Financial Friday #145: $200 from Financial Disaster?
$200 From Bankruptcy?
There has been a lot written over the last few years about Canadians being within a few hundred dollars of bankruptcy. According to a recent survey on the subject
from leading accountancy and business advisory firm MNP, 46% of us are teetering on the edge of insolvency, which they define as being "$200 or less away from being unable to meet your financial obligations".
We sincerely hope your household margin to something as catastrophic as bankruptcy is not that thin, but soaring prices and drastically higher interest rates means that everyone is feeling the pinch. There are lots of ways to supplement your income and even more ways to cut your expenses, so we rounded up the best ones we could find that would easily put an extra $200/month in your pocket!
You don’t need to invest tens of thousands building a self-contained suite. If you have a spare bedroom or a space you can create in the basement, then you may be in business. A quick search online will indicate the demand and price in your area, but you could quickly and easily pick-up $200 by taking in a guest for only a few nights each month.
Sharing your home with a complete stranger is definitely not for everyone, but plenty of people are doing just that. Sites like Air B&B offer a guest verification and recommendation system, and give you full control over who can stay and the exact dates and duration of stays. They also conveniently collect the fee and deposit it directly to your bank account. You will also have to contend with the bylaws and licensing requirements in your municipality and should also carry proper insurance.
Hosting an international student in a homestay arrangement is another option, although these arrangements come with more responsibility depending on the age of the student. You may only pocket a few hundred monthly after food and other costs, but it can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
Become a master of DIY
The entire notion of "not being very handy" has been kicked to the curb by YouTube. Before you pay $200 to have that leaky bathroom faucet fixed, you owe it to yourself to hit the internet and find out just hard it is.
Washing machine not filling properly? Dishwasher leaving spots? Try Google and do some troubleshooting on your own. It could be dirty inlet screens on your washer or food debris clogging the flapper valve deep in the bowels of your dishwasher. Chances are somebody on YouTube has already been there, done that, and filmed and narrated the entire how-to process for you.
There may also be jobs that you currently pay for that are more dependent on "elbow grease" than any sort of technical ability — cleaning the gutters, washing the car, giving the dog a bath and a haircut!
Utilities – the obvious and not so obvious
Your mobile phone provider and cable TV are the lowest-hanging fruits. If you are anywhere close to being $200 from insolvency, you need to cut the cable wire. If the essentials for your mobile include streaming cute wombat videos on the bus to work, you may also want to re-evaluate your data needs.
At the very least, review your mobile and cable plan and ensure you actually use everything you are paying for and compare the cost to what is currently being advertised. You can often take advantage of the fierce competition between service providers to get a better deal.
Next on the utility hit list are electricity and heat. LED's save tons of power so swap out any light bulbs if you haven’t already done so. After that, gains are harder to come by and the pain factor is higher. Dishwashers use plenty of power (especially to dry) and you don’t even want to know about the espresso machine! Storm doors, windows, and added insulation are expensive so they are a long-term play, but a fuzzy new blanket or warm tights can help you keep the house cooler and save on the heat.
The main point here is that it all adds up, so a collective, house-wide approach is required. Most electricity and gas provider websites have features to help you monitor daily consumption and comparative graphs to help you gauge the effectiveness of your efforts. It's up to you to decide if the pain is worth the savings!
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