2021 Wrap Up

2021 Wrap Up

Every day I gotta ask myself am I doing enough?  This year I think I hit 85%.  In 2022 I’m gonna do more. I was frustrated with the real estate market this year.  The market was tight and with no foreclosures the deals available were very slim.  I also spent half the year fighting with my bank to get my Heloc adjusted.  With the increase in home values I wanted to up our heloc. I finally got the approval from underwriting which will increase our Heloc by $65,000. It took from August til the end of December to make it happen. ugh.

(Note The original version of this article was posted on December 27th, 2021.  My hosting service reset my website to a backup from October and this article was lost. This reset also deleted all of my WP-Backup files.  The first 1/4 was preserved from my mailing list campaign, however I had to rebuild the rest of the article to the best of my abilities.)

Major accomplishments:

Published my first book!: I started writing this in March of 2020 and following my spring outage season flushed out the book and did 2 rounds of edits, including a major structural edit before publishing at the end of May of this year. A major part of my personal mission is to learn as much about personal finances as I can and share that information with others. This book is a culmination of that mission. This book gives the blue print for the most efficient methods for families to build generational wealth.  Check out For My Children’s Children: A Practical Guide For Building Generational Wealth on Amazon.

How To Build Generational Wealth Book

Built our book reselling business on Amazon: We started this in late 2020, but the vast majority of systems and work has been done in 2021. This summer we hired our 3 minor children in this business and set up Roth IRA accounts for them.  The primary purpose of this business is to teach our kids job skills, teach them how to run a business, and to help them build wealth.  75% of their gross pay goes into their Roth IRAs.  The excess cash flow the business makes over their wages is a nice bonus for us and certainly helps in low cash flow months when I am not working. We hit over $25,000 in total revenue (After Amazon fees), $5,000 in child earnings, with $4,000 remaining for us. For next year we will be able to have the kids earning more money as our systems for this are getting better and they will be involved for the whole year instead of half the year. Next year total profit should be a higher percentage of revenue.  In the spring I was doing a lot of volume in Dr. Seuss books where I was paying maybe $50 for a book and reselling for $100, This made our margins much lower than the bulk of the books we do now.  Now an average book costs $1 and we sell it for around $5 after accounting for Amazon fees.

Rehabbed 2 Rental Properties:

Rental House #6; We bought rental house #6 in December of 2021 and did the rehab this year. We spent roughly 6 weeks on this project and If memory serves me right about $5,000 on the rehab, plus another roughly $1,500 on subsequent maintenance on replacing the garage roof and garage door.  We added roughly $25,000 of sweat equity to this house and have it rented out at $850/mo.

Rental House #7: This one we bought at the tax auction at the end of August.  We spent $21,000 acquiring it and roughly $25,000 on the rehab.  The rehab took us 3 months and probably 4X as many total hours as house #6.  This thing needed 50 yards of trash removed, new floors, drywall work, new plumbing, electrical, furnace, a new roof, replacement windows and more!  We added roughly $35,000 of sweat equity and have this large 4 bedroom house rented out at $950 per month.

Worked 3 Outages: I worked my home plant nuclear refueling outage in the spring. I do a lot of pre-outage work these days and was there for part of February, all of March and April, and half of May.  This job is my primary W2 source of income.

In the fall while working on the rehab for House #7 I did 2 travel jobs. I went to Florida and North Carolina.  Those states are polar opposites on Covid.  The free state of Florida was largely maskless, except at the plant. At the plant mask use and social distancing was strictly enforced, but most people in the real world did not care.  I then went to North Carolina. I walked into a grocery store without my mask on and was looked at like I walked in with gun pointed at everyone.  Anyways these 2 jobs provided a good amount of income to keep our household running and I had some time in between them for working on the rental house.  I travelled less this season than normal in a season where I don’t have a home job. I think my days of being a travelling nuke worker are coming to an end.

Kid #1 Driving: Kid #1 has his permit and we are teaching him to drive.  We are a bit behind on this and are starting to spend more time on it.  We have been largely doing training in large parking lots, but are starting to move out into back roads. Hopefully we can get him a license this year.

