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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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    January 28, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Home With Built In Dock

    Photo from John Cullen Posterous

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    January 26, 2015
    Saving The Earth While Saving Some Cash

    I would love to be more environmentally conscious. I try not to use too much electricity, but that’s about all I do. Biking to work is just not feasible where I live, and I’m not sure if we even have a recycling center (so everything goes straight to the dump). To be fair, though, I haven’t really tried or put much effort in. However, one way you can make a huge difference in the environment (and also your bank account) is by buying a green home. It sounds expensive (hybrid cars and organic food? I’m too poor for that), but you will really save more in the long run. So, if you are buying a home soon, consider buying an eco-friendly one! Check out this post at House of Brokers for things to look for that will save you green:

    -Solar panels- The most powerful energy savers are solar panels. Any home with panels already in place lets an eco-conscious buyer soak up the sun and save money.

    -Solar water heaters- A solar water-heating system eliminates the need for electric water heaters and radiators

    -Green insulation- Green insulation can include an eco-friendly production or be made of wool, or recycled textiles.

    -New windows and new A/C units.

    Photo Credit: Ian Sane 

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    January 22, 2015
    Save For A Down Payment- Creative, Yet Blunt, Tips

    Saving for a down payment is easier now than it has been in a while. There are plenty of programs and lenders that only require you to have 3% (or less) of the home’s value saved up. However, you will still most likely need to make some sacrifices to save! Check out this infographic by David Cross at the Movoto Blog from “brutally honest” ways to save for a home. Some of them may not be viable, or even desirable for everyone, but they are ways to save lots of money very fast:

    -Don’t have kids

    -Literally freeze your credit cards

    -Move in with your parents for a while

    -Have roommates

    -Don’t have pets

    -Write it all down- keep track of where every cent of your money is going.

    Photo Credit: Robert Judge 

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    January 20, 2015
    Excuse Me, I’d Like To Return This Mortgage Please

    …What? You can’t return a mortgage….can you? It’s not like it’s an ill-fitting shirt from the mall, or a bad batch of cheese from the grocery store. However, according to the Supreme Court, buyer’s remorse can now apply to homes as well. If you are unhappy with your mortgage, or have been unfairly treated by your lender, you can now rescind your mortgage. Check out this post by Holden Lewis at Bankrate for more:

    …In that case, you can rescind, or cancel, the mortgage any time within three years. All you have to do is send a letter to the lender — even if you have fallen behind on the payments. Heck, especially if you’ve fallen behind on the payments.”

    That’s according to the Supreme Court, which ruled this week in favor of borrowers who sued their bank for not letting them unilaterally rescind their mortgage three years after closing.

    Photo Credit: Robert Huffstutter 

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    January 15, 2015
    Paying Off Your Mortgage Fast- The Easy Way

    I know that many people have made New Year’s Resolutions to get their mortgage paid off early (or at least, start on it and get a big chunk on it out of the way). But a lot of times, when you read stories about people who paid off their mortgages early, they tend to be pretty extreme. But, you don’t have to eat only Ramen, bike to work every day, and reuse your toilet paper to get it done! There are lots of smaller, stress free ways to put away extra money and save tons in the long run. Check out this post by Terence Loose at Yahoo Homes for tips:

    -Make extra monthly payments- even if it’s only a small amount.

    -Refinance to a shorter term mortgage

    -Analyze your current spending to find out where your money is going. Cut out unnecessary expenses, like expensive coffee, and apply that money to your mortgage instead.

    Photo Credit: Neil Conway 

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    January 14, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Lake House Greatroom

    Photo from Expedition Log Homes

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    January 13, 2015
    Start Your Emergency Fund Now!

    If you don’t already have an emergency fund put away, I urge you to do it as soon as you can. You never know when you’ll need an extra hundred dollars or so. Speeding tickets, doctor visits, car repairs, surprise fees- anything can (and will) spring up. Most experts recommend opening a separate savings account strictly for emergencies and keeping at least $1,000 in it. For tips on how to start up your own emergency fund, check out this post by Kristina at Cents and Order:

    -Consider keeping your emergency fund at a different bank so you’re less likely to access it.

    -Use a liquid account so you are not charged penalties to access it quickly.

    -However, if having a penalty attached to the account is a deterrent from spending your emergency fund, then a certificate of deposit or time savings account may work better for you.

    Photo Credit: Michael Gil 

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    January 8, 2015
    Bankrupt? Foreclosed? Life Goes On.

    Hitting financial rock bottom is rough. My family went through it when I was in high school after my dad lost his job during the recession. Be it bankruptcy, foreclosure, or short sale- it can be extremely challenging. You may feel like you have failed, and that it’s the end of the world- but I promise you, it’s not. Life goes on! There is a lot of red tape to struggle with, but you can still get a mortgage. And, eventually, it will be taken off your credit score. For more info on waiting periods and moving on with life after a foreclosure or other financial hardship, check out this article by Gene Mundt at Chicagoland Mortgage. It has all the up-to-date legal info that you need!

    Photo Credit: Ventura Bankruptcy Attorney 

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    January 7, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Box House

    Photo from Wee House

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    January 6, 2015
    Getting Married Without Going Into Debt

    My friend got married last year, and her wedding budget was $20,000. Her parents paid for all of it (lucky!), and it was a beautiful ceremony. Everything was perfect, and I’m extremely happy for her, but spending that kind of money on one day just boggles my mind. And it’s not as if she’s some sort of extreme exception. In fact, most couples in America spend $10,000-$30,000 on their wedding. Goodness! That makes me glad that I’m opting for the “running away to Vegas” approach ;) . But, if you want to have a gorgeous, traditional ceremony, but can’t afford an extravagant budget, have no fear! There are plenty of ways to cut costs at weddings. Check out this post by Kayleigh Gaddor at Credit Karma for tips:

    -Make a budget ahead of time and stick to it- plan out every tiny detail!

    -Choose an off-peak time for best prices on upscale venues

    -Pick a fun or funky venue- try an outdoor space, a local attraction, or, to save big, consider having a backyard wedding at your home or a friend’s, or in your church if you are religious.

    -Trim the guest list to save on catering

    -Get creative- DIY as much as you possibly can!

    Photo Credit: Jason Sussberg 

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