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This expert guide will help you trim thousands of dollars off the cost of your home.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 15, 2011 1:50PM

This post comes from Nate Moch at partner site U.S. News & World Report.


 U.S. News & World Report on MSN MoneyAs with most homeowners, your mortgage payment is probably your largest monthly expense. Wouldn't it be nice to trim this huge cost and perhaps shorten the life of your loan? We have listed seven tips below to help save you money on your mortgage.

The tips below are based on this hypothetical mortgage example (savings will vary based on your actual loan facts and timing of the change):

  • $200,000 mortgage.
  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.
  • 6% interest rate.
  • $1,199 monthly principal and interest payment.

This decision does not need to be difficult. Here are factors to consider.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 15, 2011 12:00PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


My wife and I are in the process of refinancing our mortgage. We purchased our current home in 2004 and obtained a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 5.625%. We are refinancing the loan to another 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4.875%.


I thought I'd use this opportunity to cover a number of topics when it comes to mortgages, starting with one we hear a lot: "When should I refinance my mortgage?"


When you see a great price, buy extra and freeze it -- with one important modification.

By Donna_Freedman Apr 15, 2011 10:24AM

As a rule I don't eat cold cereal. But recently a coupon/store rebate deal made it worth my while: $3.67 for 10 boxes of corn and rice cereals, with vouchers for three gallons of milk printing out at the cash register.

One reason I don't usually eat the stuff is that it needs a fair amount of milk, versus the mere splash that I use on my daily bowl of oatmeal. Well, this cereal brought its own milk to the dance.

However, there was a slight problem.


Think you're smarter than a fifth-grader? Calculate the appropriate tip for this meal.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 15, 2011 9:21AM

This post comes from Len Penzo at partner blog Len Penzo dot Com.


By the time kids leave the fifth grade, they should know how to calculate simple percentages, which is one of the most critical mathematical tools we have at our disposal after we become adults.


Well, at least it is for those of us who enjoy eating at fine-dining establishments but aren't willing to trust our waiter to suggest the appropriate tip for services rendered.


That being said, let's assume for a moment that I am a waiter. (Hey, if I get laid off, it may become reality one day.) 


There are all kinds of good reasons to buy a house right now, but you could minimize the benefits with these missteps.

By Karen Datko Apr 15, 2011 7:10AM

Some folks are itching to buy a house right now. The incentives couldn't be better. Interest rates are near historical lows, and in many areas of the country the cost of housing is at or near the lowest price it's going to get. 


Some might think the question is: What are you waiting for?


Stop, take a breath, and consider these traps to avoid before you make what will likely be the largest purchase of your life:


Federal regulators cited mortgage servicers' 'misconduct and negligence' but penalties so far have been called weak.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 14, 2011 3:36PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.


It's a dark day for consumers, if you believe critics of an agreement signed between federal regulators and 14 mortgage servicers -- the arms of banks that collect mortgage payments and foreclose in case of nonpayment.


The Federal Reserve, the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency "found banks didn't hire enough workers; didn't adequately supervise outside lawyers and other firms; didn't ensure they had accurate foreclosure documentation; and didn't stop foreclosure proceedings when warranted," says MarketWatch.


Consumers will factor rising fees into their decisions about where to do business -- but they can't if banks and credit unions won't divulge the data, a consumer advocacy group says.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 14, 2011 3:29PM

This post comes from Matt Brownell at partner site MainStreet.


MainStreet on MSN MoneyA new report (.pdf file) from the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups (USPIRG) finds that just 38% of banks and credit unions responded to a request for their fee data, despite a 20-year-old law mandating transparency.


The 1991 Truth in Savings Act requires full disclosure of a bank's fees, including ATM fees and monthly maintenance fees, but when USPIRG researchers requested fee schedules from 391 banks and credit unions in 21 states, just 38% of them disclosed their fees on the first request.


Making multiple requests raised that number to 55%, but 23% of banks flat out refused to disclose their fees and the rest provided insufficient or irrelevant information.


Mexico is No. 1. The US is the ninth hardest-working country and has the highest obesity rate.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 14, 2011 1:29PM

This post comes from Seth Fiegerman at partner site MainStreet.


If it feels like you spend a lot of time working and running errands, just be thankful you don't live in Mexico.


Mexicans spend nearly 10 hours each day at work or in school and doing unpaid chores like housework and shopping after hours, making the country's overall workday the longest in the world, according to new data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international research group.



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