Sunday, April 29, 2012

Do Buddhist Monks Survive Solely On Donations?

This question arose in my mind after seeing the poor state of the lemongrass rows at the farm.

One row is grown for family consumption and one row is grown for the Khmer Buddhist temple. Occasionally, a car or van load of people visit my folks' farm to cut piles of lemongrass stalks for cooking and for fundraising purposes, raising funds for upkeeping the temple and the monks.

Monks aren't allowed to work for a living. My Mum tells me that they must survive on donations and if there are no donations, then they starve. Whilst that is a harsh way to live life, I do wonder about whether the Monks are allowed to grow their own veggie patch? Instead of driving around giving predictions about the future of my life and my friends life(we have both had our fortunes 'read' involuntarily by Buddhist Monks)- are Monks allowed to be productive and helpful?

Buddhism itself was a concept created by someone in our past so why can't the modern day Monks alter the concepts for the modern environment?

So back to the lemongrass patch. It is wildly overgrown with weeds. I was busy cutting a few stalks off when I realised that there were several dead patches of the herb in amongst the weeds. Why wasn't the patch maintained? Since the lemongrass row was donated to the temple why couldn't they help maintain the rows? By letting patches in the row die off and be overgrown by weeds, did they realise that eventually, there won't be much lemongrass left to cut for their charity and upkeep?

I don't know if it's due to religious restrictions or laziness but if I were reliant on a patch of donated garden herbs, I'd be there to maintain the patch so that it would grow perpetually. Am I even sinning by thinking of these questions? Does sinning even exist in Buddhism or is that a concept belonging only to Christianity and Catholicism? I'm pretty mixed up over religion as you can tell.

If I spend my next weekend eradicating the weeds and replanting the dead ones, then have I done my good deed for Buddhism? Lemongrass is usually $1 per stalk at the grocers so I'm simply surprised that they don't help maintain what they're reliant on...

If anyone knows about Buddhism, please do leave a comment. I couldn't find my answer on the internet so may need to borrow a book to read up about it.

[Image source:]

Monday, April 23, 2012

How Many Ways Can You Eat Cabbage?

Under the Greengrocer's fluorescent light, the cabbages were neatly stacked in orderly rows and looked innocently super fresh, so I bought a decent sized one for about $2.50.

I'm not sure if that was one of the best deals of my life or the worst decision I've made for a while. Usually mum halves her cabbage and gives me half. I haven't visited home for a while so I was craving cabbages somewhat. Yes, I can imagine how weird that sounds. While some folks crave chocolate and donuts, yours truly was busy craving cabbage.

The first stir fried cabbage meal was delicious. The second one just as yummy. The third, fourth and fifth one and so forth not as much ...cabbage was wearing me out. It was like an endless cabbage lifestyle. Jesus turned a loaf of bread and a fish into enough fishes and bread to feed forty (I may have stuffed up that biblical story) but maybe he should have used one cabbage and then he could feed four hundred.

Meat is starting to turn me off a fair bit, especially after seeing the inhumane abbottoirs in Indonesia and also reading about pain that animals go through just so that we could eat them. Anyone who wishes to lose weight should just eat more vegies and fruit- it's that simple. I've been the same weight for over 5 years now without even trying.

That $2.50 cabbage ended up in the following dishes:

* Cabbage stir fried with vegies and vermicelli
* Cabbage stir fried with other vegies
* Cabbage turned into a cabbage salad and a cabbage coleslaw
* Cabbage stir fried again with vegies and eaten with Lap Cheong (a fatty Chinese sausage)

That was enough for 10 meals. Dinner for two on with cabbage on the menu was less than $2 for the night. If I could love cabbage to that extent, I guess the dinner budget could be $730 for two people for the year but then we'd be dying from malnutrition.

You're probably thinking, 'You could've thrown the cabbage out...' but I've never been the type to chuck something simply because I was 'fed up' with eating it.

On the bright side, cabbage is loaded with nutrients according to
"Cabbage is considered highly anti-inflamatory, rich in vitamin C, dietary fibre, calcium, iron, and potassium.  Medical researchers are finding that vegetables in the cabbage family (broccoli, kale, cauliflower and brussel sprouts) contain compounds which assist in preventing several types of cancer"
Readers: How many ways can you cook cabbage?

[Image source:]

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Vietnamese Cooking Class at Sydney Fish Markets

Last Monday our friend A organised a Vietnamese Cooking Class at the Sydney Fish Markets in Pyrmont. Sydney Fish Market is the second largest fresh seafood auction in the world, second only to Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Markets. 

