10 Ways Your Car Is Draining Your Money

Let’s face it. Cars are expensive! Between the initial costs of buying a car, putting gas in the tank, paying for insurance and making sure it’s maintained, owning a car can be one of the most expensive things in your budget.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be so costly. Many of the things you’ve been taught to do for your car are less for your vehicle’s health and more to help retailers drain your wallet. We’ve collected the top 10 ways your car is draining your money so you can avoid some of these rather pointless monetary wastes in the future:

  1. Premium Gasoline

It might be tempting to shell out for the most expensive gasoline available. We get it — you love your car and want the best for it, but premium gasoline is not the way to go unless using a lesser octane is causing your engine to knock. Trust your owner’s manual on this one: If it doesn’t specifically recommend high octane gas, you’re just throwing your money away.

  1. Dealer Repairs

If you’ve got a warranty that already covers all of your repair costs, then disregard this one. For the rest of us, though, going to the dealer for repairs or routine maintenance is a huge waste of money. Independent shops, at least those that employ ASE certified mechanics, do the job as well or better than the dealership without the excessive cost.

  1. Oil Changes – Part 1

This tends to be a two-fold problem. One, you’re probably changing your oil too often. Many manufacturers’ recommend waiting until you’ve reached 5,000 miles or in some cases even longer to change your oil. The 3 months/3,000 miles rule is a marketing ploy at this point.

  1. Oil Changes – Part 2

The second problem most people run into with oil changes is spending too much on the service. This may be because you’re going to the dealer (as mentioned in #9) or because you’re not doing it yourself. If you’re handy with a wrench, changing your oil yourself can save you a ton of money in the long run. Otherwise, look for sales at your local shops and get it done then!

  1. Check Engine Lights

We’ve all done it — ignored a check engine light or even put a little piece of electrical tape over the dash so we didn’t have to look at it anymore. That can be a costly mistake because small issues that may trigger the check engine light can become worse if ignored. Many parts stores, like AutoZone or Advance, offer free code reading, so you’ve got nothing to lose!

  1. Neglecting Your Filters

We all know to change the oil and air filters, but when was the last time you changed your fuel filter? A clogged fuel filter can become an expensive repair and compromise your car’s fuel efficiency.

  1. Underinflated Tires

Walking around the car to check the air pressure in each tire can be a pain, but it’s a great way to save money in the long run. Improperly inflated tires affect fuel efficiency, wear out quickly (often requiring costly replacements) and can even blow out if not correctly maintained.

  1. Idling Your Car

Sometimes idling is unavoidable — at a stop light, in slow-moving traffic or when trying to warm up your car in freezing temperatures. However, restarting your engine uses less gas than idling your car for 10 seconds. When you can, don’t idle.

  1. Flushing Coolant

Yes, you do periodically need to flush out your cooling system, but it’s not nearly as often as you think. Most new coolant only needs to be changed every 5 years or 50,000 miles, but that may vary because of your car’s make, model or year.

  1. Expensive Extras

Sure, that onboard navigation or movie system might be tempting, but you probably have a smart phone or tablet computer that does all of that and more for a fraction of the price.

Onboard navigation can cost thousands of dollars. You can buy a Garmin or other dashboard GPS for less than $200, or simply use your phone to navigate. Think about that the next time a car salesman talks about all the benefits of onboard navigation!

While things like coolant and oil changes are necessities, there’s no reason you should have to break the bank to keep your car on the road.

Anum Yoon is the founder and editor of Current On Currency. You can catch her on Twitter to read her updates.

7 Things to Do When Reducing Your Debt

7 Things to Do When Reducing Your DebtIt is no secret that Americans have a lot of debt. Here are just a few of the statistics.

You do not want to be trapped with a large debt load and no assets. Develop a plan and incorporate some of the following ideas.

