Jun 12 2014

How to Protect your Car from Depreciation

By |June 12th, 2014|General Personal Finance|1 Comment|

The cost of car ownership can be steep, particularly with rising fuel costs and the ever-shifting algorithms of car insurance premiums. Another cost that is just as significant yet easy to forget is that of depreciation. The simple act of driving your shiny, brand-new car out of the showroom can instantly reduce its value, and many cars lose as much as 50% of their value in the first three years of ownership. This can be a real problem if your car is stolen or written off in an accident, because insurers will only pay out the value of your vehicle at the time of the theft of accident. It’s not possible to eliminate depreciation completely, but there are a few ways to slow it down. This way, when the time comes to sell your car in the future you’ll get more of your money back!


Image Source: VK35/Wikimedia Commons

Buy a Car Known to Hold its Value

A gas-guzzler in a shade of lime green may take your fancy, but you want to look at the big picture. Cars that are bound to appeal to the widest possible range of buyers will hold their value over time. Choose a reliable brand in a non-offensive colour and ensure that it’s kitted out with all of the trim options that will make it appeal to buyers. As you read auto reviews on sites like Motoring.com.au, take note not only of automotive features and running costs, but also of depreciation value. Take price into consideration as well. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to splash out on a big, fancy car, because this gives you more to lose.

Buy Car Depreciation Insurance

Guaranteed asset protection insurance is designed to help cover the difference between what you paid for your car and what you’ll receive in the event of a theft or write-off. Consider purchasing a GAP policy if you’re worried about losing money due to depreciation from an insurance perspective. This type of policy usually applies to vehicles under seven years old, and under a certain mileage number.

Research Automotive Trends

Although we can’t predict the future, if you stay current with automotive trends you may be able to predict what type of cars are likely to be valuable in the future. For example, eco-friendly cars are always in high demand, and should continue to be valuable in time when fuel prices have gone up even more. Safety technology is also growing in leaps and bounds. Look for cars with automated safety features that will be seen as standard in only a few years.

Keep the Mileage Down

If possible, try to keep the mileage low. This will not only save you money on running costs, but it will also help keep your car’s value high.

Keep Maintenance Records

It’s one thing to choose a car known to hold its value well over time, but if you run it ragged and never take it in for servicing it will plummet in value. Take your car in for regular maintenance visits and service checks to help keep it running in top shape. Be sure to keep detailed records of these visits to show buyers in the future.

Fighting depreciation involves a combination of research and maintenance. You may not be able to stop it in its tracks, but you can certainly help protect your investment with a bit of care.

Jun 9 2014

How to Get a Great Deal on a New Car

By |June 9th, 2014|Blog, Life, Personal Finance Tips|7 Comments|

My new wife and I have decided we needed a second car. We were sharing a 2000 Buick Century with over 140,000 miles on it, and we are honestly a tiny bit surprised every time it turns on.

If you want a great deal on a new car, make multiple dealers fight for your business. Here are the exact steps I took to find an awesome deal on a new car.We were mainly looking at used cars, but on June 2nd it was the “last day of the month” for car dealers (well, definitely Jeep dealerships) which meant that individual salesmen, sales managers, and the entire dealership itself had one final day to meet their May quotas for new car sales.

We decided to look at a few new cars because we honestly weren’t finding very many used Jeep Patriots (which is what we wanted after a lot of research) at prices that we liked.

I’ll save the suspense; we bought a brand new 2014 Jeep Patriot Latitude High Altitude for $19,500, which is an absolute steal of a deal on that car.

Don’t believe me? After a bit of research TrueCar.com tells me that the average sale price for the exact make, model, and trim of my new car is $22,633. And how reliable is that number? According to the TrueCar FAQ, ” we have 99.1% confidence that our projected Average Paid Price per new car sale in a given week is within $20 of the average price of all nationwide sales transactions during that week.”

So how the heck did I pay $3,133 less than the average person? I’ll tell you.

