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..

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 🙂

Today’s Embassy Adventure!

It’s been a stressful week, and I have been drinking coffee out the yang.
I’m not someone who’s very use to coffee, so coupling my high stress week with more coffee than I’ve consumed in my lifetime thus far, I’m a virtual basket case.
Lately I’ve been expanding my investment portfolio to include international investments in New Zealand, mostly to occupy the time I spend along because I bore easily. Also I finished my book and haven’t bought a new one. And the biggest thing I’ve learned so far is … I should take up sudoku.
This process has been far more stressful than investing domestically, and it’s been not much more than one headache after another. Although when it’s over, there’s no chance I won’t miss the rush. What is wrong with me?
Today I’ve been traipsing all over Vancouver looking for the New Zealand Consulate, that’s right, the cities embassy of New Zealand.
Why??
All week long I’ve been trying to verify some documents that prove my identity, because it turns out, when your dealing with money from across the ocean, people get skittish if they can’t see your face, and want someone with authority to say with an official stamp, this dude legit.
At first they said my lawyer friend on the ship would suffice, but she no longer has a registration number is so failed the test.
Been looking around for accountants, lawyers, anyone on their super limited list that included people I’ll never meet. Such as ambassadors, the Governor General?!? “Excuse me Ms Brice, I know you assist in running the nation of Australia, but … Could you sign my piece of paper?”
But no, found no one. Then when all seemed lost I realized hey! Why not the freaking embassy?!? So off I went and found it.
I’ve literally been in embassy’s and consulates more times than I’ve eaten pie, but I was still terrified sitting in the waiting room. Do they spray a terror smell? I dunno but I was right to fear, because without an appointment I was practically on my knees begging to see the one woman in Canada that could help me. I have no other days off before I leave Canada, possibly forever. So she made a one time exception and saw me anyway.
Then made me leave again to search the city for an ATM to pay her.
Eventually I found one, paid the woman, and posted the forms. Btw when did postage start costing a zillion dollars?? Maybe I’m old school.
But it’s done!! They’d better accept my id for all the stress and Canadian money I spent today or else …. Or else … I’ll cry or something.
Thanks for reading my adventure for today, I’ll update you on everything again soon. 🙂
Only a few weeks left in Alaska before I hit the road somewhere new, subscribe for more of the good stuff, and I’ll talk again soon. 🙂

Travelers are Investors. Simple.

If there’s something that gets me more excited than anything else, it’s seeing young people who are good with their money.
Now I say “young people” like I’m a thousand years old (I’m 24) but when your my age and younger, not only is it ok to be bad with your money, it’s expected and even celebrated!
How are we suppose to achieve everything we want in life if we’re clouded by never ending debt? Or a constantly empty bank account?
My favorite show in the world is Shark Tank, an investment reality show on ABC, mostly because of the advice and zingers that come out of the mouths of the investment sharks.
They talk about doing without until you can afford to buy what you want. To only have a credit card to build credit rating, and only buy something if you can pay it off the credit card that same day.
I’m reading a book written by one of the sharks (Kevin O’leary) and he talks about thinking while about to buy something “will I want this a year from now.”
Everything we buy is an investment, and some are going to hurt us a lot more than help us.
A friend of mine has a boyfriend who just bought a $25,000 car on a loan. I nearly passed out. With interest he’s going to pay probably $40,000 for that car, which is actually a conservative guess because hes paying back minimum payments, so it could be much more. But the second he drove it out of the car lot, his investment lost a third of its value. By the time he’s payed it off in no less than 6 years, he may have payed over $40,000 for an object that may be worth $8,000. This is why banks are the best businesses in the world.
How are we suppose to travel in our 20’s while we’re unmarried and free, when we’re burdened by being unable to pay for it.
I have been trading shares for years, and though haven’t made much more than $500 doing it, I have built up a love for investment.
Through action I’ve taught myself how to trade, what to look for, and that I don’t invest in anything that doesn’t want to pay me a dividend. As time goes by and my portfolio grows, that dividend twice a year will only grow and as I reinvest it, the growth will only go faster.
As I get older I’m looking out for other markets to invest in, but I wouldn’t have ever done it without experiment and action.
A lot of my close friends won’t do it, it does seem scary and the media does release stories every day of some guy that invested it all in a risky startup and now begs for quarters in the street.
But what I think is far more scary is seeing my money in a savings account, depreciating faster than it makes interest, and sitting merely a few clicks of the mouse away if I feel like spending some of it.
With volatile market times, settlement periods, and just plain hassle, I don’t spend the money I have in shares. So it saves.
I just want to pass on to young people with more than $500 sitting around. Invest a small amount and stay comfortable at first, invest in a dividend paying company that will work to make that payment happen. If they don’t have to pay a dividend then your relying on that less transparent company increasing in value faster than your money is depreciating.
And buy into a company that’s not going anywhere. Being from a country like Australia with limited population there are some companies our country relies on, invest in them. And only invest what your ok with losing at first, just so you can sleep at night. Build a habit and learn to enjoy it! Your part of something now! You are part of the greater world! It’ll do you good in the long run, and may just pay for your trip to China. 😉
I’m not a financial advisor by any means, any financial rant on my blog is just my own opinion. If you wanna talk more about it feel free to comment and subscribe. 🙂 Talk soon!