2019: the year of credit repair

Thank you Lexington Law Firm for sponsoring this post. A high service partner and consumer advocate that will help you fight for the credit you deserve!

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2017 and 2018 were pretty hard years for our family financially. Between moving, loss of income, and relying too heavily on credit cards, we incurred a lot of debt and also hurt our credit score in the process. For a long time I just couldn’t face the reality of our financial situation, and I also was paralyzed by feeling lost in the whole process of just starting to tackle our debt and credit, and so I just kept putting it off. Come January 2019 I decided to finally give our finances and credit the attention they deserved, and have started making strides to repair our situation.

Credit can feel like a mysterious and arbitrary number, based on a bunch of stuff that doesn’t seem all that clear. I know I made a bunch of mistakes even in the couple months of starting to fix our credit (pro tip: don’t cancel your 10 year old credit card even if you’re trying to get rid of credit cards. The age of your credit matters to your credit score! I cancelled mine just wanting to get rid of unnecessary credit cards that I’d paid off and now my credit age is only a couple years. boo!).

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Having someone who knows what the heck they’re doing to help you make a plan (and avoid mistakes like mine), can be incredibly helpful and take the stress out of a process that can be really anxiety ridden. While a late payment or a bad mark from a creditor might not seem important, it can have long-term effects on your credit, and can stay on your report for years! What’s nice is that, since fixing your credit is such an important goal for many people, a whole industry has sprung up to help those of us navigate the murky waters of credit repair. Tons of fact vs. fiction information is now available to help educate those of us about the credit errors that can be fixed!

Lexington Law Firm is one of those companies, using the power of the legal experience and technology to help folks like you and me fix our credit. I don’t know about you, but having a team of lawyers helping me fight bad credit with legal experience sounds pretty dang awesome. Or at least waaaay better than me stumbling around trying to google my way to fixing my credit.

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Since Lexington Law Firm has long-standing relationships with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, they’ve got the relationships, and experience in knowing exactly how getting credit errors removed works. So what seems a little like a murky mystery to me is plain as day to them. Look, I’m as hardcore DIY as you can get, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to realize that it’s just going to be worth the money to outsource the stuff that I’m not great at (even if I know I can figure it out eventually). Knowing that there are options out there like Lexington Law Firm to outsource the confusing part of repairing bad credit is super helpful. So if you’re like me and making 2019 the year to tackle credit and finances ( *wince *) check ‘em out and see if you could use some outsourcing to help you get on track to great credit so you can buy that house you’ve been stalking on Zillow. Oh wait, is that just me? whoops.

Airbnb tips from... you!

Tacoma's best airbnb tips

Before we put #thebravehouse on Airbnb I wanted to get some feedback from my followers on Instagram as to what amenities they thought were necessary, and also what little details made their Airbnb stays feel really wonderful. There were a lot of duplicate suggestions but I wanted to make a list of them, both to use myself, and to share in case any other Airbnb host wanted some ideas!

  • Local Guide Book- I’m working on this one! I’ve got a bare bones one in my house manual, but I’m working on a more comprehensive Best of Tacoma guide! I love this city so I definitely want to share it with my guests!

  • Bottle of wine + snacks- Depending on the guest I may get a bottle of wine or champagne (we have a couple guests staying before/after their wedding), but snacks are definitely a must have!

  • coffee with a good creamer- Coffee is definitely a must! We have grounds, a coffee maker, locally sourced half and half, creamer, and sugar and sugar substitutes. I almost forgot all the extra stuff for coffee because I just drink mine black, so this suggestion was a good reminder!

  • good towels- I’ve got two bath towels for each bedroom, a small washcloth, and a black washcloth for makeup removal!

Airbnb amenity ideas from guests
  • a microwave- Another good reminder for me! We haven’t had a microwave for like 9 years, so I grabbed a little one to put in the Airbnb!

  • local goodies/beer- Working on this one, I’d definitely love to make sure the coffee I offer guests is at least locally roasted at one of the amazing roasters in town.

  • granola bars/fruit- I’ve got a basket of granola bars, fruit, and instant oatmeal for people to grab for breakfast!

  • phone chargers- This is a great idea and one that I’d like to eventually implement.

  • coffee maker- duh!

  • toiletries: q-tips, cottonballs, shampoo/conditioner- Done, done, and done! Plus: body wash and extra travel sized toothbrushes, lotion, and toothpaste in case a guest forgot theirs!

  • Feminine hygiene products- I LOVED this suggestion. Definitely wanted to have these available for guests who may have forgotten their products or had their cycle surprise them! I’ve got tampons, pads, and pantyliners on hand in the bathroom!

  • tea- I need to get some breakfast tea, as most of the tea I have at the house was for sleep aid, haha, but a good earl grey or english breakfast tea is great for those morning tea drinkers!

  • throw blankets- I need to get a couple more, but thankfully it’s summer so this one probably isn’t as important as it will be come October.

  • brochures for the area- I’m thinking of going around town and getting brochures, but I also want to just have all those activities/businesses in one place in my local guide.

  • fresh flowers- I feel like flowers make a house just feel very welcoming. I’ve got some fresh blooms on the dining room table and sprinkled around the house in mini vases

  • good wifi- duh.

  • salt/pepper/condiments- definitely!

  • chocolate- kinda want to do little tiny chocolate bars on the towels I leave on each bed. I remember having tiny mint chocolates at hotels when I was a kid and it was so special!

  • dog friendly destinations/activities - Since our Airbnb is dog-friendly, I’ve included some info about local dog parks and such in my guidebook

  • pack and play- we’ve got one!

