There are times when adhering to your ideals is cost-efficient. For example, many of the things you do to live in a more eco-friendly manner are also things that happen to save you money. You can live more sustainably and come out ahead at the end of the month.
Not everything is like that, however. There are times when your ideals can cost you money. Sometimes, you pay for something because you believe in it — not because it’s cost efficient.
Giving to Causes
One of the biggest examples is giving to charity. If you believe in a cause enough to give money to it, you aren’t likely to derive any benefit out of it. You can get your money back if you buy energy-efficient light bulbs or invest in a smart thermometer.
Giving to a cause you believe in that doesn’t provide that kind of monetary return. The money is gone, and you can only hope that the people that run the charity will use the money well. (This is one of the reasons that I’m such a big fan of local charity, as well as sometimes donating to larger organizations with good ratings on sites like Charity Navigator.)
Socially Responsible Investing
Another way that you might end up losing a little more — or at least seeing smaller returns than you would have otherwise — is through socially responsible investing. Many people like the idea of only investing in companies and funds that reflect their ideals. However, in some cases, these investments don’t pan out. You might end up losing money because you invested in a clean energy company that isn’t off the ground yet, instead of in an oil company.
In some cases, you might see gains, but they might not be as big as otherwise. Some mutual funds that focus on socially-responsible companies charge higher expense ratios and other fees. You might end up with a lower ROI just through fees. If it’s important to you to invest where your ideals are, this isn’t the end of the world — as long as you can afford it.
Buying More Expensive Items
Unlike more expensive thermostats that eventually pay for themselves, there are some things that are just more expensive. What happens when you buy more expensive foods because it’s “whole” or for some other reason? What about buying products that are eco-friendly or produced in an eco-friendly manner, but that cost less? There are lots of examples of these kinds of purchases, and you might not get a corresponding increase in true quality.
The argument can be made that when you buy organic food, you are going to be healthier, and that is a benefit that can save you money down the road, but the reality is that there aren’t conclusive studies that say buying organic makes a significant difference in your health. You might also run into similar issues when you buy products that are made according to ideals. They might just be more expensive, without providing you with any other benefit beyond the warm fuzzies.
If you can afford these things, and you would rather see your money go toward things that are in line with your values, it’s not really a problem. However, if you are getting in debt as a result of the choices, it might time to re-think your decisions.
Are you currently a home-owner? Do you need to replace your shingles any time soon? If you do, you might have recently been asking yourself if you should just go with plain shingles (that typically have a 20 year warranty) or pay a little extra and get the metal roof (which can have a warranty of 75 years). What are the pros and cons of each, and which decision should you make? Let’s dig in!
Pros to a Standard Shingled Roof
Looks good initially
Still has a 20 year warranty
Has been proven to work for many homes in the past
Cons of an Asphalt Shingled Roof
Could curl, split or mold in less a year
May need replacement or patch work in 12 years (depending on the quality purchased)
Destroyed by multiple elements such as wind, hail, or fire
Pros of Metal Roofing
Most have at least a 50 year warranty
Adds resale value to your house
Holds up in the elements (wind, hail, fire)
Good for the environment – typically 100% recycled material
Insurance discounts possible
Energy Tax credits
Savings in home heating and energy costs
Cons of Metal Roofing
Higher cost than asphalt roofing
Fairly new product with some unexpected defects
So there are the pros and cons of the asphalt and metal roofs. Now the question is, which type of shingling is truly best for you?
Choose Your Shingles
It’s fairly obvious that metal shingles will last longer, but at a higher expense you wonder if it’s really worth it? First of all, before we dig too deeply into the pros and cons, how much more expensive are the metal shingles? On average, metal shingles are twice as expensive at the regular asphalt shingles. So, if it was going to cost $7,500 to get your entire roof re-shingled with asphalt shingles, then it would cost $15,000 in order to go with the metal roof.
How Long Will You Live in Your House?
If you are thinking about re-shingling, then you obviously own your own home (or you are about to purchase a home with a worn roof). So how long do you plan to live in your home? If you think you might only be there another couple of years, then I would lean toward spending the least amount of money possible. New owners will love the fact that the roof is fairly new. Whether it’s the highest quality roof or not isn’t going to sway them much into paying more dollars. The fact that it’s new is good enough.
If you plan to live in your house for the next 50 years, then I’d most likely lean toward the metal roofing. Not only do you get the longer warranty, but you’ll be saving on heating and cooling costs for those 50 years as well, not to mention the peace of mind you’ll have from knowing that you’ll never have to think about your roof again.
Are You Paying With Credit?
If you are paying for your new roof with credit, then you’ll want to keep the expenses as low as possible, otherwise you’ll be paying a ton of money toward interest, which will completely defeat the purpose of the cost savings in metal roofing!
