How to Manage a Property Portfolio While Living Overseas: Matt Jones
We’re chatting to lighting technician-turned-postman Matt Jones, who turned his life around through investing in his own headspace and then throwing himself into property. Following Jones’ journey, you’ll find out how you too can become a successful property investor without giving up your nine-to-five!
Family-oriented Jones will divulge how he created the ultimate game plan for his future and why it’s so important to evaluate and change it as he sees fit. He will also share how Steve McKnight’s From Zero to 130 Properties in 3.5 Years inspired him to begin his property journey, how he used joint ventures as a way to break into the market and why moving to Queensland as a family was the catalyst for change.
A typical day for Jones includes structuring time for work, meditation and spending more time with family.
I get up in the morning about 6:30 and I have breakfast with the kids. I deal with the kids in the morning, help get their lunches ready and get them off to school. As we live close to the school, so we walk up together and just spend some time, make sure they get settled in and that’s what we did in France. We wanted to do the same thing here, so we have that special time in the morning. Then I come home and meditate for about half an hour and just get my head in the right space for the day, so I’m focused on what I want to achieve. I do not sort of wasting time getting side-tracked.
And then from there, it varies a little bit. I’ll probably just delve into emails for a couple of hours, maybe a couple of client calls, have lunch with my wife, and it’s not too much longer after that before it’s time to pick the kids up again. But some days, yeah, we go and do something and then pick the kids up. Other days I’m at work right through where I’m talking to people on the phone or assessing a couple of projects or, you know, joint venture scenarios that we’re in. But I try and keep it fairly structured so that I’m not sitting in the office all day, doing stuff that can be done quickly. I just kind of like to structure my time so I can get back to doing what I really want to do, not that I don’t enjoy property sort of things. It’s just I enjoy being with my family and doing those things more.
And we kind of got to that point before we went to France. Things were going really well and it started to become a little bit more like a job again which kind of set off some alarm bells for me because that’s why I got out of it, out of the nine to five sort of stuff. And that’s when we made the decision, ‘Okay, what do we want? Why are we doing it?’, because we can just keep doing deals and make more money. That’s cool, but what are we doing with it? It kind of came to the fore when you see your kids growing up, they’re still very young but you could see it happening. I’m just like, ‘Hang on, let’s just do something that we really want to do’. We want to live, we want to learn another language. That was the crux of it. We wanted to live in another country and we’ve both been to France before and it kind of just evolved from there. But, yeah, it was about stepping back and getting clear on why we were doing what we were doing and not getting caught up in the mix of it again – and we’re mindful of that now, in just stepping back and making clear decisions on what we want out of things. Because the property is just a vehicle. I mean we enjoy it, we love it, but in the end, it’s a vehicle to get us where we want to go and that’s ever-changing. So you need to keep stepping back and going, ‘Hey, what do we want to do now? Are we enjoying what we’re doing? What do we want to change?’
While it can be hard to nail down the specifics of his’ role, property investment has clearly allowed him to experience life from a different point of view.
Basically 10 years ago, I read Steve McKnight’s book 0 to 130 Properties and that was my first experience with property. I was about 33 at the time and getting pretty frustrated with my career. I was a lighting technician for 15 years, which is a job I loved but it was going nowhere. It was going nowhere that I wanted. I was starting to realise that I didn’t want to swap my time for money. I didn’t realise there was another way to do that until I read that book and I decided to be a property investor. I pretty much quit my job a couple of months after that, which is probably the worst thing I could have done at the time, but I was very gung-ho and wanted to get straight into it. I joined Steve’s mentoring program at the time – results in program – and set about learning to become a property investor.
And from there, I learned quickly that I needed a job to actually pay the rent and pay all the credit card bills and things and actually had to borrow money to buy property. That’s how green I was! So I became a postie for a couple of years and that was a really good transitional job. It cut my wage in half, but it doubled my headspace that I had available to learn how to become a property investor, start doing deals and just, you know, transition myself away from full-time work and I did that for 2 years. I went part-time in my last 6 months as a postie and then I left it altogether in 2007. I haven’t been back to full-time work ever since.
In those 2 years, I was in the mentoring program. I started up my networking group that went on to become quite large and still is today and started off doing Renos. That was really all I could get my head around at the time, which is buy, rent or sell… and I did it the hard way, I guess. Doing everything myself in those days thinking that I could save money by being handy and doing it, and it took me like 9 months to do a renovation and I was burnt out after that. I had to go on a holiday, I went to Thailand for a couple of months with my brother – spent a lot of my profits over there because I was just burnt out from the whole thing!
I restructured my thinking on how it’s going to go about, things from there. That’s when I got into subdivision which is where things really took off for me and I worked out that I could do one or two deals a year and not have to work and as far as swapping time for money goes as an employee. And I kind of just kept going from there. I got into larger deals, joint venturing, my property networking group grew into a point where it became a business – not a huge business but another stream of income, I suppose – and started creating some of my own resources based on my own experience with different strategies with renovations, subdivisions and joint venturing.
