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Saving Strategy: Avoid Upgrading Your Housing





This is a lesson that I'm in the process of learning.  If you plan on living a frugal life, it's much harder when building/buying a brand new house or upgrading your housing in general.  

The Building Process

We had every intention to keeping our house simple and even hoping to keep our expenses below the builder allowances.  That didn't happen. 

Why?  It's because in our heads, we were spending so much money already, why not spend a few more dollars and get the upgrades done NOW instead of later.  The convenience factor is big for us, and getting the upgrades done initially meant that our lives wouldn't be disrupted later.

Not only are the upgrades killer on the wallet, new furniture is needed for the bigger home.  No more sitting on empty beer boxes, now nice furniture is needed to go along with those new hardwood floors.  Nice new furniture = not cheap. 

The Maintenance

As we moved into a fairly nice neighborhood, the curb appeal of the homes in the area are expected to be kept at a certain level.  I guess it depends on what you consider nice, but keeping nice plants/grass/yard requires work and money.  I guess it's time to figure out some frugal ways to keep a nice yard.  Any ideas? 

The Jones factor 

Living in a nicer neighborhood means having neighbors with money.  Even though I intentionally try not to compete with people with regards to material items, it's hard to avoid some influence when their walls are 10 feet away.

Our old neighborhood was much more conservative with mostly blue collar workers who work hard for their money.  To be honest, I really liked my old neighbors and their conservative views on money.  

The Bills

Along with the upgrades and the bigger house comes higher energy costs and property tax. We expect our energy costs to be twice as much as our old place.  Along with higher energy costs, if we decide to get a LCD/Plasma TV, we'll have to upgrade to the High Definition cable package to take advantage of the new technology.

Final Thoughts 

In hindsight, staying in our old neighborhood would have saved us a TON of money.  However, the new spot is a better place for the kids(s) to grow up. It's a trade off between money and quality of life.  I guess I've found a weakness in my frugal armor.

The main point is that if you decide to take the leap and buy a brand new home or upgrade your housing, be prepared.  It may cost more than you think. 

photo credit: nancy hugo 





54 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. For some couple, avoiding to upgrade their house would result in an increase of the chance of separation. And this would become much more expensive than a nice kitchen… ;-)

  2. Interesting post – I think you’ll have to hold back on the furniture if you can.

    As far as the neighbours go – sounds like they need a good influence like you moving in – instead of worrying about trying to fit in, you should be going door-to-door spreading the gospel of the MDJ! :)

    Mike

  3. That’s an interesting topic FP, do you talk about your blog with your “real life” friends?

    FB, you are right, the wife likes the upgrades too much for me to say no. :)

  4. FT – to be honest I usually only talk money to the “already converted” friends…

  5. 5. Eric

    I can relate to this totally. My wife and I have thought about moving over the last couple of years and right now have decided to stay where we are. Part of me thinks the whole moving thing has to do with the building/buying frenzy of our current neighborhood. However, a new style house is something that both of us would like. A new style house would give us the extra room for a growing family. But in a few years our needs are going to change again as our children become teenagers and the house we are in now will be suited fine for that.

    Other reasons for staying – we have a beautiful property (cul-de-sac), great neighbors and it is our first house that we built on our own just before we got married. If we sold our house tomorrow we could turn a hefty profit after only 7 years but the cost of moving into a new bigger house would wipe that out. So, financially it makes sense to stay put and down size when our children are grown and moved out – probably at age 35 :)

    I think that would be a great topic one day – financially would it be better to stay in one house until you retire or to keep buying/building homes to upsize!

    Regards,
    Eric

  6. 6. MunEconomist

    If you built in the right area the upgrades aren’t really an expense per say are they? They are more like an investment then an expense.

    I think, its not what you spend but how you spend it that matters.

  7. MunEcon, I worded the title a little strange. The message that I meant to portray was that upgrading your lifestyle via buying a bigger house can be more expensive than you think.

