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House #4 Purchase Details

Have you ever bought a house in a pandemic? This was actually our 3rd closing since Corona hit, so we know the drill pretty well. My favorite was the refi on our personal house that we did in our driveway, wearing masks and gloves on a garage sale table…because..who’s going to let a little pandemic stop them from reaching their financial goals?! Not the Templeton’s!! Shoot..I even put on my fancy muscle tank and best jean shorts to mark the occasion.

But..I am here to tell you all the numbers, since that is one of my favorite parts of these house posts. (Mainly because I’m super nosey and want to know all the details of other people’s purchases, so happy to share when I buy one)

Here they are:

We bought The Toto House off a wholesaler who was asking $50k and had another offer for $40k. I told him I was all in at $38k and could close within a few days. He accepted our offer, even though it was lower, because the other guy was flaky and he liked that I would close fast. We paid $40,141 total and had the shortest and least amount of paperwork in the history of time. So short that I almost forgot I was buying a house and my husband had to remind me we needed to ask for the keys. 😅 This experience of negotiating with all cash and an easy fast close makes me want to do all cash from this moment on!!

Our goal was to use our HELOC on our personal home, but our bank is not into fast and easy closings..lol. It’s a month in and we still don’t know when or how much we are approved for, so this was bought with our savings and part from a private loan.

We are estimating about $10,000 in rehab costs, another $2,500 in closing costs for the refi, and low comps in the area are right around $75,000. If we appraise at the lowest expected amount of $75,000, then 75% LTV would be $56,250. When we stay on budget, we will be all in at $52,641. So we should be able to pull all of our money out and also make about $3,500. If we underbid the rehab, then that $3,500 also gives us some flexibility within our budget or on the appraisal, both learnings from my last project. (We did also already account for 10% contingency)

Excited to get started on this as our first DIY renovation. (will sub out floors but plan to do a lot of the rest on our own) Of course this is just the B in BRRRR and I will share any and all details along the way. Let me know what questions you have!!

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My Debt Free Year In Review

Let me start by saying that losing $165,000 in debt FEELS REAL GOOD..like REALLY REALLY GOOD. This may be one of the top reasons that I keep shouting about the debt free community and trying to recruit all of you to join me. Believe me when I say that a debt free head just hits the pillow different at night.

So I’ve now had a whole year to reflect on my decision to get out of debt and wanted to share three things from my reflection with you. So keep reading to learn why I got out of debt, how I got out of debt and how I have and will continue to keep the debt off.

THE WHY-YOLO..so that was my mentality back in my late teens and twenties, but I interpreted it wrong. I thought it meant that I should party it up, buy what I wanted when I wanted it, and just be making minimum payments for a lifetime..the American Dream. Pay for everything on credit and work until my mid sixties and make jokes with everyone else along the way about how “I will never pay these student loans off” or “At this rate I will be working until I die”. Looking back, YOLO now means to me that you in fact only live once. So live the life you want and not the life society tells you to. Figure out your own path and your own way to to make a living.

THE HOW-I contribute 3 things to my how. One being a mindset shift. If you don’t first believe that you can be debt free and that you also deserve the freedom of a debt free life, then no budget or even a large sum of money will be able to help you. The second was zero budgeting during the payoff. This just means that I literally took every additional penny that I had and put it to work for me paying off the debt. I turned down a lot of stuff during this time, including eating out or going on a bunch of trips. I got dramatic with my expenses and cut them down to the bare minimum. (or so I thought) Then I woke up one day and realized that I was making excuses for some expenses that weren’t necessary, such as two newer cars that we didn’t need, and an SUV that sucked down the gas. I was also still budgeting for clothes, hair and makeup. When I cut down to the ACTUAL needs..I found out that none of that stuff was included. Actual needs are just that..basic food, shelter and transportation are it…period. So once I got rid of all the excess through a No Spend Year and getting rid of the cars, things really started to accelerate. The 3rd item that helped was the debt snowball method. Every single extra penny went towards the smallest debt, paid that off, then rolled that into the next smallest, and just kept going. When I got towards the end, I also dabbled with the debt avalanche for a student loan that had a high interest rate.

