In the “learn something new every day” category, I hadn’t realized that the acronym for financial independence/retire early is FIRE. But, it just reminds me why I continue to learn and continue to read. There is always something new.

I’ve been helping a friend sort out her parents’ finances the last few months. Her father is in need of assisted living and her mother passed away. Unfortunately, her mother was in control of the finances and was incredibly guarded about them, even claiming that they had “no money,” which wasn’t true. It has been difficult for my friend to get access to accounts to pay for her father’s care (he no longer has the ability to do it himself) and she has been forced to learn about different types of investment accounts. Thankfully, she has found a financial adviser that she trusts to help her navigate. But, my friend has never independently learned about retirement accounts and taxable investment accounts, so she is incredibly overwhelmed.

Unfortunately, her situation is not unique. So many people are financially illiterate. But there is so much information available! It isn’t magic, but I understand that it can feel that way. Dealing with money isn’t just math, it is emotional. For example, I still get surprised, and a little offended, when we occasionally get called “cheap.” But, I don’t feel deprived. I take more trips in a year than almost everyone else I know. And while I drive a junker, I’m totally fine with it. I have to remember that our FIRE quest is still abnormal. But I also know that is doesn’t have to be. A.most anyone can do it if they put their mind to it.

Life had been one gigantic whirlwind since April 17th when our offer was accepted on the new duplex. Everything has more or less gone according to “the plan,” except that we haven’t had any offers on our big house yet. As the local paper points out, this is common for homes in our price range. Having two homes when you only need one smaller one isn’t the best feeling, though.

As we were downsizing, I had enough duplicates of items to pack up two plastic totes for a hypothetical “second home,” including dishes, towels, and cooking equipment. I assumed I’d use the items for a camper or a cabin, or maybe to ship to Hawaii, but I’ve been using them for the last couple of weeks.

Around June 19th, Mr. PFL and I were looking around the house, making a mental list of what we actually needed for our move to the duplex, and we realized that a strong majority of the items in our big house weren’t needed for the new place. We planned to get a new bed and a new couch. We don’t have room for our big dining room table. I  remembered that I had packed up the “second home” totes. And this is when our new business was born: I signed up to be a host on Airbnb.com.

We had never used Airbnb before I signed up for it; it has worked better than I ever could have anticipated. The big house is still for sale and our number one goal is to sell it, but in the meantime, we are making money. I have a ton of control over the Airbnb calendar, so if we do end up in contract, we will be able to close in 45-60 days without an issue (I just block days I don’t want someone to stay, and I can always unblock them later). I made the house available on July 14th for the first time, and we had three groups stay in July (with the 4th group arriving today); we made $2,955 which is already deposited in our checking account. I have a cleaning lady I found on craigslist that comes between each group, and I take all of the used sheets and towels to the laundromat so I can get them done in less than two hours. We are expecting to make an additional $5,716 in August and early September. It is an incredible relief to know that three or four months of overhead are covered just by letting people stay at our furnished house.

Mr. PFL and I are settling in to our new digs, too. The cat seems to like it (and all the new places he can find to hide). We have been doing some projects, which I’ll share soon.

We have been working extremely hard to get our house ready to sell. Our planned list date is June 9th, with a showing start date of June 10th and an Open House on Sunday, June 12th. Both Mr. PFL and I were able to take off the three days prior to Memorial Day Weekend (mine was “unofficial,” so I put in about 2 hours of work time per day), so we had six solid days of cleaning, organizing, repairing and painting. I was able to get pictures of every single room and completed the application to be accepted into the Weichert, Realtors Luxury Collection program. I should know by tomorrow whether we qualify; this marketing program is limited to homes that are expected to sell for at least three times the average sale price and have excellent curb appeal. Our area lacks a go-to agent or firm that handles high-end homes exclusively, so I’m also hoping that I may be able to generate some new business. I’m planning to get professional photos done on June 8th, but in the meantime, here are some of my favorites:

Bed Bath Dining Room

Today we are both back to work and next weekend we need to focus on the Condo because the tenants are turning over (yes, they broke the lease, but yes, they found us new tenants, so it is okay). We will actually be making more money every month and we are getting paid for the days when we will be painting, but it is the timing that is bad.

And now, time to ABW (Always Be Working).

My parents wired $100,000 to our business account today. I just need to transfer over the money from our home equity lines and we will be ready to close on the 17th on our new duplex. I’ve already set up the automatic monthly payments to pay my parents back and have drafted a promissory note to reflect the same, even though they aren’t worried about these details. I’m 99% sure that I wouldn’t trust them to pay me back $100,000 in a timely fashion, but I’m glad they trust us. I think it is important to keep this “official,” though: money can change relationships very quickly. I know they are very proud that they could help us and we are very grateful, too. I hope this turns out to be a win/win for all of us.

Over the weekend, Mr. PFL and I dropped off a carload of electronic equipment at a recycling drive. We also toured our new property and met with one of the current tenants (someone dropped the ball on letting him know that we were coming for the inspection). The only major concern is water in the basement when it rains, but it is obvious where it is coming from, so we should be able to fix it.