It was a bit odd really. We were the only Asian girls in the room. Our parents originally migrated from Taiwan, Cambodia and Hong Kong with some of us being of mixed Chinese heritage in addition to those nationalities. Our cooking teacher was Caucasian and it felt odd being taught Vietnamese cooking by a non-Vietnamese teacher but that's the way Oz is heading with the multilingual and multicultural society that we've got here.

The Little Ones (we have similar petite heights) were the last to finish! At first we were panicking because it's SO embarrassing to be Asian and also be the slowest at cooking Asian food haha! 

But then it occured to us that we were slowest because we were so busy rinsing the utensils, rinsing the chopping board and all the vegetables prior to using and chopping! All the others had simply taken what they were given and didn't rinse anything (that I saw anyway).

If our parents taught us anything, it's to always rinse and wash everything if possible prior to using and guess that has been drilled into us.

Anyway, we still set a record. We were last to finish up cooking in the kitchen and first to finish eating haha! ;) 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Nail Art Polka Dots

The Voice - Rachael Leahcar

"you took your coat off and stood in the rain
you were always crazy like that
I watched from my window,
always felt that I was outside looking in on you
you were always the mysterious one
with dark eyes and careless hair,
you were fashionably sensitive, but too cool to care
then you stood in my doorway, with nothing to say
besides some comment on the weather
..." Jewel Kilcher

Anyone been watching the The Voice Australia? Rachael Leahcar (yes it's not her real name, some ppl need to get over that) sang 'La Vie En Rose' by Edith Piaf and she sounded like an angel. I almost cried. Her voice is such a beautiful, sad voice.

I checked out her YouTube channel and as it turns out, she sings the songs that I love and have loved. Songs by Jewel, The Beatles, Adele, Bette Midler, Don McClean (Vincent-Starry Starry Night), Tracy Chapman...Her voice is really incredible. It's like a cross between Jewel and Shakira. Unfortunately most of the recording on her YouTube account is really awful quality, filled with people chattering and talking in the background- if I heard someone sing with her voice, I wouldn't be talking throughout the performance. I've stopped to listen to buskers sing and they're not even her caliber yet I listen with reverence.

It's because she's resung a few of Jewel's songs and I remembered how much I love Jewel's lyrics. Rachael has recorded 2(?) albums already but I can't find them anymore because Google's search results are now saturated with the newly published articles in the past week.

Polka Dot Nails

I've been obsessing over nail art and hairstyles lately. Instead of going to nail salons and spending $90 or so on manicures and pedicures, you can do it yourself at home and it's fun. If you're artsy, you can draw images on.

You can achieve the polka dot look by painting with your favourite base colour, then drip a few white nail polish onto a bit of plastic packaging or cling wrap and use a a toothpick to draw your polka dots on. <3 Pinterest with all the female orientated stuff on there.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Financial Samurai's Financial Freedom Fund

What would you do if you were free to do whatever you wanted every single day for the rest of your life and working really was a choice? Would you travel? Do more volunteer work? Keep working and not change anything? Do you have a Financial Freedom Fund?

Warning that this is a super long post in response and reflection to the Financial Samurai's super long post about his passive income allocation.

The Financial Freedom Fund is commonly used to refer to savings and assets that have grown as such that the returns (income) from them are self sustaining and you can survive on the passive income without having to work. That is, you can retire and become a self funded retiree if you wish to. The premises underlying a Freedom Fund is building passive, multiple income streams to fund your 'retirement' and 'freedom'.

The Financial Samurai and His Freedom Fund

The Financial Samurai (FS) Sam,  has a very interesting post about his Freedom Fund, 'Achieving Financial Freedom One Slice At A Time'. His investment methodology is logical and methodical which reasonates with me. More importantly, when it relates to investment or financial advice, I like reading material from authors and bloggers who practice what they preach.

The FS recently posted about his Freedom Fund and retirement and it's a VERY long article chocked full of numbers if you like that sort of stuff. From the personal details he's divulged in his posts, he's probably in his late 30s to early 40s, so anyone in their 20s, 30s or 40s should easily relate. I like his investment style and the proportions of his diversification across the asset classes (CDs/Stocks/Property/RE funds etc).

