Saturday, October 22, 2016

Car Insurance Tip to Save More...

In my state, you have to get your vehicles inspected once a year and this includes an emissions inspection as well. On average, this costs me about $62 per car per year. The nice thing about inspections (beside making sure your car won't self-destruct) is the inspector lists how many miles the car was driven for that year.  My state requires odometer readings every year. One of the main benefits is fraud protection (Preventing people from lying about how many miles the car actually was driven).

With car insurance, the insurance company wants to know how many miles each insured car will be driven in a year's time. This helps them estimate wear/tear and risk of accident. When being insured, if you don't know this number, the insurance company will set a rough guess between 10,000 to 15,000 miles (See for more info). Until yesterday, I never paid attention, so I took the default.

Well, yesterday, I had to change my car insurance address information (Since I moved), and they asked me the "How many miles will this car be driven" question again. Instead of the default 10,000 miles, I looked at my inspection receipt and saw a big difference. I only drove 9,000 miles and my wife 6,500 miles. When I made the adjustment, my premium savings was $200! So now, I pay $200 less each year on car insurance.

This may not work for you, or it might save you a lot (Especially if there's been a big change in how often someone on your insurance plan is driving). Remember, lying about your mileage is insurance fraud, so if you do, it's on you and it's steep consequences.

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Considering a Sunroom? Check This Out..

With recently buying a house, my wife and I have made some BIG plans. Who knew dreams sometimes cost bookoo bucks!

Researching the average cost to build a sunroom, I found estimates all over from $1,000 to upwards of $70,000! Here's a good example of one such site: HomeAdvisor - Sunroom Costs.

Knowing my dad recently undertook a project like this, he pointed me to a favored company: Better Living Sunrooms. They did such a good job with his project, I called them up for a quote. They couldn't give me an estimate over the phone, but one of their design consultants, Dan, came out to my house yesterday and it was fantastic!

Yesterday morning, Dan came and walked me through the entire process start to finish. At the end, he added up the costs, and the project totaled about $50,000 for a 14' by 12' sunroom. Wowza! You may be thinking, "That's insane!, I could do this myself for way cheaper." Well, before you move on, check out where the costs came from and decide for yourself:

1) $4,000 for Concrete Foundation (Labor and Materials) - I have an 8' by 14' concreate slab already sitting outside, but to be flush with the door on the house, 5 inches more of concrete will need to be put on top. That leaves 4' by 14' of remaining concrete to pour at 10" thick. There's calculators online to estimate how much concrete that would be, but the price quoted was way cheaper than anything I could do. Now, if you have a similar situation as I (Already have the concrete placed), do note that it needs to be footered (See Concrete Network - Footing Fundamentals for more info).  If it's not footered, the contractors may have to break up the existing concrete slab and redo that area. I used the Concrete Calculator to estimate how much concrete I would need.

2) $2,500 for Demolition to House and Sliding Door Installation. Sledgehammers Up! Where the entrance to the sunroom will be sits an outer brick wall, door and a window. The entire section spans 6' wide, 7.5' tall and 9" thick. Dan gave me an estimate of $2,500 to remove the wall, window and door completely, and then install a 5' 8" sliding door. According to Angie's List (Angie's Sliding Door Estimate), the average cost of a sliding door can be between $1,200 to $2,500, so to add in removing the wall, this seems very reasonable.

3) $2,000 for Roof with Shingles. According to Dan, the default roof is made of aluminum and vinyl. For better aesthetics and an additional cost, you can get a shingled roof instead of the white vinyl. Our house roof is shingled, so it would be in our best interest to add this to our sunroom's roof. The reason for the extra cost, is that Dan and his team would need to install wood supports onto the vinyl roof, and then install the shingles. I asked if I could just have someone do this later, but to keep the 50-year warranty on the sunroom, they'd have to at least install the framing. Any roofer would be able to install the shingles afterward.

4) $16,800 for Labor. Dan told me this would take about 3 weeks. According to - Building a Sunroom, the average cost per hour is $70 for a carpenter. Since Dan and his crew are doing the electrical, masonry, carpentry, roofing and demolition, I estimated two workers on site for 120 hours (40 hours * 3 weeks), which gave me $16,800 total. When my dad's project was being worked on, at most I saw two people working.

