Car Buying Checklist

From securing financing, to choosing the right vehicle and visiting a dealership, car buying can be a very exciting and stressful process. However, with a little effort, and the checklist below, you can create a plan which will help make your next vehicle purchase a much happier experience.

Set a Budget

Take a look at your finances to see what funds you have available. Will you trade-in your current vehicle or do you have money set aside for a down payment? The price of the vehicle extends beyond the sticker price. Don’t forget to calculate insurance, gas and maintenance costs too. Calculate how much car you can afford to find the price range that best fits your budget. Once you know how much per month you have for buying and operating a car, it’s time to find a car that fits that number.

Get Pre-Approved

Dealers are notorious for trying to focus your attention on the monthly payment (is it a payment you can afford?). That’s why having your auto loan pre-approved improves your chances of negotiating on what really matters: your new auto’s price. When you have a pre-approved auto loan, your monthly payment is none of the dealer’s business – so there are no games to play. You and your lender have already agreed to something, and the dealer just needs to decide if you’re offering enough for them to let go of the car.

Research

No one wants to overpay for a car, but you need context to know you’re getting a good price. Free programs, like Apple’s Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar®, makes it easy to access unlimited price and market reports, compare car features, see pictures, read reviews and check your trade-in value. You can also review the TrueCar Price Curve to see the average other shoppers have paid for the car you want, learn what you should be paying and discover what you could save off the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP).

Purchase

Once your loan is pre-approved and you’re ready to make an offer, it’s important to find a trusted dealer. “You know what you can afford and you have found a couple of cars that fit into your budget. Don’t allow a salesperson to push you into something else”, says Russ Heaps from Autotrader.com. “Keep your monthly budget amount to yourself. The salesperson doesn’t need to know it. Your goal is to find the right car and then negotiate down the purchase price. Don’t muddy the water by revealing what you can afford to pay per month.”

 

To more easily navigate the car buying process, use the checklist below. And remember, the folks at Apple FCU are always happy to help. With low-rate Auto Loans and Apple’s Car Buying Service we’re sure you’ll find the car you want, a price you can afford and enjoy a hassle-free buying experience.

Best of luck with your car shopping experience and happy hunting!

SmartCarBuyingCheckllist

Credit Card Facts and Fears

In honor of Credit Education Month, here are some facts to better educate you whenever it comes to the choice of your credit future.

Why is this important?

Credit cards can help you build a healthy credit score  and that is something that can change depending on how you handle your money. Obtaining and maintaining a good credit score is important because it affects the interest rate you’ll get with any sort of loan and lenders use it to determine if you are a worthy risk. Today, it’s also common for employers to check your score during the hiring process to see if you are a responsible person. You may think that if you do not have a credit card that you will have a good score, but this actually can detract from your overall score value.

Should I Get a Credit Card?

If used responsibly, a credit card may help you establish a better credit score. But before you apply, it’s important to decide if you are ready for a credit card.

Just ask yourself if you feel that you are currently financially stable and pay your bills on time. If the answer is ‘yes’, it could be a perfect time to start building your credit. You can protect yourself by keeping your credit limit low so you don’t have to worry about getting out of control. More importantly, know that you potentially have options and can “shop” for the right credit card that fits your life. Student credit cards and Credit Builder cards can be a less risky option to get you started. No matter what you chose, you should never feel limited or pressured into any option.

What should I do?

Credit is something that builds a snapshot of your financial history and will follow you for the rest of your life. While never having a credit card may protect you from the debt from the misuse of credit, it can also hurt your future if you never get one. With a good score, you will qualify for better interest rates when getting future loans. It is a really big decision getting your first credit card and it is one you should not take lightly. Ask yourself the big questions and make good decisions based on your answers.

Best of luck to you and your credit future!

Clothing Rental:
Trendy or Costly?

Clothing rental isn’t just for tuxedos or Halloween costumes anymore. Now you can rent your casual and business clothes too. While rentals may keep your closet fresh and trendy, is it really worth the cost?

Clothing Rental: The Netflix of Fashion

Enjoy a virtual closet full of outfits you can wear and return. The process is easy. Go online, choose your item(s) and wait for the mail to arrive. As an added benefit, some sites allow you to purchase items – with a decent discount – if you fall in love with a piece.

Is it worth it? Maybe.

Clothing rental isn’t for everyone. However, if you fall into at least one of these categories it may be an affordable alternative.

