Your Time, Your Choice.

This applies to real estate investing—but also applies to EVERYTHING IN LIFE you want to do…

YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU WANT TO DO WITH YOUR TIME.

I hate when I talk to someone and they say they “don’t have time.” If you don’t have time for something, it’s not important to you. Plain and simple.

You have the EXACT same time in a day as every other person in the world. Your problems are not different. Your work schedule is not different. Your responsibilities are not different.

You may be unique compared to your friends and family in your immediate sphere of influence, but there are absolutely people in a similar situation as you and those people choose to spend their time doing what you “don’t have time” for.

The most important thing is really self-reflecting and being honest with yourself on why you are or are not doing something-and then accepting that answer as reality.

For instance, I’m working a mid-shift today. I spent an hour playing my War and Order game this morning. I could have been reading about investing. I could have taken my dog for a walk. I could have been meal prepping for the week. I could have been working some kind of side gig to get the extra money I need to buy another property.

So if I start to think something to the effect of I wish I had more time to spend working a side gig so I could have the money for my next rental. My next thought should be me asking myself where I prioritize that.

Sitting, waiting, wishing doesn’t get you anywhere. Make time for what’s important to you and go after it. Track what you spend your time doing and really assess if it aligns with your values and your goals.

If you think something is important to you and you don’t have time for it, I can guarantee you that something you spend your time on today doesn’t align with your goals or values and you can (and should) reassess.

How COVID-19 has affected my AirBnBs

I started hosting on AirBnB about three years ago. I immediately loved it and immediately knew this was my opportunity to create financial freedom for myself.

I took my savings from my first listing (in a third floor apartment where I made $12-$15 a night!) and used it as my down payment to buy my first home. This left my savings account basically empty-but in a good spot to start earning it back!

And I did, pretty easily-as I continued to book every night and one of those guests turned into an excellent full-time renter.

Using the same method, and when the time was right for my boyfriend and I to move in together, we bought a new house-with hosting in mind.

Savings accounts emptied, and a new zero-percent interest taken out. Not only did we sink about $5k into the house at closing, but we bought furniture and upgraded the bathrooms right away! The $5k turned into $15k pretty quickly.

We should have been easily able to make that $15k back the first year.

Then, as travel plans across the country came to a halt, our cancellations skyrocketed! AirBnB/landlording is how we pay the bills! For about two weeks, we had no guests in any of the five rooms we list on AirBnB.

This was heartbreaking and nerve-racking. Cash on hand was low because we had been putting our earnings back towards the credit card we used to start the AirBnB. And you can’t pay your mortgage with a credit card.

My plans of financial freedom quickly dissolved in front of me, as I knew this would be a month that would require me to pay in to make ends meet.

Luckily, it changed quickly, as travelers were not traveling, people began needing rooms longer term to encourage social distancing between high-risk family members and family members who still had to work. Now, all of my rooms are booked with people who needed one month+.

So, a couple of weeks where I thought my world was ending turned into just a couple of weeks that were a little tough. That’s probably most of the problems in our lives, isn’t it?

What It’s Like to Live with Strangers.

By special request, I’m writing about what it’s like to live with strangers.

For those of you who don’t know, I run an AirBnB out of my house…

That I also live in!

The usual response I get when I tell people about my living situation is something to the effect of “Woah! I don’t think I could do that!” And then the person I’m talking with will explain that they want to feel comfortable in their own home, etc.

I totally understand that. Who doesn’t want to feel comfortable in their own home? The best way I can explain it is using a concept that Craig Curelop, a house-hacker featured on BiggerPockets describes as the “Comfort Continuum.” How uncomfortable are you okay with being?

I am comfortable having strangers in my house, if it pays me to do so. The idea of having no housing expenses and generating a small cash flow is my personal entryway into obtaining financial freedom.

That being said… What’s it like to live with strangers?

Well, it’s weird. (Haha) Working on the low-end of AirBnB (and renting to tenants by the room), I am hosting very different people for very different reasons. I have had immigrants, workers, travelers, honeymooners, students, road-trippers, relocators, partiers, RVers, visitors, interns, and even a CEO stay at my house.

With that, I have met some excellent folks who have impacted my life in a positive way. I have gotten the opportunity to see life from so many people’s perspective as I watch guests/tenants’ lives unfold before them.

