Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Spending money

Spending money makes me feel ill. I don't mean I can't go out to dinner without throwing up. That's not a problem. But I've just signed a contract to buy a house and spent most of the morning at the bank applying for a loan. I will owe more money than I ever have in my life and the thought of being responsible for that much money makes me ill.

When I was younger and didn't have the financial capacity I have now, things like buying a new fridge had the same effect. Now it's the big amounts - big for me anyway. Spending more than $5000 in one hit is sickening. So is checking my bank account and finding I've spent that much in little bits over the course of a week. It takes time for me to get used to the idea.

It's odd. I don't worry over-much about money. I don't count every cent or panic if I don't keep strictly to my budget. But I hate owing money. I don't like being in debt. I don't even have a credit card. I like living within my income. I know everything I have, I own. It's comfortable.

I like seeing the balance in my bank account go up, not down. Adding zeros to the numbers in my bank account is enough to have me dancing around the house. Buying a house, while cause for celebration, is enough to send me to bed with a cold compress. That's where I'll be spending tonight.

Friday, August 22, 2008

House Hunting

Lauren and I have been househunting. This is our first foray into investment buying together and it's fun. We spent all day Wednesday in a nearby city looking at houses and thinking about things like renovations required prior to rental, maintenance required in the near future, potential resale value.

We looked at eight houses and discounted five of them almost immediately. One was already rented which was appealing. The house itself looked great but it was too expensive, considering its nearest neighbour was the local cemetary. One was across the road from a joinery - poor resale value and only two bedrooms. One looked like good value until you noticed the kitchen benches had been painted and were now peeling and the kitchen had those awful foam tiles glued to the ceiling - too much work for the price.

The three we really like are in three different areas. One is perfect, excellent condition, good yard, reasonable area - just right at the top of our budget. One is tiny, in a great position, with loads of character and potential to add a third bedroom - but already right at the top of our budget. The third one is in a reasonable area with a good kitchen, just a horrid pink bath and tacky floor coverings. The benefit of this one is that it's cheap enough that we could change the bathroom and floor coverings and still spend less than either of the other two. Even though the first two houses appeal to us more, this one makes more sense for an investment.

It's amazing how I've had to change the way I look at houses and think about them when I'm buying purely for investment purposes. I've never done that before. Every house I've bought previously has been with a view to live in it, renovate and then, if I can afford it, rent it out when I move on to the next house. I've bought houses based on what I like and want in a house, not what would be the best financial decision.

And that's the really fun part over with. Now I have to check insurance companies to find out how safe each of the areas are, the city council to find out yearly rates charges, and spend some time with a spreadsheet calculating potential % return for each house. Then comes arranging for a building and pest inspection, sourcing the funds and engaging a solicitor to do the conveyancing. It's going to be a very expensive couple of months before the house is settled and rented and we start seeing any sort of income from it. Providing we get the house we want at the price we want in the first place.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Emotions rule

I've decided I'm an emotional person. I don't mean that I'm constantly laughing, crying or screaming; I'm not THAT emotional. But emotions rule my life.

I lost my voice four weeks ago and, while it's improved somewhat, it still doesn't last a full day. I've been on sick leave because I can't teach without talking and talking makes it worse. No one can hear me anyway. I've had nearly four weeks at home with nothing wrong with me except I can't talk. You'd think it would be a perfect opportunity to accomplish things, wouldn't you.

I certainly thought so. Four weeks is enough time to get a uni assignment done early and start on another one. It's enough time to write four chapters for my book. It's enough time to clean my office. But has any of that been done?

What I have done:
  • I went to the doctor three times.
  • I've made one batch of spicy tomato chutney and one batch of lemon and lime butter.
  • I've baked bread and muffins.
  • I've written the equivalent of one chapter.
  • I missed lectures at uni because I'm not supposed to be talking - and still haven't listened to the recordings to catch up.
  • I took my mother to see her sick brother.
  • I've been shopping. I've looked at heaps of things but so far have only bought chocolate.
  • I've read books.
  • I've wandered around the house complaining I'm not accomplishing anything.
  • And I've eaten a small shop-full of chocolate because that helps me whinge more efficiently.

Effectively, what I've been doing is waiting (probably with a good dose of feeling sorry for myself as well). It's self-defeating and it's time-wasting. But I can't break out of it. I have the perfect day today, with no interruptions to get an assignment started, but I'm doing this instead. I'm cleaning the house instead. I'm moving papers around my desk (let's not get carried away and actually put any of them away) instead. I imagine I'm irritating other people because I'm sure irritating myself at the moment.

This isn't new. It's a pattern that I haven't worked out how to change. When I eventually get back to work there'll be an incredible backlog of things that simply have to be done because I've been avoiding them. They'll all get done and, apart from the exhaustion, I'll feel great, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm deliberately not using a golden opportunity.

What I need is some tips on encouraging self-motivation. It's my greatest weakness.