3 Simple Ways to Start Saving for Retirement

8555470138_dd02570908_zToday we have a guest post for you about how you can get started investing for retirement. Enjoy!

Saving for retirement is sometimes put off by people because they think it’s too complicated. However, there are easy ways you can start saving for retirement. You’ll be much more likely to reach your retirement goals by starting now.

If retirement investing confuses you, try these three simple steps to un-complicate the process and get started saving for retirement today.

Create a Financial Plan

Making and sticking to a budget is only part of what you should do to begin saving for retirement. You should also try to cut expenses that are not necessary and for things you can live without. Pay down your debts and call your credit card companies to negotiate lower interest rates, especially if you consistently meet the minimum payment requirements and make your payments on time. Open an emergency savings account. Create a plan and a timeline for your financial goals, including your retirement goals, and you will have a better chance of meeting them. If you get your finances in order by doing these things, you’ll have more money to put toward your retirement savings.

Consider Crowdfunded Real Estate

You can save for retirement by investing in real estate whether you have a large amount of money to get you started or not. Crowdfunding is a way to begin investing in real estate when you don’t have a lot of capital. You can add the money you have available to the money of other investors and all share the gains. Crowdfunding can be done with a Real Estate Investment Trust over the internet.

A Real Estate Investment Trust, or REIT, gives its investors a regular stream of income while diversifying their investments. The REIT usually has a management team with real estate experts who figure out how to invest this pooled money into real estate in ways that are not normally available to a single investor.

For example, a crowdfunded real estate investment company will spread the investments over several properties so the risk of losses is low while the potential for increases and liquidity is high.

Invest in Mutual Funds

Vanguard or Prudential are mutual fund companies you could choose to invest in for your future retirement. Bonds, stocks and other assets are a few of the ways investors can put their money into funds in a brokerage account in one of these companies. You can also choose to invest with a robo-advisor. Some of these offers the most popular Vanguard funds as “buckets” you can choose from when you set up your account.

If you are just getting started as an investor, you don’t have to have a ton of money. In fact, you can get started with only $500, and as the funds gain, the income can be reinvested to increase profits. There are sometimes losses too, but all gains and losses are shared among all of the investors. Of course, there are some fees, so ask about these so you know exactly how much you are paying for these services. In addition, if you have questions, you can ask a professional such as a financial planner.

Life is complicated, but investing doesn’t have to be. Using these 3 simple ways to start saving for retirement can help you meet your financial and retirement goals for the future.

Have you started saving for retirement? What’s holding you back?

Breaking My Money Wasting Habits



Humans are creatures of habit. We create, or inadvertently fall into, our routines and have a hard time straying away from them. I personally like being a creature of habit. I like routine and the predictability that comes with it all. September to June are definitely more zen for me than July and August. Some of my daily routine is the same in the summer but we have more disruptions as a whole, and while things like family vacations are always welcome and usually needed, I eagerly await that return to normalcy. Most daily routine habits are harmless but I think we have all fallen victim to at least one money wasting habit in our lives.

For me, one of them was my daily walk at lunch. When I’m given enough time I try to get outside for a quick walk around my workplace to break up my day. What started as a just a daily walk, turned into a near daily stop at the drugstore for whatever object (usually a bottle of water or something even more stupid like nailpolish) and finishing with a coffee.

I don’t even remember how it happened. I would walk, on the way back go into the drugstore and then finishing with a coffee before returning to work. Once in a while, not a big deal but I was starting to do this 3-5 times per week and I was starting to notice specifically that I didn’t like it. I was uncomfortable with this new routine. The waste of money- I didn’t really need anything at the drugstore nor did I need that second coffee for the day so I had to do something about it.

