Where to Shop…Parte Dos!

With all the deal sites out there, we no longer have to be strapped down to a particular day like Cyber Monday to find the right gift for the holidays.  My only tip to you is that if you see something you like or that screams ‘buy it for danny’ (fill in a name), then get it RIGHT AWAY.  Do not wait and think about it.  I have done that on a couple of deals and then I decide let’s do it, and then its SOLD OUT.  Check out my PS in The Giving Season is Upon Us…where to shop for your holiday gifts for you and for everyone on your list! for how to handle seeing a lower price after you’ve made your purchase.  Keeping that in mind I give you another batch of sites to find the deals!
Ideeli – I have purchased quite a few things over the last few years from this site.  It is by far one of my favorites!  Here you can find clothes for women, men and children.  Shoes, jewelry, outerwear, high designer items, new designer items, travel, houseware, experiences and they are always adding more things.  YOUR INVITATION  
Ruelala – This is a site I recently discovered.  This covers items for men, women, kids, clothes, accessories, footwear, home, wine, gourmet food, local services, travel and special fixes :)  This site has a nice feature 9.95 covers shipping for a month.  YOUR INVITATION 
Groupon –   This site offers tons of great things that are in your neck of the woods.  Support your local businesses in your area while making memories to boot and not hurting your wallet.  YOUR INVITATION
LivingSocial – This is another great site for getting to know your local businesses and if you buy a deal, refer it and 3 friends also get it, yours is free!  How awesome is that!
Vacations To Go –  Get daily deals to vacations of all price ranges, including river cruises, hotels and resorts, escorted tours, and African Safaris.  Feel free to email Alan any inquiries, he’s emailed me back on numerous occasions.
Until then, Happy Shopping,
PS: Look for the Discount Shopping Page!

The Giving Season is Upon Us…where to shop for your holiday gifts for you and for everyone on your list!

While Cyber Monday has come and gone, fear not there are plenty of sites to get daily deals for the best gifts for your friends and family. Some deals are so good you might just want to get it for yourself!

Daily Candy –  Here you will get an email of articles of things to read that come from their site. Topics range from fashion, beauty, food & drink, home & garden, travel, culture, gift ideas and deals. I am signed up on their New York version but many of the major cities are represented; just pick the closest to you!  The nicer feature is the deals that you get from different vendors in the area that you live in. Be creative and pick up some deals to create memories with various experiences around town. I have actually picked up quite a few deals on here, including Christmas gifts!

Gilt.com – Invitation only website that has a few categories to choose from…clothes, accessories, jewelry, shoes, luggage, beauty products, men women and children …all higher end goods at deep discount prices, don’t have an invitation? But of course you do :) YOUR INVITATION

Gilt Taste – Get the goods on meats, seafood, cheeses, prepared goods, pantry items, sweets, produce, beverages, wine and equipment…

Gilt City – Another great website that gives you deals for your city…choose your local and enjoy exclusive dining experience, sold-out show tickets, luxury salons, spas, cool shops…etc YOUR INVITATION

PARK & BOND – A site for the fellas; clothing, accessories, footwear, designers, vintage watches :)

JETSetter – Luxury Travel Deals – YOUR INVITATION

Portero Luxury – Premium Pre-Owned Prized Bags, Totes, Scarves, Wristwatches, wallets, cluthes and other things including vintage. You can also sell items on this site. Does not require an invitation.

Lot 18 – An invitation only Wine Store that has recently added gourmet items and experiences.  YOUR INVITATION

Snique Away – An invitation only Discount Travel Site YOUR INVITATION

Open Sky – Tailored Shopping by creating a team of celebrities that recommend their favorite things and how to get it at a discount. YOUR INVITATION

This is just the tip of the iceberg!  Stay tuned to more places to shop for yourself and others this holiday season and into the next year.
Until then, Happy Shopping!

PS  If you happened to notice that Cyber Monday seemed to extend for the entire week and you feel like you should wait for a better price, don’t.  I have made several holiday gift buys over the last few weeks only to find it at a lower price the next day.  Check out the return policy of where you purchased the item.  Some places will give back a price difference after a certain amount of days, typically seven.  However some vendors have strict no price difference policies.  If you run across the latter, simply contact their customer service.  Let them know you just purchased an item that has appeared at a lower price than what you purchased it at.  Ask them what is the best way to go about getting the price difference.  Be clear and let them know that you are aware that they do not issue price difference refunds for items purchased when the price drops but that you were wondering if there was an easier way than returning and repurchasing.  You would be surprised how accommodating vendors can be.  If they happen to be a stickler for their policies than re-buy at the sale price and return the one at the higher price.Good Luck and feel free to share your story!