KEEP IT OFF-I have come across a lot of temptations now being debt free, including getting an itch for a new car occasionally or to upgrade in other ways. I think it’s human nature and it’s hard to deprogram from a lifetime of consumerism and instant gratification. It would be very easy to get led right back down that dirt road to debt. But I’m proud to say we haven’t. I ultimately switched from zero budgeting to value based budgeting. So now, if it’s something I value, such as my family, health, or education, then I will spend the money on it. When you know your values and align your spending with them, then you will notice that most of the items that require consumer debt don’t fit anywhere in the budget. The occasional big items, like upkeep for our family home, just require me to save up until we can pay cash for them, and we keep that emergency fund for the unexpected. The rest, like family and education usually are worth the most yet cost the least to add value in my life.

So as you can see..no get out of debt quick scheme or magical inheritance or lottery winner over here. Just some boring stuff that paid off in our current lives and will continue to do so over the long term as we head down a trail we are blazing on our own that builds wealth.

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I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie

When I think back on the first 35 years of my life, I literally read only a book or two a year, and I can promise you they were trashy books.  There certainly weren’t any self improvement books in the mix, and if I’m being quite honest, I used to think those types of books were cheesy.  Last year, I changed my mindset and made it a top goal to educate myself.  I ended last year having read a total of 43 books!!!   Don’t worry..there were still some trashy books in there, 11 to be exact, but the rest were educational.  Whether it was about finances, real estate, self development, or parenting, each of these books has given me at least one takeaway that has made me grow as a human.  I’m listing each of them below (in no particular order), so just click on a book for the full description in case you are looking for your next read!  

If you are looking for an amazing Audible discount or Kindle Unlimited, or even just other book recommendations, click the link below! Let me know if you have any questions..I’m an open book. 😉

https://amzn.to/2RoSQpM

 

(Full Disclosure: These are affiliate links, so anytime you click on a link of mine and purchase, there are a few pennies that help go towards administrative costs of running my blog)

 

The Power of Negotiating

Have you ever wondered what’s negotiable? The simple answer is everything is!! Yet not everyone uses the power of negotiation to get what they want or what they deserve.

Some of the most common areas that negotiation comes into mind is for a job salary, or maybe for major purchases like a car or house. But not everyone may realize other things you can negotiate, so I’ve compiled a list to give you some ideas and to get you thinking on creative ways you could negotiate these items.💡

1. Electronics

2. Furniture

3. Medical bills

4. Fees such as interest rates, overdraft, late fees, etc.

5. Job title

6. Job benefits package

7. Real estate

8. Renovations

9. Income tax

10. Services of any kind

11. Food

12. Education

13. Credit card debt

Now that I’ve got your wheels turning, I know there are really 3 types of negotiation tactics to consider.
1) People who believe they cannot negotiate or quietly take the first offer fearful of missing out.
2) People who aim high and believe in splitting the difference to come to terms.
3) People that are ready to speak up with valid points to support what they want and are not afraid to stand firm or walk away if needed.

The 2nd option is great for someone who is new to negotiating, however, option 3 is what you should be aiming to reach. Your first few will always be a little rocky, but as you practice and win a few, you will start gaining confidence and figuring out your personal negotiation style.

Then you can start coming to the table with 2-3 facts clearly outlined to support your side. It’s very important to master the art of knowing when to present them and then knowing when to stop talking, sit quietly, even with awkward silence, and wait for their response to your request. The worst that can happen is they say no. Which a no is your opportunity to be prepared to thank them and walk away. No usually means not right now, but you will be surprised how many of these “no’s” will turn into “I’m listening now” in a few days or weeks time, when the other side realizes your offer was strong and they will respect your ability to stand firm. Mindset is key because if you don’t believe you deserve it then nobody else will believe it and they will see right through you, so start by always knowing your worth and never compromising on it.

