Profiled 10thousandgirls

Property Girl


As part of this month’s (August 2012) focus on all things property related, we have women from the 10thousandgirl community sharing their property journeys. Here is our first one!

Name: Jo
Do I have to?

Tell us a little about yourself (personal, professional, fun, family) so we can get to know you a little better!
I’m a self-employed PR and communication import from the UK, a Hello Kitty enthusiast. Love exercising outdoors.

When did you buy?
My first, July 2009, my second, May 2011.

Did you buy alone or with someone else?
By myself – very happily. I read articles about whether girls should buy alone or not, such nonsense, of course they should, every wants/needs a home and everyone needs financial security at any point in their life, if they can afford it.

When did you first think you wanted to buy?
Like most people, I had lofty ideas of self-employment, first property and marriage by 30. Ha, try telling your life how your life is going to pan out…

How did you know property was for you?
I’m a relentless researcher, I put exactly the time it takes to find what I want. So, when I do, it’s usually the right side of perfect based on research, realigning according to needs, wants and price.

I’d been looking longer than most, probably eight or nine months, so when I found it, it was an easy & quick sales process, and most importantly, it felt like home when the minute I walked in to the viewing. It was a top floor sunny haven that when I closed the door, the rest of the world disappeared. Also useful was that I could go to viewings in office hours when many can’t, that way, I got to move quickly and secure the deal.

I’d come from renting a great property in terms of location, price and size – right on Bondi Beach, but it was ground floor and dark. I’d had a peeping Tom and I didn’t realise how much I appreciated moving into a sunny top floor safe haven. I still appreciate it three years on, and have that nice feeling of ‘home’ every time I walk in.

When did you get serious and start taking the steps to buy?
As an import, with no family or experience of buying in Australia, let alone Sydney’s unique, expensive and competitive Eastern Suburbs, I attended a one day course on first-time property buying through the Eastern Suburbs Community College. It turns out to have been the best $130 odd dollars I’ve ever spent as far as wealth management and creating a home are concerned.

Who did you talk to during the buying process (professionals/family/friends)?
I asked the guy taking the course, Scott Durrant of Successful Ways (property coach, buyer’s agent, mortgage broker, and other financial/property services) what else he did beyond teaching – that’s what was great, he imparted his knowledge without selling his other services. There was instant trust there as a result.

What questions did you ask?
Subtly, reason for the sale, how many in the block, planned works, owner/tenant occupation, strata fees, company title vs strata, how long it had been on the market.

I worked with Scott as my property coach, I’d go and trawl every Saturday and report back. People who are in property love talking about it, they don’t get tired of the questions. He’d help me with the next set of questions to ask the agent and filter the good properties from the bad.

What other research did you do?
Pavement pounding – I went and looked at everything in my price range and certain specifications, just to be sure, it helps narrow the criteria for what you will and won’t compromise on.

How did you save for the deposit?
It’s kind of a weirdly bad story with a good outcome. I went through a really tough few years in my personal life, I’d quit a very well-paid job to start a business in a completely new area, my boyfriend dumped me shortly after, a parent (in the UK) had cancer, a sibling (here in Aus) went through quite a serious situation so I threw the new business idea aside, focused on family and keeping myself sane, started freelancing and eventually grew a good set of clients. During the three or so years, I was quite isolated as a result and this pot of money kind of grew itself. Almost accidentally. Good things do come from bad!

Also, somehow, I’ve never had a credit card and have been debt-free since paying off my student loan in my late 20s so I was lucky not to have the mental drain that I understand debt can be.

It’s daunting but just get saving, sooner rather than later, and establish a budget and plans. I’d allocate myself a certain amount of cash each week, no card payment allowed. When you realise how much you fork out on rent and socialising along the way, it’s sickening.

Did you buy as a home or for an investment?
Both – always as home to live in for a few years, and always with the intention it would be a good investment in the longer-term.

Where did you buy?
Bellevue Hill, near Bondi in Sydney’s East.

What was the most difficult or challenging thing during the process?
Wondering if the deposit pot was ever going to reach the magic number!

Giving up those gorgeous Saturday mornings to do the mad dash between apartment showing times for eight or nine months, have your hopes raised and dashed when somehow, they weren’t quite right. You start wondering where you need to compromise.

What was the most fun or rewarding thing during the process?
Always the potential of what I was going to discover …but the most rewarding thing was that I found a beautiful home with great rental and sale potential, at what could almost be described as a bargain (for Eastern Suburbs prices).

