Best Energy-Saving Tech For Your Home

Hi everyone! Michael Gortenburg here! Over the course of my career, I have always put focus on how to make housing more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

In 2022, it is easier to make environmentally-friendly changes to your home that will save energy and money. If you dread getting your electric or gas invoice every month, here are a few upgrades you can make to help shrink your bill.

Solar Panels

If you are looking for a new way to power your home, consider installing solar panels on the roof of your house. Solar panels convert sunlight and heat into energy and reduce your reliance on the more traditional power grid. You can use the energy directly or store it for later use. While this option can be a bit costly, it is a long-term investment in using a renewable and sustainable resource that will save you considerable money down the line.

LED Lights

LED lights are the most energy-efficient bulbs on the market, so you can have incandescent lighting without the environmental impact. Unlike halogen or CFL bulbs, LED bulbs don’t radiate as much heat. They don’t emit UV rays or contain any toxic materials like mercury. LEDs are also incredibly durable, some even lasting up to 20 years without going out, saving you money every year.  

Smart Thermostat

Another must-have piece of green tech for your home is a smart thermostat. As summers get hotter and winters get colder, you may find yourself adjusting your thermostat more and more just to stay comfortable at home.  Smart thermostats control the temperature for you, making sure that your home stays the perfect temperature regardless of if you need heat to keep warm or air conditioning to cool off.

Smart Power Strips

We are all familiar with the traditional power strip. You know, the ones that plug all of your cords into a single outlet? If you keep those strips on even when you aren’t using your devices, you might not be thinking about how much energy you’re still using by keeping them plugged in. If this sounds like you, consider switching to a smart power strip. This piece of tech uses a remote to turn off the device and save energy, money, and the environment.

 Making your home environmentally friendly is an investment that shouldn’t break the bank. Adding green tech to your house is a simple way to live a more sustainable and energy-efficient life. Do you have any green tech in your home already? Let me know on social media!

Michael Gortenburg, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri.

Also follow Michael Gortenburg on Medium, Twitter, and Xing.

Embracing Tikkun Olam

Embracing Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.

Hello! It’s Michael Gortenburg!

As many of you know, I take pride in my Jewish heritage. The values of Judaism have always guided me in my personal and work life and today I wanted to talk about one of the most important values: Tikkun Olam.

Tikkun is most often translated to “repair,” but it can also be used to mean improve, fix, or prepare, among other definitions. Olam in modern Hebrew has come to mean “the world.” So Tikkun Olam is a concept that means “repair the world.”

In Jewish teachings, it is any activity that makes the world a better place, and everything we do is an opportunity to fulfill this task.  Whether we are fixing what is broken in the world or improving something that already does some good. It’s a key theme in Jewish tradition, and in the stories, we pass down through the generations. Whether it’s donations to those who need it most or days of community service, we can all do little things to make the world a better place for everyone.

I want to encourage everyone to take some time out of their week to make the world a better place, to repair the world bit by bit. There are opportunities everywhere and all we have to do is take them.  As a matter of fact, here in Kansas City, there are many organizations that you can volunteer with to take part in Tikkun Olam. Here are a few recommendations for places to start.

Volunteer KC, Inc.

Volunteer KC works to support nonprofit organizations and homeless outreach groups by providing volunteers and donations to those who need it most. In 2020, their volunteers spent 1,830 hours putting together food boxes, donations, and resources that totaled $482,000. That is an incredible impact on the local community, especially at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are interested in volunteering with them, visit https://www.volunteerkc.com/volunteer to learn more.

NourishKC

Nourish KC works to ensure that everyone has access to hot, fresh, and nutritious meals. They have three different programs: Kansas City Community Kitchen (KCCK), Food Rescue, and Culinary Training. They envision a community where all people have equal access to healthy food. During the height of the pandemic, the KCCK served nearly 88,000 free meals to anyone that came to their door. NourishKC’s volunteer program offers two shifts every weekday and some weekend opportunities. To learn more, visit their website here.

Wayside Waifs

This is the perfect place to volunteer for anyone who loves working with animals. Wayside Waifs is committed to finding the perfect home for adoptable pets and is the largest pet adoption campus in the area. Whether you like dog walking, community education and events, or working in the vet clinic, Wayside Waifs has opportunities in nearly every area of the shelter. For more information on volunteering your time, click here.

These are just a few places where you can spend your time embracing Tikkun Olam in the local Kansas City community. Tikkun Olam isn’t difficult, but we must commit to making it a part of our everyday lives.

