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Why I Stopped Blogging About Practically Everything

Punta Cana Freddom Shot

When I was in my mid-twenties, I made some of the same mistakes that a lot of other people made. I had two auto loans, a hefty mortgage, and little money in savings. Yet, my family still took family vacations, dined-out weekly, and participated in other activities that channeled money away from debt payoff.

By the time I reached my late-twenties, I was fed-up at my debts and started making radical financial changes. I sold both cars that had loans and downgraded to cars for which I could pay cash, and I began aggressively saving to pay off the mortgage that was $30,000 underwater. It was 2009.

By the time 2011 came around, those savings quickly dwindled due to my impending divorce and the alimony payments that would follow.

After the divorce, I spent a lot of money in the dating scene. And I spent even more money during my first relationship after my divorce.

After that relationship didn’t work out, I was Single yet again. And of course, I spent more money. Though, this time it was for my own entertainment. Let’s just call it money spent in a quest to reach self-actualization.

I had made some smart financial decisions along the way, though, like driving a 15-year-old car (that I paid to “upgrade” with a $500 Maaco paint job) until my alimony payments stopped. But soon after the alimony payments stopped, I bought a new, used car that had cost around $21,000.

Even though I paid it off within a year, there was nothing mechanically wrong with my previous vehicle. The $21,000 could have gone towards my mortgage payments, a retirement account or any other asset.

I also took several trips to my new favorite hang-out, the Dominican Republic. Each trip had cost at least $1,500. I went three times by myself, and once with my son.

Then, at a conference that cost about $1,200, including airfare…but not the $800 that I used to pay for everyone’s evening meal… I met a wonderful young lady who became my fiancé.

The money spent between courting her and the actual wedding was even more astounding. We took plenty of international trips, ate several meals out, and spent plenty of money on things that any reasonable person can argue is unnecessary and compulsive spending.

And the wedding…instead of going to the local Justice of the Peace, we had a beautiful wedding that cost us at least $7,500, including the honey moon to Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

All the while, my wife (WE) owes over $65,000 in student loan debt.

Had our number one focus been on her debt, we could have knocked out at least $25,000 by now. How much have we knocked out…about $1,000.

Do we have things under control and have a plan, yes?

Did we have an aggressive plan over the past year? Absolutely not.

Lots of money went everywhere except on the student loan debt.

Two weeks in Costa Rica.

Home remodeling.

Gifts.

Could we pay it off within 7 days if we wanted? Of course. But this would be a very personal decision and no one on the internet would change the way we’d make such a decision.

So, if no one can change my decision about how I spend money, how is what I do with my money, how I feel about it, or what I think is best for someone else relevant to their situation?

The reality is, it isn’t. Here’s why:

No one’s financial situation is the same.

The decisions that I make at an income level of six figures are much different from the decisions I made when I earned less than $40,000 a year. A decision I (we) make for a family of three is much different from a decision that I made as a single father. And I, who is eligible to receive a retirement pension that’s worth millions of dollars in fewer than five short years, and who has the desire to do what I want when I want when I retire, make way different decisions than someone who has to work until they’re 60 years old.

People are going to do what they want.

If you put my personal finances aside, there are still some decisions that I think are no-brainers. For example, if I had zero dollars in savings, I wouldn’t put $1,000 on a credit card for a family trip. Yet, this is done all the time by others, no matter what I write. Being approved for a large mortgage loan doesn’t mean I should make my monthly mortgage payments more than 15% of my take home pay. Yet, this is done all the time.

The decisions that we make are the right decisions 100% of the time.

Otherwise, we wouldn’t make the decisions. Right? Only in retrospect can we see the stupid mistakes we make, if ever we see them.

There is no one, right way to pay down debts.

There are “fastest” ways pay down debts, but no one, right or wrong way to pay them down. One can make minimum payments for two years, and then attack their debts with “gazelle intensity” for the next five years, and then begin making minimum payments again. People can choose take out a mortgage for 15, 30, or 40 years, or not own a home at all. It all depends on what makes them comfortable. Who am I to preach the best way to pay down debts, especially when that someone doesn’t live in my financial world?

My opinion really doesn’t matter.

At the end of the day, my opinion really doesn’t matter. There are many paths that we can take to get to where we want to be in life. For every suggestion I give, one can scour the internet and find five that are different.

