How to Buy a Car

Spring is the time of year to make a big purchase. Nobody is buying houses or cars in the winter, unless dictated by necessity. If you’re lucky, the weather is warmer where you are, and you’re having visions of driving down the highway with the top down and if you’re really lucky, you’ll get to actually do that by May. But before you venture out on your car buying journey, heed this important advice (modified from USAA).

When to Shop?

Of course, the easiest time to shop is on weekends for most people–but that’s just it. It’s the best time for MOST PEOPLE! Dealerships are swamped on the weekends and this has some consequences for you. First, you don’t get the attention you deserve and the last thing you want to feel when making a big purchase is rushed. On a slower day, when there’s not a customer waiting in the wings, you are more likely to get a better deal, especially if hours of attention are spent on you–the salesperson does not want to spend time for naught. If you’re able, take a day off from work in the beginning of the week and take advantage of a slow day.

Always shop at the end of a month or quarter (March, June, October, December). Dealers and salespeople have monthly and/or quarterly goals they have to meet in order to qualify for bonuses. Of course, there is always the case that the salesperson has already met their goals. Sometimes, mid-month is the best time to buy for this reason. Feel them out and bide your time.

Shopping on holidays during “sales” is not worth it. Most dealerships will tell you that they offer the same prices throughout the year, or at least you can get that price. Advertised sales is nothing more than clever and flashy marketing.

When to Make an Offer?

Visit your first choice dealership in the morning and leave. You want to browse early in the day, while salespeople are fresh. Explain that you have more dealerships to visit. Come back late in the day and make your offer then. Salespeople are not going to want to spend hours in negotiations. Helping the bottom line for the day is always good and you might be more apt to get a better deal from an anxious manager.

Get the Best Deal

Manufacturers roll out new models in August and September, which means they will need to make room for new inventory. The selection of your older models will be fewer, but if you should be able to score a better deal. If the car is essentially unchanged from last year, even better.

Winter tends to be slow to begin with and if you’ve waited that long, you’ve also waited until the dealership is trying to make year end quotas. Fees and taxes could be reduced on existing inventory, and new models may be in great supply, which makes their pricing flexible. The worst time to buy a new model is in the fall.

However, the fall is the best time to buy utility vehicle, wagon or coupes, when summer vacations have gone by. Convertibles are a best buy in the winter, for obvious reasons. Consumers really want to show off their shiny new drop tops in the summer, and they’re a pain for dealers to have on the lot in the winter.


Making Money from a Website for Small Businesses

Small Business Website Creation


Have a small business?  Or have you been dreaming of starting one?  Regardless of where you are in your journey, the 21st century demands that you have a website.  You may be surprised at how easy it’s become to get your business online, and how affordable it can be.


Starting Your Business

Do you make really awesome crafts or prints that you’d like to sell, but don’t know how?  Etsy may be right up your alley.  Opening up a shop on Etsy is super easy.  It’s free to set up, and then you pay $0.20 per listing.  Once your item sells, Etsy takes a 3.5% cut of the sale price.  But for the convenience and potential market you can reach, that’s a small price to pay.

Maybe you’re a thrift store goddess and want to resell a bunch of stellar finds.  While Craigslist is great for local sales, setting up a business on eBay can help you reach buyers at a scale larger than regional.  When setting up your store, eBay’s interface is extremely user friendly, holding your hand through each step of the process.  A basic store costs $19.95/month to run, or $15.95 if you get a year’s subscription.  There are a couple other nominal fees, but if you’re good at finding and marketing great items at a great price, there’s little holding you back from turning a profit.

If you want to make or sell products that don’t fit into either of those niches, Yahoo Small Business can help you set up a store that fits your individual needs.  You can set up a basic store for $26/month plus a 1.5% transaction fee, all without the hassle of setting up a website one your own.


Getting Your Established Business Online

If what you’re selling is a service, you may not need a store, per se.  But websites are an almost necessary way to advertise your business, and more customers will come back to you if they can visit you online.

The first step in getting your business into the twenty-first century is registering a domain name and getting hosting.  You don’t have to do both at the same place, but many providers, like GoDaddy, do offer both services.  If you look at promo codes and special offers, you can score the first year for as low as $30.  Much like cable packages, subsequent years will never be as cheap as those initial sign-up offers.  But they can still be made affordable by keeping an eye out for deals.

After you have your domain name and hosting, you’ll need to set up and design your website.  This can seem like a daunting task, but there are many website builders out there today, such as Weebly, that make it as simple as click and drag.  WordPress is a great website creation tool if you’re going to have a content heavy website or a blog section to connect with customers on a regular basis.

If the thought of setting up your own website is too daunting for you, there is an entire workforce out there dedicated to doing it for you.  While their fees may initially feel like a big investment, hiring a freelancer to design and set up your website for you can save you time, research, and frustration.  If computers aren’t your forte, hiring someone else to produce a professional-looking product may be worth the added cost.