Keep in mind also that not all negotiations involve money either. For example, sometimes time may be on the table, such as in real estate. I was able to make a lower cash offer because I also knew that I was able to close in under a week, which made my offer strong. Time is also something that can be negotiated in a benefits package if you are offered a certain amount of time off in a benefits package..you can always ask for more!

One of my most random negotiations included 8 month pregnant me at a car dealership with a craving and making sure they added a pizza on top of all the other items I wanted on my SUV. I am a believer that if you aren’t asking, you could quite literally be leaving food on the table.🤰🏼🍕

One of my favorite recent wins was the $12k below asking I was able to negotiate on our recent home purchase. I used time as my offering instead. I knew he had an offer above what I put in by $2,000, but I told him I was able to close quickly. Turns out he wanted the guarantee of a quick close (in 4 days) more than the $2,000 and waiting for that other person to gather their funds and possibly not being able to.

Share your negotiation wins with me!👇🏼👇🏼

Review Of Our First BRRRR

We are now onto the Final R in the Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat, so I wanted to share the final numbers and the many of newbie mistakes that were made on our first BRRRR. Let’s start with the final numbers.

Purchase Price: $37,500

Repairs/Holding/Closing Costs: $55,400

Total of our money left in the deal: $12,000

Appraisal: $100,000 (We are still in shock that it came in this low, as we were expecting more in the $110-$125k range)

Ideally, the whole point of the BRRRR method is to end up with instant equity and be able to pull out all or a portion of your money so you can use it for the next deal. Well, we are leaving ALL of our money in the deal and we ended up doing 85% LTV instead of 75%. Ouch..that really BRRRNs. (see what I did there) Am I saltier than the sea about how it turned out and the appraisal coming in super low? I sure am. BUT we also learned SO MUCH that we wouldn’t have if we didn’t go through this process. So, I wanted to share it all with you to ensure you don’t make the same rookie mistakes that we did on your first BRRRR.

1. We went through a wholesaler. Which means we paid for their services of finding and negotiating this off-market deal. We could have easily saved around $10,000 if we would have gone direct to the seller and took out the middle man during the acquisition process.

2. We subbed out all of the work. This means that we did not put in any sweat equity, except that one time I stood in the pedestal sink and painted the bathroom just out of stubbornness and not liking the color. Sweat equity is one of the ways we could have saved big on costs, but we would have had to spend our time, so there is always a trade-off either way. After reviewing all of the work that was done, we could have easily saved another $5,000-$10,000.

3. We used a hard money loan, and in exchange we paid a lot in holding costs. Next time we will explore other ways to fund the deal that don’t come with such high costs, such as a HELOC or private money. Holding costs were even moreout of control with COVID related delays, but we could have saved another $2,500 at minimum if we didn’t have such high holding costs.

4. I am just going to be honest here..we dropped the ball big time on the market analysis. I am not an expert, nor did I consult one and just went with what I was seeing online and didn’t research the appraisal process. If I had my real estate license and could have pulled comps, then I could have been more familiar with the area ahead of time. I would have been more conservative on the appraised value we expected to get back and that would have had an impact on all of the other numbers we ran. I also feel like there were a few things that we could have tweaked during the renovation to get a better appraised value. Overall, there was probably another $10,000 in equity we may have missed out on here.

What Went Right

Now that we have discussed the doom and gloom and all that money we left on the table, lets switch gears to what went right.

1. WE LEARNED. You can read all of the books, listen to all of the podcasts, and follow all of the most amazing Instagram accounts out there, but there is no substitute for hands on experience. We now know the entire process and have broken every aspect of it, so we now know how to fix it for next time.

2. WE EXPECTED TO LEARN. Since we knew it was our first BRRRR and major renovation, we were hoping for the best but also planned for the worst. We are OK leaving our money in the deal.

3. WE GREW OUR NETWORK. We had to find all of the necessary resources for each step of the BRRRR process. For this one deal, we worked with a wholesaler, hard money lender, general contractor, a few subcontractors, real estate attorney, loan officer, and property manager.

