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Tuesday, March 31

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 15 (Sunday, March 29th)

This Amazon driver can't get a single route!
I forgot to mention that we filed for unemployment yesterday.  It doesn't look like the meeting industry is going to crank back up anytime soon.  I had been holding off on filing for a couple weeks.  For one, I have mixed feelings when it comes to accepting help.  I don't like doing it.  But after yesterday's real estate issues I realized that our cash flow will be dramatically lower for the foreseeable future.

I thought I was diversified:

  • Income from work included meetings and events, rideshare driving and making deliveries.  Even Amazon deliveries have slowed down dramatically as they way overhired drivers here.  There's just not enough work to go around.  The entire meeting industry has ceased and I'm not comfortable giving strangers rides in my car at the moment (not to mention the significant drop in demand).
  • I own real estate including single-family long-term rentals, a short-term Airbnb, and am a minority partner in 5 apartment complexes.  I am also geographically diversified.  The Airbnb is obviously suffering - beaches are closed.  My long-term tenants are struggling to pay or planning to move out.  The apartment complexes are also struggling with cash flow issues.
  • My stock portfolio was heavy on dividend paying companies, cruise lines and retailers.  I expect dividends to be cut, and most of the stocks have plummeted in value.
So, even though our income is derived from multiple sources, it's taking approximately a 90% hit right now.  Thus, I don't feel I have a choice but to file for unemployment.

Monday, March 30

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 15 (Saturday, March 28th)

Day 15 (Saturday, March 28th)

Can we delete this day and move ahead?  

Around 2am I received an inquiry for the Airbnb.  It was a short message asking me to call the potential guest, but Airbnb doesn't allow phone numbers to be transmitted so all I could do was respond to the guest.  Airbnb warned me the guest may be trying to book outside of the platform and reminded me that this was forbidden.  While I was awake I also noticed the thermostat at the Airbnb had gone offline.  No message from the current guest, so I didn't worry too much.

I went back to sleep until nearly 8am.  I never sleep this late, but it was nice to get a full 8 hours for a change.  Then I started looking at my emails.  I still own three rental properties in Alabama.  I had received maintenance alerts for two of them.  One reported that the A/C was not working.  The other reported a fairly significant leak with water damage.  I'm still waiting for the March rent on the third property, by the way.  As they say, when it rains, it pours.

We don't normally include holes in our doors.
And that's when the storm hit.  That "future guest" who had attempted to contact me overnight messaged me again.  Turns out she lives across the street from my Airbnb.  The police were called to the house twice overnight.  There was a party, fighting, the sound of breaking glass.  She'd tried to reach out at 2am not to book our home, but to let me know what was happening.  My heart sank.  I mean, it felt like the world was caving in all around me.

After confirming with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office that they had indeed come to my house, I only had one choice:  remove the guest.  We don't allow drama.  No parties, no groups over 6 guests.  My partner and I left for the house.  I arranged with the sheriff's office to have a deputy accompany me when I removed the guests.  Three cars showed up at once.  My fears and anxieties were lifted, and a newfound confidence restored by the fact that three officers of the law were backing me up.  Fortunately the guest only protested slightly.  Within half an hour they were gone.

That's a rug.  No, smoking is not allowed.
The house did have some damage, but it could have been much worse:
  • Someone punched a hole in an interior door.
  • Area rug was ruined by smoking (marijuana, not tobacco).
  • Every sheet and pillowcase was stained.
  • Vomit on bathroom floor and behind toilet.
  • Electrical outlet covers broken.
  • The drain pipe for the air conditioner had been knocked loose.  It was 85 degrees in the house because it triggered the shut-off - this explains the thermostat going offline.
Fortunately, we were able to restore the house in a few hours.  All that's left to do is to replace the area rug and repair the door.

So, that was our Saturday.  How was yours!?!

Sunday, March 29

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 14 (Friday, March 27th)

Day 14 (Friday, March 27th)

I woke up just after midnight and had trouble falling back to sleep.  I made the most of it, reading the Wall Street Journal and drinking water.  Finally around 2AM I went back to sleep and I slept until 6AM.  