The first step in breaking my money wasting habit was recognizing exactly what I was doing. This is often the hardest part for people. For me, the clue was, one day I went for a walk per normal only realized I didn’t have my wallet on me. For a second I felt panicky then recognized exactly what was going on. I was going for a walk, why did I need access to cash? It was then that it dawned on me what I had been doing. While small in comparison to some people’s money wasting habits, me wasting that $20 per week wasn’t going unnoticed and I knew it had to stop.

Once I realized what this new habit was doing to me (wasting upwards of $80 per month on stuff I didn’t need) I came up with a plan to stop, immediately.

My routine used to be going for a simple walk. What had changed? For me it started by buying more water for the rest of my shift (I’m not opposed to tap water but that tap water at one of my workplaces  just doesn’t taste good). I was bringing water with me (I’m rarely seen without my refillable water bottle on me, anywhere) but my bottle was empty by lunch and I’d want more. Rather than go to the store to buy more, even if it was less than $1, I simply started filling up two bottles in the morning and carrying both with me to work. Problem one fixed.

The second part of my money wasting habit was buying a second coffee in the day. I’m not going to get into the whole ‘’latte factor’’ argument because quite honestly I think it’s stupid, spend your money how you want within reason and without compromising your other goals. It wasn’t about buying the coffee because for me, most days I was already buying one coffee in the morning and was fine with it. Once you start doubling that though, it was too much-for me.

This habit started when I began volunteering to pick something up for one of our receptionists while I was going out. Most of the time she’d say no but every now and then she’d ask me to bring her back a coffee and this opened the passage for me to get one for myself at the same time. She stopped working at our office but I continued to go for that coffee anyway. This was an easier habit to break but I did it. I would leave my wallet at work and not allow myself to stop. I won’t lie, I missed that second coffee but after about three days I didn’t think about it again and started to enjoy just walking.

A new habit isn’t necessarily a bad (or money wasting) one but when you notice it starting to affect the rest of your finances in a negative manner, action needs to be taken. Here is a another good resource for how to help break bad habits you may have.

What habit do you have/did you have that you consider to be a money wasting habit? How did you solve the problem?

How I Will Manage My Time on Maternity Leave Using Online Shopping

Student Loan RefinanceHappy Halloween!

Now that I’m officially unemployed for at least a year, I’ve been getting many comments (most in jest) about how they wish they could get a year off too. I know most people realize I won’t exactly be sitting poolside for a year drinking mojitos but unless you’ve actually taken extended time off to raise a newborn you really have no way of appreciating just how hard it will be. Me working full-time (in my career), is, without a doubt, easier than staying home with one, let alone two, kids. These next 12-13 months are going to be a challenge but I plan on utilizing online shopping to help me manage what will be my new chaos.

First, I will note that online shopping in Canada is still completely archaic compared to what is available in the states. It aggravates me with our lack of selection of stores and extreme shipping, handling and duty costs. It is slowly improving but not there quite yet, in saying this, I still plan on utilizing what I can to help me manage my time (and sanity). I’m not exactly looking forward to doing too much venturing out with a newborn and four year old, in the winter, all while in what will likely be a complete sleep deprived state.


I’m actually very excited about this one. Friends of mine have been doing this for a while but I’ve yet to start. I will be able to but all our non-perishables via Walmart Canada and shipping is free. Though there was a time I enjoyed grocery shopping, I actually hate it now. I don’t mind going to our local market(s) for our fruits/veggies and meat but hate the large grocery store. I feel like I waste time trying to go through my list and itemize everything. It’s even harder when you have a toddler (can I still call her that at 4?) who’s trying to be helpful but coloring over your list or grabbing/asking for other non-list items. When both husband and I are both available to either kid-watch or take in the agony together, it’s usually later in the day, we’re hungry, not interested in going, or on the weekend- you know, when the entire world wants to get it done.

I’m hopeful that using online shopping to get some of our groceries will help keep our budget under control (we almost never go over budget at the small market where we get produce and meat), and save time.

