Being Wealthy and a Bum are the same thing? Say what?!?!

Being a bum is the same as being wealthy. I know what your saying. Your crazy! But believe it or not, it’s true. Being wealthy and being a bum on the streets share one common trait. More freedom than the rest. Continue reading “Being Wealthy and a Bum are the same thing? Say what?!?!”

Why Be a Slumlord?

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Why be a slumlord? Because it’s very easy. The less you do on a rental property the less money you spend, the more short term money you get, and the less time you spend on the property. That sounds great in the short term but then you end up with a tear down. I am not a slumlord. That means I spend more money, get less money on a short term basis, and spend more time on the properties. I don’t want future tear downs. These last few months I had to prepare 4 vacancies for rent, three in the last 3 weeks, and many repairs also popped up. I have been swamped because I do most of the preparation and repairs myself. That has given me little time to write on this blog.

About a week ago I was installing a built-in microwave that went bad and thought to myself how much I would be charged to outsource that job. My guess would be about $150. Then I thought about all the other stuff I had done to get that property ready for lease and its probable cost if I had outsourced the labor. Below is the breakdown:

Install Microwave: $150 labor; $400 for microwave

Paint 3 bedrooms, 1 Hallway, 1 bath, plus baseboards: $1200 labor; $150 for materials/paint

Caulk baseboards and ceilings on about half the house: $300 labor; $30 in caulk tubes

Take out large Mirror and replace with double single mirrors: $150 labor; $70 new mirrors

Clean Gutters: $100

Mow and edge lawn (big yard): $70

Paint and install all door knob hardware: $150 labor; $7 in paint

Applying Tile Sealant on all tile: $200 labor; $60 for sealant

Replace old faulty toilet: $150; $110 new toilet

Paint all closets and pantry: $400; $30 for paint

Change out faulty exhaust fan motor and light switch: $200; $20 for fan and switch

Patch large cracks with cement on front porch steps: $80

Fix Garage door sensors: $100

All together we have a grand total of $3250 for labor that would have been spent to get the property ready. But wait there is more. I outsourced professional cleaning at $160 and carpet steam clean at $165. The carpet despite the steam clean still showed many stains so I opted to install new carpet for 3 rooms at $1050. All in all if I outsourced all the work done I would have been spending about $4625, plus materials of about $877, for an ultimate grand total of $5502! Geez…why even go into the real estate rental business? Well, as for me I saved about $3250 by doing all that work myself but did I really save? I spent so much time on all day weekends and late evenings trying to get things done. I have to wonder?

And this is just one vacancy. Now imagine the time and money spent on the others. Now granted not all vacancies are so labor/cost intensive, some less, some more. But all eventually will be as intense or even more intense when bathrooms and kitchens need updating. No wonder we have slumlords.

I imagine some landlords who have to outsource all the labor, attempt to do the minimum and not fix faulty items because of the high costs. They may not have the money or do not want to spend the money. In a few years, one day they look in the mirror only to find out that they have become slumlords. Then they may hide behind management companies. The management companies hold the burden of all the complaints but can not do anything unless the landlord offers money to correct an issue. The management company has a list of excuses why a problem can not be corrected or they lie and say it will be corrected but never do.

I just gathered all my information to do my taxes. That is the only place I see some type of relief for all the work and expenses done on all the properties. All repairs are deducted from our taxable income which is an added help during tax time. Maybe it’s not so bad being a landlord afterall. Maybe.

There are big ticket stuff like two years ago when I spent $14,000 on new siding on another property. Then there are the small costs here and there that add up to big numbers. I have boxes full of receipts. I have a contractor account at Home Depot and Lowes. Sometimes my clothes are covered with paint, grime, and dirt. My van is full of tools and debris. I take calls and correct problems on a constant basis. I do not hide behind management companies but sometimes I wonder if I should? Everybody thinks its easy. I say its not and they don’t believe me. Being a slumlord is easier. I am not one of those.

