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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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The Best Places to Get Your Real Estate License

agent hacking May 09, 2021

Having a real estate license is a great way to make some extra income on the side! And it's something either you or your spouse can do.

I even know an attorney who got his real estate license to earn extra "vacation money" for his family.

Doing a few transactions each year doesn't require a lot of time, but it can yield a lot of extra money.

If you help someone buy/sell a $300,000 house, and your brokerage makes 3% of the commission (which is customary), that's $9,000 you get to split with your broker. That's $4,500 extra if you split it with your broker 50/50. Quite a bit of extra vacation money or whatever else you might want to use it for!

You can probably find a broker that offers more generous commission splits, or even better, find a broker that does away with commission splits altogether & just charges a flat fee (the BEST & something I recommend here).

The only requirement is you or your spouse need to get your real estate license.

And it's much easier than you...

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Don’t Get Any New Credit Cards Until You Read This

travel hacking Apr 30, 2021

If you’re serious about pursuing travel rewards & traveling nearly free (aka Travel Hacking), this caution is for you.

Some of the best credit card carriers have strict rules about applying for their cards. You need to know these rules so you can maximize your travel rewards.

It’s generally agreed upon in Travel Hacking communities that Chase Bank credit cards are the most valuable cards out there.

This is because:

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points are very versatile
  • Chase UR points are worth ~2 cents, far more than most
  • Chase Travel Partners have some of the best redemptions

As a result, Chase is very strict about how many cards you can get and how often you can get them.

This is often called Chase’s 5/24 rule.

It means that if you have been approved for 5 new credit cards in the last 24 months, you are unable to apply for a Chase card.

In other words, you have to be under 5/24 to be approved for any Chase card. For most of you, that’s probably...

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You Make Your Money When You Buy

Even if you haven’t invested in real estate before, you’ve probably heard this saying.

You make your money when you buy.

What does that even mean?

It means that the price you pay for the house is the best indicator of your future return on investment.

Many house flippers have learned this lesson the hard way. What looks easy on HGTV can be very difficult in real life.

Regardless of how good your remodel is or how tasteful your decorations are, if you didn’t buy the house right, you could end up making very little money, or even worse, you could lose a lot of money!

An example:

  • Mr. Flipper buys a house on the market using a real estate agent who tells them they are getting a good price.
  • Mr. Flipper begins the remodel and after he takes up the floors, he sees issues with the foundation that will require extra money.
  • Mr. Flipper tried to save some money by doing some of the project DIY and spends nights/weekends painting, laying tile, and installing cabinets.
  • ...
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The Value of Multiple Streams of Income

general tentmaking Apr 16, 2021

Do you have more than one stream of income?

While most financial advisors would recommend having multiple streams, I’ve found that too often pastors/missionaries don’t pursue this.

Why is that?

I’m sure there are a number of reasons:

  1. Don’t want to get distracted
  1. Don’t have time
  1. Worried about the optics
  1. Perceived lack of additional skills

I can understand because I’ve been there too.

Then I realized that the reasons to have additional income streams far outweighed the reasons not to have them.

Here are some benefits:

  1. Supplemental income for your family to make up for low or moderate ministry pay
  1. Less pressure to stay in a ministry position that’s not a fit
  1. Follow the Lord where he leads, even if it doesn’t pay much or anything at all
  1. Interact with more unbelievers outside the church/ministry
  1. Modeling integrity in the business sector
  1. Increase in generosity
  1. Get out of debt sooner
  1. Save a sizable emergency fund
  1. ...
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The Best Credit Card for Travel Rewards

travel hacking Apr 09, 2021

Without a doubt, the card that consistently ranks at the top of best cards to have for travel is...

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card

This is my primary card. My wife also has an upgraded version of this card (more on this in a future post).

Here are a few reasons this card is so great:

The welcome bonus is usually very generous.

A welcome bonus is a reward you get for applying for the card and putting a certain amount of spend on it during a specified time period.

As an example, right now the welcome bonus is 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. This is the highest welcome bonus I've ever seen on this card. It probably won't last long. It's most often between 40,000-60,000 points.

Usually you have to spend $80,000 to get 80,000 points. But, to reward you for applying, they’ll give you 80,000 points just for spending $4,000. Quite a reward, especially when you take into account the value of Chase points.

These 80,000 points are...

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Take Advantage of Checking Account Bonuses

Did you know that banks often offer checking account bonuses to open new accounts with them?

It’s true. And sometimes they are very generous.

Chances are you have several thousand dollars at your primary bank that can be moved around. Perhaps this is your liquid emergency fund or some money you’ve been saving for a future purchase.

Use that money to redeem the best checking account bonuses when banks offer them.

Let me give you a few examples.

Chase Bank recently offered a $300 bonus for opening a new personal checking account and a $300 bonus for opening a new business account. I opened both. After completing a few activities, they deposited those bonuses right into my account.

Citi Bank then had a promotion offering up to a $750 bonus if you opened a new checking account with them (bonus varied depending on how much money you deposited). I signed up for this one as well and moved some money over.

Different banks offer promotions at different times, so just make a...

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How to Reduce Your Primary Housing Expenses to Nearly $0/mo

house hacking Mar 26, 2021

Your primary housing expenses each month are your:

  1. Mortgage payment (principal + interest)
  1. Property Taxes
  1. Homeowners Insurance

#2 & #3 are often rolled into your mortgage payment and escrowed for you until they are due.

Chances are these 3 together are anywhere from $1,000-$2,000/mo, depending on where you live and how much of a loan you took out to buy your house.

Can you imagine if that $1k-2k/mo payment was reduced to nearly $0/mo? Life-changing, right? I’m sure you can think of some other things you’d like to do with that money each month.

The solution: House Hacking

In other words, use/hack your house to earn the extra income needed to pay for your primary housing expenses. Or move to a house that can generate the extra income.

There are many creative ways to do this. Here are a some examples:

  • Convert the storage building in your backyard to habitable space and rent it on Airbnb.
  • Build a tiny home in your backyard and use Zillow to lease it full-time...
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3 Ways to Flip a House

flip hacking Mar 19, 2021

When you hear the word “house flip,” what comes to mind?

Usually it’s something along the lines of what you see on HGTV. A couple like Chip & Joanna:

  • Find a house on the market
  • Purchase it using financing
  • Do a full remodel (which is expensive)
  • Sell 6-9 months later for a profit (hopefully)

Let’s call this Fix & Flip.

#1 - Fix & Flip

This the most well-known way to flip. And also the most intimidating due to the amount of money/expertise needed to accomplish it. But it has the greatest profit potential.

Most people don’t realize there are other ways to flip houses too. Some that are much simpler than what I described above. And require far less money. Or no money at all.

#2 - Lipstick Flip (also called Cosmetic Flip)

With this type of flip, you do far less to the house. Basically you’re just putting a little “lipstick” on it. You’ll:

  • Clean it up
  • Touch up some paint
  • Fix a few other cosmetic issues
  • Then...
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