Educating Your Way To Financial Freedom: Next Level Income With Chris Larsen

Episode 503: Educating Your Way To Financial Freedom: Next Level Income With Chris Larsen

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REIS 503 | Financial Freedom


What does it take to reach financial freedom, to reach next level income? Our guest knows the secret, and he’s willing to share it with everyone. In this episode, Mitch Stephen sits down with the founder and Managing Partner of Next-Level Income, Chris Larsen. Chris breaks down the things you need to know if you crave financial freedom and want to reach that goal. Tune in to this rewarding and informative episode and learn how to reach the holy grail of success.

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I’m here with Chris Larsen. He is in Asheville, North Carolina. We’re going to be talking about what it takes to get to some of these pinnacles that so many people are trying to get to. He has a book out called Next-Level Income. There is always another level.

If you’re always chasing it, you’re probably never going to be happy.

There’s always something else to learn. I would also like to thank LiveComm.com for sponsoring this episode. It’s all about lead generation and mass texting for pennies. It gets people to identify themselves. You capture their cell phone number and then you can move your product towards them in the form of texts. It’s $0.02 per person, per recipient.

It’s pretty unique and very inexpensive advertising strategies once you know they’re out there. I have averaged four days on the market in my last 250 houses. I don’t put any signs in my yard. I do it all with LiveComm and a few little social media things that are free. Check out LiveComm. If you go there and watch the video on the homepage, you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s just a glimpse.

If you're always chasing the next level, you're probably never going to be happy. Share on X

I’m going to check it out.

It’s pretty cool. I had to invent it myself. It’s not a new concept to capture cell phone numbers. They didn’t have features that I wanted that were needed to be automated and easy like a hello message. After someone hangs up, they get a text automatically and it says whatever I wanted to say. If they’ve called on a house for sale number, it’s driving everyone to my social media page on Facebook in my business page saying, “If you want to see all my inventory, go over there.” That’s what the text automatically does.

I transfer these people that call me. I get them over to follow or like my site. I have 8,000 people following me. At 3,000 people, I started only having four days on the market. At 5,000, 6,000 and 7,000 people, I was still four days on the market but I was not getting 10% down anymore. I was able to find people that wanted to pay 15% down.

Technology, I can’t live without it half the time. I don’t even know if there was a computer in my school when I graduated. I’ve been chasing this technology bus about 10 feet behind it for my whole life but I caught onto a few things. Why real estate? How did you get into it? How long have you been in it? Give us a little background.

I wish I could say I’ve been in real estateas long as you’ve done some of your exploits. I’ve been in it for years. I bought my first property at 21. I think you were 23, if I recall or something like that.

I was right around 21, 22 or 23 years old.

You need to associate with people that have an abundance mindset that knows that success is out there. Share on X

We got that in common. I spent eighteen years in the medical device industry and people say, “Chris, when did you start doing real estate?” I left the medical device industry and I do this full-time. I said, “I started it before I did anything, except for racing my bike.” I did that for years on and off but I didn’t have a lot of money. I had to go find something to do to generate some capital to invest, Mitch.

I was in college. I bought my first property at age 21. I built up a small portfolio and had a simple plan. I thought, “If I make enough money and have a nice six-figure career, I’ll pay these properties off in ten years. $10,000 a month coming in after expenses, I’ll be free.” I got about ten years down that path. It took five years to build them up. I was ten years into the whole plan, which you say was going to take me fifteen years. I realized that I wasn’t getting the kind of returns that I could be getting.

I moved from single-family into commercial. I started investing in multifamily properties. As we expanded, what we do is syndicate the deal. We’re bringing in investors alongside us to buy apartments, self-storage units, which I know you’re a fan of, mobile home parks, as well as a couple of other things. I’m fortunate that the income that I’ve generated passively over the years had given me the freedom to be able to leave my role in the corporate world when I wanted to. I had a lot of fun while I did it but it got to the point where the ability to go out and help other people shortcut the path to success, doing what I’m doing outweighed the benefit of staying in that role.

Why do you think it takes people so long? Some people never get it.

REIS 503 | Financial Freedom

Financial Freedom: If you’re an athlete, if you’ve ever gone after a big goal, you know that it takes time. You don’t go for one run and jump up the next day and do a marathon.


