Owning a Crack Den

For those reading who’ve stumbled across this post and haven’t read the previous one, give it a quick read first then come back here. It provides context to the following story.

So I’ve just bought my first property with my little egg of savings from my time in Melbourne and now I’m babysitting my infant New Zealand bank account containing $0 and my obese mortgage that sucks directly from my non-existent bank balance.

My first crisis was that my mortgage is paid fortnightly (every two weeks for American readers) and the rent paid by my tenants was paid into my bank account monthly from my new property manager.

So on the 15th of October my brand new account fell hundreds of dollars below zero (because of the first automatic mortgage payment) and when I woke up the next morning I was greeted with an email from the bank written in all red letters.

Needless to say I panicked and ran around and freaked out all day until I could finish work and call my bank within New Zealand work hours; or far too late at night where I was in the world.

I explained to Westpac my situation and begged at their feet for mercy.

Luckily they show mercy the first time you screw up, but promised to come down with the might of Thor if it ever happened again.

Well I quickly moved money across from my work account and brought the balance back up to zero while I waited anxiously for the 1st of November for my first month of rent to pay me and push my account into positive digits for the very first time.

Time was slow but eventually the 1st came…. then it went.

I had sent money again over to New Zealand because yet again the mortgage had to be paid. But I was optimistic that it was all about to be worth it.

I opened my account on the 1st..

$0

The 2nd came…..

$0

The 10th came….

$0

I called my property manager panicking, she told me that she’d received no money from the tenant.

She had sent them several letters asking them to pay but they had been ignored. She asked if I thought she should go over and ask for the money in person..

I nearly dropped my phone as I spluttered down the phone at her to get my money!!

Things were not working out as well as I had hoped, so in the meantime I sent more money over to New Zealand knowing that the mortgage would be taken right on time on the 15th whether I could pay it or not.

The 15th came and went and the mortgage was sucked right out on time but nothing had come back in.

My manager called me back and informed me that the tenant was gone and the doors had been broken down by a police battering ram.

My tenant was a wanted fugitive who had been charged with drug possession and trafficking and the police had finally caught up with him.

I nearly passed out, then nearly downed in a pool of my own anxiety sweat.

Eventually he was found and charged and put on probation.

He was working somewhere in the district and now living on his brothers couch so my manager paid me his rent out of her own pocket, then took him to court to reimburse herself.

I got my first rent payment! Things were turning around.

That is until the next tenant moved in.

She signed the lease as a single person with no pets.

My manager inspects and sends me photos of a house full of ‘Disney’s Frozen’ blankets, toys, dog hair, men’s bathroom necessities and mattresses leaning against every wall.

The place just looked sticky, and I couldn’t imagine what it must have smelled like.

She didn’t pay her rent either (shock) and we got rid of her. Five more un-paying tenants went in and out and I replaced the doors (police battering ram) three more times until I decided to throw more money at the house and do it up properly.

I re-carpeted the entire house. The carpet was crack-den quality so it all had to go.

My grandmother made new curtains for the place that matched the new carpet and I had it all cleaned.

I ripped up the yard and re-did it and replaced the fence.

The place completely turned around, and almost like magic the people who started applying to live there were people who paid rent and weren’t on the run from the police.

The place has turned around and become much easier to own, but having a house in a small town has far too many small town challenges when you don’t live there so even though things are better now, I’ve decided to sell the house.

Luckily for me, late in 2015 almost by accident I bought my second property right on the tale end of the glorious Wild West days that came to a crashing end in mid 2016..

The Wild West Day’s of New Zealand Property

For those of you who read the blog way waaaay back in the day, and have a robotically good memory, you may recall that in 2014 I bought a house in New Zealand and in 2015 I bought a second one.

I’m not rich by any stretch, I’ve never been given anything and I’m not even a particularly good saver; but there is a story, and this is how it went down.

For an 8 month stretch in 2013 between working for Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line I was working as a salesman for an insurance company.

During this time I lived in a hooker den apartment (no real hookers, but the paint was peeling, tiles were all coming loose and the bathroom lightbulb was pink….)

