money management

Lance Fair Child Associates: Fusing Money Management With Baseball

Lance Fair Child was not sure where baseball would take him. His love for the sport was nothing but a calling, but he listened nevertheless. Lance played the game as a young boy, and his skill continued to develop in high school.

Lance went to Rowlett High School, which was in his hometown of Rowlett, Texas. He grew up loving the sport but also expanded his interests in other areas. There was something mathematical about the way he approached his game. He calculated every possible outcome against the risks that he took. This turned out to work for him later on in life because he would go into finances. Lance Fairchild would approach this money management career just like he approached baseball.

Lance Fairc child then went on to play for the UTPB Falcons when he went to the University of Texas of the Permian Bay. It was there where he played for a few years, picking up a few wins as a pitcher. He played with jersey number 24.

Still, he was not sure where life was going to take him at this point, but he was happy to give his team all the effort he could as one of their pitchers. Of course, graduation came around, and he came out victorious as he was picked up by the Pecos League right off the bat. In 2015, he joined the Las Vegas Train Robbers. He might have never imagined that he would go to Vegas and play professionally yet there he was.

It was not long after showing off his skills for the Las Vegas Trainer Robbers that another team took an interest in him. This time he went all the way down to Arizona, where he joined the Roswell Invaders in 2016. This team was still in the Pecos League. Lance had made plenty of friends and acquaintances by this time and enjoyed the excitement of the game. He switched to the American Association League later that year. He joined the Sioux Falls Canaries, but this change came with a new business. Lance was reignited with his second passion, which was money management. It was at this time that he launched Lance Fair Child & Associates.

This is a money management firm that helps people understand how a clearing agency can help them, not to mention provide assistance in proxy vote standards, just to name a few specialized services.

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The Cost of a New Addition to the Family

Most people growing up dream of meeting their one true love, marrying, starting a family and living happily ever after. For some it happens and in later life they can sit back and think about the wonderful life they have had together. Sounds easy don’t it? Well it is important from the outset to stress that it isn’t; indeed there are few better words than ‘stressful’ to describe the periods that everyone goes through in life, especially if they find themselves in financial difficulties with no obvious solution to their problems.

Money Management

Money cans certainly a source of discord between couples; two people growing up in different environments may have a completely different view of money, its value and management. On the one hand some children are taught the value of money from a very early age and recognize the importance of not spending money that they cannot afford. Some grow up with a less disciplined view of money. The complacency that prevailed prior to the recession created an environment where easy credit produced a level of spending that was unrealistic. It soon became evident to all when the Collateralized Debt Obligation Crisis struck and misery followed.

Anyone making a decision will draw on experience; at least they should. The economic environment in recent years has resulted in many people having debts and more restrictions in obtaining credit. For a couple just starting out on married life and expecting their first child it is important that they look at their personal financial situation. Suddenly household costs may be about to rise just as their income falls; if a two income family suddenly loses one of those incomes money will inevitably become tighter. If both partners have always been careful with their money they are more likely to automatically plan for the future.

Credit Card Problems

Ordinary couples coming from a working background may not have a great deal of money to start their married life. In the USA statistics suggest that there is still considerable credit card debt, some that appears to be out of control. That debt is expensive. At the end of every month a high rate of interest is applied to a balance. Those who can only afford to pay the minimum required by the credit card company each month will hardly scratch the surface in reducing their debt and their credit card can easily become a burden. As a matter of urgency young couples should address any credit card debt, especially if they are expecting an addition to the family.5474213121_2dce5e59b3

Few are likely to have an equity in real estate if they have bought in the last few years. The recession hit the market badly and many people found themselves in negative equity; owing more money than the current value of the house. It means that re-mortgaging is rarely an alternative for obtaining the finance to settle debt. A mortgage is a sensible way to build up assets; in the medium to long term real estate should appreciate in value and mortgage interest rates are very competitive. However there are other loans that can play a positive role in a financial strategy. Personal loans have interest applied but it is far less than credit card holders are paying to their card companies.

