Life

Focus

Lately, I have been working on several different goals at the same time. What I have figured out over the last 7 weeks is to reach my goals, I need to focus in on the small steps it takes to accomplish my goals. This is true whether the goal is about health, finances, cooking or trying something new. There are some goals where there is always a focus, even if it is small. For me, this goal is financial freedom and living the best life I can with what I already have in my life. However, my current hyper-focus is on my health.

We went on a trip in June and I realized, I was not only the heaviest I have ever been in my life, I just did not feel good. Now, I am not Spring chicken, so this not feeling well will not get better with doing nothing. When we got back I decided to do something about it.

The week following my vacation, just happened to be the week a large health and fitness company was having their annual Coaches Summit. This was inspiring. I know someone who does their workouts, so I went to their website and checked out the cost. I really, really did not want to spend a lot of money on something, I might abandon. I was pleasantly surprised to find this particular company had a 30-day free trial and was only $99 a year if you subscribed for an entire year. I figured this was plenty of time to figure out whether I could stick to this over time.

Because of my super long commute (made longer by summer road construction), I knew I really needed to do this in the morning or it would never happen. This would mean we had to get up at 5:00 a.m. to have time. Remember though I really, really wanted to do this thing. We started on a Saturday so we could “ease” into it a bit. For this particular program, the workouts are 30 minutes each with a different workout each day.

The first day was hard because I was so out of shape, but I made it through (doing everything modified). Come Monday, we got up at 5, but I thought I would die before it was over, I was so sore. I made it through (and did not die). On day 4, the creator of the workout put in a workout that helped stretch and heal everything and I have truly not been too sore since.

Because this workout was just in 30 minute increments and each day works on a different area, I have stuck to it. I am going with slow and steady wins the race. I have lost 12 pounds and 5 inches overall (mostly in my hips and belly). I’m not losing as quickly as I would like, but I make progress every week.

Last week, I fell off the wagon and bit and I am now paying the price. We refocused today and I know I will lose more. Focus – the key to accomplishing your goals.

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Today on Mother’s Day, I took a few minutes this beautiful Spring morning and reflected on all of my blessings the past 34 years. My oldest son will be 34 in June. I had always wanted my own children from the time I was a little girl. I got married very young the first time and his arrival seemed a long wait. For a number of reasons, I had fertility issues and it took 2 years of trying before we were blessed with him. When I found out he was on the way, I knew this was a Child God wanted in this world. He was going to do something special or bring someone in the world who was going to do something special. His younger brother came into our lives two years later and my life was full.

From way back, I knew what I wanted for my children and had a good idea how to get there. Although they did not always follow the path I thought they should, they made their own path and are very successful young men with their own children. Although some of this was from luck, some was from values and standards I instilled in them from a young age:

    1. You need to behave and act appropriately
    2. You need to have fun
    3. You need to laugh
    4. You need to live below your means
    5. Nothing is given to you, you must earn it on your own
    6. Be respectful
    7. Be your own person

As I said above my boys are now grown and both now have children. My grandchildren are truly a blessing to me and make me so happy. My grandchildren remind me of my own children and bring back all of those memories. They also are creating new memories. It is such a pleasure to see them grow and be awed by what little people they are in this world.

Today I am also reminded of all of the blessings in my past with my own mother and my Grandmothers. I am blessed in the fact my Mom is still here for me to call. Sadly, she is very ill right now and those conversations are now very hard. However, today on Mother’s Day I think about the years past and my relationship with her throughout those years. I am the oldest of seven children and there is only eight years between all of us. This made for a very full, loud house when I was growing up. It also caused me to be very responsible from a young age, as I helped with the littler kids. This sometimes caused a rift, because I couldn’t always just be a kid. I lived through it and am a better person because of it. This taught me to be a leader, think creatively and be very flexible. I am a better person because of these skills.

I am also reminded of my two grandmothers. My Mom also came from a very large family and they were very poor when she was growing up. My grandmother did not have a full bath until I was in my 20’s (she used a washtub to take a bath). When we were kids my sister and I used to spend time with her and we loved that old washtub. When I think about it now, what a chore that must have been for her to let us take a bath when we stayed. She had to heat the water on the stove and spend a half hour filling that tub (then it had to be emptied). My Grandmother was in her 50’s at the time. This Grandma taught me flexibility and calmness and how to work through adversity. It would be hard to live to the standard of woman she was, but I try.

