My first experience with buying a car on a dealer’s lot came a couple of weeks ago. My 1995 Nissan Altima had come to its end. A big, huge, hairy truck plowed into the Altima in a parking lot and pretty much totaled the car. It was actually a blessing, because then I didn’t have to spend the money fixing it up to make it pretty enouh to sell. I’ve always had clunker cars up until now, so buying a car at a dealership was a very new experience. I don’t like buying new cars, so I went to an “up-scale” used car lot, if there is such a thing. My wife and I went back and forth to different dealerships looking at full-size sedans and a couple of small SUVs. We started looking at 2006 Hyundai Sonatas because they were in our price range, they looked nice, and they are a very smooth drive. Plus, we could get a Sonata with a V6 engine that was in our price range. I was ang. little skeptical about buying a Korean car with the track record it has had in the past, but Hyundai has definitely separated itself from Kia by a mile. Many reviews by magazines like Motor Trend and Car Buying Guide say that Hyundai is getting closer and closer to Toyota and Honda type quality. I know, it’s hard to believe, but all you really need to do is drive a newer Hyundai, and you’ll see what they are saying. So, we found the Sonata that we really liked. It was a nice, midnight blue color, had about 30k miles, and the interior was very clean. And so begins the adventure. Here are a few things that I did to help prepare myself for negotiating and buying my “new” used car.
Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? Have you received an anonymous gift or had someone help you in a tight situation? When I was in college, I had horrible luck with cars. My first car lasted a couple of years, but it was about 15 years old, so I didn’t expect much. My second car was a 1996 Nissan Altima, and it was a great car, but it was totaled by some girl that ran a stop sign. Then, I had an older Mercury Cougar, and the head gasket on the engine blew. Compared to the value of the car, it wasn’t worth it to fix. So, I was in Gainesville, Florida with no car, taking the number 5 bus to school, and calling my girlfriend to pick me up for our dates. It wasn’t a high point in my life, but plenty of college students survive without cars. I had no money to pay for a used car or even a down payment for a financed car. My mom told my home church back in West Palm Beach, Florida about my situation, and that is when I became the recipient of a random act of kindness. Someone in the church donated a 1995 Nissan Altima to the deacon’s ministry at my church, and the head deacon gave me a call. He asked if I wanted the car, and I gladly accepted. I paid the deacons $100 a month for about eight months, and then they handed over the title to me. It was quite a blessing, because I had a reliable car for VERY cheap.
The old saying, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true” can help you save a great deal of money in your lifetime. At some point in your life, you will probably be a victim of a scam whether it’s on a small or large scale. The reality is that there are people out there that don’t care what it takes to steal money, so they try to do it in creative ways other than robbing a bank. Unfortunately, the elderly and the those in financial distress are targeted the most when it comes to money scams. It is always in a time of financial hardship that we tend to be more susceptible to a scam, because we are more willing to let go of our common sense and go for something that does not feel right. You could dedicate an entire book about all of the scams to watch out for, but I will touch on a few that I have been in contact with lately, and I will also touch on identity theft and how you can protect yourself from it.
By Erik Folgate
Educating yourself is the key phrase in this installment of the “11 Principles of a Money Crasher” series. If you want to save money and ultimately be wealthy when you retire, then you need to be an educated consumer. Educated consumers get better deals on the large purchases made during the course of one’s life. I’m talking about cars, real estate, boats, and also insurance products. Insurance is a HUGE expense over the span of one’s life, because you will ALWAYS need to carry auto, homeowner’s, and health insurance. There’s also term life insurance, long-term disability insurance, and renter’s insurance that people pay every year. The people that just randomly point at a car or an insurance product are the ones that get ripped off. I’m not saying that you need to become the ultimate negotiator and take courses at your local community college about insurance, but you need to get familiar with these large purchases. The power of the internet has made it so absolutely no one has the excuse that he or she could not do any research on cars, real estate, insurance, or other big ticket items. The information is there at your fingertips. If you decided to cut your internet out of your house, you can STILL get it for free at the library. This article would be brutal to go into great detail about these big ticket items, so I will give you a brief overview of each and reference some of my most popular articles in these subjects for you to reference.
I was watching the weekend edition of the NBC Nightly News Sunday night, and there was a segment that struck me about a retired physician who started a free clinic for the poor in Hilton Head, South Carolina. This man came to Hilton Head almost two decades ago in hopes of living the normal retirement with plenty of golf, going out to eat, and laying on the beach. But, after a few years, he realized that fully retiring was boring. He saw a need where many of the blue collar workers in Hilton Head could not afford health care. He decided to start a walk-in clinic, and all patients that met the low income requirements were treated for free. The clinic helped take pressure off of the local emergency rooms to treat these individuals and the retired physician found a whole new meaning to his life when he started giving back to the community with his professional expertise.
