Car saving money tips

Money Saving Car Tips

I was a lucky kid when I was in high school. The car I inherited came with, among other things, a little DVD player in the glove compartment and a screen which flipped down from the ceiling. When I was feeling less than studious, I would sneak out to my car and watch a movie instead of going to another weary study hall.

It was a fun distraction, but it was murder on my battery, and replacing a car battery when you’re earning minimum-wage from a part-time job isn’t the easiest task. We can show you how to make money by renting your car out. Even as you get older, those little car expenses can quickly add up. They don’t have to, though. In fact, there are a bunch of things you can do to save money on your car, and they really don’t require a great deal of time or effort.

Check Your Fluid Levels

It doesn’t take a mechanic to do this, and if your mechanic tells you it does, don’t go back to their garage. Checking a few basic fluids on your own comes with two-fold savings. First, by checking yourself, you’re saving the cost of having someone else do it for you. Second, by regularly checking your fluids, you know when something might need to be replenished or replaced, saving you from damaging parts down the road.

You don’t need to be a mechanical whiz to check your car. There are an endless number of guides to teach you what to look for, including:

  • Engine oil
  • Transmission fluid
  • Coolant
  • Brake fluid
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Power steering fluid

You can replenish some of these fluids yourself without any hassle beyond locating a cap. How awesome is that?

Check Your Filter

This is another incredibly easy DIY operation. Your car’s air filter can weigh down your engine efficiency, with some estimates saying you can lose up to 10% of your gas mileage with a dirty filter. Spare yourself the extra cents at the gas pump and check your filter once a month. It’s not something that necessarily requires replacing, either. You can clean it with an air hose, reducing the number of replacements you have to pay for while still helping you maintain the best fuel economy.

Keep Your Tires Inflated

You know it’s good to not drive on a flat, but don’t just eyeball it when it comes to your tires. You can check and fill them in a few seconds at the gas station (often for free). Plus, keeping your tires properly inflated can increase your gas mileage by a few percentage points per tire. Meaning, you can get more value out of what you put in at the pump. Proper inflation also helps the tires last longer, so you won’t be spending money replacing them on a regular basis.

Check for Insurance Discounts

You don’t have to change your whole policy to save on your car insurance. Many providers offer discounts or incentive programs you can take advantage of simply by being a good driver. See if your insurance company gives an accident-free bonus for safe driving. If you are a student driver or you have one on your policy, ask about the good student discount. You can motivate yourself to study while you save.

Take Public Transit or Carpool

An easy way to save money on your car is to not drive it as often. If you live in an area where public transportation is available, consider taking it on occasion. Avoid parking nightmares by taking the bus or train to a show or event, or enjoy your night out a bit more without worrying about driving home impaired.

Another easy option is to carpool. Yeah, you might have a few extra people in your car every once in a while, but you’ll be reducing the distance you’re driving on a regular basis, which means you’re spending less on gas, putting less costly wear on the car, and even being a bit environmentally conscious in the process.

Don’t Idle Unless Necessary

You’re going to have to run your engine if you’re stuck in traffic, but if it’s a cold winter day, you don’t need to let your car warm up before you head out. Newer cars are built to run efficiently a few seconds after ignition, so sitting around waiting for your car to warm up is wasting gas.

Instead, give your vehicle long enough for you to put on your seatbelt and adjust the radio, and then don’t be afraid to get going. If you find your new car is having trouble turning over in the cold, don’t be afraid to seek out a mechanic’s help before you end up with a much larger, more expensive problem.

Pay for the Help You Need

There are a lot of simple things you can do on your own when it comes to your car, but one of the most costly mistakes you can make when it comes to maintaining your vehicle is to assume being able to do some things means being able to do them all. Like anything else, your car will experience wear and tear and at some point, you’ll need to get the lights checked, investigate some noises, or have real maintenance completed by a professional.

Don’t wait too long when it comes to routine maintenance, or it could end up leading to more costly damage. Instead, find a mechanic you can trust, and work with him or her to make sure your car is properly maintained at regular intervals. It might not seem like the cheapest option upfront, but it’s a lot cheaper than having to pay for a new, non-damaged car.

