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Used Car Buying Tips

Some of these used car buying tips won’t be new to you. Often the trick is just to apply what you already know. On the other hand, when it comes to expensive areas of life-like buying a car, one new thing learned can save you hundreds of dollars. Try some of the following.

1. Make a low offer. Okay, you knew this one. A trick you may not have used, though, is to make a low offer, and then leave your phone number with the seller. Time has a way of making sellers desperate, especially after you just helped convince them that they are asking too much.

2. Be careful with car price guides. Use the “blue book” etc, but try not to pay more than wholesale. I can’t think of many times when people I know have paid more than “blue book,” so these “average” sales prices are doubtful.

3. Talk to people. This is one of the simplest and effective used car buying tips. Just let friends, family and others know you’re looking for a car. Quite often people would be happy to avoid the whole process of advertising and showing their car if they could just get rid of it by giving a good deal to a friend.

4. Check out the engine. Have a mechanic look at the car, and tell you what it’s likely to need in the next year or so. Then make a list, so the seller can see in writing why you are offering less than he wants.

5. Auctions. See if there is a public auction in your area. If not, maybe you can go with a dealer friend and give him a $100 to buy a car for you.

6. www.carfax.com. It’s around $25 to run vehicle background checks for a month – long enough to find your next car. They’ll show the chain of title, accident reports for the car, and even safety and reliability scores for that model.

7. “Ugly” cars. Watch for cars that sit on the lot for months. Dealers will often sell these “ugly ducklings” at a loss just to move them. Again, you may want to leave your phone number with a low offer.

8. Rental company cars. They are sold fairly cheap when they get the new ones in. Buy at blue book wholesale or less, because they have had many different drivers, so they’ve more wear than normal.

9. Repos. Credit unions and some small banks do their own selling of repossessed cars. You usually bid on paper, maybe with a $50 deposit, and then get your $50 back if you’re not the winning bidder. If they don’t sell their own repossession, ask where they are sold.

10. Consider gas mileage. High mileage may be better, but maybe a car that costs $500 less will use only $400 more gas in the two years you expect to own it. Do the math.

Use the tips here the next time you are shopping for a used car. Meanwhile, why not learn a few negotiating strategies. This helps in many areas of life, and is the most important of these used car buying tips.

When Your Home Is Not Selling

As the real estate market returns to a normal pattern of buying and selling, some sellers are easily frustrated. If your home is not selling, here are a few practical tips.

When Your Home Isn’t Selling

Selling a home is similar to a job interview or a first date. Presentation tends to go a long way in determining the outcome. That might sound a bit shallow, but it is simply a fact of life in many endeavors including real estate. To this end, sellers have developed bad habits when it comes selling their home out of the recent hot seller’s market. A few basic tips can get you back on track. 

Most real estate comes with a garage. If you have lived in the property for any amount of time, you have undoubtedly stored numerous things in your garage. I have! When the time comes to sell your property, however, you need to give your garage the once over. Items you consider priceless heirlooms might be considered junk by buyers. A messy garage is also a negative. Remember, buyers expect you to have the home in pristine condition. Anything that does not reflect that will hurt you in the eyes of these individuals.

Undoubtedly, your home has some amazing interior features. Instead of just assuming the potential buyer understands the value of them, you should highlight the features. The best method for doing this is lighting. Make sure you have sufficient lighting in the relevant area by opening drapes or going with more powerful light bulbs. If you have beautiful marble flooring and counters in your kitchen, make sure there is sufficient lighting to make them stand out. 

Your lawn is the first thing a potential buyer is going to see when they pull up to the property. Keep it trimmed and cut back any jungles. Give some thought to the walkway to the front door. Planting flowers and such can go along way. 

Make sure the entrance is a positive aspect of your home, not a negative. Make sure the front door is in perfect shape. The entry area should also be focused on. Add plants, rugs and what have you to make a good impression. Next, walk in through the front door and take in the view. Is there anything that gives you pause and can be improved? If so, do it!

