Fiery Millennials http://www.fierymillennials.com Financial Independence from a millennial's point of view. Thu, 18 May 2017 13:24:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 https://i1.wp.com/www.fierymillennials.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/cropped-Black-Icon.jpg?fit=32%2C32 Fiery Millennials http://www.fierymillennials.com 32 32 103552657 Never Say Never http://www.fierymillennials.com/never-say-never/ http://www.fierymillennials.com/never-say-never/#comments Thu, 18 May 2017 13:16:17 +0000 http://www.fierymillennials.com/?p=1008 Read more...]]> Never is such a polarizing word.

Why do we say we'll never do something?

“I'll never wear short socks.”
“I'll never wear looser fitting clothing.”
“I'll never eat eggplant.”

I've said each of those things in the past. The funny thing is, I've done each of those things and actually enjoy them more than the alternatives. Ok, maybe not about the eggplant but at least I tried it.

Never is such a divisive word.

What most people mean to say when they say never is “I don't like ____/I find ____ offensive”. When I said I'll never wear short socks, what I meant was I don't currently like short socks and I don't see the point of them. Time and experience has a funny way of changing people's outlooks and opinions. In the case of the Great Sock Debate, I discovered I didn't like how calf-high socks kept losing their elasticity so quickly and never stayed up. Having to pull them up all the time and dealing with saggy socks made me irritated. I tried short socks and found out all of those problems disappeared. Sure, occasionally my shoe rubbed my ankle, but I fixed that by finding a different brand that came up a bit higher.

Never is a very close minded way of looking at things.

You're saying, I know everything there is to know about the subject, I am SO RIGHT I will always know best, nothing you can say to me will change my mind and anyone who thinks different is WRONG.

I've found that people who use the word never are correct. Their use of never becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“I'll never be able to afford college/a house/have kids.”
“I'll never pay off this debt.”
“I'll never be able to retire.”

A better way to think about things is to only say never for things you don't want to happen, and phrase your nevers in a different way.

“I never want to be on food stamps again.”
“I never want to have consumer debt again.”
“Housing in my area is really expensive. I need to cut expenses/save rigorously/move cities if I want to buy a house.”
“I have $40k in student loans. If I get a second job, I can pay them off in 30 months!”
“Retirement is a long way away, but I'm going to start saving $100 a month and gradually increase that over the years.”

I've long been a fan of the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I first heard about it early in college from a friend of mine in my Guard unit. At first….. I totally thought he was full of crap. But I promised him I would read it, so I did and found my view shifting. I'm not saying it's why I've been so successful at all the things I've tried for in life, but it's full of good exercises to do to change the way you think about things in life. I was reminded of it recently when I found the video below on Facebook. I recommend watching it! The clip from Jim Carrey is especially good.

In my (probably too long) search for the exact video I watched on FB, I ran across one with LMFAO where they described how they made such a splash in the music industry with Shots. Apparently, they're also big fans of The Secret. It sounds ridiculous, but it's a way of thinking I've integrated into my life now.

sauce: quotefancy.com

I've been working towards financial independence for going on 4 years now. There are still people who tell me I'll never be able to retire early, and to them… they're right. But only because they say it's never going to happen.

Yes, some people will genuinely struggle to retire early due to a low income. Make some sacrifices, take some risks, and they could work their way up the income ladder too. Yes it might require a lot of hard work (going to school after work, not having much of a social life for a while, moving across the country for a better job) but the beauty of this time is anyone can change their fortune. Now that kind of thing takes a lot of courage. I am not sure I have that kind of courage. I don't necessarily need that kind of courage right now, since I am comfortable in my job, location, and life in general.

That being said, I am A LOT closer to financial independence than I was 3 or 4 years ago due to all the hard work I've put into it. If you told 18-year-old me I'd be doing so well at age 26, I would've laughed in your face. To me at that point in my life, it was never going to happen. (Then again the thought of me eating AND liking asparagus was also a completely foreign idea soooo….)

But I opened my mind, changed the way I think, focused on what I wanted, and worked hard to direct my life into something I wanted. Now I am financially secure, and well on my way to being financially independent. So just like Henry Ford said way back when, “Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right”. Preach it, Henry!

What do you want from the world? Have you noticed anything different about your life after changing your thinking? Do you say you'll never be able to do something? Sound off in the comments!

 

*also this post contains affiliate links which helps me offset the costs of running this blog at no cost to you!

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Financially Free? http://www.fierymillennials.com/financially-free/ http://www.fierymillennials.com/financially-free/#comments Tue, 09 May 2017 12:12:56 +0000 http://www.fierymillennials.com/?p=1469 Read more...]]> This FIRE community rocks, y'all. There are amazingly smart bloggers who write some really deep articles that really make you stop, think, scratch your head, think some more, write a comment at 5 am, and then enjoy some more thinking.

Ms. Our Next Life is no exception to this. She recently posted an article on Why “Financial Freedom” Means Something Different to Me. I absolutely love it! I love that FIRE means something different to every person in the community. Some want the extra stability in their lives to take risks with their corporate jobs, some want the choice to quit their W2 job to work a lower paying but more fulfilling career, some want to quit and have more time with their families, and still others want to quit and travel the world forever.

I commented this on the ONL article: “I’ll be sticking with financial freedom. It implies a certain sense of wonder, lightness, and awe to those not on the same path. Also, right now I’m not financially free. I’m in handcuffs, chained to my job. The handcuffs might be invisible, and comfortable, but they’re still there and chafing at me. Yes we have it tons better than people in say, North Korea. There will always be people in the world I have it better than. There will also always be people who have it better than me! I wish everyone were equal but alas, our world isn’t set up that way :(”

Her reply: “I love the wonder part of your definition, but I do want to press you: Are you REALLY “handcuffed” to your job? You have tons of skills, and could easily find another. ‘Handcuffed' means you literally have no choice, which clearly doesn’t apply to you. And you just bought a multifamily home at a young age as a single person — that sure sounds like financial freedom to me. You made that choice — an audacious one, at that! — all on your own, and made it happen through your own ingenuity and grit. I can’t think of any better word for that than ‘financial freedom.' ;-)”

Consider this my long-winded response to her comment!

Not this bad of a situation, though.

I absolutely do NOT consider myself to be financially free right now. I am in a great situation, absolutely. But I have obligations to meet and bills to pay. I have $150,000 squirreled away in various accounts. I also need to eat, put gas in my car, and pay my cell phone bill.

Right now I am still wholly dependent on my day job. Since I took relocation benefits to move 5 months ago, I have at least 7 more months to go before I could quit my job and take another position elsewhere. Yes, I could potentially get the new company to pay that for me. But what if I talked about the wrong thing to the wrong person and got fired? I'd be on the hook to pay that back before I could potentially get hired at a new company.

