Friday, July 10, 2020

Being a Landlord During COVID-19

This post was originally written on April 16, 2020.  While I don't always specify that information, it seems important given the rapidly changing face of COVID in our country.

We own a rental property on the west coast.  Pre-COVID-19, our tenants were going to pay for items that needed repair due to their own negligence.  We had already paid for the repair, and they were going to pay us back for it the following month.  It honestly was a really minor issue, no big deal to either party.  Then, the coronavirus struck.  Out of concern for our tenants, we reached out to the management company and offered to allow them to spread out or defer this charge-back as needed.  I have no idea what industry they work in and to what degree their finances have been impacted. We have no direct contact, it's all via the management company.

Apparently, the tenants were happy with that and deferred the charge-back.  Additionally, they requested to pay their rent in two installments, which was fine.  So far things in that arena are working out alright for me, but I am very much aware that as these "stay at home" orders continue, things could get increasingly stickier for everyone involved in rental real estate.  Right now there are orders in place all over the country that prevent evictions for a certain amount of time.  They also allow renters to avoid late fees for nonpayment.  The problem is that these rent payments stack up.  Who wants to have a several thousand dollars past due rent bill hanging over their head?  That sounds like a huge mountain to climb, and I don't wish it on anyone.  There are some proposals out there that suggest paying rent simply be suspended for a certain duration of time. This proposal operates under the idea that property owners will be able to place their mortgage loans into forbearance for that same duration of time.  Meanwhile, interest and fees stack up for them.  With no money coming into pay such fees, they just keep growing.  Forbearance is expensive even if you can get one!  If you can't get one, you run the risk of falling behind on the mortgage.  If things don't clear up soon enough, you lose the property.  That's a way down the pipeline, and hopefully, it doesn't go that far, but it could.  If the home is foreclosed upon, the tenant's world also gets turned upside down.

Additionally, if there's no rent, management companies won't get paid, and will no longer be able to pay their staff.  What about repairs?  I have paid for three different (small) repairs since the beginning of 2020, which is fine.  If no rent gets paid, there is no money to make repairs, so they'll probably be put off.  This is not good for living conditions. It's also not good for the small business owners and repair people that count on that income.

At the same time, you can't expect people to pay rent with no money, right?  This is where individual states need to come up with solutions that stand a chance of helping the most people.  Individual states have the ability to direct the manner in which funding from the CARES Act gets used in their state to a certain extent.  I've read about proposals being made by various rental real estate organizations.  They are appealing to states to utilize CARES Act funds to issue rent vouchers to individuals that have been financially impacted by COVID-19.  These vouchers would prevent renters from ending up with a backlog of rent payments due at some later date.  It would also provide some much-needed relief to a renter's wallet.  Meanwhile, management companies keep operating, owner mortgages keep getting paid, and repair people keep servicing homes as needed.  Personally, I appreciated this proposal.

This is a huge problem, and I am very interested in hearing some of the proposals that are out there.  I just hope that they serve everyone.  While some landlords are huge corporations, others are just individual people like me...  People that have a regular job, one rental property, and a mortgage on that property that needs to get paid.  Our governors have a big job to do.  I do not envy them.  I just hope in the process they protect as many people's interests as possible.

What are your thoughts?  How could individual states protect renters, property owners, and the incomes of those contractors involved in rental real estate in the fairest way possible?

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Our Quarantine: The first 30 days

My partner and I are both teachers, which some of you may already know.  So, we're among those still receiving a paycheck during the crisis of COVID-19.  That is not to say we haven't experienced a loss of income.

In the middle of March, we were given notice that the school building would be closed until at least the end of Spring Break (a full month away), a deadline that has been extended to April 29th, and then again by the Mayor of NYC to the end of the school year.  We had three days to put all of our classes online and learn a completely new platform, not to mention, rearrange our already too small NYC apartments to include a "virtual classroom" for two teachers of completely separate schools, grades, and content areas.  Making these adjustments would ensure our students could still collect the credit they needed despite the growing public health crisis.