Being debt free is a great indication that you are doing well with managing your finances, but it’s not the only benchmark for good financial health. You may be debt free, but are you saving for retirement? Are you stashing away enough money to retire comfortably and sustain a good lifestyle for 25 to 30 years? Investing can be a very controversial subject. Everyone seems to have their own opinion about long term investing. Stock brokers, financial advisors, and other financial professionals make a killing to do one thing, maximize your long term return on investment. Here’s my question, is investing really as complicated as some people make it sound? Can an auto mechanic figure out how to invest for his or her retirement?
By Erik Folgate
I read this articleabout the wonderful success that Apple has had with the iPhone. So far, it has lived up to the hype about being the most popular phone on the market. Will the sales continue? I can’t imagine that they will. The phone goes for $599 and $499, so basically all of the people that can afford it, bought it, and all of the people that can’t afford it but still wanted it, bought it. I don’t understand why people don’t just wait a year. I bet you they’ll be $399 by Christmas, and $299 in a year. I’ll put a link to this post when they become $299. I’ll buy one, and they’ll probably be better, because the first batch of people that buy these phones are the guinea pigs. Apple will get their feedback, improve the phone, and relaunch it with better features.
By Erik Folgate
Pay for your college education with cash. That sentence sounds so simple, but it is one of the toughest things to do in the 21st century. College tuition continues to rise, the cost of living continues to rise, and the demand to have that magical piece of paper called a degree continues to be more important. I will be honest from the beginning, I currently carry student loans. So this is not an article to preach to you all about paying cash for your education. I understand if you take out a loan. Most of my loans were taken in the first year and a half of my college degree, because I made the wrong decision of going to a private school that I could not afford. I realized that I was doing, quickly withdrew, and enrolled in a community college to finish my A.A. This is a challenge. I am challenging you to make a goal to pay cash for your education and your child’s education if you plan far enough ahead. I’m challenging you because I know you’ll thank me later on in life.
By Erik Folgate
Did you know that if you’re close to reaching your credit limits on some of your credit cards, the interest rate on a completely unrelated credit card can get jacked up? Or if you miss a payment on one credit card, your other credit cards can increase your interest rates?
For example, let’s say you have a credit card with U.S. Bank and you’ve reached your credit limit. Not only can U.S. Bank increase the interest rate on the credit card, but also if you have a credit card with another bankÃ¢â‚¬â€let’s say, Washington MutualÃ¢â‚¬â€they can mess with your terms by increasing your interest rates and lowering your credit limit, even though you may not even be using that card!
Getting out of debt and staying out of debt is an essential principle to becoming wealthy. Millionaires don’t have car payments, and they don’t carry a credit card balance. They don’t need to borrow money, because they HAVE money. If you minimize the monthly payments that you pay every month, you’ll have more money to invest and pay for large purchases. Fortunately, I have already written a debt elimination plan on Money Crashers, and I will reference those posts for you to read again or for the first time. Here are my five steps to getting and staying out of debt.
There are many myths about money and how to handle it. The key is identifying those myths and not falling into the trap that many other people fall into when it comes to money myths. I have identified four myths about money, and I will explain why I believe they are myths and how you can avoid being deceived by them.
Myth #1: Debt is a Tool, and you can use it to become wealthy
By Erik Folgate
When it’s time to tap the equity in your home, you usually have two options: a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a home equity installment loan (HEIL). Both will get you the money you want, but one may lower your credit scores, which will make everything you buy on credit more expensive – be careful.
So, which one is dangerous and which one is safe? A HELOC can potentially lower your credit scores. Here’s how. HELOC accounts can look exactly like a credit card account on your credit reports, and that can be a bad thing
By Erik Folgate
This is a question that a friend of mine asked me recently, and I thought it would be a good question to throw out there to the readers of Money Crashers. If you are in your twenties, it seems like you’re a weirdo if you DO NOT have a student loan. The reality is that college is not getting cheaper, and many of our parents did not pass along a college fund for us. I have about $18,000 in student loan debt, and my wife will have even more than that. She’s in physician assistant school right now, so her student loans will definitely be worth it in another 12 to 18 months. The National Center of Education Statistics shows that a little more than 50% of students hold student loans at an average of about $10,000.
U.S. News and World Report has come up with this list of the 25 best careers of 2007. There are the obvious ones like a doctor, dentist, engineer, and professor. But, there are also some surprising ones like medical scientist, librarian, urban/regional planner, and a fundraiser. The four criteria they graded the jobs on are Job Market Outlook, Attainability, Prestige, and Quality of Life.