Why I’m Selling my Daughter’s Stuff (and what I plan to do with the money).

And who will clean up this mess?One thing I quickly learned with having my daughter four years ago was how much stuff kids acquire. Some of it is actually quite useful in their own way but let me tell you, there is so much you simply don’t need (some of this you don’t realize until after first kid). It didn’t take us long to become very vocal with some gift-giving guidelines in attempt to control the accumulation, some of which were listened to, but some clearly ignored. I understand giving to a child is out of the goodness of the gift-givers heart but it can be so painfully unnecessary (like the new Barbie just because it’s Tuesday and the sun is shining).

Gift Giving Rules for our Kids

When we realized (very early on) how much people liked to give to our daughter, in attempt to reign in the stuff, we vocalised that should the person feel so inclined to buy something for her (especially while she was so young she didn’t even realize a gift was being given), that they may consider giving us the money instead (even for that $5 toy she probably doesn’t need). We would put the money into her post-secondary education savings (in our case, an RESP). I’d much rather have $5 invested at three years old for another 15 years to be used for her future, than a toy she might play with for a few days, max.

Books are always welcome. I have no problem with having a house full of books for my children and will always find space for them, if you can’t come up with a gift idea and don’t want to give cash, get a good book. Books are probably the only item that doesn’t drive me crazy when it’s laying around somewhere.

Consider buying or contributing to something she needs. Clothes come to mind. Kids grow very fast and even with my frugal shopping for her wardrobe, chances are we’ll always need clothes (or coats, or shoes). Even if it’s a snowsuit that might not fit her for a whole year, it’s a gift much appreciated come the time. She also partakes in both dance and soccer both if which have their own gear and would benefit from either financial contribution for dues or buying new gear (again- growth is an issue and we won’t get more than one season out of most items).

The Over and Above

Obviously these aren’t the only things that are given to her and I don’t want to come across as being a scrooge of a mother but my GOD there’s a lot of stuff. Now that we know baby 2.0 is a boy we’re starting to purge some of her stuff out of the house.

I’m a big proponent of donating to those in need so we have given a huge portion of her gently used clothes to various charities. These aren’t the kinds of items I want to benefit from financially, I’d rather give to someone who truly needs it but the items that we can sell for a small profit, we will. Most of it are baby items of hers (very girly baby toys or things like past Halloween costumes) and some of it is my maternity clothes (pregnancies in opposite seasons). We’ve only sold a few items so far at about $10 each but we still have quite a bit of stuff to go through and post as well.

Most of the stuff we’re selling are items we bought so I don’t feel guilty about selling but there will be items that were given to her by others. Obviously people don’t expect us to hang on to everything given to her, but especially if someone else paid for it, the money from all the item sales will go back to the kids. As tempting as it is to sell this stuff off for a small profit and keep it to do as we please (mommy and daddy want a date night…or pay down debt…), the money will be going right back to them.

Maybe the money will be used to help offset her ballet tuition in the new year, or some clothes for the impending little man, either way the money will only be used for them in some way for some need and this way I feel everyone benefits.

What do you do with your kids outgrown/out used stuff?

Mommy Realization: My Kids Don’t Care if Their Room is Coordinated

crib-890565_640When I was pregnant with my daughter, the room in our house that would become her bedroom was the only untouched room in our house. We had painted and renovated almost every other room in our house but that was the final one. It had become a bit of a storage room for all our random stuff. I found it difficult to not obsess over how we were going to prep this room for her. It was going to be her space, created at first, by us.

We picked paint colors, crib, curtains, and pictures for the wall. I wanted a fancy rocking chair, change tables and shelves full of stuff for when she came home. I’d spent hours days scouring websites like Pinterest trying to perfect her room. Our only restriction in the end, was money. We didn’t have anywhere near the money to prepare the kind of nursery I thought she deserved and needed and it took me a while to accept it. We were gifted a beautiful new crib, we found some pictures on clearance and bought her curtains off a sale rack. The chair I nursed her in was an antique that we borrowed, there would be no fancy change table and shelves were never hung displaying her baby stuff.

