It’s easy to look at someone like Jill Johnson and think she keeps it all together without any struggle. She’s a homeschooling mother of five, avid blogger, CrossFit enthusiast, real estate investor, and accountability coach. Whew!
But, a few years ago, her husband of 14 years died of pancreatic cancer, and she found herself as a single mom of five.
Her story is painful and powerful, full of redemption and inspiration. You don’t want to miss it! Especially the part where she tells us how she connected with a wonderful man named Joe through her real estate investments who is now her husband and loving stepdad to her kids.
Today on the InFLOW podcast, Jill tells Michelle:
- How she balances homeschooling five kids with her successful career and pursuing her passions.
- The secrets to her daily routine.
- How she and her husband incorporate financial education into their kid’s curriculum.
- How they’ve positioned themselves to thrive financially during a pandemic and beyond.
Find out more!
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- Follow Michelle Bosch on Instagram to see what she’s up to: https://www.instagram.com/michelleboschofficial
Jill would love to connect with you on social media. She blogs regularly at Life’s Never Dull, and you can find her on Facebook and Instagram. She’s also generously sharing a free ebook with my listeners. https://www.lifesneverdull.com/free-ebook/
I’m so excited to stay connected with her, and I know you will be too!
Jill: Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here.
Michelle: Wonderful. So Jill, so tell us, I am so, you know, really curious to find out how are you now with, you know, five children at home, you know, balancing that act with the real estate, with the CrossFit, with, you know, the accountability coaching? Tell us a little bit more about that because I think women when it comes to that, you know, have a full plate on both fronts, and I’m just really curious. I have one, and I’m telling you that sometimes I feel like my hands are full, so I can’t imagine five.
Jill: It’s a juggling act. I will say that. It does take a lot of planning and things like that. I am a scheduler. You know, I’ve got my schedule with me. I am so passionate about that. And one thing that I have started kind of in the last year with having all the kids, you know, homeschooling, but also running my business, but then also working in my coaching is I do a lot of time blocking. And so what that entails is I have a set time that I’m working, you know, maybe on a specific subject with the kids. And then I have a specific time that I’m working with my coaches, but then I also just try to eliminate distraction of, you know, emails and social media and things like that, where I just schedule certain times.
And my kids, thankfully, they are getting older so that makes it a lot easier. You know, I was in that stage when we started homeschooling, my oldest was six and we had, you know, baby twins, and it was a lot more all over the place. I think just different stages of your life you kind of you graduate, so-to-speak, to a little bit more balance. But I think keeping with that balance, you know, it’s getting up early, it’s getting my workouts, and it’s knowing that that part is, or my spiritual time, that that’s already done before I start with my kids or running my business.
Michelle: So wonderful. Yes. You know, I can totally relate to the time blocking, Jill. I can totally relate to the kind of like the seasons of life, you know, especially when they’re just born. I mean, there’s, you know, you’re gonna be to an 80% there for them. And eventually, you know, as they start growing up a little bit, you know, that kind of focus and attention can start shifting. And, of course, if you have support at home, well that, you know, that really allows for much more fullness in our lives, you know, especially during that time when they’re very, very young. So tell me a little bit about your background, Jill. How did you start investing in real estate? You know, so you’re a coach. You are also a blogger, you know, mom, and then how does that combine with real estate? Where did real estate find you, meet you, and how did you fall in love with it?
Jill: Yeah. So I have kind of an interesting tough story that led me to real estate. I was married for 14 years. We had five kids, and my husband got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. And so after suffering a devastating loss, he fought for 11 months and passed away, and I was left with five kids. Thankfully, financially we were really stable. You know, he had had a good job and was so smart with things. But I also knew that that was probably only gonna last a certain amount of time and I kind of needed to figure things out. And I thankfully, I had several years to figure that out. But my first taste in real estate came in the form of a hard money loan to, believe it or not, a family member. I really didn’t know it at the time, but it worked very well because it provided this income for the kids and I to be able to do, you know, extra things, and just created more cushion, so it wasn’t such a stretch for us.
And through that, to kind of make a very long story shorter. I just started to get more interested in real estate and decided I wanted to make an investment for the kids and I. Through that, I actually met my now-husband, Joe, who was also interested in the same thing. He had a construction background. And so together, we kind of thought it was kind of the perfect combination. And we actually formed a partnership and started investing in single-family homes is where we started our investments, and then quickly realized that we wanted to scale and wanted to have multi-family.
