Childfreelife’s Weblog











{June 30, 2008}   My first Carnival

I was chosen as an editors pick in dollar frugal’s blog this week. My article Words of Wisdom: Lending and Giving made the Carnival of 20 Something Finances this week!

Thanks Dollar Frugal!

My pick from the carnival for other childfree folks are:
Pearls of Wisdom for Graduates in mighty bargain hunter. Keep in mind the freedom and potential you have as a young person not yet tied down. As a childfree person I am less tied down than some of my childed friends, but I am married and own a house now, it kinda keeps me put. I wish I had been able to put money away when I was younger, or had travelled too.9 surefire stratagies not to retire early by nomad 4 ever is a great article for childfree folks. Take advantage of your freedom and save enough to retire early. Don’t step into these pitfalls that keep you working like a slave!

15 cheap romantic date ideas at financial learn. I am thinking of trying some of these with my husband soon, great dates on the cheap!

should you take financial help from your parents? from money under 30. I had help for a long time from my parents, but it has its disadvantages. Namely it meant they wanted control over what I did with all my finances because they were helping me. When you take money from mom and dad don’t forget that strings are attached. I am happily on my own now. And I look forward to the day when I can help my parents out with cash from time to time to pay them back–no strings attached!



Part of my nightlife is spent investing in myself.  I don’t have to worry about leaving kids with a sitter or burdening my husband with their care.  As a childfree person, I do not have to save up money for someone else to go to college, I can spend it on myself and increase my value to employers and society now.  I contribute to society in my career and the more I learn the more I can do to that end.  I work in the bankruptcy field, helping people get a fresh start on life.  I also know how much I want to avoid bankruptcy!  So I find ways to invest in myself without getting further in debt.   And to that end, I try to save as much money going back to school while still getting a great education.

One of my largest expenses going back to school has been the school books.  When I was a freshman, I foolishly paid full price for all my books in the school bookstore.  It was just financial aid money then, but the deal is, I am now paying all that back now in student loans.  Now that I am back to school for a professional certificate, I know better that I need to save money on anything I can.  Legal textbooks are terribly expensive.  Some books cost nearly $200.  That is almost as much as the tuition for the course!

This term I lucked out and purchased my book on ebay for a deeply discounted price, at the school bookstore the price is over an hundred dollars, I got mine for $12.  If you figure out your classes ahead of time, you can save major money buying your books online.  Try half.com, ebay, powell’s and amazon.  For classes I know that the latest material won’t matter, I buy the prior editions of books, sometimes they haven’t even changed the questions at the back of the chapters!  This way I can get my books for just a few dollars compared to hundreds.  If I realize a week into the term that getting the prior edition was a mistake, my risk was only worth a few dollars extra.  And if I am in the clear and the old edition is okay, then I have saved a bundle.  So far I have only missed one test question because I had the older book.  I have only tested this method in my paralegal courses, so I can’t vouch for how it works in other fields.  Considering that the older books are usually under $10 I think it is a risk worth taking, if you don’t need the newest book, you have saved a bundle.

I remember my first time around in college, I also bought a lot of fancy school supplies.  School supplies, I didn’t really need and that cost a lot of money because they were pretty or colorful.  Now I am still using up those old supplies, and when I do need to buy new ones, I just get the standard no frills stuff.  I don’t need a five dollar notebook.  I can take notes that I won’t read again after the term is over on a cheap legal pad and get just as much out of it.  I also don’t need seperate supplies for each class, one note pad and pen will do just fine for all my classes as long as I label my notes properly.



{June 25, 2008}   Tell All Tuesday

I continue to struggle with getting a handle on everything. I know the balances of my bank accounts now. But I am still a little lost about one of my debts. My student loan is deferred right now because I am in school, and I want to start making interest payments, but I don’t have that all figured out yet. A goal for this week!

We pay our debts at the beginning of the month, so the interesting stuff won’t come for a week or two yet.

My husband and I have completely funded our planned expenses account. This covers my fall tuition, six months of car insurance, and our half yearly homeowners tax-all and all it is $1625. Those expenses come due in September and October, so that means we have two months to gather money for an emergency fund before we start funding round two of the planned expenses fund.

My husband had a huge jar he was saving all our spare change in for years and he sold some of his magic cards. All in all he had over $400 in spare change and made over $50 dollars selling his magic cards.  That went towards our planned savings to get us ahead.  And beginning of next month I will have refunded vacation and my tutoring paycheck to put into our emergency fund.

