Saving money on tires

Good tires are extremely important for road safety. They can also be expensive, so you should be infomed on when to replace tires and how to save money when you do.

When is it time to buy new tires?

Most tires last between 5 and 10 years, but they can wear out faster if you drive a lot. The older the tire, the more safety risks they pose.

Find the manufacturer’s name on the side of the tires. Then check the manufacturer’s website to see when your tires should be replaced. Cracks, cuts, and flats all mean that the tires are wearing out.

You can check tread depth using the George Washington quarter and the Lincoln penny tests. Stick the coins into the tire’s tread groove, with the top of the head going in first. If you can see the top of Washington’s head on the quarter, it’s time to shop for tires. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head on the penny, you need new tires right away.

Where should you buy tires?

Shop around, both locally and online.

Many online stores, such as America’s Tire and Tire Rack, let you compare prices and features on different brands. Be sure you’re looking at options for the correct make and year of your car. Consider shipping costs as well as tire prices.

Once you’ve found the best deal online, see if a local store will match that price. Or just buy the tires online and have them shipped to your preferred body shop for installation. Before having the work done, ask about any other charges, such as balance and alignment, that may be added to your bill.

Used tires are cheaper than new, but they’re also riskier. If you want to buy used tires, be sure to get your mechanic’s expert opinion on their safety.

What kind of tires do you need?

It’s smart to get something similar to those already on your car. Consumer Reports’ Tire Buying Guide recommends staying with the size and speed rating printed on the side of the tires.

You may also want to look at tire reviews, recalls, and complaints at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

How can you prolong tire life?

Weather, road quality, and air pressure all affect your tires. Consumer Reports recommends that you

  • Check air pressure each month.
  • Don’t fill tires all the way to the maximum PSI printed on the side.
  • Replace tires that have cracks or cuts.
  • Examine the wear on your tire treads. Wear at the center of the tires means they are overinflated. Wear the edges means they’re underinflated. If the wear is only on one side, your tires may be misaligned.
  • Do the George Washington quarter test to determine tread depth.

Above all, stay safe on the roads!

Tips before buying a used car

In most parts of the US, having a car is a must. For most families, it is also one of their biggest expenses, along with housing and health insurance. That’s why it is important to invest time in researching all of your options, both online and in your general area, to find the best deal, which very well might be a used car.

First question… New or used?

While the idea of a new car is fun, let’s be honest, we have other priorities in life, right? Also, new cars lose their value faster than used ones. The good news: You can find high quality and reliable used cars nowadays.

For families or individuals on a budget (aka all families!), especially one with other important needs, used cars are a great choice. Keep these thoughts in mind before buying yours!

Narrow your options

There are so many options available. To help you narrow down the selection and make the right choice, consider the following:

DAILY USE:

Ask yourself: “What will I use it for?”, “How often?”, “What roads will I drive on?”, “Do I need extra space for kids?”, “How often do I transport or store stuff in my car?”, “Will anyone else need to drive it?”, “How often will I need to take it on long trips?”. Be honest about your primary needs so you can determine:

  • How many miles should be on the used car already? You’ll want a car with fewer miles if you need to drive long distances or have the car last longer.
  • Do you really need all-wheel-drive? If you live in the snow belt, consider getting an extra set of wheels with snow tires mounted instead. It could end up being the same or lower cost, and offer better gas mileage as well as better traction.
  • How many passengers will you be transporting on a regular basis? How many doors and seats do you need?
  • How much “stuff” needs to fit?  Do you need a big trunk or will a small one do? If you only need to haul large loads occasionally, can you borrow or rent a larger vehicle for those times?
  • How important is good gas mileage? The environmental impact?

MONEY:

Think about the maximum budget you can afford and how you might get the money you need. Will you need to take out a loan? If so, ask yourself these 3 questions before choosing a lender. Also know that dealers and retailers have relationships with banks and might be able to help you get a loan.

If you want to pay for the car in cash, how much would you need to set aside each paycheck and for how long, in order to buy the car?

