7 Small Ways to Save Big on Gas

7 Small Ways to Save Big on Gas

Gasoline can get expensive, but most of us have to drive at some point or another. Driving around to find the cheapest gas  in town is one way to cut a big chunk out of your monthly gas bill. But there are many tips and tricks that can reduce what you pay at the pump. Here are seven strategies that can help you save money on gas and reduce your environmental footprint.

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1. Service Your Vehicle Regularly

Properly maintaining your vehicle can improve its fuel economy. You’ll need to replace dirty filters as often as possible and use the right motor oil whenever you top up. Using the wrong oil could waste gas by making your engine work harder. If you aren’t sure which grade of motor oil your car needs, you can check your owner’s manual.

It’s also important to keep your tires properly inflated. Tire pressure should always remain at the level recommended by your car’s manufacturer. And you’ll need to make sure your tires are aligned. When it comes to gas mileage, a simple tune-up can go a long way.

2. Use A/C Wisely

In some cases, you can waste gas by cranking up the A/C. But it all depends on where you’re driving. If you’re driving fast because you’re on the highway, for example, having the windows open can increase drag and reduce fuel economy. So using A/C when you’re speeding down the freeway won’t prevent you from trying to save money on gas.

In most cars, the A/C turns on when you try to defrost the windshield. Using a less powerful setting is one way to avoid wasting energy.

3. Find Cheap Places to Fuel Up

7 Small Ways to Save Big on Gas

Generally to find cheap gas, you’ll need to stay away from wealthier neighborhoods and check out stations in the suburbs if you’re driving through a major city. Apps like GasBuddy, AAA TripTik Mobile and Waze can help you find low gas prices in your area.

If you’re trying to spend less money on gas, waiting until your gas tank is empty and filling up a little at a time throughout the week isn’t a good idea. In fact, doing that could damage your car. It’s best to wait until you have a quarter tank of gas and fill it up all the way.

Related Article: States With the Worst Drivers

4. Earn Rewards for Buying Gas

If you drive a lot, it may make sense for you to get a credit card that rewards you with cash back or points for buying gas. Depending on the kind of credit card you qualify for, you could earn gas rewards of up to 5%.

5. Travel Lightly

Carrying around a heavy load can add unnecessary drag. That’s why it’s a good idea to clean out your trunk and remove anything from your roof that you don’t need. By removing excess weight, you’ll be able to maximize your vehicle’s fuel economy.

6. Drive Slower

7 Small Ways to Save Big on Gas

Cars often use more gas when drivers speed up. Exceeding your car’s optimal speed can reduce your gas mileage. In many cars, it’s best to drive at around 50 mph if you want to save fuel.

When you need to accelerate, it’s best to tap the gas pedal lightly. Speeding up too quickly or hitting the brakes too hard can reduce your miles per gallon.

Related Article: How to Trade in a Car

7. Drive More Efficiently

In addition to monitoring your speed, you can drive more efficiently by paying attention to details. For example, it’s a good idea to turn off the engine if your car has been idle for a while. Avoiding potholes and sudden stops can also make a difference when you’re trying to save money.

Using cruise control while you’re driving long distances may also help you use less gas. If you want to go the extra mile, consider buying a more fuel-efficient car. Spending a bit more on a new ride might make sense if you want better gas mileage.

Final Word

Sometimes you have to get creative when you want to cut costs. By making some adjustments to the way you drive and maintain your car, you can save big bucks on gasoline.

And if you can capitalize on the best times to buy gas, you probably should. Usually, it’s best to get gas either early in the morning or late at night.

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How Much Should I Spend on a Car?

How Much Should I Spend on a Car?

The sad thing about cars is that like boats and diamond rings, they’re depreciating assets. As soon as you drive yours off the lot, it immediately begins losing value. Some people are lucky enough to live somewhere with a reliable public transportation system. And others can bike to work. If you don’t fall into either of those categories, however, a car isn’t something you can put off buying.

Check out our investment calculator. 

If you’re preparing to purchase a new or used vehicle, you might be wondering, how much should I spend on a car? We’ll answer that question and reveal ways to make sure you’re not overpaying when you buy your vehicle.

