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Money Saving Tips: How To Save Money On a Wedding

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Money Saving Tips: How To Save Money On a Wedding: Bells are ringing, birds are flying, and love is clearly in the air. If you live in the South, this is wedding season, and that means that there are a heck of a lot of couples who are tying the knot. Saving money for a wedding can be difficult, but there are a ton of tricks that you could use along the way to find a way to pinch every penny that you can for your big day.

The first key is setting a budget and sticking to it. You don’t really think about all of the ins and outs that go into the planning of a wedding. It’s not just a venue, a DJ, and some flowers. All of that printing for invitations costs a ton of money, as do the stamps to send them out. Want fancy, schmancy chairs at your wedding? That’s going to cost an arm and a foot as well.

The first step to committing your wedding budget is at the venue. Typically speaking, your venue is also going to provide the food for your guests, though finding a location that allows outside catering services is going to be significantly cheaper. Remember when you look at the price per plate, which can range anywhere from $30 per person all the way up to $200 per person depending upon where you are looking and how fancy of a meal you intend on serving, that the base cost isn’t the only cost involved. Especially in the state of Florida, a popular state to have destination weddings, particularly in the fall and winter, there are tons of taxes and fees that are tacked onto that number, and the fee could be in excess of 30% of the total cost of the plate. Remember to ask all of the questions and get the legitimate answer to how much a plate of food would really cost for your wedding.

Remember that the most popular wedding day is Saturday, and if you are willing to go off the board and get married on another day of the week, you are likely to incur significantly less in costs. Hotels know that they will rent out their rooms virtually every Saturday of the year. However, there is no guarantee about a Friday or a Sunday, so on those particular days of the week, they would rather rent out the space at a discounted price than to leave their ballroom empty. Just remember that your guests that are traveling in from out of town are going to have a significantly harder time making it to a wedding on a Friday, a Sunday, or any other day of the week for that matter due to the fact that they are going to have to take time off from work and have their kids miss school.

Be sure to negotiate with all of your vendors. That means the DJ, the flower person, and even the venue manager. There is always some wiggle room in the price, and if you begin your search options early enough, you can save a lot of money by playing the haggling game. If your search for vendors and a venue begins too late and your date for a wedding happens to be a popular one, you might be stuck paying a premium price on every facet of your wedding.

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Watch your guest list as well. We know that there are a ton of people that you would love to have at your wedding, but perhaps your mom’s third cousin twice removed that you don’t even recognize the name and that she hasn’t seen in 25 years isn’t a great idea for an invitation. The same goes for your rehearsal dinner as well. Etiquette suggests that anyone coming in from out of town should be invited to your rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with just having the members of your bridal party and some immediate family for dinner instead.

Ladies! Ready to go dress shopping? Don’t let your budget get busted by a dress that you are only going to wear one time. There are literally millions of dresses out there that will look absolutely fantastic on you, and finding the right people to go with you and the right advisors at a store will help you pick out a dress that is both in your budget and matches the style that you want. The dress is no doubt important, but if you are looking to save a penny, you can still look beautiful even if your dress doesn’t have all of the glitz and glamour of a several thousand dollar purchase.

Finally, do-it-yourselfers are going to really be helpful on your budget. Centerpieces can be incredibly expensive, but they can be made by hand if you or ones that you know are artistic. Remember when you go to a flower store to purchase centerpieces, you don’t actually see what the flower designer has in mind until he or she builds it for the day of your event. If you have a very specific idea in mind, you might be better served creating your own centerpieces anyway. Check out other tips to Make Your Own Wedding Flowers that we recommend as well.

This idea can even go for invitations, save the date cards, seating cards, and all of the rest of your printing as well. Printing can be an expensive venture, though you know that the company is going to get it exactly right. You can make invitations that look just as stunning as the printing company with the right printer and a heck of a lot of patience, and again, you’ll get absolutely exactly what you want, not the idea that the printer has in mind with the ideas that you give him or her.

In the end, this is your wedding day, and it is the day that you are going to remember for the rest of your life. Ideally, we would all want more for ourselves and for our family, but realistically speaking, we just can’t always afford the top dollar items. Use those money saving wedding tips though, and you’ll be on your way to the wedding of your dreams at the budget that you can afford.

