Eularee Smith
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Airbnb - a good supplement income?

We would all like a little extra cash but at what price? I needed to do a few repairs to the house and after receiving several recommendations, including my daughter, about posting my house on Airbnb, I decided to give it a try. I was leaving for Florida with my mother for a couple of weeks and posted the house before I left, never thinking it would result in having to make immediate decisions before we landed.

I had three requests within a couple of hours of posting the house. Airbnb sends you the request and the potential rentor has a profile you can view prior to accepting. This was better than not knowing who was coming but, are they really going to tell you they are burglars or ax murders on their profile? What you see is a smiling face, usually with a dog or a family and a few particulars, where they live, some contact information. 

I took a leap of faith and while I was thousands of miles away on the east coast, someone was sleeping in my bed on the west coast. As it turned out, the first experience was not too bad. The second request said he never found the place and wanted his money back. Airbnb takes care of all of the money handling, which is a good thing. The money arrives in your bank account as the person walks through your door. 

The third request was a nice family from India, who politely told me that water beds were not good for sleeping. Since I have trouble sleeping on conventional mattresses, I have to disagree. The note they left told me how my things spoke to a life well lived. Hmmm, I think that may have been a way to say your house is cluttered, and somewhat lost in translation. 

After a few more visits, I decided this was not exactly the best way to stash a little extra cash for retirement. Once I factored in the cleaning, changing the sheets, hiring someone to come feed my animals and find a place to rest my weary head for the night (I started sleeping at the office), the few bucks and having stranger in my house was becoming less attractive. The holidays were quickly approaching, so I turned declined the next few requests and hunkered down for a long winters nap.

Then a request came in last week from a woman in Washington. She was from the area and often came back to her stomping grounds. This time it was to care for her brother and sister-in-law who were going through cancer treatment. She wanted to host them at my house and take care of them in royal style for the weekend. Since I am a cancer survivor of 23 years, I was immediately drawn to this request for making my home a refuge for this family.

Airbnb does a good job of handling the financial transactions. I have never had a problem with the money being in the bank on time. If you can choose who is coming and plan it around your schedule, it is a good way to pay the unexpected bills, or save for a vacation. There is some work involved, but you can negotiate the price to reflect your extra costs. My daughter added a cleaning fee and hired a cleaning service. Some of my friends only rent a room, which means they don't have to leave. Some offer a breakfast and others don't. There is enough flexibility that you can tailor the situation to meet your needs. The IRS does ask for the income to be reported on your taxes, so be aware. Airbnb sends you this information in January, so you don't need to keep track. Discuss any expenses required to rent your house with your tax consultant.

Is it worth a try? Yes, but go in eyes wide open, on your terms and know that there is no committment. Once I realized I didn't have to say yes to everybody, I felt much better about those I welcomed into my home.


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