There’s always something to howl about

What am I thankful for? That we surfed the payables and survived!

This time last year, I crashed my car, totaling it. We used the insurance money to pay off our most urgent bills, so we weren’t able to replace it for quite a while. We had an old Mercury that I used until its lack of a working air conditioner made that impossible. After that, I rented cars when I needed to show. For three solid months I escorted buyers in an amazingly awful rented Ford Taurus. It was literally painful to drive — backache-inducing — but it was only $500 a month to lease.

The last two quarters of 2008 and the first two quarters of 2009 were all action, no traction, so we lived by surfing the payables — paying nothing before it absolutely had to be paid, and paying nothing at all on bills that didn’t have to be paid — including the mortgage.

And that’s a story that had a deferred happy ending. We got hit with a foreclosure notice much earlier than I was expecting. Business had picked up markedly by then, so we redeemed our pawn ticket earlier than we absolutely had to. Even so, it’s not an experience I would commend to anyone.

We got hit with a couple of judgments over very late debts, but that’s just business. We’re current on everything current, and we’re chopping down the old-growth debts one-by-one. It’s not pleasing to me to be a dead-beat, but, while we might be late, we’ve never skated on a debt and we never will.

Meanwhile, the world is young again. In the first five months of 2009, we didn’t make enough to pay the pet food bills. In the last seven months, we made enough to get current on the mortgage, to get current on our current accounts, to retire a bunch of past accounts, to buy me a new laptop and (as of today) a new iMac, and to put a decent used car under my buyer’s butts.

Better still, we’ve been rolling on a six-figure pipeline for months — no hopes, no maybes, no blue-sky wishful thinking — and it’s been rolling along nicely. This year ends up being the second best year we’ve ever had, and next year promises to wipe the slate on our past, turning it into so much pre-history.

I’m not bragging. We’re good at the things we talk about here, but I’ve never represented myself as a top producer — nor am I doing so now. We’re hard-working grunts on the ground, and we’ve been getting better at what we do just as the real estate market has learned to need better efforts. If we just keep at it, we may actually be able to retire someday. And if not? I don’t care. The idea of not working is alien to me, anyway.

I love the woman I’m married to, and I love working with her, too. Even better, she loves me, and very often she even likes working with me. I love the home we live in, and I’m very grateful we didn’t lose it. I love my dogs and my computers and all the stuff I surround myself with. And I love you all, as well as I can (I know I’m a bad friend), the people who write here and who read and comment here.

I have a great deal to be thankful for, this year in particular, but here’s the item at the top of my list: I am very grateful we didn’t go broke this year. It could be that next year we’ll be so prosperous that I’ll be bitching about my taxes. But for now it’s enough that we surfed our way through a tsunami of accounts payable and lived to tell the tale.

My very best wishes to you and yours for a Happy Thanksgiving!


15 Comments so far

  1. Mark Madsen November 25th, 2009 5:39 pm

    Greg – Thank you for sharing such a familiar story. I’m also thankful for my wife, my live, and being part of the bloodhound community.

    Happy Thanksgiving –


  2. Jessica Horton November 25th, 2009 6:03 pm

    Greg, you once told me:


    I love this story every time I hear it. Not the particulars, the individual triumphing over the howling mob.”

    Now, I would like to say the same to you and Cathleen. I’ve never met you guys, but I love you both and all that you stand for.

  3. Steve Norris November 25th, 2009 6:50 pm

    I love a happy ending that isn’t too syrupy. Congratulations on your well earned achievement. Here’s to still greater prosperity in the coming year.

  4. Tom Bryant November 25th, 2009 8:08 pm

    I LOVE these kind of stories. I can’t tell you how glad I am to hear that things are going well. God bless you and your family, and continued success in the coming year.


  5. Scott Cowan November 25th, 2009 9:31 pm


    I will chime in with the others. Thank you for sharing the story. It helps keep the inspiration flowing! I too am looking forward to 2010 with renewed enthusiasm that one of the major topics here on BHB next year will be Realtors wondering why their tax bills are so high! What a good problem for all of us to have.

    Best wishes to you and yours.

  6. Damon Chetson November 25th, 2009 9:49 pm

    Greg: I had a similar year. We start building our home just as the market collapsed last year. This in the midst of the worst hiring climate for law students in 20 years. Fortunately, the lack of an actual job forced me to look elsewhere- namely, make my own business – which I think is going to make me happier in the long run as well as be more personally and financially profitable.

    You delivered some fantastic results for me both on the buying and the selling end, and I wish you and Cathleen all the best. You deserve it.

  7. John Kalinowski November 26th, 2009 5:13 am

    Hi Gregg! I am forever thankful for what you and the other Bloodhounds have taught me, and I’m sorry for our past disagreements (minor and silly). 2010 looks to be a great year for my company, which wouldn’t exist in its present form without your basic concepts and ideas. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  8. Robert Worthington November 26th, 2009 9:44 am

    Greg, happy Thanksgiving to you. I love your honesty and humbleness. I’m on a down cycle right now but the bank isn’t chasing me at least. Congratulations on all your success now and in the coming years.

  9. Greg Swann November 26th, 2009 11:16 am

    Bless you all. I’m very grateful to find myself among such smart, inspiring people.

  10. Doug Quance November 28th, 2009 8:01 am

    Too many good people have been hurt in the current real estate market… and I can’t count the number of agents who have lost their homes.

    I am thankful that you and Cathleen were able to turn some things around this year. Let’s hope that next year will be better for us all.

  11. Andrew Hahn November 29th, 2009 9:59 pm

    Greg, I appreciate your story and am glad for the positive outcome. Kinda makes Thanksgiving mean a lot more. Wish you the best.

  12. Dan Sullivan November 29th, 2009 10:27 pm

    Congrats Greg! Inspirational for those of us who have never had a salary, and must survive tough times.

  13. Al Lorenz November 30th, 2009 10:23 am

    Wonderful! I congratulate you and Kathleen and celebrate your success and friendship! The understatement of the year might be “we’re hard-working grunts on the ground.” I still can’t conceive how you accomplish all that you do, but I do appreciate it.

  14. Marc Grayson November 30th, 2009 12:59 pm

    Loved this. Keeps the fire going in all of us.

  15. James Boyer November 30th, 2009 3:45 pm

    Greg, thanks for sharing. I have been going through the storm of a family brake-up this year, the depression, the fights, the wondering how life will be in the end, the loneliness, the wondering if I will find someone to love, and the impact all this had on my ability to function and keep clients from jumping ship. For a while, I felt as if I were on the Titanic and I would go down with the ship. Now I feel once again that I can make it, life will go on though things will get nastier before they get better.

    Keep up the hard work Greg, the best feeling is often success!!