And over the last two and a half years, we’ve gone from zero doors to 58 doors. And it’s been an amazing partnership. Through all of that, we actually have gotten married, and he’s taken on, believe it or not, all six of us. So he deserves [inaudible 00:05:52]. But we’ve established just a really cool partnership together, and we really make our real estate a family affair, and that’s kind of our start.
Michelle: Wow. I, for some reason, had missed, you know, the part I am so sorry about this huge loss in your life for you and your kiddos. And it’s almost like, you know, God never forgets about you and there comes, you know, this other wonderful man now, you know, that you guys came across that, like you said, makes all six of you, you know, his now. And that is so, you know, wonderful to hear in terms of like, you know, your outlook now for your children, not that you didn’t have one because, I mean, your grit, your determination to figure things out, you know, you said after his loss, you know, is absolutely palpable based on how you just described that particular period in your life and that, and that it was accidental.
You know, your first real estate experience was really without what we call temporary cash, you know, where you have residual passive cash flow coming in. But once, you know, that note is paid off, you know, that residual cashflow ends, and I love that you could recognize that and you started going into the single-family space and now eventually into multi-family. So your current focus is multi-family. How many units usually is your sweet spot? What are you looking at?
Jill: Yeah, so our sweet spot has kind of been buying from the mom and pop. We’ve been able to, you know, someone has poured their life into this building, these departments, and we’re able to kind of come in and show them our vision, you know, show them that we wanna do much like what they’ve done with our family, with our kids. And so we have found some apartments around like the C class property and take it from a C to a B. And so that’s kind of our sweet spot. We’re anywhere from like 10 units to 19 units is kind of where we…not that we wouldn’t love to get something bigger, but that’s just kind of what we’ve been blessed with right now.
Michelle: Are you generally investing in your market or are you doing some remote prop, you know, investing as well?
Jill: Yes, our market where we live, we have three, just our… We have a duplex and a single-family, but it’s very pricey here. And so we invest…we live in Colorado, and so we invest about an hour and 15 minutes down the road. That’s where we have 31 of our doors, but then we’ve also recently, well, in the last little over a year invested in New Mexico as well. So we actually have some out-of-states properties too that, obviously, we’re hands-off with those just we have a property manager in place, and that’s kind of nice.
Michelle: Yeah, absolutely, especially when you’re not having to take, you know, the toilet calls and somebody’s picking up rent for you because I was gonna say, you know, we have 50 single-family homes as well in three different markets. And, you know, it’s a different animal than large multi-family because when we decided to go for multi-family, we actually went to the upper end 100 plus units so that we could have, you know, the cushion of a full-time leasing agent maintenance and somebody just in charge of turnovers and a first in class property management company that could cushion us from that. And we, you know, were left really with the task of the asset management, per se, you know.
So now you have a property management company in charge, but you’re still having to run them like a single-family operation, correct, where if you have, you know, an AC unit that goes bad, you’re having to call in an actual, you know, AC company versus having somebody on-premise that takes care of you guys, or because you have already 31, you have a little bit of more economies of scale and can have somebody that does, you know, that for you guys.
Jill: And that’s just what we’ve done. You know, we wouldn’t be anything without our team. We have a really great team, and even, you know, I’ll call them local, even though it is like an hour and a half down the road. Our local ones, we still have people that we can depend on. And I think that’s really important to build your team around you too. You know, we have a life. We wanna travel. We wanna do… You know, we have five kids we’re very, very busy. And if we’re at a tournament for someone’s sport, we obviously can’t drop everything and go fix whatever needs to be fixed. And so it’s just been really important to build, you know, strong people that are kind of boots on the ground for us there.
Michelle: How did you guys decide on an hour and a half? Like, what’s interesting about that market that makes you, you know, wanna go there?
Jill: So when we first started looking, I think that was our big light bulb moment because we… You kind of are only looking at you’re in your backyard. And I, you know, we were looking at it. The numbers didn’t make sense. You know, the numbers made sense if you could pay cash, but, you know, you can’t. That’s just not feasible. And so actually my husband checked into a market that was near us that we were familiar with that is larger than where we live. It had some just some more jobs and things like that. And we were looking at single family homes that we could get in. You know, one of our first ones that we bought, we bought for $85,000 and it rented for $1,300.
So numbers really worked for us, and that’s where we’ve kind of just, we always wanna run the numbers to make sure it works. And then the same has happened with New Mexico as well. Now, since then the, you know, I just think it was a God thing we got in when we did because the prices have gone up considerably where we’re at now, you know, which is great. You have that appreciation and things like that, but it is much harder to find those deals. Those deals don’t exist anymore.