Refi Your Mortgage: Save Money By Refinancing Your Home

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Refi Your Mortgage: Save Money By Refinancing Your Home: Many of you that own homes are probably under water at this point. However, for those of you that have the ability to refinance homes, you’re in a perfect situation to save some interest and keep some extra money in your own pocket. Here are some various ways that you can refinance your home!

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The most popular way to refinance your home is just by getting another mortgage. The concept here is simple. As long as the bank still sees that you have at least 80 percent loan to value (meaning that you don’t owe more than 80 percent of what the home is owned), the bank will simply rework your mortgage.

Another regular way to adjust your mortgage is by paying your home off and opening up a home equity line of credit, or a HELOC. Home equity lines have gotten a lot of people in trouble in the past, but the responsible borrower can really use that to their advantage. The majority of banks will offer you two types of lines of credit.

The first is a fixed line, which basically acts like a second mortgage. This would more or less be the same thing as totally refinancing your mortgage. The second way would be to open up an interest only loan. In other words, the bank loans you a certain amount of money, and you only owe interest on that money each and every month. Usually, you will have 10 years of which you can borrow the money with only interest being due, but obviously, as you pay down the principal, the interest you owe every month will decrease as well.

And then you have ARM payments. Normally speaking, ARMs, or adjustable rate mortgages are only going to be used on homes that you plan on keeping for a short period of time (or that you know you can pay off over a short period of time). Most financial advisors don’t suggest ARMs for their clients due to the fact that an ARM will change rates when the term of the mortgage comes due. In other words, when you get a 10 year ARM, your rate adjusts itself after 10 years, and you’re subject to A) more closing costs and B) a new rate on your mortgage that could be significantly higher than where it was when you first established the mortgage.

No matter how you choose to refinance your home, you need to consider a few things.

First off, you know that you are only going to refinance to either make your payments per month cheaper, or to adjust your interest rate lower. If you owe $100,000 on your house and pay it off in 10 years at a 5% interest rate, you’ll end up paying $27,278.62 in interest over that time. If you can reduce that mortgage to 4% by refinancing, you’ll save yourself almost $6,000 in interest over that 10 years.

Sounds like a great deal, right? Sure, if you can find a fixed rate of 4%, you’re in luck. However, odds have it, you’ll end up having to deal with a variable rate on your mortgage to get a rate that low. The risk that you run with a HELOC or an ARM is that you could end up with a higher rate than where you started at as prime rises. (Your interest rate is based off of prime and will usually be somewhere around prime + 0.5% interest, though banks actually have promotions that you can get less than prime as your interest rate)

The other question is how much closing costs are to do a refinance. If you are saving $1,000 in interest and have $1,200 in closing costs, sure your payment might be slightly lower every single month, but what you have spent up front could have been put down on your mortgage instead.

One thing is for sure right now, and that’s that interest rates are literally historically low. Prime is below 4% right now, numbers which you just haven’t seen in the history of the country. If you can afford to do it, this is the time to take advantage of these and our other Mortgage Tips. Be sure to check ’em out and take advantage of these great opportunities to refinance your home and save money today!

Save Taxes – Community Service Tax Deductions

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Save Taxes – Community Service Tax Deductions: Many people think of community service as something that is just a good thing to do. And yes, that’s quite true. We’re definitely not here to tell you that community service is a bad thing. However, there are definitely some other reasons that community service can help remedy some tax issues as well. Don’t be shocked to see that there are ways to save taxes by performing community service.

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Again, please don’t use this article to merely save taxes. This is just an added perk that can come for doing something good for your community or for a charitable organization.

If you don’t own a home and don’t have huge amounts of medical expenses, you probably don’t have enough to itemize your deductions. Don’t know what that means? Let’s go through a short tax lesson.

The government allows you what is called a standard deduction when you file your tax return. In 2011, if you are single, your standard deduction is $5,800. If you are married, you and your spouse have double that at $11,600. Senior citizens over the age of 65 get an extra $1,150. You are allowed the best of your standard deduction or itemized deductions.

