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Turning $1 Million Investment Ideas for Passive Income Into Realty

Updated 14/11/2017

Dawn Canale brought her financial experience to her husband’s business in strawberry farming, then began investing in property to set herself up for retirement. Now she has amassed realty over $23 million worth of property and is still working full speed ahead!

Collecting a passive income of $1 million in rental income from her portfolio, Canale will tell us about life on the strawberry farm and how she was able to use leverage to purchase her properties - paying $100 000 for a $1.8 million property!

"I'm happy to help anybody who's prepared to help themselves."
-Dawn Canale

Canale is a serial entrepreneur with many hats - student, farmer, mother, accountant, property investor...

I've been a strawberry farmer for about 23 years. My husband grew up on the strawberry farm in Yarra Valley. I have an accounting background as well and a diploma in financial planning. I'm pretty much a self-taught multimillionaire in property, learning from books and other successful people. And I’ve accumulated over $23 million in property, returning over a million dollars in rental income, plus running a successful strawberry farm seven days a week. And I have two amazing teenage daughters aged 16 and 18.

So what does a multimillionaire with a strawberry farm do in any given day? 

At the moment it's not really the strawberry season. So this actually this year, I've taken a year off it's like a gap year. So I'm studying, I'm doing lots of research and study to actually write my own book. I get up 6:30 in the morning and it's pretty much gone, go, go with family life and study until I go to bed at night.

What are you currently studying?

I'm doing an ‘ILoveRealEstate’ course with a lady called Dymphna Boholt and I've been doing that for about three or four years, so I'm a platinum member in that. So we have monthly meetings, seminars all year round. And I'm also doing lots of other seminars as well, so life coaching, I've done MLP, I'm doing Tony Robbins’ ‘Unleash the Power Within’ next month. I'm just done lots of seminars this year, if one comes up and I'm available, I go to everything.

You never stop learning. So I just want to learn everything and just help people by putting it all in a book, I’m trying to cater to the younger generation actually, where they’re still like a nice young sponge that wants to learn. I have a bit of a motto that I'm happy to help anybody who's prepared to help themselves. I get a lot of people to come to me as a mentor and I'd give them some advice on what to do and how to do it and I really enjoy it. I found that's kind of my calling at the moment, which is why it's kind of inspired me to write a book as well.

Born in the country, Canale’s family moved constantly when she was a child, which was something which shaped her into the person she is today. 

My father was in the air force, so we moved around a lot and by the time I moved here on the farm, I'd moved house 15 times. I was a  Victorian champion in karate when I was 15, I trained six days a week. I was the Year 12 school captain and all of this taught me a lot of discipline and to be very adaptive in life.

I always feel like I'm a bit of a black sheep because you're always changing schools and having to build rapport with people and become friends with them, which I find it’s really easy to meet people now. Even with all these seminars I go to, I love networking and meeting new people and seeing new people and even with the ILoveRealEstate group that I'm with, I try to see different people every time. I can’t just sit in my comfort zone, you just go, ‘OK, I'm going to meet 10 new people today,’ and you just go and meet different people. And I find that really easy, I actually enjoy it. 

With an enforced military lifestyle as a child, she is now happy to evoke some of those elements into her own household.

My mum kind of had to control the whole house, she handled all the finances and she really took control, which is good and what I do in my life. I'm the one who handles all the finances, controls the kids and have a little bit of that military style with the children as well, which I like. It teaches them discipline and my kids are really tough when it comes to that, especially being on a farm as well. I think it sets you up a lot. Like you eventually tell them it's not negotiable because that’s what you’ve got to do and they fight it a bit when they're younger but now they're older and flourishing. This is amazing, their work ethic is amazing - for a 16 and 18-year-old to just know their jobs to do and go and do it. I really love seeing it, like all the hard work when you're a mum, pushing your children and then you see it paying off when they’re young adults is really rewarding.