My thoughts are that he has a balanced(agressive and defensive) investment portfolio/Freedom Fund which is what anyone in their 20s/30s/40s should be looking at. Folks in their 50s/60s and beyond need more defensive and less volatile assets as they get older.

My own investments are structured similarly to how FS has structured his, albeit I have a LOT less in my funds than he has lol. From reading FS blog for about 2 or 3 years, he probably has $3million plus in assets and capital. He only provided his monthly passive income- I'll work backwards to arrive at his approximate capitalisation amount:

1.CD Interest Income $2800/month, 33600pa and at an average return of 4% (see his blog)= $840k capital
2.Dividend Income $1200/month, 14400pa and at an average yield of 5% (that's an avg yield for me on the pessimistic side since he didn't provide a yield)= $288k capital
3.Rental Property Income $2500/month= yield not mentioned so can't work out the capital on that
4.Private Equity Venture = $100k capital (he mentions 6 figures so that's on the pessimistic end)
5.Real Estate Fund = $110k capital (factoring in $50k returning 120%)

Total Capital $1,338,000

San Francisco principal place of residence
Investment Property
Blogging income/savings from FS Blog and Yakezie

That's pretty impressive, very well diversified and is a well balanced portfolio from the extent that he has divulged and broken down for the public to see. A wise man indeed.
How Much Do You Need In Your Freedom Fund?

How much you need in your Freedom Fund = Retirement Fund needs. It's a topic I haven't really covered comprehensively because retirement is decades and decades away, plus my own retirement fund returns SUCK majorly and I can't wait to one day run my own SMSF/retirement funds. Need $200k plus in there for sufficient critical mass to justify the fees of running an SMSF.

There are heaps of calculators on the net that will crunch those numbers for you. I'm not going to do it because there are way too many variables involved, tons of rule-of-thumbs theory and for me not to mislead you, I'd have to write a book. Roughly, you'll need to think about:

*What lifestyle you like (Eg: Comfortable, dining out, some holidays per year)

*How much will it cost to fund that lifestyle (Eg: $1000 per week)

*What amount of capital or savings you'll need to save up and invest to generate that income to fund that lifestyle. (Eg: To fund the lifestyle examples above, if $1000 per week is generated from 5%pa bank interest, you'll need to save $1,040,000**)

The funds saved is commonly referred to as the 'Freedom Fund' in the blogosphere. It's freedom because it allows you to pursue your hobbies and interests and not be a slave to work. The essense of a Freedom Fund that is fully funded is that you don't have to work at all. You could bum around for the rest of your life doing nothing if you wish to because the passive income from your Freedom Fund sufficiently supports your lifestyle.

Many of us enjoy working but there are no guarantees that 35 years later we'll be keen on what we do now. Personally, I would never retire early if I had a choice- I love working and it ensures the mind is active and doesn't degenerate. Secondly- imagine being the only retired one in your friendship circle- who else would you hang out with if they're all busy working?

Recently, plenty of retirees find out that a) they haven't saved enough, b) a financial crisis can cause their portfolio to plummet and dividend income to be cut, c) unexpected costs and health problems can quickly erode income and capital, d) trying to find work when you're a lot older can be very difficult so while you're younger and can work- work as much as you can. Some were caught out by REITs that were 'frozen' and unable to pay out investors who wanted to exit the REIT because they had liquidity problems.

Anyway- this article isn't focused on retirees but the younger crowd who wishes to escape the daily grind, or build capital and investments that will allow them to create choices in their life. I have no-where near the amount that the $3million that Sam the Financial Samurai has.  It will take me years to build $78,000-$117,600pa in passive income like the Samurai. You gotta start somewhere, right?!

That's it folks and have a great weekend yo!


** This is using flat interest with plenty of assumptions built in to avoid boring the general public to death. For those interested:

_ You need to factor in inflation (that the $1000 used in my example above, buys less and less every single year into the future)
_ 5% interest return can be too high (In the US the interest is 1% and even less. There is no guarantees that you can even earn 5% on your funds)
_ 5% return can be too modest (If you invest outside the bank into property or shares, you have the potential to earn significantly more than 5% pa)
_ Compounding is ignored (You can factor that into your returns if you're mathematically inclined)
_ Taxation is ignored (You can factor that into your returns if you're mathematically inclined)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How I Heart Clipix and RSS Feeds

Various clipboards that you can create to manage your images/files/articles/videos etc

An example of my YourTube Video clipboard
Life before Clipix

First there was printing off articles, recipes and pictures you liked and if you really liked a site, then you bookmarked it. Then came the bookmarking tabs which made favourite sites accessible with one click.