  8. 8. Caitlin

    Neat post! I’m currently doing exactly what you’re doing – having a house built and upgrading parts of it as we go along! ^_^

    Along with the upgrades and the bigger house comes higher energy costs and property tax.

    Just wanted to say that, depending on where someone lives, upgrading to a new, larger home won’t necessarily increase their energy costs. Right now my husband and I rent a run down war-time home, and the place is an absolute sieve. We’ve caulked and blocked all the draughts we can find, but it costs us an absolute fortune to heat the place in the winter (especially this winter!) or keep it cool in the summer. We actually expect our energy costs to drop once we move to the new house despite it being larger, simply because it will be better built and properly insulated.

    Property taxes will indeed go up, though. ^_~

  9. 9. nobleea

    “Even though I intentionally try not to compete with people with regards to material items, it’s hard to avoid some influence when their walls are 10 feet away.”

    Don’t get caught up in the race! Soon you’ll be upgrading your car as your old one doesn’t fit in the neighbourhood. Fight the urge, and perhaps you can influence your neighbours.

    I have an HD plasma tv, but only the basic-est (is that a word) of cable. The HD is nice for movies, but we don’t have a lot of interest/time to watch tv, so spending more than 20$/mo on cable tv seems like a waste.

  10. Hmm, my comment got eaten, so I’ll try to recreate my words of wisdom.

    Since I bought my house here in TO two years ago people have been driving me crazy with the suggestion we should be thinking about trading up. I like my house a lot (and am a total subscriber to the Four Pillars ‘it’s not the house it’s what goes on inside it that’s important’ philosophy). There’s only the two of us anyway. But there’s a constant stream of “it’s good for a starter house”, “when you trade up”, “how long will you stay here”, “what neighbourhood you want to live in” from family, friends and colleagues. Incredibly annoying, but I can see why others may damn the costs and have their eyes on trading up from Day 1.

    (Oddly we never got any of this when we owned an apartment in NYC …?)

  11. 11. MikeG

    Hi all,

    I can concur with FB that sometimes a bigger house can avoid separation… We have a tiny (miniscule) kitchen, and when both of us are in there we trip over ea. other and get frustrated that we’re in ea. other’s way. So a big kitchen is what we’ll be looking for in the near future. :) Especially cause my cooking is where I save us a decent amount of money making my own foods from scratch.

    If you want to fill your house with furniture, I highly recommend getting used furniture! I find that used furniture goes for between 1/6 and 1/3 the regular price. I was able to get a table with 10 chairs (big table!) and a nice sectional couch for $750. The table looked brand new and the couch was close enough…

    try http://www.buysell.com or other forms of classifieds, you will burn a little more gas going to look at things, but I think it easily makes up for it in the end..

    -MikeG

  12. 12. squawkfox

    This post makes me think of my father-in-law, who is a wise fellow. He grew up in post war Germany and ran a highly successful dentist business with his wife, an orthodontist. They lived in wealthy area, in a large house with an indoor swimming pool and marble floors. Despite their affluence, they disliked how the neighbors constantly tried to out due each other with fancier Mercedes cars and higher luxury house adornments. He was adamant to continue driving their old beater VW Bug, cause this was all they needed to get from point A to point B.

    The notion of need is important here, cause my father-in-law gave IT ALL UP when he immigrated to North America. He gave up the wealth, his business, is palace, and his prominent medical title to be what he really wanted to be in life – a cattle farmer.

    Today my father-in-law is a wealthy man. Not wealthy with marble and Mercedes automobiles, but wealthy by getting out of a situation that caused a disconnect in his life.

    He was also kind enough to share an interesting concept on living in houses. Since he’s lived in everything from an apartment, to a palace, to a farmhouse I tend to listen to him. He says, “the first house you build is for your enemies, the second is for your family, and the third is for yourself.”