And then, we kind of stepped back from all that again, took a couple of years off and decided to take our family overseas to France to live for a while and get a cultural experience and just do what we wanted to do when we got into property, which was kind of work less but has experiences. And we love to travel. At the time, our kids were four and two at the time, so it was a good time to go overseas and do that before they started school and immerse ourselves in the French culture over there. We learned the language, the kids went to school and had a great old time and we’ve just gone back a couple of months ago actually. So now we’re back into Australia and had a bit of a culture shock coming back because we’ve noticed it’s quite fast-paced here compared to what we were used to. And just getting back in the swing of things, doing deals, running the meetings again and working out what we want to do next, really. I guess that’s the long and the short of it – that’s a quick version of the last 10 years.
Going from postal services to property development allowed Jones the time to work out a game plan in terms of what his next move was going to be, confessing that property investing is similar to a full-time job.
I’ve read a few stories written about that. A postie to a property investor is something to go headline. I’ve actually had a few posties contact me saying, ‘Hey, I’m a postie. I want to do what you’re doing, how did you get into that?’ Anyway, I could do it, but the beauty of the postie thing was it allowed me to have some more headspace to work out… I mean property investing is a full-time gig really if you’re going to do it properly and people will try to do it with a full-time paid employment. It’s pretty taxing if you’ve got your own social commitments and family and whatever else, then it’s not always sustainable. So, you kind of does need a plan of transition if that’s what you want to do.
Some people are happy in their job and want to keep doing it. That’s fine. But if you do want to be doing it full-time, you need to find a way to get to that point and that doesn’t mean you have to become a postie. It could be you have long service leave, or you could go into part-time or you start working from home, or maybe have an online business that’s doesn’t require you to be somewhere at a certain time. There are lots of ways to do it. It’s just having a plan to get there.
Because I didn’t know anything really. So I was starting from scratch and it was kind of like doing an apprenticeship I guess, doing that mentorship went for 18 months but you don’t really learn it until you go out and do a deal. That’s when it all sort of happens for you when you have money on the table and there’s risk and you make mistakes. And that’s just the way it goes. With property investing, you’re always sort of problem-solving and if you can get into that position where you’re doing them and still supporting yourself so you’re not under pressure to make those deals a raging success, then that’s a great way I think to transition into that world.
He describes himself as a passive property investor, favouring joint ventures overworking independently.
We’re still investing in other people’s deals. So, joint venturing became really important for me early on. Because I was on a postie wage, I couldn’t borrow any money from the bank, so my very first deal was a joint venture. I didn’t really know it at the time, but my cousin was – we had a company and trust structure – she had a good wage, so I basically put in the time and a little bit of cash, she put in the servicing and a little bit of cash and we just split everything 50/50. We did that for a number of deals and then we both had different goals, went in different directions, and I had to find joint venture partners again. So I was kind of forced into that way of thinking and now that’s all we do.
You know, every deal is a joint venture. And that’s kind of how we were able to go and do what we did in France because we had excess cash and money into projects with colleagues that we’d known for a long time, done deals with, trusted and they were doing projects that were a higher skill level than what I was at. And so, we were able to tap into that and make that a part of our wealth strategy. So, yeah, that was how we made it work.
Originally Jones was brought up in Melbourne before moving further north with his family. Now he lives in the Sunshine Coast with his wife and children.
I was born in Melbourne in the suburb of Kew, which would be great if I had some property in Kew, that’s a pretty cool place now. I lived there until I was about 14, then we all moved up as a family to Northern NSW, lived in Banora Point there. I went to school in Murwillumbah and lived on the Gold Coast. From there, when I moved out of home at about 18, I lived in the northern part of the Gold Coast. And went overseas for a little bit. Did the backpacking thing for a little while and then came back and lived in Mackay for a few years – this was when I was doing the lighting technician days – and then I moved to Brisbane after that, in 2000 I think. And then I met my wife there, we got married in 2009 and moved to the Sunshine Coast and that’s where we live now.
We’ve got Eli, 6, Emily’s 3. I mean we’ve got another son who’s actually 19, Morgan. So he doesn’t live with us now, he’s in uni at the moment, in Brisbane. So, he didn’t come with us to France. He wasn’t keen on coming along.
He describes himself as an outdoorsy person and that the transition to the Sunshine Coast meant more opportunities to restructure and settle into a new life.
I was in Mackay for 3 years and the partner I had at the time, we moved together to Brisbane for work really, there was more opportunity. So, it wasn’t for any other reason than that and I kind of knew Brisbane because I was from Southeast Queensland.
And with the Sunshine Coast, we just wanted to be closer to the beach and at the time, our eldest was about to go into high school so we decided it was now or never, so we made that transition to the sunny coast just before he started high school and restructured a few things with what we were doing. Took a year to sort of get settled in there and, yeah, we love it up there now. I love being close to the water. It’s just got a great energy and we really love being at the beach. I’m very outdoorsy I suppose.
Jones says that the decision to move to the Sunshine Coast was the catalyst for change. Moving away from his joint ventures in Brisbane encouraged him to start setting goals and accumulating more investment opportunities.