I think author Krista Tippett said it best, “It insists that each one of us, flawed and inadequate as we may feel, has exactly what is needed to help repair the world that we can see and touch.”

Until next time!

Michael Gortenburg, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri

Also follow Michael Gortenburg on Medium, About.me, Xing, and Twitter

Are resto-mods a cardinal sin?

Hello there – Michael Gortenburg here.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a soft spot for automobiles (you can check out my previous blog on this subject here). I love that each one provides an entirely unique experience. A car doesn’t need to be fast to give me a thrill. All it needs to have is soul.

What does that mean? It means a car that is itself an experience. A car that has its own personality, its own flaws and defects, its own unique way to move along the road. A car that reminds you at every moment that you are in something special, and the experience is yours and yours alone.

Modern cars with all the bells and whistles can give you that, and I’ve driven some incredible ones that use hybrid technology. The electric motors provide tons of torque while the engine gives it power once you off the line. There is nothing like being pushed deep into the seat by the g-force of a launch. It is invigorating.

At the same time, old cars (most of which are pretty slow by today’s standards) can provide unique experiences as well.

Recently, I’ve been interested in something that bridges the gap between old cars and new – they are called “resto-mods.”

Resto-mods are essentially old, classic cars that have been completely stripped down, then rebuilt using modern parts. So, for example, you could have a 1969 Lamborghini Miura, an absolutely beautiful car but with incredibly unreliable performance, and replace its engine, suspension, transmission, and brakes with modern parts from a contemporary Lamborghini. Is this sacrilege? To some people, yes absolutely it is. But if you are more concerned about enjoying your car than getting the approval of others, it could be a good option. After all, would you rather spend your time fixing your car, or driving it?

Resto-mods are still considered the black-sheep of the car collecting world; however, but I believe that is going to change. Younger people are used to driving reliable cars and most are completely unaccustomed to doing their own repairs. They want immediate gratification, and a resto-mod can give that to you.

Most of the resto-mods currently on the market are American cars, especially muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s. That makes sense because those cars are notoriously easy to work on. Large engine bays mean you can reach everything without removing half of the bodywork, and simple engineering with minimal electronics makes doing things like engine swaps a lot easier.

Now most of those resto-mods are done by home mechanics, so just imagine what you could accomplish if you used the kind of resources that could pay for a hypercar. You could have one of the most unique classic cars around, with modern-day performance to match.

Imagine a Jaguar E-Type from the 1960s with a reliable and efficient drivetrain. Or a Mercedes Grosser with a Bentley W12 engine. Or, for a laugh, how about a Volga with a new Porsche engine and carbon brakes? You get the idea. The possibilities are endless and there is nothing wrong with having a little fun, no matter what the purists say.

What do you think? Do you think this modern twist on classic cars is a cardinal sin? Or are they ok in your book?

Talk soon,

Michael Gortenburg, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri

3 Strategies to Help You Acquire Premium Real Estate Investments

Before my partner and I built the foundation for Eighteen Capital Group (18CG), I started buying and flipping residential properties around the age of 36. Flipping residential homes in the Kansas City area soon became a passion of mine, and a few years later with a couple of flips under my belt, I was ready to elevate this hobby of mine. Within the next few years, I went into the apartment building and management business where the idea for Eighteen Capital Group came to life.

My career has been shaped by making smart and informed real estate investments–as this market has the ability to bring great wealth to individuals who have a keen eye for investment, economics, and of course, risk. With the right strategies, real estate investments can generate extra income and propel your business forward.

If you have an interest in real estate ventures but are unsure of where to start, here are three of my top strategy recommendations.

1.) Fix it and Flip it

Flipping houses was my first step through the door of real estate investments, and it truly gave me a deeper appreciation for the industry as a whole. You value the time, the money, and all the details that go into each renovation. The fix and flip strategy is optimal for those who like a good challenge. The key to flipping a home is locating a property that exudes potential. You’ll want to think carefully about the location, the market, and the type of client the finished product will draw in. The fix it and flip it method is an excellent way to generate cash and support future projects.

2.) Rentals and Short-Term Buys

Holding short-term rental properties–typically one to five years–allows for property appreciation through rent prices, remodeling, and lower expenses. On the other hand, short-term buys are quite beneficial for those who invest in multi-unit apartments or have various flipping projects. Short term buys and rentals tend to work best in higher prices markets.

