Craziest Ways People Save Money

July 30th, 2015 | Posted by admin in Smart Spending - (0 Comments)

There’s nothing wrong with saving money. We even tend to encourage smart tactics to save money any chance you can…but there can be a limit. Sometimes you can take that one step too far from being a savvy saver to a disgusting cheapskate. And by “disgusting” we literally mean disgusting. From eating cheaper animal food to compromising their hygiene, here are some of the offbeat to flat out bizarre ways that some people save money:

Stop Showering

Sure. We have to conserve as much water as we can. Especially with droughts in effect down the west coast, it’s more important than ever to know the importance of water conservation. And yes, there are going to be days were you wake up a little too late to shower off the previous night’s sleep. What should NOT be a frequent occurrence though, is to trade in your hygiene for a lower water bill. Instead, use a little of your money to get a showerhead with an on and off switch. This way you can easily flick on and off the water to first soak up and then back on to quickly rinse off.

Eating Dog Food

Look, human food can just cost WAY TOO MUCH. Luckily, we have lower costing options like our pet’s food bowl. Those frugal enough to have a bowl of this…delicious(?)….porridge say that if you’re going to take up dog food eating you HAVE to go with dry dog food. Wet dog food is far inferior in taste. In all honesty, we suggest referring to previous blogs and articles we have shared on tips to purchase human food for lesser costs.

Reusing Napkins and Paper Towels

One way to save on the purchasing of paper products like napkins or paper towels, some of these committed savers will reuse, rewipe, and reclean the stained, dirty napkins and paper towels they’ve used for the last few weeks. May we suggest an alternative of bringing back the cloth wipes? After being used, the cloth wipes can be tossed right in with the laundry after meals or spills.

Potty Training Their Animals

If you have the capability of potty training your pet, then by all means potty train your animal. That will inspire some great dinner party talk. Those who have been successful at the task, first typically upload it to YouTube, and then decrease their expenses on litter boxes, air fresheners, or newspapers. If deemed too challenging, you can always compare prices around your town to find cheaper litter boxes, air fresheners or newspapers than you already have.

For more bizarre ways people save money, you can read the full Cheapism article.

~Bobby

You don’t get days as perfect as these. You are driving home from work, 70 degrees; the brilliantly white, puffy clouds sit lackadaisical in the sky. The traffic is scattered at best, and there is hardly an obstacle to prevent the whipping, refreshing breeze from lightly grazing face here and again there as every window rests in the lower, unseen taverns in the lower regions of the vehicle. That song that has been on endless repeat in your brain all day is now out loud on the radio and you finally can sing it out of your system. You pull into your driveway, you’re ready to put your feet up, drink a refreshing beverage, not have to use your brain for anything but wondering if your favorite character from your favorite show is going to be ok by the end of the episode, when you glance over to the mailbox. Well, we just guess it’s a mailbox. There are too many envelopes on top of, in, and under it to really be sure. And none of those are a birthday card or wedding invitation. Heck, we’d even take jury duty. Those are all of the unpaid bills and they aren’t going to stop coming in anytime soon. They are intimidating, infuriating, and sometimes incomprehensible, but they can be subsided. At least a little bit. Even up to $500. How, you ask? To do it, just make these few minuscule changes:

Aggregating Groceries

Groceries aren’t cheap. A family of four can average $1,300 a month for groceries, reported by the Department of Agriculture. We can minimize that, though. Trick is to collect all your nonperishable and frozen items when they are on sale instead of when you absolutely need them. If you grocery shop for only items you need at the time, then you are far more likely for 50% to 80% of the items in your cart to be at full price. By shopping with the tactic of purchasing items on sale, you are likely to start saving over $500 a month.

Embrace the Cold and Darkness

It’s time to live in a world of shadows and darkness. Aside from the already known practice of turning your lights off when you leave a room that no one else is occupying, unplug machines such as the computer, chargers, cable boxes, DVD players, or anything else that doesn’t need to stay in 24/7. These can use up energy even when the technology is turned off. It can unplug $111 from your next bill.