Every once in a while I do some merchandising work.  Surprisingly, one of my clients had a liquor store project (surprising since most jobs are on hold right now).  I had 12 stores to go to, for $8 each.  Not much, but all I had to do was put stickers on a few bottles of gin.  It was super easy and only took a couple of hours.  

While I was visiting liquor stores my partner was painting doors at the Airbnb.  We're trying to spruce it up while the weather is still nice and while we have some downtime.  While I was out working, I received a 2 night booking for the weekend.  It's such a huge relief to still be getting reservations.  Yes, rates are much lower than normal.  But right now we need cash flow.  It just doesn't feel right having that house sit empty.

Saturday, March 28

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 13 (Thursday, March 26th)

Day 13 (Thursday, March 26th)

I woke up at 5am sharp, which is reasonable these days but not enough sleep.  Instead of jumping out of bed I reached for the computer to see what happened overnight.  Pinellas County issued a stay at home order.  I live in Hillsborough County but our Airbnb is in Pinellas.  Not sure how this will affect bookings.  It's not like business is booming, but we have managed to receive a couple last minute bookings at lower than normal rates.

Companies are beginning to warn about their ability to survive this situation.  Cheesecake Factory said it won't be able to pay its April rent.  AMC Theaters furloughed its corporate staff, even the CEO.  On the one hand, this is really stressful to think we may lose some companies that I do business with.  However, it also makes me wonder why those companies weren't better prepared for hard times.  Sure, the situation is unlike any other.  No one plans for a 100% decline in sales.  But companies should have the means to continue operating at least for a while under dire circumstances.  I hope this virus changes the way companies handle their balance sheets.  Less debt, more liquidity.

This morning we had to clean the Airbnb.  The guests were  radio silent since making their last minute reservation and I was hoping they were gentle with our home.  Turns out they were very respectful, and it was super easy to clean.

Later I did a couple Doordash deliveries and an Amazon route.  

Friday, March 27

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 12 (Wednesday, March 25th)

Day 12 (Wednesday, March 25th)

I woke up around 5:30 in the morning, which is fairly normal for me.  I had a stomach ache, which seems to happen whenever I eat right before I go to bed.  Nevertheless, I jumped out of bed.

After feeding the cats I started to read the newspaper.  My stomach and the lack of caffeine had me feeling sluggish, so I decided to go for a ride on my bike.  There's something about fresh air, especially early in the morning while the weather is still nice.  When I returned from the brief outing I was already feeling better.

Yesterday I made Spam Onion soup.  Yes, it makes me laugh, too.  We had some perishable items that needed to be used up.  The Spam Onion soup included rice, peas, green onions, cilantro, chicken broth, yellow onions and spam, along with some seasonings.  It turned out better than I thought, so I had some for breakfast along with a grilled cheese.

The big economic news of the day was that the Senate finally approved a stimulus plan.  Things looked fairly uncertain until late in the day.  The House is doing a voice vote on Thursday.  I learned a voice vote means they do not have to reconvene the House in Washington, D.C.  But if one House member objects, it would slow down the process.

I completed a 3 hour route for Amazon at the Brandon warehouse today.  I also did a handful of Doordash deliveries.  My income is way down, but it's better than nothing.

Thursday, March 26

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 11 (Tuesday, March 24th)

Day 11 (Tuesday, March 24th)

Today we had some structure!  After lowering rates on the Airbnb we received a 2 day booking and the guests checked out this morning.  We left home around 10am and headed there.  The house was in pretty good condition but I did spend extra time disinfecting, wiping down doorknobs, etc.  While we were there, we got a last minute booking that wanted to check in right away.  I approved the request and let the guest know we would be finished cleaning around 1pm.

As we were driving home I started looking for an Amazon route.  I also noticed Doordash had immediate availability so I signed on.  Both efforts were rewarded:  I found a 3 hour route in Sarasota for 4:15pm and I was able to accept a Walmart delivery on Doordash.  The Sarasota route was pretty easy and I finished in an hour and a half.

Once I got home I showered then had a couple of beers while we watched Karate Kid.  I fell asleep during the movie.

