Alberta is nervous.
Changes in government and economy, job security and our fluctuating dollar have made our province vulnerable and scared for the first time in decades.
We have always been able to pull through and continue to be the province of plenty but this time feels more unsettling than before and I am listening to endless amounts of people murmuring about whether they have enough confidence to purchase a home or if it’s a good idea to stay put and renovate.
There are a few simple things you can do to ensure that you are getting the most out of your hard earned dollars. We don’t need to worry about our economy if we are utilizing every possible savings at our disposal to make our dollars stretch as far as they can.
1. Check your fees – all of them. Check your bank records, interest on loans, insurance premiums, credit cards and make sure that you are getting the best possible rates. Often there are better options available and it takes a single phone call to make sure that these institutions are working for YOU. I made a phone call on my car and home insurance and saved $1,200 per year recently, what a good use of my time.
2. Keep your home in good repair – upgraded light fixtures, outlets and clean furnace filters and ducts will give you a break on heating and electricity costs. Regular maintenance on hot water tanks and plumbing fixtures will cut down costs if you are repairing leaks and drips and keeping those items well maintained.
3. Use your home as an income generator – rent a room to a student or start a home-based business. This will allow you to tap in on tax breaks and write offs for some of your recurring home expenses. Using a good accountant will help you to take advantage of all the taxation breaks available for business owners and landlords.
4. Barter and trade – we all have skills that other people are wanting. Working out a barter system with other people is a fun way to receive goods and services for little or no money. Your offering to take your neighbour’s garbage to the dump in your truck may result in you getting your walk shovelled for free or may reward you with dinner.
5. Keep things cool and dark – furnace low, lights low makes for the perfect snuggle environment! Be mindful of electronics and your usage in the home. Cover windows with energy efficient blinds and draperies to keep heating costs low and have blankets available to curl up with! Shut off water while brushing teeth and while lathering up in the shower. Keep a jug of water cold in the fridge to cut down on running the taps when you need a drink of water.
There are many ways to shave a few dollars off of our monthly expenses and to lighten our financial load. Consider the option of downsizing your home, take a realistic look at how much space you really need and look at less expensive housing options that will lower your monthly mortgage payments. We will get through this time of uncertainty Alberta, it just may take a little work on our part.
Kim Wyse is a local freelance designer. Find her on facebook at ‘Ask a Designer’.