6 Tricks To Make Coupons Work For You

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You probably think that coupons save you money, and if you use them correctly, you're right.

However, stores and manufacturers issue coupons to increase their total sales, which means that if you aren't careful, you can end up overspending when you shop with coupons. Coupons expose consumers to additional advertising, increase shopping activity, steer consumers toward more expensive products and provide temptation to buy discretionary items.

To make sure that you really are saving money when you shop with coupons, read my Financial Edge article for Investopedia, 6 Tricks to Make Coupons Work for You.

And for background on this topic, read 6 Sneaky Ways Coupons Make You Spend More.

FHA Requirements Complicate Fixer-Upper Purchases

Many of the homes for sale are foreclosures that have fallen into disrepair or that have been vandalized by their former owners or random thieves. While there are buyers on the market who are willing to buy these homes and fix them up, sometimes their financing sources don't want to put their money behind these homes.

Read more about one instance of such financing difficulties in my Interest.com article, FHA Requirements Complicate Fixer-Upper Purchases.

4 Difficult Places For Foreigners To Buy Real Estate

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Have you ever dreamed of owning property in a foreign country? Plenty of people do it, but how difficult the process is has a lot to do with where you choose to buy.

Buying property is a complex process that involves numerous steps, and requires specialized knowledge, to ensure the correct, legal transfer of property, and the protection of both the buyer's and seller's legal and financial interests. When you take an already complex process, translate it into a foreign language and add unfamiliar customs and laws, buying property abroad can seem like a minefield.

To learn about four countries where the ownership rules, borrowing and payment restrictions, and local customs make it extra difficult for foreigners to buy real estate, read my Financial Edge article for Investopedia, 4 Difficult Places For Foreigners To Buy Real Estate.

Retirement Planning For Those Who Live Past 100

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If you plan to retire in comfort and style, don't underestimate how long you might live.

Death rates in the United States have reached an all-time low, and life expectancies continue to rise. The life expectancy for a woman at birth is now 80.4 years; for a man, it's 75.4 years.

The American Society of Actuaries estimates that more than half of us will exceed average life expectancies. What's more, a 2009 article in the Lancet, a leading medical journal, projected that more than 50% of people born since 2000 in developed countries will live past 100.

To learn how to plan for your retirement given the possibility of living longer than you initially planned for, read my Financial Edge article for Investopedia, Retirement Planning For Those Who Live Past 100.  

What to Expect from a Home Inspection

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Home inspectors are specially trained to spot problems the average person is likely to miss. However, there are limitations on what inspectors can legally examine.

To find out what home buyers should expect an inspector to look at, read my Interest.com article, What to expect from a home inspection.

3 homeowners association headaches

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Living in a homeowners association is about more than just paying monthly dues. If you’re thinking about buying property in an HOA, learn what you need to know about how the association will affect your finances, the use of your property, and your life in my Interest.com article, 3 Homeowners' Association Headaches.

Top 6 High-Paying Environmental Jobs

There are two main types of green jobs: those that produce goods or services that improve the environment, and those that improve an existing business's environmentally unfriendly practices.

These jobs might focus on producing renewable energy, conserving resources, increasing energy efficiency, alleviating pollution or increasing awareness and compliance.

Green jobs exist in hundreds of industries, from farming to mining and telecommunications to transportation. What's more, it's possible to have a green job without sacrificing your financial goals.

If you want to work in this industry while bringing home an enviable paycheck, consider the options I present in my Financial Edge article for Investopedia, Top 6 High-Paying Environmental Jobs

Discover’s cash-advance option could replace your debit card

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In the face of new debit card fees, Discover's Cash Over feature could help you save money. Instead of using your debit card to make a purchase and get cash back, you can use a Discover card. To learn more about how this option works, read my article for Interest.com, Discover's Cash Advance Option Could Replace Your Debit Card.

When to avoid making a homeowners insurance claim

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Homeowners insurance provides essential protection against expensive damage to your home, but that doesn't mean you should file a claim every time something goes wrong.

In some cases, you might be better off if you handle the problem yourself. Other experts advise filing every claim you can.

Given this conflicting advice, how do you know what to do when you experience a covered loss?

Find out in my Interest.com article, When to Avoid Making a Homeowners Insurance Claim.

Vision Care Insurance: Will You See A Benefit?

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We all know that health insurance is something you shouldn't live without - but what about vision care insurance? Your ability to see is surely almost as important as your health. Vision care insurance can be purchased as a group benefit through your employer or as an individual policy. But how does the cost compare to the coverage you'll receive? Find out in my Financial Edge article for Investopedia, Vision Care Insurance: Will You See A Benefit?

Store Credit Cards: Do The Incentives Pay Off?

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Have you ever wondered whether you should have said "yes" when the cashier asked you if you wanted to open a store credit card account and save 10% off your purchase?

While store credit cards fundamentally work just like regular credit cards, they have unique advantages and disadvantages. I've written an article that examines the incentives stores offer with their credit cards, what pitfalls you might encounter if you sign up and whether the payoff could be worth opening an account.

Get the full story in my Investopedia article, Store Credit Cards: Do The Incentives Pay Off?

Do You Need a Home Warranty?

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When you purchase a home, even a home that isn't new, there is a very good chance that you will be offered a home warranty. The seller may offer to purchase one on your behalf to provide peace of mind that any component of the home that fails can be fixed affordably. If not, you will likely receive numerous mail solicitations to purchase a home warranty once the sale closes. But do you really need a home warranty? Learn more in my Financial Edge article for Investopedia.

