Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Summit

I heard from Loving Husband this afternoon. "Guess where I am?" he says. He made it to the top of the climb! I congratulated him and breathed a sigh of relief.

The problem? He brought a camera, but the batteries were dead. ARG! No panoramic shots of Las Vegas from the Red Rock summit. No documentation of his "40 Years on This Earth" accomplishment. Bummer.

And I thought I heard slot machines in the background. But I could be wrong...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Leaving (for) Las Vegas (almost)

In celebration of a significant birthday that starts with '4' and ends with '0', Loving Husband is heading to Las Vegas tomorrow to do a rock climb of epic proportions (a multi-pitch climb for those of you that are curious). I am a teeny-tiny bit worried about him, mainly because (1) he is my husband and (2) I love him, even after 14+ years of marriage.

The really good part is that I (along with some great friends) get to join him Friday night, when we go to Las Vegas and PARTY!

The really bad part is that we are only there for the weekend, so we have to cram all the stuff we want to do into basically two days (Sat/Sun) and two nights (Fri/Sat).

I've been taking a Texas Hold 'Em class, as well as hosting a home game for about six months, so I want to take some lumps at the Poker tables. I've also been a Craps fan for several years, so I want to roll some dice too. And of course, there's the culinary nirvana that is Las can get about any type of food, lots of it, and usually really good, at any time of day or night. And for the icing on my cake...we will be there all day Sunday so I get to bet on NFL football, baby.

I'm not sure why I love betting on football. It could be that you just plain can't do it here in the midwest, at the riverboat casinos (it's illegal). Or it could be that you can bet $10 and have that bet last 2-1/2 hours (until the game is over or it's clear that you have won/lost). Or it could be the fact that I'm actually good at it!

My first trip to Vegas, a co-worker said, "Hey, here's twenty bucks. Put it on the biggest longshot you can find for me!" I ventured into the Sports Book for the first time ever and proceeded to bet a trifecta that included 3 football teams. Since I had no idea what I was doing, I thought this meant that I had 3 separate bets, each of which would pay if that team won. I found out later that what I had actually done was bet that all three events would happen.

What happened? You guessed it...all 3 teams won, and I brought back $100 for my friend. Many folks ask me why I didn't just pocket the money and tell him I lost. The answer is: I wouldn't have bragging rights if I did that! Duh. Those are way more than priceless.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Final (Thank God!) Day at the Seminar...

Got up even later this morning and got the the seminar at around 7:45am. I wasn't the only one straggling in, so the speakers didn't start until 8:00am. My brain just hurts at this point...

Only 2 speakers today. They are the heavy-hitters, so they are speaking for longer.

First up is a guy that was living in a one-bedroom apartment, mowing lawns for a living until a friend recommended him to a bank to do a rehab for a foreclosed property. I just love hearing the stories of how folks get started in real estate. All the current gurus were either (1) backed into a corner by financial troubles; or (2) accidentally tripped and fell face-first into real estate.

Anyway, this guy ended up having an opportunity to buy an apartment house, so he did it. Turns out that multi-family dwellings are (1) easier to get financing for; (2) bring in monthly cash flow (called "rent" to you & I) and (3) appreciate over time (usually). So you get two bangs for you buck...monthly checks + appreciation of your investment over time. This is great strategy, and the speaker got everyone excited. Even me. However, my brain was full after the previous two days and all the zeroes involved in his examples scared me away. Maybe a future deal, but I'm not ready for this yet. No sale.

Over lunch, I talked to a couple that I had met in a previous real estate event. They own 1/2 a duplex, so they were telling me about the trials and tribulations of being a landlord. This seems to be a reccuring theme: It's great to own rental property, but having tenants sucks. The wife also has a sister in San Diego who owns a 3 bedroom home that she bought for around $180K about 8 years ago that is now valued at $850K! That's how crazy the west coast real estate market is. No wonder there's all the buzz about the real estate bubble.

Last speaker was the heaviest hitter. This guy speaks at events with The Donald. As in Trump. This guy actually retired about a year ago, but came back to work in order to donate all his income for a year to charity. He's currently doing quite a lot for the Biloxi folks, as he hails from that area. As in renting 2 Mack trucks and filling them with food and equipment to the tune of about $1 million.

This guy was a great speaker! Energetic, gave us good information, got us involved, answered questions well, and (most importantly) gave out free stuff. Hey, it's always good to get free booty. Keep your booty call jokes to yourself folks...

He had no real speciality, but rather gave us some overall strategies and really pushed the "you can do it!" spiel. In a honest, unpatronizing way. He mentioned some strategies that I had never heard of before and offered a guarantee: Make a deal within 90 days of buying his materials and he will refund the price...DOUBLE. Gives a little extra incentive, huh? And for a competitive individual (like me!) throws down the gauntlet and just begs to be met with action. Sale. Yes, I bought it.

