Six Ways to Save On Your Next Car

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Looking for an eco-friendly subcompact or the thrills that come with a sports car? Perhaps the practicality of a sedan or a spacious SUV better fits your needs? No matter what type of vehicle is calling your name, planning your purchase can help you save as much money as possible.

Consider these six savings tips while shopping for your next car. Whether you’re concerned about upfront, monthly or long-term costs, there’s something here that can help you.

1. Look for a fuel-efficient car. Buying a hybrid or all-electric vehicle rather than a gas guzzler could help you save money on long-run fuel costs. Plus, state and federal tax credits might give you some additional upfront savings.

If you’re sticking to a fully gas-powered car, you can still save money by choosing a fuel-efficient model. Once you pick a class of car and determine your budget, use the Environmental Protection Agency’s miles-per-gallon rating for each vehicle to estimate and compare the monthly fuel costs.

2. Compare the long-term costs of different cars. In addition to fuel, consider the long-term costs of maintenance, repairs, insurance, taxes, depreciation, fees and financing.

To help you with the calculations, Kelly Blue Book has a 5-Year Cost to Own tool that lets you compare long-term costs for 2015 and 2016 models. Edmunds’s True Cost to Own® tool does a similar thing for 2010 and newer models.

3. Buy a “new-to-you” car. Buying a used car rather than the equivalent brand-new model can usually save you money. However, you’ll want to look at each used car on an individual basis. Consider how it feels during a test drive and its history if you can access it.

You may be able to buy a warranty for your used car, or you could purchase a certified pre-owned (CPO) car from a dealership. Dealers inspect CPOs before selling them with a manufacturer’s warranty. If you’re not buying a CPO, you could hire a mechanic to perform a pre-purchase inspection. It’s not a guarantee, but the inspection can help ensure you won’t get caught off guard by any unexpected issues.

With the right deal on a used car, you might be able to buy the car outright instead of financing the purchase. By paying cash, you avoid accruing interest, making monthly payments and worrying about loan-origination fees.

4. Negotiate the purchase. Most people don’t enjoy haggling with a car salesperson, but even non-confrontational negotiating tactics can help you save money.

For example, once you pick a make and model, you could shop online for available vehicles at nearby dealerships. Reach out to each dealer’s internet sales team and ask for their best total cost, inclusive of taxes and fees.

Take the lowest offer and ask the other dealers if they can beat it. If one of them can, take your new lowest quote and again ask the rest of the dealers to go lower. Keep going until you get a price that works best for you.

You could use the same tactic with dealerships outside your area. However, you may have to travel and pick up the car or pay to transport it.

Another helpful resource is negotiation services like Authority Auto, which negotiates competitive prices on new and pre-owned cars. For a fee, the online service negotiates each part of the process to get you a better deal and take some of the stress out of the car-buying experience and only charge a percentage of what they save you.

5. Consider leasing instead of purchasing. Taking out a lease is similar to purchasing a long-term rental. You’ll have to return or buy the car at the end of the lease, and you may have to pay fees if you drive too many miles or damage the vehicle.

The lease down payment and monthly payments will be lower than buying the same car outright. However, you can still save money by shopping around and negotiating because the down payment and monthly payments depend on the vehicle’s sale price.

If you like to drive a new car and always want to be under warranty, starting a new lease every few years could make sense. On the other hand, there’s more long-term value in buying if you tend to have a lot of wear and tear on your cars.

6. Use alternative means of transportation. Forgoing the purchase of a car altogether might not work for everyone, but it’s worth considering if you live in a city or don’t regularly drive long distances. Instead of owning a car, you could get around with a mix of carpooling, public transportation, walking and biking. You could also still have access to a car if you join a car-sharing program or use a ride-sharing app or taxi service.

Bottom line
There are many ways to save money on your next car, and you should almost certainly plan your purchase before signing any dotted lines. Start by researching all your options, including living without a car, buying used and leasing. If you decide to purchase a car, you can compare the long-term cost of different makes and models and save money upfront by haggling with sellers.

