Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Treasurer Again for 2012

I've been nominated as the Treasurer for my strata again. I wasn't able to attend the most recent AGM and I thought, 'Oh well, guess I'll just have to sit on the sidelines this year...'.

Fortunately the EC(Executive Committee) members who were able to attend the AGM re-elected themselves also re-elected me back into the position of Treasurer despite my absence at the AGM. Everyone on the EC is a volunteer and we've all contributed many hours into maintaining the place. It's a smaller team this year so decision making will be fast and swift with five members compared to the eight members that we had last year. Last year was difficult to achieve Quorum and gain majority vote due to the inactive members. Why even get elected into the EC if you're just gonna sit on your bum and do nothing?!

When I first bought into my lemon block of apartments - it was a lemon because the Admin Fund was in deficit for a few consecutive years prior to our current EC team going on board. Fortunately the Sinking Fund was in decent condition. The expenses were sky high. Vendors overcharging for their services and raising their fees beyond the annual CPI each year because they thought they could get away with it. Also, there was the general sense of 'every man for themselves' kind of entitlement attitude when it came to dumping rubbish randomly. This resulted in clean up fees that our strata had to pay when the property owner should be responsible for their tenants dumping rubbish.

After these recent few years of belt tightening and ditching old vendors for competitively priced ones who provide equivalent quality services, an EC member kindly patrolling the block and scolding those who randomly dump furniture and rubbish onto the grounds, finally for the first AGM since I've owned the place, we finished the reporting year in the black.

If expenses don't escalate and we don't get hit with another random four digit plumbing fee, we can start to look at investing the surplus funds with the view to developing more eco-friendly facilities such as rain water tanks for the gardens, solar panels and lighting that is motion sensitive as opposed to being switched on all night. All these 'ifs'...everything takes patience and as Rachel Stewart used to say in those Ads, "It won't happen overnight, but it will happen."

I haven't raised those eco-friendly ideas to the EC yet but I'd like to see them on the Agenda in the next one to two years. Not only are they eco-friendly developments but also will hopefully slash our water and power bills by up to $10k per annum.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Reflecting on 2011

Most people reflect back on 2011 on the 1st of Jan but I haven't really had a moment to take a breather.So how did 2011 hopes/dreams and goals compare up against the reality of 2011?

Firstly, I never really wrote extensively about my hopes, dreams and goals. It's one thing to harbour an idea about what I want and another thing to actually confess and share them with other people.
If you have previously checked the four public progress bars on my navigation panel - I outlined some progress goals. Let's recap:

Donations to various charities:
Status at 31/12/11: 100% achieved.

I never put a figure to that goal but I will admit that it was $500 and I've surpassed that goal so count that as achieved. The excess beyond what was donated to these organised charities have been set aside to be donated to my poorer relatives in Cambodia when I visit them. I've taken screenshots of the various donation receipts but have been too time-poor to make a collage out of them and post them up. Time is valuable and I'm already burning the candles at both ends as it is.

$50 National Breast Cancer Foundation
$60 Doggie Rescue
$50 World Vision for one goat and one chook for Africa
$80 WSPA
$50 Red Cross
Total $340.00

Edit: On the subject of donating, I realised that I had donated $25 to The Tunnel's 135K project for the Arts/Entertainment industry, $10 to Wikipedia for their fundraising plight and $10 to Getup.org.au which is the voice for the Australian public thus far. Maybe I forgot about them because they're not tax deductible ho ho ho. That brings up the total to $385 which looks pretty dismal (plus what is reserved for charity for poor relatives). I've roughly donated about $1k in total now to WSPA but they are no longer my charity of choice - too much is spent on advertising.

HELP HECS Student Loan
Status at 31/12/11: 100% achieved.

I never put a figure for that either but it was almost $30k (with interest indexation) and due to the Government changing the legislation for lump sum payment discounts being reduced, I decided to just pay my HECS off with a lump sum payment instead of leaving it lingering there.

Investment Capital
Status at 31/12/11: 70% achieved.

This one will have to be changed to 'House deposit' because of a few changes in my personal life last year which means that I'll be buying a house instead of using the funds to invest in whatever I fancy. Although the goal says "To save $X by December 2011", I already knew I wouldn't achieve that goal because it was highly improbable in the first place since it didn't meet the SMART goal setting criterias. That is, goals should be 'Specific/Measurable/Attainable/Realistic/Timely'. It was utterly unobtainable and unrealistic in the first place but I like to have those pie in the sky type of goals sometimes!!

Holiday Fund for Europe
Status at 31/12/11: 0% achieved.

Ouch huh? The goal was to save $12k by late 2012. If you've read my other post about my accounts not being split up into millions of individual accounts, you'll realise that I have everything across three high interest savings accounts and the separation/categorisation is in my mind only. Funds earn higher interest when there's critical mass as opposed to having a little bit here and there such as 'travel funds', 'bills fund', 'Christmas funds' and whatever it is that people like to split their funds into.

