Posts Tagged 'tips'

Keeping your car maintained: a schedule

With our Auto Loan Expert packets, we’re passing out a short guide of maintenance tasks to do the first year you own your vehicle. Far from comprehensive, our list is a short overview of recommended items.

We assembled a lot of that information from several sources, which are listed below. Browse through each one and get a good idea of recommended to-dos to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape. also provides a vehicle-specific maintenance recommendation guide. Enter in your car’s make and model and it will show you what to check on at regular mileage intervals.

As with everything auto-related, refer to your specific vehicle’s owner’s manual for detailed instructions and tips.

Learn the secrets of car dealerships

Learn the way of the car salesperson

The world of auto sales is like another planet: so many secrets and plans and methods. Purchasing a vehicle involves patience, stamina, and a bit of self-education.

Thankfully, we can help with the last one.

Over at the Consumerist, you can learn about the “four squares” method of making deals at a car lot, which involves directing your attention away from things like the actual price of the vehicle you’re buying or financing. As with most Consumerist posts, a lot can be learned from the comments section, so be sure to check out the readers’ stories at the end of the article.

One of the posters pointed to Car Buying Tips, an encyclopedia of car dealer trade secrets and tactics. For some good fun, check out the mail the site gets from angry dealers.

The most important lessons I caught were (a) get pre-approved at a credit union to know how much you can/should spend, (b) haggle over the purchase price before anything else (trade-in, monthly payment, options) is talked about, and (c) do your research. A well-informed buyer is the most powerful person on a car lot.

Dave, a reader over at the Get Rich Slowly blog, offers some advice from working at a dealership, too. Here’s a realistic one:

Do not try to bluff or BS anyone in the dealership — they are a lot better at it than you are, and they do it far more often.

Our Member Relations department is happy to answer any questions you have about this stuff. Working with dealers as much as we do, we’ve learned a thing or two. We even have a guy, Dale, in the department that used to sell cars. He has some fun stories to tell.

Any creative ways to earn extra cash?

The Five Cent Nickel blog has posted “36 ways to earn extra money,” with tips like the usual “sell stuff around the house,” and “get a second job.” But how about “renting ad space on your car?” Or “make and sell crafts?”

Economic times like these call for the creative solutions – what’s one creative way you’re earning extra money?

Tips to get your ‘rainy-day fund’ started

Our parents and grandparents knew the wisdom of having a little bit of cash stored away for a “rainy day.” A decent-sized emergency fund, which can range up to three months of expenses to something simple like $1,000, is a good way to be ready for life’s little uncertainties.

The Consumerism Commentary blog lists 50 tips for you to get your “rainy-day fund” started, including typical items like bringing your own lunch to work instead of dining out, keeping your pocket change in a jar, and cancelling any magazine subscriptions you don’t need. Every little bit can help, and a few dollars each week can add up to a workable emergency fund.

Some of the tips, like drinking (free) water instead of soda, can also help your health.

We can help by setting up a member’s choice account for you, and you can name it your “Emergency Account” or “Pocket Change Account,” or something else that lets you know to keep your hands out of it. Because that’s the key to a good emergency fund: not dipping into it for non-emergencies.

Smart uses for your tax rebate check.

What should you do with your $300, $600, or bigger rebate check coming this summer? We found the best advice from around the web on what to do with your money.

The most important thing to remember? Be smart about it. Don’t waste an opportunity. We know the government wants you to spend your rebate to “stimulate” the economy, but there are smarter things to do with the money – especially in these tough economic times.

Pay down debt: “Using the money to cut your debt can be a win-win both for you and for credit card issuers…In a slowing economy, the last thing you want to do is overextend yourself.” (

Save for a rainy day: “The money is there in an emergency, but since you can’t just empty it out by writing a series of little checks you’re less likely to touch it. The standard rule of thumb is to sock away three to six months of living expenses. So start with your refund and take it from there.” (

Service your car: “If you’ve been putting off that oil change and tune-up because you just didn’t have the money — this is the time. And check the tires. Extra bonus: A well-maintained car with properly inflated tires burns less gas and saves you money in the long run.” (

Pay toward a retirement IRA or college savings account, or see an attorney to draft wills and other needed estate planning documents. ( Call American 1’s Member Relations department for more info on this point.

Make home improvements: “Putting your tax rebate money toward such improvements as lighting, painting and electrical repairs can produce over 100% returns on their cost when it comes time to sell, making this a good place to spend the tax rebate.” (

American 1 Federal Credit Union