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Does It Ever Make Sense To Lease A Car?

Most people view leasing with the same attitude as renting a house or apartment. Each monthly payment makes the wallet of the owner a little thicker while the renter has nothing to show for it. At the end of the lease agreement, the lessee (tenant) owns as much of the property as they did before they made the down payment – 0%. If you see a need to lease custom kitchen cabinets in austin for a remodel that’s another article for another day.

The monthly lease payments essentially offset the depreciation value of the vehicle. Just as it always doesn’t make the best financial sense to buy a house, such as only living somewhere for one or two years, there are also times when it might not make sense to buy a car.

car loan refinancing

To lease a car is to rent a vehicle. You will make an initial down payment that can include a refundable security deposit equal to the first monthly payment, any applicable fees or taxes, additional funds to prepay the lease balance to lower the monthly payments, and the first monthly payment.

It won’t be uncommon to pay at least $2,000 just to drive the car off the lot. Most dealers expect an initial down payment of 10% of the capitalized cost (the MSRP and additional dealer fees) of the car. Similar fees are expected when you purchase a vehicle, the primary difference is that you own the vehicle at the conclusion of the financing agreement.

When It Might Make Sense To Lease A Car

Get A New Every Two

If you are one who likes to buy a new vehicle every two or three years when the “new car smell” disappears, leasing can be a better option. Every vehicle depreciates the most within the first few years after it rolls off the assembly line. Some vehicles can depreciate as much as 50% from the original sticker value at the end of three years. Depending on the annual mileage and routine maintenance schedule, cars also start costing a lot more to maintain after the 2 or 3-year mark too.

Leasing is more convenient than buying a vehicle and selling it after 36 months. Instead of trying to sell or trade-in and find the highest bidder, a lessee can drive the vehicle to the dealer lot at the end of the term and drive home in a new one. Part of the lease agreement might also include complimentary routine maintenance at the dealer location. You still might have to pay for normal wear-and-tear expenses such as tires or brakes, but, maintenance can be a “hidden cost” that most people do not budget for on the sales floor.

Lower Monthly Payments

In general, leases have lower monthly payments than car loan payments. For example, the estimated monthly lease for a brand new Ford Focus with an estimated cost of $18,100 before discounts is $181 per month for 36 months. A 36-month loan at 0% APR has an estimated monthly payment of $425. The lower monthly payment can be an affordable way to drive a new vehicle. One expense to consider that might not be included in the monthly lease payment is a product called “GAP Protection.”

Some dealers or insurance providers might require Guaranteed Asset/Auto (GAP) Protection for leased vehicles to cover the difference between the initial lease balance and the payments made so far. In the unfortunate event that the leased vehicle is “totaled” during an accident, this type of coverage will pay the dealer the remaining balance for the vehicle so that the driver will not have to finish paying off that lease and find a way to afford a replacement vehicle.

To save even more money, look out for budget-friendly insurance, which will vary from state to state, city to city. For instance, the best cheap car insurance rates in Austin, Texas will likely be very different from rates in a state that sees plenty of snow and tough rough conditions.

Only Plan to Live Somewhere For A Few Years

Perhaps you need to live abroad for several years for business before returning stateside or bounce around the country every couple of years. Just as you probably wouldn’t buy a house for a 3-year stint as the potential appreciation normally doesn’t offset the fees associated with buying and selling the house, it might be the same thing for a car.

It’s not affordable to ship your car on a barge with your other belongings when you return. Or it might be impractical to own a sports car after moving from the southern U.S. to the northern U.S. with harsh winter conditions. Once again, leasing is a convenient option as you know exactly how much you will pay when you drive the car off the lot.

Factory Overstock Leases

Sometimes dealers will offer lease specials to help clear inventory. This makes the monthly payment even lower than a regular lease payment. At the end of any lease, the driver normally has the option to purchase the vehicle for market value at the end of the lease term. With factory overstock leases, it can make sense to “lease-to-own” as the lease payments can be lower than depreciation. The financing for the remaining value will carry a lower monthly payment than if the vehicle had been financed brand-new.

For this strategy to work, you need to be intentional about banking the extra savings and setting it aside into a “no-touch” fund to buy the car at the end of the lease term. If you decide to purchase the vehicle you will need to pay the appropriate taxes and any loan down payment if you will not pay cash for the car.

Tax Rebates or Factory Subsidies

Sometimes local or state governments can make it cheaper to lease a new vehicle than buy a new vehicle.  This is most common with alternative fuel vehicles such as electric cars or hybrids where governments try to attract new customers to drive these vehicles. Dealers might also add additional subsidies for additional incentives to sign the lease. In addition to eco-friendly cars, certain dealers also offer incentives for high-end luxury vehicles. For some, it might be the only affordable way to drive a luxury car.

Lease For Business

If the leased vehicle will primarily be used for business purposes, it can also make sense to lease as the monthly payments can be tax-deductible. The guidelines are rather strict. It’s a good idea to talk to a tax professional or the accounting department before making this business decision.

lease a car

When It Doesn’t Make Sense To Lease A Car

Drivers who like to “buy and hold” their car until the wheels fall off should never lease. For these types of drivers, it doesn’t make financial sense to constantly be paying a monthly payment to the dealer when that money can be used for traveling, investing, or becoming debt-free. The two most affordable ways to purchase a vehicle that you intend to drive for more than 2-4 years is to buy a late model vehicle that is no more than 6 years old that can be purchased in whole and is still low-mileage.

Even if you need to obtain financing, it will be significantly cheaper than if you had bought the car with 1 mile on the odometer because of depreciation. A low-mileage late model vehicle can still be driven reliably for another 10 years or more, in most instances.

It also might not make sense to lease a brand new vehicle if you can afford the monthly loan payments. Instead of only renting the vehicle for three years (36 months) and returning it to the dealer so they can sell it to somebody else, you actually own the car and can sell it for the same price as the dealer. You won’t get the depreciation value (as the dealer did with lease payments) but it’s still more cost-effective than leasing.

