Getting the car of your choice.

My siblings and I grew up in a middle income family. My dad was an insurance company employee with a small-scale car accessories shop business on the side. Being a large family, my parents made do with what they had. We used to own a sedan where we would squeeze ourselves in to be able to move from one place to another, mostly on weekends. Those were fun times even if riding in the family car was uncomfortable for us kids.

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I remember my sisters and I discussing what vehicle we wanted to get for our family. Different car brands and models, car make and color, etc. What we agreed on was it had to be a large vehicle, big enough for all of us siblings and our parents. An SUV, automatic, diesel-powered.

When we could afford it, we exchanged the sedan for an SUV. Yes, the same one that we were dreaming of when we were kids. It took years before we finally decided that we can afford one. Two younger sisters and I are all employed, we have more than enough to pay for the down payment of an SUV, and we know for a fact that we can afford the monthly amortization of it. The confidence came largely through an easily accessible free car payment calculator online that we used to compute possible monthly amortization. I personally checked that our salaries were more than enough to pay for the vehicle of our choice. We gave the SUV to our Dad. Sadly, our Dad passed away before the pandemic. The SUV is now being used only when we have the nephews over and we would all go some place together.

My sisters and I are considering exchanging the SUV this time to an AUV. My suggestion is a Mitsubishi Xpander or a Toyota Avanza. The rising cost of fuel, difficulty in finding a parking space, and the cost of maintaining a five-year-old vehicle are all taken into consideration. We are also considering trading in our old SUV to lower the cost of getting a new car. Cost of fuel is a big consideration, the primary one actually, as it has risen to astronomical proportions. We calculated our fuel budget thru CarPaymentCalculator.net and it is a good indicator that we can still afford it. A final decision will be made this week as we are anxious to go on the road again but this time using a smaller car consuming lesser fuel.

There was a time when getting a car would require you to have three to four times the amount of salary of a minimum wage worker. It reminded me of how hard it was for my parents to get a bigger car for our family. Nowadays, with so many promotional schemes from almost all car dealers, it got easier for anyone to buy a car. My advice for first time car buyers or those getting a new or second cars, make sure you can afford it. Check the amortization and fuel budget as these are crucial financial considerations. You can easily use an online car payment calculator as I have mentioned above. If you find out you can afford, go ahead and get the car of your choice!

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How to Grow Your Finances

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Managing your money wisely is something that you need to do if you are going to be financially comfortable. Being financially comfortable should be your goal no matter what kind of job you are in or which stage of your career you currently find yourself in.

However, with all of the expenses coming your way, if you are like most people you probably find it difficult to make a budget and stick with it.

This is where wise financial thinking comes into play. Here are some tips that will help you organize your finances and budget wisely.

Craft a Plan

You’ve probably heard the saying that if you fail to plan you plan to fail. Nowhere is this saying more true than with your finances. One of the first things you must do to make your journey towards financial freedom a success is to make a plan for your finances.

You need to sit down and consider your goals. If there are goals you want to achieve in the next few months or even a few years you should start making some kind of budget and strategizing how you are going to achieve your goal. For example, you may have a goal to buy a house or start a business.

Make a Sufficient Emergency Fund

If you want to ensure that you protect your assets, an emergency fund is one of the best ways to do this.

Setting aside an emergency fund means that you will not have to depend on your other finances or even use credit cards for unexpected expenses.

Your emergency fund should contain at least 3 to 6 months of salary. This should tide you over should you lose your job or have an expensive emergency. This can go a long way in helping to prevent bankruptcy, although there are skilled bankruptcy lawyers that can help you through.

Turn Short-Term Goals Into Long-Term Solutions

If you have a long-term goal that you want to work towards then the best thing you can do is to start making short-term saving plans. It may sound like this defeats the purpose but it doesn’t.

Breaking up large financial goals into smaller bite-sized pieces is the best way to ensure that you reach your goals. For example, if you want to save up money and budget for your vacation at the end of the year you may want to save a certain amount every three months.

Reaching your target every three months until you finally have all the money you need will be a great motivator for you. You can use this formula to save for other goals you may have in the future.

Start Taking Care of Your Finances

Taking care of your finances should always be a priority for you. If you have been having difficulty planning for your finances then the tips given here should be very useful.

