Here’s How to Upcycle Clothes and Revamp Your Wardrobe

A woman cuts into clothing with bags of clothing behind her in trash bags.

Halima Garrett has made wrap pants out of a vintage skirt and estate sale fabric. She became interested in upcycling due to her large collection of vintage clothing she’s collected over the years. Photo courtesy of Halima Garrett

Have you ever stared into the depths of your closet and thought: “I have absolutely nothing to wear?”

If your normal inclination is to dejectedly sift through what you already have, it turns out that there is a better way  — and it doesn’t involve buying anything new. Enter the world of upcycling.

Here’s how to upcycle clothing and give yourself a whole new(ish) wardrobe.

First, What is Upcycling?

The term ‘upcycling’ comes from the idea of recycling an old item, but with a twist. Upcycling is not just reusing something, but tweaking that item to make it better than before.

An upcycled garment often bears little resemblance to its former state. Take Colorado-based designer Maggie Henricks of Create Good Company. She crafts boyfriend skirts out of men’s dress shirts. With patterns ranging from plaid and polka dots to bright Hawaiian florals, Henricks’ designs make for an interesting cross between masculine and feminine fashion norms.

Halima Garrett, who runs Thread of Habit out of New Jersey, got into upcycling by way of her love of vintage clothing. Garrett had amassed so much clothing over the years that she simply didn’t know what to do with it all. Finally, she decided the best option was to rework some pieces.

Even though she calls her sewing skills “basic,” Garrett was able to make wrap pants out of a vintage skirt and estate sale fabric. In fact, her website boasts an entire lingerie collection — each reworked piece contains at least one vintage lingerie item.

A woman creates a new outfit out of an old skirt and an old purple shirt.
Garrett combined fabric from two old pieces of clothing to create the outfit on the right. Photo courtesy of Halima Garrett

Here’s the best part about upcycling: your clothing will be one of a kind. And if you want to give a friend an inexpensive gift that they’ll cherish, upcycling an item for them is a great idea. You don’t even need to have a sewing machine, and all of these DIY projects can be done from your own home. There’s an exclusivity to it that might be enough to make even the least sewing-inclined person want to upcycle clothing.

For those of us who don’t want to sell our upcycled clothes but do want to wear them, Garrett and Henricks have some tips and tricks to take your grandmother’s nightgown — or whatever you want to redo — from frumpy to fancy.

1. Know What to Salvage and What to Cut Up.

If you’re working with vintage clothing or just old clothes in your closet, Garrett advises assessing what you’re cutting up before you take the scissors to your favorite jeans.

If an item has stains on the armpit or a hole that’s too big to mend, by all means, cut.

But if you’ve rescued a pre-1970s item from Goodwill’s bins and you want to preserve its original quality, it may be better to choose a different item to upcycle. The same goes for an item with sentimental value. Ask your mom — and yourself — before you cut up her old wedding dress.

2. Start Simple.

Garrett has proven that it’s possible to upcycle old clothes without the skills of an advanced seamstress. The easiest way to dip your toes into upcycled clothing is by starting small. Try cutting a pair of pants into shorts or cutting a long-sleeve shirt into a short-sleeve T-shirt.

3. Use Your Wardrobe as Inspiration.

Is there something in your closet that you absolutely love? Would you love to replicate it? That’s a great place to start when upcycling. Use the garment you love as a model for how you want another item to fit. Or if you like the color combination of an outfit, consider using that combination in an upcycled piece. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Another way to reimagine what you already have is looking at what something could be if it were a different type of garment. Do you love the fabric of a dress but hate the fit? Make it into a two-piece set with a tank top and skirt. Are you sick of your old jeans but they still fit well? Try sewing on a patch of fabric to the knee.

4. Look at Your Old Clothes as Parts of a Whole, not as a Single Garment.

Henricks always thinks of any item as different pieces of fabric rather than a shirt, a skirt or a dress. That helps her to get inspiration.

Measuring the size of your garment can help to think of a way to creatively rework it. And if you don’t have enough to make something new out of one piece, think about combining multiple into one.

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“It’s important to think away from what it is now,” says Henricks, “and focus more on the fabric and patterns that you have available in the material.”

