Buying

Should You Buy or Lease a Car?

The decision on whether to buy or to lease a car is influenced by two major aspects of an individual: the financial position or priorities he or she has as well as his or her personal references in terms of what ownership of a car would mean to them.
buying a car
The financials, we would hope, take top spot in this one, one would hope, though of course human decision making is as subjective with purchases as it is with everything else. If you can afford to buy a new car, then this may be the preferred option. You are able to recoup most of the money if you get one whose market re-sale value is high and if your insurance and maintenance are up to scratch.

Also, if you are employed, it is easy for you to get a loan that can help with financing your preferred dream car. The significant increase in low-interest financing and cash-back offers makes loan financing an attractive option and thus means more and more people prefer buying to leasing a car.

In fact, in the current global economy, with fuel prices rising and lease payments almost equivalent to car-financing payments, leasing is increasingly a less financially viable option.

Leasing has always had the a number of traditional advantages, which include the ability to upgrade quickly to another model and enjoy new technological and safety benefits from newer models. It also helps the person leasing the vehicle to actually enjoy a comprehensive test-drive period of sorts before deciding on whether he should purchase the vehicle while at the same time removing that old albatross that comes with car-purchasing: you have an asset that has a depreciating value.

But these advantages can be eaten into by a number of considerations, including the fact that maintenance is a prime condition of the leasing process, and the constant payments (which, unlike financing, do not result in ownership of the vehicle) can be moral sapping.

Comprehensive insurance for a purchased vehicle, which is also a definite on one which has been financed means the burden of servicing and maintenance is not carried by the person purchasing the vehicle, as opposed to someone leasing.

And with cars built to last longer and upgrades to them made easier over the years, the benefits of new technology can be added without necessarily changing cars, which is a significant advantage that leasing may have had in the past.

Against a backdrop of paperwork and red-tape involved in the leasing process as well as the fact that it only really makes financial sense if you want to write it off as a business expense (for a firm) or if you are dealing in a market with rising interest rates (this making car financing more costly), leasing rarely holds the edge over actual car ownership.
And besides, for the individual, there is always the satisfaction of knowing that the car in your garage or parked in your drive way is your car.

Ten Ways to Save at College!

Every college kid knows that college is expensive–and that doesn’t even include the fun parts! While education itself costs a pretty penny, it’s important to think about extra curricular costs when planning and budgeting. Going to school in a city can be particularly challenging, since almost nothing is free. Here are the top 10 helpful hints to getting by in college while still having fun:

Saving at college

1. On-campus Jobs:

Don’t under estimate the benefits of an on-campus job. They are held solely for students, tend to pay above minimum wage, and are conveniently located. Whether you work in the financial aid office or in a dining hall, you can make connections with students, faculty, and staff that will surely benefit you down the line. It may not be your dream career, but on-campus jobs are great for a little spending cash.

2. Use the dining plan to your advantage:

It’s surprising what you can smuggle out of a dining hall. If you are willing to invest in plastic bags or reusable Tupperware, there is no limit to the possibilities of kleptomania that lurk in a dining hall. From apples to zucchini, there is no food (raw, cooked, warm, or chilled) that can’t be snuck out. If you grab a sandwich at dinner and keep it for a late night snack, that’ll prevent you from spending those 5 dollars for the Subway foot long across the street.

3. Thrift store:

There is nothing you can’t find at a Good Will. Whether you’re looking for a set of plates for under $10, or an electronic robot for endless hours of amusement, a local thrift store is sure to not disappoint. A wide range of useful apparel can be mixed in with your high-class Anthropologie dresses for the bo-ho chic look so prevalent amongst trendy college girls.

4. Gifts:

It’s easy to get stuck in the endless-string-of-Birthday’s-breaking-the-bank rut. Don’t let it happen to you. Your new found college friends deserve the best-the best home made gifts! There are countless great gift ideas online that can be made out of supplies in a dorm room. From melting records into bowls, to a clever fortune teller, gifts should be creative and meaningful, not expensive! By saving on the gift, it might be a little less painful to splurge on your third dinner at The Cheese Cake Factory for someone’s birthday.

