The Benefits of These Lower Gas Prices!

A major drop in gasoline prices in the last 3 to 4 months has allowed many consumers around the country to start putting more money in savings and also pay down their debt, according to a new survey from Wells Fargo/Gallup.

The survey, which talked to just over 1000 consumers and investors, showed that on average they’re saving $108  every month. That’s between consumer’s still in the workforce who are saving approximately $117 a month and retirees saving about $68 a month. For the survey, an investor was defined as an adult with more than $10,000 in both savings and investments.

What the survey showed was that, due to gas prices that are lower than they’ve been in nearly 6 years, approximately 7 out of every 10 consumers in the US are using the money that they’re saving at the pumps to improve their financial situation by either investing the money, putting it in savings or paying down their debt.

That breaks down to approximately 37% who are using the savings to pay off debt, 33% who are putting it into some side of savings plan and approximately 25% that are simply using the extra money to make additional purchases. Nearly 30% responded that the extra money they are saving on gas is helping them “a lot” with their household budget.

Analysts see this as great news because it means that, rather than wasting the extra money that they’re saving on frivolous or nonessential items, the majority of American consumers are doing something positive with that money instead. Gas prices have risen slightly over the last few weeks but, on average, are still about 35% less than they were at the same time last year and lower than they have been in the last five years.

Environmental Trends and USA Auto Sales

Gas has always been cheap in the USA; it is something that allowed many citizens to drive large cars and SUV’s without breaking the bank. There are factors that have changed the environment. The recession and the problems of the economy were just two of them. Environmental pressures have resulted in more people questioning their personal carbon footprints and that means their gas consumption.  Big engines are ‘gas guzzlers.’ The USA auto sales figures during the recession were depressed. Few models were able to show any growth; one exception was the Honda Civic which clearly bucked the trend because of its fuel economy.

While auto sales have recovered and the wholesale cost of oil has fallen dramatically environmental factors are still a consideration and in the coming months those people thinking about buying a new car may ask themselves a number of questions. Certainly the fact that interest rates remain low makes financing any purchase from real estate to cars or home improvements affordable for those in regular employment.

Running Costs

There is unlikely to be any return to the early days of the Century when there were few restrictions in obtaining credit. A car is not an investment; it is a necessity in most cases but there is no reason with the quality of today’s models to change cars as frequently as in the past. It makes the buying decision more important than it used to be. There is no need to hurry; it is better to make the correct choice rather than rush. There are quality used cars that may make a persuasive argument as well. Running costs should be factored into any decision; that is much more than the gas consumption. It includes insurance and service.

Finance

When it comes to finance those who have a good credit score are likely to get the best realistic loan offers. There is no likelihood of huge interest rises in the coming months because some of the world’s economies are still fairly fragile. There is a level of interdependency between national economies that means that no country is immune from international market conditions and interest rates reflect that in many cases.

Just as the buying decision is worth consideration it certainly makes sense to shop round for the best loans. There are auto manufacturers and dealers who are likely to have special offers of finance but they are not the only ones to talk to before making a decision. If a car loan in taken over a few years it is possible to save plenty of money over the period of the loan.

Cash Buyers

It is sometimes best to have finance in place, at least in principle before going to a dealer because you will be effectively talking as a cash buyer. A cash buyer is likely to be able to get a better price than someone who apparently needs help. If the dealer then wants to discuss arranging finance and has a better deal to offer than you have provisionally agreed you can still take up the offer and get the keen price you have negotiated.

Those who have a growing family may be looking for a saloon car. Such cars are not always gas efficient but they are certainly better than large SUVs. If your auto is simply to get yourself around or occasionally a passenger or two your choice a few years ago may have been the 4 x 4 or SUV. Even though finance is readily available at low rates gas consumption has become an issue. You may want to reduce your carbon footprint in which case why not go for something smaller?

Think Credit Card companies tell you the whole Truth? Think Again

Many people think that they know everything about their credit card. They memorize the number, note the interest rate, know their credit limit intimately and even memorize every reward that they are eligible to get.

Unfortunately, there are several secrets that your credit card company doesn’t want you to know because the more you benefit, the more your credit card company loses. (Note to self: they don’t really like that.)

With that in mind, below you’ll find a number of things you card carrier doesn’t want you to know but, because we love you, we do. Enjoy.

