Archive for January, 2011

Investing: Rental Properties – The Financials Part 2

January 31, 2011

If this is the first of these articles that you are reading, you can still catch up. First there was an article on how to conduct research to find a suitable property. Next there was an article on purchasing and financing a rental property.

This article is about the everyday financials of a rental property. One topic needs special attention.

Gearing

When you are researching for a suitable rental property to purchase you may come across “advice” about the merits of gearing. Or more probably the worthiness of negative gearing. Less often you will hear about positive gearing.

Gearing simply means borrowed money. The amount of borrowed money can be any amount but with a rental property is typically around 80% of the purchase price. So if gearing is borrowed money, what are positive gearing and negative gearing?

Rental properties earn rent income. Rental properties also have various expenses such as rates, insurance, repairs etc. If money is borrowed to purchase the rental property there is also interest payable on the loan. Positive gearing means that after rent expenses and interest are deducted from rent income, there is money left over, a rental profit. Negative gearing means that after rent expenses and interest are deducted from rent income, there is a rental loss.

Where a property is negatively geared, the shortfall must be made up by other sources of money ie savings or income from business or employment.

Some people get excited by the prospect of a negatively geared property because they believe the shortfall will be made up through the taxation system. This is only partially true. It is true that a rental loss can be offset against other income (eg wages), so that less income tax is paid than there would be without the rental loss. However your income tax is only reduced by your marginal rate of tax. Let us use an example:

A has annual wages of $60,000. A’s rental loss on his investment property is $5,000. A’s taxable income is $55,000 and his marginal tax rate is 31.5%. The income tax that A “saves” by having a rental loss is $5,000 x 31.5% = $1,575. So, even after the saving in income tax, the net rental loss is $5,000 – $1,575 = $3,425.

So negative gearing is not the nirvana that some people would have you believe. You need to pay out a net $5,000 during the year to get a $1,575 reduction (or refund) in your income tax when you lodge a tax return to end up with an out of pocket cash loss of $3,425.

On the other hand, a positively geared property gives you net income from the outset. Sure, you will lose some in income tax but again the tax on the rental profit is only at your marginal rate of tax. In the example above, the marginal rate of tax is 31.5%.

So, WHY would you put up with a property that regularly makes a loss? First, the plan should be not to make a loss forever. Property is a long term investment,  NOT for just a year or two. Over time rent income should increase and as part of the loan is paid off interest paid reduces, so the rental loss should over time become a profit. Second over the long term, if you have bought a good property, the value of the property should go up. If you sell the property at a later date you plan on collecting a capital profit, which should ideally more than offset the earlier rental losses.

There will be one final article on the nitty gritty of the financials of rental properties.

 NOTE: Tom On Tuesday IS a CPA but is NOT a tax agent, a financial planner, a banker, a stock broker nor a real estate agent. Please note that all blog posts written on financial matters should not be taken in any way as advice from Tom On Tuesday. This blog post contains general information and the opinions of Tom On Tuesday. This general information also only pertains to Australia. Anyone reading this blog should seek out professional advice for their own personal circumstances before making any decisions.

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Investing: Rental Properties – The Financials Part 1

January 26, 2011

So, you’ve found your ideal investment property after plenty of diligent research.

You should also consider the financial aspects of buying and owning a rental property.

Buying the Property

Buying a rental property is not just about the purchase price. There are additional purchase costs. These include:

Stamp Duty on property purchase price – this is an amount charged by state governments on property transactions, so it varies from state to state. It is usually calculated as a percentage of the purchase price. Stamp duty is lowest if the property is being purchased to live in by the owners and is the first property they have ever purchased. Sometimes, for a first home purchase, there is no stamp duty below certain thresholds. There are also some concessions on stamp duty if the property is being purchased by the owners to live in. There are no concessions for property purchased as an investment property.

Conveyancing Costs – this is the cost of a solicitor or conveyancer for their services in preparing all the documents so that the transfer of the property can take place.

Various searches – these are the out of pocket costs that your conveyancer will ask for reimbursement. Many of these searches are fees to search government data bases to determine if there are any planned activities on or near the property (eg new roads etc)

Adjustments on Settlement – the adjustments are for things like council rates and body corporate charges. These adjustments occur because while rates may have been levied up to 30 June or 31 December, the transfer of a property hardly ever happens on those dates. The adjustments are to account for expenses that have already been paid by the previous owner that need to be reimbursed to them.

