How to Buy Cheap Discount Car Tires Online and Save Money

Buying a set of new tires for a car is not for the faint of heart. Sure, buying a replacement tire now and then isn’t all that bad, especially if your car has really small tires. But when your car needs all four tires replaced at once, well, the expenses sure do add up. I bought my Mini Cooper S used last year, and even when I bought it I knew that the tires weren’t going to last all that long for two reasons:

  1. The treads on the front set are different than the rear set, meaning it doesn’t track all that well
  2. They are run-flat tires, which I absolutely hate because, well, I actually like driving and would rather get a flat than drive on them anymore

While the tread is actually getting really worn down and would need replacing soon anyway, those are the two main reasons I bought four new tires last week. Because I am new to my neighborhood, I got a few recommendations of some tire places and went to visit them and get estimates. For my size tires, I was looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of $680-$750, including mounting, balancing, and disposal of old tires. Yikes! (This is one of those times when owning a car pretty much sucks) That’s a lot of dough for new tires, so I decided to turn my attention to online tire shops to see what they had to offer, thinking I could just order tires and have them put on by a local guy here. I am so thankful I took the time to do so before agreeing to the guy down the street!

I headed over to what is probably the most well-known of online tire stores, Tire Rack. A friend of mine swears by them but I had never bought from them before. So I put in my car’s year, make, model, and tire size, and the website provided me with a list of what tires would fit on my car. I selected a few of them that I was interested in, compared their stats and reviews, and then finally decided on a set of Yokohamas. Priced at $103 each, my total came to $412 for all four tires, which was several hundred dollars less than the tire shops in my neighborhood for the same tires! Adding in shipping (but no tax), my total came to $465 — not too shabby. But then came the really cool part…

They asked me if I wanted them shipped directly to a local installer.

Sweet! I wouldn’t have to take delivery of four gigantic tires here at my house and then try to fit them inside the Mini. They gave me several choices of local tire shops, complete with reviews/recommendations from other Tire Rack customers. They even provided the cost that I would be charged by each company to mount and balance my new tires. Each tire would be $18.50 for mounting, balancing, and disposal, coming out to a total of $74. Not bad at all! So I proceeded to select the guy with the best rating closest to my house and completed my transaction. Adding up all the expenses for these new tires from Tire Rack gives me a grand total of $539, or a solid savings of at least $141 if not more.

While $539 is still a big expense, it sure sounds better than how much I thought I was initially going to have to spend. If you are (or will be) in the market for new tires for your car, I recommend you check out some online shops to see how their prices compare to shops near you, as it could save you a substantial amount of money.

Do you have a favorite company to buy tires from? What would your advice be to others looking for new tires? Please be sure to let us all know in the comments!

(photo credit: Milestoned)


How to Calculate Your Net Worth – How Much Are You Worth?

Wondering just how much you are actually worth? You aren’t alone – people put a lot of time and effort into figuring out their “net worth”. In basic terms, net worth is determined by adding up everything you own and subtracting the things you don’t own outright, giving you your total financial worth. I am not big on the idea of using net worth as a deciding factor in many decisions because I believe that quality of life is an important part of the equation that isn’t counted, but for this post we will ignore anything other than the numbers themselves. An upward trending net value is seen as a positive thing and a downward trending net worth is seen as a negative, but please don’t get too down on yourself if you feel as though you aren’t living up to the expectations of others. At minimum, this is just a good thing to do once in a while to at least get a general idea of where you are financially. Let’s take a look at what goes in to figuring out your net worth.

The first thing you need to do is to add up all the things you own/balances in your various accounts. Because some people have a ton of different accounts, you have to be sure to not forget any of them — you need those assets counted in your net worth statement! Since everyone is different, here are the most common types of fixed and liquid assets that people do have:

  • Savings accounts
  • Checking accounts
  • Mutual funds
  • Money market accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Certificates of Deposit
  • Other investment accounts
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Valuables such as jewelry, antiques, art, collectibles, musical instruments
  • Current value of a home
  • Value of expensive items inside the home
  • Current value of any rental properties
  • Value of any cars owned

After adding up all those figures, it’s time to do the potentially disappointing part – subtracting the total value of the things you don’t actually own/still owe money on/carry debt for. It’s always best to overestimate rather than underestimate these figures, as I would rather think I didn’t have as much than think I was ahead of the game. Some common liabilities for most people include:

  • Mortgage balances on any property
  • Outstanding balances on credit cards
  • Student loan bills
  • Automobile loans
  • Any and all other debt/balances due on any borrowed money

Once you subtract that liabilities total from your assets, you are left with your net worth number. Don’t want to take the time to do the math? Lucky for you CNN/Money has a handy-dandy calculator you can use to do all the calculations for you. What kind of figure are you left with? Positive or negative? The thing to keep in mind is that when we hear about someone having millions of dollars, we all immediately think of them as well off. But if they also have $6 million in liabilities, be it debt, mortgages or cars, they would actually have a negative net worth; i.e. broke. If that’s the case for your local “millionaire”, all you have to do is have a $5.00 net worth and you are worth more than he or she is.

Now there’s something to chew on as you do the math.

(photo credit: borman818)


How to Build Credit History – 9 Ways to Improve & Build Good Credit Fast

No credit history? Starting anew with bad credit? It’s time to build up your credit history so that you can get decent rates for small loans and mortgages along with increase your chances to get the apartment of your dreams and better rates on your car insurance. But you may be lost as to where to start building up your credit, so I wanted to put together a list of things you should do/work on in order to build it up quickly.

1. The first thing you should do is to check your credit score.
Whether you don’t really have a credit history or just bad credit, your score is vital to future financial transactions. I check mine every four months, using one of my three free credit reports each time.

2. Open up a joint checking and/or saving account.
If you don’t have a history of having accounts like these it’s vital that you get one, and opening a joint account ties your name/score to the other person holding the account.

3. Apply for department store or gas credit cards.
These are usually the easiest ones to be approved for, but you have to be vigilant in paying off those balances every month because the interest rates are so high. Use the cards to make small purchases and then pay off the balances and you will begin building up your credit history.

4. Apply for a secured credit card.
Cards of this nature require a cash collateral which in turn becomes your open credit line. Basically it works like a checking account, where you can “charge” items up to the value that you have put in as security. This is a great way to build up a new credit history and help get your credit score up.

5. Go rent some furniture.
Yes, you read that correctly – go rent some furniture. Rent to own furniture places are in almost every city and town, and renting from them goes on your credit report as monthly installments, which can build up your history.

6. Set up your utility bills on auto-payment plans.
I don’t ever see any of my utility bills, as they are paid automatically by my credit card, and this ensures that none of my bills are ever paid late — a big no-no when trying to increase your score and improve your credit history.

7. Keep all of your debt balances really low.
Don’t carry huge balances over month to month if you can help it, as this could be seen as a negative item on your credit history. A small balance paid off over a few months is ok and shows that you have the ability to make payments, but you can’t carry them forever.

8. Do not close unused accounts.
There are differences in opinion on this one, and I myself don’t have a problem with closing an account if you have a good credit score and history, but if you are working on improving yours then I wouldn’t close any accounts even if they are sitting unused. Just use them once in a while for a pack of gum or something to avoid automatic cancellation or service charges.

9. Don’t open too many accounts at the same time.
You do not want to open a gas card, a department store card, and a new installment loan all at the same time. Your credit report gets accessed each time you try to open an account, and this could bring your score down.

Have any other suggestions or things that have worked for you? Please be sure to let us know in the comments to help out all the other readers!

(photo credit: Andres Rueda)


Your Money or Your Life – Are You Trading Your Work Life Balance For Money?

Are you trading your life for money? One of my favorite books on personal finance/lifestyle choices is Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, and it explores this very topic in easy-to-understand, clear and concise language. I have read it cover to cover several times over, and it remains a staple item on my bookshelf. In fact, it was part of my taking a risk in leaving a high-paying career in the entertainment field for self-employment and freedom from schedules and bosses. Working at a job I didn’t like was financially rewarding for quite some time, but eventually it became a black cloud draining the life out of my soul. I realized I was trading my life away for money, and I had had enough; I up and quit and have been on my own for years now. I was no longer trading my life for money and it was the best decision I have ever made.

