How to make money with house hacking

Here’s a major post and introduction to how to make money with house hacking. Have fun with this…

I don’t know if this happens to you, but I’ve noticed that once every so often I experience a point of inflection in my thinking on a given subject. A paradigm shift, if you will, whereby through a lucky synthesis of personal reflection and external circumstances I am lead to clarity that I hadn’t known prior.

Recently I had one of those events – a big one, which resulted in clarity on a whole host of issues pertaining to business, money, productivity, and success!

But before I go on (don’t laugh now) – it so happens that I experience most of these paradigm shift moments while in the shower. It’s true – I get a lot of my best ideas while in the shower… Am I alone on this?

I don’t think this makes me a weirdo (at least this is what I tell myself).  After all, in the shower a generally relaxed state conducive to clarity of thought  is brought about by a combination of warm water falling gently on my skin, the knowledge that I am cleansing the “bad stuff” out of my system, and the feeling of “alone-ness” resulting from an attitude I’ve cultivated in my household that when daddy is in the shower – back off… All and all, shower makes me smarter than I typically am 🙂

There’s only one other place in the house that makes me smarter than I am, but it wouldn’t be appropriate to talk about that…can you guess? Lol

But back to serious now – I do get lots of great ideas while taking a shower, and I always have. In fact, every time before stepping in I condition myself to expect some good and clear thinking to take place.

Just to illustrate the point (and you will probably laugh at me), but I just rehabbed our bath as part of a wider scope of work in the house we just bought and moved into in Chandler, AZ, and while I could have saved money in that bathroom, I went all out with travertine, half-inch glass, granite, and all the rest. The thought was – if this is the place in the house where I KNOW FOR A FACT I am going to be inspired with my best ideas, I owe it to myself to make it as nice as possible:

Well, having said all this, let’s get back to my most recent paradigm shift, which happened, you guessed it – in this shower, about three weeks ago (in March of 2017), and as a result I am now at once working on a new book, and planning 3 new businesses. I don’t mind telling you that I’ve not been this excited in years!

The Shower that Cleared My Mind

It is important to understand that as I am writing this, I am already a pretty accomplished guy. To start with, my wife, Patrisha, is as beautiful as she is inspirational, and our marriage represents perhaps my greatest accomplishment. My kids, Aaron and Isabella, are bright, sensitive, and well-fed, and since our move to Arizona they attend school in what I deem to be the best school district in the country, the Basis Charter Schools. I have some real estate cash flow, and some business cash flow, and conspicuously absent within the fabric of my life is anything that remotely resembles a JOB. I work on what I want, with whomever I want, I drive Tesla, I travel, and I live in a very nice house in Chandler (for free, but more on that in a bit).

In short, I’ve worked hard to achieve some sense of freedom, and I have indeed achieved some.

But – I want more!

The whole point of life is to design things to be exactly as you want them to be, and while the picture I painted above likely reads pretty good to you, and it’s all true, not all things in my life are where I want them to be…

So – what happened to me during that shower can best be described as clarity of perspective on my financial life. A chain of thinking ensued while I was standing under that stream of warm water which lead me to fully comprehend all aspects of what I’ve done to get here, what has worked, what hasn’t worked and why, and what I need to do more of in order to keep achieving.

As I stepped out of the shower that morning, I had a total and complete image of an ecosystem in which my financial life works as intended. All of the pieces of this ecosystem fell into place, and all of them became real to me in that moment. I realized that all I have to do now is materialize some of the missing pieces into existence.

As you can imagine, this could easily turn into a wide-scoped conversation more appropriate for a book than a blog article. A book that discusses all aspects, phases, and tools of the ecosystem that I see so clearly in my mind’s eye, where each chapter providing you with both perspective and tools for building your own ecosystem. Or, perhaps, a book is not enough…

But, that’s for later. For now, I’ve decided to write a series of articles exploring one tool/technique within the ecosystem of entrepreneurial life-design. I am talking about house-hacking – a technique which allows me to live in an upscale home (for free); the technique which can allow you to live anywhere you want, any time you want – for free!

#1 Major Premise (before I dig into househacking)

I am committed to shifting the global paradigm of your thinking in the next 12 months, which is how long it’ll take for me bring to life all of the projects I see in my mind. I can’t get into most details now, but one concept needs to be internalized by you right away, or you’ll be lost going forward.

