Tentmaking Tips

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What is Your Freedom Number?

general tentmaking May 03, 2024

Do you know your Freedom Number?

This is an important metric to track on your journey toward financial independence.

Your freedom number is the amount of money you need in investments in order for the return on investments to equal your living expenses.

Once you hit this number, your investments will pay your monthly expenses and you’ll become work optional.

Work optional just means that you can choose whether or not you want to continue generating more income since you don’t need it to sustain your lifestyle.

Many people think the best way to calculate your freedom number is to multiply your yearly expenses by 25. This is based on the 4% withdrawal rule in early retirement.

For example, if your annual expenses are $60,000, then $60,000 x 25 = $1,500,000 becomes your freedom number. Once you accumulate $1.5MM in investments, you can likely retire financially and live off your investments.

By reducing your annual expenses, your freedom number gets smaller, and you can...

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Don’t Forget to Protest

house hacking Apr 19, 2024

For many of us, this is the time of year when we are receiving our appraisal notice from the property tax authority in our area.

And it probably won’t surprise you to find that your taxable value went up… again.

Sometimes it makes sense as to why it went up. You’re aware that home prices have risen in your area. Other times you’re confused as to why it went up because sale prices have stagnated or gone down in your area.

Remember, in either scenario, your value is subject to negotiation.

That’s why I protest every year.

Here are a few tips for protesting this year:

  1. Submit your protest right when you receive your notice.

I received my notice recently and immediately went online to protest. Thousands of other people will be doing the same thing, but because I did it quickly (literally the day of), I was able to get an appointment the next day to see an appraiser.

  1. Negotiate with one of city appraisers first

In Texas, both the local appraiser...

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Is a $695 Annual Fee Worth It?

travel hacking Apr 12, 2024

I was just approved for the American Express Platinum card last week.

The annual fee is $695.

Am I crazy?

Maybe a little - haha!

For me, as I calculated the benefits I’d receive from the card, I found that I would receive far more in benefits from the card than the $695 fee I would pay this year.

Here are a few of the benefits that are valuable to me:

  • 100,000 welcome bonus = ~$2,000 in free travel
  • 30,000 referral bonus (from my wife referring to me) = ~$600 in free travel
  • $200 in statement credits for hotels = $200 in value
  • $200 airline fee credit for incidental fees = $200 in value
  • $12.95/mo Walmart+ Credit ($0.10 reduction in gas at certain stations + free grocery/online delivery) = $155 in value (not including gas savings)
  • $20/mo Entertainment Credit (can be used toward my Hulu subscription) = $240 in value
  • $15/mo Uber cash + $20 in December (which we’ll use to cover some of our regular eating out budget each month) = $200 in value
  • $189 in statement...
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Does Applying for New Cards Hurt Your Credit Score?

travel hacking Apr 05, 2024

Many people think if you apply for too many new cards, your credit score will suffer.

That’s simply not true.

In fact, new cards add new accounts to your credit which can improve your credit score.

And new cards, and new credit limits, actually reduce your overall credit utilization which also helps your credit score.

Because of the “hard” credit pull when a credit card issuer pulls your credit, you may notice a few point temporary drop in your credit score, but it shouldn’t be long before it comes right back up again. So, don’t apply for a credit card the day before you go & apply for a mortgage (that’s two “hard” credit pulls back to back).

Again, long-term, more accounts help your credit score.

What keeps your credit score high is:

  • Making all of your payments on time
  • Not getting derogatory marks (from other types of bills going to collections)
  • Keeping your credit card utilization low

Don’t believe the myth that...

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How Should I Get Started in Real Estate?

The title of this newsletter is a common question.

And the answer is really simple.

It doesn’t matter.


I tell people this all the time. How you get started in real estate really doesn’t matter. The key is just getting started doing something.


Because once you get into the real estate world, you’ll find out over time what interests you the most. Just get involved somewhere.

Sometimes people overthink where & how to get started and I remind them that the where & how don’t matter that much.

Here are ways people might get started:

  • Multi-family
  • Development
  • Commercial Brokerage

The list could go on.

Perhaps a great way to choose is to find someone you know & respect that is involved in real estate. Take them out to lunch & ask them to tell you more about what they do. Maybe they’ll offer you the opportunity to tag along & learn from...

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Retirement Account Investing Order

life hacking Mar 22, 2024

In what order should you invest your retirement savings? Which account should you max out first, then second, and so on? I’ll share with you my opinion and process.