For all of these purchase costs allow between 3% and 5% of the price of the property.

Financing the Property

Banks typically want a minimum 20% deposit of the price of the property. This deposit can be in cash or another property can contribute towards the 20%. What is so magical about 20% deposit? While some banks will lend on a 5% or 10% deposit, they require additional assurance that the mortgage will be repaid. That means the bank will require mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance is paid by the borrower BUT protects the bank in the event that the mortgage cannot be fully repaid even after the property is sold. Mortgage insurance is expensive as it will require another 2% to 5% of the property purchase price up front.

Check the latest interest rate deals here.

NOTE: Tom On Tuesday IS a CPA but is NOT a tax agent, a financial planner, a banker, a stock broker nor a real estate agent. Please note that all blog posts written on financial matters should not be taken in any way as advice from Tom On Tuesday. This blog post contains general information and the opinions of Tom On Tuesday. This general information also only pertains to Australia. Anyone reading this blog should seek out professional advice for their own personal circumstances before making any decisions.

Investing: Rental Properties – Research

January 24, 2011

Of all the different types of investments available, one of the most common is the residential investment property. Being a common investment, it is also subject to many myths and half truths. The following outlines some of the basics and rescues the vulnerable from some of the myths.

Research

The first important step in making any investment is research. Understand what it is that you are committing yourself to and what effect your decision is likely to have on your financial future. Real estate people will readily tell you that the key to property is location, location, location. What does that mean?

People are attracted to live in homes that are located conveniently near shops, workplaces, schools, medical facilities, public transport and attractive natural features like beaches and mountains. Rarely though are ALL people looking for ALL these features in the one property. So, who are your potential tenants, what stage of life are they at, how big a property do they need and does the area have the facilities they are likely to value most highly?

The need for research is one reason why a first time investor would be well advised to check their local area first, including nearby suburbs and towns. Since you live there you are familiar with local facilities and have access to local resources like real estate liftouts in newspapers and open houses put on by local real estate agents.

One important thing to keep in mind while researching is that you are NOT buying a proeprty for yourself to live in. You are looking for a property that someone else would like to live in. The difference is that you can buy, say, a smaller property than you live in because it will suit someone else’s requirements. You could buy in a suburb that you would not live in but may have features that are attractive to other people. Try to put yourself in the shoes of a potential target tenant.

One more thing. BE CAREFUL if you are invited to a seminar or induced to take a trip where you will be asked to consider purchasing real estate that is a long way from where you live. For example if you live in a regional area and are asked to conbsider capital city real estate. Or you live is Western Australia and you are invited to look at property on the Gold Coast. It MAY be a good deal but it MAY NOT be. Being taken out of an area with which you are familiar simply makes it more difficult for you to adequately reseach a potential property and to judge whether the price is fair for that area.

You could start your online real estate research here.

Next Time: Investment Properties, the financials. 

 NOTE: Tom On Tuesday IS a CPA but is NOT a tax agent, a financial planner, a banker, a stock broker nor a real estate agent. Please note that all blog posts written on financial matters should not be taken in any way as advice from Tom On Tuesday. This blog post contains general information and the opinions of Tom On Tuesday. This general information also only pertains to Australia. Anyone reading this blog should seek out professional advice for their own personal circumstances before making any decisions.

Your Mortgage – To Fix or Not To Fix

January 21, 2011

Tom On Tuesday phoned his bank in December just before another anniversary arrived on the mortgage. So the question Shakespeare may have posed in this scenario is, “To fix or not to fix, that is the mortgage interest rate question.”

It seems that many people perceive that financial matters are full of difficult concepts. The difference between fixed and variable mortgage interest rates is one such topic.

A variable interest rate means that your financial institution can change your mortgage interest rate up or down at any time. However these changes are not entirely arbitrary.  The Cash Rate, set by the Reserve Bank of Australia, is the basis for changes in variable interest rates. The Reserve Bank changes the Cash Rate as a broad means of affecting the Australian economy. The Cash Rate is also the rate that banks lend to each other overnight.