    It’s all just words. But they hit home with me. ;)

  13. 13. nobleea

    guinness416,
    I completely agree with you. There’s this train of thought with young people that you get married, get a dog, and move out to a brand new, 3BR/2.5bath house in the suburbs. That’s become the ‘standard’ and few seem to question whether all that space is needed.

    Humans are incredible in their ability to adapt. Most will find a way to fill a house with stuff, regardless if it’s a 700 sq ft house or a 2100 sq ft house. With proper storage, built-ins and good design/layout, you can get by on much less space than you think.

  14. 14. Tom

    We just bought a new house 15 minutes north of Toronto – it will be built by next year. To keep the sticker price low, builders don’t give you much. There is no such thing as an ‘allowance’ here like there is when you build a home out east. Your basic home comes with basic carpet, tiles, globe lights, strip lighting in the bathrooms, strand-board subfloors, and standard paved driveway with sod and a single tree out front. Anything else is extra, and the builders have these design centers where you can choose your ‘upgrades’. These upgrades are extremely expensive for the most part through the builder. The worst are hardwood floors at about $18 per square foot (for oak!) and granite counters at $100 per square foot + >$1000 for undermount sinks. A lot of this obviously is better done by the homebuyer after the fact. Some people upgrade very little, but I know someone as well who went the other way and spent $110,000 in upgrades on his then-$350,000 home a few years ago. Ourselves, we’re trying to stay under $40,000 for upgrades, but it’s tough! Dumb things like changing from mirrored slider doors on your closets to standard doors can cost a few thousand, and pot lights are over $200 a piece! So expensive…

  15. 15. Meg

    I can understand moving out of a bad area, but personally bigger isn’t better imho…it’s more to clean…NO THANKS! :)

  16. 16. Telly

    guinness, do we have the same friends and family? Even our neighbour has commented that we’d likely move up in a few years time (that was about 2 years ago). I love my Jones’s.

    FT, not to encourage spending but, you should definitely look into Star Choice. HD channels are free. We switched to them because our cable company did not carry RDS (gotta have my Habs :) ) and have been really happy with them. They have a referral program so let me know if you decide to go with them. :)

  17. This may be a little off topic, but does anyone know the pros/cons between Star Choice and Bell Express vu?

  18. 18. Warren

    Hey FT, I think Bell has the most overall channels and HD offerings, and a great HD PVR if you’re going that route. StarChoice may have better entry packages if you’re just looking for the basics.

    If you have a Bell cell phone, home phone, internet, etc there may be some discounts if you package it all together.

    StarChoice is owned by Shaw, but there are no discounts.

  19. *evil grin* Ya I’m not the only one who has moved into a bigger home! I can really relate to this post since when we moved into our current house I had many of the similar thoughts.

    Don’t get sucked into buying new furniture. You might not need much of it or can find great used pieces. Take your time and make sure to get a great sale. We did and I think I ended up spending more on my TV than the rest of my living room combined. Just keep repeating to yourself “I don’t pay retail.”

    As to the yard: AVOID PUTTING IN GRASS! No really I’m serious, it’s the most time/money consuming thing you can put in. So plant as little as humanly possible. I’ll be slowing ripping up at least half of my grass over the next five years just for that reason. Local bushes, trees, and ground cover are your friends.

    As to keeping up with the Jones. I can’t be bothered. The front of the house looks alright, but that is far as I go to ‘fitting in.’ Case in point my front window current has a classic 70′s orange/yellow bench that clashes with the rest of the living room. Yet it was free and I’m having a cover made for it by a friend. So in the mean time the neighbours may question my taste, but I don’t care. It will look nice in a week or two so that’s good enough for me.

