Five Dealer Options to Skip When Buying a Car

Some options dealers will offer just aren’t worth it
In the marketYoung woman holding keys to new car for a new car? Beware: It’s not uncommon for dealers to pitch consumers a variety of add-ons that may not be worth the extra money. But seeing as how tight profit margins are these days on new car sales, salespeople will commonly still try to push these deals. And while some may benefit you, and could be worth the extra investment, others are best avoided.

Don’t go for these common dealer options when purchasing a car:

Rustproofing
While new cars are no longer in need of rustproofing and some automakers eliminate the factory corrosion-perforation warranty if the car is undercoated by a third party, many dealers still promote this option to car buyers. However, most cars these days already have top-notch rustproofing. Many dealers, however, are powerless to promote it because they can make a pretty penny on these services. Depending on a variety of factors, undercoating applied by a dealer can ring up your bill an extra $200-$1,200.

Paint protection
Paint protective sealant delivers a no-wax shine and a guard against environmental factors, which can appeal to buyers because salespeople will make it sound necessary, but it can cost drivers upward of $200. What’s more, many vehicles today are made with durable paint finishes that uphold well from a simple wash and wax job. Plus, carmakers typically say that you shouldn’t wax or seal the paint on a new car for a number of weeks or months.

Fabric protection
Many dealers will offer fabric protection, which is a fancy way of explaining a spray that they’ll apply to your car. This spray costs next to nothing for dealers, but many will charge $100 or more for fabric protection. Experts claim that this spray isn’t something that’s necessary for your vehicle satisfaction—and on the negative spectrum, contains chemicals that are probably not great to be in contact with. Not only that, but nowadays, many cars come with interiors made of materials that don’t require much care. “If you have a spill and wipe it up right away, you’re really not going to have a problem,” says John Nielsen, national director of auto repair and buying at AAA, in Heathrow, FL. “If you really need additional fabric protection, all you have to do is buy a bottle of Scotchgard.”

VIN etching
This is when an adhesive plastic stencil of your vehicle’s vehicle identification number (VIN) is created. The stencil is then used on a window to etch or burn the number into the glass. The point of VIN etching: To protect against auto theft in that thieves aren’t able to profit from selling windows or windshields or easily get rid of a stolen car. Although the process isn’t complex, VIN etching can still run you around $150-$300. If you’re concerned at all, purchase a do-it-yourself kit, which is priced around $20-$40 online.

Extended warranties
While this option offers all-around protection (except those components typically replaced during routine maintenance), it can be costly; a basic policy can start around $1,000. However, if you do your research and study the statistics, you’ll find that an extended warranty might not be worth paying that much extra. A better place to spend the money, perhaps, is the required recommended maintenance of your car, which is the best insurance you can buy to protect against years of issues.

Purchasing a vehicle is big deal but looking for the right loan is easy. Just stop by today and let us help you get the right financing for whatever vehicle you choose.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

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The Best-Selling Cars in America

These models are popular for a reason
When a vehicle is a perennial best-seller, it didn’t happen by accident. Each of the vehicles that appear in the top-10 list holds a wide appeal for buyers looking for safe, reliable and convenient transportation. Here are three vehicles: a mid-size sedan, small SUV and a pickup that frequent the American roads.

Toyota Camry
The Camry is the best-selling car in America for the 12th straight year, but that didn’t stop the engineers at Toyota from drafting an all-new model for the 2015 model year. With an MSRP starting at $22,970, the newest Camry is an excellent choice for buyers looking for a vehicle with a rock solid reputation for reliability.

With a four-cylinder engine that can achieve up to 35 mpg highway, an available V6 that pumps out 268 horses, or a super-fuel efficient Hybrid model, the Camry offers something for everyone. And with its recent redesign, and plethora of convenience and safety features, don’t expect sales of the Camry to slip anytime soon.

“For the last 12 years, the sales crown has been Camry’s to lose, and the competition from Honda, Mazda, Kia, Hyundai, Chrysler, Ford and others – to say nothing of compact and midsize crossovers – has gotten stronger than ever,” according to AutoBlog. “But after driving the 2015 Camry, we’d say that this Toyota’s spot at the top of the charts seems as secure as ever. For now.”

Honda CR-V HondaCR-V
The CR-V is one of three Honda models that appears on the top-10 list (the Accord and Civic being the other two), and for buyers who put their focus on practicality and utility, you can’t do much better. With major enhancements for the 2015 model, the CR-V was named Motor Trend’s 2015 Sport/Utility of the Year®, as well as the top spot in US News “Affordable Compact SUV’s” list.

Starting at an MSRP of $23,445, the CR-V puts a major emphasis on value and safety with a rearview camera, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink and SMS Text function, all added as standard equipment. And with a maximum of over 70 cubic feet of cargo capacity, the CR-V is ready for nearly anything you throw its way.

“Honda’s CR-V is already known for its efficiency and utility and the 2015 CR-V enhances those qualities,” according to Edmunds. “The refreshed 2015 Honda CR-V gets a new engine and transmission aimed at further improving efficiency plus new safety, comfort and convenience features. If you’re shopping for a top-shelf compact SUV, the CR-V remains one of your best bets.”