Here’s a quick guide:

  1. Employer’s Match - if your employer matches your retirement contributions up to a certain amount, invest at least enough to meet the match. This is free money. Make sure you take it.
  1. Health Savings Account (HSA) - if you’re on a high deductible insurance plan, you may have an HSA plan option. Max this out next. You can contribute tax free, it grows tax free, and you can pull it out tax free for medical expenses (a triple dip). You can invest up to $8,300 in 2024 for families.
  1. Roth IRAs - both you and your spouse can contribute $7,000 in 2024 for a total of $14,000. You can use a Traditional IRA if you are above the income limit for a Roth.
  1. Max Out Employer’s Plan Above the Match - for 2024 this could be up to $23,000 per person.
  1. Taxable Brokerage Account -...
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Building Your E-Mail List

life hacking Mar 14, 2024

One of the first steps in starting an online business is to build an e-mail list of prospective customers that you can serve.

Perhaps the best way to build this list is to create a lead magnet that you give out for free in exchange for an e-mail address.

A lead magnet could be:

  • A PDF Guide
  • An eBook
  • A short course

Or anything you can give away for free that helps your audience accomplish some goal.

For me, I offer 3 free PDF guides on the following topics:

  1. Make $1,200 Quickly Guide
  1. Free Hawaii Trip Guide
  1. Earn Extra $10k Guide

These cater to my audience of pastors, missionaries and Christian leaders wanting to earn extra income in their spare time.

Another way to capture e-mail addresses is by starting a newsletter to offer weekly valuable content to your subscribers.

Once you have your lead magnet and/or a newsletter, you can start encouraging people to grab one of your guides or subscribe to your weekly newsletter.

This will begin to build your e-mail list. And...

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List One House in 2024

agent hacking Mar 08, 2024

I recently sent out a newsletter entitled, “Flip One House in 2024,” helping you to break down flipping a single house into bite-sized pieces.

Let’s do the same today with listing a house.

Why not make it a goal to list just one house this year?

You may be overwhelmed by thinking about helping clients list or buy many houses this year. But what about just one?

Here’s how I think you could accomplish that goal this year:

  1. Tell your friends and family that you’re getting your license and would love to help them list their home and/or help them buy a home this year if they’re thinking about moving. Start putting the word out.
  1. Get your real estate license online over the course of one month just by working on it a little bit in the evenings (or on weekends). It doesn’t take long.
  1. Find a flat free broker to hold your license so you make 100% of your commission for each listing/purchase minus a flat fee paid to the broker. Otherwise, you...
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Barriers to Getting Started Flipping Houses

flip hacking Mar 01, 2024

When I talk to pastors/missionaries about flipping houses, they will often share similar barriers to getting started.

I’d like to go through each of them & talk about ways to overcome them.

Barrier #1: Mindset

Many people in ministry think that since flipping houses isn’t in their primary skillset, there’s no way they could do it. They hear about it, like the idea, but immediately talk themselves out of it because their mindset is that it’s not possible for them. The good news is that mindsets can be changed. If you take a look at all of the Student Success Stories in past newsletters, you’ll see that people in ministry, with no real estate background, have successfully flipped houses.

Barrier #2: Education

This is connected to the first barrier but someone may assume the education required to learn house flipping would be difficult or beyond their grasp. The truth is, while there is certainly an education component in the beginning, it’s...

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A Great Resource for Pursuing F.I.R.E.

life hacking Feb 23, 2024

I’ve written several newsletters about pursuing F.I.R.E. (financial independence, retire early).

Today I wanted to share a resource that I’ve found especially helpful on the journey.

It’s a website called Early Retirement Now: https://earlyretirementnow.com

This is a technical blog written by Karsten Jeske, a PhD in Economics with a CFA (chartered financial analyst) certification.

He writes about his own story of achieving financial independence and gives a ton of helpful wisdom for those of us on a similar journey.

He talks about topics such as:

  • How much you need to invest to become FI (financially independent)
  • What the safe withdrawal rate is for your portfolio once you hit FI
  • Ways to invest your emergency fund
  • Preferred allocations of your investments to achieve your FI goals

He also has a really helpful calculator to determine how close you are to reaching FI.

You can find it here: https://earlyretirementnow.com/safe-withdrawal-rate-series/


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