Keeping Your Home Air Tight

The goal of keeping our home air sealed is to prevent drafts. These pesky drafts can cause the loss of desired cold air in the summertime and then desired hot air in the wintertime which would then cause you to have to compensate by over using your utilities. Over blasting the air conditioner or the heater will leave you with a bill that make you sweat and give you chills simultaneously.

Purchase LED Light Bulbs and Smart Power Strips

A larger expensive purchase for these items can cause significant drops in your monthly bills.  LED Light bulbs are far more energy efficient than regular light bulbs and can be used in your home for years. For power strips, most already come with a switch that when turned off, cannot continue to produce power to all connected devices. For smart power strips, the electricity is even more controlled, the DVD player will not be able to be turned on if the television itself is not turned on already, helping you save money efficiently!

For more tips on cutting $500+ from your monthly bills, you can read the full Simple Dollar article.

~Bobby

5 Tips to Have Better Sleep

July 16th, 2015 | Posted by admin in Health - (0 Comments)

A day can be ruined from the first moments in the morning when the alarm clock starts buzzing, and you lift the morning boulders that most call the eyelids. There’s a hurtful pressure on your eyes, your brain is acting like a battering ram charging your skull, and the world is swishing and swirling around you in jagged, jerky motions. You clearly didn’t get enough sleep last night. It might have not even been your fault! Around 60 Americans a year suffer from a sleeping disorder. Maybe you ARE causing yourself to lose sleep and may not even know it. A lack of sleep ruins productivity and can cause poor financial decisions, so in an attempt to get better sleep, here are tactics to abide that may be causing your sleep troubles:

Keep Your Eyes Off Of Your Electronics

Reading before bed is actually a wonderful tactic to help fall asleep…just not on your e-reader. These latest electronic readers are magnificent tools for providing a gateway and storage unit to thousands of novels from classic literature to current, but these are not to be used shortly before bed. Most e-readers are backlit with blue frequencies of light that suppresses melatonin which is the hormone that helps you sleep. When exposed to this the e-reader light, your eyes believe it is daytime even at 11:00pm. While you’re turning off your iPad, also take the time to turn off your smartphone as well. Looking at these devices can cause the same problem.

Do Not Drink Caffeine

Caffeine is perfectly normal substance to have in the morning. Restarts the system, going to high gear, initiate hyper speed. When caffeine can be a nightmare is in the 6 hour period before you go to sleep. So, if you want a nice restful sleep at 11:00pm, you want to kick your caffeine habit around 3:00pm. That is, of course, until it starts back up tomorrow. Just as a quick note, we do not know your body and how it processes caffeinated liquids. Your genes maybe are less sensitive to caffeine’s effects, maybe more. It is worth sticking with the six hour period at first and then playing around with it.

Make Your Dinner Fish

More protein and carbohydrates the better! Eating fish which has an abundance of both carbohydrates and protein (and a plus for being low in fat) an hour before you go to bed can help you drowse off to la-la land. If you’re not a fan of fish then try plunging into a fish of turkey. This bird meat has the extra melatonin your body might need to get some restful winks tonight.

Try to Sleep In a Different Position

It’s like if a patient in the doctor’s office asks his doctor, “It hurts when I hit my head on the table. What should I do?” Don’t hit your head on the table. If the way you sleep isn’t helping you fall asleep, then try sleeping in a new position. Do you sleep on your back? Your airwaves may be too constricted at night which your body will wake you up with you even realizing what the cause of your sleep abruption was. Try sleeping on one of your sides or belly and see if your back was the calaysit the whole time.

Less Alcohol, More Exercise

Alcohol prevents REM sleep while exercise releases endorphins. Do the math. Are you a casual drinker of the liquid? Cut back a little. Less on the booze will boost your sleep hygiene and possibly help your sleep pattern. New to exercising? Give it a shot and feel how content you are on the way home. Fan of napping? Naps can also effect night sleep so try replacing the hour or two drinking more water and hitting the weights!

