April 24, 2018
Home Lifestyle

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real estate investing

Chances are good that if you follow HomeTuneUp, you have already invested in real estate in at least one way: buying your own home.  While many people purchase a house for the sake of having a place they can call their own, many others do it at least in part because they see it as an investment in their future.  If they can renovate and improve the house, they can turn around and sell it at a higher value.

But not a lot of consumers have an opportunity to take their real estate investments further than that.  But all of that is changing.  Crowdfunding real estate is on the rise.

What is Real Estate Crowdfunding?

Real estate crowdfunding is a somewhat unusual concept, perhaps best explained through this article on Forbes.  To sum up, for a very long time, real estate investing was restricted to individuals who 1-had a huge amount of money to invest, and 2-had the right connections through their professional and personal networks to locate a project and get involved.

With crowdfunding, that has changed.  There used to be strict legal restrictions on who could invest in real estate, but the SEC opened the doors for non-accredited investors in October of 2015.  Ever since then, companies have been springing up to help everyday people invest in real estate.

With real estate crowdfunding, you no longer need $100,000+ to pour into an investment deal.  You can get started with as little as $1,000.

Why invest in real estate?  If you have purchased your own home, you already know the answer to that, at least in part.  As a hard asset, real estate is inherently valuable.  There is also a scarcity advantage; there is only so much land on the planet.

On top of that, if you invest in commercial real estate, you can enjoy ongoing cash flow from rent.

You may have some familiarity with real estate investment trusts, or REITs.  These have been around since the 1960s and were created with the goal of allowing average consumers in the US to invest in commercial real estate properties, but they posed a number of drawbacks.  REITs typically are high in fees and hard to understand.

With real estate crowdfunding online, fees have never been lower—and transparency has never been higher.

Some other unique advantages of real estate crowdfunding include:

  • Numerous different projects.  You will find incredibly diverse options, so no matter what you are interested in, there should be opportunities in real estate which are an ideal fit for your needs.
  • You get a chance to work with project developers.  This means you have input in the structures you invest in building.

Are there any drawbacks?  Investing in real estate always carries some degree of risk, even if you do it through traditional avenues.  While real estate is a hard asset, values can crash in a recession.  Liquidity remains low with crowdfunding (always a problem in real estate), and the risk of default from developers is elevated compared to traditional real estate investments.

For this reason, it is extremely important to think hard before investing in real estate, even if you are only going to be putting down a small sum of money.  This is also why it is vital to read real estate crowdfunding reviews.  That way you can be sure you are going through a reputable company and that you will get access to the best investments and the lowest fees.  If you’re not sure where to start, Fundrise is swiftly becoming one of the top sites for real estate crowdfunding investments.  Read a Fundrise review to learn more.

Investing in real estate used to be a complex process, and you needed a lot of money and connections to do it.  But now you can invest quickly, easily, and securely in residential and commercial real estate projects around the globe.  With real estate crowdfunding, you can enjoy the stability and steady cash flow of investing in hard assets, even if you only have $1,000 to start out!

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401k and your home

Is your retirement account looking a little paltry?  You are not the only one—but it is a serious issue.  The Financial Times reports that around 45% of working-age households have literally zero retirement savings, in part because of the growing pension crisis.  Pensions are no longer the norm, but many workers have no retirement accounts at all, whether we are talking about a 401(k) or IRA.

If you do have a 401(k) which is doing well, count yourself lucky.  How much should you have in your 401(k)?  The answer is quite simple (though perhaps not very satisfying), and that is, “as much as possible.”  Of course, that is not easy to do if you are juggling a mortgage and other household expenses.

But what happens if you change employers?  These days that is increasingly common, which is one of the reasons that many employees no longer have retirement accounts at all.  It is complicated setting up a 401(k), and there are so many pitfalls and fees that many people simply shy away from them altogether.  If you do open 401(k) plans at each of your employers, you can end up with a lot of legacy 401(k) plans as you jump from job to job.  Keeping track of these can be quite difficult.

This is one of the reasons you might want to consider rolling over your 401(k) into an IRA.  But should you roll over 401(k) to IRA?  That really depends on your situation.  Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons so you can understand the benefits and drawbacks to doing so.

