Bubble Burst

You may have read how the housing bubble has burst. If you are trying to sell your house, then you may be experiencing that first hand. There is a saturation of homes on the market, giving buyers the upper hand in being able to find their perfect home. So what about those of you that are trying to sell? Here are a few tips that may help you.

Determine your situation. Are you selling to make a profit or are you on a specific time schedule? If you need to sell your home in a hurry, than you cannot be concerned about turning a profit. You have to make your house sellable fast and the best way to do that is by advertising a great price. If you are trying to make a profit on your house than you have to be patient as well as a good salesperson. You have to advertise what makes your house worth the price.

Check out other houses that are for sale. There is a good chance that there is at least 1 or 2 in your neighborhood. Use these other homes as guidelines to what you may be able to reasonably ask for your place. Ask them or the realtor questions. Maybe they have had the house already on the market for a few months now. This can give you a signal that it might not be the greatest time to try and sell. By turning into a buyer you may find some insight on some of the current trends that will help you sell your home.

Sell a good product. If you have a home that currently needs some work than you are going to have difficulties selling it. With all of the options to choose from, fixer-uppers are low on the list. Why would someone buy a house that needs work when there is one down the street that is problem free? Besides, even minor improvements can equal big returns.

Even if your home is in good shape it may be a good idea to upgrade some features. Worn out carpet can be upgraded to hardwood floors or even a laminate covering. A coat of paint is always a good idea.

Curb appeal is always a must. It is generally the first thing a potential buyer sees. Adding plants and shrubbery is a big plus. Again, a coat of paint on the house will go along way, so will re-staining a wood deck. At the very least maintain the yard and keep it clear of clutter and garbage.

Many experts are stating that it's a buyer's market. This may not be the best time to try and sell your house, but if you come prepared you will have an advantage over the saturated market and successfully sell your house.



Christmas, Christmas time is here. Time for joy and time for savings. You can never get too many money saving ideas for the holidays and the Pioneer Pilot doesn't disappoint. Once again, here are some more ways to save during the Yule time.

Decorate your house with things that you can find outside. You can collect fall leaves, pine cones, and twigs for centerpieces or to spread about your house. You can also use clippings from when you trim your tree. A can of gold or silver spray paint can quickly add some life to pine cones.

Red and green apples can be used as decorations because they are conveniently colored in the traditional colors of the season. You can even carve out the top of the apple to make a candleholder. Squeeze lemon juice on the exposed part of the apple to prevent it from turning brown.

Hopefully you saved last season's Christmas cards, ribbons, and even some scraps of wrapping paper. All of these can be used to make very decorative collages. You can take the best Christmas cards and paste them on matte board or put them in a frame. If you don't have extra frames just use frames that are all ready being used. You can sacrifice a couple of pictures for the month to help liven up some holiday cheer.

You can use Christmas lights all around the house. Put a small strand into a vase or jar and decorate with ribbon. To make up for the extra electricity, just use the Christmas lights to help set a comfortable mood and keep the regular lights off.

Wrap small boxes to place around the house. Think of all the different things that come in a box that you throw away every day; butter, macaroni and cheese, cereal, tea, rice, you get the idea. Use stuffed animals to compliment the wrapped boxes and you will set the mood of a toyland theme.

A standard classic is stringing popcorn. Fishing line and a bag a popcorn will cost you pennies to decorate with.

You can buy fabric by the yard for really cheap. You can take cookie cutters and trace patterns onto the fabric and then cut them out to hang around your house. This is also a great way to decorate the tree. You can cut the fabric into strips to hang on tree. You will want to be careful that none of the tree’s lights are in contact with the fabric.

If you don't have a lot of supplies for decorating, start this year. Wait until the day after Christmas and get lights and decorations for extremely low prices. Store it in a Tupperware container until next year and then you will have everything ready without having to buy anything new.

Feel free to take these ideas and run with them. You can share plenty of Christmas spirit with nothing but a good attitude and warm feelings toward others.