A lot of education starts at home, not just at school. So if you can teach them to have good beliefs and limiting beliefs, it sets them up for life. I'm not saying physical discipline, just a mental discipline that sets them up for life and just says look it's not negotiable. Not everyone likes doing the job they have to do, you’ve just gotta suck it up and do it. And they know what they're doing really well at school, my oldest daughter's at university and she's just fine - she is studying photography, but her work ethic is amazing. She's had her own business for two years even while she was doing Year 12. And her attitude towards working, not being afraid to make phone calls and reaching out and getting business.

In terms of real estate, there was a strong influence from her parents stemming from when Canale was a child.

My mum would buy a house and always go for a bigger, better house. And she explains how, ‘Oh, we sold this place for $115 000 and then we went and bought this house,’ but five squares bigger in a better location and we built it for $10 000 more. So you see the value in property and like sometimes my dad had just come home and there's a For Sale sign in front of the house. And he'd be like, ‘What are you doing?’ She’d say, ‘Oh, I found this really nice house, it's bigger and better,’ and then all of a sudden we're moving again. But each time she gained equity and my brother turned out to be a builder, so she started taking advantage of that as well, like, ‘You can build us a bigger and better house.’ So seeing that, I think that was probably my first experience with property, seeing how you can gain equity in houses by building. So that was probably the start. 

But due to a lack of information, her mother bought property for their family home rather than to build an investment portfolio.

She had said to me she wished she knew all this kind of information years ago, but I think the majority of people just think of their home as an investment and it's not. To me, an investment is something that provides an income and my mum and a lot of other people tend to think that their house is an investment - they put everything into their house and they don't need anything else. But you know, are they going to take a brick off it when you retire, it doesn’t work like that.

Before she began property investing, Canale undertook many different jobs where she became familiar with large figures.

When I was at school, for my first job I really wanted to work in the stock market. I loved the buzz of that, but that's when the crash happened. So I actually had a job lined up and that got cancelled so I thought, ‘If I try and go through the finance arena through a bank or something, I might still get to the stock market.’ So my first job was actually in a bank in the head office in South Melbourne, then an opportunity came up to change to a construction company for double the income, so I took that pretty quickly. Then that company went broke, went into receivership, so then I worked for another construction company as a personal assistant for an estimator, which was very interesting. Then I worked for Fletcher Jones head office for accounts receivable, in customs doing accounts payable.

One thing I found working in lots of different industries, they're all like an apprenticeship to life. You learn little bits out of each job and it kind of helps you with your financial journey and it also helps you with your money vocabulary. I always use this term ‘money vocabulary’, I don't know if I've stolen it off anyone. But I use it a lot - I thought I created it. 

So I kind of think of it as dealing with lots of money. When I worked for customs doing accounts payable, I was paying over $20 million a year in checks. So when you're seeing that kind of money turning over all the time, like budgets of say $14 million in advertising every year, it just makes you think of money a little bit differently - as opposed to just filling in your $500 paycheck every week and how you're going to budget that. So your money vocabulary, when you're so used to hearing millions of dollars in figures, that it's not unusual for you to start thinking in those terms. Like my kids, I make them aware of the million-dollar properties and the hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent, each one gives you a loan that you're taking. So they’re familiar with these kind of figures all the time. Yeah, I think that's really important.

Bringing her knowledge of finance to her husband’s business, Canale then entered into strawberry farming at a young age...

What year [it was], I don't know. I was about 24.

Oh, still very young!

Yeah. I mean my husband wanted me to quit my job to work on the farm and. at the time they weren't making a hell of a lot of money, they only had a couple of staff but because I'd worked with big corporate companies with hundreds and thousands of staff and they had four staff and I said, ‘Well you know, I'm kind of earning $50 000 a year at the moment’ at that age, which was excellent. I did three jobs. And I said, ‘Well if I'm going to quit my job, you kind of have to plant a few more strawberries to cover my income, plus your income. So I'm not quitting until you do that.’