Advantages of Rolling Over a 401(k)

  • Your accounts will be consolidated.  This can be extremely helpful if you now have a number of legacy 401(k) accounts.  If you lose track of them or forget about them, you will have no idea what is going on with your finances, and you will find them hard to manage.  If you roll them all over into an IRA, you will have everything in one place.
  • You will have more versatile investment options.  Companies limit the investment options in their 401(k) plans to keep costs down.  With an IRA, you have more diverse investment choices.
  • Because IRA plans are more efficient, they also tend to be more cost effective.  401(k) plans often have high fees, and there is nothing you can do about that since you only have a finite number of plans to choose from.  But with an IRA, you can pick a plan which you can afford.
  • Distribution options for IRAs are more flexible than they are for 401(k) plans.  This can be a benefit if you die before you can tap into your 401(k) accounts.  The person inheriting your IRA accounts will find it easier to withdraw the money.  These additional withdrawal options can benefit you directly as well.
  • You have full control over your IRA—unlike your 401(k) plan.  What if the company tanks?  What will happen to your retirement savings?  With a 401(k) plan, you cannot be certain.  But if you have an IRA, your money is safe since you are in charge of it.

Disadvantages of Rolling Over a 401(k)

  • The typical 401(k) plan has a lower minimum balance requirement than the average IRA.  This means that it is easier to get started with a 401(k) than an IRA.  You may have a hard time setting up an IRA at the start of your career.
  • If you need to borrow from your employer’s retirement fund, you will only be able to do that with a 401(k).
  • Despite the fact that an IRA will give you more investment options than a 401(k), you may still not find the investments that you want.
  • If your finances should take a nosedive and you end up in dire straits, you will have a hard time protecting an IRA from creditors looking to seize your money.  Declaring bankruptcy is the only real way around this.  But if you have a 401(k), you have a lot more legal protection.

Regardless of what you decide to do, the key to saving for retirement is to make sure that the decision you make is right for you.  So do more research and carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of rolling over your 401(k).  If you make the right choice, it can help you to cut back on fees and make more through your investments.  This will not only help you to save for retirement, but will also help you to enjoy a higher standard of living in the meantime.

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home budget

Even though the recession is behind us, this is a tough time to be a homeowner.  Mortgage rates are still on the rise, and another financial crisis may be on the horizon.  It can be hard to make ends meet.  You may find yourself wondering how you will ever be able to afford to make improvements to your home, pay off your mortgage in full, and retire in comfort.

You are not the only person in this position however. A lot of Millennials are struggling to get by on low and middle incomes while living in an economy with high prices not just for housing, but for everything else. Older generations are struggling as well.

Thankfully there are new products out there geared at consumers just like you. One of those products is called a “robo-advisor.”

Just what is a robo-advisor, and how can it help you to improve your home budget? A robo-advisor is a software program which provides you with custom investing advice. With it, you can quickly and easily set up low-risk, reliable investments.

Investing is an area where a lot of young homeowners have a hard time. You may barely be able to afford your mortgage and other basic bills as it is. If you are setting aside money for savings, you may only have a few hundred or thousand dollars.

There was a time when traditional pension plans were the norm, and your company would take on investment risk on your behalf. But those plans are becoming more and more a remnant of a past era. Now it is up to you to assume financial risk for your retirement accounts.

This is such an intimidating prospect that a lot of Millennial homeowners simply defer on investing entirely. They save as much as they can, but they still do not have a lot, and are unlikely to meet their retirement goals. In the meantime, they fall behind on home improvement projects and ongoing maintenance costs.

A robo-advisor offers an alternative for those who want to get started investing and earning toward retirement. Instead of paying high fees to talk to a human advisor, you pay very low fees to use a suite of online services. If you do need advice from a human being, someone is there to assist you if you call in (depending on the company you use).

You do not need tens of thousands of dollars or more to get started either.  You can get started investing with as little as $100 a month.  Actually, Betterment (one of the top robo-advisors) lets you start with even less—but you will qualify for the lowest fees if you can contribute at least $100 monthly.  Over at Wealthfront (another of the most popular robo-advisors—check out this Wealthfront review for more info), you can start with just $500.