Online Lenders

Modern day online lenders will look favorably at applicants who can show he or she has a regular monthly income and the ability to repay the monthly instalments on time for the whole term of the loan. Such loans used to pay off credit card debt will remove stubborn balances and ultimately result in a better financial picture. It is a simple and quick way to borrow money. Online applications require some basic information and decisions will be made extremely quickly; the funds are likely to be transferred within a single working day after approval.

Every young couple should have a budget and follow it. If one of the two has been fairly complacent about money in the past the other should definitely make sure it is an argument with only one winner. With a new addition of the horizon there may be economies to make, every day things like socializing and eating out may have to go. What must also be achieved is a manageable debt situation and credit card debt is rarely manageable. Pay it off and have the determination and self-discipline never to build it up again; a personal loan at a competitive interest rate is an excellent way to do it.

Top 5 Apps to Teach Your Children Value for Money

Today’s children have different understanding of money than the previous generations just because of their overexposure to technology. It has some disadvantages though it has so many advantages. So why don’t you make use of those advantages? By using technology you can let your children know the importance of money, ins and outs of spending, saving and investment, and also teach them to value for money.

Although finance is pretty drab to the children, yet you can make it tangible and fun for them using different apps. Here is a list of pecuniary literacy apps that you can utilize to let your children have visual lessons of money management and implement it in their life.

Boy with coins

  1. Allowance apps – There are a number of apps that can help you manage your children’s chores, allowances and spending habit in a fun-filled interactive manner. Some apps are equipped with artificial ‘banks’ for every user; the banks are divided into spending money, savings etc. The apps provide options to add a custom bank. Some allowance apps allow users to set automatic allowance payments that can be tied to completion of the chores. Thus, if the tasks aren’t checked off, the money won’t be transferred. Options of setting goals and getting rewards are encouraging for the children. They can see the advantages of saving money. Any update and change made by the children will appear on your phone so that you can easily track their activities and manage them accordingly.
  2. Money games – If you search the app store of your smart phone with ‘money games for kids’, it will show a wide array of apps especially created to teach kids identify coins, add them and make changes, if wished. Some games are designed for the children aged 4 to 8 and complements elementary level math with real-time shopping scenarios.
  3. Bank apps – These apps comes really handy and useful if your child understands the advantages of having a bank account. Children can have real-world experiences of managing own finance using bank apps. The apps come with colorful charts and displays, and also interactive features that enable children to easily learn money management according to their age.
  4. Financial education apps – Many educational institutions and financial edifying communities offer different simple, child-friendly apps to teach children fundamentals of saving and spending in a wise manner at an early age. Such apps are mainly designed for kids aged 7 years and above. The apps teach how to save money to meet both short-term and long-term goals, spend intelligently and keep aside money for higher education. In a nutshell, financial education apps teach children save money for the hard times.
  5. Board games – Traditional board games are wonderful means of introducing long term fiscal concepts such as debts, budgeting, mortgages etc. to the children. Usually, such games provide colorful 3D gaming experience to the users.

Discussed above are top 5 financial apps that help children understand the importance of money and how to value for it in a playful way so that little brains can have grasp of financial matter.

3 Ways To Spice Up Your Accounts With Spreadsheets

Noting all your accounting and financial information for your business or personal finances can be a pain. Whether it’s for your accountant or financial advisor, or your own tax or financial records, it’s a chore that is difficult and sometime complicated to achieve and can become a real problem at times like accounting and tax-year ends when information needs to be nicely organised.

Which is where spread sheet come in, particular Microsoft Excel which the majority of people use and understand, although others apply similar principles for example Google Spreadsheet or Apple’s version called Numbers. If you’re already familiar with these you will appreciate how you can easily open and add information there and then, or if you’ve never really used them then they appear daunting.

glassesHowever in reality they are just a way of writing things down on your computer, even if you just tap numbers in and press the ‘enter’ button each time to go down to the next line, you can always pass this to an accountant or whoever to then use the basic information.