    Tim

  20. 21. Telly

    FT, we had Bell come over to install a dish a few years back and the service guy said he couldn’t get a signal due to all the trees. He tried for about 10 minutes max and said he couldn’t put it on the roof (company policy). So a few weeks later we had a Star Choice dish up on the roof. It took the guy almost an hour. Oh yeah, then I had to go through the rigmarole of cancelling Bell ExpressVu & Sympatico. Of course I had to call each individual department separately. About 3 times. :( Bell customer service is burtal.

    I find the basic packages offered by Star Choice to be better (call to find out what might be available in your area). Also, the fact that SC offers all it’s HD channels for free is a huge cost save. I don’t believe any other providers do. (All this and we don’t even have an HD tv yet!)

  21. 22. Daniel

    Although I do NOT need the newer, bigger house I want it and we are going to build it. We are both working full time, saving for our child’s education, our future and our retirement. We have lived in a small townhouse for the last 5 years to save money and build equity. Now we could live in that house for 30 more years and save money, but why?

    We both dislike the size of our house. Everything is too small. Galley kitchen, one sink bathroom, bath / shower combo, back yard not big enough to sit 6 adults and a master bedroom too small to have 2 night tables.

    We have been really good and rid ourselves of all bad debt. All is left is our mortgage. We plan to build our next house and keep the current condo as a rental unit.

    We will create a space that makes spending time at home enjoyable. Where our family can grow. This is why we saved and want to retire early to spend quality time at home together.

  22. 23. Telly

    CD, I don’t get it, how can your neighbours see a bench in your living room?

    And what’s wrong with grass? We fertilize once a year and let the rain take care of watering it. It’s much cheaper than rock / stone or flowerbeds I would think but maybe that depends on your location or how much you care if it gets a little yellow or there’s a couple dandelions on it. :)

    I would argue against new furniture too – right now our 27″ tele on a decades old, hand me down tv stand covered with my husband’s old skater stickers on it works out just fine – but I’d probably be singing a different tune if I was just moving into my newly built home. :)

  23. We actually went through this process 3 years ago (upgrading to a newer house in a nicer neighborhood), and it is my greatest financial regret. Had we not made this move, with an aggressive paydown plan we could have been mortgage free in 3 years. As it stands it will now take us 8 years to accomplish the same goal.

    After the honeymoon with the new home wore off I find I am no more or less happy than before, and my quality of life hasn’t changed. Definitely think twice (or three times) if you are considering making the move. The higher price, along with all the transaction costs (realtor fees etc.) can sure set you back on the path to financial freedom.

  24. I have to echo Cheap Canuck – we bought and gutted a house a couple of years ago and it was a financial disaster – we definitely would have been better off staying in my old 2 bedroom house.

    That said, with 2 kids (as of tomorrow morning!) we would have been looking for a new house soon anyways, so maybe it wouldn’t have mattered that much in the end?

    Mike

  25. 26. Tetsuo

    Hey FD, sorry to be a little off topic, but:
    a) Awesome blog, thank you so much
    b) Could you please place the year beside the date on your articles? Otherwise it gets confusing searching through back articles and not know if its really current or a year or more out of date.

    Thanks! Keep up the awesome work, its appreciated

  26. @Telly – I have very big windows that go down to just above floor level, so my neighbours get to see the ugly bench against my nice wine colour walls and olive green drapes. Trust me you can see it from the street.

    Grass is evil where I live. We don’t any where near enough rain to keep it alive on its own so I’m watering it at least twice a week in the summer. Then add in your costs to cut it and your time and it is expensive to have over its lifetime. Rocks may cost more up front but here they are much cheaper in the long run.

  27. 28. Tom

    Cheapcanuck: Interesting comments.. studies have shown that beyond a certain point, additional financial wealth only brings temporary happiness. Poor people, when they get more money, do actually become happier. But look at all those middle-class or retired people that win the lottery – they’re ecstatic at first (as I would be!) but the novelty of having the financial windfall wears off relatively quickly and their overall happiness settles back to be dependent on other parts of their lives – like family, friends, a sense of purpose, etc.

