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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.
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    November 6, 2014
    Don’t Be Crushed By Your Mortgage Payment

    Finding out how much home you can afford is the first step to beginning the home buying process. It’s important to look at your income, and determine how much you will be able to pay a month; this is the key to setting a budget. But, it can be extremely easy to deviate from the budget and end up being “house poor.” You don’t want to spend 95% of your paycheck on your mortgage, then have nothing left for other essentials! Many Realtors I know will refuse to show people homes outside of their budget for that very reason. For tips on resisting the temptation of over spending, read this post by Kimberly Duncan at Veterans United:

    -Get prequalified for a loan for an estimate, but be aware of your own situation. Just because you qualify for a $200,000 loan doesn’t mean you should buy a $200,000 house.

    -Don’t get emotionally involved

    -Don’t calculate it with minimum payments in mind- always leave allowance for emergencies and larger payments.

    Photo Credit: Mark Moz 

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    November 5, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Gorgeous Stairs + Architecture

    Photo from Pinterest

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    November 4, 2014
    Checking Your Credit Score For Free

    You see them all the time- ads everywhere telling you where to go to check your credit for “free”. Of course, you have to enter a credit card number, then you are charged later. To avoid this, and to also keep an eye on your score, you need to find out where to actually check your score for free. Read this post by Gretchen at Retired By 40 for more:

    Credit Sesame

    Credit Karma(I have personally used this one before twice- it’s absolutely free)

    Wise Piggy

    Photo Credit: Eneas De Troya 

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    November 3, 2014
    The Biggest Mortgage Mistake That You Can Make

    So, you’ve saved up money for a down payment. You’ve had a secure job, paid off debt, and gotten your credit score in order- and you think you’re ready to apply for a mortgage. However, the most common reason that people get rejected is also one that no one ever thinks about. To avoid this huge mistake, read this post by Scott Sheldon at

    Specifically, we’re talking about the eligible funds for the mortgage transaction. You might have the money in the bank, but it isn’t that simple. A lender will still want to know who the funds belong to, and how the money got there.  And if you can’t document these things, your mortgage could get delayed — or denied.

    The key: document, document, document. Large, unexpected cash deposits are a huge red flag- be able to address what they are, in writing- or risk being denied.

    Photo Credit: SEO 

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    October 30, 2014
    Buying A Car? New Vs. Used

    Cars are one of the most expensive things you’ll ever buy, coming in second only to your home. The frugal girl in me always says to buy used- on practically everything. And you’ll save thousands when buying a used car over a new one. However, if you spend $2,000 on a used car, then end up having to get a different one within a year, then you’re not really saving money. So when do you buy new, and when do you buy used? Of course, you need to be very careful when buying a used car. A good eye and lots of experience helps with that. These tips at The Frugal Free Gal will also be helpful:

    -New cars are more reliable, accident free, have a warranty- and a nice smell

    -Used cars are often thousands cheaper, but they will need more repairs and sooner.

    -If you’re buying new, go during the end of summer. Dealers are trying to clear their lots, and will offer better sales.

    Photo Credit: T Phipps Photography 

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    October 29, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Cheap, Yet Awesome, Halloween Decor!

    Photo from Nifty and Thriving

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    October 28, 2014
    Spooky Halloween Saving Tips!

    Halloween is one of the biggest holidays of the year- Americans spend 7.4 billion on Halloween each year. From costumes to candy to decorations to alcohol and party supplies- it can all add up. And with Halloween fast approaching, some of us procrastinators are probably about to head out to the stores to drop a few hundred bucks on last minute costumes and 10 pound bags of candy. But before you do that, read this article by Jacqueline Curtis at the Money Crashers blog. It has lots of DIY décor ideas, as well as other Halloween savings tips:

    -Buy pumpkins cheap- grocery stores are usually cheaper than pumpkin patches

    -Use items you already have for costumes

    -Use candy alternatives- sticker sheets and small toys are much cheaper

    -Think outside the big box store and get crafty – and you’ll find that Halloween doesn’t have to break the bank.

    Photo Credit: Jeff Kramer 

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    October 27, 2014
    The Secret To A Scary Good Credit Score

    If you’re trying to buy a house, an extremely important part is having a good credit score. If you don’t pay your bills on time, are up to your ears in debt, and don’t follow through on your financial commitments, no lender is going to want to back you. However, even if you do have bad credit, not all is lost. There are plenty of programs out there designed to help out buyers with financial woes, as well as government housing options. Of course, getting your credit score fixed is way more preferable. For tips on how to get a great credit score, read this post by Anita at Live Like You Are Rich:

    -Bad/negative reports on your score are typically there for 7 years (bankruptcies can be on there for 10 years).
    -You can improve your credit score by keeping accounts and credit cards open and paid off for a long time. The longer you have a good standing account the better
    -Applying for lots of credit (credit cards, different types of loans, etc.) within a few months of time can drop your score.
    -Lower debt

    -Pay all bills on time

    Photo Credit: Vincent 

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    October 21, 2014
    What Is The Difference Between Mortgage Rate and APR?

    The two sound almost identical. Your mortgage rate is just that: the interest rate on your mortgage. Your APR (Annual Percentage Rate) is how much you’re actually paying in interest each year. Knowing the difference between the two is crucial. Confused? Don’t be. Just read this article by Jeanna Nagle at Lending Tree for more information:

    Many people assume that the loan with the lowest APR automatically gives them the most bang for their buck. Yet sometimes calculating the APR vs. interest rate is the only way to truly reveal what the best deal is. Low APR is great, provided the mortgage is paid off over the course of its entire term. 

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    October 20, 2014
    Discounted FHA Loans Coming in 2015

    The HAWK (Homeowners Armed With Knowledge) Program by the FHA is all set to roll out next year. The point of the program? It offers discounts to people getting an FHA loan- if they take several classes on homeowning. Personally, I think this is a great step. Providing people with more financial education before they take out a mortgage (or any large purchase) is the key to economic health. Read this article by Karen Highland at the Frederick Real Estate Online blog for more information on the discounts:

    The classes cover how to evaluate housing affordability and mortgage alternatives, to better manage their finances, and to understand the rights and responsibilities of homeownership. After taking the classes, which are taken both before and after closing, mortgage insurance premiums will be cut for those borrowers. The average savings should amount to $325 a year, or almost $10,000 over the life of the 30-year loan.

    Photo Credit: dcJohn 

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