Here are 3 ways to spice-up your spread sheets rather than just lists of boring numbers. Ways to more easily present and actually use all this accounting information at your fingertips, and easily applicable even if spreadsheets are new to you:

1. Rows & Columns – make use of the spread sheets moving both horizontally and vertically and therefore the full 2 dimensions. So instead of listing just one column of figures, use says the rows to match the types of expenditure and income and then columns as different time periods e.g. months of the accounting year. This time/type split is popular, although can be vice versa with time on the rows.

2. Tabs – each spread sheet file has a separate ‘sheet’ or ‘tab’ within it, often accessed from the bottom of the spread sheets. Just click the new tab, and a whole new sheet appears. This is great for including everything in one file rather than having endless files everywhere, for example different types of accounts like profit and loss or balance sheet.

3. Colours – a simple addition that can make a huge difference, particularly for those who are visually focused. Numbers can be made red for when say negative values, sections of important figures or rows/columns of figures made a different colour, and even sections of data different colours, for example certain types of expenditure within one category.

On final advanced tip is the use of charts and graphs. These will appear far too complicated to use when you first start, but once you get the hang of how they are created and what information on your spread sheets to use they can be easily used to produce impressive visual impressions of otherwise streams of raw financial figures.

A final point as well is that spreadsheets can exist online now rather than just on your computer. Traditionally they are software programmes, particularly excel, where you open it on your own computer and everything is stored on your computer. Online spreadsheets are on a website, so everything is saved online – the advantage is that they can be easy to access and use, and able to be shared with others, the downside is that they can have limited features.

Andy Nuttall is from The Website Designer and the BEST range helping source the right local businesses.

The Challenges Of Financing Your Business

Financing your business can be quite a challenging undertaking, but with a little research, you’ll find that there are many methods of going about the task. Whether you’re expanding a current business or looking to fund a startup, there are some tried and tested, as well as some experimental methods for raising cash.

Bank Loans And Micro Loans

The credit crisis has led banks to be a little more reluctant to part with their cash for small business loans. You’re going to need a clean credit history and some form of collateral if you need a large sum in one go. If your plans are more modest, you could try for a micro loan.

Commercial banks are generally not interested in lending such small amounts, so you can ask for help from a nonprofit organisation or a micro lender. These types of company offer smaller loans and usually require fewer documentation checks and their criteria is also more flexible. They might charge a slightly higher interest rate, but they’re ideal for startup entrepreneurs or for businessmen who are encountering a small capital gap and need urgent finances for purchasing new equipment.

If you’re in need of a small loan like this, you could join a comparison site: Loans direct UK review different loan company offers and present a list of possible financing options.

Savings_accountsCredit Cards

Credit card debt sounds a little risky. There’s always a danger of falling behind with payments, and this will result in poor credit scores in the long term.

If you pay a very small amount each month, you’ll often find that you’re paying little more than the interest of the balance. You could end up in debt for a very long time with this kind of approach. On the other hand, credit cards are great if you’re simply faced with a short term cash flow issue, and you can often find really good deals on first year interest rates and balance transfers.

Tapping Into Your Nest Egg

If you’ve just left a job after putting in several years of work and you’re trying to establish a small-scale business, you can take a look at your backup funds. If you’re older and you’ve been paying into a pension for a great many years, it might be possible to release some of the equity as a cash sum. Beware though: If your business idea doesn’t take off, you’ll be short on savings for a very long time to come.

Crowd funding

Crowd funding is getting a lot of press of late, and can be a great way of raising money for projects. You first set up a goal for the amount of money you need to raise and the time period you’re going to require it for. After that, it’s up to members of the public to back the project with small cash investments. If you’ve got an interesting business idea, you’d be surprised at the amount of people that would be ready to fund your project. Many business owners offer advanced orders on the product for a small donation to get the manufacturing process started.

Other Alternatives

You can pledge a part or a percentage of future earnings for an upfront venture funding, though the legalities of such contracts are often dubious. Always employ the services of good solicitor if you’re planning such a move.

