Thursday, May 31

Mystery Shopping Orlando

We arrived in Orlando on Tuesday.  My first shop worked out perfect - the hotel was at the airport.  Imagine that:  the convenience of not having to even leave the airport combined with the benefits of a paid overnight stay at a nice hotel.

Yesterday after checking out we did the first of several alcohol compliance restaurant shops I was assigned.  These were last minute additions to our plans.  The shops are quite easy:  we enter a casual dining restaurant and either sit at the bar or in the dining room.  We order alcohol along with whatever food we want to see if we are carded.  For that, I am reimbursed for $35 of food along with a fee for performing the shop.  The report takes ten minutes or less.  Even better, the time range is 12 PM - 11 PM, so I'm not locked into a specific meal and can choose any day between now and the deadline.  These shops just about cover the unreimbursed meals that were left in my schedule.

This morning we check out of our second hotel and head to Clearwater for a day.  I was able to finalize my new business checking account for the LLC that will be used to purchase my next properties.  My plans today are to find an agent and establish my buying criteria.  I'm only in Clearwater one night but will be returning in a few days to continue this process and hopefully look at some properties.

Besides airfare, my total out of pocket expense thus far has been $0.

Tuesday, May 29

The Next Page, Part 2

I am compelled to at least touch on a secondary factor that's driving me to make major life changes.  Besides the need to get in shape, I'm concerned about the health of my community.

I live in Jefferson County, Alabama.  In case you aren't into the news, my county filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in history last year.  Already, major changes have taken place:  three of the four satellite courthouses have been shuttered, potholes aren't being repaired, and there's serious talk of closing the indigent hospital.  This is only the beginning of major changes to come.  I'm all for smaller government, but with a drastically reduced police force and under-investment in infrastructure, my community won't be as desirable in coming years.

Last week The Birmingham News (along with a handful of other papers) announced that it will reduce its publication to three days a week.  When I was in high school we had two daily newspapers - one was delivered in the mornings; the other in the afternoons.  Soon this community won't have a daily paper.

Finally, our sewer system is straining under $3 billion of debt.  They've sent the crooks to prison, but the debts they obligated the citizens for remain.  Sewer rates are already 400% higher than they were 10 years ago, and they are about to head much higher.

Did I mention seven of my nine properties are in Jefferson County?

I'm actually opposed to diversifying one's assets in general.  I side with Warren Buffett on this issue:  diversification is but a hedge against ignorance.  If you know what you are doing, why not make it count by going all-in?  So, I'm not diversifying by asset class - my money still belongs in real estate.  But I am diversifying by geography. It's just the prudent thing to do considering what's going on in my area.

Monday, May 28

The Next Page

I don't really think about it like this today, but this is one of those pivotal page-turning moments of my life.  In five years I'll probably look back and wonder why I didn't do this sooner.  

I'm moving.

I know that's not a big deal for most people, but I've lived in the Birmingham, AL area all my life.  Moving 500 miles away is a big deal to me.  But I'm stuck.  I'm stuck in a routine that isn't advancing me in the ways I need to move forward.

Let me explain.  Back in high school I started to gain weight.  It wasn't a big deal at the time.  I was still young, full of energy, and life was good.  School was easy, I was making what I considered at the time decent money at my job, and the world was mine.

If memory serves me well, my weight first crossed 200 pounds around 1997.  I didn't go much over that, but it was still a big deal.  Then I reacted.  I made changes in my life, and I lost the weight.  It took relentless focus to lose the weight.  I was exercising several hours per day.  By May 1999 I considered myself at a healthy weight:  164 pounds.  I kept most of it off until I returned to college to finish my degree.

What happened?

Over the last 10 years I've let financial success run my life.  On the bright side, by focusing on this singular goal I have done very well.  In just ten years I've accumulated twice the net worth it took my frugal grandfather over 80 years to achieve.  But this has been at the expense of everything else that is important.  Specifically, my health.

What good is it to have a healthy bank account if I wake up every morning with ZERO energy?

I'm glad that I'm not waiting any longer to make these changes.  While I'm seriously overweight, I don't have any medical problems.  My blood pressure is normal, I don't eat red meat except on rare occasions, I'm not addicted to anything (other than food).  But I know fat people don't stay healthy.  It just doesn't happen.

The way I see it, the only way I am going to commit to the major changes that will be required in order to get back in shape is by totally changing my surroundings.  In effect, I have to start over.  I have to move away from the sub-suburbs (exurbs?) I call home now.  I have to leave behind the familiar comfort that keeps me in this holding pattern.  I've got to shake things up.