5 Easy Ways Save Money on a Tight Budget

5 Ways To Save Money On A Tight Budget

Let’s face it – you could always use another money-saving strategy. While looking for loose change in your couch cushions is all well and good, you are trying to make serious progress towards paying off your debt or saving up to reach a goal. Unfortunately, you’ll barely make a dent with a roll of dimes.

I’m not knocking penny collection as a valid way to meet your financial objectives, but you should also think big-picture. To construct a budget that will withstand surprise costs, you’re going to have to plan ahead. Calculate how much money you’re going to spend unexpectedly in the coming year. If you read that last sentence slowly, you’ll see the problem. How could anyone possibly predict when they’re going to need a bunch of cash on hand?

The truth is, nobody has a crystal ball, but there are five distinct ways you can take action now in order to avoid going into debt in the future.

1. Pay Attention to Your Home and Vehicle

When was the last time you checked your car’s tire pressure? When was the last time your home’s HVAC system was serviced? These are questions you should know the answer to, because they can save you hundreds of dollars every year not only by preventing repairs, but by making both your vehicle and your home run smoother and more efficiently. Here are some specific ways to prevent high repair costs:

Regularly Service Your HVAC System

In the summer months, you can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 15% if you regularly change the air filters. The system will not have to work as hard, resulting in a longer life span. You can also make sure no grass, weeds, or leaves get within two feet of the outdoor unit by doing regular yard work – making it easier for the system to draw in air from the outside.

Each year, make sure you have a professional clean the HVAC system’s drain and make sure no ducts are blocked. The cleaning will cost you an annual fee, but the amount can be scheduled into your budget far ahead of time – better than paying up to $500 plus labor for a new HVAC fan motor, because the old one was overtaxed and under-serviced.

Check Your Car’s Tire Pressure

While it’s a matter of debate whether cars need an oil change every 3,000 miles, you can bet your tires need to be filled at regular intervals. Every time you lose 3.0 PSI, you also lose 1% of your fuel efficiency. You won’t believe what deflation does to your actual tires! If you keep your tires properly inflated, they can last an additional 1,143 miles. With worn-out tires as one of the top vehicle maintenance costs, why not part with a few quarters to delay paying for a whole new set?

2. Schedule Regular Doctor Visits and Live Well

When it comes to your health, nothing can be gained from putting off your annual physical. Catching diseases before they escalate is a sure way to both live longer and not pay as much in medical bills, and regular health screenings are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Want to know how much the average American family pays in out-of-pocket healthcare expenses? $9,144! You should be proactive about getting a physical, as well as actively budget for prescriptions and co-pays.

Chances are, you’re paying for your healthcare plan whether you use it regularly or not. Why not make it a point to get screened? Then, you could potentially avoid ten of the most common, most expensive medical conditions, as reported by

Here are a few:

  • Cancer – $49,000
  • Hemophilia – $62,000
  • Coronary Artery Disease – $75,000

If you have a cost-share plan with your medical insurance company, you might end up paying for almost half the total cost of treatment. Believing you’ll never get seriously ill is not a good outlook – most people have this mindset until something happens to them. See your doctor on the regular and stick to a healthy diet and fitness plan.

3. Plan Out Your Meals

You might not be Julia Child, but you can follow directions. You’re reading this article, aren’t you? Shopping and cooking (or microwaving) for yourself will not only result in a healthier you (see #2 on this list) but can save you hundreds – possibly thousands – in the future.

Before you buy the latest and greatest cookbook, invest in these two items:

  1. Crock-pot slow cooker
  2. Plastic bins to freeze food

There are two main benefits these items will provide: you can easily make your food ahead of time and have it cook while you are gone, and you can make it in bulk. Now on to the execution of your food proactivity.

First, devote one day of the week to meal preparation. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Pick out a few recipes that have less than five ingredients.
  2. Make a list of ingredients to buy.
  3. Go to the store and stick to a budget.
  4. Go home and start cooking.
  5. Freeze leftovers in meal-sized portions for future fast reheat.

Your dinners are set for the week, or weeks, depending on how much you cooked. When you come home from work starving, tired, and ready to switch on Netflix and pass out, you will no longer be tempted to drop $20 on Chinese takeout. Not only that, you’ll have set a grocery budget and stuck to it.

