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Tuesday, January 18

Tackling 2022 Goals: Decluttering and Upgrading Our Home

Partly borne of necessity, I'm getting an early start to my 2022 goals.  One of the biggest strains in my relationship with my partner is keeping up with household chores.  We downsized last year to a smaller house, and I thought this would make it easier to keep up with things.  It hasn't.  Our house just isn't working for us in its current form.  

The Challenges and Opportunities

We are living in the first home I purchased in Florida.  I got an incredible deal on a foreclosure in 2012.  The house lies just outside a posh area.  There's a golf course and country club on the other side of the main road connecting our street.  Tom Cruise built a condo about a mile away where he reportedly plans to live full time.  The beach is a short bike ride away.  And that "poshness" across the street is creeping over to our neighborhood.  A private equity firm/community bank built a fancy 4 story office at the end of our street, and many of our neighbors are sprucing up their homes.  It just makes sense to make improvements to our house from both a practical perspective and a financial one.

Our first project is new flooring.  We have the original hospital tiles the home was built with in 2002.  They are a vomit yellow and yes, look just like what you might expect to see in a doctor's office.  I chose a beautiful porcelain tile to replace it.  While we are waiting for the installation, we are getting rid of things that are in the way:  last week, my partner took an old mattress and table (from the Airbnb) and the headboard to our old bed to the street for pickup.  These cleared a lot of space from one of the bedrooms, but there's more work to do.  We also moved a lot of the Airbnb supplies to the laundry room of the Airbnb.  Our home already feels more spacious.

It feels great to have a more spacious home.  This keeps me motivated to purge more stuff.

Monday, January 10

My Frugal Miser - Reviewing my 2021 Goals, Setting New Ones

 So much happened in 2021.  It was our second year of the pandemic, but live events finally started to return, at least for me, in June of last year.  

Last year I set three goals.  I modified the financial goal, which was to pay extra on my mortgage, because I ended up selling our home and no longer have a mortgage.

2021 Goals Review

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

Status:  Exceeded, thanks to the power of automation.  For several months, I've automatically transferred a total of $2,000 to investing and saving, but tweaked it a bit.  I've been depositing $1,500 to my brokerage account and $500 to my short-term savings.

2) Weigh 180 or less by end of year.

Status:  Not quite.  On October 7, 2020 we started the keto diet.  I managed to get down to 183 pounds.  When I checked my weight last week, I was at 190 pounds.  This is 49 pounds less than I weighed before starting the diet, which I am super proud of.  I just need to redouble my efforts to keep losing.

3) Read more books.

Status:  Sort of.  I have subscribed to Audible and listened to 3 audio books.  I really enjoyed two of those.  I struggle to read with my short attention span. 


So what's in store for 2022?  Well, events are still stumbling along.  Many of my friends have experienced more event cancelations for early 2022 with the rise of cases of COVID.  Thus far I've been spared, but the pandemic is definitely affecting my industry and the jobs I am offered.

My 2022 Goals:

  1. (Financial) Make investing more passive.  I've been selling rental properties and diverting the proceeds to Realty Mogul, where I invest in apartment complexes and commercial buildings.  Not only does this alleviate the headaches that come from owning single family homes, but it also can potentially increase my returns and help me sleep well.  Two of my RM investments were sold.  While the holding period was short (only about 2 years), the annualized returns were about 17%.  I want to sell at least one rental property in 2022 and reallocate the money to a fully passive investment.
  2. (Health)  I would like to weigh 175 by the end of 2022.  
  3. (Simplify)  I will eliminate personal belongings that I no longer need.  One of the major personal projects in 2022 is updating our home.  There are several large projects I'd like to do, and getting rid of the clutter around the house will help us enjoy the home more.
  4. (Travel on a Budget) I don't just love to travel; I live to travel.  Inflation and pandemic fatigue mean travel is getting more expensive (just look at airfares!).  I will spend more time learning how to maximize travel programs and loyalty points.  I will research places I'd like to visit, take advantage of deals, and be mindful about how I spend my travel dollar.