The real estate market has cooled to the extent that homes are not selling in three days anymore. Return to the basic fundamentals of selling a home is the key to getting the offer you need.

Who Is Responsible For Closing Costs

Buying or selling a home is a euphoric experience for both of the parties involved. This euphoria can cool when you learn which party is responsible for the closing costs.

Who Is Responsible For Closing Costs

When looking to buy or sell a home, every person eventually arrives at the question of funding closing costs on the transaction. To put it simply, both buyers and sellers typically are responsible for some of the closing costs. However, the exact amounts paid can vary significantly from area to area and depending on what agreements the buyers and sellers come to in the offer-counteroffer process.

It is important to research the area you are looking to buy or sell in and be knowledgeable regarding any laws and standards of practice for the area. Yes, the requirements are different in each state and often each city. Know what you will have to pay ahead of time so you can be prepared to cover these costs. Here are some examples of what buyers and sellers generally have to cover.

Buyers typically pay the following: fees charged for obtaining a mortgage; inspection fees; homeowner’s insurance (must be prepaid for one year at closing); transfer taxes if there are any (although the seller may pay these or they may be shared 50-50 between buyer and seller); title insurance and escrow fees (varies depending on the location); and attorney’s fees (if and where attorneys are involved in the transaction). If you are confused, a mortgage broker can tell you which fees are customarily paid for by the buyer in your area and how much they will cost. When buying a home, the use of mortgage brokers is highly recommended to both get a great deal on a mortgage and help with the transaction itself. The broker only gets paid if the deal goes through, so you know they will make every effort.

Sellers’ closing expense responsibilities typically include: loan payoff fees; the real estate commission (in some cases, a portion of this may be paid by the buyer); title insurance (depending on the location); termite repairs (this is negotiable in some areas); cash payments in lieu of repairs to the property; all or part of transfer taxes and escrow fees, if there are any; attorney’s fees where applicable; and other fees set by local custom or negotiated during the transaction.

Knowing and researching the area you are buying or selling in is critical to understanding who is responsible for closing costs. Educate yourself and you will avoid overpaying.

Your Options in Car Financing

There are so many car financing options available how do you know which one is right for you? Read on to obtain information about all of the different options available and how to determine which one will provide you with the best benefits.

Many people take advantage of an option known as dealer financing. This is when you handle the financing of your new vehicle directly through the lender. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be making your payments directly to the dealer. Usually, they work with a finance company to provide the financing to you. There are definitely some benefits to this option. First, depending on your situation you may be able to obtain extremely low-interest rates; in some case you may be able to obtain a zero percent interest rate. In order to obtain this special rate; however, you will need to have excellent credit with no problems. If you have any problems at all on your credit history you will not qualify for the special interest rate although you will probably be able to still obtain a loan; just at a higher rate. When your credit report is not perfect ask yourself whether you could get a better deal at a bank.

Bank financing is an option that is typically available as long as your credit history is good. This means it doesn’t have to be perfect but you shouldn’t have any major flaws either. If you have already worked with the bank in the past this will increase your chances of obtaining a loan. While a bank interest rate may not be as low as what a car dealer can offer for individuals with excellent credit, it may be better than what you could obtain at the dealership if your credit is only ‘good.’

Another option you may wish to consider is credit union financing. Of course, this option is only available if you belong to a credit union. If you do happen to have a credit union membership; however, the rate available to you may be much better than what you can obtain through a bank or dealership.

These days it is also quite easy to simply go online and surf around for a quote from an online lender. This option has become so popular many lenders are now willing to compete with one another and offer very attractive rates. In the event you do not have perfect credit, this can be a good option for you; just make sure you fully understand all of the terms of the loan before accepting it.

Another option would be to simply borrow the funds from a family member of friend. Of course, this is extremely risky because it could cause problems in your relationship in the event that you run into a problem with the payments. But, if you can’t obtain a loan elsewhere because of credit problems this may be a good option.

