Tag Archives: finances

Saturday Sneak-Peak: StretchyDollar.com

Welcome to the first edition of Saturday Sneak-Peak! Every Saturday, I will be exploring a personal finance blog and giving a brief review. My major intent of this new adventure is to expose everyone to new and/or obscure blogs. Up this week is StretchyDollar.com. Jeff has been a frequent commenter on YMR and I greatly appreciate it.

Jeff is a twenty-something blogger who started StretchyDollar as an outlet for his ideas and as a place to interact with other people in similar situations. Although Jeff has only been blogging for three months, there are plenty of great articles over there to check out. Here are a few of my favorites:

10 Financial Commandments for Your 20s

Get (Real) Rewards for Searching the Internet

I also asked Jeff a few questions to help you get to know him. Here they are:

What have you liked most about blogging so far?

I enjoy blogging for two main reasons:

1. Meeting and networking with awesome people who have interests similar to you who can teach you a lot. It’s fun to connect with people and share a part of you with them.
2. To learn through ‘teaching’. I enjoy researching and learning something, and then trying to present it in an interesting and understandable way.

What have you disliked most about blogging so far?

It’s not a dislike, per say, but the hardest thing for me so far has been coming up with a great idea for a post and then seeing it executed better somewhere else. I’ve had a couple ideas that I thought would be cool, and then I see someone else do a great job writing about that topic and I feel like I shouldn’t do it because I wouldn’t do it justice, or they would just think I was copying them. It’s difficult sometimes to come up with ideas that I think people would be interested in actually reading.

What has been your worst financial decision so far and how did you learn from it?

Due to a landlord problem, my wife and I were backed into a corner and due to a lack of time had to rent an apartment we couldn’t really afford. We made it work for a couple of months off of gifts from our reception (it was right after we got married) and extra money that my wife had, but in the end we had to move. It wrecked us financially, and we were on the ropes for a bit, using credit card advances just to get by. It took us months to really fully recover from it, and we missed out on some great financial opportunities because the money wasn’t there. It was really the thing that got me interested in learning about personal finance. The main concept that I learned from that experience was to plan ahead and do my research, and to live well within my means. Just because I think I can afford something doesn’t mean I really can.

Which of your posts did you have the most fun writing?

That’s a tough question – I’ve enjoyed writing each post for different reasons. I’d have to say the most fun was maybe one of the first I posted on StretchyDollar.com – ‘The Value of a Vision.’ It talks about having an overall plan/dream about what you want your finances to be, and then working towards it. Most people really don’t want to be financially strong, because they aren’t willing to put in the hard work and make the sacrifices to make it happen. If you can decide, have a goal, and works towards it, anything is possible.

I want to send out a big thanks to Jeff for letting me interview him. Head over there today and be sure to check out his posts and comment on ones that connect with you.

Do you know of a blog that you would like to see on Saturday Sneak-Peak? Head over to my contact page and submit the name/URL of the blog. You can submit your own blog if you like.

Buying a New Car? Cash Rebate vs 0% Financing Spreadsheet

I think the toughest part about buying a new car is selecting a model. When I searched for my most recent car, it took me months to figure out which one I wanted. I even feel like I settled on my Chevy Malibu because I was just tired of shopping. Whatever car you end up selecting, there comes a time when you have to choose between the cash rebate and the super low financing rate (typically 0%).

Do you find yourself searching for topics such as this every day? By subscribing to this site, you can get FREE updates in your inbox daily. Why not give it a try? You can unsubscribe at any time and it’s FREE. You can subscribe via RSS or you can subscribe via email.

Cash Rebates

Cash rebates are exactly what they sound like. Many automotive companies offer cash back when you purchase one of their new cars. If you see a commercial for a new car that offers $2,000 cash back, you can expect at least $2,000 off the MSRP. There are several types of rebates so make sure you know about all of them. You can get rebates for being a recent graduate, being in the military, etc. Make sure you negotiate the lowest price before mentioning any rebates. This will ensure you receive the best deal possible. You can find a list of current rebates at this site.

Special Financing

Many companies also offer the chance to get great financing rates through their company. Many companies, especially right now, offer 0% financing for a couple of years. Even if they do not offer 0% rates, they usually still offer rates lower than you can get through traditional banks.

