Use your home to save money

Last updated 05:00 09/02/2014

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Ten ways to turn your home into a money-maker or money-saver:

Solar heating and water tanks: Take care you don't buy a white elephant that costs you more than it earns. Many owners of solar hot water systems, for instance, have bought systems that will never pay for themselves, Government reports have found.

Borrow against your home to buy a rental: It's a strategy that has enriched many, but using the equity in the family home is not risk-free and houses do not always rise in value.

Plant a veggie patch/fruit trees: Home-grown veg costs less and tastes better. Ditto fruit. The costs of seedlings and water is modest. But every dollar not spent at the supermarket is money well saved

Take in a boarder: It brings a loss of personal privacy and freedom, but the money is tax free, up to a limit of $250 a week for each of the first two boarders. Some rent places for weekdays for people working in one town, but living in another.

Rent a room to an international student: This can be a way of making money for part of a year, without having to have someone there the whole time.

Keep that student at home: Many people part-fund their children through university. That's cheaper if you can keep them at home, which will also probably keep down their student debts.

Occasional rentals: It may cause a bit of a tax administration headache, if you declare it, but some rent rooms or driveways at events like a rugby world cup.

House-swap for holidays: Got a mate in Wellington, but live in Auckland, why not save on accommodation costs for get-aways by doing house-swaps? Some join websites where they swap houses with strangers, getting cheaper holidays.

Cohabit during a cash-crunch: Renting a place out, and temporarily moving in with a relative, or friend, can help to get over these humps by generating rental income to pay the mortgage. For example, single NZ superannuitants could cohabit, and supplement their incomes with rent.

Home office tax breaks: If you run a business from home, and use it as an office and/or storage, tax deductions can be made. Claim too much though and a tax audit may come your way

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- Sunday Star Times

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