Real Estate InvestingReal estate is big business and many people have made their fortunes by investing wisely in the right areas before they shot up in price. There is no time like the present to start investing in your future wealth.

Before plunging blindly in to the real estate market, you have to pull back, do some research, and find out which house is going to give you the best return on your dollar. These simple tips will help you identify the key signs that a region’s housing prices are on the up-and-up.

Trust your head not your heart

This may sound self-evident, but you would be surprised how many real estate investors have a bias against areas they are not familiar with or that have a “bad” reputation. Sound property investment is all about putting your emotions aside and crunching the numbers to find where your money will work hardest. Take the long view and monitor property price trends and auction clearance figures in a wide range of areas, by comparing these figures you will soon see trends emerge and will be positioned to buy-in early when an area is on the rise.

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Love and Money – Women as the Breadwinner

by Melanie Lockert on April 14, 2014

The BreadwinnerThe changing face of the economy has brought about many new things. An increase in entrepreneurship, an over-educated working class, and a shift in gender dynamics: the explosion of women breadwinners. While these are very exciting times, the shifts in roles can affect our relationships in ways we may not be prepared to deal with.

Many women in my family are the breadwinners, and for a variety of reasons. Some of it has to do with education, field of work, unemployment, or health related issues. I find myself in a similar situation as my partner is a musician, with a fluctuating income month to month. On the other hand, I work a steady full-time job, and also side hustle every chance I get. It is hard to juggle conflicting schedules, sporadic income, and house chores, but here are some tips to make it work as a woman breadwinner.

Work As a Team

When one member of a relationship spends more time making money, there should be a balance in the household chores that reflects this. From talking with other women breadwinners, I’ve realized that gender norms are still prevalent in other areas of the relationship. Some women breadwinners are still responsible for the majority of cooking and cleaning in the household, while still bringing in most of the income. Not all women want to bring home the bacon and then have to cook it too. It is important to discuss the distribution of responsibilities and divide proportionately in relation to time and income.

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Used Clothes OnlineHave you ever found a $5 bill in an old jacket? Isn’t that the best feeling? Now imagine if that old jacket turned into a $20 bill. Most of us probably have closets bursting at the seams with clothes, most of which we don’t wear often, if, at all. Threadflip, a clothing resale website, conducted a survey of women aged 18-54 in the United States recently. The survey found an average woman has approximately 90 items worth about $1000 in her closet. Of these 90 items, about 51% of them are not worn anymore! That equates to a little over $500 worth of unused clothing just taking up prime real estate in one’s closet. How cool would it be if those unused clothes turned into cold, hard cash in your hand?

Where to Sell Used Clothes

Used clothes can be sold in a variety of places with the most popular being consignment/resale shops or online. Here’s a rundown of where your can sell your used clothing:

Local Consignment/Resale Shops

Consignment or resale shops are the best place to start if you have shops around you locally. Shops generally either buy your clothes up front for cash or will place your items for sale and will pay you if your clothes sell while keeping a percentage of the sale for commission. Check what each shop sells for clothing brands first. Some shops specialize in upscale designer duds while others accept a wide variety of popular brands. Most shops only accept the current fashion trends. If you clothes are older than 20 years then look for a vintage shop. Shops are seasonal so check what season shops are accepting clothing for currently. Shops will start looking for summer clothes during the late winter/early spring months. Some great consignment/resale shops with multiple locations throughout the United States include Second Time Around, Crossroads Trading, and Buffalo Exchange.

Online Consignment/Resale Shops

If you don’t live near a consignment/resale shop then you have many online options for both adults and children. Online shops are becoming very popular and new ones pop up all the time. Certain sites are geared towards different brands and styles so do your research so you can maximize your profit. Like above, online shops will either offer you money up front or take a percentage of the sale when an item sells. Some popular online shops are Threadflip, Twice, and Thredup among many others. For children’s clothing and accessories check out ConsignmentMommies.com for online and local shops. Selling clothes online has never been easier!

Ebay

Ebay is a great place to sell a wide variety of things. You probably won’t get a lot of money selling your used clothing on Ebay unless you have very popular designer brands. Most clothing that sells well on Ebay is new with tags. Do your research first before posting anything on Ebay. If you have a rare designer handbag or Lilly Pulitzer dress then you might make a nice profit. When posting items on Ebay, make sure you take lots of good pictures and describe the items in detail, including any blemishes.  You could also give Craigslist a try.

