Category Archives: Spending

Saving Money – Part III

Ok, I didn’t really mean to turn this into a series this week, but I’ll blame the book I’m reading on this (I’ll do a book review next week on it). Today on saving money I’m going to touch on suggestions for housing and what makes up a really great place to live that will save you money.

1) Rent or buy near where you work, if possible. That way if you can walk to work think about all the cash you can save.

2) If you can’t rent/buy near work, can you do it near public transportation. In my case I’m only two blocks from a cross over point of several bus routes of which one runs with in a block of my work building. I currently car pool to work, but some days I still take a bus when the pool isn’t running. (A note for renters, if you always pay on time and have a great set of references ask for extras. I once got an apartment held for me for two months rent free because the landlord really wanted me in the apartment block).

3) Buy in a neighbourhood where you feel comfortable. If you don’t feel comfortable when your viewing the place, trust yourself to find something else.

4) Never buy in the ‘best’ part of town. Prices tend to be high and you don’t get a lot more house. Your basically paying more for a home for the name of its neighbourhood.

5) Layout is more important than the number of sq feet. My current house is only 186 sq feet bigger than my first home, but it feels huge all because of the open layout and the smaller bedrooms (where I never spend any time when I’m awake anyway). Also excessive sq feet just cost money to heat and more time to clean.

6) Buy the worst house on the perfect block for you. You can usually get it 10% cheaper than the rest of the neighbourhood and then you can fix it up to what you like for 5%.

7) Use an real estate agent when buying, but avoid one when selling. Real estate agents are very handy for buying a home because they cause you nothing, but don’t forget to check out private deals on your own. Obviously avoiding an agent when selling saves you thousands of dollars in commissions.

8) When you do sell your home. Make it spotless and clean up the clutter. Remember your not actually selling your house, your selling the dream of a perfect show home. 80% of people can’t see past the furniture to realize they are only buying the walls. If you do it right you can sell your home faster and for more money.

9) Also when selling your home don’t get greedy with the list price. A lower list price can spark bidding wars and ensure you house is off the market faster. Remember it does you no good to have a house on sale for a extra month just to get a few more thousand dollars. Your time is worth something.

10) Take your time. Find good housing is difficult, so don’t rush into anything if you can avoid it. Every problem I ever had with a place was due to me rushing in. So now I like to take it slow if possible.

Have a great weekend,

Saving Money – Part II

Today on this little series of saving money I’m going to present a few ideas about food.

The biggest savings of food out there is growing a garden. Yes it has some up front costs, but after that in the middle of summer you are eating fresh herbs/veggies/fruit for nearly free and depending on what you grow you can also freeze some for the winter.

Even if you are in an apartment and have at least one sunny spot by a window you can grow herbs and save a boatload of cash compared to buying them. I currently have a basil and chives plant in my living room. I’m not very good at growing anything, but if I can manage it, it isn’t all that difficult. Another option is to grow herbs in a pot outside if you have a balcony or any sunny spot in your yard.

If your lucky enough to have somewhere in your yard where you can grow a small garden, then I suggest growing things you like to eat (in my case carrots, beans, lettuce and strawberries). Start small and you can always rip up lawn to make it bigger. If your clueless about growing anything, head down to your library and ask for help finding a book about what grows in your area. Another great resource is talking to your neighbours with gardens, which also might prove useful if you over plant something and can trade it off to someone for some other produce.

After growing a garden my next food suggestion is simple: avoid eating out and prefabricated foods. If you cook at home from scratch, you will also be saving money. Obviously this can’t be done all the time, so don’t worry about the rare fast food run or deciding that you make horrible pies and you buy one from the store. It’s the habit of eating out all the time and using prefabricated food all the time that costs a lot.

So those are my suggestions around food. I like to keep this simple and eat well. If you have any other ideas please share.

Saving Money – Part I

On the path to early retirement the single biggest challenge you will face is controlling your spending. I take it for granted how I handle things, so I thought it would be useful to share a few things that I found cut back on my spending.

Since this is a fairly large area to cover I’m going to break this up into sections. Part I is about cutting back on your utility bills.

Power Bill
-use CFL lights in the house and LED Christmas lights
-turn off that computer when you are done (NOT power save mode)
-unplug anything you are not using right now to reduce phantom loads (for example: if your coffee pot has a clock on it, it’s using power, so unplug it when it’s not being used)
-if it won’t drive you nuts, put all your TV, DVD players, VCR’s on power bars and turn them off when they are not being used
-when you have to replace a major appliance look at energy star models
-when the oven is heated up try to cook more than one thing
-if no one is in a room turn off the light (I’m currently treaching my son this one)

Water Bill
-use low flow shower heads (2.5 gpm or less) that allow you to turn off water while soaping up (this also saves on your natural gas if you use it for hot water)
-change your aerators on your faucets to low flow versions (1.5 gpm or less)
-consider getting a rain barrel to save on summer watering of plants
-water the lawn early in the morning to save on evaporation
-buy a front load washer (they use less water and your clothes are dryer coming out so use less power in the dryer)

Natural Gas
-get a programmable thermostat and turn down the heat over night. If you find it too cold use a a few extra blankets on the bed.
-If there is only one bedroom being slept in you might want to consider dropping your house temperature even further overnight and using a space heater for the one room.
-turn down your water heater (the idea is to have warm water not very hot)
-when you leave the house for a few hours turn down the thermostat while you are gone
-install weatherstripping around your doors and if you have old windows use that plastic sheets to stop drafts
-during the warmer months look at your attic hatch to see if it seals well and also check out the insulation in your attic if your less than R40 you might be able to make some serious savings if you upgrade it.

Well that is a few of my tips. If you have more, please leave a comment and share.