Which Offer to Choose

Now comes the part where you need to figure out which one to choose. Here are the options which you will need to pick from:

1. Pay Cash for the Whole Car

In this case you should obviously take the cash rebates. You should also be proud of the fact that you will own the car free and clear. Congratulations!

2. Take the Cash Rebate and Finance the Car at an Outside Bank

With this option, you need to figure out if the amount of the rebate will be greater than the amount of the interest expense of the outside loan. For example, let’s say you need to borrow $15,000 for the new car and you can get a 60 month loan at your credit union at 5%. Over the term of the loan you will pay $1,984 in interest. So for this example, if the rebates are greater than $1,984 you should take the rebate and finance it at the outside bank. You can search for auto loan rates in your area at Bankrate.com. Also consider joining a credit union. They always seem to have great rates. You can use the spreadsheet at the end of this post to calculate the interest expense. It will also tell you which option to choose.

3. Pass on the Cash Rebate and Finance the Car at the Special 0% Rate

If the rebates are smaller than the interest expense you calculated for #2 (using the spreadsheet at the end of this post), you should use the 0% financing (assuming you qualify).

I should note that many companies are offering cash rebates PLUS 0% financing right now due to the economy. If that is the case, you should obviously take both.

Spreadsheet to Help You Choose

Use the following spreadsheet to help you choose the best option for you. Be sure to read the comments in the spreadsheet so you get all of the numbers in the right spot. Enjoy!

Weekly Roundup – March 22nd

It’s been a few weeks since my last roundup. What can I say, I’ve been pretty busy!

Keep an eye out for a new feature this coming week. I will be posting a “Saturday Sneak-Peak” each week where I will be visiting a new/upcoming blog on personal finance. I will give you a brief overview of what I found on the site and you will be introduced to the author with a few answers to my questions. You can then visit the site and make your own conclusion. Be sure to check it out this Saturday! Anyway, off to the roundup!

Last Week’s Great Posts

Trent at The Simple Dollar lets us know the hows and whys of his Prius purchase.

JD at Get Rich Slowly has received some really bad customer service at Smart Money. Does that sound familiar?

David at Pimp Your Finances is paying it forward, every day. Man did he have a day! I love doing great things for people but I’m not that good around drunk people. I give him props!

Frugal Dad shares with us seven ways to fund college without a college savings fund.

Pete at Bible Money Matters lets us know that when renting a car, save money by not paying for the extras.

Michael at Wealth Uncomplicated has a unique way of paying his kid’s allowance. I really like this idea and will definitely keep it in mind.

Free Money Finance fought the law and the law (mostly) won.

Have a great week and enjoy this weeks posts!





How to Get Free Auto Insurance Quotes and Purchase Online

Every six months you can find me surfing the web for auto insurance. Call me weird, but I always need to know I am getting the best price. If I had to guess, I would say that I have changed my auto insurance carrier seven times over the past nine years. Is that bad or am I just a good shopper? Anyway, I thought I would share with you my routine for shopping for auto insurance and things to look for. Currently, I am with Progressive and I have been pleased so far. Please keep in mind that none of these companies paid me to write about this. I also do not receive anything if you visit their site, so please feel free to visit them!

Check Your Current Policy

When six months rolls around (sometimes sooner), I will double-check to make sure that the coverage is still what I would like it to be. If for some reason the company lowered my limits, I make sure to get a new quote for the coverage amounts that I like. Here are the coverage amounts that I currently carry:

Bodily Injury Protection: $100,000 per person / $300,000 per accident

Property Damage: $100,000 per accident

Uninsured Motorist: Same limits as personal protection

Medical: $2,500

Comprehensive: $50 deductible

Collision: $500 deductible

I keep the bodily injury quite high because the cost of medical care is high. It’s that plain and simple. I will never buy less than $100,000 in property damage due to the high costs of vehicles today. For example, if I were in an at-fault accident with two other SUV vehicles, I would have caused damages (considering both were totaled) of around $50,000 if I am lucky. I really do not want to have to pay for any additional amounts out of pocket. I just keep the uninsured motorist coverage the same as my personal coverage due to the same reasons above.

In regards to deductibles, I keep my comprehensive very low because it just does not cost that much more to have it close to $0. Also, why have a $500 comprehensive deductible when you will use it for mostly inexpensive things? In terms of the collision deductible, I would like to have the deductible at $1000 because I could save around 15% on my policy. However, my credit union forces me to have at-the-most a $500 deductible. Anyone else have that problem?

