August 2007

The Documents You Need: Family Photos

If you’ve watched much disaster coverage, you know that people often mention losing their family photos. Either they didn’t get a chance to go home to collect them or there wasn’t enough time to get out of the house with them. It doesn’t take a disaster to lose your photos, though. My husband’s childhood photos were destroyed by an attic flood. Other people have lost photos to house…
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True Adventures in Homeownership: Eleven Weeks and Counting

It’s only been a few weeks since my last update on new homeownership, but somehow my math was really off last time. I don’t have a special time machine that allows me to zip through five weeks in a mere three. Still, a lot has happened in the last three weeks, including some important new lessons. Contractors Sometimes Give Cash Discounts We got our carport roof fixed three…
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How to Hire Professional Movers

My husband and I decided five years ago (around the time I moved in with him) that the next time we moved, we would hire professionals to do the job. Yes, it costs more, but given the hassles, timing, and expense of doing it yourself, it’s worth it to us. Here are our reasons: We’re tired of wrangling friends to help us It takes far longer for non-professionals…
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Why You Need Renter’s Insurance

Most of my friends who rent don’t have renter’s insurance, for one of three mistaken reasons: They think it’s too expensive They think their landlord’s policy covers them They think their stuff isn’t worth much. If you rent, then you do need a renter’s policy. It’s actually very affordable – it’s usually less than $20 a month. $12 a month is the national average. I pay $20 where…
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Investing in Frugal Living at the Carnivals

This week we have just two carnivals to share. First, the Carnival of Personal Finance #197 hosted by Four Pillars.  In addition to my post containing 13 ways to celebrate spring, I also recommend Almost Frugal’s list of four unlikely books that made her more frugal. Second, the Festival of Frugality #170, hosted by Money Ning.  In addition to my list of milk substitutions, I recommend Suburban Dollar’s comparison of store brand and name brand items.
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How to Buy Christmas Presents That Don’t Suck

Over the years, I’ve received good Christmas presents and bad presents over the years. Some of the bad ones were just weird, and there’s no avoiding that. However, some of them well-intentioned but totally missed the mark. Choosing the right Christmas presents can be hard, so here are my tips for finding the best ones, whether you go with homemade gifts or store-bought. A High Price Does Not Equal a…
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Buy a Patio Set after Labor Day to Save Big

Experts say there is a best time to buy anything. Big screens after the Super Bowl, laptops for back-to-school, and here’s one I’ve just discovered: patio furniture and grills after Labor Day. Which Stores Have Big Sales A full-time patio store may have some items on clearance after Labor Day, but since patios are their year-round business, don’t look for big markdowns any time of year. Instead, check…
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401K and IRA Strategies During the Financial Crisis

I’ve purposely not looked at my 401K account this week. I did check it a month ago to see if I needed to rebalance. At that time, I’d lost 2% less than the broader market and was well-diversified, so I didn’t change anything. I still don’t plan to. There are still a few things you should do about your investments during this crisis, however. Don’t Panic I know it’s…
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7 Things You Should Always Buy New

For many items, like cars and houses, buying used is a good idea. In some cases, though, used is not better. Here are seven items you should always buy new. Shoes:  The problem with used shoes isn’t related to hygiene, it’s related to fit. Shoes conform to our feet over time, which means that used shoes have molded to someone else’s foot and won’t provide you with proper…
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My Path to Becoming a Homeowner, Part 2

On Friday, I detailed the start of our road to homeownership, which stretched over a year and a half from the initial “we might be able to afford a house” to the “let’s hire a real estate agent” stage. Now I’ll tell you how we finally reached the end. Careful Thinking about Each Home All told, we looked at exactly 50 houses, including the open houses. Of the 29…
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