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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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    March 31, 2016
    Sticking To Your Budget

    16630300167_994fa2f1a9_zCreating a budget is hard enough, but sticking to one can seem impossible at times. Even once you run the numbers, and find out how much you should be spending/saving each month, it takes a huge amount of will power not to spend any extra money on impulse buys. For tips on keeping your good habit and sticking to your budget, check out this post by Hilary at Pulling Curls:

    -Make the budget realistic- keep in mind how much you REALLY spend on groceries, clothing, etc. It’s not about wringing out the budget to a bare minimum, but IS about cutting back a little to reach a savings goal.

    -Budget in some splurge items- having the ability to buy a few things you WANT feels great, and will keep you from overspending later.

    -Talk about the future- have a goal for your budget. Are you saving for a house? A new car? Retirement? A vacation? Having it in mind will help you avoid unnecessary purchases.

    Photo Credit: Got Credit 

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    March 28, 2016
    How To Save Extra Cash For A Vacation

    6873017519_843f1642ef_zThe next vacation I’m planning will be for this Summer. I’m going to Michigan for a week with my boyfriend to visit his family and friends. We went last year, and I had a great time! What’s more, it wasn’t terribly expensive, since we had places to stay the whole time and transportation. But, we still had to pay for plane tickets (not cheap) and food for the week. That can add up! So, I figure it’s time to start saving a couple hundred “vacation dollars” now. That’s why I love this post by Kimberly at Stuffed Suitcase. Here are her tips for saving for a vacation, and making a small budget stretch and still have an awesome time:

    -Lower vacation costs: driving costs less than flying, pack your own snacks instead of dining out, look for free or low cost activities.

    -Lower your expenses, save the extra: buy fewer non-essentials, stop dining out, shop smarter, use coupons, try to save wherever you can!

    -Save more- have a yard sale, implement a savings plan, offer your talents (baking, knitting, auto work, carpentry, housecleaning, pet/baby sitting) to family and friends for some extra cash.

    Photo Credit: kansasphoto 

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    March 23, 2016
    Wordless Wednesday: Window Wall


    Photo from Brendan Ames

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    March 22, 2016
    Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster With These Sneaky Tips

    2837855969_63e4c584f9_zScrimping and saving is never easy, and with a payment as large as a monthly mortgage, it can sometimes seem impossible to get ahead. But, making extra payments on your mortgage (even if they are small) can save you thousands of dollars and years of paying in the long run if you are committed to it. Check out these “painless” ways to pay your mortgage off faster by Marilyn Lewis at Daily Finance:

    -Make biweekly mortgage payments

    -Pour every bit of extra cash into your mortgage- all work bonuses, raises, gifts, inheritances, winnings, tax refunds- put them into your payments!

    -Round up your payments

    -Make it your mission to make at least one extra payment a year- you will pay it off in 26 years instead of 30.

    Photo Credit: Andreanna Moya Photography 

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    March 21, 2016
    Mortgage News For The Beginning Of 2016

    4384741509_0f2075d2b5_zAccording to this article by Matthew Graham at Mortgage News Daily, mortgage rates have slightly dropped since the beginning of March:

     The average lender continues to quote conventional 30yr rates in a range of 3.75% to 3.875%, but today’s gains bring a few of the more aggressive lenders back to 3.625% on top tier scenarios.

    Now may be a good time to lock in a rate if you are applying for a mortgage for a new home! Rates are only continuing to rise, so get a good one while you can. Also, don’t ever be afraid to shop around for a mortgage- and check back. Mortgage rates will fluctuate even daily! Check out the entire article here for a more in depth analysis of the recent rise and fall of interest rates.

    Photo Credit: Micheal Pedersen 

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    March 17, 2016
    Don’t Get Audited

    11747440176_15b9dc7497_zIt’s never happened to me personally (knock on wood!), but I imagine that being notified that you’re going to be audited is one of the scariest things that can happen to you. Most people are upfront and honest about their taxes to avoid this very thing. In fact, the reason that most audits happen is NOT being shady with your income- it’s making mistakes on your tax forms. Check out this post by Kori at the Kori@Home blog for how to avoid tax audits this season and every year to come:

    -Be honest with your income. Declare it, and declare ALL of it. This is especially important for bloggers and other independent contractors!

    -Be clear and double check- miscalculations will send red flags to the IRS. Using tax software will help.

    -Also double check your filing status, social security info, and all other personal information!

    Photo Credit: Lending Memo 

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    March 14, 2016
    Before You Apply For A Mortgage…

    8169560070_290a4e1fc4_zIf you’ve never bought a house before, you’ve probably never had your finances seriously scrutinized before. Sure, you do your taxes each year, and maybe you’ve had your credit checked for a loan or two, but getting a mortgage is a whole different ball game. You will have to be ultra prepared, and ready with all the paperwork they will ask from you. Check out this post by Jesse Mcarl at the House Hunt Blog for all the documents you will need when applying for a mortgage:

    -Previous two pay stubs

    -Previous two years’ W-2s

    -2-3 months of bank statements

    -Social Security cards

    -All previous home addresses (last 2 years)

    Photo Credit: Kate Hiscock 

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    March 9, 2016
    Wordless Wednesday: Modern Fireplace


    Photo from Home Design Etc

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    March 8, 2016
    Protect Your Identity When Online Banking


    I am definitely a member of the “millenial” generation. I depend on my phone for everything: driving directions, scheduling, social networking, emails, and, yes, banking. I love that I can look at my accounts anywhere, any time, and see where my money is going. It’s extraordinarily useful, and basically eliminates the need for physical checkbook balancing. However, banking online is more susceptible to security risks like identity theft. To protect yourself and your money, read these tips by Andrea Ditter-Middleton at Living Rich With Coupons:

    -Monitor your accounts regularly, and make sure there are no suspicious transactions

    -Create complex passwords, protect them, and change them often

    -Use a secure connection- don’t access your account over public wifi

    Photo Credit: Steven Taschuk

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    March 7, 2016
    Pay Off Your Mortgage…In Four Years?

    17056577489_fd5cd0fb6d_zPaying for a home is a process that can take a lifetime. Seriously. Most people opt for a thirty year mortgage, making monthly payments lower and more affordable. The problem is, those people also end up paying WAY more interest than people who pay off their homes faster. Some people instead go for a fifteen year mortgage- higher monthly payments, but less of them in the long run. However, I just stumbled this article by Debt Free Divas on how to pay off a home just four years. Here’s their idea:

    If this hypothetical client continues to direct all the money previously paid toward debt into a conservative investment vehicle (this calculator assumes a 5% interest rate) for the next 4.5 years (the same amount of time needed to dump consumer), they would amass $280,000.

    Photo Credit: Ly Thien Hoang 

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