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Common money missteps

Time for some tough Tightwad love! Here are some common mistakes that are easy to fix. Spring is the perfect time to recalibrate your finances.
Dream of big tax returns Of course we all hope for big tax return so we can pay down debt or finally buy that new patio set. Unfortunately, receiving a large tax return means you're withholding too much from your pay and subsequently missing out on income throughout the year.
Fail to shop around Whether it's a new carburetor or even dental work; get as many quotes as possible. Ask friends for recommendations and let bidders know you're receiving shopping around.
Hoard cash Letting a change collection take over cabinet space is imprudent. Let it work for you by investing it, or deposit it into an interest-earning savings account. If you have a high-deductible health plan, divert some of your pay tax-free or put a portion into an education savings fund for your kids.
Ignore automatic payments They are very convenient and help you avoid late fees, but you should still review your payment details and statements to ensure you are not being overcharged with extra fees or services.
Ignore gift cards This is a waste of money… especially true since you can sell them for cash using, where you can receive up to 92% of your card's value.
Ignore opportunities If your employer offers a retirement matching plan and you don't open an account… that’s dumb.
Live beyond your means Using credit to fund your lifestyle will ALWAYS backfire.
Overdraft your account Tie your chequing account to your savings account to avoid overdraft fees, or ask that your debit card be declined in the event of insufficient funds.
Pay for free services Whether is free kid’s meals, ATM fees, texting packages or just taking advantage of your local library – there are opportunities available to help boost your budget.
Pay for things you don't use Do you watch the hundreds of channels that come with your expensive cable subscription? Use all the data and minutes associated with your cell phone plan? Some stats report that 80% of cell phone users overpay on their plans by up to $200 a year (ABC News).
Procrastinate There is such a thing as last-minute deals, but ultimately they're few and far between. Whether you're booking travel or considering opening an emergency savings, putting off things off can cost you dearly.
Use credit cards without rewards Make your credit work for you! Whether it's cash back, gift cards or travel points, your credit card should offer perks that help offset the cost of everyday purchases or occasional luxuries.

Upgrade your living room for less

When the atmosphere gets stale at home, there are several easy ways to make improvements. One of the most popular rooms to refresh is the living room or family room. This makes perfect sense because it is one of the places that families spend the most time together. Changing the look of the room can bring a family closer together because the room feels more welcoming with fresh decor. Sometimes redecorating a room can bring renewed creativity and inspiration to family and friends.
Make accessories One of the most cost-efficient ways to redecorate a room is to make some of the artwork. The great thing about this option is that it allows the homeowner to customize the decor to their preferences. Using creative techniques like painting pottery, making abstract art, and embellishing items is a fun way to make the space unique.
Buy from hardware stores An easy way to change the feel of a room is by changing out hardware on cabinets, doors and windows. Using sliding door hardware on French doors and sliding patio doors is a quick way to begin a room remodel. Hardware is easy to buy in bulk and most pieces are simple to assemble. A screwdriver and a pair of pliers are the only tools necessary to install door handles and locks.
Get creative with linens Using fleece fabric, sheets and curtains to make throw pillows is the perfect way to freshen up a room. Bold patterns add a pop of color that can complement the overall design.
Shop at second-hand stores Thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets are the perfect places to find household items and decor at a low price. Often many new items are sold with the original tags and packaging and gives you a chance to try the design before committing a large amount of money to a remodeling project.
Trade with friends When friends are thinking about changing the look of their decor, offering to switch items is a great way to redecorate for free. Adding sequins to throw pillows or putting tassels on curtains lets each person change details while keeping the style of the decor. (This option works best when the two room designs are opposites).
Upgrade dollar store décor Adding feathers, crystals or buttons to dollar store pieces is a great way to liven up a room and give it some style. Trimming pillows with satin ribbons or sewing buttons in a pattern can make a simple item look like a designer item. Buying clear glass vases and adding colorful stones is another idea.