Joint ventures is threaded throughout the whole thing really. I think when we were in the Sunshine Coast, it probably became more critical because we were investing in deals in Brisbane and haven’t really done any investing on the Sunshine Coast, so it was about leveraging off the team we had already and working with people, doing deals in Brisbane. While I still did projects in Brisbane, I drove down and commuted for the first couple of years. And I think that’s kind of where things probably came into ahead a little bit, where I got sick of the driving and commuting to Brisbane and being on-site and that’s when it started feeling like a job to me and that was the epiphany I suppose, of us just waking up going, ‘Hang on, we’re not really enjoying this right now. Why not? Let’s restructure and change things, set some goals and targets.’ And as soon as we did that, as soon as we made some clear decisions on what we wanted, things really changed and opportunities came, which is really interesting. I’m so glad that we did.
I’m really happy for you too and it’s obviously turned out very, very good for you as a family and personally as well.
Yeah, it’s been – I consider ourselves very – I don’t like to use the word lucky, but yeah we’re very grateful for the experiences that we have and continue to have.
Jones’ family was never property-oriented. His first encounter with the idea of investing in property stemmed from reading Steve McKnight’s book From 0 to 130 Properties in 3.5 Years and the readiness to accept change.
I had no influence whatsoever. There’s no one in my family that did property. Zero. I didn’t even read a book. It wasn’t taught about at school. I had no concept – I had no real idea about money either, you know. I remember being overseas and when I was doing the backpacking thing, I was probably 23 and had a credit card. I didn’t quite understand how credit worked then which seems bizarre, but I remember being… it’s actually in France of all places and I was living off nothing, you know. I was eating potatoes and tomato sauce for dinner and boiling up eggs and just had zero money and I remember ringing the bank. I was ringing Westpac on a reverse-charged call to some banking thing and the lady said to me on the phone, ‘Oh, I see you’ve gone over your credit card limit. Would you like us to top that up a bit?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, thanks. That’s really nice of you. Thank you very much.’ I went from $2,500 to $4,000 or something and all of a sudden, I had money. I’m like, ‘Wow! This is great!’ And then I got back and I’m like, ‘Oh, OK. I got to pay this back now.’ Which is kind of bizarre to think about that now and I think that’s because we weren’t taught that sort of stuff at school. We weren’t shown how to manage money and that’s nobody’s fault. That’s just kind of how it was or maybe I wasn’t open to listening or learning about it. But these days I’m very, very focused on it and trying to teach my kids early about how to manage it and how to leverage off it and how to use it.
It was Steve’s book, you know. I literally picked it up in an airport, read it from cover to cover and I’m like, ‘Yup, I can do that.’ It just kind of resonated with me for whatever reason and just taught me that there was another way and it was just good timing as well. I was getting jaded at work and starting to wonder, ‘Is this it?’ It was about the mind that I had when I looked back at my payback and I realised I had been doing 40 hours’ work to get 3 hours off, which is your 4 weeks annual leave traditionally. And then once I did those numbers and that formula, that’s when I had a bit of a mind shift of, ‘OK, this doesn’t work for me anymore. I have no control of my time. You know, this is not good enough.’ And so I made that decision to change. I just didn’t know how it was going to change at that point and that’s when the book showed up and I think that’s classic, how things work. You make a decision in your own mind, or you get fed up with something and then opportunity pops up because you’re ready to accept it, you’re ready to see it happen and that’s kind of how it flows.
Having had many jobs in the past which have eventually led to his end goal of becoming a property investor, he started out with small jobs while he was still at school. He then went on to do work experience in theatre lighting.
I was always big on betting money, I suppose. My first job when I was 12 was working in a butcher shop, cleaning dishes. And then when we moved up to Queensland I got another job in a butcher shop. I loved it so much. I did more cleaning dishes when I was 12, 14 or whatever. And then I was a pizza delivery guy. I worked in a few different fruits shops – fruit and veggie shops. But then once I got into theatre lighting, I really loved that. I did that as work experience and then started the Gold Coast Art Centre. I was there for a number of years and, you know, I loved the job. I still look back on it with fond memories. That was a great time in my life, very creative, great people to work with, got to see lots of shows, bands, opera, rock ‘n roll and ballet and touring around the country, living overseas. So it was just a fun, fun job. It was just that it didn’t matter how fun it was. It was still going to be – I got to do 40 hours to get 3 hours off, and that was the turning point.
As previously mentioned, Steve McKnight’s book From 0 to 130 Properties in 3.5 Years spurred Jones to embark on his property investing journey, which also led to his current joint ventures.
Just through doing deals and running out of money and it was just out of necessity that I needed people to fund projects in the beginning, as a postie, with my cousin and then went separate ways, so I needed others to assist with that. So it was about finding people that were the same sort of risk profile, same sort of personality, had the right resources to contribute, building up some trust and making sure I’m working with people with integrity. And I just had a pool of people I suppose, that I work with from time to time, based on what the project was and what sort of funding was required. And those people just came from relationships that I had already particularly through my property networking group, just by being around other people that were doing things in property, just through chance I suppose or I wouldn’t say chance, but just being open to what I was looking for and usually when you do that, the right person shows up.
