To this day, many people pursue the American Dream of owning a home.

But if you can’t afford to buy a house, have lost your home, or are unable to sell without a loss, you’re probably desperate for lower-cost housing options.

Here are a few alternatives to the traditional American Dream:

4 Low-Cost Housing Ideas

1. Room Rentals

If you already own a large home and have some extra space, this might be a good way to get caught up on your mortgage payments and other financial obligations. It can be challenging to open your doors to a stranger, but as long as you utilize a good screening process, this arrangement works well for many people. Young adults traveling for work or internships are often looking for these type of living arrangements, because they don’t require a lengthy lease and are cheaper than renting an entire apartment. [ continue reading... ]

Skillful negotiation is a great way to save money — if you do it right.

Unfortunately, I’m not very good at it. Confrontation and conflict make me uncomfortable, so my goal is usually to complete the deal as soon as possible. But that didn’t stop me from trying to at least teach the basics of negotiation to my son.

Having completely made the move to PC gaming, my son no longer wants his Xbox. Together, we assembled the console, accessories, and games for a photo to put on Craigslist. Based upon what other Xbox systems were selling for, we priced his package at $200.

We had our first potential buyer less than 24 hours later. [ continue reading... ]

For the first few years of our marriage, my ex-husband and I lived paycheck to paycheck.

I barely made over minimum wage, and although he made significantly more than I did, it still wasn’t a lot. We had a mortgage payment, as well as a stack of credit card debt accumulated from my ex being out of work for a year because of an injury. We struggled, but we got by. And eventually, we pulled ourselves out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle.

Then, in the summer of 2012, I became a single mom — and once again, I had to learn how to pull myself out of that vicious cycle. I’ve done it twice now, and if I can defeat the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle, I know you can, too. [ continue reading... ]

The intersection of health and personal finance is clear: Take good care of yourself, and you’ll avoid some of the long-term costs associated with poor health.

One way to get creative with your healthy choices is to change the way you shop at the grocery store. By avoiding some of the unhealthy and expensive prepackaged options, you’ll save money AND boost your health.

Here are five items you should stop putting in your cart:

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The summer I was 20, I managed the temporary tattoo booth at a Six Flags theme park — which meant I spent three months giving temporary tattoos to kids and inebriated college students. Though it didn’t make me a millionaire, my experience did help me learn some excellent behind-the-scenes tricks for enjoying a theme park without going broke.

Here’s what you need to know:

How to Save Money at the Amusement Park

1. Plan ahead for the cost of admission

If you decide last-minute to go to the local theme park, you’re going to pay through the nose for your ticket. At the gate, my former employer charges up to $67 per adult and $47 per child over age two. Disney costs a mind-boggling $99 per adult (which includes children over age 10). [ continue reading... ]

Triple Play package
The cost of Internet, Pay-TV and home phone service is on the rise. Despite this being the number one complaint that cable companies experience, most consumers do little more than grumble about their bills. If you fall into this group, now is a great time to take action. The suggestions below should help you maintain the services you have now, while significantly lowering your monthly payments.

Renegotiate Your Rates

If you are getting Internet, Pay-TV and/or home phone service from one company, calling your provider to renegotiate your rates is the easiest way to lower your monthly bill. In fact, by making this phone call you may be able to reduce your rates by up to 30% without compromising your Internet speed or parting with any of your favorite channels.

Before calling your service provider to discuss cheaper rates, it’s a good idea to do a little bit of research. Regardless of where you live in the country, there should be at least three or four companies that offer double and triple play service packages (Internet, Pay-TV and/or home phone service). After identifying the companies, review their current introductory and promotional offers and write down the details of the best one you can find that is comparable to your current service plan.

We’ve done the legwork on Verizon FiOS intro promo offers here, and AT&T U-verse intro promos here.

Once you have this information in hand, give your service provider a call. However, you want to avoid renegotiating your rates with the operator. While the operator may be able to offer you a slight price break, they typically are not authorized to hand out sizable discounts. In order to get the deepest discounts possible, you will need to talk to the revenue retention team. This team is strictly dedicated to trying to retain customers who are dissatisfied with their service and want to cancel it. To help sway customers from canceling their service, retention team members are able to offer you special promotional rates that you would otherwise not have access to.
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