It’s since been demolished, but while I lived there the rent was super cheap and I was making bank commissions because even though I hate being a salesman, I’m really good at it.

Anyway, I was making lots of money and was depressed because I wasn’t performing; my only happiness was knowing that I was saving as the previous few years I’d been in university and America was dirt poor from both experiences.

So I relished in refreshing my bank account that was healthy for the very first time in my life.

On really sad days I’d open my bank app and just sit there clicking the total sum figure on the app home page and refresh the balance and see it confirmed that yep, I’d saved more than $12.

Anyway, 8 months into the year I was cast by Disney Cruise Line and was back in America but not depressed anymore, so I figured (and rightly) that I would blow any money I earned there.

Cruise ship employees that work Disney Cruise Line hours lose their minds and blow their money like crazy.

So before I could do anything with it I used all of it as a deposit in a house in Wairoa, a small town in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.

I’m an Australian citizen born and raised, so why did I buy in New Zealand?

In those days, New Zealand was sizzling hot for investors. Back in what I like to call the “Wild West” days, New Zealand had curiously lax investment laws which had fostered a free for all bananza.

Unlike Australia, New Zealand had no stamp duty (an enormous tax) and at the time had no capital gains tax.

It was tax heaven, and even without a New Zealand tax number (an IRD number) someone like me could swoop in and pick up one of the extremely reasonably priced properties that were ripe for the plucking.

Those were the days..

So even though I was a cast member on a cruise ship in Canada, buying a property in a country I’d only holidayed in felt like a smart idea and something that wouldn’t be hard.

Well I was wrong about the hard part, but it was possible.

Without so much as a New Zealand bank account, tax number, nothing; I put an offer on and bought a falling down 2 bedroom house in some of New Zealand’s most beautiful countryside.

The process was very long.

I included a 12 week settlement as a condition of the sale because I was on a ship and in Canada, and thank God I did. In those days most forms needed to be physically signed, so I was back and forth to the post office physically mailing forms I had printed off my ship computer, signed and put into a first class envelope.

Several forms had to be witnessed by someone from a very short list of trusted officials, only one of which lived in Canada.

Originally I had printed the list of trusted people which mentioned ‘lawyers’ as people who were trusted by the New Zealand Government. So I had my law trained friend on the ship sign my form and sent it in.

It was after sending that form that I was informed that a lawyer could only be trusted if they were certified by the New Zealand Government and living in New Zealand.

So it was back to the list.

The only person on the list I could conceivably get was the Consulate General in Vancouver.

So out of necessity I was also back and forth between the ship and the New Zealand Consulate in Vancouver where I’d visit the Consulate General who’d sign and stamp all my forms.

She did all of them for $20 which at the time felt fair, only years later did I learn while applying for my Chinese visa that this price is insanely low and she was probably just being a super nice person.

I only just made my 12 week settlement and within 16 or 20 weeks it was all over.

I was now broke but owned my first property; a property quite far away from anywhere I’d ever been in New Zealand.

I had emails that confirmed that I owned it, the woman who sold me the property had signed on to manage it, and I had a fresh, never been touched bank account that was hitched up to my sparkly new mortgage.

I had about a week of bliss before the shit met the kiwi flavoured fan..

Performing for Disney

I’ve been talking a lot lately about releasing a short e-book detailing my adventures up to this point moving to and living in China. The book isn’t ready yet and I’m beginning to feel impatient.
So to remedy this impatience I dusted off an old e-book I wrote years ago about my first gig as a performer for Walt Disney World in Florida. I read it and laughed quite a lot, so I got out the scissors and begun cutting into it.
I edited it, took lots out, put some new stuff in and bam, I had a new version of my old book. So I put it back up on amazon and it’s available once again for 99c Right HERE on Amazon!

I’m keen that you guys see it first so here below is the first chapter of my little Disney book. If you like it, jump over to Amazon and get it to read on your phone, tablet or Kindle. I’d appreciate it! Then come back here and tell me what you thought!

