Renovation Update!


Renovating a house is a lot harder than I thought. And more time consuming. And more expensive. Initially I had envisioned slapping on a new coat of paint and doing some cleaning but the list of things to do just kept growing and growing and growing.

I’ve learned it is impossible to go to Lowes without spending at least $70. “Oh I just need outlet covers and light switches this time” you tell yourself. Instead, you leave with paint rollers, electrical wire, trash bags you could hide a body in, and an industrial sized shop vac. You get home and realize you forgot the outlet covers and light switches. Oh, and the Lowes is 20 minutes away.

I’ve learned you need dedicated painting clothes. I am not a good painter. I’m terrible actually. One day I went over to the house to work on it by myself. I envisioned getting so much done. I got there and stood staring into space, at a loss of where to even start. Pretty much the only thing I can do without help at this point is paint. Well, I couldn’t find the paint can opener and I couldn’t figure out how to get the lid off with a screwdriver so I gave up and drove back home. Zero work was accomplished that day. Oh yeah, back to the paint clothes. I decided that I didn’t have the patience for painters tape so I’ve been trying to manage without it. Well, I’m not very good at this so every time paint gets on the trim or ceiling, I just wipe it off with my hand and then wipe it on my pants or shirt. At this point, there is hardly any blue left on the blue jeans that I wear to paint in.

I’ve learned it’s not as exciting as the reality TV shows. If there was a film crew filming me and my fiancé working on the house, the audience would probably fall asleep. The first hour long episode would be dedicated to taking out a 50 year old toilet and installing a new one.

Me: “Maybe we can salvage this one. It might still work. Let’s turn the water on and see if it will fill up and flush.

Mike: “It’s not going to work.”

Me: “Just try. It could save us $80.”

We turn the water on. Toilet starts filling up. I think I’m the smartest person alive. 20 minutes later. Toilet still filling up. Only about 1 inch of water in back of toilet. Must not be sealed very well. Toilet will not flush. Running a snake down the drain does nothing.

Mike: “Okay, it’s not working and now we have to get all this water out.”

We look around the house for a cup or bowl to scoop water out of the toilet but all we find is an old cottage cheese container. Mike proceeds to scoop brown colored water out of the toilet with an old cottage cheese container.

The rest of the episode is filled with Mike trying to loosen 50 year old bolts holding the toilet down while I stand by in case of an emergency. Once the bolts are gone he lifts it up and puts it over in the bathtub real quick but not before water gushes onto the floor. We use an entire roll of paper towels to mop it up. The audience starts to awaken as I read aloud the instruction booklet provided in the new toilet kit as Mike installs it. The grand finale is, the toilet doesn’t work because we need a piece of pipe to connect the toilet to the water line and need to make another trip to Lowes for this miniscule part.


There you have it. A typical day at the rental house.

Our biggest endeavor so far has been tearing out the entire kitchen to update everything. The old kitchen had gross parquet flooring, handmade cabinets that had barely functioning doors and drawers, and dark paneling on the walls. It was very depressing.

It took a few days to get everything torn off the floor and walls and hauled off. Once we had a clean slate to work with, it was time to put up the drywall. I had no idea what to do so I pretty much just handed Mike a knife when he said “knife” and a drill when he said “drill”. The drywall is finally done. We just have to prime and paint it now. After that, we are going to install the cabinets I got from Lowes then install the new flooring, buy and install appliances and then it will be done!

Once the kitchen is finished I’m hoping the rest will go pretty quick. The only things left are minor like painting a second coat of paint in the living room, replacing the 3-prong outlets with 2-prong, installing a mailbox, painting trim, and cleaning. I’m debating hiring a cleaning company since I’m soooo slow at cleaning. Since this house hasn’t been lived in or cleaned in 2 years it would probably take me 2 years to clean it!

I’m excited to finally get this project finished and then sit back, relax, and enjoy the monthly rent check. At least until I buy another house to fix up!

Renovation Update


After some delays in the closing process, I finally got the keys to my first rental house a couple of weeks ago.

Due to my free labor (Mike) only being available on weekends, the progress isn’t going as fast as I thought, but you can’t complain about free help! I’ve also had two days of help from my mom who has done a lot of the painting for me, which she says is my bridal shower gift. I’d rather have the help over another kitchen gadget or linens anyways.

I’m hoping to have everything done by April 1, so only one month to get everything completed.

In two weeks we have: re-hung the gutter and flashing; primed the living room, hallway, and two bedroom walls; painted two bedroom walls; tore out the entire kitchen (paneling, cabinets, flooring, etc.)


