The "aha!" moment that made me decide to take action towards financial freedom

I will be starting a series based on the questions that were asked during a panel discussion with Will AbrizaSha Nacino, and myself, in the recent Manila leg of the Money Summit and Wealth Expo 2011. Due to time constraints, we all gave very short answers. I believe I was not able to say all that I wanted to. Aside from sharing my answers for the benefit of those who were not present, let me share additional thoughts through this series.

"A-ha" moment
“Aha!” moment

The first question

The first question asked by money Summit and Wealth Expo 2011 emcee Airick Daquioag went something like this:

What was the “aha!” moment that made you decide to take action towards financial freedom?

My answer

“I realized that I was literally killing myself because of my job and it was not worth it, even though I was making good money.  Just like Will, I started to realize this after reading the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad”, although it took some time before I finally took action. This was when I was diagnosed with hypertension at a relatively young age of 37 years old and I realized enough is enough and I just had to do something…”

The whole story

Why did I say “I was killing myself because of my job?” – In Filipino, this would be “Nagpapakamamatay ako para sa trabaho!”.

You see, way back in 2006, I ended up doing the job of 3 people. My department was supposed to have 5 people at full strength and all but one either resigned or transferred to other departments, including me, and I was the first to resign.

I resigned to work for a small IT consulting firm that had a better offer for me. While working there, my staff introduced me to the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. But because of the almost daily trip to/from Marikina-Makati-Batangas, I quit after 7 months and returned to my old company. I even took a pay-cut just to get out of there.

Anyway, when I came back, I believed that it would be easy to get us back at full strength, or so I thought. But I did not mind because I loved my job.

That changed, however, when one morning I thought the world had turned upside down, literally. I woke up early that morning because I had  to attend a managers’ meeting, but when I stood up I immediately fell down to the floor. I did manage to get up and reach the bathroom by walking while holding on to the walls of our house.

I was able to get myself ready to go to work, and after vomiting a number of times, I drove myself to work and attended the meeting. After the meeting ended, that was the only time I said I did not feel well and when our company nurse checked my blood pressure, it was at 140 over 100, well above the normal levels.

I ended up at the emergency room and was later diagnosed with vertigo and high blood pressure.

A deeper concern

Looking back, I was really crazy and stupid to insist on going to the office even though I was obviously sick right? During that time, I felt that I loved my job but I was literally killing myself for it.

I still remember my thoughts during those days.

I felt angry because my job has already affected my health, and what would happen to my family if something happened to me?!

I love my family and I felt it was foolish for me to just let this happen and I really had to do something!

This goes beyond the basic need of spending more time with your family which others may think is a bit shallow.  It was a deeper concern where I wanted to be healthy and alive to take care of my family!

It was all about passion

In the book Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki defined passion as a combination of love and anger. I guess I was able to combine my own feelings of anger caused by what was happening to me, and my love for my family, into passion, which finally pushed me to take action.

Let me leave you with a quote from the book “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferris which I read several years later but captured in essence what led to that aha! moment for me to take action.

Pure hell forces action, but anything  less can be endured with enough clever rationalization.

How’s my health?

By the way, in a follow-up question I was asked “how’s your health?” I quickly answered that my ex-office mates often say I look younger and stress free when I visit them.

Yes, it’s true! Without the stress and a healthier lifestyle, I can definitely say I have managed my hypertension very well, and even my cardiologist can attest to this.

Up next

In the next part of this series, let me share my answer and additional thoughts about the question “There are different ways to make money in real estate like brokering, flipping, rentals, rent-to-own, buy and hold etc. Which one would you recommend and why?”

I look forward to sharing that with all of you next week.

In the meantime, what is your “aha!” moment?

I’m sure a lot of you out there are also on a quest for financial freedom and are planning to do this by investing in foreclosed properties (which led you to this site). Please share your “aha!” moments, thoughts, and reactions by leaving a comment below. Thanks!


Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos


To our success and financial freedom!

Jay Castillo

Real Estate Investor
PRC Real Estate Broker Registration No. 3194
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Text by Jay Castillo and Cherry Castillo. Copyright © 2011 All rights reserved.

Full disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

31 thoughts on “The "aha!" moment that made me decide to take action towards financial freedom”

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  3. My ‘aha’ moment was upon reading the rich dad poor dad book. That book made me realize what I really wanted. That is to be in the real estate industry. The book also opened up my mind that fancying different businesses is not bad and it’s indeed normal 🙂 I mean I love thinking of trying out a lot of businesses. Right now I am into construction supply, transportation, apartment rental and did buying and selling of foreclosed properties. Before I tried a lot of trading goods – from cell cards, food, clothes, lambanog! Ukay ukay, Etc., my car during college days was filled with goods to sell. Honestly it made me questioned myself what the hell do I really want to do or sell?! It’s like I see potential to almost everything that I thought I am not credible at all bec I can’t seem to settle down. Rich dad poor dad gave all the answers to my uncertainties – I’m settled I do not want to be contained in a single business.

