FrugalWorld

A collection of freebies, sweeps, coupons, frugal tips and more… updated daily with resources to save you time and money.

News: Easy Ways to Save a Bundle on Your Next Home

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Do you see yourself with a yard and a white picket fence — or a fancy front door and a fireplace? If so, you’re not alone. One in four Americans (about 59 million) are considering buying a home this year, according to a new Bankrate.com report, and older millennials, Gen Xers, and minorities are leading the charge.

Before you put your name on that mailbox, there are a few important things to consider first.

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News: Retirees, Maximize Your Income From Dividends

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Dividend investing is supposed to be a bit like watching grass grow: steady progress, few surprises. But lately, investors holding dividend-paying stocks have suffered some jarring setbacks.

Higher-yielding sectors such as utilities and real estate investment trusts saw valuations soar through much of 2016, then suffered sharp pullbacks later in the year. Analysts see more pain ahead for high-dividend-yielding stocks as interest rates start to rise, diverting income-focused investors from stocks into bonds. A stretch of stagnant earnings growth, meanwhile, put the brakes on the double-digit dividend growth that investors have grown accustomed to since the financial crisis. Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index dividends climbed just 5% in 2016.

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News: Shopping for a New Credit Card? Make Sure You Follow These Tips

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Loyalty is generally considered a good thing, but in the credit card world, that quality could be costing you potential rewards. About 32 million U.S. credit cardholders haven’t changed their preferred credit card in 10 years or more, and another 21 million have never switched, according to a new CreditCards.com report.

There are two major camps when it comes to credit card usage — people who haven’t changed their favorite card in a long time and those who recently signed up for a new one. If you’re in the former group, it might be time to consider seeing what else is on the market. Cards are offering signup bonuses, cash back and travel rewards, and a sign-up bonus menu that is “pretty darn strong,” says Matt Schulz, credit card analyst for CreditCards.com.

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News: What a Fed rate hike means for you

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One rate hike won’t change the world but higher rates affect millions of Americans. If you have a credit card or savings account, want to buy a home or a car, and invest in stocks or bonds, pay attention.

The Fed put rates at zero in December 2008 to resuscitate the collapsed housing market during the Great Recession. America is no longer in crisis mode today, and the economy can bear to pay higher rates for financing. A rate hike is a sign that the U.S. economy is improving.

Here’s how the Fed’s rate hikes could affect you.

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News: How to Make the Most of a Health Savings Account

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Health savings accounts are already a great way for people with high-deductible health insurance policies to build up a tax-free stash of money for medical expenses. Your contributions are tax-deductible (or pre-tax if made through your employer), the money grows tax-deferred, and you can use it tax-free for eligible medical expenses in any year—even far into the future. Unlike flexible spending accounts, HSAs have no use-it-or-lose it requirement.

Under the current rules, you can use HSA money tax-free for out-of-pocket medical expenses, including your deductible, co-payments, prescription drugs and other medical costs that aren’t covered by your insurance, such as vision and dental care. You can also use HSA money to pay for a portion of long-term-care insurance premiums, based on your age (up to $410 in 2017 if you’re age 40 or younger; $770 if 41 to 50; $1,530 if 51 to 60; $4,090 if 61 to 70; and $5,110 if 71 or older). You can’t contribute to an HSA after you sign up for Medicare, but you can continue to use the money that was already in the account for out-of-pocket medical expenses, as well as for Medicare Part B, Part D and Medicare Advantage premiums.

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News: Want to Travel the World for Almost Nothing? Try Housesitting

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An expansive brick farmhouse covered in greenery and vines in the town of Fordingbridge in the United Kingdom. A private beachside two-bedroom apartment with balconies in Australia’s state of New South Wales. A house in a small Colorado mountain town half an hour outside Boulder. What do these seemingly “storybook” residences have in common? They’re all available to stay in — free of charge — if you agree to house-sit (and, oftentimes, pet-sit) while there.

Whether you’re planning a budget-friendly vacation from work or looking to travel in retirement, house-sitting is a viable option for consumers aiming to cut travel costs. Not only do house-sitters not need to pay for accommodations, but sometimes they’re allowed access to the homeowner’s car to get around. (Note there isn’t usually an exchange of money involved here — the free accommodation is the payment.) The stipulations are different for each scenario but usually include taking care of pets, keeping everything clean and maybe some light gardening.

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News: Buying and Selling a Home When You’re in the Military

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Military families tend to move often, sometimes with little notice, which can make it tough to decide whether to buy a home or rent. But you also have access to some special perks that can help homebuyers.

Members of the military receive a tax-free Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to cover all or part of your rent or mortgage payment. If you buy a home, you can deduct mortgage interest, even if you use your tax-free housing allowance to pay for it. And you can qualify for a VA loan, which doesn’t require a down payment or private mortgage insurance.

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News: Here are the best value months to visit 10 of the world’s most popular travel destinations

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If you’ve been daydreaming about roaming cobblestone streets in Italy and indulging in a decadent plate of pasta, but can’t afford the ticket, fear not. There’s now a guide to help you find out exactly when to book your trip to get the best deal on hotel rates.

TripAdvisor, the travel planning and booking site, released its 2017 hotel pricing report, which details the best time for Americans to go to popular destinations worldwide.

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