The True Cost of Buying a Car

Next to buying a house, buying a car is likely one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your lifetime. And if you want a quality vehicle that isn’t going to break down, you’re probably going to have to pay a pretty penny for a new ride. The average cost of a brand new car was about $33,543 in 2015, compared to $18,800 for a used one.

When you buy a car, of course, you’re paying for more than just the vehicle itself. Besides the fee you’ll pay for completing a car sales contract (known as a documentation fee), you might have to pay sales tax. Then there are license and registration fees, which vary by state. In Georgia, for example, you’ll pay a $20 registration fee every year versus the $101 that drivers pay annually in Illinois.

The amount you pay up front for a car can rise by 10% or more when you add taxes and fees into the equation. And if you need a car loan, you might have to put 10% down to get a used car and 20% down to get a new vehicle. If you decide to roll the sales tax and fees into the loan, you’ll cough up even more money over time because interest will accrue.

Once the car is in your possession, you’ll have to pay for insurance, car payments, parking fees, gasoline and whatever other costs come up. In a 2015 study, AAA found that a standard sedan cost Americans $8,698 annually, on average. As convenient as having your own car might be, it’ll be a huge investment.

Related Article: The True Cost of Cheaper Gas

How Much Should I Pay?

How Much Should I Spend on a Car?

The exact amount that you should spend on a car might change depending on who you ask. Some experts recommend that car-buyers follow the 36% rule associated with the debt-to-income ratio (DTI). Your DTI represents the percentage of your monthly gross income that’s used to pay off debts. According to the 36% rule, it isn’t wise to spend more than 36% of your income on loan payments, including car payments.

Another rule of thumb says that drivers should spend no more than 15% of their monthly take-home pay on car expenses. So under that guideline, if your net pay is $3,500 a month, it’s best to avoid spending more than $525 on car costs.

That 15% cap, however, only applies to consumers who aren’t paying off any loans besides a mortgage. Since most Americans have some other form of debt – whether it’s credit card debt or student loans that they need to pay off – that rule isn’t so useful. As a result, other financial advisors suggest that car buyers refrain from purchasing vehicles that cost more than half of their annual salaries. That means that if you’re making $50,000 a year, it isn’t a good idea to buy a car that costs more than $25,000.

How to Buy a Car Without Busting Your Budget

If you’re trying to figure out how to make your first car purchase happen, know that you can do it even if your finances are currently in disarray. If you look at a website like Kelley Blue Book before visiting a dealership, you’ll have a better idea of what different makes and models cost. From there, you can set a goal and work towards reaching it by saving more and keeping your excess spending to a minimum.

Once you find a car you like (and that you can afford), you can save money by challenging or cutting out certain fees. For example, you can lower or bypass dealer fees for shipping and anti-theft systems. If you’re planning on getting an extended warranty, you can shop around and see if there’s another company offering a better deal on it than your car manufacturer.

Meeting with more than one dealer and comparing offers can also improve your chances of being able to find a vehicle within your price range. So can timing your purchase so that you’re buying a car when a salesperson is more open to negotiating, like near the end of a sales quarter.

Try out our budget calculator.

If you need financing, it’s important to make sure you’re not getting saddled with a car loan that’ll take a decade to pay off. Long-term car loans are becoming more common. In 2015, the average new car loan had a term of 67 months versus the 62 months needed to cover the average used car loan.

The longer your loan term, however, the more interest you’ll pay. And the harder it’ll be to trade in your car in the future, especially if the amount of the loan surpasses the car’s value. That’s why some experts suggest that buyers get loans that they can pay off in four years or less.

The Takeaway

How Much Should I Spend on a Car?

How much should you spend on a car? Only you can decide that after reviewing your budget and figuring out if you can pay for the various expenses that go along with owning a car.

Keep in mind that getting a new or used car will likely involve taking on more debt. If you can’t make at least minimum payments on the debt you already have, it might be a good idea to get a part-time job or concentrate on saving so you won’t have to take out a huge loan.