I also bought my house. This means I have a mortgage to pay. Yes, my tenants pay me rent which more than covers the mortgage. But that won't always be the case as tenants come and go and I have to account for vacancies. I can't depend on that money coming in, so I need to be sure I have a way to come up with the money on my own. I can't do that without a decent paying job right now.

I used a VA loan to buy the house. I have to live in this house for at least 12 months before I can move anywhere. Technically I could move and just not tell anyone but that's unethical. I will wait out the year to move…… but that means if I were to get fired, I couldn't move to a new location. Chances are high I wouldn't be able to come up with a comparable position in this town. Maybe I'm not doing the other businesses in this town justice, but it is a very small town ruled by my MegaCorp. I would almost certainly have to take a pay cut to stay in the area.

I'm not even sure I could thrive and excel in a new job. I have the technical skills on paper to get hired into just about any relevant job I want. I get recruited on LinkedIn often enough to tell me this is the case. Add in the fact that I'm a woman in IT, and my chances get every better. I hate to have to use the diversity hire card, but if it helps open doors I'm not going to turn it down. However……… my actual technical skills leave a lot to be desired. While it looks like I have the technical skills, I really don't. I am definitely better at IT stuff than your average bear (or Baby Boomer), but I lack the logical way of thinking to really dig in deep and understand where the problem is or how to improve something. I'm much better at the user support side of things.

This is gibberish to me.

Unfortunately for me, support positions like mine are rare. Normally these positions are contract positions and paid very low to people just starting out in IT. Think your friendly helpdesk before it got shipped off to India. The only reason my job isn't contract is due to the highly sensitive and confidential nature of my day to day tasks. It's so sensitive we can't even fill an open spot on the team to an outside employee. Finding an equitable position in another company would take a lot of time and effort… that I might not have in the first place.

Fortunately, I love my job and have no plans to leave, and definitely no plans to get fired anytime soon. All of this goes to show though, that while the tide is turning for me, I'm nowhere near financial freedom yet.

I definitely have the cushion needed to take some risks (which I did when I bought the house) but I'm not financially free yet. To me, financial freedom is the same as financial independence. I can take baby risks right now, but big risks like quitting my job and moving to a different location will have to wait until I have more money squirreled away.

So if $150k isn't enough for me to take big risks, what number is big enough?

Honestly, I have no idea. I know I've set $587,500 as my FI number but I'm thinking as long as I have a steady income stream I won't have to get quite that high before I can quit and do what I want. I'll be almost half way there by the beginning of 2018! The higher my number and passive income goes, the more comfortable I'll feel taking bigger risks.

Until then, I continue to stay the course! Onwards and upwards!

What's your definition of financial freedom? Do you think I'm being too cautious?

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Monthly Status Report: April 2017 http://www.fierymillennials.com/monthly-status-report-april-2017/ http://www.fierymillennials.com/monthly-status-report-april-2017/#comments Tue, 02 May 2017 12:13:29 +0000 http://www.fierymillennials.com/?p=1463 Read more...]]> Happy May, friends! With the addition of my monthly rental line items, I am changing the monthly report format. Please note I also have some affiliate links in the posts now, as they help offset the costs to keep this blog running. Let me know how you like the changes in the comments!

Why do I do a monthly status report?

I find it best to do a monthly status report for a few reasons.

  • It helps me evaluate how I did the previous month. Did I hit a target reduction in spending or did I go way over budget for a par­tic­u­lar category? Did I earn more? What was my overall savings rate?
  • It helps keep me accountable. How can I make an extra purchase knowing I’ll have to explain myself to all of you? Talk about awkward when the blogger can’t walk the walk and talk the talk.
  • I want to prove this crazy thing called financial independence works!
  • It provides an example of real world budgeting and expenses. Some of the people I talk to haven’t ever seen a proper budget or seen one put into action, and part of the purpose of this blog is to lead by example!

I use Mint to help me track my spending and keep an eye on my accounts. I also use a really awesome and super in-depth spreadsheet. So many formulas….. Some people use Personal Capital and others use You Need a Budget (YNAB). Whatever tool (or combination thereof) works best for you and your needs is the best one for you, since everyone and their budgets are different.

Spending

April was a much calmer month all around than March. No new major expenses or surprises popped up on the house or in life, although I didn't appreciate the inconvenience of two of my tires giving out in the same week. Fortunately I have a healthy cash cushion even after buying the house so I was able to absorb that cost without too much angst.

The theme of the month was Meetups! I absolutely love going to different group meetings and making connections with a new group of people. I met up with the local real estate investors club, a planning meeting for a new Makerspace (hopefully coming soon. I need space to work on projects!!), practice for my new softball team, and last but certainly not least, an FI meetup in Minneapolis!

I especially love going to FI meetups. This is what, my 5th or 6th group meetup? I can tell you, they never get old. Chatter flew across the group as topics like investing talk, birth stories, travel tips, and favorite concerts/bands got discussed. Even though I'd just met everyone in the group that day, they already felt like old friends. (Amanda from Centsibly Rich doesn't count because we carpooled, shared a hotel room, and she used to be my neighbor.) The group included Wealth Well Done, Physician on FIRE, Bible Money Matters, the Grounded Engineer, Gecko Vision, Apathy Ends and the No Nonsense Landlord. It seemed like we had just about every facet of finance covered that night. It also seemed like we hit every brewery in town but I was assured there were plenty more to explore for the next meetup.

Without further ado, I present my April 2017 expenses.

Rent First payment isn't due until May!
Utilities First bill in May. It's going to be a bit higher than my last place
Food Below budget!!!! Amazing!
Phone So low. I love Project FI!
Auto Gas and fixins on the car. 4 new tires and labor isn't cheap. But so, so worth it.
Internet Internet will start in May as well.
Insurance Health insurance is paid directly from my paycheck.
Pet Stocked up in March, no need for more in April.
Support I support my sister with her missions!
Blog Monthly fees for support and email.
Fees Fees are dumb.
Shopping Random necessities
Travel Last payment for Ecuador, hotel in Minneapolis, and a Lyft ride.
House Lawnmower, rake, gloves and other assorted house supplies.

All told, my spending totaled $3050.26 for March! Slightly higher than normal, but I'm still working on finding my new normal with the house. Forking over $500 on new tires really killed any hope I had at getting in at a ‘reasonable' number. Still, $3,050 isn't bad and I could have easily spent far more.

Income

Paychecks: $3,118.58
Rental income: $1,100
Tax refund: $1,019
Misc: $101.68

Total: $5339.25

April was a fun month of income due to my tax refund and my VERY FIRST RENT CHECKS! They were especially welcome this month with the unexpected expenses.

