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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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    April 3, 2014
    Grad School Financing

    Going back to school as a graduate and obtaining a masters or doctorate degree is a huge investment in yourself and your future. While it can be expensive, it will usually pay off. Having a more advanced degree and a concentrated specialization will bring you a bigger salary. But, you don’t have a grad-school level salary when you start out, so how do you get the money? Just like most other things in life, there are ways to save. This post by Katharine Paljug at Go Girl Finance has some helpful tips:

    Use the Competition to Pay for Grad School: The number one thing most grad school applicants forget is that schools compete with each other. If you get a financial aid offer from one school, don’t be afraid to take that to another on your list and say “School A offered me X, what can you offer me?”

    Paying for a PhD: Common wisdom when applying for PhD programs is to hold out for full funding.

    Reduce Tuition Through Work Many grad schools offer work-study programs or TA-ships, which allow students to work for the school in exchange for some or all of their tuition being remitted.

    Photo Credit: Nazareth College 

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    April 2, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Amazing Bookshelves

    Photo from Pinterest

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    April 1, 2014
    Does Pinching Pennies Always Help?

    All over the internet, there are tips to save a little bit here, and a little bit there. You know, the silly tips that only save you a few dollars a year, like: “By stealing ketchup packets from restaurants instead of buying bottles, you can save $6 a year on ketchup!” Some people hoard these tips and follow them religiously, and yes, may save a good chunk of money. But sometimes, being so focused on the pennies can make you lose sight of the big picture. Saving $56 a year on cable is nothing if you don’t know how to save and invest the largest portion of your money wisely. This post by Helen Young at The Dollar Stretcher will help you refocus your financial goals:

    Create shortcuts to your financial information. Find a system that works easily for you, such as bookmarking the websites that track your accounts. Then get in the habit of checking them daily or weekly like you would the weather or the news. 

    Track your progress. Watching your savings mount in one area is a great motivation to expand your efforts

    Give at least one of the above tips a try the next time you find yourself clipping a pile of 20-cent coupons rather than refinancing your mortgage or shopping around for things like lower bank fees or insurance rates like you’re really supposed to be doing.

    Photo Credit: Steven Depolo 

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    March 27, 2014
    Homeowners Insurance 101

    Insurance is absolutely vital in protecting the investment that is your home. But, if you’re a first time buyer, the concept can be a little confusing. You probably know the basics: after all, you have car insurance (hopefully)! But, home insurance is somewhat different. It’s important to know the ins and outs of what it is, what it protects you against, and how to get it. This post by The Madison Mortgage Guys will guide you in the right direction:

    Get Insurance Estimate before Putting Contract on a Home: each home is different.

    Get Replacement Cost Coverage: It is important that the policy states that the actual cost to replace the home is included. Some policies will merely pay off the existing mortgage and leave the homeowner with nothing. 

    Do Not Neglect Earthquake, Storm, or Fire Coverage : know what is common in your area and protect your house from it.

    Weigh the Pros and Cons of Different Deductibles

    Photo Credit: David Hilowitz

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    March 25, 2014
    Less Homes Underwater

    The housing market has steadily been improving. More houses are becoming available, prices are affordable, foreclosures are lessening, and sellers are able to be picky. One thing that was also dragging down the economy was the sheer number of underwater homes (when someone owes more on their mortgage than the home is worth). The good news is, those are disappearing as well. According to this post by Amber Nelson at the Mortgage101 blog, now there are only 6.5 million underwater homes (compared to 12 million in 2009):

    The rebound in home prices in 2013 helped 4 million property owners regain at least some positive equity in their largest asset—their home. We still have a long way to go to eliminate the negative equity overhang but significant progress is being made every day across most of the country.”

    Photo Credit: Doug Letterman 

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    March 24, 2014
    Mortgage Traps To Avoid

    The housing collapse of 2007-2009 had a lot of causes. People were borrowing more than they could afford, and lenders were giving out more than they should. In order to prevent another crisis, both consumers and lenders need to be smarter about their mortgages. There are some very common mistakes that, when they add up, can lead to disaster. This post by Mark Riddix at Yahoo Homes lists common- but deadly- mortgage pitfalls:

    Adjustable Rate Mortgages They allow you to buy a larger house than you can normally qualify for and have lower payments that you can afford. After two to five years the interest rate resets to a higher market rate.