Make sure that you decide on your vision for your future. Once you know what you want to achieve it will be easier for you to budget.

Also, make sure that you have emergency funds in place so that you do not have to use credit or your main savings for emergencies. Finally, remember to break up larger goals into smaller ones to help you stay motivated.

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Are Your Family’s Finances Safe for the Long-Run?

While catch phrases like “YOLO” and “seize the day” may be appropriate in certain situations, it’s always better to evoke a sense of caution when it comes to your money. Making preparations in advance may be really advantageous, particularly if you have a spouse or children. Here are some methods you may use to ensure your financial security in the future.

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Take charge of your finances now.
You may not find budgeting exciting, yet it can have a huge impact on your financial circumstances. In the event that you’ve found yourself counting down the days till your next paycheck, now is the time to take charge of your finances. Many of us overspend because we don’t regularly review our bank accounts or look at our spending patterns. Making and adhering to a budget might help you avoid unpleasant shocks and start saving for the future. As soon as you’ve jotted down the amount of money that comes into your account, make a list of every regular outbound payment, such as your rent or mortgage payment, home expenses, and groceries. Then add one-time expenses for the month ahead, like a weekend away. You can figure out how much money you have to spend by comparing your expenses to your income. If you have any extra money, you may put it in a savings account and use it as a rainy day fund, an investment, or a special treat like a vacation. Sometimes spending means taking out loans to help with larger expenditures. Take the time to compare credit before committing to something because you could end up in serious debt.

Invest in insurance to safeguard your valuables.
The protection of your family and your possessions is essential for anybody who has a family, owns a company, or is a homeowner. Having a will and purchasing insurance are two ways to do this. With no will in place, you should seek the guidance of an expert attorney in wills, trusts, and probate. The beneficiaries of your estate will be protected if you die. A death benefit from life insurance might be reassuring if you have a property or dependent children to consider. Making these types of arrangements is never pleasant, but it is useful to be prepared for any eventuality. You can save both time & expense by using online insurance comparison services when you’re looking for a policy.

Invest in yourself
If you’re wanting to increase your savings balances or build a retirement fund, it’s a good idea to look into prospective options to grow your money. Investing in real estate or stocks and shares, for example, is an option. Be sure to obtain advice from experts and assess the dangers before making a big investment. If you’re considering purchasing a rental property, do your homework on the area, select your ideal buyer or renter, and establish a budget that won’t put you in a tight spot financially.

There’s no way to predict what the future may bring, which is why it’s beneficial to plan ahead and handle your money properly.

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Surviving my credit card debts

I took up Accountancy in college. After graduation, I reviewed for the board examinations and, fortunately, passed the board to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). I managed to land a job at a prestigious accounting firm. But prestigious doesn’t translate to a high-paying job. My salary was minimum wage that time.

I made a promise to my parents that I would help send my siblings to school. So when I began working for the accounting firm, I would give most of my salary for my siblings tuition fees. Maybe, you would ask yourselves how I managed to help when I was barely making enough for myself. Well, credit card companies began calling one after another, offering pre-approved credit cards with close to three times my take-home pay. I accepted three credit cards, and managed to drown myself with debts in the process!

I juggled payments. It still boggles my mind how I managed to do that during the early years of my credit card debts. I managed to dodge collection letters and calls by paying the minimum amount due of the three cards. But as you all probably know by now, paying the minimum is like trying to stay afloat in a quicksand. It will slowly eat you alive.

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For those of you in the same predicament I was in, let me help you through these three steps I did in order to survive and, eventually, get out of my credit card debts.

Compromise. Talk to the collection department of the credit card companies, tell them that you are willing to discuss the ballooning amount of your credit card debt, and ask for consideration. They are willing to talk to you on settlement terms. You can compromise with them, you just need to reach out and show the sincerity of your intention to pay off your debt. Believe me, they are willing to compromise. If you want to consolidate your debts, do so. Learn more on how you can utilize debt consolidation.

What happened to me: I called up the credit card company if the card I had the biggest debt with. They told me to pay a small percentage of my total debt, and after complying, they allowed me to pay off in installments. The penalties and surcharges were waived and I was asked to pay off a reduced amount of credit card debt. After paying it all off, they issued a certification to me saying that I no longer have any liability to the said credit card company.

