I met Dagmar in 2009 when I called her about a beautiful historic house at 1012 E. 8th street that she was selling FSBO. I was not in a place to buy another home for myself but I had clients in mind. I introduced her to my clients and they wanted the house immediately. She offered to “carry the note”. My clients jumped at the opportunity to use her financing and save their cash for the remodel. This was the first time I had seen this done and I wanted to know more. Dagmar and I stayed in touch through the process and became friends. I love learning from my elders and she had so much wisdom to share.
The day came when I found an opportunity I could not pass up. I was not in a place to obtain conventional financing and the house was so special I could not stop thinking about it. It was a 1907 Victorian style farmhouse walking distance to Rainey Street. The house was empty and the grass was tall. I called the owner and he was tired of taking care of his parents’ house. They had long since passed and he was ready to sell. He agreed to sell it to me for $175,000. I could not contain my excitement, this was the most beautiful home I had ever laid eyes on. I called Dagmar and asked her if she would be willing to carry the note. She agreed to a 12 month term, interest only which allowed me to remodel the house on my own dime and then have enough equity afterwards to refinance into my name. I did just that and paid her off early. I am forever grateful to Dagmar for trusting me and sharing her wealth with a young determined mother of two small children. We have done many deals together over the years and I have learned so much from having her as a friend and mentor. When I count my blessings, I count her twice.
I asked Dagmar to share her story and some bits of wisdom for my blog, and I could not be more impressed by these simple yet impactful rules to live by . . .
SEVEN RULES FOR A SUCCESSFUL LIFE
Mine is a fairly compelling Life Story: I was born in Germany just before the start of WWII into an upper middle class family. My mother was a sweet and talented wife and mother. My father was an engineer and a rising star in business. By the time I was in first grade this came to a screeching halt. My father was drafted and went to the Russian front. My mother and my aunt fled from the advancing Russian army with myself and my baby brother and with what they could carry, not much. I lived my entire childhood and adolescence as a displaced person in abject poverty. After many twists and turns I arrived in Austin. Today I am a retired bank officer and still managing my investments, predominantly in Austin real estate. That is due to hard work, considered risk taking, and a fair amount of good luck.
I believe that to be successful in life and in business one has to make rules for oneself and live in accordance with them. Here are my 7 rules:
1. The Golden Rule – simply treat others as you would like to be treated. In every transaction conduct yourself in such a way that you could interact or do business with the same party again.
2. Live within your means – that means knowing the difference between spending and investing. An 85 inch TV may be great to watch your favorite program; it is not an investment.
3. Set Goals – Goals may be personal: to lose weight, to earn that degree, to buy that house. Goals require planning and preparing a budget. Be aware that this preparation in some cases may take a long time.
4. Consider the time horizon for your various activities. Try not to let short term advantage cause you long term detriment.
5. Pay yourself first – If you have set some financial goals you will need to accumulate funds. Waiting until the end of the month to transfer left over money from your checking to your savings or investment will not do the trick. Instead, make that transfer of a well-considered amount at the beginning of the month and let your money work for you.
6. Don’t get greedy – Take a lesson from the stock market. In the long run the bulls will do well. Even the bears will be OK. The pigs get slaughtered every time. Don’t be a piggy! Another aspect of this is to be wary of offers that are unreasonably good. Remember the old adage “If it is too good to be true, it’s probably is not true.”
7. Live and let live – Be proud of your achievements and be thankful for your opportunities. Set aside some of your bounty to help others who are less fortunate. It is thrilling to make money. It feels even better to give some of it away.