Great neighbors are worth their weight in gold. While all of us are likely to be stuck with a jerk for a neighbor at some time during our lives, the number of decent neighbors will probably far outweigh the jerks. If you find yourself fortunate enough to have good neighbors, you can save a lot of money over the years. Here are some ways that great neighbors can help your finances. (Just be sure you reciprocate when your neighbors help you out. No one likes the neighbor who takes and takes but never gives any assistance in return. Don’t be that guy.)
Free labor: You can call on great neighbors when you need help moving furniture, bringing home a large item, taking down a tree, shoveling snow, or doing any other heavy labor task. If it’s a long task, be sure to offer some food to keep the crew going.
Barter/Special skills: If you have neighbors with special skills, they may be able to help you out from time to time and you can offer your talents in return. Maybe you live next door to a contractor who helps you install your new flooring. Or maybe your neighbor is a graphic designer who helps you design a web site for your small business. If they are willing to help you for free or a reduced rate, you can really save. Just be sure you offer up any skills you might have if the need arises. If you’re a great cook, offer to make a cake for a child’s birthday. Or, if you can fix a computer, help your neighbor with a virus infection.
Security: Neighbors that know each other and watch out for each other are some of the best security systems available. If you have someone nearby who knows your movements and schedule and can tell when something is awry, it can help deter or stop a robbery. This is why Community Watch programs are effective. Neighbors that will pick up your papers and mail, park a spare car in your driveway, and watch your house while you’re away can keep your house from being burglarized.
Hand-me-downs/freebies: If your neighbors have kids that are a little older than yours, you might benefit from some hand me down clothes or toys. Conversely, you might be able to pass some of your things down to your neighbors’ younger kids. Neighbors can also be good sources of freebies. If your neighbor knows you’re an avid reader, for example, and he cleans out his book collection, you might be given some freebies.
Emergency assistance: Nothing is better than a great neighbor when you need a lift to the doctor because you cut yourself, or when you need someone to take care of your kids because your spouse was in an accident and your family can’t get to you for a couple of hours. Emergencies happen and having a great neighbor to call on for help can save the day. Not only do great neighbors provide peace of mind, they can save you from calling a cab or paying for emergency childcare.
Pet sitting: A great neighbor can watch your pets for a few days when you’re away. This can save you from paying for a kennel and ensure that your pets are safe and keep up with their normal routine.
Of course the most obvious benefit to having good neighbors is their friendship. Everything else is just a bonus. If you don’t know your neighbors, this is a great time of year to go and introduce yourself. Take some cookies or a bottle of wine to their house and work on getting to know them. You might find that you make some new friends and end up saving some money in the process.