Home Owners become Modern Day Inn Keepers

I’m sure you’ve seen the movie, “The Holiday” staring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black and Jude Law about two single ladies who traded homes in England and Los Angeles during the holidays. This is one of my favorite movies, not because of the house trading, more for the love story. Fast forward eight years from when that movie was released and the idea of house swapping started. Now people aren’t “house swapping” per se, but they are becoming Modern Day Inn Keepers of sorts.

I’m sure I have your interest now and you are wondering where I’m going with this. I know several people who rent their homes out when ever they travel. I also have a few other friends who just have extra bedrooms in their homes and one friend who has a basement apartment that they rent out regularly on a short term basis, to make extra money. They have set it up so it’s very easy to do and manage. It’s all done on an app called Airbnb. Anyone with a smart phone can download the Airbnb app and set up a profile. You can use the app to rent a place for your next trip just about anywhere in the world, or you can set your home or spare room/rooms up so you can rent them out to make money. Your extra square footage could be a gold mine that you never even thought of!

If you have an extra room or maybe a basement that could easily be turned into a basement apartment with a kitchenette and bathroom, this may be what you’ve been looking for to make extra money. You have to be ok with strangers being in your home or space when you aren’t home (if you are renting your place out when you travel) and when you are home if you are just renting out an extra room in your home. Some travelers love to rent rooms in local’s homes instead of being isolated in a hotel room.

Basically, if you do have a space that you could easily turn into a revenue producing venture there are a few things you will need to do in preparation to rent your space out.

First off, you will need to sign up on the app (Airbnb.com) then set up your complete profile, you will be able to tell your potential renters a little about you, your home and your neighborhood. You will write a description of your home or room in a way that will make them want to rent from you instead of someone else. If you have more than one room to rent, you probably want to list them separately. Make sure your home/rooms that you would like to rent are clean and tidy when you take photos of them before you upload photos that accurately represent what the space looks like. Your description and photos are what is going to sell your space, so make sure they show your space in the best possible way.

Once you are on the app and ready to set everything up, you can set your price, your cancellation policy, your cleaning policy (do they pay a cleaning fee or clean it themselves before they leave). Most of my friends, charge a cleaning fee then hire someone to go in and clean between rentals. Airbnb does take a percentage of whatever you rent your space for. So take that into consideration when you are setting your price.

The price for your space will be dependent on what the market in your area is like. In the Denver market, short term rentals are really hard to find and a lot of people are turning to Airbnb to find short term rentals until they can find a more permanent housing solution. Most of the people I know who are renting rooms or homes on the app charge between $75 and $200 a night. The price is dependent on what is offered with each rental. Some friends only offer the space while another friend also cooks her renters one meal a day (normally dinner) and that is included in the price of the rental. Most of them don’t allow more than a 28 rental. By only allowing short term rentals, they aren’t going to run into any landlord/tenant issues.

Some things one of my friends did to get ready to rent her space out while she was going to be traveling:

1. Secure valuables that you don’t want your renters to use away in a closet or cabinet and put a lock on the door that only you have a key for.

2. Clean out drawers and a closet so that your renters have space to unpack and hang up clothes that may need to be be hung.

3. Leave a couple of bottles of water, a couple of granola bars and a few pieces of fruit (fresh apples work great) with a welcome note for your renters. This is a nice thing to do in case your renters will be arriving late and may need a snack or a quick breakfast in the morning before they can get to the store to stock up on essentials.

4. If you want your renters to wash the sheets/towels before they leave/check out – leave instructions for them and if you have pay laundry, leave quarters for laundry.

5. Have a guest book for your renters to sign or leave you notes in. This is a great way to keep track of where your guests are from and share what a great time they had at your place.

6. Create an instruction/welcome page or book, that describes the house rules (if there are any), any nuances about your pipes, electricity, neighbors, etc… and has emergency contacts on it. If you are traveling and you are renting your space out while you are on vacation, you don’t want to get a call about your hot water heater bursting. I’d recommend you try to find someone to be the point person or emergency contact while you are away. Maybe a neighbor or the person you have hired to come clean between rentals can be your emergency contact?

7. Get a combination lock box to secure to your doorknob or someplace near your front door to secure your key in. Then only send the combination for the lock box to your rentals once everything is confirmed on the app.

8. Set up your banking info on the app, so that Airbnb can transfer the funds to your account once your guest checks in and everything is going great. I believe that Airbnb pays once the guest has been there for 24 hours minus the Airbnb fee. You’ll have to read the fine print on the website to know the fee percentage and the details of when you will get paid. Also familiarize yourself with how they handle cancellations and any complaints.