Funding a business project can be a challenging process, but if the planning is in place and the finances are sound, you could be at the start of a life changing opportunity.

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By Harry Price

Harry Price is a guest blogger and freelance writer. He enjoys doing private interior design consultations as a side business and takes competitive poker very seriously.

Popular Financial Myths Debunked

The Financial Educators Council reports that the majority of educators in the United States have no formal financial training or financial education and would not be comfortable teaching a financial literacy course to students.  Most people don’t learn a lot of facts about money or their finances, which can make it really difficult to make smart financial choices that help you to be prepared for your future.

Unfortunately, a lack of formal financial education also makes many people vulnerable to believing myths about their money.  It is important to learn the truth about the type financial myths so you don’t end up falling into financial traps.

Popular Financial Myths Debunked 

Here are a few key financial myths that many people mistakenly believe:

  • It is impossible to get a loan without having good credit 

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The reality is that it is very possible for almost anyone to get a loan, even if they do not have a positive credit history.  In fact, if you have no credit score or history, or if you have a bad history, there are still loan alternatives out there that you can explore.

By visiting, you can find out information about a car title loan, which may be a viable solution if you need to borrow money and have bad credit.  A car title loan lets you tap into the equity in your vehicle in order to borrow money.  You can still keep driving the car and don’t lose your vehicle when you take a title loan. The loan is available to help you with a pressing financial need and you get the car title back when you have repaid the debt.

  • You must have a credit card balance in order to develop a positive credit history

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A lot of people mistakenly believe that you have to carry a balance on your credit cards so you can establish a good credit history and get a good credit score.  This is actually not true at all. As long as you have credit accounts and you pay them on time each month, you can develop a positive credit history regardless of whether you ever carry a balance or not.

Carrying a balance ends up costing you a lot of money in interest for virtually no reason. This makes all of your purchases more expensive and it makes it harder for you to get ahead.   By paying off your credit card bills in full every month, you can still build a good credit score and you won’t waste money.

  • Real estate behaves differently than other kinds of investments

This is one of the top 10 financial myths highlighted by Kiplinger.   Many people believe that real estate will always go up over time and that they cannot lose money on real estate. Others believe that real estate investments do not correlate directly with the return on stocks or other financial instruments.

The reality is that real estate as an investment just like any other, and it has risks like any other. Prices can rise and fall based on supply, demand, external market factors and a whole host of other things.  You can make money on real estate if you hold your real estate long enough and sell at the right time, but this is true of pretty much any investment that doesn’t go bankrupt. Since you never know when you’ll need to sell or how long it will take for real estate to go up, you cannot count on it being a sure money maker for you.

An expectation that real estate would always rise in value was one of the major driving factors that led to the financial crisis and foreclosure disasters that began in 2008 and that are still having ripple effects throughout the economy.   People took mortgage loans they couldn’t really afford because they assumed their house would increase in value and they could refinance or sell. The events of 2008 should be enough to show everyone that this is not necessarily going to be true.

Do Your Research When Making Financial Choices 

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These are just some of the many myths that people have about their finances and their money.  It is important to do your research and learn as much as you can before making any financial decisions so you can ensure you are making the right choices for you and your family.

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Jessica Pratt loves getting to the bottom of an issue. She has the sniffing out skills of a reporter, and the financial acumen of an accountant. Follow her for no BS financial advice.

The Single Parent Financial Safety Net

At the risk of recounting anxieties here that are no doubt familiar to pretty much anyone reading this: times are tough at the moment. Being a single parent isn’t exactly a walk in the park at the best of time, but the state of the economy has further complicated the prospect of parenting without a partner. While the challenges of single parenting are probably too numerous to list here, a good argument could be made that virtually all of them are in some way, monetary. At the very least, if money doesn’t inevitably make someone’s life easier, having less of it makes life harder.

So, with the importance of money established, here are ways in which a single parent can manage it wisely.