5. Youtube Tutorials are Your Friend.

Youtube videos are usually the best place to start for any technical skill. Garrett recommends searching for tutorials on “no-sew upcycle” or “minimal sewing upcycle.”

The fact that videos under that designation exist shows that no-sewing upcycling is possible. Three of Garrett’s favorites are Angelina of BlueprintDIY, Mimi G Style and Shania O. Mason.

6. When Looking for Guidance, Be as Specific as Possible.

When looking at the piece you want to remake, think about what it is specifically that you want to change. Do you want to make the top or pants tighter? Do you want to put slits in a dress?

Once you have a tentative visual in mind, that makes it easier to search online for guidance. You can then find a specific tutorial in line with the exact alterations you want to make.

7. When You Find Your Niche, Stick With it.

Have success reworking one item? You don’t necessarily have to branch out. Stay there and see what else you can do within that framework.

Henricks is focused on the men’s dress shirts arena. And she has found inventive ways to upcycle different aspects: not only does she make boyfriend skirts from the shirts, but she also makes dog collars from the shirt collars and crop tops. She is a great example that finding your fashion lane and sticking to it can yield some of the most inventive and creative ideas.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

2021 Tax Brackets Are Here: Here’s What You’ll Owe Next Year

The year 2021 is looking a lot like 2020, at least in terms of taxes.

The IRS released its inflation adjustments for 2021 federal income tax rates and brackets. While these changes are unlikely to have a huge impact on your bottom line, there are a few things you should be aware of.

Because these are the 2021 tax rates, they’ll determine your tax bill that will be due in 2022. You’ll use 2020 rates and brackets when you file your taxes on or before May 17, 2021. That’s 32 days later than usual due to the tax deadline extension.

How the 2021 Tax Brackets Break Down

There are seven tax brackets that range from 10% to 37%. The 2020 and 2021 tax brackets break down as follows:

Unmarried Individuals

Tax Bracket Taxable Income for 2020 (use when you file in 2021) Taxable income for 2021 (use when you file in 2022)
10% Up to $9,875 Up to $9,950
12% $9,875 to $40,125n $9,950 to $40,525
22% $40,125 to $85,525 $40,525 to $86,375
24% $85,525 to $163,300 $86,375 to $164,925
32% $163,300 to $207,350 $164,925 to $209,425
35% $207,350 to $518,400 $209,425 to $523,600
37% Over $518,400 Over $523,600

Married Individuals Filing Jointly or Surviving Spouses

Tax Bracket Taxable income for 2020 (use when you file in 2021) Taxable income for 2021 (use when you file in 2022)
10% Up to $19,750 Up to $19,900
12% $19,750 to $80,250n $19,900 to $81,050
22% $80,250 to $171,050 $81,050 to $172,750
24% $171,050 to $326,600 $172,750 to $329,850
32% $326,600 to $414,700n $329,850 to $418,850
35% $414,700 to $622,050n $418,850 to $628,300
37% Over $622,050 Over $628,300

Heads of Household

Tax Bracket Taxable income for 2020 (use when you file in 2021) Taxable income for 2021 (use when you file in 2022)
10% Up to $14,100 Up to $14,200
12% $14,100 to $53,700n $14,200 to $54,200
22% $53,700 to $85,500 $54,200 to $86,350
24% $85,500 to $163,300 $86,350 to $164,900
32% $163,300 to $207,350 $164,900 to $209,400
35% $207,350 to $518,400 $209,400 to $523,600
37% Over $518,400 Over $523,600
Pro Tip

Not sure of your filing status? This interactive IRS quiz can help you determine the correct status. If you qualify for more than one, it tells you which one will result in the lowest tax bill.

Tax rates apply to the income within each bracket. So if you’re an unmarried individual with taxable income of $50,000, you won’t pay 22% of that $50,000 to Uncle Sam.

