A few months ago, a group of my husband’s online gaming friends mentioned they’re planning to take an Alaskan cruise next spring or fall, and invited us to join. While we’ve mentioned the idea of taking a cruise some time in the future, this conversation put the decision, place, and time right at our doorstep.

After some thought, we decided…why not?  We have almost a year to save for it and plan the details, and if we don’t go now — while we’re still without children — it might be a long time coming.

But then came the fun part: how are we going to finance it? Since we don’t own credit cards (and don’t want to finance anything), we plan to pay for it all out-of-pocket.

We don’t immediately have the funds for this kind of expenditure, especially considering the required round trip plane tickets and likely hotel costs, too. But we do have a solid history of being able to save for large expenses in the past, so I know we can do it again.

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So you’ve made that very difficult first step and decided it’s time to do something about your debt. Maybe you’ve reached the end of your financial rope. Perhaps you signed up for a money management program, enrolled in a debt relief plan, or maybe you’re doing it all on your own.

You’re excited about the prospect of finally getting your finances on track and starting down the path to achieve this thing called financial freedom that you’ve heard so much about. But before you take the plunge, there’s one prerequisite to getting started.

You need an emergency fund. [ continue reading... ]

College tuition has steadily been increasing over the past several decades. In the last five years alone, it has skyrocketed up 28.9 percent.

While the four-year cost for an in-state university was around $38,000 in 2013, the price tag is projected to be around $300,000 in 18 years — which is just after the time my two kids will be college-aged.

As I take a deeper look into my financial plan, I’m torn. Should I be diligently saving for their education, or should I be investing my extra money into my own retirement account? [ continue reading... ]

My husband finally has a “real” job. He’s no longer an adjunct; he has a full-time job at a school that seems to like that he prioritizes students and learning. With that full-time job comes benefits — and it’s amazing how much they’re affecting our financial life.

As we enjoy the benefits of having benefits, it really brings home the reasons that many people choose to stick with “real” jobs, even though they hate them. (Luckily, my husband enjoys the college professor lifestyle, and teaching, so we get to have benefits and a job he likes.)

Here have been the biggest perks so far: [ continue reading... ]

You’ve spent the past few years cleaning up your credit and stashing away enough cash to qualify for your dream home.

And now, the time has come to seal the deal. But there’s only one problem: you only accounted for the monthly principal, interest, and property taxes, and overlooked a slew of other costs. Unfortunately, you’re forced to walk away and find more cost-efficient options.

This isn’t all that uncommon; many prospective homeowners are unprepared for the costs that come up at the closing table. Here are seven hidden costs you should be aware of before buying your first house. [ continue reading... ]

I’ve talked before about earning side money by reselling used children’s items. After visiting a local thrift store, I thought it would be fun to give a better example of how much money can be made doing this. (Not to spoil the mystery — but I didn’t make a lot.)

First off, shopping at thrift stores is unpredictable. This past trip, I found a Juicy Couture baby dress right next to a faded and stained baby shirt from Walmart; both were the same price. Sometimes you find gold, and sometimes you don’t find anything.

During this shopping trip, I looked through the racks for about 30 minutes and spent $12 on the items listed below. (Goodwill stores in California seem to be priced much higher than in other areas.) When I got home, it took another 20-30 minutes to list all of the items on Ebay using the Ebay app. The total time invested in my side project was less than an hour.

Below is a list of my profits. This doesn’t list what I sold the item for — but how much I made after subtracting the cost of the item, as well as the Ebay, Paypal, and shipping fees. For example, I received $16.99 for the Janie and Jack airplane sweater, and after subtracting all of the costs, my profit was $7.67. [ continue reading... ]