Wednesday, March 25

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 10 (Monday, March 23rd)

Day 10 (Monday, March 23rd)

I woke up around 5am for no particular reason.  Good thing I did because I was able to grab a rare Amazon Fresh route for 7am-9am.  I made 6 deliveries and it was easy.  I tried to get a second route but was unsuccessful.  I turned on Doordash instead and did a couple of Walmart deliveries.

While I was at Walmart I did some shopping.  The store was still out of a lot of things.  The toilet paper/paper towel aisle - yes, it is an entire two sided aisle at this store, was 100% sold out.  There were quite a few other shortages as well, especially canned goods.

This afternoon I got a 4 hour route in Sarasota.  It was a tough one all the way down in Venice.  I put a lot of miles on my car today.  

While driving home I spoke with a couple of my meeting industry friends.  We all agree our industry is on life support.  One company that provides me a significant amount of income laid off 95% of its staff today.  The CEO sent an email out detailing the problems and other cuts they were doing to try to survive.  He said things aren't looking good in the next few months.

Once I got home, I ate a light dinner, checked emails and then watched Schitts Creek.

Tuesday, March 24

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 9 (Sunday, March 22nd)

Day 9 (Sunday, March 22nd)

A few days ago we got a 2 day Airbnb reservation.  I expected the guest to cancel after the beaches closed, but he did not.  So, we left early to go over there.  The house was already clean, but it is oak pollen season and, with very little to do otherwise, I figure the guests might want to lounge on the patio.  We wiped everything down and I dusted a bit in the house.

We came straight home and I started looking for an Amazon route.  I also looked for and quickly found a Doordash schedule.  It wasn't exactly busy:  in 4 hours I received 4 orders, all for Walmart deliveries.  The pay is low - $6-$7 per order - and I'm not sure how tipping works.  One customer gave me $5 cash but the other orders say a tip can be added later.  We'll see.  I ended up with a 3 hour route in Sarasota on Amazon.  That's it.

After getting home from my route, I looked at the news.  A mistake.  Senator Rand Paul has coronavirus.  I'm usually not a fan of big government but this time is an exception.  We can't have our senators coming down with the virus and delaying these important decisions.  Ugh...

Monday, March 23

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 9 (Saturday, March 21st)

Day 9 (Saturday, March 21st)

We slept in the guest bedroom again.  Just trying to change things up.  I woke up with indigestion.  I added too much Sriracha sauce to my dinner!

I've started decluttering the house again.  This morning I started in the office.  I also read the Wall Street Journal.  I had a rare 11am Amazon route.  I completed it, went home, and started looking for a second route.  Success:  I got a 4:30pm route in Sarasota.  That was an easy one:  the warehouse overscheduled drivers, so I was only given one package to deliver.

After the Amazon route I decided to try Doordash.  I have had a driver account for a couple years but only delivered a few orders when I first got it.  It was very busy and in less than 4 hours I made $75.  When I got home, my partner talked me into making a Taco Bell run.  We ate that at home while watching Schitts Creek.  We fell asleep soon afterwards, once again in the guest bedroom.

Sunday, March 22

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 8 (Friday, March 20th)

Day 8 (Friday, March 20th)

Last night we slept in the guest bedroom.  Lit some candles and watched an episode of Schitts Creek before I fell asleep.  That was the first time sleeping in that room.  Just trying to change things up a little, but the bed I normally sleep on is more comfortable.

When we woke up we walked around the neighborhood, another first.  I used to exercise regularly but got out of the habit.  Trying to start again.

Shortly after the walk we headed to Wal-Mart and Aldi to pick up some groceries.  I was surprised by the low inventory levels at Wal-Mart.  The media keeps reminding people there is plenty of food and not to panic.  Seems Wal-Mart shoppers aren't listening.

I was able to get a late afternoon route at Amazon, another $54 route which seems to be all I can get lately.  Before going, I caught up on the last few days of newspapers, read a magazine, and dejunked a basket in the kitchen that was full of miscellaneous crap.  I'm going to start culling more stuff while I have all this time.

