All Posts by Link

  • October Financial Update
    We’ve been busy, which has kept our expenses down in our personal life. I’ve been working a few days at our local racetrack, which has been for my entertainment and a good way to bring in some money for our household. While our busy schedule has kept us from eating at restaurants and spending money…
  • [Lack of] Rent Payments
    We have one house that seems to always have a story. Well, we have two that are consistently late, but the one just says, “it’ll be late,” while this other one has a crazy story. While trying to gather my information on how we’ve worked with her so much, I thought I’d share some of…
  • Should You Use a Property Manager?
    The key to financial freedom is passive income or cash flow so that you don’t have to work, right? Well, managing rental real estate isn’t truly passive, so a hiring a property manager to do that work on your behalf is enticing. But are the benefits worth the cost? We have 12 rental properties, and…
  • September Financial Update
    Cooler weather is here! We have a full calendar these days with pre-school and sports. I’ve been managing that by setting a lot of alarms giving me a half hour warning that we need to leave the house for something. We also celebrated our son’s 3rd birthday with both sides of our family, which was…
  • A Second Home & Summer of Travel
    Why did we do so much traveling and activities this spring and summer? Most people probably assume all our travel was making up for a year of not traveling during the pandemic, but we came at it from a different perspective. We’ve had a long term goal of a beach/lake/mountain home. After another failed search…
  • House 10: Creating a Partner
    This house was purchased in 2018, and it was actually purchased by our Realtor and friend, under the plan that we would formalize the partnership after closing. Mr. ODA had been searching for another investment property, but we had 10 mortgages already (9 investment properties and our personal home), which is a Fannie Mae cap…
  • Risk Mitigation – LLC or CLUP
    Not that I expect you to know these letters right away, but bear with me. There’s a common question that comes up with rental properties: have you formed an LLC? An LLC is a limited liability company. This is a business mechanism in which you create an official business for your properties, thereby separating them…
  • August Financial Update
    This has been a crazy month. We went to St. Louis and New York, we tiled the basement bathroom that we’re building, I refinished a desk that I purchased 6 years ago, and we had several activities to occupy our time. Being that we’ve been so busy, we haven’t set any new goals and are…
  • Visit St. Louis
    While I plan on sharing all about our summer of travel at the end of the month, we thought this last trip deserved a post with more detail than what that post will entail. We went to St. Louis from 8/1 to 8/5. It’s 4.5-5 hours from Central Kentucky and a really easy drive on…
  • Bathroom Build
    We’ve been super busy knocking out our to-do list on completing our basement bathroom build. There’s more to come on it, specifically the financials of us doing it ourselves (with the help of my dad at the beginning), but for now, here’s a sneak peak of where it stands. Our new house had an unfinished…
  • Property Walk-throughs
    Early on in our investing in real estate, we were told to make regular walk throughs of the properties. We were taught to use changing the HVAC filters as the guise to get into the property and look around once a quarter, even if changing the filters was put in the Lease Agreement as the…
  • July Financial Update
    We paid off a mortgage! Reaching this accomplishment was threatened once again when I was told another rental property needed the HVAC replaced ($3,900), but we were able to cover the cost of the unit replacement and pay off the last $3,000 on the mortgage. This gives us $391 worth of positive cash flow each…
  • Hear more from Mrs. ODA
    Back in May, I was a guest on Maggie Germano’s Podcast, “The Money Circle.” I shared some of our background and how we started investing in real estate. We brushed on topics like establishing an LLC, tax advantages, and how you don’t need to start big to just get started. It was a brand new…
  • The Duds – Walking Away From Contracts
    I just shared the details of the home inspection contingency in the real estate purchase agreements in my last post. I was laying the foundation to share what we’ve encountered to invoke the termination clause of the home inspection contingency. COMMERCIAL PORTFOLIO There was a time where we were trying to grow fast. We wanted…
  • Home Inspection Clause
    I’ve mentioned that you shouldn’t be afraid to [legally] walk away from a contract on a house that isn’t going to work. I thought it would be fun to run through the duds (houses) that we walked away from and why, but first, what is the home inspection clause and how does it work? The…
  • The 4% rule – How does Real Estate Play In?