Once your space is clean, your valuables have been secured, you are all set up on the app and your place is set up on the app as a space for rent with the dates that it is available (you can specify when it will be available for rent and when it’s booked or unavailable), you can go on your trip and make money while you are away or rent your extra space out regularly to make extra money.

You will have to claim anything more than $600 on your taxes as income, but if you set yourself up as a business you can also write things off that you purchase or have to repair to keep your rental in top renting shape. So keep receipts for any home repairs, any thing you purchase for your renters (water, fruit, snacks & wine/beer if you leave these type of things for them) and more. Check with your tax person to get a full list of things you might be able to claim on your taxes once you set yourself up as a business.

The possibilities are endless as to how creative you can be with whatever space you have for rent. You can rent one room, several rooms, your entire house, your basement or even your camper that is sitting in your back yard empty. Whatever you decide to get ready to rent, I recommend that you sleep or stay in the space at least once before you rent it out to a stranger. This way you can fine tune the bedding, towels, amenities (guests love amenities) and anything else before you host your first paying guest.

I also recommend that you browse other rooms or homes for rent on the app that are in your market to get a feel for what your competition is renting for, what amenities they may offer and just get an idea for how many others in your area are renting spaces out on the app. If you live in or near a city or well traveled area, you will most likely be busier or rented more often. Even if you live in a more rural area, you may still be able to rent your space out. You may just need to add some extra’s in (think about adding a continental breakfast or wine & cheese hour in the evenings) to entice someone to stay in a more rural area. Some people love staying in Bed and Breakfast Inn’s and you could set yourself up in your description to sound more like a bed and breakfast to entice city folks to want to stay in your home.

I think this is a brilliant way to make money on unused square footage or to make money while you are on your annual vacation. Check out the app (Airbnb.com) and let me know your thoughts about this idea of renting out rooms or homes by using a smart phone app. If you end up renting your space, I’d love to hear how it’s going and any pointers you may have once you have renting your space down to a science.

Asking for help is hard!

In early February of this year during a fluke snow storm, I fell and broke my left ankle in two places. Not only was it extremely painful, but it also greatly limited my mobility. I’m still recovering but am thankfully mobile again and not dependent on others to help me any longer. I’m a very proud person and since I am normally the person most people call when they need help, it’s super hard for me to ask for help when I need it.

In this situation, I was in so much pain, on lots of pain meds and not really able to maneuver the crutches very well. I did reach out to friends and was more than amazed by the support and help that they were willing to give to me. They jumped into action and brought me lunches, dinners, cooked for me, cleaned my apartment and so much more!

For the first two weeks that I was injured, my fiance was great and got me all set up in the living room with a large water bottle, a thermos with hot water for tea (I LOVE English Breakfast tea and drink it all morning instead of coffee), snacks, pillows, magazines, my computer and anything else I may need before he left for work each morning. I was able to get to the kitchen to make lunch but bringing lunch back to the living room to actually eat it was super hard. If I didn’t have help, I had to balance on one leg while standing in the kitchen, at the counter, with my crutches and try to eat. Luckily my appetite wasn’t very big and I was also doing a crazy 40 day diet during this time, so I only ate twice a day and most meals were fairly easy to fix. My friends and a few acquaintances came to my aid no questions asked and without any reasons why they couldn’t help.  They were so helpful.  I’m still amazed and grateful!

I think for almost 3 weeks, during the most trying part of my recovery, I had someone over every day for an hour or longer.  They made me lunch, cleaned up my apartment or just hung out and kept me company while they worked on their laptop in my living room. It really made me see how many loving people I have in my life and how blessed I am. My family doesn’t live near and my friends have become my second family. Having help with chores was great, but having great company and knowing that these special people were here because they wanted to help during a tough time touched me more than they will ever know. I believe that most people are innately good and want to help and give back however small that may be. I also think that most people don’t know what they can do to help when things like this happen to loved ones. So my suggestion would be, if you need help, just ask. Some will say they can’t help, but you will most likely be pleasantly surprised (like I was) that most people would love to help in a small way if they can. I look forward to the day I can give back to all of those that helped me and are still helping me as I recover from my broken ankle. I am eternally grateful!

Summer…where has it gone?!

