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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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    February 6, 2015
    Friday Fun Video: Save Money This V-Day With DIY Gifts

    Going the DIY route can save you hundreds of dollars, and it is more thoughtful!

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    February 5, 2015
    Saving Documents For A Mortgage

    In January, I made it one of my New Year’s resolutions to start keeping better track of my finances. I made a budget for each month, balance my checkbook by hand, and have created folder to keep all my financial documents in. Well, it’s less of a folder than it is a scrapbook paper/ photo box. I know I should get a fireproof safe or something more secure, but there’s honestly not much in there yet. Anyway, in a year or two, I’m planning on buying a house, so I figured it’s good to prepare now. So far, I keep check stubs and tax info in there, as well as copies of identification. But, what other documents do I need for a mortgage application? Lucky for me, I found this infographic at

    -Previous 2 year’s W-2s

    -Previous 2 year’s tax returns

    -Past 2 pay stubs

    -2-3 months of bank statements

    -Social security card

    -Past addresses

    Photo Credit: Adam Rifkin 

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    February 3, 2015
    How Credit Cards Can Hurt Your Home Loan

    Your credit score is one of the main items that lenders look at when determining if you qualify for a mortgage. Credit card use will affect your score, and lenders will also look at how you handle them. Misusing a credit card can damage your chances of getting approved, or even result in a rejection. For credit card mistakes that can cost you, read this article by Lindsay Konsko at US Money News:

    -Paying late- this is probably the worst mistake you can make

    -Over-utilizing credit

    -Applying for too many cards at once

    -Never getting a card at all- having a card and using it responsibly shows that you pay your debts.

    -Racking up debt

    Photo Credit: Sean McEntee 

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    January 29, 2015
    Frugal Valentine’s Ideas

    Valentine’s Day is coming up- fast. While I think it’s important to go on dates and show that you love your partner all year, many people use Valentine’s Day as a reason to go all out and do something extra special. And that’s a great idea! Putting lots of thought into a romantic gesture is a great way to keep the flame going in your relationship. But, you don’t have to spend a ton of money!

    Since I’m fairly sure my boyfriend is never going to read this, I’m going to tell you my plan: I’m going to write him 14 love notes (1 for each day), attach a small gift, and leave it somewhere for him to find. The gifts are going to be fairly inexpensive (candy, a gift card, a picture frame, etc,) and some of them I’m going to make (bookmark, keychain, mix CD, a crocheted creation). Hopefully he’ll like it!

    For more tips on having a very romantic, yet still frugal Valentine’s Day with your significant other, check out this post by Steven C. Smith at The Dollar Stretcher:

    -Decorate your Valentine’s dorm room, office, or bedroom with a barrage of paper hearts, balloons, and crepe paper streamers.

    -Place handmade hearts with loving messages on them and leave them in many places for your Valentine to discover, such as in the car, briefcase, purse, and mailbox. (Pretty much my idea!)

    -Go out to a fancy restaurant, but only order dessert.

    -Recapture every moment of your first date. Go to the same restaurant, wear the same clothes (or similar outfits), and visit the same fun places

    Photo Credit: Denise Cross Photography 

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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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