2021 is flying by and it's important to check my progress towards fulfilling the year's goals. Every year I set 3 or 4 goals, usually related to weight loss and managing my money. This year is no different. My goals for 2021:
Wednesday, April 21
Sunday, April 18
I closed on the sale of my home on March 31st. Through no skill, just a rising tide of increasing home values, I managed to live in a brand new house for 31 months with zero costs.
I sold my home to Zillow for $266,700. I bought it for $214,990. That's a $51,710 profit, or an average increase of $1,668 per month.
The largest expense of homeownership was the interest I paid on the loan. My mortgage was 4.75%. I tried refinancing - twice - and both times our broken underwriting process decided I could not afford to save money on my monthly payments. Frustrated, this became the impetus for selling. I don't like being taken advantage of. I paid a total of $19,990 in interest while I owned the home.
There were significant other expenses to owning this home. I bought in a new development, and most neighborhoods these days have an HOA. That only scratched the surface of the nuisance of owning in this neighborhood. You see, I also paid CDD (Community Development District) fees. This included interest on debt the developer took on to build the neighborhood, from laying fiber internet and street lights to a zero-entry pool and playground we never used. Combined, HOA and CDD fees were about $400/month.
There was also homeowner's insurance. This wasn't significant, a few hundred dollars per year. New, concrete-block homes don't cost much to insure.
Last, there were some closing costs, both when I bought the house and when I sold it.
Add everything up, and my profit from selling the house completely covered my carrying costs while living there.
Our New Home Costs Less
Did I Leave Money on the Table?
Tuesday, April 6
Even with substantial costs attributed to our move, my income easily exceeded expenses in March. We completed our move back to Clearwater, so I didn't work nearly as much as usual. We spent a lot of time cleaning up the house and with moving everything.The Airbnb was booked every day except one, plus I blocked two days on the calendar. I had a tree service do a fair amount of work trimming trees, removing a dying citrus tree and grinding an old stump. Stump grinders are super noisy so I made sure there wasn't a guest present. I spent $790 on tree services and the yard looks so much nicer now.
I received rent for all three of the Birmingham rental properties. I also received a distribution from Realty Mogul.
March Income: $12,219
$0 Meeting Jobs
$5 Gig Apps (Rideshare, Food Deliveries, etc.)
$1,363 Amazon Deliveries
$3,446 Rental Income (Rental Expenses: $420)
$3,978 Airbnb Income (Airbnb Expenses: $1,863)
$26 Interest Income
$86,939 Proceeds from Sale of Home
Investment Accounts Change in Value: ($6,237)
Saturday, April 3
- The household expense includes $1,423 for the mortgage. We moved at the end of the month to a house I already own outright, so this expense is going away.
- Spending on food was stubbornly high because of the expense of our low-carb diet. We are still preparing nearly every meal at home, which saves on restaurant meals.
- I placed two new Healthy Wagers. I have made a total of 5 bets that I can lose weight. Two of those bets have ended and I won. This helps motivate me to lose weight.
- We visited Atlanta for 2 nights.
- Jetstar canceled our August flight to Australia, and soon after Carnival canceled our cruise. I opted to apply my cruise deposit towards a future cruise but took a refund for the flight from Honolulu to Sydney. Conveniently, we salvaged our vacation plans: last year I signed up for a timeshare offer through Hilton Grand Vacations that includes a 5 night stay in Hawaii. I had already booked a flight from Tampa to San Jose, CA and from there to Honolulu for the Australia trip, so I simply switched the second flight to Kona for the same dates.
March Expenses: $6,251
$0 Clothing/ Personal Care
$518 Fun (vacations, movies, gambling, alcohol, concert tickets)
Thursday, March 4
February was a solid month, with income exceeding expenses by a healthy margin.Amazon was good. I've been paying for a service that automatically picks up routes for me. I used to be able to get the same amount of work without having to pay for it, but the use of bots has made that impossible.
The Airbnb was booked every day and higher rates than last year. March is already almost fully booked.
I received rent for two of the three Birmingham rental properties. I also received quarterly income from some of my Realty Mogul investments.
February Income: $10,784
$0 Meeting Jobs
$79 Gig Apps (Rideshare, Food Deliveries, etc.)
$2,913 Amazon Deliveries
$2,710 Rental Income (Rental Expenses: $420)
$4,153 Airbnb Income (Airbnb Expenses: $406)
$26 Interest Income
Investment Accounts Change in Value: $3,555
Tuesday, March 2
- The household expense includes $1,423 for the mortgage. We are moving at the end of March so this expense will be lower soon.
- Spending on food was reasonable considering the higher expense of our low-carb diet. We are still preparing nearly every meal at home, which saves on restaurant meals.
- I bought a Groupon for front brake pads. I paid $71 for the Groupon and received a $2.85 rebate from Rakuten. My normal mechanic quoted $270 to replace the brakes.
- Health and Dental will continue to be much lower than last year since I switched to an ACA plan. In February I filled two prescriptions. The balance is for the monthly insurance premium.
