7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value

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7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com There are many ways to increase your home’s value without taking on expensive remodeling projects. In fact, many remodeling projects don’t even pay for themselves, as we detail in “The 5 Worst Home Upgrades for the Money.” So, instead of hiring a contractor, focus on the things you can do yourself — and appreciate the things... [...]
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6 Simple Ways to Use a Bullet Journal to Manage Your Money

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6 Simple Ways to Use a Bullet Journal to Manage Your Money
Instead of choosing from the dizzying array of online budgeting tools, here’s a novel thought: The best solution to keeping track of your money may be writing everything down with pen and paper.   The bullet journal — or BuJo, for short — is an analog organizational system that can help you find the “calm in the chaos” (at least, according to the official bullet journal website). What sets the bullet journal apart from other lookalikes is it’s completely customizable. Each page has tiny bullets to use as a guide to track whatever you want. You can set goals, write down to-do lists and track your finances all in one place.  Unlike with pre-designed planners, bullet journal money management allows you to create spreads for your particular financial goals and tasks, including the visuals that will most inspire you to reach them.  So if you want to buy a house, for instance, you can color each brick of a house as you save for a down payment.  And if you’ve ever missed a reminder amid the constant pings from the calendar on your phone, you’ll appreciate that bullet journals offer a physical, visually pleasing alternative for tracking your bills. And you don’t have to be creative to get started.  How to Start a Bullet Journal Budget Because the bullet journal is what you make it, there are an infinite amount of options for how it can help you manage your money.  To start with, you’ll need an index (aka table of contents) to avoid flipping through endless pages of your journal each time you want to look at your budget. Depending on the type you use, your journal may come with a few pages at the front pre-designed for an index or you can simply create your own. Come up with a list of initial ideas — no worries if you’re not sure about everything you want to cover, as you can always add more pages or sections to the index later.  And because a bullet journal is so customizable, you can address your own specific problem areas or goals.  Pro Tip If you’re getting overwhelmed by ideas you see on Pinterest and Instagram, forget the embellishments and just track your expenses and goals in a format that is easy to follow and maintain. Do you need to be better about sticking to a budget? Do you need to pay off debt? Do you have some big savings goals? Great! There’s a bullet journal “spread” (official lingo) for that. Alicia Geigel teaches bullet journaling workshops at Whim So Doodle in St. Petersburg, Florida. She typically shares layout ideas to get people comfortable with tracking their lives both personally and professionally on paper. Now she’s finding people are interested in using the bullet journals for their personal finances. She recently used her journal to save $2,500 for a trip to Italy. “Since I do it every night and try to make it part of my routine, it just reminds me of the path I am trying to save on,” Geigel said.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed or a bit stumped, we have some ideas to get you started. 1. Monthly Budget Tracker Seeing where you plan to spend and where you actually spend your money each month is a good way to start your budgeting journey. You can break down your budget into categories, starting with the unavoidables (bills, rent, gas and the like) and work forward from there. Include everything, right down to your Spotify subscription and the fact that once in a while you just need to order the more expensive pizza.   One option is making a monthly budget spread in bars. That way, you can visually gauge your budget based on the week of the month. Color in the bar each time you spend, and you’ll have a simple visual representation of how much you have left in that category.  At the end of the month, add up your total spending compared to your total budget. To create a little internal competition (because who doesn’t like wins?), write your total spending on next month’s budget page, then see if you can spend a little less.  Put the extra money saved toward bigger goals, like paying off student loan debt or saving up a down payment for a house.  Another option for the number lovers: Create a spread that looks just like a checkbook, then write down your scheduled bills on the left and record expenses on the right. Every time you spend money, deduct it from your balance. This method will hold you accountable and help prevent unwelcome surprises when you look at your bank account.  2. Bill Tracker This spread is perfect for the forgetful person. If you’re constantly writing down reminders to yourself (think: All. Those. Sticky. Notes.), a bill tracker should be a must in your BuJo financial strategy.  One idea for a bill tracker is to create a big-picture spread that stretched from now through the next several months.  Start by going back through your bank and credit card statements to make sure you count every bill you pay each month. Then draw your grid, making sure to include a space for the amount, the due date and whether or not you’ve paid it yet.  Leave a few extra boxes at the bottom of my tracker in case you need to add an extra line item or two over the next several months.  Put your monthly bills in one spread, and your quarterly and annual bills together in a separate tracker. As you pay each bill, check the box so you can see at a glance which ones still need to be addressed.  3. Spending Tracker If you’re pretty good about sticking to your budget and paying off your debt (or if you have no debt!), you may decide not to use a spending tracker every month.  Sometimes, though, you might want to add a spending tracker into your weekly or monthly section for a financial reboot of sorts. If you feel like your finances are getting a little out of control in any given month, it helps to see exactly when and how you’re spending every dollar. It can be quite an eye-opening experience. Pro Tip If you see you’ve spent too much half way through the month, don’t give up. Create a mini spending tracker that incorporates the remaining budget for the remainder of the month. The spending tracker has a lot of flexibility in how you choose to set it up, but the main things to include are a space to write the item/food/experience purchased, the store/venue where you purchased it from, the date, the cost, what type of payment you used and whether it was a want or a need.  After a month — or even a week — of tracking your spending, you may start to see patterns and problem areas that you otherwise might not be aware of. 4. Savings Tracker This one is the most exciting of the financial trackers (in our opinion, anyway).  While all of the other BuJo trackers help you watch your paycheck dwindle away each month, the savings goal tracker gets you amped each and every time you get to fill in a little more of that bar because you know you’re one step closer to that dream vacation or that new, extra-deep couch you can’t wait to curl up on.  One idea for a savings tracker: Give each goal its own horizontal or vertical bar. As you move money to your savings, color in the appropriate amount of the bar for the savings goal you’re working toward. Some goals might be small, and some might be huge — but you can move the bigger, unfinished goals from journal to journal as you fill each book.  Need a little more visual enticement? Determine an object that motivates you to save money. Is it a jar? A piggy bank?  Design a savings goal you can track visually. Each time you put money in your savings account, shade in a portion of the object. It’s quite satisfying to complete the picture as you reach your goal.  FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM How do you distribute your income? 8/5/19 @ 1:38 PM T Budgeting Apps? [...]
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How to Get Free or Cheap Museum Admission

