utilities http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8781/all en-US 8 Unexpected Costs of Selling a Home http://www.wisebread.com/8-unexpected-costs-of-selling-a-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-unexpected-costs-of-selling-a-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-505602452.jpg" alt="Finding out the unexpected costs of selling a home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Getting ready to sell your house? You may be itching to pocket all those dollars you think are headed your way, but don't get too excited just yet. More factors go into selling a home than you might realize. Unfortunately, hidden expenses are one of those factors. Brush up on these eight surprising costs ahead of time to lessen the blow.</p> <h2>1. Utilities</h2> <p>It's a good idea to keep the utilities running until the very last day before closing on the sale. Not only will it help your real estate broker to demonstrate that the home is fully operational, but it can also help you prevent other issues.</p> <p>For example, keeping some lights and A/C on during the summer or highly humid days can help your home stay mold-free. Molds thrive when the humidity levels exceed 70 percent. A running A/C cools the home, removes moisture from the air, and keeps the air inside circulated and filtered. Keeping mold in check will help you pass the home inspection and prevent additional fees. Another example would be turning off the water and ending up with an unappealing (and dead!) lawn, which sends potential buyers the wrong message about your property.</p> <p>You also want to make sure that utilities are still on for your buyer's final walk through. Consult with your broker for the right time (generally closing day or the day after) to turn off the utilities and settle those bills.</p> <h2>2. Repair and renovation costs</h2> <p>A fresh coat of paint, a thorough carpet steam clean, or a new toilet in the master bathroom can go a long way in increasing the appeal of your home. Budget for the cost of hiring a contractor or doing these necessary repairs yourself before putting your home on the market. Addressing repairs early can save you money in the long run and increase your chances of passing a home inspection on the first try. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-are-pricey-home-upgrades-really-worth?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How Much Are Pricey Home Upgrades Really Worth?</a>)</p> <h2>3. Seller credits to buyer</h2> <p>In the event that you are against dealing with repairs or renovations, you could extend to a buyer a seller credit to make up for the costs of fixing up the property. However, lenders cap the credit amount that a seller can extend to a buyer at 3 percent to 6 percent of the total mortgage.</p> <p>Since the majority of buyers will ask for one, most real estate agents recommend that you budget for a range that you would be comfortable with in extending as a seller credit. This is in case your property stays on the market for far too many days. Cash-strapped buyers may request seller credits to cover additional expenses, such as closing costs, or escrow fees. In 2016, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimated that 37 percent of sellers offered incentives, such as seller credits, toward remodeling or repairs to attract buyers.</p> <h2>4. Digital staging costs</h2> <p>To maximize the exposure of your property to potential buyers, you need not only to stage your home, but make great photos and descriptions available online.</p> <p>Keep in mind that your agent may outsource digital staging services to a third party, which may or may not be the same one staging your home. According to Kiplinger, home sellers spend on <a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/article/real-estate/T029-C000-S001-6-ways-to-stage-your-home-for-less-than-1-000.html" target="_blank">average $1,800</a> to stage a home, but costs can range from a couple of hundred dollars to $5,000 or more. The more bells and whistles that you request (say a 360-degree picture or video walk-through), the more that you pay.</p> <h2>5. Agent commissions</h2> <p>Real estate agents are paid on commission &mdash; typically 5 to 6 percent of the home's agreed upon selling price. The commission is generally split between the seller's agent and the buyer's agent. On a $300,000 home, a 6 percent commission works out to $18,000, all of which comes out of the seller's side of the deal. Agent commissions are negotiable, although a seller who pushes too hard on this point may make their home unattractive to buyer's <em>agents</em>, ultimately reducing traffic and potential buyers.</p> <h2>6. Capital gains taxes</h2> <p>While owning real estate can give you plenty of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-real-estate-cuts-your-taxes?ref=internal" target="_blank">surprising ways to cut down your tax bill</a>, you may still have to pay Uncle Sam a share from your home sale under certain circumstances.</p> <p>As long as you've owned the home for at least 24 months and used it as your primary residence during the last five years leading up to the date of closing, you may receive an exemption up to $250,000 ($500,00 if married filing jointly) of the gain from your home sale. If you were in the lucky position that your capital gains exceeds those limits due to a &quot;hot market,&quot; then you would need to pay applicable taxes</p> <h2>7. Title insurance</h2> <p>This type of insurance protects real estate owners and lenders against loss or damage that can occur due to defects in the title on a property.</p> <p>While typically included in the closing costs covered by the buyer, some states may require the seller to pay for title insurance or allow for negotiation of this cost between buyer and seller. The cost of title insurance can range from a few hundred dollars to more than $2,000. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance &mdash; Here's Why</a>)</p> <h2>8. Moving costs</h2> <p>Now, you wouldn't expect all of your belongings to move themselves, would you? Whether it's with time or cash, you'll need to pony up moving expenses, which can run well into the thousands depending on the size of your property and the distance of your move.</p> <p>If you're moving at least 50 miles due to a new job location, you can deduct reasonable expenses for moving your belongings and traveling to your new home. Hiring a professional moving company would help you provide proof to the IRS that your moving expenses are valued at a fair market price. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-you-should-always-hire-a-moving-company?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Reasons You Should Always Hire a Moving Company</a>)</p> <h2>The bottom line: Account for all home sale costs</h2> <p>It's easy to fall for the trap of thinking that you're making more money on your home sale than you really are.</p> <p>Let's run some numbers. If you were to close at a price of $300,000 for your home and still owe $160,000 on your mortgage, you'd think that you made $140,000 in profit. Assuming that you paid 8 percent of your sales price in total costs for your home sale, you would have coughed up $24,000 and brought down your net profit to $116,000 (a 17.14 percent drop!).</p> <p>The smaller the gap between your sale price and remaining mortgage, the more critical that unexpected costs of selling a home become.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-unexpected-costs-of-selling-a-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-stage-your-home-without-hiring-a-pro">8 Ways to Stage Your Home Without Hiring a Pro</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-cheap-ways-to-stage-your-home-in-a-buyers-market">6 Cheap Ways to Stage Your Home in a Buyer&#039;s Market</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance — Here&#039;s Why</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sell-your-house-in-24-hours">How to Sell Your House in 24 Hours</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing capital gains closing renovations seller credits selling a home staging title insurance utilities Thu, 06 Apr 2017 08:00:09 +0000 Damian Davila 1921685 at http://www.wisebread.com Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-503389404.jpg" alt="Man paying certain bills when money is tight" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Is your money situation a little tight this month? It happens to the best of us. What if you don't have enough money this month to pay every bill by its due date? For the time being, you might need to prioritize your payments.</p> <p>This isn't the ideal solution. Far from it &mdash; paying any bill late could result in a late fee. But thanks to a bit of leeway when it comes to credit reporting, paying bills <em>just a bit late </em>might not hurt your all-important FICO credit score.</p> <p>This makes it a bit easier to determine which bills you absolutely <em>must</em> pay on time, and which bills you can more easily tackle after their due dates pass.</p> <h2>1. Mortgage</h2> <p>It's important to keep the roof over your head. And not paying your mortgage payment on time can send your credit score plummeting by 100 points or more. Credit scores are important: Lenders rely on them to determine if you qualify for a loan and at what interest rate.</p> <p>There is some leeway, though, with mortgage payments. First, lenders can't report your payment as late to the credit bureaus until you're at least 30 days past due. This means that paying your bill one, two, or three weeks late won't hurt your credit score.</p> <p>Second, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, lenders usually won't start the foreclosure process until three to six months after your first missed mortgage payment.</p> <p>Even though these safeguards are built in, you don't ever want to take the chance of losing your home. Make sure to pay your mortgage as soon as you can.</p> <h2>2. Rent</h2> <p>If you're renting an apartment, do everything you can to pay this bill on time. Your landlord can send you an eviction notice if you're just one day late with your rent payment. Now, actually evicting you will take time, and most landlords probably won't file a notice that quickly. But you don't want to give your landlord any excuse to start this process in motion.</p> <h2>3. Car payment</h2> <p>As with your mortgage, there is a grace period before your late car payment starts to affect your credit score. Your auto lender can't officially report your payment as late to the credit bureaus until that payment is more than 30 days past due.</p> <p>However, you need to be aware that if you stop making car payments, your vehicle can be repossessed. If this happens, your credit <em>will </em>suffer the consequences &mdash; by up to 100 points. Auto lenders can repossess your vehicle quickly, too. In fact, in most states they have the legal right to repossess your car as soon as you miss a single payment. It's unlikely that your lender will move to take your car that quickly, but why take that risk? If you're prioritizing your bills, this is definitely one to move to the top of your list.</p> <h2>4. Utility bills</h2> <p>Typically, you'll receive plenty of advance warning before your utility providers shut off your services. But you will have to pay these bills eventually to keep them on. Put these bills at the top of your priorities list.</p> <p>If you are struggling to pay these bills, don't ignore them; call the utility company. Utilities will often work with homeowners who are struggling financially. They might lower your bill for a period of time or defer your payments for a few months to allow you to rebuild your finances.</p> <h2>5. Student loans</h2> <p>Student loan debt is a financial burden for many, but you might be able to work out a new repayment plan with your lender if you are struggling. This is usually easier to do with federal student loans. You might qualify for a deferment, depending on your financial situation. But even if you are struggling to pay private student loans, call your lender. The company issuing your loans might be willing to work with you to keep you from falling into default. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-surprising-ways-to-pay-off-your-student-loans?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Surprising Ways to Pay Off Your Student Loans</a>)</p> <h2>6. Credit cards</h2> <p>Yes, your credit card issuer can hit you with a late fee if you miss a payment. And yes, your card's interest rate might then soar. But credit cards don't need to be at the very top of your priorities list if you are struggling with critical bills like your mortgage.</p> <p>Your credit card provider can't throw you in jail if you miss payments, and it can't take your house or car. So paying this provider <em>after</em> making your mortgage and car payments is OK in a financial pinch.</p> <p>It typically isn't a smart move to pay only the monthly minimum on a credit card, because it's often such a small amount. However, if you're really struggling with money, this is another temporary option you can take. This will keep you current on your bill, and you can always boost your payments back up again once you've regained financial footing. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Simple Ways to Never Make a Late Credit Card Payment</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-mistakes-that-wont-hurt-your-credit-score">5 Financial Mistakes That Won&#039;t Hurt Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit">How Late Payments Affect Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/prioritize-these-5-bills-when-youre-short-on-cash">Prioritize These 5 Bills When You&#039;re Short on Cash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-missed-a-student-loan-payment-now-what">You Missed a Student Loan Payment. Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Debt Management bills car loan credit score late fees late payments mortgage rent repossession student loans utilities Fri, 31 Mar 2017 08:00:16 +0000 Dan Rafter 1915858 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Financial Mistakes That Won't Hurt Your Credit Score http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-mistakes-that-wont-hurt-your-credit-score <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-financial-mistakes-that-wont-hurt-your-credit-score" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-623515998.jpg" alt="Learning which financial mistakes won&#039;t hurt your credit score" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Certain financial mishaps can cost you dearly when it comes to your FICO credit score. Pay your credit card bill more than 30 days late, and your score can drop by 100 points. Declare bankruptcy or lose a home to foreclosure? Your score will fall by even more.</p> <p>In general, lenders today consider a FICO credit score of 740 or higher to be a very good score. They consider anything over 800 to be excellent. Keeping your score in these ranges requires that you pay your bills on time each month and keep your credit card debt low.</p> <p>But here's a secret about FICO scores: They don't measure all of your financial activity. It's possible to suffer a few financial setbacks, or make some money mistakes, without seeing your credit score take a dive.</p> <p>Here are five financial mishaps that, though they might cause problems in your daily life, won't hurt your credit score.</p> <h2>1. Paying your credit card bill just a little late</h2> <p>You should always <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment?ref=internal" target="_blank">pay your credit card bills on time</a>. And ideally, you should pay off your cards in full each month. But if you miss your deadline by two days or three weeks, it won't impact your credit score.</p> <p>Your credit card provider will only report a payment as late to the three national credit bureaus &mdash; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion &mdash; if you are at least 30 days late on it. As long as you pay before that 30-day deadline passes, your credit score will remain intact. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How Late Payments Affect Your Credit</a>)</p> <p>Of course, this doesn't mean that you won't take a financial hit. Your credit card provider could raise your card's interest rate and levy a late fee &mdash; usually around $35 &mdash; against you.</p> <h2>2. Forgetting to pay your doctor's bill</h2> <p>Not all bills are equal in the eyes of your credit score. Pay your credit card or mortgage payment more than 30 days late, and you can expect your FICO score to plunge. Do the same with your doctor's or dentist's bill, and your credit score won't budge.</p> <p>That's because medical providers don't report late payments to the credit bureaus. So paying your dentist bill 40 days late won't hurt your credit score.</p> <p>Again, though, you need to be careful. Paying your medical bills late could have other financial consequences. Your medical provider might tack on additional fees to your bill if you don't pay on time. And if you put off paying that bill for too long, your medical provider might send a collections agency after you. This <em>will</em> be reported to the credit bureaus, and it will cause your credit score to fall.</p> <h2>3. Not paying your phone or utility bill on time</h2> <p>Your phone, electrical, gas, water, garbage, and cable bills are much like your medical ones: The providers of these services don't report to the credit bureaus. You can pay these bills late without suffering a hit to your credit score.</p> <p>Again, be careful. You don't want your utility company shutting off your service or sending your late bill into collections, something that will hurt your credit score.</p> <h2>4. Paying your apartment rent late (usually)</h2> <p>It used to be that apartment rent payments were never reported to the credit bureaus. Today, that is slowly beginning to change, with some services popping up that will report on-time, and late, rental payments to credit bureaus.</p> <p>But the majority of renters still don't see their monthly rent payments reported to the credit bureaus. That's bad news for renters who pay their rent on time each month; those on-time payments could boost their credit scores if they were reported. It's a better deal for those renters with a history of late payments, as these financial mistakes won't hurt their credit scores.</p> <h2>5. Losing a job</h2> <p>You might be surprised to learn that your annual income has no impact on your FICO credit score. Your credit score only tracks how well you pay your bills and manage your credit. It does not care whether you make a $1 million or $10,000 a year.</p> <p>If you lose your job and your income suddenly dips, your credit score won't budge.</p> <p>If your reduced income causes you to run up your credit card debt or start paying your bills late, though? That will hurt your credit score.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-mistakes-that-wont-hurt-your-credit-score">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight">Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit">How Late Payments Affect Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-credit-repair-mistakes-that-will-cost-you">8 Credit Repair Mistakes That Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-debt-payoffs-that-boost-your-credit-score-the-most">The 7 Debt Payoffs That Boost Your Credit Score the Most</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance bills collections credit score fico financial mistakes late fees late payments utilities Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:00:11 +0000 Dan Rafter 1911510 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Infuriating Ways You're Ruining Someone Else's Credit http://www.wisebread.com/6-infuriating-ways-youre-ruining-someone-elses-credit <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-infuriating-ways-youre-ruining-someone-elses-credit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-522183293.jpg" alt="Woman learning ways her credit is being ruined by someone else" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your credit score is one of the biggest deciding factors in your financial health. It influences whether you qualify for the best interest rates on mortgages or auto loans, it can impact your insurance rates, and it can even determine whether you land that dream job or not.</p> <p>Establishing good credit requires managing your credit accounts responsibly. But your own credit score isn't the only one that can suffer the consequences of poor credit management. In the same way money can ruin a friendship, your financial carelessness could ruin someone else's credit. Here's how.</p> <h2>1. Charging up someone else's credit card</h2> <p>Becoming an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-adding-another-user-to-your-credit-card" target="_blank">authorized user</a> on someone else's credit card helps build your own credit history. You'll receive a credit card in your name, and you're allowed to make charges on the account. But even though your name is on the card and the account shows up on your credit report, only the primary account holder receives the statements. This person is ultimately responsible for any purchases you make with the card.</p> <p>If you're an authorized user, the mature thing to do is pay whatever you charge each month. If you don't or can't pay, this sets in motion a chain of events that could ruin the other person's credit.</p> <p>Any purchases you charge to the account can raise the primary account holder's balance and increase their credit utilization ratio beyond a healthy range (utilization ratio is the credit card balance compared to the credit limit). Ideally, credit utilization should never exceed 30 percent of a credit limit &mdash; the lower, the better. A high utilization ratio can lower credit scores.</p> <p>In addition, ringing up charges on someone's credit card and not paying what you owe could trigger payment problems. This can happen if the primary user doesn't have enough money for higher minimum payments. If they can't pay the credit card bill within 30 days, the credit card company could report the late payment to the credit bureaus. While a 30-day delinquency won't tank a credit score, if it's longer than that, the damage is more serious &mdash; at which point, you'd better run.</p> <h2>2. Defaulting on a co-signed loan</h2> <p>Maybe you're getting a car loan and need a co-signer. If you have no credit or bad credit, a co-signer can help you qualify for financing. But if you don't uphold your end of the bargain by making on-time payments (or if you stop paying altogether), your actions affect both of your scores.</p> <p>Co-signers become responsible for loan payments when a primary signer can no longer make payments to the lender (which is why I would never, ever cosign for anyone). If you default on a loan and your co-signer can't take over the loan payments, the delinquency appears on both of your credit reports and remains there for up to seven years. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-ever-okay-to-cosign-a-loan?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Is It Ever Okay to Cosign a Loan?</a>)</p> <h2>3. Bailing on shared expenses</h2> <p>Skipping out on a shared or joint expense, like a lease or a mortgage, is another way to ruin someone else's credit. If you move out abruptly after getting into a fight with your roommate or partner, and you refuse to cough up your half for joint expenses, the other person must come up with the cash or else risk an eviction, breach of contract lawsuit, or foreclosure. All three scenarios can destroy both of your credit scores.</p> <p>A similar issue can occur if you bail on a joint utility bill. If the account goes unpaid, the utility company will send the information to a collections agency. Collection accounts remain on credit reports for up to seven years &mdash; but your friend's urge to punch you square in the nose will last a lifetime.</p> <h2>4. Pressuring friends to spend money</h2> <p>Financial peer pressure gets many people into trouble. Whether you realize it or not, you could be guilty of driving your friends to spend money they don't have. Of course, everyone is responsible for their own finances. But if you push a &quot;You only live once&quot; attitude on others, or if you constantly entice your friends to spend outside their budgets, they could succumb to the pressure and use credit to finance keeping up with you.</p> <h2>5. Ignoring a parking ticket in a borrowed car</h2> <p>Don't hide or ignore a parking ticket you get in someone else's car. Even if there's no way to identify the actual driver at the time of the violation, the parking ticket is tied to the owner's license plate and they will owe any fines you incur. If the parking ticket goes unpaid, a negative mark can appear on the car owner's credit report.</p> <h2>6. Blowing off library fines</h2> <p>On the off chance you go to the library and check out a book using someone else's library card, return the book on time and pay any late fines you owe. Some cities report these unpaid fines to collection agencies, which can cause a negative mark on the library cardholder's credit report. In all likelihood, it's just a few bucks we're talking about here, which makes the situation particularly annoying.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-infuriating-ways-youre-ruining-someone-elses-credit">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-surprising-ways-bad-credit-can-hurt-you">15 Surprising Ways Bad Credit Can Hurt You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-improve-your-credit-score">How to Improve Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/who-pays-when-loved-ones-leave-debt-behind">Who Pays When Loved Ones Leave Debt Behind?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-to-negatively-affect-your-credit-score">10 Surprising Ways to Negatively Affect Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight">Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance authorized users bad credit cosign credit scores parking tickets peer pressure ruining credit shared expenses unpaid utilities Tue, 21 Mar 2017 10:00:17 +0000 Mikey Rox 1908844 at http://www.wisebread.com Should You Pay Your Bills With a Credit Card? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-635966758.jpg" alt="Woman wondering if she should pay bills with a credit card" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the smartest &mdash; and easiest &mdash; ways to earn more credit card rewards is to charge as many regular bills as makes sense. By using credit instead of your checking account to pay bills you normally pay anyway, you can increase your rewards without spending money you don't have.</p> <p>First step: Get out your monthly bank statements and make a list of expenses you pay on a regular basis. These might include utility bills, insurance premiums, and even rent.