My husband just fixed my car yesterday.  We were down to one car, anyways, and then the battery light on my car kept flickering on and off.  He had it checked out and the alternator was bad.  I was gearing up to dig into our emergency fund before it was even made when my father remembered that last time we replaced it they had bought a life-time warranty on it.  My husband put the new one in and all it cost us was a sunburn!

I am enjoying my week off from school before the new term starts.  I have been painting a few pictures, one of a moon with a sleepy face, one in a Greek vase style of Demeter, and one is a long overdue present for a friend who reads this blog, so I won’t say what it is.



I had never been in a position to lend money. I was dirt poor at the time and I was actually the one getting handouts some of the time. I worked for this amazing man, a pastor actually, as his office manager. He was lending money to someone, and I asked him, what if that person never pays you back? And he said, “Never lend money you wouldn’t just as happily give away.” You have to be able to afford to give the money away, and you have to be able to not resent it if the person never repays you. I think this goes for families, friends, and life in general. This is a great way to understand forgiveness. You nip resentment in the bud by not expecting, not demanding. Now I don’t think this means you should let people walk all over you. But if you loan money to someone, you should be just as happy to give it to them just to see them get through a bad time or succeed in an endeavor. What a reward, to have helped someone out! The other reason not to lend money if you wouldn’t give it away, is that you put yourself at a huge risk loaning money that you need. If you can’t get by without the money you are lending, you really are not in a position to lend it.

Lending is a way of sharing and breeding goodwill. A childfree person might be asked to lend more often than his/her childed friends because she might have more money to spare. Make strong boundaries so that you don’t feel walked all over. If you will feel badly about how money is spent, resent lending or giving, or if you feel a lender borrower relationship would hurt your friendship, either address your own prejudices so that you can accept giving the money, or set down boundaries and say “no”. If you want to help your friend, but don’t want to lend money, you might help them find the money. I know some religious organizations help out poor people. Applying for welfare and food stamps can be difficult. Picking up food from a food bank can be hard when you don’t have a car. Getting a new job can be hard when you don’t own a nice outfit or have paper or a printer to make your resume. You might be able to offer help or take advantage of your networks to help your friend find help. These sorts of services are intended to help people get on their feet. And people should not hesitate to use them to become a success story. There is a tendency out there to believe there are only services available for families with children. While there are more services for families with children, there are food stamps, food baskets, and job finding help for childfree folks too.

I have found there are ways to help friends without lending or giving money. Finding ways to save money together is a great way to help out a friend. And you don’t build that sense of one friend owing the other. You both helped each other out, it is completely mutual. In my big chunk series I mention finding roommates and carpooling, both are ways you can help a friend and help yourself. Several times I have helped friends who could no longer afford their living situation by moving them in and charging them less in rent. That room was wasted space in my house that is now making me a little bit of money, and they are grateful for the reduction in their rent. Most recently, we moved a friend in who was paying $350 a month he could no longer afford and we charge him $200 a month.

I seriously believe in helping my friends, but I don’t want to put myself in a situation where I am suffering terribly for the money or resources I gave or lent out and be desperate for a payback. That sort of situation keeps people from getting on their feet. Get on your feet first have a little extra and then you can afford to start helping out others. It is a great feeling to be able to pay forward the help I received when I was down to a new set of people trying to get on their feet. When they get on their feet chances are they will help someone too.



{June 23, 2008}   Link Love

A semi-weekly round-up of articles I liked for child-free folks.

http://imnotkidding.wordpress.com/2008/06/13/picking-up-the-slack/ More evidence that the childfree can use their reliability and great attendance at work to their advantage. Congrats on the promotion!

http://childfreedom.blogspot.com/2008/06/leisurely-life-of-less-laundry.html I agree with childfreedom, I hate doing laundry and my household of three (one roommate and my husband) does about 4 loads a week, and we only do four loads because the guys have so few outfits they have to wash them midweek in tiny little loads.

http://childfreedom.blogspot.com/2008/06/tim-vs-mom.html this article stunned me. And it felt very real. I had a hard childhood, and I am proud that my family and I have reconciled despite our difficulties. But anyone who wants a child because they want someone to love them back, take care of them when their old, and so on, don’t count on it!



