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10 Ways to Save Money on Energy Bills This Winter

With the chilly winter months here in many parts of the country, it’s a perfect time to assess how to save money and stay warm. A good place to start is by running an energy audit to determine where you spend the most energy dollars. In the meantime, there also are other things you can do to get through the winter without siphoning your savings. Turn Down The Heat Even if you love feeling toasty in the winter, consider regulating your thermostat by dropping it a few degrees and wearing a sweater inside your home. Energy Star offers free advice…

Home Mortgage: What’s the Difference Between Being Preapproved and Prequalified

Fall is an ideal time to shop for a new home. The market has quieted from the frenzy of spring and summer real estate activity. And prices may be lower, as sellers work to close a deal before the traditionally slow market during the holidays. Before you engage a real estate agent or spend a weekend visiting open houses, do a little homework so you’ll be ready to find your next home. A crucial task is assessing how likely you are to get approved for the mortgage amount you may seek. You’ll hear the terms preapproved and prequalified. Both have…

How to Inventory the Contents of Your Home

Should the unfortunate happen and you need to make a claim against your homeowners policy, it’s smart planning to take inventory of the items inside your home. If you have this information readily available, you will be able to share it with an insurance adjuster when you make the insurance claim. Here’s how to get started with your own home inventory today. Plan Ahead Before you begin the process of recording all of the items in your home, spend some time coming up with a plan. Gather equipment. Decide what equipment you will use for the inventory. The camera on…

7 Personal Finance Milestones in Your 30s

We recently discussed 5 Personal Finance Milestones in Your 20s, and today are following up with the next decade. Today we dive into the most important personal finance milestones of your 30s. Buy a Home While there are many circumstances where renting makes sense, owning your own home is a major milestone in your personal finances. When you buy a home, you stop paying someone else to live in their property and instead build equity in your own. On the 20s milestones list, an important item to help help you with this goal was noted: saving a down payment. If…

Are You Ready for Home Ownership?

Maybe you still consider home ownership the fastest path to the “American dream.” Maybe you’re fed up with increasing rent rates and think paying a mortgage every month could actually be cheaper. Maybe you think buying a house is the best way to get enough room for your growing family or your best (furry) friend. There are many wonderful reasons to take on home ownership, but just as many to avoid it … at least for now. Trying to decide whether you’re ready to buy a house? If any of these seven bullets apply to you, you should wait before…

Outsourcing Home Maintenance: Costs and Benefits

With a rise in services such as Angie’s List, Thumbtack and Zaarly, today you can outsource just about any home maintenance task. But should you? Before picking up the phone and shelling out the cash for maintenance help, consider the pros and cons of outsourcing home maintenance versus doing it yourself. You may find the cost is completely worth it. Or, you may decide to save instead. If you currently pay for a home maintenance service you’re not alone. A recent Bankrate survey found more than three in five homeowners use at least one recurring home maintenance provider. These services…

Updates For Your Home to Stay in it Forever

Your home is perfect for you. You love the neighborhood, the yard, the space. It’s where your kids grew up and where your grandkids come to play. You can’t imagine yourself living anywhere else. While many people think they have to leave their homes behind as they get older, aging in place is a growing trend in the home improvement world. Many families make modifications and updates to their home, allowing them to age in place by following the basic principles of Universal Design. Some updates require more extensive planning and come with a hefty cost. But a surprisingly number…

7 Ways to Spend a Little to Save a Fortune This Spring

Congratulations. You and your home survived another winter. If you got through it without frozen pipes, a damaged roof or furnace failure, consider yourself fortunate. Don’t press your luck now that spring has arrived. Spending a few dollars or hours on low-cost or DIY maintenance this spring can stave off thousands in repairs down the road. Here are seven of the more doable and valuable home maintenance tasks on your to-do list: Get After Those Gutters Water will always flow in the path of least resistance. Ideally, it’s through wide open gutters and downspouts. But leaves, sticks and other debris…

Buying a Home? 5 Steps to Avoid Surprises

Buying a home is likely the biggest financial transaction of your life. With so much on the line, it is important to take the right steps to prepare for the home search and buying process. From figuring out how much home you can afford to signing your closing documents, follow these steps to prepare to buy a home and avoid unpleasant surprises. Calculating Your Home Purchase Budget Before you start looking for homes, it is important to understand how much home you can afford. There is nothing worse than going house hunting, finding a dream home and figuring out you…

Tips on Saving for a First-Time Home Down Payment

Whenever the subject of buying a first home comes up, the conversation often turns to current interest rates. To hear some people talk, all it takes is the right interest rate to make home buying happen. While that can be, and often is, true, there are plenty of people for whom interest rates aren’t the primary concern. In fact, many would love to get to the point of worrying about interest rates. It’s that pesky down payment that concerns them. It’s recommended that homebuyers put down 20 percent or more in order to secure good financing. With the median home…

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