- I visited Las Vegas for three nights. Travel is still really cheap. My hotels were comped, I paid $42 for the flight, and food was inexpensive. The only other expense was the car rental and gambling.
- I want to highlight the $42 flight: at the end of last year I completed a status match with Frontier. Since I have a SWA Companion Pass, I qualified for the highest-level with Frontier, which lets you choose any seat on the plane and luggage is complimentary. This allowed me to choose the first row with extra legroom. I also had the pleasure of checking out the brand new American Express Centurion Lounge on my layover in Denver, compliments of my AMEX Platinum card.
- I booked a May trip for Las Vegas. Two roundtrip tickets were $159, but I had a $50 voucher which brought it down to $109. I'm loving the Frontier status match since it means our upgraded seats and bags were included in that price.
- Other fun in February included tickets to a drive-in concert we attended.
February Expenses: $3,786
$15 Clothing/ Personal Care
$643 Fun (vacations, movies, gambling, alcohol, concert tickets)
Tuesday, February 9
I started the keto diet on October 7, 2020.
Weight on 10/07/20: 236.6
Weight on 01/07/21: 211.6
Weight on 2/9/21: 206.8
Total Weight Loss: 29.8 pounds
The weight loss has slowed, but I lost about 5 pounds in the last month. We could cut more out of our diet, but I am scared that it would discourage me. As long as I keep losing weight at a steady pace I am happy. I attribute success to cutting a few basic items from my diet: no bread, rice or noodles. No added sugar. Sure, there are other foods we shy away from, but this is the Cliff's Notes version of our diet.
I updated my goals for 2021 to include weight loss. By the end of this year I will weigh 180 pounds or less.
Saturday, February 6
A few weeks ago we decided to move into one of my rental properties and sell our current home. When I started researching how much my house was worth, I noticed on Zillow that they are purchasing homes in the Tampa Bay area.
About a year ago I inquired with one of the companies that buys houses (maybe it was OfferPad, but I can't remember) and they offered $212,000 for our home. I paid $215,000 for it in August, 2018 and, while the offer wasn't enough to convince me to move, it made me feel good that our home was sustaining its value. I assumed that Zillow would lowball the offer like those "We Pay Cash for Houses" outfits. This wasn't the case.
So far this has been a very easy process:
- On January 23rd, I answered some basic questions about the home on the Zillow website. Things like square feet, number of bedrooms, and whether any updates had been made to the house.
- On January 26th, I received an email titled, "We've Calculated a Market Value for Your Home." When I clicked through the email, I discovered my house, according to Zillow, was now worth $266,700. This was justified by a list of other houses that had recently sold in my neighborhood, so it was easy for me to see that my offer was within the range of what houses are selling for.
- The next step was setting up an appointment for an inspector to evaluate the home. I had the option to be present, but I chose to sign a waiver allowing the inspector to come while we weren't home.
- In addition to the market value, Zillow provided a couple of line items detailing what they would deduct to come up with a net price. This included 4.9% in Transaction Costs (comparable to the 5% commission I would have in a normal transaction), 0.1% Selling Costs (described as the fee to let me select a closing date in the future), and Prep and Repair Costs of $2,490. There was a breakdown of the repair costs, which included replacing carpet and touching up paint, along with a couple of other minor repairs. I think the repair costs were reasonable.
Thursday, February 4
January was another solid month.Amazon was decent, but it seems to be getting harder to get routes. Too many drivers.
The Airbnb was booked 29 days and rates are solid. February is almost full and, because the Super Bowl is coming to town, rates are the highest they have ever been. Converting this property to an Airbnb was the best financial decision I have made in years.
I received rent for all rental properties.
January Income: $12,278
$0 Meeting Jobs
$77 Gig Apps (Rideshare, Food Deliveries, etc.)
$2,611 Amazon Deliveries
$3,050 Rental Income (Rental Expenses: $1,259)
$2,668 Airbnb Income (Airbnb Expenses: $830)
$27 Interest Income
Investment Accounts Change in Value: ($34,967)
Tuesday, February 2
- The household expense includes $1,601 for the mortgage. The mortgage company did an escrow analysis and this will drop almost $200 in February. After we move - hopefully in March - this expense will decline even more.
- Spending on food dropped significantly. We are still on the keto diet, but other than one restaurant meal we ate entirely at home.
- I bought a set of 4 tires for the Elantra. A nice surprise is that tires are less expensive than the Sonata because they are slightly smaller. I paid $42.88/tire from Walmart, plus $12/each for mounting which includes lifetime tire rotations. I also changed the oil. The rest of the spending is for fuel.
- Health and Dental were helped in a couple ways and hurt in one. I won a Healthy Wage 90 day challenge. I bet $60 that I could lose 6% of my body weight and received $86 from the prize pool. I also switched to an ACA plan that is a fraction of what I was paying last year. However, I needed a minor periodontal procedure and my portion of the cost was $176.
- I visited Tunica for two nights. My birthday offers were attractive and included free play and food, along with a free hotel room. Flights were cheap, so why not?
