Sunday, June 25, 2017

From Broke to Blessed 2017

As you have been following me, you are seeing me work steady to build a mortgage free lifestyle, in the country.

I went from a city lady, moved to the country, become a Contractor flipping houses.
Whatever it takes, I am working hard to achieve my goal.
Why the country?  I bought my first farmhouse a few years back to see if I could actually live rural.
I have been a horsey woman my entire life, always around barns and the country, but living it I wasn't sure.
But it was put to the test, and definitely that's where I want to be. Now I want to live rural and without a mortgage.
The goal journey in a nut-shell.

This post is a repeat of a post I did back in 2015.
I updated some areas and added some different pictures, but the history has not changed.
Here I tell how I went from being without any money, to financial security.
It sounds a bit like an infomercial, but it's not.
This is my story......

It was a long journey to get here.  A very long journey.
There have been trial and error.  I have made some good friends and some enemies.
I have made money and lost it.  I have owned homes and rented homes.
And to this day, I am still planning for down the road.
 I guess it just never stops, it slows down yes, but it never really leaves you.
So I think the best place to start is at the beginning.

In the beginning......
 I was a suburban wife, and the marriage ended.
The purpose of this post is to talk about progress, so I will not dwell on how and why this part of my life ended.
 I was blessed with two wonderful children from that union.
It was a time however, in my life I don't like to think about too much, I refer to it as the dark ages.
The year is 2000.
After the marriage dissolved, after the shock wore off, after buckets and buckets of tears, life started to get very, very difficult for me.
I was a lost woman.  I was a broke woman financially.  I was scared and alone, raising two young children under the age of 9.
 I had credit issues, bill collectors calling day and night, day after day.
With no money to pay them, I had hydro shut off, gas shut off even during the winter. Phone services cut off.
Only some utilities companies were cooperative, but very few. 
The dark ages.

Then with a recommendation from my brother, I started a small linen business, renting out tablecloths, chair covers.
I knew very little about this industry.  If fact, I knew nothing about it at all.
 But I liked my new small business.  I could see it had long term potential.
I started to find direction. A good healthy direction. We are now in the year 2004.
And here is where my journey started.

Quitting cold turkey
At the beginning I worked full-time.  While raising two young children was not an easy task.
I worked from 9-5, Mon-Friday.  Most of that time I did okay, but the problems of single parenting always interfered with my job.
Kids sick, so you would have to take the day off for them.  School calling, so you would have to take time off work to head down to the school.  Coming in late always everyday, trying to get everyone off to school and you to work.  And the GUILT.  Always that guilt that you were not seeing to their needs or that feeling that you were never spending any decent time with them.  Feeling you were missing out on everything because you were always at work.  Life was going so fast and you were always at work, never with them.

My full-time job was starting to become more and more of a bigger and bigger problem.
I was constantly in trouble with my bosses.  I was even fired from a few jobs.
So in the end, I quit cold turkey.  The year is 2005.
Yes a very reckless thing to do, but sometimes desperation is exactly that....desperate times calls for desperate measures.
 I quit my full time job cold turkey and never regretted it for one moment. Never.  Best thing I ever did for myself.
And that little business I knew so little about, was actually starting to bring in money.
The dark ages were starting to disappear, and a new light was rising on the horizon.
My life would be forever changed, in a happy and successful way.

By the time I quit my job my small business was making part-time income.  I knew I had to make full-time income from it.
For me it was either sink or swim with this little business of mine.
I had to make it grown, I had to live off this income, I wanted to buy a house, I wanted to travel with my family.
I chose to be successful at what I was just about to start.

It was now my full-time job.  I worked long hours into this job.
I worked when the kids were at school.  When they were home, I was able to stop and enjoy my time with them.
When they went to bed, I worked for hours, well into the night.
My kids participated when they could in my new business, and were proud of me.
It was the most scariest thing I ever did, but it was the very best thing I ever did, for me and for them.
The business took off and I was on my way.