Before you move onto the next section, make sure you obtain a new insurance quote from your current carrier. Their pricing structures may have changed.

Time to Start the Quotes

I typically have several sites that I check every few months for auto insurance. In this section I will list the sites that I visit and my general experience (price, obtaining a quote) with them.

Progressive

As I mentioned before, Progressive is my current carrier. So, far I have had a good experience with them. They were my carrier several years ago as well but of course, they were outbid a few months later so I switched. Obtaining a quote from Progressive is very easy. All you have to do is enter a few bits of information and you are all set for an accurate quote. They even offer to show you the prices of some of their competitors. However, I have never gone off of what they said. Can you really trust another insurance company to give you a quote for another company? I would rather do the digging myself. One of the main reasons I decided to go with Progressive is their MyRate Program. This program is for conservative drivers like myself. You basically install a tracker in your car that measures your distance and time traveled as well as your braking and acceleration. It then compares your driving to others in your rate class and gives you a discount accordingly (that is if you are below the average). My discount so far is about 5% at renewal (I have only been using it for a few weeks). All in all, I would recommend Progressive to anyone.

Geico

Before Progressive, my auto insurance carrier was Geico. They are well known for their commercials with the gecko. When I first purchased a policy from them it was very easy. Their quote system is very similar to Progressive. I only switched from them because Progressive’s quote was about $100 cheaper for six months and I also wanted to try the MyRate program. If you happen to find a cheaper quote with another company, make sure you call your current company first and see if they can negotiate with you on the price. Most companies will be willing to do this with you rather than see you go.

Esurance

Esurance is a fairly new auto insurance company. They are the ones with the animated (which I think are a little corny) commercials. Since the commercials are animated, I guess it allows them to produce cheaper insurance. I used Esurance for a few months and their quotes were quite low compared to some others. However, when I moved to Texas, their rates became more expensive and I could no longer use them. I would encourage you to check them out. They are very competitive right now and it does not hurt to get a quote.

State Farm

I have heard very good things about State Farm and their service. However, every time I get a quote there, they are always way more expensive than some of the others. I am talking about 25% higher. Maybe it is because I am in a strange rate class right now (young male). You may have more luck than me so be sure to check them out as well. Even though I never get a great quote from them, I still check. If you are someone who needs personal service, you may want to purchase from them even though they may be a fraction more expensive. They have many agents that you can see in your area.

Allstate

My first insurer was Allstate. Looking back, I could have probably saved quite a bit of money had I shopped around before I went with them. However, everyone in the family used them and I figured why not. I really did not know much about auto insurance back then. As soon as I went to college and became interested in personal finance, I started shopping around and got some pretty good deals. Allstate has quite a few good features such as accident forgiveness, deductible rewards, etc., but most of them are just a gimmick and add additional costs to the policy. Every time I quote with them now, they are even more expensive than State Farm. However, your circumstances may be different so be sure to at least get a quote from them.

Those are all of the companies that I get a quote from. I know there are probable plenty of other companies, but by the time I am done with quotes for these few, I have reached my maximum utility for auto insurance. There more than likely was a quote that I was comfortable paying for.

Time to Buy!

When you find a quote/company that you like, they make it very easy to purchase. Once you receive a quote, they automatically give you the option to purchase the insurance on the spot. Many companies even give you a discount for buying online.

Other Things to Consider

I figured I would give some additional brief tips to help you save some money on auto insurance.

1. Keep all of your policies with one company. If you have your homeowners, umbrella, renters and auto policy all at the same company, you will receive a discount on all of them.

2. Increase your deductibles. If you are allowed by your finance company (if you finance), raise your deductibles in order in increase your savings.

3. Find some discounts. Many auto insurance companies offer different types of discounts. They range from being a good student to belonging to a union. Make sure you ask your company if you are getting all of the discounts you are entitled to.

4. Drive a low-profile car. Drive a fast car? Chances are you are paying more due to that fact.

Anyone else have a company that they have used in the past? Did you get some good quotes from them?