5) $1,800 Heating and Cooling System. Dan looked at my central heat pump / air condition system. He could try to connect it to the sunroom, but that could cause all kinds of issues. One great example is that adding the sunroom could cause the air conditioning condenser's maximum capacity to be exceeded, thus causing me to have to replace it at a greater cost than this heater. I agree that for the price of their heat pump / air conditioning system, it was a much cheaper to install a separate unit. Plus, this typically appeases the building inspectors more.

6) $22,900 Building Materials and Permits (Windows, Electrical, Structure/Framing). I had to ballpark this due to not knowing the exact costs nor how much my city would charge in permits. My estimate came from: Total Cost - (#1 + #2 + #3 + #4 + #5). I know this might seem high, but the windows they use have a u-value of at least 0.15, and the aluminum and custom made structure was built to last, not leak and definitely not bring mold/mildew into your house. Also, the glass is tempered and has a 15-year warranty.

So there you have it! Of course, cost may vary per state, but hopefully this give you an idea. Now, that I know the cost, perhaps a few years down the road this dream will be reality.

What about 5 years from now you ask?! Well, I'm glad you asked! Looking at this study (CPExecutive - Inflation), I'm guessing with 3% inflation each year, $57,963.70 is the estimate! Haha, I love numbers. Well, until next time, enjoy your week!
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Thursday, October 6, 2016

House Shopping? Don't Forget to Budget These Additional Expenses!

Ah, owning your own home.. What could be better?! I know I'm pretty stoked as a first-time home owner. It's been two months since settling onto my humble lily pad, but something's not quite right with the water...

Analogies aside, where did all these extra home "features" come from?
- Trash
- Electric and Heating
- Property/School Tax
- Public Sewer / Water

:) Ok, the experienced home owners are laughing at me right now, but being a previous renter, I didn't realize how much extra owning a house could cost. It's enough to make you 'croak'.. (Haha, just kidding).

But for future home owners, I've found this to be a helpful to add when budgeting for a new home. It's always better to overestimate than under...

1) $20 monthly for Trash (Ref:
According to "OhMyApt", in 2011 trash pickup was roughly $10 to $40. Looking at what I pay, times haven't really changed. As always, this depends on where you live.

2) $150 monthly for Electric and Heating (Since my heating and water run off electric, I'm guessing the combined electric and heating for separate sources is close)
For a 1024 sqft home that experiences four seasons, I was using from 800 to 1,500 kWh per month (Depends on what season), costing me on average around $150 monthly give or take.

Check this site out! They give you ball park averages for any state in the US ( If you know the house you're interested in, call the electric company that services them, and they can usually go back 2 years.

3) $256 monthly for Property / School Tax
This is definitely dependent on your state, but where I live, the rough estimate is $3 per square foot, so my rough estimate for my home was $3,072 (Ref: Myself. I looked up about 150 homes on, added up the property tax and divided it by the total square footage of all the homes). If you want a more official estimate, try

Also, School Taxes are actually about 50% or more of your property tax (Ref: There's nothing really to say other than, don't like your property taxes, get involved. You could actually be what your town/city needs to help cut cost.

4) $80 monthly for Public Sewer / Water (P.U...)
We have a public sewer, owned by our local municipality, which charges $200 per quarter, or roughly $67 a month (This is high, but hopefully, our community can work together to lower it). Now, I don't pay for public water, but the common theme goes, if you have public water and sewer, take your typical water usage cost and double it. That seems to be how people are being billed by a number of local governments not just Cincinnati (Ref:

In case you'd like to know: A personal septic system can cost roughly $1,000 to $4,000 to install (Ref:, and then you need to pay to service it every 3-5 years. Where I live, that service is mandatory every 3 years and comes with an inspection charge too. When you do the math, $67 a month in the short run via public sewer is a lot cheaper. This is especially true for someone who just signed a gigantic mortgage!

Well, I hope my estimates helps someone with their budgeting, but that is all for now. :)
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