Then came RSS Feeds and the ability to subscribe to websites and blogs you wanted to follow. This made it easier to check on the newly published materials on each of your favourite site whichout having to physically click on them in your bookmark listing and now you don't even have to visit the actual site. Yes I'm talking to you, my lurking subscribers ;p

Before came along, I would subscribe to the RSS Feeds of websites and blogs that I liked. Even if it was just two recipes that I wanted to try off a cooking blog. It was a) subscribe to blog b) star the item on my feed reader.

Problems eventuated- the inability to organise my starred items. The piles of unorganised starred and favourited items etc

Life after Clipix

It's very similar in concept to Pinterest- the new, hot, social networking darling site. Clipix was insanely easy to join up and use. All you need is an email address and a password. Then you right click to add the little clip button to your favourite toolbar and off you go.

It is fabulous for several reasons

1. Create multiple clipboards with topics such as: Recipes, YouTube Videos, Gift Ideas for Mum/Friend/Husband/Sister/Baby, Dresses, Shoes, Fashion, Craft, Books To Read, Interesting Articles etc. Normally you can't favourite YouTube videos for example unless you open up an account-you can save them to your bookmarks but then the bookmarks are bulging and only accessible on the specific PC or laptop browser your bookedmarked them on and not from anywhere around the world at anytime. Clipix bypassed that problem and you can favourite your videos without a YouTube account.

2. As you stumble across items on the net, instead of just thinking, 'oh, so and so would like that and it would make a good birthday present' you could clip it to your clipboard for gift ideas for them.

Without Clipix or Pinterest, the old way would have been to either a) email the link/article/image to yourself b) save it to your PC/laptop/phone or whatever in some jumbled disorganised pile or c) print it out and then stash it somewhere and forget all about it

3. You can login to Clipix from anywhere with an internet browser and everything on your 'Clipboard' is instantaneously accessible

4. If Clipix, Pinterest and RSS Feeds came along before blogging, I'd probably have never started blogging in the first place

Admittedly my very first blog on Geocities involved typing up pages and pages of html. That came about because I wanted to have my bookmarks accessible anywhere and technology/apps/programs weren't as great as now.

If I bookmarked something on my home PC, I wanted to beable to access it at my friends houses on their PC and basically any PC anywhere- thus my original blog had all my favourite bookmarks which I could access from multiple PCs. Back then, Google didn't exist, Facebook didn't exist, wireless 3G/4G internet didn't exist, smart phones didn't exist, cloud/hosted/remote computing didn't exist and pretty much the comfortable things in technological life didn't exist. Even flat screen LCD tvs were unheard of.

Maybe no-one remembers it but before browsers were designed so that you can open up multiple tabs/sites within one browser, instead you would have heaps of Explorer windows open. So yes, we've come a long way in terms of technology and the innovation/websites/programs out there designed to help us handle technology a lot more easily.

Which sites, products or software has made significant changes to the way your manage your technological life?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Sydney Royal Easter Show Sunday Outing

Weekend was hectic. Hope you all had a fabulous weekend and for those living in other parts of the world, hope you're enjoying the last day of your weekend. Thought I'd share some pictures of our Easter Show Sunday outing with some friends.

I know Easter is over but the show's operating times coincides with school holidays and school won't resume until next week. Our friend Peanut (*not his real name), got some free tickets for all of us and it was an epic eating fest... food quality at the show was so-so but we literally grazed all day on slurpees, hot dogs, throat burning hottest chilli sauce in the world to sushi, dumplings, free nibblies and drinks.

Unfortunately my camera's battery was flat so I didn't really use it much. Some pics from the day =)

Fluffy Merino sheeps in the sheep shed. This is the wool that the ice breakers we wear for snowboarding is made from:


The looming machine spinning Alpaca wool into scarves

Above: Contents of one of the showbags that I bought- it was super heavy and full of little bits and can tell what we'll be having for dinner over the next few weeks...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Term Deposits: How, What and Why

Me, Myself and My Term Deposits

My lesson on Term Deposits(TD) started when I was 13 years old. I remember my mum taking me to the bank and explaining that the interest rate that I was earning on my savings were very low at 2.25% and that the 6 month Term Deposits had higher interest rates at 4.75%.