YOUR variable mortgage interest rate is set by your bank at a margin above the Cash Rate. The Cash Rate since 3 November 2010 has been 4.75% pa. A typical variable interest rate at the moment is somewhere between 7.25% and 8.0%.

Fixed mortgage interest rates are a set rate for a period of between one and five years agreed between the borrower and the bank. Fixed rates are set by reference to banks’ borrowing costs. Fixed rates ARE NOT related to the Cash Rate.

So, which is better, variable rates or fixed rates? As with so many financial decisions, the answer is, it depends. In practice, most mortgages in Australia are on a variable rate. There are some exceptions, such as introductory or “honeymoon” rates where the bank may offer you a low rate for the first year to get your business.

Let me explain with some examples, relevant at January 2011.

Introductory/Honeymoon rate: 7.1% for first year

Standard Variable Rate: 7.7%

Fixed Rates: 1 Year 6.94%; 2 Years 7.19%; 3 Years 7.20%; 4 Years 7.69%; 5 Years 7.89%

So if you are some years into your loan, do you choose fixed or variable? The first thing to note is that the longer you fix, the more expensive is the rate. This is almost always true. Second, the one year fixed rate in this example is considerably cheaper than the variable rate. While that is true at this time of the cycle, it is not always the case. The one year fixed rate tends to be higher than the variable rate when interest rates are at the bottom of the cycle and tends to be lower than the variable rate as interest rates head towards the top of the cycle.

So where in the cycle are we now? No one knows for sure but here is a history of the Cash Rate as set by the Reserve Bank.

So how do I find the best rate for me now? Look here to check current home loan interest rates.

NOTE: Tom On Tuesday IS a CPA but is NOT a tax agent, a financial planner, a banker nor a stock broker. Please note that all blog posts written on financial matters should not be taken in any way as advice from Tom On Tuesday. This blog post contains general information and the opinions of Tom On Tuesday. This general information also only pertains to Australia. Anyone reading this blog should seek out professional advice for their own personal circumstances before making any decisions.

Money – Tom on Tuesday is taking requests

January 20, 2011

Since I started seriously blogging again in December, my posts have ranged across a diverse number of topics, some serious, some not so. I have noticed however that there is a spike of interest whenever the topics turn to money, whether business or personal. So, I have decided to take requests. I invite readers to send me their questions about managing money, personal budgeting or anything about financially setting up and running a business.

A little about my background. I am a CPA (Certified Practising Accountant). I have worked for many years as an accountant for various businesses running their day to day financial matters and preparing regular financial reports for business owners and managers. I have also has several stints working in public practice preparing financial statements and income tax returns for both businesses and individuals.

Here is what I am NOT. Although I have worked as an employee in accounting practices, I have never been a principal able to practise in my own name. I am also not a tax agent. This simply means that I have been qualified and experienced enough to be an accountant and tax return preparer for other business people but never for myself. Also, although I understand many things about investments in shares and property, I am not a financial planner.

That aside, I am prepared to answer financial questions as far as my experience allows. I intend to put the same qualification forward as you would hear for a radio talk back show or you would read in a newspaper column. My advice at all times is general in nature and not meant to be acted upon by any particular individual. Anyone reading my thoughts should get their own specific advice before making any financial decisions.

So what can I do. I can give the benefit of my experience in business and financial matters. I will also be making numerous links to relevant information on the internet. By doing this I hope to cut down on the time you take to wade through the mountains of information on the web.

So, fire away with your questions!

Personal Budgeting – Making the most of your Money

January 20, 2011

Saving for Special Occasions

Jingle Bells – on 31 January it will be a mere 47 weeks to Christmas Day! Depending on your shopping and budgeting habits, this information will bring a feeling of joy or an anticipation of dread. Some will have it all organised. Others will cross their fingers, and trust that the credit card will be paid off before next Christmas! How about using the time (and pay packets) between now & Christmas to put some money aside? That way, shopping for presents and Christmas Day meals will be a little financially easier this year.

From next pay day, put aside $20 a week (or $40 a fortnight) each pay until Christmas. That is $940 you will have to spend on Christmas! What does it mean to “put it away”? Deposit it to a second, card-less bank account until needed; put it safely in a piggy bank; put the money towards lay-buys; pay the money in advance onto your credit card, so that you have a “bank” for present buying.