There are a couple of things and I felt this way too. If you’re reading, you might be shaking your head up and down. I thought like, “I had to figure it out myself.” I didn’t seek help and a mentor for too long. It was almost like I was afraid. I was learning these secrets. I didn’t want to share them with other people because I had a scarcity mindset. The number one thing I tell people is, “You need to have an abundance mindset. You need to associate with people that have an abundance mindset that knows that success is out there, that there are enough deals out there for everybody and that wealth is out there for everyone.”

It bothers me and grinds at me when I hear people pit different classes against one another because when people say, “This guy is not paying any taxes,” instead of saying, “What a jerk,” I say, “Why is that? What did he figure out that I didn’t know?” If you have the right mindset and look for the right people to associate with the right help, you can follow that path.

The other piece is that people lose focus. I came up with my plan when I was 21 years old and I stuck to that plan. If you’re an athlete or if you’ve ever gone after a big goal, you know that it takes time. You don’t go for one run, jump up the next day and do a marathon unless you’re David Goggins, who got to run 100 miles on no training. You set out a plan and that plan takes time, sometimes years.

We finished the Olympics. It takes years for these athletes to get to the point to not only reach an elite level of success but also to qualify for the Olympics and ultimately get to the pinnacle of success. I was like the higher athletes when I was in a managerial role because I know they know what delayed gratification is. Those are three things. You need help, people with knowledge that can help you out, a long-term plan, dedication and probably a little bit of sacrifice along the way.

There are enough deals out there for everybody. That wealth is out there for everyone. Share on X

I made the same mistake you did. I didn’t get help fast enough. It’s not the kind of help I needed. I didn’t know what was out there. I was talking to a banker. He got hired by some people that opened up a bank but he was a banker who had been in this town for years. He had been face-to-face with the customers and had relationships with all the people. He had a team of people that knew how to get loans through under him. It wasn’t good enough.

He got hired by this bank. He is doing big guns. They want to replicate it in Austin and Dallas. They’re bringing people from the outside, moving them to Austin and then they’re wondering why it doesn’t work. First of all, the guy didn’t know anybody in Austin. You just put him in there. He is supposed to go get loans. Second of all, he didn’t have a team or there’s no team together to even get anything through. Having the network, team and education are all tied together like this.

It’s whether you’re an athlete, whether we’re talking about real estate or being a professional. You look at the way doctors, surgeons and pilots train. Any of these individuals go out and get a base level of knowledge. They have a mentor. They have somebody that sits with them that teaches them. Ultimately, they have a long-term plan and that’s how they end up being successful over a long period of time.

What did you start with? What did you end up with?

I started with single-family homes. I’m trying to remember the name of the book.

Fix and flip or buy and hold or what?

I’ve read all those, Robert Allen, buy and hold. It was an older gentleman. It was buy and hold. You buy a property. You pay off the properties over a period of time or you sell one and pay off another. I was like, “That’s pretty simple. I can do that. I can figure that out.” Real estate is a get-rich slogan. If you got patience and the equity builds, eventually you can leverage that equity into other things.

It took me a long time. A lot of people didn’t see me saving my paychecks, sitting there and paying down those mortgages but then people were surprised. They were like, “Where did you get all this money all of a sudden?” It has been years since I bought that first property here. That was my first inspiration. As I opened my mind, I started to pay for coaching and go to masterminds. What’s interesting is a lot of those masterminds, I didn’t think they were worth it but the connections I made within them were worth it.

One of those meetings that I was at, I was with my wife. She was starting out on her career. She is an architect. She was starting her business. I was talking to somebody on the side about, “It was a pain in the butt to manage my single-family rentals.” He said, “You should look into multifamily. I got a friend that syndicates deals. You don’t have to deal with all the management. You’re working 80 hours a week as a med device professional. You should talk to him.” I was like, “It’s the same thing but I’ll talk to him. Sure.”

I talked about this in my book, Mitch. I found something that was more passive, more scalable, had better returns and had better tax benefits. That’s what I call multifamily, the Holy Grail in my book. We ruled everything out of those single-family homes. We moved them all into commercial real estate. What we focus on mostly is multifamily and self-storage. We have some commercial offices as well as mobile home parks that we focus on. All of that together provides a nice buffer across asset classes, markets, different financial fluctuations and economic circumstances.