Benefits of investing with a robo-advisor include:

• Get started investing with just a few clicks
• Monitor your funds on an ongoing basis
• Get personalized advice on your retirement accounts and general finances
• Make small, affordable contributions if you are on a tight budget
• Steer clear of high fees
• Start investing sooner so you can compound more money

Naturally you are not going to want to withdraw from your retirement accounts if you can avoid it; so you should try and put off your home improvement projects for a while if it would mean drawing from your investments. Still, in some cases you may find that simply replacing your existing advisor (who may charge you high fees) with a robo-advisor can save you enough money to tackle some of those projects sooner rather than later.

How do you choose a robo-advisor?  While there are many choices out there, two of the most well-respected and established advisors are Wealthfront and Betterment.  Click to read robo-advisor reviews on these and other top companies.

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piggy bank

You’ve got the house and the white picket fence and the family and the job … but you cannot help the nagging suspicion that you are still not really on target for the life that you dream of.  True, you are doing okay now, but are you really on track for the life you want in 20 years or 30?  Will you be able to retire when you want?  Will you be able to retire at all?

If you are nervous about retirement, you are not the only one.  One in three Americans has nothing saved for retirement, which puts us on the brink of a looming crisis.  This problem is particularly prevalent among Millennials.

You may be wondering where you stand with respect to others your age—as well as those who are younger and older than you.

Compare Your Net Worth

So what is the average net worth by age?  Well, click on the link and you will see it is pretty low.  While the graph is pretty easy to understand, you might be a little confused by how the data is presented.  Basically, if your income fits within a certain percentile for your age group, that means you are doing better than that percentage of your age group.

So for example, if you are in the age group 35-44 and you have around $35,000, you are in the 50th percentile, and you also are doing better than 50% of your peers.  Consider that is the figure for net worth.  That includes not just savings and investments, but housing, vehicles, and everything else.  It is also a household figure, not an individual figure.  Individual savings are of course even lower.

If you look at the numbers for older generations, you will see that nobody is doing that great.  Most Americans are way behind on the savings they need to retire comfortably.

So that raises the next question: How much do you need to set aside each year to actually meet your retirement goals?  How much should you contribute to your 401(k)?  Well, that totally depends on your lifestyle.  Some people need a lot more money to retire than others, so you will have to do the math yourself.

But ultimately, the rule is pretty simple: you need to be contributing as much as you possibly can.  With lower wagers and higher living expenses (not to mention poor job security), it has become very challenging to “make it” in today’s world.  The deck is stacked against you, so you need to be on top of things and pushing as hard as you can to save up money and earn on your investments.

So are you behind on your retirement savings?  Probably.  If you are one of the few who are actually on track or ahead of the game, count yourself as very lucky.  If you are behind, try not to get too down on yourself; your situation is typical, and contrary to popular belief, you do not control every aspect of your destiny.  A lot of us will suffer low wages and lost employment through no fault of our own.

Stay focused on what you can actually do to save money, and remember that millions are in the same boat you are.  If you are earning even a middle income, chances are good you are already way ahead of most of your peers.

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There are many different reasons why people invest in homes. For some, buying a home essentially is an investment—it is primarily a financial decision. For others, purchasing a home serves a different purpose altogether; it is a decision made for psychological reasons.

Whether you plan to buy a house and turn around and resell it or you want to live in it for the rest of your life and pass it down to your children, owning a home is more expensive than you may realize. Here are 5 common budgeting errors and oversights made by new homeowners.

1. Choosing to look at your primary residence as part of your real estate portfolio.

A lot of people choose to look at their primary residence as a part of their real estate portfolio. There is a mix of pros and cons for doing this, and there are differing schools of thought.

So why do we feel it is a mistake? Well, first of all, you probably will be putting roughly a third of your income toward your mortgage payments. On top of that, you will likely have a 20% down payment. But that means that if you count your primary residence as part of your portfolio, it is going to devour most of the space in that portfolio. This makes it hard to diversify.

On top of that, what if you want to rebalance your portfolio, as is inevitable over time? You can shift a lot of assets around, but only the more liquid ones. A house is anything but liquid. You would need to sell it even to get a proper valuation. And you may not have any interest in selling it anyway. You cannot just arbitrarily take some of the equity in it and move it elsewhere.

Additionally, the psychological value of your home isn’t something which you can easily assign a quantitative weight to.  Many people who look at their primary residence primarily as an investment miss out on the joy of having an actual home.  Wealthfront, a company we recommend (more on them in just a bit), has a great article on this topic here.