Secret #1:  Those “fixed rates”? They aren’t really fixed. The fact is, your credit card issuer can raise your APR whenever they feel like it and, while this isn’t necessarily a huge secret, it’s usually so deeply hidden in the fine print of the agreement you sign as a cardholder that you’ll probably miss it. Most card companies entice their customers with an “introductory” interest rate and, by law, they need to notify you about 15 days before it increases. But make no mistake, increase it they can and, usually, will.

Secret #2: If you make 1 late payment you’ll get 2 penalties. Everyone knows that if they make a late payment they’re going to get a penalty fee tacked on to their next bill, but most don’t realize that they actually get two penalties, a late fee up to $35 and a penalty rate, meaning an increase in your APR as high as 29.99%. So not only will you be paying a penalty for late payment, but afterwards another penalty on each monthly bill in the form of an increased interest rate.

Secret #3: That “no card limit” card actually comes with limits. Many credit cards that are advertised as having “no spending limit” actually have a “revolving spending cap”. Your credit card company advertise it to you as having no limits but it actually has no preset limits, which are determined by your spending habits and behavior. If you spend more than this preset limit the penalties and interest will set you back an ugly penny.

Secret #4: The “grace period” on most cards is being reduced or removed. If you have sometimes been thankful for having a grace period to pay off your credit card before interest starts being charged, it’s time to check with your credit card issuer to make sure that you still have one and how many days it actually gives you. Many credit card companies are reducing their grace period from 25 to just 20 days and some are getting rid of them completely. That means, in some cases, that you’ll be charged interest on every purchase even if you pay your bill on time.

Secret #5: Some credit card companies will charge you interest twice in one month. Credit card companies use a little legal maneuver that allows them to charge you two months interest for just one month of late payments on your balance. It’s called “double cycle billing” and it allows them to charge you a higher interest based on any month when you carry a higher balance if you paid a partial balance payment in the previous month. At times like this one might decide against credit cards and go for a payday loans instead

Secret #6: The lower minimum payment requirements work against you. Here’s a fact; the longer amount of time you stay in debt, the more money credit card companies will make from you in interest charges. It used to be that there was a 5% minimum monthly payment on most credit cards but today, because credit card companies realized that people were paying off their balances too quickly, they lowered it to just 2%. This move looks like it gives you some “breathing room” on paying off your credit card balance but it actually adds hundreds of thousands of dollars to the coffers of credit card companies every year.

Secret #7: Your APR can increase even if you make a late payment to another creditor. Let’s say that you make a credit card payment on time but you’re late on your car payment. Did you know that your APR can be increased across each line of credit in your name because of that? Probably not, so imagine your auto or home loan going from 3% up to 29%. It’s called the “universal default clause” and it helps credit card companies against people who “pose a credit risk”, meaning that any creditor can increase your APR even if you didn’t pay them late but paid another creditor late.

Now that you know these dirty little credit card secrets, you can see why paying your credit down as quickly as possible, reading the fine print in your cardholder agreement and always paying your bills on time is vitally important.

Believe it or not, Gas Stations are getting into “Gas Wars” again

If, like many of us here, you were around during the 1970s, you might remember that gas stations used to use all sorts of gimmicks and promotions to get customers to come in. From giving away glasses and toys to offering the “cheapest gas in town”, it was an interesting time indeed at the gas pumps.

When gas prices went over $4.00 a gallon last year, and stayed there for the majority of the first half of this year, nobody would have ever thought that a similar trend would ever recur, but that’s exactly what’s happening.

For example, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, an OnCue gas station recently was the first to drop its price per gallon below $2.00, to  $1.99. The same day, a competitor a block away dropped their price to $1.98 per gallon.

The reason they did it was simple; cars at the OnCue station were lined up down the block in order to purchase gas at such an unheard-of (these days) low price, forcing them into a “gas war” in order to get customers.

The fact is, gas stations all over the country are scrambling to keep customers coming in as gas prices continue to drop, something that has many consumers giddy with elation. Most have no idea of the perks that used to be available during the 1970s and, after years of paying through the nose at the pumps, our only worried about getting gasoline as cheap as humanly possible.

