Buying or Leasing Your Next Car
Which is better, buying or leasing my next car?
To determine whether leasing or buying is best, compare the costs and other issues involved in a lease or purchase.
The following factors should be considered:
- Beginning costs
- Continual costs
- Total costs
- Is there a possibility of deduction of any of the costs due to the car being used for business
- How important is it to have ownership of the car?
You then need to decide what the car dealer has to pay for the car of your choice – the “invoice cost”. The difference between the sticker price and the invoice price can be negotiated.
You can obtain this information two different ways. The best way is to look at an auto pricing service supplied by a consumer group or an auto magazine. For instance, Consumer Reports New Car Price Service (800-933-5555), at a price of $12 per model will give you details of the invoice price and the sticker price that can be adjusted for options or rebates as well as tell you how to use the data for negotiating. This is the best way because it gives you the most recent information.
Another way is to use pricing guides that can be found on the Internet. Two popular sites are Intellichoice (www.intellichoice.com) or Edmund’s New Car Prices (www.edmunds.com). You may also be able to obtain these books at the library and they will give you an idea about the information that you need instead of exact data.
If you have a trade-in, you will want to find the value of that car too. You can use the N.A.D.A. Official Used Car Guide (check your local library or www.nada.org) to look up your used car.
Now it’s time to begin negotiating with dealers. Because you know the invoice price, you can use that information to bargain for the lowest mark-up from the dealer’s cost.
An amount like $300 to $500 above the dealer’s cost is a sensible mark-up, unless the car you want to buy is either difficult to get or very popular.
Any attempts by the dealership to sell you rustproofing, undercoating, or other extras should be refused. You may want to invest in an extended warranty, depending on the model’s repair history.
How can I negotiate for a new car?
A good time to try for a good bargain on a car is the last Saturday of September, October, or December.
Before you start looking for a car, learn about the financing options. You can be prepared when the dealer starts to discuss financing if you are aware of what the banks are charging.
Some points you will want to highlight during the negotiations are:
- You are aware of the exact model and options you want
- You are shopping around and will get quotes from other dealerships
- You will not be talking about financing or trade-ins until the dealer has given an offer and make sure not to mention a trade-in until the price has been negotiated
- You are fully aware of the invoice cost of the car
Lastly, go to other dealerships even if you think you have a great price.
Do I negotiate on a car lease the same as I could on a car purchase?
You are paying the difference between the initial purchase price and the residual value in a lease. The lowest purchase price should be negotiated, which will lower the cost of leasing. If you don’t intend to buy the car at the end of the lease term and it is closed-end, you might want to negotiate a higher residual value. Make sure that your expected mileage during the lease aligns with the allowed mileage in the agreement. If it doesn’t, you may pay significant penalties when you turn the vehicle back in to the dealer.
How does an auto lease function?
Open-End: The Risk of Depreciated Value Falls on You
At the end of the lease, the customer accepts the risk that the car will have a particular value or “estimate residual value” at the end of the lease. Due to this, the monthly payment is lower.
At the end of the lease and your return of the car, it will be appraised. If the appraised value of the car is equal to at least the estimated residual value stated in the agreement, it will not be necessary to pay anything. With certain contracts, it is possible to receive a refund if the appraised value is lower than the residual value, although, you might have to pay part or all of the difference.
Closed-End: The Risk of Depreciated Value Falls onto the Dealer
At the end of the closed-end lease, the car is returned to the dealership and you simply walk away. It must be returned with only normal wear and tear, and with less than the mileage limit that is stated in the lease. The monthly payment is higher than an open-end lease because the dealer bears the risk that the car’s value will decrease by the end of the lease.
What is included in the initial costs of leasing a car?
Initial costs are the amount you will need to come up with for the down payment when you lease a car. The security deposit, the first and last lease payments, the “capitalized cost reductions,” the sales taxes, title fees, license fees, and insurance are included. Usually the initial costs amount to less than the down payment that is necessary to purchase a car. During the bargaining with the dealer, all initial costs are open for negotiation.
The Lessor must disclose all up-front, continuing, and ending costs in a standard, understandable format according to the Federal Consumer Leasing Act.
What should I ask about the car lease?
- What types of leases are obtainable and what are their differences? (Two were explained previously, but dealers may have variations.)
- What will the initial costs of leasing be?
- What will the continuing costs of leasing be?
- Will my initial cost or continuing costs decrease due to a trade-in?
- Can I exceed the specific mileage in my lease?
- If I take an early termination or a purchase option, how will my mileage allowance be enforced?
- If I fall behind in my payments or want to stop leasing, can I sublease?
- If I want to terminate my lease before the agreement is up, what happens?
- Do I have options at the end of my lease?
- What can I expect to pay at the end of the lease?
When I lease a car, why is a security deposit required?
How much will I be charged at the end of an auto lease?
For the following reasons, a dealer may collect a higher amount:
- The miles are higher than stated in the lease or the vehicle has unreasonable wear and tear.
- There was an agreement to pay an amount greater than what is stated in the original contract.
- The Lessor wins a lawsuit for a higher amount.
At the end of the term of the lease, the dealer may opt to sell the car. If the car is sold for less than the residual value specified in the leasing contract, you may be obligated to pay as much as three monthly payments to make up the difference.
You may want to negotiate to have the right to approve the final sales price as part of the lease agreement, so the dealer does not sell the leased car for less than the residual value just to get the car off the lot.
A few other things to keep in mind:
- You do not get a refund if you stay under the mileage limit.
- You probably won’t have to pay for excess mileage if you purchase the car at the end of a closed-end lease and you exceed the mileage allowance.
What must the dealer disclose about ongoing lease items?
You pay the dealer a set amount for maintenance each month in what is called a budget maintenance provision. The dealer subtracts maintenance expenses that are incurred from your maintenance account. When the lease ends, you will make up the difference or receive a refund if more was deposited than used.
Are there final costs and if so, what are they?
- Charges for excess mileage
- Typically, closed-end leases have mileage limitations. It is necessary to pay a fee if you go over the allowable mileage at the completion of your lease.
- There is no penalty with an open-end lease if you go over the mileage limit, although the appraisal value will likely be lower.
- Default fees
- Any payments or security deposits that the dealer doesn’t collect from you, or the costs and legal fees the dealer incurs to recuperate costs are covered here.
- Charges for excessive wear and tear
- When you return the car at the completion of the lease, you will need to pay for any charges due to excessive wear and tear. You must be informed in writing by the dealer of the specific definition of excessive wear and tear.
- Typically, it signifies anything past the regular usage, both physical and mechanical.
- Charges of disposition
- Costs of cleaning the car, doing final maintenance and tune-ups are included. The dealer may defer these costs to you if the agreement does not specify otherwise.
What is an option for a lease-purchase?
What are my options for early termination of the lease?
Before you sign the contract, the dealer must tell you whether you may terminate early, and the cost of early termination.
What is implied by a capitalized cost reduction?
How does legal treatment differ between married and unmarried couples?
- Inherit each other’s property automatically. Married couples have the state intestacy laws to support them if they do not have a will. Under the law, the surviving spouse will inherit (at the minimum) a fraction of the deceased spouse’s property.
- Have the privilege to speak for one another in a medical crisis. In the case that your life partner loses capacity or consciousness, someone will have to make the go-ahead decision for a medical purpose. It should be you, but if you haven’t filed certain paperwork, you may not have the ability to do so.
- Have the privilege to handle one another’s finances in a crisis. A married couple that jointly own assets is less affected by this problem than an unmarried couple.
How should unmarried couples protect their estate and financial holdings?
- Draft wills. The chances of the intentions being followed through with after a death are greater if both partners make wills. Without wills, the probability of the unmarried surviving partner having no rights is more likely.
