 29 years old my income is 1.4 million dollars per year, and I invest bout 90% of that.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

A smooth sea doesn’t create a strong sailor.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would want mandatory financial literacy classes all four years of high school. I think that would be the first step in closing the wealth gap.

Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!

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