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Does it pay off?

Let's say that you wanted a computer. You go to the store and agree on weekly payments of $30 a week for a year equaling $1560 for a used computer. The thing is, you can get a new model for almost half of that at a retail store. So why would anyone pay twice as much for any item? Convenience. They probably can't come up with the total amount to buy a new computer, but they can come up with smaller amounts every week.

Rent-to-own companies also cater to those who don't have the best credit. Many stores will not check your credit, and will only check if you have a current job and have not been a previous delinquent customer.

The amount of money that you agree to depends on the item you are renting and your pay schedule. They will most likely set up payment dates to coincide with your paydays to ensure that you will be getting money that day.

If you do sign a contract with a rental store it is crucial that you make your payments on time. It will only take one missed or late payment until the store send over some people to come and get the items back from you. Many of the repo-men are persistent and will wait until you get home to get their merchandise. In some cases if you go back to the store the next day to make up the late payment and get the item back your payment process will start over. This means all the money you have already spent is essentially lost.

Making timely payments to the store cannot improve your credit, but not making payments will hurt your credit. Generally the only time a rent-to-own store reports you to the credit agencies is if they are having trouble collecting delinquent payments from you.

Some people try and assume that this is a way for them to rebuild their credit. They can make payments on time and slowly improve their score. If that is something you are considering you will want to make sure that the store reports its customer’s payment history to the credit bureaus. Many rental stores do not. Besides, there are more affordable ways for you to improve your credit.

There are some positives to being in a rent-to-own contract. If you are still making payments on the item and it malfunctions, you can call the company and they may replace the item or repair it for you for free. Standard malfunctions are usually covered, while physical damage may cost you more money to repair it.

Another good idea is to try and make extra payments or add more to your payment in order to pay it off sooner and to save you money.

Make sure to thoroughly read the contract. You will want to understand what the penalties are for late payments or damage. The contract should also contain the length of agreement, the amount of each payment, and the total amount to be paid for the item. As always ask questions if you do not understand something and feel free to go somewhere else if you are skeptical of the agreement.

You should try and explore other options when planning on purchasing any items. Many department stores have financing and payment plans that rival the ones you get from the rental stores.

Even most credit cards have better terms than a rental store contract. The interest you pay on the credit card can still be less than the total amount you would pay at a rental store.

The smartest thing to do is to save that money up and pay for it in cash. Take the amount that the payment would cost you and save it. Since the retail price is cheaper than the rental price it will not take you as long to save for it as it would for you to make payments on it. Using the example above, you could put $30 away each week for 6 months and buy the same computer that would cost you twice as much and take you twice as long to pay off through the rental store. It is pretty simple math.

We understand that many people buy things that are more of a necessity than a wanted luxury. We recommend that you only consider rent-to-own stores for items that are more necessary. Items like a refrigerator, and washer or dyer are more important than a TV or stereo speakers.

So before you head off to the local rent-to-to-own store be aware that you may pay three times as much as if you would save to buy it on your own.



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Tips to Save Your Home

Every year, millions of Americans stress over coming up with the money to pay their mortgage. There are many unforeseen scenarios that can lead to a mortgage meltdown, and leave you face to face with foreclosure.

Foreclosure can be a long, complicated, and straining procedure. It starts with just one missed payment and can even begin with one late payment. Many people who miss or make a late payment try to play catch up until they can't keep up anymore.

There is a pretty general timeline that accompanies a foreclosure. Up to 15 days late, all you are doing is accumulating more interest. Many mortgages will charge you a late fee after the 15th day. This is also when they begin to try and contact you to find out what the problem may be and to try and get a payment from you.

After 30 days your mortgage company will send you a “Notice of Default” and continue to try and contact you to setup payment arrangements. This is the first step for them in the foreclosure process.