That day, in the shower, I had many internal conversations, and one of them went like this (PAY ATTENTION and TAKE NOTES):

Question:     Are you rich?

Answer:     No. I am doing well, but I am not rich.

Commentary:     If you’re not rich, you cannot afford to do whatever you want just because you want to do it. An ability to completely live on your terms is the prerogative of people who’ve made it – you have not…

Question:     OK. But we only live once – how do I design my life to incorporate all of the things which make my heart sing if I cannot simply stroke that check?

Answer:      In order to have a thing, that thing must make money.

Commentary:     Since I am not rich and cannot simply indiscriminately stroke those checks, I must adapt the position that I can have anything I want – so long as it makes money. Put differently, I can do and touch anything I want, as long as I can figure out a way to rig it so that it makes money!

And is this not exactly what I am already doing, I thought to myself? I thought about it:

  • You want to own real estate – fine, have other people pay for it.
  • You love to talk to people about the power of real estate ( – fine, have people pay you for some of this knowledge (CFFU). Talk all you want, as long as you get paid along the way.
  • You want to move to a nice place and send your kids to the best school you could possibly send them to – fine, make it easier by having someone pay your mortgage for you (househacking). In other words, go ahead and buy the best home you or your wife had ever lived in, just be sure to have someone else pay for it.

I am already doing all of these things. Call it luck, or providence, I somehow managed to rig certain aspects of my life in accordance with the principle – do it all you want, as long as it pays. But now, going forward, I’ve put on paper a formalized approach to life-design…

The Paradigm Shift – How to afford what you want in life

This is the first of many paradigm shifts I will deliver to you in the next 12 months. I am going to tweak your thinking around many things, of which this is the first:

The question is no longer: How can I afford it?

You can afford anything you want, as long as it makes money!

Let me say this again – this is important:

You can afford anything you want, as long as it makes money!

Thus, the real question is: This thing that I want – how do I rig it to make money so I can afford it?

And this applies to everything. You want to live on the beach – how can you rig it to make money? You want to travel – how can you rig it to make money? You want to talk about real estate investing all day – how can you rig it to make money? You want to swim, saw, paint, write music, write books, play volleyball, get a new sports car – how can you rig it so it makes money…?

Understand – if it makes you money, you can afford it! That thing you want, the thing you’d do for free all day but can’t afford to ‘cause you have family to feed and kids to put through college, that thing which makes your heart absolutely sing – how can you rig it so it makes money, so that you can afford it?!

Every day I roll out of bed, pee, wash my hands, splash my face, and ask myself these two questions:

  1. What do I want?
  2. How can I rig it to make me money?

And then I get into the shower, and the answers come to me 🙂

What Is House-hacking – Theory.

When we think about freedom, it is many things to different people. The amount of money in the bank, the amount of monthly cash flow, the number of revenue streams, the diversification of the revenue streams, the amount of time you spend managing those revenue streams, how many of the material things you want you can have, how much time off can you afford to take – all of these, and many others, are units by which we measure freedom. Whichever works for you – I’m good with it, even if I think differently.

One thing, however, I am sure we will all agree upon, and it is this:

Ultimate freedom is a function of being able to divorce yourself from any one physical location; it’s the freedom to live wherever you want whenever you want. Having the ability to move around freely simply is the truest personification of the ultimate freedom in all of our lives, and House-hacking is a tool that can help you do it!

A few paragraphs above I proposed that you can have anything you want, as long as it makes you money. Well, house-hacking allows you to have the house you want, in any place you want, because it turns your house into a money-maker, which either fully or almost fully pays for itself and therefore makes it easily sustainable for you to be there – anywhere…

This technique does require a bit of effort in a couple of different ways. First, by positioning your house this way you are either making a play for equity or income, both of which require certain skills and effort (I’ll talk about both in later articles). Also, since in order to accomplish a house-hack you will need to locate the right kind of an asset (you can’t do it with just any house), you will need to put effort behind locating such an asset…they don’t just lay in the middle of the road.

But, if making money with your primary home and turning it from a liability into an asset is important enough to you, if living for free or almost for free in a place that makes your heart sing is important enough to you, if facilitating the kind of freedom most people don’t even dare to dream of is important enough to you, then these are all very worthwhile inconveniences. Besides, if you do exactly as I say, and how I say, things will fall into place that much easier!

