Scott: This is the Bigger Pockets podcast show number 44 where we interview Tinian Crawford from DIY to FI.
And actually what I’ve started doing now because that was always me. If I had money in my pocket, why not spend it, but no I keep a $20 bill in my wallet just because sometimes you know if I am out on a job and I need to buy one little part that’s 50 cents and I’m going to the local hardware store they are not going to want to take a credit card for a 50 cent purchase, but having that money in my wallet; it’s kind of turning into a fun game for me. It’s like how long can I keep this $20 bill in my wallet?
It’s time for a new American dream; one that doesn’t involve working in a cubicle for 40 years barely scraping by. Whether you are looking to get your financial house in order, invest the money you already have or discover new paths for wealth creation, you’re in the right place. This show is for anyone who has money or wants more. This is the Bigger Pockets Money Podcast.
Scott: How’s it going everybody? I’m Scott Trench. I’m here with my co-host, Miss Mindy Jensen. How are you doing today, Mindy?
Mindy: Scott, it is another beautiful day in paradise. Just returned home from FinCon in Orlando. It was another great experience. I actually met a lot of listeners at FinCon this year. They had a community pass option for listeners of blog readers to come in and kind of attend the conferences as well and I think it was pretty successful. I think they’re going to be doing that again next year. That was a lot of fun to meet like the real people that listen, not that other bloggers aren’t real. You know that other podcasts aren’t real, but you know what I mean, right?
Scott: Yeah, I know exactly what you mean and I met a lot of folks up in FinCon as well that listen to our show and that enjoyed it and that was very flattering and humbling to do and that so that just going on that vein like please reach out to us. If you listen to the show, don’t be scared, we are normal people and are really grateful whenever we get feedback from you guys; the people that are listening to the show and it remind us just like we are doing this and why the work that we are doing you now, we feel is incredibly important is because it really does help a lot of people change their perspective on money and finance and move their lives forward.
Mindy: You said we’re normal people. 50% of us are normal people and I’m going to let you, the listener, decide which 50% that is. How’s everything going with you, Scott?
Scott: Things are going good. My fitness is continuing to improve. I’m working hard on that and you know the year has been a pretty big one for me so I’m really good. I’m feeling like life is coming together.
Mindy: I want to tell a little story from FinCon. Scott arrived a little bit later than I did and we both live in the Denver area where it is something like zero percent humidity. It’s very, very dry in the Denver area and Scott arrived on what; Thursday night and then Friday morning he went for a run and I didn’t’ see him until Friday afternoon. I’m like, “Hi, how’s it going?” and he said, “I went for a run this morning and I didn’t stop sweating for 4 hours.” I’m like what are you running outside? It’s odd. It’s so humid there. God bless everyone single one of you that lives in Orlando and or humidity and can stomach it, but I have become quite the baby when it comes to humidity.
Scott: I don’t know how many folks listening are runners, but when you are running there is always a limiting factor. Some days it’s like your foot hurts or your back hurts or whatever, but you know whenever I go to the East Coast or sea level it’s never my wind limiting figure. It’s never my breath, my you know ability to breathe and all that kind of stuff because there is so much oxygen in the air in Denver a mile high so I always make a point to go through like a really intense run whenever I go out of state so that’s where that came from.
It was just a particularly intense workout for me so.
Mindy: I was sweating profusely and I didn’t run at all. Okay, back to the business at hand. I am super excited for this episode. I have been following Tinian as Captain DIY on twitter for a while and he’s really clever with his tweets, but also as a DIY girl myself, he’s just got some really great tips too and I enjoy following him and just reading what he is saying. I also loved chatting with him today because his story illustrates that the FI journey isn’t like a one size fits all. It isn’t just for young people although he’s not that old. He’s only36, but still like he didn’t start…
Like he was 20 it’s okay to make mistakes. Life isn’t perfect and you don’t have to be perfect either and your journey doesn’t have to be smooth. You can cobble together a little bit of this and try that and see if this works too to make your journey work for your specific situation.
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Mindy: Huge thanks for the sponsor of today’s show. Tinian Crawford, Captain DIY, welcome to the Bigger Pockets Money Podcast. How are you doing today?
Tinian: I’m doing wonderful, thanks so much for having me.
Mindy: Well, thank you for making time for us. So why don’t you walk us through where your journey with money begins. You are not FI yet?
Mindy: And you’re more in the beginning of the journey. Tell us like what flipped the switch, where did you grow up; all of it.
Tinian: So my father was kind of a do it yourselfer, Yankee, hippy. He and my mother bought a dilapidated house in the middle of the woods and tore it down and built it up from scratch again. So that was kind of where that started and then my childhood was spent building tree houses and corbans and just helping out around the house so I just didn’t really have a choice as a kid as you know it was, “I’m bored.” Well, here’s a hammer. Let’s get to work so I learned very quickly not to talk about being bored.
What I never had was any financial language experience; anything. I didn’t think about money at all except that it was something that it could get me stuff. You know when I was in high school money was a great way to get beer so yeah, I didn’t have much of a financial upbringing at all. I was not a natural saver or anything like that.
I met my wife in high school. We’re high school sweethearts and she is a natural saver. She was that kind who’s parents were asking her to borrow money to help pay the bills because they came from very poor backgrounds. They didn’t have a whole lot, but she was just able to save everything so having that influence has really been a major factor in my financial life because when she got pregnant with our on about 9 years ago she said, “Okay we need to have $20 000 saved up by the time he’s born.” I had no concept of $20 000. That’s an astounding amount of money. That’s not possible. We can’t do that, but we did it and it’s all because she had the where with it all and the financial skills to not spend all our money.
We didn’t know what we were saving for necessarily. We just wanted to have a cushion and it was all saved as cash.
Mindy: So where did she come up with this number of $20 000?
Tinian: I think it was just a number that she felt comfortable with. I don’t think she had any real solid reason behind it. She just wanted a decent amount of money that would cover us in case of any emergencies, really.
Scott: Let’s take a quick step back here so your introduction to money is money can be used to purchase beer in high school, pretty much and then you know, what happens after high school? What’s your story looking like at that point?
Tinian: So when I graduated high school I was in a band. I was living the band life. You know we would go around and play some shows and make a buck $25 for a night’s work to split up between the four of us and you know I had jobs here and there. I worked as an ice-cream scooper for a month. I was a delivery driver for a chicken wing restaurant for a couple years which – that was a lot of fun, but you know I went through four cars in that period of time so it was not really a viable option long term.