So here below is the first chapter of ‘Becoming the Performer Disney is Looking For’

Im sitting in a bizarre Chinese café drinking the best coffee in the city, thinking about how I will spend my intensely long work breaks at my newly acquired role in Shanghai. This job gives me a two-and-a-half hour break right in the middle of the day, and I can’t afford lavish trips to strange animal-themed cafés forever.
This one is stuffed to the brink with plush African safari creatures and has a strange fruity smell. I’m not one to complain, though – the coffee is strong and the break unending, almost Sandinavian in its generosity. In this long, meditative space to think, it hit me that it was time to reopen the book I wrote in 2013, put onto Amazon, then pulled off the internet mere months later. There are die-hards in the field of Disney memoirs, and details of my glorious experience were not sufficient for them.

I’m Jordan and this is the beginning of a self-published book I originally wrote back in 2013 following a year spent working at Walt Disney World in Florida, which I’ve rewritten and updated with lots of new stories and cleaning up of old content. In 2012 I was a performer for Disney World; coming down from my Disney high, I wrote about my experiences during the boring part of 2013. Following this I worked for Disney Cruise Line for five contracts. A cruise ship contract is a predetermined period of time every cruise ship worker across the industry agrees to before serving their time and being released back onto land to wreak havoc with newfound freedom and a few grand in savings.
I performed for Walt Disney World for just over a year, then Disney Cruise Line for a few years, and finished it all up with Royal Caribbean International so that I could be based in China. Think about Disney shows and imagine what’s happening ahead of time and behind the scenes to bring all the colorful characters and magic to life. It takes a lot of people and a money to make it all happen. Because of its enormous size, Disney obviously needs a lot of people and for a period of about four years I played a small part in the action. Like any meaningful relationship, it was a symbiotic journey though, with Disney shaping me as much I did it.
So here I present my original stories, and some new ones to bring us up-to-date. This book is for people who like to read stories about Disney and about the grit and glamor of shows, but mostly it’s for people who are acting in community theatre and wondering if there’s really a dollar to be made elsewhere and whether any old schmuck can make it. Of course there is! And the industry is almost entirely populated by schmucks. You’ve just got to work really hard, audition millions of times, buy lots of Häagen Dazs, and don’t be a diva. That last one is much easier said than done. I can tell you now that if a crying dancer who’s in a show I’m managing comes complaining to me about a funny feeling in his ankle that might “turn into something” when I saw him on Facebook tearing up the dance floor the night before in the club, still has bloodshot eyes and a boozey body, and know for a fact that he’s fighting with his boyfriend (also in the cast), so help me God the fury comes. Be better, for goodness’ sake, man! Be the professional the industry is craving. Be God damned competent and you’ll be fine – there’s plenty of money to be spent. Why not spend it on you?

I’d like you to first take a moment if you will, to remember April 2011. Do you recall what you were doing? Easter is just over and . . . like all humans there’s no way you’d remember, but for me I wrote it down and put it online so I’m at a slight advantage. I was sitting in my parent’s living room in northern Australia enduring the heat and trying to avoid permanently sticking to the couch. I had been “let go” from my job and university was growing more skull crushingly boring by the day. Adding to that was an encompassing feeling of age and failure that was growing on me like any other reasonable 22-year-old who hasn’t yet made the big time. Looking back now, nearly 30, and at the tail end of my performance days and the mouth end of my casting days I miss my weight and my working joints. (Hey, cruise ship life really takes the steam out of someone who goes to the gym twice a year). I was practically retired in my mind at the time, ready for hosting bingo nights in Sun Valley. There was something about performing to a tiny audience at the local theatre in my hometown, as fun as it was, that didn’t feel as fulfilling as it once did.

Whether by some misplaced sense of entitlement or gross overconfidence in my performance skill I wasn’t sure. But regardless, I wanted something else. Community theatre is an amazing training ground though, and a fine lifetime way to keep acting throughout what life throws at you – never let it be said that I disparage community theatre.My entire family was sitting in the lounge watching something loud on TV and I was on my laptop searching local jobs when a Disney audition was one of the advertisements on the side of the screen. Disney was running an internship program for a variety of fields of employment; this included a casting call for performers. The casting day was in a week’s time and I happened to have that day off from both work and university. To add fuel to the fires of fate, that day was the very last day for registration. Hoping for a reprieve from the mundanities of my Australian life,

