Even though I’m contributing money to an IRA on a monthly basis, and even investing in some dividend stocks in my individual investing account, I’ve always felt like real estate could be a better investment option for retirement income.

The idea started with a family member who’s doing just that: relying on a portfolio of rental properties, and one small business, for retirement income. This relative also has plenty of money in savings but hardly anything in the stock market.

He’s quickly approaching retirement age without having to think about where his income will come from. He’s already set for a comfortable retirement.

Does it make sense to heavily rely on rental properties for retirement income?

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I recently sold my home for $173,500 and this, combined with my move across the country, has me thinking a lot about home affordability. While I’m not anxious to buy again anytime soon, I was interested to see how my new local real estate market compares with the market I left behind a few months ago.

First of all, I found there isn’t really anything in my new ZIP code that compares exactly to the home size, year built, and lot size I had previously owned. The closest I could find was a condo-type home (without the large yard we had) for $275,000.

The stand-alone homes with square footage similar to ours are 3 BD/2 BA homes, as opposed to the 4 BD/3 BA home we had in Utah. But these homes are right around $300,000 to $475,000. Buying a home in our new area, (which is part of the Philadelphia metro area) is much more expensive than it was in our semi-rural neighborhood in Utah.

Where is it affordable to buy a home right now?

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Debt is one of the easiest traps to fall into, and seems practically impossible to get out of. The formula to paying off debt is relatively simple; spend less than you earn, but it’s that easy to apply to your life. It’s difficult to create new habits and change your mindset about money.

I’ve been there. I’ve had many days of non-stop anxiety and sleepless nights. But I made it through the tough financial times, and conquered my debt, so I know you can do the same. You just have to find out what’s really hindering your progress, and that’s usually a mental roadblock.

Success with money (or lack thereof), usually comes to down to one of these phrases.

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When my in-laws moved to a different state, the real challenge came when we cleaned out their garage and started minimizing stuff for the move. “Where do you want me to start,” I asked my mother-in-law while looking at her very packed garage.

She thought for a while and spent a good ten minutes telling what not to touch. I couldn’t touch those vintage items because she was going to get appraised. I couldn’t touch those boxes because my father-in-law needed to do through them. Opening up a cedar chest sent her into a huge sidetrack of memories as she looked at her grandmother’s wedding items. She could surely never part with those.

It’s been a few months since that day, and even though my in-laws made the move, the garage still looks the same. They were able to keep their items stored in the garage while renting out the rooms in the home.

Does this scene sound familiar to you? If you’ve ever tried to help someone with a lot of stuff (aka a hoarder), then you know how hard it is to actually get anything done. Everything they own has potential value or sentiment, yet no progress is ever truly made on what items get sold or donated.

If you’re guilty of this, or know someone who is, here are some easy steps to take to overcome your hoarding habits.

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The holiday shopping season is here again, and identity thieves are on the lookout for careless customers who either misplace vulnerable personal information, or leave it unattended in a cart.

More than any time of year, this season is a prime time for stolen credit cards and swiped bank information. Why? Because your numbers and sensitive information is being used more than normal.

While you shouldn’t obsess about circumstances you can’t control, (most of us have lost a card or an entire wallet at some point in our lives) there are ways you can avoid becoming a victim even if someone attempts to steal your financial information. The most important way you can do this is to be very careful about what information you carry around on a daily basis. 

If you looked in your wallet or purse right now, would you find any of these things?

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As a kid I hated hand-me-downs. You know, the clothes, toys, or shoes that your older siblings would get brand new, but you’d receive after they outgrew them?

Every pair of jeans seemed to have a whole in the knee, every shirt had something on the front that I would have never picked out, and every toy was beaten up and faded. Don’t get me wrong, I received my share of new things, but there was also a steady stream of hand-me-downs from my older brother. I just didn’t understand why my parents wouldn’t buy all new stuff for me.

As an adult, my view of hand-me-downs has completely changed. I’m constantly scanning the side of the road for items with a “TAKE ME” sign propped up next to them. I’m the guy whose ears perk up when someone mentions they’re trying to declutter their home.

As a grown up, my love for hand-me-downs stems from the simple fact that the price is usually free. And no one is ever too old for free stuff, right? 

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