    So I guess a house is the same way – up to a certain point upgrading it may make you happier, but eventually those extra few hundred square feet are meaningless when it comes to your happiness.

  28. You should move to my street, Tim, where all the men hang out drinking beer and inspecting each others’ lawns (which sounds like a hell of a double entendre), discussing seed types, comparing depths of green, etc EVERY evening when it’s warm. It’s like I moved to the 1950s, or that my husband aged twenty five years over the course of one summer. A sickness, I tell you.

  29. 30. djg

    Interesting topic….As i am in the middle of a home build right now! Everyone’s perspective makes for great reading. My Perspective: If you decide to build, prepare for more cost than anticipated. The price given to you by your contractor is mainly based on code requirements: Everything else is extra! Code requirements for habitation are almost rediculous. You should read them before you build if you can get your hands on them. The allowances given to you are typically unrealistic and you will probably go over…on everything. Budget for these things before you decide to build. Spending extra money on upgrades is not the end of the world as long as they make sense. For example, buying good quality faucets is a must. It’ll save you the cost and trouble of replacement. Make decisions based on you budget but keep in mind that you should probably do things that make sense. Something like a radiant heat source in your house might cost more but save you money in the long run due to lower energy consumption. You’ll be doing you wallet and the environment a favor. Another example: Upgrading to R2000 will save you money in the long run and definitely make your house more marketable then neighbouring houses on your street (if you ever decide to sell)
    There is a bigger picture to consider. Most of my decisions have been based on the bigger picture: Spending some money now will save me more later…

    DJG

  30. 31. Isabelle

    New furniture…Hmmm.
    Many of the most beautiful homes I’ve seen have rooms built around objects that are meaningful to it’s inhabitants. Thrifted, or found objects have a lot of character and can help you avoid feeling as if you live in a Mcmansion. Sometimes it takes time to find items that complement each other nicely but it might end up better reflecting your values and interests. Don’t rush to fill blank walls or open spaces, these things will just happen organically. The people are the most important part of a home, your family will make it cozy.

    If you do end up purchasing some necessary pieces of furniture, don’t rush and buy things that are well made and built to last!

    TV. Life was just fine before plasma screens and flat screens. There’s nothing wrong with your old school TV. I’m of the “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!” school of thought when it come to technological upgrades.

    As far as kids go, TVs and furniture and fancy toys don’t matter nearly as much as the time you’ll spend with them. I don’t think your children will suffer if you stay true to your thrifty values. Spoiling kids seems to be a greater threat these days…

    Best of luck!

  31. 32. Patrick

    Out of curiosity… How is the new neighbourhood better for the kids?

  32. Hey Patrick, great question. The new place is on an extremely quiet low traffic street along with zoning for great schools. Along with that, all of the families around us are either pregnant or have a young child (friends for our little one). Our old house was a 2 apt on a busy street with questionable school zoning.

  33. 34. telly

    I have to ask, what is “questionable school zoning”? It may not be obvious to me, as a non-parent but I’m curious. I have a feeling both grade schools I went to may have been in “questionable school zones”. I kind of thought this was more of an issue in the US but am surprised to hear many people saying similar things in Canada.

  34. telly, my first house was in a neighborhood that I wasn’t very familiar with thus the schools we weren’t totally confident with (no extra programs). The zoning that we live in now guarantee the French immersion curriculum and other extras for our kids. It’s really a matter of preference.

  35. 36. Sarlock

    We bought an older home (1971) in preference to a newer home. Closer to the city centre, established landscaping, larger yard, etc. I happily spend quite a bit of my time fixing things up for relatively little money, so the age of the house isn’t much of a problem. Going used with your furniture can save a ton of money. It has taken us 4 years to get to the point where each room in our house has a decent amount of furniture in it. When we first moved in, we sat on the floor in our living room.