 

 

 

Valentine and Marriage: A Survival Guide

Rodney: Me and my wife used to be really happy together?

Friend: Really…what happened?

Rodney: We got married.

 Joke by Rodney Dangerfield

All jokes aside, Valentines Day is coming up and many people are expecting some type of recognition including my significant other. It is a day to celebrate love. I am not talking about sexual love. I am talking about caring love. As social creatures we all need caring love. We can’t survive without it. It is as basic as water. It is one of the pillars for human survival. We all need water, food, shelter, and love. And that caring love is what I receive from my wife and I return it in a mutual symbiosis.

How I met my wife?

I was in the college library running towards the elevator. The doors were closing. I put my foot in the door, entered, and saw the most beautiful thing ever, an empty elevator because I hate uncomfortable elevator silences with other people in it. Once inside I look out and see a pretty girl sitting at the end of the library. She had dark curly hair, a button nose, rosy cheeks, and full lips. She suddenly looks up and we lock eyes as the elevator doors closed. I wanted to leave the elevator and go to her but I just continued to stare at her eyes as the doors closed shut. Is she the one? Is this love? The moment passes and I think to myself …Wow, wow, wow!….now I have this elevator all to myself.

The next day I go to the library at the same time in the hopes of seeing her again. There she was, immersed in her studies. My mind was spinning. How should I approach? Should I do a direct approach and “grab her by the …um…ok…how do I say it in…um…hand.”

No, that won’t work. I should say something better. Say something witty.

I played with different pick up lines in my head that I could use:

Are you trying to trip me? Because I am falling for you.

Your name must be cholesterol because my blood pressure is rising.

I like empty elevators.

Crap! No….none of that will work. Think, think fast…

“Umm…is anybody sitting here?” I asked in a matter-of-fact manner. Smooth right. Yeah, I thought so at the time. She said,”No, go ahead.” I sat down. I pretended to study thinking of something else to say.

I have to say something really cool now. Something that will make her smile. Something that will make her feel like there was some magical, cosmic connection between us.

I blurted out “What are you studying?”

She smiled and says “A book for my history class.” Yes! She smiled. I am so good at this.

I need to close this thing before I say something even more brilliant and then she will think I am too good for her.

“Would you like to go out sometime,” I say with a smile. I would just like to add that there wasn’t an an ounce of desperation in my voice. Trust me. OK, maybe just a little.

Her cheeks turn deep red and shyly said,”OK.”

And the rest is history. We exchange phone numbers. I get up and head to the elevator. It was empty again. My life is good.

How we stayed together for 13 years?

Now I could answer this question with something cliche and mushy like saying “love” has kept us together all this time. But that is a cop out to what marriage really is and that is “work.” A marriage needs to be “worked on” and “love” by itself is not enough to keep a marriage together. I am leaving “love” out of the equation to get to the more practical side of a long lasting marriage. It is time to get SERIOUS.

Warning: There were several puns and jokes thus far but from this point onwards–not so much.

Know your Roles

Marriages usually fall apart when partners do not have defined roles. For example, my duties at home is to pay the bills, take out the garbage, clean the gutters, I will stop here because I don’t want to take too many gigabytes but you get the point. My wife has her role duties as well. I usually don’t interfere with her duties and she doesn’t interfere with mine. We each have our domains and respect each other’s contributions.

Respect Pact: Don’t call me stupid.

When we first got married we made a pact. The pact stated that we would not call each other demeaning names, especially names insulting the intelligence of either. This includes names such as stupid, idiot, dumb, moron, etc. Have we called each other demeaning names since the pact? I am definitely guilty here and so is she. We are not perfect. But we have NEVER called each other names that insult our intelligence. I have never called my wife stupid or anything similar and she hasn’t in return.

Communicate with the “I” method

All couples argue and get into fights sometimes. How is it handled after? Knowing the correct way of communicating an issue is of most importance. I was fortunate to learn this early on and shared it with my wife. In order to solve the problem it is best to use the “I” method instead of the “you” method. By the way, this method is also good to use in a workplace setting as well.