So then he started expanding and like the old school Italian farmers don't like paying for wages and they tried to do everything themselves, manual labour, hard backbreaking stuff. And I say to him, ‘Why are you doing that? Isn't there a machine or some kind of implement you can put on the back of a tractor to do that? What are you doing that by hand for?’ So I came in looking at the big picture and he was so programmed to do everything manually. He'd say, ‘Oh yeah, but that’d cost me $1 500.’ I said, ‘Honey, it's tax-deductible. What are you doing? How much time you're wasting? Buy the implement, will you?’ So I started making thinking a different way. So he started buying more tractors, more implements, putting on more staff, expanding the business.

From back then he's actually gotten over 10 times bigger than what he was then and everything back then, you paid cash for and I've taught him leveraging, getting loans for things and using them to your advantage. That's mainly in property. I mean I wouldn't get loans for basic stuff on the farm. But tractors, definitely. Why not lease it? We started doing things like that over a three year period, whereas before they had to save up to actually buy it. I said, ‘Sometimes the bank is your friend. If you use it to your advantage and you’re disappointed with what you buy, even credit cards are good’. I don't pay one cent in interest on my credit card and I probably use $10 to 20 000 a month on my credit card.

"We paid about $190,000 for it and ended up selling for $880,000, which then gave us quite a bit of money to buy other properties. "
-Dawn Canale

Canale was looking for a method to sustain herself and her husband in their future retirement, without the pressure to have to continue work on the strawberry farm in their old age. So they began to discuss property investing.

The first property we bought, as I said I could see farming was hard work and I didn't really want my husband doing that when he was in his 70s and living off a measly pension. So I thought, ‘Well, if we can get some properties going and some rental income coming in and hopefully replace our income, then we won't have to work so hard.’ So that was my strategy; plus we were paying tax and how can I minimise the tax. There were two things there.

So we bought our first property back in 1998, when I was five months pregnant and I was saying to my husband about buying a property, I said, ‘Oh you know, I want to start buying,’ and he said, ‘No, I don't like loans. I don't want to do this.’ And I said to him, ‘Honey you can either do it with me, or I'm going to do it on my own.’ And I was pregnant at the time and he thought, ‘OK well if you're pregnant and you feel that strongly about it, you can start looking.’

So we bought our first place in Ringwood, Victoria and we did all our due diligence. We knew the freeway was going to come through in years to come, so we went to the council and made sure that we were in a safe area, it wasn't going to get taken off us. We purchased this one particular block knowing going down the track it would have a commercial benefit to it because it was the last property run on the freeway. And as it turned out, Eastlink actually like the property as well and built their head office on it. They did compulsory acquisitions, forced us to sell and they saw the commercial benefit of it. So we were a bit disappointed in that. But saying that, we did get legal action and we fought it for about three or four years and we did end up making a 400% profit. 

Wow.

It was pretty good. We paid about $190 000 for it and ended up selling for $880 000, which then gave us quite a bit of money to buy other properties, so I left that and bought two other big properties out of it.

I have a rule of not to sell, I like to keep my properties and at the start, once we bought that one that was $190 000 I thought, ‘You know what, I could do this every year. If we buy something every year for $200 000 for 10 years, then in 10 years I’m going to have $2 million in the property. So I kind of achieved that in three years, so I thought, ‘OK, well my next target is $5 million, then $10 million, then $15 million, then $20 million,’ and we just kept at it. I never told my husband the goals, because he’d have a heart attack.

I wonder how he feels now, after hearing you say that!

He's happy now. But at the time, yeah he was really scared of loans so if he knew I was going to keep buying to get more and more loans, then he would have freaked out. So I just did it one at a time - ‘Oh, I think maybe we should buy another one now. I think we're ready for another one now…’ But in my head, I had these goals and targets I wanted to reach and at the end, the value became a bit boring once we got to $20 million, it was like, ‘OK it's boring now. The next level, blah blah blah.’

But then I started focusing on the rental income. Because we had a couple in there that would be land banking. So even though the value was going up, your rental wasn’t going up. It might have been going down because it was negatively gained. So then I started focusing on the rental income and then I wanted a goal of $1 million in rent and I actually achieved that last year. 