When the holiday comes around it will be coming out of the 'Investment Capital'(soon to be 'House deposit') bucket and that's the way I operate >.< ...meaning I essentially don't have a travel budget really... should a PF blogger really be confessing about that? Well I've already confessed that I don't really have a budget at all in previous posts. My modus operandi is to just spend less than I earn. What goes out MUST be less than what comes in. Simple.

That wraps up my Progress Bars for 2011. Stay tuned for new 2012 aspirations and dreams or maybe just travelling plans...whichever way the wind blows...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Other Balcony Gardens

Found some balcony gardening images that I'd saved from the net last year and I can't recall where they came from (sorry!) so if you see your image, please let me know and I will remove/delete/acknowledge/credit the source.

I can't stop myself from trawling the net for container and balcony gardens. It will be awesome to move into a house so that I can grow whatever I want without always having to lug 300 litres of soil home from the shop all the time. Either that or grow me some muscles >.<

Such luscious greenery on people's balconies ~ so pretty!

[Image source: Splinteredart.blogspot]
[Image source: Lifeonthebalcony]

[Image source: Sorry dunno]

[Herb container garden. Image source: Lifeonthebalcony]

[Loving the contemporary look of this balcony garden]

[Loving the rambling, riotous splashes of colour in this potted courtyard garden]

[This balcony garden has a Meditteranean look to it. Must be the peach/tangerine coloured wall]

[If trees could look fierce... ]

Vision Board: Objet d'art & Storage

There are so many gifted people on the web and if you're relatively crafty or artsy then you can find inspiration everywhere. The architectural curve of buildings, the classical motifs printed on invitations, printed fabrics in shops and the way nature surrounds us in all her beauty.

Lately, it's been difficult to find the time to work on my craft hobbies due to forthcoming events this year so I'll just have to spend what little time I've got left oggling the output of other crafty and artsy people.

While trawling through my files in an attempt to tame and organise them, I found plenty of images that had once appealed to me and someday, when I can make the time for more adventurous crafting, will try re-creating them for home projects:

[Beautiful handmade coffee table. Image source: Unknown]

[Intricate wooden ornaments. Image source: Martha Stewart]

[Short of space? Going vertical for storage and customised end to end cupboards and shelves maximises storage. I've got no plans to pick up carpentry...merely to find solutions to our storage problems since we live in apartments]

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Burning Through The Dough

Before your mind leaps to conclusions about SMG trying to bake pizza and burning the dough literally, it was a figure of speech. For my mysterious(lurking) international readers, dough down under refers to the moolah variety and not the flour variety heh.

It has been a few years since I've tried to bake my own gourmet pizzas and that didn't go down too well when my creativity with the ingredients took hold and the end results were three very, weird tasting pizzas o.O

Back onto the topic of personal finance - or rather the lack of it lately.

We have been eating out so much that I think the kitchen is becoming stale from lack of use. Sigh. I love to eat out frequently, but it's not exactly great for my poor stomach and for my dough. Also, something wonderful is happening in my personal life in March and while I would like to disclose this event to y'all, for the sake of protecting my own privacy, I can't say too much save for the fact that my funds are haemorrhaging weekly and that won't be stopping until 2012 is over. If you're astute - you may figure out that vague comment of mine...

Last night, while dining out with some mates at the insanely spicy African restaurant Radio Cairo, inevitably the conversation leads to snow trips and buying properties. Most of them are approaching the comfort stage of life where they are ready to buy a larger pad instead of perpetually living in small apartments. I am not alone in my quest to find a larger house to buy. Hopefully we won't end up competing against each other when bidding for a house. Damn, should have thought twice before encouraging them to buy nearby lol

One friend was expressing his shock at the amount of strata levies applicable to town houses in Marsfield. They were close to buying an investment apartment in Guildford but decided Guildford was too much of a slum to invest into (fancy a drive by shooting anyone?). If you've never owned an apartment before and are wondering wtf are strata levies - it's simply your portion of the maintenance bill as an owner of a property with common areas to maintain such as units/apartments/town houses which have shared driveways, common walls, shared gardens and shared facilities such as tennis court, gyms and pools.

If you buy a free standing house that's not strata titled, then you won't have to pay levies. Paying levies is the pits because there are countless expenses that you can't control but yet have to pay a portion of...such as somebody else's renters/tenants who damage their balcony door lock or reverse their car into the garage wall and you're applicable for a portion of the damage bill even though they were at fault... grrr ...infact, analysing strata expenditure reports in too much depths leads to high blood pressure...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Hangover

Happy New Year =)

Three days into this brand spanking new year and who's hungover? The shopping centres and boutique shops are now quiet and I wonder if most Sydneysiders have run out of fun money after partying and buying gifts madly in December?!

Anyone form some resolutions and goals for 2012?

I've got some major plans coming up this year - a huge promise to make, a house to buy and a few travel destinations to organise all of which will be crazily expensive. It's going to be a challenging year which is what I like.

Here's to a happy, safe and exciting 2012 to come =) May you achieve whatever resolutions and goals that you've come up with.