Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Overwhelmed? Here's The Solution

Attend to YOUR needs!
Then, you can help your loved ones!

I wanted to share this simple rule of thumb that helped me, and many of my coaching students keep all the balls in the air without feeling overwhelmed.

It works exceptionally well for perfectionists and high achievers, who often put others' needs ahead of their own.

The rule of thumb is this -


The back story.

When I was still a workaholic, I used to travel a lot.

Every time before the plane took off, flight attendants would review the safety procedures and turn on a safety video. In the video, they'd show an emergency, with oxygen masks popping out in front of all passengers. One of the passengers, a mother, would put on an oxygen mask on herself, then turn to the left and put another mask on her little boy. A voice in the video advised passengers, "Be sure to adjust your own mask before helping others."

During one of those flights, I went to the bathroom and as I was coming back to my seat… I fainted.

Flight attendants helped me up. They took my blood pressure. It turned out I fainted simply because I was exhausted and haven't had anything to eat that day. My blood sugar was too low. So they gave me a (free) sandwich and some orange juice.

This was my wake up call. 

It suddenly hit me that I had three kids at home, 9, 7, and two years old at the time. I better start putting on my oxygen mask! So I can be around to help my kids when they need me…

I'm sharing this story with you to encourage you to take note of your day-to-day priorities and do a quick safety check-in with yourself:

– are you prioritizing what is truly valuable for you?

– is your behaviour in line with your core values?

– is your oxygen mask on?

Take good care of yourself!
Author | Investor | Financial Wellness Coach

PS Hope, you enjoyed this story – feel free to comment below if you'd like to share a comment or ask a question. I'll be happy to hear from you!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

50 Doors Annual Results as of Jan 2020

2020 is the 7th year on my road to 50 doors!
The journey started in 2014 when my husband and I decided to go after passive cash flow and financial freedom. Without any prior experience, we set out to get 50 rental units within five years. Each unit would theoretically give us $200 of passive income. Overall, we aimed to achieve 10K/month cashflow.
Here we are seven years later! Happy to share actual results and lessons learned as of the end of 2019.

Financial Freedom Strategy

  • Invest in Assets, which put money in my pocket
  • Eliminate Liabilities, which take money away
  • Until the positive cash flow from the assets covers my family's day to day needs aka we are Financially Free


I am working towards September 2022 deadline.

Or should I say DREAM-line? Ba-dam-shh...

The plan is to go away on a sailing trip during the 2022/2023 school year.
Timing will be perfect. Our little guy will still be in middle school. We'll do some sailing and sight-seeing and come back for his first year of high school in 2024.
My two oldest sons will be independent by then. Ha-ha, we'll see how that goes! As a side note, I would have never thought that handling teenagers can be A LOT TRICKIER than real estate investing! But this is a topic for a different type of blog.


Status as of the End of 2019


  • Our portfolio now has 17 assets. We added one in 2019.
  • The total door count is 20! Only 30 more doors to complete the original 50 Doors plan
  • I'm thrilled that our cashflow has bounced back up to 15K from the 2018 dive down to 3.9K.Tight hands-on asset management definitely paid off.
  • I am most grateful for the caring, responsive, and responsible tenants and their families, as well as reliable and easy to work with property managers, handymen, trades, advisors, and partners.
  • However....


My biggest 2019 takeaway is EASY DOES IT!
Continuous rapid expansion can be emotionally exhausting and extremely stressful.
Every new asset you add to your portfolio requires resources - time, money, skill, energy, etc. Ever since we started, all equity and cash flow from older assets were going right back into the growth funnel and used to acquire new assets.
Too many times over the past year, my safety cushion was too thin. I relied on pure luck to make ends meet, juggle, and balance all the in-flows and out-flows.
Choosing the right pace is crucial in the long run. Giving myself ample cushion room yet still making great headway is the art I'd like to master.

Update on Objectives for 2019: Mostly Complete

    1. Eliminate a big chunk of my most costly liability, Bad Debt. This will increase my overall cash flow. With less debt, I'll attract other people's money on better terms. Done!
    2. Acquire assets that put money in my pocket at a reasonable pace without getting new bad debt. This will increase positive cash flow as well. Done!
    3. Sell non-performing assets in Spring 2019 to improve cash flow. Kind of done! I was able to improve operations without selling the assets.
    4. Acquire liquid assets. You can't buy groceries on real estate equity. Liquid assets will be my rainy day fund to protect me from a fire sale in case of an emergency. Great progress! Lots done and way more still to be done!
    5. Plan ahead for the sailing trip! Budget, research, and make sure my husband gets his sailing license. Getting there! Break your leg, Anton! :) Good luck on your skipper exam in a couple of months

Objectives for 2020

    1. Double revenue & double cash flow! Not sure how yet... don't ask.
    2. Take it easy & enjoy life - read, yoga, meditate, be active, have fun, help and support my loved ones, and give back.
    3. Last but not least - Get The Boat!   


