Get Your Car Loan Before Car Shopping

Eventually the only cure for a bucket of bolts is to retire the old Nelly and get a new car. The problem with getting a new car is figuring out how to pay for it. After all these years, I have figured out some of the better ways to do that.

When I have a good idea what type of vehicle I want to get and what the ballpark purchase price might be, I shop around for the car loan before I ever step foot on the dealer’s lot. It strengthens your negotiating position to have your financing arranged before haggling with the dealership. I used to go to my bank and the big finance companies to shop for a new car loan, but they have gotten harder and harder to deal with over the years.

Oh Say Can You See?

Last time I needed contact lenses I went to the optometrist that has a little office next to Sam’s Club and got an exam for $70 and hand carried the contacts prescription to the Optical department at Sam’s. That was the first rude surprise. They don’t stock the lenses and would have to order them for me. It took about a week to get in and then I had to drive down to the Sam’s Club for a second trip to pick them up.

So I used them up and went down to Sam’s Club to get a refill on the contacts, figuring it would take another week to order the refill and I could deal with that. But no. Come to find out the prescription for contact lenses only last for 6 months and my prescription had expired. so now I need another exam for $70 before I can order the lenses and then I wait a week for them to come in and then I make another trip. You know what? There’s got to be a better way.

Peace of Mind

Yesterday was really nice. My birthday was fun and well celebrated by everyone at work and at home. It’s cool being the center of attraction for at least one day each year, isn’t it?

So today it’s back to reality and actually I’m shifting the focus away from me and onto my family. Trying to be very practical here, who knows how many more birthdays I’ll be able to celebrate? I mean, I’ve already lived more years than my father lived. Cancer took him from us and that threat is always on my mind. My father passed away too young, but he had written a will and made good arrangements to take care of his family with term life insurance and other solid estate plans.

Probably one of the most important types of insurance that he had was mortgage life insurance . With that big expensive house, there’s no way my mom could have kept up the house payments and maintenance on just her own income. By having the mortgage protection he made sure that mom and us kids had a roof over our heads because the mortgage was paid off in full when he passed away. I know he had peace of mind and my mom needed that help.

The other important insurance was the term life because there was enough money to pay the funeral expenses plus all the household expenses for more than a year after he passed. That gave mom enough time to take care of everything and then find a good job to go back to work full time when she was ready rather than desperately taking something at the worst possible time just to pay the bills.

Having seen this first hand has made me keenly aware of my own responsibilities to my family and I have done the same type of estate planning. Let’s hope it’s not needed for a long time yet, but if something does happen I know that my family has been provided for.

Saving on Printers, Ink and Toner

My home office has my desktop PC and two printers hooked up to it. The first printer is a little HP color inkjet printer that does a decent job on photos and anything that has to be color. But the real workhorse in my office is an HP monochorome laserjet that prints only black and white papers and man, does it print them fast and cheap.

I have to print out reports every night of the week except Tuesdays and Thursdays, so that’s a lot of printing. The color printer would take up to three hours to print the reports and since they are just black and white it occurred to me that I should look into get a monochrome printer that is faster. The fast color printers are just too expensive for my home office budget. So I found the HP laserjet and discovered a little bonus – the laser toner cartridge lasts 6 times longer than the inkjet cartridges.

The inkjets were running out every week of one color or another, especially the black cartridge. I could easily go through two black cartridges each week. But the laserjet toner cartridge lasts about one month. Of course the price difference is huge. You can buy inkjets for $20-$30 at the discount stores but the laser runs $80. But the yield is much greater than the increased cost, so I’m saving a lot of money and time with the laser.

Trying to pinch my pennies even further, I decided to check out the generic cartridges and also getting refilled or recycled cartridges. If I know I can recycle something I feel guilty tossing it into the trash and not recycling. There’s been so much buzz about recycling printer cartridges that I knew I had to start doing that. So I surfed the internet and found a cool site called Inkjet Deals. They have information refilling both inkjet cartridges and laser toner cartridges for my HP laserjet and all the top brands of printers.

I like the sectio on their site that is a resource center with informational articles. After I read the one about “Generic and Remanufactured Cartridges,” I knew right then that I must start recycling my cartridges and also spread the word so everyone else will do that, too.

Another article they have that helped me with the penny pinching mode is called, “Seven Tips for Saving Ink.” Now some of those tips might be obvious to you, but I hadn’t thought of them until this article pointed them out.

I’m also not sure that I’m going to keep my HP color inkjet. After reading this site and learning more about printers, I might be better off buying a different brand for the photos I want to print. I’m seriously thinking about shopping around for the right site to buy Epson color printers online for less money than the local discount stores and getting a better quality photo print for my collection.

ConAgra, Publix and Home Depot

While standing at the customer service desk in Publix I noticed a little pad of coupons on the counter and pulled one off. This coupon turns out to be a pretty cool deal from ConAgra Foods, Publix and Home Depot.

The deal is that you buy $20 worth of ConAgra brand foods from Publix and send in the coupon with the Publix receipt for those groceries and they send you back a Home Depot gift card worth $25. Now, you do the math. Spend $20 plus a stamp and get back $25. That’s a sweet deal and not that hard to do. ConAgra makes a lot of big brands that everyone recognizes and uses, like:

  • Hunts (ketchup, spaghetti sauce, etc.)
  • Libby (hash, canned corned beef, etc.)
  • Chef Boyardee
  • Peter Pan Peanut Butter
  • Van Camps (pork and beans, weenie beanies, etc.)
  • Slim Jim
  • Reddi Whip
  • Crunch ‘n Munch
  • Gulden’s Mustard

and probably a few more that I forgot to list. But come on – how hard is it to spend $20 on any of the above groceries?

I don’t know where you are supposed to get these coupons from, but I found mine at the customer service desk – so if you want to take advantage of this you should head out to Publix ASAP because it expires June 29.