Depending on the long-term plan for your home, there could be a number of “green” investments you should be considering as a cost-savings plan. Those looking to live in their house for just a few short months or years might not care about the maintenance costs as much, but they are very important to those who are looking to stay in their homes for the long run.
We have all been affected by the rise in the price of electricity, natural gas, water, and all of the other necessary utilities we pay for. However, instead of petitioning your local government leader, which more often than not is proved ineffective, take matters into your own hands. For years, environmentalists have been hard at work developing systems that save the planet by using less water, producing less electricity, and disturbing less natural habitat for mining and sourcing of other resources we often use in our homes without thinking. However, the time is nigh for us economists, (if we can call ourselves that) to get on board. Using less usually means paying less, am I right? On top of that, there are many financial incentives at the local and state level for embracing environmental retrofits in our homes.
Though some of these are better suited for large homes or institutions, many of these environmental solutions can be adapted to fit your home, and save you money over the years.
- Solar Panels
Many rule off solar panels as expensive, however, due to their popularity and the growing market, the price of solar systems has gone down significantly over the last ten years. Today, many individuals can afford to install a couple of panels on their roofs, especially when you take into account government subsidies. Depending on the climate you are located in and the space you have on your property, you can virtually decrease your electricity bill by half, or in some cases, be completely self-sufficient and sell the extra electricity you produced back into the grid.
- Hydronic Heating
Heating bills can get quite high in places with a harsh winter. Instead of paying for heating the air in your house, why not install a hydronic system which heats your home by circulating warm water under your floors. This gives the residents better control over the temperature of their house, as well as eliminating noise. Thanks to the fact that you are not pushing air around through a ventilation system, it’s also a cleaner and healthier alternative to traditional heating. Consult with plumbers specializing in hydronic heating system to have a better understanding of what this retrofit will mean for you financially. You’ll spend less money because you are getting a more efficient heating system, and the environmentalists in you will smile because fewer resources are being used and you still have the same result: a cozy home!
- Roof Smart
We all know that roofs have a limited lifespan- especially the tar shingle ones which most people tend to use in North America. However, though the immediate cost might be greater, there is a solid range of high-quality options which will not just last you longer, but will make your home more energy efficient by reducing thermal transfer, reflecting solar rays, and therefore providing lower heating and cooling costs.
- Low-Water Toilets
Have you ever really looked at a toilet and wondered why there was so much water in the bowl? Environmentalists certainly have! When you replace your regular toilet with a low water toilet, you literally stop flushing money away. And if you are worried about making sure that everything “goes down”, be comforted by knowing that for situations like that, there is an option for flushing with a fuller stream.
Staying green certainly pays off if you’re in it for the long run! If you are looking at shorter timelines, remember that these efficiencies are selling points for your home and add to its resale value, whether you continue to live where you are or not.
It seems like everyone is crazy about protein these days. “High in protein” is the newest selling feature, replacing “low in fat” or “low-sodium” in popularity and seemingly in importance. Protein is essential to the building of lean muscle and fueling your body in a healthy and efficient way. More recently, you’ll hear of high protein diets that are often utilized by those who want to lose weight.
No matter the motivation behind your high-protein preferences, whether its weight-loss or body building, keeping your lifestyle choice affordable is often a struggle. It seems like everything that tends to be high in protein has a proportionally high price tag.
If you are looking for ways to cut the fat on your grocery bill as well as your body, try these thrifty tips:
Embrace the Egg
Eggs are the best bang for your buck when it comes to protein content for your dollar. You can get a dozen for under $2 and can cook them in a variety of ways, from scrambled, to boiled, to fried, and in dishes like omelets, quiches, frittatas, and more. If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, limit how many yolks you use for each meal, and when necessary, increase your ratio of egg whites to yolks. If you don’t like the idea of throwing the yolks away, your family cat or dog will benefit from the healthy fats they contain.
Buy in Bulk
Whether it comes to buying lean beef, chicken breasts or nuts, you’ll often find that the more you buy at a time, the better the unit price. If you are a single or small household, it can seem backwards to buy twenty breasts at a time, but it could mean a lot of savings over the longer term. Freeze whatever lean meats you won’t eat within the next couple of days and defrost the night before you plan on preparing them. As for the nuts, keep them in an air-tight container in your pantry. This idea can be further compounded when coupled with a sale or promotion at the time of your purchase.
Take a Shake
We know that protein powder can seem very expensive, but the amount of protein you can get from just two scoops is incomparable to anything else you will get at that price. The great part is that it is both portable and easy to prepare, meaning that you don’t need to spend a lot of time or money in assembling it into a meal. Most choose to have a shake as a post-workout meal, a quick breakfast to go, or an easy lunch. Remember that most protein shakes can be treated as meal replacements, and if you calculate the price of one as a meal, you’ll find that it is the best deal in town!
Fall in Love with the Legumes
Legumes like beans are not just a great source of protein, they are also very high in protein while having a very low sale price. Whether you use the dried or canned variety, experiment with meals that incorporate these nutritional powerhouses such as soups, chilli, burritos, spreads and more. Don’t forget about the versatile chick pea or garbanzo bean which is the base of popular hummus. Try making your own unique versions at home to use as a fun dip or spread.
Feel comfortable with your high-protein grocery list by adapting some of these tips in your weekly visit to the store. Losing weight shouldn’t be made even more difficult by having it affect your personal financial bottom line.