Did you all catch the seminars in the get-rich weekends with the top gurus out there? You can learn a lot from the guy on the stage but remember he is selling. You’ll learn as much or more in the hallways during breaks, lunches, dinners or evening get-togethers at the pub or bar. There’s a lot to be learned there. Sometimes you learn more out there than you do on the inside because the inside is painting the rosy picture.

REIS 503 | Financial Freedom

Financial Freedom: You need help. You need people with knowledge that can help you out. You need a long-term plan and then you need dedication and probably a little bit of sacrifice along the way.


When you get to talk to the people that have been doing it and following this guy or this program for a long time ago, they go, “That’s all great but you better watch out for this because this is what will sneak up and get you.” “I know because I’ve been doing it.” You say, “Okay.” That’s what my book was about, My Life & 1,000 Houses: Failing Forward to Financial Freedom. It’s what happened after the get-rich-quick seminar. This is what happened. They showed me a bunch of big-ass fat checks, some dancing girls, some fancy cars, a boat and a jet but they didn’t tell me about these bastards that tear my house up, take out my copper and all that crap.

That’s the thing. A lot of people are not willing to go through the speed bumps along the way, Mitch. That’s why the network is so important. I tell people, “College is the same reason. You can get a college education from a book. You can get it online but it’s what you do outside of class.” Any of these classes you go to whether you’re going to a university or a seminar to learn about real estate, make those connections. Have those people along the way that we talked about have that abundance mindset and stick to it.

We have short-term rentals and people were like, “I would never want to deal with all those headaches.” I was like, “Ninety-five percent of the time, it’s not a big deal.” We were out of town. The water heater blows up. It’s a brand-new water heater. We solved and fixed it. It was not a big deal. We were at the beach for a couple of days and somebody was keeping an eye on things. Was it worth thousands of dollars a month that that unit brings them? Yes, it was worth a couple of hours of time.

People say this to me all the time about my seller finance deals. “I don’t want to go through a foreclosure. Isn’t foreclosure a pain in the ass?” I said, “Yes. Let me show you what a pain in the ass it is. Here, I’m calling my lawyer. ‘How are you doing? In 123 Main Street, put them in foreclosure. They’re emailing you the docs. Call me when you have the keys.'” It’s done.

If you don't have financial freedom, you really can't live your best life. You have to have money to make things happen. Share on X

If you got the right team in place, you let them handle those things. My wife is like, “We got to pay this plumber for an emergency visit.” He came over and had it done by the next morning. He did it that evening. 10:00 at night it’s done. The hot water is back and ready to go. We got home and took it out. I never even saw the guy.

I love it when people complain about the emergency plumber visit but they don’t complain about the emergency appreciation they got in 2020.

It’s a business. All of this if you look at it through a business lens, if you don’t want to deal with that, go collect a paycheck and complain about not having financial freedom. That’s going to be your choice.

You have a set of problems either way you go. You might as well pick the one that has the biggest upside or that could potentially have the biggest upside because you’re not going to be happy with that job forever. All it takes is one management change and you’re toast.

Was it Robert Kiyosaki that said, “I want seven-figure problems?” I forget who it was. You can have little or big problems but if you don’t have problems, have some big money problems.

After all, isn’t it what we get paid for? No matter what your job or your entrepreneurial is, you get paid to solve problems. If you don’t want to solve problems, it’s probably going to be hard to make any money.

I used to tell my reps. They complain, “I got to deal with this and that.” I said, “If there were no problems, you would have no job.” We would send stuff in. They would send us the money. I was like, “We wouldn’t have you.” That was always the last conversation about that thing.

Tell me about the book. What’s the book about?

I start it out like the way I started the podcast. My marketing lead said, “You should start a podcast.” I processed it like, “Yeah.” I wasn’t looking at it from a marketing perspective. On your website, Mitch, I thought, “How can we provide more value?” What I realized was after a few years of syndicating deals and bringing investors, as people found out what I did, I would get phone calls. “Chris, what would you do in this situation? How do I do what you did?” I have a phone call here and an email there. The next week, it would be a phone call and an email. The week after, it would be 2 phone calls and 2 emails.

