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  • From 2001 to 2005, the average homeowner saw the value of his or her house jump by more than 50 percent.
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    March 30, 2015
    What Not To Buy At A Yard Sale

    I am so glad Spring is here! You know what that means- yard sale season. Yard sales are a great way to get stuff you need for cheap, and are also a fun activity to do on a nice Saturday. Unlike thrift stores, yard sales let you enjoy the weather, get to know your community, and let you haggle to get yourself a better deal. If you’re looking for baby stuff or furniture, there is no better place to go. However, just because something is for sale doesn’t mean you should buy it! Check out this post by JL Penner at Frugal Living Mom for things that you should never buy used, let alone at a garage sale. Most of them are common sense, but some were surprises:

    -Bicycle helmets, tires, car seats, cribs- It’s essential that you buy safety products like this new. When you buy used you don’t know if safety standards have changed or if products have been recalled.

    -Electronics- there is no guarantee that they work.

    -Baby bottles- who knows what kind of hidden bacteria they have. Always buy these new.

    -Makeup- NEVER buy used makeup!

    -Nonstick pots and pans- they simply do not last and get scratched up over the years.

    Photo Credit: Courtney Rhodes 


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    March 26, 2015
    What Will Make Your Mortgage Cost More?

    When shopping for a mortgage, getting the lowest interest rate is usually the ultimate goal after just getting approved. However, different people could be charged more, depending on how much of a “risk” the lender sees them as. So what are some of the “risk” factors that will make your mortgage costlier? Check out this post by Chris Moran at Consumerist to find out:

    * FICO scores below 740: Even a not-horrible score of 700 could add .75% to your rate. The low end of the range (620-639) could add a full 3%.

    * 40-year loans: Will add .125% to your interest rate.

    * Investment properties: Be prepared to add at least 1.75%.

    * Condominiums: Add up to .75%.

    Photo Credit: 401 K 2012 


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    March 23, 2015
    Saving Money By Living Without

    The fastest way to save money is, of course, to just not spend it. However, that is almost always easier said than done. It’s almost impossible to give up old spending habits unless you are completely focused on saving. You have to make lists, stick to budgets, and resist impulse buys. It’s hard! One way to cut back is by saving at the grocery store. Check out this post by Heather Clarke at Queen Bee Coupons for tips:

    -Build a weekly menu, buy what is on sale

    -Have a stockpile of staples- pasta, canned veggies, rice, bread, etc. Buy these on sale or with coupons.

    -Know that when you say no to some things (overpriced junk food), you can say yes to other things. Maybe save for a family vacation?

    Photo Credit: Bruce Turner 


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    March 20, 2015
    Friday Fun Video: Cool Facts About Money + Bitcoin
    http://www.dailymotion.com/videox2ipb0z

    A must watch for anyone interested in finance


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    March 19, 2015
    Easy Ways To Bump Up Your Credit

    My credit score is okay. I don’t really have any complaints, because I think it falls into the “average” category. I pay all my bills on time, but I do have quite a bit of student loan debt. Anyway, one of my goals this year was to get my score above a certain number (okay, the goal is 700), so I’m always looking for tips on ways to push it up even a point or two. Having good credit is crucial when applying for a mortgage, or any other loan. Here are some tips by Cathy at Fabulessly Frugal:

    -Raise awareness- use a free credit score checker online (like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame) every few months. Knowing what you have to work with is the first step, and will help you see changes.

    -Keep a low, but active credit card balance. Have a low limit (below $1,000— the lower, the better), and spend about $50-$100 a month on it. Pay it off on time, of course.

    -Pull your free credit report once a year from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Seeing what has affected your score will help you make positive changes in the future!

    Photo Credit: Morgan 


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    March 18, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Amazing Modern Windows

    Photo from Aidan Gray Home


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    March 16, 2015
    Where’s My Refund? How To Check Your Status With The IRS

    Last year, I got enough money back from my tax refund to go on a trip to Las Vegas with my mom for a few days. I had a total blast! It was something I’d never done before and the experience was incredible- I even saw Cirque du Soleil and won $15 from a slot machine :) Yes, I know, I write for a finance site, and there are definitely more responsible ways to use your refund (pay down debt, put into retirement, start an emergency fund, make an extra mortgage payment- the possibilities are endless), but I believe that spending money on new experiences is an investment. I regret nothing and am looking forward to tax season this year- which will be spent on smarter things. :) I’m not counting on getting as much back this year, but even a little bit helps!

    So, you’ve filed your taxes but are just waiting to hear back. How do you know when you’ll get your refund? Check out this article by Lisa Aberle at Get Rich Slowly for more:

    -Considering the complicated tax code, I think it is amazing that this tool is called, quite simply,”Where’s my refund?” Anyway, you will need to provide your social security number, filing status, and exact — please note“exact” — refund amount in order for your request to be processed.

    You can even use the official smartphone app of the IRS (IRS2Go) to check the status of your refund.

    Photo Credit: Tax Credits 


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    March 12, 2015
    Little Known Tax Deductions

    Most people know the basics: getting married, having kids, charity donations, and business expenses are all things that will help you big time come tax season. However, there are tons of deductions out there that people aren’t claiming. Getting a tax professional to help you should cover most of them, but for those of us doing our taxes ourselves, this post at Turbo Tax will help a lot! Here are some things that most people aren’t aware that they can deduct:

    -Sales tax for large purchases

    -Health insurance premiums

    -Tax savings for teachers buying classroom items

    -Donating charitable gifts

    -Paying the babysitter

    -Self employed social security

    Photo Credit: surlygirl 


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    March 10, 2015
    How To Live Below Your Means…And Stay There.

    It happens to all of us, whether you make minimum wage, or six figures. When you start making more money, you spend it on more things. Got a raise? Why not move into a bigger place, since you can afford it? You buy a more expensive car, even though your other one worked just fine. New clothes, new furniture, expensive restaurants. This article by Jacqueline Curtis at Money Crashers calls it “lifestyle inflation,” and I can’t think of a more perfect phrase to describe it. But, there are ways to avoid the temptation and live below your means. Here are some tips:

    -Be conscious of lifestyle inflation, have it in your mind and you will avoid it.

    -Calculate real changes to budget

    -Value experiences over things

    -Hang out with friends with similar budgets- avoid “keeping up with the Joneses”

    -Transfer the excess, let it grow

    -Focus on savings goals and avoid debt.

    Photo Credit: Prayitno 


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    March 9, 2015
    Accounts That Everyone Should Have

    So, hopefully everyone reading this knows that you should have a checking and a savings account. But, there are so many other types of accounts out there that I believe everyone should be taking advantage of. These accounts will help you keep your money organized, and help you maximize your savings while minimizing your spending. Check out this post by Matthew Amster-Burton at Mint.com for accounts that you need:

    -A checking account for paying bills- deposit your paycheck and other income here.

    -A checking account for daily spending- having two accounts had an immediate positive effect on my family’s finances. We went from worrying about why the checking account was always empty to knowing exactly how much we could spend without endangering our ability to pay upcoming bills.

    -An emergency fund- should be an FDIC insured savings account

    -A retirement account- IRA or 401k.

    -For self-employed people- a quarterly tax account.

    Photo Credit: Rikkis Refuge Other 


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