2. Choosing the wrong type of interest rate.

Another common budgeting mistake which homebuyers make is selecting the wrong type of interest rate given their situation. So instead of choosing a fixed rate when they ought to, they choose an adjustable rate, or vice versa.

How do you figure out which type of interest rate makes sense given your circumstances? It helps to ask yourself how long you plan to stay in the home. If you will be there only temporarily, an adjustable interest rate which is very low for the first few years may be a great option. But if you plan to stay in the home over a very long time period, you may want to avoid that kind of unpredictability and choose a safer fixed interest rate. Otherwise you could find yourself in a predicament where your rates are ballooning out of control at some point down the road. This happened to tons of people during the recession.

3. Forgetting the numerous other monthly costs associated with owning a home.

It is easy to think that after your down payment, you will have nothing to worry about each month with regard to home-related expenses other than your mortgage. But this is far from being the case. You will have many other housing-related costs to shoulder, including:

• Interest on your mortgage
• Property taxes
• Homeowner’s insurance
• Additional hazard insurance
• Homeowner’s association fees (and other related fees)
• Utilities (water, power, trash, etc.)
• Maintenance costs
• Repair costs
• Furnishings, etc.

All of these costs can add up very quickly, and many new homeowners are unprepared for them. Some of them will exist even long after the entire mortgage is paid off, like utilities and property taxes.

Yes, before you ask, there are some tax deductions which can save you money as a homeowner. But those deductions will barely dent the interest you pay on the mortgage, let alone make up for the other costs of home ownership.

4. Failing to keep a monthly budget which incorporates all expenses.

Do you have a monthly budget which accounts not just for your home-related expenses, but all of the costs of living?  If not, you need one.  Freddie Mac offers a monthly budget worksheet.

5. Not defining a plan for long-term savings goals.

Finally, you also need to make sure that you have a plan for your long-term financial future. It is easy to get lost in the dream of owning a home and forget that you have other goals and dreams you need to reach for as well.

If you are feeling overwhelmed trying to plan your financial future, we recommend using a robo-advisor like Wealthfront or Betterment.  Read a comparison of Betterment vs. Wealthfront

There are many financial pitfalls you can easily stumble into if you are not careful planning your expenses as a new homeowner, but with a robo-advisor on your side and some extra thought and planning, you can pave the way to a bright future in your new home!

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How Should You Finance Home Improvement Projects?

Maybe you’ve been planning on finishing your basement or upgrading your plumbing for a while now. You have a little extra leeway in your budget and you finally can think about tackling some of those home improvement projects you’ve been putting off. Or perhaps you don’t have a choice. Maybe a tree fell on your roof in last night’s lightning storm.

Either way, home improvement can be costly, and you need to figure out the best way to finance your projects.

You have a lot of options when it comes to financing home improvement. Here are a few of the best ones to consider:

• Cash. If you have a smaller project, then you should probably aim to pay it all out of your own wallet directly. Cash will save you from interest and fees on loans.

Of course, it may not be a viable option for a bigger project like a kitchen remodel. For projects that will cost you tens of thousands of dollars, you will probably need to borrow.

• Low-interest credit cards. These unsecured loans are a great choice for low- and medium-cost projects. They are easy to qualify for and you can get away with paying low interest or no interest. Just make sure you know all the card terms so you won’t run into unexpected snags.

• Personal loans. When it comes to mid-priced projects, unsecured personal loans are a good choice. They are easy to qualify for and you don’t need to provide any collateral. You can get a larger loan this way than you can through a credit card and its easy to apply online with online lenders like SoFi.

Interest rates do tend to be high, though, so be sure to compare personal loan interest rates before you commit. Shopping around for the best deal can be time-consuming, but it will pay off in huge ways over the years to come.

• Get a loan tied to your home. Secured loans like home equity loans, home equity lines of credit and cash-out refinances work great for more expensive projects.

They typically offer low interest rates and may also offer tax advantages. Each of these different types of secured loans has its pros and cons, so be sure to do a thorough examination of your options before you make your choice.

Home improvement projects sometimes cost only a few hundred or thousand dollars. Other times, they may run you tens of thousands of dollars or more.

For smaller projects, when you can get away with cash or a low- or no-interest credit card loan, do it. You will simplify your budgeting and your life while keeping costs as low as possible. For larger projects, you might consider a personal loan or a secured loan tied to your house.