Congrats!

I was quite happy with that. And sometimes it wasn't buying a new property, it was just redeveloping one you already had, or changing tenants and just moving things around a little bit and changing the use of it. So yeah, that was fun. 

The $1 Million Investment Ideas for Passive Income

Over 19 years, Canale has built her portfolio to contain 15 properties worth over $20 million altogether.

Most of them are in Melbourne. I don't do rural, so they're all not too far from the CBD, except our farm which is the Yarra Valley, that's 50 km away. But it's not rural and I do have two properties up in the Gold Coast, as well in Broadbeach Waters on canals.

I don't get emotionally attached to properties, but I do always have reasons why I want to buy them and the Gold Coast one was for a future retirement for me. We go up there every year. We also get a tax deduction going up there every year, so we bought a property up there and every year now when we go, we do stay in hotels - that's rented out permanently. But at least you can claim some travel expenses in going up there and kind of pays for a bit of your holiday every year.

Since achieving her initial goals towards financial freedom, her ‘why’ has changed. So why hasn’t she retired yet?

My husband still does the strawberry farm and yes, we could have retired quite a few years ago, but because my kids are still quite young, it provides a job for them as well and it also teaches them a work ethic. They still see that Mum and Dad are successful and they're still working. So I don't want them to see Mum and Dad retired and, not lazy, but not working every day with a purpose. I think that's really important for the kids to see by example.

And there's a job for them too. So they basically can work seven days a week whenever they want to. When we're really busy, they kind of have to. We do let them have some time to themselves, it's not that strict, or a real ball and chain. But the opportunity is there like my oldest goes to uni now. She doesn't need to go and find a job elsewhere because she knows she can always earn income on the strawberry farm, just basically get up in the morning and work. She's a professional photographer now and she does have her own work, but if she has a quiet week she's always got the strawberry farm and she can still earn whatever she wants. 

As with most property investing journeys, not everything is a bed of roses. Canale’s worst investing moment came with factories and fighting tenants.

ideas for passive income

I find with property, there are always hurdles. Every property we have ever bought has always had some kind of a problem and sometimes when there's a problem you can monetise it. For example, if there's a property that no one wants to buy, what's the reason why there could be some issues going on in particular? I bought a block of factories at one stage, the owner was one of the tenants and there were four other factories. And he was causing problems with all the tenants. There was a village, they were all fighting. Some of them had to share a toilet and they were locking each other out, so they had to walk up the road and it was just an absolute headache. No one wanted to touch it, but I thought it was really good value and pretty much lined up here. I got good rent from it, just because it had a few headaches there and I saw solutions to those problems.

So we bought that and instead of having a body corporate room - obviously when you own it all you have owner’s corporation - so I separated off all four of the factories, so they all had their own insurance and driveway and they built toilets in the ones that didn't have them, to keep everyone separate. They had their own space, their own car parking spaces so no one had overlapped. There was no reason to get in each other's face and cause issues. 

The owner, he obviously left once he sold it. That was vacant, which created another problem for people too. I didn't want a vacant property, so we leased that out and once we fixed up all those problems and you go round to the tenants and say, ‘What are your issues? How can we help you if you're not happy?’ You sort out all their problems, they love you as a landlord, you love them as tenants - it's a two-way street, you look after everybody. And that's turned out to be one of my best properties just because sometimes when there are problems you can actually fix them.

Was that a commercial property that you purchased?

Yeah, it's a commercial property. I actually had five leases on four factories, because there was a large billboard as well. 

So there was an opportunity to also adjust the rent, due to the fact that you implemented all these changes?

Yes, so all of them have opportunities because we concreted areas, created more car parking areas, we fenced it off so they had their own little locked-in area - so we could increase the rent. We did that on a gradual basis, not all in one go.

