Episode 188: Money Management for Photographers with Erinn Bridgman

Money Management for Photographers with Erinn Bridgman

As a money management coach, Erinn Bridgman empowers entrepreneurs to design businesses that are not just ‘profitable’, but actually grow their personal wealth. Born with an entrepreneurial spirit, Erinn cut her chops by scaling her photography business to over six figures in under two years, affording her the capital to begin funding the real estate empire she and her husband now run. Erinn now supports business owners to not just ‘scale their business’ but to use it as a means for building personal wealth.



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Allie 0:00
Hello, welcome to the photo Field Notes podcast episode 188. Before we get into the episode today, a quick reminder, if you are looking for guidance and help on your workflows on your systems with client communication, at photo field notes.com/shop, you’ll find my client prep guides plus simple product sale system. This is just one big package, it’s all included. So you have your customer customer cannot talk customizable client guides that are designed in Canva, you have one for just general photo sessions, one for maternity and newborn sessions, and one for weddings, those are all included. So you can pick and choose what you want. There’s also a product guide that shows products, and all of these, they’re going to prep your clients, they’re going to show them how to style photos into their homes. And it comes with specific images that you can in Photoshop, pop your own images into these mock ups of products. And you can use those on social media and use those of course in the guides. So check that out at photo field notes.com/shop

Intro 0:59
Welcome to the photo Field Notes podcast, where you’ll find stories, tips and inspiration from professional photographers to get you taking action in your own business, and making your business dreams a reality.

Allie 1:13
Hi everybody, this is Allie Siarto, and I’m talking with Erinn Bridgman today. So let me give you a little bit of background on Erin, so you know who she is. She’s a money management coach. And she is Empowering Entrepreneurs to design businesses that aren’t just profitable, that actually connect to their personal wealth, grow their personal wealth as well. So we’re going to talk about that connection. And so Erin she was born with this entrepreneurial spirit always had it in her. And she caught her own chops in business running her own business as a photographer, so very relevant, which gave her the money to start investing in real estate. So we’re gonna talk a little bit about how that ties together. And she’s just been so passionate about supporting women as they uncover their own potential and earning power. So she supports business owners to not just scale up their businesses, but to also use that as a means for building personal wealth. Aaron Hello, welcome.

Erinn 2:05
Yay, I’m so excited to be here. Thanks for having me, Ali.

Allie 2:09
Well, anybody who listens to the podcast knows that I always like to, I love storytelling. And so I don’t expect anyone’s singular path to be like a copy and paste template for anybody else. But I love hearing stories because we all have the like, simply because we all have such different stories. So why don’t you start me out with just like a quick backstory on how you got into photography, and how you kind of transform this into what it is now.

Erinn 2:36
Amazing. I love hearing people’s stories. So thanks for asking. Okay, so I was a photographer, I started in 2012. And kind of what led me into photography, I was always interested in being behind the camera and like the art of it, and I have like that creative nature in me. But it’s expensive. It can be expensive to get into. And so I kind of and I remember a friend giving me this magazine book thing on how to work a camera on manual. I’m like, Okay, this is like really, really kinda like nerdy and techie. I don’t think I could do this. And then I was like, We graduated college. My husband and I were just recently married. Both of us have entrepreneurial roots, just like in our blood. And he started his first like, little business when he was eight. I had been doing little things as kids and then I actually paid for college being a door to door bookseller, which is fun stories there. But well, that sounds like a nightmare. I think that is for sure. The hardest form of sales, literally cold calling, knocking on people’s doors. And I learned a lot about myself a lot about mindset, problem solving, and a lot about sales. And so we were able to afford our first camera using our graduation money, and quickly, I love people. I love love. We were just married. So it quickly evolved into a business. We were in that season where all of our friends and our acquaintances were getting married. And so I was just polish and I was just like, let me photograph your wedding. And that evolved into growing within the first couple of years growing into a six figure brand. We settled in Indianapolis, I was working an hour north of the city. So we did a lot of grinding and commuting to bridal shows an engagement session sales meetings and but yeah, so I just absolutely love the art of photography. But even more than that, I love the business side, which is I feel like often reverse as I work with and coach photographers and creatives. And so yeah, that is kind of we were photographers and started a video portion so Brent would do the videography at the weddings, I would do photography and We did that for about seven years. And as we were doing that we were also getting our master’s degrees and had full time jobs. And a huge part of that was, we had a lot of student debt, and we weren’t making a ton of money in our early careers. So we’re like, well, we can solve this, we have the ability to make money. And so photography was the first way we did that. And as I kind of left my career in higher education, I was sort of fighting the StrengthsFinder, I was doing a lot of development work with women. And so it naturally led me into coaching, doing business coaching. That was five years ago. And that is my heartbeat that is like my sole work, empowering women around money, helping them scale their businesses and their own personal competence. And in the meantime, we were living in a college town working in higher ed and we bought our first rental property, which I’m sure we’ll talk about a bit in 2014, and have been scaling our real estate company since then. But that’s a little bit of my journey, a little about my story. And I know before we got online, we were talking but I love that you’re from Michigan, your Michigan girl, I’m from Indiana, and we spend our summers up in northern Michigan and diversity, my favorite place on Earth. So