I'm going to be reading/listening to real estate material from now until Christmas! But as the "coaching" speaker said, "There are three types of activities: low dollar, high dollar and lifetime value." Low dollar is stuff that isn't helping your bottom line, like watching TV. High dollar is generating leads, making offers, etc. Stuff that will hopefully bring in the money. Lifetime value is education, spending time with your kids, etc. Stuff that makes you a better person or feeds your soul.

I think this little bit of wisdom is something I will remember for a long time...and it was free.

Second Day at the Seminar...

I woke up later today and got to the seminar in about 25 minutes. Okay, okay, I broke a few speed limits to do this, but I got to sleep in late. And in the ultimate irony, I got a speeding ticket on the way home, when I wasn't in a hurry at all. Doh!

First speaker discussed getting private lenders to finance your real estate investments. Basically either family, friends, associates or putting an ad in the newspaper and offering 12% return. Hell, if someone offered me 12% on my money to use it for a few months, I'd jump all over that. Provided I had some money, that is... Good ideas. As expected, he had an "educational system" to sell us. Unfortunately (but fortunately for the audience), he gave away most of his secrets in the 2-hour presentation, so not too many folks bought his stuff. No sale here.

Second speaker was a Success Coach Dude. He talked about the power of positive thinking, laws of attraction, blah, blah, blah. I jest, but he was actually very good, just nothing that I hadn't heard before. He had us do a short "personality type" test. It broke individuals up into one of four categories: Controller, Planner, Accommodator and Passionate. I fell into the Accommodator category, which shouldn't surprise anyone who knows me. I'm very relationship-based, rather than results-based. I'd much rather work with someone I know, even if they're not the cheapest or easiest option available. And I love meeting new people, provided they're not idiots. The test also indicated that I have some Planner in me. This basically means that I love to start projects, but not finish them, and research every purchase I make for way too long. Duh.

This dude was pimping his Bridge to Money, Success and Happiness seminar, which was $1500 + travel to Las Vegas. Sounded like fun, but too expensive and he was way to pushy when it came to the sales part. Uncomfortably so. No sale.

Over lunch I met a lady there with her husband that was quite dumbfounded that I was interested in real estate, but my husband wasn't. From going to several of these meetings, I've realized that it is rather unusual to see a lone female attending a real estate meeting, unless she's a 50+, perfectly coiffed and brightly-dressed realtor. No, I am not a realtor. No, I am not over 50. Deal with it. I love fucking with stereotypes. Giggle.

After lunch, we had a treat. A woman about my age gave a wonderful presentation about Lease Options. She started out at age 21 buying her first house with a credit card advance (not a recommended strategy) and renting out 2 of the 3 bedrooms to pay her mortgage payment, plus bring in about $60 in monthly cash flow. Since then, she has gone on to be the industry expert in lease options, which is basically leasing a house for 12-18 months with an option at the end to purchase it at a set price. Another benefit to this strategy is that you don't have to go to the seediest parts of town to get good deals - they can literally be in your own neighborhood. She had such good information, and had so much good stuff in her "system", that I had to buy it. Sale! (with no regrets either...I will actually read her stuff first)

So, with my head pounding from my over-stimulated brain, I jumped in my car and headed home, only to be met by Mr. Friendly State Trooper waiting to give me his autograph on the bottom of a $138 ticket. Sammy Hagar...where are you when I need ya, man?

Friday, September 23, 2005

First Day at the Seminar...

Well, I managed to get my sleepy butt out of bed this morning BEFORE 6:00am (and yes, it was dark outside. And raining. Hard.) I got to the real estate seminar about 7:20am. As with most things like this, it started late, so I walked around the vendor expo and met some nice people wanting to sell me things.

The first speaker was a dynamic lady extolling the virtues of direct mail for getting motivated sellers. She was great. I would have bought her "system" (see Note below), but it cost $1495. Ouch! No sale.

NOTE: As with most real estate seminars, each speaker speaks for free, with the agreement that at the end of their speech, they pimp whatever "educational system" they are selling. All the big real estate gurus have their own "system". Some are more hardcore salespeople and some are more lax about it.

The second speaker was an jittery guy with Attention Deficit Disorder (self-proclaimed). He jittered around the stage, gave a disjointed talk about things that didn't seem to make any sense and left each PowerPoint slide on the screen for a whopping 1.2 seconds, so it was impossible to take notes. His presentation was littered with typos and didn't flow in any particular way that I saw. When it came time to pimp his "system", he went from $1249 to $397. If it was anything like his presentation, it would make no sense to me. No sale.

Lunch was good. I met some really nice ladies that had varying degrees of experience in real estate. One lady that sat next to me actually lives in the next neighborhood over from me. Weird coincidence, but we decided to keep in touch with our real estate ventures.

After lunch we got a sales spiel from a real estate signage guy. As he was not a seasoned speaker, the 20 minute pitch for magnetic car signs, banners and business cards felt like 40 minutes.

