I Planned a Happy Life… and Life Didn’t Go as Planned.

So, as you know, I have detailed plans for my life. I know what I want my life to be like. I know exactly what I need to do to make my dream a reality. And I am great at sticking to a plan!

On December 23rd, 2020, my Loubug and I bought a fixer-upper. A beautiful house in Irvington that needs a ton of attention. And a week later, I got pregnant. Pregnancy—was not in my plan. A baby—not in my plan. Raising a human being for at least 18 years—not in my plan.

Now, my beautiful baby Ella is here. And I am in love. All of my old plans? Adjusted. Changed. For the better. All of my goals? Adjusted. Changed. For the better. This is the first time in my life, a roadblock to my plan that caused me to pivot—is making my life exponentially better.

I guess the life lesson I learned (and am still learning) is that life can not go according to plan and sometimes it takes us on a path that’s even better than we had planned for ourselves.

Pay Yourself First.

But in life.

If you’ve ever read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki, you’ve heard this phrase before. He uses this term to explain the importance of putting away a set amount of your paycheck/income to save/invest automatically as soon as it comes in.

Thankfully, my parents taught me this concept before I ever had a job.

But I’ve recently realized this shouldn’t apply to just saving/investing money, but should also apply to anything in life that you want to do beyond your career. Working 60+ hours a week, I often come home, tired, and think something like, “I’ll write my next blog post tomorrow.” or “After I finish doing [insert some huge task that I’ve been putting off] I’ll read a chapter of my book about different coaching methods.”

So… it’s been five months since my last blog post. And for whatever reason, I’ve now realized that I have to put aspirations for myself before work.

And the crazy reality is, when you’re a high performer at work, your results won’t waiver. You’ll find a way to get the work done that you’re supposed to do. You’re working all day anyway, so whatever you need to take a break to do, work will still be there.

The other things in life that you want to be a priority to you—you actually have to make a priority. It’s as simple as that.

Another interesting thing I’ve realized about this-is the extraneous and super helpful things that I do to help myself with my life—for instance using the beautiful, thoughtfully crafted planner that organizes MY life, or my habit tracker that ensures I’m living a healthier lifestyle are the first things to go when I’m “too busy” or “too stressed” to handle all the things that are coming my way.

It’s like a wild predator is hunting me, and I’m stressed about it so I put down my bow and arrow and try to run faster instead of using the tools I have at my disposal to help myself!

Well, no more. I’m picking my tools back up and ensuring I’m using them and prioritizing them ABOVE my work so that I can be even more prepared for whatever comes my way!

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

Alright. So if you know me, AT ALL, you know that I do, in fact, give a fuck.

Basically, about everything.

A friend, though, recommended the book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck (a counterintuitive approach to living a good life) by Mark Manson. I read it. It challenged my view on some ways that I currently view the world. I don’t think that it changed my personal views, but it at least gave me some key topics to really mull over as I approach planning my happy life.

Let’s dissect some of the highlights here:

  • Don’t try
  • Happiness is a problem
  • You are not special
  • You are always choosing
  • You’re wrong about everything

Just reading these titles, I immediately though, Oh here we go! If I were to have written a book, none of these chapter titles would be in it.

Either way, let’s go through it:

