Do You Store Your Tires

My mechanic who installs my snow tires offers a service to store tires for $12.50 a tire per season (so about $50 plus tax for the winter). We store my wife’s tires, since they are on rims, however we don’t store the tires for my car (they aren’t on rims). My car’s tires are loose and tend to take up some space in my garage, and has been one of the reasons why my car would not fit into our garage (a double car garage).

Mrs. C8j noticed that Canadian Tire had a “Black Friday” (yeh right) sale on a wall mounted tire rack for $56 (around), and I had been dithering about how this was going to be the year we try to fit my car into the garage (my wife’s van fits with little work), so it seemed like this past weekend we were going to try to fit both cars into our garage.

Saturday was the day, thus we spent a good amount of time, throwing things out and then playing garage Tetris, but thanks to mounting my tires on the wall, and some judicious destruction, and decluttering, my car actually fits into the garage.

A very Nice Rack

The interesting part of all of this is that the cost of the rack is about the same cost as we paid for my wife to have her tires stored. So in some ways this rack paid for itself, if I had stored my tires (and as you can see from the picture, I actually have other stuff that I can stuff into the rack).

At the end of it we continue to play garage Tetris, to see what the optimal set up for the cars and the snowblower is, but Mrs. C8j also points out that maybe we need a backyard shed to store the remaining stuff (others might say, just have less stuff).

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Replace Old Windows?

This week I continued replacing the old wood windows that came originally with my house and as I found out last year, none of the windows in my house (Model Home Version 0.1 for our area) were very well insulated (if at all), which in itself suggests the “investment” in new windows will be a good choice, however, if we ignore the shoddy workmanship of the builders of my house, the question arises, does it make sense to replace old windows in a house?

In my case, I think it is an easy yes:

Lousy Windows

If your windows look like this, replace them!

  • Aesthetically the old windows were not very pretty, and would be a sticking point should we want to sell this house. Many house buyers would see the old windows as they walked into the house and would dismiss the house off-hand, without even looking closely at the rest of the house (which isn’t in great shape in other ways, but that is for another story).
  • The continued up keep of old wooden windows is an investment in time and labour I was not willing to continue with (well Mrs. C8j did the painting and upkeep, but I am pretty sure she agrees with my evaluation).
  • The fact that the new windows are an upgrade in performance ( for keeping out sunlight, and heat) will help with cooling the house in the summer (the lack of insulation in the old windows make this point even higher in importance), and keep in the house in the winter.

I am not going to do the math on when the windows will “pay for themselves”, because I view those claims as a bit trite, the windows needed replacing, and I don’t think, in this case, it is a frivolous home expenditure. Still have more money to drop into the remaining windows, but for now, this needed to be done as well.

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Crunchy Grass and Lack of Rain

In Ottawa currently we are in the midst of drought-like conditions, where we have not had rain for many weeks, and haven’t had a lot really since March (in general). I have talked about the joys of no water with Living Without Water (a few years back we had a water main break and our section of town had to ration our water), and this year our lawn looks even crunchier than back then. There is hope that we might get rain today (but one day will not break this drought).

Our house has a water barrel left over from our water rationing time, so I have used that to water our plants, however that is now bone dry as well. If we are lucky we might get a cloud burst and that might help refill the barrel, but we haven’t even had a cloudburst lately.

Sprinkler

Big No No! Don’t sprinkle!

What is interesting is that Ontario Hydro went to a “smart meter” to have variable rates to try to regulate peak hour usage, which made me wonder if the City of Ottawa ever thought of going in that direction for water usage?

Simply raising water taxes over and over to improve the system, seems unfair, why not get the big users, at the worst time pay more? Then you could raise rates during droughts too (to try to regulate usage).

Some of my neighbours are joyfully oblivious to the drought that we are in, and gladly water their lawns , pressure wash their driveways and wash their cars, with no consequences for these actions.

Should I care about my neighbours and their odd water usage ideas during a time of limited water? I suppose I should not, but it really does seem to get under my skin. I do want to ask the chap who pressure washes his driveway, “Why do you do this ?”

Can anyone enlighten me as to why someone might pressure wash their driveway? I understand if you are about to seal it, but washing it every week does seem quite odd to me.

There you go City of Ottawa, you want to make some big bucks ? Smart water meters and variable water usage rates! You are welcome!

 

 

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Hot, Hot, Hot…

No, not on the money markets I am talking about the weather (at least here in Ottawa). Evidently it will be hot enough to cook eggs on the sidewalks for the next few days.

As I have mentioned in my younger days, I didn’t have Air Conditioning (none of us did back then, we just walked around and sweated, but thanks to smokers, no one had a sense of smell, but I digress), but now I live in air-conditioned comfort, and I seem to spend more time inside in the summer than I do in the winter (if you want a little irony on the side).