So what makes up your itemized deductions? The three big numbers are always medical expenses (though a percentage of your medical expenses don’t count towards this), your mortgage interest and real estate taxes. Safe deposit box fees, tax preparation fees, union dues, and sales taxes or state/local income taxes also count in your itemized deductions.

However, the one thing that we haven’t discussed yet is community service. Any cash contributions that you make are a part of your itemized deductions, but that means money going out of your pocket to get a tax break. For example, if you are in a 20% tax bracket, if you donate $500 to charity and have enough to itemize your deductions, you’d be saving $100 in taxes.

What about non-cash items? The truth of the matter is that you aren’t using all those clothes in the back of your closet any longer. If you get rid of them by donating them to charity, you can get some deductions for them (up to $50 per bag of clothes). Sure, when you think about it, that’s only $10 of actual tax, but if you were just going to throw all of those clothes out, you may as well collect the $10 that Uncle Sam is going to give you.

The same is true about mileage for community service. If you drive to perform some community service, you’re entitled to $0.14 worth of deductions for every mile that you drive. Sure, if you drive 100 miles, you’re only entitled to $14 off of your taxable income, which does only translate into $3 off in taxes… but every single dollar saved in taxes is another dollar in your pocket.

We know that saving money in taxes isn’t the sexiest way to save money, but we also know that every dollar you can save is a dollar that you can put towards some other expense or investment in your life. Save money with community service today!

Travel Tips: Saving Money on Travel By Cruising

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Travel Tips: Saving Money on Travel By Cruising: Summer vacations are said and done with, and if you don’t have to deal with kids being back in school, now is the perfect time to take a vacation! Be sure to use these travel tips for how to save money traveling, and you’ll be sure to make that cruise of yours that you’ve always wanted to take a reality!

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One way that you can really save money traveling is by booking these trips at the last second. Does it always work? Absolutely not. However, hotels, airlines, and even cruise lines offer up last minute prices that quite often are 50, 60, or even up to 90 percent off of the normal price!

Perhaps you don’t have the ability to up and go on a day’s notice on a vacation. No problem. Neither does most of the rest of the world. You keep hearing all of these things about how cruises are these luxurious forms of vacation and that only the rich and famous have the ability to take them. Absolutely not true!

Sure, price tags are often prohibitive when booking a cruise when you first think about it. Going away for seven nights can often cost upwards of $1,500 for a couple, and even as much as $2,500 for a family of four. However, you have to remember several things when you take this into consideration.

First off, this is rather an all-inclusive number. This price covers your room, all the food you could care to eat, and the mass majority of your entertainment. Non-alcoholic drinks such as lemonade, iced tea, coffee, and water are all included in this price as well, and though soda and liquor are often quite expensive offshore, you can also get packages where you get wine at discounted prices and full cruise packages for soda that run at as little as $7 per day.

Unlike normal trips, where you have to find restaurants, book hotels, and find activities to do, the cruise line does all of this for you! You have excursions that you can book straight through the cruise line itself, or with some research, you can go off on your own and reserve your spot skydiving, parasailing, bungee jumping, on a tour of your location, and just about anything else you can imagine.

Also unlike a normal vacation, where you are flying to just one location and staying there (or renting a car to travel to various places), cruise ships take you to multiple ports, often three or four over the course of a seven day period. Sure, you’re only in these locations for a span of 8-12 hours on average, but you are able to see all of what you want to see, and you can see so many different locations all in just one vacation!

If you’re a gambler, you also have the ability to jump right into the casinos that are aboard most of the cruise ships. Your vacation can pay for itself if you’re lucky enough! Especially if you’re in a state where casino gambling isn’t legalized, you know that you can pay an arm and a foot just to get to a casino. This is just another amenity in the price of your vacation! There are spas, gyms, luxurious restaurants, pools, saunas, casinos… heck, there are even rock climbing walls and zip lines on a lot of these boats as well!

Literally anything you can think of, you can do on a cruise ship. Just to get even half of these amenities can cost you double or triple the price of the cruise lines. Still think that $1,500 for you and your significant other sounds so bad?

So visit your local travel agent or visit any of the cruise line websites and find your way to paradise today!

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