The new book is out!

Check out the ultra cool cover by Jess LaGreca

This is a very visual book.

It is the painful tale of my very first real estate purchase and how it morphed into an even worse real estate investment. It is a litany of almost all the mistakes one can make, and how I made them. It is a tale of woe that only decades later was I able to see the vast humor in, and the vast education it provided.

Hopefully you’ll find it humorous, engaging and instructive. It is certainly brilliantly illustrated by Nikolett.

Here’s the one opposite Kristy Shen‘s (Quit Like a Millionaire) Introduction:

You’ll also get to see me morph from being impossibly naive…

To landlord…

And, of course, there is the…

We sure had fun putting it together. Will you have fun reading it? Maybe even find some value in this “cautionary tale?”

Here’s what some of the leading voices in the Financial Independence community have to say about that:

“In an age where the dangling promise of real estate has become an elaborate fairy tale, JL Collins is our Aesop with this delightful and sobering modern-day cautionary fable. Quickly read; impossible to forget.”

——Malachi Ray Rempen, Filmmaker, cartoonist, game designer, and ruffian,

“Thinking of buying a new house or investing in real estate? Take off your rose-colored glasses and read this tale of how quickly things can go wrong – costing you more money (and time!) than you could ever imagine. People don’t share their losses like they do their wins! JL Collins is one of the brave ones who does.”

——Vicki Cook, Co-author of Estate Planning 101,  

“JL Collins’ entertaining, quick, but powerful read is an important reminder that real estate investing can produce crippling losses which can multiply when naïveté and poor market conditions combine. Be prepared for a serious time commitment of self-study prior to investing in real estate. This book will show you why.”

——Scott Trench, CEO,

“This long-awaited follow-up to The Simple Path to Wealth drops wisdom and knowledge bombs left and right. And, like The Simple Path to Wealth, you don’t even notice you’re learning because the book is so much fun to read.” 

——Kyle Landis-Marinello, Author of Personal Finance and Investing, 

“JL Collins is a masterful writer, storyteller, and financial educator. In this book, JL tells a cautionary tale about his personal experience with the real estate market. If you think that buying real estate is always a ‘no-brainer’ decision, this book will teach you to think again.”

—— Brian Feroldi, 

“Real estate seems like the glitzy, can’t-miss ‘American Dream’ because you only ever hear from the winners. In this book, JL Collins lays out in gory detail all the mistakes he made investing in real estate so you can see the pitfalls to avoid before they happen to you! The amount of wisdom available in this short book is almost hard to believe. We would all do well to internalize Collins’ invaluable life lessons!”  

——Brad Barrett, Co-host and co-founder of the ChooseFI Podcast, 

“JL Collins has done it again! First he showed us The Simple Path to Wealth, now he demonstrates the complicated path to losing it. This book provides a powerful counter narrative to the deceptively simple adage that real estate is always profitable. This should be required reading for every would-be house buyer, hacker, flipper, and landlord over-confidently counting their future fortunes.”

——Doc G, Host of the Earn & Invest Podcast,

“A whimsical tale of debt and destruction. A cautionary story of what-not-to-do as an early investor told in a light-hearted and jovial tone. Easy-to-read, sound investing advice, perfect for the young person in your life who would much sooner listen to anyone but you.” 

——Zeona McIntyre, Real estate investor, agent, and mentor,

“JL Collins writes about losing money in real estate, and I’ve already profited by simply following his advice on what NOT to do. This is a compelling horror story of what you can and can’t control in home ownership and land-lording.”

—— Doug Nordman, Co-author (with his daughter) of Raising Your Money-Savvy Family For Next Generation Financial Independence

“’Only fools rush in’ …and this book will serve as a thoughtful pause when venturing into real estate. JL Collins, with his humor and storytelling, will give you some practical tips and might save you from a ‘no-brainer deal’ that should have required a bit more brainpower before you sign the dotted line.” 