Weekly Roundup – February 15th

Well, Valentine’s day has passed. What did you and your significant other do? Did you do something frugal? Did you go all out? Did you spend your stimulus money already? We decided to do the responsible thing and not spend much money on each other. However, tonight we are attending one of the best seafood restaurants in the area. We feel that it is OK to spend some money every once and awhile or else we would just go insane. Anyway, I hope you had a great Valentine’s and please enjoy the holiday on Monday! Unfortunately, I have to work. 🙁

Here are some great reads I found this week. Please be sure to check them out!

David at My Two Dollars shows us Do It Yourself Debt Reduction. Some great tips here if you are thinking you are at your last wit. Before you do anything crazy, check out this post.

NCN at No Credit Needed shows us 10 Places to Look When Scrounging for Change. The story the precedes the tips is the best part of this post. I think it’s great that he ended up doing what he did!

The David at Pimp Your Finances lets you know Why He is Starting a Vacation Fund in the Middle of a Recession. Sometimes the best way to save money is by telling yourself that you are going to do something fun with the money.

Have a great week!

Money Hacks Carnival #51 – The Office Edition

Welcome to the 51st edition of the Money Hacks Carnival! My name is Adam and I am pleased to be your host this week. Please feel free to poke around the site if it is your first time visiting! You can subscribe to the blog using the links on the right or you can follow me on Twitter to stay up-to-date.

NBC’s The Office is my favorite show on TV. I just love watching the office banter and politics. Every week there is a moment that reminds you of something a co-worker did recently. For this carnival, I decided to categorize the topics by some great characters in the show.

Editor’s Picks

Michael Scott is the Regional Manager of the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin. If anyone has the right to pick this week’s best articles, it’s him. He is the glue that holds his team together. Did I really just say that?

Credit Shout tells us to Beware of ATM Scams. Honestly, I really had no idea about some of these. I will be thinking twice about going to the ATM now!

Living Almost Large talks about a family that is in trouble and Their Ship Is Sinking. Looking at this person’s cash flow, it’s hard to believe that they did not see the major problem.

FIRE Finance shares a great story on how Smart Refrigeration Lowers Electricity Bills. Who better to tell you about saving energy on your refrigerator than someone who works with them every day?

PF Credit Cards shows you How to Beat Priceline and Get a Winning Bid. Personally, I have been using Priceline’s Name Your Own Price for over a year now. I will never go back to paying full price again! You really have no say in the brand of your hotel, but you still get to pick the star level. I have yet to be disappointed in the hotel I end up getting.

Career

To me, no one seems more focused on their career than Dwight Schrute. He is constantly reminding everyone about his position with the company and how he is the top salesman. He is also good at sucking up to the boss. Watch the show and learn from Dwight if you are searching for a new job!

Tom at The Strump gives his opinion on How to Translate Employment Ads.

FMF at Free Money Finance lets you know How to Waste Money on a MBA.

Debt and Credit

Kelly is really into fashion and fancy things. Only working at Dunder Mifflin, I can imagine that she has some major credit card debt. Hopefully, some of these articles can help her get on the path to becoming debt free.

Jim at Bargaineering has a Review of MyFICO ScoreWatch. He says it’s perfect for credit score junkies!

Tyler from CreditCards.com talks about how Credit Card Regulation is Brewing for College Campuses Again. Personally, I have never signed up for a credit card at a table at college, sporting event , airport, etc.

Looking for a new rewards credit card? Credit Addict tells us about the Pentagon Federal Visa Rewards Card.

Shaun from Learn Financial Planning gives his 5 Principles for Getting Out of Debt. Some great insights here!

Mr. Banker at Best Interest Rate Banks gives us his review of High Interest Savings Accounts.

Studenomics Breaks Down Student Loans in a non-confrontation manner.

Chris at StumbleForward gives you some tips on Becoming a Blogger to Get Out of Debt.

Housing

Jim just recently bought a house from his parents. I bet he wishes that he could have had some of these great articles to read!

Len Penzo provides us with A Layman’s Guide to Mortgage Application Junk Fees.

Passive Family Income talks about The Recession in America and Home Foreclosures.

Frugality and Saving Money

If anyone on the show is frugal, it’s Pamela. She dresses simple, religiously watched her money while going to college, and was thrifty while planner her first wedding.

Silicon Valley Blogger at The Digerati Life has a Valentine’s Day Tip on Using Ebates to Get Cash Back.

Pete at Bible Money Matters reminds us that Small Decisions Equal Big Results.

J Money at Budgets are Sexy says The Budget is Back, Baby!

