Quick Tips for Buying your First Car

Buying a car is typically an inevitable purchase many of us have to make at some point in our life. New car excitement; unfortunately, is often balanced with the dread and stress of loans and dealerships.

There’s good news.

With a little prep work you can nearly eliminate the uncertainty you feel. Here are a few tips to help you lessen your stress, pay what you can afford, get the best deal and fall in love with your new set of wheels.

Find out what you can pay each month.

Take a look at your cost-of-living. Calculate what you spend on rent, food, insurance and what you would like to have in the way of “fun money.” What can you afford to pay for a car each month? This will include not only the car payment, but the insurance cost as well. Next, determine how long you want to make payments. Loan terms can be spread out from 36 to 72-months depending on how much money you put on the down payment, how much you are financing and what you can afford.

Figure out your cost of ownership.

Loan payments, insurance costs, gas, oil changes, maintenance costs and taxes should all be considered when calculating your monthly cost commitment. When you have better knowledge of where your money is going, you keep from being surprised in the long run.

Get pre-approved for your loan.

Don’t waste your time looking at cars you can’t afford. With a pre-approval you can focus on options within your price range.
Research your options. Keep an open mind. You may have your heart set on a $35,000 vehicle, but you can only afford to spend $10,000. Consider new and pre-owned options within your price range. Test drive several vehicles before you buy. You and your car will have a long relationship, you want to make sure it’s the right fit.

Get the negotiations out of the way.

You may hear conversations about how sitting through your first car deal can be daunting. Well, buying a car just got easier. There are free car buying services that allow you to shop online and avoid all the dealership negotiations and haggling ? often saving you money in the process. Simply, choose your make and model, pick the color, options/specifications and view all of the available incentives. The process is similar for used cars too. After you have decided on the car you are interested in, you get a certificate showing you the guaranteed price from a certified dealer. This includes the TrueCar® Price Curve which shows others have paid for the same vehicle. This information will help ensure you are getting a great deal.

Go finalize the deal.

At the dealership always review your contract details. Before signing, make sure you are comfortable with the terms. Ask the dealer to remove any add-on fees that you did not agree to.

Follow these steps and you will feel an overwhelming sense of pride knowing that you made smart choices, got the deal you deserve and did it completely on your own. Good luck.

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Investing Cheat Sheet

Don’t let the thought of investing intimidate you. Here’s a cheat sheet to help you become familiar with the different types of investment opportunities available.

What is investing?
When you break it down, investing is just having your money work for you or really just another way for you to make money (though yes, sometimes you can lose, so invest wisely; Apple can help). It goes further than just the hours we put into our jobs because after all, there are so many hours in a day and we cannot clone ourselves. Investing is nothing more than taking the money we have put aside and placing it elsewhere to make more money. This is accomplished through stocks, bonds, or mutual funds.

Concept of Compounding
Compounding (or sometime called compound interest) transforms your money into an income-generating tool and is the process of generating earnings on an asset’s reinvested earning. It takes two things to work: earnings and time to accomplish the most of your investment.

Example Time! If you were to invest $1,000 at an interest rate of 6%, in a year you will have $1060 in your account. If you were to take the money that you have earned through interest and invest that for another year, you will have $1,123.60. It continues growing the longer you have it in the account. That is without even having to do anything with your account while you’re away in class or studying. Think of the money you could earn if you add a little bit of cash here and there to raise that end number.

Types of Investments:

Bonds: A bond is an interest-bearing security that obligates the issuer to pay the bondholder a specified sum of money, usually at specific intervals (known as a coupon), and to repay the principal amount of the loan at maturity. Zero-coupon bonds pay both the imputed interest and the principal at maturity.

Stocks: Plain and simple, stock is a share in the ownership of a company. Stock represents a claim on the company’s assets and earnings. As you acquire more stock, your ownership stake in the company becomes greater. Whether you say shares, equity, or stock, it all means the same thing.

Mutual Funds: A mutual fund is nothing more than a collection of stocks and/or bonds. You can think of a mutual fund as a company that brings together a group of people and invests their money in stocks, bonds, and other securities. Each investor owns shares, which represent a portion of the holdings of the fund.

In the end, if you are willing to put funds aside and earn interest investing is the best way to get the most out of you money. Take a look into different options out there and feel free to diversify your accounts to get variety on your incomes.

Source: http://www.investopedia.com/university/beginner/

Making the Cut: Groceries on the College Budget

It is just a fact of life, we need food to survive.  With a busy schedule of classes, studying, writing papers, or whatever your plate holds, it can be easy to grab some fast food and go. Consider making some cuts to your eating habits daily. Here are some ideas on how to bank some bucks.

  • Trying to eat on 12 cents? Two words: Ramen® Noodles.
  • If you live on campus and pay for a meal plan, then use it. Some programs don’t restrict you from taking food to go or eating as many meals as you wish.
  • If you’re like many college students ducking into the corner coffeehouse every morning for your daily cup of Joe, then you are wasting money. An average latte, cappuccino, or mocha costs about $3.50 depending on the size you need. Seven days of that routine costs you $17.50 per week, $70 per month and around $280 per semester. That’s over $500 a year! Make your own. By the time you graduate from a four-year degree, you’ve saved over $2000 in coffee costs. Even if you buy numberswiki.com a decent coffee maker or small espresso/cappuccino machine for your dorm room or apartment, you’ll still save hundreds of dollars.
  • Oatmeal is fast, filling and affordable.
  • Peanut Butter Rocks.
  • Skip the fast food forays and late night take-out. Make sure you keep healthy, affordable options in your room or apartment. Yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese, bagels, peanut butter are all affordable, convenient and much more healthy than a late night burger and fries.
  • Collect coupons and follow the weekly sales at the grocery store. Avoid high-end markets like Whole Foods. These are nice, but most products cost much more. Once you’re out of school and have a good job you can shop the upscale markets.
  • Kick the bottled water habit; support your local tap water and drink for free. If you’re freaked out by unfiltered water, consider buying a convenient travel-size filtered cup.

Think of the many ways you can cut costs while doing day to day budget checks. What are some of your favorite tips for saving money on food?


“118 Ways to Save Money in College” College Scholarships. 04 Dec 2013 <http://www.collegescholarships.org/student-living/save-money.htm>.