And then that just went from doing my own projects and having people fund them along with myself funding it, but then the more we did it, the more we realised it’s better to leverage up other people’s money and preserve your own or put yours in when you really need to and use it more as a backup. And then from there, I’ve built some good relationships with colleagues that were doing medium to large property development which was right out of my league, but they would become good friends and I saw what they were doing and so when they were an opportunity to invest with them, I did and those relationships continue to grow now, you know. We still do the same thing, where we can invest in a project and derive some sort of income from it, or use our superfund to do things or, you know, whatever kind of works. There’s always something going on. It’s just being around it and being open to contributing when it suits.
His leap from the postman to full-time property investor came about after securing his first deal, which brought him the freedom to pursue a more satisfying career and lifestyle. But it’s a fine balance between the fear of taking risks and finding freedom through those risks.
As soon as that first deal was made, it was about $50,000, I left [the postie job] immediately because I didn’t like the postie job after a couple of years. Like when I started there, it was a bit of fun and skidding around on the CT110, delivering mail. It was cool. But after, you know, a year, 18 months, it wasn’t that enjoyable anymore. So, I was looking for any opportunity to get out of that and I knew that the time that I was spending at work as a postie was just wasted. I mean it was just not worth my time and the feeling of leaving that job and knowing that I could focus all my time on finding deals and doing them, was just like a weight off my shoulders. I was just so excited because I enjoyed doing the deals and now I could do them whenever I wanted.
When I was a postie, I’d get up at 5:00. I was at work at 5:30. I’d be sorting mail, delivering mail, and I’ve busted my butt and then coming out at 3:00 in the afternoon exhausted and then trying to do property after that. You know, it’s not sustainable. So, once I left that, it just opened up a new world of understanding, what you can achieve by not being at work. I’m not recommending anyone to just go and quit their job. You need to a better plan than I did in the beginning. But I’ll never go back to it. I just say it is the very, very poor use of my time not just because of the work but the travelling to work, the thinking about work before, the stress, taking it home. When you equate that down to an hourly rate, it’s probably half of what you think you’re actually earning.
And once you equate it down to that and see what you can achieve with one property deal, it was just a numbers game and then it just kind of made sense. And there’s going to be pressure to go and find deals and make them successful because when you’ve got a job, you just get up and go to work and someone pays you. It’s pretty straightforward. But, in the beginning, I suppose most people would feel that pressure to succeed because if you don’t then you don’t eat, you know, you don’t pay your bills. But I found that that made me even more resourceful and made me think creatively how I’m going to fund these deals. That sort of stuff comes up.
And so it’s a fine balance I think, between not getting caught up in the fear or the anxiety of not knowing when this deal is going to come through or is it going to come through? Are you going to be able to make a profit? Are you going to be able to live off it? And then find a balance between that and then also the freedom of not going to work and having more time obviously to go and focus on this sort of stuff and learning to do deals and finding joint venture partners and growing your business. So it’s a fine balance, I think.
One of the worst joint ventures in property investment for Jones came down to bad management, through lack of understanding between each party involved. This taught Jones the valuable lesson of focusing more on the people who he worked with, rather than their resources.
All the deals have gone pretty good. There’s probably one that was not great in that we weren’t probably – it’s one of my early joint ventures and for me it was about finding people that had the resources to contribute to the deal and that I got along well with them, you know, that I trusted and friends and so we did a deal with some people. I probably wasn’t as good at doing joint ventures then and wasn’t clear about the importance of communicating properly, understanding role and responsibilities, that sort of thing with joint venturing. And so when you don’t have that, things can go off-track really easily and that’s where things got pear-shaped with joint ventures where there hasn’t been a clear delineation between who’s doing what in the deal. Resentment can build from that and eventually conflict can get to that point for us. But, it was just managed not very well and I take responsibility for that and that wasn’t a great outcome – but it taught me a lot, to focus more on the personality of the people that you’re going to be joint venturing with rather than just the resources they can contribute because you want it to be a fun experience. You want to have a good time. And by focusing on the person more than the money, it’s become really important.
So, understanding how they react under pressure, you know, what stresses them out, because people often change when money gets on the table. They can bring fear around it or they can bring stress, and that fear or stress can affect the project in a funny sort of way even if they have no control over it. It can still affect the project. So, we just get really clear on who we’re working with now and how they might react under certain situations because a property deal has ebbs and flows and you need to be fluid with what’s happening in the market and what the deal is doing and the strategy you’re implementing. So you want someone on board that is happy to do that, but who’s not too detailed and too structured. You want someone that you can work with that is happy to change directions from time to time and understand that there is a risk, you know. Things aren’t always going to go perfectly.