Track Income and Carefully Maintain a Budget

This may seem like an obvious one, but establishing and sticking to a budget is extremely important. Do so by taking an inventory of monthly spending and plot out spending patterns based on fixed and average expenditures: how much always goes to rent or mortgage and bills, and how much on average goes to food, gas, clothing, entertainment, etc. Once a budget’s been set up, it’s easier to plan spending and it’s easier to save.

Almost inevitably, budgets reveal surprises: more money is consistently spent in one area than you’d have guessed, while you end up spending less in another, etc. Understanding those trends also contributes to effective saving.

Build up Savings and an Emergency Fund

Everyone’s saving decisions and priorities, of course, unique and based on their specific budget and spending habits. However, there are some more universal hints that can contribute to good saving habits. One good strategy is thinking of savings as money that isn’t yours (for spending at least), or like another bill. Getting in the habit of putting away as little as twenty dollars a month in a savings account can yield huge benefits later. Most banks will automatically transfer a portion of a paycheck into a savings account.

Make Sure Your Insurance is Up To Date

While no one is particularly fond of making insurance payments, doing so is far better than the alternative. Most important are health and life insurance. More than 60% of bankruptcies in the United States are related to medical expenses and when one parent is watching over their own health and that of their children, the threat of those expenditures is that much more pronounced. Life insurance is just as important. Morbid as it is- buying life insurance is comparably important. Should anything happen to a single parent, life insurance can provide for their children.

Plan Ahead, Stay Employable and Plan for Hardship

Keeping money flowing into the family coffers is obviously extremely important, and having a job is necessary for that flow of funds. If additional job training and/or education is available, it’s virtually always a good idea to take advantage of the opportunity. If a job is temporary, shaky or layoffs seem likely, get started on looking for more work. While it’s a cliché to assert that the best time to look for a job is while you have one, it’s also true. Start a job search before it becomes absolutely necessary to do so and consider padding your income with part time or freelance work if that’s available and doable.

Furthermore, if a gap in employment does loom, look into what steps are necessary for setting up unemployment benefits. Less well known is supplemental unemployment insurance, which can be invaluable for those concerned that an unemployment is looming. Generally, supplemental unemployment programs will pay at least 50% of someone’s former paycheck, making up the difference between state benefits and that 50% or more.

Basically, it comes down to planning and organization. Plan a budget, plan for the future, plan for potential financial hurdles and organize accordingly. Do that and there’s very little that can’t be accomplished.

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Frank McCourt is an investment, frugal living, and just-about-anything-else finance related. When pried away from his laptop, he enjoys fishing and hiking with his wife across the northwest.

How to Holiday on a Budget

Saving MoneyWith economic uncertainty still affecting most businesses and families we are all having to still cut corners in our monthly budgets and bring down our outgoings throughout the year. More and more of us are being asked to take a salary reduction and worse still, people are being laid off from their jobs. Simultaneously people are also seeing prices shoot up in the store and at the petrol pump. As such it is necessary to find ways to make massive reductions in our spending and changes to our lifestyle while things are tough. And one obvious area ripe for cutting back is where, and how, we go on vacation. This is often easier said than done however. For most of us our holiday is the one chance in the year when we get to spoil ourselves, to cut loose and not worry about the problems of the rest of the year – trying to holiday on a strict budget can be counter intuitive. Nevertheless this article will try to offer some pointers on how to do exactly that by suggesting some ideas on how to have a tip top holiday without breaking the bank.

Firstly, try to visit somewhere close to home. While money is tight, don’t go for the exotic (and expensive) island adventure. Instead, think of some places in your own country that you have always wanted to see and book a holiday there. Try and book the least expensive travel option too – save your money for the holiday itself.

When it comes to accommodation the best way to save money is to book something that’s a little further away from the popular tourist areas that you would normally go for. Rather than booking hotels slap bang on the beach or in the centre of the historic district you should look at hotels ten minutes away. Not only will you see a massive reduction in the amount you have to spend, you’ll also have the extra benefit of discovering places off the beaten track (like restaurants, parks, statues and galleries) that you might not have seen before. Thus if you were to go to Paris but stay further out you would (hopefully) find that by walking back to your hotel you might see old cemeteries, amazing buskers, beautiful courtyards, charming cafes and bookshops and all kinds of other wonders. If you take a camera chances are that the best photos of your holiday would be from the things you didn’t plan on, rather than the monuments and ‘must-see’ sights.