——Jillian Johnsrud, Writer, speaker, coach,

“This book is such a fun, relatable follow-up to the iconic The Simple Path to Wealth. As someone who lost a considerable amount of hard-earned money to a CON-tractor during an ill-advised flip, this book helps me remember the risks and the value of simply remaining debt-free and investing in low-cost index funds.”

——Rashad Muhammad, Wealth building educator,

“Often, the best financial choice is to rent and invest the substantial costs of home ownership according to the lessons of JL Collins’ A Simple Path to Wealth. Seldom does everything go perfectly or even smoothly with home ownership. And sometimes things go terribly, horribly awry… as you will soon discover.” 

—— Jeremy Jacobson, Early retiree, blogger, and repeat homeowner,

“JL Collins is a natural storyteller and hilarious raconteur. Despite his cautionary tale of real estate woe, I found myself laughing out loud and thoroughly enjoying what could otherwise be a dry topic. This is a fun and quick read, filled with wise nuggets and essential food for thought for anyone thinking about diving into home ownership.” 

——Travis Shakespeare, Executive Producer and Director, Playing with FIRE: The Documentary 

“JL Collins does it again with a new book on why real estate might not be the dream you think it is. Collins tells his story of buying a condo and losing money on it month after month. The tale is haunting and humorous and gives an honest and refreshing no-nonsense take on buying a home and investing in real estate.” 

——Anita Dhake,

“Instantly transporting you back in time, this illustrated tale comes to life as you journey vicariously through JL’s nightmare adventures in real estate ownership. This book is bursting with humor and life lessons to boot. It is a must read for any investor, real estate or otherwise.”

——Accidentally Retired, Former entrepreneur and CEO,

“This is the kind of financial lesson that sticks to your ribs! JL Collins proves what most investors have to learn the hard way: the money we lose has as much of a story to tell as the money we make. Every chapter was a reminder that sometimes our mistakes are our greatest teacher. Gift this book to the aspiring real estate investor in your life!” 

——Julien and Kiersten Saunders, Authors and co-creators,

“Before you invest in anything, you should study the awful, gut-wrenching, and unsexy details of what could  go wrong. In this little gem of a book, JL Collins shares extremely painful stories from his experience owning real estate, giving a valuable, honest assessment of real risks you could face. More than that, he shares truths about the fallibility of human decision-making that we are all susceptible to.”

—— Chad Carson, Author of Retire Early With Real Estate,  

“JL once again shows us why we shouldn’t blindly trust the investing industry, why we should always question what society expects of us (the American Dream), and why we should keep our eyes wide open when it comes to investing. These lessons could save you hundreds of thousands of dollars! 

——Sebastien Aguilar, Founder, educator, and community builder, &

“There is a rather common misconception that real estate is a sure-fire winner all the time. It’s not. JL’s tale of condo woe is a prime example of just how wrong it can go when you jump in blindly with both feet. This story should be required reading for everyone before they buy their first property.” 

——Mindy Jensen, Host of BiggerPockets Money and author of First Time Home Buyer

JL went from being a happy renter to owning a condo that he couldn’t rent or even sell. If reality TV had been around in the early 80s, this would have made for great entertainment! JL experienced the worst of worst-case scenarios. Read this and learn from his mistakes. Read it a second and third time before you put your money down.”

——Carl Jensen, & 

“For fans of financial independence, armchair investors, and anyone who appreciates a cautionary tale wrapped in humor and wit, JL Collins delivers knowledge, perspective and intrigue as only an experienced contrarian could. In an age of algorithmic biases, JL challenges our pent-up preconceived notions of the American Dream, and makes us better for it.” 

——Scott Rieckens, Author and Executive Producer of Playing with FIRE: The Documentary 

I absolutely loved this honest and refreshing take on why real estate may not be the best investment for everyone. JL Collins’ cautionary but entertaining tale will have you laughing & learning at the same time. This should be required reading for anyone considering purchasing real estate.” 

——Jamila Souffrant, Founder and host of

“In a world that has been persuaded that the only way to live is home ownership, JL Collins is brave enough to stand up and point out the pitfalls and the crazy hype that has created this phenomenon. This is the book I wish I had been given when I was younger.  I will be buying this for every 20-year-old I know.”

