savings

Extended Warranty on a Car: To Buy or Not to Buy

By: Vincent Mortensen

I recently purchased a used car at a dealership for a fairly good price. Once it was time to create a payment plan, the financial consultant asked if I would like a two-year, 24,000 mile extended warranty on the vehicle for $1,850. In order to not sound biased, I won’t reveal if I purchased this warranty plan.

Many of us feel sick if we are not protected from potential problems while many of us feel all warranties are a complete rip-off. On which side to you lie? Is it ever a good or bad idea to purchase an extended warranty for a vehicle? Below are a few points to help you make a more clear choice.

1. How long do you plan on keeping the car? – Are you the type that gets tired of cars within two to four years or do you like to use your car until it’s on its last leg? It is generally not a good idea to purchase an extended warranty for those who don’t keep cars longer than four years.

2. Who stands behind the warranty? – If you do choose to purchase an extended warranty, make sure it is backed by the car maker and not just the dealership you purchased from.  Car maker warranties will allow your car to be serviced at any dealership that sells your brand of car, not just at the dealership you purchased. 

3. Have you shopped for the best price? – More often than not, you can find an extended warranty through third-party programs for much cheaper. If you do go this route, make sure you know what you are getting, as the third-party warranty might not cover as many potential problems the dealership will cover.

4. Will you have peace of mind if you don’t buy it? – As mentioned above, there are some people that cannot sleep at night, knowing their car is not covered by a warranty. If you are going to make yourself sick, perhaps you should consider it.

5. Is the car still under the original warranty? – There is no need to purchase unnecessary coverage if your used car is still under the original warranty of the car maker. For example, if you are offered a two year, 24,000 mile warranty from the dealership for $1,850 but your car still has a year and a half or 20,000 more miles (whichever comes first), a warranty would be wasteful. What are the odds your car will have $1,850 worth of problems in only six months? Not likely.

After reading these points, the choice is yours. If you are in the market for a new or used car, make sure you do your research to get the best warranty deal or skip it completely.

This information was based on an article from http://www.edmunds.com

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Celebrate College Savings Month!


September means school is back in the swing of things and you’ve had to fork over some serious cash for books, supplies, and tuition for the semester. Why not start thinking about next year and how you will make covering these expenses less stressful?

The Personal Money Management Center wants to help you reduce stress that is associated with the financial obligations of getting an education. We want to help you so much that we are going to show you how to receive a $4,500 matched savings grant! We are holding two mandatory personal money management classes at the end of December (20th & 22nd 10am-2pm) to qualify you for this opportunity. Class sizes are limited so you need to register as soon as possible. If we have over 40 participants signed up by September 10th, we will hold an earlier session the last two Saturdays in September (20th & 27th).

The classes work in conjunction with the Utah Individual Development Account Network. UIDAN provides a matched savings account to qualified participants. When you save up to $1,500 you will receive up to $4,500; a 3:1 match! Your $6,000 can be used towards your education, the purchase of a first home, small business development, or assistive technology for the disabled.

We have been able to assist students in receiving $112,500 in matched savings money. Students chose to use their funds for education, buying their first home, or starting their own business. You could be the next student to lessen the financial burden of getting a college degree or to make your dream of owning a home or starting a business a reality!

IDA Infographic

To register for this amazing opportunity, simply call our office 801-585-7379 or stop by to see us on the 3rd floor of the Union in Room 317. We also have an event posted on our Facebook page.

Creating Budget-Friendly Meal Plans

new_ways_to_save_money_on_groceries

Everybody eats. We all make the decision of what to eat multiple times a day and this simple choice can make or break a budget. Creating a meal-plan is an easy way to cut down your grocery budget. It is also important to know where to shop and what types of food will fit into your budget. Here are a few simple tips to get you started:

  • Plan ahead. Create a meal plan using frugal foods as the base for recipes. Eggs, dry pasta, beans, legumes, flour, potatoes, frozen vegetables are fantastic starting points when creating recipes and meal plans.
  •  Build a stocked pantry. If your kitchen is stocked with basic necessities such as soy sauce, hot sauce, spices, olive oil, broth, honey, and basic spices you will be able to build different flavor profiles using the same base ingredients. This will save you money in the long run.
  • Buy meat on sale in bulk. Meat is often the most expensive item in a recipe. To cut cost, plan your recipes based on what meat is on sale this week at your local grocer. Buy a large cut so you can freeze smaller portions for meals later in the month. 
  • Cook from scratch. Learn to make simple sauces, such as pesto, cheese sauce, or a pan sauce, in addition to things like pizza dough, waffles, pancakes, bread, etc. to save a ridiculous amount of money on meals such as pasta, pizza, and breakfast.
  • Don’t try too hard. Some people feel overwhelmed by the idea of meal-planning. While it can be tedious and very detail oriented, it does not have to be. Choose a meal plan that is simple but variable. For example, if you pick a type of food for each day, you can vary the specific flavor profile on a weekly basis. You could designate specific staple dishes: baked potatoes, frittattas, pasta, paninis, pizza, etc., per day a week. So while you are eating pasta once a week, there are a million variations so you won’t get bored.

