Buying a New Car

A new car is second only to a home as the most expensive purchase many consumers make. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average price of a new car sold in the United States is about $30,000. That’s why it’s important to know how to make a smart deal. – Federal Trade Commission  (FTC) 

Indeed, if paying for college education is not classified as “making a purchase”, then an automobile purchase is likely to be the second most expensive purchase many of us make. And we make “a vehicle purchase” a good number of times during our adult life!

So your Tri-Town Apple will focus on this topic in the coming weeks, not only this article on “Buying a New Car” but also on buying an used vehicle, automotive repair, and the question of purchase vs. lease.

As we frequently do, we will use work the federal government has already done to provide us with basic information and “heads-up” alerts to help us from making a BIG mistake. In the FTC’c own words:

The (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace.

In this case we’ll use the FTC web site Consumer Information. Continue to view the FTC information.

Continue reading

“R” You Energy Savvy?

Over the last ten years the price of residential heating oil has risen more than 150% in Connecticut (source: U.S. Energy Information Administration). Judging by the “talk at the water cooler”, the cost of other heating energy has  increased as well.

No doubt this inflation in the cost of heating has affected regions beyond New England as well. While we don’t use fuel oil to cool our homes in the summer, most of us have experienced noticeable price escalation in electrical power cost as well.

So what can we do about this?

Naturally we can shop for the best value in fuel oil service and electrical power. We can be more careful about lights and TV’s being left on when there is nobody in the room. Programmable thermostats can help regulate heat when no one is around. And, of course for the more hearty, a heavier sweater in winter may allow for a lower thermostat setting.

But what about our house itself?

Have we made it as energy efficient as we can, or at least close to it? Older homes in particular can often be improved in their use of energy. This is usually achieved by improving the insulation and making the house more “weather-tight”.

Let’s talk a moment about how heat primarily leaves the house in the winter and enters the house in the summer.

  1. Heat loss takes place directly through the walls, ceilings, floors, and windows in the winter and enters the same way during the summer. This kind of heat transfer is known as Conduction
  2. There are many small openings around doors and windows, through holes in the floor for plumbing and electrical cabling, even the spaces taken by the boxes for switches and outlets. Air passing through these openings, called Air Infiltration, can cool a house in the winter, and warm it during the summer, not what we’re looking for.

Both of these likely areas for improving home heating and cooling efficiency and should be addressed in any effort to reduce heating and cooling costs. Continue reading

There’s a Tip Here for Everybody

Spend 101

The title of this post could also be Spend 101. It is a short list of basic practices that, if followed, will almost guarantee that you can meet your financial goals. There is nothing here that we haven’t heard before at one time, or another. But, even though we see this advice from time to time, it is an unusual person indeed that follows the list to the letter consistently.

Therefore the goal of this post is to get you to adapt one, just one, hint or tip that you are not currently using. Then maybe, in the future, you may start using another, and so on. But all that is in the future. For now, look at the list from MyMoney.gov/Spend, and pick just one new action to start using. Surely that can’t be too hard.

From MyMoney.gov on Spend

Spend

The fundamental concept of Spend is: make a budget or a plan for using your money wisely. It’s helpful to set short and long-term financial goals and manage your money to meet them.

Actions You Can Take

  • Live within your means.
  • Be a smart shopper, and compare prices and quality.
  • Track your spending habits and develop a budget or spending plan.
  • Plan for short-term and long-term financial goals.

Hints and Tips

  • A good way to take control of your spending is to set the maximum amounts you plan to spend each week or each month. Once you’ve set the maximum, stick with your plan.
  • It’s helpful to track your spending over a few weeks or months to get a handle on how you are using your dollars and cents. Look into using on-line systems or phone apps for keeping track of your spending – you will be amazed at what you’ll learn about your habits! (editor’s note: The Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union offers the use of MoneyDesktop Software free to members)
  • Be careful not to let a sale or discount coupon persuade you to purchase something you don’t really need and that isn’t in your spending plan.
  • When planning a big purchase, take time to comparison shop and check prices at a few different stores, by phone or online.

That’s it. Pick something you’re not doing, or not doing well, and make it part of your regular spending process. If you are going to increase your attention to budgeting, take a look at MoneyDesktop. You can learn more on the Tri-Town Teachers web site.

Was this helpful? What would you like to see? Give us a comment. We want to hear from you.

 

 

Good Advice for Young People Just “Leaving the Nest”

Setting Out on Your Own: Money Management and Credit 101

by Colleen Tressler
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
Consumer Information Blog
August 20, 2013

Whether you’re heading off to your freshman year of college or getting your first apartment, preparing to be out on your own can be fun and exciting. It also means taking on new financial responsibilities. The decisions you make now about how you manage your money can affect your ability to get credit, insurance, a place to live, and even a job.

The first step toward taking control of your financial situation is to do a realistic evaluation of how much money you take in and how much money you spend. Start by listing your income from all sources. Then, list your “fixed” expenses — those that are the same each month — like rent, car payments, and insurance premiums. Next, list the expenses that vary — like entertainment, recreation, and clothing.

Writing down all your expenses, even those that seem insignificant, is a helpful way to track your spending patterns, identify necessary expenses, and prioritize the rest. The goal is to make sure you can make ends meet on the basics.

When you apply for a credit card, a personal loan, or insurance, a file about you is created.This file, known as your credit report, is maintained by credit reporting companies. Your report will grow to include information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve ever been sued, or filed for bankruptcy.

Credit reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, landlords, insurers, employers, and other businesses with a legitimate need for it. They use the information to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a place to live.

Order a free copy of your credit report to make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a car, buy insurance, or apply for a job.

You also want a copy of your credit report to help guard against identity theft. That’s when someone uses your personal information — like your name, your Social Security number, or your credit card number — to commit fraud. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or a job… 

To view the complete article, please click here.