I can write that people should care about civil rights, that one should want to retire early, or that one should put any and all extra money towards their debts, but at the end of the day…it all depends on who you’re talking to. Clearly, not everyone agrees on what civil rights means. Clearly, not everyone desires to retire early. And clearly, not every one cares about being aggressive in their debt pay off efforts.

It takes way too much energy, time and effort to write.

At one point I loved writing. It was very therapeutic. To be honest, now that I’ve remarried, my wife is my therapist. The things I would I wrote in the past goes straight to my wife’s ears. She not only is my filter but my saving grace. Depending on the subject, a blog post written from the heart takes hours to write. Maybe if I were paid for every post I’d have a different mentality. Maybe not. Money was never my motivation. It was to help others from making similar financial mistakes and to allow them to think differently about situations.

The truth is, my only responsibility is to make sure that my family makes the best decisions for us. For this is where my energy should be focused. If we were to follow and consume all the information that exists on blogs, we’d forever be lost. We live in a world of information overload. Where everyone has the answer. And everyone has an opinion. However, in reality, no one really knows shit. And for this reason, I now choose to keep my opinions to myself.

My time is better spent studying the things that I am passionate about learning and doing, cuddling up watching a movie with my wife, or mentoring my son into a young man.

Will I write in the future? Who knows. This is the first post I’ve written since my “Freedom” post in November of last year. And it is exhausting. So for now, I think I’m going to continue enjoying my time off.

Freee-domm……

freedom

As expressed by the legendary thirteenth century Scottish hero, William Wallace, “Freeeeeedddddoooooommm…..!!!!”

Yes.

Freedom, indeed. Financial freedom speaking, that it…of my rental property.

As of the 19th of November, I’m finally free of my home that was forced into a rental property back in 2009 when I couldn’t sell it because of my lack of funds and inability to sell in a down market.

It truly was the bane of my financial existence.

I bought it for $193,000 in 2007.

In 2009, I had to move away from my home when it couldn’t sell, so I rented it out in November 2009 when the appraised value came in at $171,000.

At that point, the mortgage was around $1,550, though, my rental income was only $1,100.

I was at a $400 loss for about three years. It affected me to the point that I wrote about how much these payments pissed me off back in October 2011.

Thanks to the HARP 2.0 program that the Obama administration introduced, I finally got a chance to refinance my rental property in 2012 even though it was SUPER underwater.

This had brought the mortgage payment down to $1,150, which was great because my renters had recently negotiated a $50 monthly decrease in their rent.

My $400 monthly loss was minimized to a $100 monthly loss.

Still, I wasn’t comfortable with the loss or the fact that I had to hold on to a property that provided zero cash flow.

Furthermore, at the time of the 2012 appraisal my home’s value dropped significantly more than the previously appraised $171,000 value. I think it dropped to $146,000.

Then, in May 2013, my tenant since 2009 had begun missing rental payments by the tune of 30 days. Instead of evicting, I kept giving her chances to catch up. Eventually, she left the home in August 2013, unbeknownst to me.

When I went to visit the property, it was a trashed. I had to sink at least $6,000 into it before I could finally attempt to sell it in October 2013.

Unfortunately, it sat on the market for three months with no luck. I finally decided to rent it out again in January 2014.

Beginning in January 2014, I chose to have my real estate agent’s team manage my property for a fee of 8% of the rent. This meant that an additional $84 was added to my net loss of $100.

I didn’t really mind it since a loss of $184 monthly was much better than the previous three month’s loss of $1,150. I met one of the spouses of the married couple and was excited that she was seemingly pleasant.

Despite my net loss, I was happy that the home was leased under contract for the next 12 months…so I thought.

From January to August 2014, payments came in as scheduled. However, towards the middle of August 2014,  I received an email from my property manager letting me know that my tenants were moving out. The husband legitimately invoked his military clause to end his lease. There was nothing I could do.

A Decision I Had to Make

I was tired of being a landlord, especially for a home that didn’t net me any cash flow. Being a landlord sucks even if you have a property manager. This is the main reason why I sold my Charlotte personal residence and my Charlotte investment property in the summer of this year. I could have cash flowed $1,000 per month and built up a portfolio of rental properties, but I decided to sell the properties and take my $70,000 in profits instead.

