All posts by thefinancialhack

I am an Accredited Financial Counselor... IN TRAINING. Since I haven't earned the right to place the letters AFC to the right of my name just yet, "Money Coach" suits me just fine. I hold a BS degree in Journalism from Texas A&M University, an MBA from Amberton University, am a licensed Real Estate Sales Agent, and a Landlord/Property Manager. My goal is NOT to advise people how/where to invest their money, but to educate/counsel/train/coach people on how to become better stewards (i.e. managers) of their money. My experience comes from trial and error over the years (MOSTLY ERROR,) but that is how I’ve learned. The formal training I receive should reinforce what I've learned through my experiences managing my money. The information I provide to you are methods that have proven beneficial to me as I have navigated through my financial journey and continue to do so daily. Hopefully they will prove beneficial to you as well. Understand, what works for one may not work for all so please bear that in mind as we proceed. It is my prayer however, you make the decision to take charge of your money and gain your financial independence. Wishing you much luck and success on your financial journey. ~Andreana L. Coleman

FINANCIAL FITNESS BOOT CAMP: WEEK 6 

By now, you’ve had time to track your spending for ONE month and have identified patterns and trends in your spending habits. Are you spending too much money shopping for items you don’t need? What about dining out (like myself?) Going overboard on leisure activities and vacations? What about overindulging your children? Yourself? The list can go on and on. You know where your money is going because you’ve tracked it. If you’re serious about eliminating debt, you know EXACTLY what you need to do to get there. This post won’t be as lengthy as the others because you need time over this next week to THINK and DECIDE if you’re ready…

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STEP 6: IT’S TIME TO GET OFF THE MERRY GO ROUND… OF DEBT

A MERRY-GO-ROUND is defined as:

1. A revolving machine with model horses or other animals on which people ride for amusement.
2. A large revolving device in a playground, for children to ride on.
BUT FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO BECOME “FINANCIALLY FIT” THE MERRY-GO-ROUND OF DEBT IS…..
3. A continuous cycle of activities or events, especially when perceived as having no purpose or producing no result.
For some of us, debt is similar to a merry-go-round, especially when we take no steps to eliminate it. Doing so, is a continuous cycle, having no purpose and produces no result. For example, the minimum amount you pay each month on your credit
card(s) DOES NOT get you any closer to paying off the credit card balance in a reasonable period of time. Credit card statements now show how long it would take to pay off a credit card balance making minimum payments (and of course making no future charges.) Have you stopped to read it? For some it may take up to 30 years to pay a balance. THIRTY YEARS!!! What if you’re only 30 years old? Oh, Perish the thought. “But I pay on time and I have good credit,” is what some of you may be thinking. Paying the minimum amount due on time shows you are responsible at handling credit, but your debt-to-income ratio can still be through the roof labeling you a possible “credit risk.” Although creditors see you making timely payments each month, they may be hesitant to extend additional credit to you, or in some cases may charge you higher interest rates, or require higher down payments to do so.
Debt, or credit card debt in general is a vicious cycle that some of us see no end to. Many have the belief that debt is a part of life. SAYS WHO? Eliminating credit card debt is the first thing I’d like to tackle, but BEFORE we start tackling credit card debt, it would be wise to set up an emergency savings account. To do so, you have to be willing to “get off the merry go round.” GIVE THOSE CREDIT CARDS UP!!!! Remove them ALL from your wallet or pocketbook and only carry one (with the lowest credit limit) in case of emergencies ONLY.
Now how does “Getting Off the Merry-Go-Round” relate to the tracking of my spending habits and credit card debt?
YOU’VE GOT TO EXERCISE DISCIPLINE AND BE WILLING TO LET SOME THINGS GO. This means scaling back on the spending of non-essential items. Look at your what you’ve spent your money on in the past month and determine what can be modified or stricken completely from your spending in order to free up additional money so you can pay not only the minimum amount due on your credit cards, but a “little extra.” I’ll talk more about how I tackled credit card debt (in excess of $20K) in next week’s FINANCIAL FITNESS BOOT CAMP post… AND IT AINT PRETTY!!! In the meantime, let’s start working on how to build up that EMERGENCY FUND. Look for PART 2 of this post later this week.
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Old habits die hard, but the reward from discipline far outweighs the cost to reach your goal. So are you IN or OUT? Will you remain shackled by debt, or break the chains to gain financial freedom? The decision is up to you.
I hope you benefitted from this posting and I do appreciate you reading it.Your commentary is always important so ALL FEEDBACK IS WELCOMED. If there is a specific topic you’d like me to talk about regarding “Financial Fitness Boot Camp” on this blog, feel free to shoot me an email at Andrea.Coleman@TheFinancialHack.com. Don’t miss a posting so be sure to follow me at http://www.thefinancialhack.com.