Allie 6:14
I know sometimes I don’t want people to know about Traverse City. I’m like, don’t tell it’s

Erinn 6:18
I know. I know. I mean, if you look at like, um, Brian, I have been together for 12 years. So like what the city looked like 12 years ago now. It’s like insane.

Allie 6:28
I was telling Erinn, we were talking just like we’re going to talk a little bit about real estate. But I was telling her that like 10 years ago, there was a condo for sale for less than $200,000 in downtown Traverse City. And we looked at it but didn’t get it. And now I mean, we weren’t even probably close at the time we bought our home then like, let’s be real, we didn’t have the money for it. But now I’m like, I wish that we would have bought this place because it’s easily I mean, they are selling for like a million dollars for one or two bedroom now downtown in Traverse City. So it’s a great place. It is a wonderful, it is truly one of my favorite places in the whole world. So we’ll get into the real estate.

Erinn 7:09
I know I love it.


Okay, let’s talk first we’re going to start with just kind of like business and money. And then we’re going to kind of touch on real estate later because I actually I, we started in but my whole my total side tangent. My parents entire investment strategy has been real estate. And so my dad started out like one of eight family with no money, he paid his own way through even high school, he went to private high school paid his way through everything. When we were kids, you know, they paid off, they bought our house and like built it bit by bit. We were like, the floors weren’t carpeted for a while, all this stuff because he’s putting every penny into real estate investing to where now they’ve just done phenomenally well with that and been such an inspiration. So it’s an area that interests me, but I’m gonna talk. There’s just so much there. And I think it is still fun to talk about because you can be one thing, but you can have the investment is a whole other area when you’re looking at wealth building and retirement and cashflow. So let’s back up before we get there. And let’s just talk about the financial challenges that tend to keep photographers from building wealth.

Erinn 8:19
Yeah, well, like I said, in my story, I’m, that’s my roots in entrepreneurship is photography. And so I naturally attract a lot of photographers, in my coaching business, and a lot of just creatives in general. And so, generally speaking, I really coach from two perspectives. And so I want to kind of talk about both of those. I really, we talk about all the mindset part with thinking because our thinking leads to action. And so there are certain icy common mindset blocks that I think creative struggle with. And then there’s the whole management piece of money. So in my program in my intensive, we really we’ve both of those together, because I believe that’s how we create sustainable change with money. So let’s start with mindset a bit, I think, some common things that I see. And of course, everyone’s story is different. And so I encourage your listeners to tap into maybe these examples, but then think about their own money journey, their own their own things that are maybe blocking them. And then we can do the deeper work around rewiring our thinking and bringing ourselves more into abundance and away from fear. But a few things I think. One is I hear a lot of times creative saying I’m just not good at numbers. I just like numbers are really hard. I’ve just don’t know how to do it. Math, spreadsheets, numbers. And you know, nobody is born. Knowing that nobody is born knowing numbers. is, and many times, photographers, graphic designers, we fall into these careers because we love the art, we and then they find out, Oh, we can make money and then it evolves into from hobby to business. And so right with right there, it means it’s become about numbers. And so this is a skill that can be attained. It doesn’t have to be a trait you are born with. And so I really challenge if you are thinking as you’re listening, that’s to me, I’m just not a numbers person. Stop labeling yourself that way, because you’re continuing to tell your subconscious that and that’s just an excuse, and start to realize, okay, like, maybe this isn’t my natural way. I’m wired, but it’s something I can learn. And so I think that’s a common kind of belief. I think too many times because of that evolution of we love what we’re doing. And it’s like this hobby, and it’s almost like, How can I? How can I even charge people for this work, we have this sort of worthiness conversation that we have to really dive into around money, because for some reason, maybe we have this belief that it has to be really hard to make money, we have to feel like we’re grinding to make money, we have to exchange time for dollars. And as you’re scaling in the industry, and growing your business, which I know your podcast is all about helping photographers grow their business, you know, you have to go beyond this kind of Congress, this this thinking and say like, Okay, I’m worthy of charging, even though I love it, and maybe like, what’s that story, you’re saying about money? Oh, it has to be hard, you can’t enjoy it, you know, or it has to be like really hard in order for me to have the energy of money in my life. And so I love for people to step into this place of worthiness and like flow with money. So those are two of the common like, mindset, sort of things. There’s more, but that I see. So hopefully that answers that. And we can jump into management too, if you want. But

