Google listens!

Last week, I erroneously reported that Google was watching me (in this post at Housewife Eclectic). Today, I'll explain the real relationship (or more than that ;) that I have with Google:
image source
Thanks for reading!

Let's Hear It For the Boys: Baby Cyclist Romper

Cheri from I Am Momma - Hear Me Roar is hosting a great boy-centered contest:

I Am Momma Hear Me Roar

What's it all about? Just tops for boys -- any kind of top is fair game, it just must be made between when Cheri announced the contest (about a month ago) and the link up party today. So I put mine together yesterday. :)

My brother and his wife are expecting a little boy in about 6 weeks (and if either of them are reading this, they should look away now... and the rest of you are sworn to silence). They are both cyclists. Like real clip-in-shoes and train-inside-in-the-winter cyclists (which may make your neighbors think you are housing a meth lab, apparently).

They are cyclists to the point that they love watching the races on TV and even nick-named their unborn son after one of their favorite cyclists. Thus was born the baby cyclist romper:

As part of a preliminary search to see if such a thing already existed, I saw this one on eBay and thought (as every DIYer does regularly), "I can make that. And I can make it better."

So I used one of my little guy's outgrown rompers as a pattern and got down to work. As I created my freezer paper pattern, I lengthened the sleeves a bit and then lengthened and tapered the legs of the shorts to give them more of a spandex-short look. I contemplated adding the crotch padding that cyclists find so important, but decided that a diaper would probably be sufficient padding. (I can't figure why all cyclists don't just go that route ;)

I also added the front half-zipper (partly because the zipper I purchased was too short to be a full-front zipper) and the mandarin-style collar to complete the jersey look. A million thanks to Tricia for her pattern and technique advice -- it worked like a charm, Tricia!

I made this version out of some old tshirts I had been saving to make another tshirt quilt, but I think the next version I'll try using some of the dancewear-type knit since it has more of the proper jersey "sheen" to it, as my husband says. Using the tshirts, the cost of the romper was around $1 for the zipper (on sale). Suh-weet!

And, of course, I'll print the next version with some of the proper sponsors for a budding infant cyclist: I hear that Gerber and Baby Einstein are looking for better product placement in France. And won't this little guy and his cousin be the perfect spokesbabies?

PS - Did you know that Cheri's husband is a cyclist? It makes me feel kind of like a stalker to know that, but it's fun to think that, no matter what the judges of the competition think, there is at least one other crafter who shares some cycling connection. :)

Also linking to:

Skinny-Hip to Maternity Skirt Refashion

The fabulous Gwen of Gwenny Penny is part of a great new "thing" -- Point of View: a creative collaboration. The idea is that the six Point of View members each share their take on each month's theme and host a linky party where all the rest of us can also share our takes on the same theme. I love seeing how different creative minds work!

This month's theme is skirts, so that was the kickstart that I needed to finally complete this project that I've had sitting in my messy craft closet for well over 6 months:

I started with this cute skirt that I've had since high school (and probably haven't ironed since then either, judging from the wrinkles...):

High school really wasn't long ago on the calendar, but as far as changing body types go -- after college and a baby -- it may as well have been a different lifetime, you know?

I held out hope that I'd be able to wear this skirt again because I loved it so much. I gave up hope when this past summer, at the fittest I've ever been in my LIFE... it still didn't fit. More accurately: it fit in the waist, but not in the hips.

Hmm... apparently this is why (most) moms can't shop in the juniors section any more -- we actually have HIPS. I have no problem with my mom-body (at least most days ;) and its accompanying hips, so I didn't want to be the mom-in-denial who was still trying to squeeze into the skinny-hip skirt. But I also didn't want to let go of the skirt because it is my favorite spring and summer skirt.

So, I dismantled the skirt

made and inserted box-pleated panels 

and added a nice (tapered) knit waistband

to accommodate the growing bump that is housing this little one:

And don't worry... you won't see this little floating baby thing probably ever again because I think this widget is CREEPY. Did you see you can even tickle the baby? And it laughs? Creepy.
The finished skirt fits great and will be fantastic to wear all warm-weather-season long!