What could not be ensured is the additional income many teachers have come to rely upon.  We all know teachers in this country are not paid the best and may have taken on numerous side-gigs to fill in the gaps.  What does that look like in our household?  We both take on additional responsibilities at our schools which generate additional income.  This might be running clubs, after-school tutoring or test prep, scoring state exams...  We are also both certified tax preparers that work during tax season in local tax offices.  Needless to say, all of these sources of additional income have dried up, including tax preparation!  Once COVID-19's extensive reach became apparent, the government pushed back the tax deadline, and people were entirely more concerned with their safety than with their taxes.  Rightfully so!  Of course, this caused the tax offices to reduce the number of hours given to employees because of a change in demand...  More income lost.

Because we use a management company, there's a fairly large buffer between our renters and us.  We don't know what they do for a living but imagine their lives have been touched by the Coronavirus as well.  We've been notified by our management company that they plan to pay April rent.  We hope that they're among those who are able to work remotely and that this trend continues.  If not, we'll still be able to pay our mortgage.

Lucky, right?  While some of it might be luck, the money moves we've made to ensure our safety was anything but luck.  We deliberately choose to live mostly off of my partner's income, leaving mine to be used for savings and/or other financial goals.  So, we've been focusing our attention on building liquid savings for the past couple of years with the goal in mind of saving for a 20% downpayment plus a fully-funded emergency savings.  Also, every dollar of profit from our rental property goes into its own savings.  In fact, our rental property has it's own 6-month emergency savings.  Losing the majority of our side-gig income feels like it drastically reduces our monthly savings rate.  The truth is that we might be slowed down, but not devastated, and that's key!

I remind myself that if this experience teaches me nothing, it was worthless.  I can't have all of this time be wasted; so, what have I learned in this first 30 days?

I have learned not to take for granted my ability to hop on an airplane and see family members.  I lost a family member during this time (non covid-related). With everything that's going on, my only choice was to stay put.  Even if I had tried to fly to this person, I wouldn't have been allowed into the facility where he was staying because I was coming from New York State, the epicenter of the pandemic.  Fortunately, I went to see this family member just before the outbreak, and I feel really good about that.  Regardless, the ability to mobilize during a family emergency is really important and shouldn't be taken for granted.

It's also become clear to me that we need to pay off the mortgage on our rental property.  No matter what happens, we'll be able to make the payment.  However, when I think about the idea of the loan being paid in full, I feel very peaceful.  That seems to be my inner guidance system telling me what my next money move should be.  I tend to wait for that.  I let my brain do the homework so that I fully understand my choices, but then I wait for one to feel like the right one for me.  Paying off the mortgage feels like one that is rising to the surface as being the right choice.  Of course, I'll sit with it for a while.

I've also learned that our choice to learn to live on one income rather than both of our incomes was incredibly wise.  It has kept us safe within this situation.  It feels like something that we should continue to carry into the future.

Additionally, my career field is fairly stable.  Despite teachers being wildly underpaid, we can count on having our positions.

Have you learned anything about your financial situation from your time in quarantine?  Has it inspired you to set any particular goals or take any actions?

Friday, January 3, 2020

Why Slow FI?

Although I've been pursuing financial independence (FI) for some time, there are ways in which I have never fully fit into the mainstream FI community.  While I like to crunch the numbers, eliminate debt, invest, and can geek out about a variety of financial strategies with the best of them, there are areas where I absolutely march to the beat of my own drum.  I believe in the Law of Attraction, that listening to my inner self, and emotions, as well as mindset,  is important, as it heavily impacts my financial life.  I also believe in enjoying the journey.  In other words, Slow FI.

First, What is Slow FI? 