Over four years later, I can honestly say, none of it mattered. The paint needed to be done since the room pre-paint looked like someone chugged a bottle of Pepto Bismol and threw up everywhere but other than that none of it mattered. She didn’t notice the pictures, the matching curtains or lack of stuff. We never bought a rug to put on her floor and we changed her wherever we needed to, since there was no dedicated change table. Four years later, she’s a pretty happy kid and the lack of perfectly coordinated nursery-turned-toddler room hasn’t mattered once.

She now sleeps on my husband’s childhood bed and loves it. Her walls are covered in wall decals that she’s picked out and placed herself (you can imagine how that looks). She does have shelves, which I made and painted myself and holds a fraction of her massive book collection. She loves them.

As we prepare to welcome baby 2.0 in the next few weeks (scary that I’m talking in weeks now!) I realize so much of what we think is important for our children isn’t. I’m a member of a few mommy boards and creep on some websites and blogs and it’s so easy to tell first time moms from experienced moms. The rooms are no longer coordinated, they’re not dropping hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on perceived needs for their baby. One feed on an app has 576 current photos of moms sharing their nursery pictures. In my creeping and estimation I’d value the average room at a minimum of $2,000 (and according to at least one source, that’s a low estimate).  I’m not judging though, really, it’s a process I think most first time parents will go through and it’s so hard to resist.

We were stopped only because our bank account wouldn’t allow it and know what? I’m glad. I don’t miss anything we didn’t have. Not once do I wish I had a dedicated change table or wipe warmer. With this pregnancy, the room will be slightly made over once again as the kids will be sharing a room until we move and we won’t be spending much money. This time it’s not necessarily because we don’t have the money, I could have definitely saved a chunk of change since finding out I was pregnant, but because I know what’s important and what’s not.

We’ll be painting our daughters purple bedroom in the next few weeks to something a little more gender neutral. She will be still be sleeping in her daddy-turned-big girl bed with pink and purple ballerina’s all over it, while little man will eventually sleep in his crib across the room with whatever bedding we have laying around from the first time. I value my money and respect that my children understand that having a coordinated bedroom simply isn’t a priority in our lives. The fact that they’re in a safe room which they can call their own and have fun making memories together is all they need. The money that we do or don’t spend on coordination simply won’t matter to them, and now, to me.

How We’re More Financially Prepared for This Maternity Leave

kids being expensiveIt’s hard to believe but we’re three weeks away from me going on maternity leave. Though I’m not due until December 16th, I’ve run the numbers and it actually makes more sense for me to go off work early than continue to work for another month. I have to pay an annual license fee for work which is a substantial amount of money, as well keeping Maria in daycare full time, means we actually lose money versus me claiming unemployment a few weeks early.  I was put off work early during my pregnancy with Maria due to wicked carpal tunnel pains and it’s starting to rear its ugly head again so it’s all good that I’m planning to be off early anyway.

The difference between this pregnancy and the last, is that we’re actually prepared. With my first pregnancy, we didn’t have a great handle on our money and quite honestly I had no idea how we were going to make it all work. It was during this pregnancy that we really got our finances in gear so it ended up being a bit of a blessing, but my memories were full of stress.

We Have an Emergency Fund

This is one of the biggest difference between the two maternity leaves. We had absolutely zero savings when I was off with my first leave. If something were to have happened, we would have had to borrow money from somewhere or someone. Thankfully nothing major happened and we were ok but it was a stress I never want to experience again. Having an emergency fund is one thing, having, needing, an emergency fund while your income is significantly decreased is another. While on maternity leave I have no other income outside of my federally funded pay which is menial compared to my employment income. With no other way to bring in income for the 12 months, we need to have some extra cash on hand.

We Actually Understand Our Money

It wasn’t until I was about 70% through my first maternity leave that we figured out a budget that worked for us. Though it has evolved many times, I have a confidence in our money management skills and know what we need to do to make our decreased income work for us. This alone is a huge stress relief.

