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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 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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    October 1, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Modern “Art-Chitecture” In Singapore

    Photo from Angela Mckenzie Design

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    September 30, 2014
    Should You Buy That Fixer Upper?

    Agreeing to buy a home that needs serious work is a gamble. Some people (house flippers) are basically professional gamblers that turn it into an occupation. But what if you’re just an Average Joe who wants to save big when buying a home? On one hand, buying a fixer upper “as-is” for a discounted price sounds good financially. However, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you may end up buying a house beyond repair: one that may cost you more in the long run. It’s a delicate balance. For more information, read this post by Marilyn Lewis at Money Talks News:

    -The wrong remodeling project can become a money pit that strips your bank account right down to the studs.

    -Bring a cold analytical eye when shopping for a home to renovate. Put your emotions in the back seat while you assess each home’s possibilities.

    -Look for a floor plan you can live with.

    -Drainage and foundation repairs are thankless expenses that can run tens of thousands of dollars. To detect foundation trouble, tour the exterior, checking for cracks. 

    Photo Credit: soundfromwayout

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    September 29, 2014
    Teaching Kids About Money

    I have never understood the taboo about discussing money with other people. I know, it’s a little rude to ask outright how much money someone makes (and I won’t do it unless I’m asked first)- but I’ve always been very open with my finances. Making more or less money than someone else is nothing to be ashamed of- it’s how you manage it. And I know that part of the financial taboo is never letting your kids know how much money you make, or how much you have saved. However- I think that this “rule” is outdated and silly. How are kids going to know how to make their own, smart, financial decisions if they never see you making your own? It’s this kind of financial ignorance that leads to economic collapse- people borrow more than what they can pay off, and accrue massive debt for bad reasons. But, teaching kids about money doesn’t have to be scary or boring. Read this post by Maanasi at Mom Junction for fun ideas:

    -Teach them the importance of waiting, and delaying instant gratification

    -Buy them a portioned piggy bank or simply get 3 jars and label them ‘Spend’, ‘Save’ and ‘Share’. Tell your kids to portion their allowances in the three jars.

    -Let your child help you with grocery shopping and let them make their own small financial decisions

    -Play games involving money (like Monopoly) and talk about them.

    Photo Credit: Hobbies on a Budget 

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    September 25, 2014
    The Best Money Saving Advice I’ve Ever Received

    Over the years, you hear lots of tidbits and tips that stick with you. These have come from various places- some from my personal finance class in high school, some from my sister who is a fashion merchandiser, some from random internet tips; they don’t have a specific source. I’m writing all of these from memory, though, if you do see something on here that you’re sure is yours, let me know and I’ll credit you. Here is the money advice that has stuck with me:

    -If you can’t afford two of it, you can’t afford it

    -When buying clothes: can you think of at least three outfits that can be made with it? If not, don’t get it. Also, never buy anything that you don’t absolutely love.

    -Start saving/investing for retirement as young as possible- even if you’re still in high school. If you have some sort of income (even if you’re making minimum wage flipping burgers), you can put away a small percent of each paycheck.

    -When buying a home: to get a rough estimate of how much house you can afford, before you even apply for a mortgage, use this simple trick: your yearly income x2, plus ½ of it. So, if my yearly income is $50,000, I could buy a $125,000 house.

    -If you save $1 a day, you’ll have $365 at the end of the year.

    -Go one day a week without spending anything. Put the savings into another account.

    -Use cash whenever possible. It’s easier to keep track of- and sets a limit for you. If you only have $40 in your wallet, you can’t spend more.

    -Always try to pay IN cash for large purchases. Loans and interest are never good. Save, save, save.

    -Set up an emergency fund with at least three months of your salary worth in case you lose your job.

    -Buy a $100 Visa gift card and hide it somewhere in your house- but don’t forget about it. Having $100 that no one knows about could save your life one day.

    -Always carry at least $20 cash for emergencies, and a dollar in quarters. It can be used for short cab trips, to buy a phone charger in a pinch, or just to pay for a meal when you forget your card. I know they’re old now, but you can still find payphones as well.

    -But DON’T carry large amounts of cash- never more than $100- it’s dangerous.

    -Always have another job lined up before you quit your current one.

    -And finally, advice of my own: money does not equal quality of life. Always do what makes YOU happy. You spend 8+ hours a day at your job. That’s one fourth of your life. And if you’re miserable at your job, that’s a fourth of your life wasted being miserable.

    Photo Credit: Peter Megyeri 

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    September 23, 2014
    Making A Mortgage Less Difficult to Get

    The process of obtaining a mortgage can be a headache- especially if you’re a first time buyer. If you don’t know all the ins and outs of applying, it can seem pretty overwhelming. Of course, a real estate agent or a personal finance expert can help you, but it’ll make your time easier if you know what to expect. You don’t need a psychic to figure it out! Read this post by Bill Gasset at Max Real Estate Exposure for what to expect in 2014:

    -Expect to show your income. Lenders want to know exactly what you make on a yearly basis. Expect to provide pay stubs, w2’s and possibly tax returns.

    -Expect a second level of verifying your income directly from the IRS with the IRS form 4506-T that all borrowers are required sign.

    -Expect another level of verifying your income with a call to your employer to confirm your position, start date, rate of pay, etc.

    -Expect a credit report to be pulled and lenders to take note of any inquiries that appear.

    Photo Credit: Sean McGrath 

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    September 22, 2014
    Halloween Savings Here

    Halloween is my favorite holiday! It was when I was a child- you get to dress up, go to parties, and get free candy. It still is! I still dress up, go to parties, and now I get to decorate. The only thing I don’t love is how expensive the holiday is. Bags of candy go for around 10-$20 (and you’re usually getting more than one bag), costumes can be more than $50, and decorations can be incredibly expensive as well. However, there are plenty of tricks to saving during the holidays. I always DIY my costumes, and decorations (or I go to the dollar store). You can also use coupons for things! Read this post at Raking In The Savings for how to save on candy:

    -Take advantage of coupons and sales

    -Buy small, not full bars

    -Buy in bulk from Sam’s Club or Costco

    -Always check dollar stores

    -Buy generic, not Halloween themed candies

    -Stick to cheaper candies like lollipops and and hard candies instead of expensive chocolate.

    Photo Credit: Juushika Redgrave 

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    September 18, 2014
    In College? How To Save Money

    College nowadays is insanely expensive; with most people leaving with anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 in debt before they even have a job. That’s why, during college, it pays to be frugal. You probably have no other option- since all your money is going to tuition, books, and housing. Here are some great tips on saving during college from Katelyn Fagan at Whats Up Fagans:

    -Always buy used books, and always buy online

    -Bring your student ID EVERYWHERE and always ask for discounts! You might be surprised

    -Pack a lunch

    -Only buy school supplies on clearance

    -Use the campus gym

    -Use money saving apps

    Photo Credit: COD Newsroom 

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