Old School Mileage Tips That Really Can Help

Budgeting No Comments »

The tips provided in this article are old, well known (at least back in their day) but are coming back into favor. These are practical tips that can be used on your existing car, truck, motorcycle, etc. to help you improve your gas mileage without buying a hybrid or some other new kind of gas sipping vehicle. So check it out, watch your mileage, and get that gasoline bill down! As for me, I am anxious for summer, when I will not be teaching and can stay home most of the time when I am not on business. I am not a full time school teacher, I only help out in the mornings at our local Christian school.

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Typical Lease Purchase Agreement

Real Estate Investing, Buying a Home No Comments »

The typical lease purchase agreement involves a tenant that gets into the property like a normal lease, i.e. they have a security deposit and first month’s rent (if not last month’s rent as well) due and payable up front. They usually pay a slightly higher than market rate of rent, with a portion of the rent being credited to the purchase of the home. The term of the lease and the buyer’s price are determined and negotiated up front, and are all spelled out in the lease.

If the tenant exercises their option to buy at the end of the lease, then all goes as outlined in the lease. But if they fail to buy at the end of the lease, then the owner has the right to cancel their lease, and to retain all rent monies paid during the term of lease, including all monies that were to be credited toward the purchase of the home. Let’s take a look at a quick example:

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Property Management Fees

Real Estate Investing, Property Management 2 Comments »

When I first examined property management fees, I thought that they seemed to be a little high for the work involved. But, over the course of time that I have been in property management, I have seen many different types of tenants and found that overall, the money charged to the owner is well worth it, probably too cheap. Consider the following costs and efforts expended by the property manager:

  1. Advertising Costs
    Advertising is expensive. Just running an ad in the paper over the course of a month could run up a 3 digit bill. But further, many realtors have websites, with incur monthly costs as well as time and effort to gain exposure on the web. And what about the costs of signs and fliers? Truly, advertising carries a high cost.
  2. Communication Costs
    In today’s world, a realtor almost has to have phone, internet, and email connectivity to be able to make a living. Most realtors go a step further and maintain their own website, in order to generate more exposure for their properties. So just the costs alone of these services tend to be high, and the time it takes to accept phone calls, check emails and voice mails can pile up quickly.
  3. Office Costs
    Many realtors do not own their own office, however they pay an office rental fee to their broker for use of an office inside the realty. These costs tend not to be cheap, either.
  4. Gasoline and Automotive Repair
    In times past this wasn’t as much of a problem as it is today. Today, many realtors are just getting scalped at the gas pump, and driving back and forth to your property and waiting for the no-call, no-show prospective tenant is extremely expensive. I have begun to call contacts just before I spend the time and gas to get to the property.
  5. Ongoing License and Dues Costs
    All realtors have to pay for license renewals, and most realtors are members of a local board of realtors. Of these, many are also paying dues to have access to their local MLS (multiple listing service). Combined, these costs can add up to 4 digit per year expenses.
  6. Tenant Maintenance
    This is the most costly for property managers. No matter how much screening is done to a perspective tenant, there is still no guarantee that the tenant will pay, or will take care of the property. As I have begun to manage more and more tenants, I find that a small percentage of the tenants costs me a ridiculous amount of time and money just getting the rent from them every month, not to mention the costs associated with cleaning up their messes.

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Selling a Mobile Home

Real Estate Investing 1 Comment »

After having to evict my previous tenants, and looking at our business and personal finances as well as the market for homes in our area, I have decided to try renting or selling my mobile home. I think it is best to go ahead and provide both options to the market as a way of getting someone to take action sooner. I want to be fairly transparent with this series: I want to give you the details of how I bought in to this property, what has transpired up to now, and what will happen as I move forward. So, here is a rundown of how I got involved in this property.

Buying the Mobile Home

At the time, I had a partner in my real estate business, and we were living in a home that we had every intention of turning for profit. We had bought in at a good price, fixed the place up, and were enjoying it while we were waiting to sell or rent it. Well it came time to do something with it, and we ended up owner financing it. So now we had to find another place to buy. So I did the research and saw solid potential in a double wide on a 1/3 acre lot on the outskirts of town. So we did the math, and bought in to the property for $26,500. This was a very good price, considering most similar properties in the area were selling for $40,000 or more. We did the work to repair it, and built a 12 x 16 foot shed on the property as there wasn’t any storage available when we moved in.

