Kat Hughes is co-host of the podcast, Wildly Wealthy Life, with her husband, Lee. She’s a real estate investor, expert house hacker, piano teacher, and full-time entertainer. Kat immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines when she was 21 to pursue a career as an artist, but dancing wasn’t paying the bills.
She and her husband purchased a house in L.A.—and rented part of it out—and they were able to pay off $80,000 in student loans and consumer debt as well as live in their home mortgage-free. They started investing in other rental properties, and the rest is history.
Kat recently made a big career pivot, something she says she should have done a while ago, but the pandemic gave her the nudge she needed.
Today on the InFLOW podcast, Kat tells Michelle all about:
- Relying on her intuition when it comes to real estate investment.
- How she and her husband work together as a team.
- Finding the balance between making money and pursuing her passions.
- How she has learned to follow the grace and ease in both her career and in life.
Find out more!
- Subscribe and rate our podcast on iTunes at: http://www.michellebosch.com/itunes
- Android users can subscribe and rate our podcast at: http://www.michellebosch.com/android
- Follow Michelle Bosch on Instagram to see what she’s up to: https://www.instagram.com/michelleboschofficial
To connect with Kat and listen to her amazing podcast (I’ve been a guest and had so much fun), go to http://wildlywealthylife.com. If you’re interested in virtual piano lessons for you or your child, check out Kat’s site: http://katzkeys.com. And – you can find out more about Kat the artist and entertainer at: http://iamkatmarie.com. She’s one heck of a well-rounded woman!
I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed chatting with Kat!
Kat: Hi, Michelle. Happy to be here.
Michelle: Thank you so much for your time, Kat. So I want to start because I was going through, you know, your website and your bio, and I wanted to ask you a little bit about your upbringing, you know, as an Asian kid, how did you grow up around money?
Kat: As a woman who grew up in the Philippines, I was born and raised in the Philippines up until I was 21 when I moved out to the U.S. The upbringing on money with that you just really need to work hard and you need to save everything because my parents didn’t have a lot and they actually left me with my grandparents and my aunts and uncles when I was seven years old. And they went to the U.S. to go look for a job here in the U.S. so that they could send money home to the Philippines to help support us because we didn’t come from a wealthy family at all. And if they had stayed there in the Philippines, I actually probably would never be here, I would have never been able to go to the States, I would have never probably had a good education in the Philippines. So, my idea of money growing up was it is an important piece you have to have it and when you have it, you save it and you spend it wisely, that was basically my upbringing, right? So, it’s a good base. I must say I’m so happy that my parents, you know, even though we grew up in hardships, it was a good outlook at money that you just need to really take care of your finances.
Michelle: Yeah, so then you come here, then you’re here in the U.S. and you discovered that, you know, you have these amazing artistic inclinations and so how do we end up as an artist and from artists, how do we find ourselves in real estate?
Kat: So as an artist, ever since I was a kid, I could remember I was four and I always knew that I was gonna move to LA or New York, I don’t know why. But as a kid, I just had this huge vision that someday I’m gonna move to the States, either New York or LA, and I’m gonna become a performer, that’s always what I wanted to do. So when I graduated college at 21, I right away moved to the States and luckily, you know, my parents were already here and I was able to reunite with them.
That was also a hard part just because I grew up without them and then at age 21 when I felt like an adult, you know, all of a sudden I had to live with my parents and it’s like, wait, what? Like, I can’t do this and I can’t do that. And they won’t even let me date and I was 21 and I was like, you know, I had boyfriends back home in the Philippines, anyway. With that, you know, going into the artistic realm, the particular field I chose was dance. And in the artist world, dancers are probably one of the least paid artists, you know, actors get paid good, singers get paid good, and for some reason, dancers just don’t get paid much.
So going into that dance world it’s almost like a death sentence moving to America from the Philippines, not having, at least, you know, I was taught to save, but because I didn’t really have much, I only had like allowances, you know, but my little allowance back at home in pesos, would it compare to dollars. So really the little savings I had couldn’t really, you know, support me here in the States. So for me, real estate was, I didn’t even really study real estate, I don’t know why I just had this natural inclination that I think owning properties is good and honestly, I don’t even know where I got it, I just know that like, somehow if you own properties and you rent it out or sell it, you’re gonna make good money, that was it. That was literally just a gut instinct. So that’s kinda how I got started with real estate.