Its the End of the Model Year Car Event, Are you looking to buy?

All this weekend I kept hearing “Model Year End Sale Event” while watching TV.  It reminded me that this month marks my one year anniversary of purchasing my current car.  I planned years in advance, pushing the car I had been driving for as long as I could possibly, in hopes that I could save enough to afford the car I wanted.  Cars can be a big purchase and if you are going to spend that kind of money than you should do your homework.  Here is what I found out:
  1. Check to see if you have money in your budget to buy a new or newer car. If not, then it is probably not a good idea to try and buy one.  A used car, might get you from a to b, until you can free up and/or make enough money to afford a car payment.  Experts suggest that you should spend no more than 20% of your household income to buy and operate car.
  • If you have extra money in your budget but are not sure you can truly afford making car payments, then make pretend payments.  What are pretend payments? In 2008 I knew that my car was not doing well.  I had an idea that I would have to replace it soon but wasn’t sure if I could make payments on a car.  I decided to put aside an amount that I thought I could afford each month without hurting my budget. Each month I would write that “pretend car payment bill” to my savings account.  If within a year, I felt comfortable with making that payment then I could afford a car in that price range.  I then used a calculator to see how much car I could afford with that payment.  When it was time to actually purchase the car I had saved up $3000 to put as a down payment.
  • Research the kind of car you’d like to purchase.  If you are spending a good chunk of money on a car, doesn’t it make sense to do your homework first? MSN Autos is where I conducted most of my research.
    • What kind of car do you want?
    • Do you know the exact make and model?
    • What do the experts say about it?
    • What do other drivers say about it?
    • What would the insurance cost to drive it?
    • How much will you car taxes be and car registration?
    • Do your thoughts change after taking it for a test drive?
    • What price difference would there be if you got the same car in a different model year?
    • Will it fill your needs?  ex: number of people you need to fit, luggage if you go on business, shopping at the outlets :)
    • Where can you find your car?  carmax.com, autotrader.com, cars.com specific dealerships, private owners
    • How much will it cost you to finance?  Total payments, final cost
    • If you are in a car accident and have to get it fixed, will it put you in the money pit hole?
    • Should you get brand new or certified?
    • What does the warranty cover?
    • Does unusual changes to the car like tints or a car alarm change your warranty?
    • When is the best time to buy?  Newer models usually come out in September, so to make room for the next years model, they give better deals to get cars off the lot.
    • If you are late with a payment does that change the conditions of your loan?  Does the APR note go up?
    • How much will gas cost you, more or less than what you are currently driving?
    • Will it need special tires in the winter time/summer time?  Tires can be costly, especially if they have to change with season.
    • Will your car qualify as a trade in?  Or will it make more sense to sell it privately.  The Kelly Blue Book Website can give you an estimate.
  • Bring a friend.  It doesn’t matter who you bring as long as you bring someone.  If you are not ready to actually purchase the car and just want to take it for a test drive, then that friend can remind you of that….In case you drive the car and you just absolutely love it and want to buy it right then and there.  The person you bring could also be mechanically inclined…ask them to also take it for a test run.  It is always a comfort to get a thumbs up from someone who is more car mechanically inclined than you.  Luckily for me, my brother in law works with cars.  If you do not know someone perhaps someone you know, knows someone, NETWORK!
  • Is your credit in order?  I read in several places that the score for car loans is slightly different than what you would see on the typical credit score report.  It takes into consideration if you’ve ever had a car loan before or if you have recorded any car buying type transaction.  However, the regular FICO score is a pretty good indicator of where you credit is.  If you have time, evaluate your report, make sure that everything is accurate.  www.annualcreditreport.com is the website where you can acquire your report for free according to law.  Please do not sign up on some service to just receive a free credit report.  Myfico.com is a site where you can buy a single score; cost is about 8 dollars.  Make corrections to your report if necessary;  Inaccuracies are not good on your score.  Also try not to seek new credit 6 months to a year prior to applying for a loan.  Seeking credit also affects your score.
  • Ask yourself, do you really need to get a new/newer car?  If its a case like mine was, where the cost to fix your current car is actually worth more than what you paid for the car or could be the down payment on the newer car than yes.  But if you have the money set aside for the just in case emergencies and you can squeeze out more time driving the current car, than maybe it makes sense to make those pretend payments to a “car savings account” (a savings account intended for the future purchase of the vehicle you wish to purchase) and wait until there’s enough of a down payment or until you can not absolutely drive your current vehicle.
