Helen Collier-Kogtevs is a true rag to riches story. Being brought up to a single mum in an underprivileged household and after spending much of her late teens and early 20’s in debt. Learn how one chance encounter with a debt collector found Collier-Kogtevs become completely debt-free, able to create a high return from her asset and allowing her to build her property empire from the ground up.
Tune in to this episode of Property Investory to hear Helen Collier-Kogtev’s truly inspiring story, how she initially started on her investment journey, and how she teaches others, including her young daughter, the important tricks of the investment trade.
- Helen Collier-Kogtevs
Helen Collier-Kogtevs manages to balance life in both the business and her personal.
I do a number of things but predominantly I am a property investor, a mentor and I'm also a best-selling author, a wife and a fabulous mother.
She describes her daily schedule and business goals.
What I focus on is developing education material and programs to teach investors how to navigate their way through the property market and build a property portfolio following a strategic disciplined and low-risk way. The industry is fraught with danger and fraught with risk and it's my job to guide people through the process where they come out the other end with a great property that suits this strategy their lifestyle and their time in life.
Wow that is well it's so true there's so much out there and especially if you don't know where you're going. You can easily go down a rabbit hole and it's great that you're putting out great material in education to help people out there. What do you think you find during the day in your work that fulfils you the most.
Well I guess like most people, fulfilment for me comes from making a difference so I love interacting with people I love talking to investors. I even enjoy writing my blog articles because it gives me an opportunity to answer questions that investors may have. I get contacted by investors regularly so it gives me I guess ideas for material to write and my blogs and then you know people are often inquiring as to what is my opinion on what is going on in the marketplace how should investigate investors navigate their way. Especially now with the market cooling off. They also want to know more about the banking Royal Commission and what the impact that is having especially on lending and what they can be doing in order to get the loan over the line. So I find that really fulfilling. I love it when I'm actually able to help someone and have them go oh well I didn't know that or quite that makes a difference or fantastic I can move forward. So they come to me with a crowd and hopefully, the intention is by the time I'm finished. They've kind of got rid of the crowd opened up possibility and leave them feeling like they've got control back and they've got a way forward. So I look that to my box or my boxes and it really fills my cup. Being able to do that day in a day and I love property so I can talk about it even underwater.
Raised by a single mum in Melbourne, Collier-Kogtevs describes some of the challenges of her childhood.
I'm a Melbourne girl born and bred here and as much as I love to travel, I've only ever lived in Melbourne. But as a child I didn't I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth. You know, single mum, raising kids on her own. Mum did it tough with us kids and you know we lived in housing commission flats which I remember was not a pleasant part of my childhood. So yeah you know growing up with you know with siblings and a single parent is challenging. So I take my hat off to any parent that raises children on their own because that's I know how busy I am and I have a great husband who is a fantastic father and we both really participate in raising our daughter Alex. So um so yeah it was tough for Mum you know we moved around a bit because we couldn't afford the rent and you know we often had to move because we were behind on rent and we didn't have a lot of you know. At Christmas time you know Christmas would be under the tree we would get a school uniform quite often as a gift as well as socks and jocks, underwear because it was kind of cheap for Mum to be able to buy and if we got one toy that was Christmas. You know a moment in life I don't often share was when we were living in the housing commission flats in Flemington actually, I remember one year there were the grace sisters so nuns living in the building and they came and gave us a basket of food. So just staples you know tea coffee sugar do you know that sort of thing. And they each of us kids got a toy each I got a doll and I tell you that it was like the best thing ever to have received you know a present like that.
Despite her circumstances, Collier-Kogtevs reflects on how this act has impacted her decisions in life.
So I'm a big fan of you know donating toys and gifts for kids at Christmas time but you know it was made quite a profound impact that that memory or that moment in life when those amazing women just came to the door and shared you know gave some gifts and stuff.
So the nuns were lovely and very caring and I think it's partly why today you know I have my own charity where you know we rebuild schools for kids in third world countries specifically Vanuatu. Yeah. So it's amazing what happens as a kid when you're growing up and how it shapes you as an adult and the choices you make as an adult.
After being given a scholarship to a good high school, life still wasn’t smooth sailing for her.
We moved schools. I was fortunate enough when I went to secondary school that I was on a scholarship. So the well it was actually a scholarship. So the school that I went to had a fundraising charity fund so again it was an all-girls school Catholic school. And you know every time they did fundraising it went towards their this particular fund in which they would pay for underprivileged kids like myself to be given the opportunity to attend the school. And you know I look at it when I look back at it now and I go yeah it was great but some of my worst memories were going to that school because it was a terrible school wasn't it was brilliant but things that kind of shape you as a kid again as I had all my school fees paid for you know mum had to find some money to buy the uniform what we bought it second hand or she bought the material and made me my skirts and whatever but you know these days when everyone's going to school casual and mums and dads are driving their kids to school then they have BMW and what have you. I was walking to school but on serious days everyone's wearing designer clothes and I used to deliberately forget to say Oh I forgot that it was casual day today side wear my uniform because I really didn't have anything to wear you know. So it was those sort of things and I was like all those extra curriculum things that as an underprivileged kid I didn't have the luxury of birthday parties at big events and stuff like that. We couldn't afford you know all we got was a mum made a homemade cake a few candles family got around sang Happy Birthday and if you got a little present then that was great but you know it was kind of tough going to you know a private school with all these girls who had the luxury of parents that are well-to-do and you know I'm grateful don't get me wrong I'm grateful that I got that opportunity but there were some tough moments where I kind of went Gee you know I didn't think this one through.
