personal finance

Tag Archives for personal finance.

In Closing: My Experience Buying a House

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Back in November, I wrote about wanting to close on a house in Dallas. I did, in fact, close on a house in Dallas right on schedule, on December 15th, 2015.

The new living room where I'll (hopefully!) be banging out new Out and Out posts!

My new living room!

That was almost 3 months ago, but it’s taken me this long to write about it.

A friend of mine said it best. We had lunch when she was scheduled to close on a house a few days later.

“OMG!” I exclaimed. “Are you like, so excited to be closing ?”

“Not really, actually. I’m just sort of… ready for the process to be over.”

I didn’t think much of it at the time because I still was excited to be moving toward a closing.

That is, until I got there.

Hurry up and wait

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Get Instant Access to Aspiration Summit, the Best Checking Account in America

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Time Magazine just named Aspiration Summit the best bank account in America for 2015.

#1... I'd agree!

#1… I’d agree!

I’m glad I got in on the ground floor of this account. You can sign up too if you’d like!

About Aspiration Summit

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ABC + FIRE! (In which life is all acronyms.)

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I’ve been looking forward to writing this post for a few months by now. Now here it is!

Yesterday, I made the final payment on my credit cards. Now, I don’t owe a cent of credit card debt!

As you guys know, I charged those puppies up to:

There was a point, a real and scary one, where I felt I’d certainly overleveraged myself.

I wrote about the feeling in Smart Debt: Is carrying a balance ever a good idea?

Side hustle of the millennium

Side hustle of the millennium

And I definitely felt I’d nearly crossed the line into plain ol’ dumb debt.

Digging out of credit card debt is by far one of the most psychologically strenuous exercises I’ve faced. And that moment where I saw the interest get charged felt so wrong, my stomach turned. But I knew I could shoulder a couple of months of interest to make it all back, plus more.

Still, it sucked.

And today is the official turning point where I go full-force into FIRE.

What is FIRE?

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New Aspiration Checking Account Has 1% APY and Free Global ATM Use

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Update 10/1/15: I just got my own invitation link.  Yay! You can sign up for an Aspiration Summit account here.

Update 8/26/15: I have the account set up now as well as email invites. If you’re interested, leave a comment below or shoot me an email and I’ll hook you up – it’s supposed to let you “skip the line!”

I’m always on the hunt for a great new banking product, so when I saw Aspiration’s new Summit checking account with a 1% APY (NOT APR!), I had to check it out.

Aspiration Summit checking account will earn you 1% APY when you have a $2,500 daily balance

Aspiration Summit checking account will earn you 1% APY when you have a $2,500 daily balance

I’ll show you the benefits and highlight one big caveat.

What’s Aspiration?

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Airbnb by the Numbers: Q2 Update

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When last we spoke of this topic, I was a little down in the dumps. Q1 was tough.

But I’m happy to report that Q2 was much better.

Good vibes

Good vibes

I’m expecting Q3 to be the best this year, and Q4 to match Q2, maybe exceed it a bit because of the holidays. And then back to where we started in January 2016: Q1 again.

New acquisition

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In Praise of Humble Beginnings

I was reading an article called “How to invest even if you’re treading water financially” via Get Rich Slowly and a certain part jumped out at me (bolding and links mine):

“Don’t despise small beginnings.
The first steps in any endeavor are humble. Gustave Eiffel, famous today for his tower in Paris and the Statue of Liberty, started as an unpaid assistant in a foundry. Setting aside $10 a month might feel meaningless: “What difference can that ever make?” That’s wrong. It makes a difference in many ways:

Start somewhere

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Getting FIREd Up

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This is an out-of-control flaming emergency, according to Mr. Money Mustache

I have an out-of-control flaming emergency, according to Mr. Money Mustache

I recently wrote about life changes that I thought might happen… soon.

Well, even though Mercury was retrograde, nothing stopped chugging along. In fact, everything got a swift kick in the butt. And now life is different.

I’ve been getting used to the new rhythm. It feels so different. And it’s given me a chance to review where I’m at and how I want to move forward.

What is FIRE?

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The 10% Plan: Save 10 Percent of Everything You Make

10% of everything!

10% of everything!

I’ve started a new savings routine that is blowing me out of the water. That sounds weird to say, but it’s true. It’s an idea I directly lifted from a book called “The Automatic Millionaire” by David Bach.