  • Don’t try
    • My first reaction: Go fuck yourself Mark Manson. You literally have a very successful blogging career and have a book that is an international best seller. You definitely tried to make that happen.
    • But then, he mind-fucks everyone by saying: The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.
    • And he is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. As we go about life, we are constantly trying to do things that bring us happiness or get rid of unhappiness. So when we are sitting around, watching an advertisement for something fun and or something that will help us lose weight or become fitter, we are now desiring our life to be better than it is- chasing a positive experience- which makes us less content with our life NOW.
    • So if you read my blog about how to be happy because you’re wanting to be happy-this is SO INSIGHTFUL. Just because you want your life to be different in some ways (who doesn’t?) doesn’t mean we shouldn’t appreciate the good in our life now- or accept some of the aspects as truths that we are working to change.
  • Happiness is a problem
    • My first reaction: What a dingus. Happiness is the point of being alive. Definitely not a problem, broski.
    • Then, after his metaphorical story, he drops a bomb: suffering is nature’s preferred agent for inspiring change. AND Problems never stop; they merely get exchanged and/or upgraded.
    • His premise is that happiness comes from solving problems. Not AVOIDING, but actively working to resolve a problem.
    • I like what he’s getting at-number one- we should work to RESOLVE issues in our life by coming up with a solution and executing it. But in the other hand, I think it’s equally as important to understand what issues cannot be solved, and require acceptance.
    • My dad gave me some advice that really stuck with me. He had grown up poor-so he was on a mission when entering adulthood. He didn’t want his bloodline to suffer from poverty like he did. He worked VERY HARD to ensure we climbed the economic ladder. My dad now is not even 50 and owns his house with no mortgage, owns a Corvette Stingray with no car payment, and has a job making great money-but has no bills. In the meantime, over the last thirty years, he has told himself, “I’ll be happy when…” always hanging his hat upon being happy when X was completed (like getting their first house paid off, getting that first promotion, etc.) You can’t hang your happiness hat up on the end goal and always be working towards that. You’ve got to be happy along the way, as well.
  • You are not special
    • I could relate to this very well. I know I went through the pain of realizing that I’m not special. I’m not actually different or better or more important than anyone else in any way. I do think that I’m special to the people whose life I’m apart of. But, coming to the realization as an adult that you are one of billions of people… and you’re probably going to do things with your life that are great-but you’re probably not going to be the next president of the United States, or the next Beyonce, or the next Gandhi, is for some reason, a hard thing to accept when you first realize it.
    • BUT! That should not allow you to discount your achievements and things that you accomplish with your life. Even when what you accomplish isn’t 1-in-7 billion awesome, it is still great and important!
  • You are always choosing
    • I love this point-because I live my life by this whole-heartedly; this chapter was mostly about taking responsibility for your life and your feelings and what you give a fuck about
    • You should ALWAYS be assuming control of your own life. Most of your life is built upon choices that YOU have made. You controlled who your friends would be; you controlled what job you would take; you control how much you want to interact with your family; you control what you’re going to spend your money on, etc. So your life is set up how YOU WANT IT TO BE. So if you are unhappy with something in your life-it’s your responsibility to fix it.
  • You are wrong about everything
    • Unfortunately, life is not black and white like we want it to be.
    • This paragraph might change your life (or maybe you’ll accept it as false because you so firmly believe what you believe that you will dig your heels in even deeper):
      • Growth is an endlessly iterative process. When we learn something new, we go from wrong to slightly less wrong. And when we learn something additional, we go from slightly less wrong to slightly less wrong than that, and then to even less wrong than that, and so on. We are always in the process of approaching truth and perfection without actually ever reaching truth or perfection.

So, although I didn’t like the titles of these chapters-this was actually a great read.

Royal United Mortgage: Giving Back

So, when looking for a new job, one of the major reasons I was drawn to Royal United Mortgage was their 3 pillars-major values.

  • Their People
  • Their Clients
  • Their Community

So far, I’ve participated in a couple of outreach programs… but this past Friday, we did something that is literally awe-inspiring.

Due to Covid-19, we are choosing to not have a Christmas party this year. The company brain-stormed on what to do instead… and they decided to give all employees cash to give out to the community!

My apprentice and I went out and brightened the day of community members on Post Rd and Pendleton Pike. We were given the opportunity to leave big tips, pay for customers’ groceries, etc.

It was so rewarding to get to see something like this unfold and to see how happy and thankful (and for some, relieved) that people were because of what we were given the opportunity to do.

See this story on the news!

That Duplex, Though.

Yep! We just bought our first investment property.

But Angel- you talk about your other “investment” properties all the time.

You’re right; but I lived in those properties before I started renting them out. I barely had to have any money down. When you buy a house for yourself, the cash requirement isn’t as high as when you buy an investment that you have no intention on living in.

This house, though, I had to put 25% down of my own money. And the appraisal came in low-so I had to put down even more to cover the difference! (Yikes!!)

But papers have now been signed and tomorrow will be the first day we collect rent! HOW EXCITING!

How to Be Happy.

Yep. You should be paying me the big bucks. In the next few lines, I’m going to tell you the secret to being happy.

At the end of the day, every feeling boils down to happiness (or unhappiness) and every single thing we do is to either to gain happiness or lessen the unhappiness. Some people think that money is behind everything we do but I would argue that money is a tool to ultimately gain happiness.

So, as the face of my page says: my goal in life is to be genuinely happy, while also finding a way to finance my happiness.

My own personal hang up is that so many people fill 40-80 hours of their week with an unfulfilling job/career, then waste their free time being less than their maximum happy because of exhaustion/stress/etc.

So, most of my posts detail what my real estate hustle is and how it’s progressing and sharing the information I think could be useful to hosts, landlords, lenders, consumers, etc.