According to the 2021 tax brackets (the ones you’ll use for next year’s return), you’d pay:

  • 10% on the first $9,950
  • 12% on the next $30,575 ($40,525 – $9,950 = $30,575)
  • 22% on the next $9,475 ($50,000 – $40,525 = $9,475)

2 Tax Changes That Could Affect You in 2021

The modified tax brackets aren’t the only changes for 2021. About 60 tax provisions were adjusted in the new year. A few highlights:

  • The standard deduction will rise slightly: For 2020, the standard deduction is $12,400 for single filers and people who are married filing separately. In 2021, it will rise by $150 to $12,550 for single taxpayers. For those who are married filing jointly, the standard deduction will rise by $300, from $24,800 in 2020 to $25,100 in 2021.
  • Some limited-income families can get an extra $68. The maximum Earned Income Tax Credit will increase in 2021 to $6,728, from $6,660 in 2020. You need at least three children to qualify for the maximum amount.

3 Tax Rules That Aren’t Changing in 2021

  • IRA contribution limits won’t change. The traditional IRA and Roth IRA contribution limits will remain at $6,000 for people under 50. The extra $1,000 “catch-up” contribution the IRS allows people 50 and older to make won’t change either. You can still fund your IRA for 2020 until tax day, which is May 17, 2021.
  • 401(k) contribution limits aren’t changing either: If you have an employer-sponsored tax-deferred retirement plan, like a 401(k) or 403(b), your maximum contribution is still $19,500 in 2021. The additional “catch-up” contribution workers ages 50 and older can make will also remain at $6,500.
  • There’s no limit on itemized deductions. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 suspended these limits.

Ready to Start Your 2021 Tax Prep?

If you’re ready to dive into your taxes, you can check out this comprehensive summary of 2021 tax changes courtesy of the IRS.

Even if you’re not ready to jump into 2021 tax planning mode just yet, keep in mind it’s a good time to check your tax withholdings and make adjustments if necessary. Just make sure you file your return or ask for an extension by the May 17 deadline. If you can’t afford your tax bill for 2020, it’s essential that you file a tax return anyway and ask for an IRS payment plan.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected]

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

The Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets Is 70 Days in Advance

Two travelers hug while waiting for their flight at an airport.


Travelers wait at a terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport on Dec. 23, 2020.  Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo

If you’ve anxiously been waiting for the day you can start travelling again, start planning now if you want to save on your flight.

CheapAir.com analyzed 917 million airfares for its annual airfare study and found that the sweet spot for travelers to snag the best deals on domestic flights is between 21 and 95 days — that’s three weeks to three months — before their departure date.

It turns out that this year has been a bit of a leveling field for airline ticket prices — only about $100 separates the priciest month (that was March — likely due to a post-pandemic surge in spring break travel) from the cheapest one (September).

And sure, you could test your luck at finding a last-minute low fare. But CheapAir found travelers who book eight to 13 days before a trip pay an average of $74 more than those who book within the prime booking window. Get your ticket less than a week out and you risk paying an average of $160 more than travelers who booked three weeks to four months ahead of time.

Buying a plane ticket too far in advance can also result in a financial penalty. Those who bought tickets 96 to 201 days in advance paid $37 more and those who purchased airfare 202 to 315 days in advance paid $90 more.

CheapAir found the best time to book varies greatly by season. You’ll want to book 89 days in advance to get the best prices for a trip in the fall but only 21 days in advance for a spring jaunt.

Those planning summer trips should get their flights 67 days days in advance. The best time to buy for holiday travel or a winter ski trip is 68 days in advance.

If you’re wondering when’s the best day of the week to buy your airline tickets, CheapAir’s study says it doesn’t really matter. What matters is what day of the week you plan to leave or return. Travelers save an average of $82 by flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday (the cheapest days to fly) instead of on a Sunday (the most expensive day).

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Staff writer/editor Tiffany Wendeln Connors updated this post for 2021.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

7 Ways To Improve Your Credit

Do you find yourself in a situation where your credit history is less than desirable, and you need to improve your FICO credit score? If you’re like the majority of Americans, the answer is probably yes.

The median or average credit score for borrowers in the United States is 723, and over 60% have a score of less than 750. That means that most people will have quite a bit of room for improvement. Your credit can’t be fixed in a flash, but you can begin laying the groundwork for a gradual improvement over time. Here are 7 things that you can do to start down that path of establishing good credit.