Finally, you may wish to consider refinancing your home or taking out a home equity loan in order to finance the cost of your new home. This basically allows you to pay cash for your vehicle with the proceeds of the loan and then paying back the money through the refi loan. In some cases you may be able to get a better interest rate with this route than you would with a traditional bank auto loan. In addition, the interest you pay on the loan is tax-deductible. Like other options; however, there are some disadvantages. With this option, be aware that you could be putting your house at risk, not just your car, if you run into a problem and can’t make the payments in the future.

Visiting Popular Summer Vacation Destinations While on a Budget

If you are like most other individuals and families, your finances may be tight.  There are many families who are just scraping by and others are the on the border of debt.  If this situation sounds all too familiar, a summer vacation may be the last thing on your mind.  If you and your family are interested in taking a summer vacation, you can, no matter what your financial situation. 

When selecting a summer vacation destination on a budget, it is important that you do not limit yourself.  There are too many individuals who search for a vacation destination solely based on price.  Instead of first searching for low-cost vacations, you are encouraged to find the vacation destination of your dreams.  Once you closely examine the hotels, restaurants, amusement parks, or beaches that your selected destination has to offer, you can easily learn how and where to save money. 

If the beach sounds like the perfect summer vacation destination, you have a number of options.  Popular beaches, that are designed for those on a budget in the United States may include, but are not limited to, Virginia Beach, Pensacola Beach, Long Beach and Don’t forget all of the wonderful places in SW Florida ( Marco Island, Naples, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Estero, Sanibel Island and Captiva Island to name a few )   . You can plan a beach vacation in the Caribbean or overseas; however, the cost of travel will likely increase the cost of your vacation. 

Virginia Beach, Long Beach, Daytona Beach, Myrtle Beach, and Long Beach are all known as vacation “hotspots.”  Many individuals automatically assume that the most popular beach destinations are too expensive. While some facilities and activities may be high-priced, there are ways for you to vacation there on a budget.  Instead of staying at an ocean-side resort, you could save a large amount of money by booking an inland hotel. The same can be said for restaurants, bars, and event centers.  Almost everything is more expensive on the shoreline.

If you are more interested in spending your vacation golfing, you may want to examine the golf resorts in and around the Untied States.  Many popular golf courses are located in Myrtle Beach, Newport Beach, Scottsdale and many wonderful golf courses in SW Florida.  If you are on a budget, you can easily benefit from purchasing a resort package.  Many popular golf resorts, in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean offer packages that offer accommodations that may include travel, hotel stays, golf course visits, and dining. 

Golf resorts are popular vacation destinations for many individuals, but many can be expensive.  If you are unable to obtain a discount vacation package, but you still want to your vacation to have a focus on golf, you have a number of options.  Many golf resorts allow vacationers to play on their courses, even if they are not staying at the resort.  It is also possible to golf at well-known golf courses that are not considered resorts.  As with a beach vacation, you may be able to save a large amount of money by staying at a hotel or dinning away from a golf resort.

Theme parks and amusement parks are popular vacation destinations, especially for those with children.  If you and your family are interested in vacationing at a United States theme park, you have a number of options.  Theme park resorts are similar to, the above mentioned, golf resorts.  A large number of well-known theme park resorts, including Orlando Studios, Disneyland, and Disney World can be selected, even if you are on a budget. Many of these resorts offer vacation packages that include hotel stays, theme park use, on site dinning, and much more. 

Theme park resort packages are a great way to save money, but you could save even more by not paying for services that you will not use.  If you do not have to fly to reach your destination you should not have to have travel accommodations included in your package. You may also be able to find cheaper hotel accommodations that are located a short distance away from the theme park of your choice.  In addition to theme park resorts, you can find days of fun at smaller parks, such as Six Flags, Sea World, and Bush Gardens.

You may recognize many of the above mentioned summer vacation destinations.  Popular vacation destinations do not have to be financially out of your reach.  Simply by cutting a few corners, you could be vacationing alongside the rest of America, even while on a budget. 

Choosing The Right Exercise For You

The type of exercise you do all depends on you and what you like to do.  What you hate doing, paying membership fees, and whether or not to buy equipment are all things you need to consider as well as answer.