    No Down PaymentMany borrowers who put little to nothing down on their homes find themselves upside down on their mortgage and end up just walking away. 

     Liar Loans A liar loan is a loan that requires little to no documentation. They are called liar loans because borrowers have a tendency to lie and inflate their income so that they can buy a larger house. Once the time comes to pay up, borrowers often fall behind quickly.

    Photo Credit: Walt Stoneburner 


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    March 20, 2014
    Items to Hoard (Just In Case)

    I am not a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist. I’m as real and down-to-earth as you can get: I don’t believe in zombies or aliens or raptures or worldwide pandemics. The End is Not Nigh. I am not a doomsday prepper. However, what I do believe in is being smart and prepared. Natural disasters DO happen all the time to tons of people, and I think it’s smart to be prepared in case of an emergency. What if your town has an ice storm that knocks your power out for weeks? What if you’re completely snowed in? That being said, I think it’s a good plan to keep a stockpile of daily necessities (instead of scrambling to the store at the last minute). You MIGHT need them (hope for the best, prepare for the worst), and you will eventually use them anyway, so it’s not a waste of money. This post at ReThinkSurvival has a list of things that are hard to find in the aftermath of a disaster:

    Medications (both OTC and especially Rx)

    Glasses, contacts, hearing aids, always have at least one extra set

    Clothes and shoes- especially durable shoes like boots and clothes that will keep you warm

    Ammunition- can be used for hunting or defense in desperate situations

    Gasoline, diesel, propane, kerosene  for transportation and stove cooking

    Batteries (of all kinds)

    Tarps and plastic sheeting – shelter in a serious emergency, or for covering gardens or protecting firewood from rain.

    Hand tools – Tools like quality hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, axes, and plenty more are always needed and will last a lifetime if treated properly. 

    Photo Credit: Cameron Russell 

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    March 19, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Second Level Entry With Nook

    Photo from Wadia Associates 

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    March 18, 2014
    Is Splurging Ever Ok?

    On this blog, I try my best to give you tips on how to save money and maximize the power that your income has. Being frugal is always better, and getting rid of debt is a priority. But… is overspending ever ok? At first, you’re probably thinking “Of course not!” But, we all do it. Just like when you’re on a diet– you’re going to have cheat days. But, there are ways to indulge in a smart way! And, according to this post by Kelly Gurnett at Pounds To Pocket, splurging (smartly!) can actually help keep you on track:

    While being a miser money-wise might seem like the quickest way to reach your financial goals, it can actually set you up for failure by making you completely miserable. No one likes to suffer their way to a goal. 

    Try to think of little ways you can treat yourself now and then so you don’t feel like you’re living a life of denial and scarcity.

    By indulging in smart ways throughout the year, you manage to balance your personal happiness with your financial goals, leaving you overall happier and, ultimately, your budget happier, too.

    Photo Credit: Andrewarchy

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    March 17, 2014
    Save 100$ Today

    How many of you could use an easy extra $100? I know I definitely could! Even if you have a solid budget that you stick to religiously, extra money always helps! But, if you already have a super tight budget, how can you possibly find any wiggle room? It’s impossible, right? Nope! This article by JLPenner at Frugal Living Mom might prove you wrong:

    Take a lunch to work Instead of going out for lunch twice a week at $12 a pop, make every lunch at home. You’ll save $100 a month, save yourself some calories, and enjoy a home cooked meal every day! 

    Switch from a bank to a credit union Banks are riddled with fees—fees to have a checking account, fees for overdrawing, ATM fees, and more. 

    Cancel cable Cable TV plus Internet can cost $80 to $100 more than just Internet.

    Look for cheaper insurance options Compare prices at other insurance dealers to see how much money you can save every month

    Photo Credit: Ervins Strauhmanis

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