    The common goal in the FI/RE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) community is to reach a point where your net worth is 25x your annual spending, meaning your expenses are 4% of your net worth. This is an extreme oversimplification of things because of the number of variables associated with where your net worth might be,…
  • New Flooring
    I had this post teed up to share at the beginning of the month. I thought the story line was going to be that I went on vacation while all new flooring was installed in a home 500 miles away with little effort by me. It’s no longer a positive story. This post is to…
  • June Financial Update
    We’re continuing our spring/summer of travel and activity, which is why there are fewer posts and lots more spending. The stock market has increased, which has been the main factor in our net worth change. We paid $2,000 towards the mortgage we’re paying down, leaving a balance of $3,300. This mortgage will be paid off…
  • Medical Bills
    Here’s something different. Medical insurance isn’t something I’m going to pretend I understand fully, but I know enough to protect my money. So here’s two quick stories about how due diligence saved us hundreds. First, an overview. When you see a provider (e.g., doctor), they bill your insurance on your behalf. The claim that’s submitted…
  • House 9: Hoarding leads to mice and eviction
    This is a good one. This is the one we use when people say “how can you handle all those properties,” and I respond, “if we survived this one tenant, we know we can handle whatever gets thrown at us.” Hoarding, mice, court dates, eviction. But its not always like that. The sun shone down…
  • 2021 Rental Terms and Lease Expirations
    Spring is a time for lease renewals or preparing to re-rent a house. Spring and Summer are times when people are most active in the real estate market. It’s the best time to be listing your house for sale and for rent, which may yield you a better sale/rent amount because of greater competition. This…
  • Purchasing our Used Vehicle
    Buying a new car is exciting! It’s shiny and clean, and it’s all yours. Well, after a couple of vehicle purchases, Mr. ODA and I learned a few things. And in the end, we’ve decided that buying a “pre-owned” (used…) vehicle is a more practical decision. So while I understand that this approach isn’t for…
  • May Financial Update
    RENTAL PROPERTIES We paid $2,850 in extra principal towards the main mortgage we’re paying down, leaving that mortgage with a balance of $5,500. We had a $4k flooring purchase on another house that has set our pay off timeline a few weeks back, but we’ll still have that mortgage paid off in the next couple…
  • My Retirement
    I left my career exactly two years ago (on the 8th). My son was 8 months old. Honestly, I could have left my job years prior thanks to what my husband set up for us, but without kids, there was nothing to fill my time. I enjoyed my work a lot, so every day worked…
  • Moving States: Part III
    There are a lot of factors that go into a home purchase. There are the simple ones, like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms your family desires. Then there are more complicated ones, like what compromises are you willing to make on your wish list to get to the price and location you want. HOME…
  • Moving States: Part II
    I shared the background of our decision to move to KY in my last post. Here, I am going to break down the details of our moving decisions, mostly focused on the financials. My next post will be how we made housing decisions. MOVING LOGISTICS I was spoiled. Every single move I did between college…
  • Moving States: Part I
    In March 2020, as we all know, a pandemic hit. Well, our second child came into the world at the end of March, just a week after lock down. My family lives in NY, and Mr. ODA’s family lives in KY. So living in VA left us without family, with limited visits, and only seeing…
  • Prepare for a Closing
    We have purchased 16 properties directly (3 personal residences) and 2 properties indirectly (partner); we’ve sold 3 properties. All houses have been mortgaged because we choose to leverage our money rather than own them outright (at least at first). This post covers the closing process in terms of clearing the loan processing. Your loan must…
  • April Financial Update
    This month had a lot of money movement – tax payment out, stimulus check in. As I’ve shared before, we don’t budget. But you can start seeing how we’re pretty consistent on where we spend out money. This is because we have a spending mentality that we use to make each decision, rather than giving…
  • House 7: Two broken leases that have worked out
    This one has been pretty easy, but we did have an interesting issue arise with the first tenant. This is our largest house at 4 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms, and 1281 square feet. It’s a cape cod style house, so the upstairs has slanted ceilings, the half bath is not anything to write home about,…
  • Amortization Schedules
    An amortization schedule is a document that is a huge spreadsheet of numbers that tells banks and their software how to apply your monthly mortgage payment. It defines the amount of each payment going to principal to pay off the loan balance, and the amount going to interest for the bank allowing you to borrow…
  • House 4: Small, but it works
    This little house has been made home by two families. It’s a 2 bedroom, 1 bath that is 719 square feet. While there have been a few issues with the house, it’s been pretty easy to manage because of the tenants taking great care of it. I feel like the bathroom’s blue tile, patterned floor,…
  • Refinancing Investment Properties
    When we purchased the majority of our investment portfolio in 2016/2017, primary mortgages with excellent credit were sitting around 3.5% and investment property mortgages were about 4.5-5%. We thought these were amazing rates. Fast forward to a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. A new baseline for low rates is created: We closed on our primary residence in November…