Christmas Shopping

Given that I’m already 8.5 months pregnant and can’t easily walk more than 15 minutes before I start having contractions, Christmas shopping isn’t exactly at the top of my list of things I want to do. We’re not doing much for Christmas this year, we’ve scaled back significantly (even from our already fairly modest Christmases in the past), but there are still a few things we want to get our daughter (newborns don’t need anything do they?). Rather than trying to be sneaky about going out to do things (four year olds ask a lot of questions), or asking friends or family to pick things up, I figure buying online and having them shipped right to me will make things easier.

Baby Needs

Since I plan on breastfeeding again, I hope my only regular baby need will be diapers and wipes. Item that when you need them, you need them. Especially with a winter baby, and not wanting to venture out (with, or without kids), I love the idea of these showing up on my doorstep just when required.

Truthfully I’ve never been a big shopper. Though I do see myself in a mall more in the next six months than I likely have been in the last six years (mall walking in the winter to get out of the house and get some exercise) but I don’t plan on spending any more money. I’m glad things like online shopping exist to allow me to take care of my family’s needs while enjoy our new addition.

Do you use online shopping? What for primarily?

Why I’m Selling my Daughter’s Stuff (and what I plan to do with the money).

And who will clean up this mess?One thing I quickly learned with having my daughter four years ago was how much stuff kids acquire. Some of it is actually quite useful in their own way but let me tell you, there is so much you simply don’t need (some of this you don’t realize until after first kid). It didn’t take us long to become very vocal with some gift-giving guidelines in attempt to control the accumulation, some of which were listened to, but some clearly ignored. I understand giving to a child is out of the goodness of the gift-givers heart but it can be so painfully unnecessary (like the new Barbie just because it’s Tuesday and the sun is shining).

Gift Giving Rules for our Kids

When we realized (very early on) how much people liked to give to our daughter, in attempt to reign in the stuff, we vocalised that should the person feel so inclined to buy something for her (especially while she was so young she didn’t even realize a gift was being given), that they may consider giving us the money instead (even for that $5 toy she probably doesn’t need). We would put the money into her post-secondary education savings (in our case, an RESP). I’d much rather have $5 invested at three years old for another 15 years to be used for her future, than a toy she might play with for a few days, max.

Books are always welcome. I have no problem with having a house full of books for my children and will always find space for them, if you can’t come up with a gift idea and don’t want to give cash, get a good book. Books are probably the only item that doesn’t drive me crazy when it’s laying around somewhere.

Consider buying or contributing to something she needs. Clothes come to mind. Kids grow very fast and even with my frugal shopping for her wardrobe, chances are we’ll always need clothes (or coats, or shoes). Even if it’s a snowsuit that might not fit her for a whole year, it’s a gift much appreciated come the time. She also partakes in both dance and soccer both if which have their own gear and would benefit from either financial contribution for dues or buying new gear (again- growth is an issue and we won’t get more than one season out of most items).

The Over and Above

Obviously these aren’t the only things that are given to her and I don’t want to come across as being a scrooge of a mother but my GOD there’s a lot of stuff. Now that we know baby 2.0 is a boy we’re starting to purge some of her stuff out of the house.

I’m a big proponent of donating to those in need so we have given a huge portion of her gently used clothes to various charities. These aren’t the kinds of items I want to benefit from financially, I’d rather give to someone who truly needs it but the items that we can sell for a small profit, we will. Most of it are baby items of hers (very girly baby toys or things like past Halloween costumes) and some of it is my maternity clothes (pregnancies in opposite seasons). We’ve only sold a few items so far at about $10 each but we still have quite a bit of stuff to go through and post as well.

Most of the stuff we’re selling are items we bought so I don’t feel guilty about selling but there will be items that were given to her by others. Obviously people don’t expect us to hang on to everything given to her, but especially if someone else paid for it, the money from all the item sales will go back to the kids. As tempting as it is to sell this stuff off for a small profit and keep it to do as we please (mommy and daddy want a date night…or pay down debt…), the money will be going right back to them.