How to find a used car worth your money

Start with an online search to learn about available options on websites for used car retailers, like Carmax, used car dealerships, or through private sales found on Craigslist or eBay.

Check reviews about retailer / dealership businesses online to see which ones seem trustworthy and if other people have had good experiences. In the Google search bar, simply type the name of the company followed by “review”, to find customer opinions.

If you opt for a private sale, try to figure out if the seller is a reliable person. You could also consider buying from a trustworthy friend, a friend of a friend, co-worker, or neighbor.

With a private seller, you might have a better chance to negotiate the price, but it could be riskier in terms of liability, since retailers and dealers might offer warranties.

Once you see that dream car…

No matter how in love you might be with a car, don’t forget to take these precautions before making the commitment to purchase:

  • Safety comes first! Always keep that in mind.
  • Inspect the car by closely looking at windows, seats, tires, suspension, car body, lights, controls, trunk, roof, engine, etc.
  • Take it for a test drive on a highway and in traffic, and in conditions similar to those in which you drive most often.
  • Ask for an independent inspection from a professional mechanic (you should be willing to pay for this). If the seller does not agree to an inspection, think twice before buying it.
  • Look at the miles driven and age of the car.  A car with 12,000-15,000 miles could last many years. If it has more than 100,000 miles driven, it may need repairs more often, but could also still last years. Keep that in mind.If you do decide to buy this car in a private sale, take a picture of the dashboard for a record and in case of any oddities during the pink slip transfer
  • Check if it is a fair price: Using the mileage and year, check the value on Kelley Blue Book’s website.
  • Do internet research to find out if this particular kind of vehicle is affordable to maintain. Look at fuel consumption, for any typical breakdowns, cost of maintenance, etc.
  • Does the car have a warranty? If it does, the seller should show you a written document saying so.

Your car insurance costs could change depending on the auto. Check it out before buying!

Finally: “finance” steps

  • Negotiate. Do not be afraid to discuss the price and conditions. Remind yourself that you are in control and that you must feel convinced about the deal before you take it. If not, push back and leave. It is as simple as that.
  • Ask for the real final price, including registration fees, to avoid surprises.
  • Dealerships sometimes offer extended warranties. Check what the warranty on your car choice covers and double check that your car insurance doesn’t already cover it.
  • Finally, sign the deal and…

LET’S RIDE!

More info and sources at: Federal Trade Commission

4 benefits of saving money in the bank

Do you save your money at home? Have you wondered if you should open a bank account or join a credit union? Here are some of the benefits of saving money in an account.

1. Keep track of your finances

It can be hard trying to remember whether you paid a bill, how much you paid for groceries, or how much money you have left. Banks and credit unions keep track of all your deposits and expenses, so having a record of your finances can be as easy as checking the banking app on your cell phone. Checking accounts come with debit cards, and when you use your debit card, the bank or credit union even keeps track of each expense and where you spent it!

2. Safety of your money

The money you put in U. S. banks is insured by the U.S. Federal government – up to $250,000 — even if the bank burns down or is robbed, your money is backed up and safe.

3. Earning interest

Whether it’s with your local credit union or a national bank, some banks will pay you a small percentage to keep your money with them. Check who has the best interest rates to grow your money over time.

4. Easy access

Most banks and credit unions have ATM access all over the country. So, wherever you are, no matter what time of day or night, you can access your money.

Did you know? During the loan application process, Oportun accepts bank statements as proof of income if you don’t receive or have any paystubs from your employer.

Putting away money for your future is always a good idea, and where you decide to store it is just as important. Keeping it at home may feel safer, but it won’t be safe in case of a flood, fire or a burglary. Keeping your money in a bank or a credit union will help you save for your family’s financial future.

This blog is for informational purposes only, and is not meant to provide personal financial advice. Please speak with your accountant or financial advisor for personal financial advice.