4. WE HAVE ANOTHER CASHFLOWING ASSET. After it’s all said and done, our monthly mortgage will be around $690. We are getting $1100 in rent each month. Since we replaced all cap ex items during the renovation, we shouldn’t have to worry about anything major needing replaced right away. After all expenses, we are bringing in $250 a month in cashflow on this one. I will take it!

Am I ready for our next BRRRR? I’m honestly not sure if we will continue with this strategy or switch it up, but I am ready for our next house. We have some ground to make up for since 2020 has been a shit show of a year so far on many levels. But for our real estate business, we still have a goal to double our doors from 3 to 6 this year, so we will definitely have to get creative to accomplish this. Let me know if you have any ideas to share with me to help us double our doors!

A REAL Behind The Scenes on Real Estate Investing

As a new real estate investor, I am always seeking out information and I do a lot of reading of posts on social media and blogs. I like to see the real life posts that cover the good, the bad, the mistakes, and the realities of the work put in by more seasoned investors. Much like all aspects of social media sharing, I find myself constantly seeing fantastic results and amazing deals and cashflow number. Someone that just bought a 3/2 duplex that cost them $70k and only needs $5k of work and will rent for $1500. Like “too good to be true, one lucky deal of a lifetime” kind of numbers and that’s about it. (Keep in mind that just because someone says they are an investor, doesn’t mean they are a good investor or giving good advice, so make sure to do your due diligence, even as you read through my posts)

There are a few accounts out there that cover it, but I rarely see mistakes or major setbacks being posted. So where’s the real life? The mistakes you made in estimating expenses? Those houses you have sitting vacant and can’t find a tenant, or the ones that still have a tenant in that’s not paying rent? The missed day of playing outside with your kids because you’re putting in work again?

Welp, don’t worry..I got you. The past few weeks have been filled with a hell of a lot of reality over here. To start, we have dealt with our first money pit. It just keeps having one thing after another pop up, including electrical issues, plumbing issues, and a flooded basement after we received 9 inches of rain. They have all been little things but they are starting to add up and wear us down, along with the tenant. We have also dealt with our first three day notice for eviction due to a lack of cooperation and nonpayment. We have since received partial payment and are working on the remainder of May rent, BUT tomorrow is a new month, and let’s be real, not expecting things to be any different for this tenant who is currently laid off due to COVID-19 and says they are waiting on checks. We had to enlist legal help with all the COVID-19 to make sure we could even explore eviction right now. We have also dealt with finding a potential flip with our first partner, then we put an offer in on it, only to realize there’s a bunch of folks out there ready to overpay and it received multiple offers over asking. Lastly, I got to spend a gorgeous day stuck on my laptop spending hours gathering documents for the lender on our cash out refi.

This time for us in our investing business has been scary, exhausting, hard, and educational to say the least. This post is also not meant to discourage you by any means. I still believe in the power of real estate and just want to help you be prepared for the “when it rains it pours” that you will inevitably go through in your investing journey. So, how are we surviving it?

The 3 M’s-Mindset, Money, and Management

Mindset-I will keep it short and sweet. I will take a rainy day in the real estate game any day over sitting on the sidelines. I still feel GRATEFUL even on the worst days to be where we are today with our rentals.

Money-Reserves. This is why they tell you to PLAN AHEAD and have your money right, so it becomes annoying not devastating to your business. Luckily, we were ready for everything that has hit us financially, and are ready for whatever other rain or flooding (literally) that comes our way next.

Management-Also keeping this short and sweet..our property manager has helped us tremendously with all the issues above, and while we could have done everything on our own, I wouldn’t have wanted to. Having a great team is WORTH EVERY PENNY.

So there you go..reality and my reaction, and keeping it real that it’s not all cashflow and smiles every day. I hope this helps others understand a real behind the scenes of real estate investing!

Five reasons why you should be meal planning and prepping right now

If you are like me, maybe you have ran out of that giant box of Cheez-it’s and that Easter candy you were eating for breakfast, and now your stomach has voiced their concerns about your recent choices. If you’re getting lectured by your stomach, you are likely also getting some sideways glares from your budget.