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~The Financial Hack ©2015

DAILY MOTIVATION: GIVING BACK

As I look over my life I realize I have been blessed in so many ways and I’ve always tried to help others whenever possible. Somewhere along the way however, I got off track and lost my way. I became so self-absorbed I wanted the focus on me.. and ONLY ME. I got so caught up in my own hype, I forgot about the person I used to be. I’ve always said God has a way of humbling us when we begin to think too much of ourselves and that’s just what happened to me. In order to be truly humbled, I had to give up a lot of things I was refusing to let go of, but it had to be done. I’m so glad I did.

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The “PSB Mobile” is on the move!!!
Project Spare Bottle is something my sister started a couple of years ago. She took it upon herself to keep several bottles of water on her person in the Summer months as it can get pretty hot here in Texas. If she saw a homeless person while she was out and about, she would offer a bottle to them. I joined in on the efforts doing the same, but she always handed out more bottles than I did. This year, she decided to step it up a notch and sought out the homeless to offer them water. I told her let’s step it up another notch. I’ve got the truck, I’ve got a bunch of coolers. LET’S DO THIS!!! So today, the “PSB Mobile” hit the streets of Downtown Dallas and passed out water to those in need. As we passed out water, along came a Hispanic Deacon and congregation members from his church who joined us and passed out sack lunches. LOOK AT GOD!!! WATCH HIM WORK!!! We agreed to meet weekly; They will supply the sack lunches and we will supply the water. Wow, what an impact we can make working together!

Kindness isn’t kindness if a reward is expected. Your kindness must be GENUINE, not just for show. My sister and I could have easily exploited our mission today by taking photos with those we helped and those that joined us in helping, but that was not our purpose. Our mission was to provide COLD WATER to those in need on a hot Texas day. We didn’t want or need praise and recognition for that. To see the smiles of relief on the faces of those we served was more satisfying than any photo-op. We told them we’d be back. They said they’d be looking for us… And we are NOT about to let them down. Shoosh… We’re just getting started.

I am so proud of my Sister for what she has done and what Project Spare Bottle has evolved into and I am also proud to assist her in any way I can. Too funny. The older sister is the baby sister’s assistant. I LOVE IT!!!

Keep doing “big things” Sis.

Visit http://www.projectsparebottle.org. Join the movement!!!

SPREAD THE WORD AND SPARE A BOTTLE.

THE LANDLORD CHRONICLES: Section 8 Tenant Blues

(Previously Published July 3rd Via Tumblr)

NOTE: The Landlord Chronicles are more lighthearted posts where I tell stories (good and bad) of property management. Hope you enjoy them.

How “SOME” Section 8 Tenants give “GOOD” Section 8 tenants a bad rap…

Now I thought if I slept on this issue, I would be a little less agitated than I was yesterday…. NOPE. DIDN’T WORK. I WOKE UP STILL AGITATED. Plus I had to be at the office by 8am. I drove by and checked on a property that a Section 8 tenant vacated (over the weekend) and once I stepped inside, became frustrated all over again. I hear people say all the time there’s no point in crying over spilled milk, the damage is done and all that BS…. UNLESS IT HAPPENS TO THEM and in my case: UNLESS IT’S COSTING ME MONEY. Before I get to the crux of my frustration, allow me to give you some background on how it began.

I’m a Landlord with 10+ years of property management experience. I’ve seen and heard it all when it comes to tenants but for some reason, seeing what I saw yesterday was like seeing it for the first time.

Case in point….