Michelle: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Now, if we wanted to shift back a little bit into, you know, because even there, you know, you found yourself as a widow with your kid,s and you know that you have to figure something out. But, you know, there’s some resources there. You do your first hard money loan, you know. And so you must already be in a confidence level, you know, in handling money that is different than someone who, you know, is starting from ground zero, from the bottom up. So how did you grow up around money, Jill? And are you instilling those same values in your five kiddos right now, or was it not necessarily a great experience growing up, you know, when it came to talking about money and handling and managing money when you were growing up and now you’re doing things differently? Like how does those two compare?
Jill: Yes, that’s a really, really good question actually, because I think that is the root of a lot of different things there. I grew up, I was a farm kid, grew up on the farm. My parents both worked, so I was just around hard work my whole life. You know, when my friends were sleeping in, my dad was hollering at us to, you know, get to work. And so that was something that was instilled in me and my siblings at a very, very young age, that you work really hard. I wish that I had probably asked more questions growing up or learned a little bit more growing up because I was just under the mindset that, you know, hey, you do well in school, you go to college, you get a degree, you get a job, and, you know, that’s how it all works.
But what I didn’t know is, you know, it costs a lot of money to live. You know, I was living in Chicago when I got my first job and not really making very smart decisions. I wish I would have known to delay that instant gratification and to be more disciplined. So I think a lot of my growing up in the financial world came when I met my first husband, and I learned a lot through that, but then sadly, most of it came when I lost him. He was a financial guy. I mean, he was the CFO for his company. So I was the mom. You know, I was running the household. I was doing the groceries. I was saving money where I could, but ultimately he was managing all of that.
And then when he was gone, I had t…, I’ve read so many books. I just listened to podcasts. I just self-educated myself because I’m kind of embarrassed that I didn’t know more, but you don’t know what you don’t know, I guess. And there was just a lot that I didn’t even really understand, and I’m still learning. You know, I’m still not perfect at everything. But one thing that really that I’m very…my husband and I are both passionate about is teaching our kids the power of money and delaying some of those things that they wanna buy right now for future investments. And so we’re very open with them about what things cost. We’re very open about, you know, how to create cashflow.
We incorporate things into our curriculums even. They’re learning about the stock market and the volatility there. And that was a big education once COVID hit to see, you know, they all had stocks and to see those go down, but they saw that we were still taking in rent checks. And so we just really feel like it’s good to talk about money. And I don’t know that that generation has felt that way. So that’s something that we just wanna make sure that our kids can ask us, you know, pretty much anything. And we’re gonna be really open and honest with them because our daughter actually, she leaves for college. We got one more year with her, and so we just want her to make really, really smart decisions and to do better than I did.
Michelle: Oh, wow. So you have already, you know, college-age kids. That is amazing. You’re living my future. Like I said, I only have one. Mine is 12, but that is amazing. And so you have a college one. She’s your oldest, I’m assuming.
Jill: Turn 17. So we have one more year with her. She’s 18, and then we have a 15-year-old, we have an almost 13-year-old, and then we were blessed with twins that are 11. So yeah, we’re starting to see, “Oh my goodness. Now, we have to pay for college, now we have to do this.” And so, and we’re even teaching her, you know, one of her plans, our oldest two actually own one of our investments. They’re invested in it. And part of that is they negotiated with us to help pay for school and things like that. And so our oldest daughter wants to…her big dream is to buy a home where she goes to school and rent it out to her friends. So it’s pretty cool. Their brains work like that. And, you know, they’re so young, but they absorb so much.
Michelle: Yeah. That’s the same experience we’re getting here, you know, Sophia hearing us about, you know our two lines of businesses and acquisitions of, you know, a high dollar amount. And so she’s like,” Oh, you know, that is only $50,000.” I’m like, “No, that is not just only $50,000,” but they start getting used to, you know, big numbers and really kind of like standing on the shoulders of your capability and your confidence in dealing with money and handling with money, you know. So I can totally see an amazing future for her as a future landlord, you know, of her peers. That would have been amazing for me at age 19 to, you know, have been here and have that mindset, you know, going in and I’m having, you know, pretty much her house, an amazing asset, you know, paid for, from the rent of her roommates because probably most of her own college, you know, professors are not gonna be there, you know, at that level. And she’s coming in there already, you know, with her foot on the gas when it comes, you know, to finances. So that is fantastic. Something very interesting that you mentioned, Jill, is that, you know, they have stock. You guys are in the stock market, but also in real estate. And I have found, you know, that there’s either your a hardcore real estate person or a stock market person and trying to basically, especially when it comes to fundraising for multi-family, you know, there’s a lot of people heavily invested in stocks and that you have to incredibly educate in terms of what real estate can offer from the point of view of the appreciation benefits, of the control that you have over the asset, you know what I mean, in terms of operating it and having control over the returns versus in the stock market, you really have no control. And so how do you guys marry those two completely different worlds, you know, for yourselves and for the kids now?