I bring this up today because I have recently spent some time with people who, on the surface, have it all – a high-paying job, a beautiful house, two relatively new cars in the garage and the standard 2.5 kids playing in the backyard. But beneath the facade that I saw some cracks in were people not very happy with with their place in the world. They had no more choices – they had to work at the job they hated 50-60 hours a week just to pay the mortgage, pay for those new cars, and pay for the private schools, leaving them almost zero time to live life. Sure, they were alive, as they got up in the morning, drove to work, had lunch, drove home, had dinner, and plopped in front of the TV while trying to forget they had to do it all again the next morning, but they weren’t living. It was painful to hear about how time was passing them by and how they needed to keep an unrewarding job just to make ends meet – the very ends that they themselves had set up and thought that they wanted. It turns out that maybe they didn’t.

So back to my question at the very beginning; Are you trading your life for money? Is money more important than your life or is your life more important than money? Sure, you could be working a job you hate AND not have any money which happens all too often for many people, but most people either make a lot of money but work their butts off at jobs that take up all their free time leaving them with no life, or they don’t make a lot of money but spend their days either working at a job they enjoy or for themselves at home. I am really curious as to what you guys are doing on a day to day basis. Are you happy at your job? Do you hate your job? Have you considered trading in your job for less money but more happiness?

If you haven’t read Your Money or Your Life, I highly recommend you do so as soon as you can. This goes for those of you who are happy at work AND for those of you who aren’t. We only get one go-around here on planet Earth, so you have to make the most of it. For myself, I couldn’t imagine working for 2/3 of my life for someone else just to make ends meet, so I downsized, cut back, and rearranged my lifestyle so that I could work less, make less, and yet still enjoy my life. I didn’t want to think back at 75 years old and say “What the hell just happened to my life?” because I missed out on experiences/choices because I was busy trading my life just for the money.

What does your future self want to tell your present self about how the next 30 years is going to look? I now know mine won’t tell me I missed out on anything!

(photo credit: Ү)


Best Part Time Summer Jobs for College Students

In between my years at college, I worked a wide variety of summer jobs. I worked as a car detailer for an auto auction house, I swept floors in a hair salon, I worked security for an aerospace company, and I manned a cart in the middle of a popular mall. None of these jobs were especially glamourous or a good indicator of what I would do later in life as an adult (I worked in the film & TV world until I “retired” for self-employment four years ago), but they were decent jobs to have during the summer. Because I was doing some thinking about one of these jobs the other day, I decided to write up a post of some summer jobs I think would be pretty cool gigs for college students, whether for their fun aspect, money, or future employment opportunities. Here is what I came up with…

  • Become a summer camp counselor. I always wanted to do this.
  • Sign up to be an attendant at a vacation or beach club resort. Could be lucrative if it’s a high-end place.
  • Join a landscaping crew. It’s hard work, but you get to spend the summer outdoors while working out and getting paid.
  • Get a retail job at a store you like. The pay may not be great, but the discount for employees could be worth it.
  • Become a lifeguard. Sun, water, pretty girls and handsome boys. It’s a good way to spend your 3 months off.

  • Work overseas to help those less fortunate. You can join an organization like the Peace Corps just for the summer.
  • Like amusement park rides? Why not work at one? Free admission would be pretty cool, especially if you didn’t have to wait in line for hours like everyone else.
  • Find a Dude Ranch and become a ranch hand.
  • Enjoy playing golf? Become a caddy for the summer. While getting tips and pay, you can spend the day outside. You also will get free and/or reduced green fees.
  • Babysit. You can say yes or no to every gig, make your own schedule, and make decent money.
  • Nanny full-time. If the family travels, you will probably go with them. My girlfriend in high school did this and spent weeks at the beach every summer.
  • Start a pet-sitting service. What better way to spend a few months than taking care of cats, dogs, or even turtles?
  • Go on a cruise! OK, don’t go on one but rather get a job on one! If you can sing or dance, you may be able to get a job as an on-board performer. If not, you may be able to work at one of the other hundreds of jobs that cruise ships have.
  • Paint houses in your hometown. There was always a crew of guys in my town who painted houses every summer, and they made quite a nice chunk of change from doing so.
  • Try to get an internship in a field you are interested in pursuing after college. Whether paid or unpaid, the experience could be great — or a real eye-opener!
  • Fitness fanatic? Why not become a fitness trainer?

What else could you add to the list? What did YOU do as a summer job?

The thing to remember about summer jobs is that while the money is important (especially if you are paying for college!), the experience is just as important. In no time flat, you will be 22 (or older) and done with college — and then for most people comes 40+ years of working. These small batches of time in the summer between college are valuable, so remember to keep that in mind.

(photo credit: a loves dc)

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