The great thing about those transactions is that they gave me the capital to make the important decision to finally sell my Georgia home.

I’m lucky that the home only required about $800 in repairs after the inspection.

The seller must have known how motivated I was to sell my property.

Although I owed $170,000 on the property, my asking price was $142,900.

After being on the market for about two months, a buyer gave me the asking price. Unfortunately, he also asked for 3% in seller’s concessions.

In total, I had to pay my realtor, the seller’s realtor, the concessions “fee”, AND the total amount that the property was underwater.

I had to pay $40,800 to get rid of my headache. But guess what?

It hurts so good. Like I said in the past, psychological independence is a wonderful feeling.

Mortgage Loan Paid in Full

I now have one less financial drain on my finances and I am now happy to report that my total monthly fixed obligations are less than $1,400 month.

Mortgage  $                       958.32
Life Insurance  $                         19.99
Comcast  $                         29.99
Gas/Electricity  $                       150.00
Auto Insurance  $                         70.00
Water  $                         50.00
Son’s cellphone  $                         12.00
My cellphone  $                         35.00
Netflix  $                           9.64
Google Storage  $                         10.00
Total  $                   1,344.94

I anticipate keeping my expenses in this manner for some time to come. I have no reason to take on any other payments.

In 2015 and beyond, all my extra money will go towards growing my wealth number and buying my financial independence.

I now have much greater freedom to do what I want.

Life has just become about choices that are within my control and it feels great to know that I can effectively walk away from my job, if I desire, to pursue just about any career I want without worrying if it’ll pay the bills or not.

It’s an amazing feeling…

Shortcuts

Ab belt short cut

Shortcuts. It seems like we all want to take them. All the time. But for good reason. I, mean, why put in the work to do something the hard, timely way when something promises that it can magically give us the same results? This is why the diet/exercise sector is a billion dollar industry. Because […]

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Puerto Viejo to Bocas Del Toro Shuttle Experience

Bocas del Toro to Puerto Viejo Trip

My fiancé and I spent this past summer in Costa Rica for two weeks. Our first week was spent volunteering in San Jose, Costa Rica, and our second week was spent in the town of  Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. While in San Jose, I learned that the country of Panama was only a short distance from where […]

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Hidden Treasures

It’s been quite some time since I blogged on this site. I assure you that I’ve been very busy. Instead of writing how busy I was on this site, I put that energy into additional projects. I created a project for my latest personal book, The Wealth Number: The Financial Solution to Pursuing the Job You’d Love, I’ve […]

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Credit Card Churning Fail: How Not to Lose $500 Worth of Credit Card Rewards

Credit Card Churning Fail

If you’re going to attempt credit card churning (signing up for credit cards and spending the minimum amount necessary to reap the program’s reward), here’s a tip: Make sure you’re keeping up with your spending, even if you have to call the customer care center to make sure you’re on track. Quick story: I signed-up […]

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Taking Action May Increase Your Bottom Line by $40,000

Take Action Quote - Nora Roberts

On April 23rd, 2014, my current primary residence was listed on Realtor.com. On May 13th, 2014, my current primary residence went under contract. The initial offer was a $135,900 cash offer with a $2,000 earnest money deposit and no closing cost credits required. I was willing to accept it since it met my “numbers” criteria. […]

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My Investment Property, After the Rehab

Investment Property Front View

Finally. On April 9th, I first presented the investment property that I recently acquired. After a few hiccups trying to get financing on my own terms so as not to disrupt the closing date of May 13th, 2014, I settled on a hybrid option of using a personal loan and cash for this property. There […]

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One Morning You May Get Punched in the Face. Here’s Why:

Road Rage Emotional Intelligence

A couple of weekends ago, a friend and I had a hilarious conversation about those of us who don’t know how to mind our own business. Or when we do mind our own business, it’s usually done at the wrong time, which is an inconvenience to others. For example, someone who “speaks-up” in an attempt to correct […]

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Use a Personal Loan for Your Investment Property. Here’s Why:

Personal Loan for a House

Yesterday, I wrote about several ways that one can purchase an investment property without using a home mortgage. The post was written in response to Wells Fargo’s underwriting team that wanted to impose red tape on my investment property purchase. Instead of folding to their demands, I figured I’d try other ways to finance my […]

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