    Keeping up to the Jones’ can be a great way to lose a lot of money. Most homeowners will want to have the greenest weed-free lawn on the block (it’s a male thing I guess) and will spend an inordinate amount of money and time keeping it up. For myself, I have a manual push mower (this is a great way to be frugal and get some exercise at the same time) that I use once per week, leave the clippings in the grass for fertilizer and rarely water except during long dry spells. My lawn isn’t the greenest on the block, sprouts a few dandilions here and there and turns yellow during dry spells, but I much prefer to keep my time and money for other things. I usually add fertilizer once in the spring, costing about $10, and that’s it for lawn cost. All of my flowers and garden veggies I grow from seed indoors about 4-8 weeks before planting time, so my cost is maybe $20-$30 per year for seed packets that last me 2-3 years each. You have to love gardening to do this, though, as it requires a considerable amount of time and patience.

    An alternative way to have cheap shrubs/flowers is to go at the end of the season, mid summer to fall, and pick up all of the dying perennials at the garden centre for a fraction of their cost in the spring. Put them in the ground when you get them, give them a few weeks to root in before frost, and the next spring you’ll have a bunch of lovely perennials pop out of the ground that will make you smile not only for their colouring but because you spent a total of $18.50 on 30 plants. Every year my wife and I scour the deals at the end of the season and pick out the plants that we want to see bloom the following year.

    Watch with great amusement over the years as everyone in your block tries to outdo each other. It is much more prevalent in a newer subdivision than in an older one. If one person gets a new skidoo, there will be 7 people that get one in the next 3 months. Same with someone getting a new car, or doing fancy landscaping, or a bathroom/kitchen renovation/upgrade… the list goes on. Steer clear or beware!

  36. interesting assessment. You talked about a few things that I had not thought of. But it certainly makes sense that moving into a higher cost neighborhood brings along with it several other expenses besides the house. It is the same thing if you start driving a luxury import vs a ford/chevy. The maintenance and repair costs are more.

    I guess the whole idea is that if you can afford to live/drive the nicer things then you can afford to maintain and fix them as well.

  37. Great timing with this article. I found a home the other day that I feel is undervalued by $100K. My wife agreed that it seemed like the best deal in miles and miles. Alas, we crunched the numbers and couldn’t find a way to make it work within our budget. I wish we could have shrunk the house and the price by a bit, because it was the quality that really struck us as amazing.

  38. 39. Cannon_fodder

    CheapCanuck – have you looked the increase in value of your older home vs. the one you live in now? Our story is quite similar – 5 years ago we were in a very cramped townhouse and moved to a much larger home. If we had stayed put we would have been mortgage free in 2006 or 2007.
    Although the bigger home meant a lot of additional costs, it also has increased in value far more than our previous home – I would estimate $130k vs. $40k.
    My wife and I have commented many, many times how good it feels to come home and how happy we are with it, whereas she used to feel almost claustrophic in the other one.
    Thus, financially it was not strictly the best move, but we don’t regret it.

  39. A few of my friends have moved into really fancy neighborhoods. Their expenditure has gone way up. Even daycare costs 30% more!

  40. I think that there are a lot of hidden costs when moving. In the UK youhave to pay a solicitor, surveyor, tax and then there are always little extras once you move, decorating, new carpets and other bits and pieces. I think it is wise to stay put if you can.

  41. Cannon_fodder: Funny you should ask. I actually checked the assessment of the properties online about 2 weeks ago. The new house has outpaced the old one, but only by a few thousand dollars over the course of three years. What the properties might actually sell for might tell a different tale though.

  42. 44. Lisa

    MDJ – you are lucky to be in NL. Toronto is outrageous. You will get a quality built house out there and as long as you chose a good neighbourhood, you won’t have to move.

    It’s best to do as much as you can before you have kids because it will be so much harder when they come along.

    Plus the stress of living through renovations is extremely tough even though it may not appear to be.

