How much are you willing to spend to save a sick pet?

This article is by managing editor Ellen Cannon.

Four years ago, my beloved kitty Zito developed kidney problems. She was only five years old, and her littermate, Mikey, was fine and healthy. But Zito had stopped eating and wasn't drinking much water. I took her to the vet.

An x-ray by the veterinarian showed that one of her kidneys was tiny and the other was not the normal size it should have been. The vet said most likely the little kidney wasn't functioning at all and the other was working overtime.

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More about...Health & Fitness, Home & Garden

Your credit score and credit card rewards: 10 tips

This is the second post from Hilary Stockton, who is the founder of TravelSort, which helps savvy travelers earn millions of miles without flying, redeem them for first-class flights, and stay in luxury hotels at wholesale prices. Follow her on Twitter @TravelSort.

I often get asked about the impact on one's credit score of churning or signing up for multiple rewards credit cards, especially by those new to earning a million or more frequent flyer miles and points via credit cards. It's definitely important to protect your credit score, and no one should sign up for a slew of new credit cards without taking the time to understand how your credit score works and whether you should be applying for new credit cards at all.

1. Only sign up for new credit cards if:

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More about...Credit

I bought a duplex to save money on rent

This story is from Karl Boericke. He is the author of The Frugal Berry, money-saving tips of all kinds for home, office, and small business.

In 1990, I was honorably discharged from the Navy and quickly found a job in an electronics manufacturing company as a technician in their test department. While renting an apartment at the time, I wondered how I would ever be able to afford to buy a house with my meager salary. I had heard that buying a duplex was an inexpensive way to live and build equity in a home.

After looking at a few mobile homes and quickly realizing the long-term downside to such an "investment," it became clear that buying a duplex was my best realistic ticket to home ownership. I lucked out in finding a great real estate agent who gave me some sage advice. Even though I could buy a duplex with a VA loan with almost NO cash up-front, she advised me to use an FHA first-time buyer mortgage. This would cost me some money at purchase, but it would give me the possibility of using my VA loan in the future for my "next duplex." This thought stimulated my imagination, and seemed like an impossibility at the moment, but I followed her advice and kept this long-term idea in storage for another time.

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More about...Home & Garden, Investing

A few things to consider before becoming an expatriate

This post is from Justin Boyle. Justin is an experienced English tutor and writing coach who works as a designer in the tech industry. He lives in Austin, Texas, and finds a lot of things interesting, especially food, finance, education, gadgetry, software, art and travel. He never stops thinking about food. He is probably eating right now.

There are plenty of possible reasons you could want to leave the U.S. Perhaps you've always dreamed about making the sand and surf your front yard or longed to master a foreign tongue. Maybe you've been offered a job abroad. Maybe you feel your taxes are too high. I'm not here to question your motives, traveler. I'm just here to pass along what I know and help you get to your new home with your personal finances in order.

Settling Your Accounts

You're going to need a bank account when you first land on that once-foreign soil. Common expat advice is to set up an online savings account before leaving. Start out by keeping your money with a well-established and nationally available bank -- at least until you get a good sense of the banking landscape in your new home.

Be aware, though: If you're still a U.S. citizen while living abroad and ever wind up with more than $10,000 in your new accounts, you'll need to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts with the stateside IRS. You can be hit with serious penalties for neglecting to do this, so do the paperwork or renounce citizenship before you start making any serious money.

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More about...Retirement, Investing, Planning, Travel

Do you repair your own car to save money?

This post is from Ollie Geiger, a personal finance writer who contributes to

As a former auto mechanic and service manager, my dad's car expertise has saved our family from countless binds.

Over the years, he's done everything from replacing my wife's broken timing belt in the parking lot of her apartment complex to rebuilding our truck's toasted alternator at a motel high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A master of seeing mechanical possibilities, he replaced the alternator's seized bearing with a wheel bearing from a motorcycle we happened to be carrying.

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More about...Transportation