I have many plans for adding similar box-pleats to a couple other skirts that I'd love to have fit my hips again, and for the next five months in particular. :)

And, speaking of box-pleats, my friend Aubrielle from Black Persephone just posted an awesome tutorial for this super cute (and easy) box-pleat top:

Don't you just LOVE it? The top is part of her El Cheapo event where she has shared these awesome under $5 crafts:
Personalized photo frame
Mitten monster
Natural green wreath
Reusable gingerbread house
A true SCRAP book
Microwave birthday brownies

And, to finish it out, she's giving away TWO of the crafts to two randomly chosen readers -- just pop on over and tell her which is your favorite!

Housewife MacGyver: Shop Savvy with Savvy Shopper Deals

Finishing up our month of finances, Amy the Savvy Shopper (at least for us Utah folks) is here to share two big "secrets" of the couponing world. Amy is the couponer behind my favorite coupon resource, Savvy Shopper Deals, and her new blog, A Savvy Life. Both are GREAT resources and Amy is one amazing woman (and couponer) and I'm so happy to have her here today!

I was so excited when Lorene of JustLu asked me to do a guest post on her blog!  I must admit, I'm fairly new to the blogging world, as my blog, ASavvyLife, has only been around for about 6 months, so Lorene had to patiently walk me through how this all works :-)

So where have I been if I haven't been blogging all my life?  Couponing my guts out!  I started my career as a deal seeking maven in the LA area soon after graduating with a degree in Advertising from BYU.  With the cost of food, housing, and just breathing triple what I was used to, I quickly learned that couponing could be a significant way to contribute to our household "income".   3 kids later and a move back to Utah brought me fortuitously to where I am now known as The Savvy Shopper for the state of Utah.  I love my savvy life, as hectic as it may be, and am honored to help over 20,000 families save thousands of dollars a year on their grocery bills and hopefully help them develop a better hold on financial security in their lives.

As an avid couponer for the last 18 years, I employ a variety of savings strategies to boost my shopping power at the store.  Whether it's coupon matching, price point comparisons or multiple newspaper subscription purchases, saving money at the grocery store can certainly become a chore for many shoppers.  However, a few key insights in to how store sales are actually run can minimize shopping trips and maximize grocery budget savings!

One little understood ad tactic is called "Loss Leader Advertising."  At it's core, this is a simple method by which grocers and retailers alike, attempt to draw shoppers in to their stores on a weekly basis.  In basic terms, Loss Leaders are all items displayed on the front page of any grocery or retail sales flyer. (Loss leader produce buys can also be found in the top section on the back page of grocery ads.)  These groceries or even clothing and other household products are drastically discounted in order to excite shoppers into running out to the store and saving big bucks!

In essence, these companies are trying to Lead you in to their store by taking a Loss on the products they're advertising.  They're not necessarily taking a loss in revenue for selling the products so cheap, though sometimes they are.  Typically, they just aren't making as much money as they normally would.  The goal in putting low cost items on the front page of an ad is to get shoppers into the store in the hopes they will buy the rest of their needed grocery items or other non-sale items while they're in the store scoring the advertised hot deals!  Basically, they want you to buy not only what's on page 1, but what's also on page 2, 3, 4 and even extra items not advertised.

However, Smart Shoppers stick with page 1!  (That's not to say that with a few great coupons you can't snag some amazing deals throughout the rest of the ad as well!!)  If you are just starting out in trying to build your food storage or trying to simply shop a little savvier, stick to page 1 of any sale ad and you'll be sure to stretch your budget a little further!

Secondly, it's important to understand how these loss leader sale items tie in to sale cycles and when you should stock up on products for your family!  Hot loss leader sales don't happen just every once in a while, they happen every month.  And quite noticeably, the same product lines go on sale again and again, at approximately 3 month intervals.  Have you every noticed how often Betty Crocker Cake Mix or Quaker Oatmeal go on sale?  Did you know that almost every single item stocked at a grocery store goes on sale at least once every 3 months?  It's true!

That means you should consider planning your grocery purchases to match these 3 month cycles.  You don't need to buy a years supply of Campbell's soup in one shopping trip especially if you don't have money in the budget to do so (unless it's a truly amazing sale of course ;-).  You can still fill the shelves in your pantry quite well by planning on making bulk buys in quarterly installments instead of all at once.  Sometimes this makes "stocking up" easier on the wallet!

Knowing how sales work is half the battle in winning big savings at the grocery store! Shopping with your 2 year old who keeps screaming he needs a sucker is the other!