Similarly, if you really want to save money, think about booking into hostels rather than hotels. They’re more fun, more sociable and a whole lot cheaper than regular hotels. Add in the fact that they have kitchens so that you can cook your own meals and you’ll find they are an excellent way to holiday on a budget.

When it comes to going out and seeing things on holiday, aim for stuff that doesn’t cost money. Instead of theme parks head to state parks and national  parks – you’ll be able to spend days on end in them and you’ll see more incredible stuff than you could have seen in a man-made theme park. Get yourself a guidebook and take a couple of tours if you want to splash out, but if you wanted you could spend days soaking in these incredible places and not spend a penny. Before you go simply find a guide to all the national parks and gardens in the area you are visiting and then plan your trip accordingly.

The same thing applies to other free stuff in the city you will be visiting. As well as the museums and art galleries you can use your imagination and visit famous skyscrapers, historic buildings, and movie locations that are no doubt dotted around the place. With a bit of free research on the internet it is possible to plan an entire holiday without paying for any attractions.

Just remember, when it comes to holidays, expensive doesn’t necessarily equate to fun!

Esther is a financial journalist and business blogger based in Chicago. She writes about all areas of personal finance affecting the consumer from tax relief to credit and store cards to where to find a good purchase order financing company.

Retirement Is Coming Will You Be Ready?

Retirement Is Coming Will You Be Ready?

Whether you are 25, 45 or even older, retirement is one topic that should never be too far away from your thoughts.  Even though retirement may seem far away and there seems to be so many other important things to do, it will get here.  And if you aren’t prepared and you haven’t planned for it, you might find yourself in a very uncomfortable situation.

Here are some proven steps to help get the ball rolling and efficiently plan for your retirement.

Take a Look Around

The first thing you have to do is stop what you’re doing and take stock of your situation.  If you’re going to set up and implement a successful retirement plan, you must be in a position to make it happen.  That means a steady, reliable income and not too much debt hanging over you.

Write down all the details and then you’ll know what you have to work with, and what you may need to change.  This kind of financial review may seem troubling to some, but it’s also necessary if you’re really serious about creating a solid retirement plan.

Make Goals

Goals are wonderful little things to help keep you on track and remind you exactly what it is you’re trying to do.  With something like retirement that may be decades away, goals are even more important.  It’s wise to set long-term goals for your retirement, and short-term goals for various stages along the way.  That way, you can ‘keep your eyes on the prize’ so to speak, while at the same time maintaining your focus through each stage.

See an Expert

There’s no doubt that you can learn a lot from books or online courses, but to really get all the information you need, seeing a retirement expert is the way to go.  There’s really no substitute for having someone teach you how to go through the process, and showing you how to direct your finances in the most efficient way possible.

Look for someone who has a good deal of experience planning retirements and maybe even ask to speak to one or two of his or her clients.  When you seek out the help of a qualified expert, you can customize your plan to suit your exact situation.

You’ll also be able to go in for annual reviews of that situation to make changes, if necessary.  Over the course of many years, income, debt loads and all sorts of other variables may change.  When you have an expert watching over it all for you, the plan will always stay on track and your retirement will never be in doubt.

This post is brought to you by Sam Williams, a real estate agent in Ontario. When it comes to saving up for retirement, he recommends Adrian Spitters from Assante. Adrian provide financial planning services to help you retire early.

Top 3 Cars for College Grads

Top 3 Cars for College Grads

Congratulations, you college graduate, you! Now that you’ve been thrown into the real world, it’s time to start making some big-kid decisions.

But wait, your finances need to come first. Mommy and Daddy shouldn’t really be paying the bills for you anymore. You should start to get your finances under control as quickly as you can, and learn where to and not to spend your precious money.

