Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Trying out car sharing!

Usually when you think about moving outside of the city, you think about being more reliant on your car. But one of the best things that has come out of our new neighbourhood is the ability to move down to a one-car household.

Since I switched to our downtown office back in January, I haven’t actually been driving my car. 95% of the time, my car has just sat there unused. And since RD’s work has a very good carpool program, most of the time he wasn’t driving his car either. The only time we actually use our cars is when we’re together on the weekends.

Being within a 5-10 minute walk of a SkyTrain station was a requirement when we started looking for condos, and luckily we now live approximately 10 seconds away from one. So in the next couple of weeks, we’ll be selling RD’s car and putting that money into our joint account (which likely end up as an additional payment towards the mortgage – but that’s another post for another time).

Our transportation expenses will end up going way down because now we’ll be sharing the cost of insurance and maintenance on just one car. We’re still figuring out how we will share gas expenses, as RD will be doing most of the driving with his commute to work.

But of course there’s a downside to not having two cars, and it’s that we don’t have two cars. If it’s RD’s turn to drive the carpool or if he’s working a longer day than normal, that means I don’t have access to a vehicle if I need to go somewhere that isn’t practical by public transportation (for example my doctor is in Port Coquitlam!). So I’ve been contemplating joining a car share program for a while now.

In New Westminster, I had three options to choose from – Modo, ZipCar, or Evo.

Modo

  • $10 one-time registration fee
  • $8 monthly fee
  • $8 per hour (max $64 per 24 hours, $24 max between 7pm-9am)

ZipCar

  • $25 one-time registration fee
  • $70 annual fee
  • $7.75 to $9 per hour ($73-89 per day)

Evo

  • $35 one-time registration fee (waived for BCAA members)
  • $2 annual fee (donated to charity)
  • $0.41 per minute, $14.99 per hour ($89.99 per day)

I ended up going with Evo because even though the hourly rates were better with Modo and ZipCar I don’t think I’ll need to use a car enough to justify Modo’s monthly fee or ZipCar’s annual fee. Plus, I was at an event last night where I got the $35 one-time registration fee waived and 45 minutes of free driving time. :)

A huge bonus of being part of a car sharing program is the ability to drive to the airport without spending a million years taking transit downtown and then back out to the airport, or spending the money for a taxi. And conveniently, there’s an Evo parking lot just outside of our building. I’m really looking forward to seeing how car sharing fits into my lifestyle, and how often I actually end up using it.

Does anyone else use a car sharing program? Any experience using Evo?

Here’s why you should always have home insurance

Our first night in our new condo should have been a cause for celebration. We grabbed take-out, unpacked boxes, and went to bed exhausted after moving furniture around all day. But instead of a peaceful night’s sleep, we got a frantic knock at our door at 10pm. It was the building caretakers – there was water leaking in the suite directly below us!

Panic.

Together with the caretaker, we looked over our bathrooms and found no water on the floor, or anything that would suggest a leak. So he left and said he would follow up in the morning. We were horrified! Talk about bad luck – the first showers we took on the first day of homeownership, and there was some sort of leak originating from our suite.

The next morning, strata called and informed us to coordinate with the owners downstairs and hire a plumber. It was a Thursday and were just going into the Canada Day long weekend, so we weren’t able to book anyone until the Tuesday. It was a pretty stressful long weekend to say the least.

But no matter how worked up we got, we realized that the most this issue would cost us was $1,000 because we have home insurance. Now, $1,000 is still a lot of money, but we already had more than that amount sitting in our joint account, and it was considerably less than the potential tens of thousands of dollars it might cost to repair whatever was wrong and fix the water damage!

I’ve had home insurance of varying coverage since I bought my first place, but I didn’t always have renters insurance when I was younger. Even if you are renting and don’t own the place where you’re living, you could still be liable for any damage you cause to the building, or unintentional harm caused to others who live (or visit) the property. Plus think of how much it would cost to replace all of your stuff! Most of the time a landlord will require you to have insurance as a rental condition. However I’ve definitely not had it before, and looking back that was pretty stupid of me. But for some reason the thought of paying $20/month for something invisible that I likely would never use seemed like too much to handle when I was already on a tight budget.

Here are a few things I’ve had to consider when buying home or tenant insurance:

There are different levels of insurance

Basic insurance is cheap but it doesn’t protect the contents of your home and the deductible is generally high. Standard insurance covers you for some perils, but not everything. Comprehensive insurance covers you for most things of varying maximums (except for earthquakes and floods, etc), but all insurance is different, so you’ll really want to ask a lot of questions or do your research online instead of assuming that you’re covered for something.