——Alan Donegan, Co-founder Rebel Business School and Queen’s Award for Enterprise winner

“It is commonly said the best way to learn is by making mistakes. It is far better to learn from others’ mistakes when possible. JL Collins generously, humorously, and entertainingly shares his investment mistakes in this short easy read, packed with wisdom that transcends the topic of real estate. A great book for anyone wanting to use their money to create a better way of life!”

——Chris Mamula, Primary author of Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence,

“JL is doing something here most authors just couldn’t pull off. He’s teaching the inconvenient truths about real estate investing and doing so in a highly entertaining fashion. Most of the literature on this subject panders to our desire for hitting the easy button. No, it’s not easy money. No, leverage is not the key to riches. No, it’s not always better than investing in the stock market.” 

——Rich Carey, Military retiree, real estate educator, and investor,

“From the very start of this book, JL captures your attention and your imagination as he walks you through a real estate investing masterclass from the annals of his very life. The story is powerful and so are the lessons that are taught from it. You will find yourself both challenged and encouraged after reading this book.”

—- Talaat and Tai McNeely, Personal finance educators,

“The reality of investing in real estate is that — like stocks, bonds, commodities, or crypto — you can lose your shirt if you’re naïve, uninformed, and in-deliberate. JL Collins’ story, and the thoughtful lessons he draws out at the end, illustrate the importance of studying the field, thinking critically, developing multiple contingency plans, and challenging your assumptions about the market.” 

— — Paula Pant, Host of the Afford Anything Podcast,

“JL Collins is one of the smartest investors I know, yet he made a bad real estate investment that cost him over $115,000 in today’s dollars. The lessons he learned from that investment are invaluable and thankfully he’s shared them in his engaging and entertaining new book. $100,000+ of investing lessons for the price of a book…what a bargain!”

——The Mad Fientist, Host of the Financial Independence Podcast,

“40 years after JL Collins’ real estate lesson, I learned my own lesson the hard way. Do yourself a favor and read this book before you invest a single penny in real estate.  This is the book I wish I’d read before I became a landlord!”

—-Gwen Merz,

“When you invest in the stock market and it goes down, you take a loss. When you invest in real estate and it goes down, it can take you down with it. Packed with insights, JL Collins’ entertaining disaster story should be required reading to offset the easy-money narrative touted in so many real estate how-to books.”

——Chris Rusin, Investor and creator at 

Should you choose to buy real estate, I hope this book helps you do so with your eyes wide open.



Hardcover is available. But I am told those can be tough to order from Amazon for some reason. If you have a problem you can always just ask your local bookstore to order it for you.

An Audio version may or may not be coming.


Podcasts about the book:

Mile High FI


Posts about the book:

1500 Days to Freedom

Life Outside the Maze


Subscribe to JL’s Newsletter

Important Resources

  • Talent Stacker is a resource that I learned about through my work with Jonathan and Brad at ChooseFI, and first heard about Salesforce as a career option in an episode where they featured Bradley Rice on the Podcast. In that episode, Bradley shared how he reached FI quickly thanks to his huge paychecks and discipline in keeping his expenses low. Jonathan teamed up with Bradley to build Talent Stacker, and they have helped more than 1,000 students from all walks of life complete the program and land jobs like clockwork, earning double or even triple their old salaries using a Salesforce certification to break into a no-code tech career.
  • Credit Cards are like chain saws. Incredibly useful. Incredibly dangerous. Resolve to pay in full each month and never carry a balance. Do that and they can be great tools. Here are some of the very best for travel hacking, cash back and small business rewards.
  • Empower is a free tool to manage and evaluate your investments. With great visuals you can track your net worth, asset allocation, and portfolio performance, including costs. At a glance you'll see what's working and what you might want to change. Here's my full review.
  • Betterment is my recommendation for hands-off investors who prefer a DIFM (Do It For Me) approach. It is also a great tool for reaching short-term savings goals. Here is my Betterment Review
  • NewRetirement offers cool tools to help guide you in answering the question: Do I have enough money to retire? And getting started is free. Sign up and you will be offered two paths into their retirement planner. I was also on their podcast and you can check that out here:Video version, Podcast version.
  • Tuft & Needle (T&N) helps me sleep at night. They are a very cool company with a great product. Here’s my review of what we are currently sleeping on: Our Walnut Frame and Mint Mattress.