So nothing too crazy about that, but it did teach me a lot about how to do joint ventures well and how to be really upfront with everything. Look at all the worst-case scenarios, get it out on the table really early and have real clear paperwork on who’s doing what throughout the project. What happens if there is a conflict, what happens if the deal goes pear-shaped, what are you going to do? What’s the fallback plan? How are we going to react in this scenario? And that is really, really important I think with any joint venture now, more so than what they’re contributing to the deal because you don’t want to lose friends or family over what you’re doing. It’s just a property project in the end and you want to come out, in the end, feeling good about it, obviously make profit and be able to on the move onto the next one and choose to do that if you want. And if it hasn’t gone so well or you didn’t like the process, then you can close the book on that one and open another one with another partner, or another deal.
What you shared about the lesson is really powerful and I just correlate it back to form a team, whether it be in a business or a company, or even at work. It’s choosing the right skill sets and ensuring that you delegate the right responsibility because, at the end of the day, it’s a team effort as you just mentioned, but also that you’ve got to know the personalities inside and out because everyone works differently.
Yeah. And thinking that as complementary skills together. It’s not just, ‘Hey, you know, we’re good mates. We trust each other. Let’s go and do a deal together.’ That doesn’t always work. It is going to be, ‘What are you contributing? What am I contributing?’ And is that complementary? Because if it’s not, then, you know, it’s going to be unbalanced throughout the project and you want everything to be shared. It doesn’t mean it’s got to be all 50/50. It just means it’s got to have the right intention, the right acumen placed based on what people are contributing.
Matt Jones’ Low-Risk Strategy: How To Manage Your Portfolio While Living Overseas
Jones openly admits that his own mindset held him back from initially investing in property, due to personal issues from his past. To overcome this, he searched for a mentor to guide him.
When I was in theatre, I had a lighting manager all through the last couple of years and I was getting paid $60,000 a year. And at the time, to me, that was a lot of money. I was like, ‘Wow, I’m doing really well. I’ve got a $60,000/year job.’
And so when I left that job, that to me was my benchmark and that was just a belief system around that. And so I was doing deals and no matter what I did, I couldn’t make more than $60,000 and I was really tracking money for years. I would track every cent. And so I’d track all my expenditure and I’d look at it and go, ‘I can’t make more than $60,000,’ I’m like, ‘It’s just not working out.’ So, that was a massive ‘a-ha’ moment in that I had to do some work on my own, my personal development, and Steve [McKnight] said that to me really early on and I didn’t really listen at the time. He just said, ‘Matt, property investing goes hand in hand with personal development.’ And he probably saw that in me at the time that I needed to do some work on myself and for me it was just about, ‘No, no, no. Just show me the numbers. Show me the strategy. I just want to get out there and do it.’
And so I did that. I ignored his advice and I just went out and did it, because personal development to me at the time was probably too scary to look at in case I uncovered something that I didn’t like about myself potentially. And so I just focussed on the strategy, finding deals, crunching numbers, doing deals… but I had this blockage around what I thought I was worth and I thought I was worth $60,000 a year. And so I had to go away and focus on and do some work on myself, and I ended up getting a coach on board to help me with that specifically.
So I went to different seminars, same way as I got into property, you know, you kind of read books and go and listen to people speak and I did a bit of that with the personal development side of things and went specifically looking for a coach that could be one-on-one with me. Because I really believe in paying more and getting that one-on-one attention to get faster and better results.
He found valuable help in the form of life coach and mentor, Jill McIntyre, who taught him to look outside of his comfort zone in all aspects of his life.
I met Jill McIntyre who I’m guessing some of your listeners might know. She’s based in Melbourne and is a life coach but a whole lot more than that. She’s a property investor and does a lot of business coaching as well now. So, I found her or she found me, whatever, it was fate and I just went through like a program I suppose of 12 months which involved me talking to her on a regular basis and delving into things that were holding me back in whatever way. We mentioned, you know, the 60K thing was based around self-worth and, you know, some stuff around what I learned from my parents or what I didn’t learn from my parents as far as money management.
There were other personal sides of things with my life around commitment and I was—and my parents have divorced at one point obviously a number of years ago and that kind of affected how I went about things in relationships. Turned out to be a really positive thing with my parents are good friends now and we’re all really close. But at the time, it kind of affected me in a way that I had trouble committing to somebody else. So, I worked through that at the same time and it was all kind of interrelated with not just about property, but just the way I was approaching my life and the things that I was doing to sabotage myself. I just had to have them addressed and—so, yeah, it’s just working with Jill one-on-one and discussing those things and trying to understand why I was doing them.
And I think once I had an awareness, firstly of what I was doing and also why I was doing it, it was quite easy to kind of break the habit and—because I wanted things that I wanted to be doing. I wanted to be married. I wanted to have my own family. I wanted to be a father and so I was just holding myself back in that area. So, it was really empowering to go through that process and that was scary in the beginning. It was very empowering to get through the other side and, you know, I’m very grateful to Jill for helping me do that and we still talk now to this day.