For the time being that’s not a problem at all, as the average price per gallon nationwide, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report, was $2.74, an incredible drop in $.50 per gallon from just a year ago. In Oklahoma, where the gas war erupted, the average price per gallon was an incredible $2.53, mostly due to the fact that Oklahoma is one of America’s biggest oil-producing states.

Amazingly, as much as the two gas stations mentioned above wanted to make an impact on customers and increase their sales, another gas station in the Oklahoma suburb of Moore dropped their price to $1.95 a gallon the very same day.

With gas prices continuing to fall rapidly, it looks like the trend is definitely going to continue. For motorists everywhere, it’s some of the best news possible, especially with the holiday travel season upon us.

We don’t know about you but many of us here at our blog, given that gas stations are doing their best to lure customers, would love to see then start giving away Matchbox cars again with every fuel purchase.

The Best Time of the Year to Land Yourself an Investment Banking Job

Few people know it and even fewer will admit it that bank recruitment is actually a seasonal process. If you are looking for a job in the banking sector, chances are that now isn’t the best time to start scouting.

Trends in 4 Major Investment Banks

Based on the trends exhibited by 4 major investment banks – Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and UBS, October to December is literally considered to be a “cold season” in the field of bank recruitments. In fact, as per trends that have been tracked since 2010, these are the months when the maximum number of staff is slashed from the banks.

This trend tends to continue up until the end of the first quarter in March. The fact of the matter is that the only time of the year when banks welcome new recruits is in Quarter 3 between July and September. When comparing the 4 year trend between these 4 major banks it was found that the overall average firing of staff in Q4 (October through December) was a whopping 239 employees. In Q1 (January through March) these figures went slightly down to 175 employees being let go off. While the number reduces significantly in Q2 (April to June) to 29, the only quarter through the year that represented staff additions is Q3 when an average of 189 new employees were recruited for the year.

What Makes Quarter 3 so Special?

July through September is considered to be the best time of the year to recruit because graduate and MBA hires tend to start work now. Furthermore, most banks make it mandatory for employees to serve a three month notice period. This means that bankers that apply for new positions in new companies in the beginning of the year start receiving their offers by the end of the first quarter, after which the 3 month notice is served until late June or early July before they are able to start their new jobs.

Landing a Banking Job

So does this mean that you just sit back and wait for the season to arrive? The answer obviously is, no. Depending on whether you are fresh out of college of B-school, or have already ventured into the banking world, you need to put in effort all year round. If you show some interest, and connect with people to meet with potential employers, you will find that they are more than happy to arrange a meet with you.

Furthermore, it is not necessary that you need to be a scholar from an Ivy League to get a good career in investment banking for yourself. Work hard towards preparing and qualifying yourself for the kind of job you are looking for. The idea is to stack the odds in your favor.

How to Extend the Life of Your Tires

In order for a vehicle to provide a smooth ride, the tires need to be in good condition. Here are some proven ways to extend tire life:

Keep the Tires Inflated

Drivers can save a lot of money by simply keeping their tires inflated to the recommended pressure. If the tires remain properly inflated at all times, tire life can actually be extended by more than 10,000 miles. Using a digital tire pressure gauge, check the pressure of each tire before driving the vehicle. Inspecting the tire pressure about every two weeks is a great way to prevent any unnecessary tire wear.

Get the Wheels Aligned

The wheel alignment of a vehicle has a major influence on the condition of the tires. The amount of tire wear can be decreased significantly by obtaining a wheel alignment at least once a year. If a vehicle becomes difficult to steer in a straight line, this is an indication that the wheels may need to be realigned.

Rotate the Tires

The purpose of a Pittsburgh tire rotation is to ensure an equal amount of wear on all of the tires. For example, a front-wheel drive vehicle is powered by the front wheels, which subsequently experience more stress than the back tires. A good rule of thumb is to have the tires rotated at the time of an oil change.

Balance the Tires

When a tire is installed, small weights are placed on it to balance out the air pressure. However, rough pavement can cause these weights to suddenly fly off the tire. If vibrations are being felt through the steering wheel, one or more of the tires may have become unbalanced. Tire balancing could add an extra 5,000 miles onto the lifespan of the tires.

