Monday, July 22, 2013

How To Purchase a Vehicle For Your Recent Graduate

Bentley Continental GT (II)
Bentley Continental GT (II) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sooner or later, our kids will grow up and leave the nest.  (Some later rather than sooner)  Before they do, we want to make sure that they have the right vehicle to get them where they need to go.  We want something with great gas mileage, has plenty of room for stuff, is built like a tank, is cheap to insure, is easy to maintain and has a solid history of never breaking down, ever.  Basically, the perfect car.  And all this for as little money as possible.

Unfortunately, the reality is we all have to compromise.  However, there are ways we can come closer to that perfect vehicle than you would think.  Doing a little homework can go a long way.  Take a top down approach.  

Find out which vehicle types are cheapest to insure in your area. Sedans, SUV's, trucks, coupes, etc..  You can call your local insurance agent for this information.  Next, from this list, find out which car manufacturers have the best service history in this vehicle class.  You can get these statistics from many different places on the internet.  Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book are just two of these sites.  
man on computer 03 copy
(Photo credit: Robin Hutton)

Once you have narrowed down your list to a particular vehicle make and model, time to go shopping.  This is a step where you can save a lot of time using the internet as well.  Websites like Cargurus and Carsforsale are good places to start.  These sites will help you get an idea of what prices are in your area and what year range fits your budget.  Pick out a few vehicles that look promising.  

Now that you have your short list, be sure to check out the dealer that has listed the vehicle.  Read online reviews, look at their websites and visit their social media sites to see how their customer relationships really are.  Finally, call the dealers to check on the vehicles you picked, make sure they are still available and make appointments to see them.

When you go to look at the vehicles either bring a mechanic with you or have them checked out by a local shop.  Ask to see vehicle history report or get them yourself.  If everything checks out then it is time to talk turkey with the dealer who has the vehicle you want.  One thing we always recommend but few people do is purchase an extended vehicle warranty.  Remember, even with your and the dealers best efforts, these are used vehicles that can have problems.  Most dealerships offer them and many times you can include the warranty in the financing.  Negotiate a price and financing option that is suitable for the vehicle and job done.
Car Key
Car Key (Photo credit: mynameisharsha)
A few things that will help in this process.  Keep your child included in this process.  Let them have some input in the decision making process.  Also as a personal recommendations, make the child financially responsible in some way.  Whether they pay for half or the insurance or whatever.  They will tend to be much more careful with there shiny new vehicle if they are on the hook for it.
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Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Quick Off Topic Side Note for Parents with Video Gaming Children

If your child plays video games more than you think is good for them, consider why they do it.  How often in life do we as adults do everything the right way.  We cross our T's and dot our i's, yet still, because of reasons beyond our control we get kicked in the teeth.  Life is just that way.  We can't control everything in life and we don't always get rewarded for the positive things we do.

English: The Xbox console with the S controlle...
English: The Xbox console with the S controller, made by Microsoft. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For children, this situation is often amplified.  Not only do they have to deal with everyday difficulties, but they also have to navigate it all while living by someone else's rules.  They have no real control over their lives.  Video games provide children with the ability to have some control.  Do XYZ and you get rewarded.
 It becomes many children's way to feel a sense of accomplishment.  With the increase in online video gaming and it's changing emphasis towards social interactions, the child can actually begin to believe that their video game experience IS in fact their "real life."

It can be frustrating as a parent to try and pry our kids away from the controller.  But keeping in mind why can help us and our children.  There are a few things we can do to change our children's focus and their behavior.

No Video Games
No Video Games (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1.  Limit Their Video Gaming - Of course this sounds easier said than done, but if you incorporate some of the next step into it, you may be surprised.  Make sure you sit down and talk to your child about this.  Try to avoid letting your talk escalate into a shouting or pouting match.  Gradually cutting down the time may work better for you than an immediate huge cut.

2.  Give Them Some Control - Provide your child with tasks they are capable of completing using their own judgement and reward them for finishing them.  Don't make the tasks too easy, it will lessen the child's feeling of accomplishment.  It is important that you show your child that life can have rewards of it's own.  Showing your pride in them will mean more than you think.

3.  Be Patient - Remember, you are taking your child away from what they may view as their "real life."  This can be very traumatic for them.  Imagine yourself picking up and moving to a new state or country.  It isn't easy.  Stay calm even when your child is not.  It is simply their resistance and fear of turning their life upside down.

Thumbs Up!
Thumbs Up! (Photo credit: n2linux)

Ultimately it's about what's best for your child.  It is our job to make sure that when they grow into adults themselves, they are ready and capable of making good decisions not just for themselves, but for their own children too.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summertime Means Storm time.

Summer has definitely hit us full force this year.  Along with the heat have come what seems like daily thunderstorms.  Mother Nature has her way no matter what we do.  But, as motorists, it is up to us to make sure we are prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws our way.

Here are some tips to keep you safe and dry when the weather gets rough.

When its Hot  - Obviously the air conditioning in your vehicle is your number one defense against heat while you are driving.  As important as it is, you need to make sure it is kept in good shape.  Do not wait until the middle of summer when you could fry an egg on the sidewalk to find that the air is not quite so cold anymore.  At that time, most A/C service shops are booked up or charging an arm and a leg  or both thanks to the laws of supply and demand.

Instead, take a pro-active approach.  Each spring, have your A/C system checked out by a mechanic certified to work on A/C systems.  Not only will you have a much easier time getting an appointment, you will also likely save money. (Supply and demand again)

Also, think about your vehicle's happiness.  It needs to stay cool as well.  You should always have your vehicle's cooling system checked while you are having your A/C inspected.  It is one thing to be sweating while driving.  It is a much bigger bucket of not fun to be sweating on the side of the road while looking at your car overheating.

When it's Wet - There are two really important ways to keep you dry and safe in the rain.

First are your tires.  Making sure that your tires will keep you tracking straight and true in any weather is vital.  You should check not only the tread left on your tires, but also check for unusual wear.   Your tread should wear evenly from the inside of the tire all the way to the outside.  You should also check for spots on your tires that are either slightly bulging or are worn.  If you see bulging, have the tire check Immediately!  This could be a sign of a soon to happen tire blowout.  Not a good thing in any weather.

Second are your wiper blades.  These should also be checked regularly.  You do not want to be caught in a rain storm seeing only some faint redish blur in front of you!  Wiper blades are not expensive.  You can buy cheap replacements if you wish.  We recommend spending a little extra and getting a good, name brand blade.  The extra few bucks will be well worth it.

When it's Cold - Now I know it's summer time but if you haven't noticed by now, we try to teach being prepared.  Be ready today for what may come tomorrow.  Cold weather can pose some of the biggest challenges to motorists.

This is another time that your tires should be checked regularly for wear and tread depth.  Also have your heating system checked so you can drive nice and toasty warm.  If you live in an area that gets very cold, another good tip is to always make sure that you have at least a 1/4 tank of gas in your tank.  Any less and you risk the gas itself actually freezing.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may still get stuck somewhere you don't want to be, in weather you don't want to be in.  This is another challenge you can prepare for.  Always have an umbrella, an extra blanket, a jacket and a few bottles of water in your car.  It may seem a bit over the top, but having these supplies on hand just may save your life.

Final Note - We all know that Mother Nature can be brutal at times.  No matter how technologically advanced we get as a society, we are always at her mercy.  With this in mind, please remember, if the weather gets really DON'T DRIVE!  There is never a time when getting somewhere is worth your life.