What was the most important thing when looking at the mortgage?
Take advice, shop around, consider offsets, consider whether you’re cautious or risky to decide on fixed vs variable.

Who or what was the most helpful?
I keep saying it, but seriously, Scott Durrant at Successful Ways was invaluable & patient. I’d research the properties, go and view, report back, and he would help me evaluate each one, and how to negotiate with the agent. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend doing a course, or working with him.

What has it been like after the purchase?
So painless that I did it again! Scott helped me work out that there was enough equity in my property to buy again. I went through the process a lot quicker this time, probably helped by the fact that I wasn’t going to live in it so could make an impartial good decision. That said, it’s great and I would consider living in it if I ever had to! It’s a one bedder with sunroom, study, terrace, lock-up garage in a small block just back from the beach in Bronte. It’s rented out, I cover some of the mortgage each month, which with my existing mortgage is something not everyone could manage I guess but I’m doing the hard yards now for the future.

Do you have any other property related goals?
Well, I’m currently looking to buy my third actually for a business idea, and ultimately would like property in New York and London in the not too distant future, also part of a business & property strategy I’m currently looking at.

I’m essentially using well-bought property as part of my superannuation / retirement strategy.

Any tips you would give other 10thousandgirls who are thinking about buying?
-Work out what you will and won’t compromise on, garage, balcony, light, two rooms etc – I compromised on the location, I had my heart set on Bondi but realistically, the quality, and the quality vs price quality just wasn’t there. Especially when you’re competing with couples and their dual income, and often rich couples with parental backing.

I knew that without the beach on my doorstep, I needed a balcony. I also personally prefer the art deco blocks vs the new builds, because they’re better quality and won’t crack in ten years.

-Check on the hidden costs and don’t pretend they’re not there – sinking funds, insurances etc, strata fees. Older blocks don’t tend to have as high strata fees to cover lifts, pools, concierge etc. do the reports, get the advice.

-It took me a long time to get my head out of Bondi and look at surrounding suburbs. Best thing I did. I almost bought a lemon right on Bondi Beach, thankfully, Scott and his team had done the research to show that insurances for the awnings over tourist cafes hadn’t been paid for a while, so if anything happened to them, I and other owners would have been liable.

-Buy with head and heart, not just heart. It’s easy to say but only by spending a good period of time researching will you come to a happy medium.

Thanks Jo for sharing your story and your tips!

Story of A Girl: She’s Got Saving Skills


Written by a 10thousandgirl who wished to remain anonymous – thank you for sharing your financial story and how you’ve created a fantastic savings system!

I have notoriously been an average money-manager throughout my life.  Even before I started earning an income, I remember being 16 years old and given access to $10,000 that my parents had saved for me.  I blew that all on food, drinks, clothes and smokes.  In my early 20s, I tried to find some resources to help learn more about money.  Short of reading very technical books about investment and attending ‘wealth creation’ seminars, there wasn’t much out there that was straightforward and understandable to use.  I received an inheritance from Grandad when I was 23 and asked someone else to invest it for me.  I had no idea where to start and my investment strategy of getting someone else to do it never eventuated.

‘Phase 1′ of my financial (self) education came when I turned 25 and moved out of home with no concrete job.  I truly learnt the value of $1 because I knew I had to earn (and save) $150 each week to at least cover my rent.  To manage this, I set up two bank accounts with different banks – one of which any income would be paid into, and the other was linked to a card.

This system meant that I had to plan ahead if I wanted to withdraw money due to there being a 2 day clearance between external bank transfers.  I would withdraw $150 each week to cover my rent and I kept it in a sock in my drawer (I understand this isn’t ideal but it worked for me because I could physically see my rent).  Any money left over I spent on groceries, bills and a social life.  I didn’t have a regular income at the time and was only just covering my expenses.

Two years later I landed myself a stable job with a regular income.  I had nailed being able to cover my expenses and curbing impulse purchases but realised I had to step up and learn to save.  It was time to implement ‘phase 2′!

I realised that one of my two banks had quite a good netbanking system set up so I decided to move all operations across to that particular bank.  I kept my other bank account open in case I needed it.  I found out my bank didn’t charge me fees on my accounts so I opened six of them and labelled them:  Income, Spendings, Savings, Rent, Recurring Bills and Rainy Day.