7 Tips To Improve Your Credit

  1. Get Your Free Annual Credit Report Once a Year: It is important to keep a close eye on your credit. If you have less than stellar credit it can be a painful reminder of that when you check your FICO score, however there are several good reasons to keep tabs on your credit. You need to make sure that your information is all correct, that there isn’t fraudulent activity on the card, and that you don’t have any open accounts that you had forgotten about. If you do find information that is incorrect, make sure you get it corrected before too much time passes as it can be a stain on your record that can be hard or near impossible to get removed. Get your free annual credit report at http://www.annualcreditreport.com
  2. Pay Your Bills… and On Time! This one may seem obvious, but it can be one of the major reasons some people’s credit isn’t as good as it could be. Paying your bills on time means paying ALL your bills, from credit cards and mortgages to secondary things like utility bills, rent and cell phone bills. Most of these secondary bills may not show on your credit history if they’re paid in good standing, but when they fall behind, they can start to show on your credit report. Usually this will happen after they are 30 days late. So pay your bills on time every month, and after a year or two your credit will probably start to rise.
  3. Find a Job You Like and Stay There: When you are in a stable job and you aren’t jumping around from employer to employer it shows lenders that you have a stable income, and that you’re more likely to be able to repay a loan. Being with an employer for 5 years or more will really begin to improve your chances with lenders. Of course every situation is different, and it isn’t always possible to stay at a job for that long, but if you can it will help you in the long run.
  4. Stay in one place – stop moving around! Just like with stability of your job situation, lenders like to see stability in your place of residence. If you’re jumping from rented house to rented house, lenders will often begin to wonder why you’re moving around so much. Owning your own home can also be a plus, although if you have bad credit to begin with getting a mortgage may be a bit harder.
  5. Get a Co-Signer and Apply For a Loan or Credit Card:  Sometimes your credit may be a little too dinged up for you to get a loan or credit card by yourself, but you may be able to get a loan with a co-signer. You can piggyback off of their good credit. Use this as a last resort, and make sure you plan on paying back the loan on time (because you don’t want to hurt someone else’s credit). Try to keep the credit limit small, and keep a positive repayment history, and over time you can begin to establish that good credit.
  6. Increase Your Income:  I know this is easier said than done but annual raises, bonuses and your overall debt to income ratio can be a deciding factor in whether or not you get a loan. If you can find additional revenue streams, get a raise or find other ways of bringing in extra cash, it can really help.
  7. Decrease Your Expenses and Debt: Even if you’re not able to increase your income at this time, decreasing your debt can also be a huge help. Find ways of decreasing your credit card debt, while at the same time not adding to any new debt. Use the snowballing method to pay off your debts one by one. Your debt-to-income ratio will steadily improve, as will your credit.

Remember, none of these tips by themselves can get your credit back to tip top shape without a bit of patience. Fixing your credit takes time, and you need to be in it for the long haul. Your credit wasn’t broken in a day, and it won’t be fixed in a day either. If you’re dedicated to the goal of re-establishing your credit, it can be done.   So stick it out!

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

You Could Get a Tax Refund for Unemployment Benefits in May

If you’re among the 40 million Americans who received unemployment compensation in 2020 and you’ve already filed your taxes, you could be getting a surprise refund.

The IRS announced that it would start issuing refunds in May to taxpayers who have submitted returns but qualify for a tax break on 2020 jobless benefits. Refunds will continue into the summer months.

Typically, unemployment benefits are taxed as ordinary income. But the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed into law on March 11 shields the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits for households with incomes under $150,000. If you’re married, each spouse can exclude the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits.

The new law, passed in the middle of tax season, left people who qualified for the tax break wondering if they’d need to file an amended return. But the IRS says that won’t be necessary. The IRS will automatically reconfigure the correct amount of unemployment compensation and taxes due, then either issue any extra money as a refund or apply it to taxes owed.

It’s not clear whether you’ll need to file an amended return if the tax break makes you eligible for certain tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit.