We’re Earning More Money

Though I will be claiming maternity leave for the time I’m off (upwards of 67 weeks in my case, 15 weeks of sick leave if needed, 52 maternity) at a loss of about 60% my net income pre-leave, it will still be a bit more than the last time I took leave four years ago. My husband is also earning more, these two things alone, assuming everything else is the same, will help.

We’ve Paid off A LOT of Debt

We’re not debt free, not even close (and I totally understand couples who choose to wait, so it’s an argument I don’t want to get into), but we’re much better off than we were four years ago. I have to be honest I don’t have the numbers memorized, or in front of me (bad PF blogger, I know) but I estimate we’ve paid off close to, if not more than $70,000 worth of non-mortgage debt since my last maternity leave started. A huge help.

Waiting even another year to have another child could have obviously made another substantial difference on our finances for many reasons (more savings, more debt pay off) but in the end we’re comfortable with where we’re at. It’s not for everyone, again, I get that, but it will work for us. There will never be a ‘’best time’’ for us to add to  our family but the fact that we have a good financial understanding of where we are enables us to make decisions like having more kids and that’s enough for me.

3 Ways to Save on Halloween


DIY costume circa 2014

Ummm how is it October?!

I have to admit that I haven’t always been a Halloween lover. Even as a kid, though I had fun trick-or-treating with friends, putting together a costume and getting ready for the day was a chore. As I got older I found myself kind of dreading the day and the expectation of partaking in the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong, there are components I like, cute decorations and candy are fun, but for the most part it just wasn’t for me.

Then I had a kid. Who doesn’t love a little person dressed up and who is super excited? It’s fun and even the biggest Halloween scrooge will smile. My daughter seems to be taking after her aunt in her love of all things Halloween too. On a recent trip to the local dollar store she would have left me broke given her way and purchased every single Halloween decoration in the store. Thankfully I managed to get away with only purchasing a cute Halloween magnet craft kit for her, coming in at $1.25 (this was a huge victory).

So, especially with a kid who loves Halloween, and as someone who is admittedly getting more into it, how do we save on Halloween? By following a few key rules.

Avoid the Store Costumes

When my daughter told me she wanted to be a (pretty) witch this year, I was super happy as I knew it would be easy and cheap to make. Then she ended up in the mall with her dad and saw a fancy mermaid costume that caught her eye, she then spent the next three days begging us to buy it (justified by wearing one costume to her party and the other trick-or-treating). At almost $40 alone for the costume it wasn’t happening.

If you want to save serious money on Halloween, especially if kids are involved, skip the store costumes. Though it takes more time and some creativity, making your own is so much cheaper. If I can manage to make a costume for my daughter, anyone can. Websites like Pinterest, though can sometimes lead to frustrations, can actually be very helpful in this area in terms of both ideas and execution. I’m happy to report that my daughter’s ‘’pretty witch’’ costume is going to end up costing a total of $10 thanks to searching out sales, a little effort and creativity.

Limit the Decorations

I get it, they’re cute (or spooky, or gory, whatever you’re going for) but they’re also not necessary. Limit your decorations to ones that you can reuse year-to-year rather than the one-time use decorations that are out there. This time last year, at another dollar store excursion with child in tow, I didn’t make it out so well and ended up buying about $15 in decorations which we put out and then tore down when it was over, totally wasting money. A paper ghost that couldn’t be saved, a plastic witch that ripped everywhere we tapped and a few hanging things that didn’t even make it to Halloween. Instead we’ll limit our decorations (current and future) only to ones that we can reuse.

Buy at End of Season

When Halloween is over, consider stocking up for the next year. Though she may change her mind, I’m willing to bet we’ll be able to buy that mermaid costume for upwards of 75% off when the season is done. This is what we did two years ago, we bought two princess costumes on serious clearance and last year our daughter opted to wear one for Halloween. Even if she hadn’t they were used all year playing dress-up.

Halloween can be fun, but with so many expectations to partake in it, it can also be hard to know where to draw the line.

How do you manage to have fun without busting the bank?

The Hidden Costs of Attending a Wedding

wedding-322034_640I actually love weddings. Maybe I’m saying this as I have been fortunate to have been spared from attending too many, and the ones that I have attended really were for the best of friends and family, the ones where you’re genuinely excited for the couple. It’s no secret though that attending a wedding can be expensive. The amount is exponentially higher if you’re standing in the wedding party.