How do you find the $20/week? Just a few ideas: forgo a weekly takeaway; buy fewer lunches/drinks/coffees at work; “donate” the cost of a pack of cigarettes to the cause.

Even if you plan to spend more than $940 on Christmas, at least you have made a start on paying for Christmas. If instead you put away $40/week ($80/fortnight), you will have $1880 for Christmas cheer!

The same plan works for any other special occasion or particular item – a holiday, new furniture, deposit for a car.

Getting Organised – for many the idea of budgeting is boring. For others setting up a budget is just too difficult. Still others have no idea where to start. This blog is here to help anyone learn more about personal budgeting.

There is an Australian produced product called Moneybags, details of which can be found here. Moneybags supplies a kit that enables anyone to setup, maintain and update a personal budget. You can run a budget for yourself or with a partner. You can run a budget whether you have few financial responsibilities or many. Moneybags not only helps you set up a budget but helps you keep track of how you are going. In addition to expenses, you can also set up savings goals and keep an eye on your progress. Moneybags comes in a compact A5 size folder with full instructions.

If an Excel spreadsheet is more your style, ASIC provides a budget planner here.

What Does a Habit Cost You? – Do you have a habit that you would like to give up? Does this habit cost you money? Could you use more motivation to help you give up? Sometimes putting a monetary value on a habit gives us a different perspective.

Say your habit is eating chocolate. You have decided to reduce the amount of chocolate you eat for your health. But chocolate is just so nice – perhaps you will give up tomorrow! Could the prospect of saving money help you reduce the amount of chocolate you eat?

Say you currently spend $3 a day on chocolate, just on weekdays. Let’s say you decided to only buy chocolate three days a week. What is it worth to you? Savings – 2 days x $3 = $6/week, $25/month, $300/year. What if your habit was buying CD’s? Say, average spend is $60/week. Change that to $30/week. Savings: $1,560/year. The most important thing is to decide ahead of time what you will do with the savings. What are your goals – new clothes, travel, car, a house? Bank the savings and enjoy putting them towards fulfilling your goals!

Ryanair – Rip off in the skies!

January 17, 2011

Ryanair is a low cost airline operator based in Ireland. Have you caught today’s newspaper report? Until now they have been charging 40 Euros (A$54) to print out a boarding pass if the passenger forgot to do it at home! A judge in Spain has now prohibited them from the practice because of a court case brought by a Spanish lawyer. To put this charge into perspective, Ryanair’s air fares start from as little as GBP 7 (7 British pounds)!

Low cost airlines such as Ryanair have been at the forefront of delivering low air fares by, at first, either getting rid of or asking passengers to pay extra for so called optional extras. The reasoning used by these low cost operators is that these optional extras are built into the cost of the more expensive air fares. The first thing to go was “free” food. Many people thought airline meals were not worth eating. So why pay for something that is built into the fare if you don’t want it? In Australia, Virgin Blue was the first mainstream airline to provide food as an extra you could pay for.

Next to go was “free” baggage. This one is also easy to understand. Not only does baggage have to be transported to and from the aircraft and loaded and unloaded, it is also of considerable weight. Extra weight on an aircraft means extra fuel burnt and thus extra expense. If no one brought any luggage at all, then the airline would save a heap on fuel and baggage handling. The low cost airlines often charge for any booked baggage, charging less if you tell them about it when you check in online. Their credo is customer choice. So if you are just nipping away for a couple of days and only have a small carry on, there is no payment at all for baggage.

As the years have gone by though the list of “optional extras” has lengthened considerably from meals and baggage. An interesting variation came due to a quirk of aircraft design. The space between rows on many aircraft is slightly larger adjacent to the emergency exits. Some smart passengers who were taller than average soon realised they could get access to seats in these rows for no extra if they simply asked for them. Smarter airlines quickly realised these seats are a valuable commodity  that people would pay for!

When laws changed in Australia a few years ago, all merchants were able to charge a fee for using a credit card. This is somewhat understandable as there is a cost to merchants for offering credit card facilities. Some people however think that this should simply be absorbed as an overhead of running a business. Not the airlines. Not only have airlines starting charging a credit card fee but it is often a flat fee per passenger, not a set percentage of the transaction. This can practice can produce a credit card fee that reaches far beyond mere cost recovery. It is also near impossible to book an airline seat WITHOUT using a credit card!

