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Home and Hearth

-When home-hunting, pick the smallest amount of space in which you are comfortable. This will limit the amount of stuff you can accumulate, and take far less of your time and resources to furnish, clean, maintain, insure and pay for.

-A 30-year mortgage of $100,000 at 8% will end up costing you $164,000 in interest alone. Paying just $25 a month extra will save you $23,337 in interest, and you’ll pay off your house 42 months early. Higher pre-payments bring even more astonishing savings--$100 extra a month will save $62,456 and shorten your loan by more than 14 years.

-Be a do-it-yourselfer around the house. Go to your local library for how-to videos, books and magazines, and discover the pride of competence and the pleasure of slowing down and learning new skills instead of throwing money at problems.

-Eighty percent of the dirt in your home is brought in on shoes. Save time and cleaning expenses by starting a no-shoes policy. Keep slippers at the door for everyone to use. Then, when choosing floor coverings, find nice shades that match your local dirt and the family pet’s hair, and you’ll find yourself cleaning far less often.

-Pay dirt: Xeriscaping is low-water-use landscaping, and practicing it will save you barrels of water, money and maintenance time. In dry regions, xeriscaping can significantly increase the value and saleability of your home. Get a library book to learn how to do it yourself.

-Empty-nesters, consider renting out unused living space in your home. Extra money, reduced housework and built-in house-sitting are some of the rewards.

-Move to higher-density housing (duplex, condominium, or co-op). You will be living more lightly on the Earth in any of these choices and freeing yourself from the extra expense and time of paying for and maintaining a single-family residence.

-Start a neighborhood swap of seldom-used tools. Why should a street of 10 houses have 10 lawnmowers, 10 paint-sprayers, and 10 band saws (or 55 Disney videos, for that matter)? If you’re lucky, there may already be a tool library in your area, like the one at the Phinney Neighborhood Center in Seattle.

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