Michelle: I can totally relate, I always say right now I have a saying that I’m like my goodness and in two generations well, my mother, me and now Sophia, we’re going from even back home when a woman marries, you have as your last name, you always add the “of”, like, for example, my mother’s name is Gloria and her maiden name was [inaudible 00:05:17.882] and now that she was married she was on a Gloria [inaudible 00:05:22.905] of Madrid, you know. And you go from that generation being almost like property of Madrid to owning property. So from being property to owning property, you know, it’s a generation. So, yeah, it’s incredible. Okay. So then you become a dancer, you decide that you’re gonna do something in real estate, it could be that inner wanting to, you know, own property and it feels solid, it’s tangible, you can touch it, you can see it and then from there, how do you get into your first rental? Or maybe did this all start with maybe a house hack at the beginning? How did it start? What was your first deal?
Kat: Yeah, so our first deal was our house, it was our home here in Los Angeles, it’s a multi-property home. So we live in the front house that has a three-bedroom, two-bath, it’s actually four-bedroom because the garage has been converted into a bedroom and back behind us, it’s a duplex and it’s a two-bedroom, two and a half bath. And before we got even started with this property, I knew that the only way that we could one afford this is probably to make sure that there’s someone also helping us pay for the rental because being in Las Vegas is really expensive. And two, I knew that we couldn’t really get a good deal especially on rates and all that if we did get rid of our debt and, you know, get our credit score up and all that.
So we really tackled first of all our $80,000 in like consumer debt and student loan debt and it was more on my husband’s side just because again, like when I came here, I didn’t really know much about like credit cards because I wasn’t exposed to credit cards in the Philippines. And when I came here, I was like a piece of plastic that you could charge and not have to worry about, that’s amazing. I didn’t really know that until I got here. And you know, of course, when you marry, you know, you also marry people’s debts. And I love my husband and I’m so glad he’s really on board with me with like tackling debt and so we did that together and as soon as we tackled debt, we purchased the house.
And again, it was a gut instinct, it was like, I know I can’t afford this house so we need to have something behind us that’s helping us pay for the mortgage. So that’s the house hacking part one. My brother who also grew up in the Philippines actually moved to LA a few years later and my aunt also moved to LA a few years later. And my husband and I are very big on helping our family and really being there for them and we knew that, “Hey, we’re buying this house, not just for us, we want our family to live with us because I want them to, you know, be able to have a fresh start in the States and not have to worry about rent.”
And so for a couple of years, my brother and my aunt actually, they still live with me to this date, but for a couple of years, they lived with us without paying for rent. And now that my brother is a little bit more established, he started paying us rent and then we have the extra room in the garage and his best friend moved in with us so he pays his rent. So basically, our whole complete mortgage like every month we don’t pay for it, it’s all from the rental so we’re completely mortgage-free in a four-bedroom house in LA, so it’s amazing.
Michelle: That is fantastic because the price points in LA are just crazy and it makes, you know, not be able to be affordable for many, yeah, for sure, so that’s house hacking, perfect. And I know, you know, I’ve met a lady once and she was telling me how basically she’s been doing this for the last 15 years like there’s some people that just do, you know, serial house hackers, move on from one house to the next, the next, repair it, and, you know, avoid the capital gains tax. And can you speak a little bit about that? Do you know a little bit about it?
Kat: Just a little bit brief but basically if you purchase a house and if you live in it and then you reside in it, when you sell it later because you’ve lived in it for a certain period of time, you won’t get that like 15% to 20% capital gains tax. But if you are an investor, right? And we are investors but we’re choosing to live in the house that we purchased and hopefully later when we sell it, you know, we won’t get those capital gains, but if you’re just an investor and you don’t live in that property, once you sell it because we’ve experienced it too, we sold a property and we’re like oh, capital gains tax, huh? Hmm, all right, let’s do a 1031 exchange. So we actually did like this exchange where the profit that you get from that particular property, you exchange it for unlike kind property and so you just transferred over to another property using that funds to purchase the property and then you avoid the capital gains tax.
