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How to Use Credit Cards for Holiday Savings

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It’s no secret that your bank account gets a bit strained during the holidays. But if you use your credit cards strategically, you can ease some of the financial burden.

If you’re traveling a lot for the holidays, consider using a travel rewards card. Buy your tickets with the card to rack up miles for future trips and gain other special perks.

When you’re cooking big holiday meals, you’re going to be spending a lot of money at the grocery store. Get some of that cash back with a grocery rewards card.

Image via Flickr/Alan Cleaver

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Luxury Entry Doors Are Newest Trend in NYC Real Estate

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In New York City, one of the biggest trends right now are luxury entry doors. These doors help to personalize an apartment and create a grander entrance.

“It’s not just the front door — it’s the entrance to the apartment,” Ian Bruce Eichner, CEO of the Continuum Company. “And it’s the message you get when you walk off the elevator and look at it.”

Buildings are also going beyond the door and putting more effort and money into creating dramatic entry spaces.

Image via Flickr/Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose

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Mortgage Applications On the Rise

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Despite the higher interest rates of the past five months, buyers are still taking out home loans at an increasing rate.

According to a survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications increased 6.2 percent last week, up from the week before.

“This was despite the fact that mortgage rates reached their highest level since July,” said Michael Fratantoni, the association’s chief economist.

Image via Flickr/Rental Realities

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Common Credit Card Mistakes to Avoid

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High credit scores are really valuable, so it’s important that you realize how to keep your score as high as possible.

Don’t close old credit cards. Even if they are unused, keeping credit cards open helps your utilization remain low, which is an important part of your credit score.

When you’re looking for an auto loan or mortgage, don’t take too long to find the best interest rate. There is a 45-day shopping period, during which all credit inquiries count as just one inquiry. But if you take much longer, those inquiries can start to impact your credit score.

Image via Flickr/GotCredit

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Why Your Mail is Full of Credit Card Offers

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A new Federal Reserve working paper is shedding light on credit card companies’ solicitation strategies.

Companies prefer to target potential borrowers based on credit score, however other data, like the amount of time since a personal bankruptcy filing, are also taken into account.

“Interestingly, several socioeconomic characteristics also appear to influence lenders’ offer decisions, even after controlling for credit histories,” the authors of the paper write.

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Avoid Credit Card Traps During the Holidays

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Credit card companies make it easy for consumers to borrow money for the holiday season, but there are a few things you should be on the lookout for.

Many store credit cards provide a discount on the purchases you make on the day you open up the card. But interest rates are usually very high on store credit cards.

Also, a discount with an expiration date, such as the one that is only good on the day you open the card, means you’re more likely to spend more that day than you normally would.

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Warren Buffett Purchases Dallas Real Estate Firm

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Warren Buffett recently bought Allie Beth Allman & Associates, a real estate firm in Dallas which specializes in luxury properties.

“Allie Beth Allman & Associates is a strong company with an exceptional reputation in a growth market,” said Ron Peltier, chairman and CEO of HomeServices of America Inc., an affiliate of Buffett’s firm Berkshire Hathaway. “This transaction aligns with our vision of acquiring distinguished companies in leading markets that share our core values.”

Found in 2003, Allie Beth Allman & Associates had $1.5 billion in sales last year.

Image via Flickr/Fortune Live Media

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What You Should Know About Real Estate Investments

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Your home represents a large portion of your overall wealth. But it might not be your best investment. However, it can still play an important role in your portfolio.

Real estate investments have low correlations to other investments, like stocks and bonds. That lack of correlation could signify stability in your portfolio.

From a tax perspective, real estate investments are hugely beneficial. But be sure you’re not overdoing it on real estate. It should make up just 5 percent of your portfolio.

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How to Shop For Your First Home

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At some point, many of us grow up and decide we want to buy a house. But not everyone knows the steps they should take for the process to go smoothly.

The first thing you should do is take stock of your finances. Buying a house is an investment, and you’re going to be writing a few checks. Make sure your credit score is up to par.

Before you even start shopping, find out how much a lender will be willing to give you. You can get pre-qualified for a home loan. This will help you know the price range to look at.

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Real Estate Industry Sees New Trends

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A new survey from Realtor.com reveals three hot new real estate trends: inviting, rustic and beachside charm. These trends are based on people’s preferences and what they want in a house.

Inviting spaces offer an open atmosphere with lots of seating and a huge kitchen for guests to gather in.

Rustic spaces incorporate natural elements in the home, such as wood, stone, water and light.

Beachside charm homes offer a relaxed atmosphere with sundecks and terracotta tile – no beach required!

Image via Flickr/Sherwood CC

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