9 things your landlord won’t tell you: A rebuttal

My wife found an unflattering piece about landlords in the Huffington Post titled 9 things your landlord won’t tell you. This sorry excuse for an expose just makes accusations, without backing any of it up.

I’m a landlord. Here’s what I have to say about those nine things.

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Use your coupons!

So on Friday, I went to the local Walgreen Drug (no, I won’t misuse an apostrophe) to buy Zicam to ward off a cold. I spent $20, and they gave me a $2 coupon. I went again today, spent another $20 on similar products, and got another $2 coupon. And yesterday, Target sent us a coupon for $10 off a $100 purchase.

It seems stores are trying to lure us in. If you’re smart, that means savings.In the case of Walgreen Drug, we’ll use the coupons on non-FSA stuff. The chain isn’t exactly known for low prices on consumer staples, but if you can get $2 off with few strings attached, then it’s worth it. Especially if you have to go there anyway because it’s cold season.

In the case of Target, we made ourselves a list of things we needed and stuck to it. We bought two cans of formula instead of one (we’ll use it), and stuff like furnace filters that we’ll use eventually anyway, and tracked it as we went along. It wasn’t long at all before we had $110 worth in the cart–a bit more than we needed, but that’s OK. Everything we bought was either on sale, or cheaper at Target than wherever else we’d buy it.

We got a coupon from either Petco or Petsmart this week too. So we’ll use that to go stock up on dog food–once again, something we’re going to need eventually anyway, so there’s no harm in buying three bags if that’s what’s necessary to get the coupon to kick in.

So we saved ourselves some money at Target. And we’ll save a little at two other stores too in the near future.

It’s not a lot, but every dime counts. Especially in this economy. So if the stores near you are sending you coupons (or printing them for you at the register), use them. Be smart about it, but use them.

Time to winterize the house…

We had a day last week where we topped 80 degrees and set a record, so small wonder I never thought winter would actually get here.

But we’ve had our first good freeze and it looks like that’ll be a weekly thing from here on out (assuming we don’t get multiples every week), so it’s time to winterize the house.I learned about plastic film window insulation when I was in college and lived in a drafty old barn–it wasn’t really a barn, but it felt like one–where the inside temperature was rarely higher than 60 during the winter and space heaters were strictly prohibited. It’s best to buy the stuff at the end of the winter and save it for next winter, but if you’re like me, you always underestimate how much you need.

The tape that came with one of my kits seemed strong enough to hold a car together, while the tape that came with another kit isn’t suitable for wrapping a present, let alone holding plastic to cold aluminum window frames. I ended up using packing tape to hold part of the plastic to a window, since I ran out of good tape.

Of course when I was finished with one package, I ended up with three odd-sized pieces, none of which fit any of my windows. So I tried an experiment. Out came the packing tape and the scissors. I taped together the odd-sized sheets to make one suitable for one of the windows, then I put it in the window. It held together just fine when I hit it with the hair dryer to shrink it into place. I don’t think this method will get wife approval, but it works. I guess I can tell her that Red Green would have used duct tape.

I also changed my furnace filter. My size was sold out at all of the usual places I buy them, but I happened to find them at Big Lots for $1.79 each. They’re rated for two months instead of three and they probably don’t catch as much, but they’re definitely better than the clogged filter that was in there. I don’t know when the last time was I changed the filter. Shame on me. For $1.79 I need to be changing it every month because it’ll save me a lot more than that if I don’t do it, at least in the summer and winter months.

I also went looking, without success, for insulation pads for electrical outlets and light switches. I have some double-sized ones and other oddities that I didn’t have a good fit for. When I came home I still didn’t have a good fit. So I ended up removing the plate, taking a styrofoam meat tray, and cutting my own with a hobby knife. It’s not quite the same material commercial insulators are made from, but it has good insulating properties and it’s hard to beat the price.

Of course I’m looking for other ideas, but these three things are a good start. I installed a programmable thermostat about two years ago and it paid for itself in the first month. The basic models cost half as much now.

Addendum: After sealing the sliding glass door and two of the three largest windows in the house, last night after the programmable thermostat kicked down I noticed that the temperature in the house dropped by about a degree an hour. The temperature inside the house started at 70, and the low overnight was around 30. I know under similar conditions earlier in the week, the temperature was dropping at least two or possibly even three degrees an hour.

I think that plastic is going to pay for itself very quickly.

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