Pushing The Boundaries With Bogan Bingo's Darren Hilsley

It was a long way to the top for entrepreneur Darren Hilsley, but when unprecedented business success came with the double-edged sword of a potential six-figure tax bill, property investment helped reduce his obligations.

Pushing The Boundaries With Bogan Bingo's Darren Hilsley
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As the founder of a global business phenomenon, the last thing Darren Hilsley considered was his growing tax obligations, but a potential six-figure bill meant it was time to seek out a better financial strategy. Successfully taking Bogan Bingo from one night a week in the local pub to a licensed enterprise, Darren runs 500-600 shows per year around the world. He now owns four properties - all purchased by discovering how to push the boundaries, reining in spending where necessary to get ahead and making risky decisions in a safe way.

When Darren bought his first property in Cairns some years ago, he’d been acting on advice intended for somebody else. Soon to receive an inheritance, his girlfriend at the time was told by her father to start looking for sensible ways to invest her money. With funds set aside to travel overseas, Darren couldn’t help but realise his savings would be better spent buying a property.

“I used the money I’d put aside to do the trip as a deposit on a unit,” he says.

The $80k property would eventually become the launching pad for many of Darren’s subsequent real estate and business ventures - what he says now was his best ever investment decision.

When Darren later moved from Cairns to Melbourne, jobless and on the dole, the rent from his unit helped prop up his meagre income and keep food on the table. It was a tough few years while he tried to land on the right business idea to get up and running in pub entertainment, a background with which he was well acquainted after years in hospitality.

As Darren’s fledgeling enterprise started to take off - and the share house where he was renting was put up for sale - he knew he needed more than just a bedroom next time around. He’d have to find a property large enough to park his tour bus and preferably have office space too.

Still unable to afford a house on his own, Darren worked out he’d be able to meet repayments if he bought a bigger place and rented out the extra bedrooms. That income, combined with the proceeds from the sale of his Cairns unit, was what finally got him into Melbourne’s competitive property market. Later purchasing another property (this time in Brunswick), Darren set this next one up as a share house too, converting the garage into a studio office and renting out two of its three bedrooms. And while the first few properties Darren bought were more about putting a roof over his own head, when his business skyrocketed the thought of a potential $100,000 tax bill saw the benefits of property investment come to the fore.

This major aha moment saw Darren gaining formal education about how the right strategy could safeguard his earnings.

“They really showed me how money can work for you with depreciation and rental incomes,” he says.

What’s more, Darren realised that it was actually okay to purchase properties to which he had no emotional attachment whatsoever.

“It was something new for me, buying properties I wasn’t attached to and wasn’t going to live in.”

He eventually bought two properties off-the-plan in the Queensland growth corridors of Caboolture and Logan. Whilst a friend’s last minute fears regarding the contracts made him wary of going ahead, everything so far has been fairly smooth sailing.

The only oversight that has given Darren any problems was that one of the properties was a freestanding house on a strata-plan. Having experienced a body corporate with his Cairns unit, it wasn’t an ideal situation to find himself in again.

“It’s kind of like getting back together with an ex-girlfriend, it’s not really a place I wanted to go,” Darren says.

From having to purchase street signs and fund trade access to each property, he says lots of little expenses have started to add up. Being part of the first round of investors, however, he does accept it as part of the process.

Moving forward, Darren aims to invest more in his business then turn his attention back to paying off his Brunswick home by 2020. After that point, he’ll consider adding more properties to his portfolio.

To new investors, Darren says you should only consider asking people about property who own and invest themselves. And as for where to buy, well that’s just a matter of looking for that next Bunnings considering they’ve already done all the research about the next growth areas.

The ability to calculate his worst case scenario with each purchase is what Darren credits for safeguarding his investments - crucial for anyone going into property.

“It doesn’t cost you anything to figure it out and it’s always less than you think,” he says.

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