Lisa from Greener Pastures presents Economic Collapse-R-Us: 22 Lifestyle Changes of Middle Class America.

The Writer’s Coin presents Am I a Thief or an Entrepreneur? The overwhelming majority of the comments suggest a thief. Head over there and give your input. He has even written a response post to the naysayers.

Matt at Stupid Cents gives us Five Simple Ways to Buy Everything Cheaper and Save Money.

The Shark Investor gives us Strategies for Raising Savings.

Mr. Tough Money Love show us how Arming Ourselves to Save Money on Car Repairs can be a good thing.

Patrick at Money Saving Deals has some Godaddy.com Coupon Codes to share.

David at Personal Finance Analyst gives us The Best Free Budget Worksheets on the Internet.

Dana at Not Made of Money tells us How Her Family Keeps the Breaks on Spending.

The Smarter Wallet shares some delicious Cheap Meals You Can Cook at Home to Save Money.

Debt Kid shows us Why Budgets Don’t Work for Everyone.

Hank at Own The Dollar wants to know Is Three to Six Months of Expenses Enough Money For Your Emergency Fund?

Aryn at Sound Money Matters shows you The Pros and Cons of Homemade Yogurt.

Taxes

When I think of someone who would evade income taxes, I think about Creed. Hopefully some of these articles will help him file his return this year. His first return ever?

Money Tipper lets us know about TurboTax Discounts for Vanguard Customers.

Nickel at Five Cent Nickel gives us Ten Common Income Tax Credits. Head over there to make sure you are getting all the money you deserve.

Thinking of buying a new house? Madison at My Dollar Plan talks about the Possibility of a $15,000 Home Buyer Tax Credit.

Patrick at Military Finance Network answers a question about What You Need to Do If Your Stimulus Check Was Lost of Stolen.

Christian Personal Finance found some places that have Free STATE e-file Online! Living in Maryland, I know that we have free e-file for the state return. It makes it nice and easy!

Insurance

If I had to guess which employee had the greatest amount of insurance, I would say it was Andy. I’d bet he has whole life, term, universal, two health policies and a deferred annuity. He also seems to be the most likely to be a insurance salesman. He just has that way about him!

Mr. GoTo at Go To Retirement gives you an idea about Fixed Annuities and Financial Risk. I think fixed annuities are a great thing to have in retirement. It’s unfortunate that they get such a bad rep from many mainstream media types.

Junior Boomer from The Consumer Boomer talks about Women and Long-term Care Insurance.

Economy

Now honestly, who cares more about the economy than Stanley? Just look at that face!

Kathryn at Out of Debt Christian tells us about The Importance of Shopping Local.

PFR at Personal Finance Reviews tells how the FDIC Plans to Restrict Interest Rates of Troubled Banks.

Curt at Penny Jobs presents The Fiat Money System is Failing.

Money Blue Book Finance wants to know is there a Second Stimulus Check for Obama in 2009?

Investing

Toby is the head of human resources at Dunder Mifflin. If anyone was maxing out their 401(k) there, it would be him.

Sun at The Sun’s Financial Diary alerts you to a Free Stock Analysis Tool.

The Financial Blogger shows you some Options to Secure Your Investment Portfolio.

The Intelligent Speculator wants to know if Super Bowl Ads are Really Worth It?

The Investor at Monevator gives their 10 Reasons to Be Cheerful as an Investor.

Jeff from Good Financial Cents has 7 Things to Know About the 2010 Roth IRA Conversion.

Dividend Tree shows us how Everyday Life Teaches us Dividend Investing.

Other

When I was thinking about what character would be good for the category other, I thought of Ryan. He definitely had some ups and downs with Dunder Mifflin!

MoneyNing presents What Everyone Ought to Know When Applying for Free Stuff.

Patrick at Cash Money Life has some $25 Sign-up Bonuses from Lending Club. You even have 2 chances to win $100!

Mara Rodgers at Secrets for Money gives some great Tips To Teach Kids About Money.

Chris at Financial Reflections lets you know How Identiy Thieves Sell Your Data Online.

Mighty Bargain Hunter gives you Some Great Sources for Free AudioBooks.

Miss M at M is for Money shares with you Deliverance from Debt: Budget Basics.

Mike at Money TLD shares with us 10 Places to Click for Cash. There are quite a few things on this list that I have never heard of. I think I will check some of them out!