Examples of “I” method:                                      

I feel like you are ignoring me.

I am disappointed about how you said that.

Examples of “you” method:

You go out all the time.

You always say such things!

Notice that if you start your sentence with “you” it will sound more accusatory and it will automatically escalate conflict. However, if you start with “I feel” or “I think” it starts with the person saying it and it leaves an element of continued dialogue rather than a fight about “you did this” and “you did that.”

Logical arguments for not leaving your spouse.

For those logical fanatics. Below are two rational arguments for keeping a marriage together. Love is not included in these arguments but they are valid still.

The Novelty in Perpetual Error Argument

All marriages have what is known as the “honeymoon” period when everything is exciting and new. Then it wears off. Then one partner begins to seek that novelty and begin a relationship with another partner. There is excitement in this new relationship and leaves the other partner for this new relationship. Then the excitement wears off and they seek somebody new again. It becomes a perpetual cycle of cheating for seeking that “excited” feeling. The argument follows, why cheat at all or seek a new partner at all if ends up being the same, perpetually the same. It wouldn’t matter what partner the person ends up with, the “honeymoon” period will always end. And it will not matter how handsome, beautiful, if they are a movie star (look at the divorce rate for famous actors), rich, or famous the other person is. If there is one thing for sure, the “honeymoon” period will always end so there is no sense of leaving your partner only to experience the same scenario. You are better off staying.

The Wealth Argument

When you separate with your spouse, in most cases, you are losing half of your wealth. Not just money wealth, intellectual wealth is also lost as well. Remember all the role duties your spouse did, now you have to do them. Just imagine half of what you have suddenly vanishing. In closing, unless there is a prenup, expect to lose half your wealth and start doing all of your former spouse’ duties, therefore it is in everybody’s best interest wealth-wise to stay together. If there is a person outside your marriage with more wealth and you are interested in that person romantically, STOP. Before you act, apply the Novelty in Perpetual Error Argument and return to your spouse and be happy.

I know what your thinking. How dare you talk about wealth in relationships when love should be the focus? I know…..I know..kinda of douche-like and cold….so  I will end it by saying one thing.

I love my wife.

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Laborer vs Teacher?: Who gets home more tired at the end of the day?

During the remodel of the property just purchased, as I was throwing debris onto the back of my van, I reflected on how much physical work I put into the remodel. Especially this pass week where I put in 10 hours daily of hard labor from demolition, to painting, to electrical work, to loading and unloading material, plus more…During the first days my body got sore but by the end of the week my body became accustomed to the work. And this was not the first time in my life I have done hard labor for a long period of time. There was one summer I spent as a landscape helper and another as an HVAC installer.

In landscaping I remember the long hours in 100 degree plus weather mowing lawns, pulling weeds, cutting branches under the hot sun. In HVAC you were not under the sun but in 110-120 degree attics among insulation and tight places. Both were intense jobs and when I would get home my body would be tired but my brain would still be alive to focus on other tasks in my life.

My stint as a full time middle school teacher lasted 6 years. I was 22 years old and full of false bravado that got me nowhere in my new occupation. By the end of the month I was sitting on the toilet with my hands clasped against my face…crying. It was too much, disrespectful students, dismissive administration, meetings, supervising duties. I remember getting home depressed and exhausted. The exhaustion was so severe at times that I could not stay awake on my 20 minute drive home. The following year I improved as a teacher, especially with discipline and organization. My students became very well behaved but it was a catch-22 because I had to work very hard to maintain that discipline and organization, which tired me out just the same. Although I blossomed into a way better teacher, it did not solve the problem of me getting home tired. I left teaching after 6 years and worked in the non-profit industry, at a bank, as a realtor, also did stints of construction work, yet no other work was a able to duplicate the deep exhaustion caused by teaching.

