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How I Went From a 0 to 800+ Credit Score

travel hacking Jul 30, 2021

When I started Travel Hacking, my credit score was essentially 0. Yes, you read that right, zero.

I didn't have bad credit, I just had no credit. This was because I hadn't had any debt in years & I had never even had a personal credit card before.

My credit score really didn't matter to me because I didn't ever plan to borrow money for anything.

But, that did mean I couldn't apply & be approved for some of the best travel cards. That wasn't a big deal, but it did interest me in bumping up my credit score to qualify for these cards. The best cards often require a fairly high credit score, usually 750+.

Here's how I went from no credit to a credit score of over 800 (while still remaining debt free):

  1. I opened an entry-level card with USAA, my auto/homeowners insurance provider. They were willing to let me open a card with no credit due to my long payment history of my insurance premiums. But it didn't have great travel benefits & my credit limit was extremely low, I...
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How Tentmaking Challenges Our Paradigms

general tentmaking Jul 23, 2021

After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.” Acts 18:1-4 NIV

This passage runs contrary to ministry culture in the US and probably challenges our paradigms.

Paul, a successful church planter & author of much of our New Testament, is making tents? Surely if anyone deserves a full-time paid salary, it's Paul. Paul even talked about how he had the right to support from churches as a traveling preacher (1 Cor 9), but in some cases "did not use this right" because he didn't want anything to "hinder the gospel of Christ." He wanted to preach the gospel "free of charge."

Paul told the Ephesian elders:

I have not coveted...

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One of My Favorite High Yield Savings Accounts

life hacking Jul 16, 2021

Conventional financial wisdom says it's important to have an emergency fund. Most recommend you start out with a few thousand & then grow that to between 3-12 months of your expenses. This depends on the type of job you have & the person sharing the wisdom.

The financially wise person will usually tell you to keep those funds liquid in preparation for a rainy day (car breaks down, AC goes out, etc). Meaning, don't lock them away in investments where you can't easily access them or where they could lose money.

The only problem with this is that parking these funds in your checking or savings account usually yields very little interest. In fact, the currently advertised interest rate on my bank's savings account is 0.01%. Ha!

I realize this rate will fluctuate depending on interest rates and market conditions, but it leaves those of us with emergency funds looking around for better options.

Enter HYSAs. Heard of them? The acronym stands for High Yield Savings Accounts.

I'm...

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How Realtors Make Money

agent hacking Jul 09, 2021

Believe it or not, many people don't fully understand how Realtors make money.

If that's you, I want to explain it in this post.

I think understanding how Realtors make money will show you why I recommend becoming a Realtor (or having your spouse become one) as part of your tentmaking strategy.

Realtors make money, not based on the time they put in, but based on the value of the houses that they sell/buy for their clients. Meaning, in most cases, Realtors are not paid hourly or by salary, but rather as a percentage of the sales price of the house.

What's great about this is that you can make extra money with minimal time investment, which is exactly what many of us in ministry are looking for. For example, I put together a free guide on how you can make an extra $10,000 each year with approximately 10 hours of work using a real estate license. You can download it here.

Let me give a specific example of how Realtors make money using a hypothetical transaction.

The median home price...

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How to Identify a Distressed Property

flip hacking Jul 02, 2021

One of the keys to flipping houses is to get really good at identifying distressed properties.

You see these properties around you every day, but you probably aren't accustomed to seeing them as an opportunity to earn extra income on the side to support your ministry.

Let's discuss this.

So, what is a distressed property?

Here are common exterior signs that could indicate distress:

  • Grass overgrown/landscape deterioration
  • Trees hanging down into the yard
  • Significant peeling paint/fascia damage
  • Boarded up windows/very old windows
  • Siding/brick deterioration
  • Loose/missing shingles
  • Trash strewn across the property
  • Mail overflowing from mailbox
  • Garage door in disrepair

This list could go on, but you get the idea. You're looking for properties whose exterior shows that the home probably needs some work. Often the exterior gives you a good idea of what the interior is like.

Distressed property owners sometimes want a cash-paying investor to get involved as they know...

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A Closer Look at Our Latest House Hack

house hacking Jun 25, 2021

We moved into our current home about a year ago.