</p> <p>Next, determine whether you can pay these bills with credit. Using a credit card to pay your bills allows you to rack up <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">cash back</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-credit-cards-for-hotel-deals-and-rewards?ref=internal" target="_blank">hotel points</a>, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-co-branded-airline-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">airline miles</a> a lot faster, but there are some downsides you need to consider, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-seven-reasons-why-i-use-my-credit-card-for-everything?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why I Use My Credit Card for Everything</a>)</p> <h2>Beware of Fees<strong> </strong></h2> <p>While some businesses let you use a credit card without an added fee, others might charge a fixed or percentage-based convenience fee for using credit. This is because companies are charged a fee for processing credit card payments.</p> <p>If a fee is involved, it's usually not worth it to put the payment on your credit card. That additional fee would cancel out (and sometimes be more than) any rewards you'd get for the charge.</p> <p>Let's say you want to pay your $100 cellphone bill with a credit card, but your service provider charges a flat $1.95 fee for doing so. If your credit card offers 1% back for each dollar you spend, you would earn $1.00 in rewards for a $1.95 fee. You'd clearly be better off using some other payment method.</p> <p>On the other hand, if you have a rewards card that offer 5% back on cellphone purchases, you'd earn $5.00 in rewards on that $100 cellphone bill in exchange for a $1.95 fee. That's still a pretty good deal.</p> <h2>Don't Get in Debt for Rewards</h2> <p>No matter what, you should never charge bills you can't afford to repay right away. There is no amount of rewards that would be worth the interest credit cards charge for carrying a balance. Before you charge any bill, you should make sure you have the cash to pay your bill in full when it's due.</p> <h2>Don't Use Convenience Checks</h2> <p>Don't think you can bypass the fees by using those convenience checks credit cards send you, either. Those are considered cash advances, and you will not only not earn rewards using them, but you will be assessed interest the moment they are cashed. The interest on cash advances are much, much higher than the standard APR, too. So never, ever use those checks to pay your bills!</p> <h2>Overlooked Bills You Can Pay With Credit</h2> <p>With all of those caveats in mind, consider this list of bills you might not currently be paying by credit card:</p> <ul> <li>Cable/Internet/cellphone bill &mdash; Depending on which telecommunications service providers you use, you may be able to charge these bills to a credit card online or over the phone.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Car/homeowners/renters insurance &mdash; Most providers of these types of insurance let you pay your premiums with a credit card, though you may have to pay a fee. This is true whether you pay your bill monthly or just once or twice a year.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>College tuition &mdash; Not all schools accept credit cards for tuition, and many that do charge a fee. For all the rest, charging your bill to a credit card can help you earn points and miles quickly. Because this tends to be a large bill, it's especially important to point out that this only pays off if you can pay the credit card charges in full at the end of the month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-college-students?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Best Credit Cards for College Students</a>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Day care &mdash; Many larger daycare centers let patrons charge their weekly or monthly day care expenses. Smaller providers may also accept credit cards, though they are more likely to charge a convenience fee.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Electricity, gas, water &mdash; More and more utility companies let consumers charge their bill payments to a credit card.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Health insurance &mdash; If you buy your own insurance on the open market or through the exchanges, you may be able to pay for your premiums with a credit card. Although some large health insurance companies have dropped this option, there are still some providers who allow it.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Income taxes &mdash; The Internal Revenue Service authorizes three providers to accept and process <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/pay-taxes-by-credit-or-debit-card" target="_blank">federal income tax payments by credit card</a>. All of them charge fees, but at least part of the fee may be tax deductible. If you want to charge state income taxes, you'll need to check with your state for rules and additional details. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-ever-pay-your-taxes-with-a-credit-card?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Should You Ever Pay Your Taxes With a Credit Card?</a>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Kids' sports and activities &mdash; If your children are in baseball, ballet, or any other activity, don't forget to charge their activity fees or dues. You may also be able to charge equipment rental and uniform fees.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Offerings at your house of worship &mdash; An increasing number of churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship accept credit card donations. If you tithe or regularly contribute to the offering plate, this is an expense to consider charging, keeping in mind that part of your donation will go to pay for credit card processing fees.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Rent &mdash; For a few lucky tenants, paying rent with a credit card is an option. Some landlords provide this service for free. Otherwise, there are companies that will accept your credit card payment and then pay your rent or mortgage by check, but the fees are almost always greater than any rewards you could earn.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Subscriptions and membership dues &mdash; You can usually charge your fees for a gym, video streaming service, dating service, magazine, and other subscription services. Most large organizations will also let you pay for membership dues with a credit card.</li> </ul> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!&nbsp;</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fshould-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FShould%20You%20Pay%20Your%20Bills%20With%20a%20Credit%20Card-.jpg&amp;description=Should%20You%20Pay%20Your%20Bills%20With%20a%20Credit%20Card%3F" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Should%20You%20Pay%20Your%20Bills%20With%20a%20Credit%20Card-.jpg" alt="Should You Pay Your Bills With a Credit Card?" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-with-annual-fees">The 5 Best Credit Cards With Annual Fees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-important-credit-card-lessons-your-parents-didnt-teach-you">6 Important Credit Card Lessons Your Parents Didn&#039;t Teach You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-ways-to-meet-a-rewards-card-minimum-spending-requirement">5 Smart Ways to Meet a Rewards Card Minimum Spending Requirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-back-on-track-when-youre-behind-on-your-bills">How to Get Back on Track When You&#039;re Behind on Your Bills</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-save-loads-of-money-using-credit-cards">7 Ways to Save Loads of Money Using Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards autopay bill pay bills budgeting credit rewards utilities Wed, 22 Feb 2017 10:30:36 +0000 Holly Johnson 1893287 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends_money_moves_63337017.jpg" alt="Couple asking questions before signing a lease" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>So you've been searching for a place to live. You've looked at a bunch of different homes and apartments, driven all over town, and have finally decided on the one you want. It's perfect. But before you whip out the pen and commit to something, ask the following 10 questions. They could prevent you from making a very costly &mdash; and time-consuming &mdash; mistake.</p> <h2>1. Which Utilities Are My Responsibility?</h2> <p>Depending on where you live (and how generous the landlord is), utility responsibility may vary. If you're living in a large apartment complex, you may find that a lot of utilities are covered by your rent. In other cases, it may only be water and sewage, or in the worst case scenario&hellip;nothing at all. So make sure you know exactly which utilities are going to be your responsibility, <em>and </em>see if you can get a history of the bills at that address. Some homes are more energy efficient than others, and some homes have additional costs you may not consider (such as fees for constructing new pipelines). When you get the complete picture, you may discover that the utility bills put a unit beyond your reach.</p> <h2>2. How and When Do I Pay My Rent?</h2> <p>You already know what the rent costs, but you also need to know how and when to pay it. These days, many larger apartment leasing companies will take payments online, or through an automated debit system. Private landlords will most likely take a check or banker's draft, and may want you to mail it, or hand it over in person. There may also be fees for paying online or by check, so ask about that. And of course, ask about late fees and grace periods. You may get up to five days to pay your rent without incurring a penalty.</p> <h2>3. Do I Have to Have Renters Insurance?</h2> <p>Any kind of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-definitely-need-renters-insurance?ref=internal">renters insurance</a> is good to have, even if it covers the bare minimum. But times are tough, and you may not have the money to afford it right now. Your landlord or leasing agency may not care. Or, they may have a very strict renters insurance policy, which could once again put you over your monthly budget and make the apartment off limits. If you are required to have it, shop around and get multiple quotes. Use these quotes as bargaining chips with each insurance company to get the best possible rate that covers more of your possessions.</p> <h2>4. What Is Your Guest Policy?</h2> <p>In this day and age, the vast majority of landlords are not going to care if you have guests for long visits. But, it never hurts to check the rules of the apartment complex or landlord. Even then, it's a very tricky rule to enforce, so it's doubtful anything will happen. The problems usually come with guests staying for an extended period of time. If your best friend suddenly becomes homeless and asks to stay in your spare room for a few months, that could have ramifications. And if you decide to move your partner in to live there permanently, you will have to consult the landlord. It's possible a background check will be needed.</p> <h2>5. Can I Make Improvements?</h2> <p>When you move into a new place, you want it to feel like home. That often means personalizing it with paint, wallpaper, new curtains, maybe even new carpet or tile. This should all be openly discussed with the landlord before you ever sign the lease, and put in writing. It's quite possible that any improvements you want to make (even a simple coat of paint), will have to be approved first. Even if you think you're making the place even better (adding a wooden floor for instance), the landlord has every right to take your security deposit when you move out.</p> <h2>6. How Long Is the Lease?</h2> <p>It may seem like an obvious question, but not all leases are created equal. Some landlords may be renting their home out for the summer, and want a tenant for six months or less. Some apartment complexes offer discounts for longer leases. Some leases are month-to-month. You need to know this up front, and also, what kind of fees you will pay to break that lease. It's possible you'll be asked to pay two months' rent to get out of it, and may also lose your security deposit. Other places may be much more relaxed, especially if you find someone to take over the lease.</p> <h2>7. How Much Is the Security Deposit and Do I Get All of It Back?</h2> <p>The typical amount for a security deposit is one month's rent, but it can vary from place to place. Some may only want a nominal fee &mdash; say $300. Now, by law, any kind of security deposit is refundable, that's why it's called a security deposit; you put the money down as insurance for the landlord, you get it back if all is well. However, different landlords have different thresholds for wear and tear, and it's possible you won't get the whole amount back, especially if you have pets.</p> <h2>8. How Will the Apartment Be Prepared and How Should I Leave It?</h2> <p>These are two different questions, but both relate to the cleanliness and appearance of the apartment. Before you move in, you need to know if the entire place will be cleaned and repaired. You may well be viewing the place before any of this has happened, and may be in for a shock if you move in and the carpets are stained and the lighting is broken. So, get in writing how the home should be delivered and returned. Also, when you move out, you may have to pay for some of those very services that make the home ready for the next tenants. So, ask if you have to have the carpets shampooed, or the place professionally cleaned. If you do, and don't do it, this fee can come out of your security deposit.</p> <h2>9. What's the Pet Policy?