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Monday, November 9

Keto Diet: 1 Month Update

 A month ago I decided to try the keto diet.  30 days in, and it seems to be working:  I have lost 9 pounds!  The hardest part about this diet was learning what I could eat.  I am particularly glad that I learned how many carbohydrates are in the foods I have been eating all my life.

Right now I am severely restricting carbs.  That's what keto is all about.  Eventually, once I have lost weight, I will "graduate" from the keto diet.  What I have learned in the last month is that there are good carbs and bad carbs.  Most of the carbs I have been eating in the past are bad carbs, the kind that come from "white" foods like white bread, white rice, pastries, etc.  Even when I am done with this diet I now have the knowledge I need to choose healthier foods.

I have a long way to go, but so far I have no regrets about starting this diet.

Friday, November 6

Becoming an Energy Wise Home: $147/year savings

 The savings continue as I prepare for a much lower-cost of living in 2021.  The Airbnb is serviced by Duke Energy, which rolled out a new program in our area called Energy Wise.  

Energy Wise is Duke Energy's solution to heavy usage.  The way it was sold to me is, during extreme usage, the company normally has to crank up more expensive power plants.  If customers would agree to moderate their power usage during this time, everyone benefits.

A contractor is coming next week to install wifi devices on my water heater and A/C unit.  When demand is unusually high, I agree that they may shut off those appliances for a few minutes every half hour during high demand.  I am optimistic the impact to our guests will be minimal.

Just for agreeing to participate, I will receive a monthly bill credit totaling $147/year.  The actual savings may be more since I am giving the company permission to turn off the A/C and water heater during heavy demand times.

Thursday, November 5

My Frugal Miser - October Income: $10,253

October income held steady.  Because I made a couple of annual property tax payments on rental properties, my income was a bit less than my expenses.

I didn't work any meetings or do any mystery shopping or merchandising work.  App-based income, which is mostly deliveries outside of Amazon, was pitiful.  I cut back on working because it was too slow to justify being in my car.  People aren't ordering delivery.  Amazon work was steady, but not great.

The Airbnb turned in an impressive performance.  It was occupied for all but 3 days.  I did lower rates significantly to fill up mid-week days that would have otherwise been empty.  I managed to bring in just over $3,000 from that one property, which has consistently been my best-performing rental property.  

I received rent from all rental properties.  The condo tenant, who is a couple months behind, made two rent payments in October.

October Income: $10,253

$0 Mystery Shopping/ Merchandising
$0 Meeting Jobs
$663 Gig Apps (Rideshare, Food Deliveries, etc.)
$1,003 Amazon Deliveries
$4,046 Rental Income
$3,050 Airbnb Income
$21 Interest Income
$1,469 Other Sources

Investment Accounts Change in Value:  ($1,025)

My investment accounts were down.  Vereit shares declined again last month.  Towards the end of the month I purchased a significant amount of put options on AMC.  With a put option you are betting the price will decline.  It's highly probable the theater company will file for bankruptcy in the coming months and I am optimistic my puts will offset some of the losses I have seen from other investments, specifically Carnival Cruise Lines.

Tuesday, November 3

My Frugal Miser - October Expenses: $10,632

October expenses were a bit higher than my income because I paid the property tax bill on two properties.  Property taxes are easily the largest expense I have on my rental properties.  I still have other property taxes to pay in November.
  • Airbnb expenses increased a bit.  We are approaching the busy season so I've been investing in linens and landscaping.  I also bought a wood chipper so that we can tame the overgrowth in the backyard.  It's exciting to be able to clean it up without having to rent a truck to haul off the branches.
  • The "fun" category ($1,315 in October) was pretty expensive.  We went to Las Vegas and Los Angeles to celebrate my partner's birthday.  I spent on the car rental, tour and garden tickets, and gambling and food.  I also bought tickets to see the Florida Orchestra, where live performances have resumed.
  • Spending on food was crazy expensive, but this can be attributed to our transitioning to the keto diet.  If we can stick to the diet, I think we will save on restaurant bills which will offset the increased cost of the food we have to eat on the diet.
  • I spent $537 on my car.  Most of this is for gasoline.  Those Amazon routes eat a lot of gas.  Fortunately my Walmart + membership now allows me to fill up at Sam's Club.  We have one a couple miles from home, and it is consistently the cheapest gas around.  As an example, earlier this week I paid $1.72/gallon there.  The gas stations around it were charging between $1.94-$2.03.  In addition to gas I paid for an oil change and tire rotation, and I stocked up on engine air filters to take advantage of a cashback offer on one of my credit cards.

October Business Spending:  $4,982
October Personal Spending:  $5,650

October Expenses:  $10,632

$537 Auto (service, gas, insurance, AAA, etc.)
$0 Bank Fees
$0 Clothing/ Personal Care
$1,315 Fun (vacations movies, gambling, alcohol, concert tickets)
$1,186 Food
$586 Health and Dental
$1,602 Household/Mortgage Payment/Home Repair
$0 Interest Expense
$18 Miscellaneous
$131 Taxes includes quarterly tax payments
$0 App Jobs Expenses (tolls, car washes, etc.)
$0 Unreimbursed Job Expenses
$0 Reimbursed Job Expenses
$274 Utilities
$4,181 Rental Property Expenses
$801 AirBNB Expenses

Sunday, November 1

Changing Health Insurance: $397/mo savings!

 The snowball keeps accumulating!  Open enrollment for 2021 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) plans began this morning.  

I've been using an alternative called Liberty Healthshare for the last 2 years.  In 2018 I earned too much money and had to pay back the credit on my ACA plan, so I switched.  At the time it saved me money.  The problem?  Liberty Healthshare is an alternative to regular health insurance, meaning there aren't a lot of doctors who take it.  This was my excuse for not seeing a doctor in the last two years, simply not knowing where I could use my insurance and whether Liberty would pay (reviews I read in the last year indicated they were slow to pay).  Then a couple months ago Liberty had a massive price increase ($100/mo).  This is on top of the fat premium (pun intended) they have been charging me for being overweight ($79/month).

Bottom line:  even if I didn't qualify for a credit under ACA, the new plan is virtually the same cost as my current insurer, but it is a Florida Blue plan, which is accepted all over the place.  I will no longer be worried about using my insurance.

The tricky part will be making sure my income is close to what I estimated for 2021.  My goal will be to ensure I get as close as possible to the income I reported.   I haven't done much research, but it looks like there are some levers I can pull.  For example, selling stock at a loss seems like one way I could lower my income if it is tracking too high.

For those of you using Obamacare, do you have any suggestions for keeping your income in line with estimates?