I have a ton of other posts about meal prep for your reading pleasure, but I’ve also shared my top reasons below for why I want you all to join me right now and plan your food for the week ahead.

  1. Much like a budget tells your money where to go, meal planning and prepping does the same for your food, so it helps reduce waste and food boredom. It’s one thing to buy groceries and it’s a whole other thing to prepare and eat the groceries you buy. (Yes I’m talking about that old bag of greens that are going bad in your crisper drawer right now as you read this or that chicken that’s been thawing with no current plans to actually make it to the dinner table)
  2. It reduces the stress of “what are we eating and how will we eat it” and makes it one less thing to worry about. Don’t we all need that right now?
  3. I already mentioned the mental wellness above, but let’s not forget about financial wellness and physical wellness that comes with a healthy balanced diet that you just can’t find at the bottom of that Cheez-it’s box. (trust me on this..I looked)
  4. It reduces the amount of meals you have to think about. If you make a batch of food, just double or even triple the amount, and voila..now you have turned one meal into three. Do that a few times and your whole week of food has been figured out and all you have to do is warm it up and eat it.
  5. It’s grill season. Grill season is the BEST time to start or renew your love for food and prepping. We have so many different dietary restrictions in our house from two carnivores, a pescatarian and a vegetarian, but the grill is where we can all go and get fed from one meal without issue. It’s so easy to toss some cut up veggies in olive oil and seasoning and make a veggie foil pouch right next to some steak, chicken, fish, tofu or whatever you want to grill. I don’t know if it’s me, but food also just tastes better from the grill. Bonus..you can either enjoy family time outdoors while grilling or use the grill and prep as an escape from the family for a bit..depending on how your family is acting that day.

A few of my favorites right now include honey garlic salmon with a mixture of mushrooms/onions/cauliflower cooked in a foil pack and cauliflower in any seasoning with a salad. I’m also going to try a brussel sprouts/sweet potato/pepper combo next with lemon garlic tilapia and chicken for the boys.

What are some of your meal prep tips and favorite grill meals or make in bulk meals?

No Spend Year Update

So as you may remember, I successfully completed a No Spend Year for 2019 with only purchasing sunglasses and nail polish off my banned items list. It was so effective in resetting my financial values, that I decided a second year would be an amazing idea.

So here we are, just about five months in, and I am wanted to give an update. Almost 18 months without buying any clothes, shoes, accessories, makeup or haircuts/dye has been life changing for me and really helped me better understand what I truly value. I’ve noticed something else lately though. Things are different today compared to my decision in January to sign up for another year of this. To be honest, I think this is one of the best things I’m seeing come out of this whole pandemic stuck in your house for the rest of time thing. It seems people I never would have imagined have stopped buying stuff and things. I’m seeing people not wearing makeup and also am starting to see the home haircuts and dye job pics showing up in my social media feeds. While I’ve been doing all of that for a while now, I get that my No Spend Challenge was a choice and others have had the choice made for them. With stores and hair salons being shut and stay at home orders put in place it’s forced people to not buy these items or services, but I’m thinking and hoping there may be some changed people after all of this is over.

So I think now would be a great time to declare a No Spend Challenge in your own life through the rest of 2020. Especially since there’s still so many uncertainties with how long all of this will last, may as well set a goal to see how long you can not spend money on certain items and what you can do with that money instead. You may also find that cutting your own hair isn’t so bad, maybe even rewarding, and I bet nobody has left your house and never returned over seeing you without makeup. Also, the clothes you have are getting a break right now, so they will be like brand new clothes once you get out of those pajamas when this is all over. Who all has changed their spending habits during the past month already?! Who’s ready to commit to doing it for the rest of the year?!

Rental House # 3 Details

We were so excited to have our renters move in last week, and we will be receiving $1100 a month in rent for this one. I thought it would be a good time to walk through what we learned on our first BRRRR and full interior remodel. We picked up the Indy Beauty from a wholesaler right before Christmas for $37,500. It was full of junk, a few squatters and smelled terrible, but was also full of potential, and we couldn’t be happier with the end results.

