Selling Your Car? Get the Highest Dollar With These Tips

When it’s time to get rid of an old car, most of us will trade it in at the dealership. However, even though the dealer manipulates the numbers to look favorable, they rarely give you the best price. In fact, car dealers make far more money selling a used car than a new one.

 

At some point, nearly everyone tries to sell a car on their own with varying degrees of success. It can be a positive and profitable experience!

 

Maximize the profit you earn from selling your used car in these ways:

 

  1. Know the price of your car. There are many resources out there, but perhaps the best source to find out car prices is the Kelley Blue Book at www.kbb.com. If your car is an exotic or vintage, you’ll have to find an alternate source for information.

 

    • To get the most accurate information, you’ll need to know the year, make, model, mileage, engine size, and all the other options of your vehicle.
    • In most cases, it’s best to price your car at a slightly higher price than you’re willing to accept. Then, your buyer will be close to your price when they start negotiating, rather than too far below it.
  1. Clean it up. The appearance of your car greatly impacts how much buyers are willing to pay. Do a good job of washing and waxing the car. Vacuum the inside, clean any stains on the floor or seats, and ensure the inside smells good.

 

    • Consider making any minor repairs, especially ones that will fix those annoying squeaks and rattles.

 

  1. Advertise your car. Hopefully, your car is now in tip-top shape and you know your asking price. There are several places you can advertise your car.

 

  • Use the internet. If you’re a Facebook or Twitter user, many people have successfully sold their cars through social media. There are also many websites that will permit you to advertise your vehicle. Some are free and others charge a fee. The most popular sites are craigslist.com, eBay.com, and AutoTrader.com.
  • Tell all your friends and family that you’re selling your car. The people in your life know lots of others and word of mouth is a great way to advertise. You can even put a sign in the window and park your car where others will see it.
  • Many automobile forums have a classifieds section. Check them out!

 

    1. Write a great ad. Think about the things you would like to know if you were the one looking to buy a car. Remember to include a picture.
    2. Handle potential buyers carefully. Return phone calls and emails quickly and answer any questions. Allow potential buyers to test drive your car, but go along with them for the ride. Bring a friend if you feel more comfortable.
    3. Negotiate. Practice your negotiating skills before you talk with prospective buyers.

 

      • Be patient. Unless you’re desperate to sell the vehicle, avoid rushing. It’s okay to let buyers walk away. Many of them will come back. If your price is fair, there’s nothing to worry about.
      • Avoid letting uncomfortable silences bother you. Many times, the first one to talk ends up “losing.”

 

    1. Close the deal. Only accept cash or other certified funds, such as a cashier’s check. If you want to accept a personal check, wait until the check clears before turning over the car. If there’s a loan that needs to be retired, contact your lender. Once the car is out of your possession, cancel the insurance.

 

Selling a car yourself for the first time can be a little intimidating. However, it’s a great way to make some extra money instead of trading it in. Take the time to find the accurate price of your car and ensure the car is in good shape cosmetically. Enjoy the process and the profits!

8 Tax Tips for Charitable Donations

 Giving to charity feels good and there’s even a financial benefit. You can deduct any charitable donations from your taxable income. However, there are many rules that govern these donations. Cash gifts are handled differently than non-cash gifts, and different rules apply depending upon the amount of the donation.

 

Tax laws can be complicated, but you can easily find out the details for everything you need to know with some online research or from your local tax professional.

 

Check out these 8 tips to ensure you’re getting the most out of your charitable donations:

 

  1. Ensure the organization qualifies before claiming a tax deduction. For example, contributions made to political candidates or to a specific person are non-deductible. There’s a process an organization goes through to acquire the proper status with the IRS and become qualified.

 

  • Any organization you contribute to financially can provide information about their status regarding tax deductions.
  1. If you’re donating anything other than cash, the value is claimed at the fair-market value. These values would be similar to what you would pay if you bought something at a thrift store or yard sale.

 

 

  • There are also special rules when you’re donating a vehicle.
  1. Maintain accurate records. A receipt is an excellent way to keep track of your donations. In lieu of a receipt, your own banking records are also sufficient. For any amounts over $250, it’s best to have both a receipt and a banking record.
  2. Reduce your deduction by any value you receive. If you’re receiving any benefit from your donation, like tickets to sporting events, you’re required to subtract that amount from your donation when claiming a deduction on your taxes.