No area of the aircraft is safe from extracting additional fees from customers. Ryanair has considered charging a pound to spend a penny (use of the toilet). They are also looking at equipping their aircraft with “vertical seating” so that they can simply cram in more fare paying passengers!

Next the air travelling public should perhaps expect a fee for scuffing the carpet, wear and tear as they fasten their seatbelts and a per minute charge for gazing out the window!

Look here for a full list of Ryanair’s fees. Note that while the fees in Pounds or Euros are nominally the same, the exchange rate is around 1 Pound = 1.2 Euros. So a five pound fee converts to around six euros. Since the fees are nominally the same (5 pounds or 5 euros), those in the UK are being stiffed about 20% extra in fees!

Look here for a full list of Tiger Airways fees. Notice that they have trade marked their “boardmefirst” fee ($6) and cannot provide any detail on what you get for your “convenience fee” ($7.20)! Too inconvenient for them to explain it apparently!

Why does my Accountant charge so much?

January 14, 2011

Many people in business, especially those new to business, express concern at how much their accountant charges them, especially as it was for “just a tax return”. I hope to throw some light on this issue. 

First, what expectations did you have of the amount of fees you were likely to be charged? Did your accountant prepare an engagement letter setting out the scope of services to be provided and an estimated range of charges for thos services? Even if there was an engagement letter, was it specific and detailed enough and did you, as the client, fully read and understand the engagement letter before you countersigned it? The answer unfortunately, is often too little was established by way of expectations when the professional relationship started. Even if an accountant has quoted hourly rates for partners, senior accountants, bookkeepers etc, there may have been scant attention to the amount of work (ie hours) required to undertake your work. Indeed the amount of work may change as time goes by.

Who are you? – in an accounting sense?

Is your business structure a sole trader, partnership, company or trust? Each type of structure has different requirements and different levels of complexity in preparing financial accounts and preparing income tax returns.

What work have you asked for?

While most business people believe they only need an income tax return, there are other tasks implied in producing a tax return and often other tasks are requested by the client.

Before an income tax return can be prepared, financial statements must be produced for the business entity. At a minimum, this should be an Income Statement and a Balance Sheet.

Trading entities such as Companies and Trusts have additional requirements over a Sole Trader or Partnership. The checklist in dealing with a company or trust is considerably longer than for a sole trader or partnership. Many of the extra requirements are because of the requirements of the tax laws. In addition, it must be remembered that a company or a trust is a separate entity from the owners of the structure. Therefore the flow of funds between the different entities must be properly tracked. Other considerations include preparation of meeting minutes, calculation of Trust distributions and Company dividends.  

There is no simple answer to what an accountant’s fees should be. For business accounting and tax work there is no “industry standard”.  There are a few things that affect the level of fees. Even if a client has done their own bookkeeping, say in accounting software like MYOB, the first question is “Is the work that has been done correct?” This means, as a minimum: bank reconciliations correctly done, BAS returns all correctly done, all coding correctly done. On this last point of coding, it is easy for a client to code something as repairs expense when it should be a capital item that should be depreciated. Loan repayments can be coded to an expense item, when they should in fact come off a loan in the Balance Sheet. If a cursory check of the bookkeeping throws up some elementary errors, then the accountant will want to do additional checking and make corrections. This takes time that you will be charged for.

Even if the client’s bookkeeping is reliable, there still may be some things left to do when the file gets to the accountant. The accountant usually updates the asset register for the business and calculates depreciation. In addition all loan accounts will be checked to ensure that interest and loan repayments have been correctly allocated. Most accountants will scan all the expense codes for reasonableness. Any large or unusual expenditure would be checked and: changed if it incorrectly allocated or if correct, notes made as reminders of what the circumstances were. In addition, all Balance Sheet account balances would be checked. All of this may take some time.

If all the above is okay, the accountant will prepare the financial accounts and tax return in the form they need to be. Even with accounting and tax software this will take a little while to ensure everything is done properly.

Finally, company tax returns involve more work than say a partnership tax return, even in your first year of business. There are particular laws surrounding owners’ loan accounts, where owners have taken money out of the business or have spent money privately. Also when companies pay tax, a “franking account” must be maintained. If you are unfamiliar with franking, I can explain another time. The point being, it is something particular to Pty Ltd companies.

