How To Pay Off Car Loans Faster

Making One Extra Payment a Year Makes a Difference

Monthly payments are expensive enough, the thought of making extra payments can be overwhelming and stressful. However, if you take your monthly payment of, let’s say $360.00, and you divide it by 12, the total number of payments per year, you would get $30.00. If you add that $30.00 to your monthly payment, at a total of $390.00, you would make one full monthly payment early. In comparison to the $360.00 monthly payments, $30.00 isn’t much, but little figures over an extended period of time really stack up and lower your total vehicle loan balance as well as reduce interest payments.

Rounding Your Payments Up Can Help

Another method you can use to pay off your vehicle loan a little faster, is to round your payments up. Assuming your budget allows it, you could add an additional $40-$50 to your monthly payment, reducing the principle balance each month by that little bit extra in your payment. For instance, using the example given above, and assuming that your monthly required payment was $360.00, you could round that monthly payment up to $375.00 or $400.00, effectively reducing not only the principle balance of the loan, but also the interest payments. This may seem like a stretch, but consider the fact that this method allows you to pay off the balance of the loan 2 months early.

Refinancing Strategies to Lower Your Interest Rates

One of the fastest methods of saving money on interest and lowering your car loan payments is to refinance your car loan. Larger commercial banks and financial institutions usually offer refinancing options with higher interest rates than most local community banks and smaller credit unions. Researching and comparing the available resources in your area allows you to determine whether you will be able to refinance for a lower interest rate or not. Generally speaking, a 1% reduction in your interest rate would be worth taking when you factor in that you could maintain the same monthly payment total and ultimately reduce the time it would take to completely pay off your car loan.

Make Bi-Weekly Payments of Half Your Monthly Payment Total

Some lenders and creditors will allow you to make payments every 2 weeks rather than making the once-a-month payment. If your bank or credit union offers this service, take the advantage and use it. By increasing the frequency of your payments, the principle balance of your car loan is credited faster than by making less frequent, or once-a-month, payments. Verification that your lender doesn’t charge extra for this service, and that your contract has no other payment requirements, grants you the ability to save a lot of money on interest payments.

Doing Side Jobs to Generate an Extra Income

Extra income is another great efficient way to pay off any loan a little faster. Putting in overtime at work, offering services on sites like Craigslist, or Fiverr, to tutor, to landscape, paint, or any service you’re good at on the weekends are all good choices, but remember, you’re not restricted in options. Keep in mind that, while working extra hours or weekends for a little more money may be overwhelming, it’s only temporary until you can pay off your car loan comfortably. Also, as a note, think of all the time and money you can save by combining extra income with one of the previously mentioned methods to pay your loan off faster!

What Happens When Your Car Payment Is Late

Not matter how punctual you can be, there is usually a time when you are late paying for your car payment. You have to learn the consequences of making a late payment.

The outcome of missing one car payment

To begin with, if it is the very first time to miss this kind of payment, your lender is likely to give you a call reminding you of the same. He or she will like to know when you need to make the payment. Should you set a date which is not far away, he may end up helping you make some adjustments to your payment plan.

Is a penalty or rate fee likely to be charged?

You ask yourself whether your credit score is likely to be impacted. In most cases, most lenders do not report their clients to the credit bureaus that soon. This gives you a grace period of ensuring your credit core is in order. Though that is the case, it is not likely to last for a long time.

What are the consequences of delaying the Car Payment for 30 days?

Serious consequences are accorded to those who exceed paying for more than 30 days. You may risk being reported to major credit bureaus such as: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Additionally, your lender may give you a number of calls persuading you to pay the due amount.

The frequency of the calls increases till you have accumulated more than 30 days.

What are the consequences of delaying the Car Payment for 90 days?

You may be declared by your lender to have defaulted a loan once 90 days are over. Once the loan is in default, it may be handed over to a debt collection agency. This means that the collection agency will be entitled to some fraction of the total amount you owe your lender. At this situation, you may end up loosing your vehicle since the repossession process has begun.

Should your vehicle be repossessed, you have to remember that all belongings in the car still belong to you. The lender will still give you your possessions even if the vehicle was taken while you were away.

What option do you have if you still are not in a position to pay for you car once it has been repossessed? You have to research the number options available to get out of debt. Various options are usually dependent of the amount of debt. You can file for bankruptcy or save a lump some amount of money a clear the debt at once. This is when you need the services of a reputable credit counselor.