I am considering the issue of downsizing your transportation for this edition of Big Chunk because a fellow blogger The Simple Dollar wrote about this subject today and he decided against downsizing because of his need to have a spare car for emergencies with his small children. And I am wondering, once my husband is working again if we will need to run two cars. As a childfree partnership we certainly don’t need a second car for emergencies with children during the day. Also I live in a suburban area and public transport is readily available and all necessary services are within biking distance. In a medical emergency, honestly I would call an ambulance or ask a friend or neighbor for a ride. Having a second car around just for emergencies is unnecessary.

My husband and I have two cars. And recently, because of his layoff and the tire popping on his car, we have temporarily downsized to one car. We took that car off the insurance. I leave my car home with him most of the time and I take the bus. Downsizing one car can save you several hundred to several thousands a year on car insurance. You might end up with less car payments, if you were making payments on two cars. If you owned one of your cars and you sold it, that is cash in hand that can go towards debt reduction or savings. Furthermore, ditching one car and driving less often decreases gas and repair expenses. I know my husband and I save over $160 a month on gas with this arrangement. This is a big chunk savings issue similar to downsizing your housing and the savings can be just as significant as downsizing your housing. The monthly savings can be from several hundred to a thousand a month depending on your transportation expenses.

My savings without a car are smaller, because my expenses were low to begin with. I own my beater car, my husband and dad fix it once very three months for usually around $300.00, Gas is about $160 a month because I work in town, Insurance is about $25 per month, I have the highest liability and medical coverage on my insurance but no comprehensive on my little beater, I am over 25, own my home and I am married, I have a decent driving history, and I get a discount for paying a lump sum every six months. My insurance could barely get lower. Cutting out one car costs me a bus pass fee. Assuming I still work in my same town and go to the same school, my bus pass is about $5 per month. My savings are $280 a month right there.

The further you drive a day, the nicer your car and the more expensive your insurance coverage, the more you save by cutting out a car (also the cheaper your repairs because the car is new, so I left repair costs out of this formula). I know people who easily have a $300 dollar car payment, $150 monthly comprehensive insurance, and work across state lines spending $320 a month on gas. If they replaced their car with a interstate express bus pass which runs $100 approximately a month (no student discounts), their savings would be a real Big Chunk, $670.00! Now I have heard that time is money, assuming taking the bus is two hours a day, and you work 20 days a month, you are earning $16.75 an hour by taking the bus and getting rid of your car payments. If you can utilize your bus time listening to books on tape, reading, or writing, you are getting paid to invest in yourself. My second job only makes me $8.00 an hour, and I have to work a lot harder than just sitting on a bus.

So now to consider if you or I can sacrifice a car:

Can you take public transportation, is it more or less reliable than driving?

In my case public transportation, as long as I keep up my end of the deal (showing up to the bus stop early) is more reliable. Should the bus break down, another one comes along to save you within an hour and takes you straight to your location. When my car breaks down? I wait an hour or more for a tow truck which takes me and my car to a mechanic or my home. When it snows or ices? The buses put chains on the vehicles at something like 4 in the morning and get to running. I still make it to work, would I logically drive in that weather? Less likely. True I will have to wait for the bus in the snow, but if I get some good winter ski clothes, I can manage that. My city and neighboring cities have great public transport and I live very near both an interstate bus and an in town bus stop, if your city has more spotty service, this might be a “no” for you.

Can you carpool?

Whether you can carpool largely depends on the stability of your schedule and what you do after work. I tend to go to school after work some days, home other days, and to friends houses other days, I really doubt carpooling could work for me. If you have a predictable week that is the same every week day or nearly every weekday, carpooling could be an answer for you.

How far is your work, school, regular activities, store, etc?

I live less than a mile from a mall, a block from a corner store, and half a mile from a grocery store. Movie theaters and libraries are both at the mall. I can bike to most anywhere I need to be. School and work are both on the same bus route as my house. My new job is a little bit more of a challenge, but the offer I am hoping for is also on the same route as my house. Lets keep our fingers crossed on that one. If you work at home, you might be able to wait until your partner gets home to use the car, or you might just use public transit or a bike to get around. An option that I keep thinking would be great for a single childfreebie would be a Vespa scooter (or another type of scooter, I just think Vespas are cute).

Where is your spiritual, religious or philosophical meeting place and what is transport to it like on weekends and holidays?

My religious meeting place is in a rural area outside my town. Public transport on weekends and holidays is pretty spotty out there. However, my husband usually is sleeping in on Sundays, and for the bi-monthly evening activities he tends to not mind lending me the car if I drop him off at a friends house and pick him up on my way home. It is too far for me to bike.