- Think about owning property together. This is a way to guarantee that property will pass to the other joint owner at the time of the other’s death due to the right of survivorship.
- Make a durable power of attorney. This will permit the partner to sign papers and checks and take care of other financial issues on his/her behalf should one become incapacitated.
- Make a health care proxy. Also known as a medical power of attorney, this permits the partner to talk on your behalf to make medical decisions, should you become injured.
- Have a living will. This lets your wishes regarding artificial feeding and other measures to prolong your life be known.
Is more insurance necessary for married couples?
Having someone dependent on your income will determine if you need to have life insurance. If someone such as a child, parent, spouse or other individual is dependent on your income, you should have life insurance. The following are situations where life insurance is necessary:
- Single parents or families with young children or other dependents. The younger your children, the more insurance is necessary. Insurance should be in proportion to the amount earned. If both spouses are working, they should both be insured. If both earners cannot afford to be insured, the primary wage earner should be the first to be insured and the secondary will follow. To fill the insurance gap, a less expensive term policy may be used. Insurance should be bought to cover the absence of services such as childcare, bookkeeping, housekeeping, which are provided by the spouse that works within the home. The insurance that covers the non-wage earner is secondary to the insurance that covers the wage earner’s life, if funds are scarce.
- Adults that have no children or other dependents. You will need less insurance than people in the previous situation if your spouse can live comfortably without income. However, some form of life insurance is still necessary. You will want at least enough to cover burial expenses, to pay off any debts you may have acquired, and to provide an easy transition for the surviving spouse. You may want to buy more insurance if you think your spouse would go through financial hardship without your income or if your savings aren’t adequate. This depends on your salary level as well as the amount of your spouse’s, the amount of savings you have and the amount of debt incurred.
- Single adults without dependents. Unless you would like to use insurance for the purposes of estate planning, you will only need insurance to cover expenses for burial and debts.
Children. Typically, children only need life insurance to cover burial expenses and medical debts. An insurance policy could also be used as a long-term savings instrument, in some instances.
Who needs to be notified if a spouse changes their name after marriage?
- The Social Security Administration
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- Post Office
- Investment and bank accounts
- Voter’s registration office
- School alumni offices
- Credit cards and loans
- Club memberships
- Retirement accounts
- Passport office
- Insurance agents
Should I update my will when I get married?
After marriage, what are the tax implications?
Once married, you may not file separately in an attempt to avoid the marriage penalty. Actually, filing as married filing separately can raise your taxes. For the optimal filing status for your situation you should speak with your tax advisor.
Can married couples hold property?
- Sole tenancy – which is when one individual has ownership. The property is passed on in accordance with the will at death.
- Joint tenancy – with the privilege of survivorship. Two or more people have equal ownership. The property is passed to the joint owner upon death. This should be used to effectively avoid probate.
- Tenancy in common – property has joint ownership with the privilege of survivorship. The property is passed on according to your will upon death.
- Tenancy by the entirety – like joint tenancy, with privilege of survivorship. This doesn’t allow a spouse to get rid of the property without the other’s consent and is only possible for spouses.
- Community property – property that is gained through marriage that has equal ownership. States such as AZ, CA, ID, LA, NV, NM, TX, WA, and WI allow community property.
Is it possible to financially prepare for divorce?
The time put into organizing this will be worth it in the long run. The following are a few steps to consider:
Prepare an inventory of your financial situation that will help you in two ways:
- It will aid in determining how debts accumulated during the marriage will be paid off. (It is best to try and get all the joint debt (credit card debt) paid off before the divorce. To come to an agreement as to the method for paying them off, it is smart to make a list of the debts. )
- It will give you an introductory look at the information needed to divide the property.
- Your residence(s)
- The value of any brokerage accounts
- Your valuable antiques, jewelry, luxury items, collections, and furnishings
- The current balance in all bank accounts
- Your autos
- The value of investments, including any IRAs
Prepare a list of all assets, whether joint or separate, that includes:
Locate copies of the last two or three years’ tax returns. These will be beneficial later.
Know the exact quantity of salary and miscellaneous income brought home by your spouse and you.
Obtain all papers regarding insurance, life, health, pension, and other retirement benefits.
Make a list of debts that are owed both separately or jointly, including mortgage, credit card debt, auto loans and other liabilities.
How should credit card accounts be dealt with during a divorce?
Regardless of who accumulated the bill, creditors can legally try to collect payment from either party on the joint credit card or other credit account. You will be responsible for payment as long as your name appears on the joint accounts.
The agreement that is reached during the divorce may state who must pay the bills. From the creditor’s point of view, both your spouse and you are responsible as long as the joint account stays open. The creditor will attempt to receive payment from who they think are most likely to pay while reporting late payments to the credit bureaus in both names. Due to the irresponsibility of the co-signer, your credit history could be harmed.
You may be required to pay the remaining balance in full upon closure of the account. If this is the case, ask the creditor to distribute the outstanding balance to separate accounts.
What can I do when my current or former spouse's bad credit affects me?
It may take persistence to demonstrate that the credit history in question doesn’t reflect your own.
After a divorce, what happens to my credit history?
To avoid inconvenience, maintain credit in your own name. Preserving your own, separate, credit history makes things easier in the future. In an emergency, if you need credit, it will be available.
Avoid using your spouse’s name – i.e. , Mrs. Peter Johnson – for purpose of credit.
Get an update on your credit report. Be sure that your name, as well as your spouse’s, is being reported correctly. If you would like to use your spouse’s credit history to your benefit, simply write a letter to the credit agency and request that both names be put on the account.
Find out if there is any incomplete or inaccurate data in your account. Send the credit bureau a letter asking them to correct this information. They need to confirm receipt within a normal time period and inform you when the mistake is fixed.
Improving your own credit history in your name should be simple if you have been sharing accounts with your spouse. Make a call to a major credit bureau and ask for copies of your account information. Get in touch with the issuers of the cards with whom you share accounts with your spouse and request to have your name on the account as well.
During a divorce, what are the legal issues that must be handled?
The following are general tips to face the legal aspects of divorce:
- If there are important issues with regards to child custody, alimony or assets, find your own attorney.
- Use referrals from other professionals, trusted friends or the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (www.aaml.org) to find a good matrimonial lawyer.
- Verify that the agreement of divorce approaches all topics such as insurance coverage, life health and auto.
- On IRA accounts, life insurance policies, pension plans, 401(k) plans, and other retirement accounts make sure to modify the beneficiaries.
- Update your will.
How does the division of property in a divorce work?
Whether or not an attorney represents you, you should make sure to have done the following:
- Learn how the laws of your state function with respect to property division.
- Make sure to have the papers to confirm that property owned separately during the marriage has been kept separate.
- Be prepared to report any non-financial contributions to the marriage that you have made – such as any non-financial contributions to his/her financial success or spousal support while he/she went to school.
- Be willing to report any need for alimony or child support.
Consider having the divorce agreement supply you with funds if you have not worked outside of the home during the marriage.
With a divorce, what are the tax implications?
- Child Support
It is not taxable to the recipient and is not deductible by the payer. If it is specially designated as child support in a divorce agreement or lessened by the occurrence of a contingency relative to the child, meaning a child reaches a specified age, it is considered as a payment.
It is taxable to the recipient and deductible by the payers. It is known as a payment in accordance with a divorce agreement other than child support or when allocated in the decree as something other than alimony. In a separation agreement, similar treatment is in accordance with separate maintenance payments. Payments may not end upon death of the recipient and may not be front-loaded.
- Property Settlements
When in accordance with the divorce or separation, they are not taxable. In the event of transfers of assets amongst spouses, they do not become taxable income, gains, loses, or deductions. The recipient spouse gets the cost basis of the property. Your spouse may provide you with an equal share of the property based on a fair market value, but be careful with the lower basis. In the end, it can produce a taxable gain at the asset’s sale.
When retirement plans or IRAs are divided in a divorce, what happens?
Is the cost of getting a divorce a deduction?
Am I entitled to deduct the dependency exemption of a child after divorce?
Death of a Loved One
What will I need if a member of the family dies?
- Copies of all insurance policies.
- Marriage Certificate (if the deceased’s spouse will be requesting benefits). You may obtain copies at the Office of the County Clerk where the marriage license was issued.
- Certified copies of the death certificate (a minimum of 10). These can be bought from the funeral director or from the Health Department in your county.
- Birth Certificates of dependent children. These may be obtained at either the County or State Public Health offices where the child was born.
- Social Security numbers of the spouse, deceased and any dependent children.
- Military discharge, if the deceased was a veteran. Write to The Department of Defense if you are unable to find copies.
- A complete list of all property, including stocks, savings accounts, real estate, and personal property of the deceased.
- Will, which will more than likely be with the lawyer of the deceased.
Should I take any particular steps with regard to the assets of the deceased?
General rules are as follows:
Automobiles. Find out if the title of the car of the deceased needs to be modified by checking with the State DMV.
Insurance Policies. The beneficiaries of policies held by the deceased’s spouse may need to be modified. (It might be smart to lessen the amount of life insurance coverage if the spouse doesn’t have any dependents. ) Revision of home and auto insurance may also need to be done.
Bank Accounts. The title of a joint bank account will automatically pass to the surviving spouse. Advise the bank to change the ownership records. If the name of the deceased was the only name on the bank account, the asset will go through probate unless it is a trust account.
Safe Deposit Box. A court order is necessary, in most states, to open a safe deposit box that is only in the deceased’s name.
Stocks and Bonds. Verify with the broker of the deceased to change title of stocks and bonds.
Credit Cards. If the credit cards are only in the deceased’s name, they should be cancelled and the estate should pay outstanding payments. If the cards are in both names, the surviving spouse should inform the credit card companies of the death and ask for cards only in the survivor’s name to be reissued.
What can I do to avoid overpaying for a funeral of a member of my family?
- You must be given, over the phone, price and other relevant information by the funeral provider to answer your questions.
- You must be given 1) a disclosure of important legal rights, 2) a general price list, and 3) information about caskets for cremation, embalming and required purchases by the funeral provider.
- You must be given, in writing, any service fees for the payment of goods or services such as flowers, obituary notices, and pallbearers, on your behalf by the funeral provider. Some funeral providers add a service fee to the cost, while other charge you only the cost of the item. You must also be given any information from the funeral provider about refunds, discounts or rebates from the supplier.
- You must be given by the funeral provider, in writing, information regarding your right to purchase and what is available to you – an unfinished wood box, a type of casket, or an alternative for direct cremation.
- In getting the products and services that you do want, you are not obligated to buy unwanted goods or services or pay any additional fees. You only need to pay for the goods and services you selected or that the state law requires in addition to the fee for the services of the funeral director and staff.
- You must be given an itemized list of the total cost of the funeral goods and services selected by you. It must inform you of any cemetery, legal, or crematory requirements that you must meet to buy any funeral goods or services.
- You are not allowed to be told that a certain funeral item or service can preserve the deceased’s body for an indefinite time in the grave or claim that funeral goods (caskets or vaults) will not allow dirt, water, or other gravesite substances to enter.
Contact your federal, state or local consumer protection agencies, the Conference of Funeral Examining Boards (www.theconferenceonline.org), or the Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program (FSCAP) (www.funeralservicefoundation.org) if you are having a funeral problem that cannot be resolved with the funeral director.
Are surviving family members entitled to Social Security benefits?
One-time death benefit – A death benefit is paid by Social Security towards burial expenses. To apply the payment to your funeral bill, simply complete the form necessary at your local Social Security office or ask the funeral director to complete the application. This is only available to eligible spouses or a child that is entitled to the benefits of the survivor.
Benefits of a survivor for a spouse or children – The spouse will be eligible for benefits if he/she is 60 years old or older. The benefit amount collected before the age of 65 will be less than that due at the age of 65 or older. Widows who are disabled are eligible for benefits at age 50. If the deceased’s spouse cares for dependent children under the age of 16 or for disabled children, they may qualify for benefits before age 60. The deceased’s children who are disabled or younger than 18 may also qualify for the benefits.
What is probate?
- An individual being appointed by the court to function as the personal representative or executor of the estate. The person is usually mentioned in the will. The court will appoint a personal representative, typically the spouse, if there is no will.
- Validating the will.
- Letting all heirs, beneficiaries and creditors know that the will has been probated.
- In accordance with the will or state law, organizing the estate by the personal representative.
A petition must be filed by the spouse or the selected personal representative with the court following the death.
A fee for the process of probate will be charged.
Probation of a will might require legal assistance, depending on the size and complexity of the assets to probate.
If the deceased and someone else jointly owned assets, they are not subject to probate. The proceeds of a life insurance policy or Individual Retirement Account (IRA) will be paid to the beneficiary and are not subject to probate.
Upon a family member's death, what taxes are due?
- Federal Estate Tax. Amounts that are given to the surviving spouse or to a charity are typically exempt from estate tax. Normally, the estate tax is only owed on estates (which, after decreasing the amount by what is given to the spouse and charity, surpasses the unified credit exemption equivalent).
- If you need to file an estate tax return, get in touch with the IRS to get a Form 706. Within nine months of the death, absent extension date, a federal estate tax return must be filed.
- State Estate Taxes. These differ by state. States may enforce estate taxes that may be applied on top of the federal estate taxes while others may be utilized when federal estate taxes don’t. There are inheritance taxes that some states impose, which are on the individuals that receive the inheritance, rather than on the estate itself.
- Income Taxes. The deceased’s state and federal income taxes are due for the year of death. Unless an extension is solicited, the taxes are due on the regular filing date of the coming year. For the year of the death, the deceased’s spouse may file a joint federal income tax return. If the spouse has a dependent child, he/she may file for an additional two years. It might be helpful to look at the IRS’s Publication 559, “Information for Survivors, Executors and Administrators. “
May I refuse inherited property in order to reduce taxes?
By the property passing directly from the decedent to the next beneficiary, it could possible save thousands of dollars in estate taxes. The wise use of the a disclaimer and the condition for a disclaimer in a will permits the shifting of assets and income to maximize the estate tax marital deduction, unified credit and the lower income tax brackets.
To provide for financial contingencies, disclaimers may also come in handy. For instance, if someone needs funds, you can disclaim an interest to them.
My spouse died this year; may I file a joint return for this year?
Do I owe taxes on life insurance profits payable to me?
Are distributions of a retirement plan or IRA of the deceased taxable?
If my spouse died without a will, how will his/her assets be distributed?
What can I do to resolve a consumer complaint?
Approach the Seller
Compile all necessary evidence such as canceled checks, receipt, photographs showing the issue, a warranty, bill of sale or contract.
Determine your goal. Would you like the product replaced? Would you like a refund? Are you just looking for an apology?
Schedule a meeting with the manager, customer service representative or other appropriate person by calling the store or service provider. In this meeting with the individual, describe as clearly as possible the nature of the issue and what your goal is. If you can only speak by phone, write a letter as follow-up and keep detailed notes of the dates and with whom you spoke with. It is important to note that if there is a valid warranty for the product, it is best to follow-up with the manufacturer and not the merchant.
Take the issue to a higher level, if this doesn’t find a solution. This could be the corporate president or supervisor. At this point, you should put your complaint in writing if you have yet to do so. This letter should detail your name, phone numbers, address, and account number (if applicable). Include the date and place of purchase as well as the model and serial number if a product is involved. Concisely describe the issue at hand and the process you have gone through so far to reach a solution. Lastly, you should include what outcome you want and state a deadline for this outcome. Keep a copy of the letter for yourself and include relevant copies of documents. Make sure you keep the originals and retain copies of any correspondence you receive from the company.
