POSTS WITH TAG: recession guide

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    What would you do to save your home? Sadly, that is a question tens of thousands of people have had to ask themselves in recent years. Likely inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey, one Detroit couple ended up doing something they never dreamed of to keep their family of seven from being homeless.

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    Meet the Wagasky’s, the Las Vegas family of four that lives debt-free on (wait for it) $14,000 a year. That’s just over a thousand bucks a month, folks. A scratch under $270 a week. I hate to say it, but I don’t think that even covers our grocery bill. But dad Jason and mom Danielle have found a way to make it work, and they say it makes them “happier” and “a better family.”

    The frugal lifestyle began out of necessity in 2008 when Jason, a former Army sergeant, was stationed in Iraq. Danielle was left managing the home, two kids (Keigan and Libby), and the budget.

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    Today marks the beginning of Military Saves Week, a seven-day initiative to remind and encourage military families, officers, and personnel to save money and "build wealth, not debt." From February 25 to March 2, Military Saves, a social marketing campaign, wants to persuade and motivate those in the armed forces community to put away a little each month and get aggressive about automatic savings plans. There's also an online pledge component, which commits one to saving money, reducing debt, and building wealth over time.

    Sounds easy enough, right? Here are 5 tips for saving money every month.

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    In a lukewarm economy, some people have gotten creative when it comes to making a buck. A new website, ParkatMyHouse.com, matches people who need parking spaces with people who own houses with driveways near the desired destination. It's a peer-to-peer operation, like Craigslist, and it sounds like a win-win to me. As a car owner, I'd much rather pay a nice person $20 to park in their uncrowded, drama-free driveway than $20 to park in a lot that will take me 45 minutes to exit. And as someone who grew up in a house with a secret back entrance to a National Park in her backyard, my family could've made a killing if this site had existed back in the '90s.

    Point is, there are plenty of ways to pimp out your house for some extra cash. No need to stop with the parking! Let's look beyond the driveway.

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    I love hand-me-downs. I shop at consignment stores, and when I’m done with my found treasures, I donate them to local charities. But it would never occur to me to do this with my home.

    Yet, for some homeowners, especially ones in foreclosure, donating a house to charity may be the only way out of an awful situation -- and it seems like it could even be a path back to financial well-being. It's becoming quite popular, in fact, because it not only allows the homeowner who can't sell her/his house a way out, but also the donated homes -- many of which are renovated and resold -- add new value to the neighborhood. Here’s how it works:

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    Occupy Connecticut Light and Power! The electric company of the Constitution State was charging an old Italian guy $220 a month for power in his condo. He knew the bills were wrong because he hardly used any electricity or gas at home. Meanwhile, his barbershop was tricked out with electric everything and plenty of A/C, and its bill only topped out at $150 a month.

    He kept trying to tell the company that something was wrong. They kept saying the only thing wrong was he wasn’t sending checks fast enough. This went on for 10 years, before the guy’s son went in and straightened things out. (Why did that take 10 years, anyway?) In the end, they finally had to cut him a check ... for guess how much?

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    A homeowner in Minnesota is trying a neato gimmick to get people interested in buying his four-bedroom, three-bathroom, ranch-style house. It comes with a sunporch, cedar deck, shady backyard … and a Lamborghini. I’m trying to do the math on this. The home is priced at almost $400K. The Lamborghini was probably about $250K new, and sells for about $150K used. So potentially, you’re getting another house-worth of merchandise on top of the house itself.

    Apparently, this kind of trick is a growing trend in real estate. Along with cars, desperate sellers have been known to try to throw in time-shares, fancy TVs, and even a year’s worth of fresh-baked cookies.Hmmm. Now we’re onto something. Because frankly, I don’t want a weird, ugly sports car that only auto-dorks care about. Attention, home-sellers. If you want to draw me in, here are some items you might want to throw in with your house:

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    Want to know my favorite crafting-on-a-budget secret? I use other people's recycled trash -- not by scrounging around in the garbage, but by going to a store that actually sells the stuff.

    It's called SCRAP, which stands for "Scrounger’s Center for Reusable Art Parts." It’s a warehouse that collects castoff office and craft supplies like paper, tiles, paint, fabric, posters, cards -- basically, the most random, weird stuff -- and sells it for pennies on the dollar

    It’s a new kind of recycling, and it’s catching on just about everywhere. If there’s one near you, find it. If there isn’t, start one.

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    There’s a funny song by Jonathan Coulton about a mad scientist who’s trying to woo a woman in all the wrong ways. “I made this half-pony, half-monster to please you,” he croons. “What’s with all the screaming?” If you’re the kind of person who finds that funny and maybe a little creepily sweet, you’ll probably like Franken Toys as much as I do. They’re the perfect antidote to the mostly-vomitous “here’s what moms REALLY want!” mother's day gift suggestions that have clogged my email in-box. A snot-green zebra-print pashmina? Really, Internet?

    Come on in and take a look at some of her amazing creations.

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    Here’s a fun, new-ish trend in street art: knit graffiti, or yarn bombing. It’s a tongue-in-cheek attempt to achieve “world yarn domination,” according to the book Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti ($13.57 at Amazon). Around the world, artists create knitted shapes that they then put in unexpected public places. The result? Something that brightens the landscape and makes people laugh with unexpected joy. This is just the kind of thing that a crafty knitter can co-opt for home use. I’m already eyeing my needles and plotting my next move. As I paged through these Flickr photos, I thought, This is a colorful, unusual way to brighten up an indoor space.

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