WAYNE & MELISSA SCARLETT
- Wayne: Electrician
- Melissa: Policy Officer, Australian Government
- Age: 48 and 44
- Family: One son (7) and Melissa’s daughter (18) and son (16)
- Began investing in residential property: Together in 2009
- Property portfolio value*: Approximately $2 Million
- Number of houses you own*: 4 (*Including principal place of residence)
Wayne and Melissa Scarlett own their own home, three investment properties and are in the process of buying their fourth, this time in Melbourne. They plan to have a portfolio of ten investment properties by the time they retire in ten year’s time.
Wayne and Melissa met in 2001 through a mutual friend and married in 2004. Melissa has two children from her previous marriage and together they have one son. Before they met, they both had homes of their own – Wayne owned his outright and Melissa had a small mortgage. Wayne and Melissa researched how best to use their assets to create the family home they needed leaving little or no mortgage. After considering selling both houses, they took advantage of the land value and block size of Wayne’s property and sold Melissa’s so they could extend and refurbish Wayne’s house. The sale of Melissa’s property paid for all the rebuilding costs. Melissa says, “I was looking to sell in 2003 just after the Canberra bushfires, and my property just kept on increasing in value. The sale covered all costs and we were left with no mortgage.” After renovating their house, Wayne and Melissa were planning on starting a family and saved their money so Melissa could take a year’s maternity leave. When Melissa was nursing her newborn son late one night, she saw John Fitzgerald’s infomercial for Custodian. Melissa had invested in property with her first husband and wanted to try again.
She explains, “The infomercial was the catalyst. We decided that after I returned to work and our son was at school and we didn’t have childcare costs, we would use the money we weren’t used to having to invest in our retirement. We went to a Custodian seminar in 2009 and met consultant Dirk Brammall, who explained how the process worked without any pressure to commit to buy. A month later, we travelled to Brisbane to look at the properties that were for sale.”
Wayne and Melissa like investing in property because it is easy to understand, and it isn’t time-consuming. “We weren’t confident with shares and felt like we always had to be monitoring them. Sure you still have to monitor your properties, but it is a common sense approach.
Even before we were introduced to Custodian, we knew that property was a great investment if you are in it for the long haul,” says Wayne.
When we first learned about Custodian, I tried to find the ‘dirt’ on them – but I couldn’t find any!
Both Wayne and Melissa come from low-income farming families and their parents were conservative with money.
Wayne says, “I learned at a young age not to waste money and to save for what I wanted. At 23, I inherited some money and decided to buy a house so I wasn’t wasting my money on rent. In the early years, I rented out the rooms to help pay the mortgage. I paid it off in eleven years.”
Melissa also learned valuable lessons from her father’s attitude to money. “Dad was very cautious with money and every week he’d balance the books. He inherited the farm from his father and never borrowed money, believing if you couldn’t afford to pay for something out of your savings, you went without. While my attitude to investment and debt is different today, I saved when I was young and believe in living within your means. Budgeting is second nature to me and I reconcile our income and expenditure weekly,” she explains. “I also have two brothers: one is heavily into shares and the other one is into a property.” Melissa adds, “I have some shares which I bought when I was single. I also salary sacrificed money into superannuation when I was single, but not now. The government has too much control of the rules and regulations. I’d much rather invest in property. Other than that, before investing in property, we had some interest-bearing deposits.”
The best part of our journey has been to finally say we’ve started securing a financially independent retirement.
The Scarlett’s investment journey in property has moved quickly, with them purchasing two properties in the first 12 months in Goodna and Redbank Plains in Brisbane. They have just settled on a property in Middleton Grange in Sydney and have signed up for a property in Melbourne. The deposits for the properties have all been financed using the equity in their home. Melissa likes to put the money aside to pay the mortgage shortfall before they buy to ensure they can afford it.
“The best part of our journey has been to finally say we’ve started securing a financially independent retirement. The worst part of the journey would have to have been the 2011 Queensland floods when we didn’t know for days if our Goodna property had gone! “Actually, it’s a prime example of how good it is to have JLF behind you. The property was in an elevated area, and the flood water reached the bottom of the street. Later our Consultant said that’s why we pay our two per cent to Custodian – for them to do the investigatory work,” says Melissa.
Melissa adds, “The benefit of joining Custodian is the advice and support they provide. In my first marriage, we bought investment properties and did our own research. Unfortunately, we came unstuck and had to sell one property at a loss, so Custodian was attractive. They do all the research, construction, project management and legal. It’s well worth the commission and it pays for itself in the long run. You can’t know everything, so you need experts on your side.”
FINANCIAL AND PERSONAL GOALS
The Scarletts aim to have a portfolio of ten investment properties by the time they retire in ten years. They are confident they can achieve their goal – and have a further goal of purchasing 15 properties in total. While it is ambitious, they are not concerned, knowing they can slow down if they need to.