Maybe the money will be used to help offset her ballet tuition in the new year, or some clothes for the impending little man, either way the money will only be used for them in some way for some need and this way I feel everyone benefits.

What do you do with your kids outgrown/out used stuff?

Mommy Realization: My Kids Don’t Care if Their Room is Coordinated

crib-890565_640When I was pregnant with my daughter, the room in our house that would become her bedroom was the only untouched room in our house. We had painted and renovated almost every other room in our house but that was the final one. It had become a bit of a storage room for all our random stuff. I found it difficult to not obsess over how we were going to prep this room for her. It was going to be her space, created at first, by us.

We picked paint colors, crib, curtains, and pictures for the wall. I wanted a fancy rocking chair, change tables and shelves full of stuff for when she came home. I’d spent hours days scouring websites like Pinterest trying to perfect her room. Our only restriction in the end, was money. We didn’t have anywhere near the money to prepare the kind of nursery I thought she deserved and needed and it took me a while to accept it. We were gifted a beautiful new crib, we found some pictures on clearance and bought her curtains off a sale rack. The chair I nursed her in was an antique that we borrowed, there would be no fancy change table and shelves were never hung displaying her baby stuff.

Over four years later, I can honestly say, none of it mattered. The paint needed to be done since the room pre-paint looked like someone chugged a bottle of Pepto Bismol and threw up everywhere but other than that none of it mattered. She didn’t notice the pictures, the matching curtains or lack of stuff. We never bought a rug to put on her floor and we changed her wherever we needed to, since there was no dedicated change table. Four years later, she’s a pretty happy kid and the lack of perfectly coordinated nursery-turned-toddler room hasn’t mattered once.

She now sleeps on my husband’s childhood bed and loves it. Her walls are covered in wall decals that she’s picked out and placed herself (you can imagine how that looks). She does have shelves, which I made and painted myself and holds a fraction of her massive book collection. She loves them.

As we prepare to welcome baby 2.0 in the next few weeks (scary that I’m talking in weeks now!) I realize so much of what we think is important for our children isn’t. I’m a member of a few mommy boards and creep on some websites and blogs and it’s so easy to tell first time moms from experienced moms. The rooms are no longer coordinated, they’re not dropping hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on perceived needs for their baby. One feed on an app has 576 current photos of moms sharing their nursery pictures. In my creeping and estimation I’d value the average room at a minimum of $2,000 (and according to at least one source, that’s a low estimate).  I’m not judging though, really, it’s a process I think most first time parents will go through and it’s so hard to resist.

We were stopped only because our bank account wouldn’t allow it and know what? I’m glad. I don’t miss anything we didn’t have. Not once do I wish I had a dedicated change table or wipe warmer. With this pregnancy, the room will be slightly made over once again as the kids will be sharing a room until we move and we won’t be spending much money. This time it’s not necessarily because we don’t have the money, I could have definitely saved a chunk of change since finding out I was pregnant, but because I know what’s important and what’s not.

We’ll be painting our daughters purple bedroom in the next few weeks to something a little more gender neutral. She will be still be sleeping in her daddy-turned-big girl bed with pink and purple ballerina’s all over it, while little man will eventually sleep in his crib across the room with whatever bedding we have laying around from the first time. I value my money and respect that my children understand that having a coordinated bedroom simply isn’t a priority in our lives. The fact that they’re in a safe room which they can call their own and have fun making memories together is all they need. The money that we do or don’t spend on coordination simply won’t matter to them, and now, to me.

How We’re More Financially Prepared for This Maternity Leave

kids being expensiveIt’s hard to believe but we’re three weeks away from me going on maternity leave. Though I’m not due until December 16th, I’ve run the numbers and it actually makes more sense for me to go off work early than continue to work for another month. I have to pay an annual license fee for work which is a substantial amount of money, as well keeping Maria in daycare full time, means we actually lose money versus me claiming unemployment a few weeks early.  I was put off work early during my pregnancy with Maria due to wicked carpal tunnel pains and it’s starting to rear its ugly head again so it’s all good that I’m planning to be off early anyway.