</h2> <p>Landlords don't like pets, often for good reason. They sometimes leave a smell, they can tear things, they're noisy at times, and they can leave nasty surprises on the carpet. For this reason, most places will have some kind of pet policy in place. It may be as simple as &quot;Yes, pets are fine, but don't let your dog bark all the time.&quot; Other places could impose a nonrefundable fee for the term of the lease to cover additional cleaning, or impose a monthly fee, known as pet rent. Even if you don't have a pet now, ask about it. You don't want to have to move out later because you want to get a dog or a cat.</p> <h2>10. How Do You Deal With Maintenance and Emergencies?</h2> <p>Again, this will vary depending on the kind of place you're looking at. Big apartment complexes usually have a maintenance staff on site, and a simple call to the front desk can be all it takes to get an issue resolved. If you're renting a home from a private landlord, you'll want to know up front what kind of response you will get, and how soon. If it's just a guy renting his house out, and your fence blows down, will it take weeks for the repair to happen? Can you call someone to make repairs, and remove the cost of service from your rent? Do all repairs have to go through the landlord, and are there preferred providers? All this should be asked up front.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been burned by the hidden terms of a lease?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-smart-ways-to-get-your-apartment-deposit-back">7 Smart Ways to Get Your Apartment Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-11-best-websites-for-renting-your-extra-space">The 11 Best Websites for Renting Your Extra Space</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-apartment-hunt-on-craigslist-without-getting-scammed">6 Ways to Apartment Hunt on Craigslist Without Getting Scammed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-definitely-need-renters-insurance">5 Reasons You Definitely Need Renters&#039; Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing apartments breaking a lease insurance maintenance pets policies renters agreement renting security deposits signing a lease utilities Wed, 31 Aug 2016 10:30:09 +0000 Paul Michael 1782899 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Hidden Housing Costs New Homeowners Don't Expect http://www.wisebread.com/10-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_tired_painting_000067183647.jpg" alt="Man finding hidden housing costs he didn&#039;t expect" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're a new homeowner &mdash; congrats! The hardest part is over, for sure. Saying so long to most of your savings isn't easy, after all. But the money hemorrhage isn't finished just yet. There are several under-the-radar and often overlooked fees and expenses that accompany homeownership that a newbie like you might miss. Keep tabs on these expenses with this list of hidden housing costs to help soften the blow.</p> <h2>1. Moving Expenses</h2> <p>Your belongings have to get from A to B somehow, but have you considered the method? If you plan to enlist the help of your friends, you'll save a huge chunk of change, but if you have more than a few truckloads, it's probably best to hire movers &mdash; and movers aren't cheap. Depending on how much stuff you have, how many flights of stairs the movers are going up and down (my fourth-floor movers <em>haaaated </em>me), and the distance they need to travel to deliver it, the cost could reach upwards of $10,000. With so many other expenses coming down the pipeline, this isn't one you want to forget about. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-forget-to-budget-for-these-unexpected-moving-expenses?ref=seealso">Don't Forget to Budget for These Unexpected Moving Expenses</a>)</p> <h2>2. Furnishing <em>All </em>the Rooms</h2> <p>Your eyes opened wide to the four-bed, three-bath colonial when you first saw it &mdash; all that space! But those rooms aren't going to furnish themselves. This is important to keep in mind if you're coming from a much smaller dwelling. You likely don't have enough furniture to outfit the entire new home, which means that you'll have to buy new items to make it livable. Beds, dining tables, couches, sofas &mdash; any or all of these may be required, and none of it is cheap. Otherwise you can take the easy way out and assign two of your empty, furniture-less rooms to &quot;storage,&quot; like I've seen some of my friends do. You'll just have to accept that somebody (like me) is totally judging you, lazy.</p> <h2>3. Window Treatments</h2> <p>When I moved into my first apartment in Manhattan, I assumed that the place would come with blinds. No such luck. What was worse was that my landlord wouldn't supply the blinds&hellip; and the ones I had to order if I didn't want nosy neighbors watching me do <em>everything</em> had to be custom made. The cost was an extra $500 or so that I didn't plan for, which is annoying when it's for something as silly as window treatments. Although, according to interior designer Tiffani Stutzman, I got off pretty easy.</p> <p>&quot;New homeowners are always shocked at the price of window treatments,&quot; she says. &quot;The average cost of a very basic blind or shade for a medium-sized window is normally around $500. Most homeowners should budget around $1,000 per window as a good rule of thumb. However, the cost can increase significantly for very large or tall windows or windows with non-standard shapes like arches. If you are interested in using custom fabrics or other features such as motorized shades, expect much higher costs per window.&quot;</p> <p>Yeah, I definitely got off easy, and I made half my money back by selling the window treatments to the renter who was coming in after me. Business is business. For your own reference, I used Blinds To Go, which was extremely affordable compared to Stutzman's estimates, and the process was a cinch.</p> <h2>4. Utilities and Other Day-to-Day Usage Expenses</h2> <p>If you previously lived in an apartment where your utilities were included in the rent, you're in for big sticker shock your first few months of energy usage. Gas and electricity isn't cheap, and if you've been taking advantage of the built-in amenities that your rent covered, you better brace yourself. To make the transition smoother, ask the seller if you can see a copy of a recent utility bill so that you can somewhat prepare. Knowing is half the battle. Tread lightly initially, too. Stay conscious of lights, heat, and A/C running only when necessary to help slow down the speed at which you're accruing new bills.</p> <h2>5. HVAC Inspections and Upkeep</h2> <p>Heaters and air conditioners are crucial to climate-controlled living (I'm so uppity I won't even spend the night someplace without an air conditioner; I get <em>hot</em>, bro), and they don't fix themselves. Unless you have these very specialized skills to handle their maintenance, you'll have to hire the work out. Of course, it's wise to ward off major catastrophes with annual inspections &mdash; which will still cost you &mdash; but not nearly as much as early replacement of a furnace or A/C unit that's been neglected.</p> <h2>6. Termite and Pest Treatments</h2> <p>Before you move into your new home, you should get the all clear that it's termite-free. Your inspection will reveal the pests, and it should fall on the owner to address the problem. If not, you have the right to walk away. That's not always the case, however. The owner is not <em>required</em> to rid the house of pests, but only to disclose the existence of the pests. If you choose to move forward with the sale knowing that there's an active pest problem, the problem is on you if it's not negotiated that it will be exterminated by the time you move in.</p> <p>And if you don't mind me saying so, it's an incredibly dumb move on your part to accept the pests, as they can be very costly to eliminate. You also want to check for roaches, ants, mice and rats, and bedbugs. None of these critters are signs of good fortune.</p> <h2>7. Landscaping and Other Outdoor Maintenance</h2> <p>I do a lot of things myself to cut costs on having to pay for someone else to do it, but I draw the line at mowing the lawn and other yard maintenance. I hate it. Thus, I bring in the big guns to do the dirty work, and it costs about $800 a year. Other hidden costs to new homeowners can include, but aren't limited to: snow removal, roof maintenance (which can be a <em>huge </em>expenses if there's a serious problem), gutter cleaning, and outdoor pest removal, like the hornet's nest that set up camp in my own backyard.</p> <p>&quot;Lawn mowing services can run roughly $25 a week or more, but that's just for cutting the grass; that doesn't include tree trimming, fertilization, and other landscaping services,&quot; says Ryan Farley, co-founder LawnStarter, a lawn-care concierge service. &quot;If you go the DIY route, lawn care involves an expenditure of both time and money; it's hard to put a price on your time. If you prefer to let someone else take care of your lawn, be sure to include that cost in your monthly housing budget. Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind that a well-landscaped lawn can easily boost the value of your home by 10%, and a lousy looking lawn can cause you to lose money when you're ready to sell.</p> <h2>8. An Eventual Increase in Property Taxes</h2> <p>There are only two certainties in life &mdash; death and taxes, and the latter will keep increasing until you wish the former would come faster. While you should be aware of your expected property taxes before you purchase the home, you may not expect the rate at which they will increase over the years.</p> <p>&ldquo;When you buy a home, most sales are reported to the taxing authority, which means your property taxes will be raised to the value &mdash; or the price you paid &mdash; for the house. For many buyers this can be a 20% to 30% increase in their property taxes,&quot; says Sissy Lapin, co-founder of ListingDoor.com, a DIY home-selling resource.</p> <h2>9. Homeowner's Association Dues</h2> <p>If you're moving to a fancy neighborhood, you can bet there's a homeowner's association, which, in my opinion, is just a congenial title for &quot;a sanctioned group of nosy neighbors who like to tell other people what to do&quot; &mdash; but I digress. Either way, you'll have to pay up to be part of the club, whether you like it or not. But, hey, at least you get an awkward holiday party out of it at the end of the year.</p> <p>&quot;While these fees are likely disclosed during the purchase, and may bring many benefits, they are an additional cost to owning a home in many parts of the country,&quot; Lapin says. &quot;Furthermore, there can also be periodic 'one-time' additional assessments to cover special projects or budget deficits by the association.&quot;</p> <h2>10. Special Assessments to Cover Special Projects</h2> <p>Special assessment fees generally don't apply to single-family homeownership, but they can be a surprise aspect of condo living if you're not prepared. Recently, we had to replace the roof on our building in Manhattan to the tune of more than $1 million. Uh huh. I needed a minute when I heard that, too. With only 12 units in the building, the cost was divvied up between the owners based on the shares we held in the building. Needless to say, it wasn't cheap for anyone, and special assessments like these can force you out of your home if you're not financially capable of paying your share.</p> <p>Furthermore, if you're forced to move because you can no longer afford the mortgage plus fees, it can be difficult finding a buyer given the financially-strapped circumstance of the unit and the building. There's no real way to prepare for things like this &mdash; it's more of a roll-with-the-punches situation &mdash; but it's certainly something to consider before buying a condo.</p> <p><em>Are you a new homeowner? What are some of the pop-up fees you weren't prepared for? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/23-hidden-costs-of-buying-an-old-house">23 Hidden Costs of Buying an Old House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-forget-to-budget-for-these-unexpected-moving-expenses">Don&#039;t Forget to Budget for These Unexpected Moving Expenses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/moving-dont-skimp-on-these-critical-expenses">Moving? Don&#039;t Skimp on These Critical Expenses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-much-life-in-the-big-city-will-cost-you">Here&#039;s How Much Life in the Big City Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-100s-on-your-next-move">How to Save $100s on Your Next Move</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing expenses furniture hidden costs moving new homeowners utilities Windows Mon, 18 Apr 2016 09:00:05 +0000 Mikey Rox 1689028 at http://www.wisebread.com Should You Move to a New City to Reduce Lifestyle Costs? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-move-to-a-new-city-to-reduce-lifestyle-costs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-move-to-a-new-city-to-reduce-lifestyle-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_city_view_000064735719.jpg" alt="Man deciding if he should move to a new city to reduce costs" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Moving to a big or popular city is often associated with higher housing costs. But even so, it may be worth it when you're able to change your lifestyle for the better &mdash; while reducing overall costs elsewhere.</p> <p>This is the exact decision that my husband and I faced a few months ago when we decided to move across the country to be closer to family.