Ford F-150 Ford F-150 pickup
Named the North American Truck/Utility of the Year, and the best-selling truck for 37 consecutive years, the Ford F-150 is all-new for 2015. Starting at an MSRP of $25,420, the biggest news for the 2015 F-150 is a 700-pound weight reduction that results in improved fuel economy and dent and ding resistance.

America’s best-selling truck is available in a slew of trim levels, from the entry level XL to the luxurious Platinum, and four engines are available with two critically acclaimed EcoBoost models, too. The F-150 features best-in-class towing and payload, as well as cutting edge technology and features like a 360-degree camera and the all-new BoxLink system.

“The latest F-150 rises to the occasion, offering excellent capabilities, great gas mileage, an impressive new engine, a dramatically improved interior and a wide range of new high-tech gadgets,” said AutoTrader. “Yes, it’s true that the 2015 Ford F-150 may not look very different from last year’s model, but we can assure you that it’s fully redesigned and worthy of a spot at the top of your shopping list.”

When you purchase any vehicle, you do your research. However, picking out the right loan is just as important as the price you pay. Stop by today to see all of the loan options we can provide for you.

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Should You Take a Gap Year or go to College Right Away?

The pros and cons of waiting before enrolling
For an assortmentStudent looking at books of reasons, a number of graduating high school seniors opt to take time off before enrolling in college classes. Taking this “gap year” is beneficial in many ways, but it also could be a hindrance. Before deciding, educate yourself on the advantages and disadvantages of taking a gap year.

Pros

  • It allows students to recharge after years of the academic grind. In fact, Robert Clagett, former dean of admissions at Middlebury College, saw a higher GPA by up to .2 for students who took a gap year.
  • It gives students more time to gain some perspective on where they are and where they want to be in the future.
  • Many students use the gap year to gain valuable work experience or volunteer, which are not only great resume-builders, but also result in increased focus and maturity — both crucial aspects for the life of a future college student.
  • Working full-time can help students save up for the large costs associated with college — i.e. tuition, room and board, books, etc.
  • Barring extreme circumstances, most students can pick up their education right where it left off after a short break.

Cons

  • Those who wait before applying or enrolling can lose access to important resources such as guidance counselors and scholarship opportunities available to those fresh out of high school.
  • According to a recent article in Time magazine, many parents worry that once their child steers away from the typical track, they’re less prone to go back.
  • Gap year’s can be expensive as Rasmussen.edu explains, “Even with a clear cut and properly executed plan, opponents say a gap year can be expensive, adding to student debt and sometime[s] making college harder to afford.”
  • Starting a year later means finishing a year later, further pushing off the actual start of your career, and with a competitive job market, this could set you back even further.
  • Your skills could suffer with the time off. Bradford Holmes of Varsity Tutors noted, “If you don’t feel burned out, it may be best to continue your schooling without a break and maintain academic momentum.”

Planning for a successful gap year
If you do decide to take a gap year, it is important to be fully prepared to avoid the negatives that may come, and to develop a clear plan on action. Start planning ahead by speaking with high school and college counselors and having an internship, job or volunteer opportunity already lined up. You can also meet with lenders of student loans or grants to help ensure your gap year won’t turn into a horror story. Regardless, your decisions will have tremendous implications on your future. The positivity or negativity of those effects is all up to you.

There is no wrong choice when it comes to taking a gap year. Draw your own conclusion, but when the time comes for financing your college education, stop by and see the options we have for you.

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Are You Still Paying Off Your Holiday Shopping?

There’s a better way for next year
December holidays Couple examining billsare a joyous time — spending time with family and friends, making your home festive with decorations and most of all, giving gifts to your loved ones.

According to a 2014 survey by the National Retail Federation, about 38 percent of consumers planned to use credit to purchase their holiday gifts. But while it feels better to give than to receive, it won’t lessen the sting of seeing that credit card bill in the mail once the holidays are over.

“This is a wonderful time of year,” says John Heath, directing attorney at LexingtonLaw. “But you need to make sure you’re not cutting into your own financial obligations buying gifts for others.”

In the case of some, holiday debt can last longer than you might like. The good news? There are many ways to take control of your bills and make them disappear quickly and efficiently. Be prepared for next year and try one of these ways to save money and painlessly pay off your holiday shopping once and for all:

Pay attention to credit card details
If you’re a frequent credit card user, it’s important to focus on the fine print for whether they entail circumstances that could generate higher charges or annual fees. For example, new Macy’s cardholders receive 20 percent off, but the savings max out at $100. They also have an annual percentage rate of 24.5 percent for purchases on its card, which means the discount may not be financially worth it should you carry a balance beyond a month or two.

However, cards with zero percent interest on purchases for a year or more can save you money in the long run. But just keep in mind that one late payment can result in the end of the interest rate grace period, which can wipe out your initial savings.

“Often, if the balance is not completely paid off prior to the expiration date of the time period, a high interest rate is charged going back to day one,” explains Ray Benton, a certified financial planner based in Denver.