And so it beginnings
My little business lead me to my dream of purchasing a house.
Where I'm at today, is all due to that small business I started.
I honestly believe I would have never made it to where I am today if I stayed at my 9-5 office job.
Like all new businesses it took a few years to take off.
A lot of mistakes, a lot of trial and error, but eventually I got in a place that I was comfortable with it.
I knew my market, and I knew how to survive with this business in the long haul.

Then finally I had the money for a down-payment for a house.....

Finally Getting My First Real Estate Down Payment
This next part is very crucial, as it explains how I came up with my first down payment to purchase real estate.
I had an entrepreneurial idea.  A very good idea.  Had no idea how it would go, but I took off with it.
I decided to try something new with my business, in addition to renting my linens to clients, I would sell linens as well.
My market target was new businesses just starting out in the wedding industry.
I knew what they would need to get going, and where to get them.

Happy day.....I got my first client!  It was more pure luck I think than anything, but it happened and at that moment,
 I was finally on my way to the bigger things in life that I wanted.  A new home.
I made $10,000 with this sale.  I used $8,000 as a down-payment on a bank owned property. We are now in 2008.
They just wanted to get rid of the property, and I was happy to take it off their hands.
It was a run-down fixer upper in a small town, miles away from any bigger metropolitan.
But I fixed it up and four years later I sold it.  That brings us to 2012.
I made a small profit on it and used that money as a down-payment for my next property.

Bought her with the $8000 down-payment made from my small business

So if you do the math, it took me approximately eight years after my marriage broke down to finally owning my own home.
I came a long way, didn't I!

A investment home of sorts, the first step toward my bigger dream...someday owning my own little farm.
May not have been the most conventional way to make money for a down-payment, but it worked for me.

A Mortgage Free Goal
So I got the goal and the plan, now what?
  When my son graduated high school a few years back, I know I wanted to put my "mortgage free" home goal into action.
Allowing me to move around, to buy and sell houses without interfering with his schooling.
My farmhouse may be bought, but I had a mortgage.  My goal is to have none.

  Getting There
To gear up for my plan and goal, I sold the farmhouse and used that money to purchase my first flip house.
Mapping out my plans for my goal rural home, I took the pros and cons of that first farmhouse, and went from there.
I know what to look for, and what I did and did not like about country living.

When I look for my properties to flip, I look at the resale value, getting a good deal and the overall bones and feel of that house.
I would like to stay in rural, or small town, maybe the city if I can afford it.
I would have it for a short period, renovate it, decorate it and sell it.

Tips Along the Way

While there are bloggers out there that make money blogging, mine is not one of them.
Yes, I enjoy some complimentary gifts from sponsors, and these sponsors suit my blog, my life.
But again I make no money.
However, blogging has made quite an impact on me.  It was one of the things that carried me to where I am today.
Just as my life was starting to improve, I discovered blogging.
I soon started to read about woman in my own predicament.  I learned that being frugal was done the world over.
When I was feeling low, your voices lifted me back up again.
It gave me a place to pen my thoughts...good and bad.  I learned how you made things, where you bought things, where you traveled.
 I discovered I was no longer alone in this big ol' world.  We truly are a unique community.
Blogging gave me the fuel that I needed to get started.  I can honestly say it lead me to my small farm.

Right Frame of Mind
This is where it gets tricky.  The right frame of mind.
Sometimes problems and emotions have a steel grip on us.   But it is something that has to be addressed. 
While I am no expert, no psychologist, I do believe your mind has to be in the right place.
Not always an easy task when the wolves are growling at your door.
Who are these wolves?  For me they were my ex-husband, bill collectors, the utilities companies shutting off services, and other problems causing heavy stress.
Sometimes these problems get so big that you step back.  You wait.  You freeze.  You panic.
Eventually, I learned to deal with those wolves, make them go away, but for that time, for those moments, it was very real.
That threat.  The panic.