Mike fixing the gutter




After (w/primer on wall)





After w/primer






After. What a mess!

I think everything is looking much better. I’m just hoping redoing the kitchen is not going to be too expensive. I’ve already had somebody who wants to take all of the scrap wood so that’s one less thing for us to have to deal with.

Once the kitchen is complete, the only things left to do should be to fix up the bathroom, finish painting, clean, and build railing for the basement stairs.

So far I’ve had a lost of interest from people wanting to rent the house. Out of around 30 applications sent, only 2 people have returned them to me. I guess they thought I wouldn’t ask for any personal information before letting them rent the house!

More updates to come as the progress continues!

What You Need to Know About Life Insurance


Many people have probably seen the Gerber baby commercial telling parents what a good “investment” their whole life policy for babies is. First of all, life insurance is not meant to be an investment, and secondly, why would a baby/child even need life insurance?

Life insurance is meant to replace the income of the insured person in case they die in order to take care of their family. A child does not provide any income to their family and therefore does not need to be insured. In the event of an untimely death of a child, there will be funeral expenses but parents should have adequate savings to pay for that.

You also do not need life insurance if you’re single and have no children or dependents relying on your income to survive. Once again, when you die, you will have funeral expenses but with no spouse or children left behind, there really is nobody to benefit from your insurance distribution.

The prime candidates for life insurance are young families. Both spouses should each have their own term life policy. To determine how long of a term, you need to plan on when you will have enough money to be self-insured and no longer need the policy.

An example is a husband and wife who are 30 years old and have 2 children. They save every year for retirement and know they will be able to have a large nest egg by the time they are 60. They should get a 30-year term life insurance policy. This means they will be covered for 30 years until they’re 60 years old, at which point they will have saved enough money to take care of their spouse in case one of them were to pass away. At this point, their policy will expire and they will no longer be covered by life insurance, which is fine since they have saved enough of their own money. What about their kids? You should only carry life insurance to cover your children as long as 1.) you aren’t self-insured yet and 2.) they are still living with you and can’t yet support themselves.  

Many people just buy life insurance without thinking about the real reason for it. Many insurance agents will try to get you to purchase whole-life, cash value, and universal life. These policies carry the highest commissions for the agents and the highest premiums for you, the customer. Despite how great they may seem, they really are not a good idea. Once again, the cheapest and best life insurance policy is term life.

If you’re considering one of the “no-no” policies mentioned above for investing and saving purposes, do not invest with an insurance company. Just get the term life and invest what you would have been paying in premiums on an expensive whole-life policy into a mutual fund or retirement account where you have control of your investments and money.

How I Did It: Overcoming the “Millennial Stereotype” and Achieving the American Dream


A lot of people these days say that the American Dream is dead. When somebody says “American Dream” the first thing that often comes to mind is home ownership. Today’s world is much different from a few decades ago. Instead of settling down and buying a house and starting a family, young people today are burdened by their student debt, which often hinders them from saving up for and later purchasing a home. More and more college graduates return to their parent’s houses upon graduating because there’s not as many jobs as they thought there would be in women’s gender studies. A large group of today’s millennials simply just don’t want to settle down. They like living in the heart of a busy city where they will always have activities to do. I don’t fit into any of these “millennial” molds. I often think I was born in the wrong generation.

If you were to ask me “is the American dream still alive?” I would respond by saying, “it was never dead.”

I’m hoping to one day write a book about all my experiences and advice for success, however, I’m only 22 so I haven’t had much time yet to come up with enough material to fill an entire book. This article will provide you with what little amount I can squeeze out of my short time in the world thus far.

What’s the Secret?

There is none. Just good old-fashioned principles of life.

#1 Discipline Your Children

“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” – Proverbs 13:24

“Start children off the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

I was very fortunate to be raised by very successful parents who tried to make me as well rounded a person as I would let them. Growing up, I always thought I had it so hard compared to my other classmates who got game boys in elementary school, cell phones in middle school, and stayed out late in high school. I begged and begged for a game boy in elementary school. Never got one. Begged and begged for a cell phone in middle school (and half of high school), never got one (until I was 16). Begged and begged to stay out late in high school, (curfew continued being 10:00). At the time, I felt like this was the worst punishment and so unfair. I couldn’t see that my parents were doing this so that later, I would become successful. Now that I’m past all that disciplining, I can see that they knew what they were doing and (I can’t believe I’m saying this), I’m glad they did it. Looking back, I would do so many things different in my childhood, but the strict rules from my parents, I would not change.