  • Do you currently have a car with payments?  I have known quite a few people that get really nice cars and a few years into it they want to get something newer.  Believe it or not a chunk of the amount left to pay on that current car will be tacked onto your new loan.  This is often referred to as an “upside down” loan, where the car is worth less than what you own.  The difference is then rolled into your new loan.
  • Ask drivers of the car you wish to purchase what they like, love and/or hate about the car.  You obviously share similar tastes and they’ll be more than willing to share the information with you once you let them know you are thinking about purchasing it and value their opinion.  One of my major concerns when purchasing the vehicle I have now was how it would handle in the winter.  Luckily for me, the car has ESP, an Electronic Stability Program.
  •    
    After all the research and you’re ready to make the purchase:
    1. Before you settle down on cars, figure out how much you can afford on the monthly payment, taking into account insurance, possible repairs and the regular tune up.  Check out loan calculators online to get an estimate of payments; pending on APR.  Find out what rates you can get from your current bank and credit unions to have an idea when the dealership offers you a loan as well, if you should take it or turn it down. It will arm you with better ammunition to negotiate the price on a dealer’s loan.  You can happily say that you’re more interested in the final price than you are about monthly payments, although that is important to find out.  A loan longer than four years significantly increases the total price on the car, so keep that in mind.  This is another place where they try and trap you, when they ask what are you looking for in a monthly payment.  If having no down payment puts you in that predicament, then you’re definitely going to be “upside down”.
    2. Remember, you can’t really negotiate on insurance prices, other than shopping around and looking for discounts you qualify for, but you can negotiate on the price of the car you buy.  The car I looked at was sticker priced at $11,900. After going back and forth, I settled on $11,200.  Its not much in the scheme of things, but that is a little over three car payment months that I don’t have to pay.
    3. When signing the finalized loan, be aware the “financial” guy you sit down with is usually not the person you’ve built a relationship with in pursuit of the car.  They will more than likely give you a list of additional add-ons that you really don’t need but he will give you reasons why you do.  Listen, maybe it is something that you need, but let him finish.  If it is something you need say yes. If not then politely say no.  All that extra money being added on by these extra packages can be saved up over the time of the car, so you’ll have the money set aside down the road when you need it, instead of paying extra for it initially.  Not to mention that all the add-ons can throw your budget out of whack.
    4. Be weary, if after they check your credit they try to talk you into a more expensive car.  Do not focus on monthly cost.  Taking on a five or six year loan to afford the monthly payments on a “nicer” car is not smart.  And you’re smart!
    5. Be careful of the dealership that advertises their butts off on TV and in fliers to get you down to the dealership for their low financing and their 99 dollar deals.  When my third used vehicle was starting to go on me, many moons ago, I drove miles to a dealership that had been advertising in the newspaper these ridiculous deals.  I thought to myself great!  I can afford that.  When I got there, I told them I wanted to take a look at the cars they were advertising, the ones that were “in great condition but they needed them off the lot.”  I was told sorry, they had sold all those cars.  I had just seen the flier again that very morning.  So the sales guy says lets check your credit and I’ll see what I can do….low and behold I was taken to see a newer model of a Honda Accord.  Now in my head I’m thinking yes my credit is good but there is no way I can afford that car.  I didn’t need to hear how much monthly payments would be before I thanked the guy for wasting my time, jumped back into my car and drove away fast.  Do not fall for bait and switch techniques from car dealerships.  Much to my surprise that dealership closed down a year or two after that incident.  Remember you can only screw people over for so long before someone catches on.
    6. If you’re all contracted up, you get home and they call you back saying there was an issue….you need a new contract and the new terms are a lot higher, just return the car.  WALK AWAY!
    7. If you hate the car within the first week, then you are more than likely going to hate it the week and months after that.  Most contracts have a window, that says within this time period if you don’t like the car bring it back for a full refund.  That is where you take advantage of that.
    8. Most sold vehicles are also covered under the dealer’s warranty for 30 days.  If anything is wrong with the vehicle bring it in and they’ll repair it at no cost to you.  Take advantage of this, for all those little minor things that could cost you lots of money when it all adds up, if you wait til later to do it. 
    9. If you settled on a used car, keep in mind of the following: How many drivers has the car had?  Has it been in any accidents?  Are there currently any concerns or repairs to take into consideration?  A carfax report?  Is there a detailed maintenance history/receipts for warrantied parts? 
    Mr. Blueberry Salsa

     As you can see there is a lot to think about.  Take your time, do your homework and you should be well armed to face the auto industry.  Stay Tuned for next Money Monday when I tell you how affirmations can help with this :)

     Until then
     djrelat7