After about a year, every day was the same stuff. I would have four emails and I thought, “This is silly. Why can’t we curate this information?” The podcast started out to curate information. It started out as an eBook to one, tell my story and then two, help people shortcut through success. When I went from the eBook to the hard copy, I added chapter three, which is called Your Opportunity Fund. I added that because it talks about the strategy that I use for high-cash value life insurance. We have an approach called the Investment Optimizer. It’s what the rich do. It’s like a private pension fund and a Roth IRA for rich people.

We put that in there because people said, “Chris, what do you do for insurance? What do you do with your money in between deals?” It’s a step-by-step process about how we do multifamily deals. It’s a process of how I set up my financial structure in a very simple way that you can go through and understand. It’s designed to be read on a plain rhyme so you can read it in about an hour and a half. You can read it on the weekend. This is what happens when an engineer writes a book but it also tells a little bit about my story.

My father died when I was five. I raced bicycles. My best friend, racing bicycles, died. When he was 18, I was 19 years old. I wanted to be a professional cyclist, Mitch. That’s all I wanted to do. I went to college for Engineering. I didn’t want to be an engineer. I knew that two weeks into the program. I quit racing. It was a real step back in time but I did know that I wanted to live every day to its fullest extent. I felt that racing bikes didn’t do that. I wanted to honor the life I was given but also honor my friend’s life that he didn’t have anymore.

The real reason I became an investor is that in this world if you don’t have financial freedom, you can’t live your best life. You have to have money to make things happen. If you can write a check for a problem, that problem doesn’t exist for you. It’s like we were talking about the plumber. I wrote the check. The problem goes away. If you want to help out with affordable housing, you can make a policy and do all that. If you can write somebody a check and buy them a house, you can buy a new car. That problem goes away.

If you can travel across the country or get a second passport during all these things that are going on, your problems go away. When people are financially independent, they can spend less time worrying, arguing and fighting with their spouse over money and devote more time to their children and passions. When you are focused on helping other people, I believe that you become your best self. That’s the ultimate reason why I shared my story.

One of my mentors was much my senior. He said, “The only thing money will buy you is freedom of movement. It allows you to be where you want to be as long as you want to be how you want to be but it won’t buy you happiness.” It will get you where you want to be but you got to make the most of it after that.

REIS 503 | Financial Freedom

Financial Freedom: You’ve got to realize that, whatever you want to do in life, if you have money to do it and those connections, then that’s going to allow you to achieve more.


People think that like, “When I do this, I’ll be happy. When I buy this car, I’ll be happy. When I meet this person, I’ll be happy. When I get this new job, I’ll be happy. When I get this new paycheck, I’m worth this amount of money, I’ll be happy.” That’s the worst thing that you can think, in my opinion. You have to be happy before you’re successful. When you’re confident in yourself that you’re the best person that you can be, everything else falls into place after that, I believe.

One of the most traumatic days I had was when I looked up one day and I was worth more than I ever dreamt I would be worth. I realized the problem that I have couldn’t do anything about it. I read a book called The Millionaire Next Door. At that time, my wife and I were having some issues mostly because I was a red-ass entrepreneur and she was a bird in a bird’s nest holding it all together. She is not an entrepreneur. I dragged her kicking and screaming like a cable man by the back of her hair into entrepreneurialism.

The Millionaire Next Door tells you where you’re at in the world. It tells you to like, “How long does a millionaire own a watch? How much does he spend on it? How much does he spend on a car? How long does he keep the car? What’s his average time in a house? How long is he married?” It was everything about the average millionaire, which you probably wouldn’t recognize. You won’t recognize them from the outside. They’re not flamboyant in all this stuff.

If you make over $250,000 a year, you’re in the top 3% of the world. I thought, “I’m way past that so I must be in the 1% of the world.” I looked at my wife. I said, “According to this book, we’re in the top 1% of the world.” If we’re not happy, it has nothing to do with how much money we’re making. That was a real revelation for me like, “I had the money and I couldn’t figure it. It wasn’t going to solve the problem at all.” It ended up in my brother’s death. That’s what I’m saying. Not to bring a bummer to the conversation but I’m saying it’s out of control with the money. It’s easy for people who already made it to say, “It’s not all about the money.” When you’re down there, it is all about the money. For a while, it’s all about the money. It’s about every damn penny.”