If you keep going.
It's great to give a kid an education but it's another thing when they can't afford the debs and the extracurricular activities that most kids take for granted. I couldn't attend or couldn't afford to go to school camps and stuff like that. So you know how did good and bad moments but.
Yeah, I guess mum wanted to give you the best possible education or so get you into the best chance of actually getting into possibly university and so forth. So I think she did the best that she could as being a single mum as well.
Absolutely she did I certainly commend her for that and as I said any woman that raises kids on her own and makes a real feast of it. I take my hat off to them because I watched Mum work three jobs to try and make ends meet. You know she was never home because of it and you know it was tough but we understood that what needed to be done that's what had to happen for us to get through life. So you know what. Please don't misunderstand me I'm grateful I got to go to school it's just that if you ask me about childhood memories it's negative.
And you know when I think about it I go wow you know actually it's amazing how those memories are really shaped me today.
And I guess you're right that if I had if I hadn't have had those memories I wouldn't possibly be doing what I'm doing today so I'm grateful in that respect.
And that's the beauty of everyone's unique story when they grow up because it really helps to understand where and why they actually go through their journey whether it be in business, property or wherever they head into. I guess that's part of adversity when we all grow up that we have to push us through into the future parts of a life lessons we can share with many others especially our children as well. And I totally resonate with that. So after school what happened from there onwards did you go out into the workforce or did you continue studies.
Yeah I continued my studies. It didn't last very long. So I went to uni and that was back in the day when we had a recession that we had to have the courtesy of the government at the time. Yes and interest rates went up to 17 per cent. So again mum did a great job. She managed to purchase a house and land package out in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. So we were you know she was busy working hard to pay the mortgage and at the time was one of the unfortunate people who were retrenched. When I think it was TAA and Ansett and all that debacle with the airlines occurred and yes so was retrenched couldn't find work for quite some time so I had to quit uni and work a couple of jobs just to make ends meet. So I was I was in retail during the day managing stores and then I was waiting on tables at night four nights a week to you know make ends meet and it was just again I guess it's that level of resilience when you realise that the chips are down. You just roll up your sleeves and you get stuck in you know you don't kind of get all sooky la about it and that's something I guess Mum's taught me is to be strong and be self-reliant and just get on with the job. Don't you know whinge about it just get on with it? So it was just what I did and you know I did that for a couple of years until such time as things settled down and interest rates came down and Mum found a job again and from there I then went to work full time quit the second job but then I went back to uni and that's when I went back and studied business.
So I did that part-time for six years while working full time as a mature age student.
Yeah, it was hard work.
After finishing university, things took a bit of time for her career to take off.
So it didn't deliver for me what I hoped it would deliver. When I was in retail I found that having been in retail because I started work fairly young. So even though I was doing studying you know through my year 11 and 12 at this private school as soon as I was old enough to get a part-time job I did so to work Friday nights and Saturday mornings in a supermarket as a checkout chick just to kind of have a little bit of pocket money so I could afford socialising as teenagers normally do go out for coffee or a movie. And having that little part-time job allowed me to of have that little bit of a life. And then when I quit uni and to full-time work, I was already working in retail I think I went I was at Myer or David Jones at the time and they offered me full-time work. So they were happy to take me on full time because I was already there as a casual. So it was an easy transition.
However, in time, she finally got a break into the corporate industry, which brought about new challenges.
So once what I was working full time I found it really difficult to go from retail into office. Working in an office somewhere and kind of getting a break in the door getting an opportunity. And as it turned out a friend of mine worked in the corporate world and was going on maternity leave and managed to get me a contract role whereby I was you know taking up a maternity leave position.
And then one thing led to another and I managed to secure a role full-time role working as a P.A. in the corporate world and that was kind of my own trade into getting out of retail and into working office hours which was fantastic. I just loved not having to work evenings and weekends and then Christmas Day all of those horrid hours that you have in retail and just was kind of your Monday to Friday normal business hours sort of thing even though I was doing you know a 50 hour a week. I didn't mind because it wasn't late nights and weekends. So even though I was doing my business degree. Unfortunately, the corporate world that I was in was very male-dominated and if you started off as it was again I was kind of hard to break the mould. But it took me a little while and I really kind of got out of that role and into working in the commercial division so I was doing admin and eventually I moved into I.T. and working with some software and then I was training in that software so I was going out to clients and training them and rolling out the software for the company that I was working for at the time so I finally got my progression but by the time I quit the corporate job I kind of made it in real estate as far as building a property portfolio that I didn't need to keep a corporate job anymore.
So my studies are I guess taught me more about business acumen and it gave me business understanding which was very useful when I went into business for myself.
Collier-Kogtevs believes working her way up from PA and admin roles and into higher-level roles gave her valuable experience.
I learnt so much and I did have you know I worked at the senior levels as well. So watching how general managers group general managers operate managing directors on the board and all of that kind of I would not have gotten that level of exposure had I not had those roles. So now when I run aboard it's you know I kind of follow the principles I learnt all the way back then. So it has given me right inside an opportunity to apply my life today.