Should You Buy Or Lease a Car?

If you are undecided whether to buy or lease a car, the Edmunds True Cost to Own calculator can help you crunch the numbers.  You should also get buy and lease quotes from your insurance provider as well.  Having realistic cost projections and knowing your preference for convenience (leasing) or ownership, can help make the decision easier.

As you can see, while owning a vehicle (like owning a house) is the most popular option. Sometimes it does make more sense to lease.

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Which Credit Card Debt Should You Pay Off First?

If you have a number of credit cards with balances on them, you might feel overwhelmed by having a large number of monthly payments or a total balance that is higher than you are comfortable with. If you have finally decided that it is time to take action and pay off some of this debt, there are several different ways to approach the task.

While each will get you ahead financially, it’s important to understand that they offer different advantages. Let’s discuss some of the common ways that you can pay off your credit cards and get ahead.

Determining Where to Start

There are several ways to approach the problem. Different strategies will appeal to different people. Think about the debt that you have, and what you think will help you most.

For some, paying less interest is important. Other people find that minimizing the number of monthly payments is important. For others still, freeing up liquid cash each month matters most. Some people might choose to use one of the best balance transfer credit cards to help them focus on one payment.

There is no “one size fits all” type of plan. Consider which part of your credit card debt bothers you most and then consider the options below.

Highest Interest Rates First

Many people aim to pay off the credit card with the highest interest rate first because this means that they will be paying lower interest in the long run. If the idea of paying a lot of interest is the part about your debt that bothers you most, this is a good place to start. Often store cards have higher interest rates, and many people will opt to begin by paying these off.

Importantly, you should review the interest rates for all of your cards. Ensure that you are not paying a penalty APR for making a late payment at some point. If you are paying a credit card balance that has a high-interest rate, such as over 22%, you probably want to focus on getting rid of this kind of debt first.

Highest Balance First

Some people become worried when they have a credit card with a large balance or one that is nearing the credit limit. Focusing on putting some extra cash toward payments on these cards can help minimize the stress of having credit card debt. When you put extra money toward this card each month, you will be able to watch the balance drop, getting you closer to financial freedom.

It can be very motivating to watch that high balance get a little lower each month. You may be inspired to devote even more of your extra cash to this project, therefore paying it off more quickly.

Pay Off Smallest Balances First

For some, paying off the smallest balances first can help to eliminate the number of monthly payments that must be made. The fewer the payments that need to be sent out, the less likely it is that you might accidentally forget or miss one and end up with a late payment penalty fee. Plus, as you pay off these smaller-balance cards, you will slowly have more money to make payments on the larger-balance credit cards. Close the credit cards that you don’t plan to use—unless you have had them for a long time and have a great credit history with them.

Final Thoughts

Understanding your credit is important. Keeping track of your credit cards and balances and making all of your payments on time is critical to your financial health. Each of these strategies can help you get closer to being debt free. Plus, each has their advantages.

Make a plan of attack by making a list of all of your debts. Go into detail listing monthly payment options, total balance, interest rate, etc. Then make a plan and stick to it. You will be delighted when you start to see progress!

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How to Manage Multiple Credit Cards

For those entering into the credit card arena for the first time, how do you decide which card is right and best to use? There are just so many cards out there, each offering their own sets of rewards and incentives and bonuses, so from all of these options, how on earth do we pick just one card ? Well there’s great news for you, and that news is that you don’t have to stick with just one single credit card ever.

You can have as many cards as your credit will approve you for, but although you can have more cards to your name than you thought you ever could, this doesn’t by any means translate that you should apply and hold onto every card application that you see. Responsibly managing even a single card is hard work as it is, and with every card you add to your repertoire the job only gets harder and more complicated. Below is a breakdown of how you can manage multiple credit cards all at once, and do so responsibly.

 

Control the cards.

The biggest note to remember is that you need to remain in control of the cards and the “opportunity” that they represent. Yes, a credit card does mean that you spend credit rather than your own money when you purchase things, but like we remind you of quite a bit, credit is not your money but somebody else’s, and they are not looking to do you any favors by having you borrow their money.

When you do use your multiple cards, keep track of what you use them on, and the more cards you have and use, the more methodical you should be when pulling out the plastic. Don’t carelessly use cards based off which one you think haven’t used in a while or which one is your simply your favorite, but rather use them as they help you best.

This method of using cards that serve you best can be quantified by what kinds of purchases offer you the most rewards for specific purchases. Or, if the rewards are for the most part even all across the board for your general purchases, then use one card for every different area of spending: use one card just for fill ups at the gas station, one card just for groceries and necessity purchases of the like, and another card for recreational actives like movie tickets and things of that nature.

Keep the purchases you make on the cards organized, and this will help you keep mental track of how the cards are being used and how much you have spent on them recently that much easier come time to settle up on the monthly bill.

 

Know yourself.

Before you begin to sign up for multiple cards, you should first assess yourself and determine what kind of a spender you are. When you look in the mirror, do you honestly see the face of a responsible spender looking back at you? Even if you have answered yes to this question, you still should reconsider having multiple credit cards.

NOTE: When we say say multiple credit cards, we don’t mean two or three, but rather four or seven or anything more than that. Multiple cards. Second, having multiple cards does not mean that having more cards is a bad idea, because in fact, having multiple cards can be, when used responsibly, a huge help to attain purchases that otherwise would be impossible without upstanding available credit.

So before you consider adding more credit cards to your already existing line up, review how your spending has looked in the past with your credit cards. Is your credit history riddled with late and overdue payments, and even credit limits being reached? These factors are some pretty bright signals that should be considered in the conversation about whether or not you should invite more credit cards into your wallet. Know what kind of spender you are.

 

Know how credit cards work.

Remember how credit cards work: lenders let you use their money in exchange for the possibility of paying interest on late payments and over-drafting of allowed credit limits. So unless you want to pay up on fees that you very easily could avoid, keep your credit limit in mind when the cards have to come out, and keep your payments flowing on time, every time.

