Personal finance bloggers far and wide have done many an article on analyzing and reviewing financial gurus, including Dave Ramsey, Jim Cramer and Robert Kiyosaki.
But over here, I’ve decided to do something a bit different. How about let’s deconstruct someone who isn’t a financial guru, but someone who’s in fact a walking case study of real life financial lessons…maybe someone who even shares the blogosphere with us. In other words, I’ve decided to deconstruct a regular joe named Casey Serin.
Have you ever heard of this guy? Chances are, you already have. He’s the fellow who’s set up a blog about his financial misjudgements (or misbehaviors) and in the process, gained quite a lot of media attention, became some kind of a semi-famous (or infamous) internet celebrity and a poster child for how NOT to be a business real estate tycoon. In fact, he’s been dubbed as “the pied piper of financial ruin”.
Here are his own words about himself:
I’m a 24 yr old “would-be real estate mogul” from Sacramento CA. After going to a few seminars I bought 8 houses in 8 months in 4 states with no money down looking to fix ‘n flip. I made some mistakes and am now millions in debt, trying to avoid foreclosure, sell quickly, repay everyone, and share my lessons to help others in trouble.
Before anything else though, I’d like to make clear that I don’t know the guy personally and have had no direct dealings with him except for the typical blogger email exchange. This is clearly not an endorsement of Casey: for the record, I have never, could never and probably will never follow the path of Trump nor Kiyosaki nor any one else following their footsteps. This is not a defense of Casey, nor is this a crucifixion. I prefer not to take sides because if all I had to provide was negative commentary, then I wouldn’t bother writing this post. Anyway, there’s ample evidence of character assassination over at his blog already.
But one of the things that has interested me about him, is the fact that he’s based in Sacramento, not very far from the San Francisco Bay Area, and where several people I know including family, friends and co-workers are either residents or have made real estate investments of their own. This guy is young, just starting out his life, is facing a financial nightmare and blogs like a dream, while I’m an avid student of psychology. This begged a closer look.
The Drama Of Foreclosure
In the personal finance blogging community, we’re not quite sure what to make of Casey. Some people frown upon his track record and think he’s an irresponsible troll. Some think he’s someone more innocuous, like a rags to almost-riches to rags story that’s just waiting to turn the corner into a financial fairy tale ending. He’s a polarizing, controversial blogger, gaining fans and even more haters out there.
There’s no doubt that many people are quite angry and eager to see him pay for the “entrepreneurial and financial sins” that he’s committed. Some people weren’t shy about calling out these transgressions as mortgage fraud. Was he playing the system and got busted, or was he just a sad, foolish victim of greed? Was he just a sorry casualty of the real estate bubble? That’s up to the proper authorities to look into as I prefer to focus on more positive take-aways.
I sort of think of him as some kind of tragic star in his own soap opera and have been following this drama on and off for the last few months through his blog, I Am Facing Foreclosure. Earlier in my blogging endeavors, I shared my views of the man, not realizing how unpredictable he could get. Then I entered a phase of pure disbelief as he burned one bridge after another. I even doubted he could be legitimate, given the outrageous, even ridiculous highs and lows of his recent life, especially since many of these mishaps were set in motion by his own hand.
But yes, Casey Serin is indeed not another lonelygirl15 but actually a genuine person who’s been trying to crawl out of the fiscal quagmire he’s dug himself worth all of $2.2 million, and whose monetary tales of woe have attracted the mainstream media, well-known bloggers and even the controversial Robert Kiyosaki himself to write chapters in this unfolding tale and thus vouch for the authenticity of his person.
Since then, the cringe-worthy behaviors he’s exhibited have continued unabated that I felt it merited a second look from me. His actions continue to rile, frustrate and annoy the multitude, yet as his troubles mount, his popularity has increased.
So what financial escapades has he been up to lately? Here’s a sampling of his recent activities:
- He’s cashed out a redemption check and decided to buy Valentine’s day gifts and Jamba Juice with it.
- He considered doing a house raffle to unload a house and take $1,500 for his redemption rights if he undergoes a foreclosure auction.
- He discussed his personality to explain his behaviors: for the record, he’s a Rational Inventor, Artisan Promoter.
- He tried vainly to negotiate deals with real estate mentors but ultimately had what seemed to be a bitter falling out with the people involved.
