Friday, December 28, 2018

When Frugality Fails

Being a landlord can feel EXTREME
Earlier this month, I started feeling as if

someone somehow 
made 
the God of Appliances 
MAD


Every time I picked up the phone, I heard one of my tenants deliver the bad news.

It started on Sunday morning.

Ring-ring. My fridge stopped working.

Monday morning. Ring-ring. My dryer stopped working.

Monday evening. Ring-ring. The washing machine doesn't drain.

At that point, I made a strategic decision of letting the phone ring and go to voice mail, while I was sorting out all these appliances issues.

Luckily, this was it for the time being!

Extreme Efforts Being Frugal


Most properties I get, come with appliances and in most cases they are pretty old. Hence, I expect at least some of the appliances would break fairly soon after the purchase.

In the past, I always looked for a used appliance to replace the broken one. I thought this was the most cost effective approach.

For two to three hundred dollars, I could find a decent used washer, dryer, stove or whatever needed. A new appliance would be about $500, almost twice more expensive.

With a used appliance, I also had to figure out a way to deliver it to the tenant, get it installed, and get rid of the old broken one.

Luckily, my husband is quite handy and could help with most of this.

This is How We Did It


I'd find the most affordable decent used appliance and negotiate the price.

Then, coordinate child sitting, so we can free up either a Saturday or a Sunday.

Our weekends are packed with our youngest son's Russian lessons, music, hockey, and occasional birthday parties.

Our youngest son is nine and the oldest is almost 19. My parents and my-in-laws have 6 grand kids each. They used to be eager and excited to babysit the oldest couple of grand kids.

Let's be honest, after 19 years on grand-parents duty, I can't say any of the grand-parents are thrilled when I ask them to spend a day driving grand son #6 back and forth, trying to bribe him with just the right amount of doughnuts, chocolate milk, and chips as he goes through a back to back list of all sorts of developmental activities and sports.

Having said that, more often than not, our parents still agree to help us out.

Childcare arranged - Yay!

Next, we'd borrow our friends' mini-van. Our friends have three kids of their own. So this is a hassle for them as well. They have to move car seats, strollers, and downsize their life for the day every time we need to borrow their car.

I'm grateful every time they help us out! To thank them we always bring back their car with a tank-full of gas.

Transportation Arranged - Yay!

The following step is to make an appointment with the tenants, at least 24-hours ahead. This is usually the easy part since the tenants look forward to getting a working appliance.

It has to be on the weekend, though! Because my husband has a day job. All this investing jazz is happening after hours and on weekends.

Tenants on Standby - Yay!

On the day of, usually a Sunday


1) Wake up early in the morning, seven-ish

2) Get Starbucks, it's going to be a long day!

3) Pack and drop off the child

4) Give extremely-detailed-instructions to the grand-parents about all the activities they have to tackle including a back up plan in case the child is in a whiny mood

5) Get the mini-van from our friends

6) Pack all tools and hardware

7) Remember to take the key, in case tenants aren't home

8) Go and get the appliance from the seller, typically someone I found on Kijiji

9) Drive to the tenant, either to Barrie or Guelph

10) Attempt to install the appliance

11) Find out that something doesn't work or is missing - pipes, outlets, drains, narrow doorway. It's guaranteed that something is going to be messed up or in our way.

12) Go to the hardware store for the parts and tools, minimum twice

13) Finish appliance installation super-late in the evening

14) Roll out the old appliance to the curb. Comply with local city and safety rules (ex., if it's a fridge, take off the door!)

15) Get fast food. We are super hungry and done with all the snacks by this time

16) Drive back to Toronto. No traffic on the way back - Yaaay!

17) Fill up the tank and return the mini-van

18) Pick-up the child from the parents

19) Go to bed at two or three am

20) Wake up four hours later

The job is done! Yay!

How Much Money-Wise?


With do-it-yourself approach, we'd pay about $300 for the used appliance, $50 for gas, $80 for a full tank of gas as a Thank You to our friends, get coffee, fast food and realize one out of every four new used appliances would break within several months after purchase and we'd have to fix it.

In summary, used appliance would cost about $600, while a new one would be about $800.

   Used Appliance      New Appliance   
Appliance$300.00 $500.00
Delivery$- $100.00
Installation$- $200.00
Starbucks for Two$12.00 $-
Fast Food for Two$20.00 $-
Gas & gas re-fill$130.00 $-
Fix New Used Appliance$132.50 $-
Total $ Cost$594.50 $800.00


How Much Effort-Wise?


In addition to dollar cost, we'd need to collaborate with and inconvenience a whole bunch of family and friends to coordinate appliance re-placement.

Collectively, we'd spend over 150 hours either putting in heroic efforts AND/OR sacrificing our weekend.

The result would be subpar. After all this time invested, our old new appliance will likely break soon or stay functional for just a couple more years. So we'd need to re-group and fix it again!


People InvolvedDo It Yourself Delivery /InstallProfessional Delivery/Install
Grandparents @ 12-14 hours20
Child @ 12-14 hours10
Friends @ 12-14 hours50
Husband @ 12-14 hours10
Self @ 2-4 hours admin work11
Self @ 14-18 hours inspiring my husband to put in heroic efforts over the weekend10
Handyman @ 2-3 hours01
Tenants @ 3-6 hours22
Total # Participants:134
Total Time Needed from everyone involved128 to 156 hours8 to 16 hours




With PROFESSIONAL help,
being a Landlord feels smooth

Landlord Job gets Easier with Professional Help

As my portfolio grows, appliances issue come up more and more frequently.

Sometimes, as often as three times a day!

My friends and family will NOT want me to hijack all their weekends, so that I can save $200 on an appliance.

I will never see my son again, if spend all my time trying to get and install cheap used appliances.


Also, my husband would very likely ask for a divorce if I queue up appliance deliveries and other handyman work for the next three-four-five weekends in a row...

Lately, I always go for NEW appliances and pay for PROFESSIONAL delivery and installation. 

This is the ONLY way I can scale to 50 doors.

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