I was also at this time going to community college here and there for soon a graphic design associate’s degree mostly because that’s normally what you are supposed to do, you know and my mother had saved up in a 529 plan for me so she had some money set aside for me to use for education. She’s big on education. She started from absolutely nothing and worked her way up. I mean I remember as a kid going to school with her playing underneath her desk while she was taking her Masters classes. She has since gone on to be a CFO at a major public health company in New York City so education was a big thing for her.
For me not so much so I did it just kind of to fulfil obligations, but I didn’t really get anything out of it. I didn’t really enjoy it. It took me six years to get my associate’s degree and you know like I said in the meantime I was kind of banging around odd jobs and eventually I found my way into a job at a sign making shop and that was kind of my first foreray into the world of electrical just because you know there are signs that are lit and so I thought, “Well, hey if this sign has electricity in it maybe I could ask for more than $13 an hour if I have an electrician’s licence because then I’d be worth more to the sign company” and that kind of started that path.
Mindy: Okay, I was going to say you’re an electrician. Why did you choose graphic design? I used to be a graphic designer too, but I fell into it. I didn’t study it. It was like the best fluke ever, but why did you choose graphic design?
Tinian: You know, I never felt like I was going to do that either. I have always been told that I ma artistic. You know I liked to draw when I was a kid and you know I liked to play music and so you know people say, “Wow you are very artistic. You should go into something that’s artistic” and this seemed like the most artistic thing that had the potential to make money as well and it was also offered at my local community college so that’s what I went with. You know, it was an easy choice.
Mindy: Okay and how long did it take you to become an electrician?
Tinian: So once I kind of came up with the idea of becoming an electrician I didn’t really seriously entertain the idea, but my wife heard me talking about it and the next thing I know I start getting e-mails from these vocational schools. “Hey, do you want to be an electrician?” Oh, where did that come from?
Yeah so I went and checked out one of these programs and it looked kind of neat and it was a year-long program and it gave you all the classroom hours that you need and they would help you get a job in the field afterwards and I wondered, “You know what, why not? I’m kind of in this dead end job right now. I’m not going anywhere and I might as well try something different.” I signed up to this program. It was probably the most expensive way to do it. It cost me $25 000 for the year, but that got me all of my classroom hours that were required for the license and about half way through it I was actually able to get a job working for a local contractor so I would go to class from 7:30 – 12:30 in the morning and then go to work for this contractor from 13:00-16:30 in the afternoon.
Mindy: And when you say you are an electrician you mean like wiring houses and that kind of electrician or were you working as the sign installer?
Tinian: No, I quickly realised that that was kind of a fool’s errand to try to bring that back into the sign business because I mean that’s you are only going to make so much as an electrician in a sign business because that’s a pretty close niche. It makes much more sense to just be an electrician and wire houses and stuff like that. I mean the side job potential is enormous and there’s tons of work out there for people who are looking for it so it just made sense to stay in that field.
Scott: So this seems like this is a turning point for you, right? What is your annual income look like in the years prior to making this switch and what happens when you become a licensed electrician?
Tinian: Sure, before all of this I mean I wasn’t even looking at annual. My highest hourly wage was $13 an hour and you know it took me 3 years at the sign shop to work up to that. Now, when I started as an apprentice because for an electrician you have to be an apprentice working under a licensed contractor for… it was 8000 in the field. It’s now 10 000 so that’s maximum 2000 per year so right now it would take 5 years to do your apprenticeship and when I started out I was getting $7.50 an hour so that was – my pay was cut in half, basically.
That didn’t last very long. It was a couple weeks of that. He was kind of feeling me out and seeing if I would actually show up to work the next day after they’d sat me down at these terrible basement holes and crawl spaces so once I kind of proved that I was willing to work then my pay started going up a little bit and it took me about 4 years; 3 and a half years to get back up to the $13 mark and then once I handed all my hours in and passed the licensor test, I got my journeyman’s electrician’s license my pay overnight went up to $20 an hour and it’s been going up fairly steadily since then.
Almost six years ago to the day, actually I started a job at the local university and from there now my salary last year was 52 000.
Mindy: okay what area of the world do you live in?
Tinian: I’m in Western Massachusetts’s.
Mindy: Okay so you said that $25 000 for this course was the most expensive way to do it, but it was also like a path?
Mindy: What are some other ways that you can get an electrician’s license that aren’t $25 000?
Tinian: Sure, so the best way; if you are young enough you can go to a vocational high school and get all your classroom work and a bunch of your field hours for free because it’s public high school. I know a few people who have done that. A younger brother of a good friend of mine actually owns a plumbing company. He went to a vocational high school as a plumber and he got out of there and had his license within 2 years I think of graduating high school and he’s crushing the game right now. He is making well under the 6 figures and every once in a while he will like, recently last summer he went out to Martha’s Vineyard and spent summer out there just doing plumbing work.
He had a few connections out there. He was able to charge over twice what he charges in our area and so he just spent summer out there just making tons of money, came back and is just continuing to crush the game at home. So that’s a great option for people who are young enough to start at that point.
Now, there’s other options for people who are past high school age because obviously most people that are getting into the financial independence world are passed high school age because you know that’s when you start thinking about money for most people, I think.
So another option that I looked into at the time was going through the local electrician’s union. They offered a schooling programme that would be two nights a week after work you would go to their classes and you would do that; you’d work as an apprentice during the day so for the 5 years that you are an apprentice you would be going to classes every night or two nights a week and then you would come out of that and you would get your license, you would be done with your classroom hours and they would charge $10 000 for that, but if you signed a contract saying that you would work for them for 5 years after you have gotten your license they would waive that $10 000 fee so that would in effect be a free way to do it.
Now, the problem with that and the reason that I am glad that I didn’t do it and of course I didn’t know this beforehand, but they do have a tendency to call on people when they need the work and then lay them off when they don’t and apprentices are usually the first to go when there are lay-offs so I have heard of times where every apprentice in the state was laid off and of course if you ae lid off you ae not getting our hours which is delaying the time that it takes you to get your licence. There’s pros and cons to all these options and even another option is actually I was just talking to the son of my neighbour who is going to community college and he is taking electricians classes at the community college and again, this is an evening set up so he is able to work as an apprentice, he’s taking these classes at the community college and it’s costing him $1500 a year and it takes him 4 years to do it so total cost is $6000 and you are working the whole time.