Here’s the before walk through video as a reminder of how dark and dingy it was.

Here’s a few after pictures from our rental listing

The whole renovation took about 60 days, if you take holidays and bad weather into account. We used a General Contractor to manage the interior renovation and oversee any work, and we used our own subs for the exterior work. There is no way we would have been able to handle a project of this scale on that timeline, so we were happy we hired it out.

Not only was this our first time purchasing off market from a wholesaler, it was also our first time using a hard money loan. Total renovation and holding costs for the hard money loan we used came out to be a little under $50k. This covered a six person three day clean out project, complete interior remodel including new flooring in kitchen/bath, refinishing the existing hardwood and cabinets, exterior painted, new windows, new appliances, HVAC, and electric panel (sure I’m forgetting something). We also did some extras to help reduce any maintenance or expenses in the foreseeable future, such as replacing sections of the fence, trimming all trees, removing several, and installing automatic garage door openers.

Since this was our first time working with a hard money loan, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was pretty easy. We closed on the home in under two weeks of looking at it and it was easy to get the renovation money. We had to put 10% of our own money down for the hard money loan, so right around $8,000. We had a 50/40/10 arrangement with our contractor, so our lender needed a statement of work upfront and then did a walk through at the 50% mark and we received the funds wired to our account same day. I will say the hard money lenders definitely make a profit, so we will also do a better job next time looking at a few options and seeing if we can find one with better rates or look at private lending options. Luckily, even with the high fees, the numbers still made sense on this house, even with us going a little over our initial renovation budget.

So, if you’re keeping track of the BRRRR, I’ve covered the buy, rehab and rent piece so far. We were using a private lender to do our 30 year cash out refi, and had completed all of the paperwork, jumped through all the hoops, and were just waiting on the appraisal, which was scheduled for this past Tuesday. Well, the appraiser didn’t let us know he wasn’t coming and just didn’t show, and then an hour later, we got an email from our lender that they are pausing their 30 year cash out lending program due to COVID-19. So, well, that was a really really frustrating email to receive. BUT, it means we now just have to wait until June, when we have owned the home for 6 months, and will use our traditional lender and look to be approved based on us as borrowers opposed to off the asset. (as long as they are still doing investment property loans..who knows with all the craziness going on right now what the world will be like in June)

So we have two things that are currently out of our control left on this one. 1) The appraisal-we need it to appraise at $120-125k for us to be at a 75% LTV to pull all of our money out and pay off the hard money loan. This is in line with other homes in the area, and ours has some extras, such as a huge corner lot, unfinished basement, and a detached garage. Worst case scenario, if it appraised below or the housing market crashes between now and June, then we would just end up keeping some of our own money in, right around $10,000 of our own or possibly more if it appraises super low, which we are comfortable with doing if needed. 2) Being able to even get financing. I’m just not sure how the current state of the market and the pandemic will impact cash out refinancing for investors 90 days from now. Assuming they may tighten up their requirements or may want to steer clear of cash out refis all together..who knows. So all we can do at this point is just wait and see and be prepared for a worst case scenario. This will put a hold on our goals of buying a few more houses using the BRRRR method for the time being, but we will be ready to purchase again when it makes sense.

In summary: Purchase Price of $37,500 and Renovation/Holding Costs around $50,000 for a total of $87,500. Hoping for an appraisal around $125,000 and currently getting $1,100 a month in rent.

How do you think we did or what questions do you have for me about the process?

Daylight Savings Challenge

Who else is not a big fan of losing an hour of your life and having your routine rocked?!  But..I guess there is always the joy of it not being pitch black and making me think it should be bedtime at dinnertime anymore.  I was thinking about the time change and how we can use daylight savings as an opportunity to increase our financial savings.

