I never thought I'd become a divorce statistic, but here I am.

At first, I was grateful that we weren't separating on the ugliest of terms - there was no cheating or anything like that, it's just that every decision became shrouded in a passive-aggressive dance–the usual communication breakdown.

But then. For the divorce proceedings, he lawyered up with a shockingly expensive firm and tried to squeeze every penny out of me! I, slack-jawed and in tears, sat across from a blank-eyed version of him, while his expensive suit rattled off everything about me that did not look good on paper.

I hired the best lawyer I could find and drained my bank account to set things right.

So, single in my 40's, listening to the records my ex-husband hated at full volume in my new, smaller living room, I'm happy, but broke. Very broke.

Living on a single income with rent and divorce-related bills still piling up sent me into a panic. Looking around at all my assets (half as much as before), there was still one shining beacon of hope: my sweet little car, Eleanor. I'd bought her two years ago, and she was still in the top 5 of every reliable car list out there.

When looking at forums on how to sell a car, tears in my eyes, I found a second option; refinancing my loans with a company like RateGenius. If you have good credit, you can refinance as soon as a year out of obtaining your car.

I went onto their website and found it incredibly easy to navigate. I filled out a basic pre-qualification questionnaire about myself (name, address, how long I had my car for), and was informed that because this questionnaire was only a pre-qualification, I would have zero impact on my credit score.

Within minutes I was pre-qualified, and took me to a rate table to show me potential options. Impressed with what was being offered, I went ahead and finished the full application which only took minutes. It didn't take me very long to get assigned with a representative Jenny, who held my hand throughout the entire process.

Because my car was very important to me, I asked her multiple questions with a lot of details, and Jenny patiently and kindly explained everything back to me. She told me first and foremost that I wouldn't be in danger of paying RateGenius a large fee: the company negotiate with lenders to lower my rates or lower the amount of time I was paying, and the RateGenius' small fee would be built into my payments - if they couldn't find me a cheaper rate, they wouldn't charge me, so there was no risk.

According to RateGenius, the average savings per month is $76 per car - all I can say is that mine was higher than average! I was shocked that this wasn't common knowledge, that refinancing is that easy.

With RateGenius, I'd be seeing more money in my bank account every month while making zero lifestyle changes, at a time where nearly everything else in my life was in flux. Eleanor would stay mine, and I'd get to pay less for her every month while belting to the classic rock station at full volume.

RateGenius made it incredibly easy for me to refinance my auto loans - I had to become an expert on divorce law recently, but with RateGenius, all I had to do was enter my info, thankfully.

Update: Fill out the pre-qualification form within a minute with zero impact on your credit score to see if you qualify for lower rates!

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Between buying a new home and transporting yourself and your belongings to it, moving can be an expensive process. One often underrecognized cost of moving occurs before one's original house has even been sold, and that's staging the house. Homeowners often spend hundreds of dollars making a home appealing to potential buyers. To ease the financial burden of moving, here are several tips for staging your home on a budget.

Downsize Instead of Storing

The goal of staging a home is to create a blank canvas that potential buyers can imagine their own lives painted upon. To accomplish this, homeowners should depersonalize the home as much as possible, removing items that are specific to their family and eliminating clutter. This is where homeowners often incur their first costs as they rush to put as many older things in storage as possible.

To cut costs, focus on downsizing rather than storing items. Look for items that you can sell, donate, or give away. For remaining items, look for alternative places to store them, such as a friend or relative's house. This will also reduce the cost of moving your belongings when it is time to go to the new house.

DIY What You Can

There are times when homeowners should bring in a professional to manage home renovations and decorating, such as when a task requires specialized skills. These types of jobs, when done incorrectly, will incur even greater costs if attempted on your own. However, many of the home improvement tasks that go into staging a home are simple enough that the homeowner can DIY them, such as painting, installing a backsplash, or refinishing the deck. Doing these tasks yourself will save you a significant amount of money.

Don't Redo, Update

Homeowners are often eager to make their houses look as appealing to buyers as possible. However, recall that the point of staging is depersonalization, making a home presentable so buyers can mentally impose their own style onto it. When staging a home on a budget, focus less on completely transforming the space and more on making what is there look presentable. For instance, if you wanted to give your bedroom a facelift, trying to replace the furniture and flooring would be pointless unless it was damaged or unkempt. Simply organizing the space and replacing the bed's comforter would be sufficient.