 

By Nathaniel Sillin

Protecting Your Loved Ones with Life Insurance

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Your life insurance needs will depend on a number of factors, including the size of your family, the nature of your financial obligations, your career stage, and your goals. For example, when you’re young, you may not have a great need for life insurance. However, as you take on more responsibilities and your family grows, your need for life insurance increases.

Here are some questions that can help you start thinking about the amount of life insurance you need:

• What immediate financial expenses (e.g., debt repayment, funeral expenses) would your family face upon your death?

• How much of your salary is devoted to current expenses and future needs?

• How long would your dependents need support if you were to die tomorrow?

• How much money would you want to leave for special situations upon your death, such as funding your children’s education, gifts to charities, or an inheritance for your children?

• What other assets or insurance policies do you have?

Types of life insurance policies

The two basic types of life insurance are term life and permanent (cash value) life. Term policies provide life insurance protection for a specific period of time. If you die during the coverage period, your beneficiary receives the policy’s death benefit. If you live to the end of the term, the policy simply terminates, unless it automatically renews for a new period. Term policies are typically available for periods of 1 to 30 years and may, in some cases, be renewed until you reach age 95. With guaranteed level term insurance, a popular type, both the premium and the amount of coverage remain level for a specific period of time.

Permanent insurance policies offer protection for your entire life, regardless of your health, provided you pay the premium to keep the policy in force. As you pay your premiums, a portion of each payment is placed in the cash-value account. During the early years of the policy, the cash-value contribution is a large portion of each premium payment. As you get older, and the true cost of your insurance increases, the portion of your premium payment devoted to the cash value decreases. The cash value continues to grow–tax deferred–as long as the policy is in force. You can borrow against the cash value, but unpaid policy loans will reduce the death benefit that your beneficiary will receive. If you surrender the policy before you die (i.e., cancel your coverage), you’ll be entitled to receive the cash value, minus any loans and surrender charges.

Many different types of cash-value life insurance are available, including:

• Whole life: You generally make level (equal) premium payments for life. The death benefit and cash value are predetermined and guaranteed (subject to the claims-paying ability and financial strength of the issuing insurance company). Your only action after purchase of the policy is to pay the fixed premium.

• Universal life: You may pay premiums at any time, in any amount (subject to certain limits), as long as the policy expenses and the cost of insurance coverage are met. The amount of insurance coverage can be changed, and the cash value will grow at a declared interest rate, which may vary over time.

• Indexed universal life: This is a form of universal life insurance with excess interest credited to cash values. But unlike universal life insurance, the amount of interest credited is tied to the performance of an equity index, such as the S&P 500.

• Variable life: As with whole life, you pay a level premium for life. However, the death benefit and cash value fluctuate depending on the performance of investments in what are known as subaccounts. A subaccount is a pool of investor funds professionally managed to pursue a stated investment objective. You select the subaccounts in which the cash value should be invested.

• Variable universal life: A combination of universal and variable life. You may pay premiums at any time, in any amount (subject to limits), as long as policy expenses and the cost of insurance coverage are met. The amount of insurance coverage can be changed, and the cash value and death benefit goes up or down based on the performance of investments in the subaccounts.

With so many types of life insurance available, you’re sure to find a policy that meets your needs and your budget.

Choosing and changing your beneficiaries

When you purchase life insurance, you must name a primary beneficiary to receive the proceeds of your insurance policy. Your beneficiary may be a person, corporation, or other legal entity. You may name multiple beneficiaries and specify what percentage of the net death benefit each is to receive. If you name your minor child as a beneficiary, you should also designate an adult as the child’s guardian in your will.

What type of insurance is right for you?

Before deciding whether to buy term or permanent life insurance, consider the policy cost and potential savings that may be available. Also keep in mind that your insurance needs will likely change as your family, job, health, and financial picture change, so you’ll want to build some flexibility into the decision-making process. In any case, here are some common reasons for buying life insurance and which type of insurance may best fit the need.

