Where are the leaks in your life?
How many leaks are in your life and what are you doing about them? Here’s a story that may help you make a phone call in the next hour that could save you $1,000 or more, that is if you’re willing to take focused action.
An Expensive Life Lesson
About 10 years ago I was a DIY co-owner of a triplex aka landlord. My partner and I had decided to take care of most maintenance so that we could to keep costs down since we figured we were at break even during our first year or two. The unit’s location was in what we had hoped would be an up and coming area that would reap some financial reward for our ingenuity and physical DIY efforts. The unit was sound and the surrounding neighborhood well, it was as I previously said, up and coming.
Turnover in the units were high. Since I lived closest I was the one that often placed the ads, fielded the calls and then waited for people to show up which I might add they often didn’t show up and then wouldn’t return phone calls. So when two female college students inquired about the top floor we were thrilled. All of us remember taking chances, cheaper rent and living on the edge. We also met the parents because we required a co-signer due to their ages and lack of credit history. We thought we were all set for at least a year.
One afternoon we were working in the yard planting some shrubs around the perimeter so that it could eventually fill in the ugly chain link fence which had been installed by the previous owner. We figured this would both improve the look and provide privacy. One of the girls, I’ll call her Susan came down and asked me to help her with a window screen that had popped out.
When I went upstairs to help with the screen I noticed that the toilet was running. I asked Susan how long that had been happening and she wasn’t sure. I opened the back of the toilet to inspect and saw that I needed to replace the inside piece because the flapper was broken (yeah not really sure it’s called this but if you look in your toilet you’d call it a flapper too). I then showed her how to stop the water flow so that they could properly flush as well as not have the water run.
Since the building had originally been a single family home not all of the utilities had been separated during the renovation into a triplex and that’s just how it was. The water and garbage came in one bill for the unit. We added up costs for a year, divided it by three units and then by 12 months for an average monthly cost. I also kept an eye out for any unreasonable charges such as excessive garbage at $5 a pop to bill which became a surcharge. The tenants were OK with this, and it was written into their lease, so we figured we were good to go. Potential problems had not crossed our minds.
During the conversation I told Susan, she responsible for the water bill so it was very important to not let the water run because it would increase the bill. I also remember an intuitive hit in the back of my mind which said, I hope this isn’t an issue, because I wasn’t quite sure how we could “prove” if push came to shove in small claims court that any significant increases were one unit’s fault due to the combined billing.
Susan immediately called her dad, he was a maintenance man at a local community college, and he said he’d come by and take care of it so we wouldn’t need to. We agreed that he’d submit the cost of the pieces with her rent check and there’d be no charge for fixing it. I was relieved because although I knew what needed to be done and thought I could do it, I had actually never done taken a toilet apart.
Fast forward, I receive a water and garbage bill for some crazy amount like $1,400 instead of a couple hundred dollars and immediately call my partner in a panic. At that point we didn’t think about the leaking toilet because how this excessive amount could be related to a running toilet didn’t cross our minds.
My partner assumed we had a leak to the building since no one had reported flooding in the building. The water company came out and couldn’t find a leak. They determined we had significantly increased our usage and we owed $1,400 which was more than $1000 above the normal every eight weeks bill.
Our profits were already pretty much non-existent and we panicked which doesn’t help much with the creative thinking process. This meant it came out of our own pockets. Some of you are saying, welcome to being a landlord!
We called all our tenants and asked for entry to the units due to the water problem thinking perhaps something was leaking but unreported which wouldn’t have surprised us with our current tenants.
Although we had permission to enter, our tenant Susan wasn’t home. As we entered the top unit and heard the running toilet both of us had an eureka moment that’s not the good kind of eureka moment.
I ran to the toilet, opened the back jiggled the flap so that it closed and the water stopped literally running as well as figuratively saving us more money from running down the drain. Multiple scenarios went through our minds as we tried to determine whose fault it would be, how we would get them to pay, and if they didn’t pay what actions we would take. If anything we had a better plan now than we did when we noticed the damn toilet was running in the first place.
Why do we wait until the snowball has become large enough to trigger an avalanche before we take action? Wouldn’t it be easier to just squash the snowball without foot?
If you apply this to your life you can think about actions you’ve said you would take, but haven’t taken because you, procrastinated by choosing not to pay attention to an inner feeling you had or you gave your control and power away and hoped that someone else would think it’s as important as you think it is important.
If there is a leak anywhere in your life, you are the only person that will find it as meaningful and urgent.
The meaning of trust:
Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
I have to admit that because the father had said he would take care of it I trusted he would take care of it, that is how I grew up – you walk your talk or you renegotiate. But I learned not everyone is good for their word. Just because they say they will do it, doesn’t mean they will be reliable and do it without a doubt or at least tell you they didn’t do it.
Come on when is the last time you count 100% on what you hoped to happen to happen unless you created circumstances that virtually made it impossible not to happen?
It’s not that I’m a negative Nellie, rather if something is important to me I can choose to do it, I can choose to ask someone else to do it and hope it happens. Or I can ask for help and set the circumstances up so that I know it’s complete. By throwing “it” out there without creating the right environment for it to come to fruition, all you have left is to hope to God for a miracle which is what many of us do without even realizing it. Because even the most loved and trusted people in your life may leave you hanging without meaning to because even though you thought you set up good circumstances and need you were really only tossing it like a partially cooked piece of spaghetti hanging on the wall.
Haven’t we all had a similar “half baked toss it out there” scenario?
Tomorrow you have an early client meeting. The night before as you’re cooking dinner you ask your partner to make sure the dog gets out, to help your child with his homework which is due tomorrow, and ok by the way, since you’re only doing the dog and homework, please fill up the tank because tomorrow you have an early morning.
The next morning at 6:45 am you leave spouse with dog and child to get to the bus and you jump into your car. You turn onto the highway for your 30 minute drive and notice you’re on E. Do you chance it or do you get off the highway knowing you’ll now be running late. The first word that comes to mind – CRAP (ok so this is PG rated).
You’re furious. You find your phone and call your partner who responds, Good morning sweetie to which you respond with not so kind words. As you pause your loving spouse somehow states, Yea I know I told you I’d fill the car up with gas. Really I meant to do that, but I was walking the dog ….blah, blah, blah – then we had dinner, it was such a great evening (buttering you up just a little) and it must have slipped my mind. You’re going to rock in that presentation today (How does he keep cool anyway?). Sorry sweetie, I love you.
As mad as you are in that moment, if it was important enough to you, you could have confirmed it was done with your spouse or even checked on Mint if you didn’t want him to think you’re nagging. Because when you read the meaning of trust above it says “firm belief” for me which means without a doubt. In this example nothing was done to create “without a doubt” circumstances.
In order to have more of what you really want in life and business you must create the circumstances until you know without a doubt you’ll get that end result you desire. In the meantime you’ll have plenty of life obstacles to work through.
The bottom line was one phone call on our part to confirm the leak was fixed or by thanking them for the offer but doing it ourselves because after all it’s our building. This could have saved us $1,000.
Take Action In Your Life:
All this goes back to the article title – “Where are the leaks in your life?” And if that’s not juicy enough to inspire action,