Mindy: And there’s a shortage of the trades just in the housing market ten years ago there was this huge crash and everybody left. Like the really, really, really great guys and girls stayed, but most of them left. They found other jobs and they’re not coming back to the housing market so there’s a huge shortage. In the Denver area there’s a building company that will actually take you from knowing nothing, put you through school and teach you how to do this just so they have people. You have to work for them when you’re done, but they give you free training because they can’t find anybody to do the work.
I mean, I don’t want to turn this into you know welcome to electric school. But like that’s’ a very valid way to journey down towards financial independence. Your plumber friend; I love that story too. He goes to the place where people have a lot of money like, “Hey, I’ll be here.” The thing that I find and the thing that so many people find in the flipping world; the rehabbing, fixing flipping world is that they can’t get a contractor to call them back so going someplace, starting up a company actually answer your phone, scheduling the jobs out. However far you’re going to schedule them out, you could really start a great business just because you answered your phone.
People might be like, “Well, I can’t wait 2 months” and then they will call you back tomorrow. Nobody else answered their phone. I guess I’m going to get on your waiting list for the next 2 months.”
Tinian: Absolutely and that actually does happen to me so I work as a W2 job at this university, but I also have a business on the side as a sole proprietor electrician and calling people back after they leave me a message; even if I’m calling them and I’m telling them I can’t do the job, they say, “Wow, thank you so much for calling me back. I’ve called six electricians. You are the first one to call me back. Put me on your list whenever you have time. I’d love to work with you” and yeah, like you said earlier that’s because the people in the trades are retiring out; the olders and nobody is going in there to fill the gap.
It’s been probably 30 or 40 years that’s there’s kind of ben this stigma attached to the trades where people say, “Well it’s okay; the fall back, but that’s for people who aren’t smart enough to get into college” and so you know they tell their kids, “You need to go to college. Don’t think about the trades. You need to go to college and get a good job by going to college.” So there’s this huge shortage and now companies like you said are coming up with these great benefits to bring people back into the trades.
Scott: One thing I want to ask real quick also is you said your salary was 52K at the university? You’re also getting lots of side gigs though as much as you want, I presume, right
Tinian: My phone’s been ringing off the hook for the last 4 months now.
Scott: how much do you estimate that you could reasonably bring in a year with the side gig income on top of the salary?
Tinian: So last year I grossed about 20 000 of the side jobs and I’m almost at that point right now this year and I have a bunch more jobs coming up so I’m definitely going to be pushing up the 25-30 mark.
Scott: Now that’s gross, of course.
Tinian: I’m spending a lot of money on materials and stuff like that, but you know nett is probably two thirds of that so it’s also a pretty good chunk of change.
Scott: I think that’s another big benefit of these types of skills that you can just apply them in a variety of places as long as your employer is okay with; if you want extra work or extra money and that kind of stuff because there is such a huge demand for all this. So let’s go back to you had your first kid and you saved up 20 grand in nine months, right? What was your situation like at that point? What were you and your wife doing for work?
Tinian: So my wife is a social worker. She was working at a hospital and at the point of my son’s birth I was still an apprentice electrician so I had been for let’s see I started the trade school when I was 26 somewhere around there and my son was born… I was 28 so I was still a couple years into my apprenticeship. I had a couple more years to go. So yeah we weren’t making a ton of money, but that whole process of saving up that 20 000 kind of changed our mind-set around money so we didn’t actually end up using that money for a very long time and kind of just hung onto it because we were so deep into this saving mind-set.
Scott: So, what would you estimate your household income was that year?
Tinian: I was say that our household income was probably around the 65-70 mark; maybe a little bit less than that.
Scott: Such a big chunk of money; a big percentage of your income that you are saving and in cash.
Tinian: Yeah, just in a bank account. I mean we didn’t know what to do with it. We didn’t know anything about investing.
Scott: even using tax advantage stuff. This is just cash that you accumulated? So what was your lifestyle like at this point? What were some of the things you were doing to cut back on this? How were you able to do that; the two of you?
Tinian: So, a major part of it was we just stopped going out a lot. I mean we were as a young couple with no kids. We would go out to dinner frequently. We would just kind of at the drop of a hat go out, go see movies, do other stuff and spending money didn’t matter and I was always under the thought process that when you go to a restaurant, we’re going out for a special night and who cares what it costs? I just made $150 today at work so we can totally afford to spend $150 tonight because why wouldn’t we, you know and my wife meanwhile was looking at the menu and trying to order the cheapest thing and I’m like, “Why not get the steak, you know” so yeah cutting that out definitely changed white a bit and then we have cheaper cars, we ride them into the ground and doing this DIY stuff and kind of applying skills to my house to try to keep things u and running and if we wanted to add on somewhere I can built it, try to build up a nursery and that kind of thing and just being able to do that kind of stuff definitely helps save a lot of money.
Scott: Okay so I presume this is a first major large amount of money that you and your wife accumulated, right?
Tinian: Absolutely yeah, before that the largest amount of money I had ever seen was $1000.
Scott: So what does your financial journey look like after that so things start to come together, your income is suddenly growing, your son is born; what does your financial position look like until you kind of get 8 clicks in the last year or two?
Tinian: So we kind of just rode on that. I mean like I said we had that money saved up and we didn’t really touch it, but then we grew that a little bit over the next few years, but we didn’t really have the same drive. If you have something to train for you’re going to train that much harder for it and now that we didn’t have something to train for we weren’t so focused on it. Working for this contractor that benefits package where it was decent, but it wasn’t great so we weren’t really comfortable having another child yet, but then I end up getting this job at the university where I work for the state so I have a great benefits package so now all of a sudden we could afford to have another child so we did.
Four years ago we had a girl and so now, you know our expenses were a little bit higher, but we weren’t really letting lifestyle quite get in the way. I mean my wife has always been really good about keeping our lifestyle at the point that makes sense. We have always spent less than we make.
Scott: So, walk us through the transition point where you kind of got that gold back. How did your financial perspectives change in the last year or two?
Tinian: So, by the time; I’d say it would probably be about 2 years ago that my wife went out for a walk and in February she was trying out some new sneakers and she made it about 100 yards away from the house and she fell and hit her head really, really hard. I mean straight from standing to her head on the ice – blacked out for a little while and called me up, was semi=-coherent. Didn’t really know exactly where she was or what happened so it turned out that she just had a really severe concussion so she was told that she had to rest, not go to work and not look at screens or read or think for like a month.
