afford a houseMany Americans are starting to feel as if they will never be able to afford a house, especially in areas like San Francisco, New York, and even Miami.

While many people choose to rent instead, you can still afford a house when you're broke. Here are a few steps to take if you want to own your own home.

Weigh Your Options

If you live in an area that buying a house is cheaper than renting (even factoring in insurance and repairs), it may be your best option to buy a home instead of rent. When trying to afford a house when you're broke, you may think that moving is expensive, but it doesn't have to be.

Some expenses may come up in your first few months of owning a home, but that is to be expected. Think about it this way: If you typically rent for $1,500 a month and you buy a home that only costs $800 a month, you are already saving $700 every single month. If something breaks down, and it costs $500 to fix, you still get ahead by $200 by having your own home.

Now, owning a home isn't always cheaper, so it's best to weigh your options. However, in many areas, including my own, owning a home tends to fare better than renting.

Look Into Assistance to Afford a House

Every state has home buying programs that can help you afford a house when you're broke. While the assistance varies from state to state, it's still worth it to look into what yours offers. Some will help you secure a loan as a first-time home buyer, even if you are low-income.

Some states even offer grants to move into less desirable areas or moving into more deserted places. It's best to look into these programs to see what you qualify for, you may be able to get your home for a lot cheaper than you first thought. ...continue reading

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The whirlwind of barbecues, weekend getaways, and outdoor festivals takes its toll on a modest budget. Between gobbling down the best food and sampling the latest craft brews, all of those last-minute tickets and hotel rooms add up, leaving you with empty pockets and a whole lot of the year left to enjoy.

The temptation to overspend in the dog days of summer and the last warm days of fall is nearly irresistible. Let’s not even touch on the cost of the holidays. Time flies and these far-off holidays will be here sooner than you realize.

It doesn’t help that a budget is synonymous with boring in your mind — especially when you think the only way to stop spending cash is by locking yourself inside the house, totally removed from friends who have turned spending money into a true art form.

That’s certainly one way to stop spending but isolating yourself from friends, family, and the sun can make you go a little stir crazy. Thankfully it’s not the only way. This is the year of the staycation! You don’t have to fly half way around the world or drop a fortune on a bar tab to get the most of your summer. Keep reading to learn how to stay money-free during the end of the season.

1. Go to the library

Your local branch isn’t just a place to steal free Wi-Fi and people-watch as the town’s strangest folk lurk in the stacks. Or, you know, take out books, CDs, and DVDs. It’s also a hub for the community. Most branches offer free events for the neighborhood, including lectures, book clubs, and activities for kids.

You may be surprised by the amount of things the library has planned, so check out your local branch and talk to your librarian about what’s on.

2. Explore local parks

There’s no better time to explore the great outdoors than the end of summer and early fall. National Geographic created a list of the top 10 most visited national parks back in February, and it’s a great place to start if you aren’t sure of what this great nation has to offer.

If you aren’t located anywhere near those, start researching local trails and parks. Your new librarian friend may be able to help! ...continue reading

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prepare your taxesWith 2018 just around the corner, tax season will be here before you know it. While April 15 is a dreadful day for many Americans, it doesn't have to be that way if you think ahead and prepare your taxes now.

Here are eight ways to prepare your taxes now for next year.

Ask Questions

Do you plan on filing taxes on your own or paying a professional to do it? Do you owe taxes for this year or past years? Have you gotten married or had a child? These are all questions that should be asked to help you prepare your taxes now.

If you are an independent contractor or self-employed, there are a few more questions you should ask yourself as far as your business is concerned as well. Do you have any employees? Did you put mileage on your car because of your business? These are just a few of the questions to ask to make sure you are getting ahead of the game.

Know How You Will File

Are you single, married, or filing jointly? Do you have any dependents? Knowing how you will file can make filing a lot easier when the time comes. You will know how much to withhold from your paychecks based on your allowances.

You'll also roughly know how many deductions you qualify for based on members in your household. ...continue reading