Archive for May 2016

3 Ways to Save on Your Car Loan

car loan

car-926834_640Purchasing a new (or used) car is an exciting time, but it comes with some pretty serious financial decisions. While we would all like to be able to walk away with the fanciest car on the lot, real life gets in the way of those dreams. Instead, you need to make smart decisions and leave the dealership with a car that you can actually afford. Most people will be taking out a car loan in order to make this purchase, so it is important that you understand how to get the best possible deal on this financing.

Great Down Payment

One of the best ways to save money on your car loan is simply to put down a larger down payment when you make the purchase. This will help in two ways ? first, it will make the overall amount of money that you are borrowing less than if you made a small down payment, meaning you will pay less interest over the life of the loan.

Also, you will possibly be able to negotiate better terms for your loan, since you will look like a strong borrower with a big down payment. Save up for at least a few months before buying a car so you can have enough money to make this payment on the date of purchase.

Sharpen Your Credit Rating

Take some time in advance of your car purchase to work on improving your credit rating as much as possible. By paying down other existing debts, challenging any late payments or other negative marks, and more, you can make sure your credit score looks as good as possible going into the dealership.

A better rating should mean a better loan rate, which will mean interest savings over the life of the loan. It is important that you know what your credit score is before you ever walk into a car dealership, and you should be ready to use that fact as leverage. Remember, if a particular dealer isn’t willing to give you a rate that is satisfactory, you can always walk out and head to another location.

Buy Less Car!

You probably don’t need to pay for a car with all of the bells and whistles in order to safely get yourself and your family around town. Think about what your needs are with this car purchase, and don’t buy anything that you don’t really need. There is no better way to save money on a loan than to simply not pay as much for the car in the first place.

There are certainly going to be plenty of shiny new models on the lot when you go to shop, but don’t let them distract you from the mission of making a choice that is the financially sound one based on your budget. This may mean buying a used car. The excitement of a new car will always fade away, but you will appreciate your reasonable car payment each month that it is deducted from your bank account.

 

Will you be buying a new car soon? What other ways can you think of to save money on a car loan?

 

Photo courtesy of: StockSnap

7 Ways to Stock Your Pantry on a Budget

pantry

stock your pantryWhen you move into your own place for the very first time, filling your kitchen with food isn?t always the first thing on your mind. But, once you?re settled, it won?t take long for your stomach to remind you that your pantry shelves need to be filled, or you’ll be forced to spend money on eating out.

But with all the other expenses of moving out on your own for the first time, you may be hesitant to go all out with stocking your pantry. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to stock your pantry and stick to your budget. Here are some tips to help you get started.

1. Clip Coupons

Coupons?can be found in newspapers, magazines, online at sites like?Coupons.com, and there are even some non-traditional ways to collect more coupons to help you stock your pantry.

2. Buy in Bulk

Before you go all out with buying in bulk to save money, remember that this strategy only makes sense if you can use the items before they expire.

Buying in bulk will save you money on the cost per ounce of items, but if you waste a lot due to spoilage, you’ll just be wasting money too. If you are afraid you can’t use something up in time, don’t buy in bulk, or come up with a creative solution, like splitting a large purchase with a friend so you can both save some money and avoid wasting food.

3. Track What You Use

Set up a spreadsheet to track the items you buy, how much you use (when the items run out), and the cost of the items at the store you frequent. ?This spreadsheet can be helpful in two ways. It will help you recognize when a “sale price” is truly a good deal, and it also allows you to figure out how much of an item to buy while it?s on sale so you can make it last until the next time.

This can also be helpful when meal planning – which is another way to save money on food costs. If you’re new to meal planning or it has been difficult for you, check out $5 Meal Plan?as they get you started and provide sample meal plans to adjust to the needs of your family.

4. Rain Checks

Rain checks are one of my favorite policies that helps me save money. Some stores give out a rain check if their shelves are out of a sale item. This ticket allows you to buy the item for the sale price once they have it in stock again, even if it?s no longer on sale.

Be sure to ask if your grocery store of choice has a program like this, and what their policies are regarding the use of rain checks. Some stores’ rain checks have a pretty short lifespan before they expire.

5. Buy in Season

When you stock your pantry for the first time, don’t forget to get fruits and vegetables. Some fruits and vegetables are more expensive than others, so you can start off with some of the cheap ones first to help you save money. This is why I typically stick to basics like apples, bananas and oranges for my fruits of choice. But you can branch out and try other fruits and vegetables and save money by shopping in season.

Fruits and vegetables are cheapest, and most delicious, when they are in season. If you don?t know what is in season when, check the internet or ask the produce clerk at your local grocery store.

6. Watch for Sales and Markdowns

Sales flyers are automatically mailed out for some stores if you get on their list, or if you subscribe to the local newspaper, they are also included in there in most communities. ?You can also ask if there is an area of the store set aside for expired or nearly expired items, and items that have been discontinued or will no longer be carried at your store. These items will be at their lowest prices.

