Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Getting Ready To Buy Your First Home

Buying a home is a huge commitment, and it's crucial that you have your finances in order before going ahead with a purchase. Today we're going to talk about how to be prepared and steps you can take to make the best buying decisions.

Do You Have Any Debt?

Owning a home will wreak havoc on your budget. With the initial purchase, you'll have closing costs including realtor fees, taxes, moving fees, and more. Once you've moved in you'll of course have your mortgage payment (probably a sizeable chunk of your income) but you'll also have property taxes, insurance, utilities, and unforeseen maintenance and repair costs.

If you're still paying off your student loans or have revolving credit card debt, it won't take much for a perfect storm to hit and wipe you out financially.

If you're working hard to save up for a down payment but still have debt, seriously consider saving a little bit more and paying it all off first.

Do You Have An Emergency Fund?

Stepping into your home opens you up to some potentially devastating repair bills. Finding out your roof has a leak the month after you move in could cost you $10,000 or more that you hadn't prepared for. Purchasing a home without having an emergency fund to deal with real emergencies like this is extremely risky and should be avoided at all cost.

How Long Are You Planning To Live There?

Contrary to popular belief, a home doesn't only go up in value. If you're assuming you'll be able to sell at any time for a profit, please think again. If you have a stable job and like where you're living and aren't going to outgrow the home in the next few years, you're probably good.

If you move around for work, are planning on having kids that would necessitate a move, or any other circumstance you can foresee, renting might be the better option.

Timing The Market

You might be thinking that you can buy your home when the market is down to ensure you'll profit when you sell. Get in line. The truth is that while we can forecast a likely downturn or upturn, there's really no way to predict WHEN it will happen.

In Toronto and Vancouver, for example, people have been complaining about skyrocketing prices for the last few years, and predicting a market correction for just as long. It hasn't happened but, like clockwork, analysts keep issuing predictions that this year is the year!

Buy when you can afford it and you're otherwise ready. As long as your selling horizon is over 5 years, you should be OK.

Make Money When You Buy

There's a piece of real estate wisdom that says you make your money when you buy a house, not when you sell. To do this you have to find a diamond in the rough. Buying the professionally staged home that's the most expensive on the street is not the way to do this, even if it IS your dream home.

Buy a home a block over that's in need of some cosmetic upgrades. You're going to want to make changes anyway, you might as well start with something less than perfect.

It's also important to negotiate. Depending on your market and your agent you may be able to save thousands of dollars on the purchase price.

Finding The Best Interest Rates

Because of the huge amount of money you'll be borrowing, combined with the time-frame involved, even the smallest difference in interest rate will mean thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage.

Shop online at to get started. Once you find the lowest posted rate, you should also consider pre-payment options such as how much you can contribute in lump-sum payments and how much you can raise your monthly payments if you later decide to accelerate your mortgage payoff. You should also consider the penalty for breaking the mortgage, as these also differ between lenders.

Go For The Easy Wins

Now that you're sure you're buying, you want to pay off your home as fast as possible with the least amount of interest. The easiest way to do this is by choosing bi-weekly payments. Using bi-weekly payments instead of monthly will effectively force you to make 13 payments per year instead of 12. You'll hardly notice the difference but this alone will shave years off of your mortgage.

Sure you have your ducks in a row? Then have fun house hunting!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Some Ways I Save At Concerts

By David Treehouse

It's always a challenge to save money when attending a concert. There are may ways that sellers try to part you from your money, and if you aren't careful, you can end up leaving a concert with nothing left. This is not good, especially if your goal is to attend more concerts. Here are some of the things I did when I scored some Florence and the Machine tickets, but still wanted to come away with some cash in my wallet.

I Didn't Bring a Credit or Debit Card

Many people try to set a budget when attending a concert, but it's easy to ignore that budget if you have a credit card to swipe. In order to limit my spending, I attended the concert with cash only, leaving my cards at home. Obviously make sure you have enough money to get home if this is a concern. By taking this approach, whatever cash you bring is what you have to spend, so you won't have to worry about overspending.

I Brought My Own Food

A lot of venues refuse to allow food or drinks inside their establishment, but a few don't bother to check your bags. If you're attending a large music festival, you can often get away with bringing your own food. If you're able to do so, this is a much better way to save money than buying concessions from vendors. As stated above, vendors overprice their food, and there's no point in paying $5 for a piece of food when you can spend $5 at the grocery store and bring an entire meal. I ended up bringing food and eating before entering the concert venue. This way I was full and had no desire to buy the food inside.