If a car is something you feel you absolutely need when you graduate college (which makes sense, since you need a mode of transportation to and from job interviews, a part-time job, etc.), keep in mind that you won’t exactly have your pick of the litter of new cars. You have to find something that you can afford, but that will still get you from point A to point B and still be styling (you’re all hip and cool now that you’re a grad, anyway).

Here are just some suggestions for the modern-day for cars that are safe, affordable and perfect for recent college graduates on a budget.

Ford Focus

Ahh, an American classic – the Ford Focus. It seems like this car has been around forever, doesn’t it? Well, it’s for good reason that this classy car never goes out of style.

Recently named the second most affordable small car in 2012, the Ford Focus’ sticker price starting at just $16,500 may seem like quite a bit of money, but when you consider what you’re getting with it, it’s really not so bad. 26 city miles to the gallon and 36 highway will save you big bucks on gas that’s now risen over $4 per gallon, plus the car comes with awesome technology features like MyKey and MyFord.

MyFord will integrate all of your technology into one place – your navigation, your entertainment, your contacts – all right in one handy little touch screen on your dash. And MyKey is this great little feature that allows you to restrict the vehicle’s speed and the volume of the stereo if you have a teen driver behind the wheel (which, grads, you don’t need to worry about right now, but it may come in handy in the future!).

Oh and by the way, the car handles great. There are new features implemented in the 2012 model that seriously improve handling, plus the exterior looks sportier and more in style than ever. It’s a great value for the money, making the Ford Focus one of the most perfect cars on the market for college graduates.

Honda Fit

So you might have wondered, if the Ford Focus ranked #2 on the list of most affordable small cars of 2012, what was the #1 pick? That, my friends, was the lovely Honda Fit.

This little guy packs a ton of power for a starting price just above $15,000. And it may look small from the exterior, but one of the Honda Fit’s greatest features is the surprising amount of interior space it packs into such a tiny package. You can fold down rear seats to fit bikes, plants, pets – anything, really. And that’s not even including the hatchback space!

At 27 city miles per gallon and 33 highway, this is another good option if you’re looking to save on gas. Plus, it’s a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), so you know you’ll be climbing into something safe and reliable every time you need to drive.

Test drivers say that the Honda Fit handles well, but everyone seems to be most impressed by the shocking amount of interior space. Seating is comfortable and overall the car has been reported as “fun to drive.” You can’t go wrong for the price.

Chevrolet Equinox

Unfortunately, grads, if you’re more interested in larger cars or even compact SUVs, you’re going to be paying a bit more than the smaller cars we’ve mentioned, but you can still get a lot of “bang for your buck,” as they say, with an SUV.

Check out the Chevy Equinox. At a sticker price starting at $23,500 and gas mileage of 22 city miles per gallon and 32 highway, it’s really not so bad. It’s a U.S. News #1 pick for affordable compact SUVs and is consistently praised for a roomy interior capable of packing anything you need.

Although the 2012 model didn’t receive rave reviews in terms of driving and handling, drivers say the things that it does well heavily outweigh its flaws. The rear seats are massive and slide forward and back for added passenger comfort, plus the cabin is reported to be incredibly quiet for an SUV.

It gets the best mileage in its class, it’s a Top Safety Pick and it received a 4 out of 5 rating in terms of reliability. So if you really have your heart set on an SUV, give the Chevy Equinox a test drive. You’ll probably like it.

You might not be able to afford luxury right now, college grads, but what you can afford is a safe, reliable car that’s great on gas and will provide you plenty of room to pack up your life for all of the times you’ll be moving all over the place in the very near future. So put a hold on your dreams for a Lexus or a Mercedes, and take a look at these great deals for cars that are perfect for you right now.

Regina Clark is a freelance writer who enjoys driving and does a lot of it for her job. When she graduated from school, her first stop goal was to find discounts for comprehensive car insurance, then when her old clunker died, she finally invested in a new, reliable car that she still drives to this day!

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