My husband and I have been mulling over a refinance over the last few months. Our mortgage was rolled over to Chase when Washington Mutual folded, and I’ve never really enjoyed the service. The clincher came when I called Chase to talk about options and interest rates. I did my homework: I checked rates online, pulled my credit report, and ran a quick home valuation so I could approach Chase with solid numbers. Unfortunately, the rate they offered me was nowhere near their best.
By Jacqueline Curtis
Online shopping can seem like the ultimate in instant gratification. However, while the ability to buy pretty much anything you want from the comfort of your own home presents incredible benefits, it can also get out of hand pretty quickly. Overspending and draining your bank account is one of the more common pitfalls – but it might not even be the worst, particularly when you consider how shopping online can jeopardize your identity.
Are you a chronic overspender? If you start each month with great intentions and spend according to a set plan, but eventually find yourself making mindless purchases justified by that ever dangerous “a little won’t hurt” attitude, you’re likely facing an empty bank account and severe buyer’s remorse by the end of the month.
On ABC’s “Shark Tank,” five extremely successful millionaires and billionaires – the “sharks” – hear pitches from business owners and occasionally vie with each other to invest. If the business owners play their cards right, they can score much-needed venture capital funding and strategic partners who practically guarantee them future success. If they’re weak, they’re sent packing with little fanfare and plenty of regrets.
I probably have about six episodes of “Shark Tank” saved on my DVR at any given time – but it’s not purely for entertainment value. The show teaches us all a great deal about business subjects such as investing, royalties, and licensing.
Once upon a time, the most that businesses could hope to know about you boiled down to the information you’d use to obtain a mortgage: essentially, your credit score, household size, and household income. Of course, the more information businesses have about you, the better they can tailor their marketing strategy to target you. Today, with the ability to monitor your habits and access sensitive personal information, businesses have access to a veritable gold mine.
By Jacqueline Curtis
As my 30th birthday approaches, I find myself thinking about what I accomplished in the last decade. My 20s saw me get married, build a house with my husband, have two amazing kids, and start my career. And while I feel great about all those successes, there were definitely a lot of mistakes along the way – especially when it came to finances.
Defined as those born between 1982 and 1999, “millennials” have been given a slew of additional monikers – and not all of them are flattering. From the “me generation” to the more benign “Generation Y,” the “boomerang generation,” and “generation now,” there’s no shortage of labels for what currently makes up a large portion of the professional workforce. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that by 2018, half of those working are going to be millennials.
I’ve had a valid driver’s license for 11 years with a perfectly clean record – no accidents, no speeding tickets, and not even a warning – so I was completely blindsided the day my SUV was rocked by the sound of a truck colliding into my driver’s side door, almost taking off the front bumper of my car. My kids and I were completely fine, but since it was my first accident, I was in a state of shock as I pulled my car into a nearby parking lot. Oddly, it wasn’t the fear of getting hurt, or the concern for my car that stands out about that day, but the disconcerting feeling of being in unfamiliar territory with no idea what to do. Immediately the other driver was out of his car and at my door, which wouldn’t open from the inside. I had to climb out of the passenger-side door to meet him, and he was ready for a fight. It was then that I had my “baptism by fire” and had to learn how to deal with car accidents, auto insurance, and other drivers.
“Buy Now, Save Later!” It’s one of those slogans a marketing genius once thought up to help push consumers into spending. But as the saying goes, you can’t save money by spending it. So that begs the question: Are preemptive purchases ever truly beneficial?
The answer might actually be yes. While you probably won’t conserve a ton of cash by purchasing shoes simply because they’re on sale this weekend (they’re sure to go on sale again), there may be some purchases that could actually help you hang onto your hard-earned cash in the future. It’s unlikely, however, that these purchases are the ones being advertised with the “Buy Now, Save Later” tagline, so you need to stay sharp and watch for the right opportunities.
We’ve all been there before: You wake up in the middle of the night, and while you try to get back to sleep, your mind veers to the topic of money. Before you know it, you’re in a full-blown 2am panic during which you lose sleep and accomplish little. What begins as a passing thought to remember to pay the bills can suddenly leave you worried about how you’d pay those bills if you lost your job, how to climb out of debt, or how to make your budget stretch for the month.
Without regular reorganization, my closet looks like a sample sale after the customers have ransacked the shelves. If your clothes closet is a similar disaster zone, there’s no time like the present to take charge of your wardrobe, and get your space cleaned up.
Organizing your closet isn’t just about cleanliness, though. It’s about categorizing and taking inventory of everything you have, getting rid of the stuff you don’t wear anymore, and essentially rebooting your style for the coming season. After all, it’s hard to work those killer boots into your rotation when you forget you have them in the first place. If you’ve got a few spare hours, I strongly suggest a major closet clean-out to help you reclaim that space and reset your style. Here’s how to get started.
By Jacqueline Curtis
When it comes to shopping, is there anything better than an outlet mall? Amazing sales, deep discounts, and significant savings abound, all in one place. However, the problem is that what seems like an amazing place to score great deals can actually end up being a spending trap – especially if those so-called “deals” aren’t all that great.
A savvy outlet mall shopper knows that just because something has a sale tag on it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a worthy discount. In fact, some of the secrets behind how outlet malls actually operate could surprise you – and make you think twice before pulling out your wallet the next time you visit one.
If there’s one show that I chain-watch the most, it’s “House Hunters.” Seeing hopeful would-be homeowners search for the property of their dreams gets me every time – and because of my obsessive watching, my husband is now hooked too.
In each episode of “House Hunters,” a person or couple looking to purchase a home meets with a real estate agent and offers a budget and a list of must-haves. The agent then takes the hunters to three different properties, where they have the opportunity to explore and discuss each one’s pros and cons. At the end, the hunters pick which house they want, and the audience is treated to a quick post-purchase update.
By Jacqueline Curtis
Anytime you page through the latest issue of a tabloid magazine, you receive a lesson in excess: celebrities frolicking on expensive vacations, wearing thousands of dollars in designer clothes, and driving the latest must-have $100,000 SUV. Of course, it’s expensive to maintain that Hollywood image, so it’s never too surprising to hear about celebrities going bankrupt after their 15 minutes of fame are up.
But just because the majority of celebs are spending money like the gravy train is in perpetual motion doesn’t mean that all A-listers follow suit. In fact, there is a group of celebs in Hollywood known for their frugal way of life, even when it’s clear that they’re rolling in dough.
If you’re like me, you just don’t have three hours to sit in a salon chair to get your hair cut and colored. After realizing that a professional-looking treatment isn’t very hard to copy – and in the interest of saving my time, money, and sanity – I set about perfecting my home hair coloring technique. At first, it may seem like a recipe for disaster, but if all you’re doing is covering up grays or making minor changes to shade, you’re a prime candidate for home coloring.