The Story Of My Financial Collapse

That’s an email I received early morning my time today, from Mark.

Self explanatory.

It was in reply to the final thing. This is where I have completed all arrangements on my end and forward the necessary documents. He asked if that was it, I replied.

Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa is a very special place. Go ahead. Click the link and be fucking amazed. I own a piece of that. I have a modest page here on the blog specific to my listings.

…Beatrice, my wife in 2012, thought we ought to go to Baja for a week on New Years, 2013. She arranged a 2-night stay in another timeshare we owned, Worldmark, Cabo San Lucas, and then a stay in La Paz in a private villa thing her sister had been to, and recommended.

The serendipitous thing is that the flight from Tijuana to Cabo (yea, we walked across the border and flew domestic), was a late-night arrival and we got suckered into a free ride, so long as we would attend a presentation the next morning—but along with the promise of an excellent, sea-front buffet breakfast. We were tired and I was in a whatever mode.

I always do what I say I’ll do—the most essential man-standard there is and the biggest difference in genders—so was out there at 7am and the transportation was on time. The setting for the breakfast was fucking impressively unbelievable. I’ve done this sort of thing before. This was the difference between staying in a Motel 6 and The Four Seasons (did that latter once too, Las Vegas, met George Foreman, and yes, his intoxicating smile is genuine).

Scott was there to greet and welcome us and this guy is a fucking great salesman. A friend to this day. He led us, but let the greatness of the property speak for itself. So.

We ended up in the sales office of one of the completed structures. The resort on the very southern tip of the Baja peninsula (“Land’s End”) was about 50% complete but was already booking guests. There were already 4,000+ 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor. Two things happen.

Scott begins his sales pitch with the various options, always couched in “I shouldn’t tell you this…BUT” LOL. It’s an open bar and I was in a mood for adventure. So, not my usual whiskey and waters, but Piña Coladas! Yea, I’m man enough to admit that I love that chick foo foo drink.

I have my phone, so that’s a calculator, and I ask for pen and paper. For two hours, Scott proposes, I run quick numbers, and in spite of an unremembered number of drinks, I say no. No. No.

Scott finally gets it, that I’m in it to make money by renting it out. I’ve only stayed there one single week myself, selling hundreds of other weeks. I was already vacation-renting our 2nd home up in the Sierras and making $30,000 revenue per year over the previous two years.

He comes with a new proposal. I run numbers. Wait! That can’t be right. That nets (after all the costs) about $1,000 per month. That’s for 1 unit and I was now looking for two, a Studio and a 1BR Suite. I run the numbers again and again, asking every due-diligence question I can imagine.

It turned out to be true. Actually, no. It turned out I was rationally pessimistic in my estimates and ended up making more. So I bought in more in early 2014 and early 2015 at the same price—tripling my stake—where newcomers were paying 50-100% more.

From 2013 to 2020 it was pretty fucking awesome. A booking, in total, takes an hour or two of total time, spread around over a few days. A few phone calls, a few emails. Easy peasy. It’s right in line with my principal of not trading time for money, which I have not done for 30 years, since 1992. I trade expertise, know-how, access, contract rights, or plain results for money, no matter the time it takes. But 99% of the time, what I make when I make it, on any hourly scale, is pretty high end. Perfect for lazy.

What do my places rent for? The 750 SF Studio (full kitchen, patio, ocean view, 2x room service daily) is $2,500. Per week. The 1,250 SF 1BR Suite is $3,200. Per week.

Think that’s a lot? Want sticker shock?

Booking direct with Grand Solmar. Studio, 7 nights. Same seasonal time frame.

It’s very cool to do business on the high end because customers are not very price conscious. Rather, they want to ensure that they get the experience and services over the space of the week they long for and desire. And this property is perfect for that.

…Damn, I already deleted the texts so can’t screen clip but my last completed booking was a bear to get done. Took fucking weeks. It’s still not a lot of time. It’s 5 minutes here and there, forever. Why? Guy’s wife is a flight attendant and her blocks of time off are Wednesday to Wednesday, but in high season at Grand Solmar, it’s gotta be Saturday to Saturday or Sunday to Sunday. Anyway, we got it done, and I got a text 2 Saturdays ago. “We’re at O’Hair, on the way to Cabo.” About 10 days later, I followed up, saying I hope it was all cool. I got a reply along the lines of ‘so perfect in every way…’

…So this was a perfect business for me. When Beatrice and I divorced, she was entitled to half of it. But, I was also entitled to about 1/3 of her teacher’s retirement pay. You may think that can’t be very big, but she retired from Unsustainafornia. Also, from the highest-paid school district in the entire USA. I could have had $30,000 per year for life, hers or mine…whoever dies first. Shit, in Thailand, that’s enough to live handsomely and still bank a thousand per month. So I walked away in exchange for Solmar, even though my contracts will expire in about 10 years.

I’d have walked away and struck some other deal anyway and she knew that. The thought of her seeing that deduction on her pay stub every month for life was, and is, nauseating to me. I’m a man, not a typical woman who would delight in the anguish that caused her ex. And that’s fucking true.

So all was set once the divorce was done, house sold, various accounts and all in order per the divorce decree. Tidy est egg for me and a viable business. Doing my nomad thing by geoarbitrage would be a cinch.

…Then fucking Covid. I had not a single booking from January of 2020 to October of 2021. More than a year and a half. In gross revenue terms, about $200K lost. Even now, it’s only 4 bookings in 6 months as things slowly crawl back. That’s 1/4th of the old normal of about 30 bookings per year.

So I’ve had to do other things to prevent further erosion of savings. This is one.

And on that score, thanks to all who have helped. This is another kind of perfect business for me.

Here’s my pitch, if you’re interested. I write stuff that’s potentially the most helpful for readers—like on business, finance, location-independent income—when I feel at my best to elucidate it well. So, unfortunately, no program or schedule. It always gets out there, though. At 6 bucks per month or the 30% discount of a flat 1-time of 50 per year, you won’t miss a thing. But only if you want.

…Now onto the next post. Anyone care to read about green papaya salad and green mango salad, their potential gut-beneficial resistant starch content, et cetera, et cetera? Good. In the works. plus, the story of my crazy 3-week ordeal and how I finally resolved it.

Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. The cost of two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance the travel to write, photo, and film from interesting places and share the experiences with you.

2 Comments

  1. Ron Padot Jr on April 6, 2022 at 23:53

    I look forward to the day I will utilize one of your units. You did right by her. That act, ultimately, should do right by you at some point. (Heck, you’re in Thailand. Karma, right? — regardless, feels right to me) I may be facing a similar situation where, I too, will do right by her.

  2. D.M. Ward on April 7, 2022 at 09:09

    I’m miffed that nobody is talking about or brainstorming on a concentrated strategy about what to do in these circumstances. Are we really going to continue with these ridiculous constructs of buying land and buying money, government, corruption in every corner, chemtrails, adrenochrome, on and on? Yes we actually have to buy money AND we have to pay two or three times more than we “borrowed” but that money isn’t available because it is never put into the economy. Talk about a massive Ponzi scheme and yet we’re supposed to just continue on like lambs? A teensy number of “thought leaders” are engaged in dialoguing about actual moves to deal with these circumstances. I’m not talking about taking anyone to court. Courts, money, all fictions that keep us enslaved. There is no way to stop this behemoth – rather we need to withdraw from it and formulate a parallel culture.

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