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Property Empire in Our Future?

Mr. BFS and I would love to diversify our investments for retirement, and the rental property we have is making us crave more.  We’re looking at our buying options and finances right now to see if we really need to wait until next year like we originally planned.  Here is how it is looking. Our Targets I was browsing foreclosures in our area last week and noticed two in our old neighborhood.  That area is perfect for rental property! Homes built in 2004 and 2005. $110,000 to $130,000 foreclosures with 3-4 bedrooms and 2.5-3 baths. The homes need less than $10,000 in repairs and basic renovations before renting. Great school district. A solid market for tenants at $1300-$1500 per month since the area is nice (safe suburbia close to groceries and entertainment). Well built homes (we have had very low maintenance costs on our first house in these last 6 years). Affordable property taxes ($2500-$3000 a year). No home owner’s association.  Score! 5 miles away from our new house (10-20 minute drive depending on the time of day).  That’s close enough to keep an eye on our properties but far enough away that we won’t be physically visited by our tenants very often. The only … Read more

Frickin’ Fruit Flies!!!

These last couple of days have been annoying as heck at home because of freaking fruit flies.  We got the first few with some fruit I bought last week, but they didn’t really take over in full force until Tuesday night.  I’m writing this Thursday afternoon. How to Handle Fruit Flies Apparently, you bring the eggs into your home from fruits and vegetables from the store.  So first step to prevention is to immediately wash all of the fruits you bring into the house to get rid of the eggs.  But if you didn’t do that (like me), you now have a whole set of different problems.  Our infestation came from some old vases of water and a pot of boiled water we left out that we had used to boil corn.  Ewww. First you have to get all food off the counters and into the fridge or freezer since they need food and water to live and breed in.  Plus, they die in the cold.  Then you need to really clean the house so there won’t be any crumbs or standing water for them.  Dump old vases, don’t leave drinks out overnight, and take out the trash every single … Read more

Gardening on the Brain – Front Yard Plans

It’s the gardening time of year again, especially here in Houston, TX.  It’s gorgeous, heating up to the 70’s and even 80’s regularly, and I’m trying to get our front yard to look the way I like.  The builder’s gardener did pretty well, but I like color. Currently Here is what our whole front yard looks like currently.  It’s pretty open since the Crepe Myrtle on the left and Japanese Magnolia on the right are still pretty young.   Plans First off, I am tired of manually watering everything, so I am looking into automatic sprinkler system options for at least the front yard.  We were going to have that done when we first built the house, but we decided to hold off to keep some extra padding on hand during the move and those first expensive months.  Now I am ready to splurge and talk Mr. BFS into it too. I would also like to remove the boxwood from this flower bed and move them over to the right side of the yard to edge off our property.  I’ll replace them with 3 Double Knock-Out Roses since they are pretty year round and will add a layer of thorns between … Read more

Mortgage Deductions Don’t Exist for Everybody

When I wrote about paying off our rent house, a few people emailed me about the mortgage deduction benefit that we’d be losing.  Luckily, that wasn’t ever an issue.  Even with two mortgages, our mortgage interest and other deductions simply never added up to more than the standard deduction (which was $11,900 for a married couple filing jointly last year).   The Math Here’s the breakdown for us.  The following are the deductions that can taken and what they added up to for us last year (and I rounded up): Medical Bills – $1000 in some copays and medicines (which I am not even sure are deductible) State and Local Taxes like sales tax – less than $2000 Charitable Deductions – $500 (I volunteer time) Mortgage Interest – less than $2500 Losses from Theft – $0 thankfully Job Expenses like travel – $1000 and that would really be pushing the definition Total = $7000 So in our case, the $11,900 standard deduction was definitely more to our benefit and has been since we got married in 2005.  We always run the numbers just to make sure, but for us, the standard deduction is simply the way to go. When Itemizing Works Yet, itemizing … Read more


On April 2, 2013 I wired $22,200 to Chase to pay off the mortgage on our first home – what is now our rent house.  I held off on writing the happy post about it since I wanted to receive something official that would confirm we indeed own our first home 100%.  Well, here is a letter we received yesterday: We are writing to tell you about a change in your status in the Mortgage Cash Back Program. We want to let you know that you are no longer enrolled in the program because your mortgage has been paid off prior to maturity.  You may be able to enroll in the program in the future if you decide to refinance your mortgage with Chase. Note:  Any rewards that you may have earned before cancellation of the program have been forfeited. If you have any questions, please call us at one of the telephone numbers listed below. So I forfeited $48 in cash back to save $60 in interest for the rest of April.  I’m okay with that.  😀 WE PAID OFF A MORTGAGE!!! So even though we don’t have a deed in hand yet, I am super happy to say that … Read more

Help a Reader Keep Their Home

As you may have noticed, you can sign up for my newsletter in the right sidebar (*hint, hint*).  If you do, you’ll receive a mini-post from me every Friday along with a link to the monthly $25 + eBook giveaway that you can enter by commenting.  Here was the recent comment from Lee that inspired today’s post for your help: When we got our mortgage 10+ years ago, our income was higher than it is now.   Our percentage of income going to our home is over 50%, taking a huge hunk of our one income. We don’t want to sell our home, because we also have the land that the home is on…also, we just have 5 and a half years left to pay on it, so the end is in sight. Do you have some tips to help cut expenses and raise income coming in, to ease this severe crunch? I’m sorry you are in a rough patch right now.  My first suggestion is to immediately record absolutely everything that you are spending money on and see if there are any easy cuts to make there.  Then I’d look into hobby jobs while you make a pretty strict spending plan. Spending … Read more

Mortgage Payoff Race Update – Changing Priorities?

Last September, Jason from Live Real, Now and I made a bet.  We are racing to see who can pay off a mortgage first. At the time of the bet, Mr. BFS and I had about $24,500 left on the mortgage on our rental house.  Jason had a similar amount left on his home loan.  The rules on my end were that I needed to pay for our closing costs for the new house, save up $20,000 of padding again, and then pay off the first mortgage without touching any of that padding.  Jason is going to pay off a vehicle loan and then attack his.  Whoever loses will visit the other person’s place…me in “hell” or him in “the frozen arctic”.  🙂 Mortgage Payoff Race Update Well, we saved up the $20,000 in padding by the end of last October.  Yay!  But things sort of slowed down from there.  With two house payments and two sets of property taxes, our cost of living has nearly doubled.  You can see our budget here – with taxes, we need to bring in $8000 a month.  We bring in way more rental income too ($2300 per month), but generally, our self employment income has settled … Read more