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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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    September 1, 2015
    When Should You Hire A Financial Expert?

    Navigating the worlds of personal finance, taxes, loans, and investments can be harrowing- especially if you are just starting out and have no previous experience. But, how do you know when to DIY it (thank you, Google! ), and when to actually shell out the cash for a financial adviser or other expert? Well, this guide by Dailyworth at Popsugar Finance is a great place to start:

    -Credit Repair- DIY. Many “credit repair” businesses are scams. You can repair your credit by maintaining several lines of credit, paying bills on time, and reducing debt.

    -Investments- DIY. Choose low cost index funds that mimic the market. Many places provide free asset allocation worksheets.

    -Taxes- hire a pro. Tax law is complicated and changes constantly: it’s the pro’s job to stay on top of it. A good tax person can also show you the best ways to minimize your bill.

    Photo Credit: US Army Africa 


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    August 31, 2015
    The Ultimate Wedding Freebie Guide

    My best friend is getting married next October, and she’s given me the… well, honor, of being her maid of honor! I couldn’t be more excited! I love her and her fiance, and I can’t wait to see them start their lives together. I also really love the theme and color scheme she’s picked out (Fall, country, purple and orange. Just a touch of Halloween). Now, being maid of honor means I have a front seat to all wedding planning- and the costs. And let me tell you, it is not cheap. Even though they have a fairly conservative budget, you really have to look hard for tasteful things that stay in your price range. That’s why I love this list by Stacey at the Six Dollar Family. Here are some FREE things you can claim now for your big day:

    Free Printable Wedding Planning Charts

    Printable Invitation Kits

     FREE Wedding Gown (for brides who are in the military, or who are marrying spouses in the military.)

    Free Wedding Website for you and your fiance

    I have a few tips of my own as well! My friend is using some of these, and I’m most likely going to do as many as possible when I get married:

    -Check out local Bridal shows- tickets are usually around 10 bucks. They often have tons of freebies, samples, discounts, and giveaways.

    -Save money and DIY- my best friend and I are making almost all of her wedding decorations. Paper flowers and decorated pumpkins, here we come!

    -Don’t be afraid to DIY the food as well, or have someone close to you cook! You can save thousands on catering that way. Ditto with the cake. Or, consider having a “cake only” wedding, but let guests know in advance- and don’t schedule it around dinner time.

    -Have guests take their own photos, then let them upload them to Facebook and Instagram. No photographer required.

    -Less guests= cheaper venue and catering. Pare your guest list down to only immediate family and close friends.

    -Try looking at thrift stores, department stores, or online to save on dresses. However, be wary of buying a dress online- sometimes, it’s not what it looks like in the pictures. Read reviews, and buy in advance to try it on and make sure it’s what you want- and make sure they have a forgiving return policy!

    -Let bridesmaids/groomsmen pick out their own clothes to save them money. Mismatched bridesmaid dresses all in the same color scheme often look amazing! Just make sure to preview the look before the big day.

    -National and State Parks often do not charge if you are looking for a free wedding venue, though you may have to pay a small permit fee and guests will pay any parking fees. Other free/cheap venue ideas: churches, campgrounds, city parks, or a home or backyard.

    Photo Credit: Prayitno


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    August 27, 2015
    Things You SHOULD Splurge On

    Living frugally doesn’t mean dooming yourself to a life of blandness and boredom- it just means budgeting your money wisely and knowing where everything goes. In fact, by living frugally, you are able to afford more extravagant splurges later on, rather than wondering why all your money disappears from fast food and unplanned Walmart/Target visits. I try to budget myself carefully, but I also make sure that “fun money” is a part of my budget! I set aside $50 a month to blow on random stuff- book store visits, date nights, and whatever else. Also, I decide on a splurge item that I really want each month, and build that into my budget as well. In fact, I have a board on Pinterest called “Treat Yo’Self,” full of things I don’t really need, but that I plan on buying. This month, I went on a mini shopping spree at Bath and Body Works and got myself all kinds of fancy lotions to pamper myself with. Last month, I got myself a new board game. And that’s ok! Because it was planned, and because I knew I could afford it.