Don’t get me wrong as I started out saying like, “You need money and financial independence in this world.” I believe that. You’ve got to set out to get to a point where you can be financially independent. I was listening to a podcast on my drive back home. It was talking about, “Ninety-five percent of 65-year-olds are not financially independent.” You get to 65. You’re supposed to be in “retirement age.” Ninety-five percent are not financially independent.

In this country we live in, I believe that everybody can achieve financial independence no matter what it is. You need money when you’re out there. You should go out. The other thing is if you go out and you’re solving problems, if you’re creating value for people, you’re worth something. If you go create a lot of value, I tell my boys this, “Boys, if you want to make money, it’s very simple. Help out people. The more people you help, the more money you can make.”

If you look at Amazon, the jobs that are created and the service that’s provided touch billions of people. It helps a lot of people. They don’t have to make a lot of money off of each individual person but they help out a lot of people every day and do that. You got to have a bigger mindset. You got to look for help, set your sights on that and realize that whatever you want to do in life, if you have money to do it and those connections then that’s going to allow you to achieve more.

Being financially free, your first commitment is to replace whatever it is you’re making at your job. Not necessarily what you’re making at your job but what you need to live a basic life. Add up all your bills and liabilities. What do you get to have? You got to have some food, water, gas to put in your tank, car, insurance, the basic crap and then figure out what that is. That’s your freedom number. Once you have that amount of money coming into your mailbox every month then you don’t need a job.

It’s important because the day that you don’t need a job is the day that you free up 2,600 hours a year to figure out what your purpose is and what you want to do to live in your passion and become the very best you can. Two thousand six hundred hours a year is a lot of time. If you think about it, in less than five years, you’ll have your 10,000 hours if you stayed focused on the one thing you want to be great at. Call it five years to be the greatest in the world at whatever it is you’re studying. I got grandkids talking about going to college. I’m like, “Are you sure? Are you going to be a doctor, lawyer or what? That’s a lot of money. I don’t know what they’re teaching you.”

You have to be happy before you're successful. You have to be happy and confident in yourself that you're the best person that you can be. Share on X

I’m glad you brought that up, Mitch because I’ve been having this conversation for years. Years ago, it didn’t make financial sense for the average student, in my opinion, to go to college. I’m not saying it doesn’t make sense to go to college but you need to understand what an ROI is, what the Return On Investment is when you go to college.

I chose to be an engineer instead of going, “I want to be a sports physiologist.” That was what was interesting to me but if I looked at the numbers, I was like, “I’m going to make half what I would as an engineer if I become a sports physiologist so that’s not as valuable.” I’m paying the exact same amount of money. I was going to pay more because I got in-state tuition for being an engineer at Virginia Tech where I went.

That’s what I tell my boys. They were like, “Will I go to college, dad?” I was like, “You don’t have to go to college. I hope you do. I hope you make that choice if it makes financial sense for you.” If you’re going to be a doctor, professional, engineer or architect like my wife, the payoff is probably worth it. If you’re going to go and be a philosophy major, no disrespect to anybody that’s reading that’s a Philosophy major, Art major or History major. Does it make sense to spend $200,000 on an education debt? Are you going to get the payoff?

I remember having a conversation with a trainer who went to school. He goes, “Everybody is better off that goes to college.” We were having a conversation and the woman on the other side of the room was talking about how student debt had destroyed her life. I pointed at her and said, “Do you think she is better off?” She is telling you the story of horror about how her life has been destroyed by the situation.

I said, “What if you took that $100,000 you spent on your education? You became a trainer and invest that in your business. Would you be better off financially?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “You have two examples right here in front of you of people that would have been better off not going to college and you could always go back.”

I have a high school education. I got doctors and lawyers that look at me with envy, not because of the amount of money, although it could be enviable. It’s the time. They don’t make any money unless they’re doing surgery.

I work with surgeons almost every day for my entire career. The average age of these surgeons coming out of fellowship is almost 35 years old and they have hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. College and education are wonderful. The network you develop and create there can be amazing but we, as parents or grandparents, have to be able to teach our children how to understand what the return on that investment is. It’s not just the money as you so eloquently put it. It’s the time. If you can spend those 4, 5 years or whatever it is that you’re in school, develop a skill and have that money in the bank, you very may well be ahead of where you would have been.

