How to Save With Home Services

How long does it take you to scrub the floors? How much energy do you expend trying to fix the lawnmower? How much space are you losing by trying to store all your belongings in your garage?

Though sustainability and healthy personal finance often require a bit of DIY, you might actually be putting yourself in the red by attempting complex and arduous tasks on your own. Sometimes, paying a professional to complete the more tedious tasks around your home is actually a financially savvy option. Here’s how you can save by hiring for home services.

How DIY Is Costing You

Once you stop to think about it, you will realize just how much you are losing by attempting to do everything around your home by yourself. Not only do you have to pay for the tools ? the chemical solvents, the scrubbers and dusters, the powerful machinery ? but you also lose the potential money you could earn if you devoted that time to more profitable pursuits. The time you spend on your hands and knees weeding your lawn is time utterly wasted in a financial sense, unless you enjoy joint pain and grass stains.

Worse, your undone chores are likely adding an unnecessary weight of stress to your already-stressful life. Home-related responsibilities are often a source of tension between spouses as well as between parents and kids; inevitably, one member of a family will demand more orderliness than the others, and everyone will suffer. If hiring professionals do clean up the house and yard will lower your cortisol levels, it is well-worth the price.

Essential Services Worth Paying for

Of course, not every chore requires professional effort. Particular labors that are either incredibly frequent, like doing the dishes, or especially personal, like sorting your desk, are best left to you and your family. However, there are certain services that can and should be paid for, such as:

Cleaning. This means deep, difficult cleaning. There are places in your home you simply don’t know how to clean property; maybe your parents never taught you, maybe you don’t have the tools, or maybe you just don’t ever think about where grime actually gets. A cleaning service will scrub your floors to their original color, make your bathroom fixtures shine, and suck the stubborn pet hair from every corner of your house.

Lawn care. Lawns require way more attention than you probably expect, which means yours might be on the verge of death. Before the brown spots cover your entire yard, you should acquire lawn care services. Lawn professionals know the healthiest grass height, the best season to fertilize, and the most effective chemicals for killing weeds and pests, so you don’t have to worry about a dry and ugly lawn.

Pool care. Like lawns, pools are especially beloved features of yards. Also like lawns, pools can go really bad really fast. Without the perfect mix of chemicals, your pool can turn into a swamp in a matter of hours. Pool professionals have the testing equipment to diagnose pool problems and perform expert pool maintenance, even when it isn’t pool season.

How to Save on Services

If you are still concerned that home services are too expensive to consider, there are a few tricks to save money without going full-DIY, such as:

  • Using apps. Technology has brought home services into your hands. Apps like Handy and TaskRabbit connect cheap labor with busy homeowners to complete chores faster and easier.
  • Trying a-la-carte. When you book a services provider, most will ask precisely what you need. You can ask for particular services without committing long-term to an expensive full-service agreement. For example, you might ask cleaners to address common areas like the kitchen and living room and leave bedrooms to be cleaned by their inhabitants.
  • Opting for low frequency. Unless you are an utter slob, you probably don’t need a cleaner to come every day. You might not even need services every week. As long as you can keep your home under relative control, infrequent services will cost less.

It is easy to become bogged down by money in and money out, but good personal finance should consider more than cash. Relying on a few home services can dramatically improve your quality of life without emptying your checking account. Professionals are more efficient, more economical, and generally better at their trade than you could ever be, so relying on them might save you big in the long run.


Should You Join A Credit Union?

Canada’s banking system is dominated by the so-called “Big Five,” the five largest banks in the country.

Royal Bank, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal, and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce own approximately 85% of Canada’s domestic consumer banking market. This leaves other banks, credit unions, and other specialty finance companies to basically fight for the scraps left behind.

Some people think this is a very bad thing. Folks everywhere complain about the service received at these large banks. Others complain about the high fees, aggressive collection practices, or a myriad of other issues.

The solution for many of these people is simple. Instead of keeping their money safe at a big bad bank, they join a credit union, a community-owned co-operative that operates much like a bank, but without all the negative stuff. Think of credit unions as banks with hearts.

But are credit unions really all they’re cracked up to be? Let’s take a closer look.

How do they work?

Credit unions and banks are, for the most part, exactly the same–at least from a customer’s point of view. They both offer deposits and mortgages and wealth management and so on.

The big difference is when you go to open an account. Credit Unions will only give an account to someone who’s a part-owner of the organization. This means you have to buy a share in order to become a member.

Typically, this isn’t much money. Most credit unions offer a share for five dollars or less. My credit union offers shares for only a dollar these days, although they used to be much more. When I first opened my account there in the 1990s, it was $25 to join.

While even $25 isn’t a insurmountable amount to spend, it’s still $25 more than you’d spend to join a regular bank.

Credit unions have been, traditionally, only provincial institutions. Their deposits are guaranteed by provincial governments, not the federal one. This has limited them to only expanding inside their own province, at least historically. Recent changes have given credit unions the right to incorporate federally, although no institution has expanded outside of its province.

What are the advantages?

This is where talking about credit unions gets a little tricky.

There are hundreds of credit unions across Canada, ranging in size from just a few branches to billion dollar plus financial behemoths. Vancity, the nation’s largest credit union in British Columbia, has approximately $20 billion in assets, 59 branches, and more than a half a million members.

Each separate credit union offers their own unique blend of products. Some might offer great mortgage or GIC rates. Some might offer higher fees in exchange for great service. It all depends on the company, its business plan, and so on.

This is where one of the traditional arguments for using a credit union falls flat. People have said for years fees are lower at credit unions than traditional banks. This could be true. But I’ve found it often isn’t.

My credit union offers accounts that are less competitive than many of its major competitors–including some of Canada’s largest banks. Its mortgage rates are good, but not great. And I’ve found its GIC rates to be barely this side of terrible.

Generally, though, service at credit unions is better than major banks. Your experience may vary, of course, but most folks do report being happy with the service at their credit union.

The point is every credit union is different. So it’s somewhat pointless to tell someone to switch to a credit union to save fees or get a higher interest rate.Sometimes that advice will be true. Other times, it won’t be.

There’s one more advantage. Remember that share you have to buy to be a member of a credit union? The company will often pay dividends to shareholders. It won’t be much, but it’s always nice to get a little free money.


What are the disadvantages?

One big issue in banking with a credit union is moving. If you move from Alberta to Ontario and you’re a CIBC customer, staying a CIBC customer is a breeze. It’s harder to switch from credit union to different credit union, although hardly impossible.

Credit unions are also limited when it comes to other things like ATM selection, technology, and access to certain services.

Should you join a credit union?

Ultimately, it comes down comparing each individual credit union to other banks and your needs. Sometimes, it’ll make sense to switch. Other times, it won’t.