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Sunday, June 28

Sleepy Summer Sunday

It's summer here in Tampa Bay and the heat is on.  Lately the middle part of the day has been too hot and humid - temperatures in the mid-90s - to be outside.  There's so much uncertainty these days that I've been spending the indoors time thinking about our future.


I want to keep reducing debt.  The focus this year has been on the last rental property mortgage.  Earlier this month I withdrew $10,000 from a savings account to make a large payment on the mortgage.  The balance is now under $40,000.  When I took out the mortgage in 2009, a 5% rate wasn't so bad.  Rates are around 3% today.  What makes it even worse is that savings rates are almost zero.

I've kept higher cash balances because of all the uncertainty, but I'm seriously thinking about paying off the mortgage soon.  It's a little scary since the meeting industry remains shut down, but then again, our income has remained high.  The Airbnb is doing as well if not better than this time last year.   I needed the security blanket that was a hefty cash balance, but am feeling better about things.  Paying off the mortgage would feel amazing!


Earlier this month we went on a quick 4 night getaway to Las Vegas.  It was so much fun.  Having been stuck at home for so long, we needed to go somewhere.  We visited Mt. Charleston for the first time and went on a 3 hour hike.  It was a great escape from the heat.  

My Second-Ever Royal Flush
Of course we did a fair amount of gambling.  I hit my second-ever Royal Flush!  The $1.25 bet turned into $1,000, which virtually paid for the trip.  

Las Vegas post-COVID-19 is a different place.  With little to do besides gamble, I think the casinos are returning to a more value-focused proposition:  parking is free once again basically everywhere.  Hotel rates were low (our 4 nights were free thanks to my Boyd B-Connected membership).  When I was booking I almost booked a room at the Bellagio.  Rates were $54/night, but with a $45 resort fee I was turned off and stuck to totally free.

New Car

Last week I bought a gently used Hyundai Elantra from Hertz.  If you haven't heard, Hertz went bankrupt recently.  Now is a great time to buy a used car!  The timing couldn't have been better:  I had planned to sell the Sonata at Carmax (Hertz only offered $1,000 for the trade).  The next day, the check engine light came on and it started driving poorly.  I thought I had it fixed, but yesterday it stopped running and I had to be towed.  In retrospect it would have been better to just sell it to Hertz!

Friday, June 5

My Frugal Miser - May Income: $10,426

Even though the meeting industry is shut down, I managed to keep our income up.  Unfortunately my income was slightly less than my expenses in May.

The Airbnb turned in a decent report considering the shutdown.  It sat empty 9 days, and rates were lower on the days I did rent it.  There is some good news:  towards the end of the month, as the quarantine ended, I saw new bookings at close to normal nightly rates.  We even received a 12 night booking in June at rates higher than last year.

Meeting work was zero.  It will probably be this way for the foreseeable future.  Summer is the slow season for corporate meetings, but that doesn't matter right now because gatherings of large groups are still forbidden.

Once again I did deliveries, mostly for Doordash and Uber Eats.  This is a real grind.  It doesn't sound so bad, but it's very long hours for relatively low pay.  Strip out the mileage deduction and very little is left.  Unfortunately Amazon has been reducing the number of routes available to Flex drivers as they shift more volume to the branded blue vans.  It looks like most of my Amazon income is slipping away.

Rental income includes the two houses in Birmingham and the March rent from the condo.  One of the two houses was only rented half the month and is now empty.

I received a $300 bonus for opening a bank account.

May Income: $10,426

$0 Mystery Shopping/ Merchandising
$0 Meeting Jobs
$3,876 Gig Apps (Rideshare, Scooter Charging, Food Deliveries, etc.)
$960 Amazon Deliveries
$2,315 Rental Income
$2,130 Airbnb Income
$33 Interest Income
$1.112 Other Sources

Investment Accounts Change in Value:  $1,740

My investment accounts increased slightly but are still down YTD.

Wednesday, June 3

My Frugal Miser - May Expenses: $11,427

May was another expensive month.  Fortunately the biggest expense by far - paying my 2019 federal taxes - is a one-time cost that shouldn't recur next year.

Large Expenses

  • I paid $309 for the yearly insurance on the Birmingham condo.
  • It cost $133 to take the cat back to the vet when she wasn't feeling good.
  • I booked an October cruise for $473.  Cruise lines are desperate, and this cruise includes free drinks and a $500 onboard credit.  This will be our first Baja Mexico cruise.
  • One of the Birmingham rental properties needed an emergency repair.  It also became vacant (not related to the repair) which means there will be more spending in June to prepare for the next tenant.
  • $820 was spent on the Sonata.  This includes an oil change, new filters, 6 months liability insurance, and gas.  
  • The largest expense was for a payment towards 2019 federal taxes.  I sold 5 properties in early 2019, and had to pay taxes on the capital gains.

Everything Else

Our food costs continue to be high and is perplexing.  Almost all our food comes from Walmart or Aldi.  The most expensive restaurant meal was only $25.  I could definitely cut back on fast food, but it's not a daily occurrence.  I need to work harder at reducing this.

I already know June will be a tough month.  Our largest rental property has to be prepared for tenants and that is always a costly turnover.  The Sonata has 224,000 miles and will need to be replaced soon.  And I need to do some repairs and improvements to our house also.  I would like to move back to Pinellas County which will reduce monthly housing costs, but the current house will need to be in pristine condition in order to sell it.

May Business Spending:  $2,441
May Personal Spending:  $8,986

May Expenses:  $11,427

$820 Auto (service, gas, insurance, AAA, etc.)
$0 Bank Fees
$0 Clothing/ Personal Care
$836 Fun (vacations movies, gambling, alcohol, concert tickets)
$707 Food
$406 Health and Dental
$1,624 Household/Mortgage Payment/Home Repair
$0 Interest Expense
$174 Miscellaneous
$4,305 Taxes includes quarterly tax payments
$25 App Jobs Expenses (tolls, car washes, etc.)
$0 Unreimbursed Job Expenses
$0 Reimbursed Job Expenses
$114 Utilities
$1,560 Rental Property Expenses
$856 AirBNB Expenses