Budget. You need to use whatever tool at your disposal (a planner, a spreadsheet, a budget tracker app, etc.) and make sure to include the credit card debt amortization to your monthly budget. Control your impulses. Do not be swayed by sales promotions online. Do not spend what is allocated for your credit card payment. You need to religiously meet their due dates in order to maintain your good credit standing.

Check your monthly spending. If you can cut down on weekend getaways for a while until you manage to pay off at least fifty percent of your total debts, do so.

What I did: I created an Excel spreadsheet. Every start of the month, I would put the bills and amortizations I needed to pay. When salary came in, I would pay off bills and amortizations first before setting aside a portion for my siblings’ tuition fees. I brought home-cooked meals to work and I stopped buying pricey cups of coffees. It worked for me.

Reduce and Stop. Temptations are everywhere! And most of the time, it is in the form of a pre-approved credit card arriving through the mail. Do not activate it! Immediately call the credit card company to advise them that you are not interested and that you will be cutting the card in two. Stop applying for new credit cards because it will only sink you deeper in debts.

Keep one credit card for emergency use. Choose one which will give you rebates and good credit card rewards.

It was hard. Believe me, it was really hard! But surviving my credit card debts is one of my achievements in my adult life. Those collection calls… I think I had trauma from it. Phone calls make me nervous. I am just grateful I managed to survive and came off it a better manager of finances.

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Life expectancy of major home appliances

So, we had this discussion at home about the major appliances we have. In particular, we focused on three appliances: refrigerator, microwave oven, and washing machine. The discussion was about the appliances we have at home, how long we have been using each, and whether it be best to buy a replacement or just use it until it gets broken.

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We were actually just talking about a new house. My sisters and I, being unmarried and all, planned to get a big house where we can all grow old together. While talking about a new house, I noticed that the refrigerator door was ajar. I asked who open it last and my youngest nephew said that he took out a cold drink and closed the door. I tried closing the door myself and that’s when I found out that the door magnet is malfunctioning already. One of my sisters suggested right away that we get a new one. I suggested otherwise. Hiring a good local appliance repair company is not as expensive as you think. And that’s the truth! We did it numerous times in the past when an appliance gets broken. We’d pay a small fee and parts replacement, and the appliance was returned to us good as new.

My sister who was suggesting to get a new refrigerator had this argument: there are far more choices in energy-saving appliances out there right now. We can choose an inverter model, according to her. A bit pricey than the one we have now but the future cost savings will far outweigh the immediate spending. And I totally agree on that. The question is do we have enough to spend on a refrigerator right now when we are also planning on buying a new inverter air conditioner?

Anyway, I made my research about the three major home appliances we discussed.

Refrigerator. The average lifespan of a standard fridge is 14 years, 10 years minimum and 18 years maximum useful life. According to my research, in order for the lifespan of the refrigerator to be maximized, you need to adjust the settings in such a way that it will benefit both the appliance and the food inside. Zero degrees Fahrenheit for the freezer and 36 to 37 degrees of the rest of the fridge. Those settings will lighten the load of the compressor.

Microwave oven. This appliance’s lifespan is six years. Just about right as the one we had broke down after close to six years. Quick reheats only, according to my research, and leave the heavy cooking to the big oven.

Well, this one we really need to buy already. It’s far more convenient to use a microwave oven in the middle of the night when food cravings hit anybody at home.

Washing Machine. This one will last five to seven years, according to my research. Currently, we go out to get our laundry done in a service place a few blocks away. They have these heavy duty washer and dryer machines. My sister does the laundry there and it’s very convenient because we don’t have to hang the clothes to dry afterwards. But my sister worries about the rainy season and if it will be a hassle should we still need to get the laundry done elsewhere.

We need to discuss some more on whether we need to buy new appliances or just get it repaired for now, in the case of the refrigerator.

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Budgeting repairs and maintenance.

Rickety steps. Leaky faucets. Uneven flooring. And a million other things inside the house in need of repair or maintenance. Ugh!

There are two things that are crucial in fixing or maintaining something at home: a reliable professional and a sizable budget. Do you agree?

It all started when we are discussing about how to fix driveway interlocking before winter. My sisters and I want everything secure and safe at home more for the kids than for us. The discussion turned from the driveway to the garage door to the main door barrel bolt lock. After locks, CCTV made a grand entrance in our discussion. It was one topic after another, all related to securing our home.