If you choose something that you don’t like to do, you aren’t going to keep doing it for a long period of time.  Give it some thought – if you don’t like jogging, you aren’t going to get up at 6 AM and go running.  If you can’t find something you like to do, choose something you hate the least, which will normally be walking.

Walking is great exercise, as it suits all levels of fitness.  Anyone can start a walking program at any time, it’s normally the intensity and duration that differs.  Walking is also a social exercise, as it isn’t difficult to find a training partner to chat with while you exercise.  Walking with a partner will also make time go by faster.

No matter what exercise you choose, you should start at a low level of intensity and build it up over a period of weeks, which is essential to the longevity of your exercise program.  If you start off too hard, you could end up with an injury which will require time off to get over.

If you are really in bad shape, you should start off by walking for 10 minutes each day.  Then, increase it by 5 minutes every 2 weeks.  To make things more interesting, you should try walking a different course every few days.  You can also roster a different friend to walk with you each day of the week.

If walking isn’t your thing, then you may want to try a fitness center.  They have loads of variety and normally have trainers on hand to answer any questions you may have.  When you choose a fitness center, make sure that they give good service.

If they aren’t willing to treat you well before you join, then they certainly won’t after you join.  You should also make sure that the equipment they use is well taken care of.  It’s easy to find out, as all you have to do is listen to the machines.  If they squeak a lot or make noise, then chances are they aren’t being taken care of.

If you still aren’t sure what you should do, then you should look into golf or tennis.  Both are good social activities in most areas, and you can even meet new friends.  Tennis is great for fitness although it isn’t for someone who is just starting out.  If you haven’t exercised in a long time, then golf may be the best activity for you.

Growing Trees for Shade

If you are currently trying to plant trees in order to shade your garden, you will probably want something that grows very fast and provides plenty of shade. With the many types of trees available, you will have no problem finding a variety that will grow extremely fast and provide all the shade that your garden needs to survive. There are also many things you can do to speed up the growth of trees.

Generally trees are separated into two categories: long-lived and short-lived. If you are just looking for some temporary shade for your garden, you should stick to a short-lived tree. But if you plan on keeping it for years, go for a long-lived tree.

If you decide on a short-lived plant, you are probably looking for something with speedy growth. This means the root system will be particularly aggressive, so be sure not to place it near any septic tanks or other deep-rooted plants. If the roots have plenty of area to grow, then they will shoot out extremely fast and your tree will take off in growth. Your placement should also be based on the tree’s relative position to the area you are wanting to shade. You should keep it to the western or southern sides for maximum shading.

Preparing your soil well for the shade trees can be the best way to enhance the plant growth speed. The bigger hole you dig for the root ball, the better. Also when you dig out the soil from the hole, you should work it over well before you replace it. This will allow the roots to penetrate through the soil better. If you mix in all your fertilizer and nutrients to the soil before you replace it, you will end up with a superior tree. Also try to use organic materials as mulch. Bark and any branches or twigs work well for this, and will encourage the quick growth.

When you buy your shade tree, it will usually come with the root ball belled up and in a burlap bag. It might also be grown in a container or simply with bare roots. If you get a tree in a burlap bag, you should plant it anywhere between fall and early spring. Trees grown in containers are ok to plant at almost any time of the year. If the tree just has bare roots, then the ideal planting time is anytime in winter and early spring. If you buy a tree that has been grown in a container, make sure that the roots are not constricted by the container. This will usually cause the roots to go in circles underground after you plant it. After you buy the tree and before you plant it, be sure to constantly add moisture to it.

The ideal planting process would include putting it in the ground at the proper depth, and replacing the soil without compressing it too much. Immediately after planting, you should give the tree its first watering before putting the layer of mulch on. You should always use organic mulch, and have a 2 or 3 inch layer of it at the base of your tree.

You should always use nitrogen fertilizer during the first segment of the tree’s life. Simply follow the instructions on the label in order to find out exactly how much to apply and when to apply it. Never apply too much fertilizer while the tree is young. You should usually wait until it has been established for about a year. The fertilizer that you do ad should be sufficiently watered down.