Michelle: Yeah, you kinda like defer it?
Kat: You defer it.
Michelle: Absolutely. Okay, so then you started house hacking and now you decide that you’re gonna get your first rental unit or do you go and start investing passively in syndications? What was your next logical step and what made you take that next step?
Kat: Yeah, for us, the next step was we thought, “Wow, this is really awesome, we love our property, how can we do this again?” Again, at that time, to be honest, Michelle, like, I was so really focused on me as an entertainer that I didn’t really have time to study real estate, right? I didn’t have time to like read up on it, all I know is, again, it’s a good thing. So we were like, my husband and I looked at each other, “Where should we invest?” And we’re like, “Where do we have ties?” And so we’d decided Rochester, New York because my husband’s family is from Rochester, New York and we’re like, “You know, if we’re gonna invest at a state, maybe that’s a good place to invest just because we have some family over there that can help us out.” You know, like, just look at the property and make sure it’s still standing in one solid piece, you know?
And so we decided that we were gonna invest in Rochester and so we purchased two more properties over there. One is a three-unit place and one is a four-unit place and they actually ended up like they’re really good like when it comes to the rental income, it was really great, but we really failed on doing due diligence on…We did the inspections of course and all that stuff but again, just not really knowing a lot about real estate at that time. I didn’t really know how to run the numbers correctly and so down the road it actually I know that it costed us a lot because there was a lot of repairs and all that stuff. When we sold it, of course, we made all that money back and more, but, you know, during the years that we’re owning it, sometimes there were just months where we’re like we’re not cash flowing on this, like what is happening? This is horrible.
Michelle: But it happened that instead of putting money in your pocket, it’s taking money out of your pocket.
Kat: Right, but it’s the up and down, you know? And then I think for us, the important thing is for us to experience the ups and downs of real estate because you can read about it, but until you actually do it, you’re not really gonna learn, right? So for us, we didn’t want it to become fury, we want it to be real experience.
Michelle: Yeah, for sure. And now how are you balancing now, you know, the career which is in the arts and the real estate, like do you decide, okay, you know, I have an offseason and in that offseason, I’m gonna go start purchasing properties or how do you balance that?
Kat: Yeah. Well, yeah, that’s actually a really funny thing, I ask myself that all the time, how am I balancing this? But basically, for us, my husband and I are really a team, he picks up the slack, you know, when I’m losing kind of a momentum on one section, he picks up the slack because with being an entertainer, the thing about being an entertainer is you don’t know when it’s gonna pick up, you know. Like right now with the COVID season, like there’s no work, like, there’s literally all the filming has stopped at all, all the parks are closed, so performing is completely been at a halt, right?
This does not mean that we’re not creating, right? We can create so many things, like I’ve seen so many things on YouTube with like certain artists that are like creating amazing things during this time, right? But as far as getting paid right now as an entertainer, there’s like really nothing. So for me, I think the way to balance is one, teamwork, having someone that can help you move forward. For me, number two is, kind of, I think for me, I kind of look at my life and see where is the grace flowing right now? If I feel like there’s really such an ease in this particular area right now and to me personally I feel like God is like putting people in front of me that are like helping me move forward, I follow that.
And then when it feels like that’s place is a little bit dry right now, and then I kind of like figure it out, I’m like, okay, is this place dry just because it’s a season of like, I need to push through this or is it dry because you know what, this is actually a sign now, I have to now go to the other direction? It’s a little hard but I felt like for me, it’s like my intuition and just like my faith, I think, and just like understanding what is the season I’m in right now, right? Because obviously we can’t do everything all at once.
Like, I love this quote where it says, “You can do anything but you can’t do everything.” And it’s so true because I’ve been stuck in that mindset where I can do everything because I love doing everything. Sometimes I’m like, “What am I gonna do with my life?” Because I love being outdoors, I love this, I’m just like, I love everything. I’m one of those people who like I never get bored because you literally can put me into anything and I’m like, “I’m gonna find something good in that, let’s do it.” You know, I’m like underwater basket weaving, let’s do it, I love that. So like just anything, right? So I think for me balancing things is teamwork and then following where grace is flowing and then when it’s a dry season, figure out is this a place where you need to push through? Or is this a season where you need to reevaluate where you’re at and then maybe put your energy into something else?
