Money

Buy a car like a pro

Buy a car like a pro

Imagine showing up at the dealership with no information about the car you’re there to buy. No idea of the sticker price and no clue about dealer invoice cost. You don’t even know how much the loan payments will be. Financial suicide, right? Not anymore.

In the current age of smartphone technology, being elbow-deep in books to get the necessary information is definitely a thing of the past.

These days, phone apps and internet sites exist to put all the information you need literally at your fingertips, all while you’re standing on the showroom floor.

For example, a site like moneysupermarket.com is good as moneysupermarket compares car loans. These sites give the prospective buyer a series of quotes from leading financial institutions.

Knowing how much you have to spend on a new car and what each payment will cost per month is vital to the negotiation process.

Compare interest rates on your phone while a dealer is quoting their own financial loan package. Suddenly, knowledge is a whole new kind of power as you negotiate a better rate based on real-time data.

Calculate in mere seconds the difference between wholesale cost and the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price. You’ll be able to use that knowledge effectively when negotiating a lower price.

Also, do you really need those extras? Salespeople often try to tack on expensive features to improve their bottom line. Fabric protection, rustproofing and other options will add to your final cost.

Free phone apps can assist buyers in researching automobile features and add-ons, once again placing the power of knowledge back in the hands of the consumer.

Phone apps can also show exactly which dealerships in your area carry the car you want to purchase. If one dealer seems unwilling to meet your price, or give decent value for your trade-in, try another dealer.

Sometimes, just heading for the door is enough to stimulate a stalled negotiation process. Knowledge of the latest data can give you the confidence to shop around for the best deal.

Phone apps can save you time and money once you buy your car as well. State laws vary when it comes to car insurance requirements. Know exactly what is necessary for insuring your car and receive side-by-side rate quotes with apps that compare insurance providers and plans.

Most car insurance companies also offer apps for roadside assistance should you ever get in an accident. They provide information about local police stations, hospitals and auto body shops, giving you peace of mind while you’re on the road.

Salespeople prey on the unprepared. Knowing the exact value and features of a car and what loan options and insurance packages exist, only serves to empower the buyer.

Armed with real-time data, automobile purchases become less of an emotion-based, impulse-buy. Instead, the process becomes one in which the buyer is always in control.

When it comes to the cost of big-ticket items such as cars, forewarned is definitely forearmed. Utilize the latest in technology and information to return the power where it really belongs – with you, the consumer.


Saving Money During Summer: Tips

Saving Money During Summer: Tips

Summer time to relax and have some fun with your kids. For some, summer time is when their expenses really go up. Those who live in warm places need to turn on their air conditioning units to escape the summer heat. And since the kids are home, many electronics and appliances are open all day. If your household spends more than it should during the summer months, here are some tips you will surely love.

Use alternative cooling appliances. Having the air conditioner on for long periods of time can put a dent in your wallet and in the environment. Use the air conditioner only for a few hours and only when you really need it. You can purchase electric fans or other cooling appliances that will not cost as much to operate. If there’s a cool breeze outside, open the windows instead and let the fresh air in. Friendly reminder: if you often use your air conditioner, make sure the filters are clean so it runs efficiently.

Take advantage of the sun’s rays. Do you rely too much on your dryer? Let it rest for the summer. Allow the sun’s heat and the warm winds to dry your clothes instead. Air drying your clothes and other household items can help lower your electric bills considerably.

Have weekly barbecues. Instead of using your electric stove, have a barbecue outside. Take advantage of the summer weather. Grilling is so much fun and it’s a healthier way of cooking, too. Plus, you won’t add to the indoor heat if you grill outside. Cooking using the store or your oven raises the temperature at least in your kitchen.

Buy from sales. Department stores and malls usually go on a summer sale. There may be items that you need or want but could not afford that are put on sale during the summer. Why pay full price when you can find clothes, shoes, accessories, household items, appliances, furniture and other items at special sales.

Shop for items that are in season. Whether you go to the grocery or your local farmer’s market, always buy vegetables, fruits and other produce that are in season. You can save a lot of money if your purchase only produce that’s bountiful during the summer months. Better yet, even before summer starts, plant vegetables, fruits, herbs and even flowers that you know will be at their peak during summer. Then you don’t have to buy all your ingredients from the market.

Vacation at home. If you want to treat your family to a budget friendly summer vacation, take them to places closer to home. Find affordable vacations in national parks or amusement parks close by.

