6 Surprising Costs of Being Active Online

I love the Internet. It’s helped me meet awesome friends and helped me start my business when I was laid off last year. But one thing that has surprised me in a negative way about the Internet is the secret cost of being active on it!

Even though I make my living online, here are a few things that have directly lead to increased costs in my life that surprised me:

  1. Hosting costs and URLs. I spend about $15 per month in hosting costs and about $60 per year in URLs for maintaining my online spaces. Now, these are very low operating costs for what I get out of them, but still those are bills I never had 10 years ago!
  2. Back pain expenses for chiropractor and physical therapy. This is my fault, but I spend a lot of time on the computer. Poor posture or even good posture with long hours leads to lower back strain and upper back discomfort, for which I go to a chiropractor and sometimes physical therapy for. That costs $40 a pop, which happens once a month even though I wish it happened more.
  3. Internet. We’d have an internet bill either way, but working online a lot means I will never go without home internet. That costs $55 per month, or more when Verizon jacks the cost up without notice.
  4. Social media management. I also spend $10 per month on BufferApp to help me corral my social media profiles. It’s not a life-or-death expense, but social networking is incredibly important. BufferApp makes it easier to schedule updates and share other people’s updates, which in turns leaves more time to work.
  5. Online banking. I do a lot of billing through PayPal, which takes a fee of each transaction, and my online bank charges $1 per month to add the capability to take photos of checks to deposit them into a business account. These small fees add up!
  6. Online storage. I also recently upgraded my Google Drive at a cost of $1.99 per month to store tons of data and photos that were weighing down our computer. Costly!

All of these things are products and services that didn’t exist in my mind 10 years ago! It’s funny how awesome it is to embrace technology and then look back at where you were before… though I wouldn’t mind seeing a glimpse of what my wallet looked like back then without all of these expenses!

Do you spend a lot of money being active online? Where do your expenses come from?

Watch Out for These Hidden Winter Expenses

Can you even believe that it’s already fall?

I know this doesn’t come as a surprise to anybody but the older I get, the faster time passes, and as cliche as it is, I feel as if it was just February. 

I remember so clearly the anticipation of leaving my contract and my birthday and going on a extended trip to Europe. 

I remember launching my other site, Unsettle, back in January and it’s now almost the fourth quarter of the year. 

I’ll stop reminiscing to say that since fall has happened upon us rather unexpectedly, I think we should open up a conversation about winter. 

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I can say without a doubt that we tend to spend more money in the winter months. This wasn’t something that I was always aware of but our spending goes way up in the cold months for a few different reasons.

Heat and Electricity

We live in a climate that experiences an honest-to-God winter so we spend substantially more on heat and lights (since it gets darker earlier) that our summer months. I also use my dryer and oven more since my outdoor clothesline and BBQ are not available for usage when it’s, you know, snowing. This is an expense we have always budgeted for year-round, so I don’t really notice this expense but not everyone does.

Eating Out

If I’m being honest we eat out a lot more in the winter. It’s Friday, and cold, and pitch black at 5pm, I want to be home in my pj’s watching hockey as soon as possible, pizza it is! Where, in the summer I have way more energy and look forward to hanging out on the deck while we cook some burgers on the grill and don’t care that we don’t sit down to eat our meal until 8pm. Eating out wins more times than not in winter.

Healthcare

We are generally a healthy family. We rarely get sick but this year our family was nailed with illness like I’ve never experienced. The mother of all cold viruses attacked us for almost three months and it was awful. I’m eternally grateful that we have universal healthcare in Canada so I talk very loosely about healthcare expenses around my American cohorts, but my husband and I spent an easy $100 on additional medication costs this year. Advil, cough medication, antibiotics, sinus medication, dehumidifiers, I don’t think I spent $100 in the five previous years on these types of expenses. I felt like I would get my paycheque and head right to the pharmacist with it. While we’re mostly illness free, for now, it’s been an expensive three months.

Clothing

In the summer my footwear of choice is a $2 pair of flip flops. Obviously this won’t do in the winter. If you’ve ever experienced winter for any length of time you know you need good boots, the $20 ones from WalMart will not come close to cutting it. Despite living in this climate almost my entire life, it’s been a long time since I owned proper winter boots (the ones you can walk through wet, gross slushy snow after a storm and have dry warm feet and not care what they look like, aka not cute leather boots you spent a mint on). After an awful winter last year, I vowed to save my toes and protect them. I found great pair 40% off and still paid $79.99 for them. Since using them in the snow I’m very happy with my decision but hated dropping the $91.99 on them (yes living with 15% sales tax sucks too).

I really do enjoy living in a four-season climate but am looking forward to the warmer, less expensive months that’s for sure. Do you find you spend more money in the winter?

Financial Benefits of Apartment Living

This is a post by Sarah Greesonbach

My husband and I have rented for years and we plan to rent for a few years more. Besides the fact that we don’t know how long we’re interested in living where we are now, we aren’t in a financial place to buy. It’s hard enough keeping our savings account going strong, let alone saving ten to twenty thousand dollars for a down payment!

While I know this means we “throw away money each month” instead of “investing in a long-term asset,” this is the right solution for us right now and it is saving us money in the short term. Here’s just a few of the financial benefits of apartment living that have us happy to live where we do:

  • I rarely drive. Since I work from home and our apartment is located in a mini-downtown type area, I rarely drive. Most months, I drive to church on Sundays and to a social event on Tuesdays, and that’s about it. If we were to buy a house, our price range would put us much farther from my friends and grocery stores, so I would drive a lot more. That would lead to spending more on gas, getting more frequent oil changes, and causing more wear and tear on our car.
  • When things break, we’re not out $500. This is a tried and true reason to rent. When the heat goes out at 9pm, or the toilet overflows with no obvious cause, my husband and I are calling emergency maintenance for free, not plumbers or HVAC companies on overtime. Ideally if you own a house you have a savings account just for these kinds of things, but it’s been a relief to not have to fund a new microwave or dishwasher in the apartments where those items have broken.
  • We don’t spend seasonal outdoor money. Home owners have all kinds of seasonal costs, from mowing and raking (and you need a lawn mower and a rake and time to do it) to salting and shoveling. In our apartment, we have covered parking for our cars and no outdoor space to maintain. This also means we don’t have to worry about seasonal decorations like Christmas lights or pumpkins (though we do get a few pumpkins for the house each year), or mulch and gravel for making the outdoors pretty in the spring and summer.

Those are just three things that come to mind immediately, but I am sure there are more. And that’s why we’re going to continue renting for a few more years until we find our forever home.

Do you rent? Do you love it? At what point are the costs that come with home ownership worth it?