Katherine, thank you for sharing. I've been a RE investor for 10 years now and can relate to your article.
Single family houses are easy to buy and manage (compared to commercial property), but they are difficult to make positive cash flow.
I highly recommend a 30 year mortgage to reduce your payments. You can always pay a 30 year mortgage in 15 if you want, but you can't do it the other way around if you are in trouble.
I also protest my property taxes every year on every property. My houses are in Texas, which has very high property taxes, but it can still save you some money.
But one of the most important things is to find a property that you can buy for well below market price. This is hard to do, but it is possible if you study and work at it. This will give you built-in equity from day 1 and also help you have better cash flow as well.
Best of luck!