Kid #1 Employment: Kid #1 finished his Junior year of high school in June and immediately got a summer job working for a restaurant 2 miles down the road from our house.  They seemed desperate for people and hired him at $10 per hour.  He was given part time hours and there were several days they either shortened his shift or had him stay late.  He had also applied for a job at Walmart and they hired him at $14/hr and for almost full time hours.

He left the restaurant of course, and about 3 months into working at Walmart they gave everyone in his department a $2 an hour raise.  Walmart has a lot of opportunity.  They have other jobs he can learn, they offer free college/trade school programs, with job placement, and they have great benefits.  He is putting 50% of his earnings into his Roth 401K, and after 1 year they will provide a 6% match.

Kid #2 Boy Scouts: Kid #2 is 13 and has been working very hard at his Boy Scout rankings.  He is close to finishing first class. The way Boy Scout ranks are set up is there is a ton of work to do in order to earn the first 3 ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class, then once a scout earns first class it is largely merit badges and time in rank to advance.  He already has 80% of the merit badges he needs for his next ranking after earning first class.  Right now the swimming test is his only problem. We got a membership to the Y and got him swimming lessons and have been taking him there often.  Once he passes the swim test it is clear sailing to Eagle rank, and he could earn it before he turns 15 on his current pace.

Kid #2 Start A Business: We started a bulk candy vending business with Kid #3 in the summer and Kid #2 wanted to do something similar, but with large vending machines.  I got a good deal on a set of 5 combo vending machines for $5,500 recently and we are working on getting those out.  I plan to sell 1 machine to get some of my money back and deploy the rest.  Right now we have 1 deployed that is grossing $60 a week, and we have a deal in place for the 2nd machine.  I can probably sell one for $2,000 and drop the total cost to $3,500 across 4 machines.

Vending machines are REALLY heavy! The ones we have weigh 500 pounds and these are the light ones!

Kid #3 Start A Business: Kid #3 is 10 and started a bulk candy business in July. The initial machines we bought were new, but we since bought a lot of 7 used machines.  Right now we have 6 on location and I would say an average month we collect $100 from the machines.  We spent around $1,500 getting started and he is working on paying off the machines before expanding.  We have a good lead on getting 1 more machine placed and will find homes for the other 3.

This business is getting squeezed and eventually will become less profitable.  The machines are all quarter machines and with inflation candy costs go up, but we can’t increase what we charge. The machines do have dials that can set how much candy is dispensed, but eventually there will be no where to go.  The vending machines are a great tool for teaching kids everything about running a business. They are learning salesmanship, accounting, merchandising, and of course how to make money running a business instead of trading time for money.  Getting his mindset to profit per machine per month instead of dollars per hour worked is the big shift in thinking we are going after.

Kid #4 Football: Kid #4 is 8 and is really into Football. He has been learning more and more about the game and really wants to play Football. He is small for his age and being about half the size of the other kids can certainly be a factor in Football.  He also needs to work on his behavior to be able to play.  Our Realtor is the mom of a former Pro Football player and while she was doing a yard sale to clear out stuff since she was moving she gave Kid #4 one of her sons old Football Helmets!  This is really cool and he was super excited.

Home Improvements:

Pole Barn Complete with shelves and Electricity: We got the pole barn finished! OK, so the Pole Barn was built at the end of 2020, but they had to wait until Spring to pour the concrete.  Once the concrete was poured and set we built shelves for it.  We have 3 shelves that are 8′ wide and have 4 shelves 24″ deep for 192 sq. ft of shelf space.  We moved all the tiles I bought from the parking lot sale (5 van loads) under the shelves.

I then ran electricity to the pole barn.  This cost a little over a grand and took a lot of effort.  I over engineered it so that I will never have a lack of power out there. I can have 110 amps flowing through the wire ran from the house to the pole barn.

Driveway refinished: Towards the end of the year we decided to get our driveway refinished. The driveway was in rough shape when we bought the house and over the last 10 years we have done nothing to improve it and it has gotten worse. A friend of mine does driveway repair as an offshoot of his shed and gravel pad business.  The driveway looks much better and the ruts are gone.  15 tons of crushed limestone!


Kitchen Remodel progress: We made some progress on our kitchen remodel.  The room is painted, the flooring is done, and the countertops and sink have been replaced.

