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Did you know?
From 2001 to 2005, the average homeowner saw the value of his or her house jump by more than 50 percent.
Garage sales are a great way to make some extra cash during the summer months. Also, they can help a lot with the decluttering process if you are trying to sell your home. They can pay off big time if you are ready to part with big ticket items, if you know what you’re doing. You might think, “How hard can it be to mess up a yard sale? You just put your stuff out on the lawn and put price tags on them!” However, if you don’t know HOW to price items, how to haggle, and how to display your items, you might not make as much money as you would otherwise. Check out this post by Stephanie at Six Figures Under for tips:
-Price EVERYTHING. Your shoppers are penny pinchers; they want to know how much they’re spending. Asking is awkward.
-Price ahead of time. Use blanket pricing, like: shirts $1, pants $2, etc.
-Have a special deal for the last hour or two to get rid of more stuff.
If you applied for a mortgage right this second, would you be approved? You always hear some pretty generic tips on being approved: have a good credit score, have a down payment saved up, be employed, etc. But, you never see the exact numbers. What credit score are they looking for, exactly? How much down payment do you need? How long should you be employed at the same place? If you are seeking specifics, this post by Winston Heverly at Active Rain will help:
-Have a FICO score of 620-640
-Minimum of 2 year employment
-5-20% down payment
-Recurring debt needs to be at or below 43% of gross monthly income.
To save money, you have to be kind of a cynic. You have to assume that most businesses, especially multimillion dollar corporations, are NOT looking out for your best interest. They want to get as much of your money as possible. That is why they exist. That’s why it’s important to use your critical thinking skills at all times; sometimes something that looks like a great deal isn’t so great upon closer inspection. In fact, there are common traps that get you to spend more, while thinking you are saving. Check out this post by April Dykman at Get Rich Slowly for saving strategies that simply do not work:
-Buying a coupon to save money- only buy them if you are sure that you’ll use it!
-Buying more to get a discount
-Paying more to invest in quality: more expensive doesn’t always mean higher quality. Do your research.
-Buying extra to save over time- buying in bulk to save is great…. but only if you actually use it!
One that always gets me? Buying something I wouldn’t normally buy, just because it’s on clearance. This happened to me yesterday- I was browsing the clearance section at a store and found some cute scrapbooking supplies. Nothing I was crazy about, but hey, it was on sale! And I might use them in the future! Then, I looked at the original price tag– it had only been marked down by 20 cents. Needless to say, once I saw that I wasn’t saving much money, I lost interest really fast.
One thing I pride myself on is the vast improvements I’ve made on my bad cleaning habits. I am a naturally messy person; I accumulate lots of junk, I hate doing dishes, laundry, vacuuming, and generally picking up after myself. I was on a super fast track to becoming a first class hoarder, until I took a step back, looked at my life, and decided that I didn’t want to spend it surrounded by mountains of trash and junk. I’m still disorganized– I don’t think that’ll ever change; it’s who I am– but I make it a point to clean everything at least once a week, and to donate/throw out stuff I don’t use. Not only has it made my life easier, and made me a much happier person, but it has saved me money. I don’t compulsively shop anymore, I always follow a list, I can find the things I need instead of buying new ones, and I can find important financial documents much easier. Check out this post by Stephanie at Six Figures Under for how getting organized will save YOU money:
-Refunds and Reimbursements: My husband paid $2,350 forstudy materials, but $250 was refundable. Had we been keeping a real budget at the time, I would have noticed that we never got the refund. Thankfully we got off easy this time, but being disorganized almost cost us $250!
-Recalled Products: Keep an eye out for all high end products you own in case of recalls.
-Library Fines- The library is a great free resource, but if you’re not careful, it will cost you. Be sure to keep track of all your books and return them on time!
How to keep your credit score on point when using credit cards
Some people’s biggest goal in life is to get married. Some people dream of having children. Other people want to travel the world, write a book, become famous, etc. But, my life’s goal is pretty simple: buy a house I love, decorate it how I want, and pay it off as quickly as possible (not that I’d mind doing the other things, though!). I can’t wait to have a space that is completely my own! Not to mention, once you pay off your mortgage, which is usually the biggest chunk of your monthly expenses, you’ll have that much more to spend/save/invest every month. That’s why I’m obsessed with reading stories of people who have paid off their mortgages in less than 10, 7, and even 5 years. This one, by Kelly at View Along The Way, shares how she did it, along with tips that you can apply towards your own mortgage:
-Agree on your goals from the start. We lived on one income (my husband’s), while saving mine up for a down payment and mortgage payments.
-Pay cash for everything else
-Buy less house than you can afford
-Drive crappy cars. You have to make sacrifices!
-Keep a tight written budget
In my personal finance class in high school, we learned all sorts of things that I still use to this day: how to write a check, how to budget your monthly income, how to have a successful job interview, and even the fundamentals of investing for retirement, as well as buying a home. We talked about how much you should spend on a home. The basic formula that my teacher gave us is this: You take your household’s (yours + your spouse’s, if you have one) yearly income (for example, $50,000), multiply it by two ($100,000), then add half of it ($125,000)= that’s how much home you can afford! Of course, that’s extremely elementary; there are a few more things that need to be factored in. Check out this post by Melinda Fulmer at MSN Real Estate for more tips:
In addition to your down payment, there are other expenses to consider, both at closing and after your moving truck pulls up, including:
The post also includes a handy mortgage calculator! Definitely check it out.
One of the biggest economic problems facing the U.S. now is the massive piles of student debt that most college grads are hauling around. It’s gotten so bad that many people are even questioning the value of college- if it takes four (or more, usually) years of not working, and sticks you with 10, 20, or $50,000 in debt before you even get started, and then you can’t even find a job when you graduate, what’s the point? Most people would love to be able to go to college just for the sake of bettering themselves and becoming more educated, but most people can’t afford that. They go to get jobs. The point is, the whole system needs a complete overhaul. However, if you are currently struggling with student loan debt, there are ways to tackle it more efficiently. Check out this post by Vera Gibbons at Real Simple for some great advice:
-Pay off variable private loans first- to avoid interest rate hikes
-Choose the right federal-student-loan repayment plan- People often make the mistake of going with the option that has the smallest monthly payment, which causes them to pay thousands more in interest over the loan’s life span
-Ask your employer to pay off your student loan
-Sign up for auto-deductions.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again– I’m a complete Pinterest addict. There are tons of DIY tutorials and recipes on there: and you can learn everything from how to make your own facial scrubs to how to make knock-off recipes from your favorite restaurants. The trouble is- most of the recipes have more than ten ingredients, and it’s often faster and cheaper to just buy the real thing. However, there are also tons of DIY recipes that can save you big time- especially if you make them in bulk. Check out this post at Natural Living Ideas for DIYs that will pay off:
Minty Mouthwash - Not only is it chemical and alcohol-free, it’s practically free, well nearly is at $0.02 /oz!
Body Wash – A simple recipe and method which makes a soapy bubbly wash great for all skin types.
Homemade ‘Fake Febreeze’ -you can make a homemade version that’s just as effective (and natural) for only $0.15
Homemade Maple Syrup – This classic sauce is so expensive nowadays, did you know it is so simple and easy to collect your own!
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