I started budgeting by ‘preallocating’ money each fortnight to each of these accounts.  I figured out how much my bills cost each month and then saved half each fortnight.  For example, my phone bill is $99 per months, so I put aside $45 each pay into my Recurring Bills account.  My rent us $587 a month, so I put aside $290 each pay into my Rent account.  I have a whole system that covers major expenses, recurring expenses and money for a rainy day.

By doing this, not only does paying my bills feel more manageable, but it also means that what I do have left over, I can feel comfortable saving knowing that my main expenses are covered.

I was quite proud of myself when, with the help of the 10thousandgirl goal setting worksheet, I was able to save $5,000 in 5 months which was roughly a third of my income.

I expect that ‘phase 3′ of my financial education will be around managing loans and debts – as I have not yet had the experience of a credit card, car loan or mortgage!!

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Profiled 10thousandgirl: Garmisch P A. Riley


Name: Garmisch P A. Riley

Attended: Canberra Life Planning Workshop, 10 May 2011

I wanted to become a 10thousandgirl because… frankly, I was sick of trying out different roles just to be completely strung out and constantly looking for the eject button. I wanted something to be passionate and excited about.

Half way through 2010 I quit my full time job of three years in a University, started my masters, realised I just wasn’t into it and went head first into a part time NGO job. After that I landed a three month contract in the Public Service. I was a bit of a floater, and with each new experience I realised all the different things I enjoy working on while at the same time, deep down, I knew I didn’t want to do it forever. So, I just couldn’t figure out what I was actually passionate about and what I wanted to pursue. The 10thousandgirl workshop was perfect timing for me. I came home that day inspired, and I realised I was in some sort transition period in my life (and still am). And it was actually okay! I graduated at 20, got married at 23 and at 25 I was kind of floating about trying to decide what to do and determined (stubbornly so) to do something!

In May 2011, I had one month left of my contract with no idea what to do next. I applied for a couple of volunteering roles and had to wait months for the result. And the thing with me is I love planning and organising, so it sort of threw me that I was going to be jobless, hobbyless and studyless come July.

Doing the exercises at the workshop reignited my will to just do! I write lists and make vague plans but I have this problem of not following through. One of the biggest things I got from the workshop is to simply go for it, you won’t know until you try!

And here I am, 10 months later, looking out onto the park across our street, filled with coconut trees, roosters, goats and kids playing basketball. Because, I did in fact get the volunteering role and four months ago hubby and I packed up our lives in Australia and are now living in the Philippines.

My greatest achievements so far are… let’s face it, all have to do with organising, cause I’m a bit of a nut for that.

Moneywise - I’m secretly so proud of the fact that we were able to plan and pay for our entire wedding! Every detail from the decorations on the cake to moving three van loads of guests from the city to the country. Everything was organised to a tee, everything was beautiful, and I honestly loved the whole process of it it all. In the same year, we also bought a two bedroom apartment in Canberra within walking distance to the City. The combination of my parents teaching me about finances, my grandmother telling me endless stories of her business endeavours in the Philippines and of course years of saving allowed me to do the things I do and have the things I have.

Workwise - I took a chance and quit my full time, well paid and secure job to go into a whirlwind of unknown. It was my choice, it was my well-being at stake and I was just at the point where if I didn’t leave I would stay and eventually resent being there. It was one of the best decisions I have made. It opened up door after door of different opportunities. This time last year I was working on the online campaign to Fight Negative Body Image for the Centenary of International Women’s Day. Reading stories and listening to inspiring people made me want to go out there and help.

Studywise - I graduated from Digital Arts in 2006, the same year I met my now hubby. I chose the degree mainly because it combined all the little things I was interested in. Being able to study what you love to do as a hobby is such a gem. Since then I’ve tried studying a couple of different masters, and one of the lessons I learnt from that is I like doing more than theory. I finished a Cert IV in Project Management and, even in the provinces of the Philippines, I can adapt what I learnt to day to day situations.

My greatest achievements since I joined 10thousandgirl… is to appreciate “me time” for what it is.

Time - My contract ended in July 2011 and I had no job lined up. I was going to go travelling for a couple of weeks and after that, I was just going to see how things panned out. At first I was looking forward to having a bit of down time, but it got boring quickly. I got restless and impatient. It was hard to keep motivated when there wasn’t anything I felt like I was working towards. I’m the kind of girl who multi-tasks (sometimes too much), enjoys organising (anything) and just has to be busy (all the time). So after re-organising our apartment, my parents’ house and scanning pages of documents in an attempt to go paperless, I still wanted to do something useful with my time. It just wasn’t satisfying sitting at home all day watching non stop TV shows. So I started blogging, taking photos and generally documenting my day to day activities, for an audience that was mainly just me. I was doing it for myself.

