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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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    October 29, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Cheap, Yet Awesome, Halloween Decor!

    Photo from Nifty and Thriving


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    October 28, 2014
    Spooky Halloween Saving Tips!

    Halloween is one of the biggest holidays of the year- Americans spend 7.4 billion on Halloween each year. From costumes to candy to decorations to alcohol and party supplies- it can all add up. And with Halloween fast approaching, some of us procrastinators are probably about to head out to the stores to drop a few hundred bucks on last minute costumes and 10 pound bags of candy. But before you do that, read this article by Jacqueline Curtis at the Money Crashers blog. It has lots of DIY décor ideas, as well as other Halloween savings tips:

    -Buy pumpkins cheap- grocery stores are usually cheaper than pumpkin patches

    -Use items you already have for costumes

    -Use candy alternatives- sticker sheets and small toys are much cheaper

    -Think outside the big box store and get crafty – and you’ll find that Halloween doesn’t have to break the bank.

    Photo Credit: Jeff Kramer 


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    October 27, 2014
    The Secret To A Scary Good Credit Score

    If you’re trying to buy a house, an extremely important part is having a good credit score. If you don’t pay your bills on time, are up to your ears in debt, and don’t follow through on your financial commitments, no lender is going to want to back you. However, even if you do have bad credit, not all is lost. There are plenty of programs out there designed to help out buyers with financial woes, as well as government housing options. Of course, getting your credit score fixed is way more preferable. For tips on how to get a great credit score, read this post by Anita at Live Like You Are Rich:

    -Bad/negative reports on your score are typically there for 7 years (bankruptcies can be on there for 10 years).
    -You can improve your credit score by keeping accounts and credit cards open and paid off for a long time. The longer you have a good standing account the better
    -Applying for lots of credit (credit cards, different types of loans, etc.) within a few months of time can drop your score.
    -Lower debt

    -Pay all bills on time

    Photo Credit: Vincent 


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    October 21, 2014
    What Is The Difference Between Mortgage Rate and APR?

    The two sound almost identical. Your mortgage rate is just that: the interest rate on your mortgage. Your APR (Annual Percentage Rate) is how much you’re actually paying in interest each year. Knowing the difference between the two is crucial. Confused? Don’t be. Just read this article by Jeanna Nagle at Lending Tree for more information:

    Many people assume that the loan with the lowest APR automatically gives them the most bang for their buck. Yet sometimes calculating the APR vs. interest rate is the only way to truly reveal what the best deal is. Low APR is great, provided the mortgage is paid off over the course of its entire term. 


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    October 20, 2014
    Discounted FHA Loans Coming in 2015

    The HAWK (Homeowners Armed With Knowledge) Program by the FHA is all set to roll out next year. The point of the program? It offers discounts to people getting an FHA loan- if they take several classes on homeowning. Personally, I think this is a great step. Providing people with more financial education before they take out a mortgage (or any large purchase) is the key to economic health. Read this article by Karen Highland at the Frederick Real Estate Online blog for more information on the discounts:

    The classes cover how to evaluate housing affordability and mortgage alternatives, to better manage their finances, and to understand the rights and responsibilities of homeownership. After taking the classes, which are taken both before and after closing, mortgage insurance premiums will be cut for those borrowers. The average savings should amount to $325 a year, or almost $10,000 over the life of the 30-year loan.

    Photo Credit: dcJohn 


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    October 16, 2014
    Tips For Paying Off Your Mortgage Years Earlier

    My ultimate financial goal is to pay off my mortgage as fast as possible. The thought of living without a house payment- and just using your income for bills and things that YOU want to buy- is an appealing thought for almost anyone. After all, being chained to a mortgage and a house for 30 years is awfully unattractive. Check out this post by Tony Moton at Yahoo Homes for tips on how to pay it off fast:

    -Add a thirteenth payment each year

    -Bump up your payment by 10%

    -Refinance to a 15 year mortgage with your current lender

    Photo Credit: nikcname 


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    October 14, 2014
    Refinancing Pros and Cons: Study Up Before Making Decisions

    Refinancing can be a tempting option for those who believe that changes in their lives will affect their future payments. Maybe you lost a job, had a child, have decided to go back to school- anything that gives your income a large dent may make you want to lower your monthly payments. However, it’s always wise to consider multiple options. There are many great things about refinancing- but there are also some horrible pitfalls. Read this post by Anita at Live Like You Are Rich before making any big decisions:

    Never make any decision before you have spent plenty of time studying, researching, calculating and recalculating the numbers. Don’t just trust what the brokers say (although some may have your best interest in mind); it’s not always smart to ask advice from the people who only get paid if you DO decide to refinance.

    Read her entire post here- it lists situations where it would be a good idea to refinance, as well as some where it would be a horrible financial mistake.

    Photo Credit: Chris Potter 


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    October 13, 2014
    Saving Money When You Have Nothing To Save

    To be financially successful, you absolutely have to save a percentage of your income each month. However, if you are working minimum wage, or supporting a family on one income, or barely living paycheck to paycheck for whatever reason, the idea of saving money can seem laughable. But,even if it seems like you have nothing at the end of the month, there are still ways to find ways to save. Read this post by Crystal Paine at Money Saving Mom for tips:

    -Sit down and set savings goals

    -Break down goals into smaller chunks

    -Create a written budget

    -Always leave room for your financial goals in your budget

    Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver 


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    October 9, 2014
    Higher Rent= More Roommates

    Roommates, am I right? They eat all your food, leave messes everywhere, and bring over their annoying friends at 3 in the morning. You can’t live with them, but you can’t live without them. Especially now, as rent prices skyrocket. In most big cities now, you can expect to pay more for rent than for a mortgage. Even in the college town where I lived with my sister for a while, our rent was about $1,100 a month. Meanwhile, friend of mine had recently bought her own home. It was small, but it worked for her and her fiance. Their monthly mortgage payment? Around $600. So- if you are thinking of renting, you absolutely need roommates to lower the cost. Read this post by Camille Salama at Zillow for more info:

    As of 2012, more than a third (32 percent) of adults live in doubled-up households, or homes where two or more working-aged adults live together but aren’t married or partners. The share of doubled-up households has steadily risen over the past decade, up from 25.4 percent in 2000 and 30.8 percent in 2010.

    This rise in doubled-up households coincides with rental prices that are increasingly unaffordable nationwide.

    Photo Credit: Robert Judge 


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    October 7, 2014
    Mortgage Application Terminology

    The mortgage application process can be complicated, but if you have a Realtor, they can help you. They’re also useful for translating the terms used in the paperwork. If you have no previous home buying experience, some of the words can seem like Greek (unless, of course, you ARE Greek…then they probably sound like, I don’t know, Latin?). The point is, it can be confusing. That’s why it’s important to brush up on your vocab before going in. Check out this post at the McCue Mortgage Blog for important terms to know:

    Annual Percentage Rate: Also known simply as APR, this term pertains to the rate of interest paid back to the mortgage lender

    Amortization: Particularly crucial with adjustable rate mortgages, amortization describes the repayment schedule

    Escrow: At closing, the borrower sets aside a percentage of yearly taxes, which the lender then holds onto. The lender continues to collect amounts monthly, maintains the escrow, and sends the borrower tax bills on a regular basis.

    Photo Credit: greeblie


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