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In my Ottawa neighbourhood, many houses have two-car garages that are too full of stuff to accommodate a vehicle. I know this because these families have their cars parked in the driveway, even on the cold and snowy nights we’ve seen a lot of this winter.

It’s your house, and you have the right to do whatever you want with it. But if you can’t park your car in your garage on the foulest winter nights, then you have too much junk.

Downsizing, decluttering, tidying – whatever term you use, it’s now a significant enough trend to merit a show on Netflix. Some people feel nagged and scolded by the attention being given to streamlining our lives, but there’s a practical aspect, too. Less junk means more useful space in your home.

Robb Engen of the Boomer & Echo blog recently mused on how symbolic garages are in decluttering. “We’ve been in our house for eight years, and I’m proud to say we can still park our vehicles in the garage, and we’ve kept our basement from becoming a storage unit,” he wrote.

A car parked in the garage during winter is safer to drive because the windows are clear of frost and snow, plus the heater warms up faster and there’s less strain on your battery. Also, it’s a lot easier to clear your driveway of snow without having a car in the way. On the negative side, salty slush stuck to the underside of your car may melt in your garage if it’s much warmer than outside, which can increase the risk of rust. Undercoating and regular washes can help there.

Everyone has their own timetable for addressing accumulated junk in their lives. If you can’t fit your car in your garage the next time there’s an overnight winter storm, that’s a sign it’s time to get going.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

Bored boomers, Round Two

Tips to help prevent baby boomers heading into retirement from becoming “a casualty of an off-the-cliff leap from labour-to-leisure, vocation-to-vacation.” This item was included in a newsletter last week, but the link was accidentally left out. Here is the full link again:

Nineteen things people get wrong about RRSPs

A financial planner addresses some of the misconceptions people have about registered retirement savings plans. Myth Number Two: RRSPs aren’t worth it, since you need to pay tax on withdrawals.

The case for – and against – RRSP loans

How to decide if it’s a good idea to borrow money to make a contribution to you registered retirement savings plan.

Best and worst housing markets for singles

Three cities in Western Canada make the list of the most affordable markets for singles, as do a pair of cities in Eastern Canada. I don’t have to tell you what the worst cities for single home buyers are, do I?

Best deals on video games

Video games can cost $80 and more. Here are some websites where you can get discounts and deals on games.

Today’s financial tool

You’ve probably heard advice to “pay yourself first,” because it’s a foundation of personal finance. Here’s a calculator that shows how much you can save by saving or investing a percentage of your salary every month.

Ask Rob

Q: In light of all the hacking scandals we read about, is an online or mobile app for a discount brokerage safe to use?

A: I use a wide variety of online investing platforms and have no concerns about this. Manage your passwords properly to keep your data safe, avoid scam e-mails and texts and always deal with an investment firm that offers a security guarantee whereby any losses you sustain as a result of fraud will be covered.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

What I’ve been writing about

  • The retirement issue no one talks about: the high cost of long-term care
  • The brief, shining moment of rising rates for savers and conservative investors is over
  • 2019 ETF Buyer’s Guide: Best bond funds (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

More Carrick and money coverage

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