Always make sure that you will truly be able to afford any project that you are thinking of tackling. Do the long-term math to figure out where you will stand with any loans you are considering taking on. If you feel like you are on shaky financial ground, it is always best to wait. You can always upgrade your home tomorrow!

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20 Simple Ways to Cut Costs Around the Home

We have all heard that “a penny saved is a penny earned.” But most of us take it for granted.

Still, that saying is spot on. Every time you spend money, you have to make up that cost before you can even begin to work toward a profit.

In other words, spending money makes it twice as hard to grow your accounts.

So wherever you can cut costs, you should. And there are some surprisingly easy ways to save money around the house which you may have overlooked. Let’s check them out.

1. Cut back on your water bill.

Do you really need to flush the toilet after every use? Do you really have to wear all your clothes only once before washing them? So many households use way more water than they need to. Make simple changes to your habits to curb that water bill.

2. Unplug your electronics.

Do you leave your electronics plugged in at night when you aren’t using them? They are sapping power, and power is money. Unplug them and you’ll get a little change back in your wallet.

3. Install low-flow faucets.

If your faucets currently blast out more water than you need to wash dishes or shower, consider replacing them with lower-flow models. Doing this could save you up to 60% on your water bill.

4. Upgrade your light bulbs.

If you currently using traditional incandescent light bulbs, replace them with compact, energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs with ENERGY START certification. They use less power and last much longer.

5. Seal your windows and doors.

According to the EPA, sealing up cracks around windows and doors and installing proper insulation could save you up to 15% on the cost of heating and cooling your home.

6. Switch from drinking bottled water to using a filter.

Bottled water is ridiculously expensive, and not nearly as good for you as you may think. A simple portable filter can save hundreds of dollars a year over drinking bottled water. It’s healthier too.

7. Make smart use of blinds and curtains.

Trying to warm up your house in the winter? Conventional draperies can reduce heat loss by 10% if you use them correctly. If the sun is streaming through a window, pull the drapes out of the way to let in the ambient heat. In the summertime, turn to reflective blinds to keep the heat from overwhelming a cool room.

8. Buy generic.

This advice is often touted for prescription medicines, but it applies to numerous other products as well. You can buy generic equivalents for clothing, food, toiletries, and so many other products. Big brands and designer brands cost money, but don’t necessarily offer superior quality.

9. Switch to space heaters and program your thermostat.

If you heat your entire home during the winter, you are wasting a tremendous amount of power and your utilities bills are going to skyrocket. Switch to using space heaters in the rooms you are actually in. Heated mattress pads also work great and save a ton of money.

While you are at it, invest in a programmable thermostat. If you must use central heating, at least have it set up so that it will only run when you really need it. This can save you hundreds of dollars a year easily.

10. Add insulation to your water heater.

This is a great way to reduce the power you need to use to keep your water hot. You could tack on up to 9% savings to your budget this way.

11. Take advantage of free vet clinics.

If you have pets, you can save hundreds of dollars per year if you wait to schedule physicals and vaccinations for your pets on free clinic days. Many vets host them a couple of times each year.

12. Never shop online without looking for coupon codes first.

Seriously, you should never hit “buy” online without running at least a cursory search for coupon codes. You can often save 5-30% at major outlets. While you are at it, sign up for email newsletters from your favorite stores. They will often send out special deals for subscribers.

13. Shop when things are on sale.

Buy winter gear during the summertime and buy summer gear during the winter. This is when these items are cheapest.

14. Replace the air filter in your car.

Did you know that a clogged-up air filter can cost you 7% of your gas mileage? That adds up fast! Getting the filter changed is relatively inexpensive and will pay for itself fast.

15. Clean out your dyer lint trap.

A clogged lint trap can reduce your dryer’s efficiency by as much as 75%. Cleaning it will extend the life of your dryer and reduce your energy bills.

16. Make smart cooking and eating choices.

If you use small pots and pans on larger burners, you waste all that extra heat from the burner. This can be more expensive than simply buying some smaller pots and pans. Make sure you have the right cookware for the job.

While you are at it, cut back on eating out. Invest in a crock pot and make some larger meals which go multiple days. You will save a ton of money eating in and simplifying your meal preparations—probably thousands of dollars per year!