For more tips on how to get better sleep, you can read the full Entrepreneur article here.

~Bobby

It’s time to gear up because we are diving into the competitive world of extreme couponing. What could be considered a worldwide phenomenon ten years ago, give or take, this vehement behemoth lifestyle of extreme couponing even had television shows dedicated to the ins and outs of a truly rigorous activity. And truly rigorous it was. In its glory days an extreme couponing expert could pay a few measly tens for a few hundreds worth of items. Alas, the enthusiasm for the activity is dwindling. Stores are catching on and making if far more difficult to run away with an inexpensive cost to an expensive array of items. Yet there’s still hope. There are still ways here and there to continue the activity and the fading passion for it may help you prosper from it even more. Here are some of the best extreme couponing techniques still in play:

Start Early

This is a strenuous activity. You need the time to really zone in on your intricate extreme couponing abilities. Best time to start is the early morning. It gives you time to gather all of your coupons, from on print to online, and place them all on one work space so you can get to work on them as quick and as effortlessly as possible. Then jam up the tunes or binge watch your favorite show and spend thirty minutes, one hour, maybe two on cutting out the coupons that caught your eye. The ones you want go in one pile, the ones that aren’t for you go in the other. The pile of discarded coupons can be saved for a dear friend or family member that can benefit from them. No coupon should ever go to waste.

Hold the Receipts

Anytime you go to dinner, or go grocery shopping, or even see a show, take a gander at the hard copy of the receipt you received. Sometimes, like CVS, there will be outright coupons for you to use at your next visit. Other times, near the bottom of the receipt will be a survey that the company requests you fill out. Completing the survey can win your cash or a gift card. Three minutes of my time to win free gifts or money? Consider it a done deal.

Join the Store’s Membership Program

The growing amount of store chains there are, the more opportunities there are for you to join any store’s membership program! Items can range from extra coupons with every purchase, a free item every month, a free item on your birthday, a free meal with every few hundred points, or any other perks that come with the membership. Best of all, the cost of starting a membership is typically free!

Check the Newspaper

An extreme coupon enthusiast who opens a newspaper is like a land owner striking oil. First, there are the bonus pages and pamphlet that are chock-full of coupons to the respective store. After you collect all the access store coupon pages, then you can play a scavenger hunt game for any little scattered coupons hiding behind the safety of the classifieds.

Joining Mailing Lists

Mailing lists not only benefit you from the plethora of information about your favorite stores, but they can also have coupons, giveaways, and sweepstakes attached. Whether it be a discounted coupon for 20% off an item in the store, a free CD, or an all-expense paid trip to the west coast, join any mailing list you can!

Join Social Media and Download Apps

Some of the best advice can be found by extreme coupon connoisseur such as yourself. You can find extreme couponing groups on Facebook to connect with. You can also go on Twitter and lookup hashtags such as #extremecouponing, #coupons, or #couponing to get a peek inside at what the couponing community is presently like. Lastly, look at couponing apps like Groupon. Groupon is actively updating the best coupons in the area that fits your couponing taste.

For more information on the strategies of extreme couponing, you can read the full US News article.

~Bobby

How to Spend a Cheap 4th of July

July 2nd, 2015 | Posted by admin in Holiday - (0 Comments)

If you were to tell us that when the 4th comes around, you love going to extravagant shows, booking premium hotels, drinking expensive champagne, and wearing a new independent trend, we couldn’t blame you. An extravagant, celebratory holiday can make the holiday a wonderful memory you can look on fondly for the rest of your day, but you can have an equally entertaining time sitting on a beach towel with your loved ones gazing up at the sparking night sky. Strip away the drinks, and fireworks, and excessive amount of hamburgers, and 4th of July becomes a fun excuse to spend time with the people you care about most in the world and toasting the country that allows you to do it. These are the ways to have a fantastic 4th of July that is rich, not in wealth, but in memorable family experiences:

Go to a Free Fireworks Display

We know that you are a talented and reliable individual. There’s no denying that. You may even be great at creating your own fireworks display, but for the future of your financial growth, along with your safety, it would be best to take your family to the nearest free firework display. There are a plethora of free fireworks displays to choose from. If there is not one in your own town, look at a surrounding town and you’ll be able to find one. If you’re lucky, there will be free rides, games, and maybe even a parade to entertain the kids!