3.) Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)

For those who are interested in real estate investment, but don’t have the time to be too hands-on during the process, you may want to weigh the option if REITs. Real estate investment trusts allow individuals to invest in real estate without the need to be involved in every step of the way. But first, you have to select the type of REIT that will be most beneficial for you and your specific needs:

  • Equity REITs: property investments
  • Mortgage REITs: mortgage investments
  • Hybrid REITs: a mixture of property investments and mortgage investments.

While it’s essential to select the type of real estate investment trust that works for you, do note that each of them offers higher yields. This means you will receive a return in finances from the interest that others are paying on their mortgages.

What started off as a hobby, turned into a long-time and successful career for me. With the right strategies and mindset, the same can happen to you too. I hope you find these strategies useful in your next real estate investment endeavor.

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Missouri

Make Moving Day Easy

They say that moving into a new home can be one of the most stressful things that a person can deal with. Maybe that’s because there are a lot of things to consider: the commute to work, the kids’ new schools, learning how to get around the general area and more…there’s a lot. In fact, some people might feel a little overwhelmed throughout the whole process.

With such a stressful time, the one thing that shouldn’t be stressful is the actual move itself. As a Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri, I have seen a lot of movers in my time through our work developing and managing multi-family housing.

I’d like to share a couple of quick moving tips to make your next move a lot easier.

Tip #1: Start Early

After you’ve decided to move into a new home – it’s never too early to start planning. The planning phase includes researching your new area, strategizing for commutes, boxing up all of your belongings, scheduling movers, and a million other things that have to be completed over the course of weeks.

One helpful way to handle this often-challenging phase is to break the process down into small chunks and knock out the steps at a slower pace to avoid feeling rushed or overwhelmed. Make a list of steps that must be completed before/after the move (change your addresses, inspect and childproof the new place, etc.)

As far as packing – this is a perfect opportunity to throw out or sell all of those items that have been cluttering up your closets and spare rooms. You would be shocked at how much you can actually get rid of when you take the time for an honest assessment of what you need. It’s quite a freeing feeling to drop items from your past.

Another note on packing is to start with the nonessentials. Put away as many things as you can prior to the moving date, then once the final day rolls around – you will have very little to do. When you are packing for the final move, group boxes by room so that you can easily unpack them in your new place accordingly.

Finally, avoid harder-than-necessary moving experiences by place heavier items into small boxes

Tip #2: Make All Arrangements Ahead of Time

So, it’s move-in day and you’ve finally arrived with your new things, but there’s just one little problem – there’s no power!

After managing housing units for years, I am never surprised by the amount of people who forget to notify or setup utilities for their new place prior to moving in. Ideally, you should make contact with all services to have everything squared away by the time you arrive.

You will obviously need power to move in and will want the A/C circulating to clear out any sitting air. You will also need the water on and running, as you never know what impromptu cleaning may be needed when you start to settle in. And I would be shocked to see a family that doesn’t require the internet/cable for personal or work purposes upon moving in. All of these things can be arranged ahead of your move-in to avoid any last-minute headaches.

Also, make sure you work with any moving teams in advance so that everyone is on the same page for the big day. You don’t want to be sitting around waiting to load up your things. Luckily, most moving companies are very professional and will work to ensure your experience is as smooth as can be.

Tip #3: Settling In

Once you’ve finally gotten everything moved into your new home, it’s time to start the long process of settling in.

First, I always recommend a careful walk-through of the new property just to confirm that there aren’t any lingering issues that need to be dealt with. And make sure to check cabinets and to test out things like faucets, AC units, and power switches. Never just assume that everything works perfectly, because a previous tenant/owner may have neglected maintenance.

If you’re renting, go room to room and make a list of any problems that you encounter. You should have an opportunity to alert the landlord for repair and avoid responsibility for any damages.

Once, you’ve cleared the new place and you’re ready to begin unpacking, start with the essentials first. Things like setting up your bed, stocking away any groceries that you might have, and organizing your bathroom are all great places to begin.

Then it’s really a matter of taking your time and unpacking as you go. You may wish to experiment with furniture placement, or you might want to just dive right in – but this is the part of the process where you can relax and have fun with it.

Moving In and Moving On

Moving to a new place can really be stressful. Don’t make it extra work with added difficulty. It ultimately comes down to planning. The earlier you start, the more time you have to prepare and the easier the process will be.