I arrived a week later at the casting, carting half a ton of the requisite paperwork. I watched the nice Brazilian receptionist who Disney had brought with them staple them together and comment that surprisingly everything was there. Essentially, the tough life starts now; it’s not easy getting all of that paperwork together. The website Disney had available at the time was buggy and it wasn’t easy getting through fourteen pages of forms that would stop loading randomly then crash the browser. To be honest, I devoted an entire day to getting this form finished. It’s because of this, and the amount of other forms required, that I believe is the reason several people turned up without everything they needed. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world for these hopefuls – they were sent away to find a computer and finish the job, but I believe it paid off for me to have the forms to create a good first impression.I went to another casting call years later in Auckland, for the city’s first ever Disney casting.

The process has become much easier than when I was jumping through the hoops. I think they figured out that there are better ways than paperwork to weed out the casuals. I also suspect it has something to do with Disney’s more modern worldwide casting database that they now pull performers from, something that sort of pushes today’s performers further into obscurity and out of the minds of individual casting agents.From what I’ve seen, Disney seems to be doing less direct casting for specific needs and more casting using a database. Then when talent is needed across a range of disciplines they can be found and offered work more quickly. It’s an efficient system, but it’s an easy system to be lost in amongst the thousands of people just as talented and pretty as you. Waiting for the results of an audition can be intensely nauseating when you’re still green enough to wait for notice from auditions, but luckily for me this is the casting call that I waited for and it came through. (This of course led to a period of time of me thinking that I was someone who landed roles. Wrong. I barely landed anything again for three years). One night, June 1st 2011 to be exact, I received an email from a lady named Karina from Disney Recruiting: Congratulations!! You have been offered the position of Entertainment Performer with Walt Disney World to begin in January 2012! Please reply to either accept or decline.Seconds later Karina received the world’s fastest reply, then I leaped from my desk and performed my once in a lifetime happy dance.After that came six months of preparation, and by preparation I mean walking around with a permanent cocky smile, throwing money around because I had “made it” and was gonna earn fancy American dollar bills. This was followed up with a gym chaser – once, to prepare my body for the stress of daily entertainment.

The airport goodbye was traumatic. All my friends were in a teary mess. I had already left my family at their house in much the same manner. I never repeated that mistake again, so when it was time for each subsequent goodbye after that point it became a casual wave and a crappy joke. From Brisbane I began my journey to Nadi Airport in Fiji (no, the airport is not a tropical paradise), then to Los Angeles, which was under renovations at the time so a nightmare of a maze. Then finally to Orlando, Florida, which I decided on the bus ride to my resort was not somewhere I would ever live under different circumstances. It’s not really a city that makes a lot of sense; it’s more of a small town but on a massive scale. It almost feels like a beachside city without a beach. Downtown was pretty though – at night it had a Batman sort of feel to it.
This unusual city, however, houses 100 square kilometers worth of Disney, plus every other theme park ever dreamed up since the time of Jesus. You can even meet Jesus at “The Holy Land Experience”, the Bible-themed park just down the road. I could only speculate on the audition and casting process that the holy hopefuls needed to endure.

If you’d like to read the rest Click Right Here!

A Bloody Start to 2015

Hey guys sorry for my absence, how long has it been? A month or so?
Not a lot has happened for me in the period between last we talked and now. Christmas and the holidays took a lot of attention away from other things, and now things are settling down just before the madness of spring break.
Already its been a crazy year for the animation industry, first Disney steps between Hasbro and DreamWorks and cuts off an acquisition deal.
Well is it fair of me to say that Disney cut the deal off? When in reality Disney offered Hasbro money, partnership and a chance to be part of the impossibly successful ‘Frozen’ franchise, but this incredible offer couldn’t go ahead if DreamWorks were a part of the fun.
So Disney basically gave Hasbro an unmissable offer which in accepting would deny DreamWorks their last hope at a necessary and enormous cash infusion.
Then only a couple weeks later DreamWorks shuts down PDI DreamWorks, a big animation studio of theirs putting roughly 500 people out of work.
In an industry as relatively small as animation, this was a huge blow to the industry and is going to have a massive effect on LA.
Im not saying Disney was directly responsible for DreamWorks being forced to lay off 500 people, many of DreamWorks movie flops played a large part.
But I do believe Disney will be happier once DreamWorks is either completely gone, or squashed into something that barely resembles what it once was.
Shanghai Disneyland is due to open at the end of this year, very exciting news. And along with every other studio, Im sure Disney is tailoring its movies this year to be considered for entry into one of the very limited spots on Chinese cinema screens. After the difference the huge Chinese audience made to the profits of the last Transformers movie, everyone is realising that there are hundreds of millions of dollars to be made in this very conservative country.