Looking Beyond the Price Tag

Consumers who are shopping for brand new cars need to look beyond the price tag that’s on display at the showroom of a dealership. The truth is that the overall cost of car ownership is an important factor that must be evaluated during a car shopping process. First and foremost, the fuel economy is perhaps the most important issue to consider in the cost of long-term ownership.

Most auto makers strive to produce efficient engines to help convince buyers to make a purchase. In other words, fuel economy could be a deal maker or breaker in the extremely competitive automobile market. These days, compact cars and midsize sedans easily boast up to 40 mpg on the highway according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Even some full-size sedans can get just over 30 miles per gallon on highways. With the prices of fuel rising, buyers are conscious about the long-term expenses of filling up their tanks. Sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks are notorious gas guzzlers. When buying such models, customers should be prepared to spend hundreds of dollars per month just on fuel. The type of fuel grade also plays a role in long-term vehicle cost of ownership. A difference between 87 and 93 octane fuel can cause a difference of thousands of dollars per year on refills.

A car warranty is another factor that goes into cost of ownership. Most new vehicles come with limited-time factory warranties that cover major repairs on most systems, including the engine, exhaust, brakes and more. Therefore, the length of the warranty can correlate with major savings on expenses and repairs. Naturally, the most affordable cars come with extended warranties that last beyond five years or up to a certain mileage, such as 100,000 miles. A side by side car comparison should be done with cost of ownership when you start shopping. Even minor expenses such as routine maintenance and service could accumulate to thousands of dollars over the course of several years. Tire replacements and rotations also do not come cheap for most car models.

How to Save on Gas – Uncommon Ways

Browsing through this website has given you a few tips on how to reduce the cost of fuel in your everyday life – from planning your route smartly to changing your tires more often, or even braking more efficiently. In this piece, though, I will describe a few less common ways you can save on gas – I hope you will find them useful. Let’s begin.

1. Lose the wheels

The best way to reduce your car’s fuel consumption is to leave it in the garage. OK, I know, there are many situations in which you need to drive, but several times it’s much more efficient to choose an alternative means of transportation – like, riding a bike.

For a quick trip to the grocery store for a pack of smokes or a six-pack of lager you don’t need to drive – these products fit comfortably into a backpack. Besides, you don’t just save fuel by riding a bike – you also do some exercise.

Studies have shown that riding a bicycle is among the most efficient ways of transportation in urban areas, especially where bike trails are existent.

2. Plan ahead

Never take one trip to solve one issue – try to group them in batches so you can use your time and fuel more efficiently. Don’t take the kid to school and drive home, then drive to the bank, and drive home, and drive to the supermarket, and drive home again just to drive to the school, and take the kid home – this is the most wasteful way you can travel.

Instead, plan your itinerary so you can settle multiple things with one trip, one stop each. Say, if you leave the kid at school at 8, you can do the shopping until 9, when the bank opens, so you can be there at 9:15, solve the problems there and others at hand. Saving a trip through the traffic means more fuel left in your tank, and less money to leave your pockets.

3. Use the force of the Internet, Luke!

There are so many things nowadays that you can order online instead of going out to buy them. Shoes, clothes, games, even groceries can be ordered by just a few clicks, and delivered – often free of charge – to your doorstep.

Instead of driving to the mall to buy a new blouse, or taking your monthly visit to Walmart, try ordering online – you can save, and most of the times not just the gas money.

Besides, the internet is good for so many other things – visit galleries, listen to concerts, play poker or blackjack at the red flush casino, or even visit your friends using Skype and a webcam. I wouldn’t recommend this last one, though, unless you are a hermit – but then you don’t travel anywhere, so you don’t need gas at all, right?

Buying the Best Used Car for Your Needs

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

 

Buying a used car in Canada will give you the independence you need at an economical price. Used cars can be a great deal for the money, and there are many well-maintained cars that will provide you with a great source of transportation. Finding the right used car means matching the right car to your individual needs.

Start With a Budget

Your budget will be the determining factor in which car you ultimately choose. When it comes to used cars, a car that is between two and four years old will offer the best value for the money. These cars often come with the original warranty which can save you on annual repair costs. A late model used car may also offer the same features as its brand new counterpart.

Understanding what car you can afford will help you to save money if you are planning to finance your purchase. Beware of simply looking at the monthly payments when planning your car purchase. Factor in the cost of monthly maintenance, licensing, insurance and taxes. These costs add up quickly and can easily take a bite out of your budget.