    You are going through a stage of your life where you are spending a lot but eventually it will ‘calm down’. You should see what I see here in Toronto – people rip out a perfectly nice new kitchen because they are BORED.

  43. Lisa, yes you are right, NL is a better place to build than Toronto for sure. I have some friends and family who have built in Toronto and the only way that it was affordable is if they moved way up north.

  44. 50. Tom

    What a great post. I’ve found myself to be in the same shoes. I recently moved out of my parent’s house about three years ago and up until now I was able to save a lot of money.

    I then moved into a semi-decent condo, it’s a lot nicer than my older apartment. It seems like we all have it in us when it comes to the better quality of living. Some people I think just like to over step their bounds and spend EVERY paycheck on their living expenses, this is where it’s trouble.

  45. If you’re one of the first families in that subdivision, or one of the first families with that model of home, then you can help set the “neighborhood standard!”

  46. 53. PatMunits

    We moved into a new house five years ago this summer. Here are my ways to save money while living in a new subdivision:

    - forget about outside and landscaping for a few years. Let the ground settle down before digging it up again.
    - enjoy the trees in your backyard planted by your neighbors, while keeping your lawn clear, and working on the master plan for a properly organized landscape in a few years. By that time you’ll have a better idea of what you really want to enjoy you personal outdoors, and will avoid mistakes some of your neighbors will make.
    - remember that quite a few of the Jones are there just for a few years to do a flip. Their goal is not to upgrade to enjoy, but to upgrade to sell it for more money. Some of their cheap but flashy upgrades won’t last more than a few seasons.
    - in a couple of years paint garage door, and decorative trims into colours of your choice using quality paint. For under $100 you’ll have a house that will look nicely among all the neighbors who still have boring default colour schemes. Remember your garage door must use less prominent colour than the entrance door to keep a nice welcoming balance of colours.
    - upgrade with builder only what will be extremely expensive to change later (i.e. oak staircase, pickets, cabinets, rough-in in the basement, 6ft-wide vs 5ft-wide patio door). Everything else can be done for much less money at a later point
    - buy your outdoor fertilizer and tools in the Fall fo the next year. Fertilizer can be bought for as little as $1 per bag versus $7 – $15 in the Spring.
    - use Home Depot card to save 10% and free-finance your initial high costs for period of six months to a year (frequent promotions)
    - check out Costco for cheap moderate-quality indoor furniture sales at the end of every Winter season
    - $35/monthly for StarChoice is a good deal (free HD, and good selection of channels with time-shifts)
    - don’t sign up for fixed-rate gas supply, variable rate is proven to be cheaper
    - combine your home and car insurance
    - don’t get suckered into long and expensive home alarm contract by your builder
    - make sure to bother your builder right away whenever problems arise with your newly-constructed home
    - custom window covering will cost over $3,000 for the whole house, so pay attention to promotions, and possibility of using pre-made blinds or draperies
    - don’t do driveway sealing by yourself – you’ll save a measly $20 and will have to spend two days to do it properly. It’s better to pay $70 – $100 bucks to have it done professionally.
    - avoid small bulb halogen lighting – my kitchen fixture, while it is cheap and looks nice, sucks 300 Watts of power
    - buy and install a quieter belt-driven garage door opener. Prices have fallen by 30% in the last decade. You can do the installation yourself in under 5 hours with no experience

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  • think big: A couple comments on the “green” aspect… 1) Think cradle-to-grave. While you’re...
  • John: The BMO World Elite MC is my choice. Booking travel through their site is pretty easy and the insurance...
  • Scott: I know this post is super old, but regarding cable: If you have internet (who doesn’t?) check out...
  • FrugalTrader: That is correct, the tax deduction would not be allowed.
  • Neil: The BMO World Elite is actually a great card. 2% on all purchases all the time, no hassle to book travel on the...
  • Monica: Thank you. Is the same also true if I invest HELOC money into a TFSA? Tax deduction not allowed?
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