Put Yourself in the Driver’s Seat: 4 Tips to Limit Debt When Buying a Car

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Put Yourself in the Driver’s Seat: 4 Tips to Limit Debt When Buying a Car
Ready for a new (or new-ish) set of wheels? Before you set foot in a dealership or start picking out the trim, you should prepare your bank account for a hit — the average price for a mid-size car was $27,968 in October 2019, according to Kelley Blue Book.  For people who don’t have an extra $30,000 lying around, that means taking on auto loan debt — and plenty of us do. Outstanding debt balances on auto loans rose $18 billion in the third quarter of 2019, ballooning to $1.3 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. For comparison, credit card debt rose $13 billion in the same period to $880 billion.  But just because you need a vehicle doesn’t mean you have to dig a huge financial hole you’ll spend years climbing out of. We’re here with strategies to help you get behind the wheel with the least amount of debt. 4 Ways to Limit Auto Loan Debt Ready to hit the open road? Before you rev your car-shopping engines, put your finances in park and check out these four ways to avoid taking on any more auto loan debt than necessary. (And in return, I promise to stop with the car puns.) FROM THE DEBT FORUM Eliminating Credit Card Debit - Take out personal loan with low interest rate 12/4/19 @ 2:28 PM L Balance transfer credit card 11/27/19 @ 6:39 PM Credit card Debt 11/19/19 @ 3:56 PM Student loans 11/20/19 @ 2:17 PM See more in Debt or ask a money question 1. Set a Budget Here’s the thing about budgeting for a car: You’re not just budgeting for a car (or at least you shouldn’t be). You’re also paying for the tax and title, the gas, the oil changes, the insurance and the inevitable nail-in-a-tire-costs-me-how-much moment. So before you let a dealership lure you in with the promise of a low monthly payment (while glossing over the fact that it’s for a seven-year loan), do your homework.  Set a budget that you can comfortably live with each month for the car payment plus the regular maintenance — the average maintenance and repair costs for a small sedan are 8.53 cents per mile, according to AAA — and other expenses associated with owning a vehicle. Better yet, before you start figuring out how big of a loan you’ll need, consider ways you can save money to buy a car. A bigger down payment — or, gasp, paying for that ride in cash — means you’ll fork over less of your hard-earned money for interest on the loan. 2. Know Your Credit Score Before you drive, you should know where you stand.  Knowing your credit score can help you figure out how much a car loan will cost since. Your credit score is calculated by a number of factors, including whether you pay your bills on time — and thus can be trusted with lower interest rate on a loan.   If you’re a superprime (800s) kind of borrower, you can expect to pay thousands less in interest over the life of the loan than the deep subprime (300 to 500) borrower.  So what if you’re in the less-than-prime territory? Consider ways to improve your credit score before you buy, shop for a more affordable (perhaps used) set of wheels or find a co-signer who has good credit. 3. Get an Auto Loan Preapproval Once you know your credit score and how much car you can afford, it’s time to get a loan. And although the dealership may seem like a convenient place to finance your vehicle, it’s also likely the costliest (dealers often make more money on the finder’s fee for your loan than they do on the car itself). Instead, start shopping online for an auto loan preapproval — a financing offer that includes the maximum loan amount, interest rate and terms of the loan. By shopping online, you can compare offers from multiple lenders without a dealer pressuring you to make a decision on the spot. Pro Tip Just because you can get approved for a loan doesn’t mean you need to take the full amount — stick to what your original budget dictated you can comfortably pay monthly. An auto loan preapproval letter gives you leverage when it comes time to discuss financing — simply present the letter to the dealer and ask them to beat your lender’s offer. Having a preapproved auto loan could end up saving you thousands in interest and gives you the power to search for the best price on the vehicle rather than being shackled to whichever dealer will offer you financing. 4. Break Free of the Underwater Auto Loan  All of these tips are great if you’re starting fresh with an auto loan, but what if you’re still paying for your old car — and you owe more than it’s worth (also known as negative equity)? You have a number of choices for getting out of an underwater auto loan. There are the easy-but-unwise options like rolling over your negative equity, which probably puts you underwater immediately on your new auto loan. Or you can choose the tough-but-sensible options, like holding onto your old hunk of junk until you get your loan back above the waterline. Breaking the cycle of auto loan debt lets you save on the interest you pay and eventually own your wheels outright. Eliminating that extra debt will put you in the driver’s seat to decide where to spend all that extra cash. Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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My Favorite Thing About Fall — Clothes! #WearBlairWell