How we got in this conversation was you said, “Education doesn’t stop as soon as the formal education ends.” I started getting smart after the formal education ended because it mattered to me. If you pay $10,000 for someone for a mentor for five weeks and you’re going out there trying to buy houses, you can pretty much give yourself a grade by, “Did I make my $10,000 back or not? How much did I make in my $10,000 back? Did I make $20,000 off the $10,000 I invested?” That would be like a AAA plus that you made. You get to figure it out. You can get paid as you learn. It goes out but it should come back in throughout the education, plus with the internet and the way things are.

I had heard someone say this to me. Tell me what you think. Let’s pick any subject. Let’s pick the Civil War. They said, “If you took a whole library full of books about the Civil War and you dump them in your backyard and every morning, you went up on the roof and you dove off into the pot. You pull out any book and then open it to any page and read for 30 minutes. If you did it every day for a year, you’d be at worlds of 40 on the Civil War if you had any retention whatsoever.”

That made an impression on me because that means you can become an expert in anything you want. Whether the world will accept you if you don’t have the certificate, I get it but if the answer is no then you probably don’t need it. You can get someone to train you to do whatever you want to do. There are plumbers out there making $150 an hour. The heating and AC guys with an extra crew are making $300 an hour.

That’s the thing. We need more sales, entrepreneurship, independent thinkers and critical thinkers. If you’re marching lockstep with what the traditional education teaches you like, “I’m going to save, retire and put money in a 401(k),” that’s how poor people think. Listen to Dave Ramsey. Payoff your debt, stick to your W-2 job, tell your kids to go to college, save up money and pay for their college. If you want to do what rich people do, learn about entrepreneurship.

Do what Mitch Stephen did. Forget Dave Ramsey. Come over to my house. I’ll show you how to buy houses with your credit cards. You’ll have a massive credit card debt but you’ll own millions of real estate. Dave Ramsey would roll over in his grave. My wife did. Everybody else did but it made sense to me. I knew I was buying a house where it’s 60 for 30. I didn’t care where I got the money. I wasn’t going to have it for 60 days. It didn’t matter. You’re talking about syndication. It sounds complicated. It’s complicated but there are places you can go. How long do you think it takes a person to learn about apartment syndication if they buckled down and decide, “This year, I’m fully focused on that.”

It depends. How long does it take to learn about it? You can learn about it in a few months. If you set off and work hard from start to finish, you can get a deal done in a year. With the right help doing that, you can have a thriving business. We crossed five years and done about fifteen deals. It’s hundreds of millions of dollars, five years into syndication. There’s a great saying, “If other people are unwilling to do it for two years, you can do whatever you want to do for the rest of your life.”

If you dedicate two years to something in terms of education, going out, working with a mentor, getting your first couple of deals done or if their houses are smaller deals that might be a couple of dozen deals during that period of time, that two years in almost anything you do creates the momentum for the initial portion of those 10,000 hours. If you run that out for another 3 to 5 years, you should be very successful.

If you’re reading and you’re like, “What’s syndication?” It’s simply partnering with a group of investors. I was talking to an investor. He said, “Why do you need me?” I said, “We can’t do what we do without our team of investors.” He goes, “We need you for the deal flow and understanding it.” I said, “That’s right. We all work together.” You can’t have deals without money. You can’t make money without deals.

It doesn’t do any good to have any money and not have any place to put it. You need management because the guy with the money and the guy that finds the deal is not necessarily the best manager.

Syndication, if you think of it, would be no different than if you and I partnered together. We went and bought a house together. We owned it 50/50. We could bring in a manager to do that and make it a little bit more complicated. You take those two people and say, “We’re going to do 200 people. By the way, the 198 that are in us don’t want to manage it and deal with the headaches. They’re just going to be the limited partners and the passive investors in the deal.”

You have two layers essentially in the structure. You have the general partners who are the operating partners that are managing the deal and then you have the limited partners who are the passive investors. They’re the ones that get to have all the fun because they get paid first. They don’t have to do the work on the front end. They put their money up on the front end.

The general partners put their time, effort and risk up on the front end. They put their money in. If the deal doesn’t work out on the front end, they don’t get their money back and then they get paid on the backend. That’s what being an entrepreneur is. That’s what syndication is. It’s putting together the general partners with the limited partners and then working together as a team to get that deal done. Ultimately, if it all works well, everybody profits in the end.