Friday, May 25

Tying Up Lose Ends

Fresh paint and new carpet
On Tuesday we fly to Orlando for my mystery shopping/conference work trip.  I'll be gone 10 nights/11 days so I've been busy getting things in order back at the Frugal Miser's homestead.

Today I have a tenant moving into my one vacant townhouse.  It was vacant for just 25 days, a relatively quick turnaround.  Still, that's about $600 in lost rent, but on the upside I increased the rent from $625/mo. to $700/mo.

I'm also optimistic that I will receive a check in the mail from my new IRA custodian so that I can establish the business checking account I will be using to expand my real estate empire.  As I mentioned previously, I converted the majority of my IRA assets to a self-directed IRA, which gives me checkbook control over my funds and added flexibility to make the investments I feel are appropriate.

I'm forging ahead with plans to move to the Tampa/Clearwater area.  That's where I want to invest my IRA assets, so it makes sense to move there while I'm doing this.  I'm closer than ever to pulling the trigger on this major life decision.  Right now we are limiting what we buy, making an extra effort to use up what's in the house, and tackling the small repairs that would make my current home marketable to tenants.  I've been pairing down possessions, scanning documents and shredding the originals, and coming up with creative meals to use up ingredients that have been sitting in the pantry too long.  My cat went through a "climbing walls" phase so I've been patching up the scratch marks.  On the financial side, I'm pushing just a little harder to pay off some debts so that I can move with a cleaned up balance sheet.


Wednesday, May 23

Gearing Up for My Next Mystery Shopping Trip

Tip of the Day:  Sometimes you just have to have faith.

Often I am asked how I manage to plan multi-day road trips that are entirely paid for (and then some) by doing mystery shops.  The answer is simple:  I decide where I want to go and then I look for work.

My next trip is the perfect example.  I started with the desire to go to Tampa to look at houses.  One mystery shopping company I work with also does event scheduling for conferences, and the first opportunity I found was to work four days at the conference.  That covered my airfare, so the next step was finding a place to sleep.  Through the same company, I first booked two high end hotels for the end of May.  My total trip encompasses 11 nights, so I still had work to do.  When this company released its June shops, I found two additional hotels to shop.

Having 4 of 11 nights covered, I started to think about gas and food.  I found 12 gas stations to audit.  Each pays $11 plus $6 in gas and $1 for an inside purchase.  This should substantially cover my fuel needs and satisfy my occasional caffeine itch.

Next up was food.  The high end hotels include several meal opportunities, and lunch is provided while I am working the conference.  I signed up for a nice sushi restaurant ($120 reimbursement) so that we will have a decent meal outside of the hotels at least once.  Scoring fast food shops is the easiest thing in the world to do, and since I don't like locking myself into a meal time commitment, I don't plan to schedule too many restaurants in advance.

This is still a work in progress, but I've got some decent prospects.  Today I am supposed to receive an assignment for a high end hotel in the Tampa Bay area for a company I've not worked with before.  I've already spoken with the scheduler, who has confirmed the date and reviewed the property address and job requirements with me.  There's another company that always posts business-class properties in the area and I am just waiting for the jobs to be released (high end = properties like Hilton and Hyatt while business-class is Hampton Inn and similar).

Of course that's not all.  I've requested a couple of movie theater shops and inquired about a handful of bar integrity shops.  Not everything will pan out, but I've already scheduled enough to justify the trip.

The bottom line is that I decided where I wanted to go and the length of my trip before I had a single shop scheduled.  I did the same thing earlier this month on my annual trip to the Berkshire Hathaway meeting in Omaha and it worked out well.  This next trip will be paid for either through 100% reimbursement of expenses or through the fees I receive for doing these jobs.  I will have a healthy amount of cash left over as well.

Tuesday, May 22

Rebelling Against my Inner Frugality

I may as well declare May the Month of Consumerism.  I've always believed you should be frugal where it counts in order to enjoy life.  It's all about having memorable (and when possible, meaningful) experiences.  That's enough justifying.  To the point:  I may have gone a little overboard on my spending this month.




