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  • 6 Weird Ways to Boost Your Emergency Fund

    Increase Your Emergency SavingsIncrease Your Emergency SavingsBy: Kyle Taylor

    When I left home for college a few years ago, I left with a small savings account for emergencies. I had built the fund up with years of birthday money, graduation presents and extra money from my high school job. However, after six short months in college, I soon realized just how frequent "emergencies" can happen. During that time, my car's transmission died, a roommate skipped out on an electric bill and I was charged for a doctor's visit after coming down with pneumonia.

    Thankfully, I was able to handle those expenses, but afterward, my emergency fund needed a serious boost. If you find yourself in the same position, here are six weird ways you might not have thought of to boost your emergency fund:

    1. Audit a Liquor Store

    Liquor stores are constantly looking for adults, under the age of 30, to go undercover and audit their stores. The job requires that you attempt to buy beer and note whether the cashier asks you for your ID.

    Liquor stores do not hire directly

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  • How to (Peacefully) Improve Your Spouse's Credit Score

    Improve Your Spouse's Credit ScoreImprove Your Spouse's Credit ScoreBy: Bill Rice

    Marriage often joins two very different people together: introverts and extroverts, frugal and spend-thrift, good credit and bad credit. Consequently, happy marriages are typically the result of blending the best of the two into a stronger one. Improving your combined personal finances is no exception.

    Credit reports are a big piece of that new combined financial picture. They will impact major financial decisions all newlyweds have to make: renting or buying a home, purchasing a new car, maybe even getting a new job.

    All of these early financial changes can really get dicey if one spouse has a low credit score.

    Obviously, you need to improve that low credit score. Now here comes the uncomfortable part... How do you improve your spouse's low credit while maintaining marital bliss?

    Like all good relationship advice, most of my advice centers on good communication. I suggest starting the credit conversation early, working together to improve both your credit scores,

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  • Money-Saving Apps: Shopkick

    By: Kate Parham

    We're up to round two in our new series about the best money-saving mobile apps. This week, we cover Shopkick, an app that rewards you simply for going into your favorite stores.

    Name of App:

    Works on:
    iPhone and Android devices

    : FREE

    Your favorite stores just got better

    Why you should download it:
    Shopkick is the first program that rewards you simply for walking into your favorite stores. You don't even have to purchase anything to reap the benefits of this app.

    Shopkick, a Money-Saving Appshopkick
    How it Works:
    All you need to do is walk into one of many participating stores and open the Shopkick app on your mobile phone. Wait a few seconds for a big green welcome bubble to appear and Shopkick's state of the art technology will verify your presence in the store, rewarding you instantly!

    There are three kinds of instant rewards available with Shopkick: deals, "kicks" and scan rewards. Deals are available at dozens of national stores and are offered up when you enter one.

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  • How to Do the (Operation) Twist

    Let's Do the (Operation) Twist!Let's Do the (Operation) Twist!By: Bill Rice

    In the early 1960s, a new dance craze gripped the nation: The Twist. Youngsters stopped slow dancing and started "twisting the night away." At the same time, the American economy was slow dancing too and The Twist sounded like just the thing to get the economy moving.

    Flash-forward to 2011, the economy has slowed again and the Fed is out of new dance moves. This has given rise to new talk of "Operation Twist," a strategy used in the 1960s to spark a similarly stalled economy.

    Understanding the details of Operation Twist is not terribly important to you the consumer. However, knowing how it might affect your finances and what you should do to give yourself a little personal financial stimulus, on the government, is a very smart, money-making move.

    Let's get a little background and understand what's in it for the government so we can map our own Operation Twist plan.

    What is Operation Twist?

    The Federal Reserve is the central bank of the United States and as such is

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  • First-Time Home Buyers: Get Help on Your Side

    Help for First-Time Home BuyersHelp for First-Time Home Buyers

    By: Kristie Lorette

    The first time you buy a home is a huge step in life. And because you have never done it before, it is wise not to go it alone. That's why it's important to assemble a team of experts to help.

    Your first stop, even before hiring a real estate agent, is to turn to a trusted mortgage expert - be it a mortgage broker, bank or lender. These professionals will help you get your finances in order to buy a home and will help you determine how much home you can afford.

    Below is a guide to hiring the right professionals to help you with your first-time home purchase:

    Get Pre-Approved

    Your first step should be a mortgage shopping expedition. Contact the bank you have your checking and savings accounts with and at least two other mortgage companies, brokers or banks to gather information. You'll want to learn about the mortgage programs that each lender offers, including:

    • Term (or number of years of the mortgage)
    • Fixed or variable rate
    • Mortgage rate
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  • Make the Most of the Clothes You Buy

    Save Money by Making the Most of the Clothes You BuySave Money by Making the Most of the Clothes You BuyBy: Juliana Weiss-Roessler

    The average American spent $1,881 on clothing and related services in 2009. If that seems like a hefty sum, consider the clothes you buy and how you take care of them. Many of us could cut back on our clothing budgets simply by making the clothes we already have last longer.

