Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Land Rich Cash Poor TOOLS

Well I’ve survived a year as a new homeowner.  New home ownership comes with dreams of making the house yours.  Yup you can paint the walls blue if you want (I did).  Unfortunately it also comes with responsibilities since you can no longer call the landlord to fix the plumbing. 

Many new homeowners, like ourselves, just put down a big chunk of savings to get into the house.  That means less money available to fix, change or update.  So I thought I’d put together a series of posts of cost-saving ideas. 

Ok once you’ve finally moved out of your rental and into your new home.  You look out the window and notice the lawn needs trimming or the faucet is leaking and you need to tighten it down.  You suddenly realize YOU HAVE NO TOOLS.  Well some of you diehards probably have tools.  But as a renter why would you own a lawn mower or a plumbers wrench.

Your first most costly option is to hop on down to your local Home depot (or despot as we call it) and open your wallet.  That may be a fine option for some things.  We immediately ran out and bought a nice cordless drill.  But for some jobs it might be better to consider used tools or the less exciting, but practical and long-lived corded power tools.

Where do you get used tools?   There are a couple of options here.  There is always craigslist (this will be a recurring theme) or freecycle and that may be great if someone is selling/giving away what you want.  But unless you are a 2 cycle engine master, it might be hard to tell if the lawnmower you bought is going to work.  Another idea is to go to a shop that repairs tools.  Often they sell used tools they have repaired.  The upside to this is that if it breaks often they will fix it at no or low cost.  Also often tool rental businesses will sell used equiptment.

And what about those tools you are only going to use once.  You may need a jackhammer for a project, but do you really need to own one.  Of course if you have a neighbor/friend/relative who is a contractor you may be able to borrow, but not everyone is so blessed.  Here is where I really discovered a gem.  Many communities have what is called a tool lending library. Oftentimes all you need is a library card. Here are two I found in my community.  One in Berkeley (unfortunately you must live in Berkeley) and one in Oakland which even offers classes too.

If you don’t have a tool lending library in your area, you can always rent tools.  This is still a good option.  Contractors do this all the time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This is how we roll in da Hood

First a little explanation of our hood.  We live in Richmond, CA.  If you were to google Richmond, you might discover that it is one of the most dangerous cities in America.  What that statistic won't tell you is how diverse the neighborhoods are.  If you were to look at a map you might think that in the land grab Richmond got last draft pick with isolated pockets of land here and there, some ghetto, some farmland, some fancy waterfront and some regular neighborhoods.

When we bought our house last year we moved from the "safe" town of El Cerrito to "scary" Richmond.  Nevermind that I could almost throw a stone at El Cerrito town hall, pizza delivery is no longer an option. Thankfully I love to cook and our new digs have a fabulous kitchen.

So it was with great joy and irony that Mr. Fiberpuppy discovered this meat tenderizer.   He likes to say it sums up Richmond's culinary style.