Author Topic: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living  (Read 6846 times)

sky_northern

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CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« on: October 07, 2014, 02:32:55 PM »
Sorry this has turned into a novel… much thanks to anyone who actually reads it all and comments

Hi, I am a 32 year old Canadian, single. About 6 month ago I woke up to my crazy-ass consumer driven lifestyle realized I was overspending by much more than I earn.  I consolidated all my debt in to one loan plus car loan and have been working on cutting spending and expenses. I discovered MMM about a month ago and started dreaming of retiring early. I am a long way off from that, but maybe it’s not completely out of reach?

Income:
Net about 5,700/month including regular wage and northern allowance.

Current expenses: 5371/month
I live in a high cost of living area, so comparing $$ to 'South' they might seem crazy

Monthly breakdown:
958 - Mortgage @ 3.2% - still owe about 186K. My house is a bit large for me (a double wide trailer – built 2008), but honestly when I was looking it was cheaper than any of the two bedroom houses I was looking at. I even looked at a single-wide that was older than my house but asking price was higher. I bought from an acquaintance that was looking to leave town quickly.
153 - House Insurance
200 - Property tax
74 - Municipal services (water/garbage)
470 - heat (This is averaged throughout the year - I have a programmable thermostat and at night temp is 15C, during day when no one is home 14C and when people are home evening weekends it's 18C. This is in an arctic climate -40 in winter is normal.  (This cost has almost doubled since I moved into my house because of increased rates)
150 – Power
110 – Home phone/internet  (Not a lot of options for internet, and no ‘unbundled’ internet basically it’s TV and Internet or home phone and internet, I chose home phone because reliability/speed of internet is better than cable or satellite can do).
14 – banking fees
65 – cell phone (no data, not really any other options of providers, unlike in the states)
456 – Stupid car loan @ 5%, but will be done in Aug 2015 – It is a jeep patriot, I do need 4x4 so feel it’s better than a truck
80 – Gas – this is down a lot from before because I started driving less – this is one tank of gas a month ($1.79/liter)
140 – Other Transportation costs – car insurance, registration, maintenance
963 –Loan @ 5.75% – guess my hair is on fire. This is the regular payment. It was a 5 year loan but I’ve already made a bunch of extra payments to work on getting it down, about 42K left.
200 – I’ve been putting this amount aside in an Tangerine saving account for home repairs/renovations. I’m not sure about this one, should I cut down on this and put it somewhere else (loans/RRSP)?  I want to put a wood pellet stove in (would be about 6K), have lots of projects that would make the house nicer but not necessary (new flooring) and some that are going to be necessary soon (one of the tubs is cracking, I repaired with fiberglass kit but eventually will need to replace tub, I need to stain the deck)
200 – RRSP – Tangerine Funds. (Might not be the most optimal fund, but easiest because I can do it all online. )This is low, I’m not close to maxing it out, I have about 28K of contribution room
100 – RESP- for my nieces and nephews ( 5 of them total – I was hoping to up it to 125 for 25 each now that the baby is born)
450 - Travel – I know, my hair is on fire but I live in an isolated town, much of my family lives far away, I need to have this for my mental health - This is a lot lower than previous spending and I’m going to lay off the international travel until I can afford it. This is budgeted on two trips ‘south’ a year, as I can also clam two trips a year on my tax return.
100 – Emergency savings – I have about $1000 in a Tangerine account so far, currently building that a bit
10 – Clothing – again some might think that with my hair on fire that this should be 0 but I’m currently losing weight (30lbs in last 6 months, slowly but surely) I am setting this aside so that between this and selling my old clothing I will be able to keep myself in clothing that fits in the future.
125 – Gifts/stuff/hobbies – I know my hair is on fire but I budgeted this to pay for my hobbies and gifts – I’m trying reduce cost of gifts (ie homemade).  I know that I should try to cut this down, but I tend to be pretty generous with gifts and am fighting the spending demons.
25 – Gym membership
300 – Food – I don’t eat out often anymore, but if I do it would be included in this, I’ve cut this a lot. This low for the cost of food in my area, I think.
8.00 – Netflix
20 – Charity – this is relatively lower than what I was spending before, I do donate my time and even with my hair on fire I think this is pretty reasonable, and tax deductible

Expected ER expenses:  I expect my retirement cost to be significantly lower than current because I plan on moving to a lower cost of living area. I’m guessing 28K plus housing.