Collier-Kogtevs was not always on top of her finances, even getting herself into some serious debt in her 20s.
My hubby and I were both working in the corporate world and we couldn't really afford much at the time. My husband at the time was going through a divorce and I was just loaded up with a whole lot of bad debt. I didn't again coming from a poor family. We didn't have a lot of money to go around so we kinda had this saying and I'm sure a lot of people will relate to this but we grew up with were the philosophy of you borrow from St. Paul to pay St. Peter and you borrow from St. Peter to pay back St. Paul.
They were my money management skills taught both so borrowing and paying back was just kind of what we did and how we survived life.
So in my 20s when I finally got out in the big wide world on my own I was renting but I had a car loan so I borrowed money for a car making payments on that. I had credit card debt. I had speeding tickets.
Yes something new about me I have a Leadfoot yeah.
I was so disrespectful I parked wherever I wanted to park. And I just racked up a lot of bills even when I owed money to Telstra. I owed money everywhere it was ridiculous. In fact, I look back and it was quite embarrassing but that was the reality of my life at the time so I was and always had an attitude of hey I worked hard for the money. Therefore I am allowed to spend it and go shopping. So shopping was my hobby and working in the city. I would go shopping regularly during most of the sales were on and I just continue to rack up credit card debt until I just kind of got to the end of my twenties and well let me look at what I've done. Let me look at what I've got it to let me take stock of my life and I went. Well, I haven't travelled globally as so many 20 something-year-olds do. I've just spent my 20s working hard and paying back debt and I kinda went. Well, that's not a good position to be in. What happens if you want to get married have children. What am I going to do with all this debt? Add to it. And it just I didn't. It didn't feel good.
She reveals the real low point of this time for her, that turned into a moment that changed her life.
I think the real clincher for me was when I had this debt collector he was six foot four knock on my door wanting to assess my car and it was a holy moly moment let me show you it is serving at the door because I'm here to point to carnage car keys please excuse me if you're at your behind on your payments by X amount unless you want to give me a check right now you need to give me your car keys and I was just like what the hell do I do with that. And where I was there is no public transport so I'd have to walk an hour to a bus to then get a bus or tram which would be another hour to get to where I needed to go. So it was just not possible because I had a few occasions where the car was being serviced or out of action that I had to do that so I knew what the alternative was and it was just a shock that I invited him in. Made him a cup of coffee and I have to tell you that that life lesson that man taught me on the day I now still teach people today. And it was basically a debt reduction strategy that I did not only catch up on my car payments but I pay off all my debt. He showed me how to do it, and within 12 months I got myself out of a hole.
Initially intimidated by this tall debt-collector, he gave her invaluable financial advice that allowed her to eventually start her property journey.
He turned out to be a really lovely man so we had a bit of a chat. I invited him in to make him a cup of coffee and the next thing I know he got a pen and paper to shore up some paper and a pen. Tell me all your debts and you know I talked him through everything and I was just grabbing some statements so I knew what balances were etc. and he drafted it out on a bit of paper and he goes if you can be disciplined and start paying this off and pay off one at a time and just focus on one type keep minimum repayments on the rest and pay down extra on one debt at a time he said you have this cleared very quickly. And he said you know by doing this you said you know we rejig and renegotiated the repayments on the card. So that not only do I make payments but I eventually sort of gave myself some breathing space so he helped me in in that area but also showed me how to clear the rest of the debts.
So from there. Yeah. He really really changed my life. Amazing amazing.
That is amazing.
If it wasn't for that moment I wonder where your life would have held it continuously from there.
More debt would have ended up with a bad credit file and may be bankrupt.
Having learnt from her own mistakes being uneducated about money, Collier-Kogtevs is determined to teach her daughter financial responsibility.
It's not taught at schools.
You know I mean I've asked the teacher you know what do you teach the kids about money. They don’t they teach them how to count subtract multiply. But there's no real understanding of money and interest and and and being entrepreneurial. I mean the more I get them to run a cake store whatever but there's no real education around money. So as a parent believe me it's a priority to teach our daughter you know strategies around money so she doesn't get pocket money. She has to earn her money by doing jobs around the house, mowing the lawn, taking the bins out.
Every job has a different amount of earnings for her and then if she spends all her money once she's earned it and she wants more. Well, mom and dad play the bank so she's got a limit of ten dollars that she can borrow and she has three weeks in which to pay it back. Now if she doesn't pay it back at the end of the three weeks then she gets charged 50 cents a week in interest.
I know that might sound really harsh right now Tyrone but I tell you.
It's real life. You know you're just obviously asking how which is amazing.
The plan is by the time she is an adult and gets a credit card she doesn't do what most of us do which is go on rack up debt on credit card at a minimum repayments and pay all that interest. She already understands that by the time she three weeks comes up an interest is due. What she's really adamant about is not paying interest so straight away she like my mum give me some jobs to do but I don't want to pay off the debt.
She's only 9 but we're going on holidays in a little while and she already is now asking to do jobs so that she can earn some extra money for spending money on her holiday because on one of our holidays this year when on our last holiday she didn't take her pocket money or her money that she'd saved up and she overspent. So because she overspent she didn't get any more and she had to go without. Here we are out on a holiday when we're buying souvenirs and things that she couldn't have anything and we had to be.