Wow! Summer has flown by this year. At Little Miss Idea, we’ve been busy helping our clients get organized, plan their summer parties and get caught up on all kinds of administrative & daily tasks. Summer is my favorite time of the year, with so much to do…festivals, weddings, bridal showers, parties, BBQ’s and more! My next favorite time of the year is Fall. I love the change in seasons and welcome the cooler temp’s. If Summer got away from you and you could use some help this fall, please keep Little Miss Idea in mind for any of your needs. We’d love to help you get organized, shop for your upcoming dinner party, get your holiday card/gift list started or updated well before the rush…whatever you may need help with, just ask! On a personal note, I will be embarking on a cross country road trip with one of my best girlfriends in September. I’m really looking forward to our one on one girl time and seeing what we can discover along the way. I love road trips. They remind of youth and feeling free. If you haven’t taken a road trip in some time, I highly recommend it. It’s good for your soul to get out on the open road. Even if it’s only a few hours away…it will do wonders for your spirit. Enjoy the rest of your Summer, with or without a road trip. If you do take one, I hope it leads you on an unexpected adventure!

Wellness Week is here NOW & Spa Week is coming in April – Pencil them in!

#48 –  Wellness or Spa Week, both are great reasons or excuses…if you need an excuse…to get a fantastic wellness massage or spa treatment.  And…YES…You do deserve it!

Twice a year, Spa and Wellness Centers across the country discount their treatment prices or come up with special pricing for certain treatments that they offer to new & returning customers to intice   If you haven’t ever had a massage or just haven’t had the time or budget to indulge in a spa treatment in some time…this is a great way to get pampered for less.

This weekMarch 19th – 25th, on Spafinder.com you can see what locations in your area (yes it is a nationwide campaign) are offering $50 services or 50% off services.  Check it out but make sure you call soon to make your appointment, as they do book up fast!

In April, the 16th – 22nd is Spa week.  Go to Spaweek.com to see the Spas that are offering great deals that week too. 

Make sure you pencil these dates into your calendar so you don’t miss out!  Hey…why not book an appointment for both weeks.  You work hard and deserve it!  Little Miss Idea will definitely be booking an appointment for one of those weeks for sure.

Cheers to Wellness!

Quick cash for the Holidays…Sell your old, unwanted or broken gold jewelry!

#57 – Sell your old, unwanted, mismatched or broken gold jewelry for immediate cash

I think I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but I thought it was worth mentioning again…if you have old gold jewelry that is broken, you don’t like it or maybe you’ve lost one earring…why not sell it to a gold dealer?  The value of gold is only going up and you just might be surprised by how much mula you can get for your old, broken and not worn anymore gold jewelry.

If you live in Colorad, I personally know a great gold buyer and will be happy to send you her information. She will even come to your house to weigh and inspect what you have.  If you refer to her to your friends, she’ll pay you a 5% commission too.  So just by spreading the word about how easy it was and how much money you made selling your gold, you make even more money.  If you’d like her info, please email me at:  littlemissidea@gmail.com and I will send it to you in an email.

Another thought about gold, is to host a gold selling party at your house and invite your friends over for a girls night in to socialize and make some money.  What a nice change, come over and make money instead of spend money!?!

Holidays = Gift Wrapping

#60 – Gift Wrapping at Department Stores or Shopping Malls

I love getting a fantastically wrapped package as a gift and try to be creative when wrapping gifts for my family and friends.  Most large department stores still offer gift wrapping services for free or a small fee.  If you love wrapping presents for birthdays and all the holidays throughout the year, this might be a great part time gig for you this holiday season.  I have a friend who worked evenings and weekends doing this for several holiday seasons to make extra money.  She loved giving customers beautifully wrapped gifts and even though she was on her feet long hours and got a few paper cuts along the way, she enjoyed the money she made making bows and wrapping pretty packages for appreciative customers.  Something to think about now before the shopping season is in full swing!

Holiday Ideas to Make Money Now through January

#61 – People are busy…

And…the holidays just make normally busy people even busier, adding stress and angst during a time that should be filled with love, fun and good times.  Why not start an “Errand Running” business that offers different types of services from picking up dry cleaning, prescription drop off and pick up, grocery shopping, gift buying, gift wrapping and delivery…if you think about the types of errands you normally run, I’m sure you will be able to come up with a great business plan that would be a huge help to these already busy folks.

An errand service is something to think about…ask your friends and family who are busy,  if a service like this would  benefit them and save them time, then ask them how much would they pay to get some time back in their week.  After all…time is money.  If you could save someone several hours in the week so that they could spend more time doing something they enjoy, I’m sure you could make some money doing this as a business.  Of course…make sure you do your research, check online to see what other services like this charge and compare the type of “errands” offered and if there is normally a charge for miles, a per errand charge or if they charge by the hour, etc… depending on where you live, you may want to limit the area that you service.  Gas prices are expensive and you’ll make more money if you don’t have to put lots of miles on your car to do this.  If you can run errands for more than one client in the same trip, you will also maximize your time and efficiency.  Maybe try to organize errands for clients who live in the same are for the same day?  This is a great time of year to offer this type of service and it’s also a great way to make some money, doing something that you already do for yourself!