 Being stress free according to Diane
This was tough writing this personal hellish journey, but it was a part of my journey.
I truly believe that everyone can be debt free.  And yes, stress free.  A tall order, but obtainable.
I have absolutely no doubt that every person out there is able to own their own home.
However, when your mind is not in the right place at the right time, you have to ride it out.
You can't force a calm mental zen when there are thunder storms clouding your world.
You have to learn how to sooth those thunder storms, stop the lighting and see it for what it is - rain.
And the rain eventually stops and the sun always comes out.

Be Debt Free
If you used it, pay for it.
Credit cards, department store cards, loans.....nope.  Stay clear of them.
Keep up with your bills, because they can become large amounts very quickly.
And when you have very little money learn to pay everybody small bits at a time.
Most companies will work with you.
However there are some that bark very loudly.  Pay them off and start to look elsewhere or use alternative choices if you can.
To this day, I am still no big fan of the Gas companies, so I always work at getting rid of this service.
You would be amazed at how you can dump these bad boys.
Be creative, but be prepared to be without some of the things you might have had in the past.
Here are some examples on how I save on utilities:
Phone - Gone is the land line, my cell phone charge is $25 each month.  I don't get much, but I don't use much.
Hydro - Use it wisely.
Gas -Keep your thermostat low.  Rooms not used in the winter, shut them off.
Internet - Shop around, you would be surprised the good deals out there.
Hot Water Tank - own it.
*In 2017 a new Bill passed in Ontario that Hydro can not be shut off during the winter months.
Not sure about the rest of Canada, the US or anywhere else....but it should be world wide!

Save For It
If you don't have the money, save for it.  Borrowing money is too much of a headache.  It is a potential for problems.
So just watch your bank account grow bit by bit, until that desired amount is there.
Withdraw it, buy what you need or want, and start all over again.

Be A Savvy Shopper
Whatever it is that you are shopping for, shop around.  Find the best price.  Wait for it to go on sale.
If not, then try to get a deal right from the store.
For bigger purchases, I have bargained with TSC, Canadian Tire, Home Depot and other big box stores.  Try competitive shopping, sometimes that works.
Sometimes I am successful at getting lowered costs, and other times not so.
Read your flyers.  I frequent the online flyers of stores and write things done, then head out.

Free Stuff
Join each and every Reward Membership Clubs.
Sign up for the gas rewards and use your points card each time.  Pretty much every gas company out there has a rewards points card.
These days I very rarely buy anything without getting some sort of reward.
I am a big fan of Best Western hotels...I have got tons of free stuff from them.  I am currently sitting with a $50 gift card from them.....I am thinking Christmas. :)
Canadian Tire and their reward card.  This past spring I got two plants free because of the points I had collected....not bad!
Shoppers Drug mart, again free stuff from their store.
Whatever company, find them and join up.  I am all for free stuff!

Buy A Home in the Boondocks
My entire life I have lived in or around the proximity of a metropolitan.
Not a chance in heaven this woman could afford their ubber expensive houses,
so I had to start looking at areas that were relatively close by, but cheaper.
Approximately 2.5 hours away from my family I was able to find an area that had low housing costs.
I found my little farm in this area of Ontario.
While I do miss living close to family, I don't mind the commute.  I am a driver, so anytime I plan a visit,
it always gives me something to look forward to.  A day outing.
And now, I love the area I live in and will be staying close by throughout all my goal phases.

Be Patient
Easier said then done.  It will not happen overnight.
Get started and stay focused.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Bungalow Flip Tour

I purchased this property October 31, 2016
Bought it at $70,000.


I hope to put it back on the market in the $195,000 price range once the renovations are complete.
It is a four bedroom bungalow, located in small town South Western Ontario, in Chatham-Kent county.

 Work on this house started January 2017.
First order of business was the crawl space floor joists and plumbing. 
The house was abandoned before I bought it, a bank repo.  During that winter the water pipes burst.
The crawl-space was covered in water and mud.

This past winter (January 2017), I hired a company to dry out the area and lay vapour barrier.
Then new floor joists were added to jack the floor that was dipping in sections of the house.  And to add extra support for the house.
The foundation is good.

