The Cheapest Way to Own a Car

There is nothing quite so expensive as a brand-new car. There are times, rare though they be, when financing a new car might be advisable. But generally speaking, the cheapest way to own a car is to buy a late model, used, domestic car with cash.

Man looking at used blue car to buy

photo credit: ericpetersautos.com

How can you possibly do that when you don’t have a lot of cash to get started?  Great question. The answer is found in these two simple rules:

Rule #1: Pay Cash

Rule #2: Always Make Payments

I’ll bet you’re confused. On the one hand in Rule #1 I’m telling you to always pay cash for your cars. And in Rule #2 I am telling you to always make payments. Both principles are true. Read more

How to Slash the High Cost of Gas

I can sum up my response to the price of gasoline soaring once again in just one word: Aargh!

While waiting for prices to come down again (do you think they will?) don’t sit around complaining all the while paying through the nose to drive your car.

Photo Credit: Debbie

There are lots of things you can do to increase the number of miles you can squeeze out of each gallon of gas, effectively reducing its cost. Here are a few ways to get better gas mileage:

Empty the trunk

The heavier the car the harder the engine must work to move it around. The harder the engine works, the more fuel it burns. So unload all that other stuff you’ve been carrying around in the trunk for no good reason (please, leave the spare tire and emergency equipment). It’ s trunk, not a mini-storage unit. Unload and you could easily increase your gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.

Check tire inflation

Get into the habit of checking tire pressure every time you fill up, but when the tires are cold. The recommended PSI (pounds of pressure per square inch) is printed or stamped on a metal tag affixed to the edge of the front driver’s side door jamb—or on a older car, inside the glove box. Underinflated tires cause the engine to work harder than necessary, over inflation causes tires to wear prematurely.

Clean the air filter

One of the main causes of low gas mileage is a dirty air filter. If yours cannot be cleaned, replace it and repeat often. Check with a knowledgeable professional at an auto parts store or your mechanic about how often to clean or replace the air filter on your particular model. This is a task you can probably do yourself.  Read more

Clean Up the Cloudy Headlight Covers

Well, you’ve done it again! You clever readers have come up with another batch of fabulous ways that you save time and money every day.

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AUTO CLEANER. Use plain old baking soda on a damp rag to remove bugs, tar and anything else from your vehicle. Works great, even on the grill and chrome work. Leaves no residue or odor and won’t harm the paint. I just make a paste with baking soda and water, clean away and just rinse off. Works better than any commercial product I’ve tried. This method even cleans away the cloudy film on headlight covers. Bud

CUSTOM FLOOR MATS. I wanted floor mats for our mini-van so I stopped by our local car dealership. Boy, was I floored (pardon the pun). I checked a discount department store and while their mats were priced more reasonably, they didn’t fit well. I found a perfect solution by buying clear plastic runner material that is available by the yard at the home improvement center. With a utility knife I customized the fit around the seat hardware. This saved a lot of money and works beautifully. Judith

FRIDGE DEODORIZER. Used coffee grinds can eliminate even the worst refrigerator odors. I store kimchee (Korean pickled cabbage with a distinct odor) in my refrigerator regularly and I don’t smell it anymore! Simply take out the used coffee filter with the coffee grinds in it and place it in your refrigerator in an open container. It works better than baking soda or any other commercial remedy. I’ve tried them all. Just replace the coffee grinds when they dry up. Jay Read more

You Need an Insurance Check-up

From regular oil changes to changing furnace filters and annual trips to the dentist, smart consumers know that preventive maintenance can avoid costly repairs down the road. Insurance is another item that needs to go on your routine maintenance list.

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No one wants to think about insurance unless forced to. But at least once a year, it’s important that you do a quick review to make sure you have the right amount of coverage at the best price.

Some of us have to learn these things the hard way. I really don’t know how many years we paid for a special rider to cover my husband’s photography equipment on our homeowner’s policy. Sure, it was a good idea when he was actually a photographer. But that rider rode on for many years after he’d sold the equipment.

And then there’s my friend Lucy who got tired of me nagging her and agreed to shop her car insurance. Within 15 minutes after calling an insurance broker, she had a quote for identical coverage at $500 less per year. Her problem was the loyalty she felt for the agent she’d been with for 13 years. But $500 is a lot of money so she called him to break the news that she would be moving on to cheaper pastures. “Wait,” the agent pleaded. “Give me one day to try to beat that quote.” He did, and rewrote her policy for $600 less per year with no changes in coverage.

As your policies come up for renewal, take a little time to shop around. Read more

How to Buy a New Car with All Cash

I wouldn’t walk across hot coals for the fun of it. But if I could be shown how a short, painful walk would do away with a lifetime of worry, frustration and the fear that comes with constantly being broke, I’d do it.

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While the method that follows isn’t exactly hot coals, it does represent a short-term sacrifice to achieve something amazing that few people will ever achieve in their lifetimes: paying all cash for a car, and perhaps, if you choose, even a brand-new car. Eventually. 

Let’s say that tomorrow morning your car is destroyed beyond repair. You must have a car, and because you have no money saved and the insurance check is pathetically small, you opt to buy a brand-new car. Realistically, how much can you afford to pay each month for a car payment? $200? $350 $600? 

Okay, back to reality. Your car isn’t destroyed, and you’ll keep driving it for a while. But remember the amount you believe you could afford to pay for a car payment each month if you absolutely had to and keep reading. Read more

5 Ways to Minimize Your Car Insurance Costs

 

Automobile insurance. We spend thousands of dollars on it then hope we’ll never need it. By law and common sense we know that we must have it. But that doesn’t mean we should pay one dollar more for auto insurance than necessary.

SHOP AROUND. Rates between insurance companies can vary greatly. Call three different companies today and you’re bound to get three different quotes. There is nothing righteous about staying with the same company forever. An hour of your time once a year could net a handsome premium reduction. You can get quotes online from companies that sell directly, like Geico, State Farm and  21st Century. Compare with what you have and don’t be afraid to make a switch.

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INCREASE DEDUCTIBLES. Remember this: The lower the deductible the higher the premium. You’re not likely to file a claim for a minor incident because that could make your premiums skyrocket. So if you’re not going to file small claims, think about increasing your deductibles to say $500 even $1,000. Then put the premium savings in a special account to pay for the fender-benders. One Florida couple that raised the deductible for their 2005 Volvo and 2003 Acura Legend from $500 to $1,000 cut their annual premium from $3,200 to $2,800–a decrease of 12 percent. That is significant. But they need to squirrel away those savings. If the worst happens they don’t want to feel compelled to use a credit card to cover the deductible. Read more

Buying a Car You Can’t Afford

Dear Mary,

I bought a car I can no longer afford. Thanks to DebtProofLiving.com I have made changes in my life and finances, but I still have some problems because of my car. I have put it up for sale but I owe more than it’s worth. How do you sell a car when you don’t have the title? And how do you get out from under a car loan you can’t afford? Kelly, Washington

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Dear Kelly,

First, call your lender to find out your exact payoff and the procedure for transferring the title to a new buyer. Next, go to a site like Edmunds.com or KBB.com to determine a realistic amount you can expect to get for the car. Check local listings to see if that number squares with what similar cars are going for in your area.

Now determine about how much you will need to pay off the loan once you secure a buyer. Go to your credit union or bank and tell them your plan to sell the car and why you need a short-term unsecured signature loan to make up the difference between what you owe and the sale price you expect to get. I know this represents new debt, but it will be required for you to finally get out of this.  Read more