Focus on the highest interest rate card first
When you have a balance on more than one credit card, most people tend to simply pay the minimum amount due on the accounts, or pay off an equal amount among accounts.

“It will be hard to get out of debt for the long term that way,” says Kasey C. Gahler, a Texas-based certified financial planner. “You want to have a laser focus on the highest interest rate first. Once that is paid off, go to the next highest rate.” The bill with the highest interest rate is costing you more money, and ridding that as soon as possible will save you more in the end.

Utilize the “snowball method”
Invented by Dave Ramsey, radio host of “The Dave Ramsey Show” and personal finance author, the “snowball” strategy involves making minimum payments on each debt beginning with the lowest one. Once you pay that off, you begin on the next smallest debt until that one’s demolished, and repeat until you’re through.

“List your debts in order of smallest payoff balance to largest,” says Ramsey. “Every dollar you can find from your budget goes toward the smallest debt until it disappears. A thousand dollars can eliminate that nagging $52 medical bill or that $122 cell phone bill from eight months ago.” By starting small, you build a holiday debt-payoff momentum that “snowballs” to larger debts.

Pay your tax return forward
“Most people want to spend their tax refund on going to Disneyland or whatever,” says Ellie Kay, a family financial expert. But by filing early and receiving your refund, you can put the money toward your holiday debt, which in turn will free up money that you would’ve been otherwise spending paying down your credit cards. If you receive a large enough tax return, you may even be able to demolish your holiday debt in one swipe.

Make small sacrifices
Do you frequent Starbucks each morning? Go out to eat more than once a week? If that’s the case, you might be surprised at how eliminating unnecessary spending in small ways can make paying off your holiday debt that much more attainable.

“If you sacrifice Starbucks for a month, you can save a couple hundred (dollars),” Kay points out. “If you make double batches of casseroles and freeze the second portion, you’ve got the convenience of eating out without the expense.” Get creative and determine the best ways to save a little bit here and there to be put toward your balances.

Set a realistic budget for next year
If you’re finding yourself in a holiday debt pickle year after year, it’s a good idea to plan ahead.

“Take a couple of minutes to go through what you spent this past holiday season, and tally it up,” says Gahler. “Then divide that total by the remaining months of the year, and try to build it into your budget to put that amount away each month.” That way, you’re saving for the holidays all year long, and come December, you’ll have a good chunk of change purely for holiday spending.

Start saving now so you can enjoy a holiday season without racking up the debt.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Watch Out for These Red Flags to Stay Safe While Shopping Online

Warning signs you should watch out for when shopping online

It is hard to overstateShopping online the popularity of online shopping. There is almost no category of product that can’t be purchased online. From wedding dresses, to pets and potato chips, consumers are heading online to purchase things that only a few years ago would have been considered strange to buy online. With so many online stores to choose from, it can be hard to tell which are legitimate and which could leave you vulnerable to scam or identity theft.

One of the easiest ways to tell if a website is secure is by looking for a Trust Seal.

“Typically, these seals are associated with secure sockets layer, or SSL for short,” states John Rampton, a Forbes contributor. “This simply means that your site has been verified and that there is a secure transmission for customers to safely enter their credit card information.”

When you are shopping online, you may have run into one of the seals and not even realized it. If you searched for a store through Google, for example, you probably have seen the small logo with a checkmark that states “Google Trusted Stores,” which is the search engine’s own Trust Seal. There are also several other companies that examine stores and give out trust seals.

“While trust seals are an important feature for [an] e-commerce website, which seals are the most reliable?” asks Rampton. “In a survey conducted by the research group the Baymard Institute, the most trusted badge was Norton, with 36 percent of the votes. This was followed by McAfee (23 percent), TRUSTe (13.2 percent) and BBB Accredited (13.2 percent).”

The other ways that you can determine an online store’s trustworthiness are much less clear-cut than Trust Seals. Online reviews, for example, are one of the most important ways that consumers make decisions about a business’s reputation. If an online store has many positive reviews, you will likely feel safer giving it your credit card information. It is entirely possible for a good online store to not have many reviews, however, and positive reviews can be faked, so it is not a foolproof method.

It is also important to not ignore your gut feeling when shopping online. If you find a product for significantly less than every other store selling it, then that is a definite red flag. Another tactic to keep an eye out for is if a store claims to have the product you are looking for during an initial search, but then tries to redirect you to other similar products because they do not actually have what you need.

Furthermore, if a website doesn’t seem professionally designed, is extremely outdated, or very difficult to navigate, you may want to find another.

“Would you seriously give your credit card information to [a] website that looks like it belongs in 1995?” asks Rampton. “Common sense would say absolutely not.”

You should also look for contact information that would allow you to speak with an employee if you have questions or problems with your order. If there is no way to contact customer service, that is a big red flag.

Once you decide to make a purchase, there are further things to keep in mind.

“Don’t send your credit card details via email, post them on social media (even in a private message), or enter them on an unsecured website,” states Lexy Savvides from Cnet.com. “Don’t give away more information than you need. Retailers generally don’t need to know details like your date of birth or social security number, so why disclose it if you don’t have to?”

If you keep this information in mind and always choose the path of caution, you should be able to shop online without incident.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.