  1. FIRECracker says

    YAY! Just ordered my copy. Congrats on all your hard work! Also, what do I do with my life now that I’ve gotten to write the Foreword for the Godfather of FI? My life has peaked…

    P.S When can I get a hardcover copy? Those are better for smacking 😛

    • jlcollinsnh says


      You’ll figure out something uber cool. 😉

      Hardcover is available, but it is best to ask your local bookstore to order it for you. I’m told those are tough to get from Amazon for some reason. I should have mentioned that, and will add it as an addendum now.

  2. Robin says

    Ordered. So excited to read and share with my daughter. My happiest day was reading your First book and dumping my stock Broker. You haven’t steer us wrong and we are FI. Thank you!

  3. vorlic says

    Hey, Mr Collins, it’s a fix – there are already five reviews on Amazon, all five star! It’s like we saw it coming! 😉

    I personally was never hooked by the property thing, or the “housing ladder” as it’s called in the UK. All my peers were signing on the dotted line, mortgage after mortgage, but I reckon I got off lightly.

    I might read this but it’ll need more than five positive reviews to tempt me. Since being a tenant in London for eight years, I am a very cautious buyer; that was MY property failure!

    Stay sane

  4. anthony says

    JL, I’m so disappointed. I ordered the Kindle version and it isn’t compatible with the newest Kindle Oasis, or any Kindle reader, I’m assuming. Can you have Amazon change that so we can read it? Thank you!

      • anthony says

        Thanks, JL. I did manage to get more information out of Amazon. They said the digital book is a “print replica” so it isn’t compatible with Kindle or other e-readers. Could you check with Amazon or the editor to see if they can release a true eBook version? I really would love to read it on my Kindle. Thanks 😀

  5. Olga Glebova says

    Hi! I bought “kindle” version but my kindle says it is “unavailable for download” and “incompatible with kindle”. Is it a glitch or intentional? It does open on kindle cloud reader but it means I have to read it through my PC/laptop which is somewhat a nuisance…

      • Olga says

        Hi again, JL. Chatted with amazon support, they say it is indeed incompatible. I am assuming it is because of the images. I am reading the book on my phone but if there is a way to make a kindle version (even w/o images) that would make for a better reading experience.

        • Anthony says

          Olga, it is not because of the images. I have many Kindle e-books that have images. Amazon said it was because it is a print copy. I think if JL talks to his editor Or Amazon, they can add compatibility

  6. Jim M. says

    Wish I had this as a naive 24 yr old in 2007 before i overpaid for a 100 yr old house which i bought with a friend from high school (hint: don’t do that). But I’m still learning about homeownership today and its never too late to use the wisdom gained from mistakes of others. Thanks JL for this important book!
    Jim M.

  7. jlcollinsnh says


    Anthony, Olga and anyone else who has had issues with the Kindle version they bought.

    The issue has been resolved, but Amazon says your copies won’t automatically update. You’ll need to return it for a replacement.

    Apologies for the inconvenience, and thanks for brining it to my attention!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      You might have a long wait, Fred.

      An illustrated book like this one doesn’t lend itself to an audio version. 😉

  8. KP says

    I bought this book as a THANK YOU for writing the first one. I leaned alot from the first book and now I have been applying those strategies on my portfolio.

  9. LH says

    Gonna order mine soon!! Both my husband and I read your “Simple Path to Wealth” and we love it! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and experience with the world so generously!

    Much love,

  10. Guido says

    Hi JL,
    My gf tried to order 2 book of your books via a large amazon-like retailer in the Netherlands (, but after 6 weeks wait, the order was canceled because they could finish the order on their turn…
    Alas, we Dutchies need to continue to wait here across the pond. Your previous book took 6 months or so before it became properly available.

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