After buying your duplex, the monthly cash flow is around $175. After the honeymoon has worn off, one fact occurs to you: things break. One month, the tenant reports the shower head broke. The next month, the yard light has burned out. Not long after, the toilet is clogged thanks to someone’s Tonka Toy collection going for a swim.
Here are some tips to protect your cashflow from being eaten away by minor maintenance.
Tip #1: Gift Cards. With Christmas and the holidays approaching, what better way for your family to tell you they love you than with gift cards from Lowe’s or Home Depot. People may snicker at the idea but when you’re bleeding money each month the gift card concept sounds better all the time. Birthdays and anniversaries are also good times for gift cards.
So unless you really want that pink bunny suit from Aunt Mildred, play the guilt card and get your family into the gift card spirit.
Tip #2: Coupons. Still think that coupons are for little old ladies trying to save a dime on canned corn? Lose that notion. The next time you jump into your car to go to Lowe’s or Home Depot, print out a coupon for 10% off your purchase. If you have to replace that shower head, might as well save some money while doing it. Also using coupons make those gift cards for Charlotte’s Saddlery from Aunt Mildred last that much longer.
Where to get coupons?
Change of Address: Every time you fill out a change of address card, a thick package of coupons arrive at your new address. Use them all!
eBay: Yes, everything is for sale. People sell packs of coupons on eBay for $10 or less. Buy from someone reputable and make sure your coupons have bar codes on them. I got burned once because my coupons were barcodeless.
Google: Go to Google and type in “Lowe’s Coupon” or “Lowe’s Online Coupon” and watch the sites appear. Most sites have links that allow you to directly print out a coupon to take. Other sites may require that a coupon be mailed to you.
Your tenant’s toilet is clogged. You worked that plunger until the bathroom floor was covered in water. Nothing. Before calling the $80 plumber, watch a video instead. Just because one technique didn’t work doesn’t mean another one won’t.
This happened to me. When the plunger refused to remove the clog, I almost called a plumber, Dreading the $80 service call and watching a butt-crack, I found a video talking about a plumber’s Auger. Spending $7 on an Auger sounded more appealing that an $80 plumber butt-crack so I did it. It worked. Good thing to because a month later, the toilet got clogged again. Come to find out, the water pressure isn’t the greatest and it will require an occasional Auger to clear it.
Do you think a plumber should share that information with me? Each time I call, I’m handing him $80 for five easy minutes of work. I’d rather not.
At the end of the day, every investor wants to keep their cashflow coming. The higher the cashflow, the better. Don’t let trivial problems eat away at your money. One day, when you have dozens of rental units, your handyman can worry about those repairs. But until that point, don’t be afraid of a little elbow grease.