  1. Prioritize Your Debts – Not all debts impact you equally. Examine your finances and identify the debts with the highest interest rates. Pay off the highest interest rate debt first.
  1. Negotiate, Negotiate – Whether it is the interest rate on your credit card or the cost of cell phone service, call and ask for a lower rate. Think of it this way, businesses negotiate with vendors to reduce their costs all of the time. Take the same measures to avoid unnecessary expenses.
  1. Beware Careful with Debt Consolidation Plans – It is normal to feel embarrassed and overwhelmed by your debt load. You might also be a shy person who gets nervous at the thought of negotiating with a company. It is tempting to use a debt consolidation company. Not so fast! Many “professional” debt consolidation plans/services are not beneficial to you. A credit card issuer might give the same interest rate reduction to the debt consolidation company that it would have given to you. Unfortunately, you now owe the negotiator a fee.
  1. Examine Balance Transfers – The balance transfer is another strategy that can have more downside than upside. Some cards hit you with a balance transfer fee that might total hundreds of dollars. If you try shifting debt from card to card multiple times, it lowers your credit score. A lower credit score equates to a higher interest rate for a car loan or mortgage. Do not make a balance transfer unless the deal is sound (i.e. 0% rate) and you pay off the card before the teaser rate expires.
  1. Monitor Your Expenses – How much do you spend on restaurant meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) during the week? Do you go shopping for a new coat and come out of the store with a new outfit and shoes too? “Convenience” and impulse buying really add up quickly for people. Reduce the number of times you eat a restaurant meal per week. Make a shopping list, stick to it, and do not get lured into buying extra items.
  1. Apply Extra Money – Did you earn a bonus at work? Receive an income tax refund? Inherit money from a relative? If you received a windfall, use it to pay down debts.
  1. Make More Money – You do not want to spend money frivolously. However, you need to maximize your earnings too. If you’re a top performer at your company, make a case for better compensation during your next review. Consider taking a side job and applying all of your earnings from it toward debt reduction.

Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

High debt loads cause anxiety and threaten your long-term financial freedom. One researcher found that households without credit card debt had 3 ½ times more savings than those with credit card debt. Do not let yourself become just another sad case. Start reducing your debt today.

5 Signs You May Be Business Analyst Material

What are the traits that separate good business analysts and make them the best in what they do? Well, the answer to this question lies in the character traits that an individual has. Regardless of experience, skills or professional certification, there are some in-born traits that will help a business analyst to accomplish the tasks required quickly and efficiently.

These character traits set you apart from the rest as a business analysis job comes with no authority. Rather, the job comes with heavy responsibilities and demands that are constantly shifting. Further, priorities change with time and the environment is marred with ambiguity that can set the stage for success or failure of the task you intend out to accomplish.

Below are 5 Signs that You May Be a Business Analyst Material. Check them out:

You are inquisitive

Do you ask more questions than you can answer in the course of your interaction with other people? If your answer to this question is yes, then you are cut out to be a business analyst. Great individuals who have a passion for business analysis know that they are conduits for information and it is only through gathering information that they can find fulfillment. They even go an extra mile to validate and refine this information so that it is suited for implementing requirements for a particular project.

You are multi-disciplined

Most business analyst wannabes may have an educational background in Information Technology and another discipline in a field of their choice. Whereas this is important to qualify you for a job in business analysis, this is just but a portion of what is required of you. A sign that you are a business analyst material is if you are capable of working to attain your goal of investigating and analyzing information in various industries. Additionally, you are best suited if you can work in multiple environments, on various tasks that are totally unrelated to your academic qualifications.

You know how to deal with conflict

The truth of the matter is that in all job environments, conflicts are bound to occur. In fact, most business analysts are often faced with unrealistic timelines, unruly stakeholders and a scope of work that is constantly changing. Sometimes you may have worked on a project for weeks; spending sleepless nights and sacrificing your time and then you get completely opposite results. Real business analysts do not get perturbed with such occurrences that are out of their control.

You enjoy engaging with other people

As you will discover, the job of a business analyst is not clearly cut out in terms of duties that they are supposed to do. If you are leading a team, then you will be forced to convince them to join your team with activities that are not on their priority list. It may require more than just an effort and tact to get them on the same page and commit to what you need them to.

You care about the details

Analysts of any kind deal with large volumes of information on a daily basis. However, a business analyst needs to cleverly sift out false information and keep the substantial bits for analysis. This process requires patience, concentration and energy. If you are a person who is keen on small details, then this title fits you.

The traits of business analysts are often sought by employers when recruiting. To succeed, modify these traits to suit your personality and more importantly, your lifestyle. You can find more info about the business analyst job description at www.businessanalystcareerhq.com.

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