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How to Get Free or Cheap Museum Admission
A trip to the museum can deliver a much-needed dose of history and culture; after all, you can’t get up close and personal with dinosaur bones or Vincent van Gogh’s expressive brush strokes just anywhere. Accessing precious artwork, artifacts and experiences might seem like it could put a strain on your budget, but there are... Lauren Schwahn is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn. The article How to Get Free or Cheap Museum Admission originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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How to Homeschool for Free or Cheap

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How to Homeschool for Free or Cheap
Interested in homeschooling but afraid it might break your family’s budget? Read this post for some really great tips on how to homeschool for free — or very close to free! {Don’t miss our weekly round-up of all the best FREE homeschool curriculum & resources! And you can also check out my Top 10 Favorite Free Homeschool Sites here.} Guest post from Jessica of Where’d My Sanity Go: Yes! It is possible to homeschool for free or cheap! Once you dig into all the homeschool curriculum products available, it can be overwhelming. When you check out the prices on those bad boys, it can get scary. Don’t worry though, there are a lot of ways to give your child a great education at an affordable price. Some of the homeschool lessons and curriculums we use are completely free! So if you’re wondering how to homeschool for free, here are my top tips… Use what you’ve got: Search your home for any books you may have forgotten about. When I started out, I had no idea how I was going to afford all the things I thought I needed. Luckily, my son had a ton of nature and science books already. I used these to build a few of my lessons for him, and we had a set of dictionaries we used for spelling lessons and other subjects. Borrow: If you already know of other homeschool families in your are, ask them if they have any old schoolbooks or homeschooling curriculum books they aren’t using and that you might borrow for a while. If you’re not familiar with any other homeschool families in the area, look on Facebook for local homeschool groups or ask your friends and family, your church, or even your local schools. When I pulled my son out of public school, they were kind enough to give me some information about local homeschool programs. Shop for used books: Check local garage sales, used bookstores, and other local stores for discounted items. Join a few Facebook groups where people are selling their used homeschool books for dirt cheap. I have saved so much money by doing this and hardly ever purchase anything brand new. Before buying anything, I always first search for used homeschool supplies or books. Utilize free homeschool resources There are tons of free online homeschool curriculum options out there. You don’t have to stick with just one either, you can take different lessons from multiple online curriculums to fit your educational outline. A few popular free curriculums: Easy Peasy – All In One Homeschool – 180-day lesson plans for PreK-8th. (this is one of our favorites) Khan Academy – Free online lessons for just about any subject. K12.com – Independent teacher-led courses for homeschoolers. YouTube — there are a ton of educational YouTube channels out there that are perfect for supplementing your homeschool curriculum. You can find different channels that range from preschool to high school subjects. Finding affordable or free homeschool educational materials or curriculum is not as hard as you think! I recommend scouring the internet to find out what’s available. Join local homeschool groups, find local Facebook groups, etc. Several of our local homeschool families often get together for different field trips — many places even offer homeschooling families a discount on tickets! Do you have any other advice on how to homeschool for free? I’d love to hear in the comments! Jessica Fuqua is the owner/editor of Where’d My Sanity Go, where she often writes about family, parenting, and homeschooling. [...]
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Low Price on Subscription to Popular Mechanics Magazine!

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Low Price on Subscription to Popular Mechanics Magazine!
Today only, subscribe to Popular Mechanics Magazine for only $6.99 per year (83% off)! You can order up to 4 years at this price! Just enter coupon code PENNYPINCH Popular Mechanics is a magazine devoted to science and technology. Each issue is packed with informative articles on automotives, home electronics, science, technology, outdoors, world news, ... Read More about Low Price on Subscription to Popular Mechanics Magazine! The post Low Price on Subscription to Popular Mechanics Magazine! appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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