Summer Fun on the Cheap!

By: Vincent Mortensen

Spring Semester is finally over which means the summer fun can officially start! If you’re a starving college kid like me, every penny counts when it comes to entertainment during the break. Here are five different ways you can save money while having a great time!

1. Use the Utah Wilderness Wisely – We Utahn’s have been blessed with some of the best outdoor activities due to our beautiful mountains, crystal clear lakes, and stunning deserts (if you want to travel south). Take the opportunity to go hiking or biking with your friends. I am a firm believer in creating memories with friends, regardless of how much the activity will cost.

2. Free entertainment in the Salt Lake City Area – Salt Lake City holds a bunch of different free or inexpensive activities during the summer months including farmer’s markets, the Twilight Concert Series (http://www.twilightconcertseries.com/), and more. If you take the time to do a little research, you’ll be surprised what events you can find that are little or no cost to you.

3. Go on a “Staycation” – Skip Disneyland this summer. Instead, explore what Utah or surrounding states has to offer. Take an overnight trip to Park City, drive north to Crystal Hot Springs, or take that hiking trip with friends mentioned above. Not only will you have a great time, you’ll save a lot of money in the process.

4. Summer Sports Leagues – Summertime is the best time to play your favorite sport with your friends or some new people. For example, Beehive Sport and Social Club offers a wide variety of summer sports including sand volleyball, flag football, kickball and dodge ball for as low as $50 a player. Considering how many games you play, this is a great deal. For more information, visit http://www.beehivesports.com/.

5. Hold a Block Party – Block Parties have gone the way of the Dodo Bird. No-one does them anymore. No-one except you! Invite your neighbors on your street, in your apartment complex, or wherever to a potluck, games, and other forms of entertainment. If everyone brings a dish and one game idea, you will connect and even meet some of your neighbors in a friendly atmosphere.

When I was younger, I lived near a cul-de-sac that had a party annually. To this day, it is one of my fondest memories. I played basketball, hanged with neighbor kids I rarely saw, and ate some great food in the process (there was an elderly women that always made the best cake!)

Throw a Block Party and meet your neighbors!

Throw a Block Party and meet your neighbors!

Many people believe summertime activities have to be pricey to be fun. Of course that’s not the case. If none of the above ideas interest you, do some research and find free or inexpensive activities that you love!

Top 10 Websites for Bargain Lovers

ShopSmart Magazine reported on the top 10 websites to help save consumers money in their April 2014 issue. The following are their picks: 

YIPIT.COM 

Many of us sign up to receive deals from the places we love to shop, resulting in several emails from different retailers crowding our inbox! Yipit.com solves this issue by sending one email a day with deals from ALL the sites you subscribe to, including Groupon and Living Social!

COUPONSFORCHANGE.ORG 

This website partners with Share Our Strength; an organization that fights against childhood hunger. Using 3 coupons from Coupons For Change will result in one free meal for a hungry child through Share Our Strength. Who wouldn’t want to save money and help feed staring children?!

SELLOUT.WOOT.COM

Known as one of the “flash-sale” sites, it has deals on a variety of items ranging from camping equipment to watches and laptop cases. This site is a great place to get deals however they go quickly, so check often!

BAUBLEBAR.COM

Love free shipping and accessorizing your outfits? Then this website has everything you want! A great website for affordable accessories without the hassle of extra shipping costs. (View picture to the right).

AMAZON.COM/COUPONS

You can search through the most popular coupons to see what people are saving money on. When you find a coupon you want to use, simply click on it and it will be subtracted from the total in your checkout! This can be combined with Amazon Prime for free shipping for even more cost savings.

DEALS.EBAY.COM

Deals are posted every day at 8 a.m. Pacific Time from trusted sellers. Ebay also incorporates informational banners to help you sort through newly added items or items that are almost gone.

GILT.COM

Another “flash-sale” site that has up to 60% off of name brand designers as well as a feature to select a city to view deals on activities and food.

