Life, Money

Not Frugal Enough To Shovel My Own Driveway!

Winter is here and so is the snow! If you have a driveway, it is time to start shoveling again. Whether you use a shovel or a snow blower, it can be a very time-consuming and annoying task. If you actually enjoy shoveling ALL winter, send me a note and I will let you come shovel my driveway anytime. Anyway, maybe it is because we are getting older but the thought of clearing the driveway this year just didn’t appeal to us. I am usually frugal when it comes to house chores but not frugal enough to shovel my own driveway!

Why we chose the snow removal service this year:

So this year, after lots of consideration, we decided to sell our snow blower and hire a snow removal service. Some of you may enjoy shoveling your driveway (great exercise and plenty of fresh air) or use the snow blower (I know it is just like a big toy) but for some of us it is just one more chore to the list. I don’t like spending money on task we can easily do ourselves but sometimes there are other factors to consider. Be the judge, here are the main reasons we gave up on doing it ourselves this year (or how to come up with really good excuses to spend money on something we could do ourselves):

  • More sleep – I leave for work at 7 AM which means one of us has to be out before then to clear the driveway. It is dark and cold and really early, just not our thing anymore!
  • Job has to get done even when we are not around. If it snows while you are away, everybody will know you are gone if the snow is not cleared (ie: potential thieves) . Then when you get back, the first thing you will have to do is clear your driveway! We plan to go away more often as we get older and don’t want to have to worry about it.
  • Enjoy the extra time in the evening – Sometimes the last thing you want to do when you get home is clear your driveway so you can park your car.
  • A good snow blower is not cheap.
  • Reclaim the extra space in the garage. Snow blowers take a lot of space ( I know shovels don’t)
  • Maintenance – A snow blower needs maintenance and repairs (and gas), like any other type of equipment they can break down. If it does, you have to fix it quickly so you can keep clearing your driveway.
  • Our time is valuable and the cost of the snow service is totally worth it!

We sold our snow blower online in just one hour! And got a really good price for it. We signed up for our snow removal service (with a reputable company) who happens to clear most of the driveways in our neighborhood. Got our first real snow this week-end and somebody else cleared the driveway! Because we are still frugal we didn’t pay the additional amount to have the path and steps cleared, this is something we can do at our own leisure (or can easily get the kids to do) so we didn’t feel it was worth it. Total cost for our double driveway is $400 + tax, I hope it snows a lot this year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are not sure if it is worth it for you, do the math. Add up the average number of hours you spend shoveling on any given year then multiply it by your hourly rate. Then call a snow service and find out how much they charge. Compare the two numbers. Is it really worth it for you to keep doing it yourself? (Assuming you don’t enjoy it)

What you need to do before hiring a snow removal service:

Now, if you decide to hire a snow service, do your homework. Here is a quick checklist of what you should do:

  • Obtain at least three estimates.
  • Use a contractor who has been in business for a few years and that comes recommended by friends or neighbors. We hired the service our neighbor was using last year. They were always there when needed.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau for potential complaints about the snow removal company.
  • Find out if your contractor needs any specific license from your local government and check if he meets the requirement (you can also ask them directly).
  • Make sure your contractor is insured and has proof of insurance. You want the contractor to be able to cover any cost in case damage is done to your driveway or landscape.
  • Don’t pay all at once; pay half at the beginning of the season, and the other half towards the end.
  • Pay by check or credit card so you have proof of payment.
  • Get a written contract with the contractor’s name, address and telephone number.  Your contractor should provide you with a written agreement that clearly spells out all the services:
    •  Is it fixed price or based on the amount of snowfall for the season?
    • When can you expect the snow service to clear your driveway? You want to make sure the snow is removed before you need to leave for work
    • Is there an additional fee to clear path, steps and porches? And how much?
    • Will they use sand and/or salt? Does it cost extra?
    • What is the snowfall threshold to trigger the snow removal services?
    • Is there an extra charge if the snow removal contractor has to come back the same day?
    • Any additional charges in case of severe snow storms?
    • Does the contractor charge extra for work on statutory holidays?
    • Are there any other potential additional charges?
    • Can you terminate the agreement if you need to?

Maybe our next move should be to install a heated driveway:) May be worth it to look into it.

How about you readers,  snow blower or snow removal service? Any additional tips on what you should do before hiring a snow removal service?

20 thoughts on “Not Frugal Enough To Shovel My Own Driveway!

  1. I think this is the first step to “Hey, maybe we should just move to a condo in Florida” Ha ha, just kidding (sort of). Because I totally get where you’re coming from. Eventually a lot of household maintenance tasks get less appealing and you wonder what the point of building wealth is if you can’t spend money to free up precious time and improve your enjoyment of life. I’m trying to do this more often and it’s a challenge, frugality gets a grip on you and can be tough to shake. But I’m glad you are handing off this task and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a snowy winter for you!

  2. We have a loooong driveway and opted for buying a beater plow truck to take care of it. That way, we know we will be able to handle our own snow removal needs without calling or waiting for someone else. It can be a hastle, but it is helpful in other ways 🙂 If we didn’t have a long driveway, we would probaby hire a neighbor who plows for others!

  3. We actually manually shovel, but I totally understand your decision Caroline. Never even owned a snow blower (Chicago area for reference). It’s just one more thing to maintain as you say. I have a philosophy on this stuff. I’m not handy and don’t care to be. So I always have to pay for any skilled labor (plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc). To justify it, I commit to doing all the unskilled stuff. Mowing, raking, house cleaning, shoveling, etc. My wife helps me. Tom

  4. I don’t mind taking care of the snow. It doesn’t take too long (unless we get a bad ice storm like we had a few weeks back)…but the morning clearing DOES suck.

    I feel like mowin the lawn is going to be my bigger pet peeve. Mostly because it’s every week that it needs to be done. I may consider hiring somebody to take care of that for the season.

  5. I really like the idea of “heated driveway”. Just flip the switch, and let it melt. How nice! Just let it snow.

    I don’t own a snow blower, and feel a hassle to maintain it. So I just shovel it. Hey, I grew up in a country, did lots of labor work as a kid. Don’t enjoy it, but don’t mind doing it either The same is true for raking leaves, and cutting grass.

    1. Maybe once we don’t have to go to work in the morning and clear the driveway early, we will go back to doing it ourselves. Yes the heated driveway sounds like a great plan, I will look into it just for fun.

  6. We don’t really have snow blowers here in Vancouver (not that I’ve seen anyway). Just manually shovel. Shoveling snow can be dangerous for those with heart conditions though, so it’s good to just hire someone for something like that.

  7. Hi Caroline I live in Victoria so I haven’t had to shovel snow for a few years. Totally see the merits in hiring a snow removal company. Who wants to shovel snow at 5 in the morning.

  8. From Montreal here, so we get lots of snow 🙂

    We actually put a tent up over the driveway, so no shoveling needed there. The front walk way does need it, but that takes about 10 minutes with a shovel to get done.

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