Yard/Garage Sale

Who doesn’t love an old fashion Yard/Garage Sale? If you’re trying to sell a bunch of your old stuff around the house then you can offer up some of your clothes for sale at the same time. Yale sales most likely won’t yield as much cash for your clothes than a consignment shop, but it’s worth the try if you’re setting up a yard sale to sell your other stuff. Hang your clothes in a favorable light and mark prices clearly to get the most customer interest.

Social Media

Perhaps all your friends have commented on your superb fashion sense. Use social media to sell your used clothing to your friends and followers on social media. There is nothing wrong in trying to make a few bucks on your used clothes on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Maybe you can even organize a community clothing sale and get a bunch of your friends and family to participate.

Donate

When all else fails you can always donate your used clothing to organizations such as Goodwill, Dress for Success and charity thrift shops among many other options. You may not make any cash when donating items, but you can get a tax write-off that can be beneficial if you itemize your tax deductions.

Tips for Getting the Most Bang For Your Buck

  • Make sure your clothes are freshly washed and ironed if needed
  • Repair missing buttons and stitch any small holes
  • Do your research and know what brands each consignment/resale shop accepts
  • Check the policies of each consignment/resale shop and whether they pay cash or check up front or take commission on your sales
  • Consignment/resale shops will also offer you store credit as well, often more value than a cash offer
  • If you have tags or boxes for items bring them with you
  • Place items you bring into shops on nice hangers or garment bags – presentation matters!

Selling used clothing that you know is just sitting in your closet is a great way to earn a few extra bucks, especially if you’re trying to pay-off debt or save for a tropical vacation. Not only will your wallet get fatter, but your closet will get thinner and more organized!

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Ford EscapeIt’s normal to feel a sense of impending doom when you find out that you have to buy a car. It happens to all of us. The process of buying a car has been talked about and lamented over and even vilified for years. Eventually, though, I had to get over it. Why? I was tired of having to beg rides after the busses stopped running. So I bought a car and you know what? It wasn’t that bad. In fact, I had a pretty good time and now I’m really happy that I have my own wheels.

Here is what I did to make sure that the process was smooth and that I didn’t wind up paying too much for my car or my insurance.

What Do You Want?

First I had to decide whether I wanted to buy a new car or a used car. Ultimately I decided to buy a new car for all of the reasons listed in this post. Then I figured out what type of car I wanted. This, admittedly, took more time because I don’t really “speak car.” Ultimately I decided on the Ford Escape. It’s important to figure out what you want before you even think about going shopping because otherwise you’ll be tempted into buying all sorts of things. For the first few days of my search all I could think was “oooh! Pretty!”

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Haggling Car-Buying ProcessLong gone are the days of loading the family into the station wagon, buying a round of ice cream cones and taking a drive through the local dealership to check out what’s for sale. Why bother, when you can just grab your tablet and browse vehicles online? Today, most car shoppers hit the dealership with a car and price already picked out. Some consumers are bypassing the dealerships altogether, and the industry is trying out new ideas. Here’s a snapshot of some of the changes currently taking place:

Farewell to Haggling?

Haggling has been a huge part of buying a car, and salesmen—who relied on commissions to boost their wages—had no other choice than to push for high sales prices. Now, haggling is becoming a thing of the past. Thanks to pricing information websites like TrueCar.com and Edmunds.com, most consumers can’t be talked into paying an inflated price.

Three years ago, Popular Mechanics published an interview with an anonymous car salesman who was more than willing to discuss the centrality of haggling to the car sales industry. He explained that salespeople have to push the price higher than the MSRP, and he also revealed that they have to sell high-margin extras like tinting or extended warranties to make a living. Interviews like this one have made shoppers more skeptical of the process.

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5 Ways to Boost Your College Savings Account

April 4, 2014
College Savings Account

Parents, if you want a reason to start hyperventilating, a recent report from Fox Business that suggests college will cost over $300,000 for babies born in 2014. According to author Kathryn Buschman Vasel, the Schwab Center for Financial Research has found that college costs have risen nearly 6% per year, “which suggests that in 18 […]

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Tips to Start Planning Your Overseas Retirement

April 2, 2014
Overseas Retirement

As many as 3.3 million baby boomers (out of 78 million) plan to retire abroad, according to Travel Market Report. They cite the lower cost of living overseas as the top reason for their choice. Meanwhile, David Vequist, founder of the Center for Medical Tourism Research in San Antonio, Texas, says boomers can retire comfortably […]

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