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One of the reasons I got into teaching was for the vacation days, shorter work days, and holidays where I didn’t have to work. Then I found myself working during those times that I naively believed I would have time to relax. My brain would always be thinking about my job…it never stopped. I would try not to think about my job while at home and only found that it made me a bad teacher…good teachers have to think about their jobs constantly to solve problems meaning that exhaustion is a requirement for being a “good teacher.”

Last year, my wife saw some guy doing custodial/janitor work and commented “poor guy, he must get home exhausted.” I laughed and told her to not feel sorry for that guy,”your a teacher, remember.” She acknowledged the truth of the statement. A few months later she left her job when the school year ended.

To sum up…who gets more tired at the end of the day…laborer or teacher? I vote teacher. How about you?

Being Stood Up

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She Was A Beautiful Girl

She was beautiful, with long silky hair, clear skin, pretty eyes, full lips, flowing body, she was the girl of most guys dreams. It was a second date and we had a time set up that Saturday to meet at a restaurant. I was slightly nervous and very much looked forward to seeing her again at 8 pm. Being a little early to every appointment was my norm and I was eagerly early on that day, getting there five minutes before. I asked for a table and ordered a beer, waiting for all the clocks in the restaurant to reach the magical number 8. At exactly 8 pm I saw her coming in the restaurant. Oh…wait….that wasn’t her…sure looked like her though... Maybe she is a little late. I give her time and waited half an hour but still nothing. I text her: Are you on your way? Let me know if you have trouble finding the place. Ten more long minutes passed. Time slowed down. Everybody was moving around like snails. I call. No answer. I leave a voice message: Hey, its me. I am here at the restaurant. Let me know if you are on your way. See you here. I waited another twenty minutes for any type of response….a text, a call, message from the waiter, telegram, morse code, anything. I got nothing. I went home with mixed feelings of rejection and disappointment. So sad.

 

The Ugly Contractor

He was ugly. With no hair on his head, skin of an alligator, blood shot eyes from working under drywall for years, missing teeth, and a burly, hairy body that most women would say EEEEEEEW! Yes…with that many E’s behind the W. He had done a few small jobs for me in the past and this would have been like the fourth one. We had set up the appointment for Wednesday at 8 am at the property. I get there a few minutes early of course. You know me. I go inside the house, pacing back and forth looking around, rehearsing what needs to be done for the remodel in my head, waiting for that dreadful 8. It got there faster than I thought it would. At 8 am I flipped the blind and saw a truck coming down the road. It’s him. I go outside to greet him with a smile on face. When I got to the middle of the front yard I waved him down only to see a guy that wasn’t him wave back at me and he kept on going. It wasn’t him. I got nervous. This time around I wait twenty-five minutes before texting him. I text him: Hey Bud, I am here waiting. Let me know if you have trouble finding the place. I wait 10 minutes and no response. Damn it. Could it be happening again? This time by my ugly contractor. I call him and leave a message: Hey man, just checking in to see if you are showing up. I sit in my car staring off into empty space like a zombie, dumbfounded. This guy is not showing up. After ten minutes, I turn on the ignition, close the door, put on my seat belt, put it on reverse and I am ouuuuuuutta’ here!!!!!!! Yes, with that many u’s and exclamation points. Driving back home, I did not want to hear from that guy…..no text, no messages, and definitely not telegrams or morse code.

The Contractor Dilemma

When the real estate market is hot contractors have little time for you and you are calling them to show up. When the market is icy cold contractors have a lot more time and they are calling you for jobs or if you call–they actually show up. It is the nature of the beast we call the real estate market. It is a little different in the love market. Did I ever speak to that girl that stood me up again? Yes I did. She called me the next evening apologizing explaining why she didn’t make it. I asked her why she didn’t just let me know she wasn’t able to make it instead of letting me sit there in that restaurant playing around with my drink waiting for her. More excuses. I never called her again after that. Good for me because I found my wife a few years later. As for the contractor, it has been two weeks and I haven’t heard from him and I probably never will again. Will I ever find “The One”….that one contractor that will stick around for the rest of my life? Probably not and I am good with that.