Three Tips on Budgeting for a New Vehicle

by Sean Bryant on September 15, 2014

Budgeting for a new vehicle

Although you might not want to admit it, your car is starting to show signs of age. From mysterious creaks and oil leaks in the driveway to the odometer that is creeping up to 150,000 miles and beyond, your beloved car is probably getting ready to retire. While you know you need to purchase a new, or new-to-you, vehicle pretty soon, chances are good you don’t have a stockpile of money ready to pay for your new wheels. In order to make your new vehicle a reality, you’ll have to fit it into your budget. The following tips can help get you into your new ride:

Determine your down payment

Since making a down payment will help to lower your car loan amount, it’s wise to pay at least something up front toward your new vehicle. If you have some money set aside in savings, this would be a great time to dip into it. If you can take on any additional overtime or projects at work, even for a few weeks or so, you can apply the extra money you bring in towards the down payment. As The Nest notes, making a down payment will also mean you’ll pay less in interest during the course of your car loan, which will save you even more money.

Calculate how much you can afford

While you might be dreaming of owning that snazzy BMW Z4 you saw in front of the grocery store last week, chances are good your budget is a bit more in the basic Honda or Hyundai range. Before you head out to shop for new vehicles, it’s a good idea to determine about how much you can afford. Bankrate features a really cool car loan calculator that will help you estimate how much you would pay on your car loan. Just enter in the loan amount, length of the loan and interest rate to see how much you would have to pay every month.

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There was a time when I thought keeping accurate track of my net worth would be a daunting task. I figured that I would have to do research each month to figure out the value of what I owned, and how much my savings account was worth, and just where I stood with my investments. However, about two years ago my wife and I needed to get a new (to us) car, and I decided to figure out how it would affect our finances. I sat down at my computer for a little while and created a simple spreadsheet. Once created, I can keep track of my net worth with about 5 minutes of “research” each month. Here is how I do it.

The Spreadsheet

My spreadsheet is broken down into the two basic categories: assets and liabilities. Under “Assets” I have all the major assets (with the exception of vehicles because they depreciate too quickly), followed by twelve columns; one for each month. At the bottom I have a row for totals, and I have a row for month-over-month percent change.

Under the liabilities section I also have all the liabilities listed out, and the same total and percent change rows.

Beneath those sections is a total net worth row and a percent change net worth row.

Since my chart has been running for several years, I also have a final row that is the percent change since last year.

Confused? Me too. Here is a visual, it’s easier than it sounds.

Net Worth

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7 Reasons to Go For Your MBA

by Sean Bryant on September 11, 2014

As a new or previous college graduate, you may have been relieved to finally earn your bachelor’s degree. However, many college graduates are now finding themselves heading back to school to obtain a higher degree due to the current job market. Here are seven reasons you should go back to school for an Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) degree.

You Receive a Higher Salary

Many college graduates start their first job making a decent salary based upon their college major, type of job, and city location.  Studies have shown that the average salary for an MBA graduate is $100,000 per year and that MBA graduates earn around $40,000 more per year than graduates with only a bachelor’s degree.

You Can Change Careers Change

Although many people think that MBA graduates can only work in the business industry, there is often a need for MBA graduates in all types of industries, such as government and technology. If you are currently working in a dead-end job and are looking for a career change, obtaining an MBA can help you break into a new job field without having previous experience.

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How to Save Money When Working With Contractors

by Sean Bryant on September 9, 2014

Contractor

Homeowners are faced with an ongoing list of maintenance and repairs, and many require professional service contractors. Adding a room onto your house, remodeling a kitchen or repairing a roof require some specialized skills and often become expensive. Fortunately, there are several things homeowners can do to save money when working with contractors.

DIY or No?

How can you tell if a home repair or improvement project requires a professional or if you can take it on yourself? The National Association of the Remodeling Industry recommends considering the following before trying to do a home improvement project yourself:

  • Do you enjoy working with your hands?
  • Do you have the time, abilities and tools to do the work?
  • Is it safe for you to do the work yourself?
  • Will you be able to get the materials needed?
  • Can you realistically do a quality job comparable to what a professional would do?

NARI says that if you answer no to any of these questions, you’d probably be better off hiring a contractor for the job.

In addition, home repair expert Bob Vila says there are pros and cons to being your own general contractor versus hiring a professional. Saving 10 to 30 percent on the overall cost is one of the main reasons to be your own general contractor; however, getting exactly what you want and the satisfaction of real involvement are also important factors.

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Best Gadgets, Apps & Services to Save Money

by Sean Bryant on September 2, 2014

LG G-Flex

It’s no secret that one of the best ways to increase your buying power – and to make your dollar go further – is to stick to a saving regimen. Whether this involves putting aside a fixed portion of your paycheck every month or pocketing your change and keeping it for a rainy day (image how quickly your money jar would accrue money if you put away all of the $5 bills that you received in change), every little bit helps.

Of course, what many people often don’t take into consideration is that cutting expenses also counts as savings. If you can reduce your monthly expenses by $500 (this may sound impossible, but it is doable – think about how much you spend on cable television; this alone will get you a fifth of the way there or more), it gives you the same spending power as if you were to receive a $6,000 per year raise (and honestly, how likely is that to happen anytime soon?).

The following gadgets, apps and services can all help you cut your expenses and save money – so that you can spend it on the things that matter!

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Returning to Work After an Injury? Here’s What You Need to Know

September 1, 2014
Workplace Injury

Returning to work after a serious injury can be a difficult time for a worker, especially one who might still be affected by the physical and mental scars from the accident. Often a workplace accident has a long-term impact on an employee – more than just physical injuries such as broken bones and open wounds. […]

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Receiving Benefits for Innocent Spouse Relief

August 31, 2014
Innocent Spouse Relief

Filing for joint taxes with your spouse is a somewhat murky area in terms of determining who is liable for each particular obligation. Because you often share a mixture of common assets as well as personal assets, your taxes might be different from those of your spouse. In the event of a divorce, those obligations […]

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