If you have Air Conditioning, your Electric Bills are up, but if you are in Ontario and have a Smart Thermostat, you might be able to save a little money, not using your A/C during peak hours, and such (you won’t save that much, but you will save some money). I know some folks who only turn on their A/C on “hot” days, whereas I run it pretty much the whole time from May 24th to Labour Day (closing the house up). I realize I could save more money turning it off sometimes, but due to my allergies I prefer a closed home environment.

Mr. Poitier knew what Heat Was

I had a discussion with my daughter who is living away from home in an apartment with fans for cooling and we discussed how to stay cool without A/C:

  • A public pool or beach is quite nice sometimes (but don’t forget your sun screen)
  • Libraries are great with Air Conditioning, Computers and resources, you can even research Personal Finance while you are there (and kill two birds with one stone).
  • Movie Theatres are good, but are not free (although if you have kids they seem to be having cheap matinees these days).
  • Going to work, and having your employer cool you off is great too (think of it as a free benefit). If your work doesn’t have A/C, this doesn’t really apply to you does it.
  • If your house has a basement, that is actually a naturally cooler place too (that was what we did a lot of time when I was younger, just hang out downstairs).
  • You could ruin a lovely walk in nature by playing Golf (again, not free, but given how slow some rounds go, you get a lot of time for your money).
  • Going for a Walk or Bike Ride is good exercise, but be careful with the heat advisories. Remember that only Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the Mid-Day Sun (and I think of that song every time I see someone jogging during a heat advisory).
  • Go window shopping at the mall (if it is a closed in mall like Yorkdale in Toronto or the Rideau Center in Ottawa), but remember the loitering laws too.
  • A good financial way to stay cool is to go to your Bank, make an appointment with a financial advisor and set up an RRSP or an RESP, which can take hours, or have them devise a financial plan for you? Banks make enough on service charges, have them cool you off too!
  • If you are a politician in Ontario,  you might be out beating the pavement due to a Summer Election too! They have air conditioned buses, so I feel no pity for them.
  • Remember to drink lots of water too if you are out in the heat (very important).

Any other cheap or free ways to stay cool in the Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer?

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Financial Psychology: Buying and Selling Houses

Happy Seller Story

When I bought my first house, it was near the top of a housing cycle (not a bubble), so it was fairly expensive (but interest rates were still high as well). I got help getting a good down payment, I bought the house and then kind of forgot about its value for a year or two.

As time passed I started hearing about how little houses around us were selling for, and I became concerned, worried and a little depressed that I had effectively lost money by buying this house (we were already talking about needing to buy a bigger house).

We tried selling our house, but for 6 months there were no real offers (plenty of low ball 25% below asking price offers, which were ignored). We took the house off the market, but the next year the market started to pick up, so we actually were asking for what we had paid for the house (let’s called that value $N). After a lot of work, we finally did sell our house for pretty much exactly what we bought it for.

The following graph outlines the value of the house over time, but the fact that we bought and sold the house for the same amount (yes, we lost money on the deal due to closing costs and moving, let’s leave that out of the discussion for now).

House Price Over Time with a Happy Vendor

I would say at point in time “Y“, I would say I was the most depressed about the price of my house, but from that point as I saw the house “increase in value“, I became much happier and thus when I sold I was very happy to get the price we got.

Unhappy Seller

The house we bought when we sold our house seemed to have a much different story in terms of selling.

This house had been held for a long time, and had “appreciated” in value a great deal over time, but however, the owners weren’t looking to sell, so they felt very comfortable that their investment was appreciating in value.

Finally the owners decided to sell, because they were retiring, and they wanted to sell their house, however, at that time they were told that larger houses were not selling very well and they would have to lower their asking price (this depressed them greatly), and finally they sold the house (to my wife and I), for much less than they were asking, and about the same as what it cost them initially.

The following graph outlines their price odyssey:

Sad Vendor Price Graph

At point in time “Y”, this vendor was the happiest because their “investment” had gone up, but after that point they became more depressed because they were “losing” value in their house. I would say it would be safe to say that these vendors were unhappy about the price they received from the sale of this house.

Conclusions

Here we have two house vendors, both received back what they put into their house, but because of the perceived value of their house, their relative happiness in the sale price was diametrically opposite, due to the perceived “gain” or “loss” of money (which they never had in the first place).

This is true with all “investments” what the relative value of something really doesn’t matter until you either (1) BUY or (2) SELL the investment. If you buy or sell your house because you perceive it is worth more and you want to “get my money now”, then that is fine but until you sell, the value of your house is unknown until it is sold.

My conclusions are simple: the only time the price of your house matters is when you sell it .

Am I incorrect?

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