Don’t let the summer heat melt your budget. Save for a rainy day during the summer months. There are many interventions that you can do to keep your expenses low. You can enjoy the summer months and save money at the same time.

One thing I like about summer is the opportunity to accomplish a lot without shelling out a large amount. There are various options available in order to trim your expenses during summertime. You can search people in your area to find out how you can spend less and do more even when you are on a tight budget.


Tips on your household finance

Tips on your household finance

Like most large companies, a house is run like a business and so should be dealt with in a similar manner. The way people deal with their personal finances can often be lacklustre, though keeping track of it is of optimum importance.Unlike many businesses, which can account for their spending down to nearly he last penny, many households don’t know how much they spend on many of the things that come in and out, with many not keeping books at all.

So, what is the best way to keep a track on the finances for a home and what way should you best go about doing it?

A small investment in a notebook or cashbook can be a good start. Being able to keep a record of your outgoings and your incoming at all times makes keeping a record of house finances a lot easier. If you don’t have the discipline to remember, bring it around with you and write down the figures after shopping. If there are more than a couple of you in the house, ensure everyone has their own separate book to put money down in and budget with.

Transfer these figures into a ledger to get a better view of the whole households spending. This gives you an overall view of the household’s incomings and the household’s outgoings over a monthly basis. Include all the other things outside of the notebook in this such as bills, mortgages and other large and regular costs this allows you to project for the future.

If you are a little bit more up with computers and know how to create spreadsheet, then it is easy to keep a track of expenses through one of these. Spread sheets are faster, offer less work to do as they do the calculations for you and are also clearer than ledgers. Use a spread sheet in the same fashion as a ledger to record household spending.

Business software can also be used for household purposes and offers an even clearer view of expenditure and incomes again. This software is fit for the task and so offers an even wider range of functions than a spreadsheet. Business budgeting software can be gotten for a low price and is ideal for complete clarity.

When you do your monthly calculations it can then be very easy to see where the household is spending unnecessarily and so you can then easily make the cuts you need from this expenditure.

Keeping a clear and concise budget also means that you can set money aside for saving as well as for other things and allows you project for the future and anything nice that you wish for you and your family to have. It is simple, takes only a little time and is a good habit to get into.

Simon Grant is a writer and blogger who contributes to Fiscal Muses and has written this on behalf of Ulster Bank, a bank where you can apply for a bank account online.


The best budgeting software to help you manage your personal finances

The best budgeting software to help you manage your personal finances

When it comes to managing your finances, staying on top and staying in control are crucial. Whether you want to maintain a big money share portfolio, monitor multiple savings accounts or simply keep a close check on your grocery spends each week, keeping accurate budget reports are crucial for keeping track of how your money is performing and where it is going.
For many people, the idea of budgets and spreadsheets fill them with dread, but luckily there are now a host of online and desktop software solutions which can keep accurate records of your finances. There are many different options for personal finance tools for both PC and Mac users and the best ones can really help to take the stress out of budget control. Here are some of our favorites:

GnuCash (Windows, Mac and Linux)
www.gnucash.org
For those loathe to spend money on software, GnuCash offers a powerful desktop solution, and best of all it’s completely free. It is built by volunteers as an open source project and is effective enough for use by small businesses as well as for those wanting to keep track of their personal finances. It is desktop based meaning you have access to your accounts offline and its intuitive interface allows you to keep accurate records of your stocks, bank accounts income and expenses. Built firmly on time-tested accounting principles it will help you balance the books with double-entry accounting and professional-standard reports.

Mint (web based)
www.mint.com
Another option that gets a big thumbs up in the dollar saving stakes, as it’s also free to use. It’s a web-based solution which means you can use it on any machine with a decent internet browser, but also means you’ll need to have online access whenever you want to check your finances. Cloud-based systems have become a lot more secure in recent years so you shouldn’t have any concerns from that point of view, although there are many people who would still prefer the comfort of a desktop solution for their financial accounting. But if you’re happy with a cloud-based system, then Mint offers an easy-to-use and elegant option. You can access from your computer or phone and see all your balances and transactions in one place. It will also help you track investments, send you reminders when bills are due and even offers tips on how to save and get the most from your money.

Quicken (Windows, Mac)
www.quicken.com
The daddy of personal finance software from the same people behind Mint. This is the top choice in America and for good reason. It’s not cheap though and will set you back between $49.99 and $99.99 depending which version you want. But what you get is a powerful day-to-day budgeting package, with cash flow graphs, bill reminders, automatic and intuitive budget goals and quick and clear analyses of where your money is going. It can even help you plan for retirement, set up debt reduction plans and alert you to any unusual account activity.