  • House 5: Bought and Sold
    This was a mess. I learned my lesson to research each property individually and not to make any assumptions. I also learned my lesson to hold true to our standards and expectations for a renter. We owned this house for a year and a half, but we learned a lot about tenants and the selling…
  • Contrarian View on an Emergency Fund
    There are many teachings out there that talk about a safe, sustainable, and efficient way to wealth being many streams of income. This diversifies and provides multiple avenues for growth, but also mitigates risk and protects your larger portfolio against any one stream failing. Our financial portfolio meets those goals. Instead of having an emergency…
  • House 6: Easy Peasy
    This is probably our easiest house to own; the closing process was the hardest part here. We closed on House 5 & 6 at the same time, so I’ll cover the closing story here because House 5 has a lot else to be said when I write out that whole saga. TENANT This property has…
  • Mortgage Evaluations
    Rate Sheet Options from your Lender When reaching out to a loan officer, there are a lot of options to choose from. I’m hoping to break down the decision-making here. I’ll share how we ended up with several different options, too. Basically, it boils down to:  Put enough down to avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance…
  • March Financial Update
    I realize that some of the items that I share each month will be repetitive, but I’m catering to new readers that may not have seen the previous month’s details. As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions about this information. SPECIFIC LARGE CHANGES FROM LAST MONTH’S UPDATE Paid $8,000 towards…
  • Chase Rewards Portal
    GENERAL THOUGHTS We have several Chase credit cards, both that are active and ones that we used in the past. As we shared in the past, we open new credit cards when we have one or several large purchases to make, so we’re typically looking for a 0% introductory rate for at least 12 months,…
  • House 3: Quick story
    Quick post about our 3rd investment property purchase. After we closed on House #2, the seller said he was interested in liquidating the house next door, which was a mirror image of the house we just purchased. The story here is how the offer was made. We agreed to purchase for the same bottom line…
  • House 2: The Exclusivity Agreement
    House 1 was purchased from a family member because we saw an opportunity when they were getting ready to sell their townhome. House 2 was purchased because we were looking for a way to make our profit from the sale of our first home to get to work for us. While in the process of…
  • ARM – Adjustable Rate Mortgages
    An ARM is when the interest rate applied to the loan balance varies throughout the loan. The loan is typically amortized over 30 years like a conventional loan would be, but the interest rate is variable. There is an initial fixed interest rate for a pre-determined period of time (e.g., 5, 7, 10 years). The…
  • 2020’s Expenses and Activity
    When people talk about having rental properties, usually the first thing we hear is, “I don’t want to hear about a clogged toilet at midnight.” Does your toilet clog at midnight? No. So why do people think that tenants have issues that you wouldn’t typically see in your own house? A tenant can’t expect service…
  • Doing Your Own Taxes: Set Yourself Up for Success
    I manage all the financials for my family. Mr. ODA makes the maneuvers, and I record them. Excel is where our organization lives and dies. Sure, I have a degree in Finance and Information Technology Management (i.e., Excel), but it doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult to make tax prep easy for you. This…
  • Using Credit Cards
    Credit card rewards can be lucrative. In 2020, we earned $1,616 in cash rewards based on our credit card usage. That’s money in our pockets that we did nothing except spend other money to get. Plus, over $1,000 of those rewards are in the Chase Sapphire rewards account where the points are worth 50% more…
  • Two Years of Changes
    On the surface, a jump of $1.1 million in just over 2 years seems impossible, but here’s the break down of how things changed in our finances during our child-rearing hiatus. The highlights: – Mrs. ODA left her job;– We purchased three new properties; – We sold one property;– We paid off two mortgages and…
  • February Financial Update
    I had so many things to share, and now it’s time for another net worth update, but I hadn’t gone into the details of our 2019-to-2021 changes! I promise, it’ll come. SPECIFIC LARGE CHANGES FROM LAST MONTH’S UPDATE We paid off $5,000 left on one of our credit cards. This credit card was opened for…
  • Tenant Satisfaction
    A tenant moves out. Days without a tenant in the house equate to less income. On top of that, you probably have to touch up paint or repaint. You have to clean the carpet. You have to clean all the appliances and bathrooms. You may have to replace an appliance. Then there’s the extreme, that…
  • Property Management
    Property management can be useful and worth the 10% cost, but sometimes it’s not worth having the middle man. Here, I’ll break down our experiences with 3 property managers, but first, the terms of our management agreements. We have three properties in KY under a management company and three properties in VA with a property…
  • House #1: Off market purchase
    Our first investment purchase was a townhome in central Kentucky (while living in Virginia) in February 2016. At this point, we had purchased and sold our first primary residence, and had purchased a new construction home. Our first home sold for $62,500 more than what we purchased it for and we walked away from the…
  • PMI – Private Mortgage Insurance