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My Favorite Thing About Fall — Clothes! #WearBlairWell
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Blair.  All opinions are my own. I don’t know about you, but I am thrilled fall is finally here!  No more scorching summer days, we are back to our routine, and the colors are gorgeous. But that is not all I love about fall. I love the ... Read More about My Favorite Thing About Fall — Clothes! #WearBlairWell The post My Favorite Thing About Fall — Clothes! #WearBlairWell appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Collision Insurance: What It Covers and Who Needs It

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Collision Insurance: What It Covers and Who Needs It
Collision insurance sounds pretty straightforward, but it won’t cover every bill after a crash. Collision coverage pays to repair your own car’s damage when you hit another vehicle or object such as a lamppost or fence. It may also pay if another driver hits your car and doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for the... Lacie Glover is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: lacie@nerdwallet.com. The article Collision Insurance: What It Covers and Who Needs It originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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An Insider Explanation of Programming vs Coding: Jobs, Salaries and More

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An Insider Explanation of Programming vs Coding: Jobs, Salaries and More
Coding and programming are often touted by career advisers as ways to future-proof your job. In movies, these tech pros are portrayed by keyboarding-clanking, socially reclusive geniuses who have the divine gift of speaking the language of computers and work in tech hubs like San Francisco. The message being: You either get it, or you don’t. The reality is much more nuanced. It doesn’t help that the terms “coding” and “programming” are often used interchangeably. There are a few key differences, and knowing them is crucial in understanding the career prospects in the field — and how coding will inevitably affect most of our professional lives in the future. Coding vs Programming: What Are the Differences? In the simplest terms, coding is the act of writing computer languages. The most popular ones include: Java, HTML, Python, C++ and Ruby on Rails. Like spoken language, the basics of code are fairly easy to pick up — just as a beginning French student can repeat basic words and sentences. But, like French students, coders aren’t fluent yet. Programming, on the other hand, is the bigger picture. Programmers certainly know how to code, but they also understand the context and environment the code is in. Think French novelist versus French student. The novelist is creating the setting, the plot and the characters, while the student is applying the basic rules of grammar to form sentences. “Every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square,” says Arshad Wala, a distinguished faculty member at General Assembly, a school that trains working professionals in data, design, programming and digital marketing. How to Become a Programmer or Coder There are several ways to break into computer programming: self-directed study, coding bootcamps and formal college education. Each method comes with its own perks. Coursera and other online education platforms offer free coding courses that cover the basics and can be completed on any schedule at any time, and there are several free coding apps to keep your skills fresh. The “hacker mentality” is still accepted in the industry, Wala says, meaning companies don’t really care how the coder was educated — all that matters is that they can write code. Every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is not a square. But it’s hard to learn a language alone. That’s where boot camps like General Assembly come in. Boot camps offer hands-on training in a classroom environment and are usually taught by working professionals in the field. There are campuses across the country with programs designed to equip students with the basic skills to get a new job ASAP. Some programs last as little as 10 days and are fast-tracks to landing coding gigs. To become a programmer, however, it usually takes seniority as a coder or a college degree in computer programming or computer sciences. “You either got to prove yourself,” Wala says, “or come in with some formal education.” That’s because the responsibilities for a programmer are higher-stakes. In addition to writing some code, programmers take a more managerial approach in planning an application, program, website or feature as a whole. They may also determine which programming language a project requires, which would affect what kind of coders are needed. Career Prospects for Coders and Programmers For the time being, both programming and coding jobs are hot and the salaries are high. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics latest data, computer programmers are making much more than the average American: $45,640 more. Computer programmers make a median salary of $84,280. Coders aren’t in that league, but they can earn a good living with little formal education. Even the lowest paid coders earn more than $48,000 — well above the national median income of $38,640. On the job front, programming opportunities are expanding outside Silicon Valley. While California still has the highest employment levels, Texas was a close second, beating out New York. Illinois and Florida also made the top five. “You go back 15 years, it was San Francisco,” Wala says. “But it’s truly everywhere… and that’s the exciting part.” Job prospects will be best for programmers who have a bachelor’s degree or higher and knowledge of a variety of programming languages. – Bureau of Labor Statistics If you’re considering a career as a coder, there are some coming trends to consider before applying to the nearest coding bootcamp. Namely: automation and saturation. By 2026, programming industry employment is slated to decrease by 7%. And the hammer is going to fall harder on coders than programmers. Wala foresees code becoming a part of our everyday lives, sort of like typing and other basic computer skills. In the not-too-distant past, typists were well-paying jobs. People used to list their words per minute on resumes. But as almost every school in the nation incorporated typing classes into the curriculum, the job became unnecessary. The same goes for coding. Add in the coming wave of computer-automated coding, and the 7-point drop in employment becomes the tip of the iceberg. “You should all learn coding, but this as a career is going to be dead,” he says. “The focus on coding [as a job] should be secondary.” Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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