Making your Own Decorations

Instead of shopping at a home decor or flower stores to impress the friends and neighbors, a little inexpensive touch here and there goes a long way. Gathering up the children to cut up red, white and, blue stars from construction paper or baking patriotic deserts is more fulfilling and prideful than just buying an expensive decoration. Check out our Pinterest page for more ideas on how to spend 4th of July on a budget.

Rock Your Own 4th of July Style

Instead of going to a clothing store to purchase that Uncle Sam hat and beard you can’t seem to ever spend a 4th of July not wearing, rock the holiday with attire you already possess. While lots of people will take the costly route of buying American flag earring, or a patriotic bandana used only once then forgotten about, you can take the opportunity of having fun with your own wardrobe. If there is a pair of red shorts with blue sandals or white sunglasses that you haven’t worn in what feels like decades, you may as well combine them together! You can be just as trendy in a new $50 outfit.

Camp Out

Ever been camping on the fourth? Perfect time to try it out or even do it again! Take the time exploring the wild, rustic corners of the land of the free and the home of the brave with a tent, a backpack, and your family. Roast marshmallows at a camp fire under the warm, starry night sky. Look around to see if you can reserve a spot in the closest national park.

Take Advantage of Free Stuff

Just take a glance around you and you’ll find so many fun, free activities around. Firework displays just being one of them. Check here to see where the closest firework display is in Massachusetts then afterwards research into the town to see what other free activities there are! Stay safe and have a great time!

For more tips on how to spend a cheap Independence Day, please read the full US News & World Report.

~Bobby

 

As a child, it’s likely your gateway towards financial literacy was a porcelain piggy bank. The more it digested the more money you owned. It was a simplistic system that laid the groundwork for you to become a financially stable adult that is now responsible to pass your knowledge to your kids. SO have you done it yet? If you haven’t, you’re not in the minority. Several studies over the past few years report that parents are more comfortable talking to their kids about the birds and the bees than about their child’s financial future. Still living in the aftermath of the recent recession, it is important now more than ever, to plant the green seed in their minds as young as five. Thanks to our rapidly expanding technology, you do not have to teach alone. There are several apps, some even free, that are entertaining and enlightening stepping stones to your child’s financial education:

Free

Green$treets: Unleash the Loot!

Rescue endangered animals, build relationships, set goals, earn money, budget, and give to charity with this new interactive app. The more gardens planted or items stored away, the more earned! It’s up to the user to decide how much more is given to food for the rescued animals, how much is given to charity, and how much is to spend on decorating the tree house. The user can have fun with their endangered animal before they are ready to be released back into the wild.

Ages 5-8

Renegade Buggies

Temple Run for the financial savvy. Experience the entertainment of an endless running game with a little educational twist. In this app you must run through the streets to get all of the items on your shopping list while collecting money and coupons on the way. If you avoid the obstacles and get to the finish line, you can then purchase items while trying to save as much money as you can. Have fun running and investing simultaneously.

Ages 6-11

Piggy Bot

This visual electronic piggy-bank adapts old saving technique for a more comprehensive look for a young generation. Organized into categories of spending, sharing, and saving, kids now get a better representation of how much they need to save to reach the goals they set up in the app. Users can now learn early when it’s appropriate to save for a “want” and when to save for a “need.”

Ages 6-8

$4.99

Motion Math: Cupcake!

Cupcakes have been so educational as well as being delicious. Set up a cupcake business by buying the ingredients, designing the cupcakes, and then setting up your own prices for them. Save enough money to continue to upgrade your store, and solve world problems through your customers’ orders.

