March Madness


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Time to Author those Brackets….Yahoo has a $5,000,000 contest…Who couldn’t use that? For tips check out the NCAA website.


The Advantages of Renting on a Budget

Compared to owning a home, living in an apartment rental is incredibly easy. Why do the work yourself when you can enjoy the following benefits:

· Dedicated property and maintenance staff to call if anything goes wrong

· No back-breaking snow shoveling, lawn maintenance or pool/sauna care

· One single monthly rent check usually pays for everything (instead of several separate bills and fees when you own a house or a condo)

You Get More for Your Money

Believe it or not, you can usually rent an apartment or house for much less than the cost of buying it – especially if you live in a larger city. And if you want to be right downtown, renting is almost always more affordable than owning a condo (and you get a lot more living space, as well, as downtown apartments are usually much larger than downtown condos).

As well, apartment renters don’t have to come up with the thousands of dollars in down payments, closing costs and fees for things such as building inspections, legal counsel, land transfer taxes and insurance.

And this doesn’t even factor in the cost of borrowing – in the first five years of ownership, most mortgage payments are applied only to the interest, not the capital. This is money that you won’t get back when you sell your home (and you’ll still have all the hassles and extra costs of putting your house on the market).

That Tax Break is Not Guaranteed

Getting a big tax break is supposed to be one of the greatest advantages of owning a home – but you can’t always rely on getting this break. If your annual mortgage interest payment, plus any other deductions you are entitled to, isn’t greater than your standard tax deductions, you will not receive any tax benefit from owning a house.

If you rent an apartment, however, you’ll always receive some form of tax relief, as a large portion of your rent is tax deductible every year.

Maximum Flexibility

Renting provides an enormous amount of flexibility. You can pack up and leave immediately at the end of your lease (which can be monthly or yearly, whatever best suits your lifestyle) – there’s no waiting to sell and no agonizing about the housing market before you move. For many people, the freedom to live where you want and when you want is a huge benefit that simply cannot be overlooked.

Minimum Risk

For homeowners, the stakes are enormously high should their finances crumble. When they can’t pay the mortgage, the lender has great leverage – the house and all the equity invested in it could be in jeopardy. That’s not to say there aren’t consequences if a tenant can’t pay the rent – but the financial devastation that comes with losing your home is far greater than being evicted from your apartment.

In addition, there are several social service programs that are run by all levels of government to help people in need pay their rent so they won’t be evicted. Are the banks as lenient or supportive when it comes time to pay the mortgage?

Ultimately, making the decision to either rent an apartment or buy a home involves much more than simply comparing rental rates, mortgage payments, lease lengths and tax breaks. It’s a combination of all of the personal circumstances happening in your life – both now and several years down the road.

McCutchen, Steve “The Advantages of Renting an Apartment vs. Owning a Home.” The Advantages of Renting an Apartment vs. Owning a Home. 6 Nov. 2007 16 Aug. 2011 <­Advantages-­of-­Renting-­an-­Apartment-­vs.-­Owning-­a-­Home&id=820026>

Decorating on a Budget

After all the cash you had to shell out for security deposits, parking fees, cable installation, moving trucks and late-night “I’m-too-tired-to-cook” pizzas, your decorating budget might be depleted to close to nothing. refuses to let you live in an unfinished apartment for months, here’s a few ideas that will help spice up your place for less than you imagine.

Design Basics

Make retail décor a last resort. Go to rummage sales, antique malls, flea markets and resale shops and look for shabby chic pieces (soft florals, pastels, slightly chipped paint, old-fashioned lace) or classic details (wrought iron, vintage prints, antiqued furniture).

  • Paint produces the most dramatic change for the least amount of money. Check with your landlord first, though, to make sure it’s okay to paint. Your landlord may request to see what color you’re planning to paint as well.

Main Living Space

  • Choose pieces for function versus form. A cluttered room never looks good, so keep it simple. Look for a table with drawers and foot rests or side tables that open up for storage. Consider purchasing a sofa sleeper for guests.
  • Pick a central focal point; it should not be the television. Don’t feel obligated to push furniture against the walls as you can create extra space and a cozier seating area if you create a smaller central area.
  • Make your own window coverings or slip covers by purchasing fabric that you like and then looking online for instructions on how to fashion it. You can also ask for help at a fabric store.
  • Pick out a few simple pieces that you really enjoy to add personality to the room. A simple coffee table centerpiece or a fireplace mantle decoration can add much more sophistication than a dozen cluttered pieces.
  • Use three-way bulbs to create pools of warm light around the room. You’ll have bright light when you need it and a softer light for a cozy ambiance.


  • Update appliances like the coffee maker and toaster. Choose a similar style and color.
  • Store bread, fruit and other foods you normally leave on the counter in attractive baskets or bins.
  • Remove clutter. Simplify your kitchen so that only the things you use often are taking up space.
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