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The Basics of Investment Properties

Feel free to use the following information to make yourself some cash when buying an investment property.

Pay the right price

Investing in real estate is the same as any other investment purchase. It is all about buying low and selling high. You need to avoid paying too much for an investment property if you want to make money off of it. This means being able to purchase a property under market value. You can do this by investigating the local market and making an offer below the market value. Help yourself find some great cheap loan deals with comparethemarket.  The difference between a profitable and an unprofitable one all depends upon the deal that you get.

Be prepared to invest in the property

Getting a property on the cheap often means that it will not be in an absolutely perfect condition. You can get a sweet deal on a foreclosed property or a distressed home. However, you need to be prepared to spend both time and money fixing up a property. This means not depleting all of your financial resources on the investment home purchase. You should keep some extra cash to refurbish and renovate areas that need work. It is always best to hire professionals and get the job done right the first time. Spending a few extra bucks to fix up a home could result in a healthy profit.

Figure out how to make money off the property before buying

You should outline your plan to make money off of a piece of real estate property before buying. Is your plan to fix up a house and flip it for a quick profit? Or is your plan to hold onto a property for the long term and generate rental income month after month? You will need to know your plan for making money before applying for a loan from a bank. This will keep you from overextending yourself and losing money on your home. It will also make it easier for you to explain your investment purchase to potential lenders and secure the loan funds that you need.

Article publié pour la première fois le 08/12/2011


Around the Interweb – Week of June 14th






Article publié pour la première fois le 19/06/2010


My brother-in-law told me that Dave Ramsey told him that no one ever got rich on credit card points.  Ha!  Yeah right.

As it turns out, you won’t get rich on credit card points.  Go figure.  For a while now, Husband and I have been meaning to evaluate our credit card rewards to make sure we chose the right program.  Our credit cards are both through USAA and have the option of either going for the Rewards Program (where you get points that you can spend on stuff or airline tickets or whatever) or the Cash Rewards Program (where you get cash rebates for your purchases). 

Here are the summaries of each of the programs:

       Rewards Program

   When You Buy:

  Your Points are Worth
  X% of Your Purchases
   Airline Ticket  1.00%   
   Merchandise   0.71%   
   Cash   0.83%   
   Charity   0.83%   
   Cruise     0.99%   

Cash Back Program
 When You Spend:   You Get $X Cash Back:
  First $5,000    0.45%
  $5,000 – $10,000    $22.50 + 0.85% On Purchases Over $5,000
  $10,000 – $17,000    $65 + 1% On Purchases Over $10,000
  $17,000+    $135 + 1.25% On Purchases over $17,000

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Article publié pour la première fois le 24/06/2010


Paperback Swapping: Books on a Budget

The following is a guest post from Kirsten, FSM (Fiscally Savvy Mommy).  Have so many books that you can’t squeeze one more on your bookshelf?  Try trading them at Paperback Swap, a book-for-a-book program, where the only cost is postage.   


I first heard of PaperBackSwap.com from a friend.  I can’t tell you how much I lament not really opening my ears and hearing her the first time she told me.  The cost of books is climbing and our income, well, isn’t.

Average Costs as of 2007:

Children’s Book – $20.82

Adult Non-fiction Hardcover – $25.38

Adult Fiction Hardcover – $27.47


How Paperback Swap Works:


1. Clean out – Go through your books that you’ve been packing, un-packing and re-packing every time you move.  Find all the ones that you’ve read, always intended to read, or have read so many times that you know it by heart.


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Article publié pour la première fois le 04/08/2010


What’s The Appropriate Tip For Bad Service?

I need to start this off with a disclaimer, lest anyone think I’m unsympathetic to the plight of sub-minimum wage restaurant employees. You see, I worked as a waitress – for one semester of college – and I know what it’s like to spend hours on your feet, shuttling from table to table, dealing with whiny kids, disgruntled adults, and people who treat you as the working professional that you are, but as someone too lazy to get a “real” job. I’ve been there, I’ve done that.

