Entries from April 2011

Watching:

April 15, 2011

Watching

Have I ever mentioned how much I love TV? I do. At the end of a long work day, after hitting the gym and throwing together dinner, there is nothing I love more than to veg out in front of the TV. Here’s what we’ve been watching lately:
• Freakonomics – I highly recommend this one. It’ll get you thinking…
• Hanna – Okay, we didn’t watch this on TV but rather in the theater. This movie was highly styled and fun to watch but lacked some depth.
• Shameless – I’m hooked. And I love William H. Macy.
My So Called Life – A classic that we just started watching on Netflix. I loved watching this show the first time around (I was 12) and am enjoying seeing it from a more grown-up perspective now.
• United States of Tara – I could stare at Toni Colette all day long. Something about her hypnotizes me. And US of Tara is so so good.
• The Guitar – This movie wasn’t great. It’s the kind of movie where the lead actress acts like she’s never interacted with a single person her whole life and you become exhausted watching her try to figure her shit out. We watched this because Jeremy recognized the band that plays the theme song to Shameless. They were once on tour with a band called The Every Others. The Every Others once stayed with Jeremy when they were on tour. When Jeremy asked The Every Others when they were going to have their own appearance on a TV show – that’s when they told Jeremy that they were in this movie. Did you follow that? Yeah, me either.
• Nurse Jackie – This show comes on right before United States of Tara and it’s continued to capture my interest every Monday night.
• Arrested Development – We just finished the last season. I tried watching this show years ago and just couldn’t seem to get into the absurd humor of it – but after watching the entire series I feel like I can’t get enough.

What are you all watching right now? Any recommendations?

Landlord | Matters

April 14, 2011

LandlordMatters

You guys have been asking about the rental property and buying houses so I’m going to share what we’ve done and what we’re doing as far as property matters are concerned. First, I should clarify that property in Oklahoma is just dirt cheap. Second, we’re no real estate experts but we’ve learned that you don’t have to be.

THE BEGINNING
This story starts when I was still in college. My parents bought a for my brother and me to live in through college. It made sense to buy an inexpensive property near campus rather than pay rent to someone else for 8 years. After I graduated college and bought my own house my parents decided to keep their property and rent it out to college students. They paid me $50/month to act as the property manager. So I made applications, listed the property in the paper, drew up leases (Google is amazing for this sort of thing), showed the house and handled any issues (ilke clogged plumbing) that would come up. My parents never even had to deal with it and I learned how to be a landlord.

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OUR FIRST RENTAL PROPERTY
Jeremy bought his first house a couple years before we got together. Of course, this is Jeremy we’re talking about, so he made sure it was well within his budget. Then when we bought the home we live in now he decided that he could afford to keep his old home and rent it out instead of selling it when the market was down. It was a very spur-of-the-moment decision, and one we probably wouldn’t have made without the experience of my parents’ rental, but it turned out to be far easier and more lucrative than we thought possible.  This marked the beginning of our “rental empire”, as we called it.  The plan was to get out of debt over the next year or two (not including mortgages – we hardly consider those debt, since we always owe less than the house is worth) and then start saving for another rental.  It’s an interesting transition going from paying off debt to investing, where the goal is cash-in-hand.  For example, we could pay down the mortgages we have now (which would be fantastic), but that money will do a lot more for us if we use it to invest in another rental instead.  Each rental earns some amount of profit per month, so it makes sense that our income would snowball and it would take less and less time to save enough for the next rental.

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BUYING OUR SECOND RENTAL PROPERTY
The plan was put into action, and once we had enough cash saved up to put 20% down on a rental property (and still have a little leftover in savings) we started looking. I had a clear vision of the kind of place and tenants I wanted. I wanted an older home with character in an interesting location, preferably near a college campus. I wanted tenants that will not only pay rent but will also respect and love the place. We’ve made a choice to not be slum lords, and only buy property that we would be willing to live in ourselves (which, we recognize, could actually happen one day).  
We got approved for a modest loan, contacted a realtor and started our house hunt. We looked at a few places and as soon as I saw the house that we ended up buying I knew it was the one. We made an offer, it was accepted and three weeks later we closed. It was as quick and easy as it sounds.  It’s amazing how much easier it is to decide on a house when you’re not going to be the one living in it.
We listed the property on Craigslist on a Monday and by the next Wednesday had over a dozen calls on it. A week later we reviewed our applications and had a deposit on the place.  We knew it was a good property in a good location, but we couldn’t believe how much interest we’ve had in it.  We even had a guy offer to pay an extra $100/month to give it to him instead of the girl we’d already gotten the deposit from (we didn’t, by the way). 

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THE BAD
Everyone asks about the downsides to owning rental properties. Here they are:
• Paying for repairs to a home you don’t even live in can be a bummer – but if you budget for it it’s not so bad. A tenant with a backed up toilet is not a happy tenant, and we want to be good landlords, so repairs are of utmost importance.