Now – I am not here to tell you that this is all you need, or even that house-hacking is the most efficient way to generate either equity or cash flow. I am not about to tell you that this is the only tool you need.

On the other hand, though, house-hack is certainly a tool in the belt that cures a particular problem in a life of an entrepreneur, and it does so well. It allows us to be highly mobile, provided other elements in the your entrepreneurial ecosystem are working.

And then there’s this – I’ve taught for many years that in order to be effective we must be willing to zag when everyone is ziging. Following the masses is rarely the most effective way to get ahead of the masses. Indeed, we have to play to our strengths and do what others cannot or will not for various reasons. Think of house-hack technique as a happy synergy of real estate investing and personal life-design which allows you to get to where you’re going faster by not bowing down to the convention.

What you will learn about House-hacking from this series

  • Is househacking a good idea?
  • What is house-hacking and how can I make money with it (3 ways)?
  • Should I buy an investment property, or house-hack?
  • Does house-hacking work better with vacation rentals or long-term rentals?
  • Is AirBnB, or HomeAway, or VRBO better for vacation rental house hacking?
  • Can house hacking pay for my primary house mortgage?
  • What type of house is good for house hacking?
  • How do I know a good city to house hack in?
  • How do I find the right neighborhood to house hack in?
  • What are the benefits of house hacking?
  • How do I handle safety when house hacking?
  • How do I handle privacy when house hacking?
  • How much work is it to rent part of my primary house?
  • How much money can I make house hacking?
  • Will my mortgage let me rent part of my property?
  • What taxes do I have to pay with house hacking?
  • What renovations do I make for AirBnB?
  • Do HOAs allow me to rent part of my primary house?
  • How to set price on AirBnB and other sites?
  • And much more…

So, buckle your seatbelts ladies and gents. If you want freedom, I’m about to tell you how, starting with the case-study of my house-hack!

Much more to come…


  • Giezi Reply

    Very intriguing! Can’t wait to read the rest. I’m already trying to come up with answers to those questions. Meaning, my brain wants to break a sweat. Thank you Ben and keep it coming.

    • Ben Reply

      Much good stuff is coming, Giezi. I think I’m on a roll 🙂

  • Brian – Rental Mindset Reply

    Wow, I’m looking forward to this. I’ve heard a lot about house hacking, and have several of those questions – especially evaluating it vs getting rentals in cheaper cities (which is my current path).

    • Ben Reply

      Keep an eye out, Brian. I have this entire series planned over the next 2 weeks 🙂

  • Philippe Busque Reply

    It’s funny I was just thinking about this exact thing this morning.

    I want a motorcycle, all I’d need to do is get a room mate and BAM, free motorcycle and some change on top… But do I really want to deal with someone in my personal space? If it was easy everyone would be doing it huh.

    Waiting for more of your stuff ben, always a pleasure to read, good luck.

    • Ben Reply

      Well, if you do it the way I am doing it, you won’t be dealing with anyone in your personal space, Philippe 🙂

  • alex Reply

    Good staff Ben as always, I need to start meditating while I am showering as well.

    • Ben Reply

      Haha – magic is all in the shower!

  • Andrew N. Reply

    Really looking forward to this Ben! A multi-family house hack isn’t in the cards for my wife and I currently, so I’ve been trying to pitch on the house hack that rents out our bottom rooms (we have no kids currently and spend much of our time upstairs). Hoping this series will help me cajole her! 🙂 Thanks for all that you do.

    • Ben Reply

      I’ll do what I can for you 🙂

  • Darrell T Reply

    Ben you know as Ralph use to say to Alice..”You’re the greatest”. sounds like it will really be a good series

    • Ben Reply

      Thank you, Darrell 🙂

  • Sharon Vornholt Reply

    Great article Ben. How do you like Arizona?

    • Ben Reply

      Thanks, Sharon! And, loving Arizona. Flat out I think it’s the best place to live in the US, and I looked 🙂

  • James Rodgers Reply

    I am excited about the timing on this. 🙂 We just sold our house. Staying in an apartment for free until we find the right house to hack. Wife, 2 kids, the whole shebang.

    • Ben Reply

      James – you’re going to love this series. Wife, 2 kids, the whole shebang living in a great house for free 🙂
      Stay tuned!

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