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Why Are You Still Spending Money On That?

life hacking Mar 11, 2022

When is the last time you evaluated all of your recurring monthly expenses?

Many of us are aware of our monthly expenses, but we haven’t evaluated them in awhile.

What do I mean?

Our family realized years ago that there is so much money to be saved by regularly evaluating what we spend each month.

Asking questions like:

  • Am I still using this?
  • Do I still like this?
  • Is this still worth it?

You could basically give yourself a raise by eliminating monthly expenses that aren’t useful/satisfying/worth it anymore.

It’s so easy to get in the pattern of just paying for things because we’ve always had them, rather than evaluating if they’re even worth paying for anymore.

My wife and I still regularly have discussions about this.

Years ago we recognized that we rarely watched TV, especially cable TV. But I had been paying $100+ per month, every month, for cable TV that we hardly used. Why?!? Because that’s what we had always done. We cut it soon...

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Understanding Closing Costs

agent hacking Mar 04, 2022

Whether you are an agent representing a client, a house hacker buying and selling every few years, or a flip hacker flipping houses regularly, closing costs are important to understand.

And the problem is most people don’t understand them very well or know how to minimize them.

These “closing costs” can take a huge chunk out of your profits when you sell a home or cost you extra up front money when you buy a home.

I want to give you a “layman’s guide” to the various closing costs & how you should think about them. *Note: These costs vary between transactions but there are certain costs that you can count on each time.

Also, these costs can be negotiated between buyers & sellers. Even if a seller typically pays a certain closing cost, they could negotiate the transaction where the buyer pays that cost. But for ease of explanation, I’m going to share who typically pays certain costs.

Common closing costs for sellers:

  1. Real Estate...

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Running a Business in 2-3 Hours Per Week

flip hacking Feb 25, 2022

If you’re in ministry, flipping houses is great, but not if it takes you a ton of time.

Most of us want extra income for our families, but we want it in a way that allows us to still be devoted to ministry full-time.

That’s why it’s essential that if you flip houses, you do it in a way that frees up your time for what matters most to you!

When we started flipping houses many years ago, we did all of the work ourselves. I was in full-time ministry & we were doing it on the side to supplement our income (and ultimately to help us pay off our house).

We couldn’t flip many houses this way or it would’ve taken way too much time.

I knew there were 2 keys to turning this side hustle into a business where I could work only a few hours a week.

  1. Great people
  1. Great systems

Great people are what make a great business. No doubt about it. You need to find and hire the best people you can. I did this by only hiring people I knew or people that someone I...

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The IRS Home Sale Exclusion

house hacking Feb 18, 2022

I want to share with you a benefit of owning property in the US that has allowed us to generate so much extra income over the years!

*Note: This blog is geared toward our American friends, but those of you reading from around the world might also have a similar benefit in your tax code.

The IRS wants to give you a generous gift.

I know that’s hard to believe.

Yet, so few people take advantage of it on a regular basis.

I’m talking about Publication 523 in the IRS code on the Home Sale Exclusion.

Here’s basically how it works:

If you’ll buy a home & live in it as your primary residence for at least 2 years, then when you go to sell it, you can take up to $500,000 profit TAX FREE for married couples ($250,000 for singles).

You might want to read that again.

Since when do you ever get tax free profit on anything?

Yet, in this case, the IRS will give you tax free profit on the sale of your home as long as you meet certain qualifications.

Here they are:

  1. You...
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Couples Trip to Charleston in the Fall

travel hacking Feb 11, 2022

A few years ago as our travel rewards started to accumulate, I asked my wife if she wanted to go on a Fall trip.

I bet you can guess her answer.

We spent some time looking at the Travel + Leisure best places to visit website and consistently found Charleston, South Carolina on many of the lists.

My wife was eager to head to the east coast around the time the leaves would be changing colors. We had never been to Charleston before, so we booked the trip.