I'm a little worried about our rental income.  I have two houses and a condo in Birmingham, plus the Airbnb here in Florida.  My retirement account owns a house in Florida plus we own the house we live in (well, the bank owns it if I stop paying the mortgage!).  The tenant in my condo has been there a long time and hasn't paid the March rent yet.  He said the IRS garnished his wages last check.  One of the two houses is going to be vacant next month because the tenants are buying a house.  Our income has been severely impacted by this virus.

Saturday, March 21

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 7 (Thursday, March 19th)

Day 7 (Thursday, March 19th)

I slept surprisingly well last night.  In the last year or so I've been waking up in the middle of the night and unable to fall back to sleep.  That didn't happen last night.

I started the day by erasing my partner's old phone and listing it on ebay.  My phone has a big crack on the screen so I'm not sure it's worth selling... we shall see.  Then I had my monthly call with my health coach.   This is required for my insurance or I would probably cancel it, as I have to pay $80/month for being overweight and could easily use the money somewhere else.  I agreed to do more "mindful eating" in the next 30 days, which is a fancy way of saying I will eat more slowly to avoid overeating.

Today was the first day I woke up with no work planned.  It's been really hard to get Amazon routes lately.  Early in the afternoon I finally got a 3 hour route in Sarashitta.  I call Sarasota "Sarashitta" because the warehouse historically has had the worst routes of all the delivery stations in Tampa Bay.  But in times like these, I take what I can get.  When I finished the route I was 54 miles from home, which sucked.  The route itself was nice as I was on Longboat Key which is right on the Gulf of Mexico.  Delivered to some really fancy beach homes.

Before I left, I sold 1,000 shares of Vereit that I bought the day before, securing a 15% one-day gain.  In a normal world I should have kept these shares.  Eventually they will go back up.  But right now securing a nice profit while having a little cash sitting in my account just feels like the right thing to do.

Friday, March 20

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 6

Day 6 (Wednesday, March 18th)

I had an Amazon (Whole Foods) route from 9-11.  It was eerily quiet in Whole Foods and many of the shelves were bare.  The hot bar, restaurant and all the self-service bins were closed.  It's all about minimizing contact I guess.  What really shocked me though was how empty the delivery shelves were.  I was only assigned 3 small deliveries.

After that route I was able to pick up a 3 hour afternoon route.  I'm frustrated with Amazon right now because yesterday they issued a press release saying they were hiring 100,000 new people for warehouse and delivery jobs due to overwhelming demand.  That's garbage.  It's so hard to get work right now at Amazon.  I would love to work a full day, but all I've been getting are scraps.  Now they want to hire more drivers?  Why?

Gas is getting less expensive.  Other than the new phone plans, that's the only thing I spent money on Wednesday.  Thornton's sent me an offer to save $.15/gallon, which brought it down to $1.84.  I filled up the tank for $25.  

Yesterday right before markets closed I placed a limit order for a REIT I've owned in the past.  It didn't reach my desired price before the close.  Right after the market closed, the company announced it was suspending its monthly dividend.  Fortunately I was able to cancel the order after hours because the stock went way down today.  I'm still keeping an eye on the stock - it's even cheaper now - but I'm using funds from the house I sold last week and my intentions are to replace the lost rent with dividends, so that doesn't work.

We went to Sprint to change phone plans.  They have a new plan called Unlimited Kickstart.  It's $35/month and you get a $300 prepaid card for signing up.  That will help us cut costs.  It was surprisingly busy at the Sprint store.  I found out most of the stores closed down and consolidated into stores that offered repair services, so everyone was going there.  I got lucky, kind of:  our current phones aren't compatible, so I selected a used LG phone.  The cashier rang me up and activated the phone, only to find the battery was defective.  She ended up giving me a brand new phone for the same $50 price.

My stock investments have lost over $100,000.  It's shocking.  I'm not selling.  I know it's going to take some time, but they will bounce back.  I've bought a lot at deeply discounted prices so I am depending on it.  Today I deployed most of the funds from the rental property I sold.  The majority of it went into Vereit.  It's insanely cheap and, if the dividend stays the same, I will earn as much from this stock as I was earning from rent on that house... with significantly less effort!  I'm not naive though and realize rent concessions for some of these shuttered retailers might hurt the company in the coming months.