After seeing our new place, we were motivated to start cleaning out closets. We are getting rid of about a third or more of our clothes. There are also about a dozen different coats that we don’t need, as well as a pile full of blankets and other assorted bedding. Many of the items that we plan to purge are things that we “inherited” when Mr. PFL’s parents downsized in 2011. Since we had a big house, it has been easy to store these miscellaneous items, but we’ve already made a big dent in parsing out things that we don’t need anymore. Our third floor (that we never really use) looks enormous with most of the clutter removed. It is very liberating to let go of so many things.

We still have a long way to go, and we will probably go through this process several more times through the years, but we are definitely taking steps in the right direction. Hopefully this will make the actual move much easier, too.

I know we’ve been down this road before, but I think it is actually going to work this time. Mr. PFL and I had the best offer (not the highest, mind you) on a duplex and our offer was straight-out accepted without any further negotiating. We are scheduled to close on May 17. Both units are currently rented, but one side is month-to-month, so I should be able to give the 30-day notice at the end of May, making the unit available for us to move in on July 1st.

The new duplex is not in our neighborhood, but north just a couple of miles, with good access to public transportation. It was listed early last week, but the owner was not showing the property until Saturday morning, by appointment. I made a full-price curb offer of $275,000. Soon after, the agent reported that there had been several curb offers, so the sellers wanted to wait until after the showing window before considering offers. I managed to make it to the “open house;” there were at least four other groups of prospective buyers there at the same time. I didn’t think we stood a chance, but, absent a garage, this is probably the best place I have seen in a long time. The kitchens could use a little updating, but nothing is necessary. Each unit has a large living/dining-room on the first floor, along with a kitchen in the back. The second floors have two decent-sized bedrooms and one small bedroom along with a full bath. There are full-sized basements for storage as well. The units are rented for $940 and $950 per month with tenants paying all utilities except water. We are paying $300,000 cash ($25,000 over list price and still not the highest offer).

I’ve updated my dad and we are working on details for a loan. Mr. PFL crunched some numbers yesterday, and we could theoretically pay for the whole thing without help, but it would mean taking out a $50,000 401(k) loan, selling all of the stocks in Mr. PFL’s taxable eTrade account, and depleting our checking accounts to almost zero. It wouldn’t leave us much of a cushion, so I’m hoping I can work it out with my parents. Our bank indicated that any funds that are wire-transferred are considered to be available immediately, so we have about a month to figure out exactly how to best come up with the funds.

As for our house, I made a list of everything that I think needs to be done before putting it on the market. Assuming the current tenant moves out at the end of June, the new list date for our house is the second weekend in July. We’d hopefully have a sale and close by the end of August. Finally.

But first, I think I might paint the side of the garage today (it is on the list).

After being shut-out on a 4-unit that has been gutted, but needs to be finished, Mr. PFL and I had a brainstorming session about how to get more cash. It is clearly a seller’s market, and we need to be in a stronger position. We really only need a bridge-type loan to get us over the hump from buying a new place to selling our current home. We need about $325,000 in cash to be able to buy a multi-family property in a neighborhood where we want to live.

Currently, we are the back-up contract for an up/down duplex with a 2.5 car garage for $325,000. We offered $319,900 cash ($10,000 over asking price). I was actually able to show proof of funds from accounts that I have direct access to, including my two retirement accounts, the two HELOCs, the LLC’s checking account, my checking account and two joint checking accounts, and an available balance on my credit card. It obviously isn’t wise to use all of these accounts to buy a house, but it is comforting to know I could. Mr. PFL confirmed that he can easily take a $50,000 401(k) loan and he has around $30,000 in a taxable stock account that he can liquidate. It is still a stretch to get us to $325k, though.

That’s why I called my mom. And then talked to my dad. My mom inherited a good chunk of change when my grandfather passed about a year and a half ago (probably around $150,000). I’ve had enough discussions with my parents over the years to understand that they are very wary of the stock market. So, I wasn’t surprised to learn that they have over $100,000 in CDs making a solid 1% interest. The last time I remember asking my dad for money was more than a decade ago for $150 so I could purchase some Christmas presents. Bringing this idea up was not as difficult as I had expected and both of my parents were incredibly open to the idea of loaning us money for the short-term. We are able to offer a higher interest rate than their CDs. I’ve been honest about having almost $200,000 in HELOC credit available. I believe they are aware of the loan we did with Mr. PFL’s parents (which is similar, but a 10-year term on $30,000). I do NOT recommend this strategy for most people, though; there are so many articles out there about not borrowing/lending with family. But, at the same time, it can work.

Part B of this plan is to get our house ready to sell and to list it. I’ve set a tentative list date of April 21st. If we are in-contract within a week (which is entirely possible in our neighborhood, as long as we price right), that means we’d probably need to move out by the end of May. Ideally, it would be to our new place; otherwise, we are prepared to put things in storage and move to short-term housing. Our debt will be substantially reduced and we should have actual cash available. And we will be making a forward step, finally.