Mortgage or long-term debt: For most people, the home is one of the most valuable assets and also the source of the largest debt. An untimely death may remove a primary source of income used to pay the mortgage. Term insurance can replace the lost income by providing life insurance for the length of the mortgage. If you die before the mortgage is paid off, the term life insurance pays your beneficiary an amount sufficient to pay the outstanding mortgage balance owed.

Family protection: Your income not only pays for day-to-day expenses, but also provides a source for future costs such as college education expenses and retirement income. Term life insurance of 20 years or longer can take care of immediate cash needs as well as provide income for your survivor’s future needs. Another alternative is cash value life insurance, such as universal life or variable life insurance. The cash value accumulation of these policies can be used to fund future income needs for college or retirement, even if you don’t die.

Small business needs: Small business owners need life insurance to protect their business interest. As a business owner, you need to consider what happens to your business should you die unexpectedly. Life insurance can provide cash needed to buy a deceased partner’s or shareholder’s interest from his or her estate. Life insurance can also be used to compensate for the unexpected death of a key employee.

Review your coverage

Once you purchase a life insurance policy, make sure to periodically review your coverage; over time your needs will change. An insurance agent or financial professional can help you with your review.

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IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES
Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.

To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.
These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Welcome to the Workforce

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It’s time to roll up your sleeves and put that lifetime of education to work for you. Finding the right job isn’t easy—it takes motivation to go after the industry or company you want, effort to ace the application and interview process and a bit of luck to land the job. Read on for tips, advice and tools that will help ensure a successful search.

Resources

Your school career center is an excellent place to start when looking for work. As a resource provided to students, the point of a career center is to find jobs that relate to specific fields of study. Check in with a career counselor for advice on resume building or to sign up for on-campus interviews. Recruiters often come to schools and universities looking for future prospects. Many campuses hold job fairs and career events year round. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door of an otherwise out-of-reach company.

The Internet has made job hunting more convenient. Specifically, job search sites like Indeed, Career Builder and Monster allow you to apply for jobs and/or post your resume for potential employers to come find you. Craigslist is another resource to find part-time or full-time positions. Submitting a cover letter and resume online is often the preferred method these days.

Headhunters and employment services can also be a good source for job leads. One of the major benefits of working with placement agencies is that they already have established relationships within the industries they service and know exactly who to put you in front of. The downside is that some may charge you a fee for their services or require a percentage of your pay from the company who has hired you.

Networking is a great way to get your foot in the door. Many of the best jobs out there are never advertised. The key to landing them is a lucky combination of being in the right place at the right time and talking to the right person. Don’t be afraid to go to social events and advertise yourself or talk about your goals. Or share your plans with friends and family. If they can’t immediately connect you with a job, they can often provide valuable advice on where to look and who the best contacts might be. It’s also important to join online networking circles. Post a profile on LinkedIn and join groups to connect with relevant professionals.

Know What You’re Looking For

Think about the big picture and not just the job you want now. Beyond earning a paycheck, what skills and experiences do you want to take away from your new job? Look to the next step of your career and think about which job will get you closer to that goal. Also, look at the associated benefits. A high-paying job with no benefits may not be as advantageous as a lower-paying position with a complete benefits package.

Consider cost of living and your expenses before you relocate for a job. Every city is different, so a starting salary in one area may not be enough to support you in a new location. Moving costs are another factor to take into consideration. If your prospective employer isn’t going to pay your moving costs, make sure the salary will make up for these costs in the long run, or that you have additional funds to cover the expenses.

10 Tips for Becoming a Knowledgeable Renter

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On the hunt for a new apartment? A move can be an exciting opportunity to explore a new area or meet new people. However, competitive rental markets can make it difficult to find a desirable place on a budget.

Keep these ten tips in mind to manage the process like a pro. They’ll help you stand out from the crowd, get a good deal, enjoy the neighborhood and manage your rights and responsibilities as a renter.