Last thing, a bit of (hopefully) good news.  I got a 2 night booking for the Airbnb on Sunday.  The guest booked the non-refundable rate and is coming from Atlanta, which is in driving distance.  It's discounted fairly heavily, but still $200 that we weren't getting already.

Thursday, March 19

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 5

Day 5 (Tuesday, March 17th)

I woke up at 1:45 in the morning.  I thought I had to pee, but I didn't fall back to sleep.  Eventually I jumped online and looked at the news.  Regal and AMC are closing down for several weeks.  Yesterday we saw The Hunt at our local AMC.  Never seen the theater so quiet:  there were only two others in our theater.  Glad we got to see one more before it shut down.

Money will be tight, but I'm better off than a lot of people.  The funds from the house I sold were wired to me yesterday.  I moved a lot of the money into a brokerage account - stocks are starting to get real cheap.  I opened a new account to get the bonus:  $1,000 after 90 days.  

Today we went back to the Airbnb.  We replaced the mattress in the master bedroom and the replacement is one of those fancy mattress-in-a-box ones that need time to expand.  So, we went over there to make the bed, break down some old fence posts, and make a few small repairs.  I needed to replace a couple of damaged tiles in the dining room and address some other minor things.  The Airbnb is looking better than ever.

We ran by Chicken Salad Chick on the way home.  We get a free pint of chicken salad each for the first 12 months it is open because we were one of the first 100 customers when it opened.  The restaurant was also having a buy one get one half price for the Chick Trio so we splurged on lunch - to go!

I had an Amazon route at 4:45.  Earlier in the day Amazon announced its warehouses were only accepting shipments of medicine and household staples.  Will they start having shortages, too?

Got home around 6:30.  Had a hot bath and some fettuccine alfredo, then watched Schitts Creek. 

Wednesday, March 18

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 4

Day 4 (Monday, March 16th)

It's bad enough we have the Coronavirus scaring people to death.  This oil war between Russia and Saudi Arabia is simply gravy on top of the taters.  A lot of consumers are elated.  Here in Tampa, gas is under $2/gallon.  I like paying less for gas, and since the only work I am doing involves lots of driving, it's certainly saving me money.  Problem is, the oil industry in the U.S. can't produce cheap oil like Russia and the Middle East can.  If prices don't go up, a lot of companies are going to go bankrupt.

On Monday I woke up to news the Las Vegas strip is starting to close.  MGM is closing all its strip casinos.  Last night the Fed cut interest rates to zero.  Trump was happy.  The stock markets?  Not so much.  Watching CNBC, futures were down so much that trading was going to be halted at the opening of markets today.  What started with just my industry being affected is now spreading to many other industries.  Fortunately for others, most of those are W-2 positions which will qualify them for unemployment.  Most of my meeting work is 1099, so probably no relief in sight for the thousands of workers in the events industry.

It's weird that so many places are closed, but I'm sure it's helping people keep money in their pockets.  Wonder how this will affect the Orlando economy.  Is Disney going to keep paying its hourly employees?  What about all the hotels that depend on tourism?  How are all these companies going to stay solvent without revenues?  I don't think a couple weeks will spell disaster.  It will be super ugly, but not Armageddon.  Much longer than that and we could see Great Depression Volume 2.

Financial markets were in freefall again today.  The Dow closed with just shy of a 3,000 point loss, and the biggest percentage drop since Black Monday in 1987.  It's a crazy world!

Tuesday, March 17

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 3

Day 3

On Sunday I woke up at 3am, sore from the work we did at the Airbnb the day before.  I never went back to sleep, so I jumped online to see what was going on in the world.  Nothing but a bunch of panic.

We needed to leave the house early to head back to the Airbnb.  On the way I noticed a couple cruise ships parked at the Port of Tampa.  I wonder if they're just going to sit there since all the cruise lines have shut down.  I posted a Facebook ad to have a mattress picked up and was meeting a guy at 8am.  He showed up a few minutes early.  Turns out he owns a tree service, so I asked him for a quote on trimming some stuff.  While we were chatting, he mentioned his Home Advisor leads over the weekend fell off a cliff.