Bundle your insurance for a better rate

I used to get my tenant insurance with an insurer that also provided comprehensive auto insurance. By bundling these two together, I was able to save a few hundred dollars a year.

Make an inventory of your belongings

Usually a comprehensive policy includes contents insurance – which covers the cost of replacing your belongings. I found most are set at $25,000 but you can pay more if you want more coverage. When I first got tenant insurance, I thought all I needed was the $25,000 coverage, but when I actually took the time to create a complete list of the replacement cost of the items in my home, I realized my stuff more than exceeded the $25,000 coverage. Furniture, kitchen appliances, cookware, antiques, electronics, and all of the other items in your home can add up quickly! So I adjusted the policy amount to cover what I needed. You’re also able to insure stuff like artwork, jewelry, bikes, outdoor gear, etc. up to a certain maximum, but often times those require an additional endorsement to cover those items.

Be realistic with your deductible amount

Usually you can get your deductible amount down to $500, but in exchange your monthly rate will be higher. We chose to go with $1,000, but I’ve seen deductibles as high as $2,500.

Be proactive

If there is a potential problem in your home where you might need to use your home insurance, it’s best to call them as soon as possible to let them know what’s going on. That way they can tell you exactly what they need for the insurance process to go smoothly, because the last thing you want in an insurance claim situation is to feel unorganized.

Anyway, after finally getting a plumber in to check out our unit, the problem ended up originating from our bathtub faucet in the master bathroom (the shower diverter was pushing water into the wall). The plumber only cost $200 to come in and fix the problem, and there was very minimal damage to the unit below us – so we came in way under our insurance deductible. But the fear and panic was real, and I can’t imagine how someone would feel if they weren’t covered!

This is not a sponsored post, but for those interested, I used Square One Insurance – which offers insurance on both condo and tenant insurance. I used to be with CDI but switched over to Square One because the price was much better, the reviews online were better, and the user interface was really really nice to use. 

Have you ever had to claim anything on your home/tenant insurance?

July 2017 Goals

Happy Belated Canada Day and 4th of July! :)

This past long weekend was our first weekend in the new condo. We spent our time building new IKEA furniture and planting flowers and herbs on the patio. I also started really organizing our pantry by putting most of our bulk dry goods into labeled jars. I also finally got our spice cupboard in order. These are all things we just didn’t have room for in our old place. It’s funny how much difference there is when you have a bit of outdoor space and an extra 150 sq.ft. inside. Although RD kept wandering around the condo the other day, muttering that the place was too big because he kept misplacing things. :)

We also got approval from strata for our renovation project to remove our electric fireplace, so I got a quote for the job (about $750) and fingers crossed we can book someone to do it in the next few weeks.

As for July, it’s shaping up to be a pretty busy month. My sister will be visiting us for a few days later this month , we are hosting a couple of dinners in the next few weeks, plus we have a trip planned back to Victoria, and we’re still chipping away at those home projects. I’ll try to keep our costs low by cooking as much as possible at home, and finding fun (free) local activities to keep us occupied.

Here’s my budget for the month:

July 2017 Goals:

  • Work out 12 times this month. I’m feeling pretty sluggish from about 3 weeks of very inconsistent physical activity and so much take-out and restaurant food. Ugh. Can’t wait to go running along the water, work-out in our building’s free gym, get up into the mountains, and join the (amazing) climbing gym near our place.
  • Try 3 new recipes. We have our favourite 5 or 6 recipes on rotation, but I’d like to try out some new ones from the cookbooks that we have. Plus I really, really want to try cooking with jackfruit but it is impossible to find! Might have to venture out to a T&T or another Asian market to try to find some.
  • Unpack all boxes. We’ve done pretty good so far, but the last 3 or 4 boxes are mine to unpack. Once we get our pantry delivered, I’ll be able to organize everything and finally feel moved in.
  • Grow herbs. I already have rosemary growing on the patio, but I decided to buy some some seeds, soil, and pots so that I can grow the other herbs I use the most (basil, cilantro, parsley, and chives) on our windowsill in the kitchen. I’m really excited to stop buying huge bags of herbs from the grocery store and having more than half of it go bad before I can finish using it all. Seriously, tell me who actually uses a whole bunch of cilantro before it starts rotting? :)

What are you up to for July?

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