This past weekend we attended the wedding of one of my best friends, who also happens to be my sister-in-law. Our daughter was the flower girl but neither my husband nor I was standing in the wedding, something that was fine by the both of us. When the engagement happened, we were asked if our daughter could stand as flower girl, and, realizing neither of us would be on the hook for wedding party costs, I did a quick budget in my head.

The flower girl outfit wouldn’t be much. In the end, her shoes, which I paid $18.00 were the most expensive part of her outfit. A combination of frugality and sheer craftsmanship by my sister-in-law kept costs down. The fact that I was able to get away with spending less than $30 on her was pretty fantastic in my mind. Where I seriously underestimated in terms of cost though? Hair. Our daughter is four and initially I thought I may do something in terms of her hair but as the wedding day approached us, and I realized the extent of my involvement for the day (I helped with driving people around and was the flower girls chauffeur for pictures), I knew I would need help.

I called around about getting her in somewhere to have a simple up-do done. The cheapest place I could find, started at $25, money well spent in my mind. Well I guess her up-do was a bit more complicated? (I never did get an explanation) but with proper tip I ended up paying $46.00, a bit more than I would have liked.

Me, being seven months pregnant required a proper maternity style dress; thankfully I found a great dress for a great price online which worked well. No complaints. The only issue I didn’t consider until 7pm the night before the wedding was the fact that I didn’t have any appropriate underwear to wear under the dress (an issue the ladies will sympathize with and men will probably not understand). I didn’t need anything fancy but I did need something that wouldn’t show through the cream color dress and that I wouldn’t be uncomfortable in all night. My last minute mistake, resulting in going to the only store that was open close to my house cost me an additional $15 (and I don’t even like them).

In the chaos that was leading up to the wedding, I also didn’t consider how much extra gas we would need (we helped with much running around) and, how much money would be spent on cabs. The day of the wedding I left the reception early with the flower girl (who lasted until 10pm) so that meant my husband would be cabbing it back to the hotel which, per the family’s request, we rented even though the wedding was in the same town we live in. People were coming from away and they wanted as many people together that night (i.e. after party…) and the next morning for breakfast and goodbye’s.  A total of $200 more that wasn’t in my first mental budget.

Another added, but arguably unnecessary cost to some, was that we (my husband) took on the task of making sure the groom had a bachelor party. The bachelorette party, something I did partake in, was pretty cheap given her choice of activities and the fact that I was pregnant. I left home with $40 and came home with change. The groom however didn’t have one planned as his groomsmen were located as far as the UK (where he’s from) to the other side of the country. The groom is one of my husband’s best friends though so he did what he could with the mutual friends they had here and threw a little to-do for him. It wasn’t anything over the top but did cost some money. Money that I think the groom much appreciated come the end of his party.

The only budgeted amount that stayed the same was the wedding gift since I had full control and didn’t budge. In the end when all the hidden and overthought wedding costs were finalized we spent close to $350 more than originally anticipated, proving that small costs really do add up.

When was the last time you busted your budget attending an event?

How Riots Affect the Economy

How Riots Affect the Economy

Image courtesy of WND

When news came in last night about the rioting happening in Charlotte, N.C. I was astounded. The place I was born and call home was being torn down by looters and fires being set. It was heart-wrenching to watch and terrifying to see people becoming violent in the streets of a city I have grown to love.

This posting doesn’t aim to incite some kind of comment war, nor is it aiming to make any political point. The fact of the matter is when people riot it affects everyone in ways that are both seen and unseen. The visible ways are along the lines of the damages being caused by riots as well as the general rise in angst between people. What many people don’t see, or think about, are the long lasting effects that rioting has, especially on the economy.