Dissolution of the Partnership and Rental of the Mobile Home

Several months later, I got married. Further, my partner was engaged, and planned to marry his wife about month after my marriage. So it was decided for me to find another house and start my life with my new bride, and he with his new bride. All was well until he got married; his wife got sick for several months, and they finally moved to another state, where her family lived. So obviously, I couldn’t continue the partnership when my partner was not around to provide any help. So we dissolved the partnership and I rented out the mobile home for $600 per month. This was a nice income producer, considering my total PITI was around $350 per month. But then troubled arose…

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Gas Price Locator

Budgeting No Comments »

Let’s face it, if the economy and gas regulations don’t change, then we are looking at $4 or more per gallon of gasoline in the near future. At these inflated prices, we need to be more cautious of where we buy our gas. We need to get the best prices on gasoline wherever we are. So that is why I have included this neat little tool to help you to easily find the best deal in your location. Just simply put in your zip code, and the radius (in miles) away from you that you are willing to go, click update settings, and presto, find the best price for gas available (of reporting gas stations).


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Simple Tips to Saving Money on Your Groceries

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Although basic in its approach, this article does serve to hit on some solid pointers to help you in saving money on your groceries. Like most things (other than gasoline) you can easily decrease the amount of spending in any particular month. This article helps you understand some of the more elementary tips for achieving this feat. It comes down to changing your mindset and putting a priority on saving money; in this case with your groceries, and you can achieve significant savings in your personal budget.

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Home Based Book Business

Home Based Business Ideas 3 Comments »

For the last couple of years, my wife had been running a business on Amazon. This was a very simple business concept, anyone can do, and just takes a little bit of time (depending on how much money you want to make). The process is very simple, and goes like this:

  1. Shop garage sales, estate sales, bulk listings on eBay, or start relationships with book stores and libraries to buy their old books when they are ready to get rid of them.
    If you are shopping the sales, make sure you are the first, or almost the first one to get to the sale. The old saying “the early bird gets the worm” applies here. Always buy in bulk. Buying individual books just won’t work as a long term strategy, unless you know how to find antique books that have great value and then negotiate for a substantial discount. By our calculations, as long as your average price per book is around 10 cents, you should be able to make some good money.
  2. Sign up with a free account with Amazon.
    In order to list your books, use the “Sell Your Stuff” link. They will ask for bank account / credit card information, but you will not be charge anything to list the books. They just need the information in order to know how to send you your money, and for refund purposes.
  3. List your books for sale.
    The quickest and easiest method to do so is to enter the ISBN and look up the book. If there is no ISBN, you will have to search by title or author. Now, make sure that the book you list is the book you have; this may sound simple, but we have run into problems where we thought we had the right book, but later found out it was wrong and took the hit on the refund.
  4. Wait for the “Sold, ship now…” emails to come in.
    That’s really all there is to it.

Now above I mentioned that it does not cost anything to list with Amazon. This is true, however they do make money. They get a commission on every sale, but the nice thing is, they only charge you a commission if you sell something. So the listing is free, and you only pay them out of your profits. Pretty good deal, don’t you think? Feel free to leave any comments or questions you have at the bottom of the page, and I will answer them as best I can.


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How to Ask for a Raise: Retraining Your Mind

Career Advice No Comments »

When I last posted about how to ask for a raise, I put some tough concepts out there. Some concepts that probably are offensive to a lot of people who work hard and just want to make a little more money. So I felt compelled to explain a little further some of the concepts on the business side, so that you can understand where your employer is coming from. It has been said of war, “know thy enemy”. The same is true in working any business relationship. It isn’t a war/hate relationship, but if you know what your employer is thinking, then you can structure your approach to cater to that line of thinking.