That was a tough one I must say. Well we really needed her to get the lesson that hey kid you know if you're going to go on holidays take some of your money with you so you can buy toys or souvenirs or whatever you want and not overspend, spend what you can afford. So she's been busy the last few weeks saving every penny the tooth fairy has even been in our house four times in the last month.
She’s saving every penny of it for the next holiday which is really fantastic. So although there are hard conversations to sometimes have with you keep you feel like terror period. It's paying dividends and if in the end, she becomes a good money manager then I've done my job.
Collier-Kogtevs is teaching her daughter lifelong skills and concepts that many adults struggle with.
She understands the principle of interest now that money you giving away to a bank you know you have to go and earn that extra money to pay it whereas you are better off just you know paying down the debt before due date.
She describes the origins of her desire to enter into property investment.
After I'd cleaned up all of my debts, hubby had gone through and finalized his divorce at that point. So between the two of us we were living on my income so my income was paying the bills and the rent and all of that and we were saving his money. So we saved his money as deposits and then collectively because we were renting and we pretty much had paid off all our debts and we were able to save a lot of money and that's what sort of started the journey. We were sitting around on a camping trip because we couldn't afford to travel so camping was all we could do back then a nice to do though is camping is good fun.
I didn't like the mattress because I wouldn't do that if I thought like I was sleeping on the floor. The thing is we were sitting around a campfire up on the border of Victoria and New South Wales.
And it was during the June long weekend in Victoria and it was freezing cold. So we're sitting around a campfire and enjoying a glass of red wine and you know as kind of a new couple we were talking about kids do we have kids do you know when do we you know whatever. And at the same time you know we talked about getting married and we talked about our retirement and what I had done on that particular camping trip was I took with me our superannuation statements and we talked about you know what would retirement look like when do we want to retire. How much would we retire on? And I had because I had the statements there and a calculator I kind of ran the numbers and between the two of us we would have retired on a $28,000 dollar a year income which I don't know about you but sometime some months I spend that in a month or so to have to live off for an entire year just didn't appeal to us at all and that was kind of the aha moment that had us go alright well what else are we going to do. I mean we're both working full time. We work hard we're saving money but we're not just going to contribute to super and expect that to be enough in retirement we need to now take some action ourselves.
So it started the journey of looking around. We decided we weren't interested in shares because we didn't know enough about them. We didn't want to start a business because we didn't want to give up our corporate jobs and our opportunity to save. And so property was kind of really the one we were both really keen on.
After a small mishap in her first property purchase, she was determined to get educated in purchasing and investment strategies.
So we started with reading books some you know buying magazines property magazines going to seminars free seminars and. And one thing led to another and we realised you know what we're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and we really don't know what we're doing, and in fact, when we bought our first home to live in I didn't realize that there was this thing called stamp duty. So not only did we save for a deposit but we had to pay stamp duty and we didn't have enough saved so a family member lent us the balance to pay the government or stamp duty which I was horrified about.
However we kind of gave us that moment of oh holy moly we really should learn about this so that's when we did an education course and then we hired a mentor to guide us through the process that started the journey and you know seven and a half years later I retired from the corporate world and I've been following my passion ever since.
Despite having many properties at this point, Collier-Kogtevs reveals one of her biggest roadblocks in growing her investment portfolio.
I was in the bank. Yeah I don't mean to mention which bank it was one of the four majors we had what they called a personal banker. So when you kind of get a certain level with borrowings within a bank they sometimes allocate you a private you know personal lender banker or whatever they call. It's all sort of a farce in my view. But anyway we're sitting there and Ed and I continued to save so even though we were saving and you know using the savings as deposit money for the next investment we got to a point where we purchased six properties and we had lots of equity and deposit money and we were ready to go again thinking great. So we're sitting in her office and we kind of said look we'd really like to buy another property. We got the deposit, it’s in this account blah blah blah you know how much will you lend us. And she looked at what we had and she said Well nothing we can't lend you any money. And I was like What do you mean. Well we got a deposit you know we're still saving Ed’s income you know and living off my we kept our expenses really low. It was a key learning actually keeping your expenses low and not increasing the lifestyle with the number of properties is a key thing to being able to keep borrowing. So I didn't know that at the time though but I do now. So with that by keeping expenses low even though she said we couldn't borrow I kind of went well you know that's not really good enough and I said well why can't she said you’re too rent reliant which means we were heavily negatively geared. So if something were to happen to us and we lost our jobs we would have been in struggle street even though we had a buffer in place and our expenses were low. The bank saw it as a risk. So anyway, we walked out of there disappointed and both Ed and I was like Nah this is not good enough. We've got to find away.
Eventually, she and her husband found the answer to their lending problem.
We started going to more seminars we started interviewing finance brokers anyone who had more properties than us. We'd ask questions and just kept picking people's brains to try and find out what we needed to do and so we met another mentor at the time and he said Helen what you need is cash flow. I go what do you mean I need cash. Why do you need me to increase the income? You need to get income from somewhere, or you can even buy cash flow properties back in the day when we were investing negatively geared blue-chip properties were the only things to invest in. If you said cash flow to some people they would like oh no cash flow don't exist.
Okay. All right. Well this particular mentor said yes there are cash flow deals you need to go hunting for them they're harder to come by but you know go and have a look.
