Nichole Lewis shares how she went from drowning in debt to becoming a successful property investor, mentor and author of The Property Quadrants. She is also the CEO of The Property Lifestyle.
You lost everything, financially, in a series of events just a little over a decade ago. Can you tell us about that?
When the global financial crisis hit (in 2008) my income stopped coming and after my savings ran out, I had no means to pay my debt. I had over-leveraged property and had too much bad debt on credit cards, hire purchase and personal loans.
I remember feeling sick going to the ATM, wondering how much I’d have to spend at the supermarket. Debt collectors would call me regularly to grill me about my phone bill, grocery bill, petrol bill and everything in between.
It seems that you have recovered, and well! How did you do that?
Determination. I had two young children and my grandmother to look after. I had a choice: pick myself up or live hand-to-mouth for the rest of my life. I wanted to show my kids you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
The very first thing I did to make money was sell eggs (we had some chickens), fruit and horse poo at the front gate. Boy, did I get excited when there were a few dollars in the tin at the end of the driveway every week!
That small win gave me confidence – so back to property I went. I started with no-money deals and built a network of successful property investors around me. I made enough money to do a renovation project. From there, I made enough money to buy a rental property that was cash flow positive, and then buy the next one and the next one.
What did you learn from the experience of losing your savings/assets?
It’s not easy to ignore money when you’re worried about how to pay your next bill and you have no food in the cupboard. Anyone can achieve wealth, and money is just a small part of that, but it’s the part you need to master first.
Building wealth is a marathon not a sprint, and there are no get-rich-quick schemes.
Working in a job will always keep you poor (unless you’re the CEO). Investing, rather than saving, will help you grow both your mindset, money and wealth.
Did it change how you relate to money?
Definitely. Having been in a position of having no money, being behind on all bills, I know that I prefer to live life with money in the bank instead of constant overdraft.
I don’t have bad debt. I do have a credit card I pay off every month, and a car loan, but the money for the car is invested so that the interest pays for the car. I don’t carry a credit card with me, or use Apple Pay. I will think about it overnight before I buy something to make sure I really want it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the good things in life – I just plan for them. I have a treat account that I put money into every month, and I pay for travel in cash rather than borrowing and having to pay it back later.
Did anyone teach you to be good with money, or was that something you developed?
My parents taught me to watch every cent and save. I thought that was teaching me to be good with money, but in fact that was feeding the urge to spend.
I went against my parent’s teachings and learned to invest – to make my money work for me.
I learned that a job gives me one income stream but investing gives me multiple income streams, including passive income that comes in whether I’m there or not.
This is why I developed Property Quadrants (the concept in my book): to differentiate between emotional purchases, cash poor purchases, active income deals and passive income properties.
What inspires your desire to increase your wealth?
The more successful I am, the more I can help others. I want to give people hope. To teach my children how to help others. To have a pool of funds for my mentoring clients to use to do projects.
Do you think there is a particular personality trait best suited to successfully create wealth?
You must have drive and determination. I had nothing and no-one. No wealthy parents to help me, no friends who were rich, no business connections to advise me. Just determination to make it work. If you’re driven, nothing can stop you. Stop listening to the have-nots and listen only to those who have the lifestyle you want.
How would you advise people keen to become financially independent or improve their financial stability? Is there one tip you would give them?
Learn. Read Property Quadrants and Rich Dad Poor Dad. Join property groups and ask them how they got to where they are.
You’re never too young or old to start if you’re willing to do what it takes. Find a mentor to motivate, inspire and teach you what you don’t know.
Are there ethical principles you adhere to, in relation to investing or sharing your money?
I believe in win win. Whatever deal I put together must be a win for the vendor, the tradespeople, the agents and the buyer. If I’m keeping the property, I want my tenants to be happy. I also support charities and teach our children to help others.
How do you reward yourself? Do you splurge, go shopping, or save up for a special treat?
For small things, I’ll buy a bottle of champagne or go to lunch as a family. For bigger things, the sky is the limit. I’ve just booked a trip to Europe for 2024 which I used half of the profit from one deal to pay for. I set my goals at the beginning of every year and allocate a reward big or small for each milestone. I teach my mentoring clients to do the same.
For more information about Nichole, see her website: nicholelewis.com