These Gas Prices are Insane!

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Gas prices are insane these days, and my anger increases with price increases. Is there any relief for the hard working American person? Well my prediction is…no…not any time soon at least. You have to understand some of the underlying factors that contribute to gasoline prices to be able to understand why the price is so high. The basic principles are built on economic supply and demand. You see, currently are our country is suffering from a constant / increasing demand for gasoline, and the supply has been restricted.

Think about it this way, let’s say you really needed a gallon of milk, and your local grocery store only had a handful of milk gallons, and they didn’t expect to be stocking very many more gallons of milk over the next several months. Well as people would buy out the gallons of milk they had, when they brought in new shipments of milk, they would increase the price for two reasons: one to make more money on the milk they were selling, and two, to be able to carry some stock for a while without being sold out due to people changing their habits because of cost increases.

Some Thoughts About Our Domestic Gas Prices

The same thing is happening in the gasoline industry. Americans have not seen high gas prices for a long time, and have gotten very accustomed to long commutes and traveling a lot for vacations. Before hurricane Katrina and other economical problems, gasoline was very cheap, and so it wasn’t a problem. But today, there is a shortage of available gasoline, and prices are soaring to all time highs. Why is that? Well here are some reasons for the shortage:

  1. Natural disasters have knocked out some productive domestic refineries, and they have been slow to get back online and in full production.
  2. Restrictive government regulations placed on oil companies have disallowed the construction of new refineries in this country. In fact, we have not built a new refinery since 1976!
  3. Further government restrictions have disallowed the exploration and discovery of new oil deposits in this country. Special interest and environmental wackos have contributed to the passing of these ridiculous regulations.
  4. The creates far too great of a dependence on foreign oil. Our oil imports from Canada and Latin America are so great, that they are able to dictate the price to us.

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Grow Your Own Food, Save Money Part 2

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Just last week, I talked about how we are going to start growing our own food, and I want you to know that I do my best to act upon what I say. Well, just last Thursday, we started putting the plan into action. I was thinking of what I could use to set the outline of the garden, when my wife told me that there were a few railroad ties that the previous owner of the house used to set against the fence between our property and the neighbor’s property. I assume at some point in the past the neighbors had dogs, or something that was getting under the fence. But anyways, I drug those railroad ties, along with some 4 x 4 treated lumber that I found near the same area, and created the outside edge of the garden.

I did not have enough railroad ties and 4 x 4 pieces of wood to finish the garden in the size that I wanted, so I had to get creative. So what I figured out was to take from the large limb that we had cut up and put back behind the house to be picked up by the trash man, cut that limb to size, and used it to fill the gaps so I could get the size garden I wanted. With the way the materials lined out and looking at my original plan, I decided to build a 15 x 16 foot garden, instead of the 16 x 16 foot garden I had originally planned. It worked great, and here is the result:

Garden Growing Our Own Food

Now, before we get to the problems here, I wanted to point out the good things. First, we did not have to buy any railroad ties or lumber to get this garden laid out and ready to go. Further, the leaves that we put in the garden to fertilize the ground weren’t paid for either, we have a couple of live oak trees (see right) that provide us plenty of leaves that we can rake up and use for fertilizer.Trees Preventing Direct Sunlight

But, as you probably can tell, we have a problem here. The problem is that the live oaks and other trees that are providing us with the free fertilizer are also giving us too much shade. I took this picture during the middle of the day, and I am going to have to solve the problem of too much shade. As you may know, most vegetables need direct sunlight to do well, and only part of the day does the garden really get the good, direct sunshine.

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Adjusting Your Real Estate Investing Strategy for the Decline

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This is a good resource to look at when you are looking to get into real estate investing, or you are struggle with investing in this downward market. Check it out, it helps you to understand that there can still be a lot of money made, even though the price of homes are dropping rapidly.

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Selling a Mobile Home: Progress Update 1

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Preparing and selling a mobile home like one the I own has proven to be a daunting task. Getting my subcontractor in to fix the holes that the tenant’s dogs put in the walls of the trailer did open the door of opportunity for me to fix some of previous holes in the walls when I first purchased the property. The problem is, with high building materials costs and labor these days, it is a expensive investment. Further, with the house market the way it is today, we may not be able to find a buyer for the property. This may force me to rent the place back out again, but if I am going to rent it again, I am going to be well compensated for it. I think I will ask for $700 a month to rent it out again.

Anyways, I wanted to give you the details on all the items that we are fixing or have already fixed in the home:

  • Hole in living room wall - this hole was so big there was no chance for patching it, I had to replace the entire sheet of drywall. Fortunately, in trailers, there really isn’t any taping an floating, as the manufacturers just put trim pieces between each of the sheets of drywall.
  • Hole in adjacent living room wall - this was a small hole, and my subcontractor came up with the idea to install a chair rail around the living room walls, thus covering the hole. The hole is high, about 6 inches higher than a normal chair rail, but I don’t think anyone will notice.
  • Hole in bathroom wall - this we are going to be fixing through a simple patch and painting the bathroom. It is a very small bathroom, so the expense will not be great to go ahead and paint the entire room.
  • Holes in bathroom door - nothing much we could do here. We thought about applying a return air vent to the bottom of the door to cover the hole, but it is such a large hole and the price to replace the door was only about $5-10 more expensive, so I opted to replace the entire door.
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Grow Your Own Food, Save Money

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With food costs soaring to unbelievable levels, we have decided to take action against the insanity. We have decided to grow some of our own food, to get the grocery costs down. Now, we are still getting groceries for free, but it doesn’t take care of our entire need. But if you are skeptical about getting your own garden started, let me address some of the likely problems / questions you might have:

  • Growing Your Own Food Takes too Much Time
    It really doesn’t take as much time as you might think. If you just did a small garden of about 10 feet by 10 feet, that is only 100 square feet, and if you used a motorized tiller to break up the soil combined with some leaves or grass clippings from the yard, you might have as little as an afternoon invested in prepping and sowing your garden.
  • A Garden Won’t Produce Enough Food to be Worth it
    I can assure you if you stick to vegetables like tomatoes, squash, green beans, etc. the plants will produce multiple harvests for you. As a kid, I remember working in my grandfather’s garden and picking green beans every couple of days. Bags and bags of green beans were produced in a single season.
  • Getting Started is too Expensive, I Don’t have the Tools
    We just bought all the tools and seeds necessary to start our garden this year. We bought a spade fork, hoe, hand spades, cages for tomato plants, 3 cubic feet of garden soil, some plant food (the little balls of fertilizer), and seeds at our local Lowes all for about $100. How far does $100 go at the grocery store these days?

We have all kinds of seeds that we are going to plant for this year’s crop. Everything from tomatoes, squash, green beans, to onion, carrots and romaine lettuce we’ll be raising right in our back yard. And getting to enjoy fresh vegetables that you have grown yourself just makes dinner that much sweeter.

I plan to setup a 16 foot by 16 foot garden in my back yard. We will be simply spading and turning over as much of the dirt as possible, and burying the grass combined with leaves for the main fertilizer. Then when I sow the seeds, I will make sure to cover the top layer with the garden soil I bought. I will keep you posted on the progress. If you have questions or comments, please leave then below.


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Old School Mileage Tips That Really Can Help

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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

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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

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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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