I Avoided Paying for a Hotel

There are a lot of people who travel from far away to attend a concert or festival, which means that in addition to paying for the ticket and transportation, they need to pay for lodging. This was the situation in my case. If you're traveling across a long distance for a concert, remember that you're paying to see a concert, not stay in a hotel room. See if you can find a friend who can offer their couch (what I did), book a room in a hostel, or camp out (if possible). If you do decide to book a hotel room, think twice before you pay for an expensive room.

I Split Costs

When it comes to the costs related to the concert, try to split as many as you can. Instead of taking my own car, a group of us carpooled to the event and split gas and parking costs. For food, we ordered a couple of large pizzas instead of going to a restaurant and getting separate meals. There are a lot of little things like these that you can split the costs with all that are going to save money.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Getting Van Insurance

Van insurance can be costly as most recently it was reported that van insurance had increased by more than 30%. Taking note of the following tips could help to make your money to go further.

It is important to make sure you purchase the correct insurance for you and your needs. If you choose the wrong level of coverage, the difference in price could be significant and you could be paying more than you need. Below is a description of the levels of coverage available.

Carriage of own goods

This type of van insurance cover is for people who use their van for transporting goods belonging to their business such as their own tools. This level of use is ideal for builders, window cleaners and plumbers.

Haulage (Hire and Reward)

This type of van insurance cover is suited to people who use the van to transport other people's goods for payment. Ideal for occupations such as delivery drivers.

Social Domestic and Pleasure only

This type of van insurance cover is most suitable for home-based drivers who use a van for everyday needs such as taking rubbish to the skip and transporting friends and family around.

There more advanced checks that you can carry out to ensure you are saving money on your van insurance quote. Checking your vans age, engine size, make and model are all factors that are looked at when it comes to your van insurance premium. Security will also be a factor that will be looked at; the more secure your van is the risk of it being targeted by thieves will be lower.

Be sure to do check all areas of your van to ensure you are getting the most competitive deal on the market such as getting a van insurance quote from autonet.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Five Reasons A Quality Car Will Save Money

By Thomas Green When it comes to purchasing a car, there is a lot more to consider beyond the price tag. Most people forget that the price of the car is just one of many factors that will determine the total cost of the car over a lifetime. Picking a high quality car, even if it has a bit more expensive retail price, can end up saving a lot of money i the long run. I own a Honda ES and it's been saving me money in a number of ways that many people forget to consider when they purchase a car.


Getting a car that is reliable can't be overstated. There is nothing worse than having to take your car into the mechanic time and again and the costs associated with that. Not only are there the repair bills, but also the cost of finding alternative transportation while the car is being worked on. Finding a car with a high reliability will save you both money and time over the life of the car.

Fuel Efficiency

The amount of money that you will save depends a lot on how much you drive, but with gas prices seemingly rising every year, the better the gas mileage that your car gets, the more money you are going to save when driving. It's best to compare the gas mileage that cars that are in the same class to see which ones have the advantage in this area. While you don't necessarily need to purchase the car with the very best gas mileage, you do want one that is one of the ones that gets better gas mileage on average than most of the other cars in the class.

Resale Value

Another important factor is how well the car holds its value. Cars are considered depreciating assets which means that over time, they decrease in value. While they decrease in value, they don't all decrease in value at the same rate. Quality cars tend to hold their value better than less reliable ones and are easier to sell when it's time to get rid of them. Looking at the history of a car model's resale value will give you a good indication what it will be worth when it's time to upgrade to a newer car.


The safety of the car wouldn't appear on the surface to be something that would save you money, but it definitely does. Safer cars cost less to insure since there is less chance of bodily injury during an accident. If there is an accident, a safe car can keep you from spending countless hours in the hospital and all the costs associated with that.

Car Care

It is sort of a self fulfilling prophecy that when you have a reliable car, you end up taking better care of it. This in turn keeps the car being reliable over the life of the car. When you have a car that constantly breaks down, it's harder to put in the regular maintenance because you assume that it is going to break down even when you do this. Purchasing a reliable car almost always results in you taking better care of it which simply adds to the safety, resale value and reliability of it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How Much Does It Cost To Raise A Family?

Watching your kids grow from short trousers and grubby faces into successful adults is a priceless experience right? Well, not quite because it seems you can actually put a price on your child's upbringing and its one that might well shock many people.

Your children are most likely your pride and joy so how much they cost over the course of 21 years (or more these days) is likely to be something that you have given little consideration to. But according to a study conducted by Liverpool Victoria (LV=) earlier this year the cost of a child comes in at a staggering £218,000 and is rising further as things like clothes and education get ever more expensive. And LV= isn't thinking that everyone dressed their children in Vivian Westwood and sends them to boarding school when coming up with that figure either.