Michelle: I absolutely love that because that is a very feminine approach and that you’re not trying to force the expansion in a specific place. Like if there is some resistance, you’re like, okay, is it my own mental shit around money? Or whatever it is or and I need to push through like you said, or is it the universe redirecting me and that’s just part of being kind of like plugged in, like following your intuition from the heart and figuring out which is the best way to go. For years I remember, Jack and I were all about this forceful expansion without knowing it, of course, you know what I mean? And then we’re like one day, man, shit, I’m tired of this, it’s like almost like pushing against gravity constantly, let’s like flow with gravity instead, you know what I mean.
Kat: Yeah, totally.
Michelle: Because it’s like pushing us in a different direction but sometimes it’s this upbringing like you say of like, no, you got to see things through and sometimes yes, you do have to see things through and you gotta push forward but sometimes it’s also wise to just reflect and think about, well, maybe it’s that I’m supposed to be doing something different. We’ve launched programs in the past where because we’re like, okay, no quitting, the Bosches don’t quit, something and always think of something we’re like, okay, this is like gravity man. And so we’ve learned now to when we see that constant pushback or resistance from just the universe and circumstances, we’re like, okay, is this a moment where okay, we’re about to up-level and because we’re about to uplevel everything seems to be going bad because that’s usually what happens before there’s a breakthrough, there’s this dark night of the soul moment. Like, okay, no, no, no. So it’s having that wisdom to distinguish the difference and it’s sometimes not just a mental exercise, it’s just a feeling like you said [inaudible 00:17:43] with it.
Kat: Actually I just have a quick story because I feel like I’m really going through that right now. I was teaching piano part-time since 2017 and it’s very part-time. It was just like one of those wastes for me to, kind of, you know, have some extra income while I’m going in between my performing jobs, right? Because again, as an entertainer, it comes and it goes, and then with all this COVID thing happening, all of a sudden we’re home and I’m like, what am I gonna do because I’m not working, right? Of course, there’s real estate. And actually right before the COVID season hit, I had just finished my master class on notes and actually was able to close on my very first note deal which is awesome.
Michelle: Oh, my God you have to tell us about that too. Okay.
Kat: Yes. But it’s like I’m home, what am I gonna do? Because there’s no auditions, there’s not entertaining, and okay I’m gonna go look for notes and whatnot, but like what else can I do? So then I started really investing more of my time in my piano teaching business. And literally, I can’t even tell you, Michelle, this is so crazy, but like in about a month’s time, I went from having three regular students from my part-time teaching since 2007, like my longtime students that have been faithful being there every single week to about 40 students right now. And like, literally, it’s crazy, it’s literally like, I’m like what is happening? This is just overflowing, I don’t even know what’s happening, like, I can’t…
So then that’s what I’m talking about, where the grace literally just, like, it overflowed for me in that section where now I look at my husband, like, okay, so when all this is lifted, what am I gonna do with my life? I have a choice whether I try to figure out how to fit all of my 40 students into my schedule plus being an entertainer plus being a real estate investor or let me look at my life and say, is there anything in my entertaining world that I can give up? And here’s the thing, I’ve been brought up to think that quitting is not an option just like you, you know, the Bosches don’t quit, right?
And I have had this shift in my mentality that I, now I’m thinking, you know what? Quitting and saying no, it’s actually a courageous thing. Like, it’s not always, it’s not always a bad thing, it’s very courageous to walk away from something that you know you’re good at. And you know you’re passionate about too, but what if you’re passionate about a lot of things, right? But then that’s not where the grace is leading you anymore because I still love dance, but I’ve had this thing where I’m like, you know what? I think I can let dance go, I love it but you know what? I don’t need to pursue it anymore, I’ve done it, I don’t need to pursue it.
So when all this thing is lifted, I’m not gonna actively go for dance anymore, I’ve just made that decision and it’s okay, I’m okay with it, you know? And it’s hard and I think about it and sometimes, it makes me, like, grieve inside because I love dancing so much, but at the same time, I’m like, but if I really take into account what I’ve done as a dancer, I’m like, I actually feel good about it. Like there’s no need for me to move towards that direction anymore especially when grace is opening up for me in another section. So, that’s my…
Michelle: Do you think that that’s a decision that basically it was a hard decision that you could have made earlier but because you weren’t having kind of like your back against the wall, you know, you hadn’t made but it was a long do perhaps decision?
