5 Essential Tips for Buying a Used Car

buying a used car

When it comes to purchasing a used car, a well-informed decision can save you from future headaches and unexpected expenses. With a plethora of options available in the used car market, it’s crucial to approach the process systematically. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned car enthusiast, these five essential tips will help you navigate the process with confidence and make a wise investment.


Research, Research, Research

Before embarking on your used car buying journey, arm yourself with knowledge. Research the make, model, and year of the car you’re interested in and at the dealer, carefully read each vehicles’ buyer’s guide. Take advantage of online resources, reviews, and forums to learn about the vehicle’s performance, reliability, and common issues. This knowledge will empower you to make an informed decision and negotiate confidently.


Set a Budget

It’s easy to get carried away with the excitement of buying a new car, even if it’s used. Determine your budget not only based on the purchase price but also on additional costs such as insurance, taxes, registration, and potential repairs. Setting a clear budget will help you narrow down your options and avoid overspending.


Inspect Thoroughly

A comprehensive inspection is your key to uncovering any hidden issues with the used car. Begin by examining the exterior and interior for signs of wear and tear. Inspect the lights, tires, brakes, and suspension. Pop the hood to check for leaks, corrosion, and any signs of engine trouble. If you’re not well-versed in car mechanics, consider bringing along a knowledgeable friend or hiring a professional inspector to ensure a thorough evaluation.


Check the Vehicle History

A vehicle history report is a valuable tool that provides insights into the car’s past. Obtain the vehicle identification number (VIN) from the seller and use it to obtain a history report. This report will reveal crucial information, including past accidents, title issues, and mileage discrepancies. A clean history report is a positive indicator of the car’s condition and legitimacy.


Take It for a Spin

A test drive is your opportunity to experience how the car performs on the road. Pay attention to how it handles, accelerates, and brakes. Listen for unusual noises or vibrations that could indicate mechanical problems. Test all the features, including the air conditioning, sound system, and electronic components. A test drive can give you a real feel for the car and help you determine if it suits your driving style and preferences.


Fully Understand the Dealer’s Return Policy

Before making a purchase, ask to see the dealer’s return policy and read it carefully.  Be sure to get a copy in writing to take with you.  Laws regarding returns vary from state to state, so check with the state’s attorney general.


Buying a used car requires careful consideration and a patient approach. Rushing into a decision can lead to regrets down the road. By following these five essential tips you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed and confident purchase. Remember, a well-chosen used car can offer exceptional value and reliable transportation for years to come. Happy car hunting!

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Take Control of Your Finances: 8 Side Jobs to Get Started Today

Side Jobs - Dog Walking
Rising costs are causing many people to look for ways to supplement their income with side jobs to help take control of their finances. Whether you’re aiming to pay off debt, save for a dream vacation, or simply build a more secure financial future, side jobs can be a powerful tool to achieve your goals. Here are eight side job ideas to get you started on your journey toward financial empowerment.
  1. Freelancing: Unlock Your Skills

If you possess skills in writing, graphic design, web development, or any other creative field, freelancing could be a lucrative option. Websites like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr connect freelancers with clients seeking their expertise. Not only can freelancing provide an additional income stream, but it also allows you to work on projects you’re passionate about.

  1. Ride-Sharing and Food Delivery: Hit the Road

For those with a car and some spare time, becoming a ride-share driver with platforms like Uber or Lyft can be a flexible way to earn money. Similarly, food delivery services like DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats offer opportunities to earn by delivering meals to hungry customers. This option is especially convenient if you enjoy driving and prefer a flexible schedule.

  1. Online Tutoring: Share Your Knowledge

If you have expertise in a particular subject, consider becoming an online tutor. Websites like Chegg Tutors and Tutor.com allow you to connect with students seeking help in various academic areas. Online tutoring not only provides an income stream but also gives you the satisfaction of helping others succeed academically.

  1. Pet Sitting and Dog Walking: Animal Lover’s Delight

If you’re an animal lover, pet sitting and dog walking can be an enjoyable way to earn money. Many pet owners are in need of someone reliable to care for their furry friends while they’re at work or traveling. Websites like Rover and Wag! can connect you with pet owners seeking your services.

  1. Virtual Assistance: Support Businesses Remotely

With the rise of remote work, businesses often require virtual assistants to help with tasks like email management, social media scheduling, and customer service. If you’re organized and tech-savvy, this could be a great opportunity to earn money while working from home.