Im just really realising lately that I work for a company that while is wonderful and is still in the business of ‘dreams come true’, is a bulldog corporate giant that is the very definition of capitalism. We have stregically picked the perfect time to begin making our mark on the increasingly capitalistic Mainland China.

Speaking of China, I’m in the process of organising another trip there Im very pleased to say. I plan to visit Kunming and study Mandarin properly for 2 weeks in April.

Do you have any thoughts on Disney, the world of animation, the plight of DreamWorks or the ever capitalising China? Let me know 🙂
Until next time keep your eyes out, and keep exploring

For the Investors

I’ve said it before but I still feel the same way, travelers who truly traverse the world are investors and know what to do with their money.
Being this way ensures your money is working for you and is ready for you when you want to see the world.
Ideally your money is spread across multiple investments compounding over time and growing, and a portion of it should be shares. If you believe the way I do, all of those shares paid you a dividend recently because in my mind shares that aren’t paying you are shares that aren’t accountable to you.
As an Australian that was too lazy to fill out the forms to trade internationally, I trade solely on the ASX and all of those investments paid me a dividend last month. So what do I do with it now?
I’m currently staying in a hotel in Melbourne and even though I’m an Australian, I’m very far away from where I currently live and work and am traveling to be here. Therefore I am paying a lot of daily expenses in hotel, food, leisure and gaming costs and am making nothing in wages.
With this dividend I could potentially transfer it into my expenditures account and take the pressure off my credit card for the duration of the trip. However the money I earned from having my money invested in Australian companies all year will be gone and Uncle Kevin (Kevin O’Leary my investment godfather) would be quite mad.
I dunno if anyone else does it but whenever I make a choice with my money I imagine what reaction an investment guru would have if I told them what I did. As someone who spends thousands of dollars a year traveling, I’m guessing most of the time my investment guru would be annoyed. But as I considered spending this money the face in my head was more annoyed than ever.
Obviously I don’t know Mr O’Leary personally, but the version of him that lives in my head I know very well. My impression of him lectures me from what I learned from his book and his ABC investment reality show ‘Shark Tank’. This man in my head gives me praise sometimes, like when I signed the final papers buying my New Zealand investment property.
But this imaginary man slaps my wrist a lot more when I blew money such as when I spent thousands of dollars that could have been put into my brand new mortgage on a New York/Los Angeles vacation. In our discussion I argued my age (early 20’s) and my young need to explore and live as a young person, and though he somewhat saw my point, he lectured me on how much I now must pay that mortgage over the next 12 months to make up for it.
Sure, he’s probably stricter on me than the real Me O’Leary would be (or maybe he isn’t!) But whether my inner investment advisor is right or wrong, it’s more helpful than just listening to the part of me that spends money on impulse. If I just listened to that part of my head, I’d eat 15 extremely high quality meals a day and invest nothing.
Although I do get a genuine joy out of investment and love doing it. I have been known to spend rare days off pouring through finance magazines and giggling reading investment forecasts and company valuation estimations.
Speak of the devil, how many of the Australian/New Zealanders reading took advantage of the Medibank Private share offer?
The offer still has 2 days left, but it was probably the most advertised public share offering I’ve ever seen so the hype almost put me off.
Stock broker demand and public hype pushed the company valuation up millions of dollars above what the company is worth. When I read that $12 million worth of shares may be distributed when the company becomes public? Ludicrous!!! The company is worth maximum half that.
Although the company has grown over the last 10 years, it hasn’t been spectacular enough for this kind of paycheck the government can expect once they give the company over to us.
Nevertheless do you think I invested anyway? Of course I did. I applied today so if I’m accepted I’ll have a piece of this company I once worked for as a salesman.
It’s a good business and health insurance is becoming more and more fashionable. If you know how to use it even young people can save a lot of money with it.
I particularly like that they’ve given a maximum price per share as $2 a piece, which means if it comes out at $2.10 or $2.60 then we’ve immediately made money which is always good.
Lastly it passes my final test and will pay a dividend in September next year so they’ll work to deliver that between now and then. Time will tell whether they outperform my skepticism about their value, or whether without the government manipulating legislation to help them out and line their pockets, whether they’ll crumble and a portion of my portfolio with it.

