The only thing that many personal finance writers hate more than buying a car with a loan? Leasing a car. However, there are times when it might make sense for you to lease. This is especially true if your alternative is to buy a car with a 72-month loan.

Swapalease performed a study to determine the financial sense of leasing versus getting a 72-month loan, and here’s what they found:

In what they called an apples-to-apples comparison, they looked at a $30,000 vehicle for which you put $1,000 down and paid 5% in interest and 6.5% in sales tax. They found that you could save $2,000 overall by getting two 36-month leases, rather than one 72-month car loan. And if you were to go through the process of four 18-month lease transfers, you could save as much as $5,000. [ continue reading... ]

During my first year of teaching, one of my friends in the English department had a baby halfway through the school year. In chatting with her about how she and her husband (a teacher in another district) planned to pay for parental leave to welcome their baby home, I was shocked to discover that neither school district paid for maternity leave. Instead, both my friend and her husband had to use their accrued sick and personal days to cobble together a few months of paid leave.

My shock came from a misunderstanding of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). I thought it provided for parents to take time off with their new arrivals (or take care of ailing family members). In reality, all FMLA guarantees is that your job (or an equivalent) will be waiting for you at the end of your leave.

According to a 2011 census report, only 50% of first-time mothers receive paid leave — and that figure includes people like my friend, who had to use her sick days.

If you’re expecting a child and rely on your paycheck (and who doesn’t?), a lack of paid maternity leave can turn your joyous event into a financial headache.

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Quality time is a key component of any happy family. And though some of the most precious moments I’ve shared with my family have been outside the home, the costs associated with these activities used to wreak havoc on my wallet. Over the years, however, I’ve found ways to create memories without breaking the bank.

How to Entertain Your Family on a Budget

1. Family game night

Who said you had to leave home to have fun with the family? If money’s really tight, grab a few of your favorite board or video games, throw a few franks and patties on the grill, and have at it. You’ll save a lot of money, and have a lot of fun. [ continue reading... ]

I never intended to make a side income from reselling used items. About three years ago, I stumbled upon (the site is up but hasn’t been updated since 2012). The lady behind this blog bought kid’s items at garage sales, used them, and then sold them for a profit. I didn’t have any children of my own, but I wanted to try it out, too.

The first item I resold was a baby play mat. I made a $9 profit on it, and I was on top of the moon. Afterwards, I had mild success with reselling garage sale and thrift store finds, but it wasn’t until I became pregnant that I did really well.

You see: buying and selling kid’s items when you don’t have any kids can be a hit or miss business. Once I became pregnant, however, I was much more aware of what would sell well. I also had more luck in scoring great deals when I was hugely pregnant.

My best find yet was a baby Burberry outfit for $1.99 at a thrift store. It was in perfect condition, and it sold within a day on Ebay for $75. I haven’t stumbled across any more designer baby items like that, but I have had luck flipping kid’s items for $15-30.

Here are some of my highest profit sales: [ continue reading... ]

Summer is the time for yard sales and flea markets. So if you have stuff to get rid of, now’s the time to do it.

I’ve talked with people who have sold at flea markets, and I’ve learned from their experiences how to get the most out of it. Although the stakes aren’t usually that high or the competition that fierce at local flea markets (you’re just glad to get rid of stuff!), there are many little things that can make the difference between bringing home a pocket full of money or a trailer full of merchandise.

Here’s what I learned:

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I know exactly when my daughter made the official transition from little girl to pre-teen. It was the day she declared she was cleaning her room, then emerged several hours later asking for assistance in removing all the “kid’s stuff.” In a giant pile in the middle of her room was the puppy poster that used to hang on the wall, as well as all her dolls and toys.

It was a sad father moment.

Fast forward about 18 months, and another transition is taking place — this time from pre-teen to teenager. She wants to liven up her room a little, adding her own personality and flair. She found several ideas online and asked if she could show me her plans. Being a cost-conscious girl, she assured me that none of the projects were very expensive.

Here’s what my new teenager wanted to change — and how we kept the costs below $100: [ continue reading... ]