But right now, I want to share some of the insights I learned from this book, Lucky Go Happy by Paul van der Merwe.

  • Attitude: every single thing in life that comes at you, should be approached as an opportunity (rather than a crisis). You have the power over how you choose to view the things that happen in your life. Your mindset often dictates how you view the obstacles that come your way.
  • Count your blessings: small wonderful things happen every single day. Even on a terrible day.
    • This is actually one of the most profound things that you can do that can have an insane impact on your happiness. If you don’t already see positive things in your life, challenge yourself to write down 5 good things that happen each day. If you wouldn’t label yourself as an optimistic/positive person right now, this will be hard when you start. But, if you make yourself do it each day, your brain starts looking for positive things throughout the day (because it knows you’ve got to have 5!).
    • Give when nothing is expected in return. Nothing feels better than knowing you impacted someone’s life. Even if you think it’s insignificant.
    • There is good in the bad. Sometimes, we generalize a day, or a specific part of our life as “bad.” Maybe, we had a lot of unhappy times during that part of our life. But, it was definitely not ALL bad.
      • My very basic example so that you can get the gist of what point I’m trying to make: you had a long day at work and want to go home. You get in your car, start driving, and come to a stop on the freeway. This just adds to your bad day, and adds 20 minutes to your trip home. But, while you were stopped, waiting, one of your favorite songs comes on the radio! You bust out in song for 4 minutes. Maybe, yeah, the 20 minutes were bad… but there was SOME good in there.
  • Event: don’t place your happiness on something happening. For instance, I’ll be happy when x happens. You are setting yourself up for failure. You’ll have wasted precious time being less happy than you could have been before x has happened-and you won’t gain a long lasting happiness afterwards, like you thought you would.
    • Planning: don’t wait to be happy until the weekend. Plan things-DURING the week to break up the mundane. Also, make sure you actually PLAN some fun things in advance-part of the happiness you get comes from the anticipation.

There were a ton of great lessons in that short and simple book-but what I’ve written above is what I feel like are some of the most important tenets of actualizing happiness.

Happiness is all around you- RIGHT NOW. Put this down and enjoy your life!

Discount Points

So, as many of you know, not only am I real estate investor, but I’m also a mortgage loan originator. What does that mean? That means I’m federally licensed to help a borrower choose a loan product and work through the application process-and finally, get a mortgage loan!

More importantly, I help my clients make a decision on what makes the most sense financially based on their personal situation.

I’d like to just briefly, in very basic terms, explain what discount points are and how they work and why you should or should not use them. I talk to consumers all day who say to me: “I want to lower my interest rate, but I don’t want to pay any points.”

Points are, in short, prepaid interest. You can use the points to buy down your interest rate. They show up as a cost on your loan estimate/closing paperwork.

Points go HAND-IN-HAND with your interest rate. So without paying points, there’s a good chance that you’re not going to be able to lower your interest rate enough to justify the cost of refinancing (unless you’re in a terribly inefficient loan right now).

But Angel, I’ve been working hard to pay extra on my mortgage. Does it really make sense to add money to what I owe?!

Sometimes! It really depends on how much extra you’re putting towards your mortgage, how much it would cost to refinance, and how efficient your current loan is.

If you have consistently been putting extra money towards your mortgage or are in a spot financially where you will realistically be putting more towards your mortgage than you’re required to, focus on the amortization table. Make sure you are aware of the loan amount you’d be borrowing, and are clear about where you are currently on your amortization table. Sometimes, it does make sense to add costs to your loan to take a lower rate to be able to make more of your monthly payment go towards principle. Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense.

Make sure you’re very communicative with your loan advisor up front about what your goals are, what you’re currently paying towards your mortgage, and what your intentions are. If you feel like your advisor is trying to “sell you” on the loan, ask to see the math. If they can’t show you the math that illustrates the new loan accomplishing your goals better than your current mortgage, there’s your answer.

Angel, I want the maximum monthly savings possible!

That’s wonderful! If you want maximum monthly savings, use all the discount points you can possibly use. But Angel-that’s more costs-wouldn’t that make my payment go up?! Probably not as much as the interest rate would drive it down. Lean on your ADVISOR to help you make that choice correctly.

There’s more to it than the above mentioned, but I think those two points made are starters. In my experience, many clients I work with are concerned about this unnecessarily. It makes sense, the savings comes with a large price-tag, and can be a little overwhelming.

My best advice, find a good loan advisor who really understands math AND understands your goals.

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.