    I started to loan a foreclosed property for our personal use way back in 2005. Had converted a 3 storey residential bldg into a 3 door apartment in 2008. Flipped a property in 2009. Bought my first corner property for rental in 2010. Did buy, renovate and sell 2 properties from 2010-2011. And now were building our 4 storey 24 units apartment.

    I am praying and is eager to start my build and sell company soon! Along with the thought of putting up a gotohan and tapsilog on d side or maybe a water refilling and laundry business too? But what I really want with the realty business is I get to see a potential in one ugly property, I love to imagine how it will be after the renovation, I love the buying side also when i get to decorate the property, then after a few months I get to look for a new property again.

    Im sorry I didn’t know where this msg is going. Just wanted to share my aha moment and lil experience. Thank you mr. Jay for your site, it is very enlightening and helpful.

  4. Pingback: Goodbye and thank you 2011! Hello 2012! — Foreclosure Investing Philippines

  5. Hi Jay,
    My “Aha!” moment came while I was reading a book by Sha Nacino. Her personal struggles are not so different from mine. Being in the same industry working as an employee, I easily related with her stories. It opened new doors for me to read and learn more outside the realm of being an employee. This also led me to your site “”.
    I already acquired a foreclosed property and I’m moving on to my next one. The information provided in your site is definitely helpful for beginners like me.
    THANK YOU JAY! for creating this site. I have learned so much. Your personal stories and of your avid readers’ inspired me to take action and move forward to financial freedom.
    P.S. looking forward to attend upcoming seminars posted in your site…

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  7. wow! nakaka-inspire naman ang mga stories niyo.

    By the way, my “aha” moment was when I start my first business opportunity through network marketing. The training they gave me inspires me to read more financial literacy books which leads me to Bo’s site. I attended several seminars he conducted and really learned a lot from him: spiritually and financially. From then, I started investing in stocks and now into real estate investment. I really learned a lot and looking forward to my financial freedom. All of this is for my love to my family. As what I’ve learned : ” The single purpose of wealth is to Love others!” Now, I am looking for more mentors who can help me to push through in this kind of business as I am still a newbie in this industry.

    @Ronald: We have the same thinking when I was in college. I also took a Chemical Engineering because I thought this has a high paid profession,but now I don’t think so… 🙂

  8. Pingback: Which way to make money in real estate would you recommend?

  9. YES, trully.

    We’ve seen in many cases where life had to push our back to the wall – just to push back and fight.

    Then we live another day to tell the inspiring story.

    Isnt that awesome?

    1. Yup, really awesome! A perfect example for the quote “ Pure hell forces action, but anything less can be endured with enough clever rationalization.”!

  10. My “aha” moment came when I had lost my job in 2003 due to office politics. On the same year, I had lost all my savings, my hard-earned money working under the sun as project engineer at the construction sites in Mateo Management Group (MMG) Pyramiding Scam . The hardest trial that happened on the same year also was the death of my brother, my father and my sister-in-law. During those times, I had ended eating instant noodles twice a day only. I had broken my piggy bank to get all the pennies left just to survive for daily living. I had approached my so called “closed friends” to borrow money, but sad to say, nobody helped me. My girlfriend also dumped me. I prayed hard to God to give me strength for I was about to give-up in life that time.

    This event in my life forced me to be an entrepreneur to provide as a bread-winner of my family. God is good! On November 2003, that same year, I had contracted a construction of a two-storey residential unit. “Kahit naka-tricycle lang ako ng mga panahon na iyon, pinagkatiwalaan akong bigyan ng down payment ng kliyente…” I considered it a miracle. It was still tough for me for I needed to build trust and credibility. I needed to finish the project as promised. I was afraid then to use every payment of my client for my daily expenses so I had explored other business. I had used my credit cards’ “call for cash” to buy watches, jewelry and clothes, then resell it on installment basis to my workers.

    Just after a year, I was accepted as an employee of one of the TOP 10 corporations in the Philippines. While still working, I had bought my second hand L200 Pick-up to establish my RTW trading business. I was supplying thousands of t-shirts at Greenhills Stores from a Chinese Manufacturer. “Laway lang ang puhunan, pasa lang ng mabilis.” I continued to explore more businesses. I had used my credit cards again to establish my lending business and my first branch of my laundry business in Sampaloc, Manila. My laundry business, “Kuskos-Balungos, The Ultimate Laundromat” was featured in GMA 7’s “100% Pinoy” and QTV’s “What’s in a name?”. From the earnings, it has grown into a total of 6 branches. I had even explored scrap business for a short period of time. I had also established an internet cafe. I had also rented a building in Manila then subleased all the rooms to students and transients. This was my first rental business. I still had construction business coupled by other multiple small businesses and employment. During those times, I had asked myself, “Natutulog pa ba ako?”