Christopher Moriarty is a writer with a passion for personal finance. Christopher blogs about family finance issues including credit card charges and Mis-Sold PPI claims as well as other personal finance topics such as investing and mortgages


The Importance of Financial Literacy

The Importance of Financial Literacy

We go to school to learn new things. We want to be able to equip ourselves with the knowledge and skills necessary for adult life. Math, Science, English…these are all important subjects. But I believe that the most important subject of all is not taught at universities. Rather, it is taught in the school of life. This is financial literacy.

Financial literacy is defined as the ability to understand the language of money. In order to understand a book you have to be able to know how to read. In the same way, in order to become wealthy you have to be financially literate. You have to be able to understand how money works. Financial literacy can only be achieved through financial education.

There are many people who refuse to take responsibility for themselves. They blame the government, their parents, their boss or some other person for their current financial situation. It may be easier to blame other people but the truth is you are responsible for your life. Like most things in this world financial literacy can be learned. And it can only be learned if you actively seek it out.

Financial literacy is important because it is only through being able to understand how money works that we can conquer it. Most people say, “Oh, money is not important.” Or, “Those who want to be rich are greedy people.”  But this is only ignorance talking. Money may not be the only thing that matters but it does affect everything that matters: education, family, health… Without money how can you take care of your family? How can you send your children to school? How can you go on family vacations?

Making money is a skill. And like most skills, it can be learned. If you want to become financially free the first step to this is financial literacy. The reason why so many people are poor and remain poor is because they don’t understand how money works. They do not know how to handle money. The importance of financial literacy cannot be overstated. If you love yourself and your family, if you don’t want to work forever at a job you can’t stand, then study how money works. Become financially literate and start working on your way towards financial freedom.

Amy C. is an interior decoration aficionado and online marketer.  She also likes testing and trying new home and office decorating themes.  In addition to being an interior decoration hobbyist, she enjoys designing calming solar fountains and glass art.  Amy invites you to browse her delightful collection of glass vases


Eat Healthy, Save Money?

Stretching that monthly budget during tough times is no easy task. Raises are rare, the cost of living is increasing, and so is the price of preserving our health. Getting ahead in this world takes more than a mix of grit and gravitas; the system is designed to cater to those who have already established themselves. Even if you were to know the best stock picks, would you have the funds available that are necessary to seize upon such an opportunity? We’re very limited in what we can accomplish when it comes to making significant gains in both lifestyle and financial stability.

Luckily, there might be an easy way for any family to accomplish both at once: eating healthy.

Saving money by eating right is not exactly easy, at least seemingly so. Healthier options on many store shelves are oftentimes priced higher than the preservative-packed alternative. Indeed, it’s telling that the United States is the only country in the world where our impoverished are on average fatter than the rest of the population. As counter-intuitive as that sounds, it makes sense when you realize how cheap bad food is, and how costly eating right can be.

So when families attempt to save a buck by skipping the burger in favor of the bean patty, they usually find that the savings are virtually non-existent. In combination with the seemingly lacking flavor and substance, they quickly revert back to Hamburger Helper. It’s enough calories in one sitting to cover you for half the day, but it’s also $2 a box.

People forget that the way you save on eating right is not through the substance, but the volume, or lack thereof. Countless individuals across the country are economically used to large portions. We’re been trained to worship the “less for more” tactic of food sales. We don’t realize that the portions we consume are far larger than what the average healthy human is supposed to be eating daily.

For instance, did you know most nutritionists recommend a serving of meat being no bigger than the size of your balled fist? Most Americans consider that size of cut to be worthy of the appetizer. But if you and your family decided to follow such guidelines, especially those currently being proposed by the Department of Agriculture via the MyPlate.gov awareness campaign, you will certainly see an increase in monthly money to spend.

It won’t be easy. Your bellies will growl at the reduced intake. But you’re not only saving your limited income, you’re saving yourself from paying the price of poor health choices. Stretching your earnings starts by shrinking your stomach.


Managing the students wallet

This post contributed by Katei Cranford.
School is a time for instruction. It can also be a time of financial chaos—from the windfalls of grants to the pits of misspending—students stay on a fiscal roller-coaster. But with some thought, planning and a bit of willpower, you can also coast through college on a steady path toward financial stability.Discounts

Most movie theaters offer student discounts. So do coliseums, skating rinks, museums, art galleries, and all sorts of entertainment venues. The discounts get deeper with computers, cameras, and other electronics. Additionally, many travel agencies and airlines offer student specials—take advantage of these while you can. On a more everyday level, restaurants and local shops typically offer discounts to students.

