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.

Your FREE Financial Checkup

Do you ever wonder how you are doing when it comes to your finances? Are you worried that you are spending more than you should on entertainment? Not sure if you can afford higher rent and utility costs?

 If you answered Yes to any of these questions, it’s time to check out SavvyMoney. SavvyMoney is an anonymous, FREE, member-benefit that will help you bring your financial health into focus and it is done with a few simple questions and steps.

 SavvyMoney will pinpoint where your money is going and recommend how to best utilize your spending for a healthy future. It’ll review your housing costs, utilities, personal spending and other debts and show where small adjustments can help you save more or pay off debt faster.

 Get started. Simply answer a few questions about your debt to income ratio, credit score, loans and how much you save. In just a few minutes, you will be looking at your personalized financial snapshot. 

 SavvyMoney is quick, easy, anonymous and best of all FREE!  Check out SavvyMoney today!

5 Ways to Help Prevent
Identity Theft

In this day and age, large retail companies and social media sites are not immune to an occasional security breech. In the shadow of these events, you may start to wonder, “What can I do to protect my identity?”

 Here are a few simple things you can do today to better protect yourself from fraud, phishing, identity theft and hacking.

Choose good passwords and PINs. Try to choose words or numbers that no one else would be able to guess and do not use the same password on multiple accounts. Sometimes you can switch numbers and letters to make it a harder password to crack. Use an “@” instead of an “A” or a “$” instead of an “S.” The options are limitless. For example, take a look at how we turned this blog name, HowAboutThemApples, into a super safe password, H0w@b0utThem@pp1e$.

Protect Your Computer. Just because you cannot see anything wrong with your computer does not mean that it is safe to use. Hackers use programs and spyware which allow them access to your PC. You can protect yourself with anti-spyware programs that will add a layer of protection and your personal documents.

Don’t Go Phishing. Phishing scams are generally “spoofed” emails and fraudulent websites specifically designed to fool recipients into releasing personal and financial information.  Emails that are sent to you asking for your social security number or credit card information are never okay. Be suspicious of any email that is marked “urgent request” and asks for your personal information. If you are not sure if an email is authentic, do not follow the links in the email. Do not complete emailed forms that request personal information. Double check that websites you are submitting your credit card or personal information through are secure. You can either do this by checking for the padlock that appears at the bottom right of your screen, or look for https:// to appear in front of the web address.

Don’t Accidently Give Your Identity Away. If you sell or trash your PC, restore your PC to factory default to ensure all of your personal data is cleared. You’d be surprised what hackers can find buried in your hard drive.  If you are not sure how to properly clear your PC, take it to a retailer who specializes in computers and ask for their help.

Be careful shopping online. Consider a separate credit card strictly for online purchases. It will be easier to cancel if there are any issues and it will have less effect on your day-to-day life. Do not store any information on a store website. Although it may be convenient, it can be a huge loss to you if the site is ever hacked. Monitor the site URL. Look for the lock symbol or “https” to appear before the site address. These symbols verify that the site is safe.

These steps should help you feel more secure whether you’re simply surfing the net, checking email or making an online purchase.

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/