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#893 Put A Hold On Toilet Flushing

14 May

fresh water

Be a good fresh water steward, use less water at the toilet. Photo via flickr by Corey Leopold.

If it’s yellow, let it mellow… If you live in a dry or drought area, you’re probably familiar with the waste of fresh water to flush toilets, and the cost to flush every time you use the bathroom. It’s not just a monetary cost, but the strain on the water table and fresh water resources costs as well.

Old toilets can use as many as four to seven gallons of water per flush, more water than an average citizen in many parts of the world would use per day. Newer toilets do a bit better with one and half to three gallons per flush. Either way, limiting flushes reduces fresh water waste and saves money. At pennies a time, the big savings would occur over a lifetime, but small savings per year also accumulate. Not only does saving fresh water by reducing flushing save money on the water bill, but it also helps with the future outlook of limited water resources.


Don’t flush your money down the toilet. Photo via flickr by Titanas.

While water is not expensive currently, many speculate it could become the next oil, a treasured and expensive commodity. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American households spend about $2 per 1,000 gallons, and $474 on water and sewage charges per year. The EPA estimates the average American uses 90 gallons of water per day, while a European uses 53 gallons and a sub-Saharan citizen uses three to five gallons a day. A single person saving three flushes per day could save seven gallons of water per day (calculating average flush use of four gallons of water) or 49 gallons per week or 2,548 gallons per year, which would be just over $4.50 per year saved. Multiply that by a family of four, and the savings increase to $18 a year or $324 for 18 years of children living at home. This of course is assuming that the $2 per 1,000 gallons will not increase exponentially as water becomes scarce due to drought and contamination by farming, pollution, runoff and sewage.

In many ways, conserving water now is a way for payoff in the future. Being good stewards of the resources we have now will mean that we’ll continue to enjoy those resources at a low cost in the future. Not flushing every time isn’t the only way you can save water at the toilet. You can multiply savings a few other ways as well.

First, check for leaks in your toilet. A few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank will tell you if you have a leak. If the color comes through in the bowl after 15 to 20 minutes, then there is a leak and fixing the leak can save 1,000 gallons or $2 a month or $24 a year. It’s an easy fix that most likely involves replacing the valve seal. A brick or plastic bottle filled with sand and sunk into the tank will displace water, which means there will be less in the tank and less water per flush. You can replace an old toilet from a four to seven gallon model to an efficient one and a half gallon model. I like the European model toilets that are tankless and allow you to have a “big” flush button and “little” flush button to address the issue of not always needing a huge flush.

Here are some tips for refraining from flushing and saving water on bathroom use:

  • Don’t be grossed out. The mellow yellow approach is best saved for in home use. As long as you’re home by yourself or with family members who are all on board with the practice, it’s just a matter of getting in the habit and not being offended by it. Have a rule for flushes, like every other pee or every three pees so the yellow and TP don’t collect excessively. When guests are over, social convention kicks in with toilet flushing, unless you are in a drought area and comfortable explaining the limited flush model. Remember pee is sterile. Obviously anything besides pee should be flushed.
  • Don’t run the water at the sink or shower. Don’t wait for the water to get hot, jump right in or start to wash right away. A little wake up isn’t bad. Some people end their shower with a cold blast of water as a health aid to improve alertness. Or change your shower head to a low flow model. My family has one where you can shut the water off at the shower head as you soap up and shampoo. If you have a warm bathroom, it’s not unpleasant to skip being under the running water the whole time.
  • Consider graywater. Why use fresh water for toilets? Some people ask this and say don’t. Graywater is the water runoff from showers, sinks, dishwashers, ect. Anything that is not sewage from toilets. If you are constructing new or doing major renovation, look into recycling graywater into your toilets so the household water flows from the freshwater sources into toilet use, which eliminates wasting fresh water on toilet flushes. You can even use graywater for irrigation outside.
  • You’ll be saving your septic and sewage. Saving on water in the bathroom means that your septic or sewage system won’t get overloaded with water. This means less to go wrong and less overflow contamination of other freshwater sources.
  • Don’t think it doesn’t apply to you. I don’t pay for water, I don’t own a home, my water is included in rent… whatever the reason that you think you don’t pay for water, you do. It’s part of the cost of living whether you feel it or not.




#934 Rent Savers: House Sit

30 Jan

There are plenty of French chateaus in need of house sitting. Photo courtesy of House Carers.

There are plenty of French chateaus in need of house sitting. Photo courtesy of House Carers.