Keeping stuff you will never use?

Decluttering your home is certainly a tedious task that takes much time and effort. The worst part of all is that even after you spend hours going through things, you end up with a pile of clothes and objects that you simply can't throw out. Typically you get rid of a little part of the unnecessary staff and in the process decide to keep most of it – not the best strategy for a streamlined home.
Now may be your time to start getting serious about downsizing. Even though this may sound like an easy thing to do, once you start doing the cleaning and the organisation you will find out that it's not. Focus only on the important items and throw out everything else you won't need in the future. Speed up the process with these tips:
Sort through everything The decluttering process will be faster if you designate different boxes for the things which you plan to toss out, the things you plan to keep and one more for things which you can donate or give away. This simple system will help you sort through your things faster.
Toss out the old clothes The hardest thing for some people is to part with is clothes, mainly because they are memory holders. This can be such an issue that in the end nothing gets downsized. Don't get distracted by putting on old dresses and other clothes – it takes time and brings on nostalgia. Just give each piece a quick look and make a snap decision. 
Donate the baby stuff or give them to a friend who can use them. They aren’t getting any use in a box in the attic.
Don't keep old appliances You probably got new ones because they old ones are broken. They take up lots of space and use lots of electricity. Go on your local municipality website for proper disposal channels.
Approach the big job of decluttering room by room and you will find that with commitment and decisive action you can clear the clutter and enjoy your home more.

Breathe new life into your cucina

It may seem difficult to update the look of a kitchen without investing thousands of dollars in new cabinets, counter tops and flooring. It is true that these expensive features are among the most visible and thus influential features in kitchen décor. However, there are some affordable ways to update the style in your kitchen without emptying your bank account with a complete kitchen renovation. Consider how you can implement some or all of these design ideas to see transformational results on a dime.
Update hardware Budget-minded kitchens may not have knobs and pulls on the cabinets and drawers at all, and older kitchens may have outdated hardware that is no longer stylish. Both of these can detract from the style of the kitchen. You can easily improve the look of your kitchen with a trendy edge when you invest in affordable yet stylish hardware. Think about the new look that you want to achieve with kitchen decor. For example, barn door sliding hardware can give your kitchen a rustic yet upscale look. You can find numerous hardware options online, and installing them is a simple DIY project.
Repaint the trim One of the newest trends in home décor is to use darker colors with trim and moldings. If your home is like most, it has white or beige trim. However, it is increasingly common to use dramatic colors like charcoal gray or even midnight black for trim colors. This is typically offset with a more neutral color on the walls, but you can also use lighter shades of tinted colors to create contrast without forsaking color in your kitchen. This is an affordable project that most can complete in a weekend.
Replace the back splash The back splash is a permanent feature, just as the counters and cabinets are. However, this is among the easier and more affordable features to replace. You could choose to use a pricey option, like travertine tile. However, there are affordable discount tiles available at many local stores. You can also use metallic square tiles, which are simply tacked into place. These are available in trendy colors, such as muted silver and copper. Copper is increasingly being used in homes as a metal finish of choice, but it likely is still several years away from being as popular as brushed nickel or rubbed bronze.
Add new light fixtures Light fixtures have an influential impact on style in a kitchen due to their physical style as well as the type of light that they cast in the room. To achieve improved style, think about your need for both direct lighting for work areas and ambient lighting to set the mood. Under-cabinet lighting can be great for ambient lighting, and you can install affordable rope lights under your cabinets with ease. Recessed lighting can also be used with new pendant lights for additional flair. When you choose these features, pay attention to the finish that you have selected for use with your hardware and other updated features.
You may need to replace your cabinets, counter tops and flooring in your kitchen at some point, but in the meantime breathe life into your kitchen on a budget and extend the life of your more expensive features when you focus on some of these affordable design ideas.