Foodies - When I went to the 10thousandgirl workshop, hubby and I just started the paleo diet (basically no carbs or sugar but lots of meat, vege and nuts). I won’t deny it, I struggled at first big time because I love my sweets, chips and baking all things sugary. But I was also too stubborn and didn’t want to give up easily, so a friend told me about a bunch of gluten free or paleo recipes. And so my obsession of baking healthy snacks began. I tried different recipes, found my favourites and used any excuse to bring a plate of healthy sweet snacks to any occasion. Going paleo makes me less cranky, lifted my energy (and mood) and it just makes me feel good!

Moving – In August last year, I received an email saying I was successful in getting an eight month volunteering position in the Philippines. I was over the moon and totally wasn’t expecting it! Three months later, hubby and I said goodbye to Canberra and moved to a small provincial town called Talisay City, in Negros Occidental. The volunteer role was practically made for me :) They wanted someone with a digital media, training and marketing background. It was perfect! The actual location itself was the same city where my dad grew up and both my grandparents taught at the local College and Elementary schools. Another bonus is that the allowance I receive for volunteering actually covers our living expenses while we’re here. This totally appealed to me because I love being self sufficient and contributing to the kitty! It’s been exciting, terrifying, exhausting, enjoyable, sad, rewarding and about a million other emotions, but overall it’s been pretty darn good!

My personal goals for the next 12 months are to…

  • reach the goal for my bamboo hut fundraiser
  • teach kids English, hopefully somewhere awesome, new and different
  • learn more about my heritage, the Filipino culture and Tagalog
  • travel through Europe
  • spend more time with family and friends
  • keep up with my yoga, meditation and Zumba, regardless of where I am

My financial goals for the next 12 months are to…

  • save for a two month European adventure
  • save to move overseas (again) towards the second half of 2013 (to teach, live and play)
  • keep topping up the home loan
  • continue my minimalist cheapskate spending habits

In 3-5 years I’ll be…

  • back in Canberra
  • wanting to start a family, because being here (in the Philippines), you are surrounded by so many cute kiddies, I can’t help but be clucky
  • having short mini weekend getaway trips with hubby (and kiddies)
  • continuing to take photos, write blogs and giggle about something random
  • starting my own paleo sweets cafe (an idea I just came up with about last month!)

And financially, in 3-5 years I’ll be…

  • living comfortably and still be able to travel
  • running my own cafe, that’d be cool
  • hopefully getting into property investment

It’s my birthday in the year 2020 and I… will be 34. I will probably be in Canberra, with a couple of kiddies in my grown up house having the latest tech-y stuff (thanks to my beautiful geeky husband). I will have a few properties up my sleeve and have a booming paleo sweets cafe. Perhaps by 2020, we can take the kiddies on a trip here to the Philippines. Anything is possible!

The very first steps I’m going to take right now… is actually living, working and playing in the very place my dad grew up, which has been an awesome experience. I’m working in a bamboo hut, surrounded by an organic farm, where I get given freshly harvested eggplant every other week. I’ve become a big fan of fresh air, being outdoors and just taking it easy. I’ve learnt so much already and have met such gorgeous people who, despite enduring hardships, are the most inspirational and positive people I have ever met. I have a new appreciation for life, my time and to just let things be.

I’m currently half way through an online TEFL course, which will allow me to teach overseas when the time is right. By having this qualification, I will be able to work in the next country we move to. This also means that we can once again live off my salary for day to day expenses, and save the rest for travelling, investing and the future.

I’m also taking a lot of time out for myself right now. This has been one of the hardest things that I’m learning to be okay with. I’ve always been a big believer of plans, sticking to them and being busy. But in some situations it’s just not possible! And so I am learning how to stop, take a breath and just let things be. So far so good, and it’s made me enjoy everything a lot more! Because it is okay to change plans. Right now I’m sure I’m up to plan G (in terms of what I can do for work here), but I’m okay with that, because it’s too hard to be stubborn and try to make something work when it clearly won’t. Ultimately, when you stop to take a breath, just sit and watch, you notice all the little beautiful things that you would otherwise miss.

This is where you can find more about me

If you’d like to share your story and help others get inspired (there is no story too big or too small) please email Arienne ( who is patiently waiting by her email for you to contact her…Unfortunately she is not in a bamboo hut though she would love to be sitting next to Garmisch.

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