Kat: I feel like it’s definitely been a long, you know, it’s like if you’re always seeing what you’ve always done and you’re like, ah, there’s nothing else, you know, like, let me just keep doing this, it’s kind of like it becomes a routine, right? The familiarity of things, where it’s hard for you to shift when you’re so scared of shifting because this is all you know. But sometimes when you’re pushed against a wall and you have to shift, and you’re realizing it’s not such a bad thing, it’s really okay, you know? And I’m like finding so much joy in teaching all my students right now and it’s just been, and it’s, everything’s been online and I’m like, and the crazy thing is because it’s online, I have so many students from different parts of the U.S. and different parts of the world. I have students in New Zealand, in Switzerland, in Indonesia, I’m just like, how is this happening? So, yeah, it’s just been great.
Michelle: Now you have to develop curriculum for all 40 and perhaps who knows, maybe it’s the next investment is, you know, a commercial piece of property to house your new, you know, piano academy or something?
Kat: Oh, yeah, no, totally.
Michelle: At some point, yeah. So even though, you know, virtual is the way to go, there’s so many things that have shifted with this current COVID situation right now and crisis that I think so many new innovations and so many new ways of doing business and receiving education as well are gonna come out that are gonna be really, really good. It might not work for everyone, there’s some people that really need to be in a classroom environment face to face like nothing replaces that, but these amazing alternatives are coming up as well. So what has been… I should say one of the most impactful relationships that has changed your life?
Kat: I think I’m gonna go with, it’s so funny because it’s kinda like yours actually, Michelle, when you show it, you missed that earlier today. But my husband, like, to be honest, I actually, when I moved to the States as an entertainer, I moved here with a tourist visa. So, I was given six months, I lived in New York for four months to pursue dance. I auditioned for my dream school which was Alvin Ailey and I got accepted. However, as an international student, there was no scholarships, I had to pay for the education for Alvin Ailey. And in fact, it was a lot more for international students to go to that school and so I was, you know, heartbroken.
So I moved to LA, I auditioned for another program and that was a scholarship program, and they offered scholarship programs to anyone, right? So I got accepted to that one, had a scholarship program, that program ran for a year, but I only have two months left in my tourist visa. So I was up against the wall again and I was, like, what am I gonna do with my life? Do I stay here and finish my program or do I go home? I don’t recommend this at all to anybody because it was so stressful but I overstayed, I totally overstayed. And for me, I think it was just, you know, I knew that if I went home to the Philippines it would just be sort of like the end, you know, and I knew that if I just stayed here somehow I would figure out a way, somehow, right?
And not that I wasn’t actively looking to meet someone because I was really busy on like, just focusing on my career and trying to look for work that’s gonna help me fix my papers on stuff but my husband when him and I met, we met the first day that we met, to be honest, we’ve been together since then. Like we met in 2006, December 2006, and we’ve been together since day one and that has been to me like the pivotal relationship because he just became like this amazing ally and amazing support system for me that I could have never dreamed of. Like, it’s just amazing and he’s still here and we’re still together and no, it wasn’t just for the papers. Yeah and he loves my family and he’s, you know, my Filipino family, we’re all up in each other’s business like we all, you know, in the Philippines we live like, you know, six people in one household or whatever and that’s the same thing in our house right now. And he’s okay with it, you know, to be, you know, okay with it culturally when it’s not his culture, it’s awesome.
Michelle: That’s beautiful. That’s wonderful. Now what advice would you have, for example, if we have a woman that is listening and either, you know, they are pursuing a different career, you know, for you it happened to be the arts, dancing and what would you have to say or what, what is one piece of advice in terms of making a distinction between that career and which is one category of your life and the financial category of your life? Like what would you say, what would be a piece of advice based on your experience, which you’ve been able to balance and juggle both of these really well?