My other Grandmother was feisty as all get out. Her parents were the children of German immigrants. Her mother was a suffragette working to get the vote for all women (awesome right). This Grandmother taught me to speak for myself and that girls can do whatever they want. She taught me it is OK to disagree with others, but be intelligent when you are doing it. She taught me the love of books and art. She also taught me how to clean a house like no one’s business.

My boys are very lucky, both of my Grandmothers lived until they were teenagers so they got to meet both of these special women.

I miss both of my grandmothers awful sometimes, but I like to think they are looking down on me and still guiding me along the way.

Today I want to say thanks to my Grandmothers and Mother, for making me the mother and grandmother I am.

 

Soooo, I always have very good intentions of blogging more, because well I really like it. However, it seems like life is always throwing some sort of a curve. I decided this weekend to do more of what I love. Since my blog currently has no real direction, I have decided to not make this so hard and just go with the flow. With that though in mind, I’m just going to start putting my thoughts out there about whatever and see where this train takes me.

If any of you paid attention to the couple of things I posted about our flip house, an update. We did end up flipping it and it it turned out beautiful. We put laminate flooring everywhere in the house, did a fresh paint and fixed a couple of windows that were unexpectedly bad news. In the end we also decided to put on a roof. Except for the roof, we did all of the work ourselves (reinvesting that sweat back into our company). We still ended up making about 25% above what we paid out. Not bad considering the margins on the sale. This profit was reinvested into our company and we are now going through the steps to add another rental property to our portfolio. As I have mentioned in the past, we are trying to cash flow this company as much as possible, with no debt. I know a lot of people think this type of debt is “good” debt, but not to us.

The other big thing going on in my life is the addition of two new grandchildren. I now have three grandchildren all under the age of 2.5 years. I can’t say enough how awesome it is to be a grandmother. Makes all that other noise in the world go away.

My last ramble for today is about Spring. This has been a very long gray winter in the Midwest and some sunnier, warmer weather is spectacular. My son and his bride bought a wooded piece of property near us last Spring. The last couple of Sundays, my dear Husband and I have had the chance to walk around (maybe find some morel mushrooms) and just enjoy outside. This has been so freeing to my mind and soul. As I get older, I now realize how good it is to get away from everything and into a quiet space. If you have not had the chance to do so, I would strong recommend doing so. The pictures here are from this special spot. Notice how nature survives even when the winter has been long and there is so much decay around.

Until next time, enjoy the Spring weather and live life to the fullest. It is my current plan. Enjoy!!!!

Construction Day 1

Now that we have closed without a hitch, the real work begins.  We all meet at the new house to assess everything and put a little more detail around our budget.  When we walked in the door, I realized I had forgotten just how bad that smell was in the air.  We all agreed the culprit of the odor was the carpeting (sorry for the blurry picture).  This is the living room.  This room clearly needed the carpet pulled.  This is where we started.  To pull the carpet, we do not try to pull up the whole room at a time.  Using a utility knife, we cut it into 2-ft wide strips.  Pulling it and rolling it as we go.  We then band the small roll.  This way, we can put it into the normal trash tote used for pick-up.  Because we do all of the work ourselves, we can usually keep the amount of disposal small enough in a week we don’t need to get a dumpster.  If you were using a crew and demoing everything at one time you would need a dumpster.

Living Room

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The room we call Bedroom 2, also clearly needed the carpet pulled:

Bedroom 2

The first bedroom was more of a challenge, the carpet didn’t look awful so there was a long discussion of whether we could just clean it.  On day 1, we did not pull this carpet.  In the end, we did pull this carpet as well.

Bedroom 1.jpg

 

Closing Day

317The house we purchased was a bank-owned house so it can be a little more complicated than purchasing from an individual.  As described in my earlier post, when we finally found the house we were interested in purchasing, the bank rejected our offer.  They came back two weeks later with a counter-offer we could live with on our budget.  My dear spouse immediately went to Real Estate agent and signed all necessary paperwork and then we waited and waited.  After a week, we called and the Realtor said everything looked good.  They were just waiting for the bank to sign off on paperwork.  We waited. It is now the end of the month and the Realtor calls and says if you will close tomorrow, the bank will give you a $200 credit.

The next 24 hours were a whirlwind.  Although we had all of the cash, it was currently sitting in three different accounts.  We needed to get all of the cash into our business account.  We started the LLC at the beginning of the year, as we had two other accidental rental properties and wanted some protection before we expanded into more houses. What we did not realize yet, is transferring money into a business account is much different than transferring between personal accounts.  Apparently, if you do an online transfer from a personal account to a business account, it can take up to seven days for the funds to be available.  We only had 18 hours, not seven days.  Fortunately, all of our accounts are at the same bank.  Mr. Frugal Princess immediately went to the bank and got everything moved into the business account so funds would be available.  We use PNC Bank for our banking needs and I highly recommend.

