Sick of the Hype?

Sensationalism is everywhere and it's hard to know what's real, anymore. The economy is tanking, the marketing noise is deafening, and you just don't know what tomorrow will hold. This site is dedicated to a no-hype retelling of what's working for me in real estate, business, and life. Welcome.

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Emily is available for speaking appearances and flat-rate consulting on the topics of personal finance and real estate. Please fill in the Contact Form for more information.

Archive for April, 2008

So, despite the fact that the title – Fast Profits in Hard Times: 10 Secret Strategies to Make You Rich In an Up or Down Economy – is somewhat sensationalistic, I picked up this book from the library due to the timely nature of the topic – many fear we are in or entering a recession – and the recent publication date, January 2008.

The author, Jordan E. Goodman, is a former Money Magazine columnist and we’ll have to take that as a form of credibility.

The focus of the book was to help folks find good places to invest even when the economy and stock market are slumping.  He explored several "non-cyclical" and "counter-cyclical" investments and business opportunities including:

  • Foreign Currency Trading
  • Stocks and Bonds
  • Real Estate Investing
  • Tax Liens and Tax Deeds
  • Pay Day Loans
  • Cash Flow Brokering/Investing and Factoring
  • Vending Machines and ATM installations
  • DRIPs
  • Options
  • and more.

 

Overall, it was an interesting summary of alternative investment types your broker won’t usually tell you about.  Many of them, however, required time, knowledge and/or significant funds to get started in.  Most of the highest-yielding opportunities offering above the 11% long term return we expect in our stock mutual funds, were not easy to implement (more like a part time job) and/or presented a high degree of risk or upfront investment.

The chart presented at the beginning of the book (page 15) offers a tidy summary of the opportunities as a way to help you identify which you might be interested in.  I only read the chapters that sounded intriguing based on their profile in this chart.

This book does not present the deep level of detail you would probably need to go into one of these businesses, but it is a nice overview and comparison of alternative investment strategies if you’re looking for a timely alternative to the stock market.  The author does provide resources for further resources for those who want to explore a given opportunity further.

Apr
17

Bargain of the Week – Free (Almost!) Internet Marketing Program

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This one goes in the building a business file.  As you have been following along with my business progress, you probably recognize that I am in the business of both DOING real estate investing, and teaching/speaking about real estate, personal finance, and success. 

That’s a direct result of the model we espouse at TheRealWealthCompany.com of using Real Estate Investments to build wealth and Business to create cash flow.

If you have a business with an online presence, you know that there is a lot of advice and information out there about how to do it.  I just downloaded – ALMOST FOR FREE – some great Internet marketing videos by a guy I had never heard of called Matt Bacak.  He’s for real – check it out!

$5,000 Internet Marketing Seminar Being Given Away for a $1 Donation to Charity!

He’s giving away (for a $1 donation to charity) the videos he put together from a $5,000 seminar he hosted.  The videos include:

  • Internet Millionaire Mind
  • Lead Explosion
  • Web Copy and Good Keywords
  • Using Google Adwords
  • Google Traffic Secrets
  • Emails and Auto Responders
  • Joint Venture Relationships
  • Article Submitting
  • Website Building and FTP

 

You also get his power points, rolodex, blog info, PR submission, article submission directories, etc. etc.  I’m just getting into the videos now (the servers were really down due to overload yesterday, I think…. it was SUPER SLOW, but now it is fixed.)  So far – great stuff! :)

If you’re into online marketing, definitely check out Matt’s page.  Seeing his upsell through his sales process is probably worth more than the $1 just in and of itself. 😉

 

Emily Cressey

Categories : Starting A Business
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Apr
16

First they came for my neighbors, then they came for the millionaires… when will they come for us?

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I just got this article sent to me by a friend of mine named Tom who has been in the short sale industry for the last five years and has completed a TON of short sale transactions. Even though he’s been in the business for years, he commented,

"Short sales are where it is at right now.  We have a window of  opportunity here like never before." – Tom

On my coaching calls for Mentor Financial Group, I am getting more and more people asking questions about short sale deals they’ve signed up than ever before.  The MFG students are getting more short sale deals signed up than all the other types of deals combined, by my estimate.

This is really something that’s *happening* right now, and knowing how to help sellers in foreclosure is a vital skill set to help you profit in today’s many sideways/falling real estate markets.  I am in the process of putting together some more information on short sales for you from Tom’s partner, Phil, who is probably doing more foreclosures in the state of Tennessee than anyone else!
Keep an eye peeled, and for now, enjoy the article! Emily

—BEGIN ARTICLE—

Breaking News from MoneyNews.comClick here for full article.

Foreclosure Twist — Million Dollar Homes Being Auctioned


A startling new trend is emerging in the declining U.S. economy — foreclosure auctions of distressed properties owned by the wealthy. Experts tell  MoneyNews.com that properties, worth tens of millions of dollars, located in tiny upscale locales such as Greenwich, Conn., Palm Beach, Fla., and in Manhattan, New York, are being auctioned, as heirs and heiresses to famous fortunes, like Veronica Hearst, watch helplessly from the benches in county courthouses.
Less high-profile homes, priced at just over a million dollars, are also on the block.

U.S. home foreclosure filings increased 60 percent, and bank seizures more than doubled in February from the same month last year as adjustable mortgage rates rose and property owners were unable to sell or refinance, according to RealtyTrac Inc., which tracks foreclosure data.

Typically, lenders require borrowers to buy mortgage insurance if they make less than a 20 percent down payment, which helps banks recovers their costs when loans default. Defaults on privately insured U.S. mortgages rose 38 percent for
the 14th straight month in February
as "record" foreclosures forced the industry to reimburse lenders for more bad loans, according to the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America. Insured borrowers falling more than 60 days late on payments rose to 60,911 last month from 44,111 a year earlier.