Even just a couple of weeks ago, just taking on some one-on-one mentoring clients which is another level for me as far as educating people goes. So, yeah, I brought Jill back in. “Hey, Jill, I’m doing something different here. It’s a little bit out of my comfort zone, but I’m really excited about it.” But I just think of it as a little bit of adjustment, you know. I mean when you go to an acupuncture treatment or anything. “Hey, Jill, you’ve tried this? Because I want to make sure I do it right.” And it’s more of a fun thing. It’s more of that exciting thing rather than, you know, in the first year that I was with her, every time I had a phone call with her, I was scared out of my wits because I knew that she was going to push my buttons and uncover things I didn’t want uncovered. And, you know, that was part of the growth to go through that. So, yeah, I was very grateful for that experience.
Jones encourages listeners who may also be struggling with mindset issues, saying that while it is a challenge it is essential in order to gain clarity and move forward in your life.
Everyone can do it. It’s not something that’s anything special. I think it’s just if you want something bad enough, you know, and you make a really conscious decision that you want that, and that’s all it is really. Everything after that is pretty easy. I mean there are challenges with it, but once you’ve made that decision that—you kind of have that fire in you that you want that really bad, you know, more than anything else and you can’t live, you can’t go on until you have that. And that’s all you need to get going inside you to make that change. It’s not about the logistics of finding a coach and doing the programs. It’s about making a really clear decision, you know, the emotional decision in your own heart —“This is the person I want to be, or this is what I want to do. This is how I want my life to be.” And once you’re clear on that, nothing can stop you. I’ve used that scenario in lots of sections of my life now where you just get clarity. Clarity leads to the power of doing it.
Unsurprisingly, some of the best advice he has received is related to mindset. He says that it is not the strategy that is usually the problem, it is the fear of just getting started.
Probably what I mentioned about Steve [McKnight] before where he said, you know, ‘property investing goes hand-in-hand with personal development.’ Also, I’ve heard from other mentors, who said to me once about mindset thing 70% of the work, you know, the strategy is kind of 30%. Strategy is not rocket science. Anyone can learn how to go and subdivide a property, you know. It’s not hard. The thing that holds people back is the emotional blockages or the fear of doing something—once you get hold of that and understand what it is because we all got something, some big, some small. Once you understand what that is and go out and resolve it, then that is where the success lies, I think. It’s not in just learning more strategies or doing more deals or—it’s just having that
belief, that understanding of how powerful your mindset is.
The property deals Jones made when entering the market were centred on renovating old properties. However, he began using subdivision as part of a low-risk investment strategy while he was employed as a postman.
The first ones were just basic Renos, you know. Old properties, sprucing them up, paint job, new kitchen, new bathroom, put a deck on, make a new roof, those sorts of things, a bit of landscaping and then just putting it back on the market, which I found to be hard work.
And that led me into the subdivision where there was a reno component and a subdivision component. So, it might be one into two, did a number of battle-axe blocks where there’s a house at the front of the block, a large backyard and side access potentially, and we’d just cut the block in half, sell off the land at the back and then renovate the front house. We’d rent that house for a while, pay down the loan on that and then it’d be more positively geared, then eventually sell that property at the right time, which worked really well. We just kept repeating that strategy for quite a while because it seemed to be fairly low-risk and easy to manage.
So the first one actually I did while I was still a postie, so I could still do that sort of nine to five job and manage this subdivision project. And once I’d, you know, made more money in one deal than I was in a year doing a postie where I realised like I don’t need to do the postie thing anymore. And then we kind of kept moving on from there, replicating that strategy and just kept it really simple, you know. We were kind of just flipping it the way we were with the renovations, but taking the money and pulling a bit of wage out of it, but then putting the money back into the next project.
While his property investment strategy was originally founded on joint ventures, it has evolved. This allows him to put money into other people’s projects in return.
At this point, I was just looking at, ‘OK, what’s the next move as far as deals go?’ But we’re also even more mindful now of what we want to do with that time, you know. I’m very protective of that. So, yeah, the strategy has to feed in with us now. Whereas it was kind of the other way around before where it’s just, you know, ‘Let’s just make this work. Let’s get it happening.’ Now, we’ve kind of come full circle with the joint venturing, where before we’d have people putting into our projects. Now we can do it, you know, put money into other people’s projects and get a return from that, which is great.
Jones says that he regrets not holding onto any properties which he had renovated and subdivided and recommends that potential investors should always have the skills to execute an active strategy to manage their projects.
Something that we left out about wealth creation strategy and that’s a little bit of regret at this point because, at the time, we were just kind of surviving. We were just getting in there, flipping it, building up the capital base so that we could get into bigger deals. And now, you have the joint venture scenarios. It’s more about, ‘OK, how do we hold something?’ Each project we need to try and keep as a part of it rather than just get a return on our money or, you know, we need to end up with an asset basically so we’re building that. So we’re kind of starting again there a little bit with building a portfolio.
And looking back, I think, yeah, we probably should have held more along the way, but I was so focused on, you know, active property investing strategies. Buy and hold just wasn’t in my realm of thinking. And so now, I encourage people to have a good mix going on where, yeah, you’ve got some good long-term properties there in your portfolio, but you’ve also got the skills to implement active sort of strategy so that you can manufacture your own profit, or your own equity to do the things you want to do now or, you know, build a capital base for other projects or whatever that is. But, yeah, having something ticking along in the background I think is really important and I think we’ve overlooked that a little bit. It’s been more about the now rather than the future and that’s just something we’re adjusting now and just probably fast-tracking a bit more, you know, in the coming years, I would think so. We can leverage up that later.