Who Profits When You Refinance?

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When you refinance, you need to be an informed consumer. Refinancing is just as big of a deal as getting an initial mortgage, and the stakes are high if you get the wrong loan, get a subpar interest rate or pay excessive closing fees. To gain a better understanding of the process, read my Interest.com article, Who profits when you refinance?

Why Sellers Should Get a Home Inspection

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Did you know that home inspections aren't just for buyers? It can make a lot of sense for sellers to get their homes professionally inspected before putting them on the market. To find out why, check out my Interest.com article, Why Sellers Should Get a Home Inspection.

What to Bring to a Self-Storage Auction and Why

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If you want to bid on and win a unit at a self-storage auction like the stars of Storage Wars, you can’t just show up—you need to come prepared. Here’s what you’ll need.

-Cash. Bring as much cash as you’re willing to spend. Many facilities require that you pay for your winnings in cash immediately after the auction ends. Factor into your budget sales tax and possibly a clean-out deposit (the latter will be refunded as long as you take all of the contents with you).

-Photo ID. some auctions require all attendees to register and present identification before they are allowed to bid.

-A strong flashlight. You can’t enter the unit, so you’ll need to improve your ability to see all the way into it while standing outside.

-A smartphone. If you spot something you think might be valuable before the bidding begins, some quick
online research can help you determine whether to bid or pass.

-A large truck/van/SUV. You’ll usually have only 24 hours to remove the contents of the storage unit you win, so come prepared for moving. Even if you end up with a locker full of trash, you’ll have to haul it away to dispose of it—you can’t use the storage facility’s dumpsters. If you need more time, you may be able to negotiate with the storage facility or even lease the unit. Of course, a fee to lease the unit will cut into your profit margin.

-Padlocks. The owner’s lock must be cut off in order for the contents to be viewed and auctioned off. If you win, you’ll need a way to secure your new locker while you participate in the rest of the day’s auctions or at least until you can get your vehicle pulled up to the unit.

-Gloves. Gloves aren't required, but when you're pawing through someone else's stuff, you never know what you're going to find or how clean it's going to be. Gloves can help prevent the ick factor; they can also protect your hands when moving rough, sharp, or heavy objects.

For more on storage auctions, see my earlier post, How to Find Public Self-Storage Auctions.

Industries Prone To Bubbles And Why

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A bubble (sometimes called an asset bubble, financial bubble or investment bubble) exists when the market prices of assets in a particular class far exceed those assets' true value. These inflated values are unstable and eventually fall dramatically.

Dozens of bubbles have inflated and burst over the course of history. While some bubbles appear to be one-time events, certain industries have seen bubbles form repeatedly, with investors seemingly never learning from past mistakes. Take a look at a few of these industries and what appears to make them bubble-prone in my Financial Edge article for Investopedia, Industries Prone to Bubbles and Why.

10 Ways to Prepare for a Personal Financial Crisis

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The thought of being hit with a major negative event that could affect your finances, like a job loss, illness or car accident, can keep anyone awake at night. But the prospect of something expensive and beyond your control becomes less threatening if you're properly prepared. Learn 10 steps you can take to minimize the impact of a personal financial crisis in my Investopedia article, 10 Ways to Prepare for a Personal Financial Crisis.

How To Find Public Self-Storage Auctions

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Have you watched every episode of Storage Wars and are dying to try making money on a locker yourself? Are you just curious about how it works in real life?

Here’s where to look to find storage auctions.

-Visit the self storage association website for your state to locate upcoming auctions. For example, the Texas SSA lists auctions at http://auction.txssa.org/.

-Locate auctioneer websites. Professional, independent auctioneers, not storage facility employees, run self-storage auctions. They earn money for doing this, so they have an incentive to advertise their upcoming auctions. For examples, check out http://hammerdownauctionsinc.com/auctions/south-florida-auctions.html and http://www.auctionzip.com/MD-Auctioneers/12474.html.

-Storage company websites sometimes advertise their auctions. Others don’t. Considering that the websites are largely designed to attract new customers, they may not want to advertise what will happen to a customer’s stuff if they don’t pay.  One that does is CubeSmart, http://www.cubesmart.com/storage-auctions/. Only about 10% of self-storage companies are big-name public corporations like Public Storage and U-Haul, so do a zip code search to locate lesser-known facilities in your area.

-Call facilities and ask. If a facility doesn’t advertise its auctions online, call to inquire.

-Use a self-storage auction locator website like http://www.sparefoot.com/auctions.html or http://www.auctionzip.com/storage.html. Some websites will even show how many units are being auctioned off on a given date and provide a general idea of what each unit contains. 

When you’re deciding which storage auctions to visit, you might want to focus on convenience and stick with facilities near your home. But if you are trying to think about it more strategically, don’t assume that the best parts of town have the best stuff—people from wealthier areas sometimes store their stuff in less expensive areas where the rent is cheaper.

How To Choose A Home Inspector

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When you're buying a house, you shouldn't skip the home inspection. This crucial step can help you to determine whether to move forward with a purchase or retract your offer. It can shed light on whether you're about to make a smart investment or fall into a money pit; whether you're about to pay a fair price or overpay. But how do you find a competent home inspector, especially if you're wary of going with your real estate agent's suggestion? To find out, read my Interest.com post, How To Choose A Home Inspector.

How Real Estate Investors Hurt Home Values

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Real estate investors make up a significant portion of the residential real estate market, but for ordinary homeowners, this isn't necessarily good news. To find out why, read my Interest.com article, How Real Estate Investors Hurt Home Values.