    For things that you actually should splurge on, check out this post by Honey Smith at the Get Rich Slowly blog. She recommends building “fun” money into your budget too, as well as loosening the purse strings when it comes to celebrating milestones, like graduation or weddings. Here’s her list of fun things you can get for under $50 that won’t break the bank next time you feel your money burning a hole in your pocket:

    -Dinner and a movie

    -A mani/pedi- around $30, and not just for ladies!

    -A nice perfume or cologne- A splurge with some staying power. Buy some fancy perfume, break it out on special occasions.

    -A scented candle

    -A good book. Go ahead and get the hardcover, especially if it’s one you’ll want forever.

    -A video game- can keep you entertained for DAYs, and only for about $50.

    -Save for a day trip/weekend vacation.

    Photo Credit: Fing’rs 


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    August 26, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Staircase/Fireplace Combo

    Photo from Arch Daily


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    August 24, 2015
    Warning Signs That Your Budget Needs Help

    Do you feel like your paycheck disappears faster than you make it? Is all your money being used up, but you’re not quite sure why? Have you tried to budget- but it just makes you struggle more than ever? Well, then this post is for you. When I first started budgeting my income, it was really difficult to follow. I was a little too strict with myself, and it just wasn’t realistic. Like an extreme fad diet, if you don’t allow yourself any wiggle room, you will fall off the wagon fast and end up gaining more weight, or spending more than ever. Check out this post by Stacy at Six Dollar Family for help:

    -If there’s not enough money to go around, even though you have income to cover your bills, you need to check your budget.

    -If you’re not quite sure where you’re money is going, check your budget.

    -If you’re constantly worrying about your budget, you need to check it. (Budgets are supposed to make your life easier!)

    -If your accounts are negative, it’s more than past time to check it and update it.

    Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker 


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    August 20, 2015
    Where Will You Pay The Least For A Down Payment?

    I was pretty excited when I saw this article by Yahoo Homes, since it mentions my home state! Did you know that:

    Millennials are flocking to areas such as Montgomery County, Tennessee, where the average down payment is just 11 percent.”

    Woo! Way to go, Tennessee! If you’re in that area and want to take advantage of low down payments, now is the time to buy! Saving up for a down payment can be the hardest part of obtaining a home- that’s a lot of money. Here’s more info if you want to know where to go:

    In 25 counties with the lowest median home prices, the typical money put toward purchase added up to 12 percent of the price. Conversely, the counties that had the highest median prices saw down payments average 24 percent.

    Photo Credit: Kyle Simourd 


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    August 18, 2015
    20-Somethings: Have You Reached These Financial Goals?

    This post by Gretchen at Retired By 40 lists several financial accomplishments that everyone should achieve by age 30. I’ll admit, I was a little nervous before reading it. I’m 24, and I have my own financial goals that I’m working on completing. I was interested to see how I’d stack up. Once I read it, I was pleasantly surprised! Do I have all of them done? No. But I have been building up my savings, paying off debt, saving for a down payment on a home, and actively trying to bump up my credit score. Here are more of the goals:

    -Set up an emergency fund of at least $1,000- ideally, grow it to 3-6 months of expenses.

    -Automate- set up your account so it sends a chunk of your paycheck to your savings automatically. Get in the habit of paying yourself first.

    -Determine what your priorities are, and stick to them. Do you want to save for a house? Travel? Have kids? A big wedding? What items do you like to splurge on? Put aside money for these personal goals.

    -Max out your 401(K), contribute as much as possible- don’t leave money on the table!

    So, have you accomplished all of these? Some? Any?

    Photo Credit: Lindsey Child 


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    August 13, 2015
    Getting A Mortgage: How To Lock In Your Rate

    Getting the lowest mortgage rate possible should be a goal for all homebuyers. Who wants to pay more in interest than they have to? No one! That’s why, when your potential lender offers a rate, you need to lock it in as soon as possible. Sometimes, mortgage rates can change the next day, like gas prices! Check out this post by Bill Gassett at Max Real Estate Exposure for tips:

    Be sure to get pre-approved for your mortgage! Since mortgage rates change day to day, borrowers should not assume that the mortgage they qualify for today will be available tomorrow, unless they lock in the rate. It is also important not to assume that any particular rate is locked in unless they have reassurance in writing. Be sure to document any discussions you have with your mortgage broker or lender when locking a rate!