So she had to do something so what she found was podcasts. First one she found being financially minded as she is. She found mad fientist and she shared that with me and I had this like mind blowing… I wouldn’t say a moment. It was kind of like
Scott: For not thinking?
Tinian: She’s not thinking, but listening to one of the most dense podcasts there are, you know. So she introduces it to me and I was like, “holy cow. You cannot work…” Like, I was staring at 34 years at the university before I got a pension and I’m like, “Wow, I don’t have to be here for 34 years? This is amazing.” So I dove head first in the rabbit hole. I found Choosify. I found a whole bunch of other people and it eventually lead me to you guys and since then we’ve been heavily focused on cost cutting. You know we cut out the cable bill, we drive used vehicles. You know they are reliable and they are older and used. We save money wherever we can. My wife recently opened up a private practice as a therapist so she has that side hustle going on and you know, we’ve just been trying to be as conscious about our money usage and income as possible.
Scott: Can you walk us through some like maybe some like what were you spending and earning in the period before this incident and how did that change you know in the six months or year following it?
Tinian: Sure, so I don’t actually know exact numbers off the top of my head, but I can say that we are earning; as a family we are probably in the 80-90 range; probably lower 80’s mostly and that’s including all of our side hustles and then we’re probably spending oh I’d say at least 55-60 and most of it was me not being conscious about my money usage. You know it’s well, this thing is cool and I need to have that so I’m going to buy it and then once this happened it kind of changed us around a little bit so that we started looking at where is our money going.
We never really had a budget. We never really focused on where our money was going. My wife always had a close eye on the credit cards and stuff, but I made a lot of money in cash too so it’s easy to spend money with that without her knowing. Yeah, I don’t do that anymore, by the way.
Mindy: But it is, you know you have 20 bucks in your pocket. What’s 20 bucks?
Tinian: Absolutely and especially you know when you are out in the field and it’s cold and you want a hot lunch and it’s $12 next door to get a hot lunch. Yeah it’s $12. It’s nothing. I make that in 45 minutes, but yeah it adds up.
Mindy: yeah it does add up, but when it’s in cash so the thing that I think of when you think of like the Dave Ramsay method where you do the envelope, you just put all your cash into these different envelopes and oh, for groceries this month I only have $200 or whatever so when you are at the grocery store and you spend all this money, then you don’t have any more and you have to do something else for groceries.
I look at cash as like just kind of you know you can just spend it. You don’t have to really account for it. That’s my personal mind-set and it’s completely wrong and I wish I could change it and I’m working really hard on it, but I try not to have cash on me because it’s so easy to spend. It’s only $1, but only a $1 adds up really quickly.
Tinian: yeah and actually what I have started doing now because that was me; if I had money in my pocket why not spend it, but now I keep a $20 bill in my wallet just because sometimes you know if I am out on a job and I need to buy one little part that’s 50 cents and I’m going to a local hardware store,. They’re not going to want to take a credit card for 50 cent purchase, but having that money in my wallet; it’s kind of turning into a fun game for me. It’s like how long can I keep this $20 bill in my wallet.
Mindy: Do you put dates on it?
Tinian: I don’t. I haven’t thought of that but yeah. I think I’m going to do that.
Mindy: Oh yeah I would totally do that. Okay so you said you went down the rabbit hole when you find FI. Did you do the thing where you cut out absolutely every single non-need and then like slowly add them back?
Tinian: I wanted to. My wife was a little bit more reluctant to go that crazy. I’m the type of guy that if I find something cool I am whole hog in doing it and nothing else matters for six months and then I forget about that and then I move onto the next thing so she is much more precise about how she does things. She’s thinking, Well, okay we don’t want to just go cold turkey and cut out everything. How about we start with the cable bill? We will get rid of cable, then we can move onto really checking out our grocery budget” so it’s kind of been this step by step process of waddling things away.
We definitely still have room to grow, but it’s just knowing and being thoughtful and precise about how we are cutting it out.
Mindy: yeah and that’s a very valid way to do it too. For the record everybody who goes whole hog and cuts out everything; after a month they’re like, “Well that sucked. Let’s add some of the stuff back in. I miss this and this and this” but you don’t add everything back in because you discover that you don’t miss the cable.
Scott: And I think that this tendency of extremism you know seems to be a men thing. Like the men tend to be the big spenders and then they go the whole hog on the other side and try to get everything minimum and the women in the relationships tend; not always, but tend to be a little bit more moderate on both sides of this thing. They are never like the big spender and they’re – they don’t want to cut all of this and then this extreme on the side of things. It’s just an observation I thought of or just an observation I’ve made over a number of; a number of these conversations like Joel from FI 180 was another example of this.
Mindy: Oh yeah he bought everything. We just saw him over the weekend. We came back from FinCon and he quit his job before he was completely totally financially independent. He’s like, “Well, what’s the worst that can happen? I run out of money and then I have to go back and get a job” My worst case scenario is everybody else’s everyday life. When he said that to me; the first time he said that in January I’m like, “Oh my God. Yes, yes, yes.” So many people are like, “Oh I could never do that.” Sure you could.
What’s the worst that can happen? You can just go back and get another job.
Tinian: Right, and that’s kind of the argument I use for my co-workers too because I do talk about this to some of my co-workers and I went to Camp FI South recently and I didn’t know what I was getting into. I had never been to one of these things and of course they had no idea and they were telling me well, watch your wallet because they’re going to try to sell you timeshares, you know. So I’m telling them about this whole Fi thing and my argument for them is yeah, if it doesn’t work I will go and get a job and do what you guys are doing. It’s not like it’s that big of a gamble, really.
Mindy: Well, especially as an electrician in a field where literally all of your competition doesn’t answer their phone.
Mindy: you could just answer the phone when it rings and boom – you’ve got a job. I mean you could quit your job today and hang out your shingle “I’m an electrician $5 of Google ads in your area. I’m an electrician. I’m open for business” and you’ve got jobs for the next month and tomorrow you’ll have jobs for the month after that and the next day and the next day and the next day. People cannot find qualified electricians, qualified plumbers and you know my father-in-law is an electrician, I do a lot of flipping, and I do a lot of helping him with the you know pulling wires through. He puts everything through conduit even though it’s not code. He’s like, “It’s my code.”