    Don’t pay it. Get creative for your down payment. Here’s a brief on how PMI works and how we avoided paying it. What is PMI? A lender typically requires PMI when the loan is greater than 80% of the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio because it’s higher risk for them. If a buyer has less of their…
  • House #8
    I shared that I would tell the stories of our home purchases. Instead of starting with #1, I decided to start with the most interesting. This property was being sold by a licensed Realtor, so we had a false sense of security. It ended up being the sketchiest (technical term) deal we’ve done. This is in…
  • Leveraging Money – Mortgage is not an ‘Eight Letter’ Word
    Dave Ramsey has convinced (too many) people to pay off their mortgage and be “debt free.” Then you have Robert Kiyosaki telling people not to buy a house because its a liability, but never seems to address that you still have to pay for a roof over your head somehow. We subscribe to a different view –…
  • Choosing Properties
    Choosing Properties Mr. ODA has regular emails come in with new listings in the areas we’re interested in. While some of our houses are 2 bedroom, we find it easier to rent 3 bedroom houses. We also are looking to the possibility of resale, which is better for the 3 and 4 bedroom houses. First,…
  • Mrs. ODA Taking Over
    Back in 2018, my husband started this blog and introduced himself. I had a different upbringing than him, and he asked me to introduce myself back then, but I didn’t make the time for it (something about being a first-time mom and going back to work 🙂 ). Now I’m ready to take over the…
  • 401k/TSP Loans
    Working for the Federal government, our 401k is called the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). We max out our contributions each year. As a means of bridging down payment gaps, we utilized a little-known option – the TSP loan. Per TSP.gov, “When you take a loan, you borrow from your contributions to your TSP account. Your loan amount…
  • January Financial Update
    There are a lot of updates to share over the next few weeks to fully explain how our net worth changed so drastically in two years. For the time being, here’s a snapshot of this month’s status. *The original post had IRA at $313,630, but that was double counting an investment account between ‘IRA’ and…
  • New Year
    In honor of my last post being two years ago, we’re starting this back up! Here’s a summary of what’s been happening, and I’ll delve deeper into specific topics with future posts. In January 2019, Mrs. ODS was back at work part time after having our first child, burning through sick leave, getting ready to…
  • TAXES! Part 2 – Is Your Bonus at Work “Really” taxed more?
    Hopefully you read my previous post trying to dispel some incorrect understandings of how marginal tax brackets work. This will build off of that, including showing how the marginal tax brackets for annual income affect the “per paycheck” payroll withholdings your employer processes before paying you. Let’s take another common misconception, the payroll tax withholding.…
  • TAXES! Part 1 – What are Marginal Tax Brackets?
    Recent national media, Facebook, and personal interactions served as the catalyst for these posts on taxes. There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding of the way things work, which create opinions and divisiveness not necessarily based on fact. First, let’s talk about tax brackets and the key word for the American tax system: marginal…
  • Tax Loss Harvesting
    We’re in a market downturn. These are expected, happen fairly frequently, and contain strategies to efficiently optimize the times they happen. One of those strategies is tax loss harvesting. This year, we “benefit” even more from this strategy because the downturn is happening at the end of the year, at a time when savvy personal…
  • October Financial Update
    Tracking your net worth allows for a full picture of your finances. It gives a complete understanding of assets across all classes, as well as liabilities or expenses that you are indebted to. Without knowing what this picture looks like, it wouldn’t be possible to accurately strategize financial moves or create short and long term…
  • The Son’s Perspective on a Few Parenting Strategies to Ensure Financial Success Later in Life
    Student Loans One of the things I have not had to be saddled with in my young adult life is student loan repayments for my wife or me. We both went to state schools, not the fancy private schools that really don’t typically provide much better (statistically) of an education anyway. My wife’s parents paid…
  • Why You Should Start Saving for Retirement at Age 10
    Compound Interest is the 8th wonder of the world -Einstein When I was a kid, I would walk into the bank to deposit something like $50 of soda selling money, and I would be so excited to see how my money had grown since the last time I had an account update. There was no…
  • Adolescent Earning, Entrepreneurship, and Mental Toughness
    From an early age, I appreciated money and wanted my own. My parents weren’t the type to hand us money if we wanted to go see a movie or wander the mall with friends. I understood that if I wanted something, I’d have to buy it with my own money. I also understood quickly that…
  • Allowances and that Green Ledger Paper
    I grew up in a middle class household; my dad set us up with a system to understand the value of a dollar at a young age. Our allowance each week was a dollar. (Hey, that’s the name of this blog) We had our typical household chores, and expectations were set early on that straight…
  • Here We Go…
    My wife and I just welcomed our first son, and while we care for him during his first weeks and months of life, I want to document our path to get here and what the future holds for our little growing family, specifically tied to our finances and investing. I’m getting my first taste of…
  • The Journey Begins
    Thanks for joining me! Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton