No pancakes, No Buddha, No deal

First off did anyone see the column from Katharine Whitehorn in today’s Magazine inside The Observer? She mentions losing stuff and praying to St. Anthony and the dangers of putting important things in a ‘safe place’, and then writes:

“The best way I’ve ever read about how to control paperwork is in the The Complete Indian Housekeeper, written in the 19th century for the memsahibs of the raj. There should be a box, it says, into which every bit of stray paper has always to be put, whether bills or newspaper or letters, so the plans of the fort would never be used for loo paper …”

After my decision yesterday to go for the ‘shove everything into one drawer’ policy, I couldn’t help but mention this snippet from today’s press.

Now, before I pick this week’s card, I need to talk about this morning. I’m pleasantly surprised to report that after getting up at 7.30 am to attend a 2 hour “taster” on becoming a property investor, it was worth it.

No Pancakes
It had occurred to me yesterday that getting myself to the Sunday morning class I’d signed up for 2 weeks ago was going to test my willpower in no small measure. And so I promised myself pancakes. Rather than just lunge into the bitter cold and traipse my way to a grey part of town to sit in a sad hotel with strangers prepared to do the same, I thought it might help if I promised myself I could stop on the way for pancakes and the paper at Lucky 7.

But I’d forgotten that I live outside America and no one outside America thinks it’s reasonable to sell breakfast before 9am on a Sunday. That’s why I live here! So there were no pancakes for me.

No Buddha
All the way to the sad hotel with the brown patterned carpets and white net curtains I composed this morning’s blog in my head. How pointless the outing had proved. How un-tempted you should remain about spending your Sunday following in my footsteps. When I got to the Lincoln Suite and found myself the only participant waiting outside a locked door to an empty seminar I wondered how long I should wait before letting myself off the hook. I was cutting myself a deal when Bindy walked up to me and introduced himself as this morning’s course leader. A handsome but short 50-something, Bindy was sorry that the hotel reception was so busy he was struggling to get staff assistance over the small matter of the locked meeting room.

But delays, brown carpet and the fish-out-water realisation that compared with the other stragglers that showed up I was outnumbered by young immigrants 7 to 2, belied just how interesting I was going to find this morning’s talk.

I’ve had to scratch the blog I’d drafted in my head to write this one instead. One where I can reveal that while it was a ‘sell’ — a 2 hour build up to the price tag of joining the UK Property Mentor scheme (£7,OOO including VAT) — it was an informative sell. I learnt a lot.

Bindy kicked off the session with the traditional ‘come-to-the-guru’  tactic of sharing his personal tale of entering the property market when he was forced to sell up his family business of 25 years. Bindy’s point was that only one of two things makes someone enter the property investment market — either Fear or Desire. In his case it was Fear. He was 50 and broke after he shut down his company.

So let’s be clear, the math behind becoming a wealthy landlord has no place for Buddha. It’s all fear or desire and maybe both.

No Deal
Fear or desire and a strategy. And this is what the Property Mentor has to sell — a “system” for managing the risk of buying up properties. And mentoring and emotional support and a range of other useful financial and legal services.

But in the end it was No Deal. For now …

After this morning’s program I’m motivated to learn more and I will. But there’s no point in signing the dotted line. For the program to be worth it you need more time than I have to give to it. Also, despite how intelligent and sincere Bindy seemed, I need someone financially smarter
than me (with nothing to sell me, so a friend …) to help me ask the right questions of this package.

We were lucky this morning to have a financial sort amongst the 9 of us. He traded in financial markets which I think means he traded currencies. It was by his example that the rest of us spoke up to ask Bindy the tough questions. And thanks to this, I am a lot clearer on how to think about property (the one I own and future investments I may make).

So even though there were no pancakes, no buddha and no deal, I recommend this 2 hour investment of time in you’re based in the UK and considering buying a property to let — which (AND THIS IS IMPORTANT) is a loan based on the rental possibilities of the property and not a mortgage determined by your salary… which opens the doors to investors from all walks of life.

Now — this week’s card!!  This is a very special assignment. I would love to know if other people find what I’m about to do as hard as I do.
In the week ahead I need to (try to) reclaim all monies owed to me. Not by friends, but owed to me from work expenses, medical claims — that sort of thing. I have lost thousands of pounds avoiding filing these types of expenses. Thousands.

Why? It’s not just because I don’t like paperwork. It’s weirder than that. More on this next week after I’ve faced up to the task.

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