17. Say goodbye to cable TV.

You could easily save hundreds of dollars per year switching from cable TV to an online service like Netflix. Cable is quickly becoming outmoded. There are much better, cheaper options out there.

18. Make gifts instead of buying them.

Numerous families actually take on debt to shop during the holidays. There is no reason to do this—ever. This year, consider making gifts for friends and family instead of shopping for gifts. You will save money and give something more personal.

19. Mend your clothing and forget about moving with the times.

Let go of the habit of constantly replacing your entire wardrobe. If you learn how to sew, you can mend most tears.

Stop worrying about keeping up with the latest fashion trends. Move beyond trends and find a personal style which suits your personality instead.

Most of your clothes will last you for many years if you take care of them. Shop at thrift stores and you can find amazing attire at ridiculously low prices.

20. Ditch your vices.

If you drink or smoke, this is the single most important change you can make. Drinking and smoking are incredibly expensive, and can easily chew through hundreds of dollars a month. Overcoming these vices could raise your entire standard of living.

These ideas should help you to significantly cut your household costs.

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7 Steps to Building a Working Household Budget

You know that sinking feeling you get at the end of the month? You open your bank account and check your balance and you realize it is actually down from where you were at this point last month. You are in the red. How did it happen? Is your lifestyle unsustainable? What if it continues?

You do the math. In horror, you realize you will be broke in a few weeks or months.

Practically everyone goes through this experience at some point in young adulthood. That’s okay—it’s all part of learning how to be an adult. For whatever reason, they don’t teach this all-important stuff in school. So here are 7 steps to help you build a working household budget which is sustainable. After you take these steps, you’ll hopefully be back in the black.

1. Set some goals.

Start by figuring out what both your long- and short-term priorities are. Make a list of your objectives for the month, the year, and the next five and ten years. Figure out what is most important to you. Is it to build up your savings? Is it to raise startup capital? Is it to build up a college fund for your kid? How much will you need to meet all these objectives?

2. Figure out your income and expenses and come up with a sustainable monthly budget.

This is probably the single most important thing you can do. Make a list of all necessary monthly expenses and then start tracking your real expenses. How do your expenses compare to your income? Is there anything you can do to increase your income and/or decrease your expenses?

You work hard for your money—so figure out where it is going! If your expenses exceed your income, you must find a way to balance things out. If future changes eat into your budget, you must look for a way to compensate.

3. Curb impulse spending.

A lot of us spend money each month on things we don’t need. They may seem like small purchases at the time, but they can really add up.

Do what you can to cut back on items that are “wants” vs. needs. One great technique is to assign yourself a waiting period before you buy something you simply want. Take 30 days to think about it. Usually the impulse will pass. If it doesn’t, maybe it is worth it after all.

4. Start saving and get away from financial black holes.

It can be hard if not impossible to think about saving money when you are struggling, but you need to get into a saving mindset. At the bare minimum, you need an emergency fund.

“But I have to pay the rent!” While that is true, that is a black hole. If you are in the red month after month, throwing all your savings at rent is not going to save you. Obviously this puts you in an untenable position, but this is where you need to find a way to make a lasting change.

Move into a cheaper place. Apply for a better job. Get outside help if you can. Save your savings for something really useful—like relocating to that better job, starting a business, or changing your life in some other lasting way.

5. Implement your plan and maintain it.

Your budget is not a “set or forget” prospect. You need to be actively involved with it on an ongoing basis. Throughout the month, do regular checks to make sure that you are on track. Add up your receipts, and come up with a way to mathematically compensate for irregularities in your cash flow.

Try to pay bills the same time each month. Subtract deposits you have been paid on uncompleted work and add in money you are owed but haven’t been paid yet (or come up with an alternate system that you like).

You don’t want to budget too obsessively, so come up with a schedule. You can run the numbers two or four times a month for example. Do it on the same days.

Whatever your system is, your goal is to come up with a way to measure exactly where you stand against last month. If you notice you are behind on meeting your goals, immediately identify the problem and tackle it as best you can.

What if you earn unevenly throughout the year? I suggest coming up with a budget based on the months when your income is lowest and sticking with it. This ensures a sustainable lifestyle. On months you earn more, you will save more.

