Do tankless water heaters save money?

drops of water

I’mma keep this short today: NO.  A tankless water heater will cost about $1,700 over ten years versus a conventional one.  Stick with what works brothers and sisters.

While tankless water heaters are more efficient, they don’t save money because the actual units cost a lot more money, plus then they require more expensive installations. Consumer reports estimates that it would take more than 20 years to break even on a tankless water heater, if it even lasted that long.

So I’m looking at the following scenario: you need to replace you water heater, and you decide to go with a conventional tank water heater rather than a tankless one.

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Switching from Macbook to Chromebook for savings


I’d put money on the “fact” that 10 years from now, most everyone will be using a computer that operates mostly on the cloud.  So why not go ahead and make the switch now?

Using a cloud based computer like a Chromebook saves about $1,800 every 10 years versus using a baseline Macbook Pro.  Sure, there are a few little bumps for early adopters, but there are also some nice benefits too (not worrying about backups for example), and things will continue to get better.

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Spend good: a quiz to help you prioritize

do it good


Sometimes this blog might come off as a little preachy, but that’s not really the intention.  I try not to be a preachy fellow except occasionally for matters that affect me, my loved ones, and/or my community.  That means usually, whatever you want to do with your own time and money is none of my business!  This blog is meant more as a nonpartisan source of ROI information 🙂

When I write about saving money by, say, never going to the movies again, the point isn’t that everyone should stop going to the movies.  Rather, the point is that going to the movies should be a deliberate decision.  Each person has unique preferences, so the value of a trip to the movies will be different for everyone.

That is what this post is all about: doing it good, aka, squeezing every last drop of value out of life.  You’ve got a fixed amount of time and money.  Make it count; spend like you mean it.  Spend well (spend good).

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The silver screen blues

Intro (spoiler alert):

Going to the movies is an unrivaled experience in a lot of ways, but it also costs a pretty penny.  How much would you save if you stopped going to the movie theater and watched them at home instead?  Answer: about $740 over ten years!

So I’ll admit that this post was originally just more of an excuse to share some movie recommendations and hear back about some of your favorites as well, but the savings actually warranted a little discussion of their own. So without further ado, our main feature…

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Less is more: spending less vs. earning more

green and yellow leaves
less is more, keep it simple

A good friend of mine loves to admonish people that “less is always more,” which is sort of funny coming from a guy who lives very large.  I mean, this is a guy that used to smoke a half pack of cigarettes every day and still managed to walk on to the top college swimming team in the country.  This is a guy that used to run 6 miles home from the bars on a whim.  Probably the loudest most self-assured dude in the room.  All that being said, however, I love the guy like a brother, and I must admit he definitely has some style.  And if you look closely, you can see the “less is always more” philosophy playing out in more subtle ways.

Not that I need much convincing anyway; having/spending/doing less appeals to my pragmatic minimalist instincts more than the clutter and disorganization that inevitably comes with having/spending/doing more.  If you can can accomplish the same thing with half the effort, time, or money, why do it any other way?  Why do with two what you can do with one?  Why buy something extra when something you already have will work just fine?

Additionally, a “less” lifestyle approach comes with a whole lot of synergy.  For example, a smaller house is easier to clean, cheaper to furnish, likely easier to maintain and repair, and has lower utility costs.  The same could be said with economy vs. luxury cars.  They are more fuel efficient, cheaper to insure, etc.  And then there is also the fact that consuming less makes people happier.

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Save serious money on your cell phone bill

phone booth toys


I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet because it is World Cup time and I want to see more goals like this!!

van persie world cup goal
van persie world cup goal

This post is about how to save a lot of money by switching cell phone carriers.  By my estimates, the average American could work 5.6 days less each year by switching to a cheaper cell phone carrier.  We’re talking about at least an extra week of vacation every year (based on $32,000 median U.S. gross per capita income for working adults), probably more when you remove income taxes from the equation.

The idea of saving money on your cell phone really appeals to me for two reasons.  First, it requires almost no work but continues to pay dividends.  I’ve written before about focusing on recurring contractual expenses for easy budgeting, and cell phones are a great example of that (as is cable tv).

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Save money with low cost mutual funds

“I hope you don’t mind me eating off of yours” – Outkast

Investing in low cost mutual funds versus regular or actively managed funds is one of the easiest ways to save a lot of money.  I have written before about saving money the easy way by cutting back on recurring contractual expenses like bills and mortgage payments… mutual funds are no different. (Update: it turns out that you might be able to save even more money with ETFs.)

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Save like a Canadian

This article originally appeared as a guest post on Free to Pursue, a fantastic blog authored by a like-minded Canadian early retiree (left work in her mid 30’s) with much more life wisdom and perspective than yours truly.  She writes about experiencing true personal freedom and happiness and is refreshingly less fixated on the monetary framing of personal freedom than a lot of other PF bloggers (guilty!).  Like any good Canadian, she loves to Travel, and just got back from a trip to South Africa.  I especially love her posts connecting popular media to life lessons, such as “Follow The White Rabbit” and “Want To Be Happier? House Might Help.”  Go check it out… you won’t be disappointed!

lake morraine banff
lake morraine in banff, ab, canada


Who has an easier time saving money, Canadians or Americans?… Canadians!  According to median income numbers and average personal savings rates, typical Canadians save about $500 more per year than typical Americans. On its own, this probably isn’t enough reason to switch citizenship, but it will save a few years off a working career by the time of retirement.

In addition to a few less years of work, there are some other pretty fantastic benefits to living in Canada, in my humble opinion, which include things like mandatory paid time off, paid maternity leave, single-payer healthcare, greater social mobility, less inequality, better positioning to handle climate change, cheaper college, better education, more international travel, happier and more fulfilled people, stronger marriages, less jail time, and oh, did I mention more sex?  Yeah, that too.  I’ve got all the deets below.

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Other ROI’s

blue ice


ROI’s are all over the internet, so instead of recreating them all the time to fit my standard 10-year model, I’m just going to summarize a few below.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still do my own ROI’s from time to time, but by this point, I feel like I have covered a lot of ground and the remaining possibilities are either too technical or too particular to really interest me.

I’ll come back and update this page as needed when an interesting ROI catches my eye or I get a specific request, but here are a few to start out with.

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The ROI of starting a personal finance blog

home office


I’ve been blogging for about a year now, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far.  My goals starting out were to learn more about personal finance and quantify some common time and money decisions while picking up a little petty cash along the way.  I’ve succeeded with the first two goals but so far haven’t accomplished the third, that is, to make some extra money.

By my estimates, if I repeated this first year of blogging 10 times over, I’d probably lose about $25 per year of cold hard cash in the process. However, if I include all the time I’ve invested, my costs jump to an average of $1,850 per year. Do the math and it’s pretty obvious that blogging, or at least the direct financial impact of blogging, isn’t a winning proposition for me.

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