One of the reasons we chose this home is because we knew we could live here for free.

You're probably thinking, "What?!?!"

I'm talking about House Hacking.

House Hacking is essentially using your house to make extra money & live nearly free.

I'll share some about the "living nearly free" part in this post.

When we were looking for a house, we knew we wanted to find a place that had a detached garage or storage building that we could convert into habitable space to use as a short-term rental.

We also wanted to make sure it was located in an area where people would be looking for a place to rent, like near a university.

The house we found was a historic house built around 1920 (my wife loves historic homes). It had a detached single-car garage in the back and it was one block from a major university.

We knew that over time we could convert the garage, and through a service like Airbnb, begin to host guests & make extra money...

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Highest Welcome Bonus Ever For This Card

travel hacking Jun 18, 2021

It wasn’t long ago that I told you about the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card and how it’s often regarded as the best travel rewards card out there.

I wasn’t planning to come back to it so quickly but they just started offering their highest welcome bonus ever. It actually says "Best Offer Ever" on their website & many of the travel rewards bloggers are going crazy about it.

Some of you have been texting me to make sure I saw it. I definitely did.

The Welcome Bonus if you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred right now is 100,000 points. You might want to read that last sentence again. 100,000 points!!!

For perspective, when I got this card a few years ago, it was 50,000 points. When my wife got it, it was also 50,000 points. The offer right now is double what we received as a Welcome Bonus.

The requirement is that you have to spend $4,000 on this card in the first 3 months after you open it to earn this bonus. Not hard for most. Just throw as many expenses as...

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Always Buy Off-Market If You Can

house hacking May 28, 2021

Here's the truth.

You'll get a better deal on your next house if you bypass Realtors and buy off-market.

That's going to be controversial with your Realtor friends, but I'm here to help you make more money to support your ministry, so I'm going to shoot straight with you.

Now, let me back up. I love Realtors - ha! I'm married to one! I also have a real estate license! My wife is actually a broker (a supervisor of Realtors) and we own a real estate brokerage where Realtors work. I even help those in ministry to become Realtors to make extra income. I'm not against Realtors - LOL!

I'm great with you becoming a Realtor, I'm just encouraging you not to use one to buy your house! Ha!

Here's why:

Realtors are very expensive. I mean, very. They usually get 6% of a transaction. You can do the math. It's a lot of money, especially on more expensive houses.

And when the Seller of a home is determining their list price, guess what they're factoring in? That 6%. Meaning, they'd sell for much...

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How I Booked a FREE 9-Night Trip to California

travel hacking May 21, 2021

The kids are out of school and our family is ready to travel!

We have enough rewards points that I’m allowing each of my kids to pick a trip this year.

My youngest daughter, Charis, has really wanted to visit Southern California (think Disneyland, Sea World, Zoo, beaches, & her favorite YouTubers live there - haha). We’ve never been there. We have friends there and my sister's family goes each year and loves it.

We knew it was time to make the trip.

The plan is to start in LA and slowly make our way down the coast to San Diego over 9 days. Checking out the various beaches and attractions along the way, of course.

Here’s how we booked it.

Airline:

  • We fly Southwest as often as we can because my wife and I both have Companion Passes. That means that anytime we fly, a companion can fly with us for free. Charis, my youngest daughter, is my wife's companion. And McKinley, my oldest daughter, is my companion. I’ll explain how we both got the Companion Pass in...
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How to Convince a Spouse that Tentmaking is Legit

general tentmaking May 14, 2021

Perhaps the thought of tentmaking excites you.

But…

You’re worried about your husband or wife’s reaction.

“It’s too risky!”

“We need financial stability!”

“I don’t want you working nights and weekends!”

These concerns are totally understandable.

The key to bringing your spouse along on the journey is to start small & go slowwwww.

You don’t have to quit your job next week to start tentmaking on the side. You don’t have to put in 20 more hours of work each week on top of your busy ministry schedule. You don’t have to empty out your savings and retirement to get started.

Start small.

Like with Travel Hacking for example. I can almost guarantee you that your spouse will love it if you can plan an extra free vacation for the family each year. And that’s totally doable without a huge time investment. Check out this blog for more info: The Best Credit Card for Travel Rewards

After...

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