Lessons from 2015

Lessons from 2015: At the time, I had just finished a massive renovation at home. After about a year of owning Victoria St, we got plans drawn to make some changes, mainly to the kitchen, bathroom and living.

I vividly remember a point shortly after the initial demolition. I was standing on one side of the house, and I could see through all the internal walls to the other side; there were wires, pipes, and mess everywhere. My mind was racing with all the things we had to do to put it back together. In that moment I thought, “Oh No! What have I done!”

From September to December, the reno became my full-time focus, and I spent 700+ hours working on the house, with lots of 12 – 15-hour days just before Christmas to get the house ready to move back into. It was a huge effort on my part. Although I had the skills as a builder, it still drained me completely. There were still little jobs to complete that would drag out for another 6 months, but for all intents and purposes the renovation was complete.

Shortly after, while on holiday, I sat down and wrote these thoughts.

  • When planning a project, don’t include my time for free. Include a fair market estimate of the cost of time required, as if I wasn’t doing it myself. If I still want to do the project at this cost that’s good, but if it’s too much cost & energy don’t do it. (This forced me to put a value on my time.)
  • Do things with savings. The reno drained our savings and used more debt than I planned to keep it going. Don’t stretch things with debt.
  • In contrast to the above, use debt to obtain True Assets, income producing assets (i.e. not a house/car etc.)
  • Don’t rely on the Silverspoon for 100% of our income (this was a main reason I kept building for the majority of the time of owning the Silverspoon It spread the income risk which helped me sleep at night. This also meant that with the Silverspoon we weren’t making decisions out of fear or losing income)
  • Don’t move out of Victoria Street (I was drained from just completing the renovation and couldn’t bear the thought of ever doing that amount of work personally on a house again.)
  • Timing is everything; we couldn’t take on Vivere (a local cafe we were looking at) because of timing, but I couldn’t change the dates and am glad we didn’t. Stick to dates/timing that work for us. Don’t force it to happen.
  • Seasons for rest, seasons for work – make sure you have both. Make sure you know which one you’re in.
  • For the Silverspoon to survive, I need to empower a general manager.

Then I wrote the key takeaway for the year: Savings – save, save, save. This goes for time and energy just as much as money. Build up reserves, spend less than we earn, and go without more things.

I have referred back to this list numerous times since, and, looking back, it changed how I approached the following years, in a good way.