We made good use of our morning.  We opened up the new mattress in a box.  It takes 24 hours to expand so we'll be going back on Monday.  I did more deep cleaning inside the house and we cleaned up the yard.  Ran to Lowe's for mulch and concrete leveler.  It wasn't busy, but that probably has more to do with it being early on a Sunday morning.

We worked at the house until noon then came home.  Traffic seemed normal, and Ikea's parking lot looked full.  It sure seems business as usual around here.  My partner prepared lunch:  a tasty treat of pasta with ground chicken.  I had a scheduled Amazon route for 5-8 but tried to get a second, earlier route without success.

I had my last international Airbnb booking for April cancel this morning.  I was expecting it and glad it happened, as it was only for two days and opening up those days will allow someone else to hopefully book a longer stay.  Then, while making Amazon deliveries Sunday evening I received a 7 day cancellation for this coming Saturday.  This is the second time this date was cancelled.  Thinking more positively, April is usually a good month.  As long as domestic travel isn't restricted I think we will be okay.

On Monday I will receive the funds from the house I sold.  I have to decide how to use them.  On Friday I upgraded my Chase account to "Sapphire Banking" because there is a $1,000 bonus if I keep my funds with them for 90 days.  I can keep the funds in a You Invest brokerage account with JP Morgan, which qualifies for the bonus.  On the one hand, stocks are looking more attractive these days.  But, what if the economy keeps getting worse?  So many businesses are shut down that this could snowball into something really ugly.  Still, I probably will put those dollars to work in the market.  I also am trying to pay off the last remaining mortgage on a rental property, so that could get some attention, too.

Monday, March 16

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 2

Day 2

On Saturday we went to the Airbnb.  It's supposed to be occupied for another week.  Our guests, snowbirds, rented it for 28 days.  In a panic over the virus, our New York guests left for home last week.  They didn't ask for a refund, didn't cancel the remaining days, so we're getting paid for another week.  I was supposed to fly to Dallas today for a meeting I work every year, but it was cancelled.  Good news though:  the meeting planner promised to pay me, as the cancellation happened within the 100% pay window.  It's the last meeting for which I'll receive pay.

At the Airbnb, we spent three hours deep cleaning.  The guests had two dogs, and they shed a lot.  We also cut back some tropical plants that were taking over the backyard.  I have a new mattress to replace the one in the master bedroom.  Decided we'll bring it over tomorrow.  I have a Sonata and can take the new mattress, which is compressed and can squeeze into the trunk.  However, the old mattress, which I bought in 2006 (!), won't fit.  I looked at renting a pickup.  $65 for one day, plus gas.  Plus dumping fee.  Instead, I placed an ad on Facebook and quickly got four takers.  If all goes as planned, a complete stranger will meet us at the house to take away the old mattress for $35.

I also worked two Amazon Fresh routes.  Hoping for generous tips.  Amazon shut down new orders for a while.  We normally have 5-10 routes for Fresh.  Today there were 23.  People think the world is ending.

I read an article on 10x Travel.  A new series, Social Distancing Saturday.  The first article was about the most bingeworthy series on Netflix.  The top voted show was Schitts Creek, so when I got home from my route we watched the first three episodes.  Kind of enjoyed it.

Everything is closed, so binging Netflix looks like an appealing option.  By everything, I mean all the theme parks, international travel, schools, lots of employers.  It's funny though:  traffic in Tampa was heavy for a Saturday.  Everybody was out and about.  Weather was beautiful and I saw lots of boats being towed.  People are going to the beaches.  

Yesterday I had four Airbnb cancellations, two were International, two were panickers.  This morning I had three new reservations.  After the cancellations I lowered rates, and that seemed to do the trick.  We basically replaced the cancelled stays, though rates are lower.  Still, it's not such a bad thing.

Sunday, March 15

Economic Quarantine, a Diary: Day 1

COVID-19 has caused a panic across the world.  My own life has been turned upside down as the meeting and events industry has completely shut down.  Travel bans have caused our Airbnb to see mass cancellations.  Grocery store shelves are empty.  The world is coming to an end.  Okay, just threw that in there to see if anyone was reading...  Over the next couple of weeks I will keep a journal laying out what I am doing to cope with this unprecedented situation.