Do you like driving?

I hate driving, I would rather do most anything else. I like reading on the bus, or watching the landscape while I bike ride. When I can walk, I love to stop and smell the roses and look at birds and rabbits. If you love driving, giving that up to be a passenger on a bus or to brave the weather on foot or a bike might just be a no-no for you.

Are the other options safe?

Without a car or two cars in your household, how would you deal with emergencies? Do you need to get around by yourself at night in parts of town you don’t trust? Are your bus stops and biking trails well lit? Is it safe to bike in your town? Do drivers give the right of way? Is the weather to severe for you to deal with waiting or spending significant amounts of time outside? If one of the partnership does drive to work, and you get rid of the second car, what would you do so s/he can get to work in the event your one car breaks down? I feel safe in my town. There are bike trails, the buses are clean and safe, the stops also clean and safe. The weather is relatively mild. There may be one week a year I might have to really bundle up and put on treads to get to a bus stop safely. If you live somewhere more arctic, eschewing one or both cars might not be an option.

For us, I think downsizing to one car could be a permanent situation. I can take public transport most of the time, especially if I get that in town job I want so badly.



{June 18, 2008}   Resume Revolution

For the longest time I didn’t get a lot of bites on my resume or I got interviews at places that didn’t have values that matched mine. But then I changed my resume, I focused on making it interesting to read instead of just like everyone else’s and a tool to filter out places I want to work from places I don’t want to work. They can self select based on whether they like my personality coming through the paper or not. My resume style is slightly modified from what I found on http://www.rockportinstitute.com/resumes.html.

The basic idea is that you don’t start your resume off with a boring objective and then a chronological list of all your job history. Instead you start off with an advertisement of yourself and a list of your achievements. Then you follow up your exciting intro with the stuff you have to put in, about where you worked and so on.

I have been having enormous luck with this. So far nearly every place I have applied to has called me back for an interview. It doesn’t hurt that I am in a field that is highly in demand and somewhat recession proof. Should bad times hit, I can always work as a bankruptcy paralegal.

What makes you special in the workforce?

Have you helped your previous workplaces get new business or grants? Have you increased productivity or cut expenses? Have you managed change overs of softwares. Do you have special training? Do you have a high GPA? Do you get invited to speaking engagements? Do you train others in your field? These things all show you are better than everyone else applying for the job. Not only put these facts in your resume, but put them in your cover letter too.

Now I have made some of these accomplishments, but my job success did not solely depend on these super cool things. Most places want to know my duties too.

So I start out my resume by bragging about myself and telling them what I will do for the company

Profile: I tell them my personality and my career title “I am an enthusiastic paralegal” I tell them what sort of attitude I bring to the table “with an eye towards innovation” I will have to back this up later in the accomplishments section. I describe how “I quickly find short cuts to make slow work go faster so the team can get onto the interesting projects.” I have been told that mentioning the interesting projects could be read poorly against me. I think my critic is right, and if someone reading my resume doesn’t like that I get bored, I certainly hope they don’t respond to me! I hate doing boring work all day long, I want to make it go fast so I will be rewarded with cool stuff to do. Then I mention my education “I am a top student” I will have to back that up too in my education section with my GPA. “in legal research…” and I go into details about all my skills practiced and learned in school.

My second section is Proficiencies or Skills, sure I am using unusual words, it is a little over the top, but I think proficiencies covers more than the word Skills does, I think skills-I think labor, but when I think proficiencies-I think professionals. Here I list everything I can do at all or I am very confident I can do. I know I can be proficient in nearly all software, and I think most computer geeks that have used computers since they were six years old can agree with me on this. I don’t make this list too long because I only focus on what will matter for this position.

My third section is Achievements, this can also be called Accomplishments. I just put a few things in here that I did that saved money and time or innovated something in the office. You could also add sales you have made, accounts you have secured and so on. I did not list specific companies here, the coolness of what I did stands alone. These are talking points you can elaborate on during interviews.

