One of the biggest questions millennials have today is: should I own a home, or should I just rent?

If you buy, you get a return on your money and an opportunity to build real wealth. If you rent, you are just throwing that away or financing your landlord's funds to put their kids through college.

On the other hand, renting means more freedom, more flexibility. It means you can move across the world in an instant (okay - as long as it takes you to sublet your apartment on Gypsy Housing). There's a lot of appeal to that.

If you know you want to buy a house, there's a bigger challenge: "Do I even make enough money to own my own home?" It's probably the most important question you will ask yourself in the process of becoming a homeowner. However, the results of what this really looks like can be astounding.


According to Forbes, the cost of living in some of the fastest growing cities in America can range from $42,161 (Detroit, MI) and $53,384 (Albuquerque, NM) to $58,504 (San Antonio, TX) and $58,973 in Columbus, OH. These figures include not only your mortgage payment, but enough financial resources to live comfortably, make your mortgage, pay your utilities, and maybe even save a little to put away for retirement.

The median cost of homes in areas such as San Antonio is about $172,400, according to Zillow. This means if you put down a $25,000 deposit and financed $152,400, you would be looking at around $800 per month for the mortgage payment, at 5% interest for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. This rate assumes you have a credit score in the range of 680-700. Plus, you may need to add escrow fees, which include homeowners insurance and real estate taxes if your loan terms require it.

So owning a home can actually be pretty affordable. The first step is to start saving up for a down payment. It's usually recommended to put down about 20% of the purchase price. This will also reduce the size of the loan you need to borrow from a lender. There are also certain mortgage programs–like the FHA loan program–that allow qualifying buyers to make small down payments in exchange for agreeing to pay for private mortgage insurance.

Another important factor in obtaining financing is your credit score, according to Tyler Frist from Citizens Bank. This is why credit is so important. It's how banks assess the likelihood that you'll be able to pay back your loan. This will also impact the interest rate you qualify for and the terms of your loan.

If you're applying for a mortgage with a significant other, it's also important to note that they'll take the lower score between the two of you. So when you are working on building your credit, you may find it more strategic to pay off one person's debt sooner than the other.


When it comes to your credit score, don't blame the bank. They're just trying to protect their investment. We are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars. Instead, get ahead and work on your credit before it comes time to make major purchases and life-altering decisions.

Keep an eye on your credit score with apps like Credit Karma. Smart moves like paying credit card debt and submitting bill payments on time will help you to maximize your score.

Another great way to build wealth when saving for a home is to automate your savings, so that when you get paid through direct deposit, like most of us, money is automatically put aside into a housing fund. Create a plan to tackle debt and reduce spending on frivolous items so that you can save in the long run.


Owning your own home means owning equity. This gives you leverage when making financial decisions and taking on debt. We often think of debt as a bad thing, but it can be a good thing, even necessary, such as when you're taking a line of credit to start your own business or obtaining a mortgage to finance a home purchase. And even if you're not ready to commit to a mortgage, you'll have the resources to make an educated home purchase in the future.

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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.