The other thing that you need to take into account about your bill is what other work did the accountant do for you apart from tax returns? If he/she also prepared your individual tax returns and depending upon their complexity, that would add to the cost. As for other work, did your accountant spend any time with you or do any work on your behalf about advising you in setting up the company? Did the accountant do any work like preparing finance applications on your behalf or provide advice on the early stages of setting up and running your business?

The above questions are only ones that you can answer. If your accountant has provided other services or advice beyond preparing financial accounts and income tax returns, then normally those other things would be detailed on the account you received.

One final thing about the difference between competent accountants and really good accountants is that competent accountants will attend to the “score keeping” – preparing financial accounts and tax returns. Really good accountants will be prepared to offer you advice about how your business is going and will provide pro-active advice on where it is going – in conjunction with knowing what your goals and directions are for your business. Sometimes you have to ask in order to start accessing the extra advice. The extra advice will come at a cost but like anything, good advice will add to your business.

If your current accountant is simply providing “score keeping”, then I would first re-consider whether there was more work than usual in the current year and whether or not there had to be some extra work done in addition to your bookkeeping. The fee charged may or may not be reasonable. If you are contemplating comparison shopping for accountants based on the price of “score keeping” then lowest is not necessarily best. Think of cut price haircuts or buying Black & Gold chocolate!

Where you may want to compare accountants is the interest they take in your business and the advice they willingly and pro-actively provide based on their knowledge of your business. The main way to find these accountants is to talk to other people in similar sized businesses and find out who raves about how helpful their accountant has been.

Get more tips and hints on running your business at fixmybusiness.com.au

Faithful Friend-Tom On Tuesday has a Dog!

January 13, 2011

You may have guessed by now that Tom On Tuesday is a cat person. I definitely don’t like big scary looking dogs, also known as “big headed dogs”. I don’t care how cute and harmless their owners SAY they are, I don’t even like going past big headed dogs even if there is a fence between me and them. As for smaller and less scary dogs, I still prefer cats for practical reasons. Cats are self-cleaning, easier to keep inside or in a small area, can be left on their own overnight (or at a pinch two nights) and are mostly calm and easy to cuddle. Dogs however smell, drool, require way more attention and are really better as outside pets. As for leaving them to their own devices for 24 hours or more, not likely!

This is where my opinions stood around five years ago. The woman I had met and was soon to marry not only came with two teenage daughters but also a DOG! It was a couple of years before I realised that the handsome lad to the right was not actually a dog. This Jack Russell cross is a Bruno. And it turns out that I am a Bruno person…after five years, some days I am actually more of a Bruno person than a cat person. Ssshhh – don’t let The Empress know!

So Bruno, or to give him his full title, Lord Bruno of Bentley, has one of the sunniest personalities I know. Jack Russell’s are well known for this. However Bruno is ALWAYS EXCITED when his humans come home, whether they have been gone an hour, a work day or a whole week. Even so for the first couple of years, Bruno was the lone outside pet, with only occasional excursions inside. Jacinta and Marmie (the cats) were allowed to come and go via the front door and to spend as much time inside as they liked.

So what changed? After those couple of years, the previously mentioned step-daughter #1, the dog lover, who had chosen Marmie the kitten as her pet, ONE DAY REALLY WANTED A DOG. I wasn’t keen. But I relented. It turns out the dog was still a puppy but nevertheless was a BIG HEADED DOG! She was already bigger than Bruno. Nevertheless they seemed to get on well and they were somewhat companions for each other. Domestic bliss seemed to reign for some time, somehow with the two dogs and the two cats. The cats though sure steered clear of the backyard with the new dog in residence.

The new dog grew and grew and for a while this didn’t seem to be a problem. Occasionally she would turn around and at snap at Bruno but nothing untoward. Until, one afternoon when the new dog was around four times Bruno’s size, she got ticked off with Bruno, grabbed him by the throat and while locked on thrashed him from side to side. It took two of us to separate her jaws from Bruno’s throat and only then after several minutes. We bundled Bruno down to the vet. I had thought to wrap him in a towel and cuddle him while my wife drove. It was alm0st instinctive. I knew humans could go into shock after such trauma, I figured that dogs could be the same. It was some time before the vet could operate. Bruno seemed in the clear as far as still being alive but the vet could not promise that he wouldn’t be disfigured with such a deep wound to the neck. At best his head would look a bit lopsided. Well, it was the best $1,000 we ever spent. In time miraculously Bruno was as good as new, not even a lopsided head! BUT…

THAT was when Bruno became an inside dog. He slept and ate inside and he was only allowed out in the back yard under human supervision. And you also may have guessed. As I cradled Bruno in that towel and as I spent more time with him in the ensuing months, I became a Bruno person!