6. Create a system for unusual expenses.

While most expenses are monthly, some are not. There are those DMV fees you owe once a year … that unexpected tax bill … that car repair or plumbing bill coming up. Come up with a system for dealing with these expenses, or they will eat into your bottom line in unexpected and unpleasant ways. One great idea is to set up a fund specifically for these bills. Add to it whenever you have any extra income.

7. Consider getting expert advice.

If you are still having a hard time, it may be worth it for you to turn to expert financial advice.  Most young people these days cannot afford a traditional financial advisor, but you can consider a robo-advisor like Betterment.  Some robo-advisors like Personal Capital can even help you to track your net worth automatically.

Creating and maintaining a working monthly budget isn’t easy, but you can do it! It may require you to make some large and small changes to your life, but in the end, all your hard work will pay off. You’ll save more money and be able to enjoy some valuable peace of mind!

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AirBnB has a ton of exciting apartments and flats you can choose from, or you can rent an entire house, a castle, an igloo, a vehicle, or something else totally imaginative and unique!

If you are a world traveler and you love unique accommodations, you will definitely want to check out AirBnB before you plan your next vacation.

You’ll probably pay a lot less than you would for a hotel room, and you will have a one-of-a-kind experience you will treasure forever. If you have a cool property, you can also list it for rent for other travelers. Here are 10 exciting AirBnB apartments where you can stay around the world!

1. Spacious Airline Apartment (the Netherlands)

It isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but this retired KLM airliner is a great choice for any vehicle lover. This airplane has two bedrooms, a number of bathrooms, and can comfortably accommodate four people. It’s fully equipped with a kitchen, internet services, television, and everything else you could need.

It’s also beautifully furnished. House rules state, “No flying, don’t use the inflatable emergency slide, smoking is not allowed when the non-smoking sign is on, and no marshmallow roasting with the jet engines.” The owners also request that you water their plants and feed their fish. “Please treat our plane like you treat your own plane.” Seriously, how awesome is that?

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2. Unique Apartment at Icon Brickell (Miami, FL)

This apartment gets kudos for presenting reasonably affordable luxury. It’s quite a striking place with its own indoor swimming pool and hot tub, what looks like a marble floor, wood-paneled walls, a fireplace, and a view of the water outside. There’s even a chandelier and some rather posh-looking furniture. Not bad for $189 a night, and you could save even more with an AirBnB coupon code. This place also includes an 840-square-foot balcony, a business center, and convenient access to downtown Miami.

3. Unusual Flat in an Old Factory (London, England)

This is a fascinating spot to stay with an interesting exterior, an incredible view of the city (including the Shard), and a fun, eccentric, minimalist interior. It is the only flat on the 5th floor of the old factory, so you get to enjoy some peace and privacy here. The small balcony makes a wonderful place to sit and take in the views.

4. River Room, Bellingen Treehouse (Gleniffer, NSW, Australia)

This room for rent is high in the trees and located inside an incredible house constructed by famous Australian architect Richard LePlastrier. During the day, you can explore the amazing pathways in the surrounding forest or go swimming in the Never Never Creek. At night, you can listen to the rustle of palm fronds and the calls of night birds.

The room itself features an open, spacious design and light, natural materials. Even the walk to the bathroom on a catwalk among the trees is an incredible experience! For nature lovers visiting Australia, staying at the River Room is a must! This incredible room costs only $111 a night. Save even more money with a coupon for AirBnB.

5. Ruwenzori – Off the Tracks! (Cooks Gap, NSW, Australia)

If you’re a vehicle lover, you probably thought we couldn’t match the earlier listing for an apartment in an old airliner, but this listing easily rivals it. If you are visiting Cooks Gap in Australia, you have the chance to stay in an old train! Not just any old train either, but a vintage train with three antique railway carriages, one constructed clear back in 1890! We’re talking about wood-paneled walls, beautiful, comfy old furniture, elegant drapes, and all the old-fashioned charm and glamour you would expect if you took a trip back in time on a luxury line.

The grounds are lovely too, with an outdoor patio area under a beautiful awning between two of the carriages. It really does not get much cooler than this!

>>> Get AirBnB Coupon Here <<<

6. Very Original Flat in Montmartre (Paris, France)

There are a lot of listings on AirBnB that term themselves “unique” or “eccentric,” but this is one of the few that really qualify. You can rent the entire studio apartment for $115 per night. It is difficult to describe what makes this apartment so intriguing, but suffice to say that the architecture is unique, with beautiful skylights, rustic cinderblock walls, and beautiful hardwood floors. It’s got an artsy vibe, and is exactly what you imagine when you try to picture something classically Bohemian.