    I had used the techniques I had learned from the company who dumped me and explored my first buy and sell real estate business. This is a separate story. My comment is long already, hehehe….Due to passive income from properties, I decided to close all my small businesses and established a real estate corporation.

    “The best investment on earth is earth”. Real estate business is the most rewarding business for me.

          1. In a way nag blog na rin si Mike, although sa forum napunta yung mga shi-nare niya. Yun yung sa forums. 🙂

        1. Aha! So that explains why how good you are.

          @thea, mukhang hindi lang ata inspiration 😉

          @mike, salute you sir.

    1. ..nakaka-inspire, mike. Your story uplifts my drive to continue pursuing financial freedom and time with loved ones. =) God bless u always!

    2. Beautiful story Mike! Indeed, nothing can stop the human spirit if chooses to pursue his dreams and ambitions.

      God bless!

    3. Now this explains why you are so successful Mike! With all the trials you experienced, and the way you never gave up, I guess it just follows that you will be blessed, which you are now!

      This also explains why you are so unselfish! Kudos to you, our mentor and idol!

      Pwede talagang pang MMK ang true-to-life story mo!

    4. Very very inspiring sir Mike. I am now into trials too and I really appreciate reading silently all your AHA stories. Hoping to inspire me more sir Mike and to sir Jay, I really appreciate you. I want to start my journey into Real Estate but i don’t know how. I’m just an ordinary employee too who rush to work before 8:00am and go home after office hours of hard work but less recognition from my company.

  11. My aha moment came when I closed my footwear retail stores. I considered several businesses, compared the risks, amount of investment, management/ operation requirement and return. I opted for rental business. This is because I was thinking of a business, which in the long-term will give me more time to spend for my future family. I figured out that the least demanding in terms of monitoring was real estate rental (Residential Leasing). I don’t have to monitor it on a day-to-day basis. And if ever I’ll make a mistake, my real estate will still be there. I can repackage it or sell, unlike fashion, food or other commodities which can go stale. In other businesses, if I lose, I lose everything – inventories and start-up capital. My mentors had taught me how to do the business: how to evaluate properties, how to generate quick cash for capital, the different ways to earn from real estate aside from rental and the rest was history. There are still challenges and “stressors” I encounter in Real Estate but for me, it is way way more rewarding to resolve them for a few days or hours than to beat the Metro Manila traffic on a day-to-day basis just to make ends meet.

    1. Hi Thea! Thanks a lot for sharing your aha moment! Yes, it makes sense to focus on rentals for the long term and real estate is really a very tangible asset that will never go stale or lose their value. Thanks again for being one of my mentors!

  12. Millionaire Acts

    Nice story Jay! Stress is really a silent killer! As for me, I found out my “aha” moment way back November 2009 when a popular blogger (you know him already :)) invited me to become a writer in a blog. Initially, I ignored it but when I heard some bloggers earning a good amount of money, I immediately went and tried it myself.

    Fast forward, I literally burned my eye brows for the past 20 months after I discovered the great potential it has. Day by day, night by night, I am literally blogging and watching the traffic of our blogs because I literally found a gold mine in it. During those days, I preferred not to go to gimiks and other outdoor activities even on weekends. I can say I don’t have a life then. I only concentrated in it because I know it won’t last that long and it was a great opportunity that everyone should grab.

    I cannot forget the times when I am very very stressed because I don’t have enough sleep and I have to go to office to work. There was even one time when I opted for a sick leave because I literally felt my vision is shaking because of the lack of sleep. But I endured all of that because I knew from the start that it won’t last.

    True enough, it did not last because search engines became stricter. Sad to say, it just ended last May but it was the best “aha” moment I had in my entire life! 🙂

    1. Hi Tyrone! I remember the time you showed me your earnings for 1 month back then and I almost fell from my seat! I wish I did what you were doing, I really regret that I was so busy during that time doing things that really just wasted my time and effort. You are living proof that it really is possible to earn big through the internet!

  13. Hi Jay,

    Glad to know your feeling better. My own “aha” moment was way back in high school. My friends always had the money to buy toys or new clothes. We didn’t but I didn’t know what to do. I read in a book that petroleum engineers where the highest paid engineers in the world which is why I took Chemical Engineering. Since then, I’ve always been on the lookout for ways to becoming rich.

    1. Thanks a lot Ronald for sharing your aha moment! I can relate, I also had the experience of being one of those who had no Voltes V robot way way way back in elementary. 🙂

      In a way, that time was also an “aha!” moment for me because it was my first crack at being an entrepreneur when I bought a whole sheet of stickers with our favorite robots for only Php4 pesos and then I would sell the stickers individually from 50 centavos to 2 pesos each. I can easily get my ROI and make a profit by selling about a fourth of the stickers on the sheet.

      Business was good until Marcos banned Voltes V and all the other robots on TV and soon there was no more demand for my stickers. 🙁

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