Spruce Up Your Home for Spring

It’s Springtime! Dark decor and heavy curtains can really put a damper on your springtime happiness. Here are a few ideas to spruce up your decor without breaking the bank.

Wreaths aren’t just for Christmas. Before your flowers bloom and before we are free from the dangers of frost, start with a wreath for your door. Brightly colored flowers will help you adjust your mood before walking through your front door. Better yet, make your own. Stores like Michaels have blanks wreaths and lots of ideas and accessories.

Grocery store flower bunches can be bought for $5 at Stop & Shop! Small bunches of roses and tulips, or any greenery give life and freshness to any space. Save money by getting tiny vases and putting a single flower in each. Line them up or spread them about your home. Keeping flowers on your kitchen island will also remind you to keep it uncluttered, because nothing ruins the effect of fresh flowers like mails, keyfobs, empty dishes and other random objects that adorn your counter. It’s also a great time to shop for indoor plants, if you’re not ready to garden outside. You’ll have them for winter and any greenery in the home is improvement to your health. Faux flowers and grass work, too! You won’t get increased amounts of oxygen, but bright colors are always a good idea.

Open the curtains. Get curtain ties–they don’t even to match. Pattern mixing is very trendy right now. Another way to do this is to buy a wide ribbon (burlap is a great choice to help bring the outside in!). Pin them to your wall if you can stomach the holes.

Change your throw pillows. This is so easy, especially when Walmart or Target has such inexpensive options. Brighten up with colorful or patterned pillows. Do the same with throw blankets! Put away the heavy ones and opt for lightweight fabrics in neutral colors (like white and creme).

Change your photos. Make sure your frames are filled with fun, colorful photos. Landscape photos are a great idea, if just for the time being. Think of last year’s vacation pictures to remind you what fun in the sun feels like!

Make a bowl of fruit, like all oranges, or all lemons as a centerpiece. It’s bright and functional.

Spring cocktails are your friend. Ditch the red wine and create a signature spring cocktail. For ingredients, think cucumbers, orange slices, fruit juices and pink lemonade! Check out Martha Stewart’s awesome ideas!

How to Save Money on Your Next Move

movingMoving is one of the most stressful life events we have to deal with.  It’s also an expensive one.  But you can cut costs and stress levels with a few of these veteran tips:


Start Packing Early

When you start to pack early, great things happen.  The first is that you won’t be rushing around at the last minute, trying to get weeks worth of work done in a few days.  The second is that as you take the time to slowly pack up all of your belongings, you’ll inevitably find things that you don’t need in your life anymore.  Because you started early, you’ll have enough time to list these things on Craigslist or take them to a consignment store, making you money to offset your moving costs, and saving valuable room on the truck.


Get Boxes For Free

Grocery stores generally have a surplus of boxes.  They throw them in a compactor just to dispose of them.  Because they’re built to carry large amounts of food, they’re normally very sturdy and a decent size.  Most of the time, the boxes get compacted over the night shift, so talk to the people working this shift beforehand and ask if they’d be willing to set a few aside for you.


Use Towels To Pack Fragiles

Want to kill two birds with one stone?  Substitute your towels for bubble wrap.  By using them to wrap fragile items, you’ll be saving on buying extra supplies, and packing two things at once.  If you run out of towels, another free option is to use newspaper or circular ads you already receive in the mail.


Enlist Help

Ask for family and friends to help with the move.  Most people may not be initially thrilled, but if you offer pizza and beer to sweeten the deal you should be able to assemble and enthusiastic moving team.  Pizza and beer is a whole lot cheaper than paying a company to do the job for you.  Plus, it will be one final hurrah for your old place.


If you are making a long-distance move and don’t know anyone at the other end, reach out to groups that you will be joining.  Do you have a church you are planning on attending in your new neighborhood?  Is there a softball team at your new office?  While reaching out and asking for help right off the bat may feel a bit awkward at first, it can be a great way to bond quickly.  Just be ready and willing to return the favor someday.


Shop for the Best Deal and the Least Stress

If you have enough people to help you on either end of your move, it’s going to be cheaper to rent, load, and unload your own moving truck.  If you’re doing everything on your own, paying a little extra to have someone do all of that for you may be worth it.  You can either rent your own truck and have movers do the labor, or hire a company to do both.  Each option gets more and more expensive, but never underestimate the value of your sanity.  If two days of solo labor is worth the added cost, don’t feel guilty about splurging to pay someone else to take the burden off your shoulders.


Avoid the Upsell

Wherever you shop for your moving needs, salesmen or computer interfaces will be trying to upsell you.  While a dolly might be a good thing to have while moving, it may be something you can source from one of the people helping you rather than paying an additional fee for it.  Special wrapping for frames can be a good idea, but odds are towels or newspapers will do you just fine anyways.  Keep in mind that those little add-ons add up quickly, and that you may not actually “need” any of them when all is said and done.