The difference between this pregnancy and the last, is that we’re actually prepared. With my first pregnancy, we didn’t have a great handle on our money and quite honestly I had no idea how we were going to make it all work. It was during this pregnancy that we really got our finances in gear so it ended up being a bit of a blessing, but my memories were full of stress.

We Have an Emergency Fund

This is one of the biggest difference between the two maternity leaves. We had absolutely zero savings when I was off with my first leave. If something were to have happened, we would have had to borrow money from somewhere or someone. Thankfully nothing major happened and we were ok but it was a stress I never want to experience again. Having an emergency fund is one thing, having, needing, an emergency fund while your income is significantly decreased is another. While on maternity leave I have no other income outside of my federally funded pay which is menial compared to my employment income. With no other way to bring in income for the 12 months, we need to have some extra cash on hand.

We Actually Understand Our Money

It wasn’t until I was about 70% through my first maternity leave that we figured out a budget that worked for us. Though it has evolved many times, I have a confidence in our money management skills and know what we need to do to make our decreased income work for us. This alone is a huge stress relief.

We’re Earning More Money

Though I will be claiming maternity leave for the time I’m off (upwards of 67 weeks in my case, 15 weeks of sick leave if needed, 52 maternity) at a loss of about 60% my net income pre-leave, it will still be a bit more than the last time I took leave four years ago. My husband is also earning more, these two things alone, assuming everything else is the same, will help.

We’ve Paid off A LOT of Debt

We’re not debt free, not even close (and I totally understand couples who choose to wait, so it’s an argument I don’t want to get into), but we’re much better off than we were four years ago. I have to be honest I don’t have the numbers memorized, or in front of me (bad PF blogger, I know) but I estimate we’ve paid off close to, if not more than $70,000 worth of non-mortgage debt since my last maternity leave started. A huge help.

Waiting even another year to have another child could have obviously made another substantial difference on our finances for many reasons (more savings, more debt pay off) but in the end we’re comfortable with where we’re at. It’s not for everyone, again, I get that, but it will work for us. There will never be a ‘’best time’’ for us to add to  our family but the fact that we have a good financial understanding of where we are enables us to make decisions like having more kids and that’s enough for me.

3 Ways to Save on Halloween


DIY costume circa 2014

Ummm how is it October?!

I have to admit that I haven’t always been a Halloween lover. Even as a kid, though I had fun trick-or-treating with friends, putting together a costume and getting ready for the day was a chore. As I got older I found myself kind of dreading the day and the expectation of partaking in the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong, there are components I like, cute decorations and candy are fun, but for the most part it just wasn’t for me.

Then I had a kid. Who doesn’t love a little person dressed up and who is super excited? It’s fun and even the biggest Halloween scrooge will smile. My daughter seems to be taking after her aunt in her love of all things Halloween too. On a recent trip to the local dollar store she would have left me broke given her way and purchased every single Halloween decoration in the store. Thankfully I managed to get away with only purchasing a cute Halloween magnet craft kit for her, coming in at $1.25 (this was a huge victory).

So, especially with a kid who loves Halloween, and as someone who is admittedly getting more into it, how do we save on Halloween? By following a few key rules.

Avoid the Store Costumes

When my daughter told me she wanted to be a (pretty) witch this year, I was super happy as I knew it would be easy and cheap to make. Then she ended up in the mall with her dad and saw a fancy mermaid costume that caught her eye, she then spent the next three days begging us to buy it (justified by wearing one costume to her party and the other trick-or-treating). At almost $40 alone for the costume it wasn’t happening.