Specific Question(s):

Discussion on things to cut until loan paid off welcome and expected. I will read all suggestions but will need to be convinced. This already seems to be a tight budget compared to my (over) spending before.

My expenses are pretty crazy right now, but $1419 is stupid debt repayment.  The question is the extra money, should I continue to throw it at the loan? Or should I work on my RRSP (RRSP would reduce taxes)?

I also get some overtime a year on top of my base, it varies a lot year to year,  and I probably will get a chuck back from government in April (I know stupid interest free loan). Should I throw these extra payments at loan or RRSP?

Goals are to kill the debt and max out my RRSP.  Once that is done then I might work on the mortgage but I don’t know if eventually I should look at other investments outside of my RRSP, but I think that is a several years down the road.

Retirement:
I have 7 years of pensionable service so far in my job. I have good days and bad days at work but generally have a great job. My job is super secure, it’s near impossible to be fired and based on my position and seniority extremely unlikely I would be laid off.
I'm under one of the largest pension in the country. I feel ok counting on my pension. I can get un-reduced benefits at 60.

So I can basically count on my full living expenses being covered after I am 60, because I plan on moving to a lower cost of living area when I retire. Naturally I would like an emergency fund, however.

How to I calculate how much I need to retire early with consideration of my pension? Do I just take my living expenses/ year and times by number of years before 60 I want to retire and ignore all the 4% etc. things because I am counting on my pension?

Potential for more income:
I had a roommate but she is moving this month. I am an anti-social introvert. I am going to really miss my roommate, she never complained about how cold I kept the house, has lots of outside activities that kept her out of the house, has a boyfriend which meant he stayed over but also mean that she actually was only home about  4 nights/week.  My budget above is without a roommate, with a roommate that is as equally easy-going I would have about $600/month extra. Problem is finding someone I can live with and has no problem with slippers and sweaters inside in the winter and doesn't have other things that would increase my expenses like a car that they need to plug in or something like that.

plainjane

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2014, 02:54:58 PM »
470 - heat (This is averaged throughout the year - I have a programmable thermostat and at night temp is 15C, during day when no one is home 14C and when people are home evening weekends it's 18C. This is in an arctic climate -40 in winter is normal.  (This cost has almost doubled since I moved into my house because of increased rates)

This is hideously high as you know.  Are there any opportunities to improve insulation?  e.g. I just spent $15 on a window film kit that I hope will help us this winter.  Fabric snakes (or folded towels) at windows & doors are often a good start.

100 – RESP- for my nieces and nephews ( 5 of them total – I was hoping to up it to 125 for 25 each now that the baby is born)

This one should be your first to go.  Either you save money for them in an RESP, or you give them gifts.  You cannot afford to do both.  And since you aren't the parent, and many RESP plans have weird fees, this leaps out at me as dropable.

surfhb

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2014, 03:17:21 PM »
Wow Man.....you need to make some serious changes.   

You should not be putting money into your retirement or your nieces savings right now.   Can you use that $28k for debt?   

You can get another roommate, cut out retirement, spendy vacations ($5000 a year?!) and your hobbies.   Once August rolls around I'm seeing about $2000 a month extra which can go to debt payoff.     You could be out of debt in no time.....minus your home.   

Why not sell the house and rent?   You don't plan to stay there anyway

Now is the time to go extreme for a year or two
« Last Edit: October 07, 2014, 03:24:15 PM by surfhb »

seattlecyclone

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2014, 03:31:55 PM »
Your house insurance seems high. Any chance you could increase the deductible or something to save some money?

Try turning the thermostat even lower when nobody's home. Somewhere in the 5-10 Celsius range should save you some money while still being warm enough to keep the pipes from bursting.

The utilities seem expensive in general, but this may just be related to the fact that you live in a cold, rural area and certain things are priced higher there. I don't have enough context to say. Could you get by without a cell phone? $65 for a voice only service seems very steep. Again, maybe there really isn't a cheaper option where you live, but I would personally give up the cell phone entirely before spending $65/month on it.

