Life Hacking in Pursuit of Financial Freedom: How I Add $1,500+/Mo to My Income

by | BiggerPockets.com

By this point, the majority of us know what house hacking is. It is the idea of purchasing a multiunit property, living in one unit and renting the other. This is one of the best strategies for getting started in real estate while significantly reducing your living expenses.

What if I told you that beyond house hacking, there is a way to earn an additional $1,500 of monthly income with little time commitment?

The strategy? I call it “life hacking,” and you can do it, too!

Before we fully delve in, I want to let you know that this idea of life hacking is easiest for a bachelor/bachelorette without kids living in a popular city. However, anyone who has a burning desire to achieve early financial freedom can do it. You just need to be willing to do whatever it takes. Be willing to sacrifice current luxuries for long-term happiness. You need to be on a mission where absolutely nothing can stop you.

If this sounds like you (or someone you know), keep reading!

If not, don’t waste your time. Return your Facebook surveys so you can figure out which Friends character you are.

Life Hacking

So, what is life hacking?

As many studies show—and Scott Trench articulates in Set for Lifethe average American’s two largest expenses are housing and transportation. He mentions that in order to reduce these expenses, you should house hack AND live in a location where you can either bike to work or have a job where you can work from home.

Let’s assume you have accomplished both of these things. Great! You are now living for free (or extremely cheap), and your transportation costs are close to $0. This is awesome in itself.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

You can actually increase the amount you are paid to live in your current property and get paid for owning your car. This will help turn properties in popular locations where cash flow is tough into cash flowing properties. For example, I live in Denver, where prices are relatively high. This makes it difficult for half of my one-bedroom duplex to fully cover all of my expenses.

So I asked myself, “How can I cover my remaining expenses?” Then it dawned me.



Related: Are Your Children Stopping You From Achieving Financial Freedom?

House Hacking 2.0

I can take house hacking to the next level by also renting out my bedroom on Airbnb.

“But Craig, where do you sleep?!”

I don’t! Sleep is for the weak!

Just kidding.

I have sectioned off a portion of my living room with room dividers to make it into a makeshift bedroom. See below to view my setup.

A divider in the room.

Behind the curtain.

Is it uncomfortable for the first few nights? Sure it is! But as with anything else, approach it with a positive attitude and you will get used to it. Perhaps you’ll even enjoy it. I know I do. I get paid to meet new, interesting people from all around the world on a regular basis. Heck, I even befriend most of them, and they even offer me a place to stay if I am ever in their home city.

Wife (or Husband) and Kids?

“Craig, I have a wife (or husband) and kids. This is going to be a problem.”

There is no doubt that this strategy will be easier if you are single with no kids. However, you can use this as an excuse—or you can figure out a way to make it work. It goes back to the question: Do you have that burning desire for financial freedom? If so, I know you will make it work.

What about that extra bedroom you have? You know, the “guest room” where a random family member or friend will sleep maybe two or three times per year?

Or how about having the guests sleep on your couch in the living room? You will not make as much, but something is better than nothing. I thought about this option, but I am willing to sleep in the living room for the premium I am able to charge for renting a private bedroom.

So how much do I make on Airbnb? Typically, I charge $40-$50 a night with a $25 cleaning fee, which nets me approximately $1,000 a month after expenses. That does not include any additional tax write-offs, which is a subject for another person at another time.

The amount you can charge will vary based on your location and the amenities you offer. I live about 1.5 miles outside of downtown Denver and offer the essentials—a comfortable place to sleep with clean sheets, towels, and coffee.

Car Hacking

Now that you see how I make an additional $1,000 per month in housing, where does the other $500 come from?

You guessed it! My car.

Because you either work from home most days or can bike or take public transportation to work, your car is likely sitting idle for at least five days a week, losing value every single day. How do you turn this money-sucking “false asset” into a real, income-generating “asset”?

You rent it out!

There is a site called Turo, which is exactly like Airbnb, but for your car. People who are traveling to your location can rent your car from you for a daily fee. You set the availability of your car, and they drive it whenever you deem it available.

I’m sure there are tons of questions regarding insurance, payments, logistics, etc. This article will not answer those questions. I will just tell you it works and you are covered. To learn more, go to www.turo.com.

Now, let’s assume your car makes an additional $500 per month for renting it out during the week. However, similar to Airbnb, the fee increases on the weekend. If you can go without your car on the weekend, you can make even more! So, on weekends that you have no plans, why not?

I rent my car out for $30-$40 per day and on most weekends. I make between $700-$900 per month this way. I’m actually over that $1,500 mark in peak seasons.

If you can’t already tell, my philosophy is “when in doubt, rent it out!”

