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As a successful real estate investor, and a woman, I am often asked how I got started in this field. I have pondered this question for over 20 years, and the best answer I’ve come up with is that I just did it. I believed I could do this, and then did.

Having a real passion and business plan, researching the market and hiring professionals are all part of success as well, and should not be diminished in any way. But had I not simply decided, “I am investing in real estate,” and followed through, it would never have happened.

I started by going to my credit union for a line of credit. They told me they would loan me money based on how much I could save each month for six months. So I ate tuna fish and saved $500 a month for six months. At the end, I qualified for a $9,500 loan. As ridiculous an amount as that was, I was determined to buy property with it.

I tried several times to hire a real estate agent, but they all laughed — I was so young and had so little money. One agent, who believed in my determination and wanted to help, eventually listened to me. (I went on to use her services for years, and we became friends for life.) She found me an ugly patch of land that I could afford and that was near the airport. With fingers crossed I purchased the land, hoping the airport would grow and need my land. It was a small thing, but it was a first step.

Everyone thought I was nuts, but I continued eating tuna fish and making that $500 monthly payment for about two years. Not long after paying it off, the airport did indeed expand and need my land. I earned a little more than double what I paid for the land, $23,000 or so,…