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Tuesday, February 9

Keto Diet: 120 Days

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

Selling My House to Zillow

 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.  
  4. 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.
I have signed the contract and responded to the standard information requests, nothing out of the ordinary.  Since one advantage of selling to Zillow is being able to set your closing date, I decided on March 31st.  Our tenant is due to move out at the end of February, giving us a month to get the rental property cleaned up and to move.

My personal opinion is that pretty much all asset prices are irrationally exuberant right now.  Stocks are in a bubble, and real estate is pricey, though not as crazy as stocks.  I can't time the market, but I was already looking at moving, and now seems like a great time to sell a home.

Thursday, February 4

My Frugal Miser - January 2021 Income

 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.

There were a couple of one-off sources of income.  In addition to the stimulus check everyone received, I received a large payment from the ARCP Securities Litigation Settlement.  

I received rent for all rental properties.

January Income: $12,278

($60) Mystery Shopping/ Merchandising spent money, no income
$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
$3,905 Other Sources

Investment Accounts Change in Value:  ($34,967)

My investment accounts were all down.  I'm not worried about Vereit, my biggest position, as it fluctuates and I have no plans to sell.  My put options on AMC suffered big losses.  The Reddit forum WallStreetBets has targeted several failing companies, including AMC.  It is market manipulation plain and simple.  Fortunately I have time before the options expire and it is possible their value will return before then.

Tuesday, February 2

My Frugal Miser: January 2021 Expenses

In January I finally managed to reduce our spending on food.  I also started a new ACA health insurance plan that reduced my premium by more than $400.  A few other highlights...
  • 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.


We love adventures, which makes it exciting to talk about the "fun" category.  
  • 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

$589 Auto (service, gas, insurance, AAA, etc.)
$149 Bank Fees (annual fee on Chase SWA card)
$13 Clothing/ Personal Care
$2,017 Fun (vacations, movies, gambling, alcohol, concert tickets)
$377 Food
$197 Health and Dental
$1,853 Household/Mortgage Payment/Home Repair
$0 Interest Expense
$0 Miscellaneous
$228 Taxes
$182 Utilities

I have streamlined this post for 2021 by not reporting business spending in 2021 (Airbnb, rental property, unreimbursed job expenses, etc.)  This blog is about my personal journey towards financial independence, and I wanted to simplify things and focus on the expenses I should be able to reduce or eliminate.