5. Get a Bike:

If you’re in a city, public transportation can be expensive and unreliable. Craig’s list constantly sells bikes for give-away prices, and it’s most definitely worth investing in to save money in the long term. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the freshman 15 if you’re biking to dinner.

6. Drink before going out to a bar:

Keeping an inexpensive bottle of wine or a cheap six pack around is never a bad idea. Sure it’s okay to have one drink at a bar, but who wants to throw down $20 for a few drinks? Start the buzz before you head out (if you’re not driving, of course).

7. Text book tactics:

Text books are expensive, but colleges at making it easier and easier to afford them. From renting to e-books to selling used books, you should never be paying full price for a book. Look on sites like Amazon and Half.com for great deals on text books. When it comes time to sell the book back, don’t go through a third party. Post them directly onto a website where you get to set the asking price.

8. Free Housing:

There are opportunities on many college campuses that allow for free housing. Frequently, a position such as resident assistant comes with room and board, and occasionally, a stipend.

9. Funding:

Colleges have money. If there is something you really want to do, like put on a show or go sky diving, there is probably an organization on campus that could fund it. Students are often in charge of allocating funds, and it’s up to you to make your ideas known. By being part of an already existing organization, or by starting one on your own, your chances of getting funds for something fun is very high.

10. Quickie jobs:

If you’re not willing to make a time commitment to a part time job on or off campus, many colleges post one time jobs available around the community. These can be great if you’re looking for some fast cash, and depending on the job, you may get more than just one time employment for it.

Where to Live at College?

One of the first things students think about when college comes around is, “where am I going to live?!” For some students, living on campus in the dorms is where they belong. The dorms are close to class and student activities, and cluttered with other students just begging for a study buddy or a friend. For others, off campus living holds many benefits. Conversely, living off campus can be a make or break move financially for any young and eager student. There are generally two options a student has when it comes to off campus living; rent an apartment or live at home.
Renting an apartment can be a large commitment for a new student with a full class load. Rent can range anywhere from $500-$1000. However, there are also things like internet and electricity bills, not to mention things like cleaning, which can really take a toll on your checking account and free time. Students who make the decision to rent an apartment usually find themselves working at least a few nights a week, taking up valuable study time.

I, like many other students, have taken option number two; living at home. After moving to Iowa City from a little town in Illinois to attend college, my grandparents graciously offered my twin sister and I one of the apartments they rent out or a room in their basement. I was prepared to jump into apartment living. The excitement of living on my own was almost more than I could handle. I was ready to sign the lease when my sister stopped me and said we should consider living with our grandparents. Forgive me if I didn’t find as much excitement in living with my grandparents as I did with living on my own. Thoughts of curfews and homework checks clouded my mind. But, then I sat down and figured out how much money I would be spending renting an apartment. With a $500 rent, at least $100 in groceries every two weeks, and a little extra gas money driving the extra distance to class, living in the apartment began to lose a lot of its appeal.

My second semester of college and of living with my grandparents is rapidly coming to an end and I could not be happier with the decision I made to live with my grandparents. The money that I saved not renting an apartment now populates the empty space that I once called my savings account. The education I am receiving at college is paid for and I am able to afford filling up my gas tank to visit home every now and then. The choice I made to live with family instead of renting an apartment on my own was one of the best decisions I could have.

How Do I Find the Best Credit Card?

Are you looking for a new credit card or a first time credit card? This can be a task made difficult due to all the offers out there. The best way to choose a credit card is to research the different credit card companies to find the best card to meet your needs. Find a company that offers the best rates for you according to your credit rating. A good credit rating can get you a better deal on a credit card. If this is the first time applying for a credit card, then look for one that is made especially for those who have never established credit.

Credit Cards

The best credit cards are the ones with lower interest rates, no annual fees, and a reliable company you can trust. Other things to look for when shopping for a credit card are the application fees, late fees, over limit fees, and even how the bill can be paid. Some credit card companies have hidden fees, so be sure to read all the facts before signing up for that card. These are facts you need to know about; and you will need to consider how they will affect you in being able to pay back the charges you have made on the credit card.

An introductory rate credit card is an offer to get you to switch credit cards to another credit card company at a lower interest rate. The key word is introductory; which means this rate will change after you have had the card for so long. Other cards are one interest rate for the life of the credit card. Even though the interest rate may be a little higher at the beginning than the introductory rate cards; you will know what interest rate you will pay throughout the years that you use the credit card. Some offer a variable interest rate credit card; where the interest rate is always changing, and this makes knowing what will be paid back in interest charges confusing.

Can you pay online or are mailing the payment the only way? This might be something that would help you decide which one you like. Do they charge a fee just to take out the card with them? Some credit card companies charge a processing fee making you pay before you even get to use your card. This makes you owe before you even get to enjoy spending. Reading the cardholder agreement will help you determine what each card has to offer.

One way to find the best credit card is to make a list of what you want out of your credit card company, and then start looking at credit card sites on the web and comparing what each has to offer. Things to put on the list to check on are such things as finance charges, grace periods, minimum payment, and cash advance fees, to name a few. All of these things are good to find out about and know before choosing a card.

Should I Buy Pet Insurance?

The question of pet-insurance and whether it is necessary might seem like a moot one if you have never head to take care of a pet. However, if you do love pets, and have ever had to actually take care of one, you will know something about the cost of treating them when they do fall sick or are injured: it’s high.

Pet Insurance

It can be as high as human treatment and even higher in some cases, because, let’s face it, not that much research has gone into looking after pet health (not as much as has gone into human health for example) and therefore good pet health care is hard to come by, and the harder it is to come by, the more expensive it will tend to be. Simple things like stitches on a dog’s paw or even managing a persistent worm problem can be quite costly.

Added to this is the fact that veterinary medicine is employing increasingly expensive methods of treatment, from x-rays to monitoring equipment for organ performance and things of that nature.

It is with this in mind that pet insurance starts to sound like a good idea. Pet insurance differs from human health insurance in one important aspect: it is rather more similar to property insurance, in particular, motor vehicle insurance.

Pet insurance is relatively new in the United States, with the first one being issued in the United States and instigated by the risk incurred when using animals for important roles on Hollywood. Sweden and Britain respectively, lead the world in terms of percentages of pets that have pet health insurance.

Policies can differ in several aspects. You can have lifetime and non-life time variations, with lifetime variations covering a condition that the pet has for it’s lifetime, literally, while non-lifetime insurance cannot be renewed when the policy is being renewed annually.

Pet insurance can also include third-party liability insurance, so that if for example a pet is a direct cause of a car accident or injury to an individual, the owner of the pet is insured from covering costs incurred; these would be covered by the insurer.

As mentioned earlier, these aspects of pet insurance as well as others vary from country to country and also vary according to the insurance company providing the cover. Some of these variations include dental care, preventive cover like vaccination, prescription drugs, tail clipping (in the case of certain dogs and cats) and neutering.

In the long run, of course, a carefully negotiated policy will save you money. Pet behavior is often unpredictable but knowing that you have a fall back plan can help you save on those sudden costs as well as give you that much-searched for commodity when dealing with a pet: peace of mind.

How to Pick Charities to Donate To

The decision to donate to a charity is not just a noble one; it is a reflection of empathy on one’s part and an understanding that where one has been blessed by fate, others have been less fortunate. So for those seeking to improve the lot of humanity, to give back, for those seeking to “be the change they seek”, there are a number of pointers that can ensure that their gestures actually have the impact they have in mind and reach their intended target.

Choose a charity

The method of choosing which charity to donate to that are outlined below are not perfect methods but they will offer a guideline that can help one make an informed decision on how to impact the world around them.

(Credibility. Efficacy. Community Neighborhood. Immediacy. Passion. Anonymity)

Credibility

It is important that you choose a charity that has gone through a vetting process of some sort. This process varies from one area to another but certain aspects of the vetting process are fairly easy to spot: the charity should be registered, and have a recognizable board and patronage of standing within the community; it’s activities and how it puts it’s resources to use should be transparent, and easily accessible financial records play an important role in this; it’s impact should be visible, and not simply at a PR level but intrinsically, in line with it’s stated vision and goals.

Efficacy

The charity should be able to actually effect change in the individual lives and communities it works with. It is all very well to provide shelter for the homeless, but alongside this, those sheltered should find a system that helps them better themselves so that they move on to a way of life that helps them earn a living and provide for themselves so the shelter can help another lost cause.

Community

The charity should be impacting directly on the community it exists in. Global charities naturally have global reach, but to actually work, charities need to experience the reality of the people whose lives they are seeking to have an impact on.

Immediacy

There are sometimes situations that demand an instant response from the community, whether local, nationwide, or even globally. These often occur during natural disasters like earthquakes, outbreaks of disease and tsunamis. In this particularly situation, creditable organizations like the United Nations make impromptu calls for immediate help and these are calls that one should respond to when seeking to donate. In this particular scenario, every dollar counts, and the immediacy of the situation also validates it.

Passion

One should also find a charity that appeals to one’s passions, or beliefs. It is easier to relate to a cancer charity, for example, if you have suffered from the disease or have known somebody who has been ravaged by it. The things we are passionate about are often the ones we are also most effective with.

Anonymity

As much as possible, do seek a charity that ensures the donor remains anonymous. It gives real meaning to your offer; the reward is in you yourself knowing.

Cover Your Future With Home Insurance

There are a lot of homeowners out there thinking about getting a good home insurance. Well, you can stop thinking and act promptly to get your home insured against all those bad things that can happen to it. A home is one of the most treasured things of one’s life. Insurance protects it from nightmares coming true and cover the expenses of repairs. You can never tell what is going to happen next. A storm or some short circuit fire can destroy your precious home or damage it so badly that it is not possible to live in without repairs. Anyone who has done some recently would know how costly it is to repair. The carpet washing costs you fifty dollars! Think about restoring it in case something happens. With an insurance, you don’t have to worry about the expenses. Instead, the insurance company takes care of it all.

If you have decided to go for the insurance, you must also decide on a company or a plan to go for. Here it becomes a bit tricky as there are several companies and multiple times that are the plans offered by them. We all know after recession hit, people are having difficulties affording everything that used to be easy to afford. If you think insurance premiums are too much for you, then think again. The reason behind all these insurance companies staying in the company means they all have clients. That also means that with some luck and effort, you can find the suitable one for you. Choose carefully from the plans as they cover different areas that you may or may not want. Try to look for the areas you want covered most for a premium that you can easily afford and continue. Then go for the plan and you’ll be secure from a lot of potential expenses.

Investing in Bonds

Have you ever thought of making some extra money with the money that you already have? If it could take no work at all and the interest rate on your money is insane. You really can earn money for simply investing and it will be easy and is a great option for anyone. The most common bought bond and the one you will most likely want to purchase are individual bonds.

Individual bonds are usually sold in $5,000 dollar parts and they are considered OTC bonds. OTC simply means over-the-counter. You don’t have to get anything special to buy these bonds except the initial cash investment. Bonds are not quoted at the $5,000 ratio, most are quoted as if they were sold in $100 increments. They are rated based upon this. According to the ratings if your bond was quoted at 98 it would be $98 per $100. In the $5,000 bond this means you payed $4,900 for your bond or 2% less than it is worth for selling. Now this is a good thing because you can essentially buy bonds for a cheap price and wait a while to sell them for a profit.

Bonds are not a short term money maker, they require quite a bit of long term investment and good choices. You always want to try and buy bonds in an area that you feel knowledgeable and comfortable. This greatly increases your chances of knowing what you are investing in and making some money off of your bond.

Next, there are some bonds that are called bond funds. This is essentially the same as a stock fund in that a professional manages a bond fund for you and gives advice on things such as reinvesting bond interest and where to place your next bond. Bond funds are initially a service provided to you so they do require a management fee. This fee can be either an initials start up fee or a periodical management fee. When investing this fee should come into account as it will lower the overall money you are making from your bonds.

In some cases however this professional advice is worth the amount out of bond profit. Options like the bond funds are great for beginning bond investors who are still assessing the market and aren’t very experienced with investing in bonds for a profit. Thirdly there are market bonds. These are the quick cash bonds that are high risk. They require an initial investment of anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 on fast moving bonds. The investor can withdraw at any time and these usually offer the highest profit per time period.

Lastly there are Bond unit investment trusts. These are by far the most stable bonds as the investor knows exactly how much they will make because the portfolio of bond profit is a constant rate. These trusts are good for large investments or investors who want security with their bond.