Thursday, December 29, 2016

How to reduce your monthly rent expenses?

Rent is expensive especially if you live in the GTA, it's very hard to negotiate your monthly rent and ask for a rent reduction after signing a lease. Unless you live in AB where rent has been on the decline since it's peak in the summer of 2014. AB rent on average has seen a decrease of over 30% since the summer of 2014. If you live in Calgary you are most likely will be able to renegotiate your rent and ask your landlord to reduce your rent, it's Renters market!

CMHC’s fall 2016 outlook report forecasts Calgary’s rental market vacancy rate will reach eight per cent in October 2016, which would mark the highest level in more than a quarter-century

What can you do to reduce your cost of rent if you live outside Calgary?

First review all of your on top of rent expenses: 
  • Hydro
    The cost of having lights ON run appliances other electricity consumptions.
    If you pay for hydro and planning to live for long term in your rental unit, then it's worth investing in LED lighting. Every time a regular light bulb burn out replace it with an LED solution. You can get discount coupons on some of the LED lights from

  • Gas
    Widely used for heating, invest in a smart thermostat the will literally pay for itself if you are out of your home during the day.

    Some utilities companies in Canada are offering up to $100 rebate if you install smart thermostat like NEST and save up to $100 with Nest Energy Partners

    or other smart thermostats. Click for a complete list of Energy Partners thermostats.

other tips to save on heating open the curtains when sunlight hits them; close them otherwise.

  • Parking
    If you are renting a condo and parking is included, offer to rent your parking spot. Downtown condo parking can rent for as high as $150 a month. Same goes for lockers.
  • Cable TV and that phone landline!
    You really have to watch out for this. I have cut cable since 2005 and never looked back. Invest in a good over the air antenna that will save you thousands of dollars in cable TV over the years.
    Lose the landline, everyone has a cellphone these days, if you need to make long use skype, google phone call or some VoIP phone service.

Friday, December 23, 2016

To Decorate or not to Decorate: the Renter’s Holiday Dilemma

As we dive into yet another holiday season many of us are pulling out weathered boxes of lights and decorations from our attics and crawlspaces to adorn our homes with seasonal decorations. This tradition of decorating, however, is a little more troublesome for those of us who are renting. When living space is at a premium, and when storage space is already devoted to the objects we use everyday, it becomes a big question as to whether or not we want to sacrifice some of that space for decorations used only a few weeks each year. Decorating, however, need not be the storage nightmare to which we are accustomed.

One solution is to make your own decorations. Popcorn strings and paper-angel chains are both classics, but there are countless craft and DIY tips out there that allow you to make and display some really interesting holiday flare. By doing it yourself you avoid the expense and the storage hassles that can come with store-bought decorations, and as an added bonus the DIY route is a nice way to creatively engage with the season.

For those of us a little less crafty, a good storage-friendly option is the “less is more” approach. By being selective and minimal in your decorating you can maximize your holiday joy and minimize your storage woes. Rather than buying boxes of lights, or plastic garlands or wreaths, use candles and pick up a natural wreath or seasonal floral arrangement from one of those ubiquitous winter craft fairs. At the end of the season, your candles are still useful to you, and your wreath can find its way into the compost just as it begins to lose its lustre.

If you do happen to be a lover of those more bulky, ready-made holiday decorations, there are ways that you can have your cake and eat it to. Renters are getting increasingly savvy about storage solutions, and there are lots of tips out there on finding space you didn’t know you had. More shelving, flat bins that slide under beds and couches, and storage bags that hang sneakily behind bathroom or bedroom doors are all great places to stow those decorations that bring the season home to you.

Decorating allows you to creatively transform your own space and to connect with your traditions. By being creative, selective, and resourceful renters can get into the holidays without over-burdening their already limited storage options.