Homeownership Guidance, Advice and Blogs

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

Increasing your savings is (literally) a phone call away

It seems like there's always more to do than there is money left to do it with. While you may think it’s impossible to save cash without making huge sacrifices, here are some ways that you can save money on your monthly expenses by making a simple phone call.

Utilities: Most utility companies allow for budget billing, which is when your total expenses are averaged based on four to six months of previous usage. Another way to save on utilities is through energy savings programs, in which you commit to decreasing your consumption of air conditioning during the hottest times of the day. In exchange you get discounts on your electric bill.


Property taxes: Some cities and counties offer tax abatement or homestead exemptions.  In certain cities, seniors qualify for decreased property taxes as well. Finally, if you feel your home is being assessed at a higher value than it’s worth, request another review.

Cable/internet: I recently noticed that my cable/internet/phone bundle had increased significantly. The cable company kept inching up in price until it was too large to ignore.  I got a quote from another cable company and my cable provider lowered my bill to match the quote.

Credit cards: Provided you have a solid history of paying your bill on time, if your interest rate is high (check on sites like bankrate.com for average rates) there is a good chance that you can get it lowered by calling the card issuer. If they refuse to budge, check out creditcards.com and search for one with a lower interest rate and better perks. Many offer 0% balance transfers.

Store debit cards: Many stores offer debit cards with no interest. The benefit to you is the access to special sales; the benefit to them is that you’re likely to spend more at their store.

Car insurance: Shop around to see if you can get a lower rate. Also, if you can afford it, consider a higher deductible (I took mine up to $1,000 from $500, which lowered my monthly premium considerably). For those of you with cars older than 10 years, consider dropping the collision coverage, which is there to repair your car if you’re in an accident that’s your fault. The older the car gets, the less it costs to repair.

Each of these tactics can take less than an hour but provide huge savings. Time is money, and this is well worth it.

And so it is.