Hopefully by following these simple tips, you’ll be more prepared to deal with the day when it inevitably comes.

If I left anything out, feel free to drop some tips in the comments below.

Until next time.

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Missouri

Advice for Landing a Nice Room with Airbnb

You can get a stylish room for a decent price on Airbnb if you know how to properly use the platform.

It never ceases to amaze me just how dramatically technology can change the way we live our lives. When the personal computer was introduced, it took a couple of years for use to become mainstream – but now you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t use a computer throughout the day.

Now with the smart phone and constant access to the internet, we have more options available to us than ever before and entire industries are being revolutionized – including the travel industry.

You may know by now that traveling is one of my favorite hobbies, and one of the biggest technological changes to affect traveling is Airbnb.

For those who might not know, Airbnb is a platform that allows users to host/rent rooms with a simple tap of the finger. Hosts prepare a room in their home or property and place an ad on the platform which then allows guests to browse and secure dates for the room as needed. Airbnb rooms essentially function as a less expensive hotel room – or even an apartment for long-term use.

The great thing about Airbnb is that it gives shared control of the stay to the host and guest, without corporate policies getting in the way of a mutually beneficial deal. And Airbnb rooms can be found all over the world – opening up new traveling options that would otherwise be impossible.

Today, I’d like to share some quick tips for using Airbnb to maximize your traveling plans.

Review the Listing Carefully

Reading the full review and paying attention to small details can mean the difference between an amazing stay and a bad experience.

It goes without saying that you should take a careful look at any listing before booking. Some hosts will have “creative” ads to entice guests, and while they may have the best intentions, you want to ensure that the place fits your expectations on your trip.

For example, sometimes a room may be described as “cozy” but should really say “small.” Or if a listing says “private” but doesn’t indicate a separate room – there may just be a curtain blocking your bed from view of three other people in a shared room.

Make sure to look at the photos that are posted. Does the room look clean? Does it show all of the things listed in the ad? A picture is worth a thousand words.

Most Airbnb hosts are honest enough with their listings (they want good reviews after all), but it’s always best to really look over the ad to avoid any disappointment. Speaking of reviews, read them. Reviews will also give insight into the listing as well as the host. If a host has dozens of positive reviews claiming that the spot is a good deal, is clean, is convenient, etc. – then it’s a safe bet that you will enjoy your stay there.

Like all things, learning how to spot a good deal on Airbnb can take some time and experience. The higher the price for your stay, the nicer the place will be – but you can find some really good deals on a room that fits both your expectations and budget with a little investigating.

Booking for Deals

Book your room at the rice place at the right time for extra savings on your trip.

When you are booking Airbnb rooms, it’s important to understand and anticipate any fluctuations that may affect pricing. For example, if the place you’re traveling to has a tourist season, the prices might be higher during a time when more people are booking Airbnb stays.

Naturally, hosts don’t want to lose out on any opportunities so keep this in mind when booking your stay. One way to grab the best deals and the best rooms is by booking weeks in advance. One of the benefits to Airbnb is being able to seamlessly secure a stay, but you will get better deals and better rooms by taking the time to book early.

Depending on how long you will be in the area, you may want to book for extended stays (a couple of weeks or even months.) Airbnb and even hosts will factor in discounts for extended stays – saving you hundreds of dollars that you would have otherwise paid for the spot.

When you do book a room MAKE SURE YOU BOOK THROUGH TO THE NEXT DAY!

Airbnb calculates the last day as move-out day, so book through to the day you want to leave.

Contacting Hosts & Support

Airbnb has a phenomenal customer support team who are available at all hours in case there is an issue with your stay. If you are unhappy with your room or if you cannot contact the host – the Airbnb support team will work tirelessly to address your concerns.

They are also known to offer you discounts or comped services if things don’t work out with your experience. For example, if a host accepts your booking but does not coordinate with you for your arrival, you may want to contact Airbnb support as they can offer you hundreds of dollars in credit toward another room. That means you will get a much nicer stay for the same price.

Also, it is always a good idea to contact hosts prior to your stay. Some hosts leave their listings in auto-accept, but may never check their app – meaning they might not know that you’re arriving! To avoid any issues with your trip, just contact the host through the Airbnb platform before your stay and sure up everything.

Final Thoughts

Travel the globe and get great places to stay through the power of your mobile phone.

