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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 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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    October 6, 2014
    How To Save On Water Heating

    Where I live, we just experienced the first chilly weekend of the Fall. Tonight, we even turned our heat on in our home. Summer is officially over. And with the colder months comes higher electricity and water bills. To stave off some of these creeping costs, read this post by JLPenner at Frugal Living Mom. There are plenty of great tips for lowering your water heating bill:

    -Buy (or make) your own water heater “blanket”- the insulation will keep the heat in!

    -Turn down the thermostat on your water heater: You can safely reduce your water temperature to 120º F while still killing germs and bacteria. Plus, the savings will really add up.

    Photo Credit: JohnCarlJohnson 

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    October 3, 2014
    Friday Fun Video: Old School Antique Hotel Elevator

    This is really cool, though I admit I’d be a little reluctant to ride in it!

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    October 2, 2014
    Cosigner Dilemmas

    Cosigners are sometimes needed when an individual takes out a loan and has bad credit or no previous credit at all. Now, while I am highly reluctant to loan family or friends money, and don’t think I would ever agree to be a cosigner unless it was for my own child- I have needed one in the past. I would never have gotten my first apartment if it weren’t for a family friend who rescued me and agreed to be my cosigner- and for that I will be forever grateful. Of course, I made sure to pay my rent in full on time every month- so she had nothing to worry about. Messing up HER credit because of my irresponsibility would be appalling, and I don’t think I could have lived with myself. I’m not trying to toot my own horn or anything (I just try to be a decent human being), but some cosigners end up with “deadbeat” borrowers- and it can wreck your credit. Read this post by Dr. Don Taylor at Bankrate for more info. When a loan goes under,

    Your credit can’t be saved, only rebuilt at this point. With your damaged credit history, time can heal the wounds if you’re willing to work at it. Negative information remains on credit reports seven years after the first reporting. The duration is 10 years for Chapter 7 bankruptcies.

    My advice? Don’t be a cosigner- unless you KNOW for a fact that they are financially responsible- or if your relationship with them means more than your credit.

    Photo Credit: Holly Lay 

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