  • You never want to wear the same outfit twice.
  • You want access to the latest trends without over-filling your closet.
  • You have a special event to attend and don’t want to spend big bucks on an outfit you’ll wear once.  (Some websites have bride/bridesmaid rentals too.)
  • You want to test a style before you commit to purchasing.
  • Your limited closet space can’t support your clothing obsession.

Renting clothing may not be a good fit if you:

  • Tend to wear classics that never go out of style
  • Would rather own clothing than rent
  • Typically spend little on clothing or you have limited funds.

If you’re new to the concept of clothing rental,
here are a few sites to test out:

The Mr. Collection
Men’s business or casual, this is the easy way to shop for clothes.
Pros: Create a style profile and staff stylists will choose and send items specifically for you. If you love the threads, you’ll enjoy a 40% price discount on purchases.
Cons: You must make all returns on time or you’re stuck with the same package for another month.

Rent the Runway
Rent designer dresses and outfits for your next special occasion.
Pros: In addition to free dry cleaning and postage, the site offers outfits from more than 95 designers in a range of sizes. Choose to rent one item at a time or opt for the “Unlimited” plan.
Cons: The more expensive the garment, the higher the rental price. So a $1,200 gown could cost you $250 for a four-day rental.

Gwynnie Bee
Great for women size 10-32 you’ll have access to casual, business and special occasion styles.
Pros: Add as many outfits to your closet as you would like. The site also offers outfit suggestions based on your body type. Plus, you have the option to buy a piece if you love it.
Cons: One of the pricier sites, they offer one item rental rates priced at $35 a month and three item rental rates at $79 per month.

Le Tote
Different from one-and-done rentals, this site offers complete, everyday outfits that you can wear as long or little as you want. For $49 a month, you will receive a tote filled with a minimum of three garments and two accessories catered to your personal style.
Pros: There’s no limit to the number of garments you can receive per month, plus free shipping and cleaning.
Cons: The price is a bit steep if you only rent one tote per month, and there’s a $5 fee if an item is stained or missing a button.

Fresh Neck
Men can rent designer ties, cufflinks, pocket squares and bow ties for a monthly membership fee.
Pros: There are three options to choose from–silver, gold and platinum–but all options offer unlimited monthly rentals and zero late fees. Silver starts at $20 a month and includes designers such as Michael Kors and Calvin Klein.
Cons: None that we can see.

RocksBox
For women in constant search of the next statement necklace, this site sends you three pieces of designer jewelry as often as you would like.
Pros: Designers include House of Harlow 1960, David Aubrey, Gorjana and Ted Rossi.
Cons: The six- and 12-month memberships require you to pay $100 and $180 upfront.

Tie Society
Similar to Fresh Neck, this site rents men’s accessories. However, rental prices are based on the number of items you rent per month versus a monthly fee of unlimited rentals.
Pros: You can exchange one item at a time or all at once, plus free postage.
Cons: The cufflinks collections rather limited

 

Source: Krause, Lauren. “Clothing and Accessory Rental Web Sites for Men and Women.” RedEye Chicago. 19 Nov. 2013. Web. 19 Dec. 2014.

How to Properly Handle
a Car Accident

On average, 1 out of 26 licensed drivers are involved in a crash every day, according to the Virginia Highway Safety Office 2013 VA Traffic Crash Facts. Preparing and understanding how to handle a car accident ahead of time will help you act appropriately if the real thing happens. Read more about the steps you should take when an accident occurs:

  1. Stop. As soon as it’s safe to do so, move your car to a safe area away from traffic or put your hazard lights on to warn other drivers.
  2. Call 911 and/or the Police. If anyone is injured call 911. However, it’s good to have an officer at the scene whether anyone is hurt or not.
  3. Collect the other driver’s information. Gather information and write it down while the incident is still fresh in your mind, and in the minds of others. The information you should have are the names of the driver and passenger, the license plate number, insurance information, the make and model of the car, contact information, and the location of the accident.
  4. Take pictures of the scene and the accident with any kind of camera you have at the time.
  5. Contact your insurance to file a claim.

Apple Financial Services LLC can help keep your car as safe as possible with an affordable auto insurance policy. We take the time to assess our clients and understand their needs to find the right insurance coverage. Contact us for a no cost, no obligation Auto Insurance rate quote today.