Banks and lenders only make money off of you when you let them, so stay on top of every single card that you have active that your payments are regular and frequent.

 

Does each card have a real reason to be there?

We all think we need more, and it doesn’t really matter what it is for, we just feel we need more. Yes, you can apply for as many cards as you want (keeping in mind your credit score is effected every time), but do you really need multiple cards? More cards can be useful for various situations, but to have multiple and active cards all at once just to have more can lead to more of a curse than a blessing.

So consider and reconsider if you truly need more cards than what is absolutely essential.

 

Do the pros outweigh the cons?

Before you open up another credit card, think about having this card forever and never being able to close it. Not that you cannot close out a credit card, thinking about having this card for the long term will help you determine if this card is truly worth signing onto.

Along those lines, you also should consider that some cards have annual fees, so be sure that the benefits and rewards outweigh the fees. Make sure you really are making a wise choice before you sign onto another credit card, and not just signing on to chase more rewards.

 

To summarize, consider and reconsider the amount of cards you own and be diligent with everything that you swipe on. Keep careful track of everything you place onto a card and try to keep your purchase history organized to specific cards, as this will help you remember what purchase was made on which card. While you swipe, keep in mind what your credit score looks like before and after you sign onto more cards. If not kept track of, your credit score could get ripped to shreds with an abundance of credit cards running unattended to.

As always, remember that credit is not your money, but money that is being lent to you with the condition that anything you spend outside of their restrictions result in you handing them over some of your own money. So regardless of how many cards you have, whether it’s one or 12, keep your payments on time and in full. If you can honestly and responsibly keep track of every single card you have in your wallet and keep them paid up and organized, then there is no reason you should run into any problems, regardless of how many cards you have. Stay alert out there, credit users.

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Should I Consolidate Or Refinance My Student Loan?

In 2016, the total student debt burden equaled more than $1.3 trillion, with the average college graduate leaving school with an oppressive $37,172 in student loans. These statistics have been on the rise for some time, and have no end in sight. The combination of rising tuition costs and the implications of borrowing for one’s education has created a nation where over 44 million individuals have student loan debt that must be repaid.

But not everyone is capable of repaying their massive student loan balance, as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports more than 7 million borrowers are currently in default. It isn’t all that surprising when you consider the stark truth about repayment: the average monthly loan repayment of $351 (for borrowers between the ages of 20 and 30) based on a 10-year repayment with an interest rate hovering around 6%. For individuals with a hefty balance left to repay, the monthly payment obligation often impedes on their ability to pay other bills or set money aside for the future. Both loan consolidation and refinancing are options to make your student loan more manageable in theory, either by reducing the interest rate or extending the repayment terms. First, however, it is important to understand how consolidation and refinancing work in practice.

student loan

What is a loan consolidation?

Consolidating your student loans means that multiple loans are combined into a single debt. Student loans are dispersed at different times throughout college or graduate level attendance, which creates numerous loans for a single borrower. Various interest rates are applied to each loan, depending on the type of loan utilized, and each comes with its own monthly minimum payment. Consolidation allows you to combine all loans which create one interest rate (which is the weighted average of all loans being consolidated) and one monthly payment.

Student loan consolidation is available only for federal loans, not private debts, and is not based on credit history or income. Consolidation is helpful in creating a more manageable repayment plan as it can result in a lower monthly payment and a fixed interest rate – an appealing reason to go through with the process.

What is refinancing?

Student loan refinancing is similar to consolidation in that it provides the borrower an opportunity to combine multiple loans into a single debt. However, refinancing is done through a private lender, not the federal government. Through a student loan refinance, you are effectively taking out a new loan to pay off already established loans through a bank or social lending institution. Both private and government loans can be combined into the new loan, but borrowers must qualify based on creditworthiness.

Refinancing student loans offers the same benefits as consolidation in that borrowers have the ability to have a single monthly payment obligation. Additionally, the time to repay can be reduced through student loan refinancing, and monthly payments may be lower if a smaller interest rate is offered.

The caveats to each

A federal loan consolidation is an attractive option for borrowers with student loans issued by the federal government, but it, unfortunately, does nothing for private loans. This means that borrowers who borrowed outside the government may continue to have multiple monthly payments and varied interest rates on each loan. Additionally, consolidation loan interest rates are fixed and may end up being higher than comparable private lender refinance loan options.

Student loan refinancing offers a solution for individual borrowers with a combination of loan types, but it has its drawbacks, too. Private lenders require full underwriting of a new loan (i.e. an individual’s credit score). Repayment history and income are reviewed before approval is granted so not all student borrowers qualify for a private lender refinance. Also, most refinance transactions through private lenders come with a variable interest rate. This means that the total cost of the loan may increase over time as may the monthly minimum payment obligation. On the surface, student loan refinances may look more appealing given the lower initial interest rate, but borrowers must understand that rates can – and will – fluctuate over time.

Another caveat to student loan refinancing is the loss of protection that is inherent to government student loans. In recent years, a number of programs were established to assist student borrowers with their burdensome loan obligations, including income-based repayment, extended repayment, and loan forgiveness. These initiatives are designed to make repayment easier and ultimately more flexible for borrowers over the long run, especially when financial circumstances change.

While federal student loan consolidation allows borrowers to maintain access to these programs, refinancing student loans with a private lender takes these options away. Whatever monthly payment your receive with the initial refinance transaction is the monthly payment you owe moving forward. There is no opportunity to shift that downward should you find yourself in financial need.

Which is my best option for my student loan?

Both student loan consolidation and loan refinancing provide borrowers with the opportunity to reduce the total number of monthly payments and interest rates. However, the two options do not provide the same benefits to every borrower. Student loan consolidation is typically best for individuals with substantial student loan debt and a myriad of interest rates for each loan. Consolidating eliminates the need to make monthly payments to a number of different loans. It also applies a fixed weighted average interest rate to the new loan. Repayment is flexible with student loan consolidation transactions due to federal government programs like income-based payments and forbearance. Student forgiveness through the government also remains an option for borrowers who qualify.

