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RIP: COL Robert Howard

December 24, 2009

Just saw this over at Blackfive: Retired Army Col. Robert Howard passed away today. Be sure to check out his MoH citation, and this tribute website – he was (and I say this with respect) a tough SOB.

A couple months ago we had the honor of meeting him when he and CSM Gary Littrell came to visit the troops on Bondsteel. After the main event I was lucky enough to catch him in the crowd. He was very quiet, and humble, and as he spoke he looked at me with absolutely focused, piercing blue eyes. We talked for just a minute, then he said ‘Thank you for your service’ and gave me a coin.

Coins are about an inch/half in diameter, a bit heavy, engraved and painted with the name and crests or whatever of the person giving it. Often you’ll get a coin commemorating a tour; other times it’s a general or CSM’s way of passing out attaboys. If you’re in the military, you’ll end up with a few coins. And unless it comes from someone you respect, you typically don’t give a shit.

But this coin from COL Howard.. I’ll carry it with me my whole life.

Rest in peace, Sir.

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Playing the waiting game

December 17, 2009

Frustrating, but nothing to be done about it.

The hardest part in this little adventure is going to be getting financing. Lenders are going to look at your savings, your income (vs expenses), and your credit score. My understanding is that, at present, having reserves of cash is more important than it was a few years back, and credit score is taken more seriously now too, and your income has to be.. Well basically, it’s hard to get a loan these a’days.

So, rather than going straight to a bank or other lender, the plan is to use a mortgage broker. Getting you a loan is these guys’ job. So, whereas a bank would probably brush me off, a broker will be motivated to find me financing, because that’s how he gets paid. Also, he’s going to be good at it. Also, I want to start the relationship now, because there is no way to expand in the real estate biz without a good broker on your team.

So.. immediate problem for me is income. I’m going to talk to the broker before I start making offers, but I would prefer to be able to show him some kind of income. The bulk of that (for now) was supposed to be my GI Bill stipend buuut as it turns out I might not be able to get it this quarter.

If it turns out I don’t get it, I’ll meet with the broker anyway, to introduce myself and say, ‘I know you can’t do anything for me now, but what do I need to change so that you can?’ Even with the stipend, it could be I’m SOL for now. But once I get to know the broker and ask my questions, I’ll know what the next steps are.

As much as I’d like to be moving on this, I want to know where I stand before I talk to anybody. Better to wait a couple more weeks and be prepared than to rush in without a clue. Guess I must be growing up.. Heh

Tranquilo, tranquilo..

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Thoughts about RE books

December 9, 2009

There are a couple dangers associated with RE books (or any kind of investing books, seminars, whatever) that I would like to bring up.

First of all, the danger of fixated on a single method. For example: Only buy houses for 20% below market value. Only buy bank owned properties. The three rules of RE are: Location, location, location.

One of the things that made me gravitate to the RDPD and Trump books is that they emphatically do not encourage this kind of thinking. They are all about: do your homework. Crunch the numbers. Study. Observe. Adapt. Never stop learning. The market changes, you make mistakes, but you keep on truckin’.

There is no magic method in the real estate market. If you think there is, you might cause it to totally explode and cause all kinds of ugly for the economy. Just sayin’.

So read and learn everything you can, and know what you’re doing before you do it. That includes reading ‘How I Made 5 Million in 3 Weeks With Only $27.50’ (if you can find it in the library). It probably will give you a couple of good ideas.

The second danger is, reading too much.

In the beginning I mean. Eventually you have to act. You’re never going to know it all, never going to be 100% sure that you’re making all the right decisions. It’s a complicated business. And I suspect that there comes a point of diminishing returns where having too much information is paralyzing.

The fact is, I know I’m going to make mistakes this first time. But that’s ok – no matter how much I read, I’ll learn more from my first purchase. Then I’ll read a few more books, things will start to make more sense b/c I can compare it with my experience, yadda yadda.. Kinda like a lot of things in life. You have to take risks.

Any thoughts, O fearless readers?

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RE books

December 9, 2009

Some of the books I’ve been reading the last couple years:

Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki. The book that started it all. I don’t agree with him on all particulars, but the main point of the book is the importance of developing your financial intelligence. This book will point you in the right direction, and for that it’s gold. Don’t go out and buy every book in the series though, there’s a lot of repetition. Start here, but move on.

The ABC’s of Property Management, Ken Elroy. Falls under the Rich Dad brand, lots of good specifics.

Trump University books: Real Estate 101, Gary Eldred; Commercial Real Estate 101, David Lindhal and Donald Trump; Asset Protection 101, J. J. Childers. Love him or hate him, Trump is one of the smartest and hardest working businessmen on the planet. If you want to do well in any field, study the best. Lots of good specifics in these books.

The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko. Main point is, be frugal and work hard. Which is what I was planning on doing anyway, so it was encouraging to hear that it works.

I’m probably forgetting some, but these will get you started.

You might notice that there are none of those ‘Buying Your First House’ books on the list. I should probably change that. A trip to the library is in order. However, a lot of the principles are going to be the same, and it doesn’t hurt to have an eye toward long term investing even if you aren’t planning on it right now.

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First house, go

December 9, 2009

After two years of reading and studying and scheming, it’s time to make a start.

I’ll be keeping a journal of my first house purchase, partly as a way to clarify the process in my own mind, but also in the hopes that it will help others who are looking for their first property. I’ve read a few books and looked at a few websites, and always had questions. Like the book will say, ‘Talk to the listing agent’, and I’m thinking, Yeah, but, what is it like to talk to an agent for the first time? Can I get a transcript of the conversation?

Maybe it’s just me, but I like having an idea of what I’m getting into.

Of course, everyone’s experience is going to be different, but it’s always better to have a plan and then adapt it, than to go in blind. So if I say anything that helps someone have a better sense of what it’s like to buy a house, great, that was my intention.

On that note, anyone who has experience and feels like weighing in, pleeeeease do so. (I’m thinking of you, Mrs. P)

Feels good to start.

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W00t!!!1!!!

December 1, 2009

Pubs are awesome!!!11!!11!

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Safe and sound at home again, Let the waters roar, Jack

November 29, 2009

We are no longer a milblog.

If we ever were a milblog, except accidentally, which I doubt.

Anyways kids, I’m back stateside, back home, back to being a civilian 27 days every month. Also back to the blog, after a partial internet sabbatical, which was nice, you should try it. I will now return to posting infrequently, instead of never.

It’s good to be away from the guys, and good to see my family again. In a few days I’ll head back to the other city and my room, and will finally get back to work. Not job work, but work on The Plan, doncha know. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that.

In the meantime it was a very pleasant Thanksgiving and has been a good time with the family. I’ve also been meeting up with some old friends, including an old buddy from a soccer team like 15 years ago.. Crazy. New blog link coming soon..

So if this bit of post is even more convoluted than usual, it’s because I am Getting It Done, and will then post it (dammit). And the motivation is.. I finally got a copy of Pressfield’s The War of Art, which is about combating Resistance, the malevolent power that (among other things) stops us from writing when we know we should. I was only about ten pages in, and thought of this poor blog.. Far be it from me to use a book about fighting procrastination as an excuse to continue doing it.

So. Yeah.

One of the great things about an internet sabbatical is that there is a whole smack of Stoaty Weasel to read all at once.

Time to eat pumpkin pie.