Browse Category by Investments

Financial independence – FI

You know it’s time to move when you look through pictures of your home after you remodeled it and realize you’ve changed out most pieces of furniture.

My brother Phillip was in town visiting for the holidays recently and as usual we got into talks of our hopes and dreams. He showed us this amazing video of a man named Slomo in San Diego who rollerblades all day and night and is living his best, and happiest life.

The conversation then shifted to financial independence. Phillip asked if we had heard of the FI movement, and the answer was yes. Back when we lived in Colorado I remember reading Mr. Money Mustache’s blog a few times, as he was located just 15 min from where we lived, and I’ve always been fascinated by personal finance. I had also just read this NY Times article on the FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early). During this conversation Zach and I became acutely aware that we have gotten too comfortable.

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Business planning, Buying houses, Debt Free Living, Fixer Upper, Investments, Move forward, Planning, Small living, Smart money, Uncategorized

We bought a duplex.

Back in 2016 we bought a duplex in Vancouver, WA. We went in on the purchase of this investment with my parents, and my brother and his wife. We started making a video of the process, but it was difficult to do because this property was already rented out on both sides and we didn’t want to invade anyones privacy.

This home is not the most beautiful, and it needs a lot of updating. We plan to make exterior improvements (I’m thinking some shutters, fresh door color, and removal of the awning would be a great start) as well as many interior improvements (The washing machine and dryer are in the kitchen so those need to be enclosed, replace carpet on lower levels with laminate, and fresh paint -goodbye cream!- would be the first items on our list) when the time comes for our renters to relocate. But we like our current residents, so there is no rush!

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Business planning, Buying houses, Fixer Upper, Investments, Planning

Treat your tenants like customers.


We’ve all heard the horror stories of tenants ruining properties by putting holes in walls, staining the carpets, refusing to leave a property at the end of their lease etc. This concern is what I would assume is the leading cause of people not being interested in owning rental properties.  Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to prevent this kind of behavior, but you can put the odds in your favor by treating your tenants like customers. Having rentals is a business, and with any good business comes great customer service.

Every single time we’ve met with a prospective tenant, we do our best to ensure that we want them to call us if something stops working or if they notice anything that needs attention. We do this for a couple reasons. 1. We want them to live in a place they love (the more they love it, the longer they will stay), and in order to do that they need to feel like they are being taken care of. And 2. These houses are investments for us! We want them to stay in good condition and don’t want something small to not get taken care of and turn into something huge.

We’ve looked at rental properties to purchase where the seller says “the tenants are amazing, they never call about anything, very low maintenance” and honestly, that’s a red flag for us. We’ve gone into several properties like this where it becomes evident that the tenants didn’t call because they just didn’t care about the house or they were getting low rent and were worried if they did call their rent would go up. Again, we want our tenants to call us, and you should want that too.

We’ve been extremely fortunate and have never had bad tenants. That being said, as with any business, you need to plan for unexpected things to take place. We always had money set aside in case something did happen to one of our homes and honestly, we planned for something bad to happen. We did this because we rental properties is our plan for retirement, we are in this for the long haul… so we planned for things to go bad so that if and/or when they did, we would be prepared and wouldn’t let it get us down. Luckily that never happened, and we like to think that a lot of that has to do with the fact that we treat our tenants with respect and are prompt to respond to their needs. Of course, there’s a lot that goes into finding the right tenants as well, but we’ll save that post for another day.

Business planning, Buying houses, Investments, Planning

Our Airbnb Rental. Sort of.

After years of considering and trying to find a way to have a full time airbnb rental. We have one! Kind of. As you probably already know by now, we are big Airbnb fans. We use it to find places to stay when we travel, and we also use it to rent out our home when we are gone. We. Love. It.

We initially thought about renting out our basement bedroom several months back, after we added a door in the laundry room. Having a second entrance made it feel like, why wouldn’t we do this? After a lot of excitement we ultimately decided that a few extra dollars wasn’t worth the hassle.


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However, after being able to talk with other people who are also renting out spaces in their homes and really genuinely enjoying meeting the people who rent from them, we had to at least give it a shot.

Based on our research, we anticipated that we would make around $1,000-1,200 a month renting out our basement bedroom.. However, we posted on our instagram page about it and shortly after, our sister in law called. Her brother’s family had just moved to Tuscon from Portland right before her nephew’s senior year. And they had been looking relentlessly for a place for him to stay during his last year of high school. So we decided to rent the room to him. Room and Board- $400 a month.

Our kids love him and we think it’s going to be a good year! For now, Airbnb is on the back burner. Some day we will make it happen.

Airbnb, Investments, Small living, Smart money

Offer accepted… now what?