 

  • For example, if you donate $500, but benefit by receiving “free” carpet cleaning worth $200, your tax deduction would be $300.
  1. Contributions above certain amounts have different rules. A single donation of $250 or more has certain reporting rules. Another set of rules, primarily an appraisal by an expert, comes into play when the amount is $5,000 or more. If you’re making non-cash donations that total $500 or more, there are other rules. See www.irs.gov for more information.
  2. Consider giving assets that have appreciated. Gifts of stock, for example, that have appreciated in value have an added benefit. You get to deduct the full value, and you’re not taxed on the capital gains, since you didn’t benefit from it.

 

  • The extra money comes off of your taxes and goes directly to the charity. Everyone wins, except the IRS.
  1. You can deduct your costs for helping the charity, too. You can deduct mileage and any other out-of-pocket expenses related to any direct service you provide to a charity. This can include parking, tolls, travel expenses, lodging, and food.

 

  • Proceed with caution when you’re claiming these types of deductions. The IRS tends to scrutinize anyone who takes advantage of this opportunity. Honesty is the best policy!
  1. The limit is 20%. You can certainly give away every last cent to the charitable organization of your choice. However, your charitable tax deductions are limited to 20% of your adjusted gross income. But, you might be able to carry over excessive contributions to the following tax year. See a tax expert if your contributions exceed this limit.

 

 

There are many great causes that could use your support, and it feels wonderful to be able to help them! It’s even better when you can reduce your tax burden in the process! Use these tips to claim the tax deductions you deserve.

 

Credit Cards Rewards Programs – How to Uncover Hidden Value

Many experts predicted that most credit card companies would drop their rewards programs after the passage of the CARD Act. However, that hasn’t been the case. If you’re willing to put in a bit of work, you can benefit greatly from a rewards card. There are more ways to capitalize on those rewards than ever before.

 

There can be some confusion about which card is best for your situation. The rules can be complicated. There are point caps, minimum spending limits, blackout dates, and other restrictions that make it challenging to receive your rewards.

 

Consider these tips on how to get the most from your credit card rewards:

 

  1. Get a card with useful rewards. A card that offers airfare rewards won’t do you much good if you rarely travel by air. Find a reward card that fits your lifestyle and needs.
  2. Watch out for limits. Some cards place limits on your rewards. You might get 2% back on gas, but with a limit of $200. If the annual fee is high for that card, the benefit might be minimal, especially if you drive a lot.
  3. Stay abreast of term changes. Credit card companies often change their policies. If you get a notice in the mail, read it. You might find that it’s time to start looking for a new card.
  4. When you’ve settled on a rewards card, use it as much as you can. The more you spend, the greater the rewards. However, avoid spending more than necessary. It’s financially irresponsible to buy items just to earn rewards.
  5. Cash back cards are a great idea. Cash back cards are simple. Getting your rewards from other types of cards can be more challenging.

 

  • Cards that offer only cash rewards tend to have the best cash back rates. Pull out your calculator and do the math when choosing a card.
  1. Some cards permit the user to turn in points toward gift cards. Frequently, the amount of the gift card is greater than what you would receive from a card that offers cash back. This is because retailers are willing to subsidize the card to get you into their stores. Ensure the selected retailers are places where you shop.
  2. Pay your bill in full every month. Avoid making late payments or carrying a balance because interest and late fees will quickly offset any rewards you earn.

 

  • Why do you think credit card companies are willing to offer rewards? They know that many of their customers will carry a balance or pay late, which makes it well worth their while.
  1. Watch the expiration date on your points. Most cards won’t let you keep rewards points indefinitely. Be aware of when your points expire, so you can take full advantage of them.
  2. Find out if there’s a spending requirement. Some cards require you to spend a minimum amount each month or year if you want to keep your reward points active.

 

Rewards cards are a great idea. The issue isn’t whether to have one, but rather, which one to get! Take the time to sit down and look at what benefits each card offers. Be realistic about your financial situation and avoid spending extra just to earn a few more rewards points.

Minimizing Your Laundry Costs

We all have to do laundry, but it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to have clean clothes. Doing laundry is more expensive than most people realize. We do laundry so frequently, that even a small savings per load could end up saving you a lot of money.

 

There are many simple things you can do to cut the cost of doing laundry. When you have more members in your household, it adds up to an even bigger savings.

 