Then you can either put in your Education or your Professional Experience next, depending on which you think is more impressive. I pimp my experience in my Profile area, so I figure it can wait till the end, they will want to see it to check my bragging anyways. In my field previous legal experience is key. They want to know you can work with attorneys. Lawyers are a special breed really. Because listing my duties is important to the type of work I apply to, I list the years the companies the positions and then my duties. If this were a type of resume where specific duties were assumed all within the job title, I would skip that and combine my achievements and experience sections into one Professional Achievements section with accomplishments clustered under each job. I don’t list every job I have ever done, especially if things were duplicative or a step down. I worked at two postal stores, but one was longer and I had more duties. I worked many part time jobs, and so I can fill in gaps with the cooler part time jobs and leave out the lame ones. I used to list all my little temp jobs and part time jobs. I stopped because it overwhelmed interviewers and they questioned my commitment since I moved around so much. I stayed at a few stable jobs through all those so I list those and leave out the little gigs.

I put my Education after this, I also list scholarships and educational awards I earned here under the schools, grade point average and degree earned or anticipated. You can put education before experience as an alternative if it is more impressive than your experience or if you are an Attorney or similar profession where the prestige of your school is part of your appeal.

Finally, I put in my relevant and recent volunteer work, speaking, art and writing credits, and professional organization memberships and positions. This section is the least likely to be read, but if I have kept their interest this far, they might want to know more about me. The fact that I keep busy doing interesting and intellectually stimulating activities is what I hope will be part of my appeal, and it also might help them realize that I don’t tend to work much overtime because I have a very rich life after work.

I want my resume to scare off the wrong sort of employers just as much as I want it to attract the right sort of employers. So I don’t go overly safe with it. Sure I leave out things that would indicate religious and political affiliation as well as controversial activities like role-playing or irrelevant activities like reading at home and walking to the park. This is not a dating application, unless you are applying to clean the shores or work as a marine biologist, I doubt long walks at the beach as a favored activity will cinch the deal. I don’t list my childfree blog on here either, as it is controversial, however, if I did want them to know, so that the anti-childfree could avoid me, then I might put my blog in there. It is a writing credit, they could look me up and see my writing style.

Once you have it written, put it in a readable type and on a nice paper that is also easily faxed, photocopied and read. Check it out by faxing it to yourself, some of the nice pastel papers fax out gray or black. Have it proofread by several friends and family. You want this to be perfect. Then start writing cover letters that include the same basic elements in paragraph style. Let them know who you are and what you could do for them, and back it up with proof.



{June 17, 2008}   Tell All Tuesday

So, I have been offered a new job! And I am waiting for an offer from a second place next week. I am on fire!

That aside, as far as where things are for me right now, I am still not really savvy on my savings and debt reduction efforts. My husband has the passwords to the savings account. I am committing to fixing that this week, so that I can be more accountable.

Things that have come up this week, because I am leaving my job, all my vacation will be cashed out. Being childfree, means I don’t have to worry about cutting out a vacation. No little kid is going to be told, sorry no disney land, mommy took a new job. I like that freedom to change jobs, store vacation for a payout. That payout from not taking my vacation and then quitting means I will have a lump sum I can assign to savings or debt reduction or buying new clothes for my new job. All this needs to be taken into account.

Depending on what job I end up taking, there might be a change in income for the better or worse. The job I recently accepted will turn out to be a de facto pay cut because of the out of state income tax I will have to pay. However the one I am waiting on and will likely get and offer for will not have that issue and may end up to be a pay raise. Lets keep our fingers crossed. If I get a pay increase, I will need to focus on making sure that income is directed towards savings or debt reduction and not just absorbed into the regular budget.

My boss at my old job asked me to consider coming in on weekends to help with emergencies and special projects, I accepted his offer. Oftentimes these things never end up happening, I plan to actually follow up with him a week from my last day to tell him I am interested and then follow up a month later to keep it fresh. Likely he will never end up calling me in, but I can try to keep on his mind so that I can make some extra dough to help especially if I do not get the offer for the in state job, and I suffer that income tax induced pay cut. Again because I am childfree, my weekends are mine to use to work extra, or to totally veg out or to make fun and busy with entertainment or cleaning. I like the fact that I can assign all that time flexibly, childed people would have to find childcare to even spend a small part of their weekend on themselves or saddle their spouse with that responsibility to watch the kids.

Our car has been acting up, and I was actually afraid on the way to my meeting with my new employers today that it would die on the street. All my spare money is going into an emergency savings fund towards emergency replacement of my car. We are looking into getting the smallest car with the best possible gas mileage for our money. But more likely, I will just be taking the bus. I know you can take kids on the bus, but again this is an area where I have freedom, I actually feel sorry for parents with kids on the bus, when they cry and run amok it must be so embarrassing.