So I literally sat down with a map of Australia he gave me some ideas around where to look. So I started looking in regional areas and the first property we found was ninety-six point five thousand dollars and it was renting for 220 dollars a week.
Yep, that's positive cash flow.
That's positive cash flow. And so 96,000 we had like a 50000 dollar deposit because that's kind of the deposits we were borrowing at 90 per cent. So we needed 50000 for every property we will buy. So we have this big deposit but for ninety-six thousand dollar property. You know we had we kind of got excited thinking okay we've got a huge deposit. So even if the bank insists that we need a bigger deposit we had it. So we kind of felt work that we were good to go anyway went back to the personal banker and sat at a desk and said look we found this deal ninety-six and a half thousand it rents for 220 you know. Would you lend us the money for this? And she looked at it and she said well yes we want it. So it was like quite okay fantastic so we did the deal it was like you know it just hurried up. Hurry up. Hurry up from the documents before they change their mind. And then bought that property soon as we settle. We increase the rent to two hundred thirty dollars a week. So we went back to the bank and said look we've got some you know we've got our tax returns at that point as well. So they were nice and healthy so that went towards deposit money. We went back to the bank and said look we'd like to buy another cash flow property you know would you lend us more money for you lend us the money for them. And she said you know what if you're buying like this then yes we would. And so much so from the time we signed up the first deal we bought six in six weeks. Just went bang bang bang bang bang bang. I wouldn't recommend it.
It was paper warfare back then applications going everywhere. But what it did was the positive cash flow that we received from those six properties balanced off the six negatively geared properties that Ed’s income was sustaining and supporting.
The dynamic of her portfolio became very interesting and unique, with half her portfolio paying off the other half.
The property portfolio was now neutral and then Ed’s income was completely being saved. Now it wasn't going towards mortgages. So as you can imagine our savings again skyrocketed because it wasn't we weren't covering off mortgages or rates or anything. Yes, our positive cash flow properties were paying for the negatively geared ones. So we went back to the bank and this is where the lesson came in. And I said to her okay great now we've bought these six. You know here's our portfolio. How much would you lend us now because we've got more? We've got more savings deposit money we'd like to continue. How much would you lend us now she said Helen if you keep investing like that it's unlimited. Or our further learning there was not to go heavily negatively geared to have a combination of cash flow a negative keep the portfolio balanced and so our incomes was just used the savings and buffer. So if anything happened we had plenty of buffer to sustain ourselves. So that's when we went on and you know continue to buy and now I've had up to 30 properties at one time where we sold a few now but we continued up to 30 properties so it can be done. And you know I've got students now that are still buying even in the current market even with all the new rules of finance you know buying you know four five six properties even in 2018 2019 it's still happening.
Creating A Completely Positive Cashflow Portfolio with Helen Collier-Kogtevs
Collier-Kogtevs revealed how she had neutralised her portfolio with both cash flow and negatively geared properties.
So from that experience, we had six negatives so we could go and buy six negative because of our position.
Yes not everyone can afford to do that. But what I learned from it way back then is by buying the six positive balance up our portfolio and put us in a neutral position until such time as the income and the rents all increased so it became positive cash flow. Well, what's important for the listeners is: that strategy doesn't work for everyone. So it's not about just capital growth and just cash flow it's got to be a combination of both. But what I find with some of my students some of them might only be able to afford to negative geared but they might need for cash flow or they might have one negatively geared to three cash flow. This is where it's strategic. This is where it is tailored the strategy is tailored to you your budget your lifestyle your goals your retirement plan. So it's not a one size fits all it's tailored to the individual and that's where I really put a lot of energy into working with people so that the structure is tailored to them. So you know it doesn't matter what the market is doing. You don't need to be filled with fear. As long as you're sticking to the strategy in the plan and you're buying good quality property whether that's capital growth or cash flow there's still got to meet set criteria. You can't just go by any cash flow or any capital growth negative with your property. It's got to be strategic and that's why I say this whole process that I teach is disciplined and will follow and remain disciplined. You'll lower your risk. So there is no such thing as risk-free. There's a risk in everything in life even crossing the road. But if you can minimize your risk to low. Well, that's where the magic happens and that's where people start to learn hey I can do this and they start to feel empowered that hey I can take control back and I can manage my money and I can grow my own wealth and I can build a portfolio with the right guidance with the right system and with the right discipline.
While the method sounds simple, it isn’t necessarily that easy.
Think about it this way.
If it didn't require any effort everyone could sit on the couch and do it. You've got to get off the couch if you want anything in life and that's certainly what I've learnt from my upbringing and my family that you got to roll up your sleeves from time to time if you want to achieve things. You can't just sit on your couch watching TV expecting millions of dollars to fall in your lap you've kind of got to work at it. So yeah I like working with people that are motivated and have the right mindset to be able to take the action to therefore get empowered have the confidence and take control of their own lives.
Collier-Kogtevs has some important criteria to examine before you try to follow these investment paths.
