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An affordable way to qualify for a home loan without that big down payment

(BPT) – For many Americans, the biggest hurdle in buying a home is the 20 percent down payment they think is required for mortgage approval. According to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors, 34 percent of respondents believe they need more than 20 percent. Meanwhile, low down payment mortgages account for a significant amount of home buying annually. Families with down payments as low as 3 or 5 percent have been able to purchase a home thanks to private mortgage insurance (MI) for 60 years. Since 1957, MI has helped 25 million families become homeowners. In...

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5 ways to reinvent your garage

(BPT) – The garage – it’s that space where you used to just store your car, lawn mower, power tools, bikes, bats and boxes of things you wore in the 90s. But to say a garage is only for storage is like saying a truck is only for hauling dressers and box springs. From game room to workshop, man cave to hangout — your garage has the potential to be anything you want it to be. So if you’re thinking of redecorating or remodeling your house, don’t spend all your time picking out kitchen tile and arguing over what...

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5 DIY projects to liven up your office

(BPT) – Whether you go into the office every day or work from home, most of us probably spend a lot more time at our desk than anywhere else. Why not take some time to make it a space that you can enjoy? With some creativity and individual flare, you can transform a utilitarian work station into a personalized think tank that is as stylish and unique as you. Best of all, you don’t have to hire a contractor to do this. Whether you’re a pro DIYer or new to the crafting game, here are five simple ways to...

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5 bold steps to reshape your life

(BPT) – Time to reflect back on 2016 and set your sights on 2017. How did the year progress, and what did you accomplish? Maybe your goals included: A new promotion, a new car, a bigger house, better health or more meaningful relationships. Did they happen? Has that time come to raise the bar and make a fundamental change? At first glance it may seem impossible, but nothing changes unless you take control. Maybe 2017 is the year you start living life more on your own terms – and start today by employing these five tips: * Live a...

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Save money, cut stress with savvy small-business travel tips

(BPT) – If you work for a small business, you’re in good company. There are 28 million small businesses in the United States that provide 55 percent of all jobs, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Travel is a necessary part of growing a small business. In fact, two out of three small-business owners and employees travel specifically to meet clients face-to-face, a Holiday Inn Small Business Traveler Study found. However, 56 percent of those surveyed note the stress of travel is the top pain point for business trips, plus nearly a third feel they aren’t treated as well as business travelers who work for large companies. To put the joy back into traveling and to help small-business travelers get the most out of their money, consider these expert tips and tricks. Research hotel amenities and extras The hotel you choose should enable your success, not hinder it. That’s why you should research options and select a hotel that offers the amenities and extras you need to grow your small business even when you’re away from home. A few hotel essentials for small-business travelers include free high speed Wi-Fi, comfortable and quiet lounge areas, business centers and meeting facilities. Additionally, a full-service hotel with a restaurant, bar and workout rooms will save you time and help you find the balance between work and relaxation. Seek small-business perk programs...

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