Asset Cash Flow Portfolio

Link to My Portfolio 2019 is here.
Link to My Portfolio 2018 is here.

Monday, January 6, 2020

How to free up 80% of your time without feeling guilty

Imagine you had LIMITLESS time for yourself?
Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

I wanted to share this simple technique that helped me, and many of my coaching students free up time without feeling guilty.

It works exceptionally well for perfectionists and high achievers, who often put others’ needs ahead of their own.

Here is how it works…

  1. Imagine you’ve won the lottery and gave a two-week notice
  2. Put together a transition plan
  3. Execute it! Do everything in your power for your colleagues to succeed, without you

Let’s play through this together.

Imagine you are working on an urgent, important project. The deadline is approaching fast. You are one of the most valuable contributors to this project. Everyone is counting on you! It’s late in the evening. You know you should stop for the day, yet you can’t. You do what you have to do and what you believe is the right thing to do. You work hard.

You sacrifice your sleep, dinner, and family time.

Suddenly your husband calls.

You know he’ll be asking when he can expect you back home.

Feeling both annoyed and guilty, you pick up the phone:


he yells into your ear….

You can barely contain your happiness. Your chest is exploding with joy. Tears of happiness running down your cheeks. Numerous euphoric thoughts rush through your mind. You are thinking of multiple bucket lists of everything you will now be able to do. You tell your husband you’ll be home right away and hang up.

A message pops up and brings you back to earth. Your boss is asking – “Is everything on track for the product launch in three weeks?”

Now what?!?

You know you MUST go home and be with your loved ones. You also MUST help your team succeed.

This is what you do…

1) You give a two-week notice
2) Put together an extraordinary effective transition plan
     3) Flawlessly execute it!

Now let’s come back to reality. The hard part….

I was a workaholic one day. I used to think I had to work hard. I self-sabotaged.
On three occasions, I physically collapsed…

I let my team down because I could not be there for them up to the finish line. I had to quit without a plan. Repeatedly. Then, I finally learned and applied the oxygen rule – put on your oxygen mask first, then you can take care of your loved ones.

If you feel tired, stressed, depressed, or overworked and desperately need a break,

then YOU MUST imagine you won the lottery and have to hand off your responsibilities.

**TO BE CLEAR: You DO NOT actually quit. Simply use this metaphor to re-gain your time - become a stronger player in a stronger team **

You’ll be amazed that YOU CAN free up 80-100% of your time using this technique and, at the same time, help your colleagues become more efficient, self-reliable, and confident, while you take some time to re-charge and re-energize.

Trust me! Stop surviving on adrenaline and ignoring yourself.

So many people end up taking stress-leave or even quitting just because of work overload.

Take good care of yourself!

Anna Belov
Author | Investor | Financial Success Coach

PS Hope, you enjoyed this story – feel free to share and post your comment/question below. I’ll be happy to hear from you!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Universe Has Your Back - A Real Estate Fable

I thought I was helping
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
One of my tenant families struggled to pay rent. It's been an issue over the past three years.

The family would miss a rent payment. Then take a few months to catch up. Once caught up, they'd miss another payment the very next month. The cycle repeated.

I deeply empathized with their problems. I had experienced many of them in my past too - a close relative going through a critical illness, losing a job, going through challenges raising kids, car breaking down at the most horrible time, etc.

I thought I was helping the family by being patient through all their troubles. It seemed that they were trying so hard and needed a break. Besides, they seemed to have been able to always come out on top.

The Universe Has Your Back

Things always work out
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Finally, the universe heard them. Things started turning around. First, a social housing program helped them catch up on rent - $2,200 was gifted to the family. Next, both parents found part-time jobs. Shortly, they worked full-time hours and multiple jobs. Once they apologized for a delayed reply to my text because they were too busy working! Hurrah!

With a sigh of relief, they told me one day that money wasn't an issue anymore. They'd be okay from now on. They sympathized with my dependance on their rent payment to pay my mortgage and other costs. They said that I shouldn't worry about their rent anymore.

I felt grateful to the universe! Things always work out somehow.

You Just Have to Do Your Part

Just a short month later. Another missed payment.

This time, the auto-deposit process on my end glitched. All transfers usually get auto-deposited, but
Did I misread the signs?
Image by TiNo Heusinger from Pixabay

this one went back to the sender because of a recent new release of the banking app. Not realizing this had happened, the tenants unintentionally spent the returned rent money. They had no money to pay rent. Understandable. A new cycle of struggles began.