How Riots Affect the Economy

Sometimes riots happen. While many people believe that there are better ways to deal with certain problems there are times where political and racial tensions climb so high that people lash out violently. Until recent years, rioting was not an issue in the United States, however, with political and racial issues escalating more riots have been incited. These riots affect the cities they happen in and the economy as a whole. Here’s how:

People will stop visiting your city for a while. There are studies that suggest the riots in Los Angeles in 1992 cost the city nearly $4 billion in taxable sales and more than $125 million in direct sales tax revenue. Not to mention there was about $1 billion in property damage and lives lost.

Somebody has to pay for it. If you aren’t paying for it immediately, you will be paying for it eventually. When the Los Angeles riots happened in 1992 and the city lost all of that revenue and accrued damages at the same time, taxes went up for citizens of LA. However, Los Angeles hasn’t been the only large-scale riot that has happened.

Other Historical Riots and Costs

There have been numerous other large-scale riots in the United States that have cost the U.S. dearly. According to CNBC, the blackout in New York City in July 1977 was another huge riot that cost the city and the country millions. The blackout occurred and was followed by a riot, mass arson and looting. It cost the city close to $300 million in damage and loss.

In 2001, there was a huge riot in Cincinnati. It was the largest riot since the 1992 LA riots. It was a reaction to the fatal police shooting of 19-year-old Timothy Thomas. After three nights, the rioting ceased. The damages totaled to about $3.6 million.

Even more recently, in 2015, rioting in Baltimore cost the city $20 million. Baltimore citizens were rioting in reaction to the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. The $20 million it cost for the city to restore itself did not include any damages to private businesses.

The Aftermath of a Riot

When discussing the aftermath of a riot you can’t skip talking about the sense of calm that is restored after a riot. Although the problem isn’t likely solved, people feel a little better for the time being. Many people talk about the physical damages but they skip the economical damages of a riot.

There are damages to property and damages made to the economy when a riot is incited. Damages must be paid for and fixed. Many small business owners who are looted must pay for their own repairs or pay a higher insurance premium because of the riots. Some small business owners are forced to close their doors because they are unable to pay for the repairs and lost product that the riot caused.

Rioting causes nervous investors and tourists. If a company is looking to come to your city they may change their mind due to rioting. Likewise, tourists will stop visiting your city if a riot is started there. People don’t want to invest time or money in a place that does not seem consistent or safe.

How Charlotte Will Be Affected

The bad news for Charlotte is that the city has already lost a significant amount of revenue due to the HB2 bill. Many businesses have pulled out of Charlotte or decided not to open up in Charlotte due to that bill. Now, because of the riots occurring in the city, Charlotte will likely see even more decline in revenue for the city.

Local businesses opened up this morning and cleaned up any damages made by rioters last night and were able to recover. If the riots continue, however, Charlotte’s economy could take YEARS to recover.

What do you think about the rioting in Charlotte and the affects it will have? 

3 Household Items You Can Probably Cut Out (or Easily Substitute)

Source: Flickr

Source: Flickr

Running a house is certainly expensive and there are many products out there trying to prove their necessity for you running your home efficiently but the reality is that you probably don’t need them.

Disposable Paper Products

When I’m shopping at Costco and see carts full of paper towel and napkins I have to wonder what family could possibly need that much disposable paper product. I admit that I used to use paper towel for everything, and growing up, our house always had napkins on the table but when I started buying my own household goods I realized not only how expensive it was, but also how wasteful. I think it started more out of necessity (trying to save money) than being conservative, but after a few weeks of not buying paper towels with our grocery order I realized how unnecessary they were.

I dedicated a few old kitchen towels to use while cleaning and we started using reusable napkins while eating. I noticed that there were very few times I missed using disposable paper. I keep a roll of paper towel on hand mostly for cat messes, when my cat has an accident or vomits, I prefer to use paper towel to clean up and throw in garbage rather than rinsing out and washing a reusable cloth. As well, if we have a large function (like my sister-in-law’s upcoming wedding) we’ll buy disposable products but for day-to-day usage it’s an easy item to swap out.