- He’s attempted to set financial goals, struggled with priorities, and displayed a liabilities spreadsheet that would give you a heart attack if you owned it.
- He’s thought about borrowing even more money — $50,000 to fight fire with even more fire — to avoid foreclosure. Is this denial, insanity, foolishness or bravado?
- And lastly, he’s even admitted lying on his loans in order to secure his properties. Who knows where this will take him? We’ll have to see if it’s going to be to a cold, dark place the size of a walk-in closet.
But instead of joining his lynch mob, passing judgement, or beating a dead horse about the latest jam he’s gotten himself into — wait, are we that hungry for a post Truman Show fix? — I’ve decided to do two things to catch up with Mr. Serin.
First, I’d like to look into what Casey brings to the table, the positive being that he’d like to share his mistakes for us to learn something from them. So that’s what I’ll be focusing on. I’m from a totally different generation than he is, yet he’s managed to teach me a few things.
5 Things I’ve Learned From the “I Am Facing Foreclosure” Story
#1 Let’s learn from some serious fiscal and personal mistakes.
Yes, it is clear Casey wants to use his blog to network, gain visibility and perhaps opportunities he would otherwise not come across. But he also wants to caution us how not to conduct ourselves financially. Beyond owning up to his missteps, he’s even gone as far as face a college class to talk about his problems. He’s also managed to really peeve off potential business partners, bruising his track record further in the process. Still, somewhere in the chaos, I’ve learned a lot of new things just by reading his blog — not just about the world of mortgages and real estate, but most especially about human nature.
#2 Why not capitalize on one’s strengths?
The guy insists on staying with real estate, buying into the “Do What You Love, Everything Else Will Follow” philosophy. He’s stubborn about staying with what he’s passionate about, despite his egregious problems. His strengths? They’re probably in negotiation, promotion, marketing and even writing. If anything is working for him, it’s his blog as well as some promotional attempts that have landed him in the spotlight. Maybe they’ll eventually translate into some networking opportunities, because although Casey looks like a tremendous risk, he displays some talents he can try to parlay into something more productive. Unless of course, his efforts get interrupted by potential legal matters. Will his fortunes run out before he gets a chance to snag that “big deal”?
#3 This confirms my motto: keep it sweet and simple.
I’ll be honest…many of the things Casey mentions in his blog are quite a bit over my head. There’s a good reason for it though, and that’s because when I come across a money-making scheme that is confusing or complicated, I usually steer away from it since it usually turns out negative for my pocket book. Making money and keeping it don’t have to be too complicated. You CAN earn a fortune more easily than this!
#4 Smile in the face of adversity and try, try again.
As I said earlier, I try to emphasize the positives: the guy is tough, ambitious, can laugh at himself and has a strong spirit. He’s got a genuinely thick hide to be able to take criticism like he’s been doing. How many people can continuously swallow their pride the way this guy does? I have rarely seen anyone who can hold himself together like this in the face of such pressure, negativity and in my opinion, sheer embarrassment. The guy may be one stubborn flake, but he’s a tough cookie. I wish I had just half of his fortitude. However, like most others who’ve imagined being in his shoes, I would’ve cut my losses very early on if I had been in his situation.
#5 Shunning mediocrity can lead to big successes and equally huge failures.
What do I mean? I doubt this guy will ever lead his life in a boring fashion. There’ll always be something up his sleeve, whether it means to run himself to the ground, rise to great heights or even go out with a bang. And these qualities could spell his success one day, if he’s ever able to escape from the serious controversy surrounding him. Many big names have met with many massive failures before they went anywhere. The question is, whether he can first get out of the deep hole he’s already in.
Say What? Dedicate An Entire Week To This Fallen Entrepreneur?
Second, I’d like to use the following week to bring up subjects that have touched many of us to some degree, but which all have had a bearing on this young man’s life. So in the next few days, I plan to present articles that represent information that is simply relevant in some way, to Casey’s background and current experiences. These were posts I was going to make anyway, but had reverberated well into this guy’s life. So to tie it all into one neat package, this following week will be Casey Serin theme week at The Digerati Life. In time, it will be apparent why I called it that.
Whether you’re a supporter or critic of Casey’s, let’s all try to keep an open mind and try to see the other side of this story — the one that helps us pick up lessons.
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