You can also save money by packing your lunch. Go to your local deli and look at the sandwich prices – $6, maybe $9 for a combo. Instead, buy a loaf of bread – $3. Buy a pound of chicken breast – $5. Buy a pound of cheese – $5. For only about double the price of eating one sandwich, you get six to eight sandwiches. Even if math isn’t your strong suit, you can see the payoff here.

4. Budget for Holiday Shopping

In 2018, holiday shoppers spent an average of $801 each. That is a giant number for your budget to absorb in one month. What if you spread that cost out over the course of a year? Even as a monthly expense, your holiday shopping budget will cost you around $66 per month.

If you’re the type of family member who likes to spoil their relatives, that number could get even higher. And that’s only counting the gifts that you’re purchasing for friends and family. What about wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, and bags? What about travel expenses to visit distant family? What about hosting a holiday party at your own residence and buying food, alcohol, and decorations?

The costs can rise quickly and you might find yourself tempted to just “put a little on the credit card.” If you WANT to be paying off last year’s holiday gifts until next summer, be my guest. However, if you want to get ahead of the game and have plenty of money to enjoy yourself and be Santa Clause to everyone else, start planning for next year’s holiday right away.

Put money aside monthly, after you get your tax return, or after another windfall of cash. Recognize the holiday season is something to save for in order to keep your budget intact.

5. Anticipate Family and Friends’ Life Events

If you thought your gift-giving stopped at the holidays, you were wrong. Birthdays, bridal showers, baby showers, weddings, funerals, anniversaries, christenings, baptisms, and more cause you to shop until you drop.

You’ll know your parents’ golden wedding anniversary is coming up well in advance – so plan for it. You might not know your sister is planning on getting married – but once she gets engaged, plan for it. It’s not just the holidays that require thought and preparation, but caring for everyone else in your life too.

Here’s a suggestion: don’t just save blindly. You’re not restricted to one savings account. You can have multiple accounts at no charge just by meeting a minimum balance. Make sure one of your savings accounts is geared specially toward events requiring you to spend money. You’ll feel awesome when you’re able to contribute to someone else’s happiness, especially since it doesn’t require you to swipe that credit card or take out a loan.

After reading this list, you’re probably exhausted. Being proactive takes work! Now you’re getting the point. By putting in extra thought, extra care, and extra time, you can and will avoid major expenses that could seriously rock your budget, your plans, and your life.

How To Save For Your Goal

How to Save Gradually for Your Big Goal

Whether you’re saving for a wedding, an exotic vacation, or you simply want to establish an emergency fund after a financial crisis, you need a plan in order to achieve your big goal. Saving money isn’t always easy and if you don’t already have a habit of socking away a portion of your savings from each paycheck, now is a great time to start.

According to’s June 2018 Financial Security Index, 27% of Americans surveyed do not have any money set aside in an emergency savings account. However, 72% of those surveyed who made more than $75,000 per year had at least three months’ in an emergency savings account compared to just 35% of those who made less.

Adopting and sticking to a gradual savings plan can help you set aside money for bigger goals while securing your financial future.

Use these tips to gradually save for a future purchase:

Set Weekly Goals

When you’re just getting into the savings mindset, it’s important to set small goals which will eventually lead to bigger goals. Try to save a certain amount of money each week and slowly build up from there, so you can stick with your plan and stay motivated. Give yourself some time to reach your smaller goals, so you avoid feeling overwhelmed before setting larger ones.

Use a Smartphone App

If you have a hard time keeping track of your money, download a smartphone app. Apps make it easy to visualize your savings goals and monitor your accounts at the touch of a button. You can keep costs in check and put together a realistic budget with the help of apps like, Budget Ease, and LearnVest. Our personal finance app can also keep your finances in order.

Try Online Banking

One of the great things about setting up an online savings or checking account is being able to organize your funds easily, as well as create savings categories for different purchases. If you have a hard time keeping track of your goals and prefer to manage your finances online, consider opening an online savings account.

Shop around to find a bank that offers an online savings account with high interest rates and low fees. To help you get started, here is a list of some of the best online savings accounts for 2019.