  1. Photography: Capture Moments and Earn

If you’re passionate about photography and have a good eye for aesthetics, consider turning your hobby into a side job. Offer your photography services for events like weddings, birthdays, and family portraits. Sharing your creative talents can result in both monetary rewards and the joy of preserving special moments for others.

  1. Fitness Coaching: Get Active and Get Paid

If you’re a fitness enthusiast and have a knack for motivating others, becoming a fitness coach, personal trainer or yoga teacher might be the perfect side job. You can offer virtual sessions, create workout plans, and guide clients on their fitness journeys.

  1. Handmade Crafts: Embrace Your Creativity

If you’re a skilled craftsperson, selling your handmade goods online can be a fulfilling way to earn money. Platforms like Etsy and eBay provide a marketplace for creative individuals to showcase and sell their unique creations, whether it’s handmade jewelry, artwork, or home decor.

Incorporating side jobs into your schedule requires careful planning and time management. Before diving into a new venture, consider your current commitments and how much time you can realistically dedicate to your side job. It’s also important to be patient and persistent as building a steady income from a side job can take time.

Ultimately, these side job ideas offer a diverse range of opportunities for you to take control of your finances and work toward your financial goals. Whether you’re leveraging your existing skills or exploring new passions, well-chosen side jobs can provide not only financial benefits but also a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. So, get started today and embark on your journey to a more financially secure future.

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Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck: How to Make a Plan to Get Out of Debt

paycheck to paycheck

Living paycheck to paycheck can be a stressful and exhausting way to manage your finances. The constant struggle to cover bills and make ends meet can take a toll on your overall well-being. However, breaking free from this cycle is possible with a well-thought-out plan and commitment to change. In this blog post, we’ll explore effective strategies to help you escape the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and work toward a debt-free future.

  1. Evaluate Your Current Financial Situation

The first step toward financial freedom is to have a clear understanding of your current financial state. Take a detailed look at your income, expenses, and debt. List all your sources of income and categorize your expenses, distinguishing between fixed (e.g., rent, utilities) and variable (e.g., entertainment, dining out) costs. This assessment will help you identify areas where you can cut back and create a budget that aligns with your financial goals.

  1. Create a Realistic Budget

Creating a budget is a fundamental step in managing your finances effectively. Based on your assessment, establish a budget that covers your essential expenses while allowing you to allocate a portion of your income to paying off debts and building savings. Be sure to account for unexpected expenses by setting up an emergency fund. A well-structured budget will provide you with a roadmap to financial stability.

  1. Prioritize Debt Repayment

Debt can weigh you down and keep you trapped in the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. Prioritize your debts by focusing on high-interest obligations first. The debt snowball and debt avalanche methods are two popular strategies. The snowball method involves paying off the smallest debt first and then moving on to larger debts, creating a sense of accomplishment. The avalanche method targets high-interest debts, helping you save more money in the long run. Choose the strategy that aligns with your preferences and financial situation.

  1. Cut Unnecessary Expenses

Reducing unnecessary expenses is a powerful way to free up more money for debt repayment and savings. Analyze your spending habits and identify areas where you can cut back. This might involve reducing dining out, subscription services, or impulse purchases. Redirect the funds you save toward paying off debts and securing your financial future.

  1. Explore Additional Income Streams

Increasing your income can significantly accelerate your journey out of debt. Look for opportunities to earn extra money, such as freelancing, part-time jobs, or selling items you no longer need. The additional income can be allocated toward debt repayment, allowing you to pay off your debts faster and break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck.

  1. Negotiate with Creditors

If your debts are causing significant financial strain, consider negotiating with your creditors. In some cases, they may be willing to lower interest rates or work out a more manageable repayment plan. Communicate openly about your financial challenges and explore options to make your debt repayment more sustainable.

  1. Stay Committed and Patient

Breaking free from the paycheck to paycheck cycle and becoming debt-free is a journey that requires commitment and patience. It’s important to stay motivated and remind yourself of your financial goals. Celebrate each milestone, whether it’s paying off a specific debt or reaching a savings target. Over time, your efforts will accumulate, leading you toward a more secure financial future.

In conclusion, escaping the paycheck to paycheck cycle and tackling debt requires a combination of careful planning, disciplined budgeting, and a willingness to make changes to your financial habits. By assessing your current situation, creating a budget, prioritizing debt repayment, cutting unnecessary expenses, exploring additional income sources, negotiating with creditors, and maintaining commitment, you can pave the way for a brighter financial future. Remember that small, consistent steps can lead to significant progress over time, and you have the power to take control of your financial destiny.