If you want to save serious money on Halloween, especially if kids are involved, skip the store costumes. Though it takes more time and some creativity, making your own is so much cheaper. If I can manage to make a costume for my daughter, anyone can. Websites like Pinterest, though can sometimes lead to frustrations, can actually be very helpful in this area in terms of both ideas and execution. I’m happy to report that my daughter’s ‘’pretty witch’’ costume is going to end up costing a total of $10 thanks to searching out sales, a little effort and creativity.

Limit the Decorations

I get it, they’re cute (or spooky, or gory, whatever you’re going for) but they’re also not necessary. Limit your decorations to ones that you can reuse year-to-year rather than the one-time use decorations that are out there. This time last year, at another dollar store excursion with child in tow, I didn’t make it out so well and ended up buying about $15 in decorations which we put out and then tore down when it was over, totally wasting money. A paper ghost that couldn’t be saved, a plastic witch that ripped everywhere we tapped and a few hanging things that didn’t even make it to Halloween. Instead we’ll limit our decorations (current and future) only to ones that we can reuse.

Buy at End of Season

When Halloween is over, consider stocking up for the next year. Though she may change her mind, I’m willing to bet we’ll be able to buy that mermaid costume for upwards of 75% off when the season is done. This is what we did two years ago, we bought two princess costumes on serious clearance and last year our daughter opted to wear one for Halloween. Even if she hadn’t they were used all year playing dress-up.

Halloween can be fun, but with so many expectations to partake in it, it can also be hard to know where to draw the line.

How do you manage to have fun without busting the bank?

The Hidden Costs of Attending a Wedding

wedding-322034_640I actually love weddings. Maybe I’m saying this as I have been fortunate to have been spared from attending too many, and the ones that I have attended really were for the best of friends and family, the ones where you’re genuinely excited for the couple. It’s no secret though that attending a wedding can be expensive. The amount is exponentially higher if you’re standing in the wedding party.

This past weekend we attended the wedding of one of my best friends, who also happens to be my sister-in-law. Our daughter was the flower girl but neither my husband nor I was standing in the wedding, something that was fine by the both of us. When the engagement happened, we were asked if our daughter could stand as flower girl, and, realizing neither of us would be on the hook for wedding party costs, I did a quick budget in my head.

The flower girl outfit wouldn’t be much. In the end, her shoes, which I paid $18.00 were the most expensive part of her outfit. A combination of frugality and sheer craftsmanship by my sister-in-law kept costs down. The fact that I was able to get away with spending less than $30 on her was pretty fantastic in my mind. Where I seriously underestimated in terms of cost though? Hair. Our daughter is four and initially I thought I may do something in terms of her hair but as the wedding day approached us, and I realized the extent of my involvement for the day (I helped with driving people around and was the flower girls chauffeur for pictures), I knew I would need help.

I called around about getting her in somewhere to have a simple up-do done. The cheapest place I could find, started at $25, money well spent in my mind. Well I guess her up-do was a bit more complicated? (I never did get an explanation) but with proper tip I ended up paying $46.00, a bit more than I would have liked.

Me, being seven months pregnant required a proper maternity style dress; thankfully I found a great dress for a great price online which worked well. No complaints. The only issue I didn’t consider until 7pm the night before the wedding was the fact that I didn’t have any appropriate underwear to wear under the dress (an issue the ladies will sympathize with and men will probably not understand). I didn’t need anything fancy but I did need something that wouldn’t show through the cream color dress and that I wouldn’t be uncomfortable in all night. My last minute mistake, resulting in going to the only store that was open close to my house cost me an additional $15 (and I don’t even like them).

In the chaos that was leading up to the wedding, I also didn’t consider how much extra gas we would need (we helped with much running around) and, how much money would be spent on cabs. The day of the wedding I left the reception early with the flower girl (who lasted until 10pm) so that meant my husband would be cabbing it back to the hotel which, per the family’s request, we rented even though the wedding was in the same town we live in. People were coming from away and they wanted as many people together that night (i.e. after party…) and the next morning for breakfast and goodbye’s.  A total of $200 more that wasn’t in my first mental budget.