#2 Spend Time Teaching Your Children What They Didn’t Learn at School

So far this article sounds like a parenting book but a large part of my achievement was due to the way I was raised. I believe a large part of a child’s education is from what they learn at home. I have always loved to read. I believe this is because my family would read books to me all the time. My very first sentence was “Read the book”. We used to have a tradition that on Super Bowl Sunday my dad would watch the game and since my mom didn’t like football she renamed the evening “Super Book Sunday”. This was one of my favorite days. I would spread a blanket out in front of our book shelf and throw nearly every book onto the blanket, fold up the ends and carry them all downstairs so my mom could read them to my sister and I. All this reading made me so excited to start kindergarten that I actually asked for homework on my 4th birthday! Shopping was another learning opportunity. If something was on sale for 20% off I got a lesson on percentages (without a calculator). At a grocery store I learned how to calculate the price per ounce to find the cheapest item. One time, my aunt had me balancing her checkbook when I was just 7 years old! Aside from all of these extra out of the classroom lessons, you also need to spend time helping your kids with their homework. I took college chemistry in 11th grade and it was the hardest class I have ever taken. I came home after my first day and started to cry because I didn’t know how to do the homework. My mom had taken a lot of chemistry for vet school so she read the entire chapter in the textbook, watched a professor teaching the lesson on YouTube, then did all of the homework problems herself and then redid the problems again but this time, showing me how to do them. This is the only reason that I passed that chemistry class.


My family and I at my high school graduation (standing under my dad’s retired football number)

#3 Participate in as Many Extra-Curricular Activities as You Can

This is another thing I have to thank my parents for is their dedication to signing me up for every activity they thought would be good for me and then driving me to and from all of the practices and events. I can only imagine how boring a kindergarten soccer game would be. In addition to playing a lot of sports, my parents also got me involved in 4-H, livestock judging, horse judging, cattle showing, and horse showing. If I could go back in time, I would have put more effort into these activities but I’m glad that my parents made me stick with it and although it may not have seemed like it at the time, I actually did enjoy it. Being involved in all of these activities makes you so much more interesting than just the average person. It also really makes you look good on college applications.

#4 Show Up to Class

My number one advice for college students would be to just show up to all of your classes. It’s that simple. I took a lot of classes that seemed like a waste of time but I stuck with it and just showed up and took notes. After freshman year, I hardly ever bought any of the textbooks once I realized the professor was usually the author and wanted you to buy the newest most expensive edition. I would usually ask the professor if the book was absolutely necessary and most of the time they would say you could get all you needed from the lecture. If I did happen to need the book on occasion I would find someone else who had the book or find a very old edition and buy it for like $5 online.

It’s amazing how different a classroom looks on a typical lecture day versus test day. The room magically fills up with not a seat to be spared on test day, while on a normal day it looks like an apocalypse just happened. You can bet I was always there, through snow storms and downpours, I always showed up. I stress this “showing up” because it worked for me. I hardly ever studied for anything. An exam would be coming up and all those people who never came to class would be bragging about the all-nighter they spent in the library or the hundreds of flash cards they had made. What did I do to prepare for an exam? I would read over my notes the night before the exam but go to bed at a reasonable hour. So I probably spent maybe an hour doing leisurely studying. Before the exam I just hoped that what had been sinking into my head during all those lectures would come back to me, and it usually did. Using this strategy, I made the Dean’s list several times and ended up with a 3.49 GPA. Looking back, I could have tried just a little bit harder, but I don’t think it would have had a major effect on the outcome of my life.

#5 Graduate Early and Get a Job

Since I went to governor’s school in high school, I was able to graduate from college a year early. I could have lightened up my course load and taken some fun classes but I decided it would be best for me to finish as soon as possible so that I could start a career. Before graduating, I happened to get an internship at a great bank. They were not advertising any internship at all, but my dad told me to just go and ask about one. I didn’t really want to because if it’s not advertised then it’s impossible to do, right? Well, once again, he was right as always and I got an internship. A semester before I graduated, the same bank offered me a full-time position which I graciously accepted. Another thing that I owe my parents gratitude for. Sometimes it pays to just ask.


My parents and I after my graduation from Virginia Tech

#6 Don’t Stop Learning

Just because you finish school doesn’t mean you stop learning. You should constantly be trying to learn something new and trying to make yourself more valuable to your company. The key to earning is continual learning. If you don’t keep trying to grow, everyone else will bypass you and you’ll be left in the dust.

