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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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    July 3, 2014
    Don’t Let Your Pre-Approval Go To Waste

    So, you’ve gone through all the proper avenues and gotten pre-approved for your mortgage, congrats! It can be a lot of hard work to get your finances in order, and lots of time spent on paperwork. So why would someone go through all of that, just to get declined afterwards? It’s hard to believe, but it happens to some people. The best policy is to be completely honest with your lender: if they go back and notice drastic changes to your finances, or that you’ve withheld serious information from them, they can decline your loan. Check out this post by Lolly Spindler at the House Hunt blog for tips on turning your pre-approval into a real mortgage:

    -Disclose absolutely everything: past foreclosure, bankruptcy, short sale, drastic employment changes, alimony, child support payments, business losses. EVERYTHING.

    -Don’t borrow the down payment: it should be your own money.

    -Don’t make changes to your credit, or unexplained bank account deposits

    -Always pay your taxes on time

    Photo Credit: William Brawley 


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    July 1, 2014
    How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Fast

    It’s the American Dream: own a home, have no debt. But for most people, that probably won’t happen. Paying off a mortgage can take decades (sometimes even lifetimes), and the housing market crash even left many people underwater on their homes. But, it is possible to pay it off. You just have to make it your number one financial priority. Check out this post by Melissa Leong at Financial Post: it tells the stories of three young people and how they paid their mortgages off in their 30′s. Here are some tips from the article: Use large down payments, go with a five year fixed rate mortgage, and pay as much as you possibly can into each month. Each of these people were mortgage free within 8 years. Amazing and inspiring! Be sure to check out the full article to read their stories.

    Photo Credit: Diana Parkhouse 


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    June 30, 2014
    First Time Buyers: What To Ask Your Lender

    When deciding on a lender, it’s important to know what to ask. But, if you’re a first time buyer, you might not know exactly what questions are important. You might not even know much about the home buying process. You also might not know that the lowest interest rate is not always the best choice. You have to weigh quite a few options to know what is best for you. Check out this post by Greg at First Time Home Buyers Network for a good place to start:

    -What will my closing costs be?

    -What will the interest rate be?

    -When will I be able to lock my interest rate?

    -Will I be paying discount points or an origination fee?

    -What are the down payment requirements?

    -How long will it take to be approved?

    Photo Credit: Tsahi Levent-Levi 


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    June 26, 2014
    Don’t Get Sucked Into Spending More At Grocery Stores

    Grocery stores, especially big box stores and giant corporations, do their best to trick you into spending as much money as possible. Seriously. They have teams of psychologists who research human behavior and work with advertisers: they use all kinds of ploys to lure you away from what you really need to buy. I’m not making this up. They know that humans are easily distracted by shiny things and colors- that’s why the put the stuff you need in the back of the store (milk, eggs, bread) and barrage you with ads on your way there – so you get distracted and do some impulse buying on the way. Check out this post at Passion for Savings to be more aware– it could save you some serious dough:

    -Use a shopping list and ONLY buy what’s on it.

    -Items on lower or high shelves will be lower priced. Eye level = expensive items

    -Grocery stores use signs like Buy 10 for $10 to get you to buy more! You don’t always have to buy multiple items to get sale prices! ,The majority of the time these items will ring up for $1 each at the cash register.

    Photo Credit: Matt MacGillivray 


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    June 25, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Round Cabin Skylight

    Photo from Wetpaint Tumblr


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    June 24, 2014
    Documents You Need For Your Mortgage

    Applying for a mortgage and getting pre-approved can be a pretty confusing task. Lenders are going to look at all your finances to determine if you are going to be a reliable borrower. You should already know that you should have your credit score in order, make payments on time, work on paying off debt, and have a steady income. But what exactly do you need to bring to the lenders? What sorts of paperwork do they need to see? If you’re horribly organized (like me), it will give you a leg up if you know what you need before you go in. Check out this post by Whitney Watson at Loan Officer Lately for the documents you should prepare:

    -Most recent 2 years of W-2s*

    • Most recent 2 years of tax returns*
    • Pay stubs for the last 30 days
    • Your previous two months bank/financial statements for all accounts
    • If applicable, complete bankruptcy documents (if discharged fewer than 10 years ago)

    Photo Credit: Joel Penner 


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    June 19, 2014
    Getting Your Mortgage Application Fee Refunded

    Oh man, remember a few days ago when I wrote about negotiating (when you HATE confrontation)? This is one of those issues. Maybe something went wrong with the application process. Maybe an unexpected emergency came up and you had to put off buying a home. For whatever reason, you no longer wish to get a mortgage after you applied. In some cases, you will be able to get your application fees refunded. Check out this post by Rosy Saadeh at the Com Free blog for how to make that happen:

    Read your application. You’ll need to read your application to find out how long you have to get a refund. 