Well this concludes my somewhat cynical look into medibank, and psychotic way of managing money. If you have better tactics I haven’t thought of to ensure your personal empire grows as you travel the world spending then let me know, and of course enjoy your week. Talk again soon 🙂

For the Gamers

Ah Melbourne, just the way I left you 😉

Back in Melbourne now and sharing it with my awesome Kiwi friend who flew over to hang out for 2 weeks before I go back to the US. What a friend!
Mostly we’re spending the time together gaming and “exploring” the city.
When I say exploring I use the term in an abstract way, what I actually mean is that I intended to take him to a shop I remembered being a 5 minute walk away, and two hours later (I’m not blowing this up for effect, we left at 5pm and arrived at 7pm) we arrived.
Keep in mind we didn’t arrive 2 hours later because it was 2 hours away, oh no, It actually was 5 minutes away. I just manage to get lost navigating even the most simple steps to get from A to B.
My brother has a rule with me that I think after all these years I’m beginning to consider following, if I think to turn left at a street because I’m absolutely sure that is the correct way to go, it is an almost certainty that turning right is the correct direction.
We later retraced our steps today and learned that had we taken every turn opposite to the turn we took, we would have arrived more or less on time.
It’s like I’m actually amazing at directions, that if you took them at a 180 degree variable, you could get anywhere. I’m like a reverse GPS.

Addressing the gaming, a bunch of friends and I have discovered that League of Legends is really fun when played in groups! Oh my gosh, even though we suck it’s amazing.
Only one of us has any real experience, my Kiwi friend. So while the rest of us celebrate one kill, and collect small amounts of assisted kills, the bloody Kiwi averages 40 to 60 kills each match. And thats with him holding back.

If you don’t know this game, it is very difficult to take down an enemy. It takes hardcore skill, planning and serious strategy. For someone who’s gaming experience is basically the Sims, this game is a massive shock to the system.

I want to put out a question to the women reading, and the 2 other men in the world that relate to my taste in gaming, how are we feeling about Sims 4? I’m hearing it’s more like Sims 2 than 3, but I liked 2 so I wouldn’t mind to much.
I feel like 2 was quirkier than 3, but I liked exploring the world in 3. The endless hours I’ve spent looking for seeds through the world in 3 are such happy memories. Planting them and hoping one would be something rare! I’ve heard 4 has scaled everything right back, it’s gonna be tough adjusting I’m sure.
For someone thats sunk hundreds of dollars buying literally every Sims 3 expansion, buying 4 had better be worth my while.
As a guy who is already effeminate, it doesn’t help when I spend the day gaming and a friend will visit me and ask me what I accomplished in the virtual world of gaming. This person will be expecting death counts, goals reached, races won but no.
“I FINALLY found a colour scheme for my sims walls that match the furniture!” Or even more likely “I got promoted at work! I’m gonna be earning double the money!” To which my friend for a moment genuinely thinks I’m talking about real life, to then realise “oh crap, do you mean on the Sims? Stop playing that game!!”

I’ve decided to make gaming more of a priority for my free time when I’m on the ocean and bored, rather than re-watching 30 Rock. It’s gotten to the point where I can quote episodes word for word. I can quote a 30 Rock episode more accurately than the scripts I’m paid to learn, it’s pretty horrific.

Well my computer is having a problem thats going to impact my game :0 So I’m gonna go fix it,

Stick around, I’ll be back in a couple days 🙂