Disposable Diapers

Obviously this only applies to homes with young infants but needs to be mentioned. This is also something I admit to being guilty for (using disposable) but am in complete favor of cloth diapering. Though the initial cost can be quite high, in the end cloth diapers are significantly cheaper and hold a decent resale value (look around for used first, if considering). With our daughter we received enough disposable diapers as gifts though that I didn’t buy a pack of diapers for a full 12 months, it was kind of glorious. The other reason we opted not to cloth diaper was that when calling around to various daycare places before we had her placed somewhere, a lot of places preferred to not use the cloth and asked if while the child was there, they could be sent with disposables so it didn’t make sense for us however I still think cloth diapering trumps disposable in both cost and, certainly, waste.

Household Cleaners

Though my husband hates when I clean with vinegar (a smell he cannot stand) it’s too cheap and effective not to use. There are very few areas in my house that I can’t clean with some combination of vinegar, water, basic dishsoap or baking soda (here’s a good list of DIY cleaners). I do admit that I usually do have Windex on hand as well for windows and glass tables (the vinegar and water just won’t get streak-free to my satisfaction with greasy toddler fingerprints) but a regular sized bottle of such will last me seemingly forever.

Given that there are entire sections in grocery stores dedicated to nothing but cleaning products you don’t need basically any of it. When we first bought our house I remember going out and spending close to $10 for a cleaner that was dedicated to nothing but cleaning the top of our glass stove. I used it once, realized it was nothing but an abrasive scrub (food loves to stick to glass stoves) and that a water and baking soda paste worked just as good. Though I’m not a super health nut or anything, using a bunch of chemicals around surfaces my family lives and eats (especially things like highchairs) simply doesn’t appeal to me, nor does paying premium prices for pre-made, pre-packed, chemical free goods from the stores.

What a family will need varies between each house, but I do think in general we’re too quick to do the easiest thing possible- like buy special cleaner for your table to point, spray and wipe with paper towel, rather than wiping it off with a disposable cloth with warm soap and water which then may mean an extra laundry item- but honesty it takes no extra effort, and can make a huge difference in both finances and overall waste, so try it!

What household items do you commonly save on?

Times When You Shouldn’t Make Any Financial Decisions

Last Friday was an honest-to-God awful day for me. It started with a totally unnecessarily long wait at the local women’s hospital for one of my pregnancy bloodwork tests which caused me to be late for work, annoying enough when your day is scheduled with booked patients. Me being 30 minutes late doesn’t affect just me, it can affect my entire patient load for the day so it’s a huge annoyance. I did manage to park in the parkade by work for free though (normally a cost of $18 for the day) thanks to a pass given by another employee. Just as my day was turning around, it went even worse. As I was pulling into the underground parkade, another dumb driver wasn’t paying attention and almost went ‘’out’’ the ‘’in’’ causing me to swerve (my car is basically in park that’s how slow I was moving) but I was forced to move the wheels enough that my mirror hit the card pass meter and break off the whole back-end of my mirror. To make matters worse, before I even realized what happened, he had left the parkade.

My day just kept going like that. Patients not showing up. One who did show up had to be cut short because she was clearly under the influence of something, construction not allowing me to leave after work…you get my drift. Bad. Day.

I’m pretty good at not letting things get to me. I’m good at finding positives and moving on but I couldn’t concentrate at work and quite honestly for the first time in a long time wanted to leave work and get away from basically all of humanity. I was in a serious funk.

On my drive home I felt something I hadn’t felt in a long time. The feeling of not caring. Not giving a crap and acting on my impulses. This leads me to my first point of when you should never make a financial decision.

During an Emotional High or Low

As I was driving home I was thinking about my sister-in-law’s upcoming wedding and things that need to be done. The night before I had done a quick search about finding maternity pantyhose for my dress. I wasn’t surprised to find out the cheapest I could buy locally were $17 plus tax, per pair. A cost I couldn’t justify when I’ll wear them literally one day and normal pantyhose can be purchased at basically any drug store for like $5.00. I was annoyed at the cost but accepted no one would care if my pale bare legs were on display.

However on my drive home I had a ‘’screw it’’ moment. I actually changed lanes and almost drove to the mall to spend the cash on the pantyhose. Not because I now wanted them or had changed my mind but because part of me wanted to satisfy that ‘’I don’t care anymore’’ feeling. I had one full red light to realize I was just being irrational and opted to buy a $2.00 ice cream instead, still an emotional purchase but less damaging.