Savings

401k: $2,171.24
Roth IRA: $450
HSA: $220.82
Cash: $1,891.44

Total savings: $4,733.50

What a great savings month! I love it when I don't actually spend all the cash that comes into my pocket. The 401k deposit jumped up a little with my raise last month, so now I will hit the max earlier in the year. Probably makes about 1 day total difference but hey, every day counts!

Net Worth

According to the Lab over on Mad Fientist’s site, my FI date is now 7 years and 7 months away, which means I’m at November 2024! I'm stoked to have gotten over the '25 hurdle that was stymieing the last few months.

My total net worth jumped to $151,331 this month thanks to a strong market, lower spending than last month, and including home equity. I broke the $150k barrier! I believe I am still on track to hit $200k net worth by the end of the year, but we shall see!

 

Thanks for reading! What did your month look like? Did you stick to your budget?

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Enough is Enough http://www.fierymillennials.com/enough-is-enough/ http://www.fierymillennials.com/enough-is-enough/#comments Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:00:14 +0000 http://www.fierymillennials.com/?p=1453 Read more...]]> I have a problem.

All my friends are awesome.

Now, on the list of problems to have, this one is so minor that it barely rates being listed as a problem. However, it bothers me, so I'm counting it as a problem. I'm blessed that I'm expending brain power on this, and not some other pressing issue like feeding myself or worrying about where I'm going to sleep tonight.

There's a saying out there that says you are the sum of your top 5 friends or some other inspirational bologna like that.

Oh look I found the inspirational quote in a cheesy picture:

Apparently it was the inspirational speaker Jim Rohn who said that quote originally. Now we've both learned something!

Anyways… back to the point.

My friends are awesomely amazing people. They're passionate, freakishly intelligent, driven, hard-working, hilarious people. They're starting businesses, staying in touch with our respective local legislators, raising families, producing amazing content, hustling to earn extra money, paying off debts like crazy, buying a new rental property…. the list goes on and on.

Usually I get inspired by my friends. But sometimes it's hard to not get jealous or feel like a bum. Even though I know our situations are different, it's hard not to compare myself to them.

I know this is ridiculous. Here I am killing it, and I still feel like it's not enough. But you know what? It is.

I am doing enough.

It's been one month since I closed on my first rental property. Not only did I buy my first property at age 26, I did it all by myself as a single lady. No one helped me. [unless you count the indirect help of getting a nice bonus at work, a moving allowance, and living cheaply in my friend's basement. But I count those more as savvy money moves than help. Call it what you want though.]

My mom pointed out that she's never had her name on a mortgage. She's done lots of other things in her life (like raising 3 great kids haha) but buying a house is not one of them.

I have other friends who can't even move out of their parent's house or rent a place without having a roommate due to crushing student loans. I have friends who struggle to come up with the money to go see a movie at the theater once a month.

So why don't I compare myself to them? Doing so would certainly make me feel a lot better about myself. I don't compare myself to them because I don't often see their struggles. No one brags on social media how they are worried their power is going to get cut off or that they're scrambling that month to come up with the rent check.

Unless you're Pitbull & NeYo, then you write a whole damn song about how you can't pay your rent and the associated poor choices that go along with that.

But successes? They're everywhere. Someone added a sweet rental property to their portfolio. Someone got a bonus the size of your entire yearly pay and put it in their taxable investment account. Someone got a higher paying job. Someone just got done biking to work and posted a selfie of them afterwards glowing from the exercise with their all-organic healthy smoothie they blended before they rode to work. People love to celebrate the good (and they should!).

What I'm doing is enough, and I'm not going to let people make me feel bad.

I drive my car to work and back every day. I don't feel like waking up 3 hours early just to go completely out of my way to ride my bike. Not to mention my main route to work is not only unsuitable for riders on the best day, but mostly under construction and therefore completely unsafe now. It's enough I ride my bike to the grocery store and farmer's market on the weekend.

I work out sparingly. I have friends that spend hours at the gym every day and they're in amazing shape. Do I wish I could see my ab muscles? Yes. Am I willing to put forth the effort right now? No. It's enough I do body weight exercises at home and eat a healthy diet.

I post when I can. My main time for writing used to be at work when I had nothing to do. Now I have tons to do at work and am busy all day (like I should be). This means I've had to find other times to write and I haven't been the best at it. But I am doing enough to get posts out when I can and make sure they're the best quality they can be before I hit that publish button.

Am I saving enough? Am I being frugal enough? Are my investments optimized to the best options in the market? All three of those could be answered No. But you know what? It's enough that I max out my HSA, Roth IRA, and 401(k). It's enough I have those invested in VTSAX or some other low fee index fund. I could spend less on travel and food. But it's enough I travel hack and bring my food into work most days. Sure, I might not be eating crock pot oatmeal at $.10 a serving…….. but at least I'm bringing in packets of oatmeal from home and not getting breakfast and lunch downstairs from the cafeteria every day.

I might not have a whole portfolio of rental houses yet, but it's enough that I got started and bought the first one. That's more than most people can say. Sure, this property might need more TLC than I originally anticipated, which means I probably won't have a decent down payment saved up by the fall and won't be able to buy another rental property until at least next spring. But that's ok. Because one is enough for now.

I might not have the perfect family unit or even a boyfriend. But that's ok. Because I'm happy and taking care of myself now. I'm not so desperate that I take the first guy that shows interest in me and try to make it work. It's enough to wait (mostly patiently) for the right guy to come along.

So, my dear reader, take these lessons to heart. Do your best, and don't worry about what everyone else is doing. The fact you worry about this means you're already ahead of the pack.

You are enough.

 

**fun fact:  Semantic satiation (also semantic saturation) is a psychological phenomenon in which repetition causes a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning for the listener, who then perceives the speech as repeated meaningless sounds. If you're anything like me, that's why “enough” looks weird right now.

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Early Retirement: Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but… http://www.fierymillennials.com/guest-erd-apr-17/ http://www.fierymillennials.com/guest-erd-apr-17/#comments Mon, 17 Apr 2017 12:00:07 +0000 http://www.fierymillennials.com/?p=1447 Read more...]]> Today's guest post comes courtesy of the Early Retirement Dude. If you frequent the /r/financialindependence subreddit, you might recognize him as a cool mod known as ER10years_throwaway! He FI/ER'd in 2005 at the ripe old age of  36. He made a very insightful comment and I asked him to expand upon it in a guest post. Take it away, Early Retirement Dude!

“Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift no heavy-ass weights.” — Professional bodybuilder and eight-time Mr. Olympia winner Ronnie Coleman

Remember when you first heard about the idea of financial independence/early retirement (FI/ER)? What was your reaction?