His son also rented one of the factories and they signed him up on a $12 000 a year lease when it should have been about $36 000. It was a three by three by three and thought he was kind of safe for nine years, not noticing that there was a rent review after three years. So that was only a year and a half later, we had to wait. When that came, we actually increased it to $30 000 and he wasn't happy, so he left. So there was a lot of upside to it. We saw a lot of potentials - but sometimes headaches can be potential.

But the most exciting moment for her was when she paid only $100 000 for a property worth $1.8 million!

Discovering the power of leverage, that one was a real ‘Wow,’ a-ha moment for me because we always wanted to pay off 20% or 30% deposit on any of our properties. So when this particular factory came up to the block of four factories, when that came up for sale I was at the auction and again no one wanted to touch it. My husband is back at the farm and I was actually going just to have a look, but I took my chequebook with me just in case and it got passed in. And at the end of it, I kind of hung around because I could see the husband and wife arguing with the agent and they wanted to sell; it was a divorce. I went up to the agent said, ‘Look, I’ve got my chequebook here right now. I'm prepared to give you $1.8 million for the property and I'll give you a check now for $100 000 if you want to take it.’ So they went back to the owners and they obviously agreed on it. But the a-ha part of it was that I only put a $100 000 down and I borrowed the whole $1.8 million - which freaked hubby out, but I knew my figures - so, I put $100 000 on it and it was paying about $170 000 in rent and the loan repayments were only going to be about $120 000, so it was $50 000 positive cash flow, all I had to do is put the $100 000 on. 

So when I went, I worked out there was a 50% return on investment. I was like, ‘Wow, I can borrow the whole lot.’ And we put in $100 000 on that. That’s when I was like, ‘Wow, I love this.’ My hubby just freaked out at the loan, ‘Oh my God! A $1.8 million loan, what are you doing?’ And I said, ‘Honey, look at the figures, we can cover it.’

Obviously you have to have equity in the property because you have to have a 30% equity. But then I did that a couple of times and did exactly the same thing and they all paid over $50 000 positive cash flow. So because we were earning good money from the strawberry farm, enough to pay the deposit, I didn't need the extra positive cash flow, so I'd always reinvest it back onto the loan, so I paid off my loans quite quickly. And whatever I had from the strawberry farm too, it was really big for me to just pay down those loans as quickly as possible and then you’re getting more equity in it, which is more borrowing power. So the power of leverage was my a-ha moment.

$23+ Million Passive Income Property Portfolio With Dawn Canale

 
Although she doesn’t feel as though anything holds her back from investing in property, Canale’s mindset has evolved over the years through self-education.

If I get set on something, I tend to face it head-on and not think about it too much. I kind of jump in; I always say you kind of jump in the deep end and learn how to swim. I don't really have time to let something hold me back if I get my mindset on something I just go for it and just do it. I love that saying, ‘Just do it.’ I can't see anything really held me back that I could think of.

I've read a lot of books. I do feel you never stop learning, so I do still love to see how other people do it. I do feel like I'm a bit of a chameleon in my mindset. I wouldn't say evil influence, but if I read a book on Steve Jobs, for instance, I look at the way he does stuff in his strategy and I will them implement it into my life. I love all those kind of things like Tony Robbins, Robert Kiyosaki, Brian Tracy, all those kinds of people. My mindset is mainly to study and focus.
In moulding her mindset through these resources, she also learned a lot from other successful investors.

I'd say at the start, the mentors that I had didn't realise they were mentors. I just saw a lot of successful farmers in the area that were making a lot of money off the property. So I asked a lot of questions, just like, ‘Oh, I hear you got some property - why did you choose this property over that one?’ and I learned commercial property is usually positive cash flow and residential is normally negative cash flow and they pay all the outgoings in the commercial. I just learned a lot about the benefits of both of them and sometimes negative cash flow can be good too, like I bought a property three years ago that I knew was going to be negative cash flow, but I knew the capital growth was double or triple what that was. And as it turned out, I ended up selling it two years later and I doubled my money - so I didn't mind having a $50,000 a year negative cash flow because I knew that the capital growth was there. I knew that the zonings were changing, so I kind of took advantage of that.

