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Buying Your First Car

Buying Your First Car

Buying a car is exciting, potentially stressful, and often expensive.  In fact, for many people, buying a car is the third most expensive type of transaction they have after a house and an education.  To make the process easier, consider that there are three parts of the process choosing the car you want, negotiating the purchase, and paying for the car.  Remember that an automobile is not an investment; it is just a means of getting from one place to another.

Choosing the car you want and can afford
Whether you decide to buy a new or a used car, be sure to do your homework.  Along with considering the creature comforts of the car and whether you like it, you should also investigate the reliability of the car and the costs to drive it.  Be sure to take every car you are considering for a test drive.

You can learn about the costs of operating the car and reliability by examining the gas mileage information on the sticker and visiting websites that review cars.  Use the Internet to search for sites that provide this type of information.  Also, speak with an insurance agent to learn what your insurance premiums will be.  When you take everything into account car payments, maintenance, parking, gas and insurance you may want to consider limiting the total auto expense to 10% to 15% of your monthly income.

The new or used decision
This is usually a matter of your preference and what you can afford.  New cars are nice and usually come with a warranty that covers unforeseen expenses, but they are more expensive.  If you are considering a used car, be sure to do some extra homework on the particular car you are considering.  Have a qualified mechanic inspect the car and you may want to get a Vehicle History Report (websites like www.Carfax.com offer these reports) to learn if the car was ever stolen, salvaged or recalled.  The report will also provide information on the number of previous owners, whether it ever failed an inspection or if someone tried to modify the odometer.

Negotiating the purchase
This is most stressful part.  You will be spending a considerable amount of money and car sales people are notorious for their aggressive sales techniques.  Always remember that you are the customer and that there are many car dealerships that would love to have your business.

Do your homework and be prepared before you walk into an auto showroom.  If you are just looking and not prepared to buy a car when you walk in, emphasize that to the sales person.  When you are ready to buy, you should come with facts, and there is no better place to get those facts than the Internet.  Several websites, including Autobytel and CarsDirect*, will let you get price quotes beforehand.  Do not be afraid to take printed copies of competitive pricing and show them to the sales person. 

Stay focused on the purchase price of the car you want.  Keep discussions about any trade-in separate and any discussion on financing out of the negotiation.  Be careful to not be talked into dealer add-ons like rust-proofing, extended warranties or other options unless you really want them.  These add-ons are very profitable for the dealer and can be very expensive to you.  Do not hesitate to walk out and go to another dealer if you cannot get the price you want or if you are not treated with respect.

Paying for the car
You can pay cash.  While most people do not pay cash, you may want to do this if you have excess funds available.  It is simple and you will avoid any interest expenses.

You can make a down payment and finance the rest.  This is most common.  There are many places to get an auto loan, including at MutualBank and the dealer.  We offer a variety of terms.  Check out our Education Center Calculators. They can help you determine what your monthly payments would be at different size loans and different interest rates.

Unless you are planning to use financing from the dealer, secure financing before you walk into the showroom.  That will be one less thing to distract you and will help you stay within your budget.

Another popular way people pay for cars is by leasing them.  This avoids the need for a large down payment and at the end of the lease, you just return the car.  But, you never own the car.  Leasing may be attractive if you plan to only keep the car for three to four years or if you plan to drive a great deal and can get a lease without a mileage limit.

Whether you are getting a loan or using a lease, be sure to fully understand all the details before you sign any documents.

Final words
You can make getting the car you want (and can afford) easier by doing your homework and avoiding letting your emotions come into play.  Negotiating the purchase is usually adversarial, but being prepared and being willing to take your business elsewhere can let you stay in control of the process.

 

 

*Web sites listed for information only. No endorsement is implied.

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Personal Banking Security Measures for the 21st Century

clientuploads/21st-Century-Securitysquare180.pngMany of us are constantly connected to the online world these days. This means that the potential is there for our computers and personal information to be compromised which greatly increases the risk of ID theft and financial fraud to occur. However, by taking some basic precautions you can significantly reduce the risk of your computing environment being compromised. Following these simple guidelines should help your computing environment become more secure:

Keep your computer and software up-to-date

Keep your computers and network equipment secured with the latest software updates and enable automatic updates whenever possible.  This includes updates to third party applications such as Java and Adobe Products.  

Use hard drive encryption

In the event your machine is lost or stolen, drive encryption can prevent others from accessing the data on your hard drive.  The purpose is to encrypt or scramble your data on your machine so that it can only be read with your encryption key.Many operating systems offer drive encryption.  Microsoft offers Bitlocker and Apple has FileVault. There are also other third party encryption offerings.   