I retired when I was thirty-six, eleven years ago, but in real life when I meet someone new I don’t bring it up. Early on I might’ve, but I got too many negative reactions: “No way”…“Oh, I hate you”…and the worst: “I could never do that.” I finally realized I was chilling what could otherwise be good relationships, so I stopped talking about FI/ER with anyone other than family and a few close friends.

But having considered those reactions for a long time, I’ve come to believe that the average American worker is ill-conditioned to conceive of FI/ER as even existing, let alone being achievable. People’s parents don’t tell them about it and schools for damn sure don’t teach it to students…so people default to the traditional middle-class mental roadmap: graduating, getting a job, forming a family, and planning to retire comparatively late in life. It’s what everybody does, right?

You gotta toss that roadmap, my friend. Set the bugger on fire and flush the ashes.

Hence my initial question: what was your reaction when you first heard of FI/ER? Was it “I could do that?” I’m guessing it wasn’t, or at least not initially.

So what kept you interested?

Maybe it was this: you recognized that you were on the cusp of a life-changing moment.

~

I want to share with you my most life-changing moment, at least in the pursuit of FI/ER. If it hadn’t been for one hour, a mere sixty minutes, I truly believe I’d still be corporate.

When I was twenty-six I worked in marketing in a public utility, and I applied and interviewed for a new and fun job that carried a pay raise from $ to $$. But the two hiring managers turned me down. So I called them and asked if we could meet for a feedback session. I wanted to know why they blackballed me; what they thought I could work and improve so as to make the cut during the next round of hiring.

An hour of straight talk ensued, a lot of it personal. And honestly, they were right: I’d screwed a lot of stuff up. I had the reputation of being a prima donna, a lousy team player, and a know-it-all. I rubbed people the wrong way by trying to be smarter than everybody else and twice as funny. (Probably still character issues, but set that aside for now.)

Their feedback was tough to hear and even tougher to accept. But I WANTED that job. Besides being new and fun, I’d become convinced it was my best shot at FI/ER.

So for the next six months I set about becoming their ideal candidate. On my own time I studied the knowledge and skills required by the job. I periodically discussed my progress with the hiring managers and networked to other influential people in the company. And I tried to rebuild my reputation.

I finally got hired. I worked in that group for a year before getting the chance to jump over to a new employer in the private sector. [FOOTNOTE BELOW] My salary went from $$ to $$$ and then to $$$$, eventually enabling me to become financially independent and retire.

Like I said, I’m convinced I'd still be working if I hadn't asked for that meeting with those two decision-makers. Holy shit, was that a life-changing moment. But was it solely my doing? Can I take full credit for lifting that heavy-ass weight?

Of COURSE not. I had a great mentor at the time, and for the life of me I can't remember if asking for feedback was his suggestion, but it sounds exactly like the kind of thing he’d have advised me to do. And there were other people who were generous with their time and advice. Even one guy was such a jerk that he motivated me to haul ass in the opposite direction. And the candor of those two hiring managers…wow.

You shouldn’t just wait on these life-changing moments to come along…you should actively be working to create them. Sometimes that requires changing your thinking from, “I could never do that,” to “With some help, I probably could.”

~

Which brings me back to the second paragraph of this post, where I said, “I could never do that,” is the worst reaction possible to the concept of FI/ER.

Like I said, even hearing about the FI/ER concept, and especially its achievability, is a moment you can build a whole new life from.

Let’s say you research FI/ER for a while, realize that maybe instead of retiring in your mid-thirties, your mid-fifties are more realistic…or say you shoot for FI/ER for a while, get burned out on it, and think you'll never get there…are you going to give up? Or figure out ways to use those obstacles to keep going?

Think about it: every day in your life is made up of life-changing moments. Which, yeah, is simple-minded advice. Motivational poster crap. But look, take it seriously nonetheless. Becoming financially independent and retiring early requires a shit-ton of time and commitment.

And I think that’s ultimately the reason people tell themselves, “I could never do that.” It’s not that they don’t WANT to get out of the workforce, or lack the brainpower to understand the tools…it’s “lifting heavy-ass weights” for the years and years and years necessary that’s impossible to internalize. So another life-changing moment gets wadded up and tossed away…which is a friggety shame.

Don’t sell yourself short, man. Make that moment happen.

[HERE'S THAT FOOTNOTE:] I maintain that being a good team player doesn’t necessarily mean unquestioning loyalty to your current employer. Keep in mind that your employer wouldn’t hesitate for three seconds to cut you loose if doing so would increase the bottom line. Granted that your personal value equation is likely more complicated than mere salary, but all else being equal, why would you ever hesitate to follow the money?


Sick of your job? After a thirteen-year career, Early Retirement Dude fled corporate America for good. You can do it too! Visit his blog at Early Retirement Dude or email EarlyRetirementDude@gmail.com
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De-romanitizing Downsizing http://www.fierymillennials.com/de-romanitizing-downsizing/ http://www.fierymillennials.com/de-romanitizing-downsizing/#comments Fri, 14 Apr 2017 17:27:09 +0000 http://www.fierymillennials.com/?p=1441 Read more...]]> Downsizing sounds so nice as an abstract concept.

You see articles and posts written on it everywhere you turn, it seems.

“How one woman downsized and moved to Paris for love”

“How we downsized into a tiny house”

“How we went from 3000 sq. ft. to a 35 ft sailboat”

Sounds amazing, right? Move into a smaller place, make some nice change from selling crap you don't need on Craigslist, and voila! Instant happiness as you have 1,000,000 less sq ft to dust and clean.

Well let me tell you what.

Downsizing SUCKS

For me, it meant moving into about 250 sq ft (the efficiency unit in my first rental property). I have one 12′ x 13′ main room, a bathroom, a kitchen, one closet, and some hallways. I had an entire wall of boxes. My kitchen was full of boxes. The hallway to my bathroom was stacked with boxes.

Thank god I had my attic to put some extra boxes in or else I'd still be picking the crap out of my fingers and face from the stress.

Downsizing means tripping over the same box 10 times in one day (and lots of swearing. Pretty sure my pinky toe was broken.)

Downsizing means throwing away a lot of precious memories. Ever seen someone ugly cry as they hear the clay pot they made in 7th grade shatter into a million pieces? It's not pretty.

Downsizing means selling your favorite pieces of furniture to strangers on Craigslist who obviously will not love your table as much as you do. I mean, who paints a solid cherry dining room table? IT WAS BEAUTIFUL IN IT'S NATURAL STATE!!

I have a lot of positive memories associated with my furniture. Playing cards by candle light at the table when the power went out. Sleeping on my couch the summer of my internship because I didn't have room for a bed. The feeling of ecstasy when my friend's mom sold me her collection of shelves that I'd drooled over for years. Nothing but the memories and some pictures remain.