Does It Fit the Style of Your House?
If you have a quaint, 1940’s bungalow house, a metal roof might not be the look that you’d like to go for. When making your decision, yes you should think about the environment, but also keep the buyers in mind too. If your house look unnatural and ugly, you’ll be losing money on the sale, not gaining.
Last summer, we started paying someone else to handle our yard care. We didn’t enjoy doing it, and we didn’t have the time, anyway. When family members heard about it, we got quite a few odd looks. After all, mowing the lawn and trimming the hedge are things that aren’t too difficult to do — just about anyone could do them.
But just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. Here are 3 times it makes sense to pay someone else to do something for you:
1. When You Don’t Have the Knowledge or Skill
There are some jobs that require you to have a specific knowledge or set of skills in order to effectively complete them. If you don’t have that knowledge or skill, and you attempt a DIY project, there is a very good chance that you will mess it up and make things worse.
What happens if you try to fix the plumbing without the skills to do so? You could end up making things worse and even more expensive to fix. Yes, you can find tutorials online to help you learn how to do certain things, but in some cases, even that knowledge falls short. If you don’t have the knowledge or skill to do a good job at something, and it’s important, hire someone else to do it.
2. When You Don’t Have the Equipment You Need
Some projects require that you have special equipment to complete. In some cases, you can buy or rent the equipment to make it work. But make sure you run the numbers. In some cases, renting the equipment yourself, and then taking the time to get something done (especially if there’s a learning curve involved) can cost you more than just hiring someone.
One of my neighbors decided to put in their own sprinkler system. They rented a trencher to make things easier. They had that trencher for two days, since they had problems with learning to use and drive it. A professional installer could have trenched their yard in one day. Hiring someone would have saved them money, since they would have had to pay for the trenching service and be done, and in this case they had to pay for the trencher for two days, which ended up being more than just paying someone.
Really think about your plans, and the cost of the equipment, and whether or not you’ll be as effective using the equipment.
3. You Have Something Else to Do With Your Time
This was the reason we began getting someone to do the yard care. If you can afford to pay someone to do something for you, and it will free up time that you want to use for something else, it makes sense. Hour for hour, I can make more money with my business than I pay to have someone care for my yard. Additionally, sometimes paying someone else provides you with a little extra time to spend with your family, or spend doing something you really enjoy. In my mind, time is more valuable anyway, since once it’s gone, it’s gone.
One of the first rules of investing is that you need to have a degree of diversity in your assets. That way, if something goes wrong with one asset class, you will have another asset available to pick up the slack. But how does that work if most of your assets are denominated in a specific currency, like that issued under the authority of Bank of Canada?
For some consumers and investors, the idea of an alternative currency independent of a federal government is an attractive one. In fact, over time local currencies have cropped up around the world. Even in Canada there are examples of local alternative currencies. One of the most popular — even though it might not actually be considered a true currency — is Canadian Tire Money. While it makes sense that it’s mostly for use at Canadian Tire locations, there are also other stores that accept it as payment.
But that’s not all. Some places, like the community of Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, issue local currency that can be used in participating establishments. These currencies are often backed by federally issued currency, though.
Another option is to use alternative forms of money, such as gold and silver coins (not federally issued). In the United States, there are some states, like Utah that allow consumers to use gold and silver coins that aren’t normally thought of as legal tender, such as “silver eagle” and “gold buffalo” coins, as legal tender. If a shop is willing to accept the coins as currency, for their value according to weight, then you can use it as currency, even though it’s not federal legal tender.
What About Bitcoin?
For the most part, alternative currencies operate in local areas. You can’t take your Salt Spring currency and use it in Calgary. None of the shops would accept it. One of the alternative currencies working to take the concept of alternative shopping global is bitcoin. Bitcoin is a global digital currency, created from computer processing power. If you have bitcoins, you can exchange them digitally with others for goods and services. In my hometown, there is someone who accepts bitcoins. Since the transactions take place digitally, there are no fees, and you don’t have to carry around a wallet (although you do need to be able to access your digital wallet on a computer device).
Bitcoin has received a lot of attention lately due to the fact that it is possible to use exchanges to turn in your bitcoins for other currencies. At one point, you could exchange one bitcoin for US$1,000. However, unlike other alternative currencies that are backed by more “official” tender, or by their metal content, or by some other means, bitcoin isn’t backed by anything.
And, in the end, no matter what is “backing” a currency, any medium of exchange only works so long as those involved agree that it is “worth” a certain amount in goods and services. Even barter could work as a medium of exchange — as long as you had faith in the value of what someone else is offering.
What do you think of alternative currencies? Would you consider using them?
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