It’s no different than the Parcheesi game. You got to get in and learn the freaking rules.

I always joked. I said, “That’s why if you look at the cover of my book, it’s a monopoly.” Life is a game. You wouldn’t play poker, Parcheesi or even soccer without knowing the rules. You would lose but people don’t learn the rules of money. They don’t learn about taxes, lending, leverage, finance and the rules that the rich play. They ultimately lose the game with money because they don’t understand it.

REIS 503 | Financial Freedom

Financial Freedom: If you can spend those five years, four years, five years, whatever it is that you’re in school and develop a skill and have that money in the bank, you very may well be, be ahead of where you would have been.


It’s what Kiyosaki said. When I say it all the time, people go, “What does it take to make that much money?” I said, “First of all, you got to study how money works and how people with money worked. You got to figure out the relationship between money and why these guys are wealthy.” When was the last time you sit down at dinner and by the time the dishes were all put up, you’re still talking about the same thing, which was, “How do we grow our money?” In my house, that’s how it works. We start talking about money when I walk in the door and we probably don’t end. Some people go, “We don’t talk money at the dinner table like a Kiyosaki.” You guys are broke.

We were vague in some areas because I do think that certain privacy is important but one of my son’s friends said, “Are you rich?” I said, “Yes. You’re rich too if you look at the world. You need to think differently.” That’s what I was trying to tell the boy. I’m not going to tell them exactly how much money I make or am worth and all those sorts of things but my boys are comfortable talking about money. They know what investing is. They’re 9 and 11. We started Roth IRAs for them. They started working for us multiple years ago when they were capable of doing the tasks so we could compensate them for.

The IRS says, “If you’re about eight years old and they’re reasonable tasks, you can pay somebody that’s eight years old a reasonable task to do that.” My boys can clean our Airbnbs, for instance. They can wash our cars for our business. There are a lot of things that your children can do and help out. They’re learning to manage our short-term rentals. Short-term rental managers charge about 25% in this market. If you’re bringing in $2,000 a month, that’s $500 that the manager gets. That’s a pretty good skill for my teenage son to be able to learn. If he can manage our own portfolio, he’s going to be making hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a month.

They have a lot better skills than the one I was at. I was baling hay. Where was the future in that?

I came from farmers on both sides, Mitch.

I learned how to sweat and avoid rattlesnakes. That’s all I got on the whole thing five summers in a row dying. I also learned what heat stroke feels like. It’s good that you talk to your kids. We’re all a part of the environment. Have you ever noticed professional athletes? Their sons are top-ranked players. Muhammad Ali’s daughter was a girl and a boxer. Isn’t it funny how that works? Imagine if you took an interest in your kids’ finances and their understanding of finances early on, what a monster the kid would be.

I wish someone would have talked to me about it. I didn’t find my ass with both hands until I was 34. From 18 to 34, I was a bust-ass worker. I was trying. It’s just no one ever told me anything. I was learning everything the long and hard way. It was hard and demoralizing. Sometimes I would sit down and check out for six months and then I would go, “Here we go again. I’ll start another business.” It’s not working.

One of the things we did here locally is we started a financial literacy program with one of the local nonprofits that work with busy underprivileged minorities. These kids don’t know how to start a checking account. The problem is we’re working with this group that is “underprivileged” but the average American doesn’t have the same thing as well. The best thing that we could do is to introduce financial literacy into the classroom because even your teachers don’t understand that. What we found was even the adults were coming in, sitting in the back of the room, listening, taking notes and trying to figure out some of the things that we were doing. That’s why I value what you’re doing, Mitch. Sharing this with people is so important. If there was something I can do to help you out, feel free to reach out.

Go ahead and get a copy of Chris’s book. It’s all about, “Make it. Keep it. Grow it.” It’s called Next-Level Income. Go to http://www.1000Houses.com/nextlevel. It’s a digitally downloaded book.

You’ve got three options. You can download the eBook, a copy of our audiobook for free or if you put your address in, I’ll send you a copy for free if you live in the United States.

What a nice guy. You’re going to pay to send one for free to somebody. That’s cool. I like that a lot. Check it out. You’ve got nothing to lose. You can get a free book to put on your shelf or you can get it and start reading in a few seconds. I would like to thank you for taking the time to come on, Chris. I know you’re a busy guy and you certainly got other things to do. I appreciate you coming on. Anything you want to say to the new up-and-comer before we go?