Thanks, Amy! Even though I'm still not yet an avid couponer, I try to employ these two tactics each week I go grocery shopping and I feel much savvier!

For the rest of my shopping, I receive the ads in my mailbox, but I rarely actually look at them (beyond the front page, of course). Why? Because I use the Shopping Wizard at Savvy Shopper Deals. This is my favorite. thing. EVER. 

What is it? It's a database of all the grocery ads that Amy (and her helpers) put together for each sales flyer, and even sometimes for unadvertised sales. The sale items are grouped by their section in the store (dairy, produce, canned goods, etc) and ranked by both a percent savings (before and after a coupon) and Amy's own ranking system of WOW!, Great, and Good deals. The Shopping Wizard is easy to search and lets you easily build a shopping list that you can print and take with you to the store (unless you forget it at home like I often do ;).

Savvy Shopper Deals has so many other great resources, too, like a great coupon index, printable coupons, and deal forums. You can also sign up to receive weekly emails of the latest deals and freebies and check out the calendar to see day-specific deals (like free pancakes at Dennys or Facebook freebies) as well as couponing classes taught by Amy and her couponing cohorts. You will need to set up an account and set your location before you can see the locals deals, but Amy does both local and national deals.

**This is not a paid testimonial and I was not compensated in any way. I just love Savvy Shopper Deals!**

For more information and to see a complete list of Housewife MacGyver topics and articles, check out this page

Thanks for reading!

Google is watching me

And today their eyes are pointed at Housewife Eclectic. Go there to learn why I'm fairly certain that Google is stalking me... and what I'm suggesting since I've got their attention. :)

Thanks for reading!

Housewife MacGyver: Save Money with Couponing 101

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to Stephanie from Couponing 101:

Stephanie is a young Christian mom of two who generously shares all of her couponing and money-saving know-how with all of us through her blog at Couponing 101.

What does couponing have to do with becoming a Housewife MacGyver? In a tough economy, I often feel like I've cut back on unnecessary expenses and reined in other expenses, but still wish I could spend less money on the things that we HAVE to have -- things like groceries and household cleaning supplies. That's where couponing comes in -- allowing you to stretch that dollar a little bit farther, and buy more with your money, as well as building up a stockpile of the items that your family uses regularly to save on the the last-minute and potentially costly costly I just need one thing trips to the grocery store. 
Couponing 101 is one of the first couponing sites I started to follow when I decided to try the couponing thing almost 2 years ago, and it's still one of my *favorite* sites. It's a great place both to get started learning about couponing and to see the latest and greatest deal matchups and freebies.

Stephanie has a fantastic Getting Started section on the site that really will tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about how to start couponing, including what every couponer needs to know, a beginner's guide to couponing, and couponing terms and abbreviations.

In addition to giving readers the best deals at many national stores, Stephanie also does an amazing job of teaching us how to find deals on our own, in our own local stores. The Teach a (Wo)Man How to Fish series explains
One thing that really sets Couponing 101 apart from many other couponing sites, in my experience, is that it is SO well organized. Stephanie does a fantastic job of organizing all of the information and weekly deals so that they're easy to find, easy to understand, and easy to know what dates they are valid. She also maintains an *awesome* coupon database so when you are thinking that there must be a coupon out for that -- just check the database and you'll know!

I asked Stephanie a few quick questions about couponing and her experiences:

What do you see as the biggest misconception or "myth" about couponing and couponers?

The biggest myth would probably be that all coupons are for junk food! I recently transitioned to a whole foods diet and I am still using coupons! I definitely don't use as many coupons as I used to, but I still use them regularly. I have found coupons for fresh or organic products like eggs, cheese, flour, pineapple, lettuce, clementines, milk, and many others! You don't have to live on a diet of sugary cereal and toaster pastries if you're interested in couponing!

Can you share your best or worst couponing experience with us?

I've had plenty of bad couponing experiences, but I like to focus on the positive! I actually had a wonderful coupon experience lately that was due to a very sweet cashier. She actually got excited over my coupons and made me feel like a rock star! I wish all cashiers had such a positive attitude about coupons and saving money. She totally made my day!

What one piece of advice would you give to beginning couponers?