Here are the details:

  • We had generated enough Chase UR points (Ultimate Rewards) to be able to transfer them 1:1 to both Southwest and Hyatt. Southwest & Hyatt are both travel partners of Chase, so we could simply go to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards website, click on Transfer to Travel Partners, & transfer 1,000+ Chase points for 1,000+ Southwest or Hyatt points.
  • We flew from Lubbock, with a stop in Dallas, on the way to Charleston. The number of Southwest points we needed was about 25,000 points each. At that time we...
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The 4% Rule

life hacking Feb 04, 2022

If you keep up with the Financial Independence community online, you’ll hear a lot of talk about “The 4% Rule.” When I was first introduced to Financial Independence (also called F.I.R.E.), this rule really helped me wrap my mind around how I could get to a point where I would no longer need to work to earn money. In other words, the money that I had already earned & invested would be earning enough money for me that all of my living expenses would be covered. Rather than me “working” to earn money, my money would be “working” to earn money & it would fully provide for our family.

If you want to learn more about Financial Independence, check out my post, Introduction to the F.I.R.E. Community.

Here’s the gist of the 4% Rule.

  • The 4% Rule refers to the Trinity Study, which was an influential paper from 1998 written by three professors at Trinity University. One of the topics the paper dealt with was “safe withdrawal...
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$53,806 Extra Income On the Side

agent hacking Jan 28, 2022

At the end of each year, my wife & I generate 1099s (like W-2s but for independent contractors) for the Realtors in our brokerage. These forms contain all of the income they made that year as Realtors.

As I was putting the totals in during our final 2021 payroll cycle, I was amazed once again at the amount of money you can make as a Realtor just doing a few transactions a year.

All of the people working actively in our brokerage who earned income this year were doing it on the side. It was a supplement to their income (or their spouse’s).

I averaged all of their earnings together for 2021 because some did more transactions & some did less.

Guess what the average was?



Now of course we also have agents that are just starting that haven’t done their first deal yet, but for those who are active in doing deals, they averaged $53,806 in extra income for their families in 2021 just doing it on the side.

None of them were doing this full-time. Some did...

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The Power of Direct Mail

flip hacking Jan 21, 2022

Whether you’re looking to buy a house for your family off-market or you’re looking to buy houses to flip, direct mail can be a powerful tool.

Direct mail refers to any type of mail piece you send directly to a seller. It could be a letter, a postcard, a brochure, or any other type of mail piece.

I can’t even tell you the number of houses we’ve bought by sending people letters & postcards. It’s likely more than 100 by now. We’ve bought both personal homes & investment property this way.

Our best-performing letter usually had a picture of our family at the top & a short note letting the seller know we were looking for a house to buy in their neighborhood. We’d mention some of the benefits of selling to us like:

  • Not having to pay 6% in real estate commissions
  • Not having the hassle of listing it, cleaning it up & showing it
  • Not having to worry about making any repairs
  • Not having to wait for a long closing process

And so...

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House Hacking & Afghan Students

house hacking Jan 14, 2022

Honestly, when we decided to buy our current "house hack," we never could've dreamed we'd have this current opportunity.

I shared in a recent blog post, A Closer Look at Our Latest House Hack, that we recently finished renovating our single-car garage into a guest house. We were planning to use it for family, friends, & guests on Airbnb.

In our first 2 stays on Airbnb, we had a 30-day and a 31-day booking. In each of those stays, we made almost double what we made per month in our previous Airbnb. We were hoping to continue the 30-day booking streak when the Lord put something in our path we couldn't ignore.

We received an email from a campus ministry informing us that the university near our house was planning to scholarship 5 Afghan girls to come to college here & finish their education. These girls were in the middle of a degree plan in Afghanistan but had to flee the country when the Taliban took control in August 2021. They knew that the opportunity for women to get...

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More Companion Pass Perks

travel hacking Jan 07, 2022

This blog post is a continuation of the last post. You can read that first here if you haven't already: The Holy Grail of Travel Rewards.

The Southwest Companion pass truly is an amazing travel reward!

In fact, it's the gift that keeps on giving.

You can get it again, and again, and again. And not just you. Your spouse can get it too.

My wife and I have both had a Companion Pass for the last 2 years and we are about to renew my wife’s for another 2 years. That means that both of our daughters have traveled free as our companions on all of the trips we've been on the last few years.

How cool is that?

Here are the details.

You are allowed to receive the welcome bonuses on the Southwest cards once in a 24 month period. If you earn the bonuses on both a Southwest personal & business card right at the beginning of the year (and reach the 125,000 points), you'll have the Companion Pass for the rest of that year & all of the following year (nearly 2 years). By the time...

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