  • I put down a $500 deposit on a 7 day cruise for December.  We sail out of Tampa with stops in Belize, Honduras, the Cayman Islands and Mexico.  I even (gulp) reserved a private excursion in Belize.  I've skipped the excursions on the last two cruises.  When I graduated from college I went on a cruise with some friends and we went cave tubing in Belize.  We had such a good time that I had to do it again.
  • I bought tickets for three concerts.  When I was a teenager I was attending concerts nearly every week; but it's been years since I've been to one.  I'll be seeing Daughtry in June, Journey/Pat Benetar in August (a surprise birthday present for Mom), and Elton John in Savannah in September.
  • I bought my partner a plane ticket for a trip I was planning to do solo.  Might as well make a vacation out of the trip... of course I'll be subsidizing the trip with mystery shops.
With all this fun now planned for the remainder of the year, I'm motivated to work a little bit harder.  Doing a few extra mystery shops when I would otherwise be sitting at home nursing my Internet addiction:  that's a fair trade for the excitement that I can now look forward to.

Monday, May 21

Republic Wireless ($19 unlimited plan) Review and Update

Interestingly, one of the most popular posts on this blog in the last 6 months was my initial review of Republic Wireless.  I'm not surprised.  With tax, I'm paying about $22 per month for unlimited calling, texting and data.  Now that I've used the service for six months I thought I would give you guys an update.

All in all I am quite happy with Republic Wireless.  However, I say this with a big caveat:  the coverage in my area for the Sprint network (through which Republic operates) is noticeably worse than my AT&T coverage was on my previous phone.  Before making the switch, I'd recommend you check out the Sprint coverage map for your area.

I also have experienced a recurring audio problem that I can't figure out.  There is often a delay from when I say something to when the person I am talking to hears me.  I've coped with this by anticipating when someone is about to finish asking a question and starting my answer while they are still talking.  It sounds like a big deal (and it is definitely not desirable), but this makes a big difference in my call experience.  I don't know if this problem stems from my phone or from my phone plan (which, by the way, includes the use of Google Voice to re-direct my calls to the phone number of my choice).  I've narrowed the source of the problem to either Google Voice or the phone itself since my partner, who is also using Republic Wireless, does not experience these same issues.

Still, for someone who doesn't talk on the phone for a living, you could probably put up with these minor inconveniences if saving money is the most important thing to you.  I've cut my mobile phone bill by almost 80% in the last 6 months.  For that, I'm willing to deal with some minor frustration.

Thursday, May 17

Simplify My Life: ING Checkmate

I've had an account with ING Direct for years, but with the lack of physical locations, it hasn't been convenient to use the bank as my primary institution.  When a tenant mails rent, I take the check to my local bank for deposit.  Easy enough, but it still means I have to make a trip that I otherwise would not make.  All my other banking is electronic, so handling those paper checks requires effort.

This changed recently.  Today I tried ING's new remote deposit service, Checkmate.  All I can say is "Wow!"  The service is so easy and intuitive.  Here's how it works:

  • I downloaded the ING Direct app onto my smartphone.  Logging into my account works the same way as if I were on a computer.  I can view my account balances, transfer funds, or find an ATM.  Now, there is an option called "Deposit".
  • It's really quite simple.  After clicking deposit I am taken to a photo screen and told to snap a photo of the front of the check.  Then I take a photo of the back of the check.  Finally, I am asked to enter the amount of the check.
  • Moments later, I receive an email confirming my deposit and asking me to hold onto the check until it clears.
That's it.  I estimate it will take less than a minute to deposit a check this way.  I can deposit the check as soon as it arrives instead of waiting for a convenient time to drive to my local bank.  I save time and gas.  Sweet.

Tuesday, May 15

The Joys of Landlording, Part 2

Yesterday I shared my frustrations about the mess my tenant left me.  Fortunately, there is some good news:  I've already found a new tenant.  We are meeting tonight to sign the lease and for me to collect some cash.  The lease will begin May 25th.  I was fortunate - my business partner from the failed restaurant referred someone at his company who was looking for a new place.

I told myself that I would be more picky the next time I interviewed tenants, but that didn't happen this time.  I just can't stand looking for tenants.  I'm not much of a people person so the thought of showing the house multiple times and fielding dozens of calls doesn't appeal to me.  I didn't have to do a thing this time - the tenant found me.  The reason I said I wanted to be more picky is because I was planning to exclude smokers and pets from future rentals.  This tenant smokes and has a dog.  I'll probably learn to regret moving so quickly, but the reason for doing so is simple:  let's say it would take me one month to find my "ideal" tenant.  That's one month of rent, $700, that I don't collect... and this is quite an optimistic assumption.


