Last Saturday while waiting for the Space Shuttle to take off, a friendly camper introduced herself to me. Her name was Kim Cunningham, and she is a fulltiming mother and wife with three children who are traveling across America right now, in search of their next endeavor.
Kim (41), her husband Regis (47), daughter Jessica (15), son Regis III (9), and Seb (6), sold their principal home in Cody, Wyoming last May. Regis is a real estate investor who for the last 25 years has taken marginal homes, fixed them up, and turned them into money making opportunities. Kim was a Creative Memories consultant for 13 years, while working together with Regis to manage their properties. This year, they had planned to leave Cody, buy another fixer-upper in Pennsylvania and settle down for a while, but when in Pennsylvania, circumstances didn’t turn out as they’d hoped, so they decided to stay on the road and keep looking.
How does a family with three kids, four dogs and one cat do it?
The answer is easy; they have broken away from the cookie-cutter consumer mentality, and live without debt or credit cards. They owe nothing to nobody. The Cunninghams are a true self-made, entrepreneurial success story. Through hard work and determination, they have managed to invest in real estate properties that have generated enough of a return to finance their journey. But don’t be mislead; they weren’t able to do this because they had a rich uncle. Kim and Regis are both down to earth, regular working people who live simply, stay on the same page about money management, and have their priorities straight.
The couple has always worked fulltime jobs while homeschooling their kids and investing in real estate. They have spent countless evenings and weekends managing their properties, making sure that they were generating enough income for them to take a trip like this. Kim and Regis have lived in many places, each one has been a building block to their current journey. They have owned up to 12 rental properties at one time, and through many lean years did whatever it took for them to meet their goal; financial independence.
Their biggest piece of advice to other non-retirees looking to take a similar adventure: “If you have debt, don’t go on the road,” says Regis.
Get rid of debt, and pay cash for everything. This couple subscribes to the Dave Ramsey school of money management, and they have proven that by sticking to Dave’s Total Money Makeover Plan, anyone can experience true freedom.
From now on, whenever anyone says that the only reason Jim and I can do this trip at our age is because we don’t have kids, I’ll be sure to let them know about the Cunninghams.