Roof Repair vs Replacement

by Josh Champagne on May 18, 2015

asphalt shingle new roof repair vs replacementRoofs will all eventually wear out and need replacement. The question is, how do you know if your roof just needs a quick roof repair job or whether it needs to be completely replaced? If you replace your roof to soon, you might just be throwing money away. Alternatively, if your roof is in terrible condition and has multiple leaks over a wide area, you may end up spending more money in the long run due to water damage in your home’s interior. To know which decision is right for you, let’s look at a few key factors in deciding to repair or replace a roof.

Roof Repair vs Replacement: The Statistics

Here in the US, according to Remodeling’s Cost-vs-Value Report, the average cost for a new asphalt shingle roof is just under $20,000. If you were to sell your home, you would recoup about 62% of that cost. Depending on materials, your roof replacement could cost significnatly more. For example, some high end roofing materials like standing-seam metal roofs could cost you as much as $40,000. If you have a smaller rolled rubber flat roof, your cost may be as low as $7-10,000.

But, back to the question of whether you actually need to spend all that money on replacement or whether a low cost fix will keep your home protected for a few more years. As a rule of thumb, if your roof is in good shape, it makes better sense to repair any small leaks that might occur. If however, you are approaching the end of the roof’s expected lifetime, you might need to consider the possibility of a replacement.

Keep an eye out for signs of a leaking roof

Check your roof once a year. If you can’t see your roof from the ground and aren’t too keen on climbing ladders, you can always get a reputable local roofer to come out and inspect it for you. Jaylan Martin, a local roofing contractor in Lancaster, PA says, “Early signs that your roof might need some attention would include water marks on interior ceilings, paint peeling off your roof’s overhang and soffit areas, and any extra humidity or mold spots on walls and ceilings directly below your roof.”

If you inspect your roof from the exterior of your home, look for missing or damaged shingles, loose flashing or damaged sealant around chimneys and worn areas around pipes and skylights. Another concern is large areas of roofing covered by creeping ivy, dark green moss or light green or brown lichens. Any kind of green growing plants with a root system in your roof is going to compromise the protection from the elements your roof provides for your home.

When to Choose a Roof Repair

When your roof is in overall good condition, you can usually get it fixed quickly and eliminate any risk of ongoing damage to your home. The cost of the average roof repair will run between $75 to $1,000 depending on the complexity of the repair and which materials are needed. Keep in mind, if the cause of damage is hail, wind or other weather related event, your insurance will probably pay for the repair. Most home insurance companies do require you to do everything in your power to prevent further damage. So, get out those tarps. Or, call a local roofing company who can come out as soon as possible to cover the damaged area with a tarp to prevent leaks causing more damage to the home’s interior.

When to Choose a Roof Replacement

With a roof replacement costing as low as $5,000 to as high as $40,000 and up, it isn’t a decision to make lightly. If however, your roof is in generally poor condition and won’t benefit from yet another repair, it’s time to bite the bullet and find a way to pay for a new one. Once you know you need to buy a new roof, you will need to find a reputable roofing contractor. Check home improvement directories like Yelp, Angie’s List or even the Better Business Bureau and get several bids for the roof replacement. Most bids should be fairly close in price. While tempting, you might not want to go for the lowest bidder. Going cheap on a new roof will only mean more repairs in the future. Pay for quality materials and workmanship and your new roof will reward you by protecting your home and loved ones for years to come.

Related Resources:
National Roofing Contractors Association – http://www.nrca.net/
GAF Roofing Contractors Directory – http://www.gaf.com/Roofing/Contractors
Professional Roofing Magazine – http://www.professionalroofing.net/
Roofing Contractor Magazine – http://www.roofingcontractor.com/
City Line Roofing – Local Roofing Contractor – http://www.citylineroofingpa.com

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Do Infrared Heaters Save Money?

by Josh Champagne on March 2, 2015

Earlier this winter, I posted about 10 Ways to Lower Your Heating Bill. I took my own advice on the idea of “heating just the space you occupy”, by purchasing a used EdenPure US1000 Infrared Heater as well as a DeLonghi Oil-Filled Radiator for comparison. How did they perform vs each other and do infrared heaters save money? Let’s find out.

infrared-heater-save-money

Do Infrared Heaters Save Money ? Yes, they CAN!

The operative word here is CAN. First you have to understand the limitations of the heater. So, don’t expect a 1,000 watt heater to pump out the high BTU heat of your central heating system during the coldest winter nights. Ideally, you should set your central heat (remember, this is supplemental heating, not a replacement) to as low of a temperature as you can comfortably handle while moving about the house in your warm winter clothing. For us, this is about 62 degrees. You can then either place the infrared heater centrally in your home and put it on max heat which will keep your central system from turning on as frequently (this is useful for supplementing a higher cost energy source like heating oil), or you can place the heater in the room you will be using primarily throughout the day and aim the heater at yourself. Remember, the way infrared heat works is by heating objects rather than just circulating heated air (like your central air system does).