Start slow and don't expect to save 90% on your first shopping trip.
Many beginners see the successes of veteran couponers and expect to be able to achieve that same level of savings on their first trip. When they don't, they get discouraged and quit. It takes a little while to build your coupon stash and grocery stockpile before you can start seeing regular high savings. Just remember, even if you only save $1 this week, that's still saving your family money! Be proud of every dollar you save!

Thanks, Stephanie -- and be sure to check out Couponing 101, whether you're an experienced couponer or just wanting to get started.

For more information about the whole Housewife MacGyver series, see this post.

My Financial Craftiness: The Quarter Shirt

My sister-in-law, Dusty, turned 25 last month. It's a milestone -- quarter century, you know -- and she mentioned that she would love to have a shirt with a quarter on it and wear it every day until she turned 26. You know, to commemorate her quarter century of living.

So, Silvia and I got right down to business and cranked out this little puppy and its companion pillow (made from the negative space of the design used on the t-shirt):
The bag followed a tutorial that is no longer available online. :(

And what better time to share it than during our month of becoming a financial Housewife MacGyver, right? :)

This was my first time ever using (as well as seeing, touching, and feeling) heat transfer with Silvia, and I have only one word:


Okay, maybe three more:

love love LOVE

Are you getting the heat-transfer-love here? My love could only increase if the stuff was more readily available in a store here instead of having to buy it online. My local Roberts' ladies looked at me like I was crazy when I asked about heat transfer, but luckily one of them had heard something or other and was able to show me that they do, in fact stock two types of heat transfer: black flat and black flocked.

Luckily, black was just the color I was looking for. Or at least close to the gray I was looking for.  I went with flocked because... why not?

Anyway, back to the heat-transfer-love... Once I got the design made and cut on my Silhouette, it was SO easy to go from cut heat transfer to finished shirt. After weeding (and the weeding was EASY even with my intricate design) -- 5 minutes. After the initial hour of first-time project jitters. :)

I have a tutorial coming for you, but since it's a Silhouette tutorial, the technical writer in me is screaming to start from the beginning -- start with the basics and then get into the fun projects.

So, dear readers, what do you prefer? Do you have a Silhouette and want just the fun project tutorial? Or do you have a Silhouette and want to start with the basics and get the fun tutorial in a couple of weeks? Or do you not have a Silhouette and are green with envy and would like me to stop even saying the word Silhouette? Let me know... your wish is my command. :)

Linking up with
Tip Junkie handmade projects

St. Patrick's Day Button Rainbow

I think this is the most on-time I've ever been for a holiday craft! My Christmas craft never really got started, and my Valentine's project is half-finished in a box somewhere... so even though it might be technically kind of late (day-of...) -- woohoo! I have some holiday decor. :)

I was inspired by this printable from Funky Polkadot Giraffe. I don't do printables very often because I don't have a color printer. Correction: I have a color printer but am too cheap to buy the color cartridges. :)

So I made the real-life version. Total cost: $1.50. Love that. :)

I purchased one package of buttons at Joann's, on sale, that had enough red, orange, yellow, and green buttons (it said 130 buttons) and then added the blue and purple buttons I had left over from the felt game board.

The buttons are each sewn on... but only after I used tacky glue to hold them to the backing fabric. :) They would have held up with just the glue, but I like the look of the stitched buttons. 

The rest of the materials are from my stash. The cloud is just two layers of fabric and two layers of quilt batting scraps from my son's baby quilt, sewed right sides together and turned and then embroidered. The batting was supposed to be between the two layers of fabric but... that's a hazard of sewing late at night... It's a cloud (in case you couldn't see that...), so I actually really like the fluffy edges. :)

And the gold coins are -- this is my favorite part -- BRADS! Just plain ol' office brads. I was SO happy when I thought of it. :)

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

And I have another fun project to share tomorrow. And another one next week. I'm on a roll. I'm definitely out of the crafting funk -- woohoo! Oh, and more great Housewife Macgyver stuff coming up, too!

All about email subscriptions

Happy Wednesday! I'm over at Housewife Eclectic today talking about email subscriptions for your blog -- the pros and cons and how to set one up using Feedburner.

And don't forget to come join in our just Housewives March Madness Bracket Challenge -- really, it's for everyone! We don't care if you actually know or understand anything about the sport. :)

just Housewives March Madness Bracket Challenge

I confess... I love sports. Especially college sports. And I LOVE March Madness because college basketball is my fave. 

Do you love sports? 
Hate sports? 
Not understand sports?