If you are trying to grow a tree speedily, there are many more things that you need to consider. However, with proper planning you can create the perfect environment for the tree to spring right up and provide you with plenty of shade within months.

Family Resorts in Mexico

Vacationing with your family in Mexico offers many benefits.  Though many cities are associated with constant partying, there are also many activities that are designed for young children and teenagers.  Many children receive discounts at many popular tourist attractions.  Selecting an all-inclusive vacation package for the whole family is one of the best ways for everyone to enjoy their vacation in Mexico, without having to worry about the cost.

If you are interested in visiting Mexico with your family, you will want to examine some of the many attractions that are specifically geared towards children. These attractions and activities are ideal for making the most out of your family vacation.  Below is a summary of just a few of the many attractions and resorts that you may find exciting in Mexico.  For additional information, you are encouraged to contact your local travel agent or use the internet to guide you in your search.

Located on the Mayan Riviera is the Xcaret Theme Park.  The Xcaret Theme Park is a wonderful attraction for those who are looking for a family resort.  Located in Cancun, Mexico, the Xcaret Theme Park is a theme park that is often compared to Disney World or Disneyland.  Similar to Disneyland and Disney World, you can expect to enjoy a fun-filled day at Xcaret, thanks to amazing rides and attractions.

A deep underground river is a popular feature of the Xcaret Theme Park.  You and your family can see plenty of beautiful tropical plants as you enjoy the river.  Xcaret is also host to many wild and exotic animals.  There is a butterfly pavilion, a coral reef aquarium, and you are given the chance to swim dolphins.  Many children, as well as adults, will be thrilled with this theme park.  In addition to the Xcaret Theme Park, Cancun offers many family friendly resorts.  To find a luxury resort that offers family oriented activities you may want to check on the internet or speak with your local travel agent. 

Cozumel also offers many great attractions and activities that are designed for individuals of all ages, including children. Cozumel is ideal for family vacation, especially because it has one of the lowest crime rates in Mexico, as well as the world.  Cozumel is home to some of the most beautiful coral reefs.  This often creates an incredible adventure and learning experience for children.  If your children will enjoy scuba diving or snorkeling, then you will want to plan a trip to Cozumel. 

With so many options for families, choosing a Mexican all-inclusive vacation is a great idea. The vacation package will also include items such as snacks, drinks, meals, as well as hotel accommodations and airfare.  Teaching children about various cultures and customs and letting them view the Mayan ruins first hand is an amazing lesson in geography and history. While education is nice, the above mentioned locations do not completely just focus on it. There are so many fun-filled activities such as snorkeling, diving, swimming, hiking, fishing, sailing, and parasailing. These activities are great for families with active children.

In addition to the above mentioned popular Mexican destinations are that are designed for the whole family, you may want to consider additional sights and attractions.  Mexico has so much to offer you and your family. In fact, you and your family may wish that you could stay in longer.

How to Homeschool Your Child

Now that you have decided that homeschooling is the way to educate your child, get ready for the ecstasy and the anxiety – the road ahead is a bit bumpy, but the rewards more than make up for it. Producing a well-adjusted and well-rounded personality is no mean achievement.

First of all, it is important to check out your state laws on home schooling. Some states need an affidavit filed with the State’s education department. There are basically 3 categories for homeschooling laws. These are: private school laws, home education laws and equivalency laws. Find your state laws. You may also need to maintain a portfolio that records the child’s educational progress. It is important to look into the legal requirements BEFORE you start homeschooling. Some States also stipulate a minimum educational qualification for the parent or teacher.

Next, look for a support group. If you live in a friendly or curious neighborhood, well-meaning friends will try to dissuade you. At the very least, they may put a lot of uneasy questions in your mind. A support group that consists of like-minded people will insulate you from the criticism, pressures and questions of regular school-goers. Many groups organize fun events like visits to the zoo, museum, tours to the ice cream shops etc. And if your children hit it off with other homeschooled, they will be able to build lasting relationships that do not fade when their friends change schools. These groups provide an important avenue for socialization.