Outfitting A Home Recording Studio On A Budget

Something that I have been interested in for quite some time now is setting up my own little mini recording studio in my apartment. I don’t have a lot of space or a lot of money, which is what has kept me from doing this before now. It all started back in college when I got a cheap acoustic guitar for beginners after wanting to learn to play all throughout high school. I spent many an afternoon out in the quad under the big oak tree attempting to teach myself how to play and woo some of my crushes. Though I did not end up successfully wooing anyone, I did manage to teach myself to play guitar on a pretty decent level.

Fast forward to today and I’ve been using that same guitar to write my own music for the past couple of years or so. And, I’ve gotten so many of them complete that I think the time has come to start assembling a mini recording studio here in the apartment so that I can start laying down some of these songs. But home recording studio gear is expensive. Even if you’re going bare bones. Fortunately, I already have the instrument, a decent enough computer and a USB microphone that I can use for now. But that still leaves me needing to buy a few things.

First up is a good set of speakers so that I can be certain that I’m getting the sound that I desire. I don’t really have to spend a lot on these as I’ve come across some of the best studio monitors under 200 that will help me keep my spending down. So that is pretty great.

Next up, I need to come up with a solution for a good mixing board that is also low priced. Or, I can go completely digital with it and use some software. Of course, the software is not exactly cheap either. In a dream world, I’d be using something like Pro Tools and making kick ass music with no money worries. But, that’s not real life when you’re paying off debt, eh? So, I’m not really sure that I’m going to do about this just yet. Currently, I am using Audacity as it is free and it is pretty good too but not as robust as what I’m looking for right now.

Soundproofing is something else that I need to work on sound that I don’t end up with a lot of reverb issues and the like. Fortunately, this is something that I do not think that I will have to spend money on as I’ve got a few things around the apartment that I can use for this purpose. Taking the old egg shell mattress cover and putting it on the ceiling and then covering the walls with some old blankets. For the window? A few layers of bubble wrap should just about cover it. And since there are bookcases in the room that I will be using, that should take care of any other sound issues that I might encounter.

So what do you think? Am I leaving anything out?

Reducing Your Travel Costs

When it comes time to create the budget for a little weekend trip or longer vacation, those travel costs can really start to add up. And while some of them can be reduced, not all of them can. So, let’s look at some of the more costly areas of travel and a few ways to reduce them so that you travel budget does not get maxed out before you even leave home.

Transportation is probably the biggest of the travel expenses. At least if you are not single. Think about it – there are lots of ways to travel but what is most expensive really varies by family size. For instance, flying is very costly for a family of five while it may be the cheapest for a single person. So, you need to add up the costs to see which is cheapest for you. For most people, the transport ways to choose from would be:

  • car (road-trip style)
  • plane
  • train
  • bus

If you are leaning towards driving your own vehicle, then do not forget to include the cost of gas and any tolls – as well as wear and tear to the vehicle. I like to use the Gas Buddy website to get an estimate of fuel costs for a potential road trip.

If you are flying, then you can use sites like Travelzoo to look for any airline discounts that you can use for some low airfare. You can also use the same site for hotel deals, if you plan on staying in a hotel.

Speaking of hotels, lodging is probably the next biggest area for people’s spending when traveling.  While you can find great deals on rooms using sites like the one mentioned above, you do not actually have to stay in a hotel when traveling. You might prefer to spend less and stay in a hostel, a vacation rental or even do a bit of camping. Each of these can offer substantial cost savings depending on the number of people in your traveling party.

Food is another one of those big budget areas when taking a trip away from home. This is because most of the time you do not have access to a stove, refrigerator or any other way to make some of your own meals. That leaves you to dining out, which is usually overpriced compared to grocery store prices. However, you can save money on food a few different ways.

Pack a cooler with cold items that won’t spoil like salad stuff, bite size veggies and bottled waters. This is a great way to have snacks and drinks on hand without having to spend anything else. And if you end up staying in a place with a mini-fridge, then you can transfer stuff from the cooler to the fridge.

If you’re a coffee drinking, then those coffee shop visits will really add up and bite a hole out of your budget. Instead, check out some of the best portable travel coffee makers so that you can make your own cup o’joe and save a lot of money in the process. Or, book a room at a hotel with a coffee maker!

If you are doing a hotel stay, then you can opt for one that kitchenette so that you can do a bit of cooking. Or, just a simple microwave gives you an easy way to heat up some soup or other food on your own.

I hope that these tips have made your travel planning a bit more affordable. If you have some tips of your own to share, just leave them in the comments below.