Tuesday, January 4

My Frugal Miser - December 2021 Expenses


  • I spent more on gas as I visited family in Alabama for Christmas.  I also replaced my tires - the second time in 2021.  I did put quite a few miles on my car in 2021, but having to replace the tires seemed premature.  For some reason one of the tires was constantly leaking air, even though a leak couldn't be located.  The others had quite a bit of wear so I decided to bite the bullet and replace them all.
  • Spending on food benefited from the week we worked in Atlanta (we received a generous per diem).  I also did a no-spend challenge starting on the 16th where I decided not to buy more groceries the rest of the month and instead deplete everything we had in the refrigerator and freezer.
  • The per diem while we were in Atlanta exceeded our spending on food, so there is income in the Reimbursed Job Expense category.


We love adventures.  Spending on experiences makes us better humans.  

  • I paid the balance for our end of November cruise.  Even though I gambled a fair amount, I managed to break even in the casino.  All I owed was for gratuities, a few drinks and a couple of days of Internet.  Our drinks in the casino were free.
  • I booked a "bounce-back" cruise for the end of December.  It was a 3 day cruise from Long Beach, CA.  We combined this with my visit to Alabama for Christmas by flying from Atlanta, stopping in Phoenix (my partner's family lives there) before continuing to Long Beach.  Most of the flights were paid with points.  I needed to use the rebate certificate from Hilton from the August timeshare presentation so I paid out of pocket for a hotel which will be rebated later.  I also had a $200 rebate offered annually on my Platinum AMEX, so I booked two nights at a really nice hotel in Atlanta.  
  • I paid $149 for another year of Frontier 100K status through a status match offer.  Our Southwest companion passes expired at the end of the year so we may use Frontier more for leisure travel.
  • We treated friends to drinks and meals for the holidays.

December Expenses:  $5,469

$742 Auto (service, gas, insurance, AAA, etc.)
$203 Bank Fees (annual fee on Platinum AMEX card)
$112 Clothing/ Personal Care
$2,161 Fun (vacations, movies, gambling, alcohol, concert tickets)
$427 Food
$172 Health and Dental
$1,053 Household/Home Repairs
$352 Unreimbursed Job Expense
($12) Reimbursed Job Expense (income)
$0 Interest Expense
$159 Miscellaneous
$4 Taxes
$95 Utilities 

Saturday, January 1

My Frugal Miser - December 2021 Income

In December I worked a week-long meeting in Atlanta.  December is usually a slow month for live events.

Amazon is always busy as Christmas approaches.  However, they hired so many Flex drivers this year that it was hard to schedule attractive routes.  I would rather pass on the work when it doesn't benefit me financially.  I managed to earn just under $1,000 in December delivering for Amazon.

The Airbnb was empty 4 days.  I've resisted lowering our prices too much when it is empty, as that sometimes attracts undesirable guests.  2021 was a record year for our Airbnb.  For perspective, the 3 properties I own in Alabama normally generate less income than the single Airbnb in Florida.

Rental income was solid.  All three Birmingham properties received rent.  One of my Realty Mogul investments paid a dividend.

Rental expenses were higher once again.  After replacing the water heater at my most expensive property, the management company determined there was a slab leak as the water would not stay hot.  Apparently that was the problem all along.  Fortunately the water heater was 12 years old so I don't feel too bad about replacing it even though there was nothing wrong with the old one.  The builder (DR Horton) used defective plumbing and I am hoping the related class action lawsuit will cover some of the costs of this substantial repair.

December Income: $9,445

$0 Mystery Shopping/ Merchandising
$1,400 Meeting Jobs
$0 Gig Apps (Rideshare, Food Deliveries, etc.)
$944 Amazon Deliveries
$3,810 Rental Income (Rental Expenses:  $1,598)
$3,278 Airbnb Income (Airbnb Expenses:  $278)
$12 Interest Income
$0 Other Sources

Investment Accounts Change in Value:  $3,594

My investments were up slightly in December.