Of course….. I also have a phat wad of cash in my pocket now so that helps alleviate some of the pain.

Downsizing means you have to get creative with your stuff. No longer can you shove all your extra stuff in a spare room or the basement, close the door, and forget about it. Nope. All your crap is everywhere for everyone who comes over to see. My bed is currently laying on the floor because I don't have enough space to set up my bed frame. If I did, I would have about 24 inches left to slide into the bed. So, I will be building a loft for my queen sized mattress. After I get that done, I can set up a desk under it and finally have some room to breathe and work at home. Until then, all socializing will have to be done at friends' houses or out at a bar somewhere.

See this picture? This picture is one of my proudest achievements. I moved that futon 10 whole feet by myself! That meant I had to clean off the floor space, which meant dumping a whole bunch of stuff on my bed. You can see it if you look closely enough. I did that on purpose for two reasons: one, I had literally nowhere else to put it and two, it's effective for making me do something with it right then and there and not put it off. I wanted to sleep in my own bed, dammit.

Then I had to push and pull the futon around the boxes in the kitchen and through the narrow hallway. I tried it on end and it got stuck in between the doorways, so then I had to push it back out, lower it and shove it through that way while trying not to destroy the woodwork or walls.

After I got it into place the futon went on the frame, the boxes behind the frame and on the bed when on the futon and I pushed it back against the wall. It is staying there until I get the loft frame built. Phew!

I kind of wish I had taken a timelapse video and set it to Yakety Sax because I would have been very entertained watching that 10 years from now.

Finally, downsizing into such a small space requires you to be neat. So neat. All. the. time.

Because you simply don't have the space to walk around piles of shoes or a heap of clothing. I'm usually a clean, but messy person. I subscribe to the “messy piles” camp of organization. I can have a pile of papers and tell you exactly where everything is in the pile. (I've been this way for ages. Just ask my sister who had to share a room with me at one point or other members of my family. Mom, stop laughing at me!) I can't say the same about putting paperwork in files and putting that in a file drawer.

Unfortunately for me, I don't have room for the messy piles any more. Clothes now get tossed in the hamper, dishes get washed and put away immediately, books get put back on the shelf when I'm done with it, and my coat gets hung up next to the door instead of tossed over the back of my chair.

Let me stress that none of these things detailed above are particularly a bad thing. It is just such a change from what I'm used to that I'm struggling to adapt to this new way of life. I suspect this would be a lot easier if I wasn't also stressed out about the debt, being a landlord, and trying to get a handle on all the stuff around the house that needs to be fixed or updated.

I have no doubt in time I will get a system worked out and adapt to this new way of life. Until then, I shall continue to skirt around boxes and rummage through them for something I could've sworn was in that box!

Readers, have you downsized? What did you struggle the most with?

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A Letter to My 22 Year Old Self http://www.fierymillennials.com/a-letter-to-my-22-year-old-self/ http://www.fierymillennials.com/a-letter-to-my-22-year-old-self/#comments Mon, 10 Apr 2017 12:37:26 +0000 http://www.fierymillennials.com/?p=1433 Read more...]]> Today's post comes courtesy of Joel at FI180. Joel and I met at Camp Mustache SE this winter. Once I heard his story, I knew he had a lot of great words of wisdom to share. Over the course of the weekend, we convinced him to start a blog to share his story. He and his wife will be FI in just a few short years!  You can find Joel at fi180.com – please go and check out his site after you read this post. Take it away, Joel!

A Letter to My 22 Year Old Self

Hello, twenty-two year old Joel! Greetings from a decade in the future. There’s so much to catch you up on: There’s a new Power Rangers movie! Apple makes cell phones now! And we have electric cars that practically drive themselves!

But there’s a serious matter I want to discuss today: your future happiness. Let me describe two possible futures for you, each a decade away:

Future 1

Picture this: you graduate from college, move to a new town, and get a high paying software engineering job. You immediately buy a beautiful new house, new furniture, and new cars. You live in a fancy gated community with elaborate fountains and walking trails. Friends and family to come visit, and they marvel at all the nice things you have!

You buy all the newest tech toys every year, and consider yourself an ‘early adopter’ of technology. Sure, you pay a premium for the privilege, but you can afford it with your salary. You’ve always loved the latest computers, gadgets and gizmos. It’s why you got into computers to begin with!

You get married to your high school sweetheart and enjoy an extravagant wedding, a tropical honeymoon, weekly dinners at 5-star restaurants, and monthly massages at the spa. You are also quite the jet-setter: you travel nearly every other weekend, all across the U.S., visiting friends and family. Your credit card has no limit, and when you think of something you desire, you buy it. This future is high-class living: you blew past the Jones’ years ago.

said fancy house

Future 2

Picture this: five days a week, your alarm clock wakes you super early, and you stumble from bed groggy from lack of sleep. You get dressed, make coffee, and race out the door to sit in traffic on your drive to work. When you finally arrive, you sit in a cube and write code for hours on end. Same sights, same sounds, day in and day out. Same people, same faces. Same widgets, different day.

You would think a technology job would interest you, but over the years you realize it’s all the same: write yet another version of an already existing widget for a program that is behind schedule and over budget. You’ve tried changing jobs, but it’s no use. New code, new cubicle, same prison sentence. The fluorescent lights flicker above you glance down at your smart watch and notice it’s 73 degrees and perfect outside. Your legs ache to run outside and enjoy it, but you can’t: you are too behind on your milestones. You are always behind, actually. You’ve tried coming in earlier, staying later, working through lunch. Nothing works.

You check the clock every ten minutes, hoping time would move faster. All you want to do is go home. Tick, tick, tick, tick. The watch hand moves so slowly. When the day is done you still haven’t completed your milestones, but you are happy to leave. You get back into your car and sit in traffic on the commute home, driving past all the same sights and sounds. You do some mental math and realize you’ve driven this route over twenty five hundred times. You’ve seen all these same sights and sounds over twenty five hundred times. You’ve gone home and vegged out in front of the TV to clear your stressed out mind over twenty five hundred times! You’re in an infinite loop, and in just a few hours, you’ll be waking up at the crack of dawn to do it all again.

Your health is not what it once was. You don’t have enough time to exercise regularly. Hell, you don’t even have time to go on walks anymore. You don’t have enough time to cook healthy, either. You can actually feel your health slowly slipping away. It’s gradual, and it sneaks up on you over the years. You’re mind isn’t as sharp as it once was. You look in the mirror and you realize you aren’t quite the person you remember. You notice all the grey hairs starting to come in. You think about the email you received from your department administrator earlier in the week, breaking the news that one of your coworkers passed away over the weekend. He was only in his early sixties, just a few years away from retirement. It’s the third email like it this year.

OK. Which future do you choose? Hint: It’s a trap!