Then a treat! Dr. Cash Flow! This guy made the jittery guy seem calm. The Doctor paced around the stage, then down in the aisles, then back to the stage. He actually had $5, $2 and $1 bills in his shirt pocket, and would grab them periodically and throw them at folks who appeared interested. At one point, he stripped off his jacket to reveal an airbrushed picture of a witch on the back of his button-down dress shirt. You kinda had to be there to understand the joke. Plus...the guy was interesting. And a great speaker. His talk was about the perils of being a landlord. He likened tenants to children. And being a landlord like running an adult daycare. He was very opinionated and didn't care if he offended anyone...and I loved him for it. When it came time to pimp his "system", I couldn't help myself. Sale!

We wrapped up about 4:30pm, with instructions to be there tomorrow at 7:45am SHARP. Ugh.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

A Busy Weekend

I have a very busy weekend coming up. I signed up for a Real Estate Investors Seminar. I've always been intrigued by the whole real estate buying and selling process and have recently joined two real estate investing organizations, shelled out about $1000 total for an array of educational materials and actually finalized My First Deal two weeks ago. So, onto the seminar!

The tricky bit is that it's on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this coming weekend. I even took off work on Friday, burning a valuable vacation day! Yikes. When I checked the seminar time schedule, I recoiled in horror when I realized that I was required to be there at 7:45am on Friday morning! Anyone who knows me at all knows that I can barely get to work by 8:30am with clothing in place and some semblance of makeup applied. 7:45!?!? And that is the LATEST. The schedule actually says, "7:00am - Networking & Vendor Expo". Who the HELL has the presence of mind to network at 7:00 in the morning? Not me. I barely know my name at that rooster-laden hour. goes until 5:00 (or later if you stick around for more Networking & Vendor Expo fun) each day. Even Sunday. And these folks are no sissies when it comes to keeping your ass there until the bitter end...the "Big Prize Giveaways" are guessed it...for 5:00pm on Sunday. Since this includes a laptop and PDA, you can bet that my ass will still be there, probably numb, with door prize ticket in hand.

I will have to leave my house around 7:00am (isn't it still dark then?), sneaking out of the house as my child and husband are still snuggled in their crib/bed, dreaming of sugarplums and Gwen Stefani, respectfully. I plan on setting the coffee maker for 6:45am, so as to get the freshest, darkest, hottest coffee possible, and grabbing the most giant travel container to carry it in. I'm sure the conference will have the obligatory Nasty Hotel Coffee, and we can't have any of that. Yuk.

So, wish me luck. I'm sure I will emerge late Sunday afternoon all fired up about real estate investing.

Look out Trump, here comes Goofy!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Toddler Chat

Recently heard on the Toddler Phone (aka our 2+ year old, talking on the real phone, which we frequently grab and hit "End", so as not to inadventently call 911):

"I want tacos...and cookies"

What does this mean? Do we order takeout that much? Does he know a place that delivers taco and cookies together? Is it free (as toddlers in general have no money to speak of)?

I didn't have any answers, so I had him put in an order for pie and a glass of milk.

...and I'm still waiting.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Where the Hell Have You Been?! (Part Two)

I beg forgiveness to the Blogging Gods and respectfully request that my posting privileges to be reinstated.

Okay, with that said, here's what I've been up to since I last posted:
1. Buying a run-down house to rehab for FUN! and PROFIT!

2. Helping Loving Husband buy run-down truck for FUN! and FUTURE SINKING OF MORE MONEY!

3. Reading and listening to many books, both good (The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - amazing read!) and bad (Think Like a Billionaire by Donald Trump - yawn)

4. Watching my new favorite show (don't be too impressed, it's been a dry summer) - Rock Star: INXS. If you haven't caught this show yet, this is a great time to start watching. They are down to 5 kick-ass rock performers. Any one of which could front a band. The show kicks American's Idol's ass down the street and around the block. Goofy Note: There's a New Kids on the Block joke in there somewhere, but I'm a little rusty.

5. Working out. For two reasons. One is the Repetitive Toddler Pickup Syndrome, also known as "Oh, my aching back". The other is my upcoming 4-day backpacking trip to the canyonlands of Moab. Oh, I get tingles just talking about it. It will be such an adventure!

6. Visiting my chiropractor twice weekly. (see #5 above)

7. Planning my trip to Las Vegas, Baby. Loving Husband turns 40 this year. I do too, but hey! that's beside the point. He has decided to do something extremely memorable and challenging in memory of this turn of events. What is he doing? A multi-pitch rock climb in the Red Rocks area in Las Vegas. I'm trying not to think about him climbing several hundred feet off the ground. (shiver) I am coming down the following weekend with some good friends to help him celebrate (and probably rub Bengay on his back). I'm most excited about a wind tunnel where you can pay to fly around like a bird.

8. Working on paperwork to adopt our second child. Yes, folks...there's no rest for the wicked. Or should I say "the goofy"? We are specifying another boy too. We are masochists, yes we are.

9. Sleep. Sleep? Who the fuck needs sleep? I can get a nice long, uninteruppted nap when I'm dead.

10. Work. Work! Yes, work. Work funds numbers 1 - 9 and keeps me off the streets during the day. If I had spare time, I'd really get into trouble!