Don’t give up. Find somebody that has exhibited the success that you want to have and then don’t be afraid to reach out to that person. What I’ve found over the years, Mitch is that those people that have achieved that are more than happy to share that story. They would love to help you reach your next level. If I can help you do that, feel free to reach out to me as well.

I’ll tell you a little secret. I’m not from Nashville and not a professional songwriter for a living. I found it hard sometimes to get close to the writers that I wanted to write with. They’re very successful writers but I found if I offer to pay them a mentoring fee, I could talk to them and co-write with them all I wanted. There you are, writing with some of the best in the world. I hate it when people say, “Let me buy you lunch so I can rack your brain.” It’s an insult like, “Do you want to buy me two eggs, some bacon and then you want to get what’s in here out? That’s not equitable.”

We’re wrapping up but this is a great point. What I found was when I was giving away my time for free, helping people out, it didn’t work very well. No one did anything. I started a coaching program. I started saying, “This is what I charge.” My students are getting better results. I’m more dedicated. I’m producing more content. I’m also thinking bigger. We have mini-masterminds every month where we get everybody together. The network is growing. If you ask for that value and you have to provide that value, it works much better both ways. If you got somebody that is a busy person, say, “I would love to hire you as my coach or consultant.” I’ve never had somebody turn me down when they did that.

If you go out and you're solving problems, if you're creating value for people, you are worth something. Share on X

I had to start charging. I’m not a millhouse. I don’t take a lot of people. I do a pretty big interview like 40 to 45 minutes before I’ll even take anyone’s money because I’m not in it for the money. I got enough but if I don’t charge then I don’t end up getting what I am in it for. What I am in it for is the emotional gratification of changing someone’s life and helping them go to a different place where they can experience more of what I’m experiencing. That’s my higher power. My higher reason is to get that. When I wasn’t charging, I was spending way too many hours and no one was doing a damn thing.

When I started charging $25,000 for my services, the people that came were serious. When they wrote the check, they were committed. I’m happy to say because of all that, they saw that $25,000 come back plus more. That’s what the interview is about. It’s to say, “Do I feel like I got what it takes to coach, whatever this is in front of me, enough to get that $25,000 back and more?” If the answer is no, I don’t take the deal. We’ll do my Tuesday night calls, $3,500 for the year. If I can’t make you $3,500 in 12 months, I’ll kiss your ass.

Some people pay more than that for that same service. I don’t know much about that world. I’m happily married for years. That’s not an error.

My point is if you want to talk about syndication, don’t call me. That’s not what I do. I buy and sell with seller financing as my main strategy. I know fix and flip and some of that. If you want to do syndication, call someone like Chris. Ask him what it takes for you to get in his back pocket for a few months or half a year because that’s where you want to be. You should be able to find anything you want, not just real estate but anything that you want to study.

I would also like to thank LiveComm.com for being the sponsor. Everybody out there, thank you for stopping by to get you some Chris Larsen. Go to 1000Houses.com/nextlevel for the free book, audio, digital or he will send you a hard copy. How do you argue with that? We’re out of here, boys and girls. Thanks a lot for the interview, Chris.

It’s my pleasure, Mitch. It’s been a blast. I look forward to having you on our show.

I’m looking forward to it.


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About Chris Larsen

REIS 503 | Financial FreedomChris Larsen is the founder and Managing Partner of Next-Level Income, through which he helps investors become financially independent through education and investment opportunities. Chris has been investing in and managing real estate for over 20 years. While completing his degree in Biomechanical Engineering and M.B.A. in Finance at Virginia Tech, he bought his first single-family rental at age 21.

During his subsequent career in the medical device industry, Chris expanded into development, private-lending, buying distressed debt as well as commercial offices, and ultimately syndicating multifamily properties. He began syndicating deals in 2016 and has been actively involved in over $400 million of real estate acquisitions.

In addition to real estate, Chris has invested in equities, oil & gas, and small business lending, as well as being active in Venture South, one of the nation’s Top 10 Angel Investing groups. Chris lives with his wife and two boys in Asheville, NC where he loves spending time with them in the outdoors and enjoying the food and culture that the region has to offer.


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