Allie 12:10
Yeah, I do think that that I think a lot of people do struggle with, you know, like revenue versus profitability versus personal wealth. So if you want to talk a little bit about the difference, and how we can use our businesses like tie that, that for some reason, the default has become revenue for a lot of people that that’s like, not the most important in my head. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on tying that all the way back to personal wealth.

Erinn 12:36
Yes. Well, I love that you said that. Thank you for saying that. For some reason, it’s become so much about revenue. And that’s what I see a lot in our industry and education coaching. online space is a lot of advertising around programs, or coaching or whatever is about like, let’s double your revenue, let’s get you to be that six figure entrepreneur like, and I’m not trying to fix that, like it’s part of what I do. Part of it is about revenue. But more important than revenue is of course, profitability. And more than more important than profitability is salary within your companies. And so this is how I teach that, yep, we have to get all of your money numbers dialed in as far as your business. And I would love to talk a little bit more about what that looks like, and what photographers really need to be thinking about beyond p&l sheets. But you know, who cares? If you’re a six figure entrepreneur, if you pay yourself crap, and you’re barely getting by, and money is like a source of anxiety and tension, that’s not really allowing your business to impact your personal wealth in the way that is possible. And so when I work with people, it’s really important that we have your, your finances organized in your business, so that we can and crease your salary. And many times I see for sure, and even that word salary might be like, Well, I don’t even have a salary. I mean, you know, oh, many times I see photographers don’t pay themselves consistently. They don’t have a consistent salary that they can count on. They sort of get by in their personal life and they draw out of their business, when it’s absolutely necessary for them. And right, they’re like, What are we telling ourselves, we’re saying, like, I pay myself last, you know, like, business is more important. My personal right? We’re like giving ourselves all these subconscious messages, which is not helpful. But then also we’re really not setting ourselves up to feel and to pursue a wealthy life. And I believe that wealthy women will change the world because of the way that we show up the way that we have to be trained. swarmed in the process of becoming wealthy way that we generously impact the world. There’s so many reasons. And so starting with really understanding, how do I pay myself consistently? Then how do I raise that? How do I bonus myself out? All those types of things, and I really teach, you cannot just be the CFO of your business. And those things have to do with your being your business CFO being able to pay yourself salary up at give the bonuses, but you need to be the CFO of your personal life. And that means understanding your current lifestyle, how much does that cost? How much does it cost you to live on a month to month basis, not just your fixed budgeted expenses, but also your, your short term, so planning for Christmas planning for trips, you know, not being like, Oh, crap, I’m going somewhere next, next month, and I haven’t thought about I haven’t saved for a wealthy woman is prepared and she’s, you know, doing those things. And, and then really, really knowing your financial goals beyond your current lifestyle. And so I teach five different categories around that. And how do we like strategically take your business and have it not only impact your personal life now, but have it work towards those bigger financial goals?