Then, came the ceiling, faucets, flooring, and a million more items on our list of things in need of repair or maintenance in our house.

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When we moved into this house several years ago, it was already an old house. In good condition but old. We loved the house instantly because the neighbors were quiet, the house sitting along a wide road so there is not much interaction with annoying neighbors which we were very unfortunate to encounter in our old residence. The rickety old house was perfect for us!

Over the years, one by one, the things that need fixing made itself known. It started with the pipes in the laundry area. We fixed it by replacing the old pipes. Then, the leaky shower heads. All of it were replaced as well. Then, leaky faucets, a broken bathroom sink, and toilet flush acting up. All of it were replaced.

Truth be told, replacing the old fixtures is totally fine with us. The budget of fixing those things is quite sad. We are all earning good salaries but the bills and everything else together with the repairs and maintenance are putting a dent into our savings. My sisters and I were discussing setting aside a budget account in the bank so we can deposit to it every payday. Then, in summer, we will hire a good professional company to come fix whatever needs fixing and to maintain whatever needs some tender loving care in the house. No more sporadic repairs this time around. If it is a small repair, then it’s fine. We can dip into the budget account. If it will require time and money, then we need to schedule it when we have enough.

There are days when we scratch our heads in unison after huge sighs of frustration. Old house means lots of tender loving care needed. And TLC means budget needed most of the time. But we love this house! It saved us from that old neighborhood when we needed a dramatic rescue from it. This house has blessed us with so much more than we expected from it, and it continues to bless us in unexpected ways.

So, off we save for that summer repair scheduie.

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A home upgrade in this crisis: doable or not?

home-upgrade Like any other large family out there, our family also struggle with space. Currently, our home is a three-storey, fully-functional old structure that we first rented out before we purchased it. The ground floor is being used as home office, the second floor as dining and living area combined, and, the third floor has the bedrooms. What we love about the old house is that every space inside it is being utilized by every member of our family. No space is wasted.

So, why the thought of upgrading the house, then?

This side of the world was put in lockdown back in March 2020. Scary times. Also, being stuck inside, it became a time when you zoomed in every little thing at home. Number one thought: why haven’t someone from the family noticed how cramped we are with the space we have now? Every sound echoes and can be heard in your meetings and online classes. Every space is being occupied by computer tables/desks, laptops, printers, and even writing areas. With three kids in the family and a couple of adults all in Zoom meetings every few hours, the cramped space is making us crazy!

Thus, the thought of an upgrade. Several considerations have to be discussed amongst family members, of course. Finances, for one. Timeline. And, there’s also the matter of a temporary house for everyone while the upgrade is being done. If you are considering a home upgrade like us, here are three considerations we are currently mulling over.

Financing the home upgrade. These are scary times to be shelling out our hard-earned money but this is also a time when banks and other lending institutions are lenient in loans. Why not take advantage of it? Interest rates are down, amortizations are more affordable. We are actually considering a home remortgage. Remortgage the house to upgrade and repay it in a couple of years. One idea is to use the space above the garage. We can convert it into two rooms to be used for online classes of the kids. Another idea is to put up a fourth floor which will give us ample space a room for home office and two rooms for online classes. We are tossing the ideas and we have been computing, using a mortgage calculator.

With the budget for the upgrade secured, how long will it take for the construction to finish? Timeline is another big consideration. Time is money. The time for the upgrade to complete is the money we will have to spend. We are also reading up on help with the home upgrade. We are weighing the pros and cons of a bigger budget and shorter timeline, or a smaller budget and longer timeline.

A temporary shelter for all of us should the upgrade begin. We are a large family consisting of six adults and three kids. Work and school will be interrupted with the internet connection being affected, plus, the noise of a home construction will cause havoc in our online meetings. This is another consideration being weighed by the adults in the family. We might rent out a house temporarily or stay with a relative but it will put a dent on the upgrade budget.

This pandemic has put so many things into perspective. That is one positive outcome of the lockdown, being inside the house 24/7. You see issues and you find ways to solve it. Every problem is now being zoomed in because we all have time, and that’s great, if you think about it.

So, is a home upgrade in this crisis doable? Yes, I believe it is. Just make sure the whole family is on board the idea and every little aspect will be discussed and decided on.

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