Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Making Your Home Pay Its Way

Go ahead, point and laugh! I'm about to talk about people who are paying off homes with extra space.

Far and away, most people's biggest expense is their accommodation. The rent or mortgage tends to take up anywhere from a quarter to a half of people's income.

This is the single biggest expense for most people, but when people try to save money, they start with the grocery bill. Facepalm. But I get it. I really do. They think there's nothing that they can do to affect the housing cost, and so they ignore it and move on to the grocery bill. But actually, many people can change how deeply their roof eats into their money.

The absolute best way to deal with it is to rent/buy a smaller place, or in a less-awesome location. This is a big undertaking, especially if you are already paying off a mortgage, but if money is a serious subject for you right now then it is worth sitting down and taking a fresh look at the pros & cons of moving. Remember to consider your transport, moving and utility costs. They hurt, but for some people it will still be well worthwhile.

If you're ordinary and a move is not in the cards, then think about the place that you already have. How can it work for you instead of just draining you? Here are a few ideas from people I've known.

1. Take in a lodger. This means hosting a working person in a spare bedroom, and they contribute to the rent. Some people are horrified by the idea of an outsider becoming a family member, but I've known three families in this situation and they were pleased with the arrangement. They were able to choose the kind of person that would fit in with their lives.
2. Split off part of your house. Do you have an insulated garage, do you have a finished basement? Could you turn the outdoor laundry into a shower room? One family I know only needed to lock their master bedroom door in order to rent it out with its own ensuite bathroom. They set up a small hotplate, microwave and fridge in one corner, and the renter could use the sliding garden door as their private entry. The tenant then kept to themselves. For the family it was only a small compromise to move the parents into the spare bedroom - their computer simply moved into another corner of the house. The extra income was well worth the reshuffle and once the loan has gotten smaller they'll be able to claim that space back for themselves.
3. Host exchange students. This actually pays rather well if you're with a good agency. I know a lady who hosted foreign high school students as her day job. She adores being a mum, too, and you know what they say, if you love your job you'll never work a day in your life.
4. Rent out the garage for storage, or if you're in a city area, rent out your driveway to a city worker. Parking your own car on the lawn might kill a patch of your grass, but money in your pocket might be nice. There are even people who rent out a chunk of their backyard to people wanting to grow tomatoes, or garden sheds to people who need storage space.
5. Grow produce. Even a sunny windowsill in an apartment can host lettuce (and what's more, they won't be overrun with weeds). Even if it only saves you a fiver, that's still a fiver in your pocket. If you've never grown anything, start with already-potted herbs like basil and mint. If you have outdoor space, easy plants include zucchinis, squashes, melons and pumpkins - all they need is plenty of space and water.
6. Let out your living room! This one isn't for everyone. It's best suited to people without precious & expensive things in their living space, who also enjoy meeting new people. But it's rather amazing to me that people will happily hand you money to sleep on your sofa and disappear the next morning. Some people host tents and campers in the backyard. (In fact, I went much further than this, but I'll detail that in another post.)

Got more suggestions for using your home as an income spinner? Tell us your ideas!