</p> <p>If you're considering whether or not you should move to pursue a better career or lifestyle, here's why you may want to move to a new city <em>even</em> if rent or housing costs more. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-mid-sized-cities-for-millennials">The 5 Best Mid-Sized Cities for Millennials</a>)</p> <h2>Why I Chose to Pay Double the Cost of Rent</h2> <p>Compared to our previous apartment near Dallas, TX our Boulder, CO rent is nearly double the price. Basically, the <a href="http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=United+States&amp;country2=United+States&amp;city1=Boulder%2C+CO&amp;city2=Tyler%2C+TX&amp;tracking=getDispatchComparison">average price per square foot</a>&nbsp;to buy an apartment in Texas is $100, while Colorado is as much as $383 per square foot.</p> <p>Our one bedroom rented apartment in Texas only cost $900, whereas here in Boulder it's $1,660 &mdash; not including utilities. But we looked at our budget and took <em>all</em> our lifestyle costs into account before deciding that moving was the best option. Here are four reasons we decided to move to a new city despite the higher housing costs.</p> <h3>1. Lower Utility Charges</h3> <p>One of the biggest factors to your budget, aside from rent and housing costs, are your utility costs. This can include your water, electricity, gas, Internet, TV, and other small things like trash and sewer maintenance.</p> <p>Depending on whether you live inside or outside the city limits, these costs could be quite high. Added together, my husband and I used to pay close to $400 per month towards our utility bills. But now that we live in a more cost efficient city, we're able to save nearly <em>half </em>of that each month.</p> <p>Check your utility costs against those of your potential new city by making a list of your current bills. Compare those utility costs to your potential new place. (You can compare the costs online via the utility company's website, or calling the local phone number.) Be sure to check:</p> <ul> <li>Internet</li> <li>Phone</li> <li>TV/Cable</li> <li>Electricity</li> <li>Gas</li> <li>Water/Sewer</li> <li>Trash/Recycling</li> </ul> <p>Even though we may pay a lot more in rent, the amount we save every month by having low-flow faucets and more cost effective heating/cooling is definitely worth the move to us.</p> <h3>2. Food Costs and Waste</h3> <p>Groceries are a non-fixed expense that can eat into your budget if you're not careful. In our previous city, we had limited options of grocery stores to choose from, which left us little choice of saving money on food. We could either spend a fortune at a small boutique grocery store, or sacrifice the quality by going to a big chain store. We chose to spend a bit more for organic food and had a grocery bill upwards of $800+ per month &mdash; just for the two of us!</p> <p>Since moving to Colorado, we have access to 10 different grocery stores (seriously, we counted!) and can find what we need at a <em>much</em> lower price. In the past several months we've knocked an average of $230 off our grocery bill, and it keeps declining.</p> <p>Better quality organic food at one-fourth the cost has been well worth the move to a new city. In addition, we're able to buy less food and avoid so much going to waste. Having more options has allowed us to save money while still getting the organic and healthy food we want.</p> <h3>3. Environmental Impact</h3> <p>One of the main reasons my husband and I wanted to move from Texas to Colorado was to be more environmentally aware of the impact we were making. This city has a built-in recycling program so we no longer have to take weekend trips to the recycling center.</p> <p>And because of the climate, there's no air conditioning unit in our apartment. During the cold months, we simply use a gas-powered furnace. When you compare the cost of a electric heater versus a gas furnace, prices for gas <a href="https://www.mge.com/images/PDF/Brochures/residential/RentersGasVsElec.pdf">typically cost much less</a> to operate than electric ones.</p> <p>According to the EPA, the fuel from a gas furnace comes from natural gas production, which burns much cleaner and poses less of an environmental threat. It's important to evaluate your impact on the environment, as well as your overall lifestyle costs. Consider how this change could save you money and help better the local community.</p> <h3>4. Transportation Costs</h3> <p>Since settling into our life here in Boulder, my husband and I have only filled up the car with gas twice in the past three months. Our gas and car maintenance budget used to be $250 per month, but now it's down to around $40&ndash;$50 for all our transportation costs.</p> <p>Because this new city has <a href="https://bouldercolorado.gov/goboulder/other-great-options">several different transportation choices</a>, including a bus system, carpooling, and car sharing options, we've stopped using our car as much. We now bike or walk to work or while running errands.</p> <p>This allows us to save <em>over $200 a month</em> on gas and maintenance costs for our car. In addition it allows us to put less emissions into the environment.</p> <p>All-in-all, we increased our housing costs by $760 but are currently saving $610+ in lower utility, transportation, and food costs. For us, this was definitely worth it.</p> <p><em>Are you thinking of moving to reduce lifestyle costs? What are some other things that impact your decision?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-smith">Carrie Smith</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-move-to-a-new-city-to-reduce-lifestyle-costs">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-alternative-housing-options-you-can-afford">5 Alternative Housing Options You Can Afford</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-7-things-when-living-with-roommates">Avoid These 7 Things When Living With Roommates</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-off-the-grid">Book Review: Off the Grid</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight">Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-live-rent-free">5 Simple Ways to Live Rent-Free</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle Real Estate and Housing environmental impact food costs housing costs rent transportation utilities Thu, 21 Jan 2016 12:01:03 +0000 Carrie Smith 1642415 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Common Household Leaks You Can Fix Without a Plumber http://www.wisebread.com/4-common-household-leaks-you-can-fix-without-a-plumber <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-common-household-leaks-you-can-fix-without-a-plumber" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/plumber_fixes_pipe_000020436717.jpg" alt="Learning which household leaks you can fix without a plumber" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether you live in a house or an apartment, leaks are so common that you definitely don't want to hire a plumber every single time it happens. Pick up a few supplies, take an afternoon and try these easy and cheap ways to fix household leaks.</p> <h2>1. Shower Leak</h2> <p>If your shower is leaking, it is likely due to one really simple-to-fix issue. The showerhead slowly gets loosened from the pipe stem over time. Usually you just need to tighten the hold by <a href="http://www.hometips.com/repair-fix/how-to-repair-leaky-shower-faucet.html">reattaching the showerhead</a> and using <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DVBIS9K/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B00DVBIS9K&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=HQBFR3AAGNZQQCGJ">pipe tape</a> to seal the pipe around the showerhead. The tape is available at nearly any hardware store or on Amazon for about $10. You'll also want to check the washer (also called an &quot;o ring&quot;) on the inside of the showerhead.</p> <h2>2. Faucet Leak</h2> <p><em>Drip. Drip. Drip. </em>Not only is that really annoying, but it's wasting gallons of water per day. The most common reason for faucet leaks is just a worn out gasket. So it's usually very easy to fix this one.</p> <p>First, remember to turn off your water line under the sink before opening up your faucet, and place <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NUCYV82/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B00NUCYV82&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=GRTUBF6FGXXJ5DID">drain stoppers</a> in all drain openings to prevent losing parts. Then, cover the faucet exterior (handles, etc.) with tape so your wrench doesn't scuff them up. Next, you take apart each piece and screw them back in, after replacing the worn-out gasket or washer. Try watching one of many <a href="http://www.diynetwork.com/video/leaky-faucet-0129099">online video tutorials</a> on the subject to get the visuals down.</p> <h2>3. Water Heater Leak</h2> <p>The water heater looks like a pretty intimidating appliance, which is why most people are afraid to tinker with it. However, did you know that the water you find pooling at the bottom of your water heater may not actually be a leak? It could easily be the condensation from the outside of the heater dripping down to the floor. If you've ruled that out because water is spraying from the hose, immediately shut off the water valve (should be a red handle located near the pipe). If the temperature release valve is leaking, it might be because the temperature setting is too high, which can fixed with the manual's instructions with a wrench you have a home. </p> <p>If you detect corrosion or other more dangerous defects, don't take the risk &mdash; call a plumber.</p> <h2>4. Toilet Leak</h2> <p>This might be among the scariest of all leaks, because who wants anything to seep out of their commode? If the leak is coming from the bottom of the toilet, you likely need to tighten the bolts securing it to the floor. (For more instructions, check <a href="http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,202149,00.html">This Old House.</a>) However, one of the leading causes of toilet leaks is one simple item: an over-worn <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000DZF73M/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B000DZF73M&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=WVFSTMZZACKDSX76">toilet flapper</a>. That's the rubber gasket that makes the flushing mechanism work. They tend to just wear out or build up mineral deposits and decay. It's such an easy replacement, you don't need a tutorial or a plumber. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-plumbing-repairs-that-dont-require-a-plumber">10 Easy Plumbing Repairs that Don't Need a Plumber</a>)</p> <p><em>Have you repaired your own leaks? Share with us in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-common-household-leaks-you-can-fix-without-a-plumber">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-simple-household-repairs-every-frugal-person-should-master">10 Simple Household Repairs Every Frugal Person Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-our-61-best-home-improvement-hacks-ever">Flashback Friday: Our 61 Best Home Improvement Hacks Ever</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-air-fresheners">The 5 Best Air Fresheners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/51-uses-for-coca-cola-the-ultimate-list">51 Uses for Coca-Cola – the Ultimate List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-long-these-6-appliances-should-last">This Is How Long These 6 Appliances Should Last</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Home DIY home household leaks plumbing utilities water meter Wed, 18 Nov 2015 16:15:37 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1614921 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Savings Mistakes Even Smart People Make http://www.wisebread.com/8-savings-mistakes-even-smart-people-make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-savings-mistakes-even-smart-people-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_piggy_bank_000035836870.jpg" alt="Smart woman making classic savings mistakes with finances" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're not a finance expert just yet (that's probably why you're reading Wise Bread), and I don't expect you to make all the right moves with your money. The truth is, everybody makes mistakes &mdash; even yours truly &mdash; but it's important to check yourself before you wreck yourself when it comes to your cash. Take a look at these savings mistakes than even smart folks like you and I make and consider how to avoid these potentially costly financial faux pas.</p> <h2>1. Funneling Money Into Modest Growth Plans</h2> <p>Even avid savers can make mistakes when it comes to funneling money away for a rainy day or a future investment. Because if it's sitting in a modest growth plan, it's not doing you much good, and it'll take you much longer to reach your savings goals.</p> <p>Joe LoPresti, registered investment advisor and creator of the Investment Education Institute, agrees.</p> <p>&quot;I think the biggest savings mistake that smart people make is putting a lot of money into modest growth plans like low APR savings accounts, CDs, bonds, mutual funds, or just simple 401(k)s, without putting some money aside for active investment &mdash; investments that will grow their money while their still earning it, not just preserving it for later,&quot; he says. &quot;Buying 'safe' assets is something that smart people do, but what they don't consider is that those safe investments will not significantly grow the nest egg you're trying to establish. In fact, locking your savings up in low-yield investments may actually prevent you from growing your wealth during the up-swinging market that we're currently experiencing.