Despite his commitments at home, Jones took the opportunity of travelling overseas and hasn’t looked back. He says having been able to take the time to experience a happy, prosperous life with his family is what was important to him.
We could have stayed and just done more deals and made more money. No doubt. And we would have made more money if we stayed in Australia because that’s the path we were on and that would have been fine. But then you get to a point where you go, ‘Why?’ I mean we are living comfortably. We could do the things we wanted to do. We’re setting ourselves up well. It was about buying experiences now because I remember—I think it was Brendan Nichols that we have—in my head, he might not have said it first but it stuck in my mind when he said that, ‘We have 4000 weeks on this earth on average and then you could even say you got 4000 weekends.’ And so, when you break that down, now I’m past halfway and I kind of get into that—it might sound a bit morbid but I like to project myself to that point and just think, ‘OK, would I be happy with the decisions I made? Would I be happy with what I’ve achieved?’ Not just from a financial point of view, but the priority for me is being a father and a husband and how to be the best father and husband I can be. And that’s over everything else.
So, we kind of started basing our decisions around that and around that happiness or that fulfilment rather than the number of properties we have or amount of money we have in the bank, and I’m not saying that’s not important. It is because that is what allows you to do amazing things. I want to know that we gave it a crack and we had a good time and, yeah, that meant we earned less money over that period, but we got to do what we wanted to do. We both have experienced it and really funny, it wasn’t that hard. It was quite—I mean we spent a lot less money living in France than we do in Australia.
He explains how he was able to travel and live in France for an extended period, saying that his property investments in Australia funded him and his family in a sustainable way.
We had a stash of money that we had there if everything went pear-shaped if deals fell over or whatever. You know, we could still remain there. We were fully funded. But we wanted to do it in a way where it was kind of sustainable where, you know, the meetings that I had, the networking group meetings that continued to run, we could still invest in other people’s projects.
I built my membership site and my website and did more work on that to make it, you know, more professional and more content-rich. So there were things that we did while we’re away that kept things going. It meant we didn’t have to dip into our savings. We could sustain ourselves as we were about living on the other side of the world and that was kind of part of the challenge as well if we could do that because we knew if we could do that, then we could do it anywhere and we could do it again and again.
So, it was—for me, that was a big learning curve as far as restructuring everything that I did in Australia because I had to think about how will I do this in France, you know, every single thing and it was probably 18 months or 2 years of us restructuring that and bringing in people to help us and investing in better systems and building, you know, a better foundation for everything so that I could hand things over to other people to do things for me, and that was a real process for me too because I had learned how to delegate better. You know, it was a bit too onerous and that had been a weakness of mine in property investing in the early days as well. It’s something that I had to address where I didn’t want to work with anyone, just wanted to do it myself. It just let me go and do it, you know. I just work better by myself and property investing is all about teamwork. You know, you need to have great people around you and I had to change the way I approached that.
And then I had to readdress it again when we had to restructure our business and learn how to delegate and outsource and get people to do things and—and because we had that drive to go and live in France and have this experience, it was a lot easy because we had our tickets. We had the date that we were going to. It was like, ‘Well, this time next year, we’re going to be sitting in France and we want everything to be running as normal.’ So I really need to, you know, go and figure that and make things happen so that we can do that. It was really an incentive.
A personal habit which has had a profound impact on Jones’ mindset and success is meditation.
I’ve kind of done meditation and a bit of yoga – a little bit – over the last 20 years just on and off, but I’ve never had any sort of structure with it and consistency, and I’m a big believer in doing things consistently. Over a long period of time, I think you get massive growth in whatever you’re trying to achieve by just doing it consistently. And I hadn’t done that with meditation before. I knew it was an important part of my life, but I hadn’t been able to work out a way of doing it every day.
I just went on this smartphone app, an app called ‘Headspace’. You go to headspace.com and it’s just a great well-structured app that I’ve used probably for the last year now and I’ll religiously do it every day for half an hour – it just sets my day up, you know. It puts me in the right frame of mind and I’m always learning something about how to be present, how to make good decisions, how to communicate better. It’s just this constant input every day and I love it. I look forward to it. It’s just that little piece of me-time that I put back and it allows me to do more, I think.
My goal is to be doing it for 10 years every day. It’s been 1 year so far. So I’ve got a long-term plan with that and I think that’s what it takes with that sort of thing and I already noticed a change in me in doing it over that time, just little things. Nothing major, but just enough for me to go, ‘Yeah, this is really good for me’ and I’ll continue to do it for as long as I can.
Based on his experience of property development and investing, he recommends engaging with some key wealth creation books and how to measure your success through personal fulfilment.
A couple of key ones, you know, I’m thinking of The Richest Man in Babylon [by George S. Clason]. Those ones that everyone should be reading. They’re sort of wealth creation books.