You Still May Not Get a Break on State Taxes

Your state may not be feeling quite as generous as Uncle Sam. According to H&R Block, the following 13 states have yet to pass changes to exempt some unemployment from state taxes:

  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • West Virginia

H&R block has suggested holding off on filing if you live in one of these 13 states and received unemployment benefits in 2020 in case your state changes its law.

What if I Haven’t Filed Yet?

If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, you can go ahead and use free tax filing software to submit your return. They’ll ask you a few questions to determine whether you qualify for the unemployment tax break.

The IRS has instructions on its website for those filing a paper return. But we’d strongly recommend filing online. The IRS has a huge backlog of unprocessed paper returns from 2019. Filing by paper could add months to the time it takes to process your return.

If you can’t afford your tax bill, even after the unemployment tax break, it’s still essential that you file your taxes or file for an extension by May 17. Note that filing for an extension only buys you time to file, but any money you owe is still technically due on May 17 — a month later than usual due to the tax deadline extension. You’ll minimize your penalties by filing an on-time return, even if you can’t pay anything.

Once you are able to resume payments, you can typically automatically get approved for an online payment plan within minutes. You can spread the bill out over up to 72 months in some cases if you sign up for an IRS installment plan.

One thing to keep in mind is that the tax break on unemployment is for 2020 only. If you’re still receiving benefits, consider having 10% automatically withheld by filing IRS Form W-4V if doing so wouldn’t put you behind on bills.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected]

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

What Are Some Things I Can Do To Build Good Credit?

As the new year rolls halfway through its second month, it might be a good time to look at your credit situation. If you find your current credit scores lacking, you may want to find some ways you can improve your credit in the coming year.

MSN Money writes about some ways you can improve your credit, and boils their advice down to 7 great moves you can make in this new year:

  • Scour your credit reports: Dispute any accounts that aren’t yours or any negative entries that are more than seven years old (or 10 years in case of bankruptcy). Also make sure there aren’t any red flags for identity theft including accounts you didn’t open, or unpaid charges on old accounts. Check out the new site called Credit Karma for free credit score reports, or check out the government’s website for your free annual credit reports.
  • Don’t be late: Skipping even a single payment can hurt your credit score. Make sure all your accounts are paid on time, and consider setting up automatic payments.
  • Watch your balances: The less of your credit lines that you use, the better. Try not to use more than 30% of your credit card limits at any time during the month; using 10% or less is even better.
  • Don’t close accounts: Fair Isaac has made it clear that closing accounts can never help a classic FICO score and may hurt it. With FICO 08, that’s even truer. The new scoring formula wants to see evidence that you are actively and responsibly using credit.
  • Keep your accounts active: Consider keeping your oldest and highest-limit cards active by charging something to them each month (making sure to pay the balance off in full, of course). This can demonstrate that you are responsible in using and managing your credit.
  • Piggyback the right way: You can benefit from someone else’s good credit, but be careful because someone else’s bad credit can hurt yours as well.
  • Consider an installment loan: There are two main types of credit: revolving accounts that allow you to build up and pay down balances, and installment loans that typically have fixed payments that require you to pay down your balance over time. Credit cards and lines of credit are examples of revolving accounts, while auto loans and mortgages are considered installment loans. The FICO formula has always rewarded folks who had and successfully managed both types, which is why getting an installment loan was often recommended as a way for people with troubled credit to rehabilitate their scores. That doesn’t mean you should march out and get a loan you don’t need. Loans you’ve already paid off will continue to help your scores as long as they’re still on your credit reports, and many lenders continue to report closed installment accounts for 10 years.

I feel like I should add a proviso here at the end, and ask a question. Should you really be that concerned about building your credit?  Why not instead start saving up and paying cash for the things you buy and cutting up your credit cards?  You’ll spend less money, and you won’t put yourself in a position where you’re becoming a slave to debt!

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

Get A Free Daily Credit Report From Credit Karma

For the past couple of years, my wife and I have been keeping close tabs on our credit.

We purchased a house in late 2013 and making sure our credit was in good shape was important while we were looking for a home loan. (Yes, I know. We bought a house right before the bubble burst. Bad timing.)

Credit scores can run anywhere from 300 to 850 depending upon different factors. The higher your FICO score, the better. 