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7 Ways to Save Money as a Family

Save money as a family
Do you share your financial goals with your family?  If the whole family knows and understands what the goals are and why, they’re likely to want to help.  Here are 7 tips to save money as a family to help achieve your financial goals together:
1️⃣ Create a budget

Sit down as a family and create a budget that outlines your income, expenses, and savings goals. This will help you stay organized and track where your money is going.

2️⃣ Meal planning

Plan your meals for the week in advance to avoid eating out or ordering takeout frequently. This will not only save you money but also promote healthier eating habits while you save money as a family.

Save money as a family

3️⃣ Shop smart

Before heading to the grocery store, make a list and stick to it. Avoid impulse purchases and take advantage of sales or discounts. Consider buying in bulk for frequently used items.

4️⃣ Save on utilities

Teach your kids the importance of conserving energy by turning off lights when not in use, using energy-efficient appliances, and setting the thermostat responsibly. You’ll see savings on your utility bills.

5️⃣ Encourage second-hand shopping

Thrift stores, consignment shops, and online platforms provide great options for purchasing pre-loved clothing, furniture, toys, and more at a fraction of the cost. It’s an eco-friendly choice too!

6️⃣ Cut unnecessary subscriptions

Evaluate your subscription services and cancel those you no longer use or need. This can include streaming services, magazines, or gym memberships.

Save money as a family

7️⃣ DIY fun

Instead of spending money on expensive outings, find free or low-cost activities that the whole family can enjoy together. You can have a picnic in the park, go for a hike, or have a movie night at home.

Remember, it’s a team effort to save money as a family. By adopting these habits and being mindful of your spending, you’ll be building a strong financial foundation for your family’s future. 

Saving for the Holidays – Why not start now?

Saving for the Holidays Christmas
🎄🎅 It’s never too early to start saving for the holidays!  Here’s why and how you can get a head start this September:

save for the holidays

Avoid the holiday rush

By starting early, you won’t have to scramble for gifts, decorations, and party essentials in December. You’ll have plenty of time to plan and shop without the stress and pressure of last-minute shopping.

Break it down

Determine your budget for Christmas, including gifts, holiday activities, and travel expenses if applicable. Divide that amount by the number of months until December, and save a portion each month to meet your goal. It’s much less daunting to save a little each month than scramble for a lump sum later.

holiday shopping sale

Take advantage of sales:

Keep an eye out for sales and discounts throughout the year. September is a great time to find deals on summer clearance items that can be repurposed or saved for Christmas presents. Take advantage of sales and promotions to stretch your budget even further.

DIY for the win

Consider making homemade gifts or decorations. Not only is it a more personal touch, but it can also save you money. Start gathering materials early, so you have plenty of time to create heartfelt and budget-friendly gifts.

Set up a separate savings account

Open a separate savings account specifically for Christmas expenses. Set up automatic transfers from your regular account to ensure you’re consistently saving without having to think about it.

Cut unnecessary expenses

Take a look at your monthly spending habits and see if there are any areas you can cut back on to save more money for Christmas. It could be skipping that afternoon coffee run or reducing eating out to once a week.

Get creative with celebrations

Plan budget-friendly activities and traditions that prioritize quality time over extravagant spending. Host a potluck dinner, start a family game night tradition, or organize a holiday movie marathon.

By starting to save for Christmas now, you’ll avoid the financial stress that often accompanies the holiday season. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy the festivities knowing you’ve already prepared.

Stock Your Dorm Room for Less

Dorm Room on a Budget

College itself is expensive.  There’s no need to spend a fortune on supplies for your dorm room!  Here are some tips to stretch your budget and still have an incredibly comfortable space:


1️⃣ Coordinate with your Roommate

Connect with your future roomie and determine what items you can share to cut costs. Splitting the bill on bigger items such as mini-fridges, microwaves, or even TVs will help both of your pockets!


Dorm room on a budget

2️⃣ Secondhand Success 

Check out local garage sales, consignment stores, or online marketplaces for affordable dorm essentials. Often, you can find gently used items like lamps, rugs, and storage containers at a fraction of the cost. Your wallet will thank you.


3️⃣ Think Minimalistic

Don’t go overboard with unnecessary shopping. Focus on the essentials first: bedding, towels, toiletries, storage containers, a fan, etc. This way, you’ll avoid overspending on items that won’t be useful in your dorm room.


