Our Motivation

I started this post in June, thinking I’ll come back to post it but it completely slipped my mind, and now it’s already August! But since I already started, here goes..

This past June we celebrated our daughter’s first birthday, yes, baby FEN is one! Even though she had absolutely no idea about the occasion, I managed to throw her a nice “Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star” themed birthday party with our immediate families. Even though our house was packed, it was warm and very sweet to see the love out-poured on our daughter from everyone. Baby FEN had cake for the first time, but didn’t seem to be enjoying it much. Perhaps her young palette has yet able to identify different flavors. As I watched her enjoying her day, I wished I had spent more time with her this past year. I’m blessed to be tasked with the greatest gift in life, motherhood, and I’m wholeheartedly loving every moment of it. Our daughter is a very happy baby. Not only she’s funny and sweet, but also very clever. She transitioned from one milestone to another effortlessly that I almost missed all of her “firsts” because of work. From toddler to her pre-teen years, understandably, as parents, we have this small window to be close to our daughter, these are the years where she still wants to be around us and crave for our attention, and we will try our best to be present with her.

1st bday

Continue reading “Our Motivation”

The Basics of Real Estate Part 2

The Basics of Real Estate Part 2

What are tax deductions of owning a rental property?

We not CPAs nor tax attorneys so you should consult with your tax professionals, however below are deductions we used to lower our tax obligation. By the way, we use a CPA to do our taxes, he is worth every penny and the best part is we learn something new every year.

  1. Advertising: “For Rent” signs and/or hiring a real estate agent to advertise online for you.
  2. Auto and Travel: We live far away from our rental properties so this is great deduction for us. If you are driving it is more beneficial to deduct this expense with the mileage option.
  3. Cleaning and Maintenance: These expenses typically occur when you have pest issues and when tenants move out of your property.
  4. Commissions: Paying tenant finder fees to a property manager or real estate agent.
  5. Insurance: Hazard, liability, and if applicable earthquake and flood insurances.
  6. Legal and other professional fees. Eviction proceeding, closing costs, etc…
  7. Management fees: Property management fees. Property managers typical charge 8%-10% of the gross rent.
  8. Mortgage interest: self-explanatory.
  9. Repairs: Clog toilets, leaky pipes, crack windows, etc…
  10. Supplies: lumber, faucets, air filters, etc…
  11. Taxes: Typically property taxes.
  12. Utilities: Typically this expense occurs during renovation and vacancy.
  13. Depreciation: The property can be depreciated over 27.5 years. Why 27.5 years, no normal person would know, it’s just a number studies have shown. The stove, air conditioner, furnace, window blinds, insulation, refrigerator allow to be depreciated over 7 years. The sewer or septic tanks are allowed to be depreciated over 15 years. We plan to replace roof on one of the properties so I am curious how many years you can depreciate a roof, my guess is 15 or 20 years.

Continue reading “The Basics of Real Estate Part 2”

July in Review, Real Estate, Dividend Income, and Side Hustle

July in Review, Real Estate, Dividend Income, and Side Hustle

fireworksAtlanta Trip: Celebrating the 4th

Now that July is coming to an end, one major event that stood out in this month was celebrating the 4th with our family. In the past, the FEN’s family has been traveling to Atlanta to celebrate this holiday with my side of the family, and now has become our annual tradition. Another tradition is to eat as much as humanly as possible while being here. The supermarkets and restaurants are diverse and plentiful, with food deriving from different ethnic groups and nationalities, all one should worry about is the size of their stomach. There are even restaurants that offer fusion cuisines such as Korean tacos, strange, but somehow this combination works. Living in New Orleans, we get tired of deep fried food rather quickly. New Orleans much like other southern cities, would deep fried t-shirts if they are edible. The best part, all this traveling during a major holiday only cost us $22. Yes, round trip flights for two adults, $22. How this was accomplished? Two words, “Travel Hacking”. Parking near the airport cost us $65, so the entire trip cost was only $87, excluding food. God bless the good ol’ U.S. of A!foodie Continue reading “July in Review, Real Estate, Dividend Income, and Side Hustle”

June in Review, DIY, and Dividend Income

June in Review, First Birthday Celebration, DIY, and Dividend Income

DSC_1491Baby FEN turned ONE!

June was a very fun month for us as we celebrated our daughter’s first birthday. Being new parents we are blessed with a very healthy, active, smart baby. I am sure most parents would consider their kids smart too, in our case it’s true though. Being a little biased doesn’t hurt anyone. To help us celebrate our Baby FEN’s first birthday we invited her grandparents, uncles, aunties, and cousins to come New Orleans. A few couldn’t make it due to scheduling conflicts but they sent their best wishes, and gave Baby FEN “lucky” money. Typically, “lucky” money is given during the Lunar New Year and special occasions. Something that baby FEN did that surprised everyone was that she took the lucky money and handed over me the money as to say “here you go, invest it for me” [more like, “uuhh, ooh..baba”], we trained her well.