In quite a few instances, I have hosted immigrants coming to America. Their stay at my house was their first time in our country. Pause for a second and really take in how important that is. Their experience in my home represents to them what America is like. I want every guest to feel welcome and at home-but I want the welcome to be especially warm for those guests.

In a few instances, I have had young couples who were “between apartments.” Looking outside, their cars are filled with everything they own. I don’t think there are a lot of things worse than not knowing where you’re going to put your head at night. So providing a home and a bed that’s clean and welcoming can provide a thin layer of relief to those who only have stress in every other aspect of their life.

Now, that being said, I no doubt have plenty of people looking for a place to sleep after a night of boozing. I have had plenty of people illustrate their hangover in my bathroom. I have had plenty of people slamming the door at 1am. I have had a few items go missing. I have not liked every guest-and some of those guests have had extended stays.

Getting away from the bigger picture and focusing on the day-to-day… to answer the original question, What’s it like to live with strangers?

It’s not a big deal. Really, you have to clean the common areas more (which is probably a positive thing?). You have to keep the bathroom cleaner (not fun, but probably also a good thing?). You don’t have the freedom to walk around your house naked anymore (but I’ll take my cash instead). Sometimes you don’t want to be around people and people are always around you (but that’s the same as if you live with family, friends, etc.). Sometimes people park in your spot and you have to park on the street instead of in the driveway (oh boo-hoo).

So, all things considered, living with strangers is a great option for those willing to be less comfortable than they could be otherwise.

The Grind.

Wow! My investment properties are finally starting to MAKE MONEY!

For the month of January, my partner and I will have made a profit of about $1,250! ($625 each!)

Now the best part…

I have no bills.

You read that right- the profit I said I made… that included all expenses related to both houses. The mortgages are paid, the utilities, and heck!- even the internet.

Now what does it take to really do this?

  • Every single day, at least one of us has to make beds and clean toilets (not-so-glamorous)
  • You have to be flexible with being able to answer messages from guests and tenants quickly
  • The occasional issue needs addressed immediately (for instance, a guest tripped a circuit breaker and we had to run to another house to fix)
  • We have five laundry hampers for the insane amount of sheets and comforters that we go through each week
  • And most importantly to me… it’s hard to do something fun spontaneously that is more than a day long-as you have to have a plan for the rooms to be flipped.

So, day-in and day-out, you’ll focus on the grind. You’ll focus on who’s responsible for what room and you’ll focus on how you’ll fit these extra tasks into your already busy schedule. But at the end of the month when your bills are paid and you’re getting an extra paycheck- you’ll be glad you spent the time getting ahead.

The Not-So-Glamorous Part of House Hacking.

You will hear nothing but praise and acclaim from me about the cash flow of house hacking. Renting out bedrooms makes a ton more than renting out the entire unit (although this method also takes a ton more hands-on management).

But, right now, we’re in the middle of the not-fun part. The work!

Moving is definitely stressful, no matter the situation; but moving into a house that you’re planning to list on AirBnB and/or find tenants to fill rooms is outright crazy.

Some things to think about when you’re deciding on if you’re ready to house hack…

Don’t forget about the CASH MONEY it takes to furnish all the rooms in the house (obviously depending on your plans… in my case four bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen), the cost of any immediate repairs (for us, two unexpected bathroom remodels), tools (this has been a crazy expense as we’ve decided to remodel the bathrooms ourselves instead of hire a contractor).

It’s so easy to be pumped about being approved for the house and being able to make the down payment, that the huge expenses coming up seem insignificant. So, if you’ve done research at all, I trust that you have an understanding about what you’re getting yourself into. (If you’ve done no research and are hearing about this concept for the first time, maybe start with this https://www.coachcarson.com/house-hacking-guide/)

So… you’ve done a ton of research about house hacking. Maybe you have some experience having roommates before. Maybe you’ve made hundreds of excel sheets in which you can punch the numbers for this deal you’ve had your eye on to see if it meets your criteria of a “good deal.”

GREAT!!

I’m glad you’ve made this exciting decision! So let’s talk about some basic things I wish I had done to make the transition a little smoother from one house to the next!

Expect every project to turn into a much bigger project. I wanted to replace the linoleum and the toilet. After removing the toilet, we learned that the sub floor needed replaced. For whatever reason, things like to go this way- so plan for it to!