Melissa says, “I want to keep my mind active in retirement. If we do end up with 15 properties then I’m sure it will be a great way.” She also says that she has taken John Fitzgerald’s advice to heart to constantly improve herself and set both financial and personal goals.
“This year my goal is to improve my income. In my current job in the public service, my salary is fixed and I would have to study to get a promotion. I’m not academic so I don’t want to go to uni. Instead, I’ve committed to a second income stream by setting up a jewelry business from home. It’s early days but it’s going well. I get so much pleasure from it and I earn good money at the same time,” she enthuses.
“I set myself yearly goals and really do my best to achieve what’s on the list by the end of the year. If not, it goes on the following year’s list. It’s great to have a goal chart to monitor my progress.”
When it comes to retirement plans, Wayne and Melissa love to holiday in their caravan and plan to travel to the Northern Territory and Western Australia. They would also like to take short overseas trips but they aren’t waiting until retirement to start.
The benefit of joining Custodian is the advice and support they provide.
Melissa says, “We’re going to take the whole family to Disneyland this year on my jewelry business money. It’s probably the last time we’ll holiday as a family now that Sarah is 18 and Kerrod is 16.”
Wayne, meanwhile, would like to have some acreage along the southern New South Wales coast. As for a dream home, Wayne says, “We have the home we want now. Once the kids have left home it will be too big for us and we’ll find something smaller, but not too far away from the kids.” Melissa laughs and adds, “One thing we do know is that it will have an in-ground swimming pool!”
MANAGING CASH FLOW
Having a realistic budget and sticking to it is crucial to successfully build an investment portfolio. Melissa believes it is simple: “The key is to prepare a budget for the whole year and reconcile it regularly. Put in all your regular and annual costs like car rego in a spreadsheet as well as your income. Check it regularly. If you have only $200 in the bank and your spreadsheet says you should only have $200 in the bank, then you know you’re on track, because later you’ll have more. And if you have an overspend, then you have to be prepared to cut back in another area until you’re back where you should be.” At the end of each year, the Scarletts have a minimum amount of money they aim to roll over as the next year’s buffer.
Wayne and Melissa say it is important to have the self belief that you can build an investment portfolio. Don’t be frightened by the debt, as it’s ‘good debt’, and the way Custodian structure the investment, you are guaranteed to never lose more than you first invested. Use common sense by doing your own research and continually asking your consultant questions, as well as others in your network. Melissa explains, “I’ve learnt a lot of simple things and made a lot of comparisons with other Custodians over many a Custodian function. Try to keep your mind active and learn more as you go.”
The Scarletts say that the longer they are involved in property investment, the more they realise how much more they still have to learn. But it is not just about investment, it is also learning about themselves. Melissa explains, “I get a form of peace of mind when I am continually learning. I listen to John Fitzgerald speak whenever possible, talk with our consultant, and talk to other Custodians who reassure us we’re on track, and we gain new ideas and skills.”
Melissa says, “Staying positive is an important key to having a successful life. Sometimes you can get so bogged down by your troubles that you just have to lift yourself up, snap out of it and get on with it. Today is no different from back when I was a single parent.
Life still continues to hand out its fair share of tough times for our family – as it does every family – but the fact that we can look back and say we’ve committed to property investment strategy while faced with life’s challenges makes us feel proud.
“Even before joining Custodian, I was a fan of the goal chart. It started when I had to face life as a single parent with very little money behind me. I was so determined to get back on my feet and rebuild what I had lost. There were many bumps in the road, but having my goal chart helped me. I wrote down exactly what I wanted for myself and my two young children. When I look back now, I laugh to myself because everything I wrote down has happened – even allowing someone special into my life. John Fitzgerald stands behind the goal chart and so do I. It’s a way of realizing our goals and helps us remain positive – and in many ways, it’s the basis of what keeps us happy and successful.”
Melissa’s daughter, Sarah, has a traineeship with the public service and is keen to begin investing in property. Melissa explains, “Sarah is mature for her age and she’s seen what we’ve been able to achieve. She’s been to Custodian seminars and understands what she needs to do to start building wealth.” Sarah is currently saving to buy her own home that she will initially rent out until she is ready to move in. After she has established herself she will start building a property investment portfolio. Melissa adds, “We’ve been a role model for her, but it’s more than that – we need at least one of the children to understand how to run the portfolio and keep it going.”
Wayne and Melissa have achieved more than they expected in the timeframe. “We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, that’s one of the reasons we wanted to do this interview – and to show others that it can be done,” says Melissa.
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*extract from Custodian Millionaire Case Studies magazine printed in 2012.