Travel the world. Have no fixed address. Help people. Pay no rent. House sitting is an incredible deal for both house sitters and home owners.

First, for homeowners, it’s advantageous to have a house sitter in their home whether they’re gone for a week or months at a time. If they have pets, they’ll be looked after in their own home with no kennel expenses. If home owners don’t want to come home to a flooded basement, overgrown gardens or worse, a burgled house, then a house sitter is the perfect solution to keep an eye on things while the home owner is away. The house sitter can avert disasters or break-ins just by being in the house. Places like Costa Rica or Panama are notorious for petty theft if the home owner is away, so there are plenty of house sits in exotic locations from home owners looking for peace of mind.

For house sitters, in exchange for looking after some pets and plants, or possibly neither, they stay rent-free and let the home owner know everything is O.K. or deal with a situation if one arises. For longer house sits, the home owner may ask for the house sitter to cover utility expenses, but these are often minimal. If you’re a free-lancer, telecommuter or retired, house sitting is a perfect way to save money on rent. Even if you have a fixed job, some areas are in plenty of need of house sitting so that you could live in one area rent-free by jumping from house sit to house sit.

Granted, it can be tiring and stressful, but the pay off is big. Especially if you make a connection with a home owner and get a steady house sit.

Tropical sunsets from the porch are also an option. Photo courtesy of House Carers.

Tropical sunsets from the porch are also an option. Photo courtesy of House Carers.

Here are some suggestions for house sitting:

  • House sitting as a couple is easier as one person can go on to the next house sit while the other stays behind if the house sits overlap.
  • Have a back up for any gaps in house sitting like staying at your parents, children’s or friend’s house. Never too long and always rotate. You’re saving so much on rent, you could also schedule timeshares or the like. But unless you’re rooted to one location, you should never be out of a house sit.
  • Consider a house sit for vacation. You might not house sit regularly and have your own home, but you could house sit to save on vacation housing expenses. There are plenty of vacation destinations out there.
  • Keep in mind off season. Most home owners are looking for house sitters when they’re on vacation or during the off-season for their second home. If you’re happy to be in Central America when it’s hot and rainy and France when it’s cold, then house sitting is for you.
  • House sit for the summer or during your sabbatical. If you’re a student and need housing while school is out of session, you can find a house sit to cover your down period. If you’re a professor with time off, save your salary and house sit during your sabbatical.
  • Some locations have quite a few house sits. It seems places like southern France, Spain, California, New Mexico, the U.K. and locations in Australia and New Zealand have frequent house sits. As well as ex-pat retiree locations like Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico.
  • Be handy. While you are not a paid caretaker, it helps to have a lot of skills so home owners feel comfortable that you can handle old houses, pools, gardens and anything else to do with a house.
  • Love animals. While some house sits don’t require pet care, a lot of them do. So if you can love someone else’s dogs, cats and hens like your own, you’ll find plenty of house sit opportunities.
Or how about American farm houses? Photo courtesy of House Carers.

Or how about American farm houses? Photo courtesy of House Carers.

If you want to house sit locally, you’re probably best off asking friends and family for connections and putting it out there that you’re available for house sits. For more resources, here is a list of house sitting websites. They all charge fees for house sitters, but if you are serious about saving money by house sitting – whether you are retired or not – then the fee will pay for itself. It’s also a way to ensure the quality and seriousness. Home owners are never charged to list their house to sit.

  • House Carers. You can do an unpaid trial to get a feel for it and then pay $50 a year for full access. There are quite a few house sits in locations around the world.
  • Mind a Home USA.  A site exclusively for house sits in the USA. It costs $25 a year for house sitters.
  • House Sitters America. Another site exclusively for the USA. It costs $30 a year for house sitters.
  • House Sit World. House sits around the world and a $40 yearly fee. Their look and interface is not nearly as nice as other web sites. But clunky be damned if it works for you.
  • The Caretaker Gazette. The oldest and most respected of house sitting journals. There is a print and online version. There are paid caretaking jobs in addition to house sits. Caretaking is another option, but usually involves much more professional work and requirements in property caretaking. Online only access is $29.95 a year. There are other price points for multiple years and print-only or print and web access.
  • Mind My House. At $20 a year, it’s the cheapest house sitting website to register on for house sitters. There are house sits all over the world – a lot in English- speaking countries like Australia, USA, UK and New Zealand.

