Many people live their lives striving for a big house with nice cars and all the toys and gadgets they could imagine. Some work really hard to see these things come to fruition, while many never reach this level.

My fiancé and I are currently searching for an apartment to live in after our wedding. The plan is for a six month lease, but we have to choose between a nice place that is more expensive or one that is sufficient and cheap. This is a decision we need to make based on our current financial situation. The same decision needs to be made for our cars and other bigger ticket items, which could make a big difference in our finances down the road.

But First: Housing

My fiancé and I have the decision between keeping her apartment for another six months at $610 a month and moving into a newer place to spend our first half-year as newlyweds. Do we want to live in a nicer complex or townhome? Definitely. Can we afford to? This is something we have yet to answer. This is the first housing decision we will make in our adult lives. While it doesn’t have a huge impact on us, it will be a good indication of how we will make larger decisions (like buying a house) in the future.
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key on front door
Many singles with expensive leases in major cities, traveling retirees with empty homes, and couples with a spare room and a desperate need for cash are looking for ways to make the space they rent or own pay for themselves. Many budget-conscious vacationers, seasonal university-town students, and hotel-weary business travelers are looking for cheap, attractive, short-term accommodations. Where the two sets of people often meet is a growing marketplace of online communities that connect hosts with travelers – services like Airbnb, VRBO, and FlipKey.

Although I can’t rent out a room at the moment, the idea appeals to me. Not only is being a short-term rental host a way to earn extra cash; it presents the opportunity to ‘travel,’ learn, and widen your perspective as you meet all sorts of interesting people from different cultures and walks of life – without having to leave your home.

Before getting too caught up in the possibilities and contingencies (what it involves, the legalities, the material risks), the first question I’d need to answer is whether it would be profitable for me. Unfortunately, that requires a little math.
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credit cards
Credit cards are a wonderful tool to help you get more out of your spending, but they can also be a temptation that keeps you in debt. It all depends on how you choose to use them. However, even those who manage their credit cards wisely might be prone to these top three mistakes. Are you guilty of one?

1. Your Card Utilization is Too High

A major factor that affects your credit score is your credit card utilization. This percentage is based on the balances you have on each card compared to how much of a credit card line you have. For example, if you only have two cards with a $300 limit but you are at that limit, then your credit score will be penalized. On the other hand, if you have $5,000 of credit card debt but a $50,000 credit line on the card, your score will fare better.
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stopwatchStudies show you can get an effective workout in half the time by increasing the intensity: a 10-minute high-intensity circuit can potentially burn as many calories as a slow-paced 30-minute workout. As it turns out, we can apply this concept to finances as well. Few of us have hours to spend on money management (or working out), but we might have 15 minutes. What can you do to streamline and burn the fat off your financial physique in that short amount of time? Here are some ideas.

  • Automate your bills

Setting up automatic payments (and reminders) through your bank or services like Mint Bills doesn’t take much time. You will end up saving time by not needing to manually pay bills. You will also waste less money on late fees every month.
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How Do YOU Save?

by Jessica Sommerfield · 25 comments

At first glance, saving money seems pretty generic. It’s not as complex as other financial processes like buying a house, figuring out the most efficient way to pay off debt, or filing income taxes.

But when you dig into it a little more, you realize that how a person saves money says as much about them as any other expression of their personality.

Just as each person has a unique way of completing mundane tasks, such as buttering bread, everyone handles their money a little differently.

I’m not talking about whether you’re a good or poor example of financial responsibility; there are general practices that will define which of those you fall under. I’m talking about your unique preferences for money management: what form of money you prefer, how frequently and how much you save, and what you save for.

How do YOU save your money?
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You’ve read all the financial gurus’ books. You set up a fancy spreadsheet to track your spending. You follow 20 personal finance blogs. You’ve even switched to a cash envelope system. Still, your budget just isn’t panning out.

Sound familiar?

When I first got serious about personal finance, I dedicated myself to following all of Dave Ramsey’s teachings. You know: ditch the credit cards, pay down debt, focus on frugality, and use a cash envelope budgeting system.

Paying off my debt and swearing off credit cards was the easy part, but when it came to budgeting, I failed miserably.

I’ve tried many different budgeting methods over the past seven years, and I’ve discovered there’s no “one size fits all.”

Here are three common budgeting problems you might have (and how to solve them):
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