Allie 16:23
I think that’s good. And I for the first time, maybe ever this last year, I actually did a spreadsheet where I like, broke down, I used to use Personal Capital and men, and it would break down my personal expenses. But I finally just did like a spreadsheet to break it down. And it’s all to say, spoiler, you’re always spending more than you think. I maybe that’s not true for everybody. But I was like, Oh, I’m very reasonable. Like I haven’t, I haven’t left the state and ages. I haven’t gone on a real vacation in two years. I’m not spending that much. But then I was like, oh, except I was putting tons of money into renovating the house in the meantime, or, you know, using. So I think that you’re right, that kind of the CFO of your own life, where you’re looking at what is my budget, what am I spending, and I don’t necessarily budget down to the penny in that way. But I think that being aware of every single month, what what I’m investing what I’m bringing in and like balancing that out, even just making a simple bar chart to compare the two and looking at net worth and looking at future goals. is all there important. So let’s talk about if you’re a single business owner, you’re not necessarily you know, let me also be clear, there are a lot of messages in the world that we need to grow, grow, grow scale, scale scale. And I ran a business like that, in my 20s, where we were all about growing, we were all about hiring and bringing on people. And I found that to be quite a burden, actually, to have to have the responsibility of other employees. I just wanted more flexibility in my life. And so for those who maybe don’t want to scale endlessly, who want to make sound, you know, make enough to pay their bills invest and build a future for themselves. How can they still make those sound financial decisions without hiring away everything?

Erinn 18:19
Wow, I love that question. I love that you’re bringing it up, because I just went through this my own process with this where, you know, you look at the industry and you’re like what’s the way all the Guru’s teach you the scale, because I had this, okay, I’ve made it to this level, and I’m ready to like make it to the next. And I went through a process of kind of abandoning my intuition and just going off for it. And you know, running the Facebook ads and spending 10s of 1000s of dollars on funnels and ads and strategists and all this and growing a team that was like, I had a coaching team coaching underneath me. So all of a sudden, like I don’t even get to do what I love anymore. I have coaches coaching my people. And I don’t even why I don’t like that. And so just my own personal story has been really like allowing yourself to find alignment. And following your intuition. I talk about something called the entrepreneur sweet spot. And it’s made up of four things. And we create this filter for decision making in business based on these four things. Because as entrepreneurs, we have a different take on life, you have a different take on business, we don’t go to work and be told by our boss what to do, or we make our own standards. And so the entrepreneur sweet spot is the blend of when these four things are working in sync and they’re working in alignment. And that is that we money so we feel really aligned with our money we will go with the energy, like how much we’re manifesting into our life, our pricing all that. But it’s not just money. It’s you know, we feel really good about the impact that we’re making on the world. So out sat, like, we feel like, Hey, we are putting the mark on the world with, with our company that we want. Passion, that we feel like when we wake up in the morning, our to do list, what we have ahead of us is lining us up. And then lifestyle if we feel like, you know, if if flexibility is a huge part of it, or, you know, being available for the kids, and all of that. And so I love to just say all of those things need to be making sense for you. And in a really good spot, in order for I believe you to be living your best entrepreneurial life. And that looks different for every person, you know. And so as your listeners that may be thinking through that, maybe think about each of those categories. And Mike, what I what am I am I fully there, where do I want to work and, you know, as a money coach, of course, that is, money is one that I focus a lot on, but not to the abandonment of the others, you know, and so I just wanted to kind of introduce that concept. And then say, everyone, yeah, everyone’s journey is going to be different. If you want to grow your, your net worth, if you want to grow in investments, you have to have money overflow, you can’t just you can’t, whatever you make spend, then you have nothing left to put towards savings to put towards investing. And so, you know, I would say that, for me and my philosophy, not not a philosophy of hustle culture or grind culture. But how can you find a flow and align that with money that feels really good, whether it’s your pricing structure and raising your rates, or raising who you work with, or making sure you outsource the things that are much lower dollar amounts to outsource that you’re in your spot of genius. So that you have an overflow of money coming into your personal life that you can use towards investing towards lifestyle improvements towards generosity, savings and debt payoff. Those are the five areas that I look at, when we are looking at financial goals for women to move up in their wealth.

Allie 22:22
And you kind of talk about this idea that traditional financial advice is kind of actually leading people toward like this idea of scarcity. Can you explain what you mean by that, and what you think how we how we should look at it differently beyond the traditional financial advice that we see.