Maximize Space

Another way to update the space without entirely redoing it is to rearrange it to maximize the space that is already there. For instance, pulling the furniture away from the walls will make a room appear bigger and allows more space for those touring the house. Using window trimmings that maximize natural light and incorporating wall mirrors can also make a room seem more spacious.

Raising a larger family than most means that your lifestyle is going to change. Costs will continue to multiply as your family grows larger. However, just because your family is large doesn't mean your quality of life needs to suffer. It just means you need to make a few adjustments to help things work smoother and more efficiently. We've compiled a couple of money-saving tips for larger families to help you get the most out of your dollars.

Always Buy in Bulk

The benefit of having a larger family is that things you buy in bulk rarely ever go to waste. Smaller families can benefit from buying in bulk, of course, but your large family will see the most use out of shopping in large quantities. You'll want to avoid going to smaller stores for necessities such as groceries and clothes, as these places generally have higher markups on their items.

Buy Wholesale Items Online

If you want to take buying in bulk to the next level, one of the best money-saving tips for large families is to buy online from wholesalers. Buying online comes with a number of benefits that you won't get when you go to a physical store:

  • You don't have to drag your kids to the store with you
  • You have a lower probability of making impulse purchases
  • You can search for exactly what you need
  • Wholesalers sell in very large quantities for a lower price per item

Never Throw Away Something Useful

When you have to buy things for multiple children, your costs to replace items will be much higher. That's why it's so important to keep everything you can. Clothing is a big part of this. Hand-me-downs can prevent you from needing to replace entire closets every year. Try to repair or upcycle any clothes that may have damage, as this is usually much cheaper than buying brand-new items.

Stick to a Budget

When you support a large family, expenses can sometimes get away from you. Proper budgeting helps to keep the extra purchases that add up to a minimum. Budgeting correctly can save you a lot of heartache in the long run. It's up to you how much control you want to take; you can make your budget weekly or monthly, depending on how tight a ship you need to run. What's important to remember is that making the budget is only the first step—sticking to it is where you'll really need to enact some willpower.

Spring may be the most popular time to list, but people need to buy homes in every season. Follow some simple steps to get your home sold in the winter.

Sometimes there is no choice—a home needs to be sold in the winter.

Spring may be the most popular time to put your house on the market, but homes do sell in the colder months. With fewer houses available, your home may be someone's only choice when house hunting in your neighborhood. As your neighbors hold out until spring, you'll already be done and ready to shop for your next house!

Here are a few tips for selling a home in the winter to get you on the right track.

Keep Paths Safe and Landscaping Fresh

Landscaping is the last thing on a homeowner's mind in the winter. Everything was cut back in the fall and may now be covered in snow. Still, take a walk around the house and yard to check everything out. Branches may have fallen from heavy snow, leaving a mess in the yard. Keep everything neat and tidy.

The last thing you need is a potential buyer slipping on the ice-covered walk in front of your house. Buyers often consider those moments bad omens, and this can affect their decisions. Shovel, snow blow, spread salt—do whatever you have to do to keep the driveway and walking paths clear, and don't forget the porch and deck.

Make the Inside Warm and Cozy

In cold weather, buyers won't spend a lot of time examining a home's exterior. Instead, impress them with the inside by creating an atmosphere which causes them to want to move in.

When there's time, leave wintery types of snacks and drinks, such as hot cocoa and cookies, available on a table during showings. This gives your home a welcoming feel to buyers.

Light the fireplace (if you have one) for a lovely ambience and set your thermostat to a comfortable setting. A warm home in the winter is much more appealing than a chilly one.

Make Your Home Less Personal

Understandably, this can be a tough thought for homeowners. After all, you've spent years creating memories in your home. To buyers, though, they need to picture it as their own. Too much personality makes that difficult.

It's always important to stage your home in a way that makes it look clean, comfortable, and move-in ready. Don't feel offended by the idea of taking family pictures down and replacing them with generic décor. This will help your home sell faster by helping buyers envision their own things there.

Cleanliness and Maintenance

Clean, clean, and clean some more. Make appliances, counters, and floors shine. No matter how old your home is, it needs to feel like new to potential buyers. If you aren't into dusting, now is the time to try. Don't forget window coverings that might need washing.

Be prepared ahead of time for home inspections by taking care of maintenance now. HVAC systems, plumbing, and electrical should all be up to code and running smoothly.

Use these tips for selling a home in the winter, exercise patience during the slower months, and your home will sell before you know it.