Give it a Spin

Test driving a car is an important part of the buying process. This will give you an idea of how well the car drives and whether it has any mechanical issues that should be addressed. Many people visit a mechanic with the car before making a purchase decision. Your mechanic will determine whether the car will need major repairs and can give you recommendations on the car’s stability and performance.

Be Prepared to Negotiate

The key to winning the car buying game is to negotiate from a position of strength. If you are desperate for a new car and short on cash, you will be at a disadvantage when it comes to buying. Don’t be in a hurry to buy the car and be prepared to walk away if you don’t get a deal that matches your needs. If you are planning to finance a car, it helps to know your credit score and secure financing before you get to the dealership.

Buying a used car can mean newfound independence and freedom. A used car can give you years of enjoyment in addition to being a reliable source of transportation. Do your homework before shopping for your used car and find the car that will best fit your needs. Be prepared for the negotiation process and know your financial standing before going to the dealership.

There are many great certified pre-owned and used cars on the market, and finding one that will meet your needs is simple. There are many research sites online that will match you with the perfect car for your budget.

 

Fuel Saving Questions and Answers for Summer Travel

Hopefully you’re having a wonderful summer. Gas prices have remained relatively stable, which means to say that they’ve remained at their high price but haven’t gone much higher. Many people traveling a lot this summer are doing their best to squeeze as many miles out of their fuel dollars as possible and, to that end, we have  answers to a number of questions about fuel saving and summer travel in today’s blog. Enjoy.

Question: What’s the overall best way to cut down on fuel costs?

Answer: Drive slower. In test after test performed  around the country, it was found that driving your vehicle slower, especially on the highway, can increase your car’s fuel efficiency between 10 and 15%, and sometimes more. One  study found that when a typical vehicle increases from 55 mph to 75 mph on the highway, it’s similar in gas usage  to switching from a compact car to a large SUV or truck. Even going 10 miles an hour higher, from 55 to 65 mph, can lower your fuel economy up to 8 miles per gallon. So if you want to save gas, simply drive slower.

Question: What should I do if I want to carry things on the roof of my car?

Answer: Purchase an aerodynamic container or use your trunk space. Today’s modern vehicles are aerodynamically designed to reduce drag and increase gas mileage. Even adding a roof rack with nothing on it can lower your car’s fuel efficiency by up to 5% but, if you carry a lot of stuff on your roof like bicycles, kayaks and luggage, you can see an unbelievable drop in mileage of almost 20%. Whenever possible, use the storage space inside your car instead of the roof.

Question: Which is better, using A/C or opening the windows?

Answer: The difference, unless you are traveling at a very high rate of speed, is negligible. Most studies done to determine whether air-conditioning or open windows use more gas have found that the difference between either one is negligible. The only time there was a measurable amount of difference, approximately 4%, was when a car was being driven above 65 miles an hour with the windows open,  which would make using the A/C on the highway a better gas saver. In every other situation it’s pretty much the same.

Question: When my low fuel warning light flashes, how far can my vehicle still drive?

Answer: Between 25 and 40 miles depending on the vehicle. Frankly, there’s no set rule and all cars are different. Most will still have between 1 and 2 gallons of fuel left when the low fuel light starts blinking so the best thing to do is determine how far your vehicle can go on a gallon gas and figure it out from there. Even better is to never wait until your low fuel light starts to blink to begin with.

Question: Does installing a specialty air filter improve gas mileage?

Answer: In modern cars, no.   Today’s modern cars use computers to automatically control their engines and maintain the correct air to fuel ratio. Installing “specialty” air filters won’t affect your mileage one way or another but, depending on their cost, might just make a dent in your pocketbook.

Question:  Can debris in my fuel tank hurt my car’s engine?

Answer: Probably not. Most of today’s modern cars have a fuel filter in the gas line and the gas tank, making it unlikely that any debris that might be in your tank will ever make it to your engine. Also, unless your car is exceedingly old, any driving causes enough movement in your gasoline that debris there won’t be able to settle anyway.

Those are some of the most asked questions about fuel and fuel economy that we see on a regular basis. Hopefully the answers have enlightened you as to how you can stretch every mile out of every gallon of gas. Happy driving!

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