Update: Have more financial questions? SmartAsset can help. So many people reached out to us looking for tax and long-term financial planning help, we started our own matching service to help you find a financial advisor. The SmartAdvisor matching tool can help you find a person to work with to meet your needs. First you’ll answer a series of questions about your situation and goals. Then the program will narrow down your options from thousands of advisors to three fiduciaries who suit your needs. You can then read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with in the future. This allows you to find a good fit while the program does much of the hard work for you.

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Listed for $13.5M, Missouri’s Most Expensive Home Is a Lake Lover’s Dream

Missouri Most Expensive HomeSquare One Media

A working Midwestern ranch with a huge house is Missouri’s most expensive listing, at $13.5 million.

The 13,500-square-foot house sits on 825 acres in Brumley, MO. The town is close to the Lake of the Ozarks, a water playground with about 1,150 miles of shoreline.

Blake Anderson, director of marketing for Dielmann Sotheby’s International Realty, says the address may give people a mistaken impression.

“A lot of people are just going to think that it’s in the middle of nowhere. But it’s close to all those amenities that the lake has,” he says.

The estate is about a mile from the road down a long driveway.

“You have this huge estate with so much privacy. It’s very private, very secluded, very secure, but also it’s only about 10 minutes from the lake,” Anderson says.

The house was completed in 2012, and the agent tells us that the seller spent several years building the house after assembling the property parcels.

Exterior of house in Brumley, MO

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Ranch buildings

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Pond

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Aerial view

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Horse Power Ranch includes several buildings, roads, ponds, and plenty of other infrastructure.

“It’s actually a cattle farm, and it’s set up also to have horses just for recreation, but it does have a million-dollar barn,” Anderson notes.

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Watch: Kansas’ Most Expensive Home Has a Water Feature You Won’t Believe

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The business operations of the cattle ranch would be part of the sale and are included in the $13.5 million purchase price, but the animals won’t convey with the sale.

Caretaker’s house

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Caretaker’s house

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Caretaker’s house

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Stables

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Barn

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The outbuildings include a three-bedroom ranch manager’s residence and a studio apartment in the 11,000-square-foot barn.

Interior

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Interior

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Interior

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The main house, with six bedrooms and 9.5 bathrooms, used Douglas fir and other high-end materials, and the listing agent says it was meticulously designed and built.

“What really stood out to me when I toured the property was the fact that every little detail was really truly considered,” Anderson explains. “It’s not like there’s just a facade of logs. The actual building is constructed of Douglas fir logs.”

Living space

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Living space

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Living space

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Living space

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The house has no end of space, but it retains a cozy feel, thanks to the rustic materials used.

“The home is massive. It feels like a home, but it also kind of feels like a resort or a hotel,” Anderson says.

The hallway and the general ambiance is open and spacious, he points out, and the materials convey a feeling of warmth.

“Especially during these times where people are cooped up in their homes, it would be pretty hard to feel cramped inside this place,” he says.

Kitchen

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Kitchen

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Kitchen

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Dining space

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Kitchen

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The round kitchen is a focal point of the house and is centered in the living space.

“It’s basically completely open to the main living spaces, whether that be the living room, dining room, entertainment areas, or sitting areas,” Anderson explains. “You really get a 360-degree view of that core piece of the home, which is truly beautiful. And you’ve got beautiful panoramic views of the lake and the landscape in the background.”

In the kitchen, the cabinets are walnut, the countertops granite, and the appliances are all commercial-grade. There are two refrigerators, wine coolers, and plenty of pantry space.

Master bedroom

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Master bathroom

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Master bedroom

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Closet

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Master bedroom’s outdoor space

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Master bedroom

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The master bedroom sits in its own wing.

“It’s kind of private and has its own entrance and exit to the patios,” Anderson says.

It also has a large closet and attached sitting room with a fireplace.

“You can just stay in that part of the house, and you could have everything that you need without having to even go to the main part of the house,” Anderson says.

Bedroom

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Bathroom

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Bedroom

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Bedroom

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The other bedrooms are in a different wing, and each features an en suite bathroom.