Listen to podcasts or audiobooks in the car instead of music. Read a book in the evening instead of that reality television show. I try to read about a book per week which gives me the drive and motivation to achieve my goals.

#7 Set Your Goal and Stick With It

In 2014 I wrote out some of my 10-year goals on a sheet of paper and hung it on my wall. Included on this list was “purchase a home”. Every day I had to look at this paper. I couldn’t let myself down. An ultimate goal, such as buying your first home, doesn’t just happen automatically. There were a lot of small things that had to occur first. Everything I’ve mentioned previously about the discipline from my parents, getting good grades in school, landing a successful career, were all building to set me up to achieve this dream of being a homeowner. Upon getting their first adult job, most people would probably increase their lifestyle from how they lived in college. I was the opposite. I actually decreased my lifestyle and any excess spending. Every time I thought of buying something I didn’t really need I would say to myself, “this could be used to save for the down payment on my house”. I probably said this to myself a million times. I didn’t go out to eat, didn’t go on trips or vacations, nothing. This may sound extreme but I really really really wanted to buy a home!

My list of completed goals

Finally, 2 years after writing down the goal of purchasing a home, my dream became a reality! It is such a huge sense of accomplishment to know that you accomplished your ultimate goal.

My first home!


#8 Don’t Quit

Just because you achieved your goal doesn’t mean you’re finished! You need to set an even higher goal and work to achieve that one. And then another. And then another. Since I achieved my goal of home ownership, my next goal is to be a landlord and purchase rental properties. This will give me passive income which will eventually allow me to retire early so that I can travel the world and spend as much time as I want to with family. That’s my ultimate life goal, and of course I have written it down.

Follow These Steps to Be Able to “Live Like No One Else”


What does a perfect day look like to you? Are you sitting on a beach somewhere reading a book? Are you having a fun-filled day spent with family? Or are you on a mission trip in a third world country?

The first step to setting a goal of what you want in life is to envision what exactly your perfect day looks like. This will be your motivating factor while you work toward this goal.

My vision of a perfect day is a traveling the world with my family. This won’t happen without any effort or work. In a perfect world it would, but some work has to be done to achieve this dream. To reuse one of my favorite Dave Ramsey quotes “Live like no one else so that later you can live like no one else.”

There are 3 ways you can get to have your perfect day every day.

  1. Increase your income
  2. Decrease your expenses
  3. Both

Increasing Your Income

To increase your income you will need to get a raise at your current job, obtain a second job, or get involved in some type of passive investing.

For me, I’ve chosen to get involved in real estate.

Decreasing Your Expenses

To decrease your expenses, as I’ve written before, set up a budget, pay off your credit cards, and buy your vehicles with cash. If you can’t afford to pay for it with cash then you can’t afford it. Don’t take out a huge car loan just because driving a fancy car will make you feel good. Stop trying to impress people you don’t even know or like. The people who matter don’t care what you drive and the people who care what you drive don’t matter. Your financial freedom is more important than what model car you drive.

Identify your wants vs. needs. Do you really need the iPhone 7 when you already have the 6? Do you need the 60-inch television when you already have a 50-inch?

Practice frugality. Here are some examples of what I do to be frugal:

  • Be content with what you have. When you think about buying something, think to yourself, will this purchase affect/change my life. Most of the time, the answer is no. No, buying new artwork for your living room will not affect your life.
  • Pack your lunch. Lunches out can add up quickly. Packing is cheaper and also healthier.
  • Store brand food. I’ve discovered the generic or store brand food tastes just as good as or better than the name brand. The only outlier I’ve discovered is canned green beans. In that case, get the name brand.
  • No bottled water or pre-packaged foods. Water out of a water fountain or sink is free. Instead of buying those single-serving size bags of crackers or chips or carrots, just get the big bag and portion it out into smaller snack bags yourself.
  • I reuse plastic sandwich bags as long as whatever I had in it was not messy. Ex. On Sunday’s I’ll make waffles, put the leftovers in a Ziploc bag and put in the freezer. Once I finish the leftover waffles, I’ll just turn the bags inside out, wash out the inside, let it dry, and then reuse it for next week. This may seem tedious but I don’t mind the extra work and it does save money.
  • 1-ply toilet paper. Some people are very picky about their toilet paper and require the expensive Charmin kind that feels like a luxury hotel pillow. I could care less what toilet paper I use. I want to spend as little money as possible on it because you are literally flushing your money down the toilet.

Successful People Have Routines

There is a lot of research showing that some of the world’s most successful people had some sort of routine that they did every day.