#935 Rent Savers: Live With Your Parents or In-Laws

24 Jan

You can save for your own house while living with your parents or in-laws. Photo via flickr by Images_of_Money.

You can save for your own house while living with your parents or in-laws. Photo via flickr by Images_of_Money.

Living with your parents or in-laws as a way to save money for a period of time will totally depend on the relationship you have with them. Some should never enter this agreement, but others can negotiate it just fine. Children in other cultures stay in the family home through university and even until they get married. It’s really a unique phenomenon in the United States to have children out on their own by the time they’re 18 and off to college.

There are lots of reasons to stay at home through university and later. One of the big reasons is to save money. Now I’m not talking about being a “freeloader” or having an indefinite stay with your parents or in-laws, but here are some good reasons to live with your parents or in-laws for a period of time to save money:

  • College.
    College is a good time to save money on housing and live at home.

    College is a good time to save money on housing and live at home.

    To cut down on college expenses, if you’re going to college where you grew up, it makes sense to live at home. European universities don’t usually offer housing as students always lived at home with their parents while attending school. Because cost of living is high and college is almost free in Europe, it makes a lot of sense. Saving on housing during college will reduce your overall loan burden if you’re taking out loans to cover tuition and housing.

  • Transition times.  If you just graduated college and are looking for a job (or making close to nothing) or if you’re making a big life transition like trying to launch a new business or going back to school, it’s a huge help financially to live with your parents while sharing expenses. Many detailed conversations about expectations should be had beforehand. If your parents are like most parents, they’ll love to have you back. But it’s time for an adult relationship, something that may or may not be difficult for both parties.
  • Saving for your own place (or other goal). If you’re ready to make the move to home ownership, it could accelerate your savings to move in with your parents or in-laws for a period of time. Everyone will celebrate when you move into your new place, in a good way. You could also save for another goal like paying for grad school or starting a business.
  • Health reasons. If you’re parents are in need of your help, it would be a great time to move in with them to help out. They took care of you, it’s only natural to take care of them. Sure they’re not a cute little baby like you were, but they’re you’re parents. It would save both parties a lot of money to have some help and reconnect. Even if it’s only a temporary arrangement like while your mom recovers from surgery and goes to physical therapy, everyone will feel a closer family bond.

Now if you’ve decided to live with your parents or in-laws as an adult, here are some rules to make everyone’s life easier:

  • Have discussions about who will pay for what. You may not be paying rent, but you should help out with groceries, utilities and other bills related to living expenses. If you’re a student and not earning income, then you should decided what you’ll do around the house to help out. Laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning and mowing the lawn are all up for grabs and a relief for parents if they don’t have to do it.

    A helping hand is always nice, but graduating to an adult relationship is key. Photo via flickr by stephanski.

    A helping hand is always nice, but graduating to an adult relationship is key. Photo via flickr by stephanski.

  • Have discussions about space and your need for your own space (and their need for their space). Ideally, you can have a garage or basement space that is pretty much self-serving. Or if you’re lucky, a second home or apartment that they aren’t using. If you’re staying in your old bedroom in the house with much more shared space, then talking about what you and your parents need in terms of privacy and space will save some serious problems from arising.
  • Have a timeline. Be clear about the timeline and update it as things change. Actively work on your goals that you are trying to achieve while living at your parents. Living with your parents for a year to achieve a goal is fine. If it stretches on more than a year as you are transitioning or looking for work, then have a state of the union with your parents or in-laws and ensure that the arrangement is still working for everyone and adjust as necessary.
  • Be honest. Both parties should be honest and up front about their feelings and what they’re thinking from the start. If one party or the other can’t deal with something, then the arrangement isn’t going to work. If both parties know what to expect and any changes in plans are communicated long ahead of time, then everyone will be happier.
  • Be grateful. Your parents or in-laws are helping you achieve your goals. Show your gratitude by sticking to the rules and financial arrangements, being respectful and thoughtful and saying thanks. And repay them any way you can down the road.
  • Be an adult. This might be the hardest for both parties – letting go of the parent-child dynamic and having an adult relationship. It’s probably easier if you’re living with your in-laws as your relationship has always been an adult relationship (you’ll have to help your spouse transition though). This means not meddling and offering unsolicited advice or judgement from the parents’ side and being mature and self-reliant on the child’s side.

Deciding to live with parent or in-laws is a huge decision once a child has left the family home or if it continues on beyond the “accepted” mark of living with your parents. Be confident in your goals and use the opportunity to save money, become financially independent or start your new life. Your parents will be so proud.