Ages 8+

$5.99

Saving Spree

A winner of multiple awards, Saving Spree teaches kids how to save for large goals, small goals, when to donate, how to invest, and what lifestyle choices to make to be more financially successful. Play multiple games which earn you money and it’s up to you to decide where it goes. The more you save though, the bigger your nest egg becomes, and who doesn’t want a larger nest egg? Fun and financially recommended!

Ages 7+

For more apps to use to teach your children about finance, you can read the full US News & World Report article.

~Bobby

You open your eyes. You sit up, yawning and stretching your sleepy muscles, but this day your energy is bursting and you jump out of bed. The bed isn’t as warm and cozy as the other days of the week. That’s impossible, right? Nope! It’s because today is Friday, and Friday can be called an even more pleasing name: Payday. The melody of those words whirl pleasantly off the lips and tickles the eardrum. It’s a truly wondrous day where a multitude of dreams can come true. Well… Except not when you have already blown the entire paycheck before Friday even came. It’s really a punch in the gut when you don’t even realize it’s happening too. The unfortunate thing is it may be happening to you as we speak. Here are the signs and the changes to make to make sure you are gaining money paycheck to paycheck and not just breaking even:

Morning Coffee

We hope that you are enjoying that coffee you are sipping on every morning because that first hour you sit and drink the beverage, it’s nulling your first hour of work pay. Now, we know it’s not just you being the victim of an undying love of caffeine. A survey conducted in 2012 reports that the average American worker spends over $1,000 on coffee alone. Do you really need that extra caffeinated kick? Buy your own coffee and make it at home. That will be over an extra $500 dollars in the bank when the year is out.

Bottle Water

Water. One of life’s essential resources that shouldn’t cost you a nickel. You can save hundreds of dollars on groceries by purchasing a water filter.  Yes, the cheapest option IS to just drink straight from the faucet, but if you prefer filter water, compare a $20 filter with the $11.8 billon Americans spent on water in 2012, as reported by Business Insider. Maybe now you’ll consider the $20 investment.

Skipping Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, not just for your health but for your wallet. Your lunch order will be quite a bit smaller if you put some food in your belly in the morning.  That being said, it will further decrease your cost exponentially by sticking to your guns and not ordering out for lunch. $15 a day, 5 days a week is doing nothing for your financial stability.

Quit Smoking

This isn’t just an issue for financial purposes. There aren’t enough reasons in the world to keep your smoking habit intact. Yet, for now, we will stick with strictly the financial aspects. Do you smoke around a pack a week? It’s an estimated $1,850 a year. This year, try looking for a nice trip on Groupon with that money instead!

Don’t Buy Theatre Concessions

Movie theatres commonly make around 10% on every ticket sold. That doesn’t leave much for the theaters themselves. This is why the snacks can seem unreasonably high. They need to get income somehow too. See if the theater allows you to bring your own snacks. You can find the same fresh candy at the dollar and then some! If only the theater had its own microwave to use for our popcorn…

Going Out for Drinks

Sometimes that day of work was really horrendous, that customer was such a jerk, your boss put you over the edge, or even just to do something with your friends at 9 in the evening and it’s the most convenient option. The alcohol going over your taste buds at the bar almost tastes like the copper of the change you are devouring away. You may know that drinks on the town are substantially more costly than alcohol at the liquor store. As long as you are being responsible, it is more cost effective to invite the friends over at the house than 4, 5, or however many $4 drinks you’d get the bar.

Eat Leftovers for Dinner

Hundreds of dollars a year can be wasted on throwing out leftovers. You spent HOURS that day standing around the stove, contributing your multitude of culinary talents to make this meal, and now you’re going to throw it out in the garbage? It’s your baby. You created it, raised it, were there for it in its times of need, and now you will abandon it just because it takes up a little too much space in its frozen crib? You need to eat that baby. Eat every last bite. That way you are getting your money’s worth AND not wasting more on an extra dinner purchase the next day.

For more advice on how to stop blowing your paycheck before Friday comes around, you can read the full Go Banking Rates article.