I have more than a couple of investment properties, and decided to put an additional property on “Section 8.” Don’t get “brand new” on me, but for those who don’t know what Section 8 is, Section 8 offers government assisted housing vouchers to low income families, the elderly and disabled individuals so they too have access to quality, affordable living. For some, the minute you utter the words “Section 8,“ the reaction is “OMG, I’d NEVER put my home on Section 8. I’ve heard too many horror stories.” Truth be told, any Landlord that has been in the business long enough will have tenant horror stories period, Section 8 or not (like one prior tenant who had a roach infestation so severe upon her vacating, after bombing the house TWICE, the only way to rid the home of the infestation was to call my exterminator.)

So let’s get back to why Section 8 Tenants get a bad rap at times. Two years ago, I decided to put another property on Section 8. Of course this meant going through the process of inspection, paperwork, etc., but, been there, done that, got a t-shirt, bumper sticker and shot glass. The property was nice in my opinion (3-2-2) and my philosophy has always been “Just because a tenant is on a Section 8 voucher doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to live in nice comfortable surroundings.” NO SLUMLORDING HERE. I purchase properties I would live in myself. That’s the difference between a “Landlord” and a “Slumlord.” A Slumlord would NEVER live in the properties they own. At any rate, I went to work. Well the contractors did. They replaced the carpet, painted the walls, retiled the floors, put in new blinds, gutted the bathrooms, the whole nine yards getting it ready for my impending inspection.

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The house passed and I immediately found a tenant. Truth be told, I was hesitant to rent to her. There was something about her presence and the way she handled business that caused me to pause. I should have followed my initial instinct but didn’t and it cost me dearly. What some Landlords have to understand is talking to tenants is similar to an interview. Landlords ask questions. At least I do. I engage them in conversation. The more a Landlord knows about a tenant, the better equipped they are to make an informed decision whether that person may make a good tenant or if the union is a good match. There are always red flags I can spot immediately (however, I’ll save those for a later posting.) When I met this young lady, there was something about her that told me she wouldn’t win my “tidiest tenant” of the year award out of my renters (no, this is not an actual award,) but according to her current apartment manager, she was never late with her rent. She had a 16 year old son and a 9 year old daughter, so that meant no kids with sippy cups spilling Kool Aid on the new carpet or using permanent markers to draw on the freshly painted walls… Or so I thought. What I got was a helluva lot more than I bargained for.

I always offer an alarm system to my clients for their protection, and she “opted out” as I’m assuming the Ozarka drinking water dispenser she had in the house, which I know for a fact is more expensive than maintaining an alarm system, was apparently far more important. Priorities people. But apparently drinking purified spring water trumps being alerted any day of the week that someone is attempting to invade your home, but lets move on. My tenant moved in June 1, 2013 to pretty much a brand new, remodeled home and relinquished possession to me, July 1, 2015, BEAT TO SHIT! That’s the only way I can say it. I always encourage my tenants to schedule a “walk-through” with me before they vacate the premises and turn over the keys so there is no confusion should there be any damages (if any) assessed and deducted from the Tenant’s deposit. Not only did the Tenant not let me know she had vacated the premises 5 days prior to turning over the key, but the property was not secured during that time. Of course you already know who’s responsible for any damages that may have occurred during that period (and Honey, I guarantee you, IT AIN’T ME!) The Tenant was to return ONE front door key, ONE garage door key and ONE garage remote. What I received was ONE front door key and ONE garage opener. The missing key was no big deal. What was a big deal however, is what happened when I had the electricity connected yesterday (thank God for being a “Priority Customer.”) I stopped at the property BEFORE meeting her to pick up the key and the remote she had in her possession, but I couldn’t open the garage using the keypad code OR MY garage remote. WTH? The code worked and I heard the opener moving along the track but why wasn’t the door lifting? I had a hunch but couldn’t confirm until I got inside. On a whim, I check the second garage door. The bay wasn’t even locked so of course the door lifts right up. OH MY SWEET BABY JESUS! Please tell me crackheads have not invaded this property. If they have, this target practice I’ve been getting in at the DFW Gun Range is gonna come in handy CUZ I’M ABOUT TO CLEAR THIS JOINT OUT LIKE THE WALKING DEAD!!!

I step inside, locked and loaded… This is my initial expression:

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Clearly I’m ready to choke somebody out. I’ll give you one guess who.