#936 Rent Savers: Work For A Boarding School

22 Jan

Photo via flickr by 401 (K) 2013.

Photo via flickr by 401 (K) 2013.

There’s no denying it, if you don’t pay rent, you save a lot of money. Money you could use to buy a house, travel the world, invest, take a few years off, retire early… Saving on rent does wonders. So now that it’s clear you shouldn’t pay more than 25% of your gross income on rent, how about not paying rent at all? If you work for a boarding school, one of the benefits of employment is free housing. When I worked for a boarding school, I got paid the least amount of  money but saved the most. It was made possible by not paying rent.

Sure, I had to live in the apartment they selected for me. But once you’re working at a boarding school, housing shuffles yearly so you can put a claim in on a better house or apartment. You may also be required to live in the dorms for a certain period of time. Any dorm apartments I’ve seen have been really nice. And mostly block out the sound of over-excited high schoolers.

To work for a boarding school, you have to be able to handle high school students, although there are some boarding schools that have grades 7 and 8 as well. In exchange for benefits like food (at the dining hall) and housing, boarding schools want you to not only teach or be an administrator but coach sports, run clubs and rotate dorm duty. I worked as an administrator, which made my working hours longer than a teacher’s, so I didn’t coach a sport in the afternoon, but I helped out with clubs like the newspaper one evening a week as well as had dinner in the dining hall two evenings a week. I also had a group of freshman advisees that I tracked to make sure they were getting good grades and staying out of trouble.

I don’t have a great love of high schoolers, but all the kids were good kids. They were mostly well-off students with a sprinkling of super-intelligent scholarship kids. The facilities at the school were amazing – on par with a top-tier college and better than some universities. I could work out, have lunch, use the library and have access to ski passes all for free in addition to free housing.

With the one caveat that “free” was actually a taxable benefit that put me in a higher tax bracket, free housing when I worked for a boarding school was a great deal. It saved me a lot of money. I didn’t end up working at the boarding school long enough to save for a house. But my parents did. In the more than 10 years my dad worked at a boarding school, the housing provided allowed my parents to save money to buy a summer home. The house they bought served not only as a place to go every summer, but a home that would always be there no matter what.

Even if you have your own housing and you start working for a boarding school, you can get a housing stipend that would offset the cost of your rent or mortgage.

To get a job at a boarding school, you can sign up with one of the many recruiting agencies, contact the school directly or look at job boards. There are boarding schools around the world including many English-speaking international schools in foreign countries.

#937 Don’t Pay More Than 25% Of Gross to Rent Or Mortgage

21 Jan

While everyone was busy buying, we were still renting what we could afford. With sea views and hardwood floors.

While everyone was busy buying, we were still renting what we could afford. With sea views and hardwood floors.

When my husband and I were looking for a place in 2004, every great rental apartment we saw had happy couples moving out. “We’re moving because we bought a place!” They all said enthusiastically. I didn’t understand how they could afford it. They weren’t much older than us. They certainly didn’t seem to be in a higher income bracket. Only a few years later, it was clear. They couldn’t afford it. Maybe a few of them could, but my guess is the majority of them couldn’t. Banks were handing out loans like candy, and I’m sure a lot of families took on way more than they could handle. When determining your budget, housing is always your biggest expense. In order to determine what you can afford, your rent or mortgage should never be more than 25% of your gross income.

apartment 2

This was such a great place – much less than 25% of gross. A lot of looking paid off.

For someone (or family) who makes $25,000 a year that would be $520 a month. For someone who makes $50,000 a year that would be $1,041 a month. For someone who makes $75,000 a year that would be $1,562 a month. For someone who makes $100,000 a year that would be $2,083. And so on. The simple formula of gross income times .25 divided by 12 will give you your monthly target for housing. If you haven’t been following this rule, do the formula and see if your rent or mortgage falls under the 25% rule. If it doesn’t, your budget will always be stretched. If it does, congratulations, stick to that rule for the rest of your life when looking at a new apartment or house.

apartment 4

A baby meant I finally got a fireplace, but the bigger place was still less than 25% gross. A lot of looking again this time.

But what about 28 or 30 percent you might say? Twenty eight percent is acceptable for total housing costs including insurance and taxes, so if you stick to 25% for the actual payment then, 28% for the total cost should be doable. Although you should still run the numbers to be sure. Thirty percent is just too much.