Student loan refinancing is a smart option for individual borrowers with a number of loans. Initially, refinancing may offer a lower interest rate than federal loan consolidation. But borrowers may be subject to changes in the interest rate environment over time. Individuals with a substantial amount of student loan debt may not be best served by private lender refinancing. They may ultimately lose access to helpful programs made available only for federal government loans. Take care to consider your options and fully understand the terms and conditions that apply to each.

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How To Get a Cheaper Monthly Payment On Your Cable Bill

One of the biggest annual expenses we pay for on a regular basis is on entertainment. From movies to TV shows and everything in between, we as consumers shell out hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year on just television alone. While cable is one of the easiest ways to make television available to us, it is also costly. But it doesn’t have to be.

lower cable bill

Here are a few ways you can have a cheaper and more affordable cable bill each and every month while still being able to soak up all of your favorite shows and programming.

Why is cable so costly?

Before we dive in, it’s important to have a basic understanding of why your bill is the way that it is – one large fee for a lump service. Cable providers are –more than anything– middlemen for the television studios that produce the content that is available on your screens. The studios produce content then sell that content to the providers of your cable service. The cable services then sell that content to those who subscribe to them.

The reason cable bills are so high is due to cable companies are paying high studio costs while also trying to make a profit. Every television studio and content producer has varying costs that they charge to cable companies, with ESPN and other sports channels being at the highest cost to cable providers.

These individual cable channel cost differences are what lead to the different packages that are available to you as the cable subscriber. From packages that are basic with just regular programming channels, to the deluxe packages that include movie channels and/or sports channels, the prices you will be looking at are widespread.

The package that includes sports channels like ESPN and other official team sports channels (such as dedicated channels for the Lakers or Dodgers) cost more than a basic cable package because of the original cost to the cable provider. They need to buy the channels and sell them to you while also making a profit.

How do I get a cheaper cable bill?

And now we cut back to the matter at hand: how to reduce your standing cable bill. There are several ways in which you can make this happen, but you should know now that it will take patience, a calm temperament, and an eye on the prize of a reduced monthly bill.

Here are some tips to get that cost down:

  • Research their competition.

Before you get on the phone with your provider, do your research on pricing elsewhere. Hunt around for deals that are being offered by competitors, and have those numbers ready for when you are on the phone with them. Explain that you’d like similar or better prices.

You will build more credibility with the research you present. Their job is to keep you as a client, so they will hopefully try to be helpful in making you satisfied.

  • Know that they want to keep you.

The principle that “it is cheaper to keep a customer than to sign on a new one” is held fast in the realm of cable. Knowing that cable companies want to retain your business is a mindset that you can take advantage of.

NOTE: This maneuvering will require you to speak to a live person. If speaking on the phone makes you nervous, be sure to do a bit of a pep talk before you dial. You will need to put your negotiating hat on. 

  • Making the Call.

Call your cable provider. When the automated service asks why you’re calling, select the “cancelation” option. There is a high chance that you will be connected with a live operator whose purpose is to convince you to stay with them. This is the person you will be negotiating with.

Once connected, tell them that your bill is just too high. You may ask them to consider your history with them (hopefully one of on-time payments and longevity). Explain that you want a lower monthly rate or you will take your business elsewhere.

They may try to throw some “deals” at you like 6 months of free movie channels or a new cable box. But keep your eyes on the long-term prize: you want a lowered monthly rate.

If the person is not willing to help you and won’t budge, all is not lost. Call again until you get on the phone with somebody who is willing to hear you out. Be cordial on the phone. You will be surprised as to how much the tide can turn in your favor.

  • Consider replacing cable altogether.

If all else fails after speaking to a representative, maybe it’s time to go all in and cancel. Canceling does not mean that you will be missing out on your favorite shows and programming. With streaming services being mostly up to date, you would be hard-pressed to miss an episode.

Streaming services like Hulu and Netflix are in popular demand for a good reason: they are affordable and entertaining. As for the sports channels, you can find your favorite teams playing online through streaming apps. This may be a viable option for seasonal sports fans.

Taking your viewing habits into consideration may also help when determining what services you need. Many programs are now offered on streaming services and may be more convenient for you. A little research may save you time and money.

 

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Here is How You Can Decrease the Cost of Your Monthly Rent

What separates the children from the grown-ups is the ability to pay and continue to pay rent –on time and in full. Being able to conjure up the funds to keep you and your belongings under a solid roof is one of the facets that declares success in adulthood, but just because you have to pay rent, doesn’t mean that you are stuck paying those exuberantly high prices every month.

Although complaining to get your monthly rent lowered via a heated chat with your landlord is not advised, there are other ways that you can diminish the number you are currently putting towards your rent, whether that be for a condo, a townhouse, an apartment, or even a rented room above your aunt’s garage.

Below are a few ways that you can decrease the cost of your monthly rent bill.

Moving around to a less expensive neighborhood.

One of the best money saving ideas that you can partake in –but probably not the first that you would think of– is to simply move out of that expensive neighborhood you currently live in and move into a cheaper one.

This swapping of neighborhoods is best suited for the individual who is looking to save more money on rent over the long term rather than the short, as moving costs can add up if the distance is large or if the amount of belongings that need to be moved is competing with that a “Hoarders” episode.

  • Consider the cost of the commute when you move…

If you are focusing on staying close to work, then factor in what will save you more money: A) Moving closer to work and being able to walk, or B.) Moving farther way into a cheaper neighborhood.

If you move into a cheaper neighborhood, then check to make sure that the amount of funds that you use on commuting to work from your new location is making you come out on top in terms of costs. If you will wind up spending more on transportation due to your move into a cheaper neighborhood, then maybe you can solve the issue by omitting transportation costs entirely and move closer to work.

If you think that you have found a real estate sweet spot that is right in the location that serves you best, but you still want to cut back on your rental payments, then C.) Consider moving into a smaller unit. Less square footage means less you have to pay for.

Consider the high cost of living per state.