Another added, but arguably unnecessary cost to some, was that we (my husband) took on the task of making sure the groom had a bachelor party. The bachelorette party, something I did partake in, was pretty cheap given her choice of activities and the fact that I was pregnant. I left home with $40 and came home with change. The groom however didn’t have one planned as his groomsmen were located as far as the UK (where he’s from) to the other side of the country. The groom is one of my husband’s best friends though so he did what he could with the mutual friends they had here and threw a little to-do for him. It wasn’t anything over the top but did cost some money. Money that I think the groom much appreciated come the end of his party.

The only budgeted amount that stayed the same was the wedding gift since I had full control and didn’t budge. In the end when all the hidden and overthought wedding costs were finalized we spent close to $350 more than originally anticipated, proving that small costs really do add up.

When was the last time you busted your budget attending an event?

How Riots Affect the Economy

How Riots Affect the Economy

Image courtesy of WND

When news came in last night about the rioting happening in Charlotte, N.C. I was astounded. The place I was born and call home was being torn down by looters and fires being set. It was heart-wrenching to watch and terrifying to see people becoming violent in the streets of a city I have grown to love.

This posting doesn’t aim to incite some kind of comment war, nor is it aiming to make any political point. The fact of the matter is when people riot it affects everyone in ways that are both seen and unseen. The visible ways are along the lines of the damages being caused by riots as well as the general rise in angst between people. What many people don’t see, or think about, are the long lasting effects that rioting has, especially on the economy.

How Riots Affect the Economy

Sometimes riots happen. While many people believe that there are better ways to deal with certain problems there are times where political and racial tensions climb so high that people lash out violently. Until recent years, rioting was not an issue in the United States, however, with political and racial issues escalating more riots have been incited. These riots affect the cities they happen in and the economy as a whole. Here’s how:

People will stop visiting your city for a while. There are studies that suggest the riots in Los Angeles in 1992 cost the city nearly $4 billion in taxable sales and more than $125 million in direct sales tax revenue. Not to mention there was about $1 billion in property damage and lives lost.

Somebody has to pay for it. If you aren’t paying for it immediately, you will be paying for it eventually. When the Los Angeles riots happened in 1992 and the city lost all of that revenue and accrued damages at the same time, taxes went up for citizens of LA. However, Los Angeles hasn’t been the only large-scale riot that has happened.

Other Historical Riots and Costs

There have been numerous other large-scale riots in the United States that have cost the U.S. dearly. According to CNBC, the blackout in New York City in July 1977 was another huge riot that cost the city and the country millions. The blackout occurred and was followed by a riot, mass arson and looting. It cost the city close to $300 million in damage and loss.

In 2001, there was a huge riot in Cincinnati. It was the largest riot since the 1992 LA riots. It was a reaction to the fatal police shooting of 19-year-old Timothy Thomas. After three nights, the rioting ceased. The damages totaled to about $3.6 million.

Even more recently, in 2015, rioting in Baltimore cost the city $20 million. Baltimore citizens were rioting in reaction to the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. The $20 million it cost for the city to restore itself did not include any damages to private businesses.

The Aftermath of a Riot

When discussing the aftermath of a riot you can’t skip talking about the sense of calm that is restored after a riot. Although the problem isn’t likely solved, people feel a little better for the time being. Many people talk about the physical damages but they skip the economical damages of a riot.

There are damages to property and damages made to the economy when a riot is incited. Damages must be paid for and fixed. Many small business owners who are looted must pay for their own repairs or pay a higher insurance premium because of the riots. Some small business owners are forced to close their doors because they are unable to pay for the repairs and lost product that the riot caused.

Rioting causes nervous investors and tourists. If a company is looking to come to your city they may change their mind due to rioting. Likewise, tourists will stop visiting your city if a riot is started there. People don’t want to invest time or money in a place that does not seem consistent or safe.