Benjamin Franklin:

A page from Ben Franklin’s journal states that every morning he would get up at 5AM “The morning question, ‘what good shall I do today?’ Rise, wash, and address Powerful Goodness; contrive day’s business and take the resolution of the day; prosecute the present study; and breakfast” This is what he did from 5AM to 8AM every day.

Thomas Jefferson:

“Whether I retire to bed early or late, I rise with the sun.” Each morning, the first thing Mr. Jefferson would do was check the temperature and wind speed. He recorded all of his observations in a small notebook. Every morning, he would host a large breakfast that consisted of tea, coffee, muffins, hot wheat and corn bread, cold ham, and butter. After breakfast, he spent the rest of the morning writing letters. He sent over 20,000 letters to friends, family, and colleagues over his lifetime.

Bill Gates

As soon as he gets out of bed, Bill Gates gets on the treadmill and runs while watching instructional videos from the Teaching Company.

Warren Buffet

Warren Buffet starts every morning by reading several newspapers. He estimates that he spends around 80% of his day reading. His key to success, “Read 500 pages (of books) every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

I think the best time for a routine is in the morning. As you can see from the above examples, these people weren’t dashing around the house in a mad rush to make it out the door on time. They calmly checked the weather and wind speed, had time to run on the treadmill, ate a hearty breakfast, set daily goals, and read. Which sounds less stressful and a better platform for success to you?

The schedule below is what I do every morning. I look forward to it every day because it helps me stay focused and on task to complete my goals and dreams.

  • 4:50am – Wake up
  • 4:55-5:10am – breakfast (2eggs, toast, coffee) & watch news
  • 5:25-6:10am – gym (run and lift weights)
  • 6:20-7:10am – get ready for work
  • 7:10-7:45 – write in journal, read bible, read personal development/business book
  • 7:45-7:50 – pack lunch and leave for work

In just 3 hours, I’ve packed so much into my morning, all before even arriving to work!

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Healthy Breakfast
  • News Headlines
  • Spirituality
  • Visualization
  • Reflection
  • Learning

Anybody can do this! All you have to do is set your alarm and actually get up, willingly. To me, the worst morning ever would be rushing to get ready and grabbing a granola bar on my way out the door for breakfast. Such a hectic and stressful morning trying to make it to work on time will bleed through onto your entire day. Just start out by getting up 15 minutes earlier than usual. It could change your life!

I will conclude by tying this all back into the main theme of this passage: What it takes to “Live like no one else” and have the ability to achieve your vision of a perfect day, every day.

  • Envision what your perfect day, or goal, is.
  • Increase Income
  • Decrease Expenses
  • Start a routine to allow you to stay focused on your task to complete your long-term goal


My Journey to Passive Income


One of my many life goals is to earn passive income through rental properties. My passion for this began when I was at the beach this year for the 4th of July holiday and read “Rich Dad Poor Dad”.  The book really emphasizes how successful real estate can make you (if you know what you’re doing)

I’ve spent countless hours analyzing hundreds of houses on the MLS, reading books, listening to podcasts, and researching on the internet.

Every morning and every evening I would check my real estate app to see if anything new had come on the market.

A few weeks ago I noticed a nice house that seemed like a great deal. $54,900 for a 3 bedroom, 1 bath on a dead-end street just a couple of miles from my house. It was listed as a foreclosure with a tax value of $87,000.

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View from the front yard. Very quiet neighborhood.

I called up my realtor and we went to take a look at it. Everything seemed in pretty good condition. Hardwood floors, a garage, fenced yard. The only work it would need is paint and some kitchen remodeling.


Living room. Beautiful fireplace. Red paint has to go.


Master bedroom. Black walls?? Yuck


Bedroom. Impressed with the spongebob painting.


Will need to replace the kitchen floor and buy appliances.

The next day, I put in my offer of $45,000. It took two weeks to hear back. There were apparently 3 other offers so the bank wanted everyone to give their highest and best offer. Since I knew what a great deal this house was, I offered $100 above asking which was $55,000. A week later I finally heard back and I had won!

I just signed the contract this morning which is contingent on a home inspection, so I need to get that lined up within the next ten days along with a termite inspection and an appraisal.

Once I get it fixed up and ready for a tenant, I think I’ll be able to get $650-$700/month in rent from it.

I’ll leave the complicated math off of this post but summarize some of the analysis results.

26.23% Return on Investment (ROI)

11.21% Capitalization Rate

21.8% Cash-on-Cash Return

More details to come as my closing date gets nearer!