Visit the Shaks

  • Shak In Style
  • Shakhammer
  • Love Shak, Baby
  • LoanShak
  • ShakYard
  • WorkShak
  • Shaktronics
  • Shak & Jill
  • Animal Shak
  • Shak & Jill

    Join Jill for savvy Real Estate discussion.
    visit the shak!

    Did you know?

  • From 2001 to 2005, the average homeowner saw the value of his or her house jump by more than 50 percent.
  • read all shaktoids!
    April 16, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Nifty Music Room

    Photo from Audio Production Tips

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    April 15, 2014
    Best Ways To Spend Your Tax Refund

    Getting a tax refund is like being visited by Santa Claus as an adult. They only come once a year, so most people use them on frivolous purchases. And why not? It’s your money! But, there are smarter ways to use it than on useless junk. Whether you’re only getting back a little or a lot, tax refunds can be a huge help with normal expenses, debt payments, or even investments. This post by Kelli at The Freebie Finding Mom has some smart advice:

    -Pay down debt: use it towards student loans, car payments, or credit cards.

    -Build an emergency fund- start it out if you don’t have one already!

    -Look at insurance needs- upgrade if you can!

    -Plan for retirement- put it towards your IRA or 401k

    -Plan for college- either for yourself or your children

    -Invest- and help your money grow

    So, playing a little with your tax refund is fine, but if you put most of it towards one of these other options, you’ll be much better off.

    Photo Credit: Tax Credits

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    April 14, 2014
    Lowering Closing Costs

    Besides saving up for a deposit, closing can be one of the costliest parts of obtaining a mortgage in the home buying process. Basically, closing costs is the general term for all the fees that you have to pay to lenders and third parties. They can even seem exorbitant if you aren’t prepared for them. However, what some people don’t realize is that closing costs can sometimes be negotiable. There are ways to save on (at least a few of) them. This article at Government Mortgage Help could be very valuable for anyone looking to reduce their closing cost fees:

    -If you are obtaining the mortgage for a new home, you can help reduce your out of pocket expenses by getting contributions from the seller. During the negotiation to purchase the home, you can ask to include part of the closings costs as part of the deal.

    -Another way to help eliminate closing costs is working with the lender. In essence, you negotiate a higher mortgage rate in return for a lower settlement or closing costs.

    Photo Credit: Stock Monkeys 

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    April 10, 2014
    Tax Breaks For New Homeowners

    Besides being a huge investment, buying a home can save you in other ways. With home ownership comes a wealth of new tax side effects, and some of them can be extremely profitable! If you’re a new homeowner, you might not know all of the tax deductions that you can receive. Luckily, this post by David Bakke at the HR Block blog will help you out:

    1. Home Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction: The most valuable tax deduction for a first-time home buyer is the mortgage interest tax deduction. 

    2. Points Are Tax Deductible

    3. You Can Deduct Property Taxes

    4. Private Mortgage Insurance is Usually Tax Deductible

    Photo Credit: Images of Money 

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    April 9, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Artsy Bookcase

    Photo from Blogspot

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    April 8, 2014
    Is It Possible To Get A Mortgage With Bad Credit?

    One of the very first tips you see when trying to get a mortgage is to get your credit in order. If you can’t pay your bills on time, lenders are going to believe that you won’t be able to make house payments. It’s pretty logical. However, lenders are taking the housing downturn into consideration when passing out loan. Lots of people were affected, and everyone makes mistakes. There are ways to get a mortgage even if you’ve have credit problems in the past. This post by Gerri Deitweiler at the blog has some valuable advice:

    Many people think when they go through a bankruptcy that, “Hey that’s it, I’m not going to be able to buy a house again,” and that’s not true. It’s a matter of waiting a certain amount of time. Currently, if it’s an FHA or a VA loan, the government is more flexible. The waiting period from the time the bankruptcy is discharged — not when you started it, but when it’s completed — is two years. For a conventional loan, it’s four years.

    Photo Credit: striatic 

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    April 7, 2014
    Craigslist Tips

    Selling old or unwanted items online is a great way to bring in some extra cash. It’s like having a yard sale, only you don’t have to drag all your stuff outside. You don’t even need to have a yard! Selling big ticket items like furniture, appliances, and electronics, or even cheaper items like clothing and kids’ stuff is super easy on sites like Ebay and Craigslist. But, you have to know what you’re doing. This post by Crystal at Money Saving Mom has some great tips:

    -Post good photos

    -Write an accurate description and price accordingly

    -Note what area of town you’re in

    -Be ready to respond to inquiries

    -Don’t waste time on deadbeats

    -Meet at a location other than your home

    Photo Credit: Alisha Vargas 

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    April 3, 2014
    Grad School Financing

    Going back to school as a graduate and obtaining a masters or doctorate degree is a huge investment in yourself and your future. While it can be expensive, it will usually pay off. Having a more advanced degree and a concentrated specialization will bring you a bigger salary. But, you don’t have a grad-school level salary when you start out, so how do you get the money? Just like most other things in life, there are ways to save. This post by Katharine Paljug at Go Girl Finance has some helpful tips:

    Use the Competition to Pay for Grad School: The number one thing most grad school applicants forget is that schools compete with each other. If you get a financial aid offer from one school, don’t be afraid to take that to another on your list and say “School A offered me X, what can you offer me?”

    Paying for a PhD: Common wisdom when applying for PhD programs is to hold out for full funding.

    Reduce Tuition Through Work Many grad schools offer work-study programs or TA-ships, which allow students to work for the school in exchange for some or all of their tuition being remitted.

    Photo Credit: Nazareth College 

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    April 2, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Amazing Bookshelves

    Photo from Pinterest

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    April 1, 2014
    Does Pinching Pennies Always Help?

    All over the internet, there are tips to save a little bit here, and a little bit there. You know, the silly tips that only save you a few dollars a year, like: “By stealing ketchup packets from restaurants instead of buying bottles, you can save $6 a year on ketchup!” Some people hoard these tips and follow them religiously, and yes, may save a good chunk of money. But sometimes, being so focused on the pennies can make you lose sight of the big picture. Saving $56 a year on cable is nothing if you don’t know how to save and invest the largest portion of your money wisely. This post by Helen Young at The Dollar Stretcher will help you refocus your financial goals:

    Create shortcuts to your financial information. Find a system that works easily for you, such as bookmarking the websites that track your accounts. Then get in the habit of checking them daily or weekly like you would the weather or the news. 

    Track your progress. Watching your savings mount in one area is a great motivation to expand your efforts

    Give at least one of the above tips a try the next time you find yourself clipping a pile of 20-cent coupons rather than refinancing your mortgage or shopping around for things like lower bank fees or insurance rates like you’re really supposed to be doing.

    Photo Credit: Steven Depolo 

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati