Vehicle Details: What’s a Supercar?

The most elite vehicles on the road today are amazingAprilFeatured_Supercars
There’s no shortage of practical and economical vehicles on the road today, and many of them are well-priced too. According to U.S. News & World Report in May 2015, the average transaction price for a new vehicle was $33,560.

Many people consider a luxury car from Lexus or Mercedes-Benz the symbol of choice to show others that you’ve made it. They offer luxurious interiors, lots of cutting-edge technology features and striking designs. But when a $70,000 vehicle isn’t good enough, there are those supercars that most people can only dream about, with features like seats stitched with gold thread, headlights with diamonds, engines that crank out 1,000 horsepower and price tags that top $1 million.

Bugatti Veyron
Since 2005, the Veyron has elevated the supercar game as few cars before it had. Sure, entries from Lamborghini and Ferrari enabled buyers to achieve neck-snapping speeds in the lap of luxury, but the Veyron brought the supercar to the current generation. With over 1,000 hp, zero-to-62 in 2.5 seconds and a top speed of just shy of 250 mph, the Veyron did what many thought was impossible. The price tag for such a car hovers around $1.7 million.

Koenigsegg Agera RS
When people think of Swedish vehicles, Volvo is traditionally the first thing to come to mind. But for those lucky enough to be able to attain a supercar in the first place, the Koenigsegg brand has a real treat. The Agera RS is as fast and powerful as nearly any other supercar on the market, and allowed the brand to secure deposits for all 25 units it put up for sale. And with an asking price somewhere around $2 million, that’s no small feat. Koenigsegg says the Agera RS can achieve 1,100 hp with 95 octane fuel, and even more when you put in E85 through the twin-turbo 5.0-liter V8 engine.

W Motors Lykan Hypersport
With its love for the lavish, it was only a matter of time before Dubai got into the supercar arena. The first creation of W Motors is the $3.4 million Lykan Hypersport, meant to invite Instagram posts all over Dubai. And with so many insane spectacles all around the country, that’s saying something. The Lykan Hypersport goes beyond raw power and adds features like gold stitching and diamond headlights.

“Diamonds in the headlights are something we don’t need at all, actually. It was a true marketing gimmick that we integrated. But people talk about it,” according to Ralph R. Debbas, the W Motors’ CEO.

Sure, the majority of people will never be able to buy their own supercar, but as long as your vehicle gets you where you need to go and you love it, there’s nothing wrong with dreaming. And when you find your dream car, let us help you with the financing.

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

Retirement Planning in Your 20s

Five best practices to jump-starting your savingsAprilFeatured_Planning
When you’re in your 20s, you are worried more about starting your career than you are about what you’ll do when your career is over. Still, it’s important to put down some building blocks at this point to lay a solid foundation for your financial future. Here are five tips to get the ball rolling:

Develop financial habits
You will want to become well-versed in the process of saving. Cash flow may be an issue in the present, but your future self will thank you for not letting your expenses get in the way of your retirement savings.

“These years of saving in your early 20s are your prime years. If you deny yourself the opportunity, it will just set you back with retirement planning in the long run,” says Certified Financial Planner Brian T. Jones on Bankrate.com. “You’ve got to have balance.”

To help, you’ll want to develop another habit, one of overall financial organization, recommends Robert Berger of U.S. News & World Report Money. Any simple system for storing digital and hard copies of records will end up saving you a ton of time, hassle and money in the future.

Stick to the basics
When you first start learning about 401(k)s and hearing terms like “diversification,” it can make you turn into a deer in headlights. Don’t let that talk deter you from starting your retirement investments. In the beginning, the simpler the better. There are several options out there that automatically invest you in a portfolio, including a broad range of stock and bond index funds.

Of course, investing won’t get you anywhere if you haven’t saved up anything to invest.

Boost savings as earnings increase
Ideally, this would be each year; regardless, you should boost your retirement savings as you continue up the career ladder.

“Increasing your retirement contributions is easier than you might think,” Berger says. “For tax-deferred accounts, keep in mind that each dollar of additional contribution will only cost you about $0.70, depending on your tax bracket. And one easy approach is to use a portion of your pay raise or bonus each year to boost your contributions.”

Once you max out your contributions to your 401(k), which hopefully your employer matches, you can open a Roth IRA or other brokerage options, but you may need some additional assistance for that.

Choose your advisers carefully
When you get to the point where you want to take your retirement savings to the next level, there are plenty of companies and individuals ready, willing and able to help. Therein lies the challenge for you — sorting the proficient, trustworthy and affordable from the ones who are not so. Therefore, do your research. Ask friends, peers and mentors for referrals, and check out reviews online.

Get your debt out of the way
It’s a lot easier to focus on saving when you have fewer bills to pay. Many bills, such as utilities, cannot be avoided. However, high monthly payments to pay down your credit card debt can be one of the biggest obstacles to retirement savings, no matter what your age. Make it your goal to consistently knock out your debt through the years, maintaining a solid, smart payment strategy. Then, ensure that you don’t add more to your debt.

By starting small and starting early, you will give yourself a huge advantage in the quest to achieve a secure financial future.

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

The Worst Passwords People Keep Using — and How to Create Better Ones

Why secure passwords are the keyAprilFeatured_Passwords to avoiding account hijackers
Passwords are some of those things that humans just don’t have time for. As a result, we tend to use passwords that are easy to remember. But that means that anyone can remember them, which increases your risk of being hacked.

However, creating a strong password decreases the chance that a hacker can easily figure it out and log in to your account. There’s a reason most websites call for case-sensitive passwords or ones with numbers and/or symbols. The problem is, most people are still using easy-to-guess passwords.