My tenant put together a payment plan. They sent it in writing and laid out upcoming catch-up payments. Date - payment - date - payment - date payment...

Then, they missed the first catch-up payment.

What happened? 
No answer. 
What's the status? 
Apologies. CRA delayed our child tax benefit payment. It won't happen again.

Then, they missed the next planned payment.

Worried, I followed up again.

The Universe Has My Back

My tenant was frustrated. She confessed that there was a time when they didn't have any money to buy groceries for weeks and were getting food packages at the church.  Once they started working, they've been handing over their full paycheques to me. There was a list of issues at the house they weren't happy about. They didn't get sufficient value and service from me as their landlord, for their money. They brought up a poorly executed door replacement job from two years ago and said that I hired a drunk...

Please move out! I pleaded.

I checked and verified that there were more affordable housing options in the area for a family of the size. I don't want your full paycheque. Please don't give it to me! It's not right that you don't buy food. It's not right that you don't love your home.

Please, please, please don't stay in the house, especially if you are not getting a good value for the price you are paying. You know where the door is! Please please please move out.

I was sending my thoughts to the universe, begging it to resolve this nonsensical situation.

My tenant didn't reply. 
They sent the next rent payment on time. 
And then the next one. 
To be continued?

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Quickbooks: Real Estate and Personal Bookkeeping Must Have

Bookkeeping used to be my nightmare

I recently started using Quickbooks (referral link with 50% discount) for all personal finance and real estate bookkeeping. Now, I wish I did this a long-long-long-long time ago!

Prior to Quickbooks, I used an Excel-based manual process. I logged into online banking once a month and downloaded transactions. Then, I copied them into an Excel template. Assigned a category to each transaction. Refreshed my pivot tables and reviewed the results. Seems easy?

This process actually took an incredible amount of time! With every new rental property I purchased, the work-load increased. The volume steadily grew to an average of 300 transactions a month coming from 27 bank accounts. I was spending roughly three work days a month on data entry and review. And by the time I was done, the next month was already midway! Ughh...

Quickbooks gave me my time back!

I signed up for Quickbooks and linked it to all my bank accounts. So that all income and expense transactions automatically flowed into QuickBooks from CIBC, RBC, NBC, Scotiabank, BMO, Equitable, Questrade, CapitalOne, etc. No more download or copy-paste was needed.

Quickbooks keeps me organized!

In addition, I created auto-rules to categorize the incoming transactions from the feeds into the appropriate categories and classes. Most of the data fell into the buckets I needed all by itself. As for the remaining transactions, Quickbooks app lets me classify them on the go. For example, while I wait to pick up my son from Karate, I open the app and swipe things into places. Bookkeeping happens naturally in real time.

Quickbooks helps me collect rent!

Another feature I love is reporting! The Customer Detail report shows me the rent roll. I can easily see all completed and missing rent payments when I run current and past months data, side by side. It takes me just a couple of seconds to follow up on outstanding rent payments. I issue invoices for past-due rent and keep track of all the catch-up payments as they come in - all tenant activity is in one central place.

Quickbooks keeps me accountable!

The moment I log in, I know my income, expenses, and net profit or loss exactly, to the penny. I can drill into data by property, tenant, partner, company, time period, etc. I use insights from QuickBooks to plan on how to become financially independent sooner.

Quickbooks knows if I spend more or less than I make; 

if my assets are cash positive or negative; 

if my net worth is rising or falling. 

Quickbooks helps me make the decisions that are right, not the ones that are easy.

If you'd like to give Quickbooks a try, use this link to get a 50% discount.

Hope you love this tool as much as I do! Let me know how it goes :)

Thursday, January 31, 2019

A Landlord Toilet Story with Numbers

When a tenant calls, I expect an issue

It's been almost five years since we acquired our first rental property. Still, every time a tenant calls, I hesitate before picking up the phone. I know that they wouldn't call me if everything was going smoothly. 

Tenants only call for two reasons:

1) They can't pay the rent on time
2) There is a repair or maintenance issue

Either way it's not a happy call. So I dread picking up the phone. I look at the phone display with the tenant's name. I count down in my mind.

Five, four, three, two, one. Then, I pick up the phone.

My skin is getting thicker.

After five years, I know that whether I pick up the phone now or listen to the voice message a bit later, the issue will need to be addressed. I also know that the sooner I resolve it, the least costly it will be. Rarely, I see issues resolving themselves. Unfortunately, most of the issues not only stick around but also worsen rapidly whenever I procrastinate.