Something I’ve read recently… It wasn’t a property investing book, but it was a great read and affected me in the way that I go about life. It’s called The Expert’s Way by James Klobasa. It just came out late last year and he’s based on the sunny coast and he’s more of a digital economy expert around online businesses and that sort of thing. But the value in the book that I got was the way that he measures his success based on the happiness that he has in his life or the fulfilment that he gets, and he’s coined the phrase ‘kid vision’ where you go away for like 4 hours, go sit down and work out what your kid vision is – and that’s supposedly going back to your childhood and what excited you and what did you think you’re going to be when you grow up. Just having that sort of kid-like approach to your dreams and goals and not having any sort of boundaries around that and getting in touch with it.
And then, focusing on and recreating or creating what your perfect day looks like, so getting really clear on what that is when you get up in the morning. You get up. You meditate. You have breakfast. You spend time with your loved ones. You go surfing. What’s your perfect day? And it’s just little chapters like that throughout the book that I really resonated with because it helped me go to another level with striving for, you know, that perfect day. You’re not getting that every day because I think it’s a constant balance that we have trying to fit everything in, have fun, work and do the things that you’ve got to do, but still finding that balance and I find that to be a daily thing that needs to be worked on.
So I found I resonated really well with some of the stuff that James talked about. Definitely worth the read. Whether you’re into online businesses or not, I think most of the book is really about creating a life for yourself that you want, manufacturing the life that you want to live, getting clear on what that is and then going about implementing it.
And that’s worked really well for me at the moment because of the transition we’ve made coming back to Australia in that, you know, the French lifestyle was very—I wouldn’t say laid back. It’s just that they like enjoying the finer things in life and they tend not to embrace efficiencies in a lot of things, you know, like internet and Eftpos and, you know, just things that we take for granted that we use that keeps our lives simpler most of the time. But they focus more on communicating with friends and family and it’s kind of like—if you think back 30 years, how your life was, that’s kind of how it is there now. So I think where, you know, kids go out at night and play until 6 or 7 o’clock at night and they’re safe. There are no shops open on a Sunday and they have these long lunches every day of the week, everyone! Tradies, business-people, friends, family, they sit down for lunch every day for 2 hours with a bottle of Rosé and talk. There are no phones and they just interact and there’s the real community spirit.
So coming back here, I found it to be very fast-paced and, you know, ‘Go, go, go. We work hard. We play hard.’ We don’t stop for lunch, you know. We just get in and do it. So, for us, it was a bit of a culture shock because we were kind of like, ‘Whoa! Hang on. Slow down, slow down.’ So, we’re trying to find that balance now where we’re really efficient here and we got great things and technology and we utilise that but also stopping, you know, and spending time with each other and putting the phone away, not looking at Facebook and social media and stuff and just go, ‘How are you going?’ Just have a conversation and sit down and have a nice meal together. Those things are really, really special over there. We’re trying to incorporate that back in our own life here and just get that balance going, which I think is something that we miss because life just moves so fast.
Gosh. I envy that lifestyle now.
I tell you what, it’s hard to leave when you’ve got it. But in the beginning, it was challenging because it was too slow. And when we got there, things take a long time there. There’s a lot of red tapes. There’s a lot of paperwork, you know. Everything works by snail mail, you know. You pay for your groceries with a check a lot of the time. It’s just slow, slow, slow. And for the first few months, it was like, ‘Come on, guys, wake up, you know. Embrace the internet. Embrace these things.’ But then we kind of got it. We were like, ‘OK, people actually got it right here, you’re focusing on the important things that we’re forgetting about,’ and they’re very forthright in holding on to those things, and it’s good. I think we should embrace some of that stuff, but just getting a balance is an important thing.
If you would like to learn more information about Matt Jones’ success in making his profitable investments work for him and how you can do the same, you can reach out to him through his website or email.
The central point is my website, propertyresourceshop.com. You can contact me through the Contact page. I read all my emails. I do have some assistance but I always read everything, so feel free to drop me a line through there, [email protected].
If you’re in Southeast Queensland, we run monthly networking groups in Brisbane and Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast. And honestly, they’re just a fantastic event. That’s purely a networking event, there’s no sales pitches. No hard sell with anything. It’s just a really comfortable environment that people can come at all skill levels and just learn about property. We have a good structure there now. We have really good speakers that come along. But the focus is about networking and supporting each other and I’ve heard some people call it the A.A. for property investors. People can come and actually be supported by others that, you know, you might not be getting that support at home or from friends and just be around others that are doing what you want to do and mix with like-minded, positive people.
So, we do them every month and we get anywhere between 100 and 150 out of 190 there in January this year. So, very popular. It’s free if you’re the first time and then we actually charge $33 to attend because we think that people should put some money down. It’s not a free event. There’s no ulterior motive there. It’s like you come along, you pay and get really good value and it’s just a really great night.
They can go to the website. There are some really good blogs on there that are out every week. Some good resources – free and paid – on there and there’s a great online community as well. So, reach out and get in touch.