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Wednesday, April 21

2021 Goals Update

 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:

$1,000/mo. to short-term savings and $400/mo to investments

What better way to reach a goal than to automate the steps?  I wanted to send $1,400/month to these two places.  Right now I am transferring $2,000/month but in a different order:  at the moment I'm sending $500 to a short-term savings account and $1,500 to an investment account.  Goal exceeded.

Weigh less than 180 pounds by 12/31/21

On October 7th, 2020 I was the heaviest ever:  239 pounds.  That's the day I started a keto diet.  I am on track, and right now I weigh 195 pounds.  I should be able to reach my goal by the end of the year.

Read more books

Can't win them all, can you?  I've put some effort into this, and technically I have read more books this year than last year.  But not as much as I'd like.  When we decided to move, I shifted focus to getting into the new house.  Now that we're here, there's quite a few projects going on to make it more comfortable.  Even so, I have managed to do some reading.  I've read a couple of books on the Kindle, as well as one I checked out of the library.  I'm keeping my Kindle charged and located in a convenient, visible place.  But there are still lots of physical books on my bookshelves that are doing little more than gathering dust.  I plan to change this.

How are you doing towards your own goals?

Sunday, April 18

Anatomy of a Home Sale (or How I Got Free Housing for Over 2 Years)

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

We moved into one of my rental properties.  I bought it during the housing recession.  It was a foreclosure.  I could sell it today for 4x what I paid.  It's in a very convenient location, less than a mile from downtown  and the beach.  There's no HOA, no CDD.  I don't even pay for trash pickup since it is a service the city provides.  Since I bought the house with cash, there's no mortgage payment.

Did I Leave Money on the Table?

It isn't healthy for me to dwell on whether I got the very best price for selling my home.  I am happy with the price I sold for.  But one must assume Zillow knows their data. Ten days after selling, Zillow listed it for $290,900.  That represents a $24,200 premium over what they paid me.  They will have some transaction costs when selling the home, such as the commission they pay the buyer's agent.  It's been listed for just over a week now.  Traffic has been insane - almost 6,000 views and over 200 "saves" online.  As of now it is still an active listing.

Tuesday, April 6

My Frugal Miser - March 2021 Income

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.

I am not including the gain from the sale of my primary residence in my income, but the proceeds are listed below.  I plan to write a separate post detailing the sale and how much I profited.

March Income: $12,219

$0 Mystery Shopping/ Merchandising
$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
$3,401 Other Sources

$86,939 Proceeds from Sale of Home

Investment Accounts Change in Value:  ($6,237)

My investment accounts were down.  A couple of AMC put options expired worthless and Vereit was down slightly.

Saturday, April 3

My Frugal Miser - March 2021 Expenses

In March I kept expenses below income once again, but it wasn't a frugal month.  We spent a fair amount getting ready to move.  This included landscaping the new home (my partner's passion is gardening), moving costs, etc.
  • 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 love adventures.  Spending on experiences makes us better humans.  
  • 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

$414 Auto (service, gas, insurance, AAA, etc.)
$595 Bank Fees (annual fee on Chase Hyatt card, trustee fee for Self-Directed IRA)
$0 Clothing/ Personal Care
$518 Fun (vacations, movies, gambling, alcohol, concert tickets)
$649 Food
$307 Health and Dental
$2,786 Household/Mortgage Payment/Home Repair
$139 Unreimbursed Job Expense
$0 Interest Expense
$0 Miscellaneous
$324 Taxes
$520 Utilities

Although the mortgage is going away, there are many projects we plan to take on at our new home.  This should increase the value of our home, but we are doing it to improve our quality of life.  We will be building a fence in April.  Soon I plan to have concrete poured for a patio area.  Eventually I am planning to remodel.