There’s 13 keys yeah but some of the major ones that I always get people to start off with things like your budget. You know and I don't mean burying your head in the sand budget. I mean a realistic budget where you can truly take stock of your situation and you get honest with yourself when you're not honest with yourself you'll never get control. So some of the key things around budgeting that you need to look at where people tend to overspend is food. So not only food that you buy in the house but when you dine out whether it's takeaways whether it's fine dining a lot of money is wasted there in fact just this year just last year I did a survey myself where I purchased some standard staple groceries from the three major supermarkets so Coles Woolworths and Aldi and Aldi came out ahead by eighty dollars. So what did you say to people? You know what I mean one of the favourite things I love eating is almonds. I can buy my almonds from Aldi for twelve dollars or I can buy them from Coles for 17 sometimes I to go on special but the point is there's still almonds! You know or you all or if you like buying you know bonds underwear you can buy bonds underwear from Big W for five dollars or you can buy them for 12 dollars from David Jones. They're still on the way back. Yeah. So it's about being smarter with your money rather than just throwing it away doesn't mean that because you shop at Aldi you're a cheapskate or anything like that. I look at people in Aldi and I go you know it being really smart with your money. And I kind of admire them for you know making the dollar go further and not just wasting it.
So budgeting is a key thing you know. Another area with budgeting is gifts. People overspend on gifts especially for kids. I kind of set some rules in my family where I say you know what Christmas is about children. So only the kids get gifts.
I don't need to buy my mom and my brother and my cousin and my dream. Everyone else let's just enjoy lunch together or a meal together and splurge on the meal rather than worrying about gifts for all the adults so that's one of the ways I got around it for them and for everyone so that we're not having to blow all this money at Christmas time on gifts.
You know some don't like some don't they don't want. Closing arguments from the families is like let's cut all that out. Let's just focus on the food.
So that's another way you can sort of say save a bit of money where you limit the gifts. We just do. We make a big deal out of your birthday so birthdays are a big gift even when you know Christmas has no other gift you know. Easter again a little bit of chocolate for the kids is okay but it just helps everyone to manage their money better.
So so you know these are just a couple of things around budgeting.
The next key to examine before investing in your credit file.
There are changes that are going on with credit reporting now especially with the banking or commission. People need to pay their bills on time so often when someone says to me you know I'd like you to help me I go great let's get a copy of your credit file. Let's make sure that there are no errors on it that it's clean and there are no issues because ultimately what banks will look at with your credit file is it clean. Are you a good money manager and are you a low risk that you want to make sure that the bank ticks every box. So you know we look at credit file. Couple of other key things are things like you reach your age actually dictates to some degree your buying strategy where are you going to go for capital growth or whether to go for cash flow or whether you need neutral your employment also impacts. So we look at you know are you in a high-risk profession or employment. You know you lose your job you're going to be made redundant. And if you were how quickly could you get another job is there a likelihood of you having long periods of unemployment.
All of those sorts of things that also dictate what type of property you buy.
So obviously this 13 of them but it's important that we look at each individual one dig a little deeper just to minimize the risk and then when you pull that all together I have a little document that I get people to work through to when we formulate the strategy it becomes really simple and clear ah okay and this is where it's tailored based on the answers to all those questions. This is now going to be my strategy as opposed to as I said one size fits all.
Collier-Kogtevs discusses a common mistake she sees being made in the marketplace.
And that's a common problem. One of the biggest mistakes that people often make is they go and buy these off the plan deals where they haven't done enough research.
They've been sold a dream or lifestyle up view and you know quite often what's heartbreaking is people baby boomers that are close to retirement that are buying these off the plan deals that are going to settle in two years three years they might pay a deposit but quite often with these high rise buildings when it comes to settlement the value don't value them up according to contract price. The valuations come in lower. So these baby boomers are forced to come up with more money for a deposit a bigger deposit or they can't settle it all and they lose their money.
And I hear stories like that regularly and it just breaks my heart. It really does. This is where having that strategy in place stops you from going and looking at those sorts of properties because again we're mentoring people kind of making sure that they're sticking to the plan and the criteria. So they're not distracted by these sales pitches or hey here's a great development over here it's waterfront. Let me show it to you and you could have one it likely cost you three dollars a week you know kind of story that they spin. So it's really important that you know that investors when they're looking at these off the plan deals that they're not suckered in by the developers or the promoters trying to sell the dream.
Yeah definitely especially at some point in their life there shouldn't be taking that kind of risk I guess. Some.
They don't know.
The heartbreaking thing.
Having spent decades building her portfolio, Collier-Kogtevs is in an interesting financial position, no longer needing the bank.
Well for me well I've got at some point when you go from the accumulation phase to what we call the pension phase you know when you're in accumulation you're just buying buying buying buying buying buying and then at some point you hold on to it long enough. So for me, I've been investing for nearly 20 years now but at some point, you sell off some to just clear the debt write down that way you really enjoy the cash flow. Do what I want to continue to grow my portfolio? Absolutely. Do I need another 30 40 properties? No, I don’t. I'm very comfortable with the properties I have.
But yes I still want to continue to buy property but I will be very strategic properties now and because of what I've created over the years it's more likely that I'll be my own banker. I just use equity to purchase outright and you know you can play banker to myself as opposed to having to go and get another loan.
However, she still has loans on other properties, and gives a word of advice to anyone who’s loan structure might have changed recently.
