I made less than $9 an hour at 21 when I started two side businesses – I now make up to $15,700 a month and retire early

While 21-year-old Tom Brickman was earning $8.50 per hour working at The Gap, he started two lucrative side businesses.

The 39-year-old, who goes to The Frugal Gay, earns up to $15,700 a month thanks to his rental property.


Tom is known as The Frugal Gay and has built an impressive real estate portfolioCredit: Tom Brickman

Tom bought his first rental in Ohio when he was just 21 years old, according to Business Insider.

At the time he bought the two-unit home, he only paid $90,000 as he also secured a tenant in the basement unit.

The tenant was paying $600 a month rent while Tom stayed upstairs by himself.

Since Tom decided to live there, he was able to purchase the property as a primary residence with a 10 percent down payment at an interest rate of 6.875 percent, according to the article.

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My side struggles will make you seven thousand dollars and you won't have to leave the house

The scammer has come a long way since then.

Tom now owns 20 more rentals in places like Texas and Ohio.

In addition, he is now teaching others how to achieve financial independence in real estate investing.

It charges a fee for consulting and also for sponsored content.

Additionally, after leaving Gap, Tom worked in a movie theater for nearly 16 years.

It was only recently, in January 2022, before he decided to quit smoking and pursue his property rental business full time.

He realized he was over 9 to 5 and aimed to build a more successful real estate portfolio and devote more time to The Frugal Gay business.

“I always try to stress that my salary was very average when I was buying these homes,” Tom told Business Insider.

He added, “I started with $32,000 a year in the cinema and before I left my salary was in the 70’s. I never made more than $100,000 a year from theater or anything like that.”

Some real estate tips

While Tom is not technically retired, he likes to say that what he does is more than a passion.

He shared some tips with Business Insider on one that is the value of buying fastener uppers.

Tom almost exclusively started buying homes that needed more maintenance as he could buy them cheaper and charge a premium when they were ready to rent.

“I was buying a lot of stuff that other investors were ignoring – it started with ugly apartments,” Tom told the newspaper.

“I bought one apartment for $14,000 in cash, and the cheapest one is $9,000,” he added.

In addition, he said it is important to have a reliable team.

This means creating and maintaining relationships with plumbers, contractors and other landlords.

Another great relationship to have is with your credit union.

Working with a credit union rather than a bank is a choice Tom made because he found them easier to work with.

You can often form valuable and lasting relationships with your lender.

Tom can rest assured knowing that his calls will be answered in a timely manner instead of the regular national lenders and mortgage originators.

He also said that credit unions often keep his documents on file, which saves him having to load the same things with every purchase.

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