Ways To Save Money On Back To School Shopping

It’s that time of year again – the time when the summer starts to wind down and the kids and teachers have to return to those early morning alarm clock calls for the back-to-school routine to set back in.

And with the return to school comes an increase in the expenditure for most families. This can be anything from just your normal school supplies like notebooks, pencils and backpacks to things like special uniforms for school and high tech gear like scientific calculators

One thing is certain though – you can end up spend a lot of money during this time of year if you do not keep your spending in check. Fortunately, there are some great ways that you can keep those costs down and stay in budget while getting everything that your child needs for the new school year.

Probably the biggest way to save money and get cheap school supplies is just by watching the sales ads each week to see if there is anything at a fire sale price that you need to buy. Often the office superstores, like Staples and Office Depot, run penny sales where you can get things like notebooks and for just $0.01.  Sometimes the sales are at a higher price, but almost always they are well under a buck. I do not even have kids but still use this time of year to stock up on office supplies at a steep discount.

Buying only what you need is another way to save money when back to school shopping. For me, it is hard to not buy lots of the stuff under $1.00 just cause it is so low priced and there is the chance (small chance) that I might need something like it before the same sale rolls around next year.  But buying things that you do not need does not make good financial sense. For me or for you! So, create a list of things that you need before you leave the house and stick with it. Most schools these days offer parents a list of supplies that are needed, which makes it super easy to do your shopping from a list.

Shopping around also saves you money. By comparing price and selection between different stores, you can determine who has the lowest price and the best products. You’d be surprised how effective this is at lower your overall spending amount when shopping like this.

What are some ways that you and your family cut costs when doing a little back to school shopping?

Is Dining Out Ever a Good Idea

Going out to restaurants is one of those things that we all do from time to time.  Some of us more than others though. And a lot of personal finance blogs and gurus say that this is one of those things that we all need to cut back on.  But is it really?

Sure the cost of a meal at a rrestaurant is a lot higher than if you made it yourself.  But whar about the time value of money?

For instance, it takes me a really good long time to make a meal at home as I’m not so great in the kitchen. And when you consider the time value of money, it looks like dining out is a good thing for me since it frees up time for me to work on income producing projects.

But there is a catch.  My income potential is only so high.  That means that meals out for me are only worth it up to a certain degree. And I believe this is true for a lot of people out there.

Granted, if you just lay around watching the television all night then it is not a good return on the time saved for you to dine out at a restaurant.

Another thing to consider – what if you would not be spending the time saved on something that produces an income but on something else beneficial, such as your health. Say you do a little working out in your home gym like this site recommends with the time saved by grabbing restaurant food. Or, maybe you can spend the time working on some personal development or something like crafty items that you post up for sale on Etsy or a similar site.

So, no, dining out is not always a bad idea. And for some people and some situations, it is even a good idea when you consider the time value of money that comes into play.

Poker – Is Patience is a virtue?

Table Tales – Patience

I was having a bit of fun today in a tourney over at Everest Poker.

Anyway, finally I made it down to the last three without much drama and then got on top through some blind stealing as the other guys seemed kind of passive. The weakest of these guys fell in the end as he ran out of chips to play with and got penned in the corner… leaving 2 of us heads up.

Next thing, it got to the point where I had 65% of the chips and got a tasty enough looking hand (QJs). The other guy goes “all-in” off the bat so I call him… he’s holding J6… he hits the straight with the 6… I call him a “nice guy” and “pat” my monitor;)

Anyway, I have been playing like a muppet all week so am playing for my pride here and stay patient. I get QQ and he goes all in again… this time I win… I now have 70% of the chips. He goes all one more time… this time my J10 against his 107… I am waiting for him to get lucky again… my fist is ready… not this time… my hand wins out.

I don’t always have it, but patience is a virtue and I think the beats and what have you will even out… just bear it in mind.

Why Doesn’t Anyone Visit my Blog?

There are many tribes who live in the Amazon, few people ever make contact with them and there are maybe some that haven’t yet been discovered. Only a few intrepid explorers ever meet up with them.

When you start off your website on the world wide web, you are like a tribe in the middle of the Amazon. Chances are that no-one is ever going to know about you . Maybe just the odd person who stumbles upon you when they are lost. You are in the middle of nowhere and you don’t exist on any map. If you want to be found, put yourself on the map.

Starting to look at your website like this can open up a whole new philosophy of Internet marketing . When I first started out I was angry because nobody visited. I was angry with all the Internet users in the world. Then suddenly one day it clicked… it’s not their fault. 99.99999% of them don’t even know I exist.