I'm a big fan of negotiating with lenders so I often say to my students that are in interest-only loans. A lot of them are coming off and now going to P&I. And just recently that happened to me it was when the interest rate went to five-point three nine or something ridiculous like that. Now with all the properties that I have when they go from interest-only to you know really cash so after very I shared this story with my students. But I go guys it's worth spending the afternoon on the phone sitting on the call with the banks one at a time-escalating a call further up the tree to the decision-maker whom you can re-negotiate your interest rates with. And I've done that and I've been reducing my interest rates to three-point seventy-five dollars a gallon from the five-point three time that I had. So you know even if it's three-point nine-five anything below four per cent is a winner. So I kind of say you know don't be afraid to ring the bank and say hey if you want my business you need to come to the party with the interest rate because five point three nine or whatever it is is too high. You know you need to give me a better deal I've been with you for a while now. You know I've paid you lots of interest unless you want me to go elsewhere. Could you please you know to look at you know Drew lowering the rate. Now the thing is even with the banking Royal Commission there's a perception out there that people are believing that the banks aren't lending money that money so tired you can't get money and blah blah blah blah. And look it's true there are more hurdles to jump but let me tell you the banks are in the business of lending money. That's how they make their money. But the thing is now they want to lend money to people who are good money managers low risk and can afford the mortgage. So if you tick those boxes it is not that hard to borrow money. You can get it. It is doable. So it's important to you know banks because they want your business and if you've been a good customer it increases the chances of them renegotiating your righteous rate. So my point to everybody listening is don't be afraid to pick up the phone invest a bit of time calling the bank and renegotiating on your interest rates whether it's for an investment or owner-occupied it doesn't matter.
Try and aim for anything below 4 per cent.
Delving more into her mindset, Collier-Kogtevs explains why she is in the business of investment and education.
Because of the life I've lived the life I've had the upbringing and what have you. I'm so inspired by what property has given me and the life it has given me that I just go oh my goodness I have to share this with people.
People have to learn about it. It's not taught at school. People should not have to live with a philosophy of borrowing from St. Peter to pay Paul and borrowing from St Paul to pay back St Peter. People need to be taught money management skills and they need to understand that they too can have this life. If you do put in some effort you do put in a bit of work and a little bit of time but hey I retired in seven and a half years so it's doable.
You know if I can do it anybody can do it and that's and that's my why I just want people to believe that they deserve more than what they've got. They do not have to work until 67 years of age and it could be changed to 70 at some point in the near future. I have no doubt about that. You know to work all the way through paying taxes and ending up with a pittance at the other end struggling to just live in what should be you know a part of your life where you've got no responsibilities you know you just want to enjoy yourself. I see so many people that can't afford the electricity bill and they're sitting there with blankets around them in winter or they're sweating in the heat because they can't afford the air conditioner that shouldn't be happening I just want to inspire people to understand that if we take action and do something while you're younger while you're healthy and while you're in your working years that you know even if it took you 10 years but if you knew at the end of 10 years you could retiring is still in your 40s or your 50s you know wouldn't that be a great thing.
Wouldn't that make it a better world if less people were reliant on government.
I just that's kind of just what inspires me and has me go no I've got to do this and I've committed you know nearly 13 years of my life now towards you know developing programs education and mentoring people to inspire them to hopefully want more for themselves and for their own lives.
Collier-Kogtevs mentors and educates people on investing, and agrees that she achieved what she did through being mentored herself.
I've had mentors that helped me with property so in the early days all about learning about property. I've had mentors in business that have helped me build a business because I remember coming from the corporate world in an admin role. I even though I had done a business degree I didn't really have any experience in running a business so I had business coaches and mentors but then I've also had mindset coaches and mentors as well. And I continue to do that.
You know that hasn't stopped so I have to share you know couple things as the mentor. You have to resonate with them. If you don't like the person or if you feel that they're not right for you or you know don't go with them.
You've got to be really comfortable with a mentor because especially if you are sharing your financials or your sharing your dreams and your hopes and even your fears you know if you're looking for a mindset coach you know you can share some of your fears.
You want to be really comfortable with that person so I've been a bit selective from that perspective.
She reflects on one of the most important mentors in her life, and what came out of his mentorship.
I have to say my most favourite coach,
He now lives in the US. He was the one that helped me initially in the business and one of the first things he said to me he said Helen you know if you're going to get in this business of educating people.
You really need to write a book. I'm like well how do I do that.
You know I actually didn't feel like I was clever enough to be able to write a book and I kind of panicked at that.
So he kind of was clever enough to dismiss it as oh look well we'll worry about that later because you know going to need a website as well and you need to find someone to write a website to create a website for you you're going to need to put some content on it write some articles and blah blah blah blah blah and then he said to me, Oh you need is a give away your main job give away a free report or something.
Oh okay okay. And he goes you'll learn something that's really topical really irks you or really kind of gets you going. And some of the mistakes people are making really go to what all five first mistakes that people always make and I just what I write down I wrote down the five mistakes. Helen is what I'd like you to do is just write me a report now. One page per state. But at the end of each mistake tell me how to solve it. So off I went. I wrote this report came back and it was about eight or nine pages or something. By the time I did an intro and a conclusion and a cover and everything, he said this was really great Helen yeah this will be a great report to put on your website for people to opt-in. Then he said you know what. He'd read it because it's so good you should turn it into a full report.
Well, how many mistakes do I need for that? He said at least 20.
I want to get a bit of paper I'm rattling off all the mistakes or just off the headline.