I agree with the others that paying down your debt should be your top priority right now. Any cost savings you find should go straight toward your debt. Once your car loan and other loan are gone you'll have an extra $1400/month to save. The important thing is that you have realized this debt is not sustainable. When you're in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. You've done that and are well on your way toward making good changes. Keep it up!

Debt Free in Alabama

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2014, 03:50:48 PM »
Oh my dear Lord, your mobile home is going to $0, and you know that, right?
The land portion of the purchase will hold it's value, but as the former proud owner of 35 of those damn things, the eventual value of ALL mobile homes is $0.
In addition, they are very poorly insulated, and that's why your heating bill is so high.  Yes, getting a roommate (or 2?) would REALLY help you out.

I just wanted to help you see/realize the will lose the purchase price PLUS the interest you are paying as you have a home valued at $0 in 25 years or so, which has consumed all the principal and interest you threw at it.

Yes, you have to live somewhere, so that's a bit of an offset.
Yes, houses need repairs too, just as you mobile home does, and that's a bit of a wash as well.
However, homes that you repair, and pay off, are worth typically much more than what you paid, and are a MAJOR foundation of wealth for your future (or at least they can be!).
I'd suggest selling it, and renting for awhile as you save up bucks to kill debt/buy a modest stick built house.
Pulling for you!
« Last Edit: October 07, 2014, 03:54:52 PM by Debt Free in Alabama »

norabird

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2014, 03:54:52 PM »
I also spend too much on gifts. I don't quite know what it is that drives me--that people will think they're loved if money isn't spent on them, or something? It's hard because it's a very emotional budget category driven by the feelings I have for friends and family. Trying to be vocal about being grateful for them, present in their lives, is probably better than just spending for spending's sake, but I feel you.

I think the main thing at first is just awareness and accountability. Some costs will seem less and less necessary the more time you spend being aware of them.

sky_northern

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2014, 06:05:05 PM »
Well thanks for all the face punches, I guess. It’s kind of what I needed, I was feeling like I couldn’t go lower on anything but I realize I probably could.

Sounds like everyone agrees debt first and throw everything I can at it.

I really don’t want to sell the house, as much as everyone thinks I should, but my quality of life is much better then when I lived in an apartment. But I will have to suck it up and look for a new roommate(s).

I know the heat is a killer, the rate is super high (I just turned the heat back on in September and I just got a bill for 2.47 GJ  and the rate is $35.44GJ).

@plainjane – thanks for the tip on the window film kit, I will look into that, it wouldn’t hurt.

@surfhb – I’m not badass enough aka too much of a whip for extreme. RRSPs are locked in. I’m decided that I will give the January trip I was planning to visit family and friends, so I’ll cut the travel in half

@seattlecyclone –Thanks for the encouragement. Living where I live everything is about lack of compition and gouging. I do worry about putting the heat too low, but during the day I think I will start trying 10C, we will see how things are when it starts getting really cold.

@DebtFree in Alabama – I know there is downsides to it but it’s a new-ish (2008) Modular home. It’s not going to to $0 by the time I am ready to sell. Insulation is probably not absolutely the best but it is R22 walls and R50 ceiling and floor.

@norabird – Thanks, I need to be better about showing emotions without having thing attached to it. It’s hard because I get to see my god-daughter only once a year so I like sending her things in the mail. Then I see my sister struggling as a single mother and I’ll buy her gift cards for the groceries. I’m starting to get better with my older sister & her family’s, they have a lot of money problems but I’m learning they are kind of their own fault money problems and I shouldn’t buy them gas cards because they have ridiculous commutes to work. It’s easier with the parents, my mom is ecstatic if I make her sushi rolls so that is all I did for her birthday this year was make her a huge plate of them.
 

bonjourliz

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2014, 06:34:49 PM »
We put a plastic wrap and thermal curtains (cheapie ones, even) on our condo's drafty window, and noticed a HUGE difference in the warmth of the room. 

Terrestrial

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2014, 08:35:25 PM »
I know it's a tiny expense in the scheme of the others...but what are $14/mo in 'bank fees'?   I think you can probably find a way to get rid of them...switch to a bank that doesn't charge you anything there are plenty of them around (unless things are different in Canada?).   