We don't care either way -- come join the just Housewives March Madness Bracket Challenge

Debra from Housewife Eclectic and I are hosting and it's just for fun. Who knows -- you could end up beating all the men in your life! (In the figurative sense, not the literal with-a-club beating.) March Madness is partly luck that way. My son was 6 months old last year and led our bracket group until the last round -- all by picking either the apple or the orange when Daddy named the teams. :)

We're running the challenge through the CBS Sports app on Facebook, so you won't have to sign up for any extra accounts (unless you aren't a Facebook user), and you won't get all the sports headline email updates that come with signing up on the regular CBS Sports (and other sports networks) sites. :)

Click here to join our group and fill out your bracket. You have until Thursday, March 17 at noon, eastern time (if we understand the rules correctly). And if you're not convinced yet, keep reading. :) 

*We're not compensated in any way for using the CBS Sports app -- it's just a good one that's easy to use.

What is March Madness?
March Madness is a common name for the annual NCAA (college) basketball season tournament. 68 teams from across the nation are selected to play in a single-elimination bracket: you lose, you're out.**

The full tournament bracket is split into four divisions -- East, West, Southwest, and Southeast -- to tell you where the games are played, not where the teams are from.

Teams coming into the tournament are assigned a number, called a seed. Each division has 16 teams, numbered 1-16. The lower the number, the higher the seed -- and the better the team is expected to do. If the bracketologists (the people who assign the seeds and decides who plays who) were 100% correct, the four teams remaining in the Final Four (the semifinals) would be the four #1 seeds... but that doesn't usually happen. :)

When a team with a lower seed (a higher number) beats a team with a higher seed (a lower number), that is called an upset -- an unexpected outcome. Upsets are what make March Madness fun!

**Until this year, there have been only 64 teams, but the powers that be have added 4 more teams this year, meaning that there will be four games played beforehand -- the winners of these games will go in the "First Four" team slots on your bracket. 

How does the bracket work?
Just log into Facebook and go here to join the just Housewives group -- that's where all the readers of this blog and Housewife Eclectic are congregating to enjoy The Madness.

The bracket standings -- which of us participating are "winning" -- are determined by a point system, and each round a correct pick is worth more points:
  • 2nd round = 1 pt
  • 3rd round = 2 pts
  • 4th round (aka Sweet 16) = 4 pts
  • 5th round (aka Elite 8) = 8 pts
  • 6th round (aka Final 4) = 16 pts
  • 7th round (final round) = 32 pts
So, if you pick the national champion correctly, you'll earn a minimum of  63 points. If you pick every game correctly, you'll earn 192 points. And be on every talk show and magazine cover in America.

How do I fill out my bracket?
Once you've logged in, allowed the application, and joined the just Housewives group, click the little Brackets tab-looking thing and then scroll down and click on the bracket to fill it out. It will open in a pop-up window -- mine opened behind all my other windows, so watch for it. :)

In that window, you'll just select which team you think will win each game. When the team name is highlighted, click to select them as the winner of the game in that bracket:

After your 63 clicks, just make it 64 by clicking save.

 Then click on Groups and select the just Housewives group to see who else has submitted their brackets and what else is going on with the group. You can see who is winning in our group by clicking the Standings tab (once the games have begun on Thursday afternoon), trash-talk (in one form or another) on the Smash tab, and see the current games and scores by clicking the Scoreboard tab.

You can fill out and change your brackets until Thursday at noon (Eastern time, I believe) -- once the games start Thursday afternoon, your brackets are locked and you can no longer change your picks.

To get back to the bracket challenge app in Facebook, you'll find it either in the left sidebar:

or by starting a search for Sports Brackets:

 If you want to see your bracket on paper (or maybe compare it to your husband's by hanging them on your fridge ;), you can print out a bracket here (or by clicking the print link beneath your bracket) -- but remember that we fellow Housewives will only be able to see it if you go new school and fill it out on FB.

What does the winner get? Why should I play?
The winner gets... fame and glory. Maybe something cool if Debra and I can scrounge something up, or if one of you would love to sponsor the challenge.

