The ability to stay ahead of the market is a rare skill, which is why many investors' ideas don't pan out. The ones who have a history of executing on their winning calls become renowned stock market gurus, and of course, very rich. There are people who have a knack for the analysis and devote their lives to it, and then there are those who are lucky enough to be the first to know when the news hits the tapes– those people can make out big too.

I've tried keeping on top of the finance publications for the latest market events, but by the time the news reaches my screen, the market is already back at equilibrium. I knew there were people who reaped the benefits of true inefficiencies like post-earnings announcement drift, but as an individual investor, how could I be one of the first to get my hands on such information to gain a competitive edge against the broader market?

So I asked a close friend how he and his team pinpoint and capitalize on market inefficiencies with the money he's been successfully investing for one of the largest hedge funds in New York for over a decade. Of course, hedge funds provide very little visibility, but my friend told me one of his personal sources of information,

Real Money, a membership-based website run by some of the most successful hedge fund managers, and financial advisors in Wall Street history. It's where my friend looks for breaking market news stories that impact the market, and to discover winning calls made by the site contributors, and investment strategy advice before the news hits the public outlets.

The team at Real Money is not made up of just journalists, but of professional chartists, analysts, day traders, money managers and financial advisors handpicked by Jim Cramer through his connections in the business. They've got day jobs and skin in the game, and many share the same ideas with members as they professionally execute or advise their clients on.

You'll get actionable trading advice, and stock ideas from Bruce Kamich, an accomplished chartist for many bulge bracket firms, and HUGE portfolio managers like Chris Versace, David Katz, and of course Jim Cramer, one of the most successful hedge fund managers in Wall Street history, delivered exclusively to members in real-time. You can communicate directly with the site contributors and professional money managers on the site to gain stock market knowledge and investment advice from professionals, and they'll respond inline. It's a forum of in-depth market analysis, actionable stock leads, and original, market-moving stories written by financial professionals handpicked by Cramer himself. Real Money provides exclusive information, real-time stock advice, and a look into how investment decisions are made by professionals. You can subscribe here free for 14 days with no obligations.

The site contributors don't just report the market news, but rather the stories that the market isn't seeing – clues that investors should know about, and ideas they're professionally making hay with. Cramer's "Fill or Kill" team, named for Fill or Kill orders (orders placed to buy or sell a large volume of stock that must be executed immediately, or not at all), doesn't just report the market news, but rather research and analyze the stories that the market isn't seeing—clues that give investors additional information to help them stay ahead. They create market-moving content reporting on the information they receive from Cramer, board members, management teams, and TheStreet like Doug Kass, Jack Mohr, Bruce Kamich, other team members and site contributors. This content often gets picked up by the public finance publications after-the-fact.

As a recent example, the Fill or Kill team launched an investigation about the qualifications of Lululemon's longest-standing board member, Rhoda Pitcher. Those qualifications could never be verified and after the team broke story, Pitcher stepped down, and later the news hit the public outlets, Lululemon's stock price dropped. Real Money members had this information first. Likewise, shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) dropped 7% in one day after Real Money short seller Andrew Left revealed his short position. Real Money members that follow Andrew, and acted on this idea were able to stay ahead of the curve.

The sheer volume of actionable ideas are displayed in the Real Money Ideas section, which you can follow to see whose ideas panned out—including buy price, strike price and the contributors' returns on each, and the ideas link out to the articles written on them which provide the analysis behind each decision. With this knowledge, you can decide who you want follow.

Real Money provides you with access to information that the average investor doesn't see as quickly, and a real-time market education from the best pros in the business for just $3/week. Some misjudge the amount of depth in the service, but if you take the trial you'll see how much valuable info and dialogue there is, and how many strategies it will cover. The content goes beyond market news and public knowledge.

Update: The folks at TheStreet are extending a special offer for our readers! Follow this link to get a Free 14 day trial to Real Money with no obligations! (And it's only $3/week if you choose to continue with membership!)

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Home garden and porch

As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.

Extensive Plants and Greenery

A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.

Lawn Care

As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.

Paved Pathways

There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.

Usable Outdoor Furniture

Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.

A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.

Unfortunately, giving back can sometimes go haywire. If you're ready to make a donation, first consider common mistakes made when giving back.

Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.

Acting Quickly Out of Emotion

Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.

Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.

Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation

Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.

If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.

Donating Unusable Materials

Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.

Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.

Strictly Giving at Year's End

As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.

With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.

Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.

The Age of Your House

Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.

The One-Percent Rule

An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.

The Square-Foot Rule

Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.

The Mix and Match Method

Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.

Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.