Oh no, it's based on simple factors such as the cost of babysitters, one annual holiday and three years at college or university. Looking at £218,000 in more detail it is easy to work out that this equates to 10,380 a year, £865 a month, £199.76 a week or £28.53 a day. Of course we're talking averages here so these figures won't tally for everyone and there are some major regional differences to be factored in.

Indeed, the cost of raising a family is highest in London at £234,263 per child. This is closely followed by the South East at £232,450. In contrast, the cheapest place is the North East where a child will cost an average of £202,383 over the course of 21 years.

If you're thinking of starting a family and wanting to work out how much things cost then you're probably left scratching your head at this stage but these figures shouldn't put anyone off. You may just need to do some nifty planning that's all. With tuition fees on the rise from September it will probably come as no surprise that education fees are the biggest expense parents encounter because of their offspring.

LV='s research found that the average family now spends a total of £71,780 in ensuring that their children get the best possible education and make the most out of their time at university. This figure has somewhat incredibly shot up by 125 per cent in the nine years that have passed since LV= conducted its first family cost survey back in the summer of 2003.

Childcare and babysitting costs is the second largest expense at £62,099, up by 2.7 per cent on last year and 57 per cent on 2003. Food is the third most expensive thing a parent provides to their children at £18,667, while £10,781 is spent on clothing.

But while those things could rightly be considered essentials, there are a number of other things which are bought that cost a lot of money over the period of 21 years such as toys (do 21-year-olds still play with toys?) at £9,248 and holidays at £15,532.

But don't forget all those other things your children will nag you for such as sticker books, football cards and regular pocket money. There are also haircuts, day trips and clubs to pay for.

And it would be easier to think that as children get older they get less expensive but in reality that is rarely the case. While Suzie might not cost you any money in My Little Ponies and Barbies when she gets into her teens, it won't be long until she leaves school and wants to take driving lessons and guess who probably end up paying for them?

Increasingly, children in the 20s and 30s are also relying on their parents to given them a hand out here and there, particularly when it comes to raising a deposit for their first home. Watching your kids grow from short trousers and grubby faces into successful adults is a priceless experience right? For more advice and tips on how to save money and manage your debt visit

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Piggy Banks For Children

One of the most important lessons that you can teach your kids is how to handle their personal finances. Unfortunately, this is one area where parents are failing their kids. Taking the time to make a plan to start teaching your children the basics about personal finance from an early age is a wonderful way to put them on financial solid ground when they become adults.

One of the best ways to begin teaching children about personal finance is through piggy bank. While most people think of the piggy bank as simply place to deposit coins and bills, it can also be an excellent teaching tool about some of the fundamentals of personal finance.

While the standard piggy bank will do, there are now a large variety of piggy banks that have been developed specifically to help teach kids about personal finances. Choosing one of these banks can go a long way to helping your child understand that there is more to personal finance than putting away money to spend later.

It's also important to remember that you'll have to do more than simply give your child piggy bank. You'll need to spend some time talking with your child about the best ways to use the money that they do receive. By talking to your kids about personal finance and helping them decide the best ways to use their money, you will begin to lay a solid foundation for money management.

Be sure that you also take the time to live what you preach. If you are going to explain to your child the importance of saving, spending, investing in donating, it's important for you to also do these things and to show your child when you do them. This will reinforce those basic personal finance concepts so that they will have them well ingrained when they are older and have to do all their personal finance on their own.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blogging Help: Free Word Counter

If you are a blogger, there are a number of free online tools that can help you with your posts. One of my favorite is word counter which does a number of useful functions when you are writing a post. This is why I always use this easy tool when I am writing a post and you should consider doing the same.

Word Count: The website does exactly what it says it's going to do. It gives an accurate count of the number of words in the articles you write. This is especially helpful when you are writing blog posts for others or need to write an article within a specific range of words.

Character Count: Much like the word count function, the tool also gives a character count of everything you write. Again, this can be quite helpful for certain writing assignments and guest posts.

Keyword Density: This is an especially useful extra function. In addition to word count and character count, the tool also list the word density for the top 10 keywords in the article you have been writing. This allows you to determine if you have been using words too often in your writing and to make sure that the articles is hitting the keywords that the article is about.

An added bonus is that you don't have to go to the site to use this tool. There are downloads for Wordpress and Google Chrome so that you can use the functions with your regular writing within these formats. If you write articles on a regular basis, I think you will find this to be an excellent tool that you will use on a regular basis.