how much have you spent on carsThe other day I pulled up to a red light.

A few moments later Fancy McButterpants pulled next to me.

Fancy was driving a brand new car worth at least $50,000.

I have no idea how much Fancy McButterpants makes, whether the car was leased, financed, a company car or whatever.

And I have no idea if she was one of those “get my personal value from my car value folks.”

But how sad must those people be?

How sad would it be to get your personal value out of a car, that’s GOING DOWN each month?!?!

Would you then value yourself less every time the odometer registered a new mile?

Would you lose half your personal value the second you drove the car off the lot?

Would you be a “total loss” if you crashed into a tree until you got the insurance check to tell you how much “you” were worth and then start over with a new car?

Ugh…

But looking over for a moment got me thinking about how much I’ve spent to buy cars or motorcycles in the two decades I’ve been driving.

Here’s my timeline:

1994: 1984 Ford Bronco II for $2,400.
1995: 50% interest in a motorcycle with a buddy for $500.
1997: New 1997 Geo Metro Hatchback for $8,100.
1998: New motorcycle for $5,850.
2004: Another 1997 Geo Metro Hatchback $2,500.
2009: New Honda CR-V for $20,600.

Total spent on cars/motorcycles since 1994: $38,950.

Less the “we just had a kid and should probably upgrade to a Honda” car: $18,350. :)

So the total value of my personal cars and motorcycles in 20 years was about $10,000 LESS than the price of the one blaring “Since You’ve Been Gone” at the red light next to me at that moment.

And since the average price of a new car is about $30,000, that means the odds are I’m going to pull up next to people driving cars that are worth more than I’ve spent on cars in my entire life.

How about you?
How long have you been driving?
How much have you spent on cars/motorcycles/airplanes since you started?
How much did you pay for the car you are driving now?

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The following is a guest post

Real estate investing has common benefits and challenges. Time and money are common barriers. Even with property managers, you must often approve requests. Low money down financing may overlook needed renovations and upgrades. Once a tenant has moved in, home repair expenses must be considered.

Meanwhile, real estate investment offers potential for:

  • Capital Appreciation
  • Passive Income
  • Tax Benefits

First time landlords, in particular, may be surprised by challenges after renting out their properties.

So, how can we become better and more profitable landlords?

Here are some things to consider for newbies or current landlords:

Review How You Handle the Tough Stuff:

Are you a big softie? Collecting past due rent, handling tenant concerns and fixing things are not favorites for landlords. Even with a property management company (PMC), you will approve or deny requests.

It is important to manage landlord-tenant relations. Tenants must feel comfortable with both the home/condo and their landlords. However, property owners must present a credible threat in cases of late rent or irrational requests. How do you respond to evasive answers about past due rent?

‘Pay or else’ ultimatums are not so simple. If you lose the tenant, the home may be unoccupied for months to come. You or the PMC must consider longer term effects of short term solutions, such as evictions or collections.

Best Practices:

Know your tenant beyond a rent check: The circumstances surrounding an issue should be considered. Did an otherwise stellar tenant lose their job but just start a new one? Was there a medical emergency? (Verify these)

Working with good tenants over a month or two of hardship may be preferred to rolling the dice on a new renter. It is important to strike a balance between forceful and accommodating.

Get it in writing:  Much like leases, short term arrangements should also be in writing. ‘Half now, the rest on a certain date’ agreements must be signed upon.

Focus on ROI:

Each landlord decision should be made with return on investment (ROI) in mind. ROI is not always apparent.  Goodwill often has the highest ROI. For instance, new kitchen appliances for a long term tenant may ensure your home is rented for years to come.  Investor Elliott Broidy showed how this approach works overseas with cross border investments in Israel.

Evaluate and Track Tenant Feedback:

How rational is the upgrade or repair request? There is a big difference between ‘The washer/dryer is kinda small’ and ‘The washer/dryer doesn’t work. ‘(Or very well) The latter comment can lose a quality tenant, whereas ‘wishing’ an appliance was bigger is not likely to cost you a rational renter. In either case, make notes of tenant comments.

Why? Their likes and dislikes may be similar to future renters. Your tenant may comment about great light exposure or how the neighborhood is really improving, etc. For off-premises landlords, this may be insight they’re not aware of. You can leverage the feedback to better advertise for renters in the future.

Negative comments that are rational should also be considered. For instance, were you indeed unresponsive to voicemails or emails?

Best Practice: Consider a tenant survey, even for renters who have renewed. You will build trust with current renters and receive candid comments from those moving out.  You can use the feedback to improve your landlord skills.

Review your Business Relationships:

Our renters are perhaps the best ‘eyes and ears’. This is ironic given the PMCs and extensive screening landlords use to track their tenants. Your renter will know if the pool service is regular or the handymen work efficiently. A tenant survey or casual conversation will provide you with information to trim expenses on inefficient services.

Here are relationships to review:

Property Management Company: Evaluate the performance of your PMC, as well. Yes, collecting rent is first and foremost, but what is the tenant satisfaction? You should also track the quality of tenants a PMC is attracting. While surefire screening is difficult, a history of problematic tenants may be cause for concern.  Is the PMC responsive to your needs/concerns?

Other Relationships: The same review includes handymen, pool guys and landscapers.

Summary:

Managing your investment property is more profitable with a broad perspective. Consider how your decisions have value in ways not readily apparent.

This post was a guest post.  The content of this guest post is the sole responsibility of the sponsor of the post and not SAFTM.

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January 20, 2014

If you’re anything like me, you’re surrounded by great people who want to save the world. Diseases to be cured. Babies to be saved. Puppies to match with homes. And on and on and on. All great things to support. And I’m pretty sure nobody is “against” finding homes for puppies, curing diseases, or saving […]

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January 10, 2014

Dear My Total Money Makeover, It’s been a fun ride. But I’m moving on. That’s right. I canceled my My Total Money Makeover subscription. It’s not the $7 per month, or whatever it costs. The subscription is worth a lot more than what it costs. The community, information, and access to all three hours of […]

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