Keep in mind, I’m no car buying expert. I’m just a guy who likes to get a really good deal. I don’t know if the following method is going to work for you or not, but it might be worth a shot.

Step 1 – Wait for the End of the Month

This is simple. Car dealerships are very anxious to make sales at the end of the month. It’s their last chance to increase their commissions and meet their monthly numbers, and they honestly do make crazy deals if you can wait for the last 1 or 2 days of the month.

Also remember that the “end of the month” isn’t necessarily the last day of the month. In my case, June 2nd was the last day of the month for May. Don’t ask me why.

Step 2 – Find the Exact Car You Want and Test Drive It

Find the car you like and test drive it at any car dealership you like. I just picked the closest one to my house, found the car I liked, and took it for a spin. I made sure to note the exact make, model, and trim level of the car. In my case the make is Jeep, the model is Patriot, and the trim is Latitude with the High Altitude package.

It’s best to pick a trim that’s not customized and is widely available, because eventually you want to get multiple dealerships bidding against one another and you need to make sure they are all offering the same exact vehicle.

You’ll also want to do research on the car (hopefully before you get to the dealership) and make sure to know what factory incentives are being offered. For a Jeep, you’d find the information here. For another car, Google it.

The factory incentive for the 2014 Jeep Patriot this month was $1,750.

A factory incentive is when the corporate company (in this case Jeep) sends money to the dealer for selling a specific car. The information is available to anyone, but if you don’t know about it then dealers won’t offer them to you up front. They hope you’ll pay a price that doesn’t include the factory incentives, and then they can keep the money as more profit.

Step 3 – Get a Quote in Writing and WALK AWAY

We test drove the car, told the guy we liked it, and I told him plainly and honestly, “I like the car and I’m ready to buy one today, but my only concern is the bottom line price. I’m going to visit other dealerships today so I need you to come forth with your best offer.”

They will give you a quote. They’ll probably tell you that you’re getting employee pricing and there’s no way they can go any lower. Just get it in writing and say thank you. Then they’ll stop you!

“What is it going to take for you to sign right now? We don’t want you to leave.” They might take another $100 off, or they might throw in something like free oil changes for a few years. In my case, the guy offered 3 years of free oil changes.

I told him I appreciate the offer but I need to talk to another dealer. He realized I wasn’t going to sign so he asked, “If you do find something lower, will you at least give me the opportunity to match it or beat it?” I told him I would (because it was close to my house and if I was going to get free oil changes, I prefer to have the dealership close to me) and I walked out the door.

And remember, get your quote in WRITING. It doesn’t have to be on an invoice, but make sure you have all the information on the car, their price, and anything else they were throwing in to sweeten the deal.

In my case, the price offered was $21,200 with the 3 years of free oil changes. This was “affiliate pricing” (which I believe is the friends and family price they offer to friends and family of employees) and then all the incentives that were being offered ($1,750).

You’ll notice this is already $1,500 lower than the average sale price. They didn’t want me to leave, but I knew I could get more if I could just get them to negotiate against another dealer. I took the written offer and left.

Step 4 – Take Your Quote to the Next Dealer and Ask Them to Beat It

My wife and I drove up the road a little ways to the next Jeep dealership and told them we were looking for a Jeep Patriot, Latitude trim with the High Altitude package. We got a salesman and walked the lot with him looking for a match. We didn’t find any.

I was a little discouraged but he told me not to worry. If they could find the car somewhere else they could do a dealer trade and sell me the car, and they promised they could beat the original offer I had from the first dealer.

Again, I told this guy the same story. “I want to buy a car today, but it has to be for the right price. I’m going to go get a quote at another dealership after this, but you definitely have to beat $21,200. Give me your best offer.”

He kept asking me tell him what I wanted to pay. It was very tempting to throw out a number like $20,000 and feel really good about myself if they took it (since it’s $1,200 less than the other guys), but don’t do it. I just repeated that I needed their best offer and I would be on my way to the next dealer.

They kept pressing me. “Give me a number you’d be comfortable with so you don’t have to leave”. I finally said $18,000. Based on my research I knew this was completely out of the question (and I told them they probably wouldn’t consider it a reasonable request) but it let them know I meant business.

They did the whole song and dance of sending different people to talk to me then going back to work the numbers with a manager. The guy said he was going to see if they could do $20,000 but he had to ask.

I was ready to get the $20k in writing and move onto the next dealership, and a brand new guy sits down. He says, “I couldn’t help but overhear you talking and this guy owes me a favor. If I could get it down to $19,500 would you be willing to make a deal?”

At this point I’m pretty happy because I know this is a great price, but I said, “I gave the other dealership my word that I would give them a chance to beat any price. I’m a man of my word, so let me call them and ask if they can beat $19,500.”

I started with the MSRP of almost $24,000. I got it down to $21,200 with the first guys. Now I had $19,500 on the table. I called dealership number 1 and spoke to the sales manager. I asked if he could beat $19,500. After a while, he just said he couldn’t do it. That was too good a price.

Later I got a voicemail from the salesman (not the sales manager I spoke with on the phone) saying he appreciated me giving them a chance to match and if the deal falls through he would love to get my business, but $19,500 was too good of a price to match or beat.

At this point I could have taken the $19,500 to another dealership and maybe gotten something even lower, but considering I was already 18.41% under the MSRP and had free oil changes for 3 years (which this dealer matched from the first one).

I was ready to buy the car.

Step 5 – Confirm EVERYTHING and Get it IN WRITING

We had finally settled on $19,500 and they started drawing up the paperwork. It’s easy to get lost in this exciting time, but don’t forget to get all your extras in writing.

I made sure they put in writing that they are giving me 4 free oil changes a year for 3 years. They would also give me the car with a full tank of gas. That may sound insignificant, but a tank of gas is $50 and each oil change is worth about $30. That is over $400 of free stuff that I might forfeit if it wasn’t in writing.

Step 6 – Get Good Financing Rates

You might think you’re done once you’ve gotten the sale price locked down. Unfortunately you aren’t. Next they will try to get you with the financing.

I had to do my financing through Chrysler Capital to get $750 of the factory incentives, so it was important that they give me a good rate. I also had a backup option of using my credit union at 1.99%.

The first option he gave me was a loan at 3.99%. I immediately balked and said that was too high. I told him that my credit union would give me 1.99% and he’d have to come lower.

Without even a call to the Chrysler Capital group, he said he could lower my rate to 2.54%. I accepted. He probably could have gone lower because I have great credit and I was probably approved at somewhere between 1 and 2%, but he also knew that if I went with my credit union I’d forfeit the $750 incentive. I had no choice but to take the 2.54% loan.

If I didn’t have a second option, he never would have brought that interest rate down. Make sure to get a rate quote before you go shopping.

Step 7 – Decline the Extended Warranty

The guy then spent a good 1/2 hour talking about how expensive repairs are going to be if the computers in the car break down. He really made it sound like he was doing me a favor by offering an extended warranty that would only increase my payments by almost $100 a month.

Don’t do it.

Every new car comes with a warranty. Mine is 3 years and 36,000 miles bumper to bumper, and 5 years, 100,000 miles powertrain. The extended would have done bumper to bumper for 6 years and 72,000 miles, but it would cost about $80 a month. Over a 5 year loan that is $4,800.

He eventually came down to a $2,100 total price, but I still said no. If I want an extended warranty (which I probably don’t) I can buy it once the car hits 35,000 miles and it will be a heck of a lot cheaper.

Step 8 – Review the Contact Before Signing

Don’t just trust that everything in writing is the same as what you talked about. In my case, everything was exactly as agreed, but you have to be sure. If you sign a contract, you’ll be held to it. Take your time and review everything.

Finally, once you’ve signed the contract it’s important to understand your rights. You have signed a legally binding contract and they can’t make any changes now. Remember when the Toyota dealer tried to screw me out of $1,000? These people can be very shady if they want to be.

Step 9 – Enjoy Your New Car

I hope this was helpful to some people. Again, I’m not an expert on this stuff but this was only the second time I’ve bought a car (out of 6) where I really felt like I got a good deal.

The data backs me up as well. TrueCar.com says I got a smoking deal, and I even see a lot of used Jeep Patriots with thousands of miles and less features listed at higher prices than $19,500.

Readers: Do you have any new car negotiation tips?

Jun 2 2014

I’m Married!

By |June 2nd, 2014|Blog, Life|12 Comments|

So obviously I haven’t posted in a while, and there’s a good reason for that. I was getting married, and then I went on my honeymoon.

I’m now a very happily married man and I have had a lot of changes and interesting things happen to me over the past few weeks, so I have a lot of posts that should be coming your way in the near future.

I can’t believe I haven’t updated this blog in almost a month, so I really am sorry. Getting married was priority number one and it was awesome!

I ended up spending about $25k on the wedding, and I would do it again in a second. It was by far the best day of my entire life and worth every single penny.

Anyway, you guys can all tell me how stupid spending $25k on a wedding is while I work on all the different posts that I need to share with you.

May 7 2014

How to Make Money Without a Degree

By |May 7th, 2014|Blog, Economics / Politics|6 Comments|

Here’s another article saying that if you don’t go to college you are missing out on $830,000 of income. Holy crap! With information like that, I better start saving now to send my future kids to super expensive colleges!

Think you need a degree to make money? You're wrong. In fact, in today's economy getting a degree might be a bad thing. Here's what to do instead.As you know, I’m not a fan of the “send everyone to college” mentality that has prevailed over the last few decades in America. There aren’t enough jobs for college graduates and we are setting our young people up for financial failure.

I’m not the only one that holds this opinion either.

The president of South Korea noticed that his country has too many over-educated and underemployed young people. While Barack Obama’s response to that situation is to tell more kids to take out federal loans for a degree, Lee Myung Bak says skip college and go to work.

Even former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg (someone I rarely agree with on anything) says that your average kid is better off becoming a plumber than going to Harvard.

We have plenty of allegorical examples of people who were incredibly intelligent, never got a college degree and ended up making hundreds of millions of dollars (Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Simon Cowell, Michael Dell, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Ty Warner, and Frank Lloyd Wright to name a few).

We also have some pretty interesting data about small business owners.

  • 31% of small business owners don’t have a college degree
  • 39% are either indifferent towards college degrees, feel they are not important, or believe they have no value
  • 50% have staff without a college degree
  • 62% of small business owners (that have staff without a college degree) do not notice a difference in performance between college educated and non-college educated employees.

A College Degree is Not Worth $830,000

I want to go back and address the original article claiming a college degree is worth $830,000. That’s false. The data may show college graduates make $830,000 more than people without degrees on average, but the degree itself is not $830,000. In fact, it’s not worth $0.83.

A college degree can’t do anything but sit there and look pretty on a wall.

The skills and experiences a person learns at college are what hold value, and it’s different for every single college graduate. The skills a person learns as an apprentice or at a trade school also hold value.

The key to earning a lot of money is not necessarily to go to college. The key is learning skills that make you valuable.

How to Make Money Without a Degree

The first step to making money is the same whether you go to college or not: learn something. You can learn in a classroom, or you can learn while you’re making minimum wage or even doing an unpaid internship. No matter what setting you choose, make sure you are learning as much as possible.

If you get a minimum wage job and just do enough to scrape by, you’ll always be earning minimum wage. The key is to master whatever you’re doing. Work hard. Learn how to do other people’s jobs around you. Study your industry when you aren’t at work. Hopefully as you are learning you are also getting promotions and/or raises. The more you learn, the better.

Eventually you’ll know enough and have enough skills to become an extremely valuable worker. You will know enough that you can run the whole dang place yourself. Then you have two decisions; either do your job for someone else and get paid a salary (become a manager) or start your own business (become a small business owner).

Let’s take fast food as an example. If you have an In-N-Out Burger in your hometown, you can probably get a job there for $10 an hour or more. You can learn to make burgers, run the fryers, make milkshakes, run the cash register, run the drive through, and more. Eventually, you may have an opportunity to become a manager.

Did you know managers at In-N-Out Burger make over $100,000 a year?!

So you can work your tail off as a manager for a few years, have enough money to buy some nice things and put a sizable amount into savings. A few more years down the line you might be ready to open your own In-N-Out Burger. Or you might take what you learned there and open your own restaurant. “Kevin’s House of Food” is a good name… I’m just saying.

How much does a restaurant owner make? Beats me, but you can bet it’s probably more than $100k a year they are paying the managers.

Flipping burgers is just one example. You can do the same with plumbing, carpentry, lawn mowing, or any other small business you can think of. None of these require a college degree, but they all require skills.

Another way to get rich is to get a college degree. Learn skills at a university, then go to work. Maybe you go back for a Master’s degree and command a 6-figure salary. Maybe you start your own company.

Get yourself some skills and the money will follow.

Apr 30 2014

5 Tips for Success on LinkedIn

By |April 30th, 2014|General Personal Finance|Comments Off|

Time is perhaps our most valuable asset. In business, how efficiently we achieve our goals is very important. Business owners must juggle scarce resources to grow their companies. Job seekers must focus their time on relevant targets to get the right offer.

LinkedIn can be a time and cost efficient way to expand your career or business. However, the benefits of this networking platform are also challenges.

Benefits/Challenges of LinkedIn:

  • Broad Exposure:  Pro: You can quickly connect with countless professionals.  Con: Connections may not be as strong.
  • Low Barrier to Entry: Pro: Nearly anyone is welcome to join. Con: This makes it difficult to distinguish yourself from the crowd.
  • Low Cost: Pro: Users can create a basic profile for free. Con: A premium membership is often needed to achieve results. On the positive side, a paid member may be more committed.

So, how can you avoid being another generic profile on this vast network?

Here are tips to maximize your LinkedIn ROI:

Customize Your Profile URL:

A standard URL blurs together with other profiles. LinkedIn assigns a profile URL with some variation of your name and random letters or numbers.

You can build a business or personal brand with a custom URL.  A unique URL may also contain search terms that make it easy for relevant contacts to find each other. For instance, a landscaper may use ‘lawn guy’ in their URL.

How to do it: Privacy & Settings >Helpful Links>Edit Your Public Profile>Customize your public profile URL.

Have a Custom Headline:

Most LinkedIn users simply put their job title as a headline. Unless you work in a small niche, this does not generate interest compared to other profiles. LinkedIn gives us120 words to convey the value of our skills.

As an example, “1st page SEO specialist for all your marketing needs” may be more effective than “SEO Analyst”. A value statement sets you apart. Executive Producer Elliott Broidy brought attention to his film ‘Sugar’ with an eye catching post this past summer. He wrote the film is “Changing hearts and minds about youth homelessness”. The film went on earn a Congressional screening and award at the Manhattan Film Festival.

Consider your industry and target audience when writing a headline. Be confident without boasting. A reserved tone may be appropriate for certain industries.

Choose an Appropriate Photo:

Photos for LinkedIn should reflect your business image. What is an appropriate photo will vary by industry and objective.

T-shirt and jeans may be appropriate for a general contractor but not a CPA. Similarly, photos in a casual setting are more approachable than studio shots. A lawyer may post a smiling photo at his/her office instead of a formal pose at the photography studio. Whatever the choice, choose a photo with high picture quality. A blurry photo takes away from your credibility.

