Lessons and Blessings

Many years ago we bought a house that we shouldn’t have bought.  Our intentions were wonderful.  We had a family member going thru a rough time.  The house was a foreclosure.  The family could heal in this house and we could fix up the house and make a profit.  It was a win-win, right?

Except our personal foundation wasn’t stable.  Do you want to know what happens when you are trying to keep your balance, standing on one foot on a teetering rock, trying to hold on to everything?  Something falls.  We were not in a place to help.  So what did we do?  We borrowed more money so we could help.  Guess what that did to our foundation?  It made us, personally, more unstable.

One mortgage and two private loans from different family members were needed to buy this home and have funds to fix it up.  “The borrower is slave to the lender”, that is a great verse from the Bible.  As I now have heard Dave Ramsey say, “Thanksgiving dinner tastes different when you are eating with your master”.  That is true.  With time and a lot of grace from one family member, we got those two private loans paid off.  But the mortgage is still there.  We even made the stupid decision to refinance this “investment” property to pay off some of our debt – pre-Dave Ramsey days decision . . but, we are still paying for it.

This house has been a blessing to our family member who is back on their feet and doing well.  This house has been a blessing to the next renters that went in there, when they were having a rough time in life.  This house has not been a blessing to us since we bought it over ten years ago.  I am a perpetual optimist and see that we have been able to bless others (even when these payments were dragging down our house – we paid out more than we brought in with this house for the first many years) and that we have been blessed with good renters – well most of the time – they were good, until they stopped being good.

I have learned a lot of good lessons with this house.  First, you have to take care of your own house before you can help others.  Foolishly I used to feel that this made me selfish.  If I had dollars sitting here and I could make payments, why couldn’t I use the rest to help others?  Why?  WHY?  Because I was still broke!  I owed more than the monthly payments!  I owed the whole dang balance!!  I did not have “extra” money.  All my money was owed to someone else and I was simply not looking at the whole picture.
Second, “cast not your pearls before swine” – a bible verse.  Oh this rings true.  Although I have had good intentions with these renters and my heart was in a good place – these seemingly benevolent decisions were enabling bad decisions on their parts, and painting me more as a doormat than anything else.
Third, different people have different skills!  Ok, I knew this.  But to actually admit that I can’t handle it . . that’s a hard pill to swallow.  I like to do it all.  But I sucked at this landlord thing overall.  And I have someone who absolutely rocks at is.  Utilizing her skill set is a completely different situation than a year ago when I was going it alone.
Fourth, there is a better way!!  We have learned so many little lessons in here that have shaped the way we will handle investment properties going forward!  All will be in CASH!  No mortgages and no personal loans from family.  No credit cards.  No Home Depot charges.
A little collection of other little lessons:  perform the regular check of the home, don’t trust people completely, a lease is a lease – it is a legally binding agreement and if I don’t enforce that, no one will, and many more lessons!

Tonight I am thankful that soon this house will be sold.  We are turning in to the home stretch!  My aunt pointed out awhile ago, this house will finally get to be a blessing to us; the profits of this house will enable our next adventure!  It will be a blessing in a big way.  And it will open a lot of doors to bless others!

Cute little thing isn’t it?  It is on a nice, private lot in the country outside of Perry.  It’ll be on the market soon!

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