He was so mad when I questioned him, but it’s – people are scared of electric work. People are really scared to do this. What’s the worst that can happen/ you are probably not going to burn down your house. I mean you would have to try and really like do it wrong. I am not saying that you can’t do it, but step number one, turn off the power, but try it out. If it doesn’t work then okay so know you’ve already removed the old fixture for the electrician to come in and put the new fixture in. It’s not that hard, but there is this real fear of plumbing and electricity so you’ve got a built-in job forever.
I mean, you can get to your half FI mark and then just continue to work part time and take all these jobs that nobody else will answer the phone for.
Tinian: It’s funny that you should say that today because just today my post that was published on my blog today was all about the pros and cons of self-employment and it’s basically the battle that’s going on in my head right now is do I stay with the W2 job or do I go to self-employment? I mean as a contractor I can make more money per hour obviously I don’t have any benefits. I would have to pay for those out of pocket so that cuts into that and there’s also the fact that I wouldn’t have any paid vacation time or sick time or anything like that,. If you are not working, you are not making money.
So yeah it is this built-in business that’s staring me in the face, but it’s also strictly trading time for money and it’s not a particularly easy business to scale which is something that is kind of a con for me because I am looking no, being in the Fi mind-set I am looking for a business that I can scale to the point where it becomes a little bit more passive. Owning an electrical contractor business is probably the least passive business you can come up with.
Mindy: Oh contraire. Remember how I said if you answer your phone? All of your competition is not answering their phone. Find a couple of guys who you think do electricity really, really well. Once you find them then all you have to do is answer your phone. That’s pretty passive. You answer your phone, you schedule those guys.
Tinian: Yeah, yeah absolutely.
Scott: I’ve got a question, going back to other stuff here. So you cut back your spending. You are making 80, 90 K a year you know and what are you doing with your money after the switch? Like, how are you investing it and what are kind of your goals with you know while you’re considering maybe moving into more self-employment base you know and thinking through all the pros and cons to that; what are you doing currently with your savings rate and your money?
Tinian: So when we first heard about his… when we first dove into the rabbit hole it was okay VTSAX – let’s dump everything into VTSAX so we opened a van guard account and we dumped everything into VTSAX. From there I discovered that I work for the state so that gives me access to both the 403B and a 457 account so last year it was about half way through last year that I discovered these accounts so I have been there for almost 6 years now and I’m so kicking myself for this missed time, but last year I was taking zero pay checks for the last half of the year because I was just putting everything into those accounts. I was maxing them out. We also recently started an IRA; personal IRA’s for both of us and my wife has access to a 403B through her hospital so we are doing those as well.
Recently, we’ve been thinking more about dipping our toes into the rental real estate market. This is actually a place Mindy to your point earlier that these skills can really come in handy because I am looking for a house that’s scaring everybody away. You know you hear about knob and tube wiring; this is a big scary thing and fuses and insurance companies don’t like knob and tube and they don’t like fuses. I love them because they scare everybody away and I know how to fix them so I can buy a house that’s really cheap and terrifying to most investors and I can throw in a bit sweat equity and do it and turn it around into something that is profitable so now we are kind of thinking about trying to build up more of a cash reserve so we can put a decent down payment on something like that.
Scott: Sorry, this is something that is just interesting to me. Can we dive into this for just like 2-3 minutes here? What is knob and tube wiring and what’s the problem with it?
Tinian: So knob and tube wiring; they call it knob and tube because of the wiring mounting devices. They are porcelain knobs that hold the wires onto the Joyce. It’s a little knob that they out a little wire into the whole notch and then they hammer it in so that’s a knob. When they drill a hole through a piece of wood they put a sleeve; a porcelain sleeve in there and they run the wire through that and that’s the tuber so the problem with knob and tube wiring; there’s two problems with it that the insurance companies don’t like.
Number one, it’s not grounded so for an electrical device, if there is a fault or if it’s grounded it will trip the circuit breaker and will shut off the power to that device. Problem solved and nobody gets hurts. It might leave a black mark on your outlet or something the device no longer works, but nobody dies. If it’s not grounded and there is a fault then that electricity; that potential doesn’t go anywhere. It just sits there.
You know, if your refrigerator has a problem in the motor and it’s not in a grounded outlet and you go to touch the handle and you touch the outside of it and it’s live you get shocked and hopefully not too bad, but it could be bad and so getting rid of knob and tube and putting in a grounded system is a personal safety issue and so the other reason insurance companies don’t like it is because now people are getting into putting a lot of insulation in their houses and buttoning things up.
These old houses; when they install knob and tube wiring they used air as an insulator so there was no insulation in the walls. Knob and tube wiring is not rated to be in insulation. It’s designed to be in ambient temperature because it obviously heats up as the current goes through it and so it needs that open air around it to cool down otherwise it could overheat the wire and then the insulation starts melting and then you have bare wire and that could lead to fires.
Scott: Okay so in order to repair this you basically have to tear this all out and replace it with a new circuit? I don’t know anything about this so please maybe you tell us how to repair it?
Tinian: Sure, yeah well you got it right. Basically the way to repair it is to just cut it out and re-wire the house. There’s not really any other way around that.
Scott: And how much would this cost in a typical like 700 square foot you know small, single family home?
Tinian: I mean if you are wiring a house from scratch, depending on what area of the country you are in, I mean it’s probably a lot cheaper in Florida than it would be in Massachusetts’s because Massachusetts is just insanely expensive to do anything so if you are re-wiring a house from scratch, if you want to take down all the sheet rock and open up all the walls so that you have open walls then you are probably looking at $5-15 000. A lot of people are really scared of opening up their walls and say, “No, no, no I want to keep the walls closed”. Well now you are talking about trying to fish wires through the walls and run things where you can’t get to them and then all of a sudden you are looking at $20-30 000.
Scott: So this is a $15-30 000 project that you can do for how much?
Tinian: Yeah, I mean it’s just material cost for me so I could probably get something like that; like a 700 square foot family home I could probably get done for $2000; maybe 3.
Scott: And this would take you a day or two of work?
Tinian: Probably more like a week.
Scott: A week of work. So this is an immense advantage in terms of getting it started in real estate investing which is what you are saying so you are looking for houses that have this problem and maybe very manageable amount of work in other areas that you feel comfortable in, but not really like a master in?