  • board games/cards- We put a bunch of games in our living room credenza for guests to use, plus I left some of Jack’s toys to play with for the younger kids.

  • first aid kit- This was a great suggestion, and one I wouldn’t have thought of without the suggestion! We’ve got one in our house now!

  • deals with local businesses - This is one I’d love to implement but haven’t had time to orchestrate yet. Having some discount cards to locally owned businesses that I love would be a really awesome to add value for my guests and support businesses in Tacoma!

  • instructions for house quirks- I tried to do this with my house manual, but I’d still like to go around the house and put up a few notes for some of the things about the house that might not be super straightforward.

Airbnb tips and tricks

That Airbnb Swiffer Life

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Now that the #thebravehouse is an Airbnb, I’m cleaning it a LOT more frequently.  Like, I wish I had cleaned it this often when we actually lived there! For the time being I’m the “cleaning lady” getting things all prettied up between guests, and with a very limited amount of time between reservations (usually just a few hours!), having a quick and easy process is absolutely essential.

Since I partnered up with Swiffer to try out their WetJet Wood, keeping my hardwood floors clean takes just a couple minutes, which is perfect for those whirlwind days when a guest checks out in the morning and another checks in later that afternoon. While my sheets are getting clean in the laundry, I can easily give my floors a swipe with the Swiffer so they look clean and new for the next guest.

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I’m pretty excited with how well our Airbnb bookings are going! I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me, acting as the cleaning service on top of managing bookings and such, so I might eventually hire out my cleaning to a professional. We initially just wanted to see if the house would even do well as a vacation rental and I figured I’d costs low by doing the cleaning myself.  I’m going to reevaluate at the end of the month (June is booked up at like 80%, so imma be buuusy cleanin!), and decide if I want to keep grinding at the cleaning myself, or get some help!

In the meantime, it’s me and my trusty Swiffer gettin’ her done! Check out the Swiffer WetJet Wood on Amazon here!

Swiffer WetJet Wood

#Melroseplacehouse Update No.1

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It’s been a LONG time since I did an update, and I could’ve posted some more over here in the prior months, most of it was just gutting the house, putting in new subfloors, and revising my design plan like 100 times. We ditched our original plan to add a bedroom and move the kitchen because it turned out to be out of our budget, so we’re doing a plain ol’ “lipstick flip” (as they say in the biz). So basically, keeping the original floor plan and just updating all the surfaces to be new and prettier. The original floorplan was not bad (minus the odd pony wall that separated the dining room and living room and broke up the whole flow of the space), so I’m not disappointed about the floorplan. The whole idea with adding a bedroom was just to add value to the home (3 bedrooms can fetch a higher sale price than 2), but you can’t add any value if you go over budget, so we scrapped my grand plans and went back to basics.

The other change in plans: we are now living in the house! I’ve mentioned it before in my post about #thebravehouse becoming an Airbnb, but we decided since we have two houses, it makes the most financial sense for one of them to be generating cashflow or at least paying for it’s mortgage and utilities. So even though we’re living in an unfinished house and all my socks have sawdust stuck to the bottoms, I’m very happy to a.) be spending SO much more time with Dan (he used to go straight from work to the house to work on it, then come home, go to bed and repeat. Needless to say, this girl whose love language is quality time was feeling a bit starved for our marriage to have time together), b.) be able to put in work on the house myself while Jack is either playing outside or in his room and during his naps, and c.) be generating an income with the other home I spent years crafting and curating!

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So as a little reminder: here is the original kitchen. This photo was taken the day we got the keys. The lower cabinets are the same, we just painted them black (Behr Broadway, the same color we have on the exterior, just in an eggshell sheen. Exterior is a semi gloss). We decided to get new uppers because I wanted them to be taller. The old cabinets felt too short and I wanted something that drew your eye upward and made the room feel taller. I have a couple more to put up, one over the fridge and one on the right side by that window, and then we’ll do a hood over the range and open shelving on either side of that, butting into the cabinets, like so:

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We’re gonna pop an island in there because this kitchen is HUGE. The floor is going to be a concrete-look 12x24 tiles, and then I’m thinking of doing a black tile backsplash, which would definitely be a bold move, considering the cabinets are also black, but I definitely don’t want to do a basic white tile. After all the basic stuff is taken care of we can move on to more fun stuff like putting in pendant lighting over the bar/peninsula and replacing the gross fluorescent light in the center of the kitchen, maybe putting in some can lights for optimal light in the space, and wrapping the odd little beam above the peninsula so it looks more intentional and not just a weird bump on the ceiling. Oh and giving everything a fresh coat of white paint.

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We’ve got a lot of work to do. We definitely didn’t do this whole thing in the most efficient way and it’s been a huge learning experience, but we’re trucking along and chipping away at each project on our very long to do list.

Shake Shake Shake

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It’s way more fun to go out to cool places with Jack now that he can enjoy them as a little kid. One of his new favorite spots is Shake Shake Shake in Tacoma’s stadium district. He doesn’t usually get much in the way of sweet treats so I think the milkshake may have blown his mind a little bit.

If you’re looking for a fun, family friendly spot to grab a classic burger, fries, and shake, Shake Shake Shake is definitely a perfect (and very instagrammable) spot that’s a must-try. It’s just a short walk from the historic Stadium High School which was featured in 10 Things I Hate About You, and there are tons of other great small businesses and restaurants to check out in the surrounding few blocks. I suspect I’ll find myself popping into Shake Shake Shake many more times this summer on the hot days when a shake sounds like the perfect antidote to the heat.


Photos by
Amy Vaughn Photography