So now that you are life hacking, you are likely making money on most Americans’ two largest expenses. Talk about expediting your journey towards early financial freedom!

real-estate-investing-easy

Related: Rethinking “Wealthy”: The 5-Step Ladder From Middle Class to Financial Freedom

Conclusion

This idea CAN be accomplished by anyone. However, it will be much easier for those who are single, without kids, living in a popular city. Again, you can use all of the excuses in the world, but excuses will not get you any closer to financial freedom.

My question to you is this: How badly do you want it? How badly do you want to have the option to work? How badly do you want to have all of the time in the world to spend time with your family, travel, and do those things that you truly love?

If the desire for freedom burns deep, then you will find a way. The scenario outlined above works for me. It may not work for you. But what will? Be creative!

How do you increase your monthly income by $1,000 to $2,000 per month? That is something for you to figure out, for you to decide. Good luck!

What outside-the-box ideas have you come up with to increase your monthly passive income?

We’d love to hear about them. Leave a comment below!

About Author

Craig Curelop

After developing a huge love for real estate investing and personal finance, Craig decided to join the BiggerPockets team as a financial analyst. Over the past few years, he has looked at hundreds of financial models of startup companies. His experience will help BiggerPockets reach the next level as a startup company. Craig has a passion for helping others get out of their "comfort zones" to get what they want and achieve the "impossible." In his spare time, Craig enjoys traveling, hiking, exercising, and sports of all kinds.

41 Comments

  1. Jerome Kaidor

    OK,

    I just increased my monthly income by $1600. And it’s real. What did I do? I issued 65 rent increases, averaging $25 each. Since my properties are all under market, nobody’s going to move for $25. I gave them
    all a 60-day notice, which decreases even more the probability of them moving. Because when they get the notice, the increase is in the far future.

    Five increases still to do – later this year, because it’s a rent-controlled jurisdiction, and has to be 12 months
    after the last one.

    I wrote software to help me do them all….

    • Craig Curelop

      Hi Jerome,

      Thanks for the comment! Raising rent slightly will, without a doubt raise your income. However, I think most of the readers of this article do not yet have 65 properties where they can raise their rents by $25. So this article is more catered towards the ones that are trying to save up for that next down payment.

      Thanks for sharing the way that you do it though!

  2. Curt Smith

    Hi Jodi, You’re too negative! I used to be like you 10 yrs ago, then I started reading success REI books, bought my first rental 7 yr ago, slowly I lost the “can’t be done” and last July I gave notice to my IT tech job all because of similar thinking espoused by this article. Think of your out side the box ways to succeed. Don’t accept the prescription we all have to work for a big Co till we are just a few yrs from kicking.

    I believe this article was less about specifics as it was about push yourself to the extreme, what ever that is for you!!

    Best of luck Jodi on your journey. I was there too.

    • Craig Curelop

      Curt, thanks for backing me up! I agree with everything you said above.

      You need to stop making excuses and saying, “I can’t” and thinking in terms of, “How can I?” instead. Anything is possible. It’s just a matter of how bad you want it.

  3. Angel Gutierrez

    At first, I thought the whole “AirBnB” thing was a crock. I’ve been in the house business a long time and with a straight face… I can tell you everything about this business that DOESN’T work!

    Earlier this month, I took a ride up the California coast on my motorcycle for my yearly long-distance ride. Give me a chance to think about things and plenty of time to think about nothing at all.

    I figured I would do the Airbnb thing up and down the coast and quickly found out that everyplace I wanted to stay was booked months in advance. So out of curiosity I called a few of these people that advertise on the website to actually verify that they were in fact booked months in advance.

    Then I ran into a guy that manages a fund that buys Airbnb properties that have at least a six-month performance record and is willing to pay top dollar for them.

    So as of today the whole Airbnb thing certainly has my attention and I think it’s a wonderful thing that people are doing this these kinds of things to increase their bottom line, I don’t think it’s right for the local governments to get involved to decide what it is that you and I can and mostly can’t do with our own properties.

    Craig, you’re obviously a smart guy, my question to you is, why are you not looking for more properties to buy and use them as Airbnb rentals? I know I am and I’m certainly putting the pedal to the metal!

    • Craig Curelop

      Angel, thanks for the post. You bring up some interesting points. I did not realize there were buyers of AirBnb housed funds.

      The reason I do AirBnb now is because it provides me with an extra $1,000 a month that I can save and put towards my next rental. Right now, my strategy is not to purchase more properties solely for AirBnb rental. That’s mainly because it is a lot more work. I am looking for this to be a passive income stream for me down the line. Additionally, AirBnb rentals are seasonal, I’d much prefer a steady stream of cash flow from a real rental.

      I’m looking forward to seeing what you can do with your strategy. Be sure to share!

  4. Fred Maul

    Great article. Me and my wife were just talking about this for when we finally settle down. We used AirBnB for our recent trip to Ireland and were impressed with how this concept works in practice. I had no idea that car rental was even an option in. I had a massive house in NC with rooms that we didn’t even use; I imagine I could have made some decent money since we were in the middle of a golf mecca.

