Posts Tagged ‘Personal Finance’

My mom and I have always been interested in real estate window-shopping. I grew up in one house — the only house she’s ever owned — but we watch MLS listings in our community, reading the house descriptions, flipping through the pictures, and watching the price fluctuations.

It always amazes me: You can tell how expensive a house is going to be by the quality of the listing.

Duh. No really, the quality of the listing directly relates to how nice a house is. While it’s understandable that a $2,000,000 McMansion gets better treatment than the boxy $350K house, the differences in presentation are ridiculous.

I’ll be the first to admit that the houses differ in caliber — and, if free, I’d have a clear choice. Still, as a photographer, Cheap House’s pictures could be dramatically improved with minimal effort. Change the angle, turn on all of the interior lights even thought it’s daylight, kill the flash, move the big plastic toys until the photo shoot is over.

When it comes time to sell our house, I’m planning on giving it the million-dollar treatment. The rooms won’t magically become big, or are furnishings as nice as some of the local lux properties, but there’s absolutely no reason to decrease the “curb appeal” of the house to a buyer because it won’t sell for as much to begin with.

The costs of correct spelling in the listing, or spending a few more minutes on each photo are little. The savings? Potentially quite large, changing the entire vibe of the listing. To me, the important idea is that each home stands on it’s own merits, and isn’t penalized for not being “good enough”.


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Free Credit Report

Have you gotten your annual free credit report? (A friendly reminder, based on activities at Penny Couture.)

I just got mine at annualcreditreport.com — this is the site you want to use, as it is the official, central site for all three major bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian). The only thing it cost was 15 minutes as I looked around the site to learn as much as possible.

It was very quick & easy, and fairly interesting. I didn’t get to see your credit score — you can, but have to pay around $8, I think. (I didn’t see the point since I’m not in the market for any commercial loans.)

It’s a good idea to regularly check for errors on your credit report, which could show identity theft fraud or plain old errors. (The website has a lot of information about what to do in either case.) My personal plan is to get a credit report roughly three times per year, going alphabetically (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) to help me remember.

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I Will Teach You to be Rich By Ramit Sethi

Workman Publishing, 266 pgs, $13.95

Losing weight and accumulating more money are probably two of the most frequently pledged New Year Resolutions. Fittingly, the introduction to Ramit Sethi’s hit book, I Will Teach You to be Rich, compares the two goals and outlines two methods of failure, ignoring the problem or obsessing over it. Sethi’s continuous no-nonsense approach can seem a little superficial at times, but overall remains amusing and engaging through the entire book.

Outlined as a six-week plan to financial well-being, Sethi’s book is well-written, with plenty of anecdotes to keep the wealth of financial information he shares interesting. His advice is sound — from explaining the important of conscientious spending to opening a Roth IRA asap, points which which I strongly agree — making this book a valuable read, although including information about other important topics such as taxes would have created a more-complete guide.

(I would offer to give my copy away, but I’m pretty sure the local public library wouldn’t appreciate that.)

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