In an analysis done by SplashData, a security and applications service provider, the top 10 passwords of 2015 were:

123456
password
12345678
qwerty
12345
123456789
football
1234
1234567
baseball

As you can see, these passwords are extremely easy to guess, and that makes it easy for hackers to break in to your important accounts.

Besides avoiding common passwords, consider these tips to create better, stronger passwords to reduce your risk of being hacked:

Use special characters
In addition to changing up capital and lowercase letters in your password, experts recommend also using numbers and special characters like exclamation points or question marks. In fact, online security company Bit9 estimates that it takes a hacker only 3½ minutes to guess an eight-character, lowercase password, which is what most people tend to use.

Don’t reuse the same password
Steer clear of making your password the same for numerous online accounts.

“Reusing a password is like reusing the same key for every lock and having that key be something that you give out to everyone you meet,” Joe Siegrist, CEO of LastPass, says to Business Insider. “And it can also be copied instantly and used remotely.”

Make them long
This may seem obvious, but the longer the password the better.

“Create a phrase like ‘I hope the Giants will win the World Series in 2016!’ Then, take the initials of each word and all numbers and symbols to create your password,” Dennis O’Reilly said to CNET. “So, that phrase would result in this: ‘IhtGwwtWSi2016!’”

Avoid using personal information
Because it can be easier to remember, people tend to create passwords using personal information like their birthdays, anniversaries, relatives’ or kids’ names, favorite sports teams, cities of birth, dates of graduation, etc. However, hackers can easily find this type of information, which is typically what they will try first when attempting to breach accounts.

Don’t write them down
Since the likelihood of someone breaking into your home and finding your password notes isn’t likely, this tip mostly applies to on-the-job passwords.

“[Writing down passwords is] really not a great idea, particularly at work,” says Boston-based digital security expert Beth Jones. “Physical security is just as important as online security. Anyone walking by could see the sticky note next to your machine and then break in to your accounts (especially if you use the same password for everything),” she adds.

Avoid public computers
“Be careful when using a public kiosk computer like the ones at the airport. Never let browsers on computers you don’t own store passwords,” says Chris Burchett, founder and chief technology officer for Addison, Texas-based information security firm Credant. “In fact, it would be best not to log in to any website requiring a password from a computer you don’t own.”

Change passwords often
It’s important to update passwords every few months, which will increase security. “Treat your password like your toothbrush, according to U.S. Astronomer and Author Clifford Stoll. “Don’t let anybody else use it, and get a new one every six months.”

Since most people spend large amounts of time online, changing your password is becoming more and more important. Developing a system that works for you can help, so get started today.

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

Buying Out Your Leased Vehicle: The Pros and Cons

What are the advantages of a lease buyout?AprilFeatured_LeaseBuyout
The car you’ve been leasing for the past 36 months is amazing — still with low mileage and still in great shape; it rides like a dream and is perfect for your lifestyle. You’re strongly considering keeping the car when your lease is up by buying it out. But don’t be so hasty.

There are certain situations that are better suited over others for a lease buyout, but what are the positive and negative aspects of the situation?

Advantages
So maybe you didn’t keep your car in such great shape — it’s got a couple of dents and scratches. Or perhaps you went a hundred or so miles over your mileage limit. Unless you purchased the excess coverage, that “small” damage and those “few” miles can add up in the form of fees upon return of the leased car. If you decide to purchase the car, all those extra, unforeseen fees will disappear.

You can also potentially save yourself money by renegotiating with a lending company. Lucy Lazarony from Bankrate.com recommends letting the leasing company come to you.

“Make the first move and you could blow your best chance of negotiating a good deal on your lease buyout,” Lazarony says, adding that this is also the time to ask about other possible incentives, such as eliminating the purchase-option fee or discounting financing on your buyout loan.

Lazarony notes that successful negotiation is much more likely when you are dealing with a smalltime lender.

On the other hand, if you want to avoid getting those pesky phone calls constantly inquiring about your lease-end decisions and money is less of a concern, then informing the company about your buyout choice right away is the way to go.

“Let’s face it, shopping for a car takes a lot of time and energy. Buying your leased car can save several weekends on car lots and most of the frustration that comes with the process,” according to Russ Heaps of Autotrader.com.

Finally, you might get lucky and your vehicle is worth more than its residual value (also known as the payoff amount), so your purchase price will be much lower than expected.

Disadvantages
The other side of the coin, however, would be that your vehicle’s residual value is higher than what it’s worth, turning a positive into a negative. Furthermore, the entire premise of a lease is to make it more attractive for those who want to return the car when their term is up. The pricing formula includes adjusting three factors: initial sale price, interest rate and residual value.

“First, automakers typically lower the initial sale price of the car, called the ‘cap cost.’ They may also lower the interest rate of the lease, aka the ‘money factor,’” explains Tara Baukus Mello of Bankrate.com. “These changes may be done in combination with increasing the residual value or the amount you pay if you want to buy the car at the end of the lease.”

That said, lease buyouts generally end up being more expensive than if you had just decided to purchase the vehicle from the get-go.

Buying, leasing and buying out your lease are not your only options, however.

“If you don’t want to buy the car, you can apply your equity to a new lease,” says consumer expert Herb Weisbaum. “You could also choose to sell your leased car to the dealer. Dealers need low-mileage used vehicles. So right now they are often willing to pay more than the residual value, especially if the car is in good condition and within the mileage allowance.”

Regardless of which option you are leaning toward, just remember to do your research. A smart, informed consumer always ends up with the best deals. And when you have any questions about finances, give us a call or stop by.

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