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Tuesday, January 12

We're Moving!

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

There are several positive benefits to this move:
  • 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!!!
Unless the real estate market crashes, I expect to sell the home we live in for a modest profit.  If I'm lucky, the increase in value will cover all our carrying costs for the 2+ years we've lived in this home.  

This won't be our forever home.  It's more of a house hacking opportunity - live in it while we make improvements that will raise its value.  Our "forever home" may not even be in the United States.  I still have a lot of thinking to do about that.

Thursday, January 7

Keto Diet: 90 Days In

 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

My Frugal Miser - December Income: $10,222

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 Mystery Shopping/ Merchandising
$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
$1,180 Other Sources

Investment Accounts Change in Value:  $32,062

My investment accounts did extremely well.  Since Vereit is my biggest position, it doesn't take much to move the needle.  Last month Vereit shares were up.  My put options for AMC barely budged, although shares in the stock plummeted in December. I am optimistic I will profit overall.  Carnival Cruise Lines gained some, and I sold a portion of my shares in one account, before shares settled back down.

Monday, January 4

My Frugal Miser - December Expenses: $7,838

December wasn't too bad, and it's looking like January will be even better.  
  • 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 love adventures, which makes it exciting to talk about the "fun" category.  
  • 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 is the last month I will be paying $479 for health insurance - I switched back to an ACA plan, which should save $400/mo.  Unfortunately I needed periodontal surgery in December which was the single largest expense for the month after the mortgage.  I also spent a fair amount on gifts (listed under the miscellaneous category) which won't be repeated in January.

December Business Spending:  $850
December Personal Spending:  $6,988

December Expenses:  $7,838

$364 Auto (service, gas, insurance, AAA, etc.)
$174 Bank Fees
$20 Clothing/ Personal Care
$1,454 Fun (vacations movies, gambling, alcohol, concert tickets)
$994 Food
$1,449 Health and Dental
$1,783 Household/Mortgage Payment/Home Repair
$0 Interest Expense
$370 Miscellaneous
$122 Taxes includes quarterly tax payments
$0 App Jobs Expenses (tolls, car washes, etc.)
$0 Unreimbursed Job Expenses
$0 Reimbursed Job Expenses
$259 Utilities
$420 Rental Property Expenses
$430 AirBNB Expenses