 These two future scenarios are exactly the same! The bleak life you live in the second is simply the price you must pay to ‘enjoy’ all of the fancy things in the first. All of your free time is spent working, the fun part of your life has been on hold indefinitely, and you rarely have free time to enjoy the shiny things you purchased in future 1. Somehow, this is a normal and accepted part of becoming an adult! Let me be crystal clear here: IT IS NOT WORTH IT!

Here’s the thing: all those luxuries in future 1 are superficial. The new house and cars, the fancy furniture, it’s all a sham. None of it actually brings you any long-term happiness. After a few months, the shininess fades, and you are back to square one. It’s called the hedonic treadmill. The things you are sacrificing for those luxuries though- your music projects, the ability to control your own schedule, having free time to spend with friends and family- these things really did contribute to your happiness, back when you had time for them.

Even if you think you want all those luxuries in future 1, you can still have them. Just not now. You have to wait until the time is right. When is that? When the purchases you want to make are only a small fraction of your overall net worth.

For example: Your net worth is currently around $100. Don’t pretend like it isn’t- I remember being 22. I’m you- remember? Let’s say you want to buy a $400 pair of designer sunglasses. That purchase is 400% of your net worth. (Not good, but with a positive net worth, you’re already doing better than half of the U.S. It’s a low bar.) Now, let’s say you wait six years, work hard and save a large portion of your income, and get your net worth up to $400,000.00. (I know it looks like a large number, but it doesn’t take as long as you’d think to save it.) Now, you buy that same pair of sunglasses. But this time, that $400 purchase is a mere 0.1% of your net worth. A tenth of a percent doesn’t even move the needle. You can comfortably afford it now.

Ironically though, even though you can, you won’t want waste your money on such a frivolous purchase. Because when you finally get good at saving money, you start to respect it more. You learn how valuable it is, and how much freedom it can buy you. Not to mention: you don’t have fancy sunglasses right now, and your life is still pretty great.

You’ve Already Got It Good

Actually, your life is freakin’ awesome. You have it so good right now, and you don’t even know it! You’re ‘workday’ consists of classes and homework that average out to about 5 hours per day of work, including travel time. That’s the equivalent of a 25 hour workweek, bud. Your workday never begins before 10:30am. Ever. You enjoy breaks in spring, winter, and summer, as well as two weeks off between semesters. If you add it all up, that’s the equivalent of almost 8 weeks of vacation per year. (You haven’t realized this yet, but even the most generous U.S. companies give only 4 to 5 weeks paid vacation per year. Not 8.)

time for vacations like this

You walk all over campus, nearly 5 miles per day and it is great for your health! You’re constantly bombarded with exciting new sights and sounds, and you get to spend time with friends every single day. You take it all for granted. It’s just everyday life for you right now. You have so much free time. If you look at the ratio of free time to work time, you’d see that only 30% of your waking hours were spent ‘working.’ That leaves 70% of your time to enjoy family and friends, write music, and start other creative endeavors.

Compare this with you from the bleak future, where you spend more than twice as much time working, get half the vacation time, and rarely have time to spend with friends and family. A few months from now, when you purchase all that shiny new stuff, you unknowingly make a decision to put the good parts of your life on hold for over a decade.

What Can You Do?

It doesn’t have to be this way! You, young Joel, are in the perfect position to change this! Google ‘financial independence’. Start saving more than half of your income from day one at your first job. It’s easy: as soon as you start your first job just set your 401(k) contributions to 50% (or more if you are feeling adventurous)! You’ll never see that money- it comes out before your pay check- but it is still yours, and working hard to buy you your freedom. Don’t worry- your paycheck will still feel large: you have nothing to compare it to. Seriously, you only have $187 in your checking account right now. Any paycheck will feel substantial.

You’ll only have to work about a decade. Maybe less. That’s right- you could be DONE with your working career forever by your 30th birthday if you want. I know that sounds crazy right now, but trust me, you can. Want to shorten it even more? Stop blowing your grant money on a fancy two bedroom apartment! Stop blowing your internship money on fancy restaurants! Take some of your free time and learn to cook for Pete’s sake!

You don’t need a car on campus, and you take for granted how nice it is not having to sit in traffic every day. Walking and biking are massive life enhancers! When it comes time to move, don’t buy a fancy house 12 miles from work. Instead, rent a cozy little apartment within a mile or two of your employer, and walk or bike every day, like you do now! Location is key. Skip the car, gas, and toll expenses, and simultaneously skip the traffic. If you must, buy a reliable four years young Honda for $5k and drive it sparsely for a decade!

I can see your eyes glazing over, Joel. You aren’t paying attention. I forgot how stubborn you were at that age… how stubborn I was. You know what they say: some people can learn from other’s mistakes. Others need to make their own. I guess you fall into the latter camp. Sigh. Not all is lost, Joel. You’ll realize what I know now around your 30th birthday, and you’ll do a quite dramatic financial 180. It will be a wild ride, and you’ll kick yourself for not listening earlier. Once you get there, once you have your freedom back- hold onto it tight, and don’t ever let it go.

Until we meet again, a few words of advice: Time moves much faster than you think. Be careful not to obsess over money: make sure it works for you, and not the other way around. Pay attention to your wife: she’s been right about this stuff all along. Don’t let any job eat away at your morals. And visit mom and dad more often. While you’re there, play with your childhood pets a few more times. Some things don’t wait around forever, you know.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Joel's blog! Is there anything you would want to tell a younger you?

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Ants, Appliances, and Anxiety http://www.fierymillennials.com/ants-appliances-and-anxiety/ http://www.fierymillennials.com/ants-appliances-and-anxiety/#comments Wed, 05 Apr 2017 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.fierymillennials.com/?p=1414 Read more...]]>
not these ants either

Have you ever heard the phrase “ants in your pants”? Usually, it means you can't sit still and look like you have ants crawling up and down your legs.

For me, it's not just a phrase.

I literally have ants in my pants. And in the cat's food bowl. And water bowl. And crawling over my bed. And anything else touching the floor.

It's been raining heavily the past 8 days straight. Gray skies, puddles and mud everywhere…. not fun. All this rain is soaking the Earth and making it waterlogged. The ants have been driven out of the ground and out anywhere they can find…… which just so happens to be my nice, cozy, dry, warm apartment.

So off I went to get some ant hotels. They are busily eating the bait and ferrying it back home, so hopefully that will be solved soon. Laying on your bed reading a book is supposed to be relaxing. Not so much when you find ants crawling over the book.

Speaking of things that I hope will be over soon…..

I got a new oven!

The previous oven was from about 1978 and had more than one mouse dropping fall out when I opened it. Not being a fan of pizza with mouse poop overtures, I got a new one. A new, new one. From a store. Free delivery, set up, and they haul the old one away. For $700, I hope I will not have to deal with any issues from this guy again until at least 10 years from now.