You should play because... it's fun. You might even enjoy it. Especially if your husband loves sports, take some time to be interested in what he's interested in -- it's a good exercise for your marriage. :)

You don't have to watch the games if you don't want to... but you might like it once you try it. I'm sure your husband wouldn't turn down hosting a March Madness party, and then you can make the cute table settings and fun food and enjoy that just as much as he enjoys the games. :)

And if/when you have questions about the tournament, ask us. Debra and I both love college basketball -- and our alma mater is in the tournament this year, go Aggies! -- and our husbands know pretty much everything there is to know about most sports. Not kidding in the least. My husband might not remember our son's birthdate, but he can remember the most random sports facts from before he was even alive. If you don't believe it, just ask your question. :)

Happy bracketing!
And don't forget to invite your friends... or enemies :)

Housewife MacGyver: Home Buying Finance with Fiscally Chic

Our guest today will knock your socks off -- not only is Cathy gorgeous, she knows stuff. About finance, of course, among other sorts of other things. She is a a full-fledged accountant who blogs regularly at Fiscally Chic and she's here with us today to talk about the basics of buying a home and the whole mortgage thing -- a process that she is in the middle of since she and her husband have found their home and had their offer accepted by the seller! Here's Cathy:

Good morning, Housewife MacGyver’s! I’m Cathy from Fiscally Chic. Generally, I share ideas for “saving money with style.” I also post recipes, talk about running, and share other random things that inspire me. We’re in the process of buying a house, so let’s discuss what’s going on in my life: the mortgage. Since that’s a pretty wide topic in itself, I figured I’d cover a natural extension of Emily’s post on budgeting – determining what you can afford when buying a house and getting preapproved for a mortgage.
If you’re like me, you may not have thought too hard about budgeting until it really mattered. We’ve been thinking about buying a house for a while, but finally got serious during fall 2010. We took a good look at our savings, income, debt, and future aspirations. Plus, the home buying market seemed pretty favorable. Low interest rates and abundant real estate listings make it a buyer’s market.

What can you afford?
When buying a home, you have to strike a balance between what you can afford and what you want and need out of your future nest. While you see your home as a place to raise your family and an investment, lenders look at you as a future investment. They are more concerned with what you can afford and if you’ll be able to make your monthly payments. This is where knowing your current financial situation is extremely important.

In general, lenders take a look at your housing expense-to-income ratio. This is your mortgage payment (principal, interest, taxes, insurance) divided by your gross monthly income (income before taxes and deductions) and should generally be 28% or less. So if your monthly gross income is $5,000, your monthly mortgage payment should be less than $1,400.

Next, lenders look at your total monthly payments relative to your gross monthly income. That calculation will factor in your other debts (credit card debt and installment loans) and must generally be under 36%. Again, if your monthly gross income is $5,000, your total monthly debt payments should be less than $1,800. Those ratios are often referred to as 28/36.

Finally, how much home you can afford will be largely based on your down payment. In the these economic times, most lenders will let you borrow no more than 80% of a home's market value--which means you must have the other 20%. This could be a down payment of 20% or a second mortgage. Otherwise you'd have to pay costly "PMI," or private mortgage insurance*.

Credit reports
Another important component of the mortgage approval process is your credit score. Do you know what yours is? Do you know what a credit score is?

Very briefly, your credit score represents your creditworthiness, or the likelihood that you will make payments as promised. Your score is based on information found in your credit report, which contains your borrowing and repaying history, type and amount debt, length of credit history, and new credit lines opened. If you’ve been diligent in paying off your credit card bill each month, your credit score should be higher. And the better your credit report and credit score, the lower your interest rate will be! You can get a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) here.

Tote from Etsy seller dearcolleen
Mortgage menu
Still with me? I sure hope so! Moving right along to different types of mortgages. These fall into two buckets: fixed or adjustable rate. We’re planning on going with a 30 year fixed mortgage. Interest rates are low right now (around 5%), so we’d like to lock in that rate for the long haul. Adjustable rate mortgages are fixed for a number of years (generally 3, 5, or 7) and then reset to the current interest rate annually. And then there are different mortage terms: 15, 20, or 30 years.

Ultimately, the type of mortgage you choose is based on your comfort level with interest rate fluctuations (hint: interest rates will probably be increasing in the future) and how long you plan to stay in your house.

