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Condominium living


Jamie Warosh understands the advantages of condominium living.

“We had the time to do other things in life versus spending our whole weekend at home doing yard work,” recalled Warosh, who owned a two-bedroom condo in Kenosha County with her husband, John, before moving to a single-family home.

But, said Warosh, a Kenosha real estate agent and property manager, she knew the trade-offs of such a maintenance-free lifestyle, including monthly fees, strict rules and regulations for common areas, and what the age of a complex can mean for maintenance, potential assessments and resale value — all things she’s found many new condo owners haven’t necessarily considered.

The best ways to sell your stuff


Your basement and attic may be bursting with possessions you no longer want, and you might be surprised by the amount you can pocket if you know the best ways to sell your stuff.

You’ll make the most money by matching your goods with the best places to sell them, whether it’s an auction house, a consignment store, a website or a yard sale. Just keep in mind that the IRS may want a cut of your profits. It taxes the proceeds from the sale of collectibles as capital gains, generally at a rate of 28 percent.

5 Spot: Dress your porch for fall


By the end of summer, flowers start to look kind of nasty. To get your patio ready for fall, pull out all the raggedy flowers and put them in the compost. Then, replace them with simple but stunning fall displays. Pumpkins and gourds always look festive.

For a fun treatment, top a planter with a riser of some sort, plop on a pumpkin, then ensconce the treatment with a wire orb. Thread in some bittersweet or other fall vine, and, boom, you have a killer display in minutes.

Protect yourself after a data breach


Payment systems being hacked at Home Depot.

Target data breach.

Kitchen counters that last


Quartz withstood almost everything in Consumer Reports’ recent tests of kitchen counter options —stains, hot pots, abrasive pads and knives — and unlike granite, it doesn’t need to be resealed. Its combination of beauty, durability and easy maintenance makes it a great choice for busy kitchens. Granite performed almost as well.

Both materials are a bit pricey. Laminate is still the budget-friendly choice. Its looks have improved, thanks to better printing.

Chipping away


Your next credit card likely will have a secure microchip in it.

But it still might not work when you travel abroad. Huh? What? Matt Schulz,

5 Spot: Don’t thwart your retirement


When financial times get tough, some people make regrettable decisions — such as taking early withdrawals from 401(k) accounts. The number of Americans doing so hit a record in 2010, and in 2011 the IRS collected about $5.7 billion in penalties on roughly $57 billion withdrawn early.

Early withdrawals can do more long-term harm than short-term good. The longer you leave your money alone to grow, the more powerful your compounded growth becomes. Check out what time, patience and an average 10 percent return can do to a steady series of $10,000 annual investments: After 10 years, you have $175,000. After 20 years, $630,000. After 30 years, $1.8 million.

Finances key to post-recession couples


SYCAMORE, Ill. — When Brittani Click first met her fiancé, Matt Holliday, she wouldn’t have called herself a responsible saver.

But after frequent financial talks and with a little less than two months left to go before saying “I do,” Click has learned from her future husband’s frugal ways.

Reorganize your refrigerator to keep food fresh


The best way to extend the life of your food is to store it properly. Here are some tips to do just that.

— Find the right spot. The back of the refrigerator is the coldest area. Place milk and eggs, in their cartons, in back. Throw out milk if it’s more than a week past its sell-by date; eggs last three to five weeks from when they’re purchased.

Life insurance doesn’t have to be a mystery


The topic of life insurance doesn’t have much going for it. First, it’s about insurance, which many people find boring and complicated. Second, it can involve paying money for something you may never use.

And it’s about death.

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