I am in your position in a rural town in Missouri. Keep the faith. It has taken me many years of practice, too, with the homes and homilies.
I've read your blog and feel we have some war stories we could share.
I was impressed with your writing and your articles…It seems we all share many similar struggles.
It’s Sunday, exactly two weeks before Christmas as I write this. I don’t even have my tree up yet! I have a long Overwhelm List related to the business and all that needs to be done. I started a new Overwhelm List related to Christmas. When I wonder why I’m spending two and a half hours and $6 at Starbucks writing a non-monetized blog when I should be working, I think of the comments and e-mails I’ve received in just the past couple of weeks. You like me, you really like me!
Actually, you appreciate that I tell the truth. This is a tough business! It’s not as easy as the gurus make it sound. Just ask Donald Trump – he just had to settle some big money lawsuits related to his Trump University, which was designed to teach people his investment techniques. Surprisingly, most students did not succeed to Trump’s level. But was it really a scam? Or did people eagerly buy into the promise of easy money?
Steve and I bought one of those guru programs. Not Trump’s – we bought into the Dean Graziosi education franchise. I blogged about that experience here: http://thisgingerjustsnapped.weebly.com/blog/how-it-all-began-part-5-taking-on-the-real-estate-gurus
The difference between us and the Trump students who thought they got screwed was this: Steve and I were already real estate investors when we went in. So we were going for entirely different reasons than the average Joe who wanted to quit his day job and be a rich real estate investor. Sure, we wanted to be rich real estate investors – I’d be lying if I said otherwise. But we knew there was no fairy Godmother and no magic wand.
We signed up because we wanted to figure out how to get our business out of the swamp it was in. Back then we were strictly rentals – and rentals are a big pain in the ass! A lot of work, a lot of negativity bringing your mojo down (think bad tenants, business un-friendly city ordinances and fees) and not a whole lot of immediate return. Rentals are a get-rich-slow plan. When it comes time to send our now 6-year-old to college, and later when it comes time to retire, Steve and I will be very glad we invested in rentals and put up with all the municipal bullshit and crappy tenants.
Dean’s program introduced us to wholesaling, and gave us the confidence to try our first real flip. We’ve long since made back the $45,000 we paid into the program. Could we have done this without spending that kind of money? Probably. Eventually. But at that point, we couldn’t see how. I would say Dean’s program accelerated the process. And he’s got a pretty good racket going! Steve was thinking of starting his own school. After the Trump University story broke, I told him to chill on that for awhile.
A week’s worth of truth
Think you can handle the truth? Here is what happened to me in regards to the business since writing last week’s blog post:
In Court. I can’t go into much detail here, because it’s an ongoing lawsuit that we are trying to settle outside the courtroom in regards to a property we purchased. The case has been continued on the assumption we can do that. Believe me, this will be a fun blog post when it’s all over!
Working Mom/Self-Employment Blues. I came to the conclusion that it was 20 days before Christmas and I wasn’t exactly feeling the ho-ho-ho. I have a looonnnng list of pressing problems that need to be solved in regards to the business, mostly on the rental side of things. I have a “B” job that insisted on scheduling me for work even though I told them NO a month ago, because emergencies came up. I have a 6-year-old daughter who deserves the Merriest of Christmases and I hadn’t done a damn thing to prepare. And on top of all that I was quickly spiraling into my annual seasonal depression. Well, Mama ain’t got no time for that! So I took a long last look at my schedule and tore it up into a million pieces. I will do the minimum necessary to keep the business running and solvent and make up the time in January. I jumped on Amazon Prime and officially started my Christmas shopping. I booked a massage. Then I put on my elf shoes and Santa hat and went to work at my “B” job, which happens to be spinning Christmas tunes on the air at the big adult contemporary radio station.
Balancing the accounts. One of the minimum requirements is keeping the bills paid – and especially keeping the guys paid who are working on rehabbing our empty rental units and finishing up the flip that’s under contract for a January closing. And it’s no small feat keeping track of those 12- or 18-months-no-interest deals on the Lowes and Home Depot credit cards. God help you if you miss the deadline to pay those promotional balances – they sock you with interest from day one of purchase!
Rent collections. I realized I was falling into my seasonal depression when I experienced dread going to the mailbox. Rent is due on the first of the month for most of my tenants. But on the first of the month I’ll have maybe two checks in there. That’s something I’d like to improve upon in 2017! I always make a second trip to the box on the 5th of the month – that’s the last day of the grace period I give the tenants before I charge a late fee. I didn’t get to the box until the 7th this month because of my dread. I just knew I was going to find a box full of bills and nothing else, and have 15 evictions to file. When I finally gave myself enough of a pep talk to go (after I booked my seasonal depression massage) I found only 3 late payers. One is always late – but always pays. I texted her and she says she put it in the mail. I believe her. Steve picked up the 2nd one today. The third will be an eviction. But that’s fine, because…
The third floor tenant pee’d off the balcony! I heard this story from another tenant in the building. He was drunk and decided he wanted to feel the cool air of nature on his johnson as he relieved himself into the back yard three stories below. At least he did it from the back balcony and not the one facing the street! He isn’t even supposed to be living there – the two women I rented the unit to moved him in without asking. And I don’t have to worry about him pissing off the back fire escape anymore because they have so much garbage out there he wouldn’t be able to. I’m hoping the city inspector simply closes the unit as uninhabitable and escorts them out the door tomorrow. That would save us the cost and hassle of eviction. I’d gladly pay any fine!
And finally, I had to go all redneck on somebody. This was Friday. We have two GREAT tenants who recently moved into two sides of one of our double blocks. Unfortunately, there is a problem neighbor on that street. One of our tenants, a sweet young woman with one baby and another on the way, told Steve she was afraid. Someone had gone through her husband’s car and she found some of his belongings dropped on the neighbor’s yard. I got off the air at the Christmas music station early Friday – thanks to voicetracking technology – and decided to see what this was all about. I introduced myself to our tenant, we had never actually met (another thing I want to change in 2017.) I got her side of the story, then I went to find the neighbor. I was cool, calm, but in a no-nonsense mood. The tenant in the front apartment of their building saw me creeping around and came out. I asked him about the back apartment. Told him I heard they were going through cars. He said, yeah, they’re thieves, watch out for them. I saw three of them struggling to get a dirt bike back behind the fence. “Is that your bike?” The guy asked me. Then one of them, the woman my tenant identified as the thief, came out. Let’s just say, she got what my daughter calls “the mad Mommy face.” I told her I don’t know her and she doesn’t know me but I heard she was going through cars and she’d better cut it out. Lots of denial, name calling, yelling ensued. I got up into her face, raised my voice slightly and let her know the police are watching her and now I’m watching her, too. Her two male companions joined her on the sidewalk, but I noticed they kept their distance from me. I’ve heard the mad Mommy face is pretty scary.
They got into a minivan and drove away. I got back into my Prius, the radio playing my pre-recorded voice, sweet like sugar cookies, over Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song.” Then I went to pick up my baby girl from her after school program.