RefinanceNo one likes taking out a loan, but it is often an inevitable part of life. The only way to buy your dream home is by taking a mortgage and then paying it off gradually until you own your home outright. But even if you work hard and you save money, the economy can be a cruel monster. Interest rates may go up and down, and those shifts could impact your mortgage and your monthly loan payments.

Until late 2013, there was little you could do except grit your teeth and bear the pinch of a fickle economic market. Now, the tides have turned. With several national and international factors coming into play, it seems like every homeowner’s mortgage fantasy could be coming true. You may be able to pick and choose from lenders offering interest rates averaging the lowest in this century. But along with the good comes the bad. It is safe to say that you can find a lender offering an affordable mortgage rate, but what if you are already stuck in with a high-interest mortgage loan? Can you refinance? And what should you do to make it profitable for you in the end?

For Homeowners Planning to Refinance Their Loans in 2014

While interest rates are low now, MSN points out that by late 2014, rates may well start to see a rise. The market is still great for people planning to refinance their loans. However, before you actually jump in with both feet, you should know that there are critical factors to consider. Here are a few essential facts that Investopedia feels you should be aware of:

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What to Shop for in April and May

by Scott Sery on April 23, 2014

What to Buy in AprilI am always on the lookout for when I should shop in order to get the best deals.  Over the years I have found that shopping sales does not mean you are actually getting a great deal on the goods.  In fact, most stores never expect to sell items at full price, instead they mark the item up drastically so they can sell it “on sale” for the price they originally wanted to get (check out this excellent article on The Wall Street Journal website for insights into sale psychology).  That said, there are certain times of the year when products will drop in price and actually be worth buying.

April and May Goods to Buy

There are a few different areas to shop during these two spring months.  While some are obvious as to why the items are on sale, others take a little research.

Now is the time to buy those winter boots, scarves, hats and mittens that you have had your eye on.  The warm weather is here, and the “sales” ended a month or two ago.  Now the prices are slashed in order to clear out the merchandise.  If you have not picked up what you wanted, waiting longer may result in the items not being around when you finally get to the store to buy them.  Just keep in mind, since items are clearance marked (75%+ off), there is a chance your size is no longer available.

Shopping for clearance marked goods due to the end of the year is a relatively easy approach.  You know when the season is over, and you can watch the sales.  Some other goods are a little harder to know when to buy them.  And a lot of it has to do with where those items are manufactured.

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10 Best Red Wines for Under $20

by Katelyn Michaud on April 21, 2014

Best Red WinesWine has been associated with food for thousands of years. But, it’s not until recently people have begun to really pay attention to the quality of our foods and wines. A common mantra of yesteryears has been “red wine with meat, white wine with chicken and fish.” Today, we know that is not true and the art of pairing wine with food can be quite complex and expensive. It is commonly believed that the older and more expensive a bottle of wine is the better it will be. That is not true! There are a plethora of good quality wines for under $20.

When purchasing a bottle of wine you want to consider the three “S’s” of wine tasting. The swirl, the smell, and the sip. Swirling allows you to see the wine’s texture and color. Young red wines will be a bluish red, whereas, an older red wine will warm to a ruby, then garnet, and finally brick red. As you swirl the wine, an older wine and those high in alcohol will descend in sheets or “legs” on the inside of the glass. Swirling also opens up the wine to oxygen to release its’ aromatics. All wines should exhibit strong fruit aromas, but many other aromas may be present as well, such as spice, herbs, and earth.

Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeast produce different types of wine. Some of the most common red wines found at the dinner table are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.

 THE BEST RED WINES UNDER $20

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is the result of an unintended cross between Cabernet Franc (red) and Sauvignon Blanc (white). Cabernet Sauvignon has a high ratio of grape skin to pulp, which gives the wine its deep red color, large seeds that provide a higher level of tannin that gives the wine its long longevity, and a good tolerance for different growing climates. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are grown in regions varying from Russia to southern France to Argentina.

The Menage a Trois Cabernet Sauvignon has bold, dark fruit flavors with silky tannins. The grapes come from three regions in California’s North Coast region and are aged in French and American oak barrels. For about $14 a bottle, this wine is a steal.

The Root: 1 Cabernet Sauvignon has a deep garnet color with ripe berries, cassis, plum and dark cherry aromas. It is a full-bodied wine with hints of red berry and mocha. It pairs well with red meat, roasted vegetables, and spicy soups. It can usually be found for $10-15 a bottle.

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Dream Big, Think Realistic

by Sean Bryant on April 20, 2014

Coffee MugFor all of our entrepreneurial lives we have been told to dream big and think big if we ever want to be big: A word of caution – That kind of magical thinking can lead to big debt and even bigger failures. Big thinking, and even failing, in itself is not always bad, but our thinking does not need to be big; it needs to be realistic. You do not have to shoot to be Coca Cola or Facebook. You do not need a Super Bowl commercial. What you need are small ideas for the marketing most likely to help your small business hit it big. Here are a few right-sized ideas that just might fit into your budget.

Branded Boxes

If you ship a product that needs a box, you are missing out on one of the great branding opportunities. At the height of their success, Gateway Computer enjoyed a great deal of consumer goodwill just from their big, fun, well-made, highly recognizable boxes. One of the greatest subliminal messages you can send your customer is that you are a solid company with well-made products and services that they can depend on. The way you send that message is with a great package. On of the reasons there is so little buyers remorse with Apple products is that the packaging is so high-quality. Everyone just assumes the contents are as well.

corrugated box manufacturer, like Custom Box Now, that creates custom box work can build boxes to your exact specifications, including your custom logo and artwork. These boxes will make their way across town and around the world. Only your customer knows exactly what is inside the box, but everyone gets to see who sent it. It is a great marketing idea. Perhaps that is what they mean by thinking outside the box.

T-Shirts and Coffee Mugs

You may not wear t-shirts and you may not drink coffee. But the one using these items is not the point. It is the one seeing them that matters. More to the point, it is the people seeing your business name and logo on the items that matters. Display advertising is rather expensive, and out of reach for many small businesses.

A display ad is like a billboard on the freeway. It doen’t say much. It just leaves an impression on the one who briefly glimpses it. In fact, the unit of measurement for a display ad is the number of impressions it generates. Coca Cola does not do display ads to inform you of the caloric and nutritional value of the product. They do it to remind you that they are there. They want you to see their logo more times than you see the competitor’s logo. When they do that, they win.

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Focus on the Big Things – Part Two

April 17, 2014
Focus on the Big things

Recently we discussed focusing on the big things, and how it is much more worthwhile to spend your time on the items that will save you a lot of money, like refinancing your house or negotiating your car insurance, rather than the things that will save you hardly anything, like making your own soap or […]

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Home Business Magazine for $5.99 Per Year

April 17, 2014
Home Business Magazine

Have you been thinking about starting a business? If you have then a great place to start might be with a subscription to Home Business Magazine. Today only you can get up to a two year subscription for just $5.99 per year. You will need to use coupon code ONESMARTDOLLAR at checkout. This is good […]

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