Mentors and resources, I read lots of books, I love Ted talks, I love YouTube, I studied a lot and watch a lot of YouTube. If ever I need to find out something, I tend to go to YouTube. I’ve listened to so many different things, not just property. In fact, I don't think any of them are property-related, it's just psychology. I love listening to how people do things, how your brain works, or how to deal with negativity, how to deal with depression. I do tend to mentor a lot of people and if you can help them change their state and their mindset and how to deal with depression and understand how your brain works. So I do tend to look up a lot of that as research, so that if I'm mentoring or coaching someone then I know what I'm talking about - not just from experience, but scientific as well.
So what has been the best advice Canale has ever received in her journey?

I'd say don't trust other people with your money, that's probably a good thing. And your past doesn't equal your future, Tony Robbins says that and I love that. Those two pieces of advice I really hold true. So in your financial side, don't be so gullible giving people your money, always have that control. Like if I haven't really ever done a joint venture and that's because I feel that if I can't afford to do it myself, then don't do it. I'm very strong-minded, so if I get set in my ways, ’This is how I want to do property,’ and then someone else wants to do it a different way, I don't like that.

I bought a farm next door and I turned it into a strawberry farm retreat and I rented it out on Airbnb and stayed.com and it’s this 100-year-old house and my brother's a builder and he helped with the renovations. He told me to knock it down and I said, ‘No way, you can’t do that! I love the high ceilings and the baltic pine floorboards and just the character of the house is absolutely beautiful,’ and I said no way, I’m not knocking it down, this is what we're doing. I told him my ideas and he's like, ‘I think you’re wasting your time’. Once we did it, we did spend $750,000 on the renovation, it had to be re-stumped and the whole frame had to be redone as well. It was a fix-up.

It just turned out so beautiful, now it's such a beautiful old weatherboard character home that I rent it out for $650 a night. It's four bedrooms, eight people and it’s booked out every single weekend till the end of February; it's like a phenomenon. It's unbelievable how popular this place is and it's pretty good cash flow as well. But if I rented that out permanently, I’d only get about $500 a week, but by putting it on Airbnb and renting it out as holiday letting, I'd probably make $120 a year turnover. But these are the things that I learned through the ILoveRealEstate community, just changing the use of a property. Dymphna Boholt is amazing. Tony Robbins is my male god and she's my female. I just love the way she thinks - I think as she's got an accounting background, I think the same way as her.

Canale was looking for a method to sustain herself and her husband in their future retirement, without the pressure to have to continue work on the strawberry farm in their old age. So they began to discuss property investing.

The first property we bought, as I said I could see farming was hard work and I didn't really want my husband doing that when he was in his 70s and living off a measly pension. So I thought, ‘Well, if we can get some properties going and some rental income coming in and hopefully replace our income, then we won't have to work so hard.’ So that was my strategy; plus we were paying tax and how can I minimise the tax. There were two things there.

So we bought our first property back in 1998, when I was five months pregnant and I was saying to my husband about buying a property, I said, ‘Oh you know, I want to start buying,’ and he said, ‘No, I don't like loans. I don't want to do this.’ And I said to him, ‘Honey you can either do it with me, or I'm going to do it on my own.’ And I was pregnant at the time and he thought, ‘OK well if you're pregnant and you feel that strongly about it, you can start looking.’

So we bought our first place in Ringwood, Victoria and we did all our due diligence. We knew the freeway was going to come through in years to come, so we went to the council and made sure that we were in a safe area, it wasn't going to get taken off us. We purchased this one particular block knowing going down the track it would have a commercial benefit to it, because it was the last property run on the freeway. And as it turned out, Eastlink actually like the property as well and built their head office on it. They did compulsory acquisitions, forced us to sell and they saw the commercial benefit of it. So we were a bit disappointed in that. But saying that, we did get legal action and we fought it for about three or four years and we did end up making a 400% profit. 

ideas for passive income

Wow.