While those with a professional background in contracting, construction, or related trades are welcome to look away, this post is for those American who have, are, or will be attempting to complete home renovation projects alone.
Investing in your home by staying on top of updates and necessary renovations is an important part of being a responsible home owner. However, some want to add value so badly, that they are willing to complete these renos alone, even if they have never even attempted anything similar in the past. In some cases, this positive, get-to-it attitude gives great returns, however there are certain projects which only the trained and skilled should attempt. Trying to bypass hiring a professional can not only have the potential of backfiring, it can end in a total and complete disaster.
Here are some projects you should never take on unless you have the licensing to do it legally:
- Electrical Work
There are a few reasons while electricians are always in high demand. For one, even if you plan on trying to get the wiring done yourself after finding a video tutorial on YouTube, you still need to hire an electrician. Why? Because in order for you not to void your own home insurance, you need to have an electrician come and sign off on the work done. By doing so, they certify that everything is up to code and is deemed safe. If something is off, you’ll most likely end up paying him to fix it and then give his stamp of approval. Was it even worth you trying in that case? Most often the answer is no. Another reason why DIY is not the best option for electrical work is because the risks created by doing it wrong are huge. Electrical fires are a common cause for home destruction in America, and if the insurance company finds out that it was due to your “fiddling”, you’ll get no help at all.
Plumbing is heavy-duty work which requires a lot of specialized equipment and tools. However, sometimes eager DIY advocates have no problem renting the equipment and getting down to work. The problem is that there is a lot more to plumbing than putting in tubes. Like an electrician, it’s a specialized trade with a specific code which the plumber uses to make sure that you and your family are safe in your home. There are a lot of risks involved with pressure and such, so if you do end up trying to manage it yourself, be prepared to get messy and risk ruining other aspects of your house, like floors, ceilings, walls, and more. Having a good relationship with a qualified and honest plumbing service is never a bad thing. That way you have access to qualified technicians for all types of emergencies regarding your plumbing problems, no worrying or waiting for parts to get in.
- Gas Work
Installing or modifying the natural gas in your home is probably a game that you should not play. Not only is having a gas leak a big possibility with even bigger repercussions, you also need a professional’s stamp of approval, very similarly as what you need from an electrician for electrical work. The safety of your family, and that of your home insurance policy, rests in this rule.
- Structural Work
If you are looking to add value to your home with the smallest financial investment on your end, the last thing you would want to happen is to have your home sink or collapse. However, this is a real possibility for those who attempt to do structural work without a full understanding of what it entails. Putting up additions, moving walls, or opening a space should all be approved and overseen by a qualified professional. Of course, you can jump in and do the dry walling and the painting, however let the engineers calculate the bearing loads of walls and beams while you calculate the returns on your home renovation investment.
Adding value to your home through renovations can be a great way to boost your investment portfolio. However, it’s never worth it if it’s not done correctly. Always look for good quality and thoroughness when hiring a contractor to work on your home, and if you are going to do it yourself, get a second opinion on your work.
The average American moved homes every 5 years, quite frequently if you ask me. Very often these moves are motivated by finances- either a promising, better-paying job has popped up in a town far away, the opportunity of cashing in the rise in equity in your current home, or loss of income prompting a move to a cheaper property.
No matter whether you think you are making money or saving it, remember that the move itself comes at a cost. So if you think that this move will improve your financial situation, also consider the real price of moving.
Here are some costs that some people forget to add to their spreadsheet of relocation expenses:
- Real Estate Agent Cut
If you sold your home for $500,000, there’s no way that you are getting that full amount deposited into your bank account. Before you even get a chance to pop open that bottle of champagne, your real estate agent would have taken his or her cut, anywhere from 2% to 6% of the total selling price. If your selling agent worked with another agent to bring in a buyer, they split the commission between themselves, but unfortunately you won’t see any of it.
- Land Transfer Tax
Land Transfer tax is the fee collected by the municipal government for transferring the name of the property deed to the new owners. This, unlike the real estate fee, is covered by the buyers, not the sellers of the property, and can range from 1% to 2.5% of the purchase price, depending on the geographical area.
There’s no way around it, the sale and purchase of a house comes with the need to hire a real estate lawyer to accomplish a few things among which will be the checking and transfer of title, and the closing. Though some decide to go without a real estate agent, the lawyer is an indispensable expense which you cannot get omit and can cost you anywhere between 1.5% to 4% of the sale price. There are benefits to more intimately involving your lawyer into the process of buying and selling your home. He or she can help avoid situations in which there is an issue with the brokerage commission, or unclear clauses in the offer or purchasing agreement.
- A Moving Team
The price of the actual physical move is also something to take into consideration when doing your math and seeing whether it’s financially feasible for you to change your living situation. When you add up the cost of the boxes, hiring a moving team, renting a truck or van, gas, and more, don’t be shocked if it ends up being more than four thousand dollars if the move is interstate. Local moves tend to be cheaper, probably half the price, but still a considerable sum of money. This price can become even more substantial if you need to hire movers specializing in moving heavy objects and pianos, or you have large fragile pieces that need special attention.
Of course, every situation is a little different, with those upsizing needing to buy more furniture, while those downsizing considering the rental of additional storage lockers to keep their excess items and furniture which won’t fit in their new home. Some houses are sold without appliances, or the existing ones are old and need to be replaced. Case proven, it costs money to move, and that doesn’t even cover the direct cost of the house or condo you are purchasing. If you still are thinking that it’s time to shoot the coop, make sure that you understand the full financial implications related to changing your address.