Finance

Category Archives for Finance.

Need a Checking Account With NO Fees, Minimums, or ATM Charges EVER? Try These.

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It’s been over 2 years since I first professed my love for the Fidelity Cash Management account. And about the same amount of time since I wrote about the Aspiration Summit account.

best no fee checking accounts

My love ❤️

Both are fantastic checking account options because there are no fees, no minimum balances, and no direct deposit requirements. Essentially they’re free to open and keep forever, even if you never use them. Even better, both accounts reimburse ATM fees from ANY ATM in the world. And neither account incurs a hard credit pull to open.

There are a couple of key differences to them, though. I’ll highlight what they are. But, bottom line, you should have at least one of these accounts – if not both!

1. Fidelity Cash Management Account

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House Hacking Through… Airbnb? My 1st Month Numbers!

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I’ve written extensively about my adventures hosting on Airbnb. I’ve always leased apartments, then listed them on Airbnb. That formula worked in New York and continues to work in Dallas.

The Airbnb service is intended to rent space in your primary residence. I’d never done that because I didn’t want strangers in my actual home. But last month, I took a weekend and converted my spare bedroom and bathroom into a private guest room and listed it on Airbnb.

airbnb house hacking

My guest bedroom

And so far… wow! The response is incredible. Guests are loving it. And something that surprised me… so am I!

A nice benefit is I’m earning more than if I had a roommate. And I’m even thinking it could get to the point where it could cover my entire mortgage payment – I could live in my own place for basically nothing!

Airbnb house hacking… for real?

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Should You Dump Your Car If You Have Premium Card Travel Credits?

It occurred to me I only drive for a handful of reasons:

  • To go to the gym
  • To drop the dog off before I travel
  • Costco runs every ~6 weeks
  • To visit nearby places, like Fort Worth

Most of the time I walk or use Uber/Lyft. Because if I intend to drink, I don’t want to deal with parking (and possibly having to pay for it) or of course driving back unsafely. And I live so close to many of the places I frequent that I can walk.

I realized, surprisingly, there are lots of peeps in Dallas who don’t have cars. And I I was shocked by how extremely walkable certain parts of the city really are.

dump car uber lyft

Lookit all my Lyft credits

I’ve also been using the $325 travel credit from my US Bank Altitude Reserve card for Lyft rides lately (I prefer Lyft for many reasons). Then it hit me that I could subsidize $825 in Uber and Lyft rides thanks to travel credits of 3 of my premium cards. It got me thinking – are those credits enough to consider getting rid of my car?

$825 in Uber and Lyft rides from 3 cards

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Some Plastiq Mortgage Payments With Visa Cards Working Again!

Update: Some readers let me know not all mortgage payments are working, but many are!

Here’s an example from my account:

A mortgage payment you can still pay with Plastiq

As long as the “Submit Payment” button isn’t grayed out, you should be good to go! Let me know if it works for you!


More data points slash adventures with Plastiq.

So I just got a new Bank of America Alaska Airlines card – I get a new one every 45 days for a quick injection of 30,000 Alaska miles. Those are, of course, Visa cards, which Plastiq said would no longer work.

Well today, I paid the rent for one of my Airbnbs with this card on Plastiq.

plastiq visa payments

This Plastiq payment is clearly marked as rent

And it went through without a hitch:

Boom

Considering the minimum spending on this card is only $1,000, I was able to knock most of it out with a single rent payment. Then I sent $50 to my utility company to trigger the sign-up bonus. Minimum spending done in under a minute. AWESOME!

This isn’t a fluke. My friend Angie used her Chase Fairmont card to pay her mortgage via Plastiq recently, too – that’s also a Visa card. And I’ve heard others have had success, too.

Plastiq Visa payments

While I think 3X with the Chase Sapphire Reserve is long gone, using Plastiq to meet minimum spending on Visa cards is extremely easy. Even with the 2.5% fee considered, having it done in seconds sure beats having to monitor it for a few months. Especially if you need to spend a few thousand.

I also just confirmed 3X still works with the Citi AT&T Access More card. And wrote about why you’d even consider using the new Blue Business Plus Amex for Plastiq payments, too.

But given that I can still get 3X, the gravy train is still on – at least for now.

And moreover, it seems you can use your Visa cards again. So if you have a Visa and want to make some Plastiq payments for rent, mortgage, or HOA, they should go through just fine. 🙂

Have you had recent success using a Visa card for a rent payment through Plastiq? 

So You Wanna Be an Airbnb Host? Part 5: Taxes, Expenses, and Making It All Work

You got an Airbnb so you could make extra money, yeah? Well, congrats, you’re officially a small business owner. You can get business credit cards based on your yearly income. Those cleaning supplies I mentioned in Part 4 are now expenses. And, you might be on the hook to pay taxes.

airbnb hosting

Evernote is key to keeping track of receipts and expenses

I personally use Evernote to save every single receipt. And tag them with the tax year and “expenses” for easy work at tax time. After a while, you definitely find your rhythm with this Airbnb stuff. You might even want to get another.

Airbnb Hosting Index:

This series is meant for peeps who want to list an entire home separate from their primary residence on Airbnb.

Do you have to pay taxes?

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So You Wanna Be an Airbnb Host? Part 4: Ongoing Maintenance

After you get a few reviews and bookings, you’ll need to figure out how to keep the gravy train rolling. But, good news – the hard parts are over!