Tinian: Right, right. Basically I just don’t want a house that has foundation issues because I don’t know how to do anything about that and that sounds expensive and scary to me so carpentry stuff; mild carpentry I can do, plumbing I know a guy. I don’t really touch plumbing so yeah, basically anything that has electrical problems and mild carpentry issues. I’m all over it.
Mindy: I was going to say as a contractor, as somebody who does this stuff on the said you probably have met a guy or a girl who can do plumbing and who can do framing and like a good roofer and as you are interacting with these other people you’re like, “Oh this guy is always on time and he always get his stuff done.” The electrical and the plumbing are done kind of at the same time because the walls are open. You can’t do the plumbing once you put the dry wall up and I think it’s funny that you said; you called it sheet rock. We call it dry wall up here.
Tinian: Maybe that’s North-Eastern. Maybe that’s just me, I don’t know.
Mindy: No, no it’s so regional. Some people call it sheet rock and some people call it dry wall.
Tinian: One of the benefits that I found of working in this field and it’s not just electrical, but any trade is that then you are working close with these other trades and you are getting to know people so if I need a plumber I don’t have to go to the yellow pages or to Angie’s list and call up a stranger to come into my house. It might be happening while I am at work so I don’t – I’m letting this stranger into my house and then I am leaving for work and I am hoping that they are not going to rob me blind or you know be weirdo’s but if I am working with these people, I know these people, I have worked with them many hours; I trust them fully so I’m not having strangers come into my house, I know exactly who to call.
They are going to help me out if I am in a bind because they know at when they need an electrician they give me a call and I am going to come help them out and I am not a stranger.
Scott: I love it. It seems like this is a huge competitive advantage for you in building wealth in something that you can leverage to greater effect. I meant hat’s ten grand in a week at minimum if what you are talking about. If you can find one of these properties that has exactly the problem that you are most happy and confident in solving, right so I guess my question then is it sounds like this is something that is oh your mind.
Do you have any plans that you are working on right now to get going in this? How are you working towards this goal of
Tinian: Yeah, so we are actively house hunting at this point; I think that’s the term. I mean I have been bingeing on Bigger Pockets Podcast recently to try to learn more about the rental aspect of it and we are reading up everything that we can, we are trying to absorb everything that we can. We have our eyes on the market. We are looking at anything on the MLS; we are looking at foreclosures, pre-foreclosures, auctions; pretty much anything that we can find. It’s not a great market where we are. We are in a little bit of a rural area and the nearest biggest city that has deals is not demographic I want to work with.
It’s not a good city. There’s too much crime down there that I don’t want to own a property in it so we are just looking around the area and seeing what we can find and we are willing to wait for it. Originally our plan was let’s just work on building a cash reserve so that next year we’ll come at this with a really strong financial position and we will be able to say, “This house is you know $100 000. We will offer you $50 000 cash.” See what they say and hen if they say no then fine, we are willing to walk away.
Mindy: Yeah that’s a good mind-set to be in. Always be willing to walk away. I’m seeing an opportunity for you to go to like local meet-ups and connect with somebody who maybe has money, but no contractors or no connections like that. You know, just asking them what’s your biggest challenge? “Well, I can’t get anybody to call me back.” You’ll hear that a lot. Just be prepared.
Tinian: Yeah, I do.
Mindy: Oh well what kind of person are you looking for; a plumber? Bob’s a great plumber, Let me connect you and then you start connecting people and then they’re like “Oh hey you said you needed money. Let’s go in on a deal together” or I see a lot of opportunities for this.
Tinian: Yeah, that’s great.
Scott: What else around your financial journey here; you talked about how you kind of got into your field here, how you saved up some money, what you are doing now, how you guys started you know going a little bit more aggressively. What else do we need to cover before we move onto the Famous Four?
Tinian: So I know that Mindy, you mentioned in an e-mail a while back that you wanted to talk about child care?
Tinian: Yeah so that’s something that we’ve been kind of working on. I wouldn’t say that we have a great solution, but we have a solution that’s been working for us that we’ve kind of worked our way into over the years and that is so my wife is running this private practice now. She still works at the hospital, but she only does that two days a week now and so she’s working evenings for herself and so I work during the day and I work 7-3 and I get home and then she goes off a couple nights a week to go see her clients and actually when the kids are at school, she gets to see clients in the day as well which is great so we are lucky enough that our son is in school at this point.
He is in third grade now so we don’t have to worry about him for the day. Our daughter is in pre-school so we are paying for that. We are paying $5500 a year or something like that. One of the things that we are using to help that is the dependent care assistance programme which is a fantastic way of getting tax free dollars to pay for that so I have money come out of my pay check before taxes and as long as I can provide the IRS with receipts that show that it’s being used for dependent care. It doesn’t just have to be for a kid; any dependent. Actually, I think you guys talked about this with Shamila so yeah and that’s a great way to cover the cost of that, but we also; I would call it in-law arbitrage. My in-laws live about ten minutes away and they have both recently retired and so they are available to watch our kids if we need them which is just been so helpful and during the summer they were actually watching the kids on Mondays and Thursdays when my wife was at work at the hospital so between them and our rotating schedules, a little bit of passing ships in the night kind of a thing, but we are able to r-connect near the end of the week and on weekends and stuff like that so with all of those different things; the different cogs in the wheel happening we have an inch to eliminate real child care expenses minus pre-school.
Scott: Yeah that’s fantastic. Yah it makes perfect sense.
Mindy: Yeah I like how you haven’t just depended on one thing. You are like, “We can do this a little bit and this a little bit and this a little bit” and then I man you could put them both in 9-5 day-care all through the summer or you could have them connect with their grandparents and it’s nice to have this connection. I live so far away from my grandparents. I didn’t get to know them that well before they passed away, but I mean having someone close is really, really nice and not everybody has that, but the dependent care; is that only available to you because you work for the state or is that available for everybody? Like, do we have that, Scott?
Tinian: I don’t know exactly. I think it depends on your employer. I don’t think I have it just because I work for the state. It just so happens that my employer supplies it and I think that there are many employers that do this. I don’t know the exact specifics on it.
Scott: you know I think that’s great. I think that the pattern here when it comes to child care expenses and getting a really low cost for them; it seems always take advantage of whatever is unique to your situation and there’s a combination of flexible work schedules, high incomes and you can just pay it. It just makes more sense to just pay for the child care if you have two high incomers that are working that.
In laws’ or family that’s nearby and whatever else you can take advantage of so I mean it sounds like you’ve done a really good job of maximising your situation to make sure that that’s economical for you?