That includes the wealthy. "Overspending is a pattern and lifestyle to which all too many of us have fallen prey," says Janice B. Leis, a broker, with Prudential Florida WCI Realty.

Generally, the distressed, high-end market is now succumbing to the same lending snafus that plagued the subprime market — borrowers were given high loans, based on the presumption that housing prices would continue upward eternally.
Many of the million dollar-plus homes listed as foreclosures were built recently and are now worth significantly less than the inflated prices the owners originally paid. Sound familiar?

— END OF ARTICLE —

Clearly the changing economy and housing market is affecting the wealthy as well as the subprime borrowers.  There are lots of people out there who need to sell a home they can’t afford and need our help, as investors, to get it done.  Since they don’t have equity, often, it’s the short sale investors who are the only ones in a position to help them.

Get a copy of your local foreclosure list, send out your letters, put out your signs and start signing these up!

Have a great week!
Emily Cressey

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Apr
15

Happy Tax Day!

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Good news for all the tax-burdened people out there today – you can file an extension for your taxes (you can even file electronically) and extend your filing deadline by up to 6 months!

Download your extension form directly from the IRS.

Word on the street is that filers who use the extension reduce their chances of getting audited by 90% – Bonus!

The only down-side to using the extension is that you STILL have to have paid your taxes in full.  In other words, if you have taxes due, you must PAY THOSE TAXES by April 15 or suffer the consequences of late fees and interest payments.

Click here to read more from the IRS about who can file this form and when.

If you DON’T owe taxes (and are due a refund from the IRS, then this isn’t a problem.  You just won’t get your refund until you file (and of course… the IRS will not pay you any interest for the free use of your money during that time!)

This year, you may also be entitled to a bonus due to the economic stimulus package.  I think my husband and I have $1,200 waiting for us in refunds that we’ll hopefully be collecting soon!

CPA is Vindicated!

I recently wrote a rant about slow bookkeeping services from my CPA’s office.  I am pleased to report that the firm has been vindicated!

In response to my inquiries about my bill they gave me a one-day turnaround response (during the height of tax season no less) with the following results:

  1. Reduced the amount I had been charged from $500 to $400, due to some system set up that they had been working on that took longer than it should.
  2. Told me everything should now be ready to move forward with all of my bookkeeping done in 5 hours or less every month (and they imposed a $250/month ceiling on my bookkeeping bill)
  3. Let me know that (although I had already told them to file an extension for me) they had reviewed my tax file and it didn’t look like I owed Uncle Sam anything extra this year – Always good news.
  4. Told me that my return was near the top of the list to be processed, so they would probably finish it in the next month or two and we’d be getting our refund (if any) soon – fingers crossed!
  5. Asked about my pregnancy and re-established rapport – always the way to a mother’s heart!

So, they are back on my good side and hopefully we are on track for a great year of bookkeeping in 2008!  I’ll keep you posted. 

For now – stop procrastinating and finish up those taxes and/or file an extension and rest easy! :)

 

Emily

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This week I got another bill in the mail from my bookkeeper – 3 bills actually.

  • One for bookkeeping for one entity: $25. 
  • Another for bookkeeping for my second entity: $50. 
  • Then -BOOM!- a third bill for personal bookkeeping for $512.50.  Where did that come from??

I decided to investigate.

First, a little background.  I have been working with my CPA for over a year and have been pleased with her tax advice and tax preparation services.  She’s saved me thousands in taxes.  About a year ago, I started working with a bookkeeping service through her firm (I think they bill $50/hour which is pretty high, but I originally thought would be "worth it" to have all the books in the same office and have access to supervision from my correct accountant.)

Now, I am starting to feel like I am going to be paying MORE in bookkeeping THAN I’M SAVING ON MY TAXES.  Last month I paid them another $1,200 in fees.  What’s going on?

I called their office to get clarification because their invoices are very "sparse" when it comes to documenting what they’re billing me for.

The explanation I got at that time was they were catching up all my books for the year 2007 and had wanted to bill me all at once when they were done and caught up.  Whoa… personally, I would much rather see a smaller bill every month and keep track of what they are doing then let them run the clock on my dime and have them "surprise" me with it at the end.

I think this latest $512.50 bill is just the remnants of their major clean-up project, but I’m not sure.  They suggested last time, my ongoing costs would be closer to $125/month, which is reasonable.

I’m squawking now to see if we can get this sorted out or whether I will have to take my business elsewhere.

Very Expensive, But Very Slow!

I don’t mind paying for good service, but in addition to getting these large bills, I feel like the service has been very SLOW.  I’d asked for monthly cash flow statements so I could track my income/outgo for budgeting purposes.  I think I’ve gotten one year-end statement for 2007 in March of 2008.  Other than that, no such statements have been generated thus far.

Presumably part of this is due to some re-organization at the office, hiring and training new bookkeepers, etc. but it’s frustrating to pay a high price for something that’s not even coming in to me in a timely way.

I only started using a bookkeeper recently at the behest of my business partner and financial fluency guru, Steve Maxwell.  I think he’s right that the information from the bookkeeper would be helpful in tracking my expenses.  However, this bookkeeper is not delivering.

It’s time for them to make good, or I will have to make other arrangements.  Anyone have a bookkeeper they love who is responsive and timely? :)  I may be looking to change soon…

About Emily Cressey

Emily Cressey is a real estate investor and licensed real estate agent living in Seattle, Washington. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa with an Economics degree from UNC-Chapel Hill (Go Tarheels!) her focus has been on building business for cash flow and investing in real estate for wealth. If you have questions about real estate investing, personal finance, or would like some flat-rate, affordable advice on one of these topics. Please fill in the Contact form.