Theater room

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Gym

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Garage

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Garage

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Other luxe amenities include a theater room, a gym, and a five-car garage and workshop that is visible from inside the house.

Pool

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Outdoor space

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The outdoor space is huge, wrapping around the entire backside of the mansion.

“The outdoor area is one of the most lavish outdoor areas I’ve seen in Missouri,” Anderson says. “When you’re entertaining, you can really have a large group here.”

There are many couches, fire pits, and TVs. The pool has an infinity edge with several covered areas, as well as a swim-up bar and waterfall.

Lake

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The private, 10-acre lake is stocked with fish and has a covered dock with a swimming deck. There’s also a sand volleyball court and several cooking areas.

Anderson says the property is great as a single-family home and working ranch, but could also work well as a corporate retreat. He wants people to know all that the Lake of the Ozarks area has to offer.

“We have some beautiful homes, we have beautiful architecture, we love nature, we have kind of everything that you can ask for,” he says. “If you were to purchase a property that was like this in any other part of the country, you’d be paying quite a lot more for it.”

Living space

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Living space

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The post Listed for $13.5M, Missouri’s Most Expensive Home Is a Lake Lover’s Dream appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Current VA Refinance Rates

Mortgage interest rates remain at historic lows this week. As reported from a weekly survey of 100+ lenders by Freddie Mac, the average mortgage interest dropped for two of three main loan types and ticked up for a third — 30-year fixed increased (2.66% to 2.67%), while 15-year fixed dropped (2.19% to 2.17%) as did 5/1 ARM (2.79% to 2.71%).

VA refinance rates are no different. In fact, when compared to other loan types — conventional and FHA, for example — VA home loans offer consistently lower rates than for the average consumer.

Shop and compare your personalized rates with multiple lenders.

VA Refinance Rates 2020

  VA Conventional FHA
September 2020 2.78% 3.02% 3.01%
August 2020 2.86% 3.12% 3.10%
July 2020 3.02% 3.26% 3.26%
June 2020 3.20% 3.42% 3.41%
May 2020 3.24% 3.44% 3.45%
April 2020 3.31% 3.48% 3.56%

Source: Ellie Mae Origination Insight Report, September 2020

When should you refinance?

In general, if you can save money over the life of your loan, then you should consider refinancing. Everyone’s financial situation is different, however, and refinancing can help you achieve a couple of different financial goals. Below are some of the most common reasons homeowners refinance:

  1. Lower your interest rate and monthly payment. Refinancing into a lower interest rate not only reduces the total interest costs you owe over the life of the loan, but it can reduce your monthly mortgage payment as well. This is the most common reason to refinance.
  2. Pay off your current non-VA home loan. VA home loans don’t require private mortgage insurance (PMI) like other loan types (FHA loans, for example, require PMI for the life of the loan if you put less than 10% down). You can also adjust your loan terms and interest rate type.
  3. Fund home projects or consolidate your debt. If you’ve earned enough equity in your home, then a cash-out refinance allows you to tap into that equity for cash. There are no restrictions on how you can use the money, so many homeowners use it to pay for home repairs or remodel projects as well consolidate debt.

What type of refinance should I choose?

There are two types of VA refinance loans: VA streamline refinance and VA cash-out refinance. Both have different benefits and loan processing requirements, so it’s important for homeowners to know what they want to accomplish with a refinance.

VA Streamline Refinance

Also known as an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL), the VA streamline refinance is best if you want to lower your interest rate and monthly payment. In fact, your new monthly payment must be lower than your current one to be eligible for this loan. It has one of the easiest refinancing process — you don’t have to verify your income or credit score, and you don’t need a home appraisal.

VA Cash-out Refinance

The VA cash-out refinance loan is the only refinance option for taking out some or all of the earned equity in your home as cash. Qualifying for this loan is a longer process. You’ll need to meet similar requirements to when you purchased your existing home, including credit score and debt-to-income ratio requirements, plus a new home appraisal.

How do I get the best VA refinance rate?