Jill: Yeah, well, part of our education with the kids is, and I was mentioning the stock market, is they’ve downloaded. Like there’s an app that you can, you know, pretend money, but they have to invest in stocks. And so watching that, and then also the flip side of that, you know, we see the volatility of the market, especially now. I mean, it’s crazy, and I don’t really know enough about it to, you know, to… I would never wanna coach or anything on the stock market. It’s a different animal, but real estate, I understand. I mean, I understand longterm, like this is not a quick fix. When you’re thinking longterm investment generational wealth, I mean, that’s probably really on my heart really something that I’m passionate about because, and I know that you’ve come from having a really tough loss in your life as well with your dad, that I want that generational wealth to grow with them.
And so we tend to, yes, do we have some investments in the stock market? We do because I do like to have different avenues of income and, you know, it’s with your inflow, but it’s, if you have these little streams that come together, they make a really nice river, and that’s really a good stream that you can live off of. And but not only that but create longterm wealth.
Michelle: I love these little streams that make a river. That is a beautiful analogy. Absolutely. And let the river overflow. This is a great place for the river to overflow for sure. And normally it isn’t, but in this situation, it is. I love this metaphor. Yeah. Absolutely. Now, so, what are you excited about right now in the future? You know, what’s in store because we’ve had, you know, a crazy period of two to three months right now, you know, with the COVID crisis? And so what’s your outlook? You know, what are you excited about right now going forward in terms of opportunities, and how are you positioning yourself right now to capitalize on those?
Jill: Yeah, it has been a little scary at times. Thankfully, where we’re invested in, it has been it’s been the stable investment, you know, that it has been, and it proving that even with COVI. We’ve actually are now finding some renters for multi-family of people who are renting houses and can’t afford the house anymore. And so they’re trickling down to that, and then other people, you know, are moving into those homes. So that’s been really, really interesting. Right now, we’re actually doing, taking some time to renovate and improve our asset class. And we’re doing that a little bit in our New Mexico market, but then my husband has actually… You know, it’s been quiet, and so has a construction background. And so he’s decided he’s gonna go and keep the money, you know, keep paying himself, I guess, to renovate some of those properties. So we’ve been able to do a few units like that.
And then we’re really just trying to position ourselves paying down some debt that we have so that we can, I don’t know, the smoke kind of clears and people realize like maybe they’re in over their head. There’s gonna be opportunity, and we just want to be in a position to purchase another multi-family. I mean, it would be ultimately our goal to have a multi-family building for like each one of our children.
Michelle: Oh, that is a beautiful thing because that is, you know, and it only takes one good such investment, you know. It’s like you mentioned from, you know, my story, my dad had that one decision and that one piece of commercial property, and to this day, you know, it spits out cash. There’s nothing more passive than not physically being there and still being able to provide for your family. You know what I mean? So that would be an amazing legacy for each one of them and not just for them, but, you know, the future family tree, you know. So that would be fantastic.
I know that you mentioned already a little bit about, you know, your routine in the morning and your ritual of, you know, waking up early that came with, you know, your upbringing of growing up in a farm, but I still always love to ask, you know, on a daily basis, you know, I’m sure that permeates throughout your day. But are there any other things that you do to incorporate faith, grace, ease in your life, you know, because you know, crazy things come at us every day. And I’m wondering what are some of those things that you use that we can all learn from and, you know, test it out, try it on, see if it works, for you, and hopefully, you know, help us feel a little bit more grounded.
Jill: Yes. I would not be anywhere without my faith, without God and just leading me through such a devastating loss being left to raise five kids. So that is definitely a silver lining in all of this that my faith has grown tremendously. And I have learned that it’s not about me. It’s about Him, and He is going to provide. And so that is just something that’s been very, very neat but also extremely painful to be molded that in that way. But some things that I do is just my daily devotion and prayer time. I just make it a priority to get up each morning and start my day that way.