Operate on a Cash-Only Basis

Make things easier on yourself and maximize your hard-earned dollars by making sure you are only spending a portion of what you have – and socking away the rest. Avoid using credit cards or loans in order to keep your finances in line and maintain realistic budget parameters.

Breaking the credit habit may be difficult at first, but it will be much easier to bolster your cash reserves when you are no longer relying on credit.

Be Very Specific About Your Goals

Sometimes you may lose the motivation to save money simply because you do not have a concrete goal. Not surprisingly, if you aren’t inspired, you will have a hard time staying the course. Write down at least two or three major savings goals and imagine how it would feel to achieve them.

Visualize going on the vacation you’ve always dreamed of, buying the car you’ve always wanted, or paying for your fairy-tale wedding without blowing your budget. Write down your estimated costs, so you can work with a clear goal in mind.

Dividend Growth Investing Strategy For A Better Retirement

Retire Better With A Dividend Growth Investing Strategy

The Challenges of Planning for Retirement

Planning for retirement is a daunting task.  There are many things to consider when thinking about retirement.

How much should I save?  What should I invest in?  Will I run out of money?

Often times it can be so overwhelming that many people fail to even plan at all!

Or possibly since they know they should be saving something for retirement but don’t know how much, they will just begin putting aside some random amount invested in some random mutual or index funds without really figuring out the right approach to be taking.  These people are mostly just living with hope.  Hope that they are putting away enough so that one day they will be able to quit their jobs.  Hope that they are saving enough so that they won’t run out of money during their golden years.

Certainly this is better than doing nothing, but there is definitely a better way to go about reaching all of your retirement dreams.

The Problems with Traditional Retirement Advice

Traditional retirement advice often tells people to save some random amount of their annual income (5 or 10%) and invest it in a select group of mutual funds or index funds.  This advice is very general and not personalized like retirement planning should be.  This will most likely lead the hopeful retiree to either not save enough and run out of money during retirement or to not save enough and realize they have to work longer than they had planned.

Another often heard advice regarding retirement is the 4% rule.  The 4% rule allows that a retiree can withdrawal 4% from their retirement savings (adjusted for inflation after the first year) each year to cover living expenses.  The retiree will do this by pulling out any income earned from the investments and selling some investments to cover the difference.  The idea is that a 4% withdrawal rate is safe enough that the investor should/possibly will have enough money to last until they pass away.

Unfortunately, there is a few big problems with the 4% rule.

  1. The biggest problem is the fact that there is a possibility that you will run out of money while still living.  I’m not sure about you but the last thing I want to worry about in retirement is whether or not I am going to outlast my money.
  2. A second problem is that the 4% rule requires investors to sell off investments at inopportune times.  When the market is down and investments are undervalued is not a good time to be selling.
  3. Another problem with the 4% rule is that it requires you to draw down your assets.  Each passing year your nest egg will get smaller and smaller as you use it to cover your expenses.  At the end there will be little if anything left to pass on to your heirs or favorite charities.

Fortunately, there is a better strategy for planning for retirement.

Dividend Growth Investing and a Better Retirement

Dividend growth investing is a great strategy to use when planning for retirement.

Hopeful retirees should calculate the amount of income they believe they will need during their first years of retirement.  You can do this by tracking your expenses and projecting out which expenses you will have during retirement and estimating how much money you will need to cover those expenses.  Our retirement calculator uses a budget in today’s dollars and provides an inflation adjusted budget by year. Be sure to give yourself a buffer so that you don’t fall short when unexpected surprises pop up.

Determining How Much You Need in Dividends

Once you have a fairly good estimate of how much annual income you will need in your first couple years of retirement, you can calculate a goal for how much of a nest egg you should aim to accumulate.  For example, let’s assume you estimate that you will need $45,000 in income during your first year of retirement.  Now if we can put together a dividend growth portfolio that is yielding 3.75%, you will need to have a nest egg off $1.2 million (1,200,000/.0375=45,000).  If your portfolio is yielding more, you will need a smaller nest egg.  If it yields less, you will need a larger nest egg.

This gives us a fairly reasonable goal of how big of a nest egg we want to try to accumulate in a dividend growth portfolio by the time we are ready to retire.

So if we decide that we need $1.2 million for retirement, we can figure out exactly how much we should be saving/investing each year from here until we plan to retire to reach this goal.