So before I start to assess the damages, What do I do? Gun in hand I began to clear each room. I didn’t think anyone was inside the home, but I couldn’t leave anything to chance (plus as mad as I am, I’m just looking for a reason to shoot at someone right now.) I’ve got to make sure the house is clear. So I move from room to room, “Bedroom one clear. Closet in Bedroom two clear,” Who the hell was I talking to? It didn’t matter, the house was clear so I pulled the safety latch on my gun. Now I begin to look around and am truly disgusted by what I saw.

She made NO ATTEMPTS to clean up. She didn’t even try. She didn’t vacuum. She didn’t mop. The stove was nasty, The vent hood was hanging from the top of the stove, I wouldn’t even put dirty dishes in that filthy dishwasher and let’s not discuss the bathrooms. After the initial shock wore off, I took out my phone and started taking pictures. I’m so glad I left my purse in the truck. I was already itching and surprised not to find all kinds of infestation. My handyman arrived (I don’t know what I’d do without him,) and began securing the windows THREE of which were unlocked, TWO of which were partially open. Someone tried to remove the peephole from the door leading to the garage, the door handle to that same door was bent severely, the carpet was originally a mauve color when the Tenant moved in, but was now a nice dark shade of smut. There was an area in one of her child’s bedrooms where it looked like someone took a letter opener or something with a sharp point and stabbed the wall several times. Ummm, Errrrm. I don’t recall any of the tenants having mental instability or on medication. The thermostat was hanging from the wall by its screws but thankfully still worked and why was it that every ceiling fan only had ONE working light bulb? That’s not even the half of it. As much as I wanted to cry out “Why Jesus!” and fall to my knees, the house was just simply too filthy to touch the floor or carpet for that matter and I was already itching from the moment I walked in. So I just stood there with a look of contempt.

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Someone tell me how a home goes FROM THIS…..

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TO THIS……

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FROM THIS….

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TO THIS…..

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FROM THIS….

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TO THIS….

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I have but one question……

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HOW!!!! HOW SWAY!!! CUZ YOU DON’T HAVE THE ANSWERS!!! Neither me.

How in a TWO YEAR PERIOD does this level of dirt and filth happen? Clearly this is someone who has NO REGARD and NO RESPECT for other people’s property. I was a renter before purchasing my first starter home back in 2000 and I treated that townhome like I owned it. I kept the yard cut, the grass watered and I kept the house clean and tidy. And when it was time for me to move, I tried to leave it in the SAME CONDITION as it was when I moved in (with the exception of normal wear and tear.) Texas law requires the Landlord to return any deposits/sums due within 30 days of the Tenant vacating the property. When I vacated the townhome, I received my deposit the following week. The ENTIRE deposit. Wondering why? Because I cleaned the townhome from top to bottom BEFORE I moved out. I even rented a rug cleaner and cleaned the carpet. But my tenant did none of that. She put forth no effort whatsoever. If I picked up all the pennies that were strewn on the floor throughout the house, I would have AT LEAST fifty cents in my pocket right now.

After turning over the key and remote (at the 7-Eleven where she chose to meet me,) she had the nerve, the gall and the audacity to text me and ask when could she expect her deposit. I’m professional, so I had to compose myself after all suppressing all the expletives floating in my head before responding. I politely let her know under Texas law I had 30 days to return her deposit minus any fees for repairs and I would send her an invoice citing repairs and amounts due along with any remaining deposit amount. Her only response…“Okay.” What else could she say?

I’m not in the business of robbing my tenants, but I’m also not in the business of being taken advantage of and putting up with any foolishness or shenanigans. She will be assessed damages for what she has done to the property and will hopefully take this as an “each one teach one” moment regarding respecting the property of others.

The day is winding down and the best part about it was I went to the salon for my bi-weekly hair appointment. It was the highlight of my day because I’m loving this “sassy do.” of mine. I think I’ll keep it for a while. But as I look back and reflect on yesterday’s fiasco, This situation is truly sad. THIS is the main reason some Landlords shy away or simply refuse to deal with Section 8 Tenants. For some, it’s too much of a headache to deal with. Me? I believe that there are STILL good tenants out there on Section 8 vouchers who WILL take care of your property and who WILL treat it as if it belongs to them. We as Landlords always roll the dice and take our chances with ALL tenants, and because I have faith, I am preparing the property for my NEXT Section 8 Tenant.

~The Financial Hack ©2015.