Tinian: Yeah, thanks. That’s a great point. Actually, it kind of pops into my head right away when I hear somebody talking about their situation and well, “Yeah that’s you, but that’s not going to work for me.” That’s a real limiting belief there and obviously my story is my story and not everybody is going to have their in-law’s that live 10 minutes away and are retired and so not everybody is going to have these benefits that I have, but like you said I have found what works for me personally and it just so happens that I was able to make this work.
People out there listening that aren’t going to have the same situation as me; they probably have something else that’s out there that could work and they just haven’t found it yet or maybe they have a totally different situation that they can find something creative that’ll work for them. Yeah, it’s all about getting rid of that limiting belief of well, they can do it only because they have X, Y, Z going for them. I don’t have that so I can’t do it.
Scott: Like, for example, like I live in Denver, Colorado. This is two and a half thousand miles away from where I grew up, from where my parents are and similar distance from where my girlfriend grew up, right so we don’t have family in Denver, Colorado. That is a choice that we made and if kids come into the picture that’s where you pay for that choice, right? You live in an area that is nearby where your wife’s parents live, right. That’s a choice and there are trade-offs that come along with all these things and I think a lot of people who complain about high child care coasts and can’t do some of these things just sometimes forget hey, they made a choice for a bunch of reasons; whatever it is to live in an area where these options are or aren’t available.
I think that you just have to say, hey how am I going to make this work in a way that’s really good for my kids and in a way that also allows me to save.
Mindy: I think it’s… who says ‘Don’t say I can’t. Ask how can I” and I think he is talking about affording it because he wants you to be able to buy everything. Don’t say I can’t afford that. Ask how can I afford it, but you know that applies to everything. Don’t say I can’t have kids because I can’t afford the child care or I can’t do this because I can’t afford child care. Ask how can I couple together a system? You know maybe somebody can watch them one day a week. I probably don’t want to watch your kids five days a week. There’s probably about it. I don’t want to watch five days a week. I also have a job, but even when I was a stay at home mom I watched a friend’s kid for one day a week; on Thursday. I loved Thursday morning because Davis was coming over.
I loved Friday morning because there was no baby in the house so you know it was a big favour for her. It was super fun for me because I didn’t want to have another baby, but I wanted to you know. Sometimes you like to play with babies.
Tinian: Especially when they are not yours.
Mindy: Exactly. Okay, it’s now time for the Famous Four questions. This is the same four questions and a command that we ask of all of our guests. The first question is what is your favourite finance book?
Tinian: So I being fairly new to the finance world have not really read a whole lot of finance books, but the book that I am thinking of in this case and it actually applies to every aspect of life is the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It’s just a fantastic book. I read it fairly recently and it’s all about just ways to change a habit to your benefit so what he is saying is that there is three parts to a habit; there’s the Q, there’s the routine and there’s the reward. You know the Q is 09:320 comes along and you are feeling, “Boy, I’m a bit bored and you go and get a cookie” and that’s your routine and then the reward is, “Well, now I feel good because I did something different for a little bit” and so he suggests to change the routine.
Use the same Q, use the same reward, just change the routine a little bit so I think that can really be applied to financial things especially for people who like to impulsify. You know there’s a Q; you see something cool. “I want to buy it.” Your routine is to buy it and the reward is you get this shiny new thing and so you know you can use that Q, “Ooh there is something cool” change the routine instead of buying something, make something similar or fins some other way of fulfilling that and have a reward of, “Ooh, now I have this cool new thing” except I made it instead of bought it or whatever.
Mindy: That’s an awesome, awesome tip and I love that book. I’m so glad you said that because yeah, it’s not a finance book, but it’s a finance book.
Scott: I love it. What was your biggest money mistake?
Tinian: I have a couple. So I went to community college even though there was a 529 with my name it I didn’t end up spending much of that because community college is so cheap. So I had a bunch of money left in that afterwards and I wanted to buy a truck. This was before kids. So my mother just said, “Well you know it’s your money, if you want to be stupid with it, you pay for it.” So I spent that money on a truck so of course I paid the penalty on it because it wasn’t education and it was $15 000 or something I ended up spending it all on a $10 000 Toyota Takoma and that truck ended up not really working out too well. It was a two seater. Once we had a baby it also had some engine issues as a bit of a lemon so that was a pretty good mistake.
Then also probably four or five years ago my wife and I decided we were going to go with a financial advisor so we are members of a local credit union and they have a financial advisor there and we thought, “Boy, we have this money. We need to do something with it.” We have heard about investing. Let’s do that. So we talked to the guy and we said you know we want to invest our money and he said, “Great.” Do you want to be socially conscious or non-socially conscious? Well, let’s choose socially conscious because I mean I don’t want blood diamonds on my hand. Okay fine, no problem so he put our money into this account.
I am not even sure what it was and we watched our money shrink while everybody else’s was growing because of course he is taking out whatever it was every quarter. It was like 100 bucks a quarter or something ridiculous and it wasn’t going anywhere. I don’t know what he put our money into, but it wasn’t working out so finally about 3 years later we ended up taking our money out. We had put $50 000 and we ended up taking out about $40 000 because we lost money over the course of the 3 years and we haven’t looked back since. I mean, if we had just managed the money knowing what we know now that would have been double what it was. I’m not saying all financial advisors are bad. It’s just that one was.
Mindy: That one was.
Scott: It sounds like the mistake was also like just blindly like you were abdicating the money.
Tinian: Exactly what the mistake was. We did not do any research. We just said, “Here, you are the expert. You handle the money.” So the mistake was entirely on us.
Scott: Yeah you just didn’t understand anything that was going on with the money and trusted somebody to just do it and I think that’s the lesson is like you can’t hire a contractor if you don’t – to fix knob and tube wire if you don’t even have the faintest clue what knob and tube wiring is and why it’s bad, right?
Tinian: Exactly and that leaves you open for trouble.
Mindy: I’m sorry that that happened. That’s very terrible.
Tinian: It was a very good learning experience.
Mindy: It is and you know you’ve amended the fact that you lost the ten thousand. You don’t know for sure that you would have doubled it. Maybe you would have invested in whatever Chinese orange juice company Scott invested in and also lost it all, but yeah when in doubt go with an index fund. This is not financial advice. Please consult your local blogger, whatever. You know what? Go back to episode 41 with Kyle Mast and listen to all of his recommendations which were all fantastic.
