Home Improvement Projects

When it comes to your house, there’s always room for improvement. The kitchen could use an update, you wish your master bath was bigger and more storage would be wonderful. Even if you had your home custom built for your family, you can amass a laundry list of changes you’d like to make.

But what improvements are really worth making? Depending on the project, the added value may not be worth the time and money spent. However, with proper planning and high-quality work, some projects may actually increase the value of your home.

What’s Worth It: Convert the Attic Into a Bedroom

Upgrading the attic to add extra livable square footage to your home is a great investment. According to a nationwide survey by Remodeling Magazine, this project packs a 84.3 percent return on average. Because reconfiguring the attic into a spare bedroom will require electrical work and HVAC routing, you’ll need to hire a few professionals to complete it, but if you’re handy you should be able to complete the framing, drywall work and painting on your own. You may need to rent specialty construction equipment — like a nail gun, drywall lift or texture sprayer — to complete this addition, depending on the specifications of your home.

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Auto Insurance Policy

Consumers should be aware that auto insurance doesn’t always cover everything in a damaged vehicle. For example, policies might only pay up to a maximum amount for any mechanical and body work for a car. Windshield replacements and mirrors might not be covered by standard automobile insurance. Repairs for mechanical breakdowns are also not covered.

Smart consumers opt for car care plans in order to save money on any services and repairs that could cost thousands in the long run. For a small monthly fee, drivers can have some peace of mind on fixing their vehicles in case some major damage occurs. On a legal technicality, auto insurance companies might not even cover the cost for replacing an engine block that has been totally destroyed as a result of a collision with another car or structure.

A car care plan comes with perks and benefits for members. For example, major discounts are offered on routine service such as oil changes and tire rotations. Similarly, loyal members might receive exclusive offers on tire purchases. It’s common for car care club members to take get a free tire with the purchase of three brand new tires. Digital balancing and alignment services are also offered for free as a courtesy to loyal patrons of many car care plans.

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7 Low Cost Summer Activities for Teens

by Scott Sery on August 13, 2014

Summer Activities for Teens

Summer is almost over, but there is still time to get out and have fun. With BBQ’s, camping, vacations, and other activities filling up your schedule, it may seem hard to keep that balance of having fun and warding off overspending. If you find yourself feeling a little guilty about all the money being spent during the nice weather, here are a few fun summer activities that are cheap but enjoyable for the whole family.

City Parks

Every city and town has at least one park. While technically you pay for the parks with your property taxes, they almost all free to use. Chances are you have a park fairly close to your house that has a tennis court, basketball court, splash pad, or playground where you can go to enjoy the entire afternoon. Bring something to eat from home so when the ice cream truck drives by you aren’t tempted to spend anything.

Fishing Trip

While getting out and fishing is not an activity for everyone, it is certainly fun for many people. Where I live I have a river that is less than a 5 minute drive from the house, or a number of mountain lakes that are just about an hour away. With nice weather you can pack a picnic and go play in the water while fishing. With any luck you will be saving money by bringing home dinner.

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18 Ways to Improve Your Finances This Year

by Sean Bryant on August 11, 2014

Improve your finances

Even if you’re good with money, there’s always room for improvement. Good money management skills are crucial when trying to stick with a budget and avoid credit card debt. But being a good money manager isn’t only about spending within your budget. Whether you’re financially savvy, or you’re just starting to get serious about your money, here are 18 practical ways to improve your finances this year.

Start saving an emergency fund

Ideally, every person should have a 3 to 6 month emergency fund. Cash in this account can sustain you after a job loss, and cover unexpected expenses that arise. Get into a habit of paying yourself first and save at least 10% of your income every month.

Become a discount shopper

It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying groceries or clothes, only shop when you have a coupon, or when an item is on sale. You’ll reap the most savings, plus you’ll get more bang for your buck. Subscribe to Sunday’s newspaper, or sign up to receive promotions and coupons from your favorite retailers.

Start budgeting

Are you always broke at the end of the month? Maybe the problem isn’t too little income, rather the fact that you’re not budgeting for the month. Creating a spending plan is one of the easiest ways to assess where your money goes, plus it can keep your spending within a certain limit.

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How Much Life Insurance Do New Parents Need?

by Sean Bryant on August 8, 2014

Life Insurance Parents

Being a new parent brings with it a lot of joy, but also increased responsibility. It forces you to ask questions like, “What would happen to my child if I wasn’t around anymore?” Although this isn’t a fun question to think about, it’s an incredibly important one. Life insurance is most people’s best solution for protecting your family from extreme financial hardship if you were to pass away unexpectedly and they no longer had your income. Often times things like the mortgage, college tuition, medical bills, and car payments are impossible to tackle without the breadwinner’s income.

While most families recognize the need to protect their family with life insurance, it can often be a difficult financial product to understand. This is compounded while you’re trying to raise a child and time is of the essence. In this article we’ll cover some basics to figure out how much life insurance coverage you need and give you some tools so that you can do more research.

How much coverage do I need? What if I have more kids in the future?

Your coverage amount is perhaps the most important aspect of buying life insurance. Numerous variables will need to play into your calculation. There are different methods and theories on how to determine coverage needs but for now we just want you to get some ideas.

Life insurance is sought out for many different reasons but for the new parent there is one primary goal – income replacement. Life insurance is what fills the void when your monthly paychecks are no longer there to pay bills and save for the future. So ask yourself, where is my money going now? Are you paying off a mortgage? Are you putting money aside for college tuition?

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How a 7 Year Auto Loan May Put You Underwater

August 5, 2014
7 year car loan

Not too long ago, when shopping for an auto loan, you had the choice between a 3, 4, or 5 year loan. These terms would lock you into a loan, and make sure you were able to pay back the car quickly enough so that you did not owe more money than the vehicle was […]

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Traveling: Price vs. Comfort

August 1, 2014

Planning your next adventure is one of the best things to look forward to. The anticipation of going on a trip is a great feeling – almost as good as actually being on the trip! While planning for your next getaway, there is more to think about than just location. For budget-minded travelers looking to […]

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