4️⃣ Thrift in Style

Instead of buying brand new decor, give thrift stores a shot. They often have unique treasures to add a personal touch to your room while saving you some dough. Vintage posters, funky frames, or quirky items can make your space stand out without breaking the bank!


5️⃣ DIY Dorm Vibes

Embrace your creative side and make some of your own decor. Create string lights with photos of friends and family, or paint your own canvas art. You’ll save money and have one-of-a-kind decor that reflects your personality.


6️⃣ Get Together to Buy in Bulk:

When going shopping for supplies like notebooks, pens, paper towels, and snacks, grab a couple friends and make a Costco run!  Warehouse stores can save you money and time.  Just think, you’ll only have to buy notebooks and pens once or twice a year.


7️⃣ Don’t Forget about Online Deals

Check out websites like Amazon, Walmart, and Target for back-to-school discounts. They often have special offers on dorm essentials. Sign up for newsletters or follow their social media pages to stay up-to-date on the latest deals and steals!


Remember, being responsible with your spending will help you in the long run. By implementing these money-saving tips, you can build a cozy and budget-friendly dorm room that feels like home. 


If you’re looking to get an ‘A’ in budgeting, you can start here.

How the Debt Free stay Debt Free

Debt Free

People who don’t owe a penny to anyone tend to stick to similar practices to remain debt free. These habits can be instrumental in managing finances responsibly.  If you are looking to eliminate debt, consider adopting some of these same habits.

They control their spending.

People who stay debt free know where their money is going each month. Because they track income and expenses regularly and have a budget, they know when they can spend and when they can’t. They are able to resist impulse purchases because they focus on their long-term financial goals.

Debt free
They save what they can consistently.

Whether they can save a lot or a little, individuals with no debt save what they can.  Saving a little bit consistently can add up to a lot.  Automating savings is helpful.  Most bank websites and apps give you the ability to schedule regular transfers to a savings account.

They leave a little wiggle room.

People who remain free of debt develop a budget that can be flexible.  Maybe they want to have a celebratory dinner out but don’t have money in their food budget for that.  They can decide to take that money from somewhere else in their budget.  Perhaps they don’t buy any clothing that month or maybe they move money from their entertainment budget.  A ‘Miscellaneous’ category in your budget is a great way to have some flexibility.

When an emergency arises, they are prepared.

If their car breaks down or a medical expense shows up, debt free folks are ready for it.  They have an emergency fund that is never touched except in an emergency when there is no room in their budget to cover an unexpected expense. A good way not to be tempted by money in the bank is to open a separate savings account exclusively for an emergency fund. 

They budget and track finances regularly.

By keeping track of their expenses regularly (sometimes even daily), those who are debt free stay on top of where their money is, what they have available to spend, and what expenses are coming up. Being in the habit of tracking expenses and budgeting is a key feature in becoming debt free, and it will help people remain debt free in the long run.

Those who are free of debt consistently look for ways to manage their money, and they stay disciplined. Sticking to budgets, saving some money each month, and planning for emergencies are just a few of the habits that can help you join the ranks of the debt free!

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25 Ways to Save Money

ways to save money

Want to be in a better financial position?  Want to save money, but don’t know where to start?  Here are 25 simple ways you can start to save money today.

  1. Create a budget, track it daily and stick to it
  2. Spend Cash only, don’t use credit or debit cards
  3. Use the library or library app instead of buying books
  4. Cook your meals at home
  5. If you don’t know how to cook, learn from a friend or find easy recipes online
  6. Pack your lunch
  7. Keep snacks in your desk drawer instead of visiting the vending machine
  8. Buy a travel mug and make your own coffee at home
  9. Visit yard sales
  10. Shop at thrift stores
  11. Shop your auto / home insurance around for a better deal
  12. Automate your savings
  13. Use a grocery list and stick to it
  14. Plan meals ahead of time
  15. Plant a garden
  16. Sell your clutter online or have a yard sale
  17. Use coupons – some stores have online coupons if you use their apps
  18. Get rid of expensive cable TV
  19. Have a family movie night-in rather than going to the theater
  20. Plan ahead and holiday shop early
  21. If you get an increase in salary, put the extra into savings
  22. Save loose change in one spot
  23. Get rid of your gym membership and work out at home to online videos
  24. Check your bank account daily and avoid overdraft fees
  25. Remove the overdraft option from your checking account altogether

Managing money and achieving financial security may seem like an obstacle course. But the rewards of successful savings makes it worth it. With these 25 money-saving tips in mind, you’ll be better-equipped to make progress on your financial journey. All it takes is a plan, dedication, and the knowledge to make it work. With these suggestions in your back pocket, you can make sure your savings goals are met.