Food

We all have to eat. Be on the lookout for student discounts at area restaurants. Also, hunt deals and specials, plan your meals according to daily deals at eateries. As a previous financewand.com post indicates, “eating cheaply does not mean that your diet has to suffer, it just means you need to take more care in buying the right foods at the right times.” Remember that eating out isn’t the only option. Don’t fear the grocery store or farmer’s market. Farmer’s markets are great ways to keep your cash circulating within the community and pick up quality food options for a fraction of the cost of traditional super-market shopping.

Entertainment

Living a cable-free lifestyle can literally save hundreds a month. The internet is essential to study and offers a world of broadcast possibilities at a fraction of the cost to subscribe to cable or satellite television. Besides, watching a little less TV frees up time for students to engage their community, see live music, or at least spend the same time watching their favorites shows on the web—mostly for free.

Clothes

Fighting the urge to buy brand-new items one of the best tools in student’s wallet. Be thrifty—hit up thrift stores or consignment shops. College-areas typically have the best thrift stores around. Vintage is always stylish and there are second-hand stores which only accept name-brand merchandise (for all you label hunters out there.) There is often little difference between the quality of brand-new versus gently-used, but the difference in cost can be substantial.

DIY & Home repair

Saving a trip to the appliance store can save quite a bit of cash for students living outside of the dorm. Often students find themselves with older home equipment. Keeping older appliances in good condition may be as simple as ordering a few parts and a screwdriver to repair loose handles or burnt out coils. Also, students often lose their rental deposits due to simple neglect. Holes in walls from posters or shelving can be repaired with drywall puddy and a bit of elbow grease. And carpeting can be patched with glue and scissors.

Taxes and Finances

Student taxes are unlike any other. Understanding the proper deductions or credits to which they are eligible is essential come tax-time. If done correctly when they file taxes, students can see significant amounts of their tuition reimbursed. Additionally, establishing credit is easier for students as credit card companies are eager to grant small amounts of credit to students on the assumption that all students are irresponsible with money. However, the financially-savvy student can reap the rewards of stereo-typed irresponsibility.

Katei Cranford is a recent UNCG graduate and freelance journalist who’s making her mark beyond academia and advising others not so far behind. Her twitter profile kateichan


A way to live up to your obligations

Financial problems may come up at any given point in our lives without informing us beforehand. If you meet with any emergency all of a sudden, you may find it difficult to handle the situation, especially when you’re nearing the end of a month. It might be a good ploy to go for the cash advance option under circumstances when your friends or relatives aren’t able to support you. These quick cash loans are short terms loans. Such loans are usually offered without any credit requirement.Quick cash loans may help you to cope with all emergencies without any difficulties. All your problems may simply vanish within a few seconds. For quick cash loans, you’ll usually meet the eligibility criteria if you have a consistent flow of income and if you’re at least 18 years old. The processing time for these loans is really much less as compared with other loans and the steps to apply are also quite easy. You may use cash for meeting your financial obligations like medical bills, electricity bills etc. The lender won’t restrict or interfere in whatever way you use this money.

The quick cash loans that you borrow may even vary between $100 and $1,500. The amount of loan approved against your application may vary as per your monthly income. Such loans are usually approved for a period of 14 days, and hence you need to repay them by the time you receive your next paycheck. The lender may even allow a few more weeks for you to repay a loan. But you should only avail such option, when you’re not able to repay the cash within the following payday.

You should always opt for quick cash loans without any hesitation in case you’re trudging with credit problems concerning any missed payment, skipped payment, late payment, bankruptcy, insolvency, CCJs, defaults or arrears. They will reach out cash to you instantly. A quick cash loan for 12 months will allow you to use the loan amount through any obligation, and repay it within that period.

You may get in touch with a few online lenders in order to apply for quick cash loans quickly and conveniently. Online requests are easy and quite smooth. You may shop for a few online quotes and get an idea of the interest charges so that you end up selecting a good deal and avoid all hassles. Quick cash advance is always there to support you through various obligations like repaying your shopping bills, purchasing a cell phone, buying grocery, car maintenance etc. You may now look up to your necessities quite confidently.


