Archive for March 2016

5 Ways to Save for a Down Payment

down payment

wallet-669458_640There are many occasions when you may need to make a down payment to secure a loan. For instance, when you are buying a house, you will often need between 10% – 20% down in order to qualify for the mortgage. When buying a car the requirements for a down payment are less, but it is still important to have some cash available for the transaction.

No matter what kind of purchase you are going to be making, you will need to have a plan for how you are going to save up the down payment necessary to close the deal. Here?are five ideas for doing just that.

Give Up a Guilty Pleasure

Do you stop for an expensive coffee on the way to work each morning? Consider giving up that habit as a small step toward saving up for a down payment. While this method isn?t going to make much of a dent in terms of saving for a home purchase, it might free up the cash you need to eventually buy a car.

After all, stopping for a $5 coffee five days per week is more than $100 that could be saved within a month. Don’t just sit on the savings either but put it in an online savings account, such as Discover Bank, to try and grow the savings.

Make It a Priority

Quite simply, you have to prioritize your down payment if you want to actually be able to accrue the cash you need to make it happen. If you put more value on things like going out to dinner or going to the movies, you will spend your money there instead. Keep the down payment savings as a main focus, and you can make progress quicker than you might expect.

Sell Off Junk

It might not seem possible to raise money for a down payment just by selling junk from around the house, but you may be surprised to find how much value there is in the clutter?that you never use.

This method is great because you can clean up your home and make space while also raising money at the same time. Again, this isn?t going to help much toward buying a house, but smaller down payments can be tackled using this approach.

Take on an Extra Job

With a specific goal in mind, such as saving for a down payment, you may want to take on a second job in order to make extra money. Set an amount of money that you wish to save and then figure out how long you will need to work your second job in order to raise that money successfully.

Improve Your Credit

This is something of an ?outside the box? tip, but it can work. By improving your credit, you should qualify for better terms on a loan, and you might not need as much of a down payment in order to close the deal. For instance, if you can improve your debt-to-income ratio, lenders will look upon you more favorably, and the terms of your loan will become easier to negotiate. Suddenly, you may not need as much of a down payment, and you may be able to make your purchase sooner as a result.


Are you saving up for a down payment? What are you doing to save money for a down payment?


Photo courtesy of: Brett_Hondow

7 Ways to Make Money With Little Skill

make money

16958703915_e4d043355c_zIn today?s economy, it seems like no matter how much money you earn, you could always use at least a little more to put toward your financial goals, like getting out of debt, saving for a house or maybe just taking a vacation. But what holds most people back from taking the plunge to find ways to make money is the notion that they have to have some kind of special skills to do so.

If you are looking for a few ways to put a little more cash into your pocket, here are seven ways to make money that require little skill.

1. Make Money Through Online Surveys

Did you know you can get paid for your opinions? If you do a little searching on the Internet, you can find many sites that will pay you to tell them what you think of their products. ?Some, such as Swagbucks, Opinion Outpost, Harris Poll?and Reward TV pay you to complete surveys or give your opinion on a certain topic. You won’t get rich quick, but who?s going to complain about having a little more spending money?

2. Become a Taxi Driver

Sign up to drive your own vehicle and get paid to transport people from point A to point B. One popular site that has gained a lot of traction in the past couple of years is Uber. Uber and another popular service, Lyft, have?safety protocols for both drivers and riders for the protection of all.

Like a cab, the price of a ride varies according to the distance and time traveled, as well as there being extra charges during “peak” times, so you may not know exactly how much you’ll make driving your car. Don’t forget that you’ll also have to spend more on gas and maintenance for your vehicle if you start driving more often too.

3. Help Someone Move

Look around on the Internet and you will find several companies who will allow you to list your services so you can be hired to help people move. Even if you do this on a temporary basis, you can make money you need to help bolster your budget. You might also be able to find people looking for moving help on Craigslist.

4 Sell Your Stuff

This one is a no-brainer. Almost everyone has stuff sitting around they aren?t using or no longer need. Sell it online on Craigslist, Ebay, or a local Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade group, or you could have a yard sale. Either way, get it out of your way and get something out of it. Getting money back for stuff?I no longer need is one of my favorite things about decluttering my home.

5 Babysit

Yes, that?s right. Take care of someone else?s children. No, you don?t have to be a teenager to do it. There are plenty of places to advertise ? your local newspaper, bulletin boards at local stores, or the Internet, just to name a few. But whatever method you choose, get the word out about your services. You should also ask for referrals if the parents of children you’ve cared for in the past feel you did a good job. A referral based business is a good way to keep it growing without having to spend time or money on advertising.