  • Heads:  My tenant is respectful to my home.  He takes his dog outside before an accident, and he limits his indoor smoking.  When he moves out, I steam clean the carpets, air out the house and clean the walls.  Total cost:  about the same as with any tenant.
  • Tails:  The tenant is a chain smoking idiot.  He flings ashes onto the carpet and lets the dog do whatever it pleases.  When he moves out, I have to replace the carpet, paint the walls and do a thorough cleaning.  Total cost:  about $1,000, plus my own labor.


Once again I'm flipping a coin and hoping it lands on heads.  Sure, it could cost me in the end.  But it feels great knowing I won't have to do all the work involved with finding a new tenant.

Monday, May 14

The Joys of Landlording

Being a landlord is a perfect choice if you want to see how society is evolving into one of lethargy, filth and helplessness.  Yes, today I'm on my soapbox.

As happens from time to time, I have a vacant property I am rehabbing.  Since my return from Omaha I've spent most of my free time knee deep in disgust.  This was a tenant I really liked, which made it all the more disappointing to see how she left her...my... home.

Don't get me wrong - I expect normal wear and tear.  I know I might need to replace a burnt out light bulb, touch up the paint, and polish the faucets.  But I suppose I give society too much credit.  Just because I take care of my home doesn't mean my tenants will take care of theirs.  Or maybe that's the problem... they know it isn't their home and so they just don't care.


  • The backyard was a jungle.  I'm starting to wonder if my tenant knew she had a backyard because she obviously never thought to cut the grass back there.  I had to pull vines off the side of the house and use a saw to trim some of the thicker brush.
  • The tenant apparently thought I work for Waste Management, because I've hauled three truckloads of garbage she left.
  • When she moved in 28 months ago, I let her pick out brand new carpet.  Let's just say this time I'm picking it out.  How does one ruin carpet in just 28 months?
  • We spent four hours cleaning the main bathroom.  Yuck.
  • Note to self:  never again tell the tenant she can paint if she'd like.  Anyone who entrusts their 8 year old daughter to paint her own room should NOT be trusted to paint anything.
Unfortunately I did not charge a deposit when I rented this house.  When I negotiated the lease, the tenant agreed to stay for at least 2 years if I agreed to do this.  I wonder if tenants behave differently when they know the landlord is holding a deposit or if they just don't give a damn either way.

Thursday, May 10

Back to Reality

It's nice to be home.  On Monday I completed 8 mystery shops.  Instead of heading home I had a merchandising assignment lined up near the house.  It is for a brand new store that hasn't opened yet.  I had no idea how much I would need to do.  I ran out of time Monday and returned yesterday.  I did two other merchandising assignments and even had time to mow the lawn at the vacant townhouse.

I got a head start with the townhouse by having two friends help me out yesterday.  They took care of most of the cleaning and debris removal.  The tenant, who otherwise was a perfect tenant, left me with a mess to clean. My goal is to get this place rented by the end of the month.  I had to pull up the laminate floor due to water stains and will need to replace the carpet, so all the floors except the kitchen and upstairs bathroom need replacing.  I also need to re-paint the house and fix a few things.

Today I have a route of gas stations to shop or audit.  I also have a breakfast shop to do.  Finally, I am mowing my grandfather's lawn.  It's going to be a busy day.  Soon I will need to meet with my uncle, a real estate agent, about possibly selling my grandfather's house.  Originally I planned to rent it out but now I am having second thoughts.

Tuesday, May 8

Omaha Trip Winding Down

All it takes is a week away from home to make you want to be back!  Lucky for me I will be home later today.  I arrived in Kansas City on Sunday evening after completing several gas station audits.  I settled into the only hotel stay that wasn't either free by redeeming Hilton Honors points or free due to mystery shopping.  Since I was paying and I'm tight with my money I stayed at a Days Inn, which was $37 with tax.  It wasn't worth a penny more!  I'm a stickler for cleanliness so the hairs in the bathroom were kind of gross and the stains on the walls were mysterious.  Fortunately the sheets looked clean although I did wake up in the middle of the night feeling like something had bitten me.

Monday morning was a real treat.  Andy from Tight Fisted Miser was in town to pick up a friend from the airport.  I had a great time meeting him and sharing tales of frugality and mystery shopping bloopers.  Our visit was too short due to the fact that I was driving 600 miles on Monday.