Mistake after mistake you get yet great write another page per mistake and then write me a suggestion tips advice around how to solve it. Okay so if I took longer did that gave him the 20 mistakes he read it. He came back because I found this is so great.
Now you have to write a book about this one.
I knew it was getting there, leading, leading.
So on my first best-seller was forty-seven biggest mistakes made property investors. And then I did a revised edition a few years later and made it 59 biggest mistakes were still a bestseller.
So yeah he was fantastic. Now I don't have a fear around writing another book. It's like oh yeah okay you know I'll just follow the same sort of principle to start off with a little bit and then expand it and expand it expands it.
So I've got a book so.
Collier-Kogtevs explains her future plans to continue writing books.
I've written a second book since then which is how to start creating real wealth through real estate and the kind of a beginner's guide book.
What I am looking in February to do a revised edition of the fifty-nine biggest mistakes I need to update that was now with all that's gone on with finance industry so I'm going to update that one. But I'm also looking at writing a brand new one the new book that I'm looking at writing is around the topic of how many properties do you really need to retire on and the answer actually might surprise you.
So I want to write a process for people buying property but how to how to work it out.
You know how many do you actually need to retire on and quite often depending on people's scenarios it's somewhere between 3 and six properties. And I'm sure many gripe. How and what when and where and all of those sorts of things so that people have a good idea around what actually Folini three properties to retire on. That's not that hard. It's not that scary. With a bit of guidance and mentoring it's very achievable. So again focusing on topics and material that people can easily digest and easily apply for themselves.
She shares some of her personal habits that keep her on track.
Well I'm very much I'm not a person to just sit down and do nothing. I'm very solution orientated so my habits are when I've got an issue I just kind of fix it and move on. I like my daily ritual is keeping to do lists where I can tick boxes that kind of keeps me on track.
I listen to mind mindset audios every morning in my car to keep needs fired you know when I'm in a space of upsets. I find that I like everybody else you know you get angry and upset and frustrated and I try. I don't enjoy being in that space for too long. So listening to my set every morning to just set my day with a great intention of Hey today's going to be fun. I'm going to learn something new and I'm going to make a difference to a bunch of people. I kind of enjoy sitting my day up in the morning with a mindset. Audio in the car so you know that's I'm not very complicated around habits and things I do but I guess I'm just vigilant and I like to take my goals break them down into smaller steps and just keep taking action. So even though I go oh I've got this big whopping goal on never get to it I'll never achieve it. I don't have that mindset. I'll go yes I'm going to achieve that goal in the future and sometime soon. And the way I'm going to achieve that goal is to keep taking small steps today so if every day I take a small step towards that goal with my retirement I couldn't believe it.
Seven and a half years later that I retired I had to kind of pinch myself going well it's ready to go. What just happened I was looking to where what this happen so quickly.
You know but when you're in it it's just staying focused on the bigger picture but also working on the small steps and so that's kind of pretty much what I do every day whether it's in my investing career whether that's working with with my students and writing programs or whether I'm at home you know I've got a To Do list with housework the cooking time with my daughter I still kind of keep my day structured still kind of you know take action and just to get things done.
If Collier-Kogtevs met herself 10 years ago, she would like to tell her this:
I would have told her to stop worrying.
I would have told her it's going to be alright. You're going to have a great life, stop worrying and just get on with it.
Having come so far in a short amount of time, Collier-Kogtevs doesn’t think she relied on luck in her journey.
I'd say 1 per cent luck 99 per cent everything else.
I feel like I create my own luck. I feel like I attract the right energy the right people the right situations. I have a very abundant mindset so I don't wallow in woe me victim me I don't play that game. If I do I work at snapping out of it as quickly as possible so I give myself 16 seconds.
In that way I find that without sounding too fluffy I'm a big believer in the law of attraction I observed. I feel like I can manifest. And when I'm in that space I guess I watch the magic happen every day. I don't see it. I don't see how it has anything to do with luck. It's the fact that I work at it. I stay vigilant and focused and as a result, I get the results.
She gives some important advice to anyone interested in buying or investing.
You know we're coming into what I am considering some of the best buying times ever. Ever.
Interest rates are so low migration's still high even though the market has cooled off and you know the hurdles we've got to jump off a couple of extra hurdles to get finance. If you're smart now seriously and coming and coming into this year is just incredible for buying opportunities and building a portfolio sooner rather than later. So for people that need just three properties, you buy them all quickly get them you know get them at discounted prices while interest rates are low. All of that so you're minimizing your risk around negative equity. You can fix so that you protect for the future you can fix your interest rates for the future. Yeah, there are lots of things you can do. And so I strongly believe that we're coming to the best time and I guess I want to encourage people but whether you choose me or whether you choose another mentor it doesn't matter as long as you choose someone or as long as you do something to get yourself out there and get yourself into the market to build your wealth for the future and now's the time to really maximize it. So it's being steadfast with all the negative media being strategic around what it is you buy and how you buy it and then enjoying the fruits of your labour down the track.
If you are interested in reaching out, here’s the best way to contact her.
They can contact me via the website. So which is Real Wealth Australia dot com dot au or they can call me in the office on 0 3 9 4 3 2 1 6 9 9. Alternatively they could email me direct Helen at real wealth Australia.com.au.
This episode was produced by Ashlyne Ocampo with narrations and interviews conducted by Tyrone Shum.