6 Pet Sitting or Dog Walking

There are plenty of people out there who have to travel from time to time and can?t take their pets with them. Advertise your desire to take care of their fur babies while they are unable to do so, and make extra money while having fun. It’s kind of like being an aunt to a human baby, you get all the fun of having a pet for a few days without the hassle and expense of owning pets full-time.

7 Be a Mystery Shopper

Practically everyone has heard of this, but do you know anyone who had done it? Be that person. There really are companies out there willing to pay people to do this because they care and they want to know what is working well and what isn’t working at all within their company. There are a lot of sites to choose from, but some popular ones are Market Force?and?Best Mark.

No matter what kind of experience you have, one of the above side hustles could be exactly what you are looking for to help plug the hole in your budget. Another plus is that you don’t have to have any special skills to get started working with these ideas today, so you have no excuse as to why you can’t pick up one of these side hustles.


Have you ever done any of these things to make money? What other ways can you think of to make money without any special skills?


Photo courtesy of: Ted Van Pelt

4 Overlooked Ways to Spring Clean Your Finances

spring clean

spring cleanSpring is a great time to take a fresh look at everything in your life. Obviously, spring cleaning is a popular task to undertake as winter begins to thaw, with many people taking the opportunity to throw away some old junk, give the house a good deep clean, and get things ready for the beautiful spring and summer months to come. However, your spring cleaning ritual doesn?t have to be limited to housework ? you can apply this same line of thinking to your finances as well.

To spring clean your finances, please take a look at the following four ideas ?

Drop Some Subscriptions

There will never be a better time than now to take a look at your monthly subscriptions to see if any can be reasonably cut out of your budget. Subscriptions are an easy way to spend extra money without realizing it, since these will normally just be deducted from your bank account each month automatically.

A gym membership (that isn?t being used) is a common example of a subscription that can be cut out, but you may be spending money on others as well. Look over your bank statement and think carefully about getting rid of anything that you don?t feel is providing you with appropriate value. You can easily identify such memberships if you track your spending. If tracking your spending seems overwhelming or difficult to do, check out the free tool at Personal Capital?that makes it easy to manage.

Cut Back on Meals Out

Eating out in restaurants is a quick way to blow through your monthly food budget. It is dramatically cheaper to cook food at home for you and your family ? and it is usually healthier, as well. Do a good job of weekly grocery shopping to save money, and reserve the odd meal out for a special occasion. While this might seem like quite a bit of extra work at first, there is a good chance you will wind up enjoying the process of preparing your own food.

Renewed Savings Effort

While you are looking at your bank statement in an effort to find savings, it would also be a good idea to think about saving a little bit more each month. As a habit, move a set amount of money from your checking account into your savings account each time you get paid, and try your best to leave that money alone.

This will not only help you build a nest egg for the future, but it will also help you to be better about managing the money that is left in your checking for use each month. You can also set up automatic transfers from your checking to your savings account so you don’t have to remember to do it yourself. I know interest rates are terrible but there are some options available online. The best rates I’ve found are with Discover Bank?so make sure to go with a bank that pays something on your cash.

Make More Money!

The easiest way to balance out your budget each month is simply to make extra money. Take some time to think about various avenues that you could pursue in an effort to boost your income ? whether that means making more money at your current job, finding a new job, getting a part-time side job, starting a side hustle?or any other option you can find. There will always be expenses in life, so maximizing your earnings is going to be the best way to meet your financial obligations while still having something left over to save.


Do you spring clean your finances? What does spring cleaning entail for you? What is one expense you’d like to cut but have challenges doing so?


Photo courtesy of: PublicDomainPictures

7 Things to Consider Before Continuing Your Education


paperclip-168336_640If you take a walk around just about any college campus in America these days, you?ll likely see some signs of age on more than a few in the sea of students around you. But while it?s no secret the number of students returning to college after age 25 is on the rise, how do you know if it?s the right decision for you? Here are a few things to consider before continuing?your education by going to college for the first time or by getting an online criminal justice degree in mississippi.

Do Your Homework

Let?s assume whatever profession you are considering pursuing will gain you a higher income than you are bringing home in your current job. You need to weigh the factors, such as the cost of gaining this education, the difference between your annual salary now and the projected salary of your new position, how many years you think you will be working in your new position and the number of years you would remain in your current position at your current salary.

There may be other issues that could also influence your decision, such as whether or not you still have children at home to care for, or a spouse and how it will affect him or her. If it helps, jot your thoughts on a notepad for closer deliberation.