    • Craig Curelop

      Hi Fred,

      Thanks! I’m glad you liked the article. I would imagine that you definitely could make some money renting out your extra bedrooms near the golf courses in NC. I’m a golfer myself and I’ve got quite a few friends that go down there regularly.

      The car rental is an option! I feel as though most people are unaware of that, which is why I like to let everyone know :).

      • Ben Leybovich

        Well, Craig – could you put a wife and 2 kids into your place? I also use VR but my version is about much more luxury. I have a main house, which is a full-on house with bells and whistles, and a Casita across the courtyard. Total privacy, total up-scale, and totally great cash flow 🙂

        I wrote a book about it. Called ‘House Hacking’ – fun read. Look it up on amazon. I think mine is the version of house hacking that you’ll do when you grow up 🙂

        • Craig Curelop

          Thanks, Ben.

          Could I put a wife in 2 kids in my place? Yes! Will it be pleasurable? Probably not haha :).

          I’ll be sure to give your book a read! I will definitely be looking into vacation rentals once I have a few properties under my belt.

  5. Jake Sklanka

    Nice job, Craig!

    Airbnb has helped us live in an expensive ski town by renting out our second bedroom. Great source of income that has allowed us to save and buy another unit in the building. Great way to house hack and make more than having a long term renter.

  6. Ezichi Oha

    you must be reading my mind. i have been considering renting out my room on airbnb but have been uncomfortable of having a stranger in my house but i have finally made up my mind to start and also rent out my car on Turo when i am out of town.

    • Craig Curelop

      Awesome Ezichi!

      I would be lying if I said it wasn’t uncomfortable at first, but then again… what isn’t uncomfortable at first? Think about your first day at your current job. You were probably fairly uncomfortable walking in, not knowing what people would say. Now you do it everyday and with no problems whatsoever.

      Same thing applies here. I like to think that most people in this world are nice and I have not had any big problems with AirBnb yet. Looking forward to seeing how you like it!

  7. Deanna Opgenort

    We used tall bookshelves as room partition devices. They do a very good job of dampening sound while providing storage (in your layout you could face some toward your bed, some toward the public area, & finish the backs of them, with felt sliders so they could go flat against the wall when not in use, or to make a reading nook. We used them to to wall off a den area that had a separate entry door to create a guest bedroom, & it worked really really well (for longer-term use we added a foam core extension to the ceiling & a curtain on the non-bedroom side for aesthetic reasons. We did decide eventually decide that 6 people was too many for the house to work well & we wanted the den back. With 5 “fully adult” long-term roommates having 2 separate socializing areas makes the household flow much more smoothly & keeps people from getting on each other’s nerves. We decided the reduced stress is worth the extra monthly expense.

    • Craig Curelop

      Hi Jennifer,

      Bed Bugs are certainly a concern, but truthfully I have not had any problems with this. Obviously, washing the sheets between guests help. Should you (or your cleaning person) see any bed bugs while you are changing the sheets, you can take action to remedy them.

      If you are unsure of bed bugs, a trip I learned from traveling and sleeping in hostels is to take the sheets of the bed and punch different parts of the mattress. The bed bug will get scared and jump out. That way you can be sure if they are there or not.

  8. Jeff White

    Terrific blog article Craig.

    I’m in the process of closing on a fourplex in the next week, and I plan on airbnbing the room(s) to make extra cash to buy the next multifamily property. I didn’t know about the car potential as well. I will have to look into that as well.

    • Craig Curelop

      Hey Jeff,

      Great news on the fourplex! Good luck on the closing process. That is a great idea and exactly the strategy that I am using as well. Build up the cash reserves for that next down payment. Renting out the car is not nearly as lucrative as Airbnb, but it definitely beats having a car sitting idle for weeks at a time.

      Cheers!

  9. Hello!

    Can you tell me about your experience with Turo? Are you finding scratches/stains etc. on your car or has it been a pretty good experience? We did AirBnB and we found little wear/tear like baggage nicking our wood floors/staircase wasn’t worth it as much. I work from home as does my husband most days so I’ve considered Turo in the past but haven’t made the plunge.

    • Craig Curelop

      Hey Sarah,

      Thanks for reading and I’m happy to answer some questions. You need to be sure to have the riders take pictures before and after the ride. That way you can request a reimbursement should you have to do any scratch removal or cleaning. I have not had much of a problem yet. Though, I am going to get my car detailed after my next ride and put on seat covers. Both are write offs :).

      I have not had any problems with destructive tenants on AirBnb, but obviously people moving in and out will cause more damage than NOT having people move in and out. I would say that the money you make with AirBnb is well worth the added wear and tear. Most of that stuff can be fixed pretty easily if you ever decide to sell your house.

      Hope this answers your question!

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