Trish - Stepping Out up

(40-55 Age Group)

Dear Chris,


A testimonial to you!


When you became my money management coach in April 2005, if anyone had told me back then, where I would be financially, in seven year’s time, I would have laughed in their faces and never believed them!


After a bad marriage ended in divorce over 20 years ago, and me facing bankruptcy at the time, with nothing to my name except debts due to my exhusband’s bad financial management, I chopped up the credit card and didn’t have one for over 20 years. I had to start all over again. As a single woman, I was looking at paying my home off in approximately 20 years back in 2005. With your guidance and wise advice, I started making inroads into my mortgage, just slowly at first, but I saw the money management system could work for me.


A very big, deep breath later, I got a credit card with a miserly limit of $4,500, which was swept clean every month. Which scared me a lot, actually. When I started with you, I was living pay-to-pay and could not afford holidays or any ‘extras’. Every three months, when the Council/Water/Electricity bills came in my budget book was always ‘in the red’.


I also never dreamed I would become an investment property owner – I thought that was something that couples would do. I was worried about getting tenants in who would trash the place and run off owing rent money. So, with very tentative steps, in April 2008 I purchased a one bedroom, fully furnished unit in a retirement village in Goolwa, for under $100,000. I felt safe that they would be unlikely to cause major damage – perhaps just scuff marks and scrapes from walking frames and scooters. I must admit, taking that first step into investing in property was very scary and stressful for me, and probably the hardest investment purchase I would ever make. But ultimately, it gave me the confidence to purchase another one. I lodged a Tax Variation with the Taxation Office, which meant that I paid less tax each fortnight (and also receiving a smaller taxation refund at the end of the year), which also helped with the mortgage interest, as my salary was paid in to my mortgage each fortnight, and it also helps to pay the bills during the year, as long as you don’t spend that, thinking it is ‘free’ or ‘extra’ money. I use it for the purpose it is intended and nothing else.


So, a year later, in August 2009, I purchased my second investment property. A one bedroom studio apartment, in Brisbane for $270,000, which you found for me. It was brand new, and I felt very confident, with your fantastic support, that I would be able to manage two properties and pay off my mortgage. Although I did think that would delay the freehold situation somewhat. How wrong I was!


I thought then, that I was satisfied with two investment properties plus my own home. You had other ideas and planted the seed of Investment Property No 3 (IP#3) in to my head in 2011. I lived near a University and there was a very dated flat up for sale next to my house. When I went to look, the Real Estate Agents said you can get $120 per room near a University/Hospital etc but the unit was in very bad condition and would need at least $20,000 spent on it to update it. I went home and logged on to realestate.com to look at the rental prices around the area, but accidentally logged on to ‘buy’ and found a three bedroom unit, with an updated stainless steel kitchen and built in robes in all three bedrooms. A 3 bedroom is very rare in the area, so I got my finances together and made an offer. An absolute steal for $255,000 and I have had no problems with it. And purchased quite by accident!!


And then, along came IP#4. I was nearing paying off the mortgage on my residence and you found me a one bedroom unit in Northmead, Sydney. Knowing that I would be freehold on my home in a very short time, I had the confidence to purchase that property as well, for $360,000 in October 2011. Another brand new unit, in a popular area, close to Sydney.


I paid off my mortgage in October 2011, just shy of 5-ó years since Chris became my valued and trusted money management coach. I could never have done any of this without your support and in the time that I have been with you, I have travelled overseas, bought a brand new car, and when I do spend money, I always have a ‘budget’ in my head, so when I do indulge in some retail therapys, I do so with ease.


As my property portfolio grew, I increased my credit card limit to $16,000, something I would never have felt comfortable with back in 2005.


Each year, I meticulously plan my budget, we set goals, which sometimes I think I cannot achieve, but by breaking the annual surplus needed to pay off the (then mortgage), I always blitz them months in advance. I write myself a ‘wealth cheque’ each year with the annual goal and then write on it when I reach that goal and what date I reached it. I have kept all my budget books and cheques. I tally the monthly surpluses so that I know at any stage how far ahead I am!


I also put aside money each pay day in a Christmas Club, which allows me the freedom to buy whatever I like at Christmas and not fear the credit card bill in January!


I’m even saving for my 50th birthday in two years, so that 50th Birthday Party will not be a burden financially. Just a modest $50 a fortnight, which, with compounding interest, will be a few thousand dollars to spend however I please. I’ve already saved nearly $1,500!


Personally, I don’t feel I am doing anything ‘special’. I’m just taking care of ‘me’. I account for every cent I spend, even when I go over my budgeted monies each month, but I am always so far ahead with my savings and financial goals that it doesn’t concern me when emergencies arise. I always have a ‘buffer’ for that kind of thing. Whilst I don’t live beyond my means, if I want a holiday or to purchase something, I can do it guilt free and not have to stress about money. Now, my personal budget book is permanently in the black, and my investment property book is always ‘in the red’. Seven years ago, that would have stressed me, but now, I know that is good debt, that is negative gearing at work, and now what tax I do pay (which isn’t very much with the ever trusty pay variation working for me) I receive it all back at the end of the financial year, so I don’t pay tax at all, anymore!!


I know ‘my story’ has inspired people whom I know personally, to take that step into property management, and sometimes I feel a little embarrassed by their admiration. You often say you use ‘my story’ with other clients, and it inspires them too, which makes me feel touched, that I can inspire complete strangers.


You may think, that now I am freehold on my home, I don’t need CoachChris to help me. But now, more than ever, I need your support and guidance. You keep my feet on the ground and focussed on now getting equity in to my investment properties, to allow me to stop working full time when I am 55. That was my grand ‘ten+ year plan’ when I started, which is now 7 years away. I also don’t think I could manage four investment properties without the money management system.


Yes, it does take discipline to track every cent you spend, and yes, you do have to be accountable for your money, and sometimes, I just don’t feel like doing it, but I always do. I have seen the benefits since I started. I set myself monthly challenges, to always have my expenses come in under projected totals, and these days it’s only when I have unexpected large bills come in that I don’t beat my monthly targets. It gives me a great sense of self satisfaction, that everything I have, I have worked for on my own, and I don’t ‘owe’ anyone for anything – well, except for the bank mortgages on the investment properties!! My next goal is to have the combined mortgages for the investing properties down to $999,999.99 – one cent under $1million and I’m on my way to achieving that.


Financial freedom feels fantastic, and I truly would not have dared to do any of this without you, CoachChris.


So, thank you Chris, from the bottom of my heart. For always supporting me when I have had doubts along the way about my ability to keep on the path to financial freedom. I would have never have achieved any of this without you, and I would probably still be paying off my personal mortgage! I only wish that I had met you earlier and had started down that path a long time ago.


Whilst you call me your ‘Diamond Lady’, you are my Financial Angel! And I am so glad I met you.