A recent post by The Fioneers defines Slow-FI as being "when someone uses incremental gains along the journey to financial independence to live happier and healthier lives, do better work, and build stronger relationships."  I've been going on for a seemingly long time about how important it is to feel good in connection with our money.  Feeling good breeds inspiration.  Inspiration leads to inspired action.  Inspired actions create the positive outcomes we desire.  Slow FI does exactly that!

What's really interesting to me is that many people in the FI community are focused on a destination.  A place in the future where they've reached the so-called "golden number," and ride happily off into the sunset with freedom in hand.  Actually, it sounds great!  I don't have any problem with it, as I too have a destination in mind.  But this is where my path diverges with theirs.  Many of the FI focused have cut pretty much all of the excess and diverted all of their additional funds to fueling their investments and eliminating excess financial baggage (debt).  In the process, much of life seems to be on pause.

I am very mindful of my spending, and pretty much every dollar has a job.  That being said, some of those dollars have the specified job of keeping the journey wonderful.  I need a little magic in my life and I am not willing to eliminate it in order to reach a destination faster.  I want the journey to be every bit as beautiful as the destination.  I believe that Slow-FI provides that.

Let me tell you a secret:

I still have federal student loan debt, AND I traveled to Italy last year.  How dare I!?  I'm not supposed to go anywhere until I've eliminated those student loans and reached the golden number (note: dripping sarcasm)!  But really, in all actuality, I think that's a move that would get mixed reviews in the personal finance community.  There are two parts to that choice.  Regarding the student loan debt, I am a teacher and eligible for some loan forgiveness.  I've been trying to make a decision about which forgiveness program to utilize, and have been waiting for the action to be inspired.  I won't pull the trigger on that until it feels right.  In the meantime, I can keep saving money.  Also, I don't know how many years of overseas travel are in the cards for me. I have a beautiful sister with Cerebral Palsy, and she may eventually come to live with me.  Now, this might be in twenty years; it might be never.  If that situation does come about, at that point traveling long distances by airplane becomes more difficult. I can't afford for my life to pass me by while I'm white-knuckling my finances.  While unlikely, it is possible that in ten years my sister could live with me.  If I spent the next ten years focusing on achieving the number (dollar amount to reaching financial independence) to the exclusion of everything else, I might never see Thailand, Australia, or Japan.  I am actively working with my partner in pursuit of full financial independence, but we're absolutely Slow FI because the journey is worth enjoying.

The Key to Slow FI:

I think one of the keys to success with Slow FI is being mindful.  Be deliberate with the choices being made with incremental financial gains.  Making choices that bring joy into the journey will increase mental and emotional well-being.  To me, that is not only the key to Slow FI, but also to Law of Attraction Finance.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

"The Golden Number," and why I don't bother with it

In the personal finance community, there are a lot of people that identify as pursuing FI (financial independence) or FIRE (financial independence retire early).  To a degree, I identify as both.  In both communities, there is an incredibly intense focus on what I call "the golden number."

The golden number is the end goal, a destination if you will.  It's the dollar amount that when achieved (in assets), will allow you to be financially independent because the money itself will create enough cash flow for you to live on without needing to actively work to earn money.  Now, achieving the golden number doesn't mean the person will necessarily stop working, but it becomes a real possibility because they know they don't really need to paycheck to fund their lives.  It's a nice idea, isn't it?

So, people get to work, budgeting, projecting, bean-counting, and finally come up with a golden number.  Next, they dial in their budget, maximizing every dollar earned, investing everything they can squeeze out.  In order to properly track progress, out come the monthly (or quarterly) net worth updates.  When you're squeezing so hard, you definitely want to see progress.  In fact, I love seeing progress.  Progress triggers incredible joy for me, but I have to be careful.  That's why I actually don't do those things.