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Avoiding Credit Cards at All Costs</h2> <p>While I'll never encourage you to be a spendthrift with your credit cards, driving yourself into debt, that doesn't mean you should ward off plastic altogether. Having credit builds credit, and you need it to make large milestone purchases like a new home. Just be smart about the cards you keep. Read the fine print and choose the best card for your needs to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-awesome-credit-card-perks-you-didnt-know-about">maximize the benefits</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cash-back-vs-travel-rewards-pick-the-right-credit-card-for-you?ref=seealso">Should I Choose a Cash Back or Travel Rewards Credit Card?</a>)</p> <h2>3. Sticking With Commodity Providers to Avoid the Hassle of Switching</h2> <p>I see this all the time within my circle of friends and among family members, and I can't say that I'm entirely innocent, either. But sticking with commodity providers &mdash; like cable, Internet, and cell phone service &mdash; because you don't want to fuss with the hassle of switching, can cost you big bucks over the long term, and give you a major headache. It may be in your best interest to at least research other options. Ask for employer discounts, switching incentives and other discounts, like military or student savings.</p> <h2>4. Buying on Impulse Instead of Cost-Comparing</h2> <p>Before you buy anything &mdash; an-y-thing &mdash; you should compare its cost to other retailers and available options. Whip out your phone right in the store and do a bit of amateur cost comparing to see if you can get it elsewhere cheaper. If you can, cool your jets and save that cash.</p> <h2>5. Saving Too Much &mdash; Yep, There's Such a Thing</h2> <p>Saving too much is impossible, right? Wrong. You can absolutely save too much if you have no plan for the money you're saving. What good does a load of cash do you if it just sits in the bank your whole life? Investing your money is how you'll make more of it (considering that you're investing wisely, of course), and you should start establishing savings milestones and planning the investments you'll make with the money if you want to enhance the quality &mdash; not quantity &mdash; of your life. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-cheap-easy-ways-to-invest-your-first-1000?ref=seealso">4 Smart Ways to Invest Your First $1000</a>)</p> <h2>6. Waiting for a Monetary Milestone to Invest</h2> <p>&quot;All investment professionals will tell you to wait until you have $5,000 to $10,000 before you should invest. That's wrong!&quot; cautions Samuel Rad a Certified Financial Planner and instructor at University of California Los Angeles. &quot;The only reason they tell you this is because it's not worth it for them to deal with you until you have enough money. The best advice is to start as early as possible with as little as possible.The quicker you get started on investing, the more compounding you will get. If you place all of it in a bank and wait until you have a big lump sum to invest, you will have lost time.&quot;</p> <p>Rad provides an exercise analogy to drive his point home:</p> <p>&quot;Similar to lifting weights, you don't want to walk into a gym and try to lift 300 pounds if it's your first time lifting,&quot; he says. &quot;Start with 25 pounds and work your way up.&quot;</p> <p>I agree with Rad, but only if you don't have a large investment in mind. For instance, I'm saving for an investment property for which I'll need to put a substantial down payment. I'm not particularly interested in jeopardizing this investment by playing the market in the meantime, so I'm sticking to my milestone. In these cases, I think it's okay to stick to your original plan, but, like Rad says, if you don't have one, there's really no reason to wait to invest. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-silly-reasons-people-dont-invest-but-should?ref=seealso">9 Silly Reasons People Don't Invest</a>)</p> <h2>7. Failing to Consider the Fees Associated With Investment Accounts</h2> <p>Sure, you've saved a good chunk of change and you're super excited to invest, but have you considered how much it'll cost you on the backend? Nothing in life is free, and there are fees associated with your investment accounts.</p> <p>&quot;Not paying attention to the costs associated with administering your 401(k) or investments is a big mistake,&quot; warns Fat Wallet's Bryan Marsden. &quot;They auto-deduct money and put it into 401(k) or other investments without looking at what the fees are for that account/investment. This is especially true if investing in mutual funds. Some of them have much higher fees than if you would pick, say, an index fund. When someone looks at an investment fee of .08% versus a .07% they don't think much of it. But if you take that and extrapolate it over 30 or 40 years, the differences can be significant in how much you pay out for fees.&quot;</p> <p>If you'd like a bit of tech in your corner in this regard, Vanguard has a <a href="https://investor.vanguard.com/mutual-funds/low-cost">nifty expense tool</a> to show you the difference between a 1.02% and .18%.</p> <p>&quot;Considering that some index funds can be around .06% and mutual funds can get at or over 1.5%, you get the idea,&quot; Marsden adds. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/exchange-traded-funds-the-low-fee-investment-option-you-dont-know-about?ref=seealso">ETFs: The Low-Fee Investment Option You Don't Know About</a>)</p> <h2>8. Keeping Savings in a Low-Yield Checking Account</h2> <p>You're not married to your bank, so you don't have to bank with that particular institution for every financial aspect of your life. While you may be happy with your checking account, your institution may not offer the best savings account options, so it's important to look around before you decide where to stash your cash.</p> <p><em>Are you committing any of these money-saving sins? Do you have other savings mistakes that smart people make that you'd like to add? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-savings-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-on-a-lot-less-money-3-ways-its-easier-than-you-think">Getting by on a lot less money: 3 ways it&#039;s easier than you think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-win-the-war-against-this-summers-electric-bill">4 Ways to Win the War Against This Summer’s Electric Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/americans-savings-rate-up-to-almost-7-who-benefits">Americans&#039; savings rate up to almost 7% - who benefits?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-gettin-baptized-in-the-watahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-epiphany">The Gettin&#039;-Baptized-in-the-Watah Epiphany</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living cost comparing savings utilities Tue, 14 Apr 2015 04:59:58 +0000 Mikey Rox 1379726 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Ways You're Wasting Electricity Without Realizing It http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-cooking-oven-176826878-small.jpg" alt="woman cooking oven" title="woman cooking oven" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With energy prices on the rise and antique power grids patched together with gum and twine, it's time to take some control and get serious about reducing your use of the juice. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill?ref=seealso">15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill</a>)</p> <p>Here are eight ways you're probably wasting electricity without realizing it.</p> <h2>1. Plugging, But Not Playing</h2> <p>Forget about the zombies; it's much more likely that your home is filled with vampires. Energy vampires are those devices and appliances we tend to leave plugged in 24/7 whether we're using them or not. And &mdash; on or off &mdash; every item that's plugged in is sucking power vampire-style. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, <a href="http://energy.gov/articles/are-energy-vampires-sucking-you-dry">vampire energy can add as much as 10%</a> to a consumer's monthly energy bill.</p> <p>Let's use your microwave as an example. How often throughout the day do you use it to prepare food? And yet, it remains plugged in, digitally displaying the time and silently sipping electricity in the process. It's a like a 30-pound clock with a motor and rotating cooking tray. Any appliance that uses energy to do virtually nothing should at least pay you a sincere compliment every time you walk by it (a feature that industrial engineers should diligently be working on, in my humble opinion).</p> <p>Help drain energy vampires by unplugging electronics and appliances you seldom use. And if you're a gadget hound, read up on the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000RGF29Q/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000RGF29Q&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=C4OGZYRT3FH5G6LE">Kill A Watt EZ Electricity Usage Monitor</a>. For around $30.00, this handy little product calculates the energy consumed by keeping any electronic appliance plugged in and forecasts your related costs weekly, monthly, and yearly. Just plug it into an outlet, plug your device or appliance into it, and get a digital read-out. Once you see how the numbers add up, it'll be difficult to leave those vampires alone.</p> <h2>2. Cranking Up the Oven</h2> <p>When it comes to cooking a single item, an oven is often the &quot;nuclear option.&quot; That single-serving pizza or leftover tuna casserole could be warmed up in the microwave and then finished in the toaster oven. For little jobs, consider how to cook in stages using smaller appliances that sip electricity instead of automatically gravitating toward the power-sucking behemoths.</p> <h2>3. Getting in Hot Water</h2> <p>According to EnergyStar.gov, simply <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_save_energy_at_home">heating the water accounts for 90% of the total power</a> it takes wash a load of laundry. That's a whole lot of wattage. For regular loads, switch to cold water for a month and see if you notice any difference in the cleanliness of your duds. Reserve warmer water settings for fighting oil-based stains. Your budget will thank you for it.</p> <h2>4. Dish-Drying</h2> <p>Hot water helps your dishwasher do its job, but drying with heat is added energy drain that's largely unnecessary. Today, most dishwashers feature a heated drying option that you can simply choose not to use. And though heated drying does help avoid spots on dishes, you can get the same benefit by adding a rinsing agent.</p> <h2>5. Fighting the Flow</h2> <p>As obvious as it sounds, if your home features a central air-conditioning and heating system, check your vents. Vents have a way of blending into the background of our homes; many get closed inadvertently and that can result in systems that have to work extra hard to do the job. While you're at it, make sure vents, ducts, and any filters are clean and installed properly. If you find dirt or debris that's unreachable, or if you see visible signs of mold, it may be time to have your <a href="http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airduct.html#deciding">air ducts professionally cleaned</a>.</p> <h2>6. Lighting Up for the Holidays</h2> <p>Still using your dad's old string of holiday lights from 1975? Well, those incandescent bulbs are using just enough electricity to drain your gift-buying budget. Ditch the old and switch to new LED lights. You'll get hours of twinkling for a tiny fraction of the electric output.</p> <h2>7. Fridge-Gazing</h2> <p>It's a popular pastime, but standing in front of that open fridge trying decide if you have enough ingredients for a decent turkey club isn't doing your electric bill any favors. Ponder before you open the fridge or after you've quickly scanned its contents and shut the door.</p> <p>And while we're on the subject, make sure you're doing all you can to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-fridge-last-almost-forever-with-these-8-tips">help your refrigerator last for years</a>.</p> <h2>8. Ignoring Power Hours</h2> <p>Though it might not cut your electricity consumption, reserving energy-intensive tasks for off-peak hours can reduce the rate you pay. Since many power companies offer discounted rates after 8:00 p.m., focus not only on <em>how</em> you do things, but <em>when</em>. Check with your local power company to determine if it offers an off-peak discount and when off-peak hours begin and end. Then, whenever possible, schedule your laundry and dishwashing tasks to fit within that period.</p> <p>It's easy to think of electricity as a mysterious force coursing through power lines that magically illuminates all we do. But in reality, it's a concrete resource that we have direct control over. Luckily, we don't need to understand electricity to conserve it. So the next time you plug in, charge up, turn on, or warm up, think of ways to do each smarter.</p> <p><em>How do you save energy in your home? What methods have the greatest impact on your electricity bill?