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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9 things your landlord won’t tell you: A rebuttal

My wife found an unflattering piece about landlords in the Huffington Post titled 9 things your landlord won’t tell you. This sorry excuse for an expose just makes accusations, without backing any of it up.

I’m a landlord. Here’s what I have to say about those nine things.

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How I freed a seized-up garbage disposal

I’m sure all landlords have a story like this, but let me tell you my garbage disposal story. I don’t know what the last occupant put in that disposal, and I don’t want to know. What I do know is that it was completely seized up and wouldn’t run.

The motor hummed, which I know from years of tinkering with old Lionel and Marx electric trains that meant the motor wasn’t completely dead, so I had to find a way to free up whatever was keeping the motor from turning.

The usual fix is to use a garbage disposal wrench (which is really just an allen wrench–so you can use any allen wrench that fits) to spin the motor in both directions until it turns freely. There’s a little key in the center of the underside where the wrench goes. Mine wouldn’t budge. I wasn’t being wimpy either–I’d lean on it to the point where the disposal itself was shifting in its mount, but the motor stubbornly refused to go anywhere.

At this point I’d about written it off. A 1/3 horsepower Waste King Legend disposal costs around $55 online, and sometimes you can get their low-end half-horse unit for around $5 more, so I figured I didn’t have a whole lot to lose, and I knew I couldn’t make the disposal any worse.

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Exceptional–as in exceptions–budgeting

Consider the following scenario:

In [a consumer finance] study, the authors, Abigail Sussman of Princeton University and Adam Alter of New York University, ask you to imagine that one of your favorite bands is performing nearby. The ticket costs more than you would ordinarily spend, but you have never seen this band live and decide the experience is worth the cost.

The next week, your television breaks and you buy a pricey replacement because you only buy a new TV once every few years. A week later, you are celebrating your 10th wedding anniversary. Since this is a once-in-a-lifetime event, you decide that the occasion warrants a splurge.

Here’s how I would handle that sequence of events–a sequence of events that the study found many people 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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A tip for selling something: Stage another interested buyer

I stumbled into something today that I’m sure I’ve read elsewhere and had forgotten about.

We’re trying to rent this house out, you see. And so far, everyone I’ve showed it to has jerked me around about it. And most people don’t want to rent it. They want to buy it for nothing. It’s a little irritating, but I try to stay cheerful. I have to.

Today, I showed the house to a guy who kept going on and on about how it’s not very much house for what I’m asking–I’m asking what an experienced and successful realtor who knows the area says to ask–and finding tons of nitpicky things to dislike about it.

And then another car drove up.

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On 99-cent e-books

Slashdot has the story of independent writer John Locke, who writes crime novels and sells them as e-books on Amazon for 99 cents. He’s sold 350,000 copies since January, which was a 20x improvement over his sales rates when he was selling them for $2.99.

Publishers hate the idea. There’s not enough perceived value in a 99-cent book. Looking at it from an author’s perspective, I don’t think it’s necessarily bad.
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