~Bobby

Ahhh, June. It’s a lovely month to get out of the house and explore the community. Go grab the family and pile into the car, dogs and cats too, and go build future fond memories together.  Probably involving ice cream. Maybe it involves other things other than ice cream, but really, it involves ice cream. What else? Let’s see. There’s only so many times to go to the beach. Mini golf, yeah. Bowling, possibly. How about…starting a fun little business! Dear no, NOT a lemonade stand. There are enough of those. How about a yard sale? This is a simple, productive, and universally loved activity that you can do by yourself to clean out the house, an ice breaking event for you and your neighbors, or even to help teach the kiddies about money and business early on! The only real question here is how to create the biggest gangbuster yard sale your community will ever see. Here are some small tips to help you accomplish it:

Groom the Area

This is without question the first step you should get through before even choosing what old items you wish to sell. Why would the customers want to pick up your box of china dolls in a weed full, tick invested grass that is as high your eyeballs? Please, as a favor to your customers and the good of the neighborhood, dust off the lawnmower. If you appear to be unable to keep your yard in proper condition, why would customers believe you do it for your items? Aside from that, let’s not even think about what would happen if a customer tripped of some tangled earth and hurt themselves on your property.

Advantageous Advertising

We already established that this is the yard sale your customers will be raving about to their grandchildren in their golden years. Why don’t they know it yet?! GO PROMOTE! Legally, of course. Now, let’s just not get a little too crazy when doing so. You could have the talent of the next Van Gough, but making your signs with intricate designs and conceptual modern art are going to be lost on people. Instead, use bright flashy colors in a minimalist way. All your posters need to have is “Yard Sale,” a convenient way how to reach your house, and a number to contact you. Every day your yard sale is continuing, take a stroll to check all of your signs are still clean and in their proper locations. Want to really reach people? Advertise in some of your local papers, create a Facebook event, and you can even do a little free push on Craigslist.

Keep Prices Simple

Alright, look. We all know that baseball is ten bucks. Don’t sell it to me for $75. Aside from scamming your customers with overpricing, make it easy to tell what the price is on each item. Separate the items by table making the tables $1, $2, $3, you see where I’m going with this, right? To create even LESS confusion you can pick up some colored stickers at the dollar store and color identify each item by price and posting an easily read sign addressing each color with each price. Proficiency. That’s what we’re going for.

Plastic Bags

One word, yard sale aficionados. Plastics. You’re going to be the talk of the town when you disperse your customers the extra plastic bags from the grocery store that you haven’t used as hand-me-down doggie bags. These can now be used as a gathering tool of all their small purchases! Allison Martin of Money Talks News recommends creating a special where if the customer fills the entire bag with a specific low priced item then they receive a deal. For her, this resulted in her doubling her expected profit.

Flexibility

Let’s not keep it too strict. Sometimes bending the rules will cause a larger amount of sale. People love being able to go to one of these events to do a little bargain shopping. “$6? Come on. I’ll give you $3. Fine. I’ll settle for $4. Deal!” Give these people these opportunities. If not, then they just won’t give you any business at all. It’s stuff you want to get rid of anyway! Have fun with them. Flexing your hours during the yard sale can be a smart move as well. Get a couple of neighbors in on it and have them take over the tables when you want to take a break for an hour or two. That way your hours of selling rise significantly.

For more tips on having a gangbusters yard sale, you can read the full Money Talks News article here.

~Bobby

Congratulations, graduates! The years and years that seemed like centuries of sitting behind desks, text books, and staying up late trying to figure out exactly what trigonometry is are now behind you. What’s now in front of you is your real world education that you will be receiving for the rest of your life. There’s no more procrastinating for these courses. Sound scary? It can be. It certainly is at some points.  One safe guard you can use is taking comfort in the fact that you’re not alone in experiencing this transition. It is reported that around 1.8 million students are expected to receive their Bachelor’s degree this year. That is 1.8 million people that are scared with mixed excitement when taking the largest life step to date. What hundreds of thousands of those kids might lack are the life experience that is not listed in the school curriculum.  One of the most essential? Finance. There are quite a few small and big actions you can do now that can make your life exponentially more financially comfortable which some graduates may put off or not even think of. These smart moves will put you ahead of the pack:

Face Your Student Debt Head On

You have about six months to a year before the rampaging bull called “student loans” tries to pick you up by the horns. We know that the last thing on this planet you want to even give the slightest graze of thought to after graduation is already starting to pay your student loans. We won’t sugarcoat it. It’s not enjoyable. First bill comes in. A couple hundred bucks?! I’m a broke college graduate! They can wait a couple of months. Second bill comes in. I’m still job hunting! I’ll get a job really soon. I can feel it. Then I’ll pay the amount owed no worries. By the time the third, fourth, and fifth bill make their way into the mailbox the excuses will stretch as far as the amount of your late payments. The job will come and so will your now destroyed credit score. You’re going to be starting your adult life face first in the dirt. Now, this doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. Just pay your loans as soon as they come in. Mark Kantrowitz, of Edvisors.com, recommends the standard 10 year plan. Other options include contacting the U.S. Department of Education for advice based on your situation, a 25 year plan where your payments are based on what you earn, or potential loan consolidation.

Create Your Budget Plan

What better way to get your future life in order than with an organized plan? It’s about that time to bang out a good ole spreadsheet. Divide it in categories such as Rent, Car, Phone, Loans, Utilities, etc. This helps to maximize your opportunities to start saving more of your money. Being able to take a step back from your bank account will let your see your finances with fresh eyes. You can then start to place the excess wealth towards your future and even spend some of it on that concert you really, really, really want to go to. Blindly spending the money paycheck to paycheck isn’t the best strategy, especially when something as important as rent needs to be taken care of and your checking account is full of nothing but moths.

Build Your Savings for Surprises

As written above, a rent payment when you surprisingly have no money is unpleasant. What’s worse is when you have an unexpected emergency with no saved money. An important emergency surgery or a car accident are things you cannot see coming, so without that saved money, you are up the unwanted creek without a paddle. Kevin Gallegos of the Freedom Financial Network recommends at LEAST $250 dollars saved for any emergency you may unfortunately come across. This way your conscious can rest a little easier.

Start a Credit Card

From the get go, it is essential to have good credit. These cards can get a bad reputation for enabling the card holder to spend far more than they should, but when handled correctly are a key component to establishing great credit. Lee Gimpel of The Good Credit Game recommends using it like a debit card. Pay off your expenses as soon as the bill comes in and only pay for items you know you can afford. Check out our credit cards to see if there is a credit card that fits you.

For more information of the moves to make after college, you can read the full MarketWatch article here.

~Bobby

Price, price, price! Everywhere we look, we find services promising to find us the lowest price on our next car. We see it at the wholesale clubs, consumer reporting services, auto and financial services websites, on TV and billboards spread across town.

What’s the common factor here? The dealers are paying for it! Why you might ask? Because buyers distracted by the low prices usually end up paying more in the end. Besides, in a vehicle transaction, price typically accounts for the smallest amount of the profit. Trust me; nobody is in this business to lose money.

Similarly, as we explain to members during the car-buying seminars held at the credit union; if you call 5 dealers to compare the price of a particular vehicle, you’re likely to be given a lower price with each subsequent call. Why? Because if a dealer gives you a higher price, chances are you won’t visit them and they won’t have the opportunity to make that sale and potential profit.

Of course the objective here is not to make less profit, it’s to generate traffic from which to make more profit. So, all of this one-price/low-price/shop-us-last pricing services has one intention – to get us into the dealership! Because once we’re in the dealership, the advertising has paid for itself, and the dealer has a captive audience with which to maximize profits.  Again, most profit is made after the purchase.

What about these one-price stores?

The same thing holds true with the trend toward no-haggle pricing in dealerships, aka “one-price” or “pure price” dealerships that are popping up. Who remembers General Motors experiment with Saturn? The underlying concept with Saturn was the no-haggle pricing philosophy. Many consumers (well, not quite enough to keep the brand alive) that flocked to Saturn to avoid the price haggling actually helped generate higher profits than GM was seeing from Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac and Oldsmobile. With a one-price store, you may be at disadvantage –you’re still negotiating trade values, financing, fees & add-ons, while you can’t negotiate the price!