The investor will want to work towards this goal and if accomplished will have a solid foundation built for a great retirement.

A dividend growth retirement eliminates all of the problems with the traditional 4% withdrawal advice.  Specifically:

  1. Dividend growth investors will be living off of the dividend income received from the companies they own.  Therefore, they will not need to worry about running out of money because they are not selling their investments to offset expenses.  Instead their portfolio is earning an income (growing each year at a rate faster than inflation) which will be able to cover all of their expenses.
  2. Since the dividend growth retiree is not forced to sell any of their investments, they won’t be selling at the wrong times.  A dividend growth retiree won’t need to sell any of their investments unless one of their companies cuts or eliminates their dividend payments.  In that situation the retiree will want to react by selling off those shares and finding an alternative dividend growth company to own in its place.  Most of the time, dividend growth investors will be long term holders of their companies and won’t be selling.
  3. Since the dividend growth retiree does not need to sell off their nest egg to cover expenses, they will have a large amount of wealth in which they can pass on to their heirs or favorite charity organizations.  You’ve worked hard to accumulate that nest egg, do you really want to watch it all dwindle away and have nothing to leave behind when you pass?

dividend growth retirement plan can be a great investment strategy when it comes to securing your financial future.

How Companies increase EPS (Earnings Per Share)

How Companies Increase EPS (Earnings Per Share)

When it comes to investing, we want to look for companies that are consistently increasing their earnings per share (EPS).  An upward trend in the EPS leads to more consistent results for the shareholders.  A down trending EPS or sporadic EPS will usually lead to disappointing results in your investment.  When I am looking for solid performing companies that would be good candidates for my dividend growth stock portfolio, one of the first things I always look at is the EPS trend.  The next thing you want to determine if the EPS are rising year after year is how the company is achieving these results.  When it comes to earnings per share, there are generally only 2 ways that a company can increase them.

Increase Net Income

Companies that are annually increasing their net income are going to be successful.  Typically, along with an increased net income will come an increased EPS.  The only reason EPS would not increase while net income increases is if the company is diluting the outstanding shares by issuing new shares.  As an investor we want to stay away from these situations.  We prefer the situations where an increase in net income directly result in an increase in EPS.

Net income is simply Sales or Revenues of a company minus that companies Expenses.  The only ways a company can increase their net income is by either increasing sales or by decreasing their expenses.  As an investor I like seeing companies who can do both.  Keeping expenses within reason means management isn’t wasteful with my capital.  Increasing sales means management is doing a good job bringing in revenues to grow the company.

So while both increasing sales and decreasing expenses are a good thing, as an investor I prefer to see the increasing sales.  This is because I know customers want whatever it is my company has to offer.  The customers are willing to spend their money on the product or services my company offers.  Sales increase net income and there is usually no ceiling to how many sales a company can have.  If there are customers willing to buy from you, you can make more and more sales.  Expenses can be lowered and this will increase our net income.  But expenses can only be lowered so much.  So while there is a floor to how low a company can make their expenses, there is no ceiling to how high a company’s sales revenue can go.  This is why I prefer to see the increasing sales.

When it comes to an increasing EPS trend, I like to see that it is being driven by increasing net income which is also being driven by increasing sales revenues.

Less Shares Outstanding

Companies will also see increasing EPS if they are doing share buybacks.  Sometimes management will decide to use some of their profits to purchase some of their outstanding shares off the market and retire them.  You will notice a downward trend from year to year in the number of outstanding shares.  This is a good thing.  With fewer shares outstanding, each remaining share is now worth a greater proportion of the company.

If a company is keeping their net income even through the years but decreasing the number of shares outstanding I will still see an increase in my EPS.  When I am evaluating companies I like to check the number of shares outstanding to make sure it is either staying flat or decreasing.  The last thing I want to see is increasing shares outstanding because I then own a smaller portion of the company.


The bottom line is I like to see increasing EPS.  A company can do that by increasing net income, decreasing the shares outstanding or possibly both methods.  It is important to analyze the company to determine how they are increasing their EPS.  One thing you can be sure of is that if you buy in at the right price and a company is consistently growing their earnings per share, you will most likely enjoy a nice performance from your investment.