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Renovations: Does This Make My Life Better?

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Sarah and I have talked a bit lately about our mid-term goals.  These are those items between what we want to get done in the next year and what we want to get done before we retire.  One topic  was regarding what we want to do for our home renovations.  There are so many things we want to upgrade and redo.  To name a few: the powder room, landscape our (tiny) front yard, stain or replace the hardwood on the main floor, install hardwood on the top floor, paint out the kitchen cabinets, and redo our ensuite.  This renovation list is pretty daunting.  There is little to no chance we are going to get all of this done in the next ten years.

We need to be cognizant that we may need to deal with unplanned house costs such as a furnace replacement.  The projects in themselves range between a few hundred to several thousand dollars.  Doing every renovation isn’t really in the budget as it is now.  The typical homeowner response would be to focus on kitchens and bathrooms (those “sell” houses)…but we aren’t really anticipating moving unless we have 2 more kids so why put our focus there?  Instead why not focus on what we really want for ourselves…when deciding between several options we can simply ask the question “Does It Make Our Life Better?”

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Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage Sooner If You Are Planning to Move?

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Paying Off MortgageWe Love Our House…

The love affair with our house runs deep. After months of searching for a house we purchased this one in a matter of a couple of hours. We have put so much love into this house by way of renovations and even though it’s a “starter” home I don’t have any intention of moving just quite yet even though we have a child. We have a goal to pay off the mortgage as soon as possible. Not one we talk about a lot here for some reason, but a goal. A big one. Read more

How We Made a $400,000 Decision in 4 Hours

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HouseHow we bought our house in 4 hours.

I have seen some financial advice along the lines of “wait a long time for big purchases.” I get the concept of this advice but it is more to do with impulse spending. If you are prone to spending on a whim or tend to make a lot of unbudgeted purchases, wait to spend money. This goes for purchases that are big or small. Today marks 5 years that we got the keys to our house and it was the biggest financial decision of our life. I could also say that it was one of the fastest as well. If I think about advice to wait a year on a big purchase I know that for our home it doesn’t make sense. In honour of 5 years in the house I thought it would be interesting to share how we went against that advice and made the biggest purchase in our lives in 4 hours.

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Basement Laundry Room Renovation – Part Two of Two

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The Basement is FINISHED!

After months of finishing touches the basement renovation is finally finished.  There are some décor items that still need to be found but that isn’t much of a priority.  Several months back I did a post showing the mid-way point of the renovation.   Now we are very excited to have a finished area with nice tiles so we don’t need to wear shoes to do our laundry!

We are now in the midst of a renovation break.  We have some worked planned to redo the front of the house and possibly our powder room next year depending on finances.  Then after that we have to save up to do hardwood on the top floor of our house (and either stain or replace the hardwood on our main floor).

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Mortgage Free, 2nd House or Upgrade?

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Choices to make as we edge closer to paying off our mortgage

Sarah and I are working very hard to knock out the mortgage on our house as soon as possible.  We are on track to be mortgage free by our early-mid 40s. This is depending on what life has in store for us in the next little bit.  The reason why we have been focusing on the mortgage is about commitments.  Math-wise it makes more sense to invest in our retirement savings.  We have RRSPs – and the money we contribute to them lowers our taxable income.  That leads to nice tax refunds which we then reinvest.  If we ran into any financial difficulties we would stop contributing. We would still have a fat mortgage to pay off.  Once we are mortgage free we can then focus on retirement.  Currently we do contribute to our RRSPs on a consistent basis. Any extra we come up with goes to the mortgage.  While that is our current plan, things might change as our priorities shift in life.

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Basement Laundry Room Renovation – Part One of Two

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A Sneak Peak Of Our Current Renovation Project

A couple of years ago, Sarah and I decided to do a basement renovation.  The ground level floor plan of our house didn’t leave much for living space.  We wanted to expand our square footage, and we had this unfinished basement sitting there waiting for some work.  The great thing about our situation is that we both are able to do renovation work (yes Sarah can use a drill).  We both make decisions on design, and then we both get our hands dirty making it happen.  Additions included an entertainment area, a little eating area, a wet bar and a 2-piece bathroom.

The second half of the basement was left unfinished (storage, laundry and furnace room).  A few months ago – we started to tackle a renovation on the 2nd half of the basement.  One of my big regrets with the first renovation was that we didn’t take pictures of the progress and that is something we corrected this time through.  So here is part one of our 2nd basement renovation.  Part two will follow once we are finished the area.

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A Few Words About Hot Water Tank Rentals

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A Rant After Paying My Monthly Bill & Hot Water Tank Rentals

So a head’s up that I’m writing this a bit hot under the collar; just need to get this off my chest.  That is one of the wonderful things about blogging – it can be just as therapeutic to the writer as it is helpful to the reader.  So, that being said – here is a bit of a rant.

In December of 2012 Sarah and I moved into our new home.  It was a magical time with a ton of paperwork on closing and several delays before that.  If you have bought a home (new or resale) you know the house often includes a hot water tank rental.  The term hot water tank rental can be quite deceiving though.  The practices of the “service supplier” can be shady at best.  I’m not going to talk about the company by name but feel free to DM on Twitter or email me if you are curious.

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Why I Don’t Want To Move Out Of My Starter Home

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Starter HomeWe have lived in our house for over 4 years now.  It’s an open concept townhouse in a prime location, with 3 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. A finished basement, hardwood and stone counters throughout.  Finished backyard with a deck and patio…wait this starting to sound like a listing for the house.

We Like To Move

Did you know that according to a study by comFree 28% of Canadians feel the urge to move every 5 years?  We are approaching that mark in our house.  I have told family and friends that I don’t want to move right now or at all.  Most people look at me with some side eye because we live in a “starter home.”  They say once the house gets too small we might change our mind.  I’m not so sure about that.

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Cutting The Cord – Saving on Telecommunications

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How We Cut Our Telecommunications Bills by Over 40%

cuttingthecordRecently Sarah and I sat down and had one of our standard saving check-ins.  Our financial situation was stable but there was a potential hiccup coming down the pipes and we felt it was better to be proactive and make some changes.  We went line item by line item with precision until we hit our telecommunications line item.  This one was going to be tricky.  Sarah and I see eye to eye on the big picture stuff, we both knew we needed to cut this bill down for some extra savings.  Where we needed to talk it out was on each area of our service and how we were going reduce costs I’m not going to discuss our particular carrier, but if you have their services you’ll probably be able to figure it out.

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Saving Up for Property Taxes

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Property Taxes If you own your home how do you save up for your property taxes?

In 2014 we paid over 2 years of property taxes in a single year and we didn’t take on any debt to pay for it.

I wanted to share why that had to happen, how we did that and provide some tips based on what we went through.  I want you to avoid some of the pitfalls we have seen others make with their property taxes.

Background:

As I mentioned before we purchased our house in 2011 directly from a builder and it closed in late 2012.  In the city we live in a new build takes some time to be assessed before the city sends you a property tax bill.  This varies from city to city but usually there is a little bit more time for a new build.

To be honest we had no idea that was the case until we heard it from one of the lenders when we were shopping our mortgage rate.  He told us of a horror story of a friend of his that needed to pay over $6,000 for property taxes in one year.  They didn’t have that money so they needed to take out a line of credit to pay the bill.

After hearing that we also found out that we had two options to pay for our property taxes, let the bank take out the money or pay the bill the directly ourselves.

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