9 ways you can knock the socks off your next landlord

We all know how to rent a typical, cookie-cutter apartment or house. Find a contact number. Set-up a walk through. Fill out the application. Pay your fee and wait for a response.

But sometimes typical just doesn't cut it.

Maybe you're looking to secure a unique apartment in an irresistible location. Or you might be seeking the only house for rent in a certain school district. Heck, you may even find yourself in New Zealand needing a short-term (3-month) lease when everyone wants a 6-month minimum.  *raises hand*

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More about...Home & Garden

Use a Lease Option to Lock in Low Home Prices

Everywhere I turn, people are speculating on whether housing prices have bottomed. While I personally feel things are looking better, I'm never a fan of trying to time markets. Attempting this often encourages people to make large financial decisions before they are fully prepared or informed. Buying homes in haste is one of the factors that got us into our current financial crisis.

Luckily, there may be a silver bullet for those of you who aren't willing to rush to buy but are still considering a home purchase within the next couple of years. Your solution may take the form of a lease option.

What the heck is a lease option?
The first thing you need to know about lease options is that everything is negotiable. This can quickly turn a set of simple principles into an extremely complex transaction.

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More about...Home & Garden

Are Debit Cards Evil, Too?

This post is from GRS Staff Writer Adam Baker. In addition to writing for Get Rich Slowly, Baker blogs over at Man vs. Debt, where he often discusses traveling and the cost of living abroad.

A couple weeks ago, the New York Times featured an article entitled "Overspending on Debit Cards is a Boon for Banks". While I usually favor personal finance blogs over the larger online media networks (call me partial), this piece was particularly compelling to me. It does an excellent job of shedding light on a topic that is positioned to be the next major debate in our government's quest for banking reform.

27 billion reasons the banks want you to overdraft
As many other sectors of the banking industry continue to under-perform, debit cards have stepped up to become an essential profit center for banks. Fees associated with overdrafting checking accounts are expected to exceed $27 billion this year. In comparison, the article predicts only $20.5 billion in credit card fees, which is likely to drop even further in the years ahead as recent government reform will require consumers to opt in to over-the-limit charges.<

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More about...Banking

Making the most of small windfalls

It's a big day at Get Rich Slowly HQ. Later this morning, I'll speak with my book editor for the first time. This project is about to devour large chunks of my life. Fortunately, the new Staff Writers will pick up the slack. (Actually, to be fair, I think they'll more than pull their own weight.) Here, then, is the first contribution from Adam Baker, Get Rich Slowly's first-ever Staff Writer!

Receiving a "mini-windfall" of unexpected income is an awesome feeling! However, I have a confession to make. Courtney and I are terrible at handling how we spend these pleasant surprises. More times than not, we find it insanely easy to justify squandering this unexpected money on impulse purchases, even when the rest of our budget is working well.

For the most part, we've slain the "justification" monster in our budgeting life. We've desperately attempted to eliminate the "I deserve this..." mentality. However, when it comes to "mini-windfalls", somehow we seem to always break down.

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More about...Investing, Budgeting

The “Do-I-Have-Enough-For-This?” Effect

This is a guest post from Baker, who writes about personal finance at Man vs. Debt. Baker is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. His first post described the many advantages of couchsurfing. Along with his wife and 15-month-old daughter, Baker has recently moved overseas to New Zealand, where his young family is passionately continuing their own personal "war" on debt.

"Do I have enough money for this?"

It's a very simple question, but one that has had tremendous implications in my financial turn-around. There was a time, not too long ago, when that combination of words didn't exist in my life.

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More about...Budgeting, Psychology

How to Use Couchsurfing to See the World

What if I told you there was a different way to travel? A way to see the world outside of the hotel chains, guidebooks, and tourist traps. A way to intimately experience the real culture of everyday life. A way to connect with like-minded travelers and interact with some of the most hospitable locals you could possibly find.

Well, it's not too good to be true thanks to CouchSurfing.com. Sure, it takes some effort, a little kindness, and a dash of confidence. But let me reassure you, it's well worth it. My ultimate goal is to help take you from the "I would never do that" phase into the "huh, this might be something I should look into" phase. I hope simply to pass along just a small portion of the incredible amount of hospitality I've received from the site and the community in the last couple of months.

What exactly is Couchsurfing?
Technically, I believe it's referred to as a "hospitality exchange network". But in reality it's a social networking site, much like Facebook or Myspace, but that focuses on enabling fellow travelers to connect, meet, and even host each other. And yes, it's free.

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More about...Frugality, Travel