• Yes: we’ve had some deadbeat tenants, and yes: we sued them. We’re nice people so stuff like this isn’t fun for us. We learned from our mistakes and now take steps to avoid this sort of situation from ever happening again.

• Unoccupied space – Paying two mortgages for a few months kind of sucks but it’s expected.

• The legal stuff – This isn’t so bad, it just takes some time to figure out. Google goes a long way when learning your rights as a landlord and what rights your tenants have. However, now that we’re growing our property business we have a lawyer who advises us on property matters.  

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THE GOOD
Buying property is our way of putting money in the bank and investing in our future. But when you have investment property, somebody else is investing in YOUR future. It kind of blows my mind. Sometimes it feels too good to be true, maybe even a little greedy, but it’s a legitimate business and a service that we all need at some point in life.

• Someone else is paying your mortgage!

• Our property manager – When Jeremy’s mom retired from her 9-to-5 we decided to hire her as our property manager. She’s kind, smart and uses her gut. She gets good people in our houses and frees up our time to do stuff like watch Arrested Development all weekend.

• I’m not a tax expert but owning property is good for your taxes. When we take a loss on our property with repairs and unpaid rent it ends up being okay when tax time comes around. Or something… 

• The profit – We rent our places out for enough to cover the mortgage, expected repairs and our property manager fees. Any extra little bit of profit goes towards saving for another property. 

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SOME OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
• We love our house and aren’t particularly keen on relocating, but if we could live in these properties as we bought them we’d be entitled to some breaks – like a “homestead” exemption on property taxes, and lower interest rates.  Those things wouldn’t change once we started renting the house out, and would mean more cash-in-hand every month. 

• Banks won’t let you get away with any less than 20% down on an investment loan, which is actually fine because otherwise you’d be paying extra for PMI which is HIGHWAY ROBBERY AND THE DEVIL – evil, evil stuff.  Avoid at all costs. 

Of course there is more to be said on the subject, but this is the abbreviated overview of how we’ve made it work for us, so far.
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I’m going to continue to expand on this new “matters” series. I’m an open book, so let me know if there are any other topics or specifics you’d like me to dive into. Help me figure out what to talk about next! I’ve had requests for Household Matters (how Jeremy and I keep a clean house and divide chores), Marriage Matters (from the big issues to the daily grind of forever and ever) and Wardrobe Matters (how to get the most out of a few basics) – I can’t wait to tackle these topics.

Other topics in the Matters Series:
• Money Matters
• TO-DO Matters

We Relay Well

April 13, 2011

WeRelayWell

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I’m not a runner. But somehow our friends convinced Jeremy and me to run in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon with them. So over drinks, food and laughs we started coming up with a team name – because of course we can’t just run. There has to be some sort of theme. Somehow, one thing led to another and over a tipsy conversation about grammar and relays Jeremy came up with our team name: We Relay Well. We Lay Real Well.

Of course we’re having t-shirts made.

Anatomy of an Outfit: Loosen Up

April 12, 2011

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AnatomyLoose

AnatomyLooseC

You guys know that every morning when I get dressed I hold my self to a post-apocalyptic fashion standard. But now that the weather is turning from hot to cold I feel lost. I can’t seem to adapt my end-of-the-world sense of style to warm weather.

I’ve been living in these feather earrings from the 1970s lately. My friend’s mom gave them to me and at the same time passed down some groovy roach clip earrings from the same year – they had little burn marks on them and everything! So, maybe I’ll focus on the bohemian look for the summer. I’ve always had an affinity for the 1970s – bell bottoms, braids, peace, love and happiness can totally do it for me – when I’m not preparing to kill zombies and defend myself against hungry cannibals, that is.

Shoes – Eastlands
Trousers – Urban Outfitters
Tank – F21
Cardigan & Belt – Target
Custom Halter Necklace – Clyde’s Rebirth
Feather Earrings – Vintage
Headbands – Scünci

Weekend

April 11, 2011

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Weekend

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The upside to my job feeling like a job is that my weekends are starting to feel more like the weekend. I’m able to leave all my worries about prints, estimates and my excitement for unfinished designs in the designated 100 sq. ft. corner of my home. My work will always be buzzing inside of me but I’m finding ways to compartmentalize so I can appropriately honor the 48 hours of celebration that is the weekend.

The weekend highs in a snapshot looked like this:
• Decompressing from the week with a bottle of wine with girlfriends
• Dreaming about the moon and falling in love with it
• Sleeping in followed by a slow date with coffee and oatmeal
• Hydrating with lots of coconut water
• Sharing the story of my career so far with self-conscious college students
• Finding myself beyond inspired by someone else’s work
• Filling my cart with delicious goodies at my very favorite grocery store
• Watching Hanna and wishing I was a badass
• Eating raw food
• Drinking microbrews on patios
• Listening to some really amazing slam poetry at Urban Roots
• Sushi and cupcakes with family
• Sketching the beginnings of a local food project with friends

Let’s hear it – what was the highlight of your weekend?

Moon photo found here
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