This week was bad because my husband forgot to file for unemployment. He can’t get it back, but he can resume it next week, so we are down over two hundred dollars from what I projected for the month. Thankfully we have been saving so well that it won’t hurt us too badly, and I have cracked down on spending for the rest of the month in an attempt to recoup what was lost. We are eating from canned foods and what we already have. I tried spam for the first time this week, it was actually okay, greasy, but tastes like bacon and hotdogs, both things I like. My husband is nearly as picky as a child when it comes to eating, but for the most part I can cook all sorts of weird foods and eat poor for a few weeks to find extra money, I would hate to make a kid eat some of the stuff I get by on when I am poor.

My husband is quitting smoking cigarettes that should save us $24. My friend gave me an old gift card she wasn’t using to Nordstrom so I used that to buy myself a new interview shirt (a semi planned expense). The gift certificate saved me $20 (the shirt I bought was $50, but I would have bought a cheaper shirt at target if it was from my money). If we cut our grocery spending down to the bare essentials for the rest of the month that saves us $60. I will take the bus as much as I can next week, that should save $20. So all together with what I have figured out we can recoup $124 of what was lost. And I am going to try hard to find other places to cut corners.

I commit to having a better handle on my ledger next week.



As I covered in a previous post, the childfree can often downsize their housing more easily than the childed. Moving can be traumatizing for children, and kids tend to want their own rooms. However, a childfree person can lose the home-office or sewing room if they need or want to save some money by squishing into a smaller place.

I forgot to mention the other day when I wrote Big Chunk 1, that renters can often negotiate with their apartment complex managers for converting their lease to a smaller apartment in the same complex. Several of my friends have done this. The moved from three bedrooms to one or two bedroom apartments within the same complex, and the managers did not make them pay a penalty. However, their cleaning deposit was raided in both cases. If you can repay a cleaning deposit, but really need to save the extra bucks, you aren’t really trapped in your lease, if the managers will agree to move you down a size in their building.

When I up-sized into a house, I still had a fairly long lease on my apartment. It would have cost an $1800 penalty to end the lease! I had to be creative, and so I sublet my apartment. Now when you sublet you are still completely responsible for the apartment, and so you have to really trust the person you are subletting to. I sublet to a friend to help her get on her feet. She signed on as a roommate on the lease and I stayed on the lease with her until it was time to re-up the lease, then she did so on her own, we took ourselves off as roommates. For a while she paid me the rent and I paid the company. I sweetened the deal by giving her reduced rent the first few months.



When it comes to reducing your monthly budget, few things make as big of a difference as reducing housing expenses. Childfree folks have incredible flexibility when it comes to this. If we are currently renting, our only limitations are in some cases leases and pets. If you own your home, your freedom to downsize could take longer, but a childfree person or partnership can downsize with more ease than a childed family. I am going to list some of my favorite options of making a big chunk change in your budget and downsizing your housing:

For renters:

If you have gradually found yourself in nicer and nicer apartments and homes, and you have filled up the space successfully with furniture, dishes, art, and a huge bed, the idea of downsizing can be scary. However, really you are only limited in downsizing by your pets and your lease.

If you have a large dog and live in a house with a yard: your options for downsizing are to find a smaller house with a yard, or to take a roommate on to share the house with you. Maybe you should find a roommate that also has a dog.

If you have small pets or no pets, you can downsize to a smaller house or even a smaller apartment to free up possibly several hundred dollars a month. If you have big stuff, a big bed, furniture, you can store it for more cheaply than the difference in rent, or you can get rid of it. If your parents have a garage you might share the savings you are making by paying them the going storage rate to store your stuff instead of letting the money leave the family.

For homeowners:

As a homeowner you likely have a garage and maybe an extra room or two. If you are like me you are not using your space as efficiently as possible and you could make room for a roommate. I spent a day getting rid of most of the boxes of random jank in my garage. I was shocked at the junk we had kept. When I was making room for our roommate, I sacrificed my art studio, or so I thought. I realized we never ever use our kitchen nook. It is just wasted space. I actually moved my art room into that space and I can still use everything but my giant easel, that did end up in the garage. We freed up an entire room for a roommate by rearranging two areas in our home, I bet most people have a dining room or nook that doesn’t really get use they can empty their office into to make room for a roommate.

