May 28 2009

Should we rent this apartment? Or stay put?

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We have until tomorrow to tell our current landlord our intentions to stay for another year, go month-to-month (extra $50 per month), or move out by June 30. We’re running out of time and still don’t know what to do!

We looked at an apartment yesterday and we think we either want to move there or stay put. Other apartments in the area we’re seeking are out of our price range, don’t fit our qualifications or aren’t available. We have at least another year to a year and a half before we think we could consider buying a house.

I’m going to hash out some pros and cons and maybe you can toss in some things for us to consider. I’ve bolded the points that carry the most weight.

PRO move:

  • Rent is $45 cheaper per month
  • Unit comes with a washer/dryer (right now, we have coin-op machines in the basement)
  • Is about 100 square feet bigger, with slightly larger bedrooms, a bigger livingroom, and a separate dining room which we do not currently have
  • Electric bill might be lower if we don’t have to run the AC as much, since it’s a lower-level apartment
  • It would be a good opportunity to go through our possessions and get rid of things we don’t need
  • We would be living in the area we think we might want to buy, and we could try it out without making a huge commitment
  • We wouldn’t have to climb so many stairs each day
  • We would have lots of new things in the area to explore

CON move:

  • Shane’s commute to work would be longer by as much as 20 minutes each way
  • It’s a basement-level apartment, so we’d walk down about 5 steps.
  • It’s fairly dim inside even during the day
  • We are taking a risk with having upstairs neighbors (noise), and a different property management company
  • Slightly less storage space. No coat closet, smaller linen closet, no storage space under our furnace and hot water tank like we have now
  • It’s not as walkable as where we are now
  • Traffic stinks in this area 
  • Moving is a big hassle. Costly, lots of organizing and unpacking, things to buy for a new place, many companies to contact with our  new address…

We’re going back and forth on whether to stay or go. As I pointed out to Shane earlier, the place we lived in before this was pretty awful by our current standards. It was TINY, no dishwasher, no on-site laundry facilities, only a window AC, a noisy train was right behind it, it smelled weird, the stairs were steep. It was fine when we were there,  but when I look back on it, I think wow…that place was pretty lousy. But, we can put up with a lot for a year and I wonder if the benefits to moving would outweigh the drawbacks.


May 26 2009

Outfit your family on the cheap at thrift stores

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Here is a guest post from Barry Ritz, who blogs at Associate Money.

I can’t remember the last time I forked out $20 or more for a shirt, ever since my family started staking out thrift stores. The exception would be my professional work attire which can cost more than $100 but such purchases happen once in a blue moon. 

It is common to find fashionable clothes for less than $5. 

If you intend to make a trip to a thrift store over the weekend, here are some tips to hasten your treasure hunt as you sort through tons of  junk.

1. Review Your Budget

You can still spend a bomb at thrift stores if you are not careful. Tell yourself that you are not going to spend more than a set amount and see how much you can buy at the store. It becomes a challenge and you get more astute over time. 

2. Try Things On For Size

Sizes are not the same for manufacturers or in years gone by. Know your measurements well and wear layers in case there is no dressing room and you need to Gstrip down in a corner. 

3. Examine The Items 

Don’t buy clothes and pants with embarrassing holes or missing zippers unless you are good at stitching. 

4. Don’t Base Your Purchases On Branded Tags

Unsold branded clothes from department stores can end up in thrift shops. Go for these quality brands but don’t ignore unfamiliar brands as they may go well with your existing wardrobe. 

5. Watch For Sales

Thrift stores also run special sales, so keep an eye out for really special and cheap stuff. 

6. Go For Something Different

Diversify your wardrobe by buying clothes with colors with styles you normally avoid. You may fall in love with the new choices, especially when people start praising your change in taste. 

As for accessories like caps and belts, you will be surprised that very few people give two hoots whether you get them for $20 in boutique stores or $3 in the thrift stores. 

Make a trip down to the thrift stores this week. There will be some legwork and sweat involved but you will smile at the quantity of items you purchase for the same budget. 

What thrift store tips can you share?



Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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