Be Selective with Connection Requests:

‘Cold calling’ is frowned on at LinkedIn. Avoid sending connection requests in bulk to folks you don’t know. LinkedIn detects spam attempts when there are many requests with few accepted invites. Instead, start by targeting contacts with common connections.

Tip: Write a custom message for your connection request. Your invites are more likely to be accepted with a personal message. For example, you can mention common contacts, experience or college alma maters.

Manage Your Settings:

We can unintentionally become pests on LinkedIn. How? Your connections get an email of each profile update.  Excessive updates also distract attention from our substantive posts.

Thankfully, you can adjust LinkedIn settings to stop auto updates. Here’s how: Privacy & Settings>”Turn Off” Notify Connections When I Make a Profile Update


Networking is an effective way to build your career or business. You can enjoy more success on LinkedIn with basic tips to improve visibility.

Apr 28 2014

Make Your Money Work for You

By |April 28th, 2014|General Personal Finance|1 Comment|

For those of us that have money to spare, and there are many, many people that do not and struggle day in, day out, there is no point having it sat in a bank account somewhere accumulating more interest for the bank than yourself. No point to that at all! If you have extra cash there are many great ways to make that money work for you and increase it so that you can become more comfortable. The below list are my favourite ways to make your money work for you.

Stocks and Shares

Investing in the stock market is certainly not a get rich quick scheme and when starting out it is likely that mistakes will be made, so some money may be lost. However, once you get over the initial struggles of coming to grips with the stock market and controlling your finances within this market the rewards of this form of investment will far outweigh allowing your funds to sit in a bank account to accumulate minute amounts of interest.

With this type of investing what you should be looking for are sustainable patterns of growth both in the share prices and dividend payments as these provide the best long term income streams that ensure you are staying ahead of the inflation curve. Well established businesses with steady business cycles, such as utility companies, are one of the best places to invest to make your money work for you on the stock market. It will be hard work, but the payoff is more than worth it. Fancy yourself as a bit of an entrepreneur? Why not start your own company?

Special Savings

In the USA it is possible to avail of two different types of specialist saving types, known as Certificates of Deposit and Saving Bonds, and both types are similar to each other and are guaranteed to make you better money than a standard savings account. The Certificates of Deposit, or CD for short, is an account offered by many banks that allows you to deposit a set amount of funds for a specific timeframe and you are offering an interest rate on this. In general, the longer the timeframe you agree to leave the funds for the higher the interest applied to the deposit.

Savings bonds are issued by the US government and can be purchased from most banks or from the Treasury directly at their online website. Once purchased the savings bond is credited with interest each month and once it reaches its set maturity date, usually 20 or 30 years, you receive the full amount. You can cash savings bonds at any time, but you are likely to forego some of the interest on the bond. Both options offer better value than leaving your money in a normal savings account.


There are many items that you can spend your money on that will quickly depreciate in value, and do so quickly, but if you have the right eye for certain items then you could be onto making more cash from your savings with the right investments. Classic cars, antiques, art and property are all excellent for spending your hard earned savings on for the opportunity to increase your holdings. For me, it is property that is best with finding the right property in the right area at the right time and then selling it on shortly afterwards for a big profit one of lives great moments. It does take hard work also, but the reward is certainly worth the effort.


Are you feeling lucky? If you are a lucky person who likes to take a risk then it is certainly possible to make your money work for you in the gambling industry. Again, you need to do the hard graft with researching your opponents and the teams you are betting upon when playing poker and you are sports betting in order to increase your investments. However, for me if you do not mind risking some cash from a easy return there are set of online slot games available like the Mega Moolah Jackpot that can see a multimillion dollar return for the investment of less than a dollar! I, personally, am hooked on these games and while I’m still awaiting that life changing payout amount, I have cashed well on occasion. Play The Dark Knight and King Cashalot, amongst other games, for your chance to make your money work for you in the quickest and most fun way possible!