Of course, it's caused me enough issues already that I think I'm storing them up for the next decade. After we got it installed, they tried to test it and turns out, there was no gas in sight. I've had to call the utility company to come out and look at it. Hopefully it's nothing more than the gas was turned off and needs to be turned on again. At least it looks pretty until then.

As soon as I finished getting the oven, another appliance issue reared its head. My tenant across the hall from me let me know his fridge was on its last legs when he gave me the rent check. Great.

This time, instead of paying through the nose for it, I went searching on Craigslist. I found one nearby for $425. It's a few years old but seems to be in good shape and it's ready to go immediately. A big plus when my tenant has a fridge and freezer full of food he doesn't want to replace if he doesn't have to. This includes delivery! It's a bit pricey as it includes delivery, but hey, I didn't have to haul a fridge up 2 flights of slippery stairs in the rain. Next time I'll find a cheaper guy but for now this will work.

I found another guy that came over to take away the old one for free! The first set wanted to charge me for it. I don't think so. Double win in my book. The labor section of Craigslist might just be my new favorite section! The guy moving the old fridge didn't look anything like below though hah!

via GIPHY

In and around all of this, I lost my wallet. This has caused me a fair amount of anxiety on top of all the other issues. I have one credit card with me, but I'm in the process of cancelling all the other cards and getting new ones. It's a pain, and means I have to go through the agony of sitting and waiting at the DMV for a new driver's license. I want them to take a new picture – my old one was terrible. Maybe there is a silver lining to that after all. Update: I found my wallet!! Turns out I dropped it on my date last week. Yikes! So happy to have it back!

Frankly, I've been too exhausted to let all these worries keep me up at night. I'm not going to sugar coat it though – this process has been one of the hardest things I've ever done. Fortunately I know a lot of people who've done this before and let me lean on their shoulders when I just need someone to vent to. They also let me know it's perfectly ok to crawl into your closet, hang out in the dark for awhile while petting the cat, and have a nice cleansing cry.

I suspect I will look back on all these piddly little problems and laugh, but right now I'm still way too close to all this and incredibly new. As my friend B reminded me, I was warm, safe, dry, and well-fed. Everything not impacting one of those qualities can be considered minor. To put things in an even more respective light, at least I have both working knees…. unlike one of my tenants who got into a motorcycle accident and turned his leg into mincemeat. That's not say my problems aren't bad to me, because I certainly have a lot of things going on right now, but that I am grateful they aren't worse.

Shout out to J, B, and M for letting me borrow your shoulder!

How's life going for you? Any wins to celebrate or losses to commiserate?

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Monthly Status Report: March 2017 http://www.fierymillennials.com/msr-mar-17/ http://www.fierymillennials.com/msr-mar-17/#comments Tue, 04 Apr 2017 13:36:23 +0000 http://www.fierymillennials.com/?p=1408 Read more...]]> Why do I do a monthly status report?

I find it best to do a monthly status report for a few reasons.

  • It helps me evaluate how I did the previous month. Did I hit a target reduction in spending or did I go way over budget for a par­tic­u­lar category? Did I earn more? What was my overall savings rate?
  • It helps keep me accountable. How can I make an extra purchase knowing I’ll have to explain myself to all of you? Talk about awkward when the blogger can’t walk the walk and talk the talk.
  • I want to prove this crazy thing called financial independence works!
  • It provides an example of real world budgeting and expenses. Some of the people I talk to haven’t ever seen a proper budget or seen one put into action, and part of the purpose of this blog is to lead by example!

I use Mint to help me track my spending and keep an eye on my accounts. I also use a really awesome and super in-depth spreadsheet. So many formulas….. Some people use Personal Capital and others use You Need a Budget (YNAB). Whatever tool (or combination thereof) works best for you and your needs is the best one for you, since everyone and their budgets are different.

Spending

Oh March…. what an absolutely insane month. My responsibilities are picking up at work. The stress of getting all my paperwork in order for the house. Buying the house. Moving into the house. Figuring out what to do with all my stuff and figuring out how everything works in the new place. Hanging out with my friends. I had a LOT going on in March.

Unsurprisingly, my spending went not only out the window, but flew out of it as though there was a fire. As much as I tried to keep my spending down, it still crept up on me. I have faith, though, that this will be just one small blip in my overall journey and won't be anything to stress over in a few years. Right now though, I have a LOT more gray hair than I did.

Without further ado, I present my March 2017 expenses.

Rent Last month of paying for housing out of my own pocket!
Utilities No utilities! It's all included in the rent.
Food No ragrets.
Phone So low. I love Project FI!
Auto One year of auto insurance, prepaid when I switched companies.
Internet No internet charges for awhile 😀 also included in the rent.
Insurance Health insurance is paid directly from my paycheck.
Pet More food and litter for the floof.
Support I support my sister with her missions!
Blog Next year's hosting fee, plus new monthly charges for support and plugins.
Entertainment Mlb.tv subscription. BASEBALL IS BACK!!
Shopping Random necessities
Fees Fees are dumb.
Misc Moving charges, doctor visit, kitchen island…. misc stuff.
Travel Flight for FinCon! Paid for with miles 😀
Hobbies One weekend quilt retreat with my momma!
House Yeah….. down payment…. that hurt.

All told, my spending totaled $9,488.50 for March! That is more than I've spent in the past few months COMBINED. It hurt to get that money pulled out of my account, not going to lie. But, the cool thing is, I wrote a check for $5k and now have $8k in equity in the house since I had a bunch of credits and closing fees paid for. So it's not like the money just disappeared on a shopping spree or anything. But hey I have a roof over my head and I'm not the one paying down the mortgage! Woot woot!

Income

Gross: $6,462.00

Adjusted: $3,119.58 (after taxes, deductions and other withholdings are taken out)

Taxes: $1,518.46

A normal month in income. It's slightly more than it was thanks to my 1.11% raise that went into effect at the beginning of the month! It's not much but I'll take it. April will be a fun month for income with the first rent payments coming in and my tax refund.

Savings

401k: $2,171.22

Roth IRA: $450

HSA: $238.73

Cash: $0

Total savings: $2,859.95

Absolutely zero dollars were saved in cash this month, because I spent it all on housing stuff. My savings rate this month was a whopping -70.75%. Yes that's right, folks, negative savings. But, like I said, since I put it into the house I'm not really spending it.

According to the Lab over on Mad Fientist’s site, my FI date is now 7 years and 11 months away, which means I’ve stayed at February 2025. I'm not exactly sure how Brandon runs the calculations over there, but something seems a bit off. I would have expected it to take a huge jump backwards like my spreadsheet date did but I'll take it? (My spreadsheet went from 7 ish years to 25 ish years. $70k of debt takes a toll on the ol FI timeline.)