Being honest up front with your roommate about how annoying you are is key too. I am one of the few people I know who’s ex roommates still like me. I am not less annoying than everyone else. But before they move in I tell them: “I am a slob, I will try to change, but don’t count on it, I do a lot for the household but it is not in cleaning. I get moody once in a while, but I will apologize if I take it out on you.” That usually covers things. It is really important since I cannot clean so much that the roommates understand what I do contribute, I am a good listener, I always make sure we have enough food and money. I am financially creative. I am fun to hang out with. These things add up to help my flaws be less glaring.

Selling your house

If you are in an area where the housing market is doing okay, or you have owned your house long enough that you can sell it for a lower price and still pay off your mortgage, selling your house to move into a smaller one or renting your house out so you can move into a smaller place and enjoy rent income are downsizing options. A house can tie a childfree person down. Some of the benefits of being childfree are the ease of picking up and moving for great opportunities without having to affect anyone else, or only your partners. If selling or renting your house out is an possibility for you, do your research and see if it is worth it. I looked into the options for my house and it really is not a good time to make that move.

There numerous pros and cons to owning versus renting, and you have to take your personal situation into account. Owning a home can be an investment: money you put into a house, if you sit on it long enough can build you income. However, sitting on it long enough is the key phrase here. You have to be able to afford the payments through a variety of situations in your life, and your investment should not be holding you back from bigger investments, like a better job, graduate school, your health.

If you live in a city like mine, renting is significantly cheaper than owning. For example, the difference my income tax credits make just covers my homeowners taxes. In a year or two I won’t be paying enough interest to even qualify for the credit as far as I can tell. If renting a 2 bedroom town home is $200-300 cheaper a month than a mortgage on a 2 bedroom duplex, then all the advice about investment goes down the drain. That 200-300 a month can go directly into an investments with much higher returns on it than the real estate market offers.

Don’t take the standard advice made for families at face value. As a childfree person or partnership your situation is clearly different and you have weigh the pros and cons of owning and renting based on your set of circumstances.

Downsides to Downsizing

Downsizing might be uncomfortable at first. And some options are not possible for all people. For example my friend and her husband have extra rooms in their house they could rent, however she is of an orthodox faith where she must cover her head in front of men beside her family. That narrows down her possibilities for a roommate, or at least it would make life at home much less comfortable, she would have to cover her head all the time if she had a male roommate. However, she could put out there that she specifically wants a female roommate.

Moving into a smaller or cheaper apartment is hard and getting a roommate when you haven’t had one is hard. You have to get rid of a lot of your stuff that takes up space, you have to put up with different living arrangements. However, if your stuff is keeping you from having good personal finances, maybe you really do need to let it go. Your happiness isn’t really based on your stuff, no matter how much our commercialized society tries to convince us it will.

Roommates might be noisy or annoying. I don’t like moving in with someone I don’t already know pretty well. They don’t have to be your best friend, but knowing and accepting their habits is key. Keeping open communication and renegotiating terms when new things come up will help things go smoothly. The worst thing I have seen happen to friends that became roommates, is that they stop being friends for some reason. The roommate never spends time at home because they consider their home to be a place to crash not a place to hang out. If that happens try to go out with your roommate too. Fights over living arrangements get to your friendship. Stop the cycle early and renegotiate. Your friendship meant enough to you that you helped each other by living together, it is worth saving. And if things aren’t working out, help your friend move out, help him/her find a new place and stay in contact, throw them a good bye party or a room warming party at their new place.

A smaller place might be less pleasant to hang out in all the time. I find that big windows can make the difference. I can’t stand living in a cave, I have done so and it drove me nuts. Having a small place with enough light can help a lot. Especially if you are like nearly everyone in the world and darkness depresses you a little bit.

Conclusion:

However despite the initial discomfort the extra money in your pocket can mean a lot towards your happiness, if you don’t just let it disappear. It is so easy to let extra money just become money you waste away. Be sure to direct it towards savings, paying off debt, or increasing your quality of life in noticeable ways. There are valid ways to spend your extra money that increase your quality of life. I am going out on a limb here because most personal finance articles are so focused on savings and debt reduction. However, you might be freeing up the extra money for health care, reliable transportation, to take a cooler but lower paying job. Is it worth having a huge living space that keeps you from being healthy, affording basics you need, or being a slave to a job you hate? Yet the conventional wisdom does apply, if you have health care, covered your basics, have reliable transport and you like what you do for a living, downsizing is a great way to have a few hundred extra to apply to financial matters.



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