Erinn 22:40
Yeah. So there’s fans out there that you know, follow different leaders different advice. And some of it I agree with, it’s all but I don’t. And I always say particularly, I’m speaking to the audience of entrepreneurs. So right away, my message is different than if I was speaking to somebody who wasn’t an entrepreneur. And I know that your listeners are those people. And so I want to remember remind you, that you are a unicorn, you are this magical being who’s decided that you’re ballsy enough and competent enough to say, I can take something of myself a skill, my knowledge, my creation, if you make physical products, and I can take it to the market. And I can say, like, ask for money in exchange for that. And that takes a certain type of woman, it takes a certain type of confidence and belief. And also you have an opportunity in the marketplace to make more money to you aren’t stuck to a specific salary. You can do strategic thing. Strategic and headspace mindset things to generate, generate more money into your world. And so I talk about how I really want to this conversation to be expanded into like, this isn’t just about individual listeners here, who are like thinking about themselves. It certainly starts with that. But this is a movement for women beyond just the individual. If you look at society, and you look at even the past 100 years, you know, less than 100 years ago, a woman could open a bank account without a man and less than 100 years. You cannot open a credit card without a man signing on that as well. I mean, it’s crazy to me. And so I like to really put this idea of like as women entrepreneurs, we are on the front lines of making change and this movement and all that to kind of say while we need to be aware of For our money, and we budget to have an awareness of our patterns or habits and awareness of truly what does it cost us to live? I like to make sure that the energy is not focused on how do I save $5 a month and get rid of this subscription? And how do I trim this down and trim that down? Yeah, we should do those things we should be, you know, but that’s not the most productive energy for an entrepreneur, we got to be responsible, we got to know that stuff, do that stuff. But I’d like to say let’s put more energy, more heart towards manifesting more, because that’s our magic as entrepreneurs, I would rather you take, let’s say, there’s a certain amount of energy that it takes, both in strategy and in your nature of your nurturing of your mindset, to like, be disciplined to save money to, to, you know, pinch pennies, all of that. And let’s say we can take that same amount of energy, and put it towards believing bigger things about money, believing in abundance, moving out of, you know, fear into a space of belief, and possibility, we take that much time that we’re taking the, you know, pinch all the pennies, and we’re like, doing it to make more money and raise our rates and show up confidently, I think that you’re we’re gonna have a lot more impact that way, as entrepreneurs. And so that’s our magic. That’s an obviously it’s not one without the other, there’s like, you know, a combo, but we aren’t like, I guess we aren’t tied to a salary, let’s put a lot more thought and energy towards manifesting more.

Allie 26:46
Yeah, and I think it’s a balance, I’ll be, I’ll be honest, on my end, I was recently reading a book by an author who’s kind of I think, like rising in the entrepreneur space, and I disagreed with, like, everything she had to say, because she was all about, you know, outsource. I was gonna call it anyone who’s read the book, outsource your laundry, budget yourself, it was like a month to month mindset. And so that a wealth building mindset, it was all about, like live that take that fancy vacation will be at that fancy wardrobe, it was like taking it too far. And so I do think it’s a balance, like, yes, we can, we don’t necessarily need to exhaust ourselves where we have nothing left in the like, in the cup in the pot, because we put all of our energy into that. But I also think that like we can be responsible with our personal lives. And by reducing our copying, by being just generally responsible with our once a month expenses, it takes away a lot of stress that allows us to do some experimentation in our business that may or may not make money. And that’s how you find some of those really amazing ideas. So I think that it’s a very tricky balance, but we have to, we have to kind of open up both sides. Like that’s not necessarily permission to become an adult. I just watched inventive Anna, like go on, like a 60 grand vacation, or like something that’s absolutely ridiculous.

Erinn 28:08
And to be clear, that’s not what I’m saying. Like I’m saying, you have to be able to do both, but I think our tendency, and what is out in the educational space around finances as a lot more about like scrubbing down saving, focusing on that space, and I’d like to push the push the story a little bit and say, okay, yes, I mean, that’s I every woman that I work with, creates a personal budget, they do 30 days of tracking their spending, like we’re doing those things, but also we’re making sure we’re putting a lot of energy towards stretching our mindset and like doing an abundance challenge manifestation challenge, creating projections in our company, looking at the possibility and not just the penny pinching part of things.

