My first foray into the glamorous life of real estate investing

Brace yourself, it’s hot stuff!

In my ~ 4 good days this year, my friend and I put our heads together in a massive information dump. He taught me everything he could about his investing plans which we’d been discussing on and off for a few years. Once I felt on relatively firm footing, he put me in touch with the people he’s done business with and if you ever doubt the value of a great referral, well, don’t. I was well taken care of and due in large part, I’m sure, to the email that said I was his “VERY good friend, so take care of her.”

The strategy was basic:
1. Find a property in a good neighborhood with good amenities at a decent price;
2. Rent only to the best possible tenants [steady income, good references];
3. Maintain the property well, and if the value steadily increases, eventually sell it.
4. Result: Rake in the income. [Hahah... no, not really, as you'll see.]

My loan preapproval only hinted at the paperwork nightmare to come. I’d asked about what sort of documentation would be needed so that I could prepare it ahead of time but irritatingly, the broker didn’t tell me until he needed everything yesterday. Nevertheless, the preapproval was completed really quickly and we were off to the races.

We vetted more than a couple dozen possibilities and I was prepared to take several more weeks in trying to find the right fit but in surprisingly short order, much much more quickly than I expected considering we had to raise my initial ceiling on how much I wanted to spend, we were able to place several bids.

[See what I mean about the value of energy? If I had a few months of that stuff, I'd be flying high!]

The “favorite” of the four, ideally located and best-priced, required a bit of back and forth, but nothing critical. The property wasn’t perfect, what ever is? but it was fine for the purpose: renting it out for income.

I then spent the next week digging out every piece of possible paperwork they could demand going back two, sometimes three, years and discovering that my records weren’t actually as good as I thought they were – it’s both humbling and frustrating to realize how much better my recordkeeping needs to be.

Another humbling realization: Buying outside the hotbed of Bay Area real estate is a huge eye opener. Properties elsewhere look ridiculously affordable in comparison. I had the down payment sitting in my bank account! Now we’re neither rich nor poor, we’re somewhere in the middle. But if I were to try and buy here? I’d need ten or twelve more years of savings, roughly.

To be continued ….

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Just a little (link) love: Half million milestones


SingleMa rides again!! Well, she posted a PF post on achieving a great milestone, at least, but it’s the same thing to me.

This is hugely exciting – she and started out this blogging life around the same time and her blog has always, in whatever form, been inspirational. We haven’t taken anywhere near the same path through life but we’ve shared determination to beat our goals and sow their ashes in a victory dance. Or is that last one just me? Anyway, I’m eyeballing our Net Worth, looking forward to when we can hit that and bigger goals.


J Money of Budgets are Sexy asks: What are you awesome at?

A reader story from My Money Blog looking at early retirement by 40.

Len Penzo on why you shouldn’t pay off the mortgage early.


Alan Tudyk on never playing the same role twice.

Your baby’s wearing a lemur. (hattip Nicole&Maggie)


NYTimes on boomerang kids.

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Net Worth: July 2014


Change from June: 35% 125% increase

Change from January: 118% 262% increase

On Money

I’m still focused on Swagbucks to earn Amazon money for household things we need. Feel free to join using my referral link if you like!

How is our total net worth increasing when I know we just paid big bucks out this month to the tune of $5000+?  I don’t think “gift horses” apply here. I’m half convinced there’s something wrong with my math, but I haven’t found the error yet so we’re going with it. I found the error. And good gravy it’s in our favor again. It’s amazing how just being one cell off in these spreadsheets can make the numbers wonky so I’m both grateful that I’ve caught it and that it went up, not down.

We’re looking at a heck of a lot of expenses coming up too, short term and long term, so I’m doing my best to ensure we maintain growth as long as possible before our finances start taking body blows.

In the meantime, I have our 2013 taxes to face down, 2014 taxes to plan for, and it’s well past time PiC and I got our act together on estate planning. I’m locating a good CPA to help with the taxes because I don’t have the time/energy to devote to winkling out every last detail anymore and an estate planning lawyer to start getting our estate plan in place. It could be done online, sure, but I’ve seen some reports where paperwork done improperly through the online forms didn’t hold up and left the estate in disarray. I’m not comfortable enough to go on my own research and homegrown expertise on this.