You see, I don't have a golden number....and I don't do net worth updates.  In fact, I don't actually calculate either of these things.  I have a general idea of what my net worth is, and it makes me really happy, but I don't actually calculate or track it at all.  I know what my assets are (more or less, some things fluctuate) and I know what my liabilities are..  I'm not sure I need to go much further than that.  Right now, "more or less knowing" triggers joy for me.  But if I were to calculate my net worth today, and follow suit doing the same thing every thirty days in order to track my progress, I think it would have the exact opposite effect.  Rather than feeling such incredible happiness over how much debt I've eliminated, money I've saved/invested, I think my brain would get in the way of my feeling good.  I think my mind would start judging my progress.  I mean let's face it, "evaluating things" is one of the primary functions of the mind, isn't it?  The process of continuously "evaluating my progress" is likely to frustrate me, causing a scarcity mindset...

...And the golden number?  Why don't I calculate that?  Imagine, after all the bean-counting, I find that 1.7 Million is my golden number.  I suspect my mind would have a field day with that!  It feels like climbing Mount Everest!  On the emotional scale, it places me somewhere between anxiety, frustration, and hopelessness.  How many powerful decisions have you made from a place of anxiety, frustration, or hopelessness?  Furthermore, here's what I already know.  I know how much passive income comes in from my rental property.  I also know that we can have it paid off in a few years.  Additionally, I know how much income it will bring in once we do.  I know how much income we need to live, and the gap between the rental property and that amount.  I know that we're piling money into other investments.  All of those things make me feel really powerful.  I make good decisions and receive really good outcomes with money when I feel powerful.  That being said, net worth?  Golden number?  I don't think I'll spend much time or energy on that.

Now, if calculating your golden number or net worth makes you feel good, keep on keeping on!  As for me, I'm just fine where I'm at.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

How LoA is helping me deal with my student loans

In June, as my school year came to a close I filled out the paperwork to track my progress toward student loan forgiveness (under the public service program).  This action created quite the upheaval in my student loan life.  You see, by filling out this form, it triggered the movement of my loans from Great Lakes (the company servicing my loans for the past few years) to Fed Loans (the organization that services people in the Public Service Forgiveness Program).  By August, the folks at Fed Loans had generated a groovy little report for me that told me how many payments I've made toward forgiveness.  Right now, it looks like I have just under 6 years of payments until until I am eligible for the rest to be forgiven.

I'm really not counting on this forgiveness program for several reasons.  First, I am not convinced that I will still be working full time in 6 years.  Moreover, I do not like putting myself in a position where I "have to" do so simply because I am relying on someone to forgive my student loans.  If I want to do something else in life, I'm going to do it.  So, why did I even bother to file the paperwork?  Because of the unknown.  Maybe I will still be teaching full time in 6 years, and maybe there will still be a balance to be forgiven.  While there is any uncertainty, it doesn't hurt me to file the annual paperwork.

I'm already eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness which would generate about $5,000 in forgiveness (the $17,500 that teachers like to talk about only applies to certain license areas like Math, Science, Special Education...  Look at the fine print so you know what you're really getting yourself into).  You can't really double dip with these two programs.  If I pull the trigger on the five grand, the clock gets reset toward the Public Loan Forgiveness.  In other words, I would be suddenly on payment 1 of 120 again rather than payment 50 of 120.  So, if/when I make that choice, I had better be really certain of my plan, and I am still working that out.  My partner and I are going to buy a Condo/Co-op.  After that we can reset our goals.  So, until then, I will keep eyeballing the situation.

The truth is that I'm feeling really good about the situation because I really feel like I've got options, and I see several ways in which I will pay these off.  By Law of Attraction standards this is key, feeling good.  When you feel good about the actions you're taking, you know you are on the right track.  Feeling good is also how you know that your actions are "inspired actions" as opposed to ones based in fear or scarcity mindset.  Fear and scarcity mindset are abundance repellent.

There was one thing I wasn't feeling great about.  When I submitted my information for the annual review of my IBR (Income Based Repayment Plan), they increased my payment by about $100 per month.  I can pay it, so it's fine, but what I didn't feel great about was not understanding why.  My income hadn't really changed from my perspective.  My increases as a teacher are really tiny unfortunately, and I had dropped some side gigs, so I figured things would stay roughly the same.  After the transition to the new servicer, I called in to have them reviewed.  Apparently the tiny increase I did get placed me in a bracket that made me ineligible for a "reduced payment" which I had previously gotten.  Understanding that made me feel pretty good about the whole thing.