Allie 28:57
Yes, definitely. The balance it sounds like is what you’re a proponent for. And I think that that’s good, just making sure we we sit within that nice sweet spot within the balance right?

Erinn 29:07
And everybody has right and everybody everyone who’s listening you should be able to you know that it’s it’s scary if we have like a one size fits all sort of money coaching or money, you know, every one is at a different space in their money journey in their money goals in you know, certain people I’m gonna say, Yeah, take the vacation, like do that, you know, and Sam, and then Sam, he was like, Well, the first thing we have to do is pay down debt and create savings, you know, and so, there is a certain framework and rhythm that you know, different people are at different places that and thus the money coaching would would differ per person. Yeah,

Allie 29:52
I see. And I know also like between the lines, a lot of people follow Dave Ramsey in the past I used to like we fully paid off all debt we pay Get off our house. And then I was like, well, dang, I should have used that money to invest in real estate more when prices were lower. No, I mean, I love having no no debt and no mortgage. But now that we’re getting into real estate investing, I’m like, it’s getting expensive. So that segues me just quickly, let’s just talk about real estate. Now I know at the base level, it doesn’t seem like this is relevant to photographer. However, as photographers, we do need to think about our future. And part of that is when we hopefully have this of an abundance of money, we want to be investing that. And so there are different places to invest it. For me personally, we invest in like mostly just index funds and real estate. And so I would love to hear your thoughts on for somebody. Like, I know this is a whole world and probably impossible, but just maybe tell me a little bit about your own journey getting into real estate and your own thoughts around how that’s worked for you.

Erinn 30:55
Yeah. So funny. You talked about Dave Ramsey. So my husband and I did Financial Peace University before we got married. We were like drinking the Kool Aid. And then we were like, what I think that deeper, like our philosophies definitely break down. And that goes into sort of, I think it’s different when you’re entrepreneur, Dave Ramsey is speaking to not the entrepreneur audience necessarily.

Allie 31:26
Yeah, he is the one size fits all. And he’s probably not very good for people who are in a lot of debt. But I think you’re right, it breaks down when you get into some lost opportunities once you’re able to once you’re beyond that level.

Erinn 31:40
And that’s exactly why I needed to say that because of what Brett and I chose to do. Um, yeah, so we had saved up money because of photography, because like I said, our salaries were pretty low at the time. And so, being what I just said, Yeah, we made we had budget, and I remember us having going to the Cheesecake Factory and splitting a meal. And that was our like splurge and we would bring our budget sheets, and we would talk about our budget. So we were conscious about our spending, but we were more conscious about how do we make more. And so that’s where we were able to, you know, expand our lifestyle through photography. And we saved up $18,000 And I made the cow. And at that time, that was a lot of money for us how $18,000 Like, you know, and we had close to $100,000 in student debt, because, I mean, Brett was partway through pursuing his PhD I was we both got her master’s degree. So higher ed is expensive. And so we were faced with this reality of we could take $18,000 And we could pay off one of our student loans. Or we could take $18,000. And we could buy an investment property that would eventually pay off all of our student loans. And I had to press it against my resistance, my mindset of, I’m an accumulator, that’s one of mine. I’m also a maverick maverick in the sacred money archetypes. That is weird balance of like wanting to take risk and go be crazy. And also like feel the money and just kind of keep it nice and pretty in my bank account. And you know, Brad’s been spending a lot of time educating himself in real estate. And so I said, this is kind of a fun story. I said, Okay. One night, as you’re going to bed, I said, Brian, if this is really like a passion of yours, you really believe in it. Like, I’m on board. Like, I have that nature in me like, right, like, I want to take risks. I want to be financially smart. Let’s go for it. This was in 2014. And so I’m not kidding you. The next morning, I roll over, he’s not in bed, he calls me he’s on his bike. And he’s like, What are you doing? He’s like, I am driving around the town. I’m finding us our investment property, like Oh, my God, you know, crazy man. And, you know, funny story is by about a week after that we had pended, our first investment property, and we did some really strategic things and some things very much kind of out of luck, which if you want to go into the can, but that investment property that took the $18,000 to create the downpayment and the repairs and renovations we did. Turned out to make us over $100,000 and pay off our debt. And so my story is when it comes to investing, and kind of my philosophy right now is is we see dollars as little soldiers and we want them to go to work for us. We don’t want them to just sit in the bank account instead. So our methodology has been real estate, we are just starting to get more into the marketplace a little bit just to diversify. But for the most part, we’re going to put our money in real estate because of the annualized rate of return that we see happening within our company within our empire. And so I want to say that even though now, you know, we own our CO own almost 40 doors, our company is on track to purchase 180 homes this year. And that might feel like so crazy are so big, but it started with saving money in our photography, business, and having $18,000 To buy every first rental property, and making a lot of freaking mistakes along the way, and learning a lot. And that has been what has evolved us into this space. And so I want to just be so approachable in my story so that people can see themselves and see like, Okay, well, what’s possible for me.