1. Talk to Other Tenants. Speak with current or past renters to get a sense for the building and landlord. Ask about the neighborhood, noise, timeliness with repairs and any other pressing questions. Consider looking for online reviews of the landlord as well, and research the neighborhood.

2. Upgrade Your Application. Go beyond the basic application requirements and include pictures, references, credit reports and a short bio about yourself and whoever else may be moving in. Try to catch the landlord’s eye and show that you’ll take care of the property. You can order a free credit report from each bureau (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) once every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com.

3. Understand Your Lease. The lease may list the rent amount, terms of the security deposit, guest polices and other crucial details. Read it carefully and ask questions if you don’t understand something. State laws regarding rent control or other regulations can impact your situation as well. If you can afford one, you could hire a lawyer to review and explain the lease.

4. Negotiate the Terms. You can’t always negotiate lower rent (it’s worth trying), but there may be flexibility when it comes to the security deposit, parking spaces, administrative fees, or the lease’s length.

5. Learn Your Rights. Protect yourself by learning about your rights as a renter. They can vary by state, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a directory with links to tenants’ rights websites for each state.

6. Do a Walkthrough. Walk through the apartment with the landlord, look for damages and document anything you find. You’ll thank yourself later when you move out and ask for your full security deposit back.

7. Consider Renters Insurance. Renters insurance costs about $15 to $30 a month for a policy that covers $50,000 worth of losses. It reimburses you if your belongings are stolen, damaged or destroyed by a covered cause, such as a fire. The insurance also helps pay for legal fees if, for instance, someone sues after getting injured at your home.

8. Make Your Own Repairs. Prior to signing the lease, ask if you can take on some of the maintenance responsibilities in exchange for reduced rent. You could offer to handle and pay for basic upkeep, such as replacing lights or smoke detectors, and making minor repairs.

9. Pay Attention to Bills. Evaluate which bills you’ll pay in addition to the rent, such as gas, heat, water, electricity, trash, Wi-Fi or parking. A more expensive apartment that includes these can save you money overall.

10. Talk to Your Landlord. Hiding financial trouble helps no one. Talk to your landlord and ask for an extension if you can’t make rent. Good tenants can be hard to come by, and your landlord will likely prefer open communication and a late check to being left in the dark.

Bottom Line: Being an informed renter is especially important in a competitive rental market. Take simple steps to improve your rental and money management skills and you’ll benefit for years to come.

By Nathaniel Sillin

Making Financial Literacy Fun

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What important lessons will you teach your child this summer? Riding a bike? Sharing with others? How about teaching them important financial skills.

Financial literacy may not immediately come to mind when parents think of essential skills for students, but what children know about money at a young age can shape the way they manage money in adulthood. In fact, a 2015 study by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) found that credit scores among young adults improved in states with mandatory financial education.

However, not all states implement financial education. So how do we close the gap between what American students currently know about money and what they need to know?

Edutainment – one of the key personal finance instruction tactics that Visa uses to reach people of all ages – is an innovative learning method that strikes a balance between education and entertainment. Students can learn financial lessons without feeling like they’re studying, and edutainment can help them retain the information better. According to a 2013 study commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, students who played educational games in addition to the standard curriculum performed better on tests than students who didn’t.

Here are a few simple ways your child can learn about money this summer.

Learn together: Mymoney.gov offers activities and lessons for all ages, ranging from fun cartoons about American coins to guides on how to budget effectively. The website features World of Cents, a child-friendly game for ages 5 and up designed to help teach the value of money through the concepts of earning, saving and spending money, while incorporating basic math concepts.

Begin with the basics: Knowing the value of money is essential to financial literacy. The sooner children learn how much everyday items are worth, the better. Visa’s Practical Money Skills initiative has developed a game, Peter Pig’s Money Counter, which helps children improve basic financial skills such as sorting and counting coins to learn their monetary value. The free game is available online, as an Android app and from Visa’s Practical Money Skills website.

