Last Updated On: April 15, 2014 10:38

Is your current vehicle starting to show its age? Was this past winter hard on it? Maybe it’s time to start looking for something new. There are many different options out there and choosing one can be really difficult. Below are some helpful tools that you can use to help make the car buying experience easier.

Auto Loan Payment Calculator
When purchasing a new or used vehicle, sometimes paying for the whole vehicle is not possible and you need to take out some sort of financing. An auto loan payment calculator can help give you an idea of how much your monthly payment could be. Just plug in the amount, interest rate, how long you want to finance it for and any down payment you would have. It’s easy!

Credit Reports
If you are looking to apply for financing, past credit history is something that will be looked upon by a lender. It’s always a good idea to check your credit report every so often to maintain a healthy overview of your finances and your credit scores. Knowing this information will give you a better idea as to the rates you could get when applying for a loan.

Vehicle History Reports
Vehicle history reports are another useful tool to use when searching for an automobile. These services will give a detailed report of any problems the vehicle had in the past. From service and repair information to accident history, these reports can offer very useful information on the potential vehicle. In order to receive a vehicle report, there is usually a fee involved but often car dealerships will offer the reports for free on the vehicles they sell.

Vehicle Valuation Service
Another useful tool to use when searching for a car is using a vehicle valuation service. This service allows you to find out the market value of the particular vehicle you are looking at. Detailed questions are asked about the vehicle and then a report is given. In calculating this report, information is pulled from thousands of recent sales of similar vehicles from across the country and additional information of the marketplace. This is then compared to your vehicle and a market value is given. Using this information can be very beneficial in negotiating a fair price for the car you are looking to purchase.

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Last Updated On: March 25, 2014 13:44

If you haven’t started thinking about filing your taxes, now is the time. April 15th is the deadline to get them submitted and it’s only a few weeks away. Deciding how you will file is the first step. Will you choose to hire a tax professional or to do them yourself? Many decide to file their taxes themselves using online forms or software. Let’s run through some pros and cons of preparing taxes yourself.

Pros:

Cost – paying for an online service or software is cheaper than having to pay a professional to do your taxes.

Convenience – you can choose to file your taxes at any time of the day from the comfort of your own home. No appointment necessary.

Better idea of your finances – filling out the information on your own will give you a better understanding of the tax process and will help you get a better grasp of your financial situation.

Cons:

More Risk – you are responsible for getting all the required information submitted to the IRS. Missing any information could come back to haunt you.

Better for more simple returns – if you have your own business or any investments you’re probably better off hiring a professional to file your taxes.

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Last Updated On: March 11, 2014 16:02

So you’ve decided to take a vacation and are looking to fly to your destination. You’re excited about your trip until you start thinking about having to find airline tickets. The first thing most people think about when looking for airline tickets is how can I find the cheapest flights possible. Here are a few money saving pointers to follow when starting the ticket search:

-    Start your search early in the morning as this is usually when the best rates are available.
-    Look through more than one site to find the best price. There are many websites out there that offer airline tickets and the prices can vary on each site. Search multiple sites to see which one can offer you the best deal.
-    Be flexible with departure times. You might have to adjust your schedule for leaving and arriving but this could save you big in ticket fees.
-    Try leaving from a larger airport. Instead of flying out of the smaller airport that’s close to home, look into driving an extra hour or two to a larger airport. Larger airports offer more flights throughout the week and sometimes offer them at a lower rate. That extra drive could prove beneficial.
-    Try applying for an airline rewards card. Airline rewards credit cards allow you to earn frequent flyer miles or points for purchases made on the card. These miles and points can then be used towards your travel expenses. Some of them also offer waived baggage fees.
-    Be open to taking a connecting flight instead of flying straight through. Taking a connecting flight might take longer, but it’s another way to keep money in your pocket.

Bookmark and Share Filed Under: Saving Money
Last Updated On: February 25, 2014 13:11

Seems like no matter how hard we try it’s very hard to go through life without having to pay off some sort of debt. Making payments on cars, credit cards, mortgage or rent, etc. can sometimes get out of hand and can leave you wondering how you’ll pay it all off. Here are a few points to follow when looking to dig yourself out of a financial hole.

Make a budget
Writing down all of your expenses in detail will give you an overall picture of exactly where your money is going. Make note of all of your bills and when they’re due. Write down all of the extra expenses that take place as well, like eating out, buying a coffee before going to work, or buying those shoes you really like online. With all of these “extras” laid out on paper, you can really see where ALL your money is being spent and where you need to cut back the spending.

List all debts and start paying them down
Now that you have an idea where all of your money is going, it’s time to see if you can start to pay more on those debts you’ve accumulated. Start by paying more than the minimum amount due. Look at the interest rates or fees on your debts and if you can’t pay more than the minimum due on each account, focus on paying as much as you can on the account, or accounts, with the highest fees or interest rates. Paying the minimum amount due can take a long time to pay off most debts and with the interest fees charged on most loans and credit cards, your total debt could continue to rise. Instead, be sure to pay off debts in as little time as possible by paying more and focusing on reducing as much debt as possible on the account with the highest interest rates and fees.

Contact the credit card company to lower rates
Calling your credit card company and asking them to lower your interest rate is another way to help cut down on your debt. If you’ve been a loyal customer and have had good history with them most will grant your request, rather than risk losing your business to someone else. Simply lowering your interest rate could help save you hundreds of dollars.

Save, save, save
Once you’ve paid off most or all of your debts, it’s time to take some of that money you were using to pay them off and put it into a savings account. It’s always a good idea to have some sort of savings account for those unexpected expenses. The more you have saved up, the less stress you’ll feel when an emergency arises and the less debt you will have to re-incur.

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Last Updated On: February 07, 2014 14:37

Credit cards are definitely a convenient way to make a purchase.  However, with that convenience sometimes comes more risk.  Once a credit card is swiped or entered online, the data on that card is then transferred and/or stored electronically with computers.  This transfer/storage of information, if not made thoroughly secure, can be accessed by hackers.  Thus was the case back in November and December 2013 when Target reported a massive security breach at each of its 1,800 stores.  So what can you do if you fall victim to credit card fraud?  Here are some steps to follow that could help you if you ever fall victim to credit card fraud.

Update accounts that use your credit card information.  When making purchases or paying bills online, many places store your credit card information in their database.  If the bank or credit card company issues you a new credit or debit card, be sure to login and update your account with your new payment information to assure any scheduled bill payments you had setup on your card are still made to prevent another issue of late or missed payments.

Check your Credit Report.  Even if you don’t notice fraudulent charges on your account, it’s still a good idea to check your Credit Report.  Each credit-reporting agency (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) is required to give you one free credit report per year.  You can request a different one about every 4 months to ensure you are staying on top of any questionable activity.  If you do notice information on your report that is inaccurate, contact the credit-reporting agency right away to resolve the discrepancy.  In addition to offering you a credit report, these reporting agencies also offer additional protection such as placing security freezes on your account and issuing fraud alerts.

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