How Charlotte Will Be Affected

The bad news for Charlotte is that the city has already lost a significant amount of revenue due to the HB2 bill. Many businesses have pulled out of Charlotte or decided not to open up in Charlotte due to that bill. Now, because of the riots occurring in the city, Charlotte will likely see even more decline in revenue for the city.

Local businesses opened up this morning and cleaned up any damages made by rioters last night and were able to recover. If the riots continue, however, Charlotte’s economy could take YEARS to recover.

What do you think about the rioting in Charlotte and the affects it will have? 

3 Household Items You Can Probably Cut Out (or Easily Substitute)

Source: Flickr

Source: Flickr

Running a house is certainly expensive and there are many products out there trying to prove their necessity for you running your home efficiently but the reality is that you probably don’t need them.

Disposable Paper Products

When I’m shopping at Costco and see carts full of paper towel and napkins I have to wonder what family could possibly need that much disposable paper product. I admit that I used to use paper towel for everything, and growing up, our house always had napkins on the table but when I started buying my own household goods I realized not only how expensive it was, but also how wasteful. I think it started more out of necessity (trying to save money) than being conservative, but after a few weeks of not buying paper towels with our grocery order I realized how unnecessary they were.

I dedicated a few old kitchen towels to use while cleaning and we started using reusable napkins while eating. I noticed that there were very few times I missed using disposable paper. I keep a roll of paper towel on hand mostly for cat messes, when my cat has an accident or vomits, I prefer to use paper towel to clean up and throw in garbage rather than rinsing out and washing a reusable cloth. As well, if we have a large function (like my sister-in-law’s upcoming wedding) we’ll buy disposable products but for day-to-day usage it’s an easy item to swap out.

Disposable Diapers

Obviously this only applies to homes with young infants but needs to be mentioned. This is also something I admit to being guilty for (using disposable) but am in complete favor of cloth diapering. Though the initial cost can be quite high, in the end cloth diapers are significantly cheaper and hold a decent resale value (look around for used first, if considering). With our daughter we received enough disposable diapers as gifts though that I didn’t buy a pack of diapers for a full 12 months, it was kind of glorious. The other reason we opted not to cloth diaper was that when calling around to various daycare places before we had her placed somewhere, a lot of places preferred to not use the cloth and asked if while the child was there, they could be sent with disposables so it didn’t make sense for us however I still think cloth diapering trumps disposable in both cost and, certainly, waste.

Household Cleaners

Though my husband hates when I clean with vinegar (a smell he cannot stand) it’s too cheap and effective not to use. There are very few areas in my house that I can’t clean with some combination of vinegar, water, basic dishsoap or baking soda (here’s a good list of DIY cleaners). I do admit that I usually do have Windex on hand as well for windows and glass tables (the vinegar and water just won’t get streak-free to my satisfaction with greasy toddler fingerprints) but a regular sized bottle of such will last me seemingly forever.

Given that there are entire sections in grocery stores dedicated to nothing but cleaning products you don’t need basically any of it. When we first bought our house I remember going out and spending close to $10 for a cleaner that was dedicated to nothing but cleaning the top of our glass stove. I used it once, realized it was nothing but an abrasive scrub (food loves to stick to glass stoves) and that a water and baking soda paste worked just as good. Though I’m not a super health nut or anything, using a bunch of chemicals around surfaces my family lives and eats (especially things like highchairs) simply doesn’t appeal to me, nor does paying premium prices for pre-made, pre-packed, chemical free goods from the stores.

What a family will need varies between each house, but I do think in general we’re too quick to do the easiest thing possible- like buy special cleaner for your table to point, spray and wipe with paper towel, rather than wiping it off with a disposable cloth with warm soap and water which then may mean an extra laundry item- but honesty it takes no extra effort, and can make a huge difference in both finances and overall waste, so try it!

What household items do you commonly save on?