Okay what is your best piece of advice for people who are just starting out?
Tinian: Yeah so I think this works for financial things as well as like DIY or career skills or anything like that is just recognise that skill collections compound and that your confidence in skill level will take the same hockey stick projectors of long term investments. You know you are not going to learn how to build a house in a day. You know first you need to learn how to hammer a nail into a board without hitting your thumb; that’s one skill. You know and then form there you learn how to make that board stand up straight by hammering it into some other boards and then from there you learn how to build a wall and then from there you learn how to build a house so it takes time to learn these things. You can’t expect for it to happen all at once and recognising that; I think is a great way to avoid burn out.
Mindy: That’s brilliant.
Scott: Yeah, I like that. It’s just.
Mindy: I like that advice a lot.
Tinian: Skill compounding.
Scott: Alright last and most difficult question; what is your favourite joke to tell at parties?
Tinian: My wife told me I was not allowed to say this joke on the air so I’m going to sell a different joke and this is actually one that I just saw on a whiteboard outside of… they call it. I thought it was great. What did the blonde say to the hat? You go on ahead, I’ll give these tow a lift.
Tinian: Yeah, I got a kick out of that one. I’m going to be telling that one at a few parties, for sure.
Mindy: That’s funny. Okay tell me where people can find more about you. Scott, it’s a demand or if I was asking where can people find out more about you?
Tinian: So I blog at DIY2FI.com and it’s DIY, the number 2fi.com and them I am also fairly active on twitter at DIYCaptain. I am also just learning how to use Instagram also at DIY Captain.
Mindy: All of these links to all of Tinian’s website and social media and all of that can be found in the show notes for this show at biggerpockets.com/moneyshow44. That’s biggerpockets.com/moneyshow44.
Awesome, well Tinian, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to talk to us. This was super fun. I really appreciate your time.
Tinian: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a great time.
Mindy: This is awesome. Okay well we will see you later. Okay that was a super fun episode. Ten thousand apologies for electrically geeking out with Tinian and the whole DIY thing. I just really like talking about that. Scott, what did you think of the show?
Scott: Well, I also like geeking out about that. I think it’s what it shows is that you shouldn’t be scared of any of these things. They are all surmountable problems with the correct training and expertise and if you are going to do what he described as like compound skills talking; I’m, looking at this quote that he just had, but yeah I love that concept of like getting better each day and it’s just a rewarding, compounding experience that leads up to something really powerful.
I think that Tinian also set a great example because you know a lot of listeners for our show that typically have an upper middle class job or something similar and have for a long time. I think Tinian is really inspiring because he actually did not come from that background and was able to build that up bit by bit through a trade which I think just shows a phenomenal work ethic and how you can do this without having a college degree or like a traditional corporate skill set to get into this self-employment and wealth building mode.
Mindy: Yeah and he does have a college degree. He did get is degree is just 6 short years, but you know that was because he wasn’t really focused. It wasn’t his passion. Don’t try to put your square peg into a round hole. If you don’t want to go to college maybe it’s not the right choice for you and that’s okay. That doesn’t make you a bad person.
Scott: It means you can also make 90, 100K + in a few years without going to college if you do one of these trades.
Mindy: Yeah and here’s a tip; if you are just starting out in the trade, answer your phone or if you can’t get to your phone call them back because you will have your jobs set out for as long as you want to do that.
Scott: Or recognise that making one of these trades means that you are so successful and have so much business that you can’t even pick up the phone.
We’re like, “Oh, this is bad business because the contractors never call you back.” Well, they probably just have so much other good business that they’re just like, “I don’t even want to deal with the phone. I’ll fix that problem when I have my six-month back log like two weeks.
Mindy: Yeah you know what? I have a friend who’s a plumber and he said exactly that. I don’t even answer the phone. Some of these jobs are just so small for them. It takes time for them to drive out and you know change tour faucet and then leave and drive to the next job where they could be at a space where they are putting in; they’re you know plumbing the whole house. That’s more of a job. That’s more money and you know these little jobs; they are not that hard to do. Watch 27 YouTube videos and you are going to see the exact same thing over and over again and then you will be able to do it yourself.
They have this new thing called the shark bite fitting where you know shark’s teeth are like backwards so you can’t get it out of their mouth when they bite you and that’s the same with the shark bite fitting and I’m butchering the whole description, but it is super easy. You just go like this and it’s stuck. You don’t have to like tighten it or sweat the copper or any of that business so you can do your own plumbing; your little jobs and again, I am geeking out on it. I am sorry. We should leave.
Scott: No, I think it’s great. I love talking about this stuff and I think there is a huge case we made for DIY work especially in the early parts of your journey to financial independence. You know if you are making $500 000 a year and have a $5 000 000 portfolio already maybe you shouldn’t be doing DIY, electrical or plumbing or even looking into it, right, nut if you are trying to save your first 50K you know this can be some really good stuff to look into and really kind of do an accurate assessment of the cost benefit on all this kind of stuff.
Like, how hard is it to learn? You know is that time invested going to pay off and the answer is probably that it is going to pay off and the just starting out side of things and then at certain points various tasks begin not being appropriate over time for DIY.
Mindy: Yes and just even knowing how it’s done down the road, you can speak more intelligently about your problem and you can gauge if the person you are thinking of hiring actually knows what they are talking about.
Scott: Yes, a huge advantage.
Mindy: A huge advantage to just even knowing how things are done. We did not get to the part if you want to ask him a question about how to get started on a DIY project you can e-mail [email protected]. That’s T-I-N-I-A-N [email protected]
Scott: And we’ll have that in the show notes as well. Very enthusiastic about talking about this kind of stuff and I’m sure he will be happy to chat about it.
Mindy: Yes and the show notes for this show can be found at biggerpockets.com/moneyshow44. Alright Scott, shall we get out of here?
Scott: Let’s get out of here.
Mindy: Okay from episode 44 of the Bigger Pockets Money Podcast, this is Mindy Jensen and Scott Trench saying good-bye, good luck and for our British friends – Toodle Pip.
One of the easiest ways you can protect your properties—is investing in a great security system. By far, my personal recommendation, is SimpliSafe.
SimpliSafe is awesome. It’s really reliable, with really fast response times, which is huge. It’s really easy to move between properties. And there are no contracts either.
I really like it, and I’m not alone—it’s CNET’s Editors choice, and the Wirecutter calls it “The Best Home Security.”