Why lowest price does not define best deal

So what if a dealer is offering to sell you a vehicle for $500 less than a nearby dealer – if they give you $1,000 less for your trade? That’s one example of where lowest price is not the best deal.

Then there’s the financing, where the dealer will do everything in their power to get you to finance through their sources, enabling them to raise the interest rate, so you pay more in finance charges (which the dealer gets). When you finance through the dealer, it’s easy to add other things to the loan, which you will be paying for 5, 6, or even 7 years. And extending the term to meet or lower the monthly payment still costs you more.

One of the biggest costs (and contributing factors determining a good from not-so-good deal) is the extended warranty. Have you ever heard “Do you know this vehicle has more computers that the Apollo space craft that landed on the moon?” I love that! Like life insurance, extended warranties can be a good thing – if you use them. It’s just important to confirm A) does the coverage match my driving habits? B) Is the coverage comprehensive? C) Is the price right? And D) Will I sleep more comfortably knowing I have it? Our Auto Advisors are here to help members evaluate the need and value.

Lastly is the area of after-market add-on’s, where a dealer may add something that you perceive as having value, while in reality it’s generating significant incremental revenue for the dealer.

When considering these add-ons, you may hear “Oh, the difference in payment would be only the price of a cup of coffee a day”? But think about this – assuming the average cup of joe costs $2.50 and you buy one a day. Well 30 days at $2.50 per = $75 per month. So on the average loan, that $2.50 a day will add about $5,000 over the term of the loan. And, guess what; you’ll likely still buy the coffee!

Again, like life insurance, some add-ons can prove to be a prudent investment. Our Auto Advisors are here to help with those decisions.

Focus on total cost

Rather than price, our Auto Advisors focus on “total cost”, which is calculated as follows:  Price – trade value + financing + fees + warranty and after-market sales = Total Cost   In fact, I recently spoke with a dealer who carried the point home when he told me that, while the average profit on the sale of the vehicle was -$400 (that’s a $400 loss), the “back-end” profit was closer to $2,000.

So while there’s a certain appeal with no-haggle pricing, it may actually turn into a disadvantage for you.  You get worked on your trade, financing, warranty and after-market sales, yet you can’t negotiate the price!

Remember one important point; the more you borrow today, the more you may owe when you trade in that car. That’s why about 1 of 3 borrowers owes more than their car is worth so, when trading in, they need to roll over negative equity into the new loan.

The big print giveth while the small print taketh away

How many times have you seen advertised prices or payments too good to be true? Well, you know what they say! “Your configured vehicle may not be available.” “Prices include all rebates to dealer” (often including rebates you may not qualify for). “Vehicle must be paid same day” “With approved financing”, etc. I recently saw 2 ad’s for the same car. One quoted $19,999 and the other $9,999. Well where would you go? Turns out the $19,999 (from a dealer in the credit union’s Auto Advisor network) was a valid, below-market purchase price whereas the $9,999 (from a dealer known for “asterisk advertising”) was the sum of payments for a 36-month lease. Now that’s just wrong! On the other hand, a 24-month lease advertised for $49/mo with $4,000 up-front really costs about $220 per month. This might work out well for some but again, it’s important to understand the terms and make an educated decision.

When was the last time you felt good about your automobile purchase?

Well, now you can be when you take our Auto Advisor along. Our Auto Advisor will discuss your needs.  In fact, our Advisors have helped members purchase over 7,000 new & used vehicles during the past 10 years. Many of those 4, 5, 6 or more times in their families. Whether you have used the service or not, we would be thrilled to help you with your next purchase.

To get in touch with the Auto Advisors, call 800-942-9575 or email autoadvisor@AlignCU.com. And remember, Align offers the same great rates on a used vehicles that are available for new ones.

~David Brown, Align Credit Union Auto Advisor