Car Buyers’ Worst Mistakes

How much money do you think educated car buyers can save over uneducated buyers when buying the same car? Would $5,000 get your attention?

While you may not save as much as $5,000, you’ll save a bunch if you avoid these classic car-buying errors.

1. Showing enthusiasm. If you act excited, the sellers know they have a unique product you want. The price goes up instantly. Keep that enthusiasm in check until you’ve driven home. Sneer a little if you like the car.

2. Buying in a hurry. If you buy on your first visit to a dealership, you don’t have time to compare. Take your time. Be willing to walk away. The price at most dealerships falls quickly if you move slowly.

3. Giving deposits before the dealer approves your offer on a vehicle. Feel free to give a deposit, if you really want a vehicle. But don’t give it until the boss has said “yes.” Some dealerships use deposits to keep you there while they try to convince you to pay more. And you can’t leave if they have your deposit–money, a credit card, a driver’s license, or your kids.

4. Being switched to leasing without doing your homework. Because dealerships make a much larger profit if they lease rather than sell, even the best dealership is going to try to “switch” you. They’ll try to convince you leasing is cheaper than buying. In most instances, it isn’t. If you want to lease, fine. Just don’t do it on the spur of the moment.

5. Trading in your old car without knowing its value in advance. A dealership has the right to give you the least you will take for your old car. But you have a right to get the most your car is worth. To know that value, simply clean it up, and try to sell it to several used car departments. The highest amount you’re offered for it is your car’s real value right now. Don’t accept less than that in trade.

6. Financing automatically at the dealership. Dealerships may be the cheapest place to finance. To find out, simply bring a copy of the filled-out dealer contract to your credit union and compare contracts. If the dealership won’t give you a copy, they’re probably telling you they’re not really the cheapest.

Big mistakes, big bucks out the window. We like to help you preserve your money–that’s what credit unions are all about. Avoid these mistakes, and put that money to work rather than throwing it away.

Copyright 2008 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved. 

Five Biggest Summer Spending Blunders

It’s that time of year again. You’re feeling carefree and in the mood to … spend. Hang on to your wallet and beware of the following, according to MSN Money:

On average, there are 2.5 million weddings celebrated each year, many in the summer. If you’re on the guest list, plan ahead and budget for gifts. If you see something on sale now, pick it up. The bride will never know you got it for half price.

Garage sales
Warm weather inspires many people to drag out the junk they don’t want and sell it to someone else. Block the temptation–don’t stop at a yard sale unless you’re really looking for something.

This year you’ll forego the fancy hotel and plane trip and rough it in the woods. Be careful, that $450 sleeping bag that will keep you warm down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit might not be what you need–in the summer. Outdoor sporting goods retailers know consumers want the coolest equipment. Also keep in mind park entrance fees, campsite fees, and other items you’ll need such as firewood and food.

Don’t be taken by the “Old Ball Game”
According to Team Marketing Report, the cost for a family of four to attend a major league ballgame including tickets, food and beverages, and souvenirs is now $194.98. Consider watching the game on TV, or, if you do go, eat before the game and set a limit as to what you’ll spend on extras.

Credit cards
Consider leaving the credit cards at home. It’s easy to use plastic, but your worst nightmare could be paying for that summertime fun after your tan has faded. If you think you will need to use a credit card, talk to someone at Hopewell Federal Credit Union. Credit union credit cards interest rates generally are lower than bank credit card rates.

Copyright 2010 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved. 

Top Ways Americans Are Slashing Spending

Between the beginning of the recession in 2007 up until May 2011, Americans have cut spending by nearly $7,300 compared to what they would’ve otherwise spent if the recession didn’t occur. Looks like the recession had a lingering silver lining. Reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the report shows that the average consumer spent about $175 less each month than before the recession.

Hats off to all you consumers out there for pinching pennies at the grocery store, clipping coupons, skipping morning lattes, trimming vacations, and whatever small yet significant ways your own household tightened its belt to cope with the recession. It’s healthy to trim the fat from your finances, and imagine what $175 saved each month can go towards—to pad a savings account, build an emergency fund, or hack away at debt.

Consumer spending is inching up since the start of 2011, which is necessary for a recovering economy. However, look for ways to keep up your  smart saving and budgeting; slipping back into pre-recession spending habits could lead to the same over-borrowing on credit that pushed Americans to the brink of recession.

Need motivation to keep up money-saving habits?

Try following the crowd! A recent Harris poll found the top 10 ways Americans are cutting back on spending, which can definitely help keep you on the right track for smart spending.

  1. 67% of Americans started purchasing more generic brand goods at the grocery store. 
  2. Almost half of us, at 46%, are brown-bagging lunch from home instead of buying. 
  3. 43% are skipping appointments and going to the hairdresser or barber less often.
  4. 39% switched from purchasing bottled water to using a refillable water bottle (a wallet and environment friendly move).
  5. 31% cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions (also environmentally friendly).
  6. About a quarter of us, at 24%, are cutting down on dry cleaning.
  7. 22% cancelled or downgraded television cable.
  8. 21% are skipping buying coffee in the morning (and maybe making it at home instead).
  9. Following #5, 18% cancelled a newspaper subscription.
  10. 16% cancelled landline phones and are relying on cell phone instead.

Which of these strategies are you already doing, and which new ones can you pick up to add more money-savvy moves to your daily routine?

Justine Rivero is the Credit Advisor and resident Credit Rockstar for Credit Karma, the pro-consumer credit advocate that helps more than 2.6 million consumers realize the everyday cost savings of having great credit health.

Credit Karma™ is a completely free credit management service that provides free credit scores, personalized savings recommendations, and financial education. We believe free access to one’s credit score is a fundamental consumer right. Credit Karma helps more than 2.4 million consumers realize the everyday cost savings of having a good credit score. Visit us at