According to research from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), almost half of consumers don’t compare quotes when shopping for a home loan. This means many consumers are losing out on substantial savings. Comparing quotes from three to four lenders ensures that you’re getting the lowest refinance rate for you. Some lenders may even waive certain fees and closing costs.

Interest rates determine what you’ll pay monthly as well as the total interest amount over the life of the loan. Even a half a percentage point decrease can mean a savings of thousands of dollars you’ll owe overall.

Average Mortgage Interest Rates 2020


Source: militaryvaloan.com

When Is the Best Time to Buy a Car?

Best Time to Buy a Car

Timing is everything and when it comes to buying a car, that saying couldn’t be more true. Negotiating and haggling with car salesmen can reduce the price of what you have to pay for a new whip. But if you want to get the best deal on a car, you’ll need to know when to show up to the dealership. Whether you’re buying a used vehicle or a brand new ride, we’ll tell you the best time of year to buy a car. Being that the purchase of a car is rather pricey, consider meeting with a financial advisor in your area to discuss your finances beforehand.

When Is the Best Time to Buy a New Car?

If you’re on a budget, one of the best times to buy a new car is the end of a model season. New car models are often introduced each year between late summer and early fall. While you might miss out on some new features, buying a new car in August or early September may save you some money.

Waiting until the end of the year to buy a new car can work in your favor as well. Many car dealers offer year-end sales in an effort to get rid of older vehicles and make room for new inventory. Buying a new car on a holiday like Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve is another way to get a deep discount.

If you can’t wait until December to get a new car, you might want to buy a car at the end of the month or the end of a quarter. If a salesperson hasn’t sold very many vehicles in weeks, he or she might be willing to compromise and lower the price of the car you want to buy. Even if a salesman has managed to sell multiple cars throughout the month, he might want to close one last deal in order to meet a sales goal or score a bonus.

Shopping for a car at the end of the day may or may not be effective. If you stop by a dealership an hour before it’s set to close, a salesperson may be open to negotiating so that he or she can end the day on a high note. But if he or she is used to working long hours, your sales associate may not be that flexible.

The Best Time to Buy a Used Car

Best Time to Buy a Car

A recent study from iseecars.com ranked the best times to buy a used car. At the top of their list are holidays including Black Friday, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Columbus Day. The months of November and December are also considered good times to purchase a used car.

According to the study, the months of April, May and June are some of the worst times to buy a used car. Specifically, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are bad days for used-car buyers. But the No. 1 worst day to purchase a used car is the Fourth of July.

When Not to Buy a New Car

Generally, one of the worst times to buy a new car is in the spring. During this time of year, you’ll see more people on car lots looking to soak up some sun and cash in their tax refunds. Other bad times to shop for new cars are whenever a particular vehicle is popular among consumers and whenever a new car model has been released.

Some people seem to think that buying a car on a rainy day is a good idea. But that approach usually doesn’t work. In fact, you can expect car dealerships to be filled with people when there’s bad weather simply because people tend to believe that they’ll find great deals on rainy days.

Bottom Line 

Best Time to Buy a Car

The best time of year to buy a car ultimately depends on your personal preferences and how much you’re willing to spend on a vehicle. If you’re rolling in dough and you want your car to have top-of-the-line features and amenities, you might want to buy a car as soon as a new model comes out. But if you’re trying to shave hundreds of dollars off your purchase price, experts say that it’s best to head to the dealership at the end of a period in the fall or winter, like the end of the month, quarter or year.

Our advice? When it comes to buying cars and getting your way at the dealership, it helps to know what you’re looking for. Doing plenty of research and knowing the make and model that you want your car to have can make it easier to figure out when to purchase your new vehicle.

Tips for Taking Care of Your Finances

  • If you find yourself having some financial struggles, perhaps it’s time to have an outside resource step in to help you out. Financial advisors typically have extensive experience in a number of important areas of finance, like tax planning, retirement planning, budget planning and more. SmartAsset’s advisor matching tool can set you up with as many as three suitable advisors in just 5 minutes. Get started now.
  • The best way to manage your money on both a short- and long-term scale is to create a firm budget. SmartAsset’s budget calculator can help you figure out exactly where you’re overspending.

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