This is why it's important to teach children when they're young. They're very impressionable and anything you teach them when they're young is seared into their memories because they're like little sponges that soak up every little piece of knowledge that you care to divulge to them. At that stage in school, we were being taught about simple interest and compound interest. So the concepts being taught weren't pie-in-the-sky concepts since my mum literally implemented those concepts for me.

After withdrawing the funds and depositing them into the TD, the bank lady tells me to come back in 6 months to roll over the funds into a new TD. It was pretty cool. The TD advices back then were printed on plush cream, linen cards with even a plastic slip over the top and it was placed in a plush cream envelope. Looking back, I think I may have been more excited over the stationary than the compounding interest Term Deposit!!

Nowadays, Term Deposit advices are pretty boring- they're printed on plain A4 paper and stuffed into generic envelopes. So yes, if you're trying to sell me something, make sure it's printed or advertised on luscious stationary and then I'll be hoarding your advertisment forever...

What Are Term Deposits?

For those who have never used a term deposit before, it's very simple. Most financial institutions offer them. Basically you take a lump sum such as $5,000 (or whatever amount you want to invest) and tell your bank that you want to place it into a term deposit and they will guide you through the options they have.

The basic features are:

a) Fixed interest (eg 3% or 5%)
b) Fixed duration (eg: 1 month, 3 months, 6 months or even 60 months etc)
c) Interest paid is set for the duration of the TD (eg: paid every 4 weeks, or 1 month, or 3 months or at maturity etc)
d) Maturity- when the TD expires and it roll overs into a new one or you can close the TD and deposit the funds back into your account
e) Roll over- when your TD matures, you can close it down or 'roll over' into a brand new TD with new set of maturity term and interest rate

What are the Drawbacks?

If you need your funds in an emergency and close the TD before maturity (the end date) then the financial institution typically penalises you such as halving the interest rate payable or dropping the interest return to something pitiful such as 1%.

Term deposits are also inherently structured to advantage the banks because of people's complacency. People typically open up high interest TD and then are too lazy to roll them into a new high interest term at maturity. Most people like to set and forget, so when the TD matures, it's automatically rolled over into a a new TD with the same maturity duration but pays very poor interest.

What are the Benefits?

* Usually higher interest rate than a transactional account (although with the proliferation of full transaction online saving accounts with high interest, this is no longer that applicable)

* You can lock in a higher interest rate in a decreasing rate environment (ie the Central Bank (RBA in Aust) keeps dropping interest rates). This girl I used to work with, her Grandma had locked in a 10 year term deposit for her and she was earning over 9% on her funds while we were all earning around 5% on ours. How awesome is that?

* Locks your funds away from easy access- good for those with butter fingers who can't resist the temptation. The idea of penalised interest may help create some resistance from temptation.

I rarely use TD nowadays but I used one recently because my bank had a special branch offer: 6.15% interest compounded every 4 weeks which was the best thing out there since the nearest competitors were offering 6.01%. It was so sad when that TD matured and I rolled it into my 5.41% 'high' interest savings account ;_; because there were no more fabulous TD specials on offer.

Best Uses of Your Funds

* If you have non-deductible consumer debts such as credit card debt or personal loans - you would be better off paying those first instead of bulking up your savings beyond the 'emergency fund' reqirements

* If you have a mortgage loan costing 7% versus a TD paying 7%, you're better off using those excess funds to pay your mortgage or use the funds to offset your mortgage loans (Offset accounts and paying any non-deductible mortgages are preferable for taxable reasons I won't go into details about in this post)

* If you have none of the above two, then Term Deposits and high interest savings account would be the next best use of your funds if you want nil risk

* If you want the potentially higher returns and higher risks- buy investment properties and invest into the stockmarket

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cooking Again

Just so you know I haven't forgotten the PF slant of this blog- cooking saves money, riiiighhht?!!

The marathon kitchen efforts over the Easter long weekend had me prostrated on the sofa on Easter Monday. It's been a while since I've spent that much time chopping, blendering, roasting and frying. I don't think the topic of personal finance was on my mind though...far from it...

Having said all that, I'm in a buttermilk state of mind and have been fantasising about how the word buttermilk can convey danger and temptation so simply.

I still have a few recipes that I'm dying to try out from Smitten Kitchen, cinnamon brown butter breakfast puffs and buttermilk roast chicken and they both use... buttermilk...

Me thinks another marathon kitchen effort is coming up again this weekend, filled with fatty goodness:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Strata Financial Reports: Admin and Sinking Funds

Owners of strata titled apartments can manage their buildings themselves or they can contract the job out to a professional strata management firm.