PRICEBLINK.COM

This deal finding browser add-on will alert you of competing prices for any item you are shopping for online. It will also give you a reference for the price history of the item. (View picture to the right).

TJMAXX.COM

Looking for designer deals? TJMaxx.com has a “Runway” section to browse through deals on Prada, Gucci, etc. You can also sign up for flash-sale alerts or browse new arrivals in their  “Just In” section.

HARMONDISCOUNT.COM

Great deals on beauty and personal care products. Touting products as much as 20% lower than at retail store such as Walmart. You can find your favorite products by clicking “Shop by Brand.”

Saving Money For The Holidays

It’s the Most…..Expensive Time of the Year!

By Vincent Mortensen

Summer has come and gone.  The heat has transitioned into the cool, crisp weather of autumn.  With the changing weather brings the changing of the seasons and all the fun holiday’s attached to them.  In a three month span, we dress up and get candy, gorge ourselves on delicious foods and top it off with giving and receiving presents.  Even the holiday season can cause stress.  In this sense, it can harm us financially.

Chances are you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year for all your closest family and friends.  If you’re not cooking, you’re probably traveling to get to said meal.  With the steady rise of gas prices, long distance car trips or flying can cause a financial squeeze.  This is why we must start saving now instead of later.

Let’s do an example.  A family of four needs to travel to Denver, Colorado from Salt Lake City, Utah to reach grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  Even booking in September will cost each person on average $200 for round trip.  $800 is considered by many a major purchase and should be saved for.

Now for driving.  Let’s say gas prices are averaged out to $3.70 a gallon throughout the road trip.  Your car receives 25 mph on the highway for the 550 mile trip.  This will round out to about $162.50 round trip.  This is a much better deal but still on the expensive side.  There may be additional costs including hotel as well.

Imagine if you had to travel even further than the next state over.  Things could become even more expensive than $160 to $800.

If you don’t have to travel far for Thanksgiving, enjoy your meal and be merry!  But, if you have to spend a significant amount to see your loved ones, it’s never too early to start saving for your upcoming adventure.  Good luck!

The Road to $1,000

Debt is a painful thing.  I can’t think of one person who enjoys being in a large amount of debt.  This is many attempt to keep their heads above water by paying it down as quickly as possible.  Financial Advice Guru Dave Ramsey recommends before paying down debt, the consumer should have $1,000 saved up in case of an emergency.  Of course you’re thinking, “If I had $1,000 in cash lying around, I would be putting it toward my debt, duh!”

thousand-bucks

Think of it this way:  If you had the alternator go out in your car, where would the money come from to pay for it?  After all, you need your car to travel to work and school.  Option one is to use the money you brilliantly saved for this type of emergency.  Option two would be to pile on more debt you’ve worked so hard to cut down.

Making $1,000 quickly (and legally) is not unheard of.  There’s plenty of money waiting for those who want to work for it, right?  Here are some simple ways to gather that $1,000 in a respectable amount of time:

  1. Work extra hours or find a small side job.
  2. If you have developed a marketable skill, sell it (teach kids to play piano for example).
  3. Chances are your XBOX 360 has more dust on it than inside the tomb of King Tut.  Sell it for easy money.  Sell all those movies and books you’ve barely used while you’re at it.
  4. Have a yard sale for all your other items such as clothing, old appliances, knick-knacks, etc.
  5. If you’re not squeamish and love your fellow man, donate blood or platelets.  Rates are currently around $35 a visit.  Participate three times a week and the money adds up.
  6. Perhaps your current living quarters are tight.  Perhaps they aren’t.  If you have an extra room, bring in another roommate to split the costs of living.
  7. Dog walking isn’t attractive but it can be if you want financial security bad enough.  Take your neighbor’s best friend for a walk and get some fresh air.
  8. For basic necessities such as clothing, check out online money saving websites like retailmenot.com or ebates.com.  You can find great deals on merchandise or receive online discounts instantly with one simple click.
  9. This one might kill you.  Switch from unlimited data to a lower data plan on your smart phone.  You can save easy money this way since numerous establishments offer free wi-fi now.
  10. Take a packed lunch made at home instead of eating out every day.  You can save as much as $50 a week by making this change.  Your pack lunch will probably be healthier, too.

If you choose to accept even three of these ten ideas, you will find yourself on your way to financial security.  Don’t completely stop payments on your accounts, though!  Make sure to keep paying at least the minimum until you can begin to aggressively attack your debt and defeat it once and for all.  Good luck!

–Vince