Allie 36:06
And also, to be clear, you got really lucky on time and getting started. As we talked about Traverse City. So what about people now who are looking at the real estate market? And they’re like, Oh, this is so crazy, you do still think it’s a good time to get in?

Erinn 36:20
Oh, yeah. I mean, right, we can always see that we can always look at the missed opportunity. But Brett and I say we’ve never bought in a down market. So you might be thinking, oh, so nice. You started then. But we didn’t get to start in a down market. We’ve always, you know, 2008 2008 2009 those times, like, if we bought our first one in 2014. And now you’re looking at the marketplace, right? People are thinking how the heck do you even buy a home right now with, you know, appraisal Gap coverage, and people going so high above list and all of that. And certainly there are those challenges. But I mean, our company shoots to purchase 12 to 15 homes a month. And in the past 45 days, we have printed 48 homes in Indianapolis. And so you need to know, like, you know, obviously, there’s a lot of education before you just jump in. And there’s lots of different ways to make money in real estate. You don’t have to necessarily do our approach, there’s turnkeys, there’s dye, you know, you can flip, you can just be a hard money lender that lends out money to people like us who go and use it, you know, there’s lots of different ways to make money. And in real estate, and you know, we coach different, my husband and I part of what we do is coach people in real estate. And so like we have a couple who’s in California, they’re not going to purchase their home in California, they’re going to be out of state investors. And so you need to find the spaces that are more approachable to the market. And Indianapolis is a very hot city for that. And if people are really interested in learning more about real estate, I would highly encourage them to go to bigger pockets. And that’s a great resource, as well as our YouTube channel where we talk a lot about real estate investing and just making it a little bit more approachable.

Allie 38:12
So you must have a team now helping to manage those houses. And then do you have outside investors also helping to invest to grow?

Erinn 38:18
We mostly do not use outside investors. It’s a we have a 5050 partnership in the company. And we work to basically fund the entire thing at this point. It wasn’t like that, always. But that’s where we’re at now. And yes, you have a whole team. But I’ll just say, a year ago, it’s well, it’s marked one, our first hire, full time hire was February of last year. And we now have five people that work for us full time five or six, five. So we’ve grown a lot in just the past year. But I mean, you don’t have to create this empire either. You don’t have to be like semi insane, like Brett and I, you know you can do a house at a time you can do. There’s lots of different approaches to how to do it. But I think it’s just the philosophy of getting outside of exchanging time for money and getting into this idea that our money can work for us. And how do we start where are opportunities where do we need to be educated? How do we what habits and thinking do we need to have in order to work towards that and you know, we none of us have 401 K’s as entrepreneurs we are in charge of our future and our retirement and all that and so I love for people as they’re getting into the you know, heartbeat of their careers and really seeing their business take off to keep this in their mind and be active towards this right away.

Allie 39:56
Nice. Okay, just for fun. I want to hear your Worst tenant story ever.

Erinn 40:03
Worst tenant story

Allie 40:05
Because I have what I can share. You want me to share mine?

Erinn 40:09
Yeah, go ahead.