Unbolted, a new way of lending

Taking influence from market leaders Wonga, but with plenty of their own additions, founders Rito Haldar and Ashwin Parameswaran already have customers wanting to try out their new system that benefits the asset-rich but cash-poor, a state of affairs that is increasingly common. 

The Financial Technology Company, also known as a ‘FinTech’ start-up offers market-leading rates on loans taken out against the luxury items of the loanee, between 1.5% and 3%. Borrowers apply for these loans at exceptionally low rates by uploading a photo of anything from their jewelry, watches or even cars to ''

On the subject of his newly thriving start-up, co-founder Rito Haldar said, “We set up Unbolted because we want to challenge the way people can access credit through other secured lenders. We’ll do that by being transparent, offering fairer terms, cheaper rates and a convenient, easy-to-use online service that puts consumers firmly in control of their borrowing.”

Unbolted uses a peer-to-peer online model that strips out many costs and ensures customers benefit from lower rates than typical larger loan companies or pawnbrokers, making short-term borrowing affordable and simple to help asset-rich but cash-poor individuals and business owners There’s little doubt that Rito has big plans for the expansion of his business, and with the initial statistics he is right to be optimistic about the future. At a time when the traditional payday loan companies are under intense scrutiny, Rito and Ashwin’s business represents a welcome new face on the block with an innovative way of doing things. 

Ashwin noted, “There’s a certain stigma attached to the pawnbroker industry, which is in real need of a shake-up. We’re aiming to remove this stigma and create a new financing option that benefits more people. We hope people consider us when they come to review their borrowing options. The reality is that in difficult times people sometimes do need extra cash and through Unbolted they now have a smarter, fairer and more sustainable way to do just that.” 

The service was launched shortly after Christmas, when many people are looking to consolidate debts or look for short-term finance options in a cost-effective and convenient way.

As long customers are over the age of 18 and have an asset they can borrow against; the service is available to them. Make sure, however, to consider all options and seek advice from friends and family before taking out a loan of any size.

Do women pay more for mortgages?

Do woman pay more for mortgages? If so, why?
The short answer to whether women actually pay more for mortgages is yes, in many cases they do. Women are better budgeters and carry less debt than men, and they certainly hold positions in the work force that are equal to or above many men. So, why do they pay more for mortgages?
Possible reasons Every situation is different, but some of the reasons that women pay more for mortgages has to do with their own personalities and characteristics than it does lenders being unnecessarily hard on them. There was a study conducted that found many women will end up signing a mortgage agreement that isn’t ideal to their lifestyle or financial situation. Men, on the other hand, will take longer to shop around, looking for a mortgage solution that works best for them. And it isn’t because men are any smarter than women, it’s because they tend to gravitate toward lenders they like personally, even if the overall deal isn’t as good. Basically, they may sign with a lender they feel comfortable with or feel good about, even if they don’t offer the best rates. Women will also sign on with a lender that was recommended by a friend or family member, rather than throw loyalty aside and just go for the best rates.
Possible solutions For women to get deals that are on par with what men get, it’s important for them to ask for what they want. Quite often, asking for a better rate will result in a better rate, and women are more reluctant to ask. It’s important to keep in mind that lenders negotiate all the time, and prospective homeowners ask for better rates all the time. You won’t be offending anyone or ruining your chances at a good deal by asking.
Find a broker Whether you’re male or female, seeking out a mortgage broker to help with your deal can often get better rates than you’d ever get looking on your own. This is especially true if you’re shy or don’t feel comfortable shopping around and asking for lower rates. Mortgage brokers have access to several different lenders, and they are definitely searching for the best deal on your behalf. They are obligated to use specific products or services, and they can take a lot of the pressure off you during the search. There’s no reason for a woman to pay more for a mortgage, and a good broker can help make it happen.
Author Bio: Jonathan Baker is working as a consultant for finance and education at Ontario. He stays updated about the latest news and trends in finance world and shares his insights through his blogs. You can follow him on twitter.