I then started to think of a website like a club or village or city in the real world. There are some cities in the world that are world famous. Everybody knows of them and there is a reason, they are full of attractions and things to do. If you look in a travel book they are there. They have major highways, train links and airports. They stick out on the map. There are signposts to them everywhere. You can’t miss them. These are like the super-bloggers such as ProBlogger and John Chow.

Of course not everybody wants to be Mayor of New York. Some people are just happy running a small exclusive club. Whatever you do though, you have to think about how and where you will find your customers and make sure you are where they are looking. The more places you are referenced and the better your venue is signposted, the more visitors you are going to get. When they arrive you want to make sure you have what they want as well.

Hold a party, strive to please your customers and start to spread the word. If you keep your venue smart, are friendly and welcoming, the visitors will keep coming back. Try to beat their expectations, just as in the real world. If you want more visitors, then you need to build more attractions to keep them interested and you need to make sure these attractions are advertised.

When you go to a party, there is always the one person who everyone seems attracted to. This is the person who is approachable and most of all passionate. Remember that, people are attracted to passion. They are also drawn to a person who smiles. Don’t be the person sitting in the corner hoping someone comes over to them, be the one going over.

This metaphor could go on in a million different directions, but the point I am getting at is that the Internet is not that alien from the real world. Think about things in relation to the real world. Use what you use in the real world.

You will find success.

The Power of Financial Diversity

As I mentioned in my last post, I was recently laid off. I have found some more work, but the experience has made me think a lot about financial diversity and the idea of not putting all your eggs in one basket.

One of the things that has suddenly clicked in my head, is the idea that if you are dependent on one source for the majority of your income then you are pretty much owned by that person or that company. If you rely on an employer for most of your income then you are a slave to them and their ideas.

Having a diversified portfolio of income gives you independence and gives you the power to choose how and where you get your money from.

It also cushions you from the ups and downs in one line of business or in one company.

  • If you rely on your savings account for the majority of your income, what happens when interest rates fall?
  • If you rely on your property, what happens when you can’t rent it out?

I think it is a simple philosophy, but the benefits of diversifying your income are easy to see and is something everyone should start thinking about doing today.

My mission from now on is take make sure that I am never again reliant on one source of income for more than 33% of my income (we shall make that living income). That could be anything, whether a job, a bank account or my own company. I don’t want my fate tied so closely into one thing.

I want the power to choose and I think diversification gives you that.

What do you choose?

3 Rules for Coping with Change

I am writing this from the position of recently having lost my job and now moving onto new things. When reality hit that I was no longer employed and that I wasn’t going to be receiving my latest paycheck, I decided to take a step back and make sure I reacted in a positive way.

Amongst all that was going on around me and the situation it was pretty difficult, but I am also a pretty simple person, so I like things as straightforward as I can make them. I like a simple method I can follow, because the simpler it is, the easier it is to fall back on. This is how I dealt with the upheaval.

The first thing I did was to accept that I couldn’t alter what had happened and so put that behind me. Why waste time on if’s and but’s and things you can’t change? The situation was done, it wasn’t going to change, no matter what I did. So…

  • Rule 1: You can’t change what has already happened, don’t waste your energy.

The second thing I did was decide to see what the positive side of being laid off was. Or what it “could” be. As they say, you attract what you focus on, so I started to look at the opportunities for change that it gave me, the new possibilities.

Once I started doing this I actually became pretty upbeat and life started moving in a positive direction again. Then the momentum effect began to take over, it’s important just to get the ball rolling.

  • Rule 2: Look for the opportunities the change has created.

I believe Winston Churchill once said that “some people see difficulty in all possibilities while some people see possibility in all difficulties”. I think this is something to bear in mind. When change happens, train yourself to focus on the possibilities.

Having seen the opportunities that being out of work had given me, somethings that I had been blind to previously, I quickly started to feel more positive and decided to pick my fight. Where was my energy and focus going to go?

For me, it wasn’t going to be to fight the change. It was going to be to fight for a better future. The result being that I have now found myself a better job and also have set about more time for myself to update me skills.

  • Rule 3: Pick your fight wisely, then put all you energy into it.

Of course, you can choose to fight the change (if you are sure it is a change for the worse and it’s of a benefit to be fought) or you can choose to fight for new openings and new opportunities.

This is my simple story. This is my simple method of dealing with change. I hope you can take some optimism from this and start to believe that all change isn’t bad. Find your own way of coping and turning it into a positive experience and make it a habit.