Family life

You've got to spend save money?

Sandra reveals some wise investments that paid back in big savings

By Sandra E. Martin
You've got to spend save money?

Credit: michaelgoodin

When I was still in school, and living at home, my parents had all of their windows replaced. Their house was built in 1970 and, at that point, still had the original, aluminum-framed, single-hung windows — essentially, conductors of warm air. (Aluminum-framed windows are so energy inefficient, they aren't even available from most window manufacturers.) The house was drafty and, midwinter, you didn't have to look hard to find ice formations on the inside of the windows.
In the late '80, my parents (who don't spend a dollar lightly) decided to spend upwards of $1,000 to replace all the windows at once. The difference was immediately noticeable — the draftiness was gone, and the house was so much quieter. And if Mom and Dad were pleased with their decision at that point, they must've been downright ecstatic when they got a call from the gas company: The difference in their fuel consumption from the month prior to the new windows being installed, compared with after, was so great that the gas company assumed something was wrong with my parents' meter. Could they send someone by to check it out? Dad consented and, sure enough, there was nothing wrong with the meter — the window upgrade alone had made that much of a difference.
These days, you'd be hard-pressed to find a home with those super-inefficient '70s-style windows, but there are still many smart investments that'll save you money.
Sometimes, the savings are small, as in the case of my foundation brush. For years, I had been applying foundation with foam sponges, with the thought that I could simply throw them out when they became soiled. But a visit to "the makeup store," as Bronwyn and Isobel call it, taught me that make-up sponges soak up foundation, and that had been causing me to go through bottles of the stuff way faster than I needed to. Translation: I'd been spending more on makeup than I had to. So I bit the bullet, and shelled out more than my accustomed $4.99 (the cost of an econo pack of sponge wedges) for a decent foundation brush. That was more than four months ago — and I'm not even a third of the way through the bottle of foundation I bought the same day.
Want an example of juicier savings? According to Direct Energy you have an old gas furnace, switching to a new, energy-efficient model can save you more than $500 a year in gas, and nearly $350 a year in electricity. Plus, you may qualify for government rebates. 

Photo by michaelgoodin via Flickr
See? Spending money can save you money. But you probably already knew that — so share your favourite example of an investment, small or large, that helped you hang on to your hard-earned cash.

This article was originally published on Nov 14, 2011

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