Preapproval primer
Last, but not least, let’s quickly jump into preapproval. You’ve figured out what you can afford, now it’s time for the lender to tell you how much they’re willing to lend you. Shop your mortgage around by contacting several lenders, telling them that you are looking to buy a home and would like to get preapproved for a loan. Our realtor gave us a list of recommended lenders. We also researched options online at and asked for referrals from friends and family. When getting preapproved, we needed the following documents:
  1. Last 40 days of paystubs (both of us)
  2. 2008 and 2009 W-2s (both of us)
  3. 2008 and 2009 federal tax returns (both of us)
  4. If married in last 12 months, please provide a copy of marriage license
  5. Most recent asset statements, all pages, all accounts (i.e. checking, savings, and investment accounts)
  6. Copies of both of our driver’s licenses
  7. Contact for our future property insurance provider
Being preapproved is kind of a big deal and highly recommended. It tells you how much house you can afford to buy. Though take that figure with a grain of salt because the bank may think you can afford more than you’re comfortable paying. More importantly, it shows the seller that you are serious and that the lender sees you are a “qualified” buyer.

Phew! That was a long one! This was meant to be an overview on the mortgage preapproval process, so your actual journey in home buying might be a little different. Once you start the mortgage process, specific questions should be asked of your lender. If they’re unhelpful or unwilling to take the time to explain things, then maybe you should go with someone else.

Thanks for reading! To reward you for your diligence, I’d like to give you all cupcakes. And if you’re looking to crunch a few numbers, here’s a handy mortgage calculator.
*Lending rules of thumb obtained from Mint

Thanks, Cathy! You have knack for explaining things so that even a finance dunce like me can understand :) and I really MUST have those divine cupcakes. 

While you're drooling over the cupcakes, check out Cathy's Makeunder Your Finances series. It is a perfect 4-step action plan to help your budgeting meet Emily's definition of budgeting (and her suggestions): aligning your spending with your values and meeting your goals.

Housewife MacGyver: Financially Crafty {tutorial roundup}

In the good crafty make-stuff kind of way and not the questionable cunning-and-guile kind of way :)

How is MacGyvering your finances coming? We've still got three more fantastic guest bloggers to come -- and you are going to LOVE them!

Also, I want to include crafts based on or inspired by each month's Housewife MacGyver theme in the linky party, and I'll be leaving each linky party open until the end of the year, for those late-comers or late-workers (i.e., procrastinators like me :) -- so feel free to come link up -- find this month's party here.

I have my own crafty take on finance to share with you next week, and here's some other great inspiration to get the crafty gears a-grinding:

Manage your money in style with a two-pocket checkbook cover tutorial from Small Fry & Co:

Strut your pennies in style with penny buttons from Infarrantly Creative:

Prettify a coin roll with Martha:

Save your change (and teach your children to save) with these fun banks:
{clockwise from upper left}
Modern piggy bank from a shadowbox at MaryJanes and Galoshes
(and there's a kids' dump truck version too!);
Save/spend/share bank from Smile and Wave;
Money jars for kids at Bits of Everything

Give your coins a place to stay:
{clockwise from upper left}
Zipper coin purse from Sew Me Something Good;
Refashion an old coin purse with All For This Penny;
Rainbow crochet zipper coin purse from Sparkle Petal;
Lunch money cuff from A Lemon Squeezy Home

And don't leave the cash and cards out:
{clockwise from upper left}
Mini card-coin-cell phone purse at Thimbleanna;
Easy peezy lemon squeezy wallet from The Rubber Punkin;
Card condo card organizer at CraftGossip
Trifold floral wallet from Craft Passion

Monetize your decor:
{clockwise from upper left}
 Floor of pennies at The Standard Grill in NYC, featured at NotCot (similar how-to on eHow);
Penny serving tray at HomeWorkshop;
Coin and spoon coat rack at Snickerdoodle Creations

And don't forget to accessorize!
{clockwise from upper left}
Patina penny ring from Crafts and Sutch;
Decal penny pendant at Just Something I Made;
Bill bracelet from Under the Table and Dreaming;

**all images used are the property of their original owners (as in, the crafty people who made them and then shared!)**

Feeling inspired? Good! Come link up your financial crafts at the party, along with anything else finance-related.

Thanks for reading and MacGyvering along with me :)

Change your passwords with your clocks

Daylight Saving Time starts here in the States on Sunday, so it's time to change your clocks... and your passwords... and the batteries in your smoke detectors. :) Come on over to Housewife Eclectic today for more about why and how and creating a strong password. 

Thanks for reading!
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