The house was listed at 218k, we were able to get it under contract at $203,029 which we felt was super awesome. However, there was no inspection contingency with this property. Meaning that we could do any inspection we wanted but we would not be able to get our earnest money back in the event we decided to back away from the house. (Earnest money is held by the title company and used towards your downpayment-usually 1-2% of the house price- but this can be lost if you walk away from the property.)

The bank sent us a purchase and sale agreement and we had 48 hours to sign it before the house would go back to auction and before we would have to turn in the earnest money. So… we used our time wisely and had the house inspected by my Dad and also made sure the septic tank was running smoothly.

When you buy a house, you want to know everything you possibly can about it before you purchase it. So inspections are critical. 48 hours is not enough time to get everything done, but we wanted to make sure the big stuff was good. And as it turns out, the septic tank was shot. Needing full replacement. After talking with several septic companies we found out that costs were anywhere from 8-15k and that doesn’t include redoing the lawn that was just torn out! You can’t get a full quote until the soil is tested and the system is designed, so this price range is all we had to go off of.

When you don’t have a functioning sewer or septic at a property… you cannot get financing. So, we went back to the bank with an all cash offer of $165,000 and they said no. We decided that this news of the septic put us over our comfort level with this house and we decided to back out. Luckily we did this all within the 48 hours and are now free and clear of this money pit! We are bummed because we are anxious to get a property and get it rented out, but we are also going to make sure that we make sound investments.

And icing on the cake is that the bank re-listed the house at 218k and didn’t disclose that the septic is not functioning. I feel like posting a sign at the property for the next interested buyers.

And now, the search continues!



Be decisive, Buying houses, Fixer Upper, Investments

On the hunt for our first investment property.

We finally went out to look for our first investment property. We had all 4 kids with us, and Jane and Michael were taking turns being in charge of  holding the new microphone. Sound quality is off, but we will work on that for next time! Watch and see what changes we would make to this house and why we think it would make a good investment. Leave a comment with any questions and we will do our best to answer!

This house:

3 bed/2 bath 1,356sf single family home listed at 239k.

After pulling comps (comparable home sales within the last 6 months) we felt like this home was overpriced. A goal offer price would be 210k leaving our payments around $1200 a month (with a 20% down payment). Based on what’s currently on the market for rent, we feel we could rent it for approx. $1550 once all the updates were made. Which would leave us at a cash flow of $350 a month.

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Buying houses, Fixer Upper, Investments

How to control your pre-approval process, and come out ahead.


When you are a part of a gift exchange at work, or with your extended family, and there is a max budget for the amount to be spent on the gift, what happens? Most people feel like the max budget is how much they have to spend. If the budget is $30, most likely everyone spent the full $30. Even if that budget is simply to make sure people don’t over spend, it somehow becomes the minimum budget for most people.

This is what can happen when you get pre-approved for a home loan. You fill out your application, give all the information and documents needed to get pre-approved and you are told the maximum amount you can borrow for your home purchase. I can tell you from first hand experience that a lot of the time, this amount becomes the homebuyer’s budget. But, when getting pre-approved, does the bank take into account how much you want to save towards retirement or  how much you need to save to go on the awesome trip you’ve been planning to Brazil? Nope, they only look at your debt to income ratio, and your credit score (of course there’s more to it, but these are the big ones).

So, should you spend the full amount you can get approved for? Not exactly.

How to get pre-approved safely:

  • Sit down and go over your finances and budgets for each month (if you are purchasing a home with someone, a partner, spouse, friend etc. make sure they are there for this)
  • If you don’t have a budget, make one! Look at your spending from previous months and get an idea of how much you need to get by.
  • Make sure you leave room in your budget for retirement, travel, emergencies, and fun. You don’t want to be “house poor”.
  • Once you have a full understanding of your current finances, figure out how much you feel comfortable spending on a monthly payment for your mortgage.
  • Go into your lender, share with them that you would like to get pre-approved but that you don’t want to know how much you qualify for, but would rather know how much house you can afford with your set monthly payment.

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Be decisive, Buying houses, First time homebuyer, Investments, Planning, Smart money

How to do a real life fixer upper.

After watching season after season, and loving, HGTV’s Fixer Upper I couldn’t help but be critical of the fact that the buyers budgets were just not realistic for the average American. Of course, it’s a show, and I shouldn’t expect full transparency. But after having multiple buyers ask me if they can just “take out an extra loan for repairs on a fixer” I thought it would be good to set the record straight. In this video I go over the most commonly used methods of financing the repairs on a house as well as share a realistic approach that anyone can do, even you!

Please leave a comment if you have any questions or would like more clarity on any of the information. Thanks!

Buying houses, First time homebuyer, Fixer Upper, Investments, Smart money