If you are in the position to hit the refresh button on your career or are even just being relocated to an out-of-state branch of the company you already work for, chances are that the state you are currently living and working within now has a higher cost of living than the state you are moving into.

For example, if you live in California, more specifically in Los Angeles or San Francisco, the rent needed to call a one bedroom apartment in the city your own is roughly the same rent cost as a two bedroom house in North Carolina.

The cost of living spikes and drops as you move from state-to-state across the country, so if you are looking for a radical overhaul in your living expenses, consider the very root of your problem: your home state is just too expensive.

A solution? Switch states. Cheaper living and a completely different lifestyle awaits. Sometimes it pays to branch out.

Good ol’ Mom and Dad.

Almost an expectation of millennials is living with your parents. Moving back in with (or never leaving) Mom and Dad’s house used to be a mark of shame or failure in the olden days, but now it is nothing more than an expected answer to the question “so how about you– where do you live?”

Living with your parents for any amount of time during your professional life, or even just before, can be a great help to your financial situation. So much of your weekly and monthly finances will go towards your rent, where it goes in and will never be seen again. Staying with your parents –if that is an option for you that both Mom and Dad are on board with– can be a great help to your situation. Whether it be a way to save on rent so you can eventually save up to purchase a home of your own, or just soften the blow of the cost of monthly rent, moving back in with Ma ‘n Pa is a solid option to help cut down or even eliminate your monthly rent.

Switch to a job that offers lodging.

If you are looking for a complete shake-up in your life that will allow you to experience a change of pace while also shaving down on the cost of lodging, consider switching to a line of work that offers lodging in exchange for services rendered.

Jobs like that of a park ranger, cruise ship worker,  groundskeeper, full-time nanny, or for those seeking more structure in their lives, a role in the military all are jobs that potentially offer lodging as a part of the deal if you sign on to work. 

Share the load.

One of the most obvious and popular methods of saving on rent every month is to sublet the space you are living in and taking on a roommate.

Adding another rent payer to the mix will help take the sting off of a high monthly payment and make the monthly bill breakable into portions. Why would you want to take on a roommate? A smaller bill, even if smaller by just a hundred bucks can leave you with extra cash to spend on other necessities that you otherwise would not be able to purchase due to pretty much all of your paycheck usually going towards rent.

Spread the weight.

If your landlord allows the option, try to bargain your way to stretching the monthly across a longer period of time. By committing and locking yourself in to a longer lease, you gain the possibility to bargain your way into a lower monthly rent. This may not be an option given by all landlords, but it’s worth a shot to bring up the next time contracts need to be discussed and renewed for your living situation.

Barter for room and board.

A less common method of saving on rent is to bargain with your landlord about exchanging services for a reduced rate. Options that you can barter in exchange for a little of your rent being shaved off are responsibilities like working as a tenant manager, or an onsite landlord representative to deal with other tenants immediate issues like repairs or other quick-fix needs.

Find out if your landlord is willing to be flexible on the rent, and then poke around to see if there is anything you can take off of their plate that could earn you favor with them. Besides just helping out another human being in need, you could just wind up lowering your rent cost if your landlord takes a liking to you and your helpfulness. It’s worth a conversation and investigation to save a couple hundred bucks a month, wouldn’t you say?

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How Much Money a Year Do You Spend on Your Pet?

Our pets are more than just furry faces that look at us longingly while we eat our meals at home –they are meaningful members of the family. Having a pet, whether it’s a dog or a cat, has advantages as well as disadvantages, but depending on who you ask (someone with pets or without), there will be far more advantages than disadvantages to having a pet.

Always there to keep you company and to greet you when you walk through the door after a long and exhausting day at the office, a pet is a welcomed invite to many people, but no matter how you feel about your four-legged friend, they can be one of the most expensive purchases you make in your domestic life, albeit worth it.

Below is a breakdown of what to expect as far as cost in a single year of owning a pet.

 

Surviving your first year of pet ownership.

Before we get into the logistics of owning a pet and the expenses included, first we have a question: what year are we talking about?

Like getting ready for a newborn child, the first year of pet ownership is more than likely going to be the most expensive year in the life of your pet (not that a newborn baby should be regarded as a “pet”, of course). The reason this first year is a giant spike on the chart that displays your financial burden over the lifetime of your pet is because it is the time that will adapting to the wants and needs of your chosen pet, and then buying and purchasing items accordingly from there.

First, you have to pay for ownership of your chosen pet. Buying a particular purebred animal with papers and official documentation can be one of the most expensive ways to go about buying a pet (or show dog, if you are trying to monetize your pet ownership), but for a much cheaper route, as well as the humanitarian route, you can always adopt a pet from your local shelter and give a fuzzy little friend a chance at a happy home life.

Whatever you decide, whether it’s buying a “no surprises” pure breed of pet, or adopting from a shelter, right there is a purchase. Adoption, although cheaper, will still lead to an adoption fee, as the processing of the paperwork comes with a cost (its still way cheaper than paying for a purebred, as in $100 versus a few thousand).

 

Onetime costs.

Past the adoption and take home fees of acquiring a new pet, you then are looking at the cost of one time purchases such as the essentials: leashes, collars (sometimes the collars that have GPS tracking in them), dog beds, scratching posts, fences… you get the idea. You need to set your home up to be more accommodating to your new pet, and that home altering will cost you a good amount, depending on the size of your pet and how willing you are to spoil them.

 

Taking your companion to the vet.

Before you can begin your life with your pet, proper pet care advises you to spay and neuter your pets, which is not a very cheap procedure, but the good news is that you only have to have this taken care of once –hopefully.

Past that, your pet will need to be seen regularly by your veterinarian to ensure you fuzzy family addition is keeping healthy and free of any otherwise concerning health problems. It’s worth the investment to take your pet in regularly, or just like a car that is not being taken care of, it will shut down entirely after a while or will need to be brought in for a very expensive operation. Taking your pet in every couple of months is a good idea, and will give you as the pet owner peace of mind over your companion’s well-being.

 

Don’t’ forget food and nourishment.

This may go without saying– but you need to feed your pet! And when we say “feed your pet”, we don’t mean your leftovers from last night’s steak dinner.

Proper nutrition for your pet is necessary, and that is in the form of specially made dog or cat food. How fancy you want to get with that specialized food is your choice, but more often than not you get what you pay for. They have “premium” dog food, and “regular dry”, and everything in between. Some pets can tell the difference, but that usually only comes with spoiling your pet with the premium stuff and then switching to the “less than premium” stuff.

Some dog foods come with additives such as enriched meat with vitamins and other goodies for your pet’s health. If you can afford to put your pet on a diet of this higher quality and health conscious goodness, then it is worth the extra investment, as some pet foods come with enriched bits that can help with known pet-ailments such as arthritis and worms and fleas and such.

 

Where will they stay when master is away?

You also should factor in what you are going to do if and when you plan to travel and cannot take your pet with you (even though taking your pet with you would be a ton of fun, in my opinion).

You, of course, could always contact your friend or neighbor or brother-in-law to do it for you for free (or at the very least a promising “I owe ya one”). This is always a great way to save money, but what if you have just moved and don’t know anybody well enough to make you feel comfortable enough to leave your dog with for a weekend?

Dog kennels and spas and hotels and other venues of the like are definitely a cost to factor in, and unless you are okay with leaving your pet overnight in a shoddy looking establishment that at the very least is inexpensive, you are looking at some pretty high costs.

To your benefit, there are more any more pet service companies popping up all over the place, one being Rover.com, and they will watch your pet for you for set periods of time and are pretty well trusted and loved by pet owners all over. Companies and services that are well known to your family and friends are the best places to start looking.

 

If you can afford year one…

Overall, the cost of your pet will diminish as time of ownership goes on. After your first year of pet car, the cost of owning your pet will dramatically lower, as buying papers and taking care of ownership fees and operations at the vet and necessity buying all go away once they are initially purchased by you. In other words, if you can survive your first year of pet ownership, you will be able to afford the rest of your pet’s lifestyle.

According to PetEducation.com, your first year of pet ownership (if it is a dog, which is more expensive than a cat) can be as high as $6,600. But if you make it through that first year and take care of everything that you need to to make sure that your animal will live happy and healthy for the rest of its residents with you, that annual rate will drop to as low as $2,485 –and that number is still on the high side! You don’t have to be paying premium rates for everything that pertains to your dog, only if you really to continually pamper your pet will the annual rate of care be that high.

According to our friends at PetEduaction.com, the cost of dog ownership can dip down to as low as $287, but that means that you really are living the thrifty life with your pet, and excluding regular vet visits, specialized dog food and treats, toys, apparel (who doesn’t love a dog in a hoodie?), and dental care.

Over the lifetime of your dog, which give or take is about 14-15 years, you as the owner and provider will spend about $5 grand on the low side of care, and as much as $40 grand on the high side.

 

We all love our pets, and when it comes to providing care for them would never dream of passing on the opportunity of taking proper care of them. Our pets are extensions of ourselves, only fuzzier.

We all knew the expense that adopting another member into the family would cost us, but don’t let the money make you think that pet ownership is not worth the investment because it certainly is.

 

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Are Gym Memberships a Rip Off?

To the question of whether or not gyms, health clubs, and exercise centers are complete and total rip offs –the answer is yes. Well, most of the time the answer is yes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that there are a plethora of smaller and independently owned gyms that actually are pretty reputable and actually have their clients and members’ best interest in mind, but the majority of all the other gyms in the world (let’s say around 90%) tend to be total rip offs.

But before all of you gym owners and health club runners start reaching for your pitchforks and light up your torches, the following reasons below are why the consensus agreement leads up all to believe that gym memberships tend to be completely unfair.

Why do we love the idea of gyms and health clubs?

In the beginning, what isn’t to love about joining a gym? New Year, new you right? We’ve all told ourselves the same thing every year just before the end of the holiday season: “This year is the year, I’m actually going to do it –I’m going to join a gym and [insert health goal here]!!”

While we start to get fueled by this decision to suddenly turn our lives around and lose those 15 pounds or just start taking better care of our overall bodies and start exercising regularly, we begin to hunt around for a gym that best meets our chosen criteria.

It is at this point that things start getting interesting: you get to inspect and window shop and even ask around to our friends that we are looking for a gym and if they know of any recommendations. More often than not however, we skip the shopping period and go straight into the shiniest and biggest gym we see, walk straight into the membership office and while we slap down our filled out information card, we shout “Sign me up!”

For the first couple of weeks, things are actually pretty sweet. You made up a schedule of when you would hit the gym and are sticking to it with very minimal deviations or excuses. Maybe you plan to hit the gym after work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or you plan to take advantage of their pool on Mondays and Fridays and then take a Yoga class on Wednesdays. You have flexibility in planning your gym days because of all of the shiny amenities that this giant gym has to offer. You signed up and at this point in the game, regret nothing.

And then you hit a wall.

The desire to keep hitting the gym three times a week begins to die down, and you slip down to two days a week, and then to one day a week, and then to just thinking about it once a week as you pull into the Jack-in-the-Box drive through located across the street.

Going over your finances, you just can’t afford to keep making the payments of gym membership anymore, especially one that you aren’t using at all. Your next plan of action –cancel the gym membership. Sounds like a pretty easy move… right?

People hate the contracts.

The gym membership contract is one of the absolute stickiest and most rigid and unfriendly pieces of paper that you ever will sign, so be sure that before you sign onto a membership, you really do think long and hard about what you are placing your name on a list for.

Quitting the contract is next to impossible, at least in terms of getting away in the exact manner that you want. The contract is, well, just that –a contract. An agreement that you promise to stick to even when you want to get out of. This piece of paper that you sign, even though the promise of what you are given may look pretty laid back and genuinely helpful (how harmless could signing up for a Pilates class be, right?), you should still be as alert and cautious as if you are buying a car, or a house, or even a new cell phone.

Read your contracts, and while you are signing up, don’t be afraid to ask the membership officer (or whatever their title reads as) to explain to you what canceling the contract would look like. If things sound pretty easy and simple when it comes to cutting ties and moving on in another direction, ask them to point out to you as to where on the contract it says that. If they can’t, then get it in writing so that if a scenario pops up that you cannot keep using the gym anymore for whatever reason, you can stop paying for a service you no longer use. Not getting the deal in writing can definitely hurt you as the customer in the long run because without proof, who will the lawyers side with? It’s tough to defend a “he said, she said” complaint.

Big chains versus local and smaller gyms.

In the realm of gyms, you have two routes you can take, both with pros and cons. There are big, giant, and massive chain gyms, and then there are smaller and independently owned gyms.

The small gyms tend to be preferred by health club seekers because they usually offer shorter term memberships with a little more flexibility, but at the same time (as a result of the sometimes too flexible contracts) can close at any time and shut their doors for good, sinking with your already paid membership in tow. It’s a risk that comes with smaller gyms, but not the case for every small gym. Just something to consider when picking a path.

The bigger gyms don’t really share that same risk of shutting their doors unexpectedly and without warning. If the one closest to your house closes down, then you could just drive a few blocks over and pump iron in the next one. The big chains however are very difficult to cut ties with in the off chance that you need to stop working out (medical reasons or scheduling with work or other commitments are usually the reasons…next to laziness of course). You need an actual doctor’s note to start the process of ending your membership, and even with one, you are still going to be finding bills in the mailbox for the next couple of months after presenting your doctor’s note.

The big gyms may have more amenities like Jacuzzis and day care for the kids and an attached spa, which are all great, but before you give in to the shininess of the equipment of and the well-toned and beautiful part-time models that serve as the gyms staff, really think about the commitment you are making.

A gym is a business like anywhere else.

What you have to remember that like any other company out there, a gym is a business. It needs stable flows of revenue to keep its multiple doors open, and that sustainable flow of revenue comes from people like you and me who sign up and then start rethinking just how badly we want to regularly go into a gym to work out in a room full of strangers.

Gyms are fantastic places, and when you use it regularly it can truly enhance your life with the health benefits that you can receive. Before you let the sales pitches get to you, spend a good amount of time looking at other gyms’ contracts before you sign one. Shopping around is something that should be done not only to get you the lowest rates and the most amenities, but also to protect you as the customer from getting ripped off –gyms are great, but so is the freedom to choose when you want to spend money and on what.

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How to Pay your Rent with a Credit Card

Every month we have an inevitable and inescapable payment that we have to make, and other than having it serve one general purpose, there really is no other way to capitalize on it. That inescapable and seemingly unnegotiable payment that we make every month on the dot is: rent.

Your rent, unless you worked some incredible deal out with your landlord (your parents can count as a landlord too), is going to most likely be the largest bill you have to pay each month. Because this sizable chunk of your paycheck is not going into the cash pile that is being used to eventually buy the place outright, your rent checks are pretty much going into a black hole—so why not make the most of the situation and at least get some rewards points out of it?

Seems like a nice middle ground, but is this really possible? Paying your rent with your credit card sounds pretty great in theory, but is it great in reality?

Below, we take a look at the steps that would be needed to make paying your rent with your credit card possible, and if it should even be explored for your given situation.

It’s really up to your landlord.

What you need to know right out of the gate is that every landlord is different. Some landlords are very traditional and want a physical paper check in their mailbox by sundown every month on the 15th, and some landlords might be a little more modern and accept a payment via Bitcoin, or even allow you to swipe your debit card into their card reader which is attached to their door mounted tablet (I have never met a landlord who was this current, but I’m sure they are out there somewhere).

It really is up to the landlord on how they want payments to be conducted. No matter what, it is worth a conversation, and the worst they can do is shout at you that they still want paper checks every month.

Realistically, the paper check method is a no nonsense method of rent payment, but in a world where digital currency is how we move all of our funds around, why shouldn’t you be able to use your credit card to make your payment, and also earn some rewards points while you’re at it?

Why is my landlord so against paying with credit card?

The first thing that needs to be understood is why this option of paying rent with a credit card is not normally offered. Truth be told, landlords hate the idea, and they hate it for the exact same reason that every other merchant hates it: the transaction fee.

Whenever you make a payment using a credit card, it brings in a third party into the mix, and that third party wants a piece of the action.  Originally the transaction in between you and your landlord via paper check was a straightforward equation of:

A pays B, and B now has money.

When you pay with a credit card, this equation becomes a little more complicated:

A pays B, and now B has to pay C a fee so that A can pay B.

Before you brought in the credit lenders, there was no added fee that B had to pay, but because you are involving the credit service now, using their services cost money, and that cost has to be paid by somebody.

There is a chance that your landlord might be cool about your proposed idea to pay rent with a credit card and just make you pay the transaction fee (which is around as high as 5% of the payment that is currently going through), which because this is your idea to begin with, sounds pretty fair.

If you want this idea to take, then it might be better if you bring up the fact that you intend to pay this extra fee. If it works and your landlord agrees to make this new arrangement works, then congratulations, you can now earn rewards points by paying your rent.

But here is how you CAN pay rent with your credit card.

If your landlord is unmoving on the issue of the merchant’s fee and wants nothing to do with paying it, there is still hope.

This is an age old issue, whether or not you can make payments with a credit card. Although directly, the answer is still a “No, you can’t swipe your card every month”, there are companies that have devised a workaround and set themselves up within the business of making your rent payments happen via credit card.

These are services that act as a stand-in for your rent payments, making it so that you pay them in whatever manner you please (credit card, debit card, gift card, gold coins…) and they make sure that your paid up rent check finds its way into your landlord’s mailbox by the specific time specified. It’s a simple idea, but one that is successful in turning the question around of whether or not you can pay your rent with a credit card.