Little ticky-tack expenses like that agitate me because they serve no purpose and I try my best to eliminate them.  A year of those will pay a month of your power bill!

Chrissy

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2014, 11:56:54 PM »
I agree with the other posters that the personal loan and the car loan should be the first priority.  Throw everything you have at them.  It's just temporary, and then you can focus on retirement savings.

I think $200 to home improvements/maintenance is fine.

As you know, and are taking steps to address, your heating costs are crazy.

Why is power also high?  Are your electronics all on power strips that you keep off when they're not in use?  Are you using CFL bulbs?

$100 RESP for nieces and nephews must be halted until you're out of debt.

Don't try to kill your mortgage.  The interest rate is so low, that money will earn more in investments.

Tai

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2014, 07:20:58 AM »
You are paying into a defined contribution pension correct? I think it'll be around 10% off your gross. I suggest only putting enough into the RRSP to take you down a tax bracket if that's possible. I believe you get lots of extra tax breaks for living in the far North anyway. With the RESPs putting in enough to max out grant money would be ideal but if you can't afford it you can't do it. I think the best way to help your family is by getting your own finances in order. When your nieces/nephews are old enough to attend post-secondary and you've grown your stache you'll be in a better position to help them. You might need the travel south. I've met people who worked in remote locations who abandoned jobs and homes in the middle of contracts because they couldn't cope anymore. Kudos to you for managing!

sky_northern

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2014, 01:09:15 PM »
Thanks bonjourliz, did you just use normal plastic wrap or special stuff from hardware store? I am planning to go down to our hardware store this weekend to see what they have to seal the windows. The windows don’t feel drafty but it can’t hurt, right? Could probably use better curtine on the picture window too.

@Terrestrial – Yeah I know the fees suck. I am hesitant to change banks because I bank with the only bank that has a location in town. I will look at some other option though, I would have to pay fees for taking any cash out of ATM if I switch but I might be able to minimize that.

@Chrissy, thanks. The power is rough average from past year, I am getting better so might go down this year since I started turning power bar off for the TV, etc. I use CFL. It can really peak in winter dark, pluging car in, ect. Plugging car in is a killer and always only done it when necessary but with driving less hopefully it will be less necessary.

@Tai, yes define contribution pension, I pay about 10% off gross and employer pays in about 15% of my gross. There are lots of Northern tax breaks, I still pay a significant chunk of tax because of my high wage, though. I’m in the midpoint of my tax brackets (26% Federal rate), so hard to get to lower one. The tax advantages of the RRSP are what made me question if I should be putting some more money to them instead of just the loans.  Thanks for the kudos, one reason I don’t want to go back to an apartment is I find the house might easer to cope in, I like being in it. I didn’t like the apartment I was in, hard to find good housing around here.

Everyone seems to be on the same page about the RESPs so I think I will take a break contributing so much for two years while I get out of debt then when I don’t have the loans hanging over me I can start again. The kids are still young, there is time.  I might throw in money for birthdays instead of gifts but will stop the auto-payments.

I also have decided to cancel my January trip ‘south,’ I will suck it up through the long cold winter this year.

I’m kind of disappointed no one said anything about my Jeep. I was thinking of that when I was pushing a co-workers car out of the snow drift of our parking lot this morning, that I would have a story if anyone said anything. (She is the only co-worker I have that has a car, usually on really bad days she uses her husband's Truck. All my other co-workers have suvs or trucks). We got our first big snow of the year, some wicked roads out there today.

surfhb

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2014, 02:09:13 PM »
You need the jeep where you are and it's almost paid off so just pay it off ASAP and you're good there.   

I think you should just concentrate on getting a roomie, stop the hobbie budget, vacations and retirement saving for 2 years.   I'm seeing a good $2500-3000 a month that could go to debt every month until you're debt free!  Yay!

