Passive income pays our bills — heres what we spend in a typical week

  • Chad and Kari Carson live in Clemson, South Carolina, with their two daughters.
  • The Carsons are entrepreneurs and real-estate investors. They earn between $100,000 and $150,000 a year.
  • Their real-estate investments generate enough passive income to cover their annual expenses of about $60,000. This steady income allowed them to spend about 17 months living in Ecuador; they returned home about a year ago.
  • For Business Insider’s “Real Money” series, Carson tracked his family’s spending during a typical week. They spent about $940 on after-school activities, groceries, and a birthday celebration.
  • Want to share a week of your spending? Email yourmoney@businessinsider.com.

Passive real-estate income didn’t pay for our lifestyle overnight. In fact, it was a feast or famine struggle for many years — including the 2008-2009 recession.

But 15 years after graduating from college, my wife and I, along with our two kids (5 and 3 years old at the time), found ourselves on a plane with one-way tickets to Cuenca, Ecuador

Our personal house was rented out in Clemson, South Carolina. Most of our stuff was sold or stored. And we had enough rental income from a portfolio of properties to cover basic living expenses indefinitely (especially with lower cost of living in Ecuador). 

This experience living abroad began a new era of financial independence and incredible flexibility for our family.

About two years later, we returned to the United States and our home in Clemson. The rental income did indeed pay for our living expenses (and then some). And we all became more or less fluent in Spanish (although my daughters enjoy correcting my gringo accent and vocabulary mistakes!).  

Getting out of the normal work-and-spend grind allowed us to prioritize what mattered to us. We exercised daily. We ate more nutritious, home-cooked meals. We learned something new, just for the fun of it. And we spent a lot more time with family and friends. 

Financial independence also gave me time to follow my passion of writing a book and teaching real-estate lessons on my podcast, YouTube channel, and blog.

And my wife Kari built on her passion of teaching English and Spanish. But instead of university teaching with red tape, drama, and meetings, she taught private lessons on her schedule. And she was able to offer her services to whomever needed it the most, whether they had enough money or not. 

We returned to the US about a year ago and life is still moving at a reasonable pace. But we’re not completely set for life.

For one, exorbitant health insurance costs forced us to recalibrate our budget. We pay almost $1,300 a month (and rising!) for an unsubsidized Obamacare Plan with a deductible of $6,300 per person and $12,600 for the family. But even at a high cost, we’re thankful for insurance that doesn’t exclude preexisting conditions.

And we still have financial goals to improve our rental property cash flow, pay off more real-estate investing debt, and improve our margin of safety. 

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