Avoiding The Poor Man’s Tax

What is the poor man’s tax you ask?  Why, it is the lottery, powerball, or really any form of gambling whether that be at the casino or race track.  Okay, so the title might be a bit misleading.  Maybe it should read, “Avoiding The Mathematically Challenged Person’s Tax”.  At least that appears to be the conclusion that this writer over at BadMoneyAdvice.com came to in his article.

The simple answer to the question, why am I calling it a tax, is that a “player” is going to lose money.  Period.

How bad are your odds against you?  Let’s consider Power Ball for a second.  Each $2 ticket that you buy has a 96.9% of winning you jack.  nada. zippo.  Do you want a guaruantee of winning $4?  Then you’d have to buy 35 tickets. +$4-$70=-$66.  You can see a more detailed analysis over at Business Insider.  “But that is just PowerBall”, you say.  “I am a master at playing _______!”.  While I could look up the odds of each form of gambling, let me make a blanket statement.  If the odds were in your favor, the establishment wouldn’t be profitable and wouldn’t exist.  It’s doors would shut and you’d no longer be able to use your prowess to make easy money.  The fact is that the doors are open because they make money.

The best way to save money is to not play at all.

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So you’re feeling bored and want something to do.  How about a nice game of chess.

A New Roof

Ordinarily, I advocate a “Do it Yourself” mentality but when it came time to reroof our house I went straight to the pros.

Roof - Before & After

While roofing a house isn’t particularly difficult, the job does come with several downfalls for your average DIYer.

  1. It is a time sensitive task
  2. It involves heights
  3. If done properly, you won’t need the specialized tools for another 15-30 years
  4. It is physically demanding

I love rock climbing so you would think that #2 wouldn’t be a big issue for me, however with rock climbing I absolutely trust my belayer and safety gear.  I’m not overly fond of ladders and steeply pitched roofs.

With that said, there are a few things you can do to save money when it comes time to reroof your abode.

Lay New Shingles Over the Old

Depending upon your local building codes, it may be permissible to put new shingles down over your existing roof.  Usually the limit is 2 layers of shingles and then you have to tear off and start fresh.  Our house only had one layer of asphalt shingles on it, so it was an option for us.  We chose to pay the extra money and have the crew tear off the existing shingles so we could make repairs to the sheathing (we suspected rot damage and there was).

There are some caveats with putting new shingles over the old ones.  Mainly, your new roof won’t last as long.  The tear off cost us an extra $1900 and took a crew of 10 the entire morning, approximately 60 man hours.

Avoid Luxury or Designer Shingles

We did some research on shingles and chose a basic architectural shingle, Certainteed’s Landmark line.  The architectural shingle is a step above the three tab in both design and lifespan but is also cheaper than the similarly performing designer and luxury lines.  If your goal is to mimic slate or cedar, don’t waste your money on a simulacrum.  You will know it’s fake and so will anyone else that looks at your roof.

Get At Least Three Estimates

I love using Yelp to get reviews for local businesses, but at least where I live Yelp only truly covers restaurants.  So instead of getting referrals from a website I turn to my neighbors, friends, and Shae’s coworkers.  After we had four recommended roofers we had each of them come out and give us an estimate.  It isn’t advisable to go with the cheapest bid on any job.  The trend that I noticed was that all of the roofers used very similar or exactly the same building materials.  The difference in price was going to determine the skill of the labor.  A properly installed “cheap” roof will last much longer than an improperly installed “expensive” roof.

You can also try out AngiesList.com for recommendations but it does cost money to join (around $14/year).

Consider a Metal Roof

Metal roofs last *forever* and they don’t sound like an old barn when it rains outside.  We thought a long time about getting a metal roof but ultimately decided against it because aesthetically it would not have fit our house.  A metal roof will likely cost you more upfront, but you’ll be watching your neighbors reroof while you sit under your *zero* maintenance investment.

Total Cost: $14,325

Roofing: $11,650

  • Tear off and disposal: $1900
  • Replacing Rotten Sheathing: $350
  • Ice & Water shield around chimney, between dormers, in valleys, and on eaves: $400
  • Flashing along all walls and dormers and wherever siding is removed to properly flash: $300
  • Shingles, vents, pipe flashings, synthetic felt underlayment: $8,700

Siding: $2,675

Removed all siding and accessories where roof meets wall.  Installed necessary flashing to insure walls are sealed after new roof is installed.  Install new siding to best match existing where siding will be short of roof lines.

To get a better idea of what that last sentence means take a look at these two close up before and after pictures.  The problem area is circled in red.

siding short of roofline siding meets roofline