Once that's done you'll be FIRE in your 40s for sure.   

jasonw223

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2014, 03:18:11 PM »
Hey, here are my thoughts:

1) Look into TD Meloche Monnex for home insurance.  I pay $45 a month for a house twice that price in Canada.
2) $470 a month on heat is crazy.  Look into insulation, sealing windows, caulking, weatherstripping, etc.  Don't buy a wood pellet stove. 
3) Check Koodo for your cell phone - not sure where you are but they have some decent coverage up north.  They have a nice prepaid plan at 3c/MB and 5c/min that I'd look into.
4) Might be worth cancelling your bank account and paying the odd ATM fee to withdraw from your tangerine account.
5) I'd be tempted to sell your Patriot.  Both from a functional and financial standpoint, I'm not a fan...  Can explain more if you're curious.
6) Questrade is a nicer way to fill up your RRSP / TFSA in Canada.  Tangerine isn't terrible, but you can buy some nicer Vanguard ETFs with lower expense ratios for FREE with Questrade.  Bit of a chore to set up, but this will save you more and more as you grow your stache over the years.  I can send you my referral code to get us both $25 bucks if you want.
7) As for what to do with money, I'd also agree with the others saying cut out the RESP for a few years.  I would not stop with your RRSP though.  Personally, I'd even prioritize funding it over repaying debt.  You'll get a tax refund right away, plus your money will be invested in the market and can be withdrawn when you choose to stop working / scale back / whatever.

Hope that something in there can help!

sky_northern

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2014, 09:03:57 AM »
@surfhb – FIRE in 40s would be awesome…


@Jasonw223 Thanks for the specific recommendations, much appreciated. I’m in the territories which always seems to make life more complicated and expensive.
1) checked their website they won’t do an online quote for my postal code so sent a message.
2) I know heat prices are crazy, my house isn't drafty or anything but this weekend I am going to look at some options for sealing windows, etc.
3)Thanks, they don’t do local numbers but I’ll do some research on options and think about if I could change my number to a non-local number.
5) I’m curious, tell me more.
6) Thanks for the recommendation, I would be interested in the referral code. With all the talk about Vanguard on this site I was woundering about Canadian options. I know the Tangerine fees can be a little high they were just an easy option.
7) See this is what I was wondering, maybe it’s a Canadian perspective but I was wondering with the loan rate and the tax advantages of the RRSP if I should increase my contribution. Maybe take all my ‘extra’ above living expenses and divide half/ half so I pay down loan and increase RRSP?

jasonw223

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2014, 11:55:09 AM »
My pleasure - I found this site a while ago and made all of these changes myself - hopefully I can save you some time / money! 

5) I used to live on a farm and was out there through a few nasty winters (one with record snow, one with record cold in particular).  Basically, lots of ice / snow / gravel / dirt / mud driving.  We went through quite a few vehicles, and had to shop for vehicles quite a few times.  Jeep Liberty was our first out there - horrible gas mileage and legendary Jeep reliability.  Spent several thousand on it replacing things like the steering rack and rear diff among others (on a vehicle with less than 60000km).  So we bought a new 2010 Ford Escape (thinking that a new car warranty would solve all our problems).  Long story short - it did not, and we won a small lawsuit type thing vs. Ford and they had to buy it back from us, because it is a terrible vehicle as soon as you leave paved roads.  In the end we had a few larger SUVs (more truck-type) which did work out for us.

Anyway, your Patriot is not really an SUV (pretty much no 'SUVs' are actually 'SUVs' anymore), and is not quite in the same category as a truck.  You may not necessarily need a truck / truck type SUV though.  And since it is newish, you'll be losing a lot of money to depreciation each year.  I'd say sell it, pay off that loan, and replace it with a cheaper used vehicle.  Low KMs and ~10 years old I'd say.  Either Impreza / Mazda3 / Civic if you're on paved roads, Forester / CRV if you'd like something more like what you have now, or perhaps a Trailblazer / 4Runner if you actually need a real SUV. 

6) My Questrade referral code (QPass key) is 666025028377846.  Here are the details on it: http://www.questrade.com/promotions/refer_a_friend 
I transferred my RRSP and TFSA over there and am currently buying 100% VUN (Vanguard total stock market, same as VTI but in CAD).

7) I made myself a huge nasty spreadsheet with tax brackets, expected future raises, loan interest rates, expected returns, inflation and all that fun stuff.  It always looks the best to put as much in an RRSP first, then fund a TFSA, and then loans / other investments.  Obviously credit card and high-interest loans should come first, but I don't think you have any of those. 