Companies like RadPad and Plastiq and RentShare are all companies that have built off of the idea of working as a middle man when it comes to fund sharing, but RadPad is a company that bases itself solely upon the idea of paying your rent with a credit card and making it as easy as possible to do so.

When it comes to services like this, especially RadPad, the good news is that your landlord does not have to be on board or sign up to the service. The money is good, so they more than likely will not care that the rent check looks a little different, and the money will always show up in their mailbox on time (according to the time and date that you specify on your account).

Of course, this service is not totally free for those looking to pay rent with a credit card, as the transaction fee is currently 3.49% of your rent (remember that merchants/transaction fee we mentioned earlier?)

The transaction fee for credit cards is a small price to pay for the luxury of being able to earn reward points while paying for rent. It’s a pretty sweet deal to be finally able to earn some pretty sweet rewards on a regular purchase that you otherwise would not be able to. That $2000 purchase that you make every month by the 15th can finally be turned around into rewards through these kinds of services.

When it comes to the rent payment services, just be sure that the rewards that you will be earning are more than the transaction fee. It wouldn’t be worth it to go through all that trouble just so that you can pay a little more for rent for rewards points that really don’t offer you rewards that are more valuable than the cash you spent to earn them. Always be on the look out to make judgment calls to see whether or not the tradeoff you are making to earn the rewards points is worth the purchase.

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Can I afford a Boat, or Jet Skis?

Who doesn’t love and cherish the moments on vacation where you drive or take the passenger seat on a sea-faring motor vehicle? It’s typically on our vacations and holidays where we deem it acceptable enough to whip out the money to endorse an otherwise too expensive activity such as taking out a set of jet skis for a few hours, or an entire boat for an afternoon.

The danger of taking these water crafts out on the high seas or open lakes is not collisions, or capsizing, or reckless driving/floating, –but falling in love with the idea of floating and water cruising long after vacation is over. It’s harmless thought, but it’s all fun and games until you start looking up boat and Jet Ski store locations for when you get back home.

Here is a breakdown of some of the criteria you need to know before you let your daydream of owning your own water cruiser drift too far out to sea.

 

We know from experience…

I had a friend who had the exact same dilemma: He and his family went on vacation and met up with a friend who had their own boat that they used for fishing and on the lake sun-bath sessions, and along with their own boat, they had a pair of jet skis docked in front of their lakeside home. My friend ate up the idea that this was the way to live, and the only way he could continue living was to procure his own boat, and eventually buy his own set of jet skis for him and his own family to enjoy.

When my friend got back home from that luxurious and posh holiday, he looked into it further and bought his own seafaring vessel from a marina-adjacent resident who was more than eager to sell. The dream was coming together, and at first it really was a great idea, but after the first three months, my friend received a phone call while he was at work that went something along the lines of “Are you the owner of the big blue and green fishing boat on dock 18? Well we must inform you that it is currently floating sideways due to what looks like a leak filling the interior cabin, and it will continue to capsize unless you get down here right away.”

Needless to say he rushed over to the marina, but arrived only in time to witness the final roll of his newly purchased but barely used boat, and watched as it began to sink lower, taking all of his and his family’s belongings left inside with it. On the drive home was when it dawned on him: Buying my own boat probably wasn’t such a great idea after all.

 

The floating cash pit.

My friend’s story is not that far off from what many other larger boat owners can own up to. An idea that seems innocent enough, but in reality was the cause of a much bigger headache than earlier anticipated. Although my friend’s boat was the victim of an unattended to leak, other boat owners all confess that a boat is a lot of work, a lot of attention, and a lot of money to keep and maintain.

Besides just maintenance of the boat itself, its motor, hull, and general interiors and exteriors, you also need to transport and house it if you intend to own it for yourself. Trailers for boats and jet skis can equal a pretty large fraction of the vehicle itself depending on where you look, and the fees to keep your boat can be very expensive depending on where you wish to leave it while it is not in use. You can pay to keep it at the marina and in the water, or you can keep it at your house tucked away in your driveway or backyard so that it can gather dust and dirt in the months that you are not using it.

While it sits unattended to in the driveway or backyard or street, the feeling of buyers-remorse tends to sink in and become unignorable whenever you pass by a window that overlooks your supposed-to-be water bound investment.

 

Think of it as a floating car.

Besides paying for maintenance for your water craft, as well as housing and payments for the vehicle itself, you also have to pay for registration and insurance on your vessel. Despite what you may have first thought, a boat and a jet ski still are high powered motor vehicles, and are treated very similarly to that of land faring vehicles.

Besides that, you also need to have a Personal Watercraft License to operate your purchase on open and public waters. So unless you have your own private lake or other body of water that is closed off to other public passersby, you need to treat your purchase as if you are buying a car: be insured, have it registered, and qualify to receive your own license to operate it.

 

Depreciation, boredom, and you.

The truth of the matter is that the purchase of a boat is more than likely a purchase that you will not enjoy in the long haul, unless of course you intend to monetize your purchase by renting it out to other boat licensed enthusiasts, or for your jet skis to be rented out by the hour to water sports fans.

A water craft, despite how fun, innocent, and honest intentioned they may have earlier seemed will eventually leave the buyer with the feeling of boredom. This does not happen to everybody, but a majority of boat owners who thought they would be on the water more than just a few times a year originally thought that if they had a boat of their own, they would be on the waves that much more often. For one reason or another, the boat always remains dry-docked a good portion of the year.

 

Buy versus rent.

The best days a boat owner can have is the day they buy it, and the day they sell it” is a line known and repeated by veteran boat and water craft buyers, and a line that is shared to any incoming boat buyers. Buying a boat is a very large investment into a novelty that will not yield much of any return. As boat prices depreciate the longer it is owned and used, your thought process of “I’ll just have my fun with it and then sell it after” is more than likely not going to have you coming out on top.

It’s much easier to continue renting than buying your experiences with boats, jet skis, and any other watercraft vehicles for this summer. You’ll save a ton of cash and trouble as a result, and also avoid many sleepless and regret filled nights.