If you found a place, set it up, and listed it on Airbnb’s site, that is easily 90% of your whole Airbnb journey. The rest is just pruning and perfecting.

airbnb hosting

Your Airbnb calendar will be your lifeline

This is the part where you can be hands-off, travel, drop things off here and there. Basically, the whole reason you started this whole crazy thing: to have mostly passive income roll in.

Airbnb Hosting Index:

This series is meant for peeps who want to list an entire home separate from their primary residence on Airbnb.

Stock it up

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So You Wanna Be an Airbnb Host? Part 3: Attracting Guests

Now that you’ve found a place and set it up, you’ll want to get it listed as quickly as possible so guests can book it. And by far the best way to attract bookings is so have a ton of photos.

airbnb hosting

You’ll want to have lots of crisp, clear photos to show your listing to guests

You’ll also want to hit a good mark with your pricing. But at first, I drop my prices as low as possible to get a few bookings.  And therefore a few positive reviews – they’re another huge opportunity to get more bookings.

Airbnb Hosting Index:

This series is meant for peeps who want to list an entire home separate from their primary residence on Airbnb.

The price is right

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So You Wanna Be an Airbnb Host? Part 2: Setting It Up

Next comes the most expensive – and most fun – part of listing a home on Airbnb: setting it up!

You’re probably going to be in shock at how much it costs to get set up. But in my experience, you recoup all of the costs and get to pure profit in 8 to 10 weeks. I know of very few investments that provide a 100% return in such a short span of time.

airbnb hosting

It’s crazy how much “STUFF” people need

At the beginning, you’ll have seemingly innumerable things to set up and buy. But if you plan it right, you can have it ready in 3 to 4 days.

Airbnb Hosting Index:

This series is meant for peeps who want to list an entire home separate from their primary residence on Airbnb.

For best results, start with a theme

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[DEAL IS DONE] Tomorrow at Exactly 12:00 PM Eastern: $1,300 in Free Credit Card Spending, Plus $25

Update: As of 5:32 pm Eastern time, PFS Buyers Club is not letting anyone else opt-in to the offer. DEAL IS DONE.

That went fast

Congrats to those who got in on this! Sign-up for PFS Buyers Club so you don’t miss the next deal when it pops up!


Via my friend Meghan, you can purchase a Platinum coin from the US Mint tomorrow for $1,300 + $4.95 in shipping, then get paid $25 a week later. And yes, you can use a credit card.

The coins become available at exactly 12:00 pm Eastern time tomorrow, July 6th, 2017. Sometimes these deals go within minutes, so set a reminder for 11:50 am so you can be ready, if you’re interested. And be sure to opt-in (details below).

PFS buyers club

Buy this coin, get free points and cash

Then, PFS Buyers Club will send you a pre-paid label and pay you $1,330 for your effort – which yields a profit of $25. They send a check or PayPal payment within 7 business days of when you send them the coin.

Here are a couple of tips if you’re interested in this deal.

About PFS Buyers Club

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So You Wanna Be an Airbnb Host? Part 1: Finding the Right Place

I’ve had Airbnb listings since 2014. In New York, I had 4 listings. And now that I’m in Dallas, I have 2 here.

I get asked a lot about how it all works. Peeps are interested because it’s a fairly low-maintenance source of extra income. I recently wrote I make an extra ~$18,000 a year from my Dallas listings.

While that doesn’t replace the income from full-time work, it sure is a nice boost as it rolls in throughout the year!

airbnb hosting

Finding an in-demand location is step numero uno

The first step is to find an attractive place in the right location: somewhere tourists want to stay. And as always with me, it comes down to the numbers.

Airbnb Hosting Index:

This series is meant for peeps who want to list an entire home separate from their primary residence on Airbnb.

Can you even do it?

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Added My Brother as an Authorized User – His Score Went up 100+ Points in a Month!

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When my little brother (he’s 24) told me he wanted to get a place with his girlfriend – their own place – the first thing I asked was, “How’s your credit?” because I knew they’d check.

authorized user

Last month, his score was 586

He didn’t know. When we checked, his score was a dismal 586. It wasn’t because he had bad credit. But because he had no credit at all. Literally, zero accounts ever in his life.

I think I have 30 credit cards by now (?), a paid-off auto loan, and about to have two mortgages. With regard to my brother, hopefully I’ve helped create a path to his own points and miles journey.

But first things first.

Address matters when you add an authorized user

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Airbnb Hosting by the Numbers: 2017 Update

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Thought it was time to do an update on my Airbnb hosting. And the state of it. Mostly because if the numbers look good, I might get another one.

Long ago, I started my Airbnb operation in New York, which was a smashing success. Until it wasn’t. I no longer have properties in New York, as of last month.

So far it’s going well in Dallas. I have two here. They’re easy to track and manage for what they are because they’re on two separate profiles.

airbnb hosting 2017

My downtown Dallas Airbnb

In my opinion, a side business is the best way to “manufacture spend” these days. I easily put $6,000+ of expenses on my cards each month – and the bulk of that is in bonus categories.

I recently found out some rent payments code as 3X for “travel” with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. So that’ll keep me with an extra ~20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per month – a handy ransom (if they all code as 3X)!

Airbnb hosting by the numbers

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