The drive wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I stopped in St. Louis at a hole in the wall BBQ restaurant and had some fabulous BBQ for lunch.  I made two additional stops to break up the monotony and arrived at my hotel at 7 PM.  I was pleasantly surprised by the hotel.  It was a newer Hampton Inn on a golf course and pond in one of the most remote locations I've ever seen a Hampton... I'm surprised people find it but I was told it is a popular spot for Civil War buffs and those seeking outdoors activities.

This morning I am auditing four gas stations on my drive home.  I also lucked out and found four gas stations to mystery shop (not audit) that are on the same route I will be taking.  I have a new store merchandising setup job that is supposed to take several hours so I will probably be home by sunset.  Fortunately the new store is only 3 miles from my house.

All in all it's been a great trip.  I am under budget and made some decent money by mystery shopping.  I'm not worn out like I thought I would be... I'm refreshed and energized.  Hopefully later this week I can put together a post about the total cost of my trip along with how much I made by combining mystery shopping.

Saturday, May 5

Pilgrimage to Warren Buffett's Omaha (an Update)

It's been a busy week!  I'm really glad that I planned my annual trip to see Warren Buffett with mystery shopping in mind.  Sure, I'm on the road a bit more, but that means the long drive each way is spread out over three days of driving AND I am paying the costs of this trip by mystery shopping.

I kicked off the trip by doing 4 gas station audits.  I found a restaurant to shop for lunch at the last minute.  Then, I spent the night Wednesday night in Dyersburg, TN, where I mystery shopped a hotel.  I found a restaurant to shop in the mall across the street from the hotel.  I love being able to do multiple shops without getting in the car.  Total out of pocket:  $0

Thursday was an easy day.  I drove from Dyersburg, TN to Keokuk, IA.  I redeemed 7,500 Hilton Honors points to stay at the Hampton Inn in Keokuk.  Along the way I shopped two restaurants.  I saved the food from the second restaurant and ate it for dinner.  I did need to stop for gas before I reached Keokuk.  Total out of pocket:  $15


On Friday I drove from Keokuk to Omaha.  I started the day doing a gas station shop in Fort Madison, IA as well as a last minute breakfast drive-thru shop there.  That covered lunch since breakfast at the hotel was free.  I was running low on gas so I put $13.50 in the tank, which was not part of a mystery shop.  When I arrived in Omaha I had six additional gas stations to audit.  I also found a casual dining restaurant to shop Friday night.  It was a sit-at-the-bar shop with minimal narrative; one of the easiest casual dining shop reports I've seen.  In prior years I have attended a cocktail party at Borsheim's, but I opted out this year because last year it was so crowded that I didn't enjoy myself (imagine that:  free booze and food and I passed on it!).  For my hotel in Omaha I redeemed 25,000 Hilton Honors points for two nights at a Hampton Inn.    Total out of pocket:  $13.50


Today (Saturday) was the big day:  the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder's meeting.  This was the whole purpose of my trip, so there was no way I was missing that.  I was up at 4:30 AM and arrived at the CenturyLink Center before 6 AM.  In prior years this has been early enough to ensure a seat on the main floor in front of the stage, but unseasonably mild temperatures (lows in the mid 60s versus high 30s last year) meant I didn't arrive early enough.  Still, I had second row seats in a reasonable area of the arena.  I I left just before the lunch break to shop four gas stations.  I ate lunch at a Chinese place not too far from the arena (under $10).  I was back in time for the meeting to resume but spent a few minutes in the exhibit hall before heading back to the arena.  There were several viewing areas in the exhibit hall so I did not miss much.  I only purchased a three pack of t-shirts from the Fruit of the Loom station ($5).  After the meeting (I left 10 minutes early to beat traffic), I took the trusty Corolla to get an oil change.  The oil change, of course, was a mystery shop.  This was in Council Bluffs and I had a bit of an itch to gamble, even though Charlie Munger detests gambling and got on his soap box about it today.  I stopped at Harrah's for about an hour.  I was lucky:  I left with $10 more than I came.  Total out of pocket:  $5


I'm having a blast and hate that the remainder of the trip is the ride home.  Driving home is never as fun as heading there to begin with.  I do have 6 shops to do tomorrow on my way to Kansas City.  I will definitely have to come out of pocket some time Monday for gas, but with a tank that's nearly full now I expect that it won't be too expensive.  Hopefully on Monday morning I will be meeting a fellow frugal miser, Andy from Tight Fisted Miser.  We are planning to meet for breakfast if we can work out the logistics.