Shelving Built: At the end of the year I build a new bookshelf for our living room that matches the other furniture in our house. As part of our book reselling business we end up finding books we want and our other bookshelves are overflowing.


I also made some FAR less pretty shelves in the closet of our craft room.  This room was the 5th bedroom of the house, but we moved our oldest from this room into the family room that is 2X the size.  This room is now becoming a craft room.  I built these shelves for DVDs.  We had all our DVDs on our JC Penney Shoe fixture shelves that we bought when the store closed down for peanuts.  The DVDs only take up half the depth of the shelves so they were not really efficiently stored.

Next Year Goals:

Alright so next year, I’m gonna make more stuff happen!  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

At Least 3 more houses/ Air Bnb: I want o buy at least 3 houses in 2022, but 4 is probable.  We have a larger Heloc than before and in February it should be emptied out with the refinancing of Rental houses 6 and 7.  We are looking into getting into Air BnB houses and we also may do some of these with little rehab needed and get loans directly for the property, instead of waiting 6 months for a cash out refinance.  If we put down 25% on an 80K property then we only use 20K of our Heloc.  We could do in theory do this 10 times.  We have the liquidity to buy far more houses than we have time for.  This year we will greatly expand our real estate empire.

Commercial Property: We are getting close to the point where buying individual houses is too slow to scale. Rather than continue doing 50K properties, I’m looking to get into commercial real estate and 500K to $1M properties.  I really want to own a storage unit facility. I will be looking to purchase an existing facility, but if I can’t make a deal work I will pursue building our own from the ground up.  I will focus on the land and the first building. The land needs to have enough space for expansion and my plan would be to add on over time.

I’m not going to limit myself to storage units, but it has been a goal of mine for over 15 years and we are getting close!

Expand Book Reselling: I want to expand what we are doing with the book reselling. Most importantly I want a better system for identifying and going to the library sales.  Library sales are a better source of quality books than thrift stores and I have gone to several with NO competition.  I want to at a minimum get to a point where the business can pay the kids enough to fully fund their Roth IRAs.

Go To Orlando: We have delayed a trip to Universal Studios Orlando for the past 2 summers (Stupid Covid).  We went to Universal Studios in 2016 and to Disney in 2018.  Earnings from this blog and credit card points will be covering 100% of the cost to go to Universal Studios.  I am planning to buy Annual passes and then do a 2nd trip in 2023 that will have no ticket cost effectively and will also be 100% covered by points and blog earnings.  My blog earnings have fallen substantially over the past 2 years and these days I am making around $50 a month from it, down from a rough average of $250 per month around 2016/2017.

Rough expenses:

  • 3 Park Preferred pass annual Tickets for 7(MIL going too): $4,000 (Roughly half points and half cash)
  • AirBnB 7 days: $700 (cash savings)
  • Fuel 2500 miles round trip at 25MPG and $3.50/gal = $350 (points from Lowes card)
  • Extra Food ($70/day 10 days) $700 (cash savings)

Total Cost: $5,750.

The 2023 trip if it occurs would have no ticket cost. It would also have no airbnb cost, I would use hotel points I have saved up for that extra trip, so the only extra costs would be fuel (covered by Lowes card points) and Extra food.

Total cost: $1,050.   


Steady Pace Vending: I want to get the machines we have deployed, then work with the kids on inventory management and capital management.  I don’t want to expand until we have paid down a good chunk of the debt we are carrying for the machines.  I also don’t want the vending business to take up significant parts of our time.  Once Kid #2 is 16 then expanding may make sense and we can have the kids drive around and service the machines themselves without us being involved at all. That’s the dream anyways.

Finish Kitchen Remodel: We need to finish the kitchen remodel as par tof the happy wife/happy life balance.  This is also one of the few things remaining on the checkbox of things that need done before I can buy more dirt.  I want to buy some adjoining land to our property, but Mrs. C. doesn’t see the value in it, so in order for me to buy it her list of items needs to be complete.

What are you excited about for 2022? What did you accomplish this year?

John C. started Action Economics in 2013 as a way to gain more knowledge on personal financial planning and to share that knowledge with others. Action Economics focuses on paying off the house, reducing taxes, and building wealth. John is the author of the book For My Children's Children: A Practical Guide For Building Generational Wealth.

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