On Life

We’re in the middle of needing a lot of things: furniture, rugs to replace the thrashed rugs that mainly serve Doggle’s needs, an entire set of second-dog things, and it’s got me beating the bushes for ways to clear out space (donate, donate, sell on Craigslist, donate, trash) and earn some more cash to pay for these things.

PiC’s in charge of the Craigslisting while I’m in charge of the donations. I’ve found a homeless shelter that will take the household things that aren’t really Goodwill material but are in good shape for use: utensils, toys for kids, etc.  Then again, he’s also in charge of buying from Craigslist by common consent, he loves searching CL and has this whole system going, while I’m much better at other kinds of bargain shopping. So that’s keeping us busy.


No sooner do I make the travel arrangements for one trip, another one creeps up demanding my attention. We have some major travel (in terms of time and money) coming up and it’s got me wishing to take Doggle and absconding to a hotel for the weekend where I don’t do any work, thinking or anything other than eating, walking and sleeping. Now *that’s* a vacation!  (inspired by Lauren’s weekending, actually.)


I had some pretty scary weeks when breathing wasn’t…so possible, I guess that’s an accurate description. It felt like a 30 pound cat sprawled on my ribs so every breath was a struggle and unsatisfactorily oxygenating. It wasn’t so bad that I wasn’t getting air at all but it stank. The nurse made me feel stupid asking why I waited two days to call but I was working! And it didn’t seem like an emergency.  Usually sort of broken, I can’t be dropping everything to run to the doctor when I feel awful, I’d have to move into the hospital! Anyway I was vindicated when the doctor declared it another mystery because I wasn’t actually suffocating. It just felt like it.

These days, I’m grateful for being able to breath fully. The little things are great.


The Roku experiment continues apace. No real complaints other than the occasional hiccup or freezing that may be blamed on the internet.


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Money floweth like water: out the (dog) door, Part 2

I’ve talked about Sibling’s dog before; I have hated leaving him there because I know he deserves better care and maintenance but couldn’t summon the strength to deal with:

1. the removal from one home,
2. installation into our home where we have breed restrictions,
3. while fighting an uphill battle with my Sibling over the removal,
4. acclimating New Dog into a small, yardless, abode.

That’s before you even consider all that he needs, aka, the reason we’d be taking him away in the first place.

Basic supplies: bed, leash, collar, food and water bowls, adequate food.
He’s either malnourished or underfed or both because he’s lost way too much weight.
Estimated cost: $300 to start, $45/month ongoing.

Medical supplies: he needs to be neutered, he’s got something going on with his skin that could be anything from a food allergy to … well, any number of things. But he’s breaking out and his poor enormous-dog paws are swollen and red and tender to the touch. The only thing he has got going for him is that his pearly whites are truly pearly white.
Estimated cost: $250 to start if I can book the animal shelter for the neutering, rabies vaccine, microchip, pre-surgery bloodwork if required due to age.
Then … $$$ for treating the skin issues if it’s not just food allergies or environmental causes.

Training: he’s been off-leash so long, he has to learn how to walk politely, on a lead, again.
Estimated cost: Time. Energy. Patience. Doggle’s patience.

Boarding: His rescue will happen before we have unchangeable plans to travel so we need to find a place that’ll board him for a reasonable amount. Brian suggested which seemed really promising but it turns out most of them discriminate against certain breeds (and from at least one inquiry, based entirely on one bad incident which is preposterous considering the only bad encounters we’ve ever had at dog parks were with Golden Retrievers trying to kill Doggle, while none of the “aggressive” breeds were anything but lovely. This isn’t an isolated experience either, other dog owning friends have had the same experience, but you don’t hear us saying we can’t trust Goldens.)


Step One is still going to be horrible. I have to extract him safely and without triggering the Sibling in some way. I can stand him off on my own, I think, but what happens when we leave? What happens when he gets upset at how long the dog’s been gone? Does he try to come hunting us down and then I have a problem with an out of control sibling raging on our front step? Probably unlikely but not out of the question and what do I do then? Call the police and have him hauled off?

But I also can’t keep letting the possibility of his outrage or upset delay us any longer – the dog needs help and it’s clear to anyone else who looks at him.

We’re planning to make it happen this summer. We’re already going to be extremely busy and have our hands full but we’re doing our best to plan ahead to make it go as smoothly as possible.  Do wish us luck – we’ll need it!

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