Enable your firewall

Think of the firewall to your computer as the fence around your property.  If there were multiple holes cut in the fence, it wouldn’t be very useful at keeping people out.  Firewalls are typically enabled by default on Windows machines, but double check to make sure it’s on.  Here are instructions to do so if you are using Windows 7. Only allow necessary applications inbound access through your firewall. The same principles apply to your network firewall. 

Configure your screensaver

Set an auto-locking screensaver so your account gets locked out after a few minutes.  This is useful if you forget to lock your machine when are away from it. On Windows machines this can usually be done by pressing the “Windows Key” and the “L” button simultaneously.

Make your passwords stronger

The longer and more complex the password, the better.  At least 16 characters with a combination of upper and lowecase letters, numbers, and special characters is a best practice.

Configure your router

Use the strongest wireless security available (currently WPA2-CCMP) with a long and complex password for your wireless network. Disable WPS on your wireless router for greater security.   

 


Think that some secure banking information
of yours has been compromised?

If you suspect that your personal financial information has been compromised, call MutualBank Customer Support at 800-382-8031.


 

Monday, April 7, 2014

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Buying Your First Car

Buying Your First Car

Buying a car is exciting, potentially stressful, and often expensive.  In fact, for many people, buying a car is the third most expensive type of transaction they have after a house and an education.  To make the process easier, consider that there are three parts of the process choosing the car you want, negotiating the purchase, and paying for the car.  Remember that an automobile is not an investment; it is just a means of getting from one place to another.

Choosing the car you want and can afford
Whether you decide to buy a new or a used car, be sure to do your homework.  Along with considering the creature comforts of the car and whether you like it, you should also investigate the reliability of the car and the costs to drive it.  Be sure to take every car you are considering for a test drive.

You can learn about the costs of operating the car and reliability by examining the gas mileage information on the sticker and visiting websites that review cars.  Use the Internet to search for sites that provide this type of information.  Also, speak with an insurance agent to learn what your insurance premiums will be.  When you take everything into account car payments, maintenance, parking, gas and insurance you may want to consider limiting the total auto expense to 10% to 15% of your monthly income.

The new or used decision
This is usually a matter of your preference and what you can afford.  New cars are nice and usually come with a warranty that covers unforeseen expenses, but they are more expensive.  If you are considering a used car, be sure to do some extra homework on the particular car you are considering.  Have a qualified mechanic inspect the car and you may want to get a Vehicle History Report (websites like www.Carfax.com offer these reports) to learn if the car was ever stolen, salvaged or recalled.  The report will also provide information on the number of previous owners, whether it ever failed an inspection or if someone tried to modify the odometer.

Negotiating the purchase
This is most stressful part.  You will be spending a considerable amount of money and car sales people are notorious for their aggressive sales techniques.  Always remember that you are the customer and that there are many car dealerships that would love to have your business.

Do your homework and be prepared before you walk into an auto showroom.  If you are just looking and not prepared to buy a car when you walk in, emphasize that to the sales person.  When you are ready to buy, you should come with facts, and there is no better place to get those facts than the Internet.  Several websites, including Autobytel and CarsDirect*, will let you get price quotes beforehand.  Do not be afraid to take printed copies of competitive pricing and show them to the sales person. 

Stay focused on the purchase price of the car you want.  Keep discussions about any trade-in separate and any discussion on financing out of the negotiation.  Be careful to not be talked into dealer add-ons like rust-proofing, extended warranties or other options unless you really want them.  These add-ons are very profitable for the dealer and can be very expensive to you.  Do not hesitate to walk out and go to another dealer if you cannot get the price you want or if you are not treated with respect.

Paying for the car
You can pay cash.  While most people do not pay cash, you may want to do this if you have excess funds available.  It is simple and you will avoid any interest expenses.

You can make a down payment and finance the rest.  This is most common.  There are many places to get an auto loan, including at MutualBank and the dealer.  We offer a variety of terms.  Check out our Education Center Calculators. They can help you determine what your monthly payments would be at different size loans and different interest rates.

Unless you are planning to use financing from the dealer, secure financing before you walk into the showroom.  That will be one less thing to distract you and will help you stay within your budget.

Another popular way people pay for cars is by leasing them.  This avoids the need for a large down payment and at the end of the lease, you just return the car.  But, you never own the car.  Leasing may be attractive if you plan to only keep the car for three to four years or if you plan to drive a great deal and can get a lease without a mileage limit.

Whether you are getting a loan or using a lease, be sure to fully understand all the details before you sign any documents.

Final words
You can make getting the car you want (and can afford) easier by doing your homework and avoiding letting your emotions come into play.  Negotiating the purchase is usually adversarial, but being prepared and being willing to take your business elsewhere can let you stay in control of the process.

 

 

*Web sites listed for information only. No endorsement is implied.

Contact a Representative Today

Back to Education Resources

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