When you’re going through an emotional high or low, anything from a simple bad day to an exciting new marriage, do not make any immediate financial decisions. Some decisions may be permanent and much more damaging than an ice cream. Take time to sort through all emotion before deciding anything.

When Money Is New

Some of you will be fortunate enough to come into a sum of money. Gifts, inheritances, whatever. If you do, even if you have thought and dreamt about what you’d do with it- wait. Give yourself some time to really think about things and get advice. Talk to trustworthy friends, family and ideally professionals about how to best execute your plan. If we came into money my quick response would be ‘pay off debt’ but upon talking to someone else they may point out reasons why investing might be a better option. Get good advice, then decide.

When You’re Distracted

There are many, many distractions in life. Everything from technology, to our jobs, to family, if you don’t have time set aside time to think about your financial decision, wait until you do. It’s only fair to you and your money that you make all decisions with a clear mind and away from all other noise.

Money can be a stressful thought, even a good kind of stress, and I think some people are quick to make decisions so they no longer have to think about it but there are definitely times when taking a pause is always a good idea.

Have you ever experienced a regret in a financial decision because of one of these reasons?

How to Successfully Buy a Used Car

How to Successfully Buy a Used Car

I have never bought a brand new car nor have I ever taken a loan out on a car. I have always bought used vehicles from private sellers. There is an art to this though. While I’ve had great experiences with both cars I’ve purchased this way, not everyone has had luck with buying used cars or purchasing vehicles from private sellers.

Purchasing from a private seller can be a bit unnerving, just like buying a used car instead of a brand new car can be a bit worrisome. However, you don’t have to worry about buying a used car from a private seller if you keep these simple tips in mind:

  1. It helps if you know the seller beforehand. The first car that I bought from a private seller was a car I purchased from a family friend. We weren’t very close but I knew her enough to know that she wouldn’t sell me a lemon. She was up front with the problems that the car had. It needed new tires, new brakes and rotors and the trunk didn’t always open. I purchased the car for $1,000 and had the car for four more years.
  2. Have the car checked by your mechanic. If you have a trusted mechanic, you should get the car checked by YOUR mechanic before you make the purchase. Ask the seller if you can take the car on a test drive, drive the vehicle to your mechanic and have them do a quick look. Even if the private seller says that they just had the car looked at, you should have it checked by someone you know and trust.
  3. Check the Kelly Blue Book price. This is important when you are purchasing any car. Check the KBB listing for the car. You can look up the year, make and model, factor in mileage and other damage to get the suggested selling price of the car. You want to pay at or below the KBB price. You can use this information to haggle with the seller. KBB also offers reviews of the car from consumers so you can get a good idea of how the car will run.
  4. Be knowledgeable about the vehicle. Do your research and make sure you know what you need to know about the car prior to arriving to see it/buy it. Have a list of questions ready for the seller about the car. If you are not sure if you will be able to come up with a good list of questions yourself or know the right questions to ask, bring someone along who can help you become more knowledgeable about the vehicle.
  5. Don’t be pressured into buying. Many private sellers as well as dealers on car lots will try and pressure you into buying a vehicle. Private sellers will oftentimes tell you that there is more than one person interested in the vehicle and that you’ll have to make a decision quickly in order to still get the car. Don’t be pressured or threatened by these statements. Tell them that you are going to continue to think about it and shop around.

Have you purchased a used car from a private seller? Did you have any luck? 

Photo: Flickr: refreshment_66

How Amateur Investors Can Become Great Money Managers

Invest Without a lot of MoneyFor the investors who are just starting out in the investment world, the process can be quite intimidating and you might think – if the pros can’t beat the market, how can a small-time investor like you have any hope?

Most of the competition out there could probably wipe you out on a daily basis, however if you learn to play up your strength and consider these investing ideas, there’s a fairly good chance you can keep up.

These investing ideas may prove profitable to some fortunate investors however keep in mind that some techniques may be contradictory – you just have to find out what works best for you. This is just a guideline to get you started.

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