And so when it comes to leaving the appropriate tip, I tend to be generous. 20% is a pretty standard tip for my family when we’re dining out; if my kids have been particularly messy – and the server has been particularly good-natured about it – I might leave 30%. My dad’s the type of guy who goes even further – he’s been known to leave $100 tips for his favorite servers at restaurants he and my mom frequent week in and week out. So I know what it means to leave an appropriate tip.

Which is why, after a recent meal at a local Italian restaurant, I felt so bad about tipping the waitress well below my usual 20% threshold.

It began innocently enough. We opted for Italian because if was a Friday in Lent and, as good Catholics, my husband and I were trying to avoid eating meat. We thought pizza and spaghetti would be a good choice, both for us and our two young children (ages 5 and 2). We’ve been to the restaurant in question several times before and have always had good (if slow) service.

We didn’t order anything out of the ordinary. My kids split a pepperoni pizza. My husband ordered a sandwich; I ordered a salad.

That’s not what made it to our table.

My kids ended up with a cheese pizza – no biggie, they’re just as happy with all cheese as they are with pepperoni. But instead of getting the caprese salad I’d requested, I ended up with tomato and beefsteak mozzarella on two pieces of bread; my husband didn’t get the portabello mushroom, peppers, and eggplant panini he’d ordered, but rather a salad with those toppings (raw, not grilled). In other words, the kitchen had given us each the inverse of our order.

When we mentioned this to the waitress, she suggested we just “swap” plates. I actually laughed at her, because I didn’t think she was serious, but she totally was. When I explained that I wanted a tomato salad, not a mushroom salad, she realized what was going on. It still took some convincing to get her to accept the fact that she was going to have to take the incorrect meals back to the kitchen and bring us what we’d actually ordered. It took us another 20 minutes to get our actual meals. By that time, the kids were done with their pizza and were antsy to be going (re: they were starting to act like hooligans and disturb other diners). We ultimately took our meals to go.

As we left, I paid the bill, leaving what amounted to a 10% tip. I know some people think that’s an appropriate tip in general, particularly for bad service; I know a few folks who think it’s absolutely okay to stiff a server. Having done the job for a few months, I could never do that. But leaving just 10% left me feeling guilty.

It’s not that the waitress was rude or anything – she was actually just clueless. Things that seemed common sense to me (ie, if you bring out the wrong food to a customer, you immediately replace it with the wrong dish, no questions asked!) puzzled her. My husband suggested I look at my low tip as a way of telling her, “Maybe this isn’t the job for you.” However, if she couldn’t figure out that our meals were wrong and needed to be fixed, I doubt she’d read between the lines of a small tip to see what I was actually trying to tell her.

So my question is, what do you consider to be an appropriate tip for bad service when dining out? Do you stiff a server, and if so, under what conditions? Or do you tip the same percent, regardless of service?

Article publié pour la première fois le 20/10/2014


How to Be Thankful

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. 

This time of year always gets me feeling thoughtful and introspective.  Like Ernest Hemingway without the drinking… or the man parts. 

The Ernest in me is thinking about being thankful – BIG stretch, seeing as how tomorrow's Thanksgiving. 

Writing a financial blog (and having a pulse in general) requires that, at times, I ponder negative issues like bankrupcy, debt, overspending and MC Hammer. 

These ponderings usually lead me to reflections on cheesy song lyrics:

If tomorrow all the things were gone I’d worked for all my life,
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife.
I’d thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away.

Lee Greenwood, Proud to be an American

Most people I know – apart from my mother who notoriously claims that even if a ninja appeared and sliced off her arm, that she would simply be grateful that she still had the other – would wallow for at least a couple of days after losing-everything before counting those lucky stars. 

BUT, they would eventually be thankful for what they had left. 

Financially and generally we sometimes become dissatisfied, not with what we have, but with what we don't have.  I've come up with a little remedy for that. 

How to be thankful for socks: don't wear them for a week.

How to be thankful for family: spend Thanksgiving apart from them.

How to be thankful for your right arm: cut off your left arm (DO NOT ATTEMPT, just take my word for it).

Striving towards a better life and better finances are great goals.  Just don't forget to count your assets; they'll help you achieve those goals even sooner.    

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all.  

Article publié pour la première fois le 24/11/2010

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