Month: May 2014

Build Relationships with Your Neighbors (243/365)

We have four sets of neighbors that are adjacent to our house. Our children play constantly with the children of one of the neighbors. There’s a swingset that’s on the border between our yards, and the children all play on this equipment. The five of them are making up games constantly together. Our daughter attends …

Categories: Frugality

Don’t Overspend on a Lawn Mower or Other Home Maintenance Equipment (242/365)

When you first move into a home, you’re going to immediately be hit with a lot of little home maintenance tasks that need to be handled with some urgency. The lawn will need mowed. The bushes will need trimmed. The windows need cleaned. The gutters will need to be cleared of leaves. A few overhanging …

Categories: Frugality

Reader Mailbag: Bulk Questions on Faith

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Catching up after graduate school 2. Interesting games at Gencon 3. Making smoothies from almost anything 4. Bank cashier mistake 5. Frugality, children, and difficult places …

Categories: Books and Reading

Learn How to Do Simple Home Maintenance Tasks (241/365)

Yesterday, I posted a long list of home maintenance tasks that you should consider doing regularly around your house. As was discussed then, doing regular home maintenance can save you a lot of money over the long haul and even directly put some money in your pocket with a higher home value. The problem is …

Categories: Frugality

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Couch to 5K Edition

For those who’ve missed the hints over the last week or so, I’ve been working on the Couch 2 5K program. I’ve tried going through it before, but I pushed myself too hard through it and wound up with an ankle injury. This time, I’m taking it slower. If I can’t execute a week without …

Categories: Books and Reading

Practice a Monthly Home Maintenance Schedule (240/365)

Your home is one of the biggest investments you have. For most people, their first mortgage is the biggest financial commitment of their life compared to their net worth. Just like everything else, your home needs maintenance and care. Sure, we all clean our houses and such, but there are a lot of little things …

Categories: Frugality

Be Aware of Any Homeowners Associations or Covenants You’ll Have to Adhere To (239/365)

On the surface, homeowners associations can be very good things. For one, they usually ensure a clean-looking neighborhood without anyone letting their property fall into disrepair. In an area with a homeowners association, people don’t have unkempt yards or sidewalks in disrepair. Associations also provide for the maintenance of common areas. They’ll make beautiful road …

Categories: Frugality

Reader Mailbag: Rainfall

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Next steps for maxed-out credit 2. Internet on the road 3. Blanket for window tinting 4. Motivation at home 5. Worried about parents spending 6. Fantasy …

Categories: Books and Reading

Attend the Home Inspection Yourself and Ask a Lot of Questions (238/365)

One crucial part of the home-buying process is the home inspection, in which a licensed inspector examines the home for significant problems and (usually) prepares a report for the buyer. This enables the buyer to know if there are any significant flaws in the home, and that knowledge may lead to a lower negotiated price …

Categories: Frugality

The Eyes of a Child

My youngest child has these deep blue eyes. If you tell him something that attracts his attention, he’ll stop and look at you with those piercing blue eyes for a moment, as though he’s trying to make up his mind whether or not you’re telling him something of real value. Every day, his eyes are …

Categories: Getting Started

Shop Around for a Mortgage (237/365)

I shop around for everything from cars to soap. Why wouldn’t I shop around for my mortgage? It seems like such a common-sense thing. Different banks offer different rates on their mortgages. They also have different amounts on their closing costs. Finding the best deal among many offers makes a lot of sense. So often, …

Categories: Frugality

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #88

Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well. 1. Wayne Dyer on life as a rehearsal Don’t waste your time dwelling on the past. Don’t burn your days assuming the future will take care of it. “Stop acting …

Ask the Seller to Pay Closing Costs and Other Fees (236/365)

When Sarah and I were in the process of purchasing our current home, we ended up negotiating for a price on a house that had been on the market for a while. We were able to find some out-of-date online listings that had indicated that the price had dropped pretty consistently over the course of …

Categories: Frugality

Know the Total Cost of the Move Before You Jump (235/365)

When you’re considering moving, it’s easy to simply compare the cost of your current rent or mortgage to the rent or mortgage that you’d be paying in your new home and decide that the new situation is less expensive and thus a good move. Relying on that simple of a calculation, though, can be a …

Categories: Frugality

Reader Mailbag: Sore Legs

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Tankless water heaters 2. First step after rehab 3. Prioritizing spending and saving 4. Does faith matter? 5. Refinancing with a twist 6. Board games with …

Categories: Books and Reading

Look for a Fixer-Upper but Avoid Homes with Problems You Can’t Fix (234/365)

A year or so ago, a friend of mine purchased a home in the Des Moines area. When I first visited his home, my first reaction was that it was just run down. The carpets looked worn. The cabinets looked very beat-up. The appliances looked straight out of the 1970s. The main floor was liveable, …

Categories: Frugality

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Dickens Edition

After my article last week on free online books, I wound up downloading all of the novels by Charles Dickens to my Kindle with the intent of re-reading all of them in the near future. I read them all so long ago that I only remember bits and pieces of the plots and some of …

Categories: Books and Reading

Buy on the Low End of What You Think You Need (233/365)

As I discussed a few days ago, when Sarah and I first started shopping for houses, we looked at some very nice homes. We looked at places with five bedroom homes with three bathrooms and a finished basement and a nice big yard. We looked at houses with granite countertops and enormous decks. When we …

Categories: Frugality

Know Exactly What You Can Afford Before You Look (232/365)

When Sarah and I first had a sense that we might be interested in buying a home, we simply opened up the real estate listings and started looking. We didn’t discriminate too much, but we did find ourselves mostly looking at more expensive homes. We would wander through some higher-end house and imagine rooms done …

Categories: Frugality