Once 90 days is reached then the mortgage company will hire an attorney and begin the legal process of foreclosure. Each state and circumstance will take a different amount of time. You will be charged any fees that are assessed through filing a legal complaint. After a determined amount of time after the default the lender will post a “notice of sale” that includes the sale date. You are still able to try and make payments to catch you back up, but more than likely you will need to come up with a significant amount of money in order to save the house.

If you are falling behind or have had some unforeseen problems it is important to contact your mortgage company right away. In some cases you many not be able to contact them due to the circumstances; like if you were in the hospital or had to travel to attend to family. If the mortgage company is trying to contact you, make sure that you answer or return their calls. It can be difficult to try and explain your situation to them and in some cases you may have to speak to someone who is being aggressive. In most cases however, you will find that you can talk with a representative that will assist you in making your payments to avoid foreclosure.

Your mortgage company isn't after your house, they want you to keep making payments. It costs them a lot of money to foreclose on a house. It is in their best interest to help you save your home. Being late on your payment or missing a payment can do serious damage to your credit score, so it is important that you try and resolve the problem right away. If you are fortunate enough to setup a payment plan, it is vital that you stick to that plan. Chances are, if you miss another payment help is going to be a lot harder to find.

There are a few options that you have to avoid foreclosure. These are only options that you can work out with your mortgage company. Your mortgage company is not obliged to allow you any special paying terms, but it is important that you ask.

You may be able to take your missed payment and tack it onto the end of the loan. This will extend the timeframe of paying off your mortgage but will give you an opportunity to start over and not have to struggle with making a double payment.

You can setup a repayment schedule where you add extra to your monthly payment for so many months to catch you up. You can also make weekly or bi-weekly payments until you are completely caught up. This works well if you had a temporary interruption and you are able to continue with your previous payments.

Chances are that if you are late with one payment then next month's payment will be late as well because you now have less time in between due dates. What you don't want to do is continue to pay a month behind. You will be stuck in the vicious cycle of dealing with collectors and incurring fees and interest. It is important that you find a way to catch up your late payment.

Even though foreclosure is very stressful and damaging to your credit, it’s not the end of the world. If you can’t prevent it, you can certainly overcome it.


Home Savers USA- 1-800-453-2194


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Looking back at some of the articles from this month got me reminiscing.

It was easy for me to write the article on college savings tips because they were all mistakes that I made while going to school. Many of these I have already talked about and others will probably be written about in the near future.

One idea I touched on in the article is easier than most people give it credit for and that is to get a job while going to school. I heard the excuse plenty of times from people who said that they couldn't juggle school and a job. The funny thing was that they really didn't spend their free time studying. I looked around campus and found two jobs that were worth my time.

Granted, they didn't pay the best but it was nice to have the extra cash on hand. The best part was that it actually gave me more time to study. I worked at the university library as well as the athletic center. At the library I sat at a desk and waited on students when they were ready to check their books out. Our library was open until midnight and quite slow late in the evening. This gave me plenty of time to get an assignment done or read a couple chapters. I was basically doing the same thing as everyone else in the library except for I was getting paid for it.

At the athletic center I checked student IDs as they came into the entrance and did the occasional load of laundry for the football team. I know, grueling work and all, but again I was collecting a paycheck.

I totaled between 20-30 hours a week and got paid once a month. This was vital in stretching my school budget.

I know what you are thinking. “If everyone could get the jobs that I got it would be easy for anyone to work while at school.” I also had friends who had jobs as a pizza delivery boy and bartender (which is where all the money is in a college town) and they did just fine in classes.

All I can really say is that it is worth a try. If you do get a job and your grades start to fade then you can always quit. But it's a good feeling when you don't have to call your folks because you ran out of cash.

Another important thing that I found out was buying things used. I had friends go out and buy a new fridge, microwave, TV, futon, and such. I got lucky, because a friend I worked with was just moving out of the dorms and had no use for some of those items. I got a mini-fridge, microwave, and a recliner for under $100. It’s so easy to just go to the retail stores and try and take advantage of back-to-school sales. It takes a little work to search and find the better deals that are not at the stores.