However, I also learned that there are always different ways to resolve an issue. The easiest way is often the most costly.

Let me give you an example.

What's the Issue? 

O-oh! Hard water, ruined tap
A couple of weeks ago, my tenant called and let me know that they have a few problems: the shower tap is broken, kitchen and laundry room faucet leak.
I scheduled a local plumbing company. They visited and gave me a quote....

I always expect the worst. So I wasn't even in complete shock. But still... this specific quote made me nauseous.

It's January - the first month of the new year - and the cost of this repair basically wipes out most of my profit for the entire year. 

Any future maintenance issues at this place would eat away cash flow from other properties.

How is this possible? All it takes is a broken tap and two leaking faucets?

I reviewed the quote:

Service Charge   $49.99
Kitchen Faucet   $599.45
Laundry Faucet  $368.31
Shower Valve Remodeling Plate $192.33
Handle Wall Mount Tub & Shower w/ Valve $911.50
Become an Advantage Plan Member $99.99 and get 15% off
Member Discount ($248.60)
Tax $256.49

Grand Total: $2,229.46

We thought we could
handle the easy stuff 
That was the worst case. The best case quote was for $1,420.13. Better, but still bad.

The quote seemed high. I just got my own new bathroom faucet for $47 off Amazon. $599.45 for a new kitchen faucet seemed absurd in comparison!

I checked with my property manager. Does the price seem reasonable? He'd quote around $1,200 for the worst case. I called a different local plumbing company. They quoted $1,500 for the worst case.

My husband and I went to our favourite store. You guessed it right - The Home Depot.

We decided that we'd at least be able to get the easy stuff done on our own. Then, call the plumber for the hard stuff and save that way.

We showed the tap picture to a Home Depot staff member.

How do we go about it? 

In the best case, they told us, we'd be able to buy the parts and replace what's been broken. We just had to know exactly the brand and type of the faucet and taps.

In the worst case, we'd have to call a licensed plumber. They didn't recommend that we'd attempt to cut the tile on our own. We didn't look handy enough...

This time we were lucky!

My husband was able to replace just the broken parts. We decided not to worry about the laundry faucet for now as the issue seemed to be very minor when we examined it up close. So my husband fixed the kitchen faucet and the shower tap.

Actual Costs

My husband fixes our tenants faucet

Manor faucet    $79.98
HANDLE         $13.49
FLANGE          $5.92
FLANGE          $5.92
WASHERS       $3.94

Tax: $15.45

Grand-total: $134.26

Problem Solved!

All I can say is: Tenants are happy! We are happy! 

Forced Appreciation for Noobs

You know those customers at Home Depot, who point their finger and call everything "Thing" or "Thingy" when seeking advice. 

They have no idea what any of the tools are called in English. They just show up and trust the Home Depot staff will understand their mumbling and point out a way to resolve the issue.

Well. That's me. And trust me - the approach works!

Ever since I started 50Doors, I mostly point my finger, gesture, mumble and draw the best I can whenever it comes to building, renovating, and fixing things and thingies.

And people around me not only understand me but also gladly help me out!

To my big relief, I realized that not knowing can be advantageous.

Through lack of knowledge and skills, I learned how to trust people who know better, how to tell experts from talkers, and how to create real value from simple ideas.

Here is an example.

I had an idea of renting a property, which was never rented out before, but I was unsure because cash flow wouldn't be good enough. I talked my idea over with a friend who is a lot more experienced. He suggested that I renovate, split the place into two units and double my cash flow. My gross annual rent will increase by $14,400 and result in positive cash flow.

I loved the suggestions, but I was unsure that I could split the unit into two apartments. I talked it over with my husband who is a lot handier. My husband thought the concept was feasible and explained to me how the unit could be split. Together we made these drawings:

I loved our discussion and the drawings, but I wasn't sure how this could actually be accomplished and what it would take.

So I sent our drawings to my friend, who runs an on-demand property management company. Within a week, I had several quotes and a start-to-finish renovation project plan. I now knew that a $25,000 investment will be required. The work could be finished within about three weeks.

Wow! That's a 57.5% return on investment!

ROI is $14,400 / $25,000 = 57.5%

It's been almost three weeks since the start. The work is nearly complete. Two separate units are now a reality.

I am starting to look for tenants! It seems surreal that the ideas came to life so fast and soon there will be two families moving into their new homes and starting to build their memories.

Simple ideas turned into real value, which will positively affect the lives of many people for many years to come.

I am extremely grateful to the amazing property management company that actually got the job done!

Fortune Property Management 

converted my mumbling into 

two beautiful apartments 

within a couple of weeks.

Thank you!