My total net worth slid to $137,901.00 this month. I'm not worried about it going down (was bound to happen at some point) as I will be making up the lost ground quickly with the rental income. Fluctuations are normal!

Side Hustle

This month: $0

Total: $1525

Income: $0

No more expenses for the near future as my shop has moved from a workshop to boxes.

Note: this will be the last month for this format. Next month I will be changing things up with the addition of my rental income and related expenses. Stay tuned! Also, this post now contains affiliate links so I can offset keeping the lights on around here 🙂

Thanks for reading! What did your month look like? Did you stick to your budget?

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Rental Property #1 http://www.fierymillennials.com/first-rental/ http://www.fierymillennials.com/first-rental/#comments Mon, 27 Mar 2017 14:16:52 +0000 http://www.fierymillennials.com/?p=1389 Read more...]]> Well everybody, it's official.

I am a homeowner! Perhaps more importantly in this context, I'm also now a landlord!

“Ok Gwen, that's cool, BUT SHARE THE DETAILS! WE'VE BEEN TEASED ENOUGH!!”

Alright, alright, alright. Here's the numbers and information on my very first rental property!

  • Stats: Triplex
    • Unit #1: 1 bedroom, 1 bath
    • Unit #2: 1 bedroom, 1 bath
    • Unit #3: studio, 1 bath
  • Size: 2,100 square feet
  • Style: Conversion
  • Condition: Good
  • Built: 1910
  • Purchase Price: $85,000
  • Repairs: est. $15,000 (!?!?)
  • “Total” Acquisition Cost: $100,000

What does that gross?

  • Rental Income: Unit #1: $600
    Unit #2: $500
    Unit #3: $385 (when I'm not living in it)
  • Does it Meet the One Percent Rule? Obviously.
  • Total borrowed— $77,647
    • Mortgage: $76,500
    • VA Funding fee: $1,147
  • Down payment: $8,500 (10%)
  • Mortgage: $359.60 per month
  • Taxes: $248.92 per month ($2987/year)
  • Insurance: $96.91 per month ($1162.92/year)
  • Vacancy: $88 per month ($1056/year) at 92 percent occupancy, $1100/mo rent
  • Management: $110 per month ($1,320/year) at 10 percent fee, $1100/mo rent
  • Repairs/Maintenance: $100 per month ($1200/year) because it's an old house that needs some TLC
  • Total Expenses: $1,003.43 per month

Cash Flow: $386.50 per month, or $4638 per year

Cap Rate$4,638 / $100,000 = 4.64 percent

WTF, Gwen!? You're doing all this work for only $300 a month? A cap rate of 4.64%?! That's a terrible deal! I thought your numbers were way better than that!

Woah. Easy. Take a deep breath.

I've run the numbers for the first year where I will be living free of cost. The unit I'm occupying previously went for $385/mo. That's $4,620 not leaving my pocket, but also not entering my pocket because I can't rent it out. If I run the scenario above including my studio unit, the numbers get better.

Cash Flow: $740.66 per month, or $8,888 per year

Cap Rate: $8,888 / $100,000 = 8.89 percent

8.89% > 4.64%

I guess those are decent numbers then…. so how did you find this income producing property?

My city is split in the middle. I chose to focus on the western half only. Of that western half, I focused on just a few zip codes. I started watching the listings as soon as I knew I'd be moving to the area. This helped me get a feel for the local market and let me see what comps were going for. Once I found a realtor, he added my parameters to a program that spit me an email every time a new property came on the market that met my requirements.

My requirements for a property were:

  • met the 1% rule
  • good shape
  • at least one unit empty
  • move-in ready
  • no pool or other time/resource intensive landscaping

I also checked out the local crime statistics on the gov't website and Trulia to make sure the area wasn't riddled with crime. Nothing more than petty crime in the area, so we're good there. I will just have to remember to lock my car doors (which I do anyways).

I would love to share photos, but most of the property is already rented! To protect my tenant's privacy, I'm only going to post the ones I took of the outside, my unit, and the common areas. Note also that these are very much the before pictures. I have one 8 million or two small things to update. It's going to be gorgeous when I'm all done though!

Click to view slideshow.

 

“I see you noted the condition as good…. can you explain more about that?” Absolutely. Thanks for asking!

For a house that's 107 years old, she's in pretty great shape! The roof was redone in 2008 and looks great. The foundation is also in good shape for being a bunch of rocks stacked on one another. It's everything else in between the roof and foundation that needs some TLC.

Ok, that's not fair. More stuff is fine and doesn't need attention than the amount of stuff that does. But boy howdy, the stuff that needs some attention will be a doozy. I need to redo the gutters, replace rotten wooden exterior boards/shakes, paint everything, take a tree limb down, redo the back stairs, and finish the attic.

Of those items, the back stairs and finishing the attic can wait. I will have to do the back stairs next year. Finishing the attic…… I'm not sure that will happen. It's unnecessary. The studio works just great without it. I want to finish it so I can have some more space beyond the 12′ x 13′ room I have now. We'll see. Depends on if I can do it DIY or hire my friends to do it on the cheap for me.

Some of the existing features of the house will need to be replaced as well. Everyone who's looked in my bathroom has blanched at the state of the toilet. It works, and doesn't leak, so I don't care. But, it will need to be replaced before I get new tenants in it.

Same thing with the stove. I'm pretty sure it was around in the Carter administration.

The washer and dryer in the unit downstairs will also need replaced at some point. The current tenants have insisted the washer and dryer there now work just fine, but if they ever leave I'm replacing them.

One day….. one day this house will be restored to her former glory and I will be so happy. Until then, I'll just tackle one thing at a time!

Shout out space:

Thank you SO MUCH to the following people for all the encouragement, inspiration, and practical advice. I literally could not have done it without these amazing folks behind me. I highly recommend reading all of their stuff on real estate, as this is everything I used to find and buy my property. (and BiggerPockets. Can't forget them!)

Paula Pant @ Afford Anything: My OG Real Estate inspiration
Chad Carson @ Coach Carson: Super useful posts on RE from a guy who owns tons of rentals
Miss Mazuma @ Miss Mazuma: Excellent cautionary tale, super useful advice on the whole process and small living
Zeona McIntyre @ Zeona McIntyre: Great advice during the inspection period!
Claudia @ Two Cup House: Amazing advice on small living
GuyonFire @ GuyOnFire: Had really great advice on the purchase process, small living, and landlording!

And last but not least, Julie from Millennial Boss for being a calming influence and willing to let me vent to her in a call.

Thanks for reading! Any space-saving tips on downsizing into a studio apartment?!

 

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