So, how much did we save this winter? I calculated we saved easily over $500 by using these two heaters. Here are very non-mathematical calculations:

  • In December, we burned through 100 gallons of heating oil at a cost of $380
  • I bought the heaters at the beginning of January and used them almost continuously in the manner described above. They added a mere $50 total to both my January and February electrical bills combined (yes, we have cheap electricity here in Pennsylvania).
  • At the beginning of January, I also bought 150 gallons of oil for $570. Based on the very cold temperatures in January/February, I calculated we should have burned twice that much oil to heat our 2,000 square foot home. It is March 2nd, and we still have oil in the tank from that 150 gallon purchase.
  • So, we saved $570 and spent $50 on electricity for a net energy savings of $525.

Now, you could argue that the capital expenditure on the heaters needs to be included in this cost saving equation. I paid $250 for the refurbished EdenPure Infrared Heater, and $65 for the oil filled radiant heater for a combined $315. That would bring my total savings down to only $210, however I still have those two very good quality heaters that I hope to get many years of service from, so overall the heaters were definitely worthwhile.

Infrared Heater vs Oil Radiant Heater

oi-filled-radiant-heaterHow did these two perform against each other? If I had to pick just one, I’d choose the infrared heater. I found the infrared heater was better at heating a larger space than the oil filled radiant heater. Why? Because, the infrared heater has a fan that pushes the hot air away from the infrared heating elements and circulates this heated air throughout the room, whereas the radiator simply uses the process of convection to heat the air and objects around it (a much slower process). What I ended up doing was to use eaach heater for different tasks. I placed the infrared heater centrally in my home to supplement my central heating system and used the oil-filled radiant heater to heat just one room (office or bedroom) which it did quite well. I never tested either unit, but I have a feeling the oil filled radiator actually uses less power than the infrared unit due to the fact that the infrared unit is always on (if set to maximum temperature) and the oil unit cycles off as the oil reaches a high enough temperature and subsequently cools down during the convection process.

Conclusion:

Infrared heaters will save you money, but don’t expect a miracle heater. And to be honest, if you have natural gas heat in your home your savings will not be near as pronounced as ours. As always, your mileage may vary. Many comfortable warm winters to you!

Links to the heaters we bought from Amazon:

 

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How to Save Money on Food and Eat Healthier

by Josh Champagne on February 27, 2013

When it comes to our monthly budgets, food seems to take up a big chunk of change. We all eat at least three meals a day plus snacks, desserts, and even drinks. This all adds up fast and can consume too much of your time and money. Beyond that, however, there is also the issue of health. Many people today are overweight. Much of that weight is due to overeating or eating the wrong things. Filling up on junk foods and sugary sodas has led us to an epidemic of obesity. The health concerns associated with obesity and overeating are horrid. However, there are some ways that you can learn how to save money on food while eating healthy. Here are some ideas that may be able to help you to live a happy, healthier and more affordable life style:

How to Save Money on Food – Take the Simple Approach

  1. how to save money on foodPlan your meals – The first thing I advise when you are attempting to eat healthier is to plan your meals for the week. By planning out what you are going to eat you can make healthy, informed choices. You will be far less likely to splurge on a greasy hamburger and French fries if you have a healthy salad and chicken meal all ready to eat in your slow cooker at home. You can also buy all the ingredients you need for the recipes so that you do not get frustrated and give up. Planning meals also helps you to be more creative and varied with your cooking so that you do not get burned out on one meal or become nutritionally unbalanced. Meatloaf may be your favorite, but eating it three times a week will burn anyone out. By planning your meals in advance you can look up new recipes, try out new foods, and have more fun with your cooking. It is no fun to dig through a cookbook when you are tired and hungry, so save yourself the trouble and plan ahead.
  2. Buy on sale –Another aspect of panning your meals ahead of time is that you can cook, and shop, according to sales. Most grocery stores have ads in the local paper and even deliver them right to your mailbox. Take a look and see what foods are on sale and then plan your meals around that. Not only can you save money, but you will also create more varied dishes based on those sales. It is a win-win!
  3. Make a list and shop only once –Speaking of sales, one thing I always stick to is shopping only once a week. I get in, get only what is on the list, and get out. The list is vital. It saves me from making unnecessary purchases like junk food and desserts. Instead, I stick to my list and only buy the things I really need. I plan on snacks like fresh fruits and veggies and healthy dessert options, but try to avoid the cookie and candy aisle. By shopping only once I give myself less temptation to but that candy bar and I also stick to my budget. I do not know about you, but when I stop in to get ‘just one thing’ I end up spending fifty dollars or more. No. Once a week will have to do it.
  4. Do not eat out – Another way to avoid wasting money and help you to eat healthier is to never eat out. Okay, well never is an exaggeration. There will be special occasions or days with friends where eating out is acceptable. However you should not make it a habit. Food that is not made in your home has far higher levels of fats, sugars, and salt. They also give you less bang for your buck. I can make the same thing at home for a quarter of the price and it will be healthier as well. When you do have to eat out, try to eat small portions. Order off the appetizer section and remember that you do not have to stuff yourself. Enjoy the food but keep your waist line and wallet in mind.
  5. Avoid prepackaged foods –The same idea goes in the grocery store. Prepackaged meals are just not good for you. Not only do they contain high levels of salt and preservatives, but they are also tiny and not worth your money. Most of the meals they sell can be easily made with fresh ingredients for a far better price and will be better for you too. Not only that, but homemade tastes much better! Do not give into the temptation of a quick and easy meal. Instead when you are pinched for time you can try:
  6. Freeze a meal – Freezing a meal is a great way to have something tasty and good for you on hand in a crunch. Many times I have made a new recipe only to find out I had tons left over. Instead of eating on it for days (yuck) or throwing it out, I froze half for a meal later. That way when I am tired and everything in my day has just gone wrong I have an easy meal all ready to go. Most meals can be frozen and last for months with no problem. You can even mix and match meals for great new flavors like turkey chili hot dogs with leftover chili.
  7. Know your portions –One big obstacle that many people have when they are cooking or eating is portion control. Most of the things we eat are way too much for us. However there are programs that will help you to better be able to understand what a normal sized portion is. Cutting down your portions into reasonable sizes is the first step towards healthier eating habits, and cheaper food bills. Having a balanced meal does not mean having equal portions of everything either, so watch what you eat and make sure it is balanced.
  8. Cut down on meat – Speaking of portion sizes, meat is something that most of us eat way too much of. When you are cooking, try not to make meat your main dish. Instead, focus on incorporating a bunch of foods into your meal, with meat being just a small addition. You can also work on creating one or two meatless meals a week. Replacing meat or reducing it can drastically reduce your food bill as it is often the most expensive part of your meal. You will also be eating less fat and not feel as heavy after meals, which could mean you take that walk around the block. Altogether, cutting down on your meat consumption is a healthy and smart move.
  9. Take leftovers to lunch –While it may not sound like a yummy concept, leftovers at lunch are not bad. I think you will find, as I have, that by the time noon rolls around you are more than ready to eat that food again. Plus bringing your food to lunch cuts down on food you have to buy and is a healthy alternative to a sandwich or burger. By eating a balanced meal for lunch you will be left satisfied and not as likely to go crazy at dinner time. You can also avoid the temptation of an afternoon snack.
  10. Buy in bulk –When it comes to saving money, buying in bulk is a good idea. Many foods can be preserved by freezing, so things like meat are easy to buy in family sizes and then separate and freeze into individual portions. Buying food in bulk is only good, however, if it is food you will actually use and will not spoil on you.
  11. Drink water –“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” That famous quote holds true for most of us. Every day we are surrounded by fresh, clear water that is good for us and calorie free and yet we choose to drink sugary carbonated drinks instead. When you start drinking water you will feel better, lose weight, and even think better. Water makes up so much of our bodies, it is no wonder it makes us feel so good when we drink it. By replacing sodas with water you also can cut down on your grocery bill and dentist bill. A simple change can make a big impact.
  12. Shop seasonally –Shopping according to what is in season is a foreign concept to many of us. We have grown up in an era where everything is available year round. However, fruits and veggies that are in season taste better and are better for you. When you shop seasonally you also get the opportunity to try new foods and sample new recipes.
  13. Shop locally – This goes hand in hand with shopping seasonally. When you get your fruits and vegetables from local farmers you are not only supporting the local economy but you are also easting healthier. Because these vegetables have not had to travel as far they are fresher and probably do not have as many chemicals sprayed on them. You are also reducing the number of trucks on the road, which can only help the environment and your health.

These ideas are great ways for you to discover how to save money on food and eat healthier. You do not have to do them all at once, but making small changes over time can lead to a healthier, more affordable lifestyle.

Jason Miner, an expert freelance writer loves writing articles on different categories. He is approaching different bloggers to recognize each other’s efforts through “www.blogcarnival.com”. He can be contacted by e-mail at jasonminer8atgmaildotcom.

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4 Films About Money – A Great Way to Get Money Education

by Josh Champagne on December 19, 2012

Money is a fascinating medium. If you look at the back of a $20 bill, you will see these words “This note is legal tender, for all debts, public and private”.  But, what is tender, what makes it legal, and what are public and private debts? These five films about money will teach you all this and much, much more.