Animate it: Educational favorite Schoolhouse Rock! makes finance fun with songs about interest, savings accounts, paying bills, and more. Dynamic animation and catchy songs help children learn basic financial facts while having fun. Search for clips on YouTube or pop in a DVD to teach your children these important and practical lessons in a fun and memorable way.

Play the market: The Stock Market Game is an online simulation of the global capital markets that engages students grades 4-12 in the world of economics, investing and personal finance, and has prepared 15 million students for financially independent futures. The game is part of a program provided by the SIFMA Foundation.

Make it comical: Visa recently teamed up with Marvel Custom Solutions to create a Guardians of the Galaxy comic that promotes saving and smart spending and introduces young children to the difference between wants and needs. The comic, “Rocket’s Powerful Plan,” features an exciting storyline where saving money in an emergency fund is crucial to helping the Super Heroes. If your children are fans of Rocket, Groot and Ant-Man, they’re bound to love this comic featuring the same iconic characters.

Bring it to life: Jump$tart Clearinghouse offers a variety of games and resources that demonstrate how money skills transfer to real life. Children are challenged to plan their budgets, stretch their money, and be financially responsible. The website also provides a range of educational materials for both parents and teachers.

Additional edutainment resources include:

Bottom line: It’s important to teach your children about finance, and edutainment is both an effective and engaging way to do so. Use these summer months to teach your children important basic personal finance skills that they can use for the rest of their lives.

 

By Nathaniel Sillin

 

Two Simple Ways to Save Some Cash on Your Summer Vacation

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We don’t care how old you are, there’s one word that gets EVERYONE excited, and that’s vacation. We all work hard all year and quite frankly, we earn the right to spoil ourselves every now and again with a nice night out on the town or a trip to somewhere new.

While you should certainly enjoy the finer things in life and plan as many vacation as you can, there is definitely a right and a wrong way to go about seeing the world. It’s very excited to get carried away and wind up growing broke before you even make it through the trip of your dreams. It’s important not to waste money on middlemen and to book intelligently, so pay attention to these two helpful hints that will have you lying in the sand (with a full wallet!) in no time.

  1. Book Your Own Vacation at the Right Time – Long gone are the days where your only means of learning about exotic places like Fiji and Greece were from travel agents leveraging a slew of paper catalogs and limited reviews. Honestly, the easiest way to save money on your vacation is the simplest one- just book it yourself. There are plenty of online services that can scan for the best deals on everything from direct first class fights to LA to hostels or Air BNB’s at Oktoberfest. Shop around and see what works best for your plans- either piece it together yourself through a variety of vendors, or use someone like Travelocity who can get you the flight, hotel, car, airline transportation, etc. all bundled together. Just keep in mind that airlines have the highest rates for weekend departures and arrivals as obviously those are the most desired travel times. Whenever possible, try to plan your vacation to travel on weekdays for instant savings; Tuesdays and Wednesdays normally yield the lowest airline prices. Don’t forget to check out off-peak times too for excellent deals; for example early June or the last week of August into September can help with in-season pricing and heavy demand. Additionally, you also need to be cognoscente of the time at which you actually book your vacation too. Did you know the best time for low airfare is actually Monday night/Tuesday morning through Wednesday afternoon? Experts also suggest that you need to purchase your ticket six weeks prior to a domestic trip and 21 weeks before a European vacation if you want to avoid inflated “last minute” prices.
  1. Get a Credit Card with Mileage Bonuses– It’s very important to have a credit card with an excellent reward program regardless of your travel plans; that being said, just about every major creditor offers either flight mileage, free hotel stays, and plenty more that can make your vacation that much more affordable. Let’s face it, life is expensive; between gas, groceries, and bills, we spend significant amounts of money every month. So why not allocate those purchases towards at least getting something meaningful back? Aside from travel, most cards will also allow you to trade in rewards points for gift certificates for major chains like Target. Therefore even if your trip doesn’t require a flight, you can still alleviate some of the cost of clothes, food, etc. through your every day credit card purchases.