Personal Finance Round-Up: Looking Back to Move Forward with Your Finances in 2011

I find one thing that is often forgotten in the hype of the New Year is the end-of-year review. In order for you to progress in the next year and head in the right direction, it’s very important to study where you were a year ago, what you did and didn’t do well, and what things you should focus on in the next year.

As people across the nation pick themselves back up after a difficult year, many will be focusing on improving their credit. Your credit score is an indicator of your credit trustworthiness, and it is reviewed in many life situations: job interviews, loan applications, credit card applications all will rely somewhat on your credit score.

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Kaplan GMAT Prep Course Review – Get Good GMAT Test Scores for MBA Programs

kaplan test prep logoIf you are looking to return to school for an MBA degree in order to make yourself more marketable in the job market, get a raise, or discover new great careers in business, then you’re probably contemplating a GMAT prep course. For the uninitiated, the GMAT is a rigorous, standardized test that most business schools not only require for entrance, but use to differentiate applicants. Prep courses can be extremely helpful in bettering your score, but their quality really varies.

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Nominal vs. Real Interest Rate – Effects of Inflation

interest rates yellow boxesWhen you hear people discussing interest rates or investment returns, you may notice that they make a distinction between real and nominal rates.

What’s the difference and why should it matter to you?

Essentially, the inflation rate is the difference between the two. It matters because nominal rates don’t tell the whole story – for your investment returns or the economy. To really understand what’s happening with your money, you need to look at real rates, too.

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Is a Biweekly Mortgage Payments Plan Right For You?

mortgage biweekly paymentsMy husband and I have owned a house for nearly three years, and we are constantly getting solicitations in the mail about paying our mortgage biweekly.

The letter typically goes on to say how many years you can shave off your mortgage payments and how much you can save in interest. The numbers are pretty astounding, which makes these plans tempting.

Here is some information on biweekly mortgage payments, as well as the pros and cons, to help you decide if it’s the right plan for you.

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How to Calculate Debt-to-Income Ratio for a Mortgage or Loan

debt money pie chartYou probably know, or can figure out, what a debt-to-income ratio is and that lenders use it to decide if they want to offer you a loan or mortgage.

What you may not know is that the way lenders evaluate loan-worthiness should not be how you calculate how much debt you can take on. In fact, the ratio matters for more than just lending. It’s vital to understanding your overall financial health.

For those just learning about this important financial metric, here are the calculations:

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9 Tips For Families Living on One Income

Making Your Dollars Stretch In A One Income FamilyIt has been really difficult lately for many people to make ends meet, and this is especially true for one-income families. Many families are confronted with a family member unexpectedly losing a job and going through unemployment. On the other hand, others deliberately choose to be a one-income family because it is the best decision for them overall, despite the financial challenges. I, for example, have recently quit my job to be a stay at home mom. Whatever the reason, making ends meet on one income isn’t easy.

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7 Ways to Reduce Food Waste – Freezing Food and Making Leftover Recipes

food waste garbage canThis scenario probably sounds familiar: You’ve opened the door to your fridge to look for something to eat. What do you see?

A bag of wilted spinach. Several wrinkly apples. A block of cheese that’s blue (when it’s supposed to be orange). And three containers full of mystery leftovers that have been there way too long. So long, in fact, that you’re scared to open them.

This happens all too often at my house, and although I do have a vermicomposting bin to minimize the trash I throw away, the point is that wasting food wastes money. Here are 6 tips for using up leftovers, keeping your food fresh longer, and saving money in the process.

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18 Fun Outdoor Winter Activities for Kids & Adults

Every year, around this time, I start dreaming of warmer climates. Images of sunshine, bare feet, and tropical thunderstorms haunt my daydreams. And I know I’m not the only one.

Whether you battle Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms or just get a mild case of the winter “blahs,” chances are – unless you live in Maui or Miami – you’re not getting outdoors as much as you should.

I for one hate being shut inside with the windows closed, but I also don’t like being cold. So I’ll admit, it’s hard to drag myself out for fresh air and exercise. And here in Michigan (and other northern climates), winter lasts a very long time. So it’s important – for our health and sanity – to find some fun excuses to get outside.

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How to Buy & Sell Collectibles – Become a Successful Collector with Your Collecting Hobby

Classic antique collection.I love strange objects. The weirder the better as far as I’m concerned. Which is why I was almost giddy when I stumbled upon a Discovery Channel show called Oddities. If you’ve never seen it, Oddities profiles a couple who own a store in New York called Obscura which specializes in strange, rare, and downright crazy collectibles. The search for new inventory takes the shop’s owners and employees into the homes of other like-minded collectors, which is always fascinating.

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