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  • Now is the time to hurry, hurry, hurry to your local real estate agent and get in gear to purchase your first home. There has never been a better time than now. There are so many incentives for first time home buyers right now and the deals are coming to a close at the end of the year. We knew it wouldn’t last forever, but it was nice while it lasted.

    The most spectacular event that has been seen in recent home-buying-history is the government enforced ‘first-time-home-buyers’ tax credit. This is a flat eight thousand dollar tax credit, which you will receive on your taxes, for purchasing a first home. With the home market kicking down to a slow crawl at the beginning of 2009 there had to be something done; this was a good answer. There is still time to enjoy this incredible discount. It will end in December 2009 which still leaves several months to take advantage.

    On top of this amazing tax credit the time to look for amazing deals on homes is now. Due to high volume of foreclosed homes throughout the year it has been extremely easy to find and purchase foreclosed homes. These homes are usually listed in the weekly, local papers, and can be found listed in the annals of the local courthouse.

    You must beware of the scams that are revolving around the foreclosure listings. There are several companies that are offering “foreclosure listings” to the public but the only problem is that they are charging the public between 60$ and 300$ for what they call a “complete” list of homes (in your area). This is a scam, a gimmick, and I would ask that anyone looking into the purchase of one of these lists to highly reconsider.

    Most of these listing are old, sold, or cold and you are paying for this info. Beware that this information is free to the public from the local government and if you search via your county website and your local papers for the same (or better) information than those you would possibly be spending more than one hundred dollars on. So use common sense when looking into foreclosure listings that sound too good to be true. They cost so much that they can’t even say how much they truly are on radio or television

    Pets are absolutely an extra expenditure. They are not quite as expensive as children, but when cared for properly, these furry kids can cost you quite a bit each year. Between foods, treats, toys, grooming, vet visits, doggy/kitty daycare, medications, and everything else the dollars rack-up and can put a dent in your wallet. Now-a-days we have to watch our spending, and we surely do not want to see our best friends with less than the best care just because we are tightening the belt.

    To look at the bigger picture for the over-all healthcare of our pets, taking into consideration the cost of veterinarian costs and medications, we see an accumulation of expense mostly in the department of monthly health costs. There is no denying that it can cost several hundred dollars a year just affording the monthly doses of flea/tick drops and heartworm tablets; plus yearly expenses like deworming agents, grooming costs, booster shots, rabies injections, and any other medication the individual animal uses.

    There are little ways to cut down on costs directly at the vet’s office. For example, the yearly rabies vaccination has been improved to cover a full three years of protection (for adult dogs one year and older). There is also an alternative to the individual treatments and tests for parasites. There is an all-in-one tablet supplied by veterinarian pharmacies called Drontal Plus. This medication eradicates all of the most common intestinal parasites without the cost of individual fecal tests and individual medications for each parasite. One tablet and the parasites are gone. Ask your vet’s pharmacist to fill an RX for one Drontal tablet for your pet.

    You should also consider purchasing your pet’s monthly medications either online or over-the-counter, instead of at the veterinarian’s office. Even local drug stores are selling the most popular flea/tick and heartworm medications over the counter for a fraction of cost. If you shop online you can find even better deals on these and many other prescriptions for your pet, but you don’t need the prescription. If your pet takes allergy medicine, uses insulin, or even takes arthritis medication, you can find cheap deals online. You may want to try searching for antihistamines and glucosamine supplements at retail stores for the best deals. Unless you are absolutely set on spending more for beef flavored medications, you can save 75% or more, just buying the generic store brands. You can always wrap them in a small piece of cheese.

    You are special. You are the head of the household, you make a living for your family and you always seem to give your paycheck to everyone except yourself. There is a challenging thread that weaves through this concept. The idea that we pay for doctor visits, food, babysitters, mortgage, and our Sister-in-law’s birthday gift before we even get to consider “paying” ourselves. By paying ourselves, I mean the notion that we may actually have a few dimes to rub together for a savings account after everything else is paid for and covered.

    This is the worst concept ever considered by the working-class bill-payer. How would you or anyone else expect to have anything left-over for savings if you waited until you considered paying everyone else in the free world first? There is no logic in this; you will never be able to save any significant amount of money this way. It is logically impossible. The general consensus is that once you begin to pay bills you consider every aspect of what is going on in your life simultaneously. First you pay the most important bills first; food, mortgage, electric, ECT. Then you have to tend to the babysitter, the credit card collectors, and the internet and cable TV. Of course there is the wife’s Pilates group, the eating out expenses, and then there are the
    anniversary/birthday presents you have to cover in the next two weeks. How could anyone even consider saving anything at this rate? They couldn’t.

    The point here is that you need to step up for yourself, and the future of your family, and learn how to Pay Yourself First. Give yourself an allowance. Before you receive your next paycheck write down what your saving goals are. What do you want and how quickly do you want it? Do you want money for retirement or just for a vacation next year? Figure up the numbers and then divide that by the amount of time in which you wish to obtain it.

    Then when the big day comes (your next paycheck) cash that check with enthusiasm, knowing that the first person to receive money for you Is You! You deserve to own your own money; what a better plan than to have savings ready and available for your next vacation, or an unexpected situation. Once you realize the timeline that you have to work with you can learn to ration out the rest of your checks into portions. No more throwing your money to others without making sure that you are paying your own allowance.

    So, you are trying to budget your life and figure out the finances, but you are looking at one income for a 3+ person household. Can this work? Will we be able to pay the bills? What do we do? These are perilous questions, but instead of focusing on the what-if’s of life, for now, try to figure out the things that you c
    an do!
    One income is a tight financial outlook depending on the amount of the income. If the “bread-winner’s” income is still in-tact then the family may be ok for the time being, but what if the higher income individual lost their employment and you are stuck with a far meager living then you’ve had in the past. This means it is time to tighten up, buckle down, and do what you can right now, to prevent getting behind.

    Do you have an emergency savings fund? Any expendable cash that you can access fee-free to get yourselves set ahead by one month? Your goal for the moment should be to get as far ahead as you possibly can. This may entail dipping into an emergency-only savings account; canceling any completely unnecessary bills (trash pick-up, extra cable channels). Stop all automatic payments now, while you have the chance. If an automatic draft comes out of your account at a bad time, you will be even deeper in debt. Cancel any subscriptions that are not needed, or renewals to subscriptions that may be coming up (Gym memberships, magazines, unnecessary club dues). I personally believe that having an internet connection can be an extremely useful tool during tough times. Printable coupons, discount items, clubs like Freecycle and Craig’s List; all equal savings that can more than pay for your monthly connection.

    Your ability to be frugal is detrimental right now. Go online and search websites that promote plans for creating cheap meals. It is possible to feed a family of four for $180.00 a month as long as you plan ahead and cook in bulk. If you are dead-set on buying name brand toiletries and pet supplies, then be sure to check online in advance, for coupons (printable). Begin considering your insurance policies. From home and auto, to medical and dental; reducing your payments where it counts can equal a fifty percent savings in some cases. If you have a great driving record and have a loan-free automobile you can easily reduce your rate temporarily and get a great savings. You can even set up a date to automatically reinstall your previous policy coverage. Remember that the little expenses add up. The morning visit to the coffee-hut, the video game rentals, and the premium gasoline (which is not a mandatory requirement in your vehicle) can all be given up easily with no major impact. Be frugal and you can pull your family through a job loss. Ban-together, spend more time together (it’s free), and you may see that being frugal and eliminating unnecessary expenses can lead you to a simpler, and even a closer family life.