Day 1

On Friday we returned from a short last-minute cruise.  Before setting sail, I took advantage of what looked like some emerging bargains in the stock market, loading up on Carnival Cruise Lines stock, energy companies, and a retailer.  Last week while we sailed the Bahamas ($90 each for a balcony stateroom!), my brokerage accounts were obliterated.  At the lowest point I had lost over $100,000 on paper.  On Friday, my brother called.  This is rare.  We talk maybe once a year.  He's a pilot.  "Go stock up on groceries," he exclaimed.  Turns out he was furloughed.  His boss told him air travel was about to be shut down, which would lead to shortages of everything.  I figured this was an overreaction, but to be safe, we ran to Aldi's and stocked up on canned goods and other food.

Aldi's had signs limiting quantities on canned goods to four per buyer.  Shoppers were panicking, as evidenced by the run on toilet paper.  Best we get a few things, just in case the shelves stayed empty.  At this point I'm not worried about being stuck at home.  I'm more worried that the frenzied panic by other people would cause a shortage.

After Aldi, I worked a delivery block for Amazon.   Amazon Fresh, which is groceries.  I get tips for making deliveries, but won't know how much for 24 hours.

Oh, one little thing I almost forgot to mention:  the house in Birmingham I listed finally closed today.  I listed it for $149,900.  It sold for $148,000, $17,000 more than I paid for it in 2008.  Not much appreciation in that market, so I'll call this a success.

Friday, March 6

My Frugal Miser - February Expenses: $7,504

February was a solid month:  income easily exceeded expenses.  However, there's still plenty of room for cutting costs.

Not So Good

I spent $950 on bank fees.  This isn't something I will try to cut back.  My self-directed IRA charges $500 in custodial fees each year.  I also paid the $450 annual fee on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card.  It's totally worth it with the benefits I receive from the card.

I spent $461 on utilities, which includes $210 for our Google Fi phone plan.  I might start shopping for unlimited data plans since we've been maxing out our data charges lately.  A lot of the data is from using my phone during Amazon routes or meeting jobs. 

I spent $650 on car repairs.  I needed a new tire and new front brakes and rotors.  My car is paid for but has 210,000 miles on it.


Spending on food was down for the third month in a row.  Most of the meeting jobs provide meals.  In December I averaged $19/day for food.  In January this declined to $15/day (this is for two people).  I brought this down to $6/day last month.  I'm really happy with this! 

The "fun" budget was under $100.  We spend $48/month for unlimited movies at AMC.  Movies are our top entertainment choice so this is money well-spent.

February Business Spending:  $2,233
February Personal Spending:  $5,271

February Expenses:  $7,504

$829 Auto (service, gas, insurance, AAA, etc.)
$950 Bank Fees
$7 Clothing/ Personal Care
$95 Fun (vacations movies, gambling, alcohol, concert tickets)
$169 Food
$406 Health and Dental
$1,903 Household/Mortgage Payment/Home Repair
$0 Interest Expense
$0 Miscellaneous
$450 Taxes includes quarterly tax payments
$0 App Jobs Expenses (tolls, car washes, etc.)
$149 Unreimbursed Job Expenses
($15) Reimbursed Job Expenses
$461 Utilities
$1,098 Rental Property Expenses
$1,002 AirBNB Expenses

Wednesday, March 4

My Frugal Miser - February Income: $13,006

February was a solid month,  I worked meeting jobs 20 days last month.  When I wasn't doing that I was making deliveries for Amazon. 

The Airbnb was rented every day in February and the average nightly rate was $30 higher than last year.  There's still one empty rental property.  It's under contract to sell and should close by the end of March.

February Income: $13,006

$0 Mystery Shopping
$3,843 Meeting Jobs
$0 Gig Apps (Rideshare, Scooter Charging, etc.)
$751 Amazon Deliveries
$3,733 Rental Income
$4,614 Airbnb Income
$66 Interest Income
$0 Other Sources

Investment Accounts Change in Value:  ($25,701)

Markets were down significantly the last week of February.  I have a large position in Carnival Cruise Lines, and as it goes down, I buy more.  At least short-term, this has resulted in losses.