Why Businesses Pay Low

Businesses don’t like to pay their employees for several different reasons. The first is that they only make a certain amount of money, so if they pay their employees more, then they get to keep less. When looking at it from your side, you continue to work harder, getting more done for the company, and therefore expect to get a raise. Another reason companies don’t want to give raises is the fact that if they give you a raise, you might tell others, and then they could have many employees wanting to get the same raise. You might not ever tell anyone, but the employer can’t bank on that. On the same note, if the employer gives in to your request for a raise, they might think you will just come back in a few months and ask for another raise.

Understanding the Need for the Company to Get a Return on Investment

Just like you investing in the stock market, your employer is looking for a return on investment. That is true of its employees as well. The company needs to make money from the work that you do. If you are not generating more money than they are paying you, you are in the danger zone. Think about this simple example:

If you run an ice cream truck, and you are making enough sales to run a second ice cream truck, and you hire someone else to run the other truck, will you pay them more than they are generating in profits? Absolutely not. You aren’t going to lose money on running the second truck, it would be better just to run one truck than to lose money running a second truck. Simple business principle.

The same is true of a company that employs you. They must get a return on your work, otherwise it is better for them not to have you on staff.

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How to Ask for a Raise

Career Advice 1 Comment »

Yes, you have been working for a while at your current job. Yes, you have been working hard. Yes, you have made some definite positive changes for the company. Now it is time for you to make some more money. But the question is, why won’t the boss give it to me? The answer is simple, they are already getting great work out of you, why should they pay you more? Also, if they pay you more, then that means they will make less in profit. I know when you read this that you are thinking your employer either doesn’t think this way, or if they do that it is very evil, but at the end of the day, it’s just business.

All businesses are in it for the money. They all want to sell as much of their product or service as possible, while spending as little as possible in materials, labor, intellectual property, etc. So, how to ask for a raise? Well let me give you a few pointers to motivate your employer to upping your dollars:

  1. Understand that the company is in business to make money, not to pay you.
    This is critical to having the right approach when you walk into the boss’ office.
  2. Schedule a time with your boss to discuss your compensation.
    I know this seems like a ‘duh’ thing, but really, how long have you wanted a raise, but not done anything to push the matter? You can’t receive anything, if you don’t ask for it. Being proactive will get you a lot further, a lot faster.
  3. Make sure to stay very professional, and keep a low tone of voice when speaking to your boss.
    Facts are a lot more important than opinions. If you can show your boss evidence of being underpaid, and not be offensive when presenting your case, you are much more likely to obtain the raise you are wanting.
  4. Instead of protesting how hard you’ve worked, how you are always on time, and very reliable while at work, focus on the benefits the company receives by employing you.
    Explain to the boss how you have helped to increase sales, or how you have worked to lower the company’s costs in particular areas. If you are in customer service, explain how you have worked to appease your customers, and note any repeat business the company has received from those customers. If you are in administration or a technical area, explain how much time you were able to save other employees by the systems you have put into place. If you have saved those employees a lot of time, they are able to do more, and the company will not have to hire additional people, i.e. you are saving the company money.
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Another Step to Reduce Cooling Costs

Budgeting 1 Comment »

I was in one of my rental units that I am managing, and had sort of an epiphany. This unit had gas heat prior to our acquisition of it, and we converted it to electricity, for a couple of different reasons. For one, electricity tends to be safer than gas in a house, and the other reason is that there was only one gas meter servicing to rental units, i.e. gas was provided by the landlord. So we wanted to provide a safer environment, while at the same time cutting our residual costs down. So how does that relate to reducing cooling costs?

Well, this rental unit had two portable air conditioning units, and with the conversion to all electric, we decided to buy a new portable air conditioning unit that was also capable of providing heat. So that means that there is now an extra window unit that is not necessary for the apartment. So my thought was this:

Why not install the window unit in the master bedroom at my house, and not run the central heat and air conditioning at night?

It is well known that window units consume a lot less power than regular central heat and air conditioning. And I have already cleared it with the owner of the property for me to use/own the unit, so it brings no additional cost to my budget. Further, I am having an issue with my central heat and air conditioning system, so this could really help me out. Right now, my electric bill is running somewhere around $150 per month.

So I am going to try this out, and if it works, I will post the results, and let you know how much of a savings I was able to achieve. Check out my reduce cooling costs post for more information on making your home more efficient and saving more money on electricity.


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