</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div align="center"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F8%20Ways%20Youre%20Wasting%20Electricity%20Without%20Realizing%20It.jpg&amp;description=8%20Ways%20Youre%20Wasting%20Electricity%20Without%20Realizing%20It" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <div align="center">&nbsp;</div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/8%20Ways%20Youre%20Wasting%20Electricity%20Without%20Realizing%20It.jpg" alt="8 Ways You're Wasting Electricity Without Realizing It" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy">10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/34-smart-ways-to-cut-your-electric-bill">34 Smart Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-things-in-your-kitchen-that-get-rid-of-bad-smells-naturally">6 Things in Your Kitchen That Get Rid of Bad Smells Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-take-your-batteries-cfl-bulbs-and-other-hard-to-recycle-stuff">Where to Take Your Batteries, CFL Bulbs, and Other Hard-to-Recycle Stuff</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-easiest-plants-to-grow-indoors-and-outdoors">The 7 Easiest Plants to Grow Indoors and Outdoors</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home electricity utilities Wed, 08 Oct 2014 15:00:04 +0000 Kentin Waits 1227736 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/piggy-bank-470351123.jpg" alt="piggy bank" title="piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My family is looking to move into a new house in the near future. With all the added rooms and exciting DIY projects on the horizon, I realize we'll also need to more carefully watch our utilities costs. More space equals more places to heat, plug in lamps, and otherwise use electricity. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-win-the-war-against-this-summers-electric-bill?ref=seealso">4 Ways to Win the War With Your Electric Bill This Summer</a>)</p> <p>Whether you live in a small studio apartment or a sprawling McMansion, there are some smart, easy ways you can cut down on your electric bill. And many of these tips are things you can implement today to garner savings immediately. As always, if you have more tips to share, please leave them in the comments!</p> <h2>1. Open and Close</h2> <p>For some of us, switching on lights is more habit than necessity. So, in the daylight, avoid using lamps and other illuminating devices. Instead, open blinds to let the sun flood in. On the other hand, you can keep a home considerably cooler on hot days by closing curtains. I know this from personal experience! Before hitting high on your AC unit, you might want to try this trick.</p> <h2>2. Set the Bar</h2> <p>Have you looked at your water heater lately? Chances are your temperature might be set above the energy efficient suggestion of <a href="http://www.treehugger.com/clean-water/does-turning-down-my-water-heater-really-make-a-difference.html">120 degrees</a> (or often marked &quot;warm&quot; or as a triangle on your heater's settings). If you need scalding hot water for tea or cooking, heat it on the stove.</p> <h2>3. Maintain It</h2> <p>Something as silly as a dirty furnace filter can cost you money when it comes to heating costs. The same goes with any other machine or component you must maintain. Plus, keeping your operations up-to-date is safer than neglecting them, and it may extend the life of the appliance &mdash; meaning even bigger savings. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-fridge-last-almost-forever-with-these-8-tips?ref=seealso)">Make Your Fridge Last Forever</a>)</p> <h2>4. Unplug Yourself</h2> <p>This tip is twofold: Unplug your electronics when they're not in use &mdash; including battery chargers and power adapters &mdash; they still suck power from outlets and power strips even when off. Better yet, truly unplug by heading outdoors to read a book or to exercise. Totally free!</p> <h2>5. Negotiate</h2> <p>Take stock of your bills from the past year and see if you can strike a deal with your provider(s). You may also explore spreading out your costs so they are the same each month versus fluctuating seasonally to help make your budget more predictable. Don't be shy to shop around if there's more than one electric provider in your area.</p> <h2>6. Shift Your Day</h2> <p>While you're at it, ask your provider if there are &quot;off peak&quot; or &quot;time-of-use&quot; rates or times of the day when electricity costs less. You can choose to do your laundry, blow-dry your hair, cook a great meal, wash your dishes, or do any other task at the cheaper rate.</p> <h2>7. Slow the Flow</h2> <p>I think we all remember the &quot;<a href="http://www.seinfeldscripts.com/TheShowerhead.htm">Seinfeld&quot; episode</a> with the superintendent switches out the showerheads to low flow. If you're really into pinching pennies, swapping yours out can mean <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ethicallivingblog/2008/mar/14/switchtolowflowshowerheads">less water to heat</a> over the course of your shower. Limiting yourself to a shorter shower, too, is another drop in the bucket.</p> <h2>8. Upgrade Your Thermostat</h2> <p>When we had to upgrade to a new furnace (ouch!), our contractor also updated us to a programmable thermostat. By setting designated temperatures for night and day, we have definitely saved money. Plus, now I don't have to remember to adjust the temperature every night before bed.</p> <h2>9. Survey Bulbs</h2> <p>By now I think most of us are familiar with compact fluorescent bulbs as a great alternative to conventional incandescents. But did you know there are other energy efficient options like LED? A little extra money up front can mean <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/certified-products/detail/light_bulbs">up to $40 to $135 per bulb</a> over a bulb's lifetime.</p> <h2>10. Put Your Laptop to Sleep</h2> <p>Enable your computer's energy savings features, they could save you upwards of <a href="http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/energy-efficient-computer-use">$30 each year</a> on electricity costs per computer. Sounds like an insignificant amount, but it's still your money and a super simple fix.</p> <h2>11. Put a Damper on Things</h2> <p>If your home features a fireplace, be sure to close the flue when its not in use. Otherwise the outdoor air, whether hot or cold, will infiltrate your home and suck energy (to adjust your home's temperature) along with it.</p> <h2>12. Fan Yourself</h2> <p>No matter the time of year, ceiling fans can be useful for inexpensive temperature control. In the summer, run them on low to keep air flow up and air-conditioning costs down. In the winter, use the switch to reverse the blades to draw warm air down into a room from the ceiling.</p> <h2>13. Cook Smart (I)</h2> <p>Use the correct sized burners when heating up a tea kettle or dinner on the stove. For example, using a &quot;six-inch pan on an eight-inch electric burner can waste <a href="http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/residential/appliances/ranges.html">more than 40%</a> of the heat produced.&quot;</p> <h2>14. Cook Smart (II)</h2> <p>While you're at it, resist the urge to check on baked goods by opening the door, which can drop the temperature by <a href="http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/residential/appliances/ranges.html">up to 25 degrees</a>. If you need to use your appliance's self-cleaning option, try planning it after cooking a meal to use less energy heating to the highest temperatures.</p> <h2>15. Switch It Off</h2> <p>And one of the simplest ways to save money on your electric bill is to always remember to turn off lights or other electronic devices when you're leaving a room. It sounds ridiculously easy, but it can take some getting used to for the whole family. You may wish to place a reminder note at each switch as a first step in the right direction.</p> <p><em>How do you conserve energy and keep your electric bill in check? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/34-smart-ways-to-cut-your-electric-bill">34 Smart Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-washing-your-clothes-too-often-what-to-do-instead">You&#039;re Washing Your Clothes Too Often! (What to Do Instead)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-create-your-dream-backyard-on-a-budget">How to Create Your Dream Backyard on a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it">8 Ways You&#039;re Wasting Electricity Without Realizing It</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-you-arent-prepared-for-an-emergency">8 Signs You Aren&#039;t Prepared for an Emergency</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Home conservation electric bill saving energy utilities Tue, 27 May 2014 08:12:24 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1140317 at http://www.wisebread.com Watch Out for These 4 Sneaky Charges on Your Monthly Bills http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-4-sneaky-charges-on-your-monthly-bills <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/watch-out-for-these-4-sneaky-charges-on-your-monthly-bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/finances-175127556.jpg" alt="bills" title="bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your days are undoubtedly hectic. And if you&#39;re always on the move, you may do everything fast &mdash; eat fast, drive fast, work fast, and even pay your bills fast. But while the Internet makes bill paying painless and simple, you could end up paying more than necessary for certain services. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-monthly-bills-you-can-slash?ref=seealso">10 Monthly Bills You Can Cut</a>)</p> <p>Be honest with yourself. When you receive a credit card statement or utility bill in the mail, how well do you scrutinize it? Do you check your most recent activity to ensure everything is accurate? Or do you quickly glance at the balance and pay &mdash; no questions asked?</p> <p>Just because a bill looks accurate doesn&#39;t mean that it is. Sneaky fees &mdash; regardless of how minute the amount &mdash; can creep onto monthly bills and add up to hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.</p> <p>Let&#39;s see if we can spot a few.</p> <h2>1. Modem Fee</h2> <p>If you have Internet service through your cable company, the cable company probably supplied a modem when hooking up your service. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-free-or-cheap-internet-access?ref=seealso">How to Get Cheap Internet Access</a>)</p> <p>Like many people, you may think that this modem is available at no charge for as long as you&#39;re a customer. And once upon a time, this was the case. However, many Internet companies have started charging customers a monthly modem fee, which can range anywhere from $6 to $8.</p> <p>Because cable companies don&#39;t openly advertise this new charge, you could be unknowingly paying this fee each month. Although you cannot avoid this fee if you decide to use your cable company&#39;s modem, you can purchase your own modem for as little as $50, which saves money in the long run.</p> <h2>2. Service Call Fee</h2> <p>Are you having problems with your Internet, cable,or phone connection? Your utility company or service provider may gladly come to your home to fix the issue, but it&#39;ll be at your expense, and you may discover an unexpected fee on your next billing statement. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-fees-you-need-to-stop-paying-right-now?ref=seealso">8 Fees You Need to Stop Paying Now</a>)</p> <p>Known as a service call fee, some utility providers charge customers for home visits, regardless of how big or small the problem, or whether the problem is on the utility company&#39;s end &mdash; which hardly seems fair. The rep who schedules your appointment may conveniently forget to mention this fee, at which time the service call is charged to your account.</p> <p>Anytime you call to schedule a service, inquire about fees. If the fee is ridiculously high, ask tech support to troubleshoot with you over the phone. Often, they can walk you through different options to correct the issue, and there&#39;s no charge for this service.</p> <h2>3. Paper Statement Fee</h2> <p>Although there&#39;s the option of e-statements, you may prefer paper statements. This way, you can physically touch bills as they arrive in the mail, and bills are less likely to get lost in your inbox.</p> <p>However, taking the traditional route can cost you, and if you&#39;re not checking your statements carefully, you may already be paying a fee for paper statements. This fee can be as little as $2 or $3 dollars a month, but can add up over a year. These fees are charged by banks, mortgage companies, utility companies, and cell phone companies.</p> <p>You can call your bank or utility provider and ask to have this fee removed from your bill, but they don&#39;t have to comply. To ensure you never get hit with this fee again, enroll in paperless statements and have all statements delivered to your email.</p> <h2>4. Gray Charges</h2> <p>If you don&#39;t carry a large balance on your credit cards, it&#39;s easy to detect sneaky charges that pop on your statement. But if you do have a balance, &quot;gray charges&quot; may go unnoticed, costing you hundreds. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Best Low Interest Rate Credit Cards</a>)</p> <p>These are unwanted charges that fall into a variety of categories, such as auto-renewal and memberships fees that continually show up on your credit card bills, although you cancelled the services, Then there are phantom charges, which occur when a simple online purchase results in ongoing monthly payments or a charge for a product you never requested.</p> <p>Gray charges &mdash; although sneaky &mdash; aren&#39;t always fraudulent and typically occur when card users do not read the fine print when buying items online. For example, if you agree to a two-week trial offer, the fine print may clearly state that you&#39;ll be charge a specific amount if you do not cancel within the two-week period. Additionally, if you order a so-called free credit report online, the fine print may clearly state that you&#39;ll be enrolled in credit monitoring. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-truly-free-credit-report?ref=seealso">How to Get a Free Credit Report</a>)</p> <p>These unwanted sneaky charges are usually 100% avoidable. Whenever you buy online, always read the terms and conditions before completing a purchase.</p> <p><em>Do you know of other sneaky charges we should look out for? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-4-sneaky-charges-on-your-monthly-bills">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight">Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-good-money-habits-that-will-keep-you-out-of-debt">11 Good Money Habits That Will Keep You Out of Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-when-you-move-back-home-with-your-parents">6 Money Moves to Make When You Move Back Home With Your Parents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/easy-budgeting-for-first-time-singles">Easy Budgeting for First Time Singles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-win-the-war-against-this-summers-electric-bill">4 Ways to Win the War Against This Summer’s Electric Bill</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living bills fees utilities Mon, 13 Jan 2014 11:24:11 +0000 Mikey Rox 1110359 at http://www.wisebread.com Shrink Your Utility Bill by Plugging These Surprising Home Energy Leaks http://www.wisebread.com/shrink-your-utility-bill-by-plugging-these-surprising-home-energy-leaks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shrink-your-utility-bill-by-plugging-these-surprising-home-energy-leaks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/chores-5318992-small.jpg" alt="washing dishes" title="washing dishes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average family <a href="http://www.greenprintdenver.org/getinvolved/save-energy/">spends more than $1,600 annually on utility bills</a>. This breaks down to about $133 a month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-americans-can-learn-from-how-the-rest-of-the-world-saves-energy">How The Rest of the World Saves Energy</a>)</p> <p>After a close evaluation of your utility bills, you may discover that your annual energy costs are higher than the average. There&#39;s plenty you can do to lower your costs. And while you probably know the benefits of buying Energy Star appliances and replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFL bulbs, you may be unaware of these surprising routines that drain energy and ultimately increase energy costs.</p> <h2>1. Icemaker</h2> <p>I didn&#39;t know this was possible until recently, but you can turn off the automatic icemaker on your refrigerator. Having the icemaker on is certainly&nbsp; convenient, because you don&#39;t have to fill ice trays. And if you&#39;re entertaining guests, an icemaker ensures a generous supply of ice. Yet, there&#39;s a price to convenience.</p> <p>Automatic ice machines work around the clock, constantly draining energy, and they can increase your refrigerator&#39;s energy use by 14% to 20%, says <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=refrig.pr_refrigerators">Energy Star</a>. But if you turn off your icemaker feature and make your ice the old-fashioned way (with an ice tray), that&#39;s extra cash in your pocket.</p> <p>Look for an on/off switch on the front of the icemaker, or check your manual for specific instructions.</p> <h2>2. Hand Washing vs. Dishwasher</h2> <p>Hand washing may clean your dishes better, but if you&#39;re looking for ways to conserve energy, you better learn to love your dishwasher. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-dishwashers">Top 5 Dishwashers</a>)</p> <p>You need hot water to clean dishes. And since it takes energy to heat water, it only makes sense that the more hot water you use, the higher your energy costs.</p> <p>Maybe you feel it&#39;s greener and more cost-effective to give your dishwasher a rest and hand wash your cups, forks, plates, etc. But at the end of the day, it&#39;s all about consumption. And since the <a href="http://www.treehugger.com/kitchen-design/built-in-dishwashers-vs-hand-washing-which-is-greener.html">average dishwasher uses only about 4 to 6 gallons of water per cycle</a>, and the average faucet outputs 2 gallons of water per minute, running your dishwasher can save time and money.</p> <h2>3. Electric Ovens</h2> <p>Large electric ovens require a lot of energy, and if you use your stove every day of the week, this will drive up your energy costs. Of course, you have to eat. If you do the math, cooking your own food is probably cheaper than grabbing a bite to eat. So even though the oven is one of the biggest energy drains in your house, you really don&#39;t have much of a choice, right? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/19-tips-to-cut-costs-by-using-your-oven-efficiently">19 Tips for Efficient Oven Use</a>)</p> <p>Well, not exactly. There is no rule that says you have to use your oven when preparing meals. Several vegetable and meat dishes can be prepared with smaller appliances, such as a slow cooker, a microwave, or an electric grill. You can use a toaster oven for meals you would normally cook in the oven, or maybe a rice cooker or steamer for items you usually prepare on the stovetop. Switch to <a href="http://www.unitedpower.com/mainNav/yourEnergyOptions/energyTips.aspx">smaller appliances, and you can use about 75% less energy</a>.</p> <h2>4. Taking a Bath</h2> <p>Maybe you prefer a nice hot bath instead of a shower? Sure, baths take longer, considering you have to wait for the tub to fill with water. But what better way to relax and recharge after a long day? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-have-energy-after-work">Easy Ways to Have Energy After Work</a>)</p> <p>An occasional bath isn&#39;t going to skyrocket your utility bills. However, if this becomes your nightly routine, expect your energy costs to be slightly higher than the average household.</p> <p>Just like running your dishwasher, the cost of taking a bath all boils down to water consumption and the energy it takes to heat the water. Water constantly flows while showering, and like many others, you may feel that baths use less water and energy. But when you compare the average water usage for showers and baths, the facts might comes as a surprise.</p> <p>The average bath requires <a href="http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/myths/shower_vs_bath.html">30 to 50 gallons of water</a> &mdash; a major energy drain, especially when a four-minute shower with a low-flow head only uses about 10 gallons of water. Not bad considering how a family of four can each take a quick shower and use less water than a single bath.</p> <h2>5. Empty Fridge and Freezer</h2> <p>If you grocery shop every Saturday and only buy enough for a week, you may not have a stockpile of food in your fridge or freezer. You&#39;re probably thinking&nbsp;&mdash; what does my shopping routine have to do with home energy?</p> <p>Well, there&#39;s a connection. The less you buy, the less items inside your refrigerator &mdash; and empty space doesn&#39;t exactly save energy. Emptiness provides just enough space for warm air to circulate &mdash; an energy killer.</p> <p>The temperature in your kitchen is obviously warmer than the temperature inside your refrigerator. When you open the door, warm air rushes inside; the fridge then works extra hard to maintain a cool temperature. But when you keep your fridge and freezer fully stocked, this doesn&#39;t leave much room for warm air. The cooler your fridge stays, the less energy it uses.</p> <p><em>Do you know of other surprising energy drains not listed here? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/shrink-your-utility-bill-by-plugging-these-surprising-home-energy-leaks">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-washing-your-clothes-too-often-what-to-do-instead">You&#039;re Washing Your Clothes Too Often! (What to Do Instead)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it">8 Ways You&#039;re Wasting Electricity Without Realizing It</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-high-cost-of-keeping-warm">The High Cost of Keeping Warm</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-low-can-you-go-taking-the-no-heat-challenge">How Low Can You Go? Taking the No Heat Challenge</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/living-without-air-conditioning-can-save-big-bucks-this-summer">Living Without Air-Conditioning Can Save Big Bucks This Summer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living conservation energy energy consumption utilities Thu, 24 Oct 2013 14:21:06 +0000 Mikey Rox 1044964 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Surprising Ways to Save on Wireless Bills http://www.wisebread.com/3-surprising-ways-to-save-on-wireless-bills <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-surprising-ways-to-save-on-wireless-bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/phone-5219826-small.jpg" alt="woman using phone" title="woman using phone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you&#39;ve found yourself gasping for air after opening your wireless cell phone bill lately, take a deep breath &mdash; there may be discounts you aren&#39;t taking advantage of. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/part-time-jobs-that-can-get-you-serious-discounts">Part-Time Jobs With Serious Discounts</a>)</p> <h2>1. Join Your Employer Discount Program</h2> <p>Take advantage of employer discount programs simply by contacting your wireless carrier&#39;s website (or visit their store) and submitting your work address to find out if you are eligible to receive offers and discounts. Once the email address is validated, and you qualify for the discount, you&#39;ll start saving on access charges, and in some cases, receive discounts on accessories too.</p> <p>If you are self-employed, or your current employer doesn&#39;t qualify, you can always piggyback onto a spouse&#39;s plan. And the same discounts are available to students. If you attend a university, simply submit your student email address to your provider for validation. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-list-of-student-discounts">List of Student Discounts</a>)</p> <p>Check discount programs for <a href="http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/support/employee-discount-email">Verizon</a>, <a href="https://www.wireless.att.com/business/authenticate/">AT&amp;T</a>, <a href="http://mysprint.sprint.com/verify/?ECID=vanity:verify">Sprint</a>, and <a href="http://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-4791">T-Mobile</a>.</p> <h2>2. Make Wi-Fi Calls</h2> <p>Keep track of, and cut data usage with free apps. Jon Lal of <a href="http://www.befrugal.com/">BeFrugal</a> recommends the iTunes<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wi-fi-finder/id300708497?mt=8"> Wi-Fi Finder</a> app to locate nearby Wi-Fi hotspots, and use a Wi-Fi connection to browse online instead of your data plan whenever possible. (For Android, consider <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.jiwire.android.finder&amp;hl=en">WiFi Finder</a>.) &quot;This will help you get by on a much smaller data plan that costs less.&quot; Andrea Eldridge, CEO and co-founder of <a href="http://www.callnerds.com/">Nerds on Call</a> agrees. &quot;If you&#39;re not hooked up to WiFi, those minutes can add up fast. Try to make sure you&#39;re always connected to WiFi, and turn off apps that switch to the phone network when WiFi is unavailable.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-free-or-cheap-internet-access">How to Get Free or Cheap Internet Access</a>)</p> <h2>3. Get a &quot;Family&quot; Plan</h2> <p>Two lines (or more) are cheaper with family plans; wireless providers charge more, per person, for individual plans. This works even if your family members aren&#39;t living under one roof &mdash; or aren&#39;t related at all. As long as one person takes responsibility for the account, a group of friends can start a family plan, too.</p> <h2>The Last Word</h2> <p>Even if you don&#39;t take advantage of one of these money-saving techniques, check in from time to time with your current provider to inquire about unadvertised packages that may be a better fit for you based on your usage plan. And be sure to sign up for free alerts from your provider, just to be on the safe side, so that you are aware when you are reaching your data limit and don&#39;t have any overages.</p> <p><em>How do you save on your cell phone plan?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linda-condrillo">Linda Condrillo</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-surprising-ways-to-save-on-wireless-bills">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-painless-ways-to-lower-your-cell-phone-bill">5 Painless Ways to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill">15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kick-that-cell-phone-contract-save-with-a-prepaid-plan">Kick that Cell Phone Contract: Save with a Prepaid Plan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refactor-your-budget-categories">Refactor Your Budget Categories</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/looking-at-your-expenses-with-new-eyes">Looking at Your Expenses with New Eyes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting cell phones data plan phone savings utilities Mon, 21 Oct 2013 10:00:03 +0000 Linda Condrillo 1034767 at http://www.wisebread.com