7. Check Expiration Dates & Rotate Your Food

You might be hesitant to buy expired and nearly expired food, but it’s a good strategy to save money if you use those items right away. A good rule of thumb is to always store the oldest canned and packaged foods at the front of your cupboard and the newest at the back. This is a practice I put into play so every time I bring home new food from the grocery store, I put it at the back of my pantry shelves behind the things I already had.

 

Have you used any of these ideas to stock your pantry??What other ideas do you have to stock your pantry on a budget?

 

Photo courtesy of: ErikaWittlieb

How to Handle a Big Salary Increase

salary increase

money-932401_640Have you recently received a large raise? Congratulations! There is nothing quite like a bump in pay to keep you motivated as you move forward in your career. While there is more to work than just your salary, it is the major driver in keeping you focused on your long-term goals. Also, it is nice to know that your efforts are being appreciated ? and rewarded ? by your superiors.

However, along with that big salary increase comes some new responsibility. It is easy to waste money, so you might find that you are blowing through your newfound income quicker than you imagined. It is important that you understand how to manage your larger income so that you can make good decisions which position you for a successful future.

No Immediate Changes

Assuming you were successfully making ends meet at your previous salary, the best way to handle an increase in income is to to nothing at all. That?s right ? even though you are making more money, resist the temptation to spend that money on things you don?t need.

For the first month or two, simply put all of your ?extra? money into your savings account and let it sit there for a while. Most likely, you will enjoy the feeling of putting your money away for later, and you will likely continue this habit on into the future instead of giving in to lifestyle inflation.

Bigger Purchases

Of course, you don?t have to save all of your money, as it is acceptable to spend some of it on certain things you want or need. One example of this kind of purchase would be a new car. Even if your current car is still running, you may decide that you can now afford to upgrade your wheels without denting your budget too severely.

Before making this kind of purchase, do all of the necessary math and make sure you will still be well within your comfort zone in terms of a monthly budget. Also, this may be a good time to use some of that saved up money to make a large down payment which can cut the amount of interest you wind up paying on the purchase as a whole.

Nothing is Forever

Don?t make the mistake of thinking that you are guaranteed to make this much money for the rest of your career without interruption. Things will eventually change as businesses go through hard times, and people lose their jobs on occasion. It is important to keep the real world in perspective even in the face of success, so you can position yourself properly for the future.

Put away as much money as possible while still living a comfortable lifestyle so you will be able to take care of yourself and your family even if your career doesn?t exactly follow the path that you had expected. With the right attitude and a smart savings plan, you should be able to parlay your new salary into a secure financial future.

 

When’s the last time you got a large salary increase? Did you give in to lifestyle inflation??How could you use a salary increase to get ahead financially?

 

Photo courtesy of: tookapic

3 Things You Should Know Before Taking out Student Loans

student loans

taking out student loansGraduation is not far away, and it?s past time to begin thinking about how you are going to pay for college in the fall. Which, might mean one thing – student loans.

If you waited until now to start thinking about saving for college, or if you haven?t saved as much as you thought you would, you may have to take out student loans to help pay for it. Even though taking out loans generally offers a pretty good return on your investment, because you can can earn?more with a bachelor?s degree than you would with only a high school diploma, you should still try to take out the smallest amount possible in student loans to get your degree.

When I was getting ready to attend college and was contemplating taking out student loans, there were a lot of things I didn?t know about taking out student loans. If that?s the case for you too, here are three things you should know before signing on the dotted line and taking on the debt.

Federal vs Private Student Loans

There are two main types of student loans, federal student loans and private student loans. Federal student loans are made by the government and come with a lot of benefits that may not be available via private student loans. For instance, federal student loans offer a fixed interest rate for the life of your loan, the option to delay repayment until six months after graduation, and the option to restructure your loan repayment plan based on your income or delay payment if you lose your job.

That said, private student loans taken out through a bank or credit union may offer a lower interest rate. Even though that may look attractive, federal student loans are usually the better option.

A Longer Repayment Term Isn?t Necessarily Better

When you first graduate from college and your student loan payments kick in, it can be tempting to stretch the repayment term out as far as possible to help lower your monthly payment. Sometimes this is necessary because your budget is tight, but if you can afford to pay more by giving up something else from your budget, like cable or eating out, you?ll save money in the long run. Paying larger monthly payments will shorten your repayment term and can help you save a significant amount of money on interest.

Reduce Your Need for Student Loans

Rather than depending on student loans to entirely finance your education, you?ll save a lot of money by finding ways to take out less in loans. One idea is to work during the summers between high school. It can be tempting to spend that money on movie nights, eating out and new clothes, but your future self will thank you if you save at least some of it to help pay for college.

Another option is to work during college. Most students can find a way to fit in a few hours of work each week during the semester, and you can once again take on a job with more hours during the summer. This money can help you pay for your living expenses so you don?t have to use student loan money to help pay for those things.

Overall, I?m not of the opinion that student loans are the worst thing out there. In fact, I took out student loans to help pay for some of my college education too. But it?s important to keep in mind that student loans are still debt that has to be repaid at some point.

 

Have you taken out student loans? Were you aware of all of these things before you took out student loans?

 

Photo courtesy of: 0TheFool