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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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    August 4, 2015
    Where To Exchange Your Coins For Cash

    I have a little wooden box in my house that accumulates all my loose change. If I have any quarters in my pocket, they get thrown in the box. Any change in the bottom of my purse, or that I find cleaning- it goes in the box. Now, it’s been ages (probably years) since I’ve gone through it (usually it sits there, forgotten about, since I rarely use cash for anything)- but last night, I decided to count all the silver coins and was pleasantly surprised. I had over $35! Just sitting uselessly in my house. That’s a pretty decent dinner out for two, but of course you can’t just show up at the restaurant with a bucket of change (and if you have done that, shame on you!). I need to find some way to turn it all into cash. There’s Coinstar, but it takes about 11% of the transaction. So, I found this article by Dr. Don Taylor at the Bankrate blog. Here’s what he says to do with large amounts of change:

    Talking to your bank is a good place to start, in any case. It might provide coin counting as a free service to customers even if they don’t have a machine in the lobby. 

    Coinstar, which operates machines at many grocery store locations, offers an alternative to paying its 10.9 percent fee. The coin counting is free when you opt to get a gift card representing the dollar value of the change. 

    Photo Credit: Holger 

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    August 3, 2015
    How To Organize Your Bills

    I’ll be honest- our kitchen table is a disaster. It’s the catch-all space that we use for papers, bills, mail, and any other things that we don’t have a designated space for. It gets cleaned off every once in a while, but things start to accumulate again within a day or so. It’s an eyesore, but it’s also dangerous- there’s always the threat of losing something important. That’s why I love this post by Becky at Clean Mama. If you follow her advice, you’ll have your paperwork (and finances) organized in no time. Here’s how she organizes her bills:

    -Use a binder + plastic dividers. Divide them into Budget, Debt, Savings, Due Dates, and Checklist.

    -Put bills in due date pockets

    -Use a bill payment checklist to make sure everything gets paid on time!

    Photo Credit: John Patrick Robichaud 

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    July 30, 2015
    Why Is Bad Credit So Bad?

    There are so many personal finance articles out there about how to improve your credit, but why does it actually matter? I’m a firm believer in the fact that a number can never define your worth- your weight on a scale, the amount of money your make, your GPA from school- none of that reflects your character. A credit score attempts to measure how risky of an investment you are to potential lenders. It takes into account whether or not you pay your bills on time, and how much debt you currently possess. Again, having bad credit does not mean you are a bad person, but it can have severe effects on your personal life. This article by Brian Martucci at Money Crashers illustrates what a bad score can mean for you:

    -Getting approved for any sort of loan can be difficult, including ones for cars and homes

    -You will face higher rates and more restrictive terms on loans you do get

    -You may face trouble renting an apartment

    -Potential strain on personal relationships

    Photo Credit: Patrick Subotkiewiez 

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    July 28, 2015
    Start Your Emergency Fund Today

    If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, trying to build up your savings, and also paying bills, starting an emergency fund can take a backseat. I mean, who has time to save up 3-6 months worth of expenses? It can take a while, but having an emergency fund is absolutely crucial. You never know when you’ll need to replace a car part, have to get a root canal, or worse, be laid off. If you put away a little bit each paycheck, you’ll have it built up in no time- better now than never. Alternatively, you can look for ways to make big cash fast. Check out this post by Jessica Fisher at Life as Mom for tips on creating your emergency fund today:

    • sell extra cars and big ticket toys
    • have a garage sale
    • take a second or seasonal job
    • collect all the coins and stray cash in the house

    I promise that if you have a little nest egg set aside for the next rainy day, you’ll be able to be less stressed and deal with the real emergency without freaking out,

    Photo Credit: Got Credit 

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    July 27, 2015
    How To Start Paying Back Student Loans

    Most college graduates are saddled with at least $10,000 in student loan debt before they even get their first job. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous that education is so exorbitantly expensive, and that lenders price gouge young people that have no other option (if they don’t want to live in poverty at a minimum wage job.) Unfortunately, insane student loan debt is standard, and we’re going to have to learn to live with it until education reform happens (if ever). But enough about my soap box. Chances are, you probably still have student loans of your own. Read this article by Steph at Debt Free Spending for tips on paying it off the smart way. The whole article has a detailed guide on which type of loan is which, where to start, and repayment options. Check it out here!

    Photo Credit: Pink Sherbert Photography

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    July 23, 2015
    Beyond Debt Free

    Most personal finance tips focus on either saving money, budgeting, or getting out of debt. To the beginner, getting out of debt can seem like the ultimate key to financial happiness. However, there are other ways to measure financial success. Independent business owners often have hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, but also generate much more income. It’s all about perspective, and something called “net worth.” Read this article by Elizabeth at Reluctant Landlord for more info:

    We are not worried about our debt number, but  more about our net worth. Our net worth is the number that illustrates our value after all our debt is paid off and we are finally debt-free. 

    The key for us is not about paying off our debt (which is an eventual goal), but setting up a platform to retire and grow off of.

    Photo Credit: Anssi Koskinen 

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    July 22, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Tiny Kitchen In A Tiny House

    Photo from Tiny House Swoon

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    July 21, 2015
    Couponing 101

    Last week, I went with a friend to a couponing class at our local library. I’m fascinated by those crazy couponing shows- being able to get $500 worth of stuff for $20 (LEGALLY) just seems like witchcraft to me. Now, the real world is not TV. You will most likely not be getting hundreds of dollars in free groceries every month. However, knowing what to do can save you BIG. I went on my first adventure and got $13 worth of items for $6. The couponing teacher said to start small, but I think more than 50% off is a pretty good start! If you are interested in starting to coupon to save money, check out this post Ruth at Living Well, Spending Less for tips:

    -Establish your coupon sources- you will need weekly newspaper inserts and printable coupons

    -Set up a newspaper subscription

    -Pick a couponing website to help you with your journey (I’ve been using IheartPublix and IheartKroger, but there are plenty of good ones out there)

    -Find this week’s post for your stores, match up sales with coupons.

    Remember, extreme Couponing is a cumulative process, not an instant magic formula.

    Photo Credit: Chris Potter 

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    July 20, 2015
    Start Saving For Next Summer

    Summer is quickly coming to an end. For me, that means that it’s time to start saving for next year’s vacation! Traveling is something that is important to me, and it is always something I prioritize when planning to save. Next year, I’ll be going on my biggest trip yet. My uncle just moved to Japan, and we’re planning on going to visit him. Naturally, international travel can get quite costly. That’s why I love this post by Kimberly at Stuffed Suitcase. Here are her tips for saving for vacation:

    -Driving typically costs less than flying, just be sure to factor in stops and hotel stays.

    -Pack your own snacks and find hotels that offer complimentary breakfast

    -Sell things you no longer use, put away the difference

    -Shop smarter, always look for ways to save money! Cut out non-essentials.

    Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley 

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    July 17, 2015
    Friday Fun Video: Getting The Most Out Of Social Security

    Here are the top mistakes that people make when claiming social security benefits!

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