The crux of the idea is that you put 10% of everything you make into a savings or retirement account. Everything.

If someone hands you a dollar, you put a dime into savings. You make $1,000, well, $100 goes into your savings account. 10%, all the time. From the savings account, you can distribute the money in a few ways:

  • Leave it in there to serve as a cushion (it’s a good idea to have 3-6 months of expenses saved)
  • Transfer to IRA
  • Save up for a goal (down payment on a car/house, repairs/renovations, etc)
  • Pay down student loans or other debts
  • Simply save it for peace of mind

After I read “The Automatic Millionaire” I started putting this into practice. It’s been about 2 months by now, and I’m kind of amazed at how much I’ve already been able to save – automatically.

It also signaled a shift in my mindset.

Why 10%?

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Airbnb by the Numbers: Q1 Update

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A few of you guys have asked for an update on my Airbnbs. There is a strong, thriving, and supportive community of Airbnb hosts here in NYC that I am happy to be a part of. My original articles about my foray in Airbnb were meant to analyze the financial investment/business sense behind setting it up, and were met with a good amount of interest. I received some messages spurred by curiosity, some seeking advice, and others that were downright nasty (which is fine).

The atmosphere surrounding Airbnb in New York is definitely a hot topic, and I deal with that on a daily basis. For the purposes of this article, I’m gonna treat it as I do daily: as a business, by a passionate traveler for other passionate travelers.

Tax time

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Using credit cards + REDbird to pay off large debts – and earn major points

This topic came up a lot last night at the NYC Miles and Points Meetup, so I thought I’d do a post about it.

Lots of people were planning to use REDbird + points/miles credit cards to pay off large sums of debt, meet minimum spend requirements, and reach threshold bonuses offered by certain credit cards.

It’s an incredibly easy but effective idea.

Run all your bill payments through REDbird

REDbird

REDbird

REDbird lets you load up $5,000 per month – for free – using a points or miles credit card.

If you max that out for a year, that’s $60,000 run through a credit card.

My own personal example is my student loan. I’m so tired of it hanging over my head and I’m about ready to turn around and kick that sucker in the face – but I’m gonna get a free vacation out of it!

For roundness or whatever, let’s say you owe $50,000 to:

  • Student loans
  • Your car payment
  • A mortgage
  • Medical bills
  • Credit cards
  • Or any or company or even person

You can add any company as a payee on the REDbird website.

At the top of the site, hover over “Pay & Transfer” and a dropdown menu will appear.

Where to add payees

Where to add payees

From there, click “Add Payee” and get rockin’ and rollin’.

What you get out of it

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Smart Debt: Is carrying a balance ever a good idea?

Ahem: text-heavy post ahead!

The toolbox

The toolbox

Recently, I was talking to a friend about getting the Airbnbs up and going. We were weighing the pros and cons of charging the upfront costs (~$7,000) to a credit card and carrying the balance until the business became profitable – usually 1-2 months in this case.

He said, yes, of course it’s worth it. It’s “smart debt.” 

smart debt

Let me think about that…

It got me thinking about this hobby and all the points and miles we love to earn.

The points and miles cards we all hold earn us, obviously, point and miles. But, beyond that, they are important financial tools. Your credit is one of your most important assets, and I feel no one talks about the credit cards as an avenue for anything beyond earning points and miles – and that avenue is great – but by extending us credit, the banks open up other opportunities for us.

Now, in starting up my side hustle, there was no way I wasn’t going to run all the expenses through a points or miles card, but I’d never considered the idea of not paying it back at the end of the billing cycle. I’m of the mindset of never paying a dime of interest – but is it OK, in certain situations, to carry a balance?

Smart debt

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Airbnb First Month By the Numbers

I have set up an Airbnb here in NYC as a new income stream.

There has been a lot of spilled ink about Airbnb lately, especially in New York where it is a VERY hot topic, to say the least. I work in real estate, so am particularly close to the issue.

I found an ideal one bedroom apartment in New York’s East Village neighborhood for $2,300 a month. And then I spent a lot of money on it. This post is about exploring the investment and starting up this side income stream with a focus on numbers. REAL numbers (except my electricity bill which I have to estimate.)

Cash outlay

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