    Once you know you’re within the time limit and that you can request a refund (or at least try to!), it’s time to send a written request for a refund of your mortgage application fees.

    Bank on any leverage you have. Point out your long standing relationship with the bank. Point out any wrong-doing or negligence on their part to see if you can get a refund.

    Photo Credit: Ben Husman 


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    June 17, 2014
    Frugal and Free Date Ideas

    I’ve mentioned before that I’m more into getting new experiences, rather than material possessions as gifts. Let me explore a new city, take me to a new restaurant, take me horse back riding or whitewater rafting, maybe even let me travel a little… I love getting out and experiencing the world! “Collect moments, not things” is a personal life motto. However, the trouble with traveling or visiting attractions is that it’s usually fairly pricey. Who doesn’t want to sky dive, or take a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon? Oh, wait, it’s $400? Per person? Nevermind. But, there are plenty of frugal date ideas that are just as exciting. Check out this post by Emily Ko at Savvy Sugar for ideas. Here are some ones I’d like to try (or have done before!):

    -Go for a hike in a beautiful park

    -Go on a free factory (or brewery!) tour

    -Attend free lectures at your local college

    -Explore a haunted house

    -Go fishing

    -Walk around downtown and window shop

    -Go geocaching

    -Volunteer at an archaeological dig (they are everywhere! I promise!)

    -Stargaze and try to name constellations

    Photo Credit: Paris On Ponce 


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    June 16, 2014
    Negotiating for Introverts

    I am an introvert! I love having time to myself, and only spend time with my family and a small group of friends. I don’t mind the general public: I’ve worked in customer service jobs for years, and I do very will if everyone acts civil. And yet, I still hate, hate, hate confrontation. I avoid it at all costs, even if it will benefit me later. It’s one of my worst qualities…. If something requires even the slightest bit of negotiation or dispute, I shy away instantly and hope that if I ignore it enough, it will go away. This is bad! If you want to get anywhere in life, you have to learn to ask for what you want. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” is what my parents always say… but what if you’re terrified of being squeaky? Well, whether you want to negotiate a raise, dispute an unfair bill or credit report, or really just stand up for yourself at all, this article by Kristin Wong at Get Rich Slowly will help:

    -Don’t undervalue yourself- If you have a bad habit of undervaluing yourself, you might consider tacking on a little extra next time you throw out a number. A lot of people underestimate their worth, so it helps to aim higher. 

    -Use an exact number- Here’s an incredibly easy negotiating tip: Avoid round numbers.

    -Don’t talk about your finances-My only issue is making it personal when you ask for a raise. I always counsel against that. EVERYONE suffers from inflation, rent raises, etc. Your reason for asking for more money should be because of your skills, commitment, hard work, or because you have been undervalued compared to market levels

    Photo Credit: Eric Chan 


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    June 12, 2014
    Mortgage Made Easy: Credit Score Help

    When approving you for a mortgage, lenders are going to rely heavily on your credit score. It is a reflection on whether or not you are responsible with your money. Do you pay off your debt regularly? Make rent and bill payments on time? Have steady employment? Have a good credit score? Congratulations, you are probably a solid candidate. However, if you have had some credit hiccups, or are just confused about the what it is they’re looking for, this post is for you! This guide by Noah Seidenberg at the Trulia blog highlights the different areas of the credit score that lenders look at when you apply for a mortgage:

    -Late payments- they will disappear after 7 years

    -Collections

    -Payment records

    -Mysterious accounts- ***if there are accounts you don’t recognize on your report, you may have been a victim of identity theft.***

    -Available credit/ credit card limits

    Photo Credit: Fufu Wolf 


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