Rest assure baby FEN’s money is going straight to her 529 Plan.

Continue reading “June in Review, DIY, and Dividend Income”

Real Estate: The Basics – Part 1

By Mr. FrugalEnginerds

Real estate isn’t for everyone!

The information below is boring unless you are interested in Real Estate!

There are a few ways to invest in real estate, residential, commercial, land, etc…Since we have experience with “buy and hold” single-family residential real estate, we will be focusing on that. Buy, clean, repair, upgrade, rent it out, collect money. It’s that easy!

Actually, it’s more work than that. We are not professional just a little Mom-and-Pop dynamic duo. Sorry…just watched Superman vs. Batman.

3d House (XXL)

Buy and Hold: Rules of thumb that we follow Continue reading “Real Estate: The Basics – Part 1”

April and May ’16 in Review

By Mr. FrugalEnginerds

The FEN Family got sidetracked these past few months. Things were slightly crazy with work and activities at home. But most importantly, we were lazy. Being that this blog is our passive hobby, it takes the backseat to other more pressing things (vacation, yard work/gardening, bathroom renovation and Mother’s Day, naps).

April ’16

At the beginning of April we took a family vacation with my side of the family for much needed R&R. We spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday relaxing in Pensacola Beach, FL with Baby FEN’s grandpa and grandma, uncles, aunt, and cousins. Well…not so much Friday.

 

Continue reading “April and May ’16 in Review”

Earn more, Spend Less and Invest!

By Mr. FrugalEnginerds

The Math

The equation of financial independence is simple and straightforward.

Money Earned – Spending = Money Saved/Invested over time = FI

On this blog, we mainly focus on living frugally by reducing unnecessary spending. However, there is a threshold where it’s unhealthy to dip below a certain level as it starts to negatively affect our standard of living, and thus reduce our overall level of happiness.  In Money Can Buy Happiness we discussed the relationship between income and happiness. We learned that the average American family making more than Continue reading “Earn more, Spend Less and Invest!”

Frugalicious :: Wraps and Rolls!

By: Mrs. FrugalEnginerds

When I was growing up, my family didn’t have the luxury of going out for leisure, if we ever did was either to weddings or funerals, of course, the obligatory events, and even those were rare. Our weekends consisted of home-cooking, extra curricular activities, and/or doing house chores. My mother tasked each one of us with a chore based on our availability or luck of the draw. Mine was mostly cooking. It was an easy task for me as opposed to doing five loads of laundry or mopping the floors. Even though I was no more than fifteen at the time, I was already handling cleavers and knives like a real butcher [Mr. FEN said this was one of the reasons why he was fond of me, not sure if it was out of fear or genuine love]. I didn’t hate the fact that I had to cook for my entire family, nor did I love it. It was my way to contribute within my best ability. However, one of my fondest memories about having family dinner was how much I enjoyed everyone’s presence. We didn’t have a lot but we had each other and a lot of pretty darn good meals to reminisce.

For a short while, The FrugalEnginerds family has practiced turning our weekends into “home-cooking family time” [A family that cooks together, stays together]. One of our all-time favorite dishes is Gỏi Cuốn, or Vietnamese Spring Rolls. This simple dish is light, healthy, and refreshing and it doesn’t require a lot of cooking. It’s great for dinner parties. I can eat this dish all day, especially the sweet-creamy peanut butter dipping sauce…It’s absolutely addicting!

IMG_1849

Recipe for Vietnamese Spring Rolls, serves 2 for a full meal (~ 10 rolls) or 5 for appetizers Continue reading “Frugalicious :: Wraps and Rolls!”

Money Can Buy Happiness

By Mr. FrugalEnginerds

Before you grab the pitchforks and torches let me explain

At the FrugalEnginerds’ house, we live a blissful and luxurious life for much less than many typical American families.

Dude!!! You just told us that money can buy happiness, WTH!?!?

Many people associate money with happiness and in some ways they are correct. Money enable us to acquire things, leverage it to buy our dream home, allows us to travel the world, thus elevating our standard of living and happiness. It’s no wonder that money is one of the focal points in our lives. Why is it then that some of our family members, friends, colleagues and neighbors who have all these things and some are finding themselves unhappy, frustrated, and still complain about their jobs, kids, relationships, etc…? These people who are earning just as much money as we do or in some cases far exceeding us. The answer may lie with the study conducted by Princeton University in 2010. Continue reading “Money Can Buy Happiness”

Frugalicious :: Balsamic Vinaigrette Steak Salad

By: Mrs. FrugalEnginerds

Being new parents, we rarely have time to sit down for a proper meal at home and when we do, I try very my best to make it quick, efficient, and delicious. Sometimes I find myself making dishes that I don’t necessarily craved but rather upon availability, and to our delight, our meals turn out quite satisfying. One of our favorites is steak salad. It’s a well-balanced meal with just the right amount of veggies and proteins.

0306161501e Continue reading “Frugalicious :: Balsamic Vinaigrette Steak Salad”