    When you're shopping, think of your clothes as an investment. Avoid buying things that you'll just wear once and think about your lifestyle. Do you really need another fancy dress or are you better off buying a new pair of slacks for work?

    Here are a few tips for making your clothing purchases last longer:

    Wash in cold water.
    You'll save money on your energy bills and also many fabrics hold up better. You don't need to buy the fancy new cold water detergents, though if they are on sale or comparable to the detergent you normally buy, they are supposed to help remove dirt even without the assistance of hot water.

    Keep 'em separated.
    Follow the instructions on the tag: wash with like

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  • New Realities of Mortgage Refinancing (Part 1)

    Mortgage Refinance: The New RealityMortgage Refinance: The New RealityBy: Benjamin Gram

    With mortgage rates at record lows, many homeowners are looking to refinance their mortgages to save money on their monthly payments and/or pay off their mortgages faster. But what do people need to expect if they want to refinance? Is it still possible to get a home loan? Do you need a perfect credit score? What does it take to qualify, and what options do borrowers have for structuring their new loans?

    Stephen Luigi Piazza, Vice President at Quicken Loans, says that the current climate for refinancing is offering some big opportunities to families who have the right combination of good credit, home equity and steady income - but the realities of refinancing are different in 2011 than they were five years ago at the peak of the housing boom.

    "There is an extraordinary opportunity right now for qualifying homeowners to refinance their mortgages at a significant savings over their previous interest rate," said Piazza. "Pretty much every homeowner in the country,

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  • Why Is Your Credit Score Stuck?

    Unstick Your Credit Score and Go from Good to GreatUnstick Your Credit Score and Go from Good to GreatBy: Bill Rice

    Warning! Your credit score could be stuck.

    Good or bad, a credit score that isn't improving (assuming you haven't hit the 800+ credit elite) means that you're not achieving your full credit potential. More importantly... it means you're paying too much for things.

    Your credit score determines the rates you pay on credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, and insurance. It can also affect the amount you pay for a cell phone, cable TV, and other utilities. It might even impact your ability to get a better job.

    Maximizing your credit score is one of the fastest ways to save a lot of money.

    What? You're Not Even Watching!

    People with high credit scores are in a very elite club.

    You get things for less and people treat you better. I've worked in the financial service business for years. Believe me when I tell you high credit scores get elite service, low credit scores... well, not so much.

    But, here's the real secret:
    Getting a great credit score is not terribly Read More »from Why Is Your Credit Score Stuck?
  • Money-Saving Apps: Key Ring Reward Cards

    Save Money with the Key Ring AppSave Money with the Key Ring App

    By: Kate Parham

    We're kicking off a new series here, which takes a look at the best wallet-friendly mobile apps that will help you save money, time and your sanity. First up is an app called "Key Ring." Let's take a closer look:

    App Name:
    Key Ring Reward Cards

    Works on: iPhone (3G+), Android, Windows Phone 7 and Blackberry devices

    : FREE

    The app that "brings 'em all together

    Why you should download it:
    Key Ring allows you to catalog all of your rewards cards and membership cards at your favorite retailers - from grocery stores to movie theaters - therefore eliminating the need to carry dozens of cards with you everywhere you go. No more ten pound wallets!

    You can even upload coupons to your card through the app, in addition to receiving exclusive special offers from retailers sent directly to your phone. Simply select the coupons you want to use before you go shopping and the discounts will be automatically applied to your order at the checkout counter.

    Don't Read More »from Money-Saving Apps: Key Ring Reward Cards
  • Home Buying: Get Your Priorities in Order

    Prioritize Your Housing Wants and Must-HavesPrioritize Your Housing Wants and Must-HavesBy: Kristie Lorette

    Finding and viewing houses during the home buying process can be dizzying, especially for first-time home buyers. Before you start looking at homes, it's important to set your housing priorities. This is a list of features and amenities that you want the home to possess. Once you've made your "wish list," prioritize each item so you can more quickly identity which homes make your short list and which homes don't.

    Here are a few items that should be included on your list of priorities:


    Finding a great home for you and yours is typically not the hardest part of the home buying process. A major difficulty that many home buyers have when searching for a home is the price tag, particularly price points that are out of their affordability range. So, before you start listing features you'd like in your next home, the school district you'd like to live in or the "must have" amenities, you should first set a budget for a new home.

    A professional real estate agent,

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