That being said, if you are currently are in a lower tax bracket but expect to be quite a bit higher in a few years, it may make sense to leave RRSP contribution room for future years and work more on your TFSA now.  And then of course there is the comfort of having debts paid off...  So yeah, half debt, half RRSP would be fine too - although I'd maybe say go with 75% RRSP, 25% debt...

Anyway, let me know if you have any more questions and I'll see what I can do! 

sky_northern

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #16 on: October 10, 2014, 10:27:42 AM »
My pleasure - I found this site a while ago and made all of these changes myself - hopefully I can save you some time / money! 

Anyway, let me know if you have any more questions and I'll see what I can do!
Thanks!

I might have to work on a spreadsheet...

Tai

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #17 on: October 10, 2014, 10:38:15 AM »
 You'll want to remember that since you have a pension your RRSP contribution room is reduced. Also my thinking is that with a solid pension plan you can lean more towards stocks versus bonds in your own accounts, but you have to comfortable with whatever you decide.

MayDay

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #18 on: October 10, 2014, 11:01:27 AM »
A bit of advice in the window film.  3M is the main brand, although there are others.  It isn't hard by any stretch to out in, but it is putzy and takes awhile.  And there is the cost of the film.

My strategy, honed over 8 years of living in MN in a house with old windows, was as follows.  Put the film in whatever windows you never open.  If you do a good job putting the film on, it will last 4-5-more years.  So in each room, I wold identify which window in the room I wanted to be able to open for a breeze in the summer, and I would put window film on all the other windows in the room, then just leave it alone.  I put both interior and exterior film on mine, but considering the much colder exterior temps where you are, I doubt the tape would stick well, so it would probably blow off and be a waste. 

Then, if there are windows you are either not home to look out of during daylight hours due to work, or don't use the room much, put some kind of warm curtain or old blanket on.  Unless they are south facing, in which case let the sunlight in usurping the day.  The cheapest method is to nail or tack a blanket around the window, but then you won't get any light.  But as long as you aren't renting out your extra bedrooms, or if you have laundry room, bathroom, etc window, cover those all winter. 

I noticed that we were getting a stiff breeze under our exterior doors.  For a couple bucks each, I bought a rubber stick-on door sweep.  They make nicer ones that attach permanently, but on 2 of my 3 doors, the rubber stick on ones work fine.  One the third the stick on one came off, so I need to put a better one on is year.  That makes a fairly big difference near my doors. 

Another thing we noticed is that it is frigid by our fireplace.  I haven't come up with a good non-ugly solution for that.  A friend of mine got a peice of that pink foam board they use for house insulation, and slapped it over the fireplace opening.  I can't get over the ugliness of that, but I might get desperate this winter and do it anyway! 

TN_Steve

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #19 on: October 10, 2014, 01:24:18 PM »

Another thing we noticed is that it is frigid by our fireplace.  I haven't come up with a good non-ugly solution for that.  A friend of mine got a peice of that pink foam board they use for house insulation, and slapped it over the fireplace opening.  I can't get over the ugliness of that, but I might get desperate this winter and do it anyway!

Search for "Flue pillow" or chimney pillow/balloon.  Or, DIY, maybe try a heavy duty trash bag and inflate it (and tie it off) just above the damper?


RapmasterD

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Re: CASE STUDY – Reforming spendaholic with high cost of living
« Reply #20 on: October 10, 2014, 02:47:15 PM »
I'd blow up your whole goddamned budget and build another one -- bottoms up -- based on what you NEED versus what you WANT.

You need 4 wheel drive? Dump the Patriot and the loan and purchase another 4 wheel drive that's not rated by Consumer Reports as one of the biggest pieces of shit that is on the roads today.

Your biggest charity focus at this point should not be anyone related to you, or charity itself. It should be you.

I know this is harsh. I apologize. But things like insulation for your fireplace flue ain't gonna cut it. Your income versus savings patterns...are just that...patterns. They are not good and they are setting a poor precedent for your future. Lest you think I'm not giving specific advice, I am. MODEL a whole different budget, from the bottom up, based on what you absolutely need. And then work toward that....Good luck.