Youtube whatever you’re trying to fix to see if you can do it yourself vs. hiring a contractor! MAN! You can literally find anything online! When you find out that something isn’t working the way it should be… before hiring someone to fix it, make sure that it’s not something you can do yourself.

Have a food plan. Your whole day is hectic and you will want to eat fast food or have a pizza delivered every night! You will wake up, go to work, pick up stuff for the house on your way home, get home, start working on whatever project you’re on and then realize you are starving… or you’ll justify eating out on the way home because you’re about to start working again as soon as you get home. Plus, you don’t have any dishes because they are either still packed up or you need to buy some. Eating out is way easier. But that adds up quick! Buy foods that don’t need dishes for the week or two of adjusting to save yourself the temptation of eating out so frequently and the expense of doing so.

Have something in your car to hold your receipts. At my last house that I was house hacking, I kept my receipts in this binder that sat in this specific place. Now, I don’t know exactly where that is. And all these expenses related to fixing this house- although they haven’t been thrown away- they are scattered between my purse, the living room couch, on the floor in the kitchen, and in my car. If I’m missing one, I wouldn’t even know where to begin to look. If I were doing this again, I would keep some kind of receptacle in my car so that it wouldn’t be misplaced in my house where everything continues to be moved. Furthermore, when you buy something, you probably went back to your car afterward, so pretty convenient spot!

That’s all for now! But I’m sure I’ll have more tips soon!

House Number… TWO!

Yep, you read it right. We closed on our second house this week! It feels UNREAL.

My quick two cents about house-hacking…

It’s awesome because:

For the last two(ish) years, I’ve been house-hacking. In my three bedroom house, I’ve rented out a room to a typical renter, and AirBnBed the other room to pay the mortgage. The typical person spends 30% of their income on housing expense… so reducing your largest expense to ZERO is a GAMECHANGER!

Now you’ve got X more each month to save/invest/blow on fun stuff/etc.

It’s a drag sometimes because:

The weird part about house-hacking: it’s a business that you are running out of your home. Try to really take the meaning of the word home in for a second. When you are renting rooms out of your house to other people, you are sharing your home with them.

The day when you come home from work and are exhausted and want to be a shut in, will be the day where a new guest starts their stay (AirBnB) and they check in while you are in the kitchen and they really want to chat with you. The day when you’ve planned a lot of extra activities and are super busy, is the day your roommate (renter) will want to discuss what items are needed for the house (Yes! I already know we need more detergent!)

Tell me what you really think!

So, all-in-all, house-hacking is definitely a great place to begin on the road to riches! But, definitely not a place I’d like to be forever. If you’re younger and are still used to having roommates/living at home with family- this would be an easy transition, for sure.

What’s the new situation like?

Well, that’s the crazy thing! We will have two properties! We are moving into the basement of the new house and renting/AirBnBing the main level, and then renting/AirBnBing the first house completely. Do you know what that means?! One property will be 100% an INVESTMENT property!

This feels very different than when I bought my first house. If you buy a house to live in and house-hack, you can stop house-hacking when you want to if you don’t think it’s for you. (Roommates or strangers in your house isn’t for everyone).

But owning two houses, with two mortgages, is a lot riskier. You can’t just stop if you stop enjoying it. You’re committed at this point.

The thrill of answering the question, How am I going to do this? motivates me to get to work on this exciting project! Seeing how this project fits into the bigger picture I have for my life is insanely satisfying.

#Planningahappylife

Write. Just write something.

So, I ask myself, why write something?

I am definitely not the writing type. I am the math-for-fun, creating-excel-sheets-with-nested-if-functions type.

So, again, why write?

I love my job. It takes up most of my day and a lot of my thoughts outside of my work day. But, I think about the world and I think about my time. I think about how I would describe my “perfect day.” I think, why isn’t every single day my perfect day? Why isn’t all my time being spent with happy people, eating beautiful food, reading brilliant books, with a gorgeous mountain-view in the background?

I’ve learned a good trick–ask yourself How can I make this happen? Asking yourself, how you can do something, rather than if you can do something, allows your brain to come up with solutions rather than giving yourself the easy out of a yes/no conclusion.

I’ve asked myself the question:

How can I live the happy life I want?

So, that’s why I am writing something. I am working hard to create a happy life. And I want to help you plan a happy life, too.