Higher FICO scores can mean you’ll find home loans at a lower rate, that you’ll get a lower rate on a credit card or that you’ll be eligible for better loans with fewer fees. In other words, having a good credit score will mean you can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

The last time we checked our credit scores we were somewhere in the low 800s. 

So where can you get a free credit score on a regular basis, without paying for it?

Free daily credit score from Credit Karma

Free Credit Scores From Credit Karma

You can now get a free annual credit report through the government’s website at annualcreditreport.com. There you can pull your free report every year from the top 3 credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion).  While each of the reports from the different agencies may show different information, for the most part, they’ll show pretty similar information.

At our house we like to pull a credit report from one agency every 4 months, staggering it out throughout the year. that way we’re ensuring that we’re better staying on top of our credit situation and there are no strange new accounts being opened or anything like that. It’s part of our home-grown identity theft avoidance strategy.

To get a regularly updated credit score for free on a regular basis there is now a new credit score checking website called Credit Karma.

Credit Karma Logo

The site will give you daily updates on your credit score, which is your actual TransUnion and Equifax credit score.

Just to clarify, this is not the actual FICO credit score that the banks and mortgage companies will see when you apply for a mortgage, but instead a similar score that those two agencies have put out.  It may not be exactly the same as your FICO score, but it is usually close enough that it will give you a reasonable idea of where you are.

Credit Karma Is Free To Use

Credit Karma is free to use, which is a great value when you would have to pay at least $15 or so to get the credit score directly.

So how does Credit Karma support the site and how are they able to provide the service that they do?

Credit Karma is supported by affiliate revenue they make by recommending banks, credit cards, and other financial services to Credit Karma users within their site.  While not all of the offers are ones that I might take advantage of, many of them will offer you savings over what your current banks and credit cards will offer.

Get A FREE Credit Karma Account

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

Credit Card Rewards – Are They Really Worth It?

These last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about our credit cards, and whether or not we should just close the rest of our credit accounts. My philosophy is becoming more and more anti-debt, and the idea of going credit card free is appealing, albeit a bit scary. It’s becoming less scary as we get closer to having a fully funded emergency fund.

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Other rewards cards may have good terms, but charge an annual fee. This makes it unlikely that the consumer will come out ahead if they don’t spend a large amount of money on their card.

Still other rewards cards may be generous with their rewards, but they have an annual cap or limit which means you can’t fully realize the benefit of having the card.

Another problem is that a good percentage of people who have rewards credit cards don’t even bother to use their rewards that they’ve earned. From CNNMoney:

More than 41 percent of reward cardholders either rarely or never even bother to use their rewards, said a 2006 survey by GMAC Mortgage and Harris Interactive.

That seems like an awfully large number of people who sign up to get rewards, but then never even bother to use them. What a waste! Could it be just another indicator that our culture just doesn’t value saving as much as it does spending?

Avoid The Pitfalls Of Rewards Cards

To avoid the pitfalls and get the most back from your card, Consumer Reports offers these tips:

  • Consider where you shop. Get rewards cards that fit your lifestyle and shopping patterns. In other words, if you don’t travel very often, don’t sign up for a travel rewards card. You might be better off using one that gives you cash back for gas, groceries and home purchases.
  • Project your spending. Figure out how much you think you’ll spend in a given year, and then find out how much you’ll gain for every dollar you spend. Subtract any annual fees or penalties and find out if the card is worth your time. If not, move on and find another one.
  • Favor cash back. Points vs. Cash back. Consumer reports found that cash back cards tend to offer better rewards. On top of that the cards that give points, often the points end up going un-used. Get a cash-back card to optimize your returns.
  • Skip credit if you carry a balance. If you don’t pay your bills of in full, you may want to pass on the rewards cards altogether. Because rewards cards often have higher interest rates, you may end up paying much more in interest than you reap in rewards. I know my wife and I only use the credit card when we know we can pay it off within a week or two.
  • Do the math on do-good programs. Some people are tempted to get a rewards card so that they can have the rewards sent directly to a charity of their choice. When doing this make sure you look into how much is being given because you’ll often find you can give more to the charity if you just get a cash back card and send the money to the charity yourself.
  • Use airline miles fast. If you use an airline miles card, make sure to use your points as soon as you can. Airlines will often change redemption rules, and sometimes you’ll even lose your points if you haven’t used them in time.
  • Avoid temptation. Don’t justify spending on your credit card just because you want to get that “reward” of a new Ipod or digital camera. You’ll usually find that you end up spending more than you would have in the first place – enough that you could have just gone out and bought your own reward.

