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Living on a Budget
by Jeanne Lee, AARP The Magazine, September/October 2010 issue
Bargain with brokers
In today’s lackluster housing market, real-estate agents and mortgage pros are increasingly willing to give buyers significant discounts, says Leamy. Be bold and negotiate. Your agent might accept a 2 percent fee instead of the traditional 3 percent. The difference would knock $2,000 off the commission on a $200,000 house.
Choose a 15-year mortgage
With a 30-year, 5 percent, $200,000 mortgage, you’ll end up paying $186,513 in interest. With a 15-year, 4.5 percent mortgage, your monthly payment will be about $450 higher but your total interest will be only $75,397.
If you’re in your 50s, a shorter-term mortgage also means you can pay off the note by the time you retire or soon after, says Glink, whose most recent book is Buy, Close, Move In!
Chop your renovation costs
If you’re renovating your home, let your keyboard do the walking to save on building materials. "You may be able to go online and find boxes of discounted tile at a fraction of the price at a local store," says David Lupberger, a home-improvement expert with ServiceMagic, an Internet-based contractor-referral service. Just search the Web for “discontinued” or "discount" and the type of material you need.
Shave the cost of warranties
Many consumer advocates say you should skip extended warranties on appliances, which can cost as much as $300 per appliance for five years of coverage. If you feel you must have a warranty, consider a package deal. GreenUmbrella.com, for example, charges $9.95 a month and covers an unlimited number of appliances for up to four years from their purchase date. All Six Warranty provides coverage for six major appliances, regardless of age, for $19.95 a month, plus $50 per repair (with a lifetime coverage limit of $1,500 per appliance). If the appliance can’t be fixed, GreenUmbrella may reimburse you for the original purchase price, whereas All Six will replace the product with a comparable new model.
Get a Fridge, Snag a Rebate
You may still be able to get $50 to $500 back from your state for buying an energy-efficient appliance. It’s a limited fund—first come,first served. Check out energysavers.gov/rebates for details.
Don't just take our experts' words for it—we want to hear how you're cutting costs. E-mail us your best money-saving advice!
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