Thursday, May 30

More Simplifying...

This is really taking hold lately.  In the last couple of weeks I've done even more to simplify my life:

Finances

These days I'm focused on eliminating recurring transactions.  

  • Paying off Student Loans.  Even though it isn't the smartest money move (I only pay 1.625% interest), I've decided to pay off my student loans.  In May I paid off the smaller of the two loans.
  • After paying my student loans, I will start paying down the mortgage I have on one of my rental properties. 
  • I canceled my $9 Fare Club membership with Spirit Airlines.  It was due for renewal and I realized I had never benefited from it.  Easy decision to make.
  • I'm taking a hard look at all the recurring expenses.  Up on the chopping block are our Busch Gardens annual passes.  It gets harder after that:  nearly all the remaining expenses are mandatory ones like utility bills.

Investing in Recurring Income

While tackling recurring expenses, I want to grow recurring income.
  • Investing in our Airbnb.  It's still earning us significantly more rental income than a traditional rental.  With the dog days of summer upon us, I expect to have some unfilled days.  This will be the perfect time to do some work on the house.  Since the house was built in the 50's there are plenty of things that need to be done, from managing the overgrown back yard and dilapidated fence to replacing the ancient windows.
  • Shifting to more passive recurring income.  While the Airbnb certainly isn't a passive investment, I definitely want to put income generation on auto-pilot.  As an example, when I sold the townhouses, I used some of the funds to invest in Realty Mogul.  I'm a part-owner of an apartment complex in Raleigh, NC now, but I have zero responsibilities as far as maintaining the property or handling tenants.  Removing myself from day to day management frees me up to focus on other things.

Eliminating (More) Things

Next on my list is the garage.  Now that we sold 5 townhouses, I'm considering getting rid of some of my tools.  We also have two mopeds that we never use.  The list goes on.

Tuesday, May 14

How I've Been Simplifying My Life

Getting rid of material things, unnecessary tasks, and unused financial accounts is important to me.  Living simply allows me to focus.  Recently, two of my bank accounts were compromised.  Both were at the same bank, with one being my primary checking account.  I have no inkling as to how someone obtained both account numbers and routing numbers, and what's even more troubling was the method used to withdraw funds from the accounts.  Without knowing how to prevent this from happening again, the only thing I can think of to do is to simplify my finances so that I can be laser-focused on each of my accounts.

Bank Account Closures

Closed a Savings Account

I never used the savings account and only kept the minimum balance I thought I needed to get free checking at my bank.  Once I realized I qualified for free checking based on having direct deposits, it was no longer necessary to keep the savings account.  Since this was one of the compromised accounts, it made sense just to close it out. 

Closed My HSA

I drew down the balance in my Health Savings Account.  I no longer qualify to make deposits into the account, which made it an easy decision to get rid of it. 

Canceled a Credit Card

Finally, I canceled a credit card I had with Bank of America.  Since I had no other relationship with that bank and the card had an annual fee, it was a no-brainer to get rid of it.  I have other credit cards with annual fees, and will consider closing them when the benefits don't justify the fee.  I have two cards, for example, that award a free night each year at the branded hotel chain.  Since the annual fee is less than the cost of that free night, there's no reason to cancel the account.

Resolved Nagging Issues

When I purchased our phones last year, I took advantage of a Google Fi promotion for buy one phone, get one free.  For some odd reason, Google never credited my account for the promotion.  I had to contact the company more than a dozen times, but eventually they properly credited my account.  I'm still waiting on the apology for all my time that was wasted!

Lastly, when I sold the townhouses in March, there was a lien on one of them from a mortgage I paid off 10 years ago.  Chase forgot to release the lien when I paid off the mortgage.  Getting this resolved took several hours of my time, but I finally received the necessary paperwork, and the closing attorney released the funds I was due.  This was a huge relief!

Eliminating Things

The battle against "stuff" rages on.  What is helping right now is an idea I have to house hack our next home purchase.  Right now it's just an idea, but if we go through with it, I want our next home to be one that we can Airbnb during high demand times or when we are out of town.  In order to do that, we need to minimize our personal belongings, which will need to be stowed away before guests arrive.  

I've been actively dejunking.  Right now we have almost a carload of stuff that needs to be taken to Goodwill.  This is just a drop in the bucket, though.  My focus is on excessive clothing at the moment.  It's hard to get rid of clothes that "almost fit" or those that are barely worn but just aren't my style, even though it should be easy to toss these things.

How are you simplifying your life?

Monday, May 6

My Frugal Miser - April Expenses: $11,129


Overall April had a lot of expenses.  I replaced the HVAC system at the Airbnb.  It froze up for the second time, and with summer around the corner, I wanted to be proactive.  The old system was 20 years old so it was time. 

I also paid 6 months of auto insurance ($533), made a quarterly tax payment, and paid for our Chinese visas and gratuities for the China trip we are taking later this year.



April Expenses:  $11,129

$1,067 Auto (service, gas, insurance, AAA, etc.)
$0 Bank Fees
$10 Clothing/ Personal Care
$564 Fun (vacations movies, gambling, alcohol, concert tickets) 
$527 Food
$506 Health & Dental
$1,519 Household/Mortgage Payment/Home Repair
$34 Interest Expense*
$168 Miscellaneous
$690 Taxes includes quarterly tax payments
$0 App Jobs Expenses (tolls, car washes, etc.)
$131 Unreimbursed Employee Expenses
$57 Reimbursed Employee Expenses
$312 Utilities
$725  Rental Property Expenses
$4,889 AirBNB Expenses

*Interest expense includes student loans.  As the rate is below 2%, I am completely comfortable paying the interest each month and investing the money that I would otherwise use to pay off this loan.  

Friday, May 3

My Frugal Miser - April Income: $12,597


I had a decent month in April, and I worked a lot.  We went to Nashville for a meeting, where we made $1,400 before taxes.  I worked another small meeting in Orlando after that and ended the month with a meeting in Chattanooga (earnings from that one will be paid in May).  I also did a lot of Amazon routes, and drove for Uber and Lyft for a few hours one morning when I couldn't sleep. 

Rental income includes the security deposits I was refunded on the townhouses I sold at the end of March, so it was higher than normal.  The Airbnb was booked almost the entire month, though I did block a few days when we were out of town.

I put some of the proceeds from the townhouses in short term savings.  I earned a $200 bonus from Discover Bank.  Interest income will be higher until I find a better investment for that cash.

April Income: $12,597

$264 Mystery Shopping
$1,980 Meeting Jobs
$64 Gig Apps (Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Doordash)
$1,891 Amazon Deliveries
$5,941 Rental Income
$2,216 Airbnb Income
$35 Interest Income
$207 Other Sources

Investment Accounts Change in Value:  $2,516