decorate your first apartmentMoving into your first apartment is a very exciting time. You are the master of your new space, and you get to decide where everything goes and what style you pursue, at least to a point.

But if you’ve blown your budget buying food and shelling out money for your utilities deposits and your first month of rent, plus a deposit, what are you going to do if you need to buy furniture and accessories too? I’m going to answer that by telling you how you can decorate your first apartment on the cheap.

1 Used Furniture is OK

Sometimes when friends and family find out you are going to be moving, they will offer second hand furniture to you for free (or nearly free). If the pieces are useful to you and not junk, accept them gratefully keeping in mind furniture and lamps can be painted and some pieces can be recovered. I have been living on my own for over 6 years now and I still have some of these hand-me-down furniture pieces in my home. Don't let your pride get in the way of accepting these free items to help you furnish and decorate your first apartment.

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marriageMy wife and I celebrated 17 years of marriage recently, and like other anniversaries in life, it caused me to ponder what I've learned during those 17 years.

As someone who writes about personal finance every week, I of course thought back to the money lessons I've learned during marriage. Some, such as saving for retirement and investing in mutual funds, may just be from getting older and aren't entirely attributed to marriage.

But other money lessons I've learned were either from my wife or something we came across together as a married couple. Here are five money lessons I've learned while married:

Joint accounts

In the months before we got married, I asked a married couple we were friends with if we should have separate or joint checking accounts. I was leaning toward separate accounts, figuring we'd split the bills and pay them together, as a couple.

But that sounded too much like having a roommate. Our friends said that having a joint account was best because once you're married, everything is shared and her money is his and vice-versa. Your money as a couple is commingled and it doesn't matter where it came from when you're paying life's expenses. Two people become one, at least where money is concerned. ...continue reading

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kids' summer vacationsSummer vacation is fast approaching, and as excited as most kids are to be out of school, some will be complaining of boredom soon after. In order to beat the boredom blues, and still stay under budget, here are 8 fun and free activities for kids' summer vacations, some are even classics with a few new twists to make them more interesting.

1 Build a Blanket Fort

This is a great activity if it’s rainy and the kids can’t get outside. To make it even better, have a contest to see who can build the best one. Set rules up ahead of time if you are concerned the competition could lead to bickering. If your children are younger, read to them by flashlight inside the tent instead. Your kids might even decided to have a living room camp out if you let them leave up the blanket fort overnight.

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