After he was finished at the Bank, he immediately contacted our insurance agent and got homeowners insurance on the property to begin the next day.  This is important, as you do not want your new property uninsured.

We now have all of the money together, but we still do not have a closing statement.  Without the closing statement, we could not set up the wire transfer to the title company. Keep in mind, we are at the end of the day and we are scheduled to close at 11 next morning. Friday morning comes, still no closing statement.  We FINALLY got the closing statement at a little after 9 on Friday morning.  We reviewed and made sure everything looked good on the Statement.  Mr. then went to the Bank and did the wire transfer.

I want to take a minute and talk about the wire transfer.  When you get the wire information, do a little due diligence and make sure everything is legit.  If you are working with a reputable title company, there should be no issues.  However, be aware there have been issues with scammers tricking buyers into sending their money to a fraudulent account.  It took my less than 10 minutes to verify everything was legit.

When you are figuring the closing costs, have a small reserve for hidden costs. For instance, the cost of the wire transfer was $78 because it was coming from a business account.

Amazingly, everything came together and the closing went off without any problems.  We now had a new rental property.  Now the real work begins.

 

 

I want to start out by saying, we personally do not finance our investments.  We believe if you can’t do it with cash, you need to save more.  The way we are able to do this is we worked very hard to become debt-free.  Because of this, all of our income is now working for us – rather than us working to pay off debt.  Keep in mind investing in rental property, flipping, etc. is not really a get-rich quick thing.  This type of investing is just like your retirement investing.  Slow and steady wins the race. (No matter what you may read).

Before you find the perfect property, you do need to know how you are going to pay for this property.  Because there will be an asset attached to this property, you can get financing.  However, you need to be prepared to pay a higher interest rate. Other forms of funding can be found at local Community Banks, Credit Unions and personal lines of credit.

Please keep in mind, with any type of loan you need to make sure your debt-to-income ratio is not too high.  Keep in mind, it is very unlikely whatever property you purchase will be ready to re-sell or rent immediately.  There will be repairs (there are always repairs).  When we were purchasing our property, I estimated it would be eight weeks before we would have it ready to rent.  This means that particular piece of property it is an “alligator” for at least eight weeks.  By the way, an “alligator” is a piece of property that just sits there and eats money.

Knowing how much to borrow is also important.  You do not want to get half way through your project and run out of money.  Real estate investing is hot right now, and I can’t tell you how many houses we see around our community where someone starts and then simply does not have the means to finish. There is nothing wrong with starting with a small project first and building up to the big money projects.

Below is back side of new property.

back of north street

 

 

 

north street listing picWe all watch those shows on HGTV showing how easy it is to buy, renovate and sell a home.  Now you think YOU want to be a house “flipper,” a landlord, or whatever.  This is all about the reality vs. TV.

We are going to start by talking about finding property. It is nothing like what you see on TV.  You don’t just look at three properties and pick one.  To find the right property, in the price range you are going to look at 50+ listings.  By the way, the 50+ number is conservative.  When we are looking at properties, we look for a good deal.  This means in many cases we are looking at bank owned homes, or homes sellers are trying to get out from under.  We try to find houses we can get for 70-75% of their appraised value.  Because of the current market, this does mean we really are going through a lot of listings.

We started our search by using Zillow.com (all bank listings), Hudhomestore.com (HUD listings), and Homepath.com (Fannie Mae listings).  We would sit down on Saturday morning and make a list of all of the houses we thought looked promising.  We would then get in the car and do a drive-by.  The drive-by is very important, as it allows you to see not only the condition of the house, you also can see the neighborhood. While on these drives, we looked for any other houses we may have missed or empty non-listed house.  We would write these down to research.

When we would find a house in hour price range and in the right area, we would contact our Realtor to really take a look at the house.  I cannot emphasize enough if you are new to this, you need to use a licensed realtor.

In early Spring we found a house meeting all of our criteria.  The listing price was decent and in our price range.  The neighborhood is going through a re-generation.  Although the house had been empty for 18+ months, it did not appear to have any structural damage.

We made an offer. The seller REJECTED our offer, so we walked away.  We felt we had made a fair offer for the condition of the house.  Although we were disappointed, we knew there would be other offices.

Two weeks later (near the end of the month), the seller came back and accepted our offer if we would pay some of the closing costs.  We accepted and waited…..

Next Up Financing



 

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