Friday, May 4

My Frugal Miser - April Expenses: $6,244



My April expenses were much higher than normal thanks to the one-time expense of converting my IRA to a Self-Directed IRA.  Since I plan to use the fund to buy rental houses, I categorized the $3,000 fee as a rental expense.   The only other out of the ordinary expense was the $360 I lost at a casino on one of my mystery shopping trips.  I should really stay away from casinos; they seem to be my one and only vice.




April Personal Expenses ($1,312)
$148 Auto ($148 fuel, $0 service)
$10 Bank Fees
$0 Clothing
$368 Entertainment (movies, gambling, alcohol)
$63 Food
$0 Gifts Given
$0 Home Repair
-$9 Household
$0 Homeowner's Association Dues
$139 Health and Dental Insurance
$0 Medical
$99 Miscellaneous
$383 Mortgage Interest (primary residence)
$0 Personal Care
$0 Subscriptions
$0 Taxes
$111 Utilities
$0 Vacation

April Business Expenses ($4,932)

$750 Mortgage Interest (rental properties)
$238 Interest on Debt (not including Mortgage Interest)
$3,944 Rental Properties - Maintenance and Repairs (includes a one-time expense in April)


Total April Expenses : $6,244


Notes
  • If not for my gambling loss I would have spent less than $1,000 this month.  Even with that expense it was a frugal month.
  • I spent $148 on gas.  The majority of my driving was to do mystery shops, including two out of state trips. I also made a few trips to my grandfather's house to cut the grass and tend to things there.  
  • I was told the normal fee from Guidant Financial to do the IRA conversion (which is much more than just swapping funds from one account to another; it includes forming an LLC as well as two consultations with a lawyer) is $4,000 but they run an annual sale around tax time.  Normally I don't believe such nonsense but when I did some research online, most of the reviewers said they paid $4,000, so maybe I really did get a fair price.
  • Utilities includes my unlimited smartphone plan with Republic Wireless, natural gas, electricity, water and sewer.
  • I shopped so many restaurants and other food establishments that my spending in this category was only $63 in April.
  • I returned a few things I bought prior to April.  This explains how Household expenses were a negative.

Thursday, May 3

My Frugal Miser - April Income: $6,781


April was somewhat challenging, but mostly due to a one time expense I'll talk about tomorrow.  I earned more than I spent but was cash flow negative since I don't include principal payments in my expenses.  Tomorrow I will take a look at my spending, so today let's took a look at where the money came from.




April Income
$1,255 Mystery Shopping
$5,162 Rental Income
$365 Other Sources
$6,781 Total Income for April


Notes:
  • I ran short of my mystery shopping goal of $1,500 in income.  I probably earned that much but because of some higher expenses that offset it, the amount I am reporting is less.
  • Rental income was lower than normal because one tenant prepaid his April rent.  He says he is going to prepay his June rent with his May check so hopefully that will offset the rent I won't receive on the vacant townhouse.  Cash is super tight this month.
  • Other Sources includes my 2011 federal tax refund, offset by a loan I made that should be repaid this month.

Wednesday, May 2

Omaha or Bust

Later this morning I'll be heading toward Omaha for the 2012 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders meeting featuring The Man, Warren Buffett.

Since my update last week I've managed to pick up even more mystery shops, and unless I lose it in one of the casinos over in Council Bluffs, my shop fees will just about cover the cost of this trip.

Imagine that:  7 days, 6 nights and 2,000 miles.  All expenses paid (including the requisite Buffett souvenirs I usually purchase), thanks to mystery shopping.

Tuesday, May 1

My Frugal Miser - May 2012 Goals


May is going to be a busy month.  Wednesday I leave for the Berkshire Hathaway meeting and I won't be back until the 8th.  Then I leave again on the 29th for a mystery shopping/conference working trip to the Orlando area.  Hopefully during that trip I can spend some time looking at houses in nearby Tampa/Clearwater.  Here's what I'd like to do this month:

Tangible Goals

  • This month I will pay off the $3,000 expense to convert my IRA to a self-directed IRA.
  • I will prepare my vacant rental home and identify the new tenant (signed lease).
  • I will earn $1,000 from mystery shopping this month.

Not so Tangible Goals

  • I was hoping to have the self-directed IRA setup by the end of April, but since that didn't happen I want to have things complete by the end of May.
  • I also need to make progress on my grandfather's house.  All I did in April was keep the grass cut.
  • I purchased a new domain name that will cater to landlords and I'd like to at least get started on it during the month of May.