Get organized for year end... no really. It'll be painless!

budget cfp thunder bay finances rental property

For me back to school season means

  1. routine
  2. a little freedom and
  3. the dreaded lunches

After a summer full of fun, travel + impromptu get togethers, when I was preparing our home for back to school I was really looking forward to cleaning up, getting organized + being home a little more. Well.... we’re 14 days into our new-normal… and none of those things have happened #laundryfordays

But that’s okay. I’ve been here before and I know that there’s momentum in the small steps. By breaking down my tasks in manageable bite-sized steps I know this mountain of organization, paperwork and laundry can be tackled.

Having rental properties means that not only do you have to budget and keep your own finances organized, but also the $$ of your properties. And come April, when the Ghost of Taxman’s Past starts sneaking up on you, you’ll thank yourself you did this NOW.

I've put together 4 actionable, easy to follow steps you can try today to start moving in the right direction:

#1. Pick a day

You have to start somewhere, and if it’s not blocked out in your schedule the chances of you putting it off is pretty likely. To start off, pick 1 day. I like to pick Monday. Next step, schedule a time. Put it in your calendar like an appointment. Phewf. That’s done. See, it’s easy. Now that’s your “day” - you have my permission to not do any rental property paperwork until that day. Keep a “to do” list of things that may come up, but don’t actually do anything, like making a “honey-do-list” for future you.

#2. Pick your tool

How do you normally track your property’s income + expenses? Do you use an app, a program, spreadsheet, good ol’ pen + paper? Maybe a mix? I personally am a BIG pen-to-paper-girl. Which is both annoying + time consuming, but I keep coming back to it, so I'm just gonna go with what works. What I do is a mix of paper + an excel spreadsheet. I’ve tried a bunch of different tools, Quickbooks, Xero, Excel, a binder, a combo… and what I found has been the easiest for me to stick to is a spreadsheet + a paper checklist.

I have a checklist for every month that goes over all the expenses. There’s no numbers, no dates, just the months at the top and a list of all the expenses along the side. On my “day” I go over the checklist and confirm that things that need to be paid have been. Then I go to my spreadsheet and input the $$$ into the appropriate cells.

#3. Do the fun stuff first

Is there anything about the paperwork side of your rental properties that’s more “fun” than the others? Is it tracking the income? Is it recording how much you’ve reduced the mortgage by? Is it the profit number? Whatever is your favourite number to see, do that one first. Some say to save the best for last, but nnaaaww, just start with the fun stuff. The idea is that it’ll create some momentum and get you excited to keep going.

#4. Step away, but before you do: schedule your next date + start your “to do list”

When you have gone through your “day checklist” do ONE more thing before you step away. Add another “rental property bookkeeping day” to your calendar for next month. Schedule it and start a new “honey-do-checklist” for future you. I make mine the 3rd Monday of every month. As you think of anything you missed, or things to do for next time add it to that next session.

You’re not alone! And I know once you have things organized and streamlined you are going to feel amazing #likearealadult. BUT don’t try and tackle all the steps in one day. That’s overwhelming, leaves you full of dread and will likely leave you putting it off until the taxman says YOU HAVE TO DO IT. Who needs that stress? No one.

In October, on the 3rd Monday of the month [my "day"]: October 16th I will be doing a walkthrough of the actual systems and steps I do to stay on top of my rentals + personal $$. If you’d like to peek over my shoulder I'd love for you to join me via online webinar. Sign up below:

5 tips to buying your first rental property

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When you think of getting into real estate do you picture yourself as Joanna Gains or Scott McGillivray buying, planning, decorating and 30 mins later - bibbidi-bobbidi-boo - your space is bright, beautiful and pinterest perfect. Real estate can be a fun, profitable and great investment. It can also be a great form of business education with a side of DIY-bootcamp. These tips to buying your first rental property are a great place to start.

With the right plan and approach, buying your first rental property can be an open door into the entrepreneurial space. Essentially allowing you to buy a property with the potential for a constant stream of income if managed properly.

If you are thinking about diving in, I have 5 tips for you to think about before starting your own real life HGTV experience! 

1.Talk about it

Simple as that. Just start talking about it. With your friends, family, colleagues, people. Don’t make it THE ONLY topic you talk about, but mention that you are thinking of getting a rental property. See what they think. This is a great way to get ideas from people you respect and trust. Maybe they know of a real estate agent you could connect with, or a person selling their home, or maybe they know someone who is a landlord who you could meet up with.

They also might be the Debby-Downer and rain on your parade. Tell you all the horror stories about real estate, being a landlord and all the nightmare tenant stories they’ve heard about. That’s great… and true… It’s not all rainbows and dolla-bills raining from the ceiling. But, don’t let it discourage you.

2. Talk to someone who is already doing it

If you don’t already know someone with income properties, hopefully by talking about it you will be able to make some contacts with people who are. Reach out to them. The best people to learn from are those who are already DOING what you are interested in, or at least are a few steps ahead of you. 

Some great questions to ask are: how did they get started, why did they get started, what would they do differently if they could do it over again, what’s the biggest struggle, what should you do when just starting out.

Don’t feel shy or like a bug. Most people love talking about their successes (and themselves), they will probably be flattered.

3. Get clear on why you are interested

There are a lot of reasons for owning property that you don’t live in, like:

  • income
  • entrepreneurial experience
  • buying the property for the future (why not have someone else pay the mortgage while you're not using it)

What's yours?

By being clear on WHY you want to buy an income property you will be in a better position to filter opportunities. Once you start talking to others about your interest, you will find that opportunities will present themselves. Without being clear on “your why”, you may make poor choices or not be able to develop the skill of asking the right questions.

4. Get clear on your finances and limits

This is the part where you can rain on your own parade. BUT don’t get stuck in this pity party long. Get your wallet and bank accounts cheering for your success by getting organized and making a WRITTEN OUT plan. Crunch the numbers. What kind of savings amount would be appropriate? What type of account should you be saving in? What would be a manageable mortgage balance? What would the rent have to be?

Talk to a financial advisor, they may have some tips and saving strategies to help you with your goal. 

This clarity will start shifting your *thinking* of getting into real estate to PLANNING to get into real estate. There’s a big difference. Once your plan is made and in place you will feel the momentum. Your choices will start to align to your plan and you will start achieving the things you wondered how others were doing it.

5. Patience

The final and SUPER IMPORTANT tip to getting started is to practice patience. Don’t jump into it. Make sure you are making wise choices. Analyze your options and do your own due diligence, trust your gut and talk it through with someone (maybe the person from Tip #2). 

Real estate can be intimidating. But if it’s something you’ve been thinking about for awhile, I encourage you to start with these 5 steps. If you see others acquiring properties and are thinking to yourself… “how are they managing that?!” it’s because they are taking baby steps behind the scenes. 

Take your baby step today!

If you have any specific questions or would just like to reach out, I would love to hear from you and what baby step you are going to take today.


I did a workshop on this topic. If you would like to see the replay, please click here and I can send it directly to your email to check out

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