Some do’s and don’ts to save money

Follow these simple tips and creative ideas to save money

If one of your goals is to improve your finances, you’ve come to the right place! Forget the usual food diet and go on a ‘money diet’ to save money and get your budget back on track.

DO: Envelope budgeting: Set apart to save money

The envelope budget is a simple way to save money to pay bills and keep a personal budget. Take one envelope for one spending category and write the name and how much you will spend for that month. For example, in an envelope write “Groceries” and write $150, and that’s how much you will be able to spend for that month. Do that with every category you need to spend on and don’t spend over that amount. Your bills will be fully paid, and you won’t have to be cut short of your budget.

DON’T: Keep paying a subscription service you can go without

Did you sign up for a cable & phone “bundle” but hardly use the phone or watch TV? You might want to reevaluate your needs when it comes to such services – over time it all adds up! You can even call your cable company to find out if they will lower your rate, or you can drop cable and just use a lower-cost streaming service.

DO: Tap into your creative skills and DIY

Save money by looking for new ways to entertain yourself and create fresh, fun or functional new items! Search online for DIY tutorials, such as WooHome’s 34 insanely cool and easy DIY project tutorials!

DON’T: Go overboard with gifts or celebrations

You don’t need to spend a lot to have a fun get-together. If you want to decorate, paper cards, party hats or paper globes will make a big, low-cost impact. You only need a marker and tape to play a round of home-made Heads Up that the whole family can enjoy. Lottery is another low-cost option that will guarantee a lot of laughs. Parties only really need one thing: fun guests!

Determination and creativity are key in cutting expenses and establishing healthy spending habits. And don’t forget, it’s important to reward yourself for meeting your goals!

5 DIY car maintenance tasks to save money

Regardless of the car you drive, sooner or later it will need maintenance. But there’s good news: You can do some of that maintenance at home with the help of your owners’ manual AND without having to pay a mechanic! You just need an afternoon and the parts. So, get ready to roll up your sleeves and save yourself some money (could be a few hundred dollars a year!) that you can put to other uses with these 5 DIY car maintenance tasks.

1. Replace the fuel filter

Estimated time: 5 – 10 minutes
Estimated cost: Around $14 to $60
When to do it: About every 10,000 miles, depending on the car you drive. Check your owner’s manual.

A clean fuel filter can help your car run better, with more power and more miles per gallon, so you won’t have to fill up the tank as much.Don’t know where your owner’s manual is? Just Google search your car make, model and year with “+ owner’s manual”. Most car manufacturers post manuals online!

Need extra help? Search YouTube videos for car maintenance tutorials!

2. Replace the air filter

Estimated time: 15 minutes
Estimated cost: $10
When to do it: Approximately once a year or every 12,000 miles, check your owner’s manual

A clean air filter helps keep your car’s engine clean to help it run better and save you money on expensive maintenance. And like the fuel filter, it also helps you save on gas!

3. Check tire pressure

Estimated time: 5 minutes
Estimated cost: $0
When to do it: Once a month

Having the proper tire pressure can help your car drive more efficiently and therefore save you money on gas expenses. The maximum pounds per square inch (PSI) is printed on each tire, but check the car manufacturer’s recommended PSI since it is often lower than the maximum.

4. Change the windshield wipers

Estimated time: 5 – 10 minutes
Estimated cost: From $7-$20 each
When to do it: At the beginning of rainy season, or as needed

A good set of working wipers are important to keep you and your family safe from blurry road conditions. With new wiper blades in place, you should be able to have a clear view of the road ahead, and when you do it yourself, you’re saving a bundle on labor!

5. Oil change

Estimated time: 30 – 60 minutes
Estimated cost: $20
When to do it: Every three months, or 3,000 – 5,000 miles for many cars. Check your owner’s manual.

Removing the old oil from your car’s engine and replacing it with new, fresh oil can improve your engine’s performance, improve gas mileage, and make your vehicle last longer.

There you have it! In one afternoon, you can help keep your car in shape, save on going to the mechanic, and put that money you saved toward your kids’ school supplies, the next family trip or your future home!