Now that I am on my own, human wise, the other dog has long gone. I am here with Jacinta, Marmie and Bruno. Marmie and Bruno have become best mates. They even alternate as to who chases who! Marmie is a much better pursuer than Bruno. And one more irony. After the cats have eaten for the evening, they are just as happy to go out. Bruno however has a permanent bed inside. After all, he is still convalescing, isn’t he?

Get Free Pet Information about looking after your pet by clicking here!

More Pets of Tom on Tuesday: Marmie

January 11, 2011

The accompanying photo tells you a lot about what you need to know about Marmaduke, or to his family, Marmie. For instance, he chewed out the flap in the cardboard box, all by himself, because he could. Marmie chews a lot of things, just because he can! Yet he somehow manages to look sweetly innocent!

It was slightly unexpected how Marmie came to live with us. At the time, I lived with my wife and two step-daughters. One day they all went to the local animal shelter. SD #1 is a dog person and has always wanted a dog. So naturally she chose the cute ginger and white KITTEN to bring home! The Empress Jacinta was not impressed! At one time she was the lone pet in the Tom on Tuesday household. After some years, when T-o-T began to co-habit with the aforementioned human family, the Empress Jacinta was forced to share with a dog (more about him in a later post). The arrival of another cat proved too much. I have never heard the Empress hiss so much as she has since the arrival of Marmaduke.

SD #1 moved out a couple of years ago and by then she and the boyfriend had collected four pet dogs, one that she chose AFTER Marmie. And these were all BIG dogs! So, that is how Marmaduke came to stay with Tom on Tuesday.

As with the Empress, I have given Marmaduke a title, two in fact, just for fun. Marmaduke, Duke of Earlville, Earl of Dukeville. So, it is a play on the “duke” in Marmaduke. I do in fact live near a suburb called Earlville. Dukeville is fictional. And in case you were wondering, an Empress definitely outranks a Duke or an Earl. I checked. “You know who” considers it an important detail!

Marmie is definitely a curious cat. Apart from chewing various items, Marmie has yet to meet a bag, a box, a cupboard or a shelf that did not require him investigating. I once thought I would cure Marmie of his habit of climbing into open cupboards by closing the door after him. It didn’t work. He just finds space on a shelf and curls up asleep. Family members thought that his chewing and investigating behaviour meant he is somewhat stupid. Over time it has become clear that that assessment is not correct. Marmie actually prioritises activities in his life: playing, sleeping, eating, annoying the Empress. He only expends energy on important things: eating and occasionally annoying you know who. The rest of the time he saves energy. So falling asleep in any old cupboard, shelf, box or bag is simply an efficient use of energy!

The most memorable adventure Marmie had was when he disappeared for a day. Or rather he missed dinner one night. This was unusual enough to raise concern. When the disappearance extended to two days it was time to start a more determined search. Posters were made, neighbours were questioned. By day three we were really worried. Until we heard a faint “meow”. No more than twenty metres from our house, Marmie was down the storm water drain. First we could hear him, then eventually  he appeared below the grate! The two nearest grates were stuck. At least we knew where he was. We dropped some biscuits through the grate.

Next day, we requested assistance from the fire brigade (“we don’t do that”) and the local water authority. Apparently the employees of the water authority are not authorised to go into the drains! Hello!  That evening, with greater determination I removed one of the grates. I could stand in the hole but could not see along the drain. Finally son-in-law coaxed Marmie along the drain. Marmie wasn’t worried at all. He thought son-in-law had come to play, so Marmie rolled over and asked for his tummy to be tickled. One more strange thing. The drains were damp and definitely dirty. Marmie, however, after more than three days was perfectly clean!

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Later on the night we rescued Marmie from the drain, it poured rain! Marmaduke, the charmer has a charmed life!