Conclusion – Be Careful

When it comes down to it I think it is clear – if you already have credit card debt and you’re trying to find your way out, DON’T use your credit card. Period. Lock it up and throw away the key.

But if you are debt free and are able to pay off your card every month without any problem, go ahead and take advantage of the rewards programs. But be careful which one you choose. Find one that fits your needs and spending patterns. Also, be careful that you’re not getting caught in the “spend to earn” trap. Studies have shown that people will often spend more just because they’re getting rewards. Don’t be a sucker, buy only what you need and what you would have bought anyway.

Do you have a rewards card? Do YOU think it’s worth it? Let us know in the comments.

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

Pros and Cons of Tiny House Living

Smiling man leaning on orange camper van.Are you in the process of looking for a new home? Whether you live alone or you’re relocating with your roommates, you’re probably weighing all of your housing options. Houses and apartments are the two obvious choices, but have you considered tiny houses?

Tiny houses are a relatively modern type of housing that’s gained significant popularity over the past few years. These small-but-mighty homes vary in terms of style, amenities, mobility options, and more! Are you curious about what it’s like to live in one of these charming abodes long-term? Here are the pros and cons of tiny house living.

The Pros of Tiny House Living

In addition to being aesthetically adorable, there are many pros to tiny house living, which can explain their boom in popularity.

Most notably, tiny houses are incredibly affordable in comparison to their “normal-sized” counterparts. They cost much less money and time to build and are typically designed to be highly energy-efficient. Depending on the total cost, tiny home dwellers are often able to skip paying a mortgage altogether. All of these subpoints make tiny houses an especially great option for first-time homeowners.

Additionally, tiny house living can span beyond miniature houses. Converted vans, refurbished buses, and trailers also count! With all of these different options, portability is a big advantage. Choosing the tiny house life allows you to enjoy unconventional freedoms, such as a nomadic lifestyle, going off-the-grid for extended periods, and traveling without pricey hotel bills.

The Cons of Tiny House Living

Although tiny houses have their fair share of perks, it takes a specific personality and lifestyle to thrive under this type of living arrangement. Consider if you’re willing and able to deal with these cons.
Living in a tiny home can cause you to encounter issues that apartments and larger homes manage to avoid. For instance, sub-par plumbing is a known problem with this type of living arrangement. If a tiny house is calling to you, make sure you can handle a composting toilet first. This kind of living experience is not for everyone.

What’s more, tiny homeowners aren’t awarded the luxury of having a landlord, HOA, or dedicated property management company to help with routine maintenance and repairs. Although it’s nice to have ownership of your place, this means more work on your part when something needs to be fixed.

Most obviously, tiny homes are significantly lacking in space. This typically isn’t an issue for those living alone or practicing a minimalist lifestyle; however, that’s where the buck stops. Tiny houses aren’t well equipped to handle large families or excessive storage and can feel quite confining to some.

The Happy Medium

As you can see, tiny houses are an enjoyable and affordable option — but they often come at a cost. If low-maintenance living is what you’re looking for, you’re better off finding an apartment that perfectly suits your needs.

By using our apartment lookup tool, you can find all the things you love about tiny homes in an apartment of your dreams. You don’t have to live in a small house to reside in an on-trend space! By searching short-term apartment rentals on ApartmentSearch.com, you can enjoy the same freedoms that tiny home living brings. Plus, with our referral reward, you can easily claim a $100 cash + $100 CORT bucks to spend on your furniture rental package!

ApartmentSearch.com does all of the tedious work for you by gathering all of your worthy options in one place. Whether you’re looking for a studio apartment, a one-bedroom, or a space with multiple bedrooms, ApartmentSearch.com will help you pick out your ideal living situation.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com