Save money at home

Did you know that you don’t have to make drastic lifestyle changes if you want to save money at home? It’s true. So here are some money-saving tips which you can start trying out at home today so that you save some dollars.

  • Pay your credit card bills in full and avoid the overdrafts

You can easily avoid paying the interest and late charges if you pay your credit card bills on time and in full. But if you are struggling to do this, then consider only using the credit card in emergencies. The same applies to your debit cards; steer clear of the overdraft particularly if you will be charged by the bank. And even if you are the lucky people who have free overdraft, it’s a good idea to avoid abusing it as it can encourage you to sink deeper into the overdraft, making it harder to get out of it in the future.

  • Cook at home

There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a meal at a restaurant or ordering takeaways now and then: just don’t make it a daily routine. If you cook at home and buy your own ingredients, not only will you save money but you will also be eating healthier and feel much better in the process. It’s a win-win situation.

  • Buy what you need at the supermarket

If you plan your meals for the coming days and/or the week ahead, you can control your spending at the supermarket. Because you have a menu and ideas of what to cook, you will know exactly what ingredients you need. So there’s no reason to buy the caviar if you are planning to cook macaroni and cheese.

  • User energy saving light bulbs and turn off the lights

Buying standard light bulbs is cheap, but buying energy-saving light bulbs can save you money in the long term. Don’t be put off by the higher prices of the energy-saving bulbs as you can gradually get your money back since they use less energy and your electricity bill consequently will be reduced. However, this doesn’t mean that you can turn on the light and leave it on, even with these bulbs. It’s simple: turn off the lights when not in use.

  • Fill up your washing machine and dishwasher before using them

There is no point on turning on either of these appliances if they are not full. You can waste hot water by cleaning a few items of clothing or some crockeries and cutleries on a regularly basis. And if you frequently use the washing machine or dishwasher when not full, expect to see your bills increased as a result of this.

  • Hang your clothes instead of using the dryer

Save your electricity bill by not using the dryer and instead, hang your clothes outside during the good weather or inside on a clothes airer, radiator, hanger, etc. It’s not like you urgently need your clothes to be dry all the time.

  • Take a shower instead of having a bath

If you take your baths every day, then don’t be surprised about your heating bills as filling up the bath will take up so much energy and hike up your bills. Having a shower is so much more energy-efficient and easier on your wallet. And you will be just as clean too as taking a bath.


Why Saving is the First Step to Investing

What is current financial state? Are you on the road to financial freedom or are you still struggling with money despite many years of toil? Many people think that the “rich” have it easy. They believe that because of their many businesses and smart investments money has ceased to become a problem. But what most people see are the only results. What they fail to appreciate is all the hard work that went behind these successes.

What about you. Would you like to enjoy the same prosperity that the rich are enjoying? How would you like to be financially free and never have to worry about money ever again? If so then let me give you the first step to investing. It is not complicated. It does not even require much financial knowledge. It, however, requires discipline and commitment. This is very simple to do and yet not everyone can do it. That first step is saving.

Yes. You heard me right. Saving is the first step to investing. According to the novel The Richest Man in Babylon, in order to be wealthy you must first fatten your wallet. How? By saving at least 10% of all your income. Of course if you can save more then that is even better as you will hasten the process. But do not go below 10 %.

Many people find it so hard to save. They think, “But my income is barely able to sustain my needs! How on earth can I save?” If you think like this then you will never become wealthy. The reason why the rich are rich is because they pay themselves first. Think about it. Upon receiving your salary you pay everybody else but you don’t pay yourself. You pay the baker, the banker, the electric company, your school, the car company…And if there is any money left you spend it. You go to a movie or go shopping. Now with spending habits likes these is it any wonder why you struggle to save a few dollars? Most people, upon receiving their salary, pay the bills and try to save what’s left. Why not do it the other way around. Upon receiving your salary you automatically deduct 10% and place it in the bank or some place safe. Then you discipline yourself to live on the 90%.

This may seem hard at first. But believe me, you’ll get used to it. It doesn’t matter what you do with the 90%. What matters is that you have 10% of your income stored away safely each monthly. This way when a great investment opportunity comes along then you’ll have the money to invest. When it comes to money its not how much you earn that’s important. It is how much you keep.

Amy C. is an interior decoration aficionado and real estate investor.  She also likes testing and trying new home and office decorating themes.  In addition to being an interior decoration hobbyist, she enjoys designing calming indoor fountains and glass art.  Amy invites you to browse her delightful collection of glass vases


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