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Clean Your House for Less

clean your house for less
Cleaning your home is a necessity, but sometimes the expense associated with cleaning supplies can add up quickly. Thankfully, there are a few simple ways to save money on taking care of your home, without sacrificing results. Read on to find out the best tips to help you keep your home and laundry clean while also keeping more money in your wallet.


Make your own Laundry Soap

Look online for simple recipes with fewer than 5 ingredients.  Often, you’ll only need to buy the ingredients 2 or 3 times per year!


No need for Fabric Softener

Purchase wool dryer balls.  They’ll last a long time and cut down on drying time (saving energy & money!).  Or search online for easy recipes based on vinegar or hair conditioner.

Homemade Cleaning Products

Cleaning products, especially brand name ones can be expensive.  Make your own at home using simple ingredients.  Bonus, they can be less toxic and more environmentally friendly!

Stop Buying Disposables

No need to buy disposable cleaning wipes or pads.  Purchase reusable fabric pads online instead of Swiffer.  Buy washable microfiber cloths instead of wipes.  (Just remember to only launder microfiber with microfiber, never any other fabric.)

No More Paper Towels

It is easy to use a lot of paper towels.  But you don’t need to.  Go to yard sales or thrift stores and purchase a bunch (think 20 – 30) old washcloths (or microfiber cloths).  Keep a stack of them in the kitchen and in the bathroom for cleaning and wiping up spills.  Throw them in the laundry and use the over and over.

The magic of Vinegar & Baking Soda

Not together, of course!  There was a time before brand name scientifically created cleaning products were around.  Baking Soda and Vinegar were staple cleaning supplies.  Check out this article with 45 ways to use Baking Soda to clean around the  house.  From clearing clogged pipes to cleaning your coffee maker, this article shares numerous ways to clean with Vinegar.


Keeping a clean home doesn’t have to break the bank. Armed with these helpful tips to save money on cleaning supplies, you’ll be able to keep your house and clothing clean without having to pay full price. There are plenty of methods to explore. With a little bit of research and time, you can make the cleaning process a lot easier on your bank account.

6 Creative Ways to Make Extra Money This Summer

make extra money

Summertime is the perfect time to make some extra money. Whether you’re looking to save up for a big purchase or just need a little extra help paying bills, there are plenty of creative ways to make some cash. Here are five money-making ideas to get you on your way:

  1. Become a Virtual Assistant.

Virtual assistants provide services like answering emails, scheduling appointments, and organizing data. With the rise of remote work, there are plenty of opportunities to pick up some extra cash doing these tasks. You don’t need any special skills, just a reliable internet connection and a few hours of free time.

  1. Sell Crafts Online.

If you’re crafty or have an eye for design, you can make money selling crafts online. You can create custom jewelry, clothes, or decorations and sell them on sites like Etsy or eBay. You don’t need a lot of money to get started, just a creative eye and some supplies.

  1. Tutor Students.

If you have a degree or expertise in a certain subject, you can tutor students online. There are plenty of sites that offer tutoring services and you can set your own rates. Plus, you can get the satisfaction of helping someone learn a new skill.

  1. Become a Pet Sitter.

Taking care of someone’s pet can be a great way to make extra money. You don’t need any special skills, just a love for animals and a few hours of free time. You can offer to walk and feed pets, or just provide companionship for when their owners are away.

  1. Deliver Food.

With the rise of food delivery apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash, there are plenty of opportunities to make money delivering food. All you need is a reliable vehicle and some free time. The pay is usually pretty good and you can make extra money while you explore your city.

  1. Rent out your space.

If you have an extra room in your house, consider renting it out to travelers on short-term stays. You can even rent out your driveway or garage to people who need storage space.

  1. Offer Lessons

Take stock of the skills you have and see if you can offer lessons.  This could be anything from knitting to baking to auto maintenance or singing lessons.  You probably have talents and skills that others would love to have and will pay to learn.

It doesn’t have to be difficult to make extra money. With a little creativity, you can find plenty of ways to make some extra cash this summer. Whether you’re looking to make a few extra dollars or looking to save up for something more substantial, these ideas are a great place to start. So, get out there and start making some money!

Check out this blog on saving money this summer, too!  For more tips, follow us on Instagram and Facebook for great articles, tips, and strategies to better manage your money.