And then this is something else that I just find really, really helpful is actually like journaling. I did that when I lost my husband, and I wrote down everything, all my feelings. And honestly, some of that, I can’t even go back and read to this day because it’s so raw. But I feel like doing that on a daily basis just really keeps you grounded. And then I’m so big on gratitude and keeping a gratitude journal. And that’s something that I try to instill in the kids, you know. Even around the dinner table, we’re always going around picking, you know, something that we’re grateful for and, you know, maybe something that we’re struggling with, but always coming from a place of gratitude, I think it sets your day off to be grounded where it needs to be.
Michelle: Yeah, that is beautiful. We, you know, we try to also before going to bed because Sophia, you know, believe it or not, it’s more high-maintenance right now, you know, when we’re trying to get to bedtime than she was when she was a baby, but at least it’s an opportunity, you know, sometimes in the dark they are, you know, after having read a little story to chat with her and to kind of like, you know, anchor in her mind before she goes to sleep in her subconscious, you know, her top, you know, favorite highlights of the day. And which for me, it’s like, if you look for the good in your day, you know, it’s like you’re appreciating it. And with anything that you appreciate, well, it appreciates, you know. It’s like gratitude kind of like these guys, I guess by, by looking for, you know, the wonderful things or the highlights of your day for sure.
Yeah. I need to start going back to journaling. When you mentioned that I’m like, oh yeah, I used to do that, and it works so well. I stopped doing it, you know, so thank you for the gift of that reminder. Yeah, absolutely. Now, if somebody wanted to start right now in real estate, Jill, and finds themselves, you know, in a difficult, tough situation with their back against the wall, you know, what would be one piece of advice that you would give to a woman right now that wants to basically get back on track?
Jill: Yeah, that’s such a good point to make. I think finding if they… You know, if it was one piece of advice, I would say, find a mentor. Find a coach that can help you really hone in on where you need to work, and what you need to do because I think sometimes we just can’t see it for ourselves, and it just takes somebody removed to take a look to say, “Why don’t you try this? Why don’t you try that?” And then also I just find the accountability piece is huge. When you know that you have to check in with somebody or that someone cares and it [inaudible 00:28:43], we do things so much differently. We actually commit to things, and we make things happen.
And so I think finding someone who’s where you are, or excuse me, who’s where you want to be it’s so huge. And that’s…you’re passionate about it. I’m passionate about it, helping other women to just elevate their thinking and elevate their life. There’s so much that we can do that we don’t even realize. Those limiting beliefs can just be devastating to us sometimes. And so getting those out of the way so that we can actually soar.
Michelle: That is beautiful. Yes, I am a 100% believer of mentoring, of coaching. You know, Jack and I, we both eat our own cooking. We don’t just offer coaching, but, you know, we are incredibly coachable. We set aside every year, you know, anywhere between $50,000 to $80,000 worth of, you know, education, basically, you know, budget aside to make sure that we are always at not just the cutting edge when it comes to real estate, but in terms of mindset and the peer and caliber of people that we surround ourselves with because, you know, those people don’t just fall from the sky and move next door. You actually have to seek them out, you know, and be around, you know, people that are already living where you wanna go, exactly what you just said. Absolutely. For us, it has been, we learned actually that, Jill, the hard way in that, you know, for the first several years we did this on our own, you know, without coaches, and it took so much longer.
And it was almost like a constant struggle and really forceful expansion versus a much more harmonious way to do it because, you know, when you mentor with someone or coach with someone, they’re big-time collapsers, and time equals money, and time equals freedom to spend time with family, to travel, to, you know, go visit your beach house to, you know what I mean? So it’s such a time collapser. You know, and if you find someone that, you know, aligns with your values that has… If you’re learning a new strategy, you know what I mean, that has a right strategy, a superior strategy, a superior approach, I mean, you’re in for quantum leaps versus incremental, you know, growth that takes years, you know. So I’m totally, totally on board with that. Jill, if anyone wanted to learn more about, you know, your coaching, your accountability, get in touch with you, where can anyone go?
Jill: Yes. Thank you. I actually write a blog called Life’s Never Dull, lifesneverdull.com, and then it’s also Life’s Never Dull on all the social media handles. And I’m super… I’m an open book. I love…I’m super passionate about helping other women. So if they wanted to look me up, that’d be awesome. And I also can offer a free eBook on goal-setting as well. So I can give you that link to put in your show notes as well.
Michelle: Okay, wonderful. That would be fantastic. Thank you so much, Jill. It has been, you know, such an honor to have you here today, you know, on, ”In Flow” and to really get to know you. And I am walking away right now, you know, from our, you know, 30 minutes, very well lived, absolutely inspired by your grid, your determination, you know, your outlook, your optimism, just the light that, you know, you’re now you’re instilling in your children and so beautiful. Thank you so, so very much.
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