- I booked most of the air travel for our August trip to Australia. I suspect airlines will raise fares once the pandemic eases up and wanted to lock in what looked to be decent fares. We will fly to Honolulu on Southwest and then fly to Sydney on Jetstar, which is the "low-fare" side of Qantas Airlines.
- I paused one of our AMC A-List memberships and will pause the other in February.
January Expenses: $5,605
$13 Clothing/ Personal Care
$2,017 Fun (vacations, movies, gambling, alcohol, concert tickets)
Tuesday, January 12
Big changes are ahead. We've made the decision to move in March into one of my rental properties. There are a few reasons for doing this, but the top reason is because our current home has high monthly costs that are outside our control. Specifically, we have both an HOA ($200 every quarter) and a CDD (over $300 per month). Additionally, the interest rate is a ridiculous 4.75% and I was turned down for a refinancing. I'm still not sure how I justified this since we knew about these costs before I bought this house. I think the excitement about building a brand new home got the best of me.
Advantages of Moving
- I paid cash for the rental property, so there won't be a mortgage.
- We will be 15 minutes from the Airbnb. Based on 2020 trips, this will free up 135 hours of drive time and about $200 worth of gas, plus it will reduce wear and tear on the car.
- We will be more physically active. The rental is on a major bicycle trail that runs through the county and is an easy bike ride to the beach. It's a more dense area which means we can run most of our errands without getting in the car.
- Instead of paying a mortgage, I'll be spending money on improving the home. The area around the house has improved since I bought it and I think I can add value by updating it. More to come...
- Because it's a smaller house, the cost of utilities should go down.
- Last, and maybe best: once our current home sells, I will be completely debt-free!!!
Thursday, January 7
I started the keto diet on October 7, 2020. Good news: It works! I realize now that the reason I was so overweight can be attributed to just a few bad food choices. Getting rid of sugar and flour and replacing them with healthier alternatives is the biggest contributor to my weight loss. I don't even crave sugar anymore. We have found recipes that satisfy my "sweet tooth" including a keto cheesecake and keto chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, both homemade.
Weight on 10/07/20: 236.6
Weight on 01/07/21: 211.6
Total Weight Loss: 25 pounds
I love that I lost 25 pounds and do not feel deprived. I'm never hungry or have unhealthy cravings - those went away. But there is more that I can do and I will probably have to do to keep up the pace. While we have cut down on alcohol (beer has been totally eliminated), I want to keep drinking less. I also want to eat more vegetables. We have already started eating more salads which was a delightful change to the diet.
Wednesday, January 6
December was an impressive month.Amazon was unsurprisingly busy as Christmas approached. One of my friends introduced me to a "bot" service that automatically grabs Amazon routes based on the criteria I set. This has made it a bit easier to get work although I do have to pay for the service.
The Airbnb continues to be a bright spot. It was booked 27 days in December, and income exceeded $3,000 again. January got off to a strong start with an 18 day booking starting on the 2nd.
I received rent for all rental properties.
December Income: $10,222
$0 Meeting Jobs
$68 Gig Apps (Rideshare, Food Deliveries, etc.)
$2,546 Amazon Deliveries
$3,050 Rental Income
$3,353 Airbnb Income
$25 Interest Income
Investment Accounts Change in Value: $32,062
Monday, January 4
- Airbnb expenses were quite low. My goal here is to invest in the property during slow season (September-November), which is exactly what I did this year. The only expenses in November were for normal things like utilities and supplies.
- Rental expenses were also low. Since I already paid property taxes, my only rental expenses in November were the management fees I pay for two properties I own in Alabama.
- The household expense includes $1,601 for the mortgage. The only other expense was the quarterly HOA dues.
- Spending on food remains high. We are still on the keto diet. Protein tends to be more expensive, plus at the end of the month we visited a friend who has high-end tastes.
- We visited Asheville and Pigeon Forge (Dollywood). When I was researching prices for Dollywood I discovered that buying one season pass ($150) would be a fantastic bargain because it includes a bring-a-friend ticket for this Christmas season as well as 3 tickets in 2021. Instead of us both buying season passes, this option made more sense. If we visit 4 times, our per visit cost is just $18.75/each. I also splurged on an annual pass to the Biltmore Estate. This is definitely not a frugal purchase, and I had a hard time justifying it: even with $50 off, the annual passes were $200 each. I used points for our hotels, so the total cost of the trip was $88 for both flights, the cost of passes to the attractions, a rental car, food and a couple of souvenirs.
- We spent a couple of nights in Miami visiting a friend. It was a relatively inexpensive trip but we did spend a lot on food while there.
- I made another payment towards our China trip.
- I booked another cruise for later in the year. The deals are too good to pass up.
- Last, we pay $48/month for AMC A-List membership. I should probably cancel this until new movies return to the theater.
December Business Spending: $850
December Personal Spending: $6,988
December Expenses: $7,838
$20 Clothing/ Personal Care
$1,454 Fun (vacations movies, gambling, alcohol, concert tickets)
$0 App Jobs Expenses (tolls, car washes, etc.)
$0 Unreimbursed Job Expenses
$0 Reimbursed Job Expenses
$420 Rental Property Expenses
$430 AirBNB Expenses