So here is the challenge..if you so choose to accept!  I challenge each and every person that reads this to go put $100 into your savings account, or to start a savings account if you don’t currently have one.  Go dig in the couch cushions, cash in those change collections, cut out that plan to get your hair highlighted next week, cancel an a monthly subscription or two that you don’t actually use, or pack your lunch every day for the rest of the month.  Whatever it takes to find that $100 and either start or add it to your savings account.  It may not sound like much, but little steps like this can make big differences.  If you do this challenge again in the Fall when we move the clock back, then you now have $200 more in your savings that you didn’t have before.  Now just think if you do this every year for the next 5 years?  You would have $1,000 saved up!

Since I think having a savings account is a huge first step in building wealth, I am going to help someone with the challenge by investing in your wealth.  (this is not a sponsored giveaway) You will need to have Venmo in order to receive payment, and I will randomly pick one winner Monday 3/9 at 8 CST that will receive $100!  Only requirement is that you follow my blog and comment below any creative ideas you have to quickly come up with $100.  The more ideas we share, the more people we can help…and GO!!

silver and gold coins
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Three Thrifty Travel Tips

Nobody likes listening to Linda talk about her travels to literally wherever she wants whenever she wants when all you can afford is to travel your ass to the couch in your living room. So let’s stick it to Linda and become world travelers if for nothing else but to have stories for Linda at the water cooler on Monday. Here are the 3 things that matter the most when considering your travel strategy.

1. Where you go matters. It also matters what time you plan to go. For example, some of my favorite trips have been to the mountains in the off season, like early Fall for hiking. Everything is reduced usually, including cheaper flights, AirBNB rates, and even those trusty Colorado souvenirs you want to pick up. So a good key is, if everyone else is going to this same place at the same time, don’t be like everyone else. Also, just because Linda is spending three weeks hiking in Rome, it doesn’t mean that your trip is less travely if you pack up the car and take a quick long weekend road trip to the next state over. Travel is travel is travel and it’s about experiencing something new, not about a competition of who can get the farthest from the zip code they reside in.

2. What you pack matters. I once made it to Jamaica for a six day trip with only a carry on. Being intentional with what you pack will help with expenses and time. (no extra bags or overweight charge, or maybe a smaller car is ok to rent without oodles of luggage) Don’t be afraid to pack one pair of jeans to wear multiple times or leave those super uncomfortable six extra pairs of shoes at home and pack that one pair you know will get you through site seeing blister free. Now that you know what to leave behind, let’s pack the essentials. A reusable water bottle is a necessity, and just make sure you empty it out before security. Now, if you are traveling, you can save a TON by packing some snacks and quick meals. If we are road tripping, we bring things we usually don’t eat, like chips and a loaf of bread and peanut butter for easy sandwiches. Grab some travel ready fruit like apples and oranges and some baby carrots and you have several meals and snacks. Yes I know Linda is posting all her gourmet meals on Insta, but remember, you can go out to one or two quality meals to experience the local cuisine and totally get the same foodporn ammo to post..just cheaper and likely a bit healthier also. (Linda leaves out the part about that 5 extra pounds she brought home as a souvenir)

3. Where you stay matters. Find a place that jives with your agenda nicely. If you are just looking for some time to chill and enjoy a nice hot tub or swim and don’t have a rental car, then maybe a hotel makes sense. If you will be out soaking up all the free local attractions, then AirBNB on the outskirts of the city will probably be a great fit. You can pick a place based on amenities and the proximity to what you want to do. Closer isn’t always better, especially on the budget. But if they have free breakfast, dinner, coffee, and tea, well then, it may in fact be a great choice. Or if you are bringing stuff like we do, then make sure you have a kitchen area to prepare those on the go meals. I know Linda only stays in 5 star all inclusive resorts, but let’s remember kids, you are paying a premium for all that inclusion, even the stuff you won’t be using. So give a no inclusion, off the beaten path, quirky little cottage a try and you may discover that it’s even more enjoyable.

What is it that you are looking to get out of your next trip? For me, traveling is always a time to unplug, explore, try new things, and spend quality carefree time with my family. So regardless of where you go, how you get there, or what you bring, don’t be like Linda. Be unique, and don’t lose site of your why. Safe Travels!