7. Exotic Apartment in Lisbon, Alfama (Lisbon, Portugal)

If you’re visiting Portugal, be sure to place a reservation at this unique apartment for a very reasonable $72 per night. It’s an odd-looking place with rough walls that make you feel like you are standing in a cave and old-fashioned timber beams overhead. It’s modeled to look like a country house, but it is actually part of a 350-year-old palace.

8. Self-Catering Cave Flats in Goreme (Goreme, Turkey)

Or, if you are visiting Turkey, you can stay in an actual cave. Yes, you can actually stay underground here! Traditional décor and comfortable furnishings make this a wonderful place to stay while exploring Cappadocia.

9. Spectacular Church Apartment – Ealing (Greater London, England)

If you love historical churches, you will definitely want to stay in this converted church apartment. It has all the classic elements of a gothic church including exposed beams, stained glass windows, and incredible masonry.

10. Casa Dos Chicos Hilltop Villa (Nayarit, Sayulita, Mexico)

Last but certainly not least, check out this amazing rooftop apartment in Mexico. It costs $350 a night, so you definitely will want an AirBnB promo code. This villa has beautiful rooms with brightly-colored décor and incredible interior design, breathtaking views of the tropical surroundings from the rooftop living area, and several swimming pools.

These are just a few of the unique accommodations you will discover on AirBnB. With these amazing places to stay at incredible prices, you will never be tempted to place a reservation at a hotel again! Just search for an AirBnB discount code, enter in your destination, and see what comes up!

>>> Get AirBnB Coupon Here <<<

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save space with a compact washer and dryer in one

Space can oftentimes be a luxury. The challenge of a tiny house, small apartment, condo or studio demand the most compact solutions.

A compact washer and dryer in one appliance usually fits the bill for a variety of situations. These are small washer and dryer hybrids that take about half the space as conventional washer and dryer combos.

They can usually fit underneath a counter top and are even ideal for mobile homes, larger boats and RV’s.

Many leading manufacturers of the compact washer and dryer are typically from Europe.

This is because most people there live in smaller, more efficient homes where small washer and dryer designs are the norm. If anyone has perfected space efficiency, it’s companies like Asko, Bosch an Miele.

The benefits of having a washer and dryer in one machine is five-fold:

  • Being about the size of a standard dishwasher, they can fit in bathrooms, kitchens or any other practical spot and act as a counter top.
  • They use less energy to run.
  • They use less water due to the front load design.
  • They switch the laundry from washer to dryer automatically.
  • They are easily camouflaged. Some even come with designs to match an existing counter top.

The cons of these designs are fewer but just as convincing:

  • They can be pricier than an average washer and dryer setup.
  • Due to their small size, they’re not equipped for high-volume performance. They are better for smaller families up to 4 people and can handle just around 6 to 22 pounds.
  • A ventless unit runs longer than any other design, usually 2 to 3 hours.

To Vent Or Not To Vent

Compact washer and dryers come either with or without a vent.

This has everything to do with the dryer and not so much with the washer. Whatever the current setup is determines which design is more suitable.

Vented varieties need an external exhaust to the outside. They work by taking in air and heating it up to dry the clothes. The air absorbs the moisture, turns it into steam and then sends it up and away through the exhaust.

Of course, this works well where there is already an exhaust, or where it may be convenient to set one up. It is typically the design that suits boats and RV’s the most.

The ventless version is most commonly used in apartments and condos.

They are convenient because they don’t need to be hooked up to an external exhaust, but they do still need to drain water out through the plumbing. They work like dehumidifiers: The hot air absorbs the moisture and sends it to another chamber where the moisture condensates back into water, where it is then drained out automatically.

The biggest fall-back of a ventless washer-dryer is that they take a little bit longer to dry – about an hour longer.

Some Extra Advantages

Even though a small washer dryer may take longer to run, there are some advantages to balance out the energy consumption. The front load design inherently uses less water than a top load design. This means less time and energy heating the water. They also have a mean last spin that sucks out extra water, meaning that it could potentially offset some time in the dryer.