Whew! Now that I got that off my chest let's talk Christmas. Are you tired of it yet? (Consider that it is early October when I write this.) It is important though to think ahead to ensure that you won't go broke for the holidays.

We try to come up with some creative things you can do to make your holidays more frugal. The real trick is that there is no limit to what your creativity can do. So I hope that some of our ideas will trigger a new idea for you to share with your family.

Don't worry it is only November, so there is plenty of time to talk more about Christmas. Until next month, good luck and spend wisely.


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Break out the shovels. Bad weather is just around the corner. Why not earn a couple extra bucks by shoveling some of the driveways in the neighborhood.

Set up some babysitting jobs over the holiday breaks. There are a lot of parents who may not have a place to take their school kids over Thanksgiving and Christmas break.

If you are already employed ask now for extra hours over the breaks. It will show that you are a good dedicated worker and it is a good way to pay for Christmas gifts.

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Getting Schooled

So you sent your pride and joy off to the great wide open of college life. How are they doing with their money the first quarter on their own? Here are a few reminders that may help them along the way and a few ideas that you may be able to slip in during Thanksgiving break.

Avoid those credit card offers. Make sure you reintegrate that they steer clear of tempting credit card offers that come with sign up bonuses. College will be plenty expensive without tacking on an extra couple thousands worth of unnecessary debt.

Student loans should provide them with money for all of the necessities, like books, meal plans, and housing quarters. Any extra expenses should be saved for with summer earnings or even a part-time job during the school year.

Let's hope that they still have some of their loan money left. Student loans should help pay for your school, not help you have the most decked out dorm room on campus. It can be really easy for them to blow a semester's worth of money on one weekend trip or visit to the local electronic store.

Campus food may not be the best on Earth but it beats paying off nice meals for 20 years because they spent loan money on going out to Chili's twice a week.

A great way to avoid having to use up all of your loan money is to establish a good budget. Having gone through most of the first semester should help them calculate how much they spend per semester. So when they are back for break you can set up a budget that accounts for all of their costs and the best way to use the loan money and make it stretch for the remaining of the year.

This next one can be debated by many, but should be considered. Heavy class loads and mountains of homework may make it difficult to earn extra income, but there are many options that may allow them to do both. There aren't many college students that couldn't benefit from working at least a couple of hours a week to get some extra funds.

There are many jobs that can be found that allows little work at all and can even allow you study time. Then there are always work-study programs that give you tuition assistance while you are still learning.

Here is another idea that is often met with odd looks by your kids. Convince them to skip the big spring break trip. I know it's like wrestling honey from a bear, but too often it is an excuse to spend way too much money. Besides, they are going to be going to school for at least 4 years, why not save up and go on a big getaway senior year.

They can come back home and even work for a few days to earn some extra money for the final couple months of the year. Spring break is also a great time for them to find a summer job. Whether they are coming back home or not, by looking now you can beat the rush and secure some income during the summer.

Did your kids shop around for their books or did they go straight to the bookstore and shell out big bucks for new overpriced books? Books along with many college needs can be purchased used. Unless pages are missing there is no reason why a used book will not work for them.

Other things you can buy used are microwaves, mini fridges, TVs, couches, chairs, or any other thing that they can fill a dorm room with. There are plenty of places you can find used items to fill a dorm room. If there is anything that they haven't bought yet try and find it cheaper. Have your kid look around campus on the bulletin boards to find things for sale.

Get next year’s financial aid done now. Don’t wait until last minute to turn in the forms. The earlier you get it done the quicker you know how much money you will be awarded. Plenty of things can go wrong with financial aid and by getting it in early you can correct any mistakes before it is too late.

College is a great time, and it's even better when you don't drive yourself into unnecessary debt. There is the cliché that you have to live off of ramen noodles and cheese sandwiches to truly experience the college life. It doesn't have to be that way when you think ahead. It's not too late. They can start anew this next semester and carry it on through graduation.

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