Kat: Yeah. I’d say that if you’re a woman who has a really good-paying career that you love, then amazing, you’re able to mix both where you love what you do, but also really make amazing money out of it, right? So that’s great, keep doing that. If you are a woman who is like me, who chose a career that you love but doesn’t pay you much and it’s so unstable, I would say really figure out a way to get your money piece right so that you can continue pursuing the thing that you love with no stress. I could tell you this much, you know, as an entertainer, there are months where I don’t get a job, right?
Like it’s sometimes I like I toured for a year as an area list and that was amazing, there was solid pay for a year. And then I came back from tour and for about six months I had nothing, you know, because especially when you leave and you come back, you kind of have to start again from scratch. LA is a city where out of sight, out of mind, if you’re not here, people don’t remember you. You know, so you’d come back from a tour and it’s a good thing, but like now what am I gonna do now? Now I’m gonna have to hustle again and grind, right? But in that hustle and in that grind, I was never worried about like where’s the next paycheck gonna come from because I got my money piece right.
You know, so I would say really look at your overall picture and say, okay, if I am really gonna pursue this career that I love, but I know it’s not gonna move me forward financially, how can I balance my time and how can I at least put some of my time into making something grow that will support this passion venture that I have. So yeah, I would say it’s really important to get your money piece right, that’s the number one thing.
Michelle: And you’re I guess are the proponent of real estate?
Kat: Yes, I’m a proponent of real estate. Yeah, from whatever it is that you… And I would say, if you look at real estate, pick a niche and just pursue it wholeheartedly, you know, right now I’ve done the passive investing, I’ve done the multi-property and being a rent landlord and renting to people but like now I’ve found that notes for me is the one thing that I actually want to really dive into. And I’ve been diving into that for the last, like, four months now, four or five months.
Michelle: Basically it’s buying mortgages or, you know, individual or portfolio on the secondary market and probably buying them at a discount and getting some beautiful cash flow going, yeah?
Kat: Yes, Definitely. You’re basically owning people’s debt and the assets, the collateral debt.
Michelle: Because we flip land and we sell it using seller financing, we are actually being loan originators or note originators in many, many cases and we have quite a bit of students that sell their notes in order to be able to have some cash or liquidity that they needed and so on and so forth. But that’s basically what Kat is talking about, it’s buying a note from someone if you’re a land investor in our land profit generator and you’re listening to this, Kat would probably buy your note.
Kat: Yeah, definitely, I’m always looking for good deals.
Michelle: Absolutely. Now, if somebody wanted to, you know, stay in contact and reach out to you, tune into the podcast, which I highly recommend, where can someone go and, you know, listen more about what you do?
Kat: For my work on just real estate and the podcasts and anything financial independence related, it’s wildlywealthylife.com, that’s the website. And for my work as a piano teacher, if anyone wants to, you know, check that out, it’s katzkeys.com, it’s katzskeys.com. And if anyone wants to check out my artist’s page, it’s iamkatmarie.com. That’s it.
Michelle: Ooh, perfect. Wonderful. So, thank you so much. And, gosh, darn it. I miss those days of seeing you because you just said that you were an aerialist, right? Or an acrobat, so you are the person that actually, you know, when you go to like a Cirque du Soleil, does all these contortions and turns into a pretzel?
Kat: I wish I was a contortionist, but I’m very flexible, but I am not contortionist-level of flexible, but yes I do hang on things and that’s something that I still do. I just haven’t trained in the last, since March because of the COVID thing. But aerialist is something that I trained to just keep in shape, and I still perform as an aerialist when things come up just because it’s a specialty skill and it’s a really good skill to have.
Michelle: Wonderful. Well, Thank you so much, Kat. It’s such a pleasure, it was… also, thank you so much for having me on you’re podcast, it was such a pleasure [inaudible 00:31:00]
Kat: Oh, my gosh. Your podcast is one of my favorites. it’s such a powerhouse podcast, I just love listening to it, it’s so awesome.
Michelle: Thank you so much, it was an honor having you here, and yeah, let’s keep in touch. Thank you so much.
Kat: Yeah. Thank you.
What are you thinking?
First off, we really love feedback, so please click here to give us a quick review in iTunes! Got any thoughts on this episode? We’d love to hear ’em too. Talk to us in the comments below.
Enjoy this podcast? Share the love!