    Photo Credit: Woodley Wonder Works 


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    August 11, 2015
    How To Save Big On Your Mortgage

    Your mortgage is likely the biggest chunk of your expenses each month. Homes are expensive, plain and simple. However, mortgage interest can add tens of thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of dollars to your payments. To me, paying extra on interest is a waste of money. So how do you get around that? Simple- pay off your home faster. Check out this post by Anita at Live Like You Are Rich for a detailed guide on slashing those interest charges:

    I am willing to sacrifice $1,000 a month to have our home paid off 20 years early to save $100,213.35 in interest AND more than likely make $814,887.34 by investing in the same time frame. The banks don’t want you to know that they make LOTS AND LOTS of money in the first 12 years of 30 year loans and refinances. The first 12 years of your mortgage payment schedule is really heavily weighted in interest

    Photo Credit: Sheila Sund 


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    August 10, 2015
    Odd Job Ideas For Extra Cash

    For me, nothing is more important in a job than flexibility. I like deciding when I work, how I work, where I work, and how often. I try to live frugally and stick to a budget, so income doesn’t concern me as much. That’s why, right now, I have three part time jobs that all add up to full time hours (and full time pay). I love the flexibility I get working these odd jobs! If you are interested in a schedule that is completely up to you, or if you just want to pick up a part-time job that can work around your other job, here is a list of odd jobs that I have done, or that I have considered doing:

    -Substitute Teaching- Where I live, the only requirements to be a substitute teacher are: be 21 or over, have a high school diploma/GED, and be able to pass a drug test and background check. Some days are harder than others, but if you get a good class, you can get paid to sit and read for 8 hours. It’s pretty sweet. The best part is, you pick where you work and when you work. Don’t feel like going to work in the morning? Don’t accept a job.

    -Freelance writing/blogging- Start your own blog and try to get sponsors/advertisers, or look for other sites that are hiring writers. I absolutely love writing, and I’m extremely thankful each day that I get paid to do what I love, and that I’m able to support myself with my passion. One of the other things I love most about my job is that I decide when I want to work. Yes, articles need to be done every day, but I can do them at 3AM, or noon, or 10 at night. Or, I can take an entire day and get them done for the whole week- then not work for five days.

    -Sell your skills- Do you have training as a carpenter, handyman, plumber, babysitter, mechanic, or artist? Don’t let your work go unpaid! Start up your own business, and post ads online for your services.

    -Sell your crafts- Do you knit, crochet, paint, make beauty products, or sew? Do you only consider it a hobby? Consider opening up your own Etsy store! I have a friend who makes his entire living by selling art prints, commissions, and t-shirt designs. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that your passion won’t pay.

    -Become a driver- This is something I’ve been doing research on lately. If you have a clean car, your own car insurance, and a clean driving record, services like Uber and Lyft are always hiring drivers. Personally, I LOVE driving around, and like meeting new people. If you live in a city or populated area, you can make $20-$50 an hour. Again, you pick when you work, so it’s perfect for people looking for something part time.

    -Try getting a weekend job- I also work at a movie theater, and work 2-3 days out of the week there. I sell tickets, and I like getting the extra cash every couple of weeks. Plus, I get to see free movies! Places like theaters, grocery stores, fast food joints, and malls are always hiring part timers, and can be great for people who need a flexible schedule.

    -Check out Craigslist- There are all kinds of people out there looking for someone to do their odd jobs. However, Craigslist can be creepy, and not all the jobs are legitimate. Be extra careful, and ask lots of questions. Never go to a private residence alone. But, you never know. There are some real gems out there! I have a friend who got a job as a Haunted House actress just from looking at Craigslist, and another friend who has a full time pet sitting job.

    Working doesn’t have to be a boring, 9-5, soul crushing experience. If that’s what you like, great! If not, there are all kinds of other opportunities out there for you. All you have to do is look!

    Photo Credit: Tony Alter 


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