Allie 40:10
Okay, this wasn’t me, my whole family invests in real estate. So a couple weeks ago, my sister and her husband had a house that they, they the original tenant passed away and other family members moved into the house and basically, like, squatted in it for a year. And when they finally got them out, and they just left, it basically was a $10,000 turnover, and they left their cat. And so I ended up having to go get the cat and keep it in my office for a few days while we checked it made sure it didn’t have fleas, make sure it was healthy, ultimately, luckily found somebody to adopt this cat. But I said to my sister, because we have one rental property. And I was like this really puts things into perspective. I’m like, you know, I don’t know. I don’t know if you can prevent it, the crazy things happening. But you have to know that it’s not completely passive. It’s definitely not.

Erinn 40:59
Yeah, we have we’re grateful for we have our business partner also owns a property management company. And so he his company, nurses, most of our properties. And then my sister also works for us full time. And part of her role is to do property management. So we don’t have a ton of that right now, like on our plate. But I think the fun this is like just a fun story. I mean, this is this is really bad tenant situation, but not in the way you’re maybe thinking that. So we were in California. And you see I’m like not being passive, always fully passive. At this point, we were the ones running the property, you know, at the beginning. And like, we’re supposed to be going to Joshua Tree with some friends. My husband is like not home yet. And I’m like, where are you, Brett? Like, we need to get going, you know? And he’s like, really bad news today are really bad. I’m like, What are you talking about? And he’s like, you’re not even gonna believe it there. I was like, what is it? Like, our house is on fire. Like, what? That is really bad news. That is okay, I wasn’t expecting that. And so we had the front house and the back house was like, a garage with a one bedroom apartment on top of it. And then we took like $6,000 and created into being a whole house, it was like three bedroom, two bath. And luckily, you know, we were smart enough to pull two separate insurance policies, which is part of the being lucky. And that investment making us even more than we thought. But turns out those tenants had allowed somebody else which is college rental, to come join them and live there for a little bit, which is illegal, you can’t do that. And while they were out to class, that Tao who was staying with them smelled something. And she’s the one who actually called the fire department, everything like that. They had this weird futon. And also they were super evasive. They obviously they didn’t want it to be put on them because then their insurance but then our insurance is gonna figure out how it all happen. And it turns out they had this weird futon that had like an outlet in the futon that you could like plug in your accessories. And it caught the whole frickin house on fire.

Allie 43:36
What a nightmare. Oh my gosh. You know, honestly, the stories I could tell just from like my dad and my sister sitting around telling these insane stories. It’s it scared me off a little bit. Although I do still absolutely see, I think that this is a really great place to be. Also it’s funny because we’re also in a college town every year, the doors would be the college since would take the doors off the handles and use them as beer pong tables and southern always be like, the rings around the doors, or they just like would never clean or if a light bulb burned out. They just wouldn’t replace it. So just to be like, this bathroom with no windows is completely dark. And they do like, oh yeah, we replaced the light. So there are lots of like, you need it. You need a little sense of humor going into this but I think it’s a huge opportunity.

Erinn 44:24
And it’s a huge opportunity that comes along with some stories that like feel like you’re making them up.

Allie 44:31
Truly, so truly. Okay, um, so tell me then you have resources for listeners today. So when they find those resources,

Erinn 44:41
Yeah, so most active place if you want to just like follow me chat, send me a DM is on Instagram. Erinn_Bridgman, but I have I just created I think this is really helpful resource. I just created a wealthy woman checklist and it really helped to organize and think through how to be the CFO of your business, what are the things you really need to be thinking about? How to be the CFO of your life, and then the CFO of your mind. And so that’s it also that the checklist comes with different I have I created like video trainings to go with it. It’s like, amazing, it’s totally free. So I guess we can link that in the show notes as well. I would love for people to grab that.

Allie 45:24
You’ll see all of that in the show notes. If you can’t remember, just click the links or go to photo field notes.com. And you’ll find everything you need. So Eric, thanks for sharing these stories. I like to get outside the box a little bit and kind of think about it’s not just about the business. It’s about the life, the whole design of your life. And so as a photographer, we need to be thinking about the future and income, you know, income flow, cash flow, and sometimes that’s more than just taking photos.

Erinn 45:50

Allie 45:52
Thanks for listening, check out show notes at photo field notes.com. And if you loved this episode, leave us a review on iTunes. See you next week.

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