Saving money can be hard. It often seems like a daunting task but often it is the little things that make a big difference.

Here are five tips to get saving more money now.

1. Pay off your debt.
If you have debt try to consolidate it and pay off debt as soon as possible. A strategy to do this would be to consolidate debt to a lower interest rate if possible. Interest on debt can cost you thousands of dollars every year.

2. Pay your bills on time.
When you don’t pay your bills on time you acquire late fees. The best way to do this is to get organized about your regular bills. If possible, automate your regular payments.

3. Know your bank balance.
If you don’t keep track of your check book you will probably accrue over draft fees. Be aware of the balance in your bank account and avoid overdraft fees.

4. Avoid ATM fees.
ATM fees can really add up. Try to use only those ATM machines where your bank will not charge the fees, or withdraw directly at your bank.

5. Manage your credit.
Credit card fees are often hidden costs you don’t account for. Look for credit cards with cash back bonuses and reward points. Avoid credit cards with annual fees.

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Is your kitchen a headache for you?  Thinking on a style upgrade?  Many people want to make their kitchens more comfortable to be in, but don’t have the first clue where to start.  Here’s a few ideas.

Hide your garbage can – One of the first projects that you can undertake is moving your kitchen garbage can to an out-of-sight place, like under your sink.  This is a simple project that you can undertake yourself, and will help simplify your kitchen’s look, on top of increasing your floor space.  You can also take this as an opportunity to consider whether or not you’d like to try your hand at going green.  Consider making a separate hidden bin under your sink for recycling.

Under-cabinet lighting – Under-cabinet lighting is an easy way to add some ambiance to your kitchen.  You can install strip-lighting under your cabinets yourself, or hire a contractor to install a few.  This will serve to highlight certain aspects of your kitchen, which can’t really be done by relying solely on overhead lighting.

Tile backsplash – Installing tile in the area between your cabinets and cupboards will make cleanup nice and easy, while adding a bit more style to your kitchen.

Solid surface countertops – This is one of the big remodels, but it is also one of the most beneficial.  If you live in a home with laminate countertops, then it may be time to consider upgrading to something a little more style-conscious and useful, like granite or marble.

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One of the trickiest parts of buying or selling a home is the negotiation process. Too often when our home is involved our emotions get in the way and the deal can go south quickly. Negotiating is an art. A real estate professional is trained in negotiating but you will need to prepare too. Here are some hints to help you navigate the home sale negotiation process:

Do your homework know your home’s worth, understand the value of your home in the marketplace.

Be realistic about what your home is worth. Much of the work you did to the home was a labor of love and may not have a monetary value.

Be patient, negotiations can take time.

Do not let emotions (greed, pride, anger, or prejudice) get in the way of negotiating the best deal.

Think of your home as “the house”,” instead of “my home.” You have made the decision to move so try to think of the sale as a business transaction.

Take all reasonable offers seriously.

Don’t let a good deal walk away over a few hundred dollars.

Try to look at the deal from the opposite side of the table. This will help you try to see where the potential buyer is coming from.

Most of all, have a positive attitude. Don’t get caught up in the game of negotiating instead remember the goal is to sell your house for a fair price and move on to your next adventure.

Did you know that pets can significantly reduce your home’s value?  Homebuyers are hesitant to buy a home with pets because they are weary of odors and damage. If you are a pet owner here are some tips to ensure you get the highest final sale price for your home:

1. Start outside. The outside of your home is the first impression, it is the first thing a potential buyer sees. Fill and holes in the yard that have been dug by pets. Make sure to walk the yard and pick up any pet waste.

2. Check the woodwork. Pets have a habit of chewing. Go through your home and look for any damage. Check the floor trim, the threshold of your doors, and the corners of doors and cabinets. Also don’t forget to check carpet, window ledges and screens, especially if you have cats. Hardwood floors can also get scratched by pets too. You may need refinish your floors if they have pet scratches.

3. Check the carpet. Carpets are usually best replaced rather than repaired. It is almost impossible to remove pet odor from carpet. If the carpet has been chewed or frayed from scratching it can likely be stretched and re-tacked by a professional.

4. Look for stains. There can be stains on carpet, flooring, drywall, and trim. Make sure to repair or replace any items that are stained before a buyer sees them.

5. Address odors. You may not even notice pet odors in your home but they will be very obvious to buyers. Ask someone else to give you an honest opinion of pet odors in your home.  Make sure to vacuum daily and open windows if you can. It’s not just accidents that cause bad odors. Your pet’s hair, dander and sweat also create odors.

6. Clean your furniture. Even though the buyer is looking at the house, if your furniture is stained or ruined buyers will still devalue your home.

7. Keep the pets away. If possible remove pets from your home when showing it. You could board them, or have a friend keep your pets while you’re showing your home. If that is not possible make sure to buy pet crates to keep them locked up and out of the way.

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