The next important thing to do is to select a curriculum. Depending upon the method of homeschooling, you may choose various tools that aid you in this process. The internet is also a rich resource for homeschooling. Do some research and look into the material that is available.

Set certain ground rules. Homeschooling requires a lot of self-discipline and hard work. Here is a comprehensive list of the things you will need: 1) Eagerness to learn 2) Hard work and effort 3) Discipline 4) Time and patience 5) Flexibility 6) Enthusiasm

Consider why you want to opt for homeschooling. Your motives and your reasons are important pillars on which the whole edifice of your child’s lessons depends. Also, consult with your children. Ask them what they feel about homeschooling.

Select a curriculum or custom-make a curriculum that best suits your child. Record keeping is an important part of homeschooling. Look into the various methods of record keeping. Set up a schedule. Your child does not have to learn 6-7 hours a day. Allow him or her to dictate the time. Flexibility and fun are the cornerstones of homeschooling. Do not stuff too many skills into a single term or year. Prepare a skill list. Make the child learn the skills that he is ready for.

Gentle parenting is the secret to successful homeschooling. Children make great advances in learning and show more enthusiasm. They also turn out to be surprisingly well-balanced and well-informed when they are taught at home.

Cruise Ship Vacations on a Budget

Millions of individuals and families wish to take a vacation; however, many are financially unable to.  If a vacation does occur, it is often a visit to a local amusement park or campgrounds.  These small vacations often occur because individuals limit themselves.  If you are interested in taking an extravagant vacation, such as a cruise, you are advised not to limit yourself.  With the willpower to do so, just about anything is possible with a budget.

If you and your family are interested in scheduling a cruise ship vacation, but you feel that you may be unable to, you are urged not to assume. This assumption could prevent you from enjoying the vacation that you want and deserve.  To make a cruise ship vacation possible for you and your family, all you will have to do is a little bit of budgeting.

For many individuals, developing a family budget is a small sacrifice, but for others it may be larger. The more money you need to save for a cruise, the harder it may be to save.  The first step in saving money for your cruise ship getaway is to determine where all of your money is going.  This can easily be accomplished by documenting your spending habits. Everything from the mortgage payment, rent, car insurance, even that cup of coffee you purchased should be recorded.

After documenting your spending habits for a week or a month, you will have to examine your findings.  Many individuals are surprised to learn how much money they are wasting on unnecessary purchases. These purchases often include, but are not limited to single serve beverages, cigarettes, alcohol, and out-of-home dining.  To save money for your cruise ship vacation, you will need to cut all unnecessary purchases. 

Cutting unnecessary purchases may sound easy, but the reality is that it often isn’t. There are some individuals who cannot do without their cigarettes or their morning cup of coffee. If you are unable to curb your spending habits, you are encouraged to change them as much as possible.  For instance, instead of purchasing a cup of coffee each morning, you can brew your own at home. Additional alterations could be made to prevent your habits from impacting your cruise ship vacation fund. 

When saving money for a vacation aboard a cruise ship, you need to make sure that you actually save the money. All too often, many individuals take the money they saved by creating a monthly budget and spend it on something other than what they originally intended.  If you find it difficult to hold on to your savings, you may want to open a savings account at your local bank.  In addition to accumulating interest, you are less likely to spend the money because it is safely tucked away.

Curbing your spending habits is one of the best ways to raise funds to take your dream vacation aboard a cruise ship.  While saving money is important, it is not the only way that you can plan a cruise ship vacation on a budget.  There are a large number of online travel websites.  These websites may offer you significant deals and savings. Other cruise discounts can be obtained through membership clubs or your local travel agent. 

Obtaining the financing needed for a cruise ship getaway may seem like a difficult task, but after time it may become a part of your daily routine.  Saving money and obtaining cruise ship discounts are both great ways to obtain the needed financing, but together they can save you more money than you ever imagined.