2 Years of Home Ownership – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

A little over two years ago my wife and I purchased our first house. At the time, it was the biggest purchase of our lives so we gave it a lot of thought and analysis. In fact, I wrote an entire blog post about it. If you don’t want to read through the entire post, here is the TLDR: Don’t fall for the conventional wisdom that says buying a home is always better than renting. Do your own analysis keeping emotions aside. Your mortgage payment is not your only cost. Consider: repairs and maintenance, opportunity cost of having your money … Read more…

Q4 2018 Expense Report + Year End Update!

The last three months of 2018 were quite busy for us. As soon as tax season started winding down we took a trip to Texas to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. We enjoyed exploring around Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. We also attended a friend’s wedding in South Carolina, and traveled to Florida to receive the new year. Other than that, we enjoyed some fantastic weather (at least in October and November) in Raleigh spending time as a family. Let’s Dive Into the Q4 Numbers Not surprisingly, daycare was our largest expense at $698 per month. This is lower than usual for two reasons. First, we took a … Read more…

Can You Really Travel for Free Using Credit Cards? A Real Life Example

The short answer: yes, pretty much. The long answer: you can travel for free sometimes, and for pennies on the dollar regularly. But you have to have a strategy and be careful. I have been getting a lot of questions lately about my travels and my high savings rate. How can the two co-exist? When I came back to work from a family vacation to Texas, a co-worker asked me: “You flew there? You don’t have family in Texas?How can you pay for flights and hotels frequently and save a lot of money at the same time? All I can do is road trips to Boston, flying is too expensive. I also stay with family so we don’t pay for any hotels.” There is nothing wrong with road trips or with staying with family. I’m a big fan of both. However, … Read more…

Q3 2018 Expense Report – $7,751

July, August, and September were good for us this year. Summer is probably my favorite time of the year with the hot temperatures and longer days. One of the highlights of this quarter was attending FinCon 2018 in Orlando. I have thought about going to FinCon for a couple of years now, and this year I was fortunate to win a scholarship, so there was no excuse. Other than that we enjoyed a lot of outdoor time with our little one, including a couple of trips to the beach and some nearby lakes. The Numbers Let’s dig into some of … Read more…

Q2 2018 Expense Report – $6,974

April, May, and June were great for us this year. I very much enjoy the rising temperatures and the extra day light that comes with spring. The highlight of this quarter was meeting up with my parents in Las Vegas for a couple of weeks of family fun. We also traveled to Jackson, MS for the baptism of our godson. We were very honored and exited when our friends J & K asked us to be godparents of their little one πŸ™‚ The Numbers Here is a summary of our expenses for April, May, and June, as well as the … Read more…

Is Rental Real Estate a Good Investment? A Real Life Case Study

Today we will be exploring something new here at Finance Clever: a real life case study on rental real estate. Thanks to my friend David for encouraging me to write this post and sharing all of his real estate information with me. Over the past several weeks, I have been digging through David’s tax returns, asking follow up questions, and crunching numbers to evaluate the performance of his rental properties. Before we dig into the numbers, here are a few words from David himself to put some context around this case study. David’s Introduction “My name is David and I … Read more…

Q1 2018 Expense Report – $6,511

The first three months of the year are usually a little too cold for me in North Carolina. This year we were lucky enough to go further south for a few of those days. Early in January we came back from New Orleans, a family trip we started around Christmas. Shortly after returning home, we headed back south to attend Camp FI Southeast in Florida. After Camp FI, we returned home and back to work. We continued to enjoy our time with our little one. She is an endless source of entertainment, challenges, and purpose πŸ™‚ The Numbers Here is … Read more…

Should you DIY or Hire a Pro?

Just this past week I found myself facing a dilemma you will likely face several times during your lifetime: when something needs to be done, should you do it yourself (DIY) or hire a pro? The story begins a few weeks ago when my daughter flushed a pair of scissors down the toilet. Shortly after, the toilet started getting clogged. At first we were able to unclog the toilet with a good ole plunger, but the clogging would occur again every time any solids were flushed down. After a lot of research some Google searches, I learned that the scissors … Read more…

Expenses Revealed! – Q4 2017

The last three months of 2017 were quite busy for us. We visited my sister in law who lives in Mexico. We started our trip in Mexico City and headed north through Queretaro, San Miguel de Allende, and Guanajuato. Throughout our journey, we stayed on some really cool Airbnb houses in Mexico (see picture below for the view from one of the back yards). If you are new to Airbnb, you can get $40 off from your first trip when you sign up through this link. Back in the U.S. we took a road trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains, … Read more…

A Basic Overview of the U.S. Tax System

The U.S. tax system is quite complex. From thousands of rules and regulations to nuanced and obscure provisions, our tax system can make even the sharpest tax professionals feel overwhelmed at times. Luckily for you, the amount of tax knowledge you need to have to achieve financial independence (FI) is very manageable. I have seen people of all professions, not just accountants, acquire and apply tax knowledge to successfully increase their wealth and their freedom. Before we dive in, note that we will be covering the U.S. federal income tax system for individuals. The state you live in will have … Read more…