It was pretty good. We paid about $190 000 for it and ended up selling for $880 000, which then gave us quite a bit of money to buy other properties, so I left that and bought two other big properties out of it.

I have a rule of not to sell, I like to keep my properties and at the start, once we bought that one that was $190 000 I thought, ‘You know what, I could do this every year. If we buy something every year for $200 000 for 10 years, then in 10 years I’m going to have $2 million in a property. So I kind of achieved that in three years, so I thought, ‘OK, well my next target is $5 million, then $10 million, then $15 million, then $20 million,’ and we just kept at it. I never told my husband the goals, because he’d have a heart attack.

I wonder how he feels now, after hearing you say that!

He's happy now. But at the time, yeah he was really scared of loans so if he knew I was going to keep buying to get more and more loans, then he would have freaked out. So I just did it one at a time - ‘Oh, I think maybe we should buy another one now. I think we're ready for another one now…’ But in my head, I had these goals and targets I wanted to reach and at the end, the value became a bit boring once we got to $20 million, it was like, ‘OK it's boring now. The next level, blah blah blah.’

But then I started focusing on the rental income. Because we had a couple in there that would be land banking. So even though the value was going up, your rental wasn’t going up. It might have been going down because it was negatively gained. So then I started focusing on the rental income and then I wanted a goal of $1 million in rent and I actually achieved that last year. 

Congrats!

I was quite happy with that. And sometimes it wasn't buying a new property, it was just redeveloping one you already had, or changing tenants and just moving things around a little bit and changing the use of it. So yeah, that was fun.

A strong believer in starting small, Canale has built a portfolio worth over $23 million through a strategy based on capital growth.

I’m a very conservative investor so I don't believe in taking a lot of risks, but I do believe in starting small and paying off what you can, try and get some capital growth in it, like renovate it and make it better than what it was when you started with it. So you get some capital growth in there and then you could probably have some more borrowing power to do another one. I kind of like the strategy of buying every year, or every second year, cut back on your expenses to afford to invest as much as possible. When I had my first job, I didn't earn a hell of a lot of money so when I got my second job which was double the income, I still lived as if I had my first income. And I banked all the extra money, I was so disciplined with saving money that when it came to buying property, if I needed a 20% deposit I would live off bread and water. I would scrounge and save and knew that OK, I’d work twice as hard - I had three jobs when I met my husband - I always invested about 90% of my income. I know that's impossible for most people, but I just worked harder to earn more and then I invested 90% of it.

I actually teach my children that now, everything they bank I always say to them, ‘Look, you can spend 10% of it on yourself and reward yourself because that is important. But then save the rest and invest it.’ Because when you start investing, it's not how much you earn it's how much you keep. I know a lot of people that as a salary, they might earn $200-300,000 and they're still paying off their family home and not investing. But jeez, they’ve got nice cars every year and they change it every year when the latest one comes out, or every second year. They'll travel to beautiful holidays, they'll go to the best restaurants, wear the best clothes, they're always going out and having the best of everything. But if they lost their job, where’s that money going to come from? So I think you should invest it, have passive income idea and then once you have passive income, then you can waste it a little bit.

Canale searches for residential properties which have the potential to become a commercial development.

My strategy when it comes to property, I do like to be able to see it so I don't like buying regional or interstate, I like to be able to know that if it has problems I can go there and help fix it. But my criteria when I buy a property is definitely location, location, location. You could just say a particular suburb and then someone will just go buy something in a back street. Sometimes the main road can actually be really good, I actually love main roads for future potential - I always like to think 5-10 years down the track. So it might be residential today, but you could see one block to your left or to your right, there's commercial property, that down the track a little bit of a ripple effect might then turn that into commercial zoning. Location is everything.

So you can have something on the front street and the back street and I wouldn't touch that one at the back street, but I might love the one on the front street. Even saying that with all the ones on the front street do a drive-by, drive past it because sometimes it can be in your blind spot; so to me, it's not a good property. I like to have that visual look because to me it's an advertising and if you're looking at it from a commercial point of view if you're going to have your office or shop there and someone’s driving past it, it's like a billboard; you're giving free advertising. People pay a lot of money to advertise on billboards because you're driving past. So why shouldn't your property be like an actual billboard? Location is everything to me.

She isn’t averse to purchasing a property which is already commercial either, as long as they have some future prospects to add value.

I have some good main road frontage commercial properties that at the time I bought them pretty much for land value and they were paying positive cash flow income, but I could see potential even down the track. One, in particular, I bought in Croydon, I could see the property behind was like a four or five-story apartment block. So I thought, ‘Hey, I've got a single-story retail commercial property here but down the track, I could probably have retail down the bottom and apartments up top.’ So I'm always looking for the upside to any property as well. Like I'm not just going to go buy a normal house in a back street, I would never do that.

So what is a personal habit which she feels has contributed to her success throughout her property investing journey?

I never give up. I never give up and if I believe in something, I just get focused on it. I know everyone has ups and downs in life as well and it's how quickly you pick yourself up and change your state. So my personal habit is if you are having a bad day, you absorb it in, you do have to feel it. Don't be in denial but feel a little bit, then change your state and learn from it. Every experience there's a lesson in it, good and bad. So that's kind of my habit, I do tend to look at the lesson in everything and I never give up either - if I believe in something I just have my little vision and then move forward.

Books that have inspired her which she would recommend reading include those by Napoleon Hill and Tony Robbins.

I do love Dymphna Boholt, she does have quite a few books and that's all about real estate. So if you want real estate books she's got lots. But as far as other books, I love the Audible app, I get a book every month and I just love listening to how the people have done things like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, at the moment I'm listening to The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins, that's really awesome.

So there's not one particular book, I think any book when you read it there's always one or two really good relevant points in there that add to the big picture of success. There's not only one book, but there’s also no Bible, you have to find bits and pieces out of all of them and they're all so inspiring. Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, that's amazing too. There are so many good ones - Tony Robbins, I just love him. Unleash The Power Within by Tony Robbins.

If Canale were to meet herself from 10 years ago, what would she say?

I think all I can relate it to is the advice I give my children now, which is more than 10 years ago, but I just tell my children that they can be anything they want to be if you put your mind to it. And I love this term, reverse engineering. My 18-year-old daughter is a photographer and when she first told her dad she wants to be a photographer, he thought, ‘How are you going to make money out of photography? That’s a stupid thing.’ I had to say, ‘Stop it right there! Don't ever say that. She could make money out of anything she puts her mind to.’ So I kind of said to her think of this thing called reverse engineering where you’ve got to say, ‘OK I'm going to earn $5,000 a week.’ She's only 18 and I gave her this target, $5,000 a week - how many photoshoots do you have to do to get $5,000 a week?

So she started working out all these strategies and stuff and how many photoshoots with models she had to do and how many a day and whatever. She's 18 and she's now earning $1,000 a day. She's already done it and she's 18!

Wow. That is fantastic!

She tends to focus on one day a week because she's at uni, but when she finishes uni next year if she keeps that up. She's already had her photos published in New York magazine, LA magazine and she's not afraid to just go out there. She's really good with all the social media and she gets a lot of work from Instagram and she knows how to build rapport with people. She's 18 and the way she organises a photography team of about six people, I'm in awe of her. I thought, ‘Wow, I taught you this stuff! That’s so cool!’

If you want to get in contact with Canale, the best medium is via Facebook.

I’ve pretty much only got Facebook at the moment, which is Dawn Reid Canale. I am in the process of writing a book and when that comes out I'll be having a website and all that kind of stuff. But at the moment, I am just focusing on helping my daughter with her photography business. So it’s just Dawn Reid Canale on Facebook if anyone wanted to contact me and say hi. I'm happy to give anybody any advice if they're prepared to ask.

This episode was produced by Alex Cooper with narrations and interviews conducted by Tyrone Shum.

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