What happened next was that the woman on the phone explained that if I switched into the Revise Pay As You Earn plan, I could qualify for the payment to be $100 cheaper again.  This payment plan is also one that is eligible for Pubic Service Loan forgiveness.  So, it seemed like a no brainer.  She filled in the application and emailed it to me.  She explained that if I don't send it back, nothing changes.  If I do send it back, they'll switch my plan.  Then she explained one more thing.  If I switch plans, this one particular plan has a somewhat strange detail to it.  Month number one under this "new plan" would not count toward forgiveness and would be of any dollar amount I decided (as long as it was at least $5).  So, on month number one, I would pay five bucks and not get credit toward forgiveness.  Then month two, my payments would be $100 less than they are currently.  I told the woman that I would speak with my partner about the details, and then decide.  We work as a team an like to discuss these matters.

I came home with all of this information for her.  She said "How do you feel?  Literally, what does your gut tell you?"

"Don't do it.  Stick with the plan I'm currently on. What does your gut say?" I responded.

"Exactly the same.  Switching doesn't feel right."  She agreed with me.

You see, on the surface, this looks like a no-brainer, saving $100 a month...  But actually, it would cost me more in the long run.  I really don't want to be under the weight of student loans forever, and I don't really want to feel forced to work full time until forgiveness.  While saving an extra $100 a month would be great, given we're looking to move into another home in the near future, this $100 would literally just pile up more interest that I would either have to pay off or keep working full time to obtain forgiveness on.  Both scenarios trigger a scarcity mindset and feel very entrapping.  I don't like the way that feels.  My freedom is worth a lot to me.  Offering me a "savings" of $100 a month feels like it's tricking me into being on the hook for longer in every sense of the word.  Again, that doesn't feel good.  Feeling powerful draws money in; feeling bad repels it.

Do we need some more math to appease the mind?  If I keep paying the same monthly payment I am currently on for the next 6 years, I will have paid an amount equal to 85% of the current balance.  Of course interest will be thrown on top of that during that time, but if I'm going to spend that much money anyway, does it seem "logical" to wait to spend that much.  If in the next 12 months, I paid the same dollar amount that these payments would have me pay off in 6 years, and apply for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness for my $5000, these loans would be 91% wiped out and I would have bought my freedom.  Oh, and here's another one!  The student loans are broken into four smaller loans, two of which have an estimated payoff date that's 6 months before they're eligible for forgiveness.  Hmmm..  Doesn't sound like a great deal to me.  The other two loans will theoretically still be in repayment, but still... Of course this assumes my payments remain the same as they are now... But how will the payments change if I get married?  At that point will there be more than $5000 left of the two loans still in repayment? Plus any forgiveness amount becomes income on my taxes the next year... and the time...

Both of these repayment scenarios work out "logically," but how do they feel?  Which scenario makes me feel powerful?  Honestly, the second one makes me feel powerful.  I want to be free because then, I can wake up every morning and decide what I am doing with my day, and not have it decided for me.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

How my intuition helped me cut my cell phone bill in half

Sometimes our intuition is really our best guide, isn't it?  The concept is classic Law of Attraction.  Our intuition is really our internal guidance system at work, acting as a sort of GPS, showing us where to go; that is, if we're listening.  I've talked about how my intuition helped me to know how much money I wanted to save (and do so without stressing out about it).  Recently, it's been nagging me to deal with our household budget...

