How to Remove Snow and Save
I grew up in New Hampshire's White Mountains, went to college in upstate New York, and am currently living in Philadelphia, which has recently been hit with an increasingly ridiculous series of winter storms. In short: I know snow. And I also know that if you get hit by several storms, removing that snow can get expensive mighty fast. Whatever your situation, here are some suggestions for how to save money on snow removal.
DIY...If the Numbers Add Up
Removing snow yourself; whether by shovel, snow blower, plow, or another method; is often the cheapest way to clear out your driveway or sidewalk. However, in many situations — such as if you have a long driveway but live in an area where extensive snowfall is rare — it's going to be more cost-effective to hire someone to plow instead of buying a snowblower or plow attachment for yourself. If you are thinking of purchasing a plow or snow blower and are trying to figure out how much you'll save over hiring someone, make sure to include the value the time it'll take you to remove the snow in your calculations. (See also: That Age-Old Conundrum: Time vs. Money)
Purchase Double-Duty Tools
Whenever possible, purchase snow-removal tools that have other uses. Growing up, my family shoveled snow with the same metal shovels we used in the garden. Our snow blower was an attachment for our ride-on lawnmower. Even your bag of ice-melt can do double-duty: If you purchase rock salt instead of chemical ice melters, you can use the leftovers to make ice cream come summer (plus rock salt won't leave bright-blue stains on your walkway like some other ice-melts do).
Barter for Snow-Removal Services
Whether you're hiring the shovel-wielding kid next door or the guy with a pickup truck who plows practically every driveway in town, ask if you can barter goods or services in exchange for a clean driveway or sidewalk.
Offer Yourself for Hire
You're certainly saving money if you're making money. Instead of being on the hiring side of the snow-removal equation, offer up your shoveling, snow-blowing, or plowing services (if you have the equipment) to make some extra cash. And if you are driving around town to plow, check out these tips from Linsey on creating homemade windshield de-icer.
In Philadelphia, homeowners and renters face fines if they do not remove snow from the walkways in front of their residences within six hours after the snow has stopped. In New York City, residents have just four hours after snowfall to clean their sidewalks before risking fines ranging from $100 to $350. Make sure you know what, if any, snow-removal codes affect your area.
Do you have any tips for frugal snow removal? Share them in the comments.