When trying to negotiate around the housing number in your budget, it’s one of those impossibly immovable chunks of money. Rent due is rent due. The best way to make life easier is to go with the 25% rule.

But my family is too big, my rent district is high, I’ll never be able to find a place for that…the excuses can go on and on. But you’ll be much more at ease financially if you make the effort to stick to the 25% rule. Here are some tips for sticking to the rule and not taking on more rent or mortgage than your budget can afford:

  • Look…a lot. Think you can’t get a place that you want in your price range. You’ve got your work cut out for you to look. The process of looking means a diligent, determined search. And an uncompromising adherence to the top of your budget range, which is that 25% figure. Don’t get desperate and spend more, your perfect place that magically falls into your budget range will appear. Spending less is even better. Classifieds are a good start.
  • Avoid big rental companies and real estate agencies. Large rental companies always charge the most rent. It’s hard to find a place that falls in your budget range when only going through corporate rental companies. You don’t have to completely cross them off your list, but you’re not likely to find something through them. Real estate agencies are harder to avoid when buying. But in both cases you’re better off finding a place through individual landlords or houses that are for sale by owner. Both will offer better deals in most cases.
  • Roommates. Not just for college students, roommates or flatmates are sometimes the only way in larger cities to get something in the 25% category. Even if you own your own home, you can rent out a spare room or make a rental space over the garage or in the basement. You can make life an adventure by renting out your spare room or space on airbnb or the like.
  • You don’t HAVE to be in the city. Jump a tiny bit outside and prices usually go down enough to be in your price range. It’s all a fine game of space, distance and cost. Game on!

#951 Get a Budget Now…Write It Down…Track It Diligently

1 Jan

budget jar

Photo via flickr by Tax Credits.

So you have money that gets deposited into your bank account on a monthly or bi-weekly basis from your workplace. You have these bills to pay. You go out to get drinks once a week. You get some gas. Oh, you forgot about the oil change you need…and what about saving for the family trip to Cancun? If you’re ever going to find out where the money that’s coming in goes to and how not to run a deficit bigger than the government, then you need a budget. In fact a budget is the number one rule of financial health and thriftiness. So let’s start the new year with the basic of the basics – a budget and how to make your money work for you.

Rules are you must have all incoming and outgoing cash accounted for; you cannot spend more than you take in; you have to keep track of every purchase or income on a spreadsheet with some basic addition and subtraction; and you must keep up your budget tracking on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.

Here we go:

A few years out of college, Elsa has negotiated a job offer for $40,000 in a medium-sized city with moderate living expenses. Before accepting, she has to decided what $40,000 will do for her. That’s about $3,333 a month before taxes and deductions. After calculating 35% in taxes and deductions that leaves her with $2,167 a month for expenses. The 10-year-old Honda she inherited from her parents is paid off, she has student loans, minimal credit card debt, is a bit of a gourmand and uses the internet but does not watch cable TV.

She starts a spreadsheet with $2,167 coming in the door…to see what goes out…

Rent: One bedroom apartment, heat and hot water included: $900
Electric bill: $40/month
Phone bill: $50/month
Internet: $35/month
Loans/Debt Repayment: $250/month
Groceries: $320/month
Gas: $100/month
Car maintenance: $100/month
Insurance: $100/month
Entertainment: $100/month
Savings: $110/month
Total spending: $2,105
Remaining cash: $62 (put into emergency fund separate from savings)

Pickled herring not your thing? Save for something you love. Photo via flickr by mtcarlson.

Pickled herring not your thing? Save for something you love. Photo via flickr by mtcarlson.

She decides she can squeak by, be comfortable with all the basics covered as well as have some room for a night out with friends and not miss the yearly trip to Sweden to enjoy pickled herring with her mother because she didn’t save.

Items like car maintenance and insurance aren’t a monthly expense, but she needs to account for them in her monthly budget so she is not surprised by the $250 tune up in a few months. She can also start to identify places in her budget to save money. Can she go generic to cut her grocery bill down? Can she combine her love of cooking with entertaining friends? Can she find a roommate situation or rent a studio for lower rent?

She tackles the new job and city with her budget. She finds an apartment that fits the bill, begins to make a grocery list and shops only once a week, cooks for herself and friends instead of going out, eats leftovers for lunch, makes do with the wardrobe she has and looks for deals in thrift stores or on eBay with they money she saves on groceries, she saves all her receipts and keeps track of her spending in Microsoft Excel.