Our budget has been pretty stable for years.  We initially used the 50/20/30 Rule popularized by Elizabeth Warren in order to evaluate whether or not we had a decent balance in appropriate categories.  It provides a nice framework because it's both simple enough and specific enough to help you to categories and evaluate where you are spending your money.   Over the years we've trimmed the fat to such an extent that our necessities only comprise  about 35% of our after tax income so as to reallocate those funds to our financial goals.  This  accomplishment brings a tremendous amount of joy into my life.  I derive great pleasure from saving, investing, and eliminating debt because doing these things makes me feel like I am investing in my own freedom.  I can't think of anything I'd rather spend money on.  We cut the cable cord and felt amazing about the money we freed up.  Meal planning has kept our grocery budget extremely stable, and we rarely spend money on dining out.  All in all, I've been feeling great about the dollar amounts we trade for the services we receive in the form of bills.  This is a good thing.  Feeling good about these things  is a pretty good indicator that you're achieving a positive flow with your money, in other words, balance.  It's really important to understand that we really do want money to flow, and in both directions.  While that might leave you scratching your head a bit, just think about it.  You clearly want money flow effortlessly into your life, but don't you want the flowing out to feel effortless also?  People joking declare that they have no problem "spending money!"  But spending money and letting it flow are two different things.  It's easy to spend money, and feel terrible about it.  This is your intuition (internal guidance system) kicking in to make you aware of the fact that it might not be flowing well.  If money is flowing (even when it's outgoing), you will probably feel good about the trade that's occurring.  For example, I feel really good about the kinds of meals we prepare and eat.  I enjoy them; they feel healthy.  I also feel like I am receiving wonderful things for a price that feels good to me.  That part of my budget is flowing for me.  In fact, pretty much all of the parts of my budget are flowing for me.

Except one...  When I think about our bills, I feel really happy.  It's like a game, and I'm winning.  I am receiving goods and services I want.  I am trading an amount of money for them that feels really good to me...  Except this one thing.  For the past several months, whenever I think about our cell phone bill coming out, I feel irritated about it.  With everything else, I feel great.  Suddenly, when it's my cell phone bill, there's this huge cloud of resistance around it.  That resistance is really my internal guidance system dropping some major hints.  It's time to take some inspired action.  I mean, seriously!  I feel terrible about my cell phone bill because  I feel as though there is an imbalance when comparing the price I've been paying with the service being provided to me.  So, really I have two choices.  I can either use this negative feeling to inspire me to take an action to change things or I can sit around and do nothing, feeling terrible every time the bill comes out of my account.  I'm the sort of person that chooses action.  I like to feel good, so I decided to do something about it.

My partner and I were on a cell phone plan that resulted in about $190 per month for two lines after taxes and fees.  That felt insane to me.  Every time I'd look at the bill, I'd be irritated by some ridiculous seeming "line access fee."  They were charging us $40 per phone line for the plan, but then another $40 or so per phone line for each smart phone attached to the plan.  That already brought the total up to $160 before they attach their misc taxes and other fees.  Every time I though about it, it made my blood boil.  Honestly, the only way I could stop feeling angry (and ripped off) was to start investigating and figure out how to get rid of the thing that felt the worst to me: the line access fee.    Well, after some investigation, I figured out that if I switched to a prepaid plan, that fee would literally be eliminated.  They only charge a "line access fee" an regular "post pay" accounts.  The prepaid accounts do not have this fee.  There's no logic in it to me, but that's what I learned.  I chatted Verizon online, and they ensured me that they could have this whole thing switched and taken care of withing 30 minutes.  Long story short, it took them 4 hours.  I'm not kidding!  4 hours!  It was really one of the most frustrating customer service experiences of my life.  In the end, I got a prepaid plan that cost me $75 for both lines (double the data we used to have) before taxes.  That's a huge savings!  Now, I feel really pretty good about my cell phone bill; much better than before, at least.  I still have some negative emotions that surround the experience, plus one additional negative.  When I travel to Canada or Mexico, I can only use my cell phone if I pay an additional fee of $5 per day.  That leaves a bad taste in my mouth...  In other words, I think my internal guidance system (intuition) is trying to tell  me something.  I feel significantly better with this prepaid plan (A WIN) but I'm not feeling great about the company due to a really bad experience switching and a poor international usage plan.  This indicates to me that my work in this part of our budget isn't done yet.  I think we really need to switch carriers.  My intuition pretty much always steers me right, and I imagine this time is no different.  My intuition steered me to cutting our cell phone bill nearly in half, perhaps now it can steer me to better international usage and customer service experiences.