What Field Will You Pursue?

Going back to school as a nontraditional student may have become the ?cool? thing to do after the age of 25, however, it is not the end all and be all of the?professional world. Before you decide to go back to school or continue your education, really think about what field you will pursue. As mentioned, some degrees will really pay off in terms of higher earnings, but some degrees in some fields may not.

Do You Need to go Back to School?

Having a Bachelor?s degree, a Master?s or even a Doctorate may not be necessary to accomplish your goals. Depending on your chosen profession, it is possible an Associate Degree would do just as well. If you have a professional mentor, ask them if they feel it is necessary to go back to school or get a further degree in order to achieve your goal. The last thing you want to do is to continue your education if it only results in racking up debt with nothing to show for it.

What College or University Will You Attend?

You can certainly sign up for and attend courses at a nearby college campus to save money on your college education, but if you do some checking, you may find the courses you need are offered online. Completing your coursework from home when it is convenient for you would be an advantage if you are trying to juggle work, college and a family or other commitments.

Do You Have the Time?

Going back to school or pursuing a higher degree, like a masters or doctorate, can be stressful on you and your family. Finding time for family, work and school can be a real challenge. Don’t forget about how much work you’ll have to put in outside of the classroom on homework, papers, projects and studying for tests. Be realistic and think it over carefully before taking the plunge. You may have time if you give up some time sucking activities like watching TV.

Can You Get Financial Aid?

If you are a returning student, you might think there are no scholarships or grants available. Wrong. If you are planning to go into a field related to what you currently do, check to see if your current employer offers any scholarships or if they are willing to reimburse you for taking some classes. You can also look around online. You might be surprised to find scholarships and grants available for nontraditional students and those pursuing higher degrees after obtaining a Bachelor’s.

Alternatives to Formal Education

These days there are also a lot of alternatives to formal education at colleges and universities. Not only can you take many degree programs online, but you can also choose to self-educate without the aid of a college or university at all. There are plenty of courses available online from professionals in many work fields, and you may even be able to self-educate for free with the help of resources in your community, like the public library.

As you can clearly see, the decision of whether or not to further your education is not to be taken lightly, and there are many things to consider. Take a little time to think about it, and if you still feel it?s the right thing to do, go for it!


Have you ever thought about pursuing more education? Was there anything else you considered before making your decision?


Photo courtesy of: AlexanderStein

What Options Are Available When Trying to Sell a Home?

3688731757_162e3e6c7f_zUnfortunately, it’s not just buying a home that is stressful. Trying to sell a home can be a highly stressful task, and it?s one that can last for several months. If you?re looking to sell your home or ?put it on the market?, then there are a number of ways that you can do so; and it?s important that you know them all. In this post, we take a look at all the options available, including some “alternative options“, when you?re trying to sell a home.

Selling on the High Street

Heading to the high street to a local estate agent is the most popular way of selling any home. However, this doesn?t necessarily mean it?s either the best way or the right way for you.

Although selling on the high street maximizes the exposure your home receives and increases your chance of a quick sale, it can also be incredibly expensive, with the agent taking a large sum of the money received. Of course, you can always try to negotiate for a lower commission percentage before you list your home with a particular agent.

Going it Alone

If you believe that you have the legal know-how then you can sell your home on your own without the need for an agent. However for sale by owner is only recommended if you fully understand the process. If not, it can be a legal nightmare and although you?ll save money on agents? fees, you may not conclude the process properly and it can end up costing you far more than if you had used an agent.

Heading to Auction

If you consider yourself to be a bit of a risk-taker, then you can also take your property to auction: Homes Under the Hammer style! This is generally considered to be a good option for properties that are a little rundown or in need of repair.

These properties are then snapped up by property developers or landlords looking for new rental properties. You may not get the best possible price because of this, but you increase your chances of a quick sale. Remember that you can also place a reserve on the property so that it doesn?t sell for a price you?re not comfortable with. You also need to remember that the auction house or auctioneer will also take a small percentage for helping you sell your property.

Popping Online

If you?re desperate for a quick sale, then selling through an online estate agents could be your best bet. Online agents such as House Network will provide you with a free valuation for your home so you?ll know how much you should expect to receive.

You won?t receive as much as you would on the high street but your property will?sell far quicker ? it should even sell within 7 days.

With all of these options to consider,?you should have no problem trying to sell a home. Good luck!


Have you ever used these methods to sell a home? Have you ever bought a house from one of these methods?


Photo courtesy of: Bradley Gordon