1.  The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4Xx_5PuLIzc

2.  Inside Job (a film about the economic crisis of 2008-2009)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FzrBurlJUNk

3.  Life and Debt (how money affect real lives)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=db-tBG_F64E#!

4.  Frontline: Inside the Meltdown (a PBS film)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iZunMPWcOLY

 

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We all have that friend. The one who turns every conversation about debt into a sob story. They can’t stop talking about their awful credit card debt and horrible student loans. Meanwhile, they’re burning through credit card-financed chai lattes at an alarming rate and always seem to have new designer clothes.

On the flip side of that coin is “The Monk”. Your friend who’s so proud of his minimalist lifestyle that he can’t shut up about how he only eats lentils or rice and sleeps on the floor because “mattresses are so bourgeois”.

Somewhere in between those two extremes is you. Your occasional credit card binges and shopping sprees leave you feeling a little guilty about how much you’re spending. Perhaps you’re even slowly racking up debt that you know you can’t realistically repay each month. Fortunately, there’s a better way to live.

Conscious spending is the idea that you get to decide when and how you spend your money. Instead of just dropping cash (or worse, credit) on everything, you purposefully evaluate how much enjoyment you get from it. If it’s worth it, you pay. If not, hold back. It’s not some challenge that’s meant to torture you. Instead, it gives you full control over your spending habits. Here are four questions you should ask yourself to get started:

 

Where are you spending right now?

Look, really look, at your spending habits. If you’re so inclined, write down all your purchases for a month. Don’t beat yourself up over it. You’re just trying to become aware of where you spend money. If you’ve dropped $100 a month on overpriced coffee, it can be shocking. But don’t worry – you don’t have to cut out your frappes completely, unless you want to.

 

Does spending money on [whatever] make me happy?

Fill in the blank on this one. Does your frappe give you enjoyment? If it truly takes a frappe to make your day a little bit better, then by all means, keep purchasing them. Try cutting back on the extras: If you don’t care about the bagel, don’t get it. Instead, make one at home. If your heart flutters when you think about cutting something out of your budget, then hang on to it. Just stop spending on the things you don’t care about.

 

What do I get out of spending money on [whatever]?

Some people buy coffee simply for the caffeine. Others purchase it because they’re rushed in the mornings. Some people get it to enjoy sitting and people watching. Figure out what you get out of the deal when you spend money. Could you get the same thing somewhere else for less? For instance, if you really get a morning coffee because you like having somewhere to sit and do a crossword puzzle, try sitting on a park bench or finding a nice, quiet and free space.

 

Is there somewhere else I’d rather spend this money?

Whether they’re saving up for a vacation or just to pay off debt, almost everybody has at least one or two financial goals. When you purchase something, think about whether or not you could use the money elsewhere. Would you get more happiness by using the money for another purpose?

 

Conscious spending is a great first step to deriving financial goals that make sense for you. If you’re perfectly happy spending on fancy coffee, even if it means slowing down your retirement savings, then keep doing it. Just make sure you do it consciously.

 

About the Author

Frugal may be her middle name, but Carly Lance does it with class – which is why she loves to write about saving money, to help others learn from her cheap (but classy!) ways. Carly is also a blog coordinator for Personal Bankruptcy Canada”, a company that helps with bankruptcy in Canada – whom she also blogs about finances for.

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Should I Fix or Replace My Broken Computer?

December 6, 2012

It’s a question we ask ourselves when something major goes wrong with our computer — “Should I fix it, or just replace it altogether?” Purchasing a new computer is a fairly large expense, right up there with purchasing a flat screen TV or an appliance. Usually, we’ve stored all our irreplaceable pictures, documents, music and […]

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5 Tips for Stretching Your Holiday Budget

December 3, 2012

With the holiday season approaching fast it is important for to know how to get the most out of your holiday budget. You might think it isn’t possible to stretch your holiday budget without pulling out the credit card, but really, it comes down to choices. To help you out, we have compiled a few […]

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How to Save Money on Heating – 10 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill

November 28, 2012

We just paid for our first delivery of 100 gallons of heating oil, to the tune of $379. It is a temporary expense, since we hope to convert our 26 year old oil furnace to a gas burning one some time in the near future. Natural gas is probably the cheapest heat source in the […]

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Cyber Monday 2012 Deals Worth Checking Out

November 26, 2012

The twin American holidays of Black Friday and Cyber Monday tend to cast a blemish on what the Thanksgiving holiday was all about. You know, being content, satisfied and thankful for what you have, instead of rushing out with thousands of other frantic shoppers trying to satiate their consumer lust on the next Big Deal […]

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OBI 100 Internet Phone Review – How to Save $400 a Year

November 1, 2012

Several weeks ago I was at my mom’s place, and realized she still had a land-line that was costing her almost $400 a year. Personally I’ve never had a land-line. A Skype connection or my cell phone has been enough to meet all my voice communication needs. However for most people who grew up before […]

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