If any readers have a cell phone company/plan that is inexpensive and has a good international usage element to it, I would really love to hear about it.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Giving Up Side Gigs- An LoA Standpoint

In the recent posts The Price of Busy and The Price of Busy- Part 2, I have detailed for you the experience I've had with regards to my side gigs.  I have explained my thought processes as I've decided to give them up, and the monetary ramifications (or lack thereof) of doing so.  You see, I've white-knuckled my finances for the better portion of my life, grinding away at every task before me.  The truth is that I've gotten pretty good at that over the years, and it started to take its toll on me.  I think my belief in the Law of Attraction existed before I knew that terminology for it.  The concept that like attracts like is pretty easy to understand (though can feel fairly complicated to apply in certain areas of life).  The funny thing is that I didn't apply it to the white-knuckling of my finances.  If like attracts like, then grinding away attracts more grinding away.  In other words, by constantly working myself to the bone in order to get ahead, I basically just set myself up to continually need to do that.

Don't misunderstand me.  I am a proponent of taking inspired actions in order to facilitate success, but it doesn't need to be that hard.  I proved that to myself when I set and achieved my last savings goal. It was time to apply the same principle to my side-gig situation.  I was tired of feeling so exhausted.  I wanted to continue to earn extra income but wanted to earn it through another one of my passions...

For months, I had been chipping away at an opportunity... and the funny thing is that I fully believed that the opportunity would come through.  But what would happen when it came through?  I had my time so stuffed with other things that I wouldn't have had the time to devote to it.

I had been performing the first step, I had placed my order.  What I had failed to do was allow it to happen.  Think about it.  You would literally never order a dresser for your bedroom, but fail to make room for it to be placed there when it arrives.  Why would I do this with my opportunity?  I had placed my order with the universe for the opportunity to arrive and then failed to make space for it to come into my life.  That was until last Spring.  I had decided with my partner that I was going to scale back on my side-gigs so as to reclaim my time.  I had already dropped the ACT/SAT proctoring gig.  By June, I had wrapped up PM School and Saturday School classes.  After a relaxing summer of travel, I returned to school in the fall prepared to pass on the extra teaching gigs.  It was easier said than done.  Since everyone was used to me performing these functions at work, they naturally anticipated that I would continue to do so.  People kept asking despite the fact that I continued to say "No."  That part was difficult for me.  It was uncomfortable to say "No."  With each additional ask, I grew a little stronger.  I was kind about it, but the answer was still the same.  "No."  Then an email came out announcing that there would be a meeting with regards to this program and inviting all interested parties to attend.  I felt so much anxiety about this meeting.  Normally, I would go.  I knew this time would be different, but old habits die hard.  I was used to "the grind" and having a hard time divorcing myself from it.  The meeting was scheduled for 3:00 on a Friday afternoon.  I remember class let out at 2:40.  I quickly packed up and headed for the bus stop.  I finally grabbed a seat and promptly started playing on my cell phone.  At 3:40, not quite home yet, I hit the email button on my cell phone.  I noticed an email that made my heart race...

It was a correspondence about the magazine.  My column was approved!  I was to immediately begin working as a personal finance columnist in a national publication!

This was everything I had "ordered from the universe," and it was no coincidence that it was delivered to me 40 minutes after I did NOT appear at that meeting.  I had ordered the dresser long ago, but I had to make room for it to be delivered!  To put this another way, I had to take an "inspired action."  By rejecting the verbal offers, then not attending this meeting, I had made space for the delivery of the thing I wanted... And I received it!