On the road again

This holiday season drug me from my comfortable nest in Arizona out to Ohio to clean and fix rental properties. I have been using all the profit from our small real estate business to pay good people to do all this work, but the costs of business have risen too high. I can no longer afford it. So here we are, my son and I, working ourselves to exhaustion each day and living in a motel. The view from here has been enlightening.

We started noticing it on the road. Motels were mostly empty. Services have been cut back. No mints on the pillows or shampoo in the showers at one place. Continental breakfasts are disappearing at the less expensive joints I like to stay in. Restaurants are not quite as full. Many fast food places are closed down altogether. Ketchup packets are smaller. Burgers are skinnier but more expensive. Its getting tougher out there.

I have also noticed in this old town that everyone seems to have a nice car. The streets are liked with them. these 100 year old homes have no parking in the back--perhaps a deteriorating carriage house for their horse & buggy, but very few homeowners ever built garages. The houses are too close together. the sides are covered with lead paint, and the weather rots the wood underneath. But they have nice cars, compliments of easy financing. But I saw one getting towed off from a home yesterday--probably a repossession.

My latest renters bailed out owing us two month’s rent, having stolen all the appliances and sold them, and adding insult to injury, using the toilet after the water was shut off. 2K for the clean-up and repairs, not to mention the lost rent and appliances. Whine, whine whine… sorry--no pic of that toilet for you... just imagine the economy and you'll be close... Pray for my sanity as I scoop it and scrub it later today.

So, we are cutting our losses and selling out. These properties are not precious. Most are deteriorating buildings in a dumpy town where the factories are closing, one by one. Fortunately, we have one solid property we can sell at a profit and then take our lumps to get the bad properties sold. Since our new well was dry on the prepping property we bought, we are selling it while the market is high. I see it as part of our prepping—getting out of debt! Our only precious property is our lot by the river where we can grow food and get water from a shallow well.

What is precious is my family and friends. And we are turning our attention to be ready for whatever comes. But it requires being out of debt. If our “inspired” plan works (sell the good, pay off the bad, pay off our home), if this plan works, I will feel completely prepped with a fairly safe home, PMs, stores of goods, and no debt. It’s a modest plan to be sure—no underground bunkers, only six months of food—but we should survive we well as one can.

At the same time, I have to be realistic and admit that TPTB might possibly keep this charade of an economy going for quite a while longer. We have been saying “any day now” for five years, but here we are. So I am still grading essays and collecting my University paycheck, will still be carefully dabbling in real estate, and still helping friends prep their places. I will not be caught unaware, whether things collapse tomorrow, or where this sick economy continues another 4 years.

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We are in the 4th turning. I see it on every street in each of these towns we drive through. We leave to return home tomorrow and hopefully, we can cross the Mississippi, avoid ice storms, and not be caught on the road when the economy implodes, as some luminary predicted would happen by Jan 2 a few days ago. We have cash for gas.

And we have a plan to get out of debt.

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Key Economic Events Week of 1/30

1/31 8:30 ET Employment Costs
1/31 9:00 ET Case-Shiller Home Prices
1/31 10:00 ET Consumer Confidence
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2/1 2:30 ET Chief Goon Powell
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2/3 10:00 ET ISM Services PMI

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