Pay off investment property

Paying off debt involves some nasty math, and when you go to pay off investment property, it’s no exception. That’s why it’s so controversial. When I was in college, my university used this kind of math to weed students out, so it should come as no surprise that the lending industry booms, and so many hucksters make a fortune hawking questionable ways to get out of debt.

I have a better way, and you won’t pay me anything for the advice. Read on.

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Don’t buy a house if you can’t afford it

I see the advice all the time not to buy a house if you can’t afford it, but rarely do I see a good explanation of what that means.

It’s really easy. Let me explain it, as someone who paid off a 30-year mortgage in five years and now co-manages rental property and has to determine if someone can afford to rent from us or will be over their head. And no, just because I’m a landlord doesn’t mean I think everyone should rent. There are definitely times when buying makes sense. Read more

My counterpoint to Forget Frugality

I saw a reference this week to an editorial by Ramit Sethi called Forget Frugality. While he has some good points, I think some of his advice is counterproductive and even contradictory. He argues that you should focus on earnings and negotiation instead of trying to actively cut costs.

I really think you have to do a combination of the three, and you should start with what you have the most control over, which is your own budget. Here’s what I have to say about his seven strategies. Read more

I am not in jail.

The bank vice president apologized for calling the police on me.

That’s neither the beginning nor the end of the story, but it seems to me that police involvement of any kind is a sign that your real estate deal isn’t going as well as it could.

It all began with a Citibank loan officer named Aaron who promised me a smooth closing. In my view, being questioned by a uniformed police officer has no place in a smooth closing. And that wasn’t even the worst part of it, which troubles me.  Read more

What you should know about your first credit card

Lifehacker asked what a first-time credit card owner needs to know. As someone who first got a credit card at the age of 20 and is still reaping the benefits of using one correctly from the start, I have some advice to give on that.

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Two simple ways to increase your credit score

Two simple ways to increase your credit score

I have a friend who makes more money than me, has no debt except for a small mortgage, and his credit score is 150 points lower than mine. By becoming more like me, you can increase your credit score.

The key difference between us is that he puts a couple thousand into a checking account at the first of every month and pays for everything with a debit card. I do the same thing, but use a credit card, and pay the credit card off at the end of the month.

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Avoiding Craigslist rental scams

The Consumerist posted five warning signs that a Craigslist rental listing is probably a scam. As a landlord looking on from that side of it, I generally agree with it. Here’s a landlord’s take on avoiding Craigslist rental scams.
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Plain, pure and simple advice from the guy with a credit score of 848

One day a Cleveland-area man walked into a Bass Pro Shop, and they offered him a credit card with a promotion that would pay the sales tax. The savings amounted to $50, so he accepted. A few weeks later, he received a letter in the mail informing him that his credit score was 848. Perfect score is 850.

 My credit score raises eyebrows when people see it, but mine is still a pretty fair distance from that.
This Cleveland Plain Dealer article has some down-to-earth advice from the guy with 99.7% credit. Read more

How to rent a house without getting your identity stolen

I know a family that’s trying to rent a house. All they really want is something that’s a reasonable commute from work, in a safe area, with a fenced yard for their young son to play in, a basement to take cover in during severe storms, and a little bit of room for storage–in a decent school district.

That’s not as easy to find as it used to be. He’s actually finding more scams than houses that fit his criteria. As a full-time security professional and a part-time landlord, here’s what I want you to know about renting a house.

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Don’t let debt cripple you

Sometimes people ask me for help with their finances. And I’ve seen the effects that debt can have on people. I believe having no debt is best. Having debt that you’re paying off is second-best. Festering debt, however, is crippling. That’s what you want to avoid, before it catches up with you. Not only can bad debts keep you from borrowing more money, it can also make it more difficult to sign a lease or get a job.

Here’s how to make a plan to pay off that debt and improve your credit score.

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