Airbnb’s are a great experience and a great deal for anyone looking to travel on a budget or for people who want to avoid stuffy hotels. A lot of Airbnb rooms are really nice places with even nicer hosts who will entertain you and give you a glimpse into the life of a local.

When you use Airbnb, make sure that you are respectful and treat the room as if it were your own. There is a review system after all, which could determine your opportunities later on. And make sure to leave an honest review of your stay – it keeps the platform accurate and hosts always appreciate good feedback and credibility.

Hopefully you can use these tips on your next trip if you’re interested in using Airbnb.

Safe travels,

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Knows BBQ!!

Michael-Gortenburg-Kansas-City
Kansas City, Missouri BBQ

There are many areas of the country where you can find great barbecue, but there’s something special about Kansas City.

One of the reasons Kansas City stands out is the high concentration of amazing barbecue restaurants we have in a relatively small area. Today, there are over 100 area barbecue establishments, each boasting its personal house specialty – ribs, pork, ham, mutton, sausage and even fish.

But few people know that the Kansas City barbecue tradition actually started with a man named Henry Perry in the 1920’s. Perry had a stand in downtown Kansas City where he served smoked meats to nearby workers. Using an outdoor pit, the man who is simply known today as the “The Barbecue King,” sold slow-smoked meats wrapped in newspaper for 25 cents in the Garment District.

Perry’s stand was an instant success and the barbecue trend quickly caught on. He later opened what many people believe was the first barbecue restaurant of its kind in North America. The restaurant, a converted trolley barn, quickly emerged as the city’s major cultural point during the 1920s and 30s.

Over a period of more than 100 years, the city generated its own style of barbecue, which is commonly known today as Kansas City barbecue. Often described as the “world’s barbecue capital,” Kansas City is home to large, well-attended barbecue cooking contests – the two most notable being in nearby Lenexa, Kansas and at the American Royal.

Barbecue in Kansas City is more than just a menu item or a method of preparation. It’s an institution, rich with history and culinary tradition that has shaped the city’s dining landscape since the early 1900s. For decades, visitors from across the globe have traveled here, drawn by the smoky aroma, just to get a sample of KC’s acclaimed cuisine.

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City Missorui

Life is Better in Kansas City

I’ve lived in Kansas City, Missouri for my entire life. While I’ve spent extensive amounts of time traveling abroad, I always find myself happy to come back to this beautiful city with its rich culture and history.

Here are few reasons why I think Kansas City is such a special place:

City of Fountains

Michael-Gortenburg-Kansas-City
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City has over 200 stunning fountains within its city limits. This distinction places it as the 2nd city in the world with the most fountains, just behind Rome, Italy.

The city is also commonly referred to as the “Heart of America” due to its close proximity to the geographic center of the United States. And while this may be the obvious underlying point in the name, this really sums how residents here truly feel about their home.

Aside from the numerous fountains, there are other unique designs that give Kansas City a unique charm. Renowned fixtures like the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Kansas City Star Building give the downtown area a contemporary feel with their striking features – while the historic New York Life Building remains a tribute to the city’s rich past.

There are also a slew of tremendous museums and attractions to visit across the city, such as the National WWI Museum and Memorial, the American Jazz Museum, and the famous Kansas City Zoo. Of course, we also have the Kansas City Chiefs and the Royals for our second-to-none sports fans.

Whatever your personal style or interests, this town has it all.

The Full Menu

Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City has some of the best restaurants in the nation, with more barbeque restaurants per capita than any other city. And while the historic connection between the Missouri city and BBQ is well documented, there are tons of amazing options for residents and visitors.

Eddie V’s Prime Seafood is an exquisite upscale seafood establishment that provides the best cuisine of the sea along with nightly jazz. In addition, there’s the distinctive Austrian restaurant, Grunauer, paying homage to the immigrants who helped settle the area in the 19th century.

My personal favorite would have to be Bluestem. Winning a James Beard award in 2013 – this restaurant is the epitome of fine dining. From the moody atmosphere to the decadent seven-course menu, this place is an unconditional must if you’re in the Kansas City area.

A Balanced Life

Ultimately, Kansas City is about balance. It’s a vibrant world-class destination that attracts educated, driven people who like the bustle of a large metro area. But the city also holds on to its Midwestern values that set it apart from cities on the East and West coasts. And Kansas City is a place where you can truly enjoy life and experience everything without feeling rushed or frustrated by traffic.

For me – and the half-a-million people who live here – it’s absolutely perfect.

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City Missouri