As a tenant paying rent to a landlord, I never really thought about how much it costs to maintain a home. You pay the rent, the electric, water, gas, and trash bills but if something goes wrong, you call the landlord. Hopefully, the landlord cares about the property and sends a repairman out to fix the problem.
On the other hand, as a homeowner, you not only have to pay the mortgage and utilities, you have to budget and pay for various things which can go wrong. There’s the faucet or toilet which starts to leak, the garage door or doorbell which mysteriously stops working, the washer which decides it’s not going to make it through the spin cycle without stopping dead in its tracks. Welcome to home ownership and the repairs associated with it!
These are all things which have happened to our family. These are things which seem to happen at the most inopportune times. The trick to save on home repairs is to have a budget for these eventualities. Each month, we set aside money which is solely dedicated to fixing things around the house. Sometimes there is enough to fix the problem and sometimes there isn’t.
My husband will admit to anyone that he is not a “fix-it” kind of guy. As a landlord with multiple properties, he called in the professionals who fixed the problem and sent him a bill. I’ve teased him over the years about his philosophy of home repairs: “Who do I write the check to?”
Things like a leaky faucet or toilet are generally a quick fix. YouTube is a great resource for these basic items. When our washer stopped mid-cycle, we looked up the problem on the internet by searching the problem along with the model of the machine. Fortunately, we discovered it was a simple problem which was quickly remedied by following simple instructions given on a website.
First and foremost, determine if it is something you can competently fix. If it isn’t, then it’s time to call in the professionals. Be sure the contractor you hire is not only licensed to do the work you require but also bonded and insured. You want a contractor who will stand behind his work. You do not want a “fly by night” contractor that is liable to do more harm than good.
Ask friends to recommend professionals they have used. Once you’ve identified two or three contractors, get written estimates and ask to see their licenses and proof of insurance. If they are truly professionals, they will have no issue producing this documentation. In the end, you won’t be sorry and will most assuredly save on repairs because you won’t have to fix what the fly by nighter made a bigger mess of.
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I am the first one to admit to regularly falling off the “budget bandwagon.” It generally happens when there is too much going on in our lives. It’s days when I feel I just can’t be bothered with checking to see if there is a coupon for an item, when I forget to bring my coupons to the store, or when I become too distracted by everything around me to even care.
Here’s an example, you go to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk and happen to run across half a dozen or more other items you just “must have.” You then purchase those items. The $4 trip to pick up milk has now turned into a $30+ trip which includes items we most likely didn’t really need right now. Repeat this scenario enough times and it’s enough to throw a wrench into an entire month’s grocery budget.
Here’s my Save Money Groceries tip in order to avoid this scenario. I recently started keeping a small steno pad in my purse. I generally have three lists running; one for groceries, one for non-grocery items, and one which is a “to do” list. Before I head into the store for groceries or sundries, I tear out the appropriate list and scribble big $$$ signs on it with a highlighter. Yes, I keep a highlighter in my bag of tricks! This is a reminder to me that purchasing anything more than what is on the list is wasting money out of my grocery budget.
My husband always keeps a running list of things we need on a sticky note in the kitchen. When he goes to the store, he buys what is on the list and only what is on the list. I have yet to figure out exactly how he does it but with this new system I have, I’m hoping it will become crystal clear.
How do you keep from repeating this same money wasting scenario? Let us know so we can share it with our readers!
Now that Christmas is over, my thoughts begin to wander to the day after Christmas sales. You know, the day when the stores deep discount just about everything they didn’t sell before Christmas. The best thing about day after Christmas sales is they generally last until the inventory is gone rather than just one day like Black Friday. That’s a good thing because I won’t be able to make it to the stores the day after Christmas. However, I am already planning my shopping trip the weekend after Christmas.
I’ll admit it … these days I need a little motivation to do some of the most basic things. Working two full-time jobs is starting to take its toll. My house is not filthy but it is far from clean. The pantry, which used to be fully stocked, is running a little bare. Fortunately, my husband continues to do the laundry and ironing, make the bed, and transport Missy to where she needs to go.
It is time to regroup and make a plan. Here are the first few things I need to do: make a basic meal plan, schedule a firm time every week to go grocery shopping, and turn off the computer for an hour every day so I will not be distracted and might actually do something around the house.
Our stockpile has served us well over the last few months but it is time to restock it. I plan to start from the beginning. I will take stock of the pantry and linen closet and determine exactly what we have, what we should donate, and what don’t ever use. I will then choose two or three items each week which are at rock bottom prices and buy enough to last us for three months. I will work on restocking our freezer so we have plenty of meats to choose from.
Most importantly, I will take some time each day to just ENJOY. There comes a time when “all work and no play makes Jack (or in this case, me) a dull boy/girl.” It’s time to “put one foot in front of the other” and “smell the roses along the way.”
Any reader suggestions on getting motivated would be appreciated!
Here’s the second dish I prepared from Erin Chase’s $5 Dinner MOM Cookbook. We chose the Baked Lime Tilapia this week since we purchased 4 lbs. of individually, quick frozen tilapia filets at Walmart this weekend for just $12! That’s $3 a pound. We already had the rest of the ingredients: lime juice, olive oil, dill weed, salt and pepper.
The yellow rice was leftover from a previous meal and frozen peas are a staple in the freezer.
In case you’re new here, we have a “tax time rerun” for you today. One of the things we focus on at Madame Deals is being charitable. Using coupons and bargain shopping has helped us become more charitable and one of the easiest ways to be charitable is through our use of coupons.
April 15th is right around the corner and that means tax time. Are you looking for more deductions? Here’s something you might have overlooked. Most people are aware you can take a tax deduction for charitable donations of cash, clothing and household goods. Did you know the retail value of groceries and health and beauty aids (HBA) which you donate to your local food pantry, church or homeless shelter is also tax deductible?Continue reading