It's A Money Thing
Buying a Used Car
Auto dealers are expected to sell cars that meet certain consumer protection criteria. This may include providing a warranty that will cover the buyer’s costs if a car turns out to be a lemon. Unfortunately, some unethical dealers may attempt to bypass these laws by curbstoning. Curbstoning is when a dealer poses as a private seller to sell a car. By curbstoning, an unethical dealer can avoid having to comply with the regulations that apply to dealers. To a buyer, this could mean buying a car that has a salvaged title (a car that’s been declared a total loss by an insurance company). It could also mean unknowingly buying a car that has been in a flood and suffered severe water damage.
The term curbstoning comes from the way these transactions typically occur. When a dealer is trying to pose as a private seller, they will often sell cars from the curb or a parking lot, just as an individual would. A curbstoner often gets away with scamming buyers because he or she sells the vehicle and then disappears. With no office or contact information, a buyer can end up with a lot of headaches to deal with.
Experts say up to 80% of used cars sold through online classified ads are orchestrated by curbstoners.
Follow these eight tips to protect yourself.
This infographic guide
will show you what to check for and how to get the best deal on a used car.
Saving for Retirement
Think back to your most recent savings goal. How long did you have to save in order to reach it? Was it a concert ticket or some new shoes that took a few weeks of budgeting? Was it a big ticket item like a new computer or a summer vacation that took a year or two of planning in advance? Perhaps you’re currently saving for an even more ambitious goal: a car, a wedding, a down payment on a home? Although savings goals vary from person to person and range in size and scope, it’s likely that your longest-term savings goal will be your retirement.
Saving for retirement poses some unique challenges: How are you supposed to prioritize retirement savings against the long list of more immediate goals? How are you supposed to find the motivation to prepare for something that’s decades away? How can you quantify the amount you will need to save when you have no idea what your future will look like?
The good news is that you can boost your retirement savings by practicing the same good money habits that apply to smaller savings goals. Read on to find out which money skills will also level up your retirement savings plan.
Learn five good money habits to boost your retirement savings.
Know Your Checking Account
Checks hold an odd place in our personal finances. In many ways, checks seem like relics from a previous era. We maybe write one or two checks a month (usually for rent or similar bill-paying situations where electronic payment simply isn’t an option). This is vastly different from only a few decades ago, when checks represented more than 85% of all non-cash retail payments. (Can you imagine whipping out a checkbook in line at the grocery store? Times have certainly changed!)
However, despite their gradual decline in use, checks haven’t become completely extinct. We still keep our money in checking accounts, we still balance our checkbooks, and new banking technologies (mobile check imaging is one example) are being introduced to improve the process of paying by check. Writing checks continues to walk the line between permanence and obsolescence.
Whether or not checks are on their way out, there are still a couple of check-related best practices that you need to be aware of in order to stay on top of your finances.
Learn more about hold periods and balancing a checkbook.
Breakdown of a Credit Score
You’ve likely heard about credit scores before (thanks to all those commercials with terrible jingles), but what do you actually know about them? How long have they been around? And what’s the deal with checking them?
A credit score is a number (usually between 300 and 850) that represents your creditworthiness. It’s a standardized measurement that financial institutions and credit card companies use to determine risk level when considering issuing you a loan or a credit card. Basically, it provides a snapshot of how likely you are to repay your debts on time. Widespread use of credit scores has made credit more widely available and less expensive for many consumers.
Learn more about breaking down your credit score.
How to Counter the Effects of Inflation
When most people think of inflation, their response is usually similar to when they see a vintage advertisement: reminiscing about the cheaper prices of the past (15 cents for a burger? Awesome!) while simultaneously feeling some resentment towards today’s ever-rising prices. Generally, inflation is seen as a frustrating “financial fact of life” that passively affects everyone as price levels climb and as the dollar’s purchasing power decreases over time.
The reality is that inflation is affecting your finances more aggressively than you might realize — especially when it comes to your savings. Without the proper planning in place, the effects of inflation could actually be costing you your savings.
Learn more about countering the effects of inflation.
What's your financial personality? Read this infographic learn how the effects of inflation add up over time.
Where You Seek Financial Advice Says a Lot About You
How did you decide where to open your first bank account? Where did you learn to budget or pay bills? If you have a money question now, what do you do? Who do you turn to?
If you're under the age of 30, your answers to the above questions are likely some combination of “my parents”, “the Internet” and “I don't know — I just kind of figured it out”. Although you might have been lucky enough to take life skills classes in high school, most young adults don't receive any kind of formal financial education. So, it's likely that you'll need to seek guidance when it comes to money management. Remember, your financial health can always benefit from including new sources of advice.
Learn more about the financial resources available to you.
Use Psychology to Build a Budget You'll Stick With
When you start looking for financial advice (or any kind of advice, for that matter), experts will share their take on what’s “good” and what’s “bad.” In personal finance, there are some classifications that we can all agree on: Debt is bad. Emergency funds are good. Overdrawing your account is bad. Earning interest on your savings is good.
If you’re waging an inner battle of good vs. bad every time you whip out your credit card or peek at your monthly bank statement, it’s probably time to give your views on budgeting a shake-up.
Read more about how to build a budget that works for you.