We use a professional strata firm for ours. Firstly, it limits our own personal liability because the professional Strata Manager has insurance. Secondly, all those persistent, annoying little things that owners and tenants whinge about on a daily basis can get really distracting and it's more efficient to let a professional firm manage those issues. They do charge an exorbitant amount to manage the building but you get what you pay for most of the time.

There have been a few ongoing issues that haven't been resolved. Executive Committee(EC) members are all volunteers and everyone needs to contribute their own personal time to review documents, quotes and correspondences. These recent few years, our EC members have been very determined to try and build up some savings so we've taken on plenty of the work ourselves according to our abilities. I'm the Treasurer for ours - the EC nominates me every single year for that role and I don't mind, I like knowing what is happening with our finances.

Over an Easter dinner, the topic of strata meetings arose with some friends. They were discussing the inefficiencies of their strata meetings and how one owner held over 100 proxies which meant they controlled the majority vote regardless of the attendees views and opinions at the meeting. Despite knowing this, the attendees at the meeting were still out of control with many impotently outraged. They knew they were powerless, they were angry but they were helpless due to their lack of voting power. That's one of the drawbacks with owning a strata titled property. You have one vote but it's the vote of the majority that counts.

If you like reading about strata horrors, disasters, mismanagments and corruptions, visit the Flat Chat Forum with Jimmy Thompson and the Strata Lawyers for an interesting read.

Strata Financial Reports

There are many types of reports that your stata manager can compile for you from their software package. They can compile cash reports, asset reports, debtor reports, creditor reports and so forth however, the two main ones are:

1. Balance Sheet at a certain date (eg: today or yesterday)
2. Income and Expenditure Statement for a certain period (eg: month or quarter, half year or annually)

If you don't know what these are, you can visit another awesome site, for strata terminology.

Chronology of Our Strata Financials

I've been reviewing our strata financials on a monthly basis. Before I joined the EC, this is what our finances looked like:

* At 30/11/06, Admin Fund closing balance -$7,404.45
* At 30/11/06, Sinking Fund closing balance $21,946.25
NET ASSETS $14,541.80

And ever since I've joined the EC with our new and improved awesome EC team:

* At 06/03/08, Admin Fund closing balance -$5,438.66
* At 06/03/08, Sinking Fund closing balance $23,046.61
NET ASSETS $17,607.95

Fast forward to now:

* At 31/03/12, Admin Fund closing balance $18,391.10
* At 31/03/12, Sinking Fund closing balance $29,704.66
NET ASSETS $48,095.76

(Note that prepaid levies are considered liabilities but if they are unspent, they eventually become part of the Admin Fund so I've lumped them in with the Admin Fund).

Financial Trends

March 2008 had net assets of $17,607.95 and the same March month in 2012 had net assets of $48,095.76. That's a 273% increase in cash in our accounts. So our savings have been increasing at an average growth rate of 68.25% per annum since March 2008.

It's been a frustrating journey to get to this point. We collect roughly just over $70k in strata levies per annum but the expenses involved in running a large building is phenomenal. Plumbers overcharging at $360/hour, cleaners overcharging at $16k per annum etc. Service providers overcharge on the basis that no-one really cares what is happening with their apartments. They were definitely overcharging us because we've replaced them with vendors supplying the equivalent service but several thousands of dollars cheaper.

We've sliced through those costs by asking our strata manager to get quotes from competitors. Every single step forward requires a majority vote along every single step:

* Raise an agenda
* Get the EC voting
* Once majority vote is achieved, notify the strata manager of impending action required
* Review the three quotes' pros/cons with a comparison against existing vendors
* Vote again
* Notify strata manager of outcome
* Give notice to outgoing vendors that we are terminating their contract
* Finally the new vendor is recruited and cost savings start to trickle in

It's a slow process and can take a few months before each change is implemented. The other EC members have been fantastic with volunteering their time and expertise.

Going Green In The Future

The future is all about solar panels, recycled grey water tanks and energy efficiency. I'd like to implement several things for the apartment block in the future. Going green is the future. Not only will it save money, it will be better for the environment.

If we can build up our Admin and Sinking Funds then we can make capital improvements instead of providing band-aid solutions and band-aid improvements. I like looking at things in the long term. More visionary rather than short term. It can be very satisfying to see plans falling into place and becoming reality.