Some months she’s in a panic because she blew her entertainment budget in one weekend and her car breaks down. Other months she’s feeling confident about being right on target. She knows this because she’s keeping track and can adjust her projections, identify new, recurring expenses she didn’t account for and see where she’s getting herself in trouble. Through the years as Elsa gets raises, new jobs, moves, get a boyfriend, a husband, a baby, she keeps her budget updated and adjusted for new expenses and increased costs. She makes new budgets for her wedding, the baby and buying a house. She’s a financial pro. Budget for the win!

Elsa is friends with Hilary who also moved to the same city with a similar job at the same time as Elsa. Hilary was excited about getting a job that actually paid! She was an unpaid intern living at her parents, now she has cash. She gets an apartment, goes out every weekend, shops with girlfriends, goes to the spa with her mom, lives on take-out and cheese nips, buys a new car and gets a few credit cards.

Spreadsheets are not just for accountants. If you can add and subtract, you can make a budget spreadsheet. Photo via flickr by Casey Serin.

Spreadsheets are not just for accountants. If you can add and subtract, you can make a budget spreadsheet. Photo via flickr by Casey Serin.

She doesn’t keep track of where her money goes, she just knows she runs out before the end of the month and uses her credit cards, which she tries to pay off, but then it leaves her with less money from the next paycheck. In five years, Hilary ends up with $18,000 in credit card debt but she’s keeping up with minimum payments. She meets the man of her dreams, and she’s going to have the wedding of her dreams with 180 guests in an all-weekend blowout. Her parents aren’t going to pay for it all, so she makes up the difference. What’s another $18,000 in debt anyway? With two incomes, her husband and her will be able to pay it off.

With $36,000 in debt from credit cards and the wedding, Hilary knows she can’t have kids, a house or go on vacation anytime soon. Luckily her husband paid for the honeymoon. But he has $80,000 in law school debt and has a starting salary of $50,000. Hilary gets laid off and spends her time not answering the phone for fear of creditors. She finally asks Elsa what her secret is. Elsa seems to have everything, but she can’t make that much money. Elsa tells Hilary, “I’ve always had a budget. If it’s not in the budget, I don’t get it.” 

There it is folks: The tale of two people – one living with a budget and one living without a budget. The happy ending is always there for those with a budget – written down, tracked and adjusted as life moves along.

Most of us are somewhere in between the two. But almost anyone could use better budget practices. You can go free with a spreadsheet. My sister loves the software You Need A Budget, which of course you’d have to budget for the paid service. I’ve tested the free trial, and it definitely warp speeds your budget prowess. The investment would be worth it if it helps get your financial house in order and saves you money by allowing you to keep better track of your spending. Start the new year fresh with renewed financial goals and a budget.

For a free budget program that really kicks your butt into gear, check out Mint.

#977 Newspaper Classifieds

22 Nov

I know…who looks at a real newspaper anymore? With the trend of everything in the world, and our lives, ending up online, traditional print newspapers are struggling. But they offer one of the best places to find bargains…the classified ads section. The only time I’ll pick up a paper now is to look at the classifieds. If you give yourself enough time, you can find what you’re looking for and within your budget range in the classifieds.

One of the best uses of the classifieds is apartment or real estate hunting. Despite Craigslist‘s efforts and online resources for apartments and real estate, I find that the local paper has the best selection and best prices for rentals. Online apartment ads tend to be for large, impersonal rental companies with high rents. Craigslist has too many scammers and competition from everyone else looking for a perfect find. Classifieds tend to be placed by individuals, who seem to be nicer, more honest and reasonable, than rental companies. Although rental companies use the classifieds too.

View – incredible, rent – reasonable, thanks classifieds.

There is something nicely thrilling about getting the paper as soon as it’s out, circling all the ads that seem to fit my criteria and then speed dialing to be the first person in the door. I’ve gotten all my apartments this way. When looking for a new place, I’ve also looked online and asked friends, but never fail, it’s the apartment listed in the paper that is breathtakingly perfect and eerily, exactly the budget number I calculated but sadly thought was impossibly low. Vacation rentals and real estate to buy are also worth a look in the local classifieds.

If you are looking for a large items like a musical instrument (the number of pianos being sold through classifieds seems unusually high) or a car, the classifieds are the place to go again. Plus there are always lots of dining sets and couches for sale at good prices as well. Don’t rely solely on looking online if you’re in the market for something.

Once you’re done perusing the section that you need, a look at everything else for sale is a good source of wonderment, laughs and bemusement.