Get in touch with an agency
If your desired goal has yet to be reached, you will want to look in the phone book or online for a consumer complaint agency, such as the county, city or state consumer protection office or the Better Business Bureau.
Another option is to go with the trade association method. There are industry trade associations that will offer to aid in mediating issues with regards to their members.
You may want to get in touch with the appropriate state-banking regulator if your issue deals with a bank. If an insurer is involved, you will want to get in touch with the state insurance regulator, for a securities problem contact the securities regulator or for utilities problems contact the public utilities commission.
Call the state-licensing department if you the issue deals with a state-licensed trade, such as a plumber.
Research the lemon laws of your state, unless you reside in Arkansas or South Dakota, by getting in touch with your state consumer protections agency in the event that you purchased a bad used car.
Get in contact with your area postal inspector, whose information can be located in the U.S. government section of the telephone book, for issues that pertain to mail order or mail fraud.
Look into finding a local television news program hotline for resolving consumer complaints.
Filing a lawsuit
When there are no more options, you will want to file a court case in either small claims court, if the amount is small (usually less than $5000) or if not, a regular lawsuit.
More than likely speaking with an attorney and having them draft a letter to the merchant or service provider giving the details about the lawsuit will resolve the issue.
You probably won’t need to hire a lawyer if a small claims case is involved. If the case is bigger than small claims, you will want to hire a lawyer.
What can I do to reduce my bank fees?
- Look into what is necessary to get free checking and free ATM usage and do it. This is typically done by having a minimum balance and only using your bank’s ATMs. Another thought is joining a credit union instead of a bank as they generally charge less for banking services.
- Investigate how to invest in higher interest accounts. Determine how much money you would need in case of an emergency and roughly six month’s worth of expenses and keep that amount in your savings. Take the rest of your money and make it work for you.
- Don’t order checks through your bank. Generally speaking, check printers charge less than the printers employed by the bank.
What can I do to save money on my insurance costs?
- Shop around for your life insurance policy. Take the time it takes to periodically check the prices on different policies, as it will pay off in the end. If you have recently quit smoking, you will probably be able to get better rates in a few years.
- Evaluate your needs in terms of life insurance to see whether you are being charged too much for coverage.
- Use the same insurer for home and auto insurance, as you will more than likely get a break.
- Look around for auto insurance to find the best possible rate.
- Save on your homeowner’s insurance by installing burglar alarms, smoke detectors and sprinkler systems. Consult an insurance agent to learn more.
- Do away with private mortgage insurance. Ask your lender to cancel this as soon as you have enough equity in the home (this is required by law).
What can I do to cut my utility costs?
- See if your utility has a subsidizing program to make your home more energy-efficient. If that turns up nothing, you can still caulk your windows and check the insulation to make sure it has a high enough “R” factor.
- Use fluorescent lights instead of incandescent bulbs for lights that are constantly on.
- Maintain the thermostat at the highest and lowest temperature for comfort in the summer and winter, respectively.
What can I do to reduce the cost of my phone bill?
- Verify that your long-distance charges are competitively priced. Research which long-distance carrier will give you the best rate and switch if you are not with that carrier.
- Use the phone book instead of dialing “Information.”
- If you have children at home, block all “900” numbers.
- Stay in touch with relatives and friends through e-mail.
What can I do to reduce the cost of my mortgage?
- Think about paying down your mortgage. This is an effective way for saving and raising net worth for many people. Make a decision to pay a specific amount more than the mortgage principal and faithfully stick to it.
- Think about refinancing your mortgage. Determine if refinancing your mortgage will save you money. Calculate to see if the costs for refinancing are worth a reduction in your monthly payments. If you intend to remain in the house for at least five years, the common guideline is that at least two points reduction will make it worthwhile to refinance.