Plumbing was addressed next.  Replaced and ready to go.
Then we discovered the sewage pipe was backed up.
It was an intense and expensive fix to run new piping underground.
For three days straight there were tons of people, tons of vehicles, a digger, you name it and it was there.
But the job got done and plumbing is flowing the way it should.

So let's take a tour of what the house looks like now with some before and afters.

The Outside
Bit of a jungle.
First thing in the Spring I started to clear some of the trees.  Bring in some sunshine.
Just a few trees, not that many.  I like the look of the house nestled in among the trees.


As of  April 24, 2017
Still early spring and the leaves haven't grown back. But a few trees have come down at this point.

Clear this garden bed.  Yup, that is a massive boulder in this garden.  
Will clear away the weeds and go from there.

The backyard.  Scary....simply scary.
I introduce it to a lawn mower once the snow left in the early spring. 
There is a small travel trailer in the back and a steel box/shipping container.  Looking to remove both of them.
The pool.  Although it is super dirty right now, I do entertain the idea of cleaning it up and keeping it.
But if I want to keep the pool, I will have to consider putting a fence around by-law.

The Interior

Here is a look at the before.  Before the demo started.

The living room and dining room.

The first order of business with this reno was the all panelling came down.
Then drywall went up.

The long rectangle shape space comprises of living room and dining room.
It saw the biggest change in renovations.
The living room area and front foyer went from 8ft to 9ft.
And the dining room area went from 8ft to a vaulted ceiling.

The renos under construction.

The kitchen

Gone is this kitchen.  I will be using this room for storage or an office.
Since the house does not have a full basement, storage areas are limited.
I thought this would work for that.  Or this room could be used as an office or bedroom.

The new kitchen area.
I moved the kitchen into the master bedroom and ensuite section.
Giving the kitchen a new large and roomy space.  The bay window gives a view of the backyard.
The door to the left leads to the backyard deck and pool.
New supports were installed in the ceiling.  However it remains at 8ft.
This room is side by side with the family room, and it has an 8ft ceiling.
I wanted the new kitchen and the family room ceilings to be symmetric.

Family room
Not much will change in this room.
It will get the same flooring the rest of the house is getting.  And a fresh coat of paint.

The bathroom
  This room will not see much change.  New flooring and maybe a new sink cabinet.
A new toilet has already gone in, I did that the same time as the plumbing changed back in the winter.
But the burgundy bathtub stays.  I will style it with a shower curtain to take away the bold colour as best I can.
The door leading into the bathroom has to be replaced.
The old door was cut in such a way that the top of the 6 panelling door was missing.  It looked very odd.
So I had my crew change the 77inch height opening and install a new 80in height.
All the interior doors are 28inches wide.

The bedrooms
Three bedrooms are located behind a door leading off the foyer/living room area.

The lilac room
This room will see little change.
We have already removed a built-in bookcase.  The closet area to the left of the photo below will be removed.
The new closet to this room will be built to the right of the old one.

The yellow room

After (as of May 22, 2017)
The old closet you see in the pic above was converted into two closets.
To the left is a six foot space for the new master bedroom.  And beside it is a new 3ft smaller closet for this room.
Other changes to this room is the protruding closet from the lilac room.
Literally the boxed in closet just sticks out into this room.  Leaving this room with weird dimensions, a chopped up space.
The said closet is coming down to allow an open space for this room. The new closet will be built at the entrance to the room.
Not a great picture below, but hopefully you get a gist of the plan.

The blue/pink room

After (as of May 22, 2017)
This room is the largest of the three bedrooms.
And since the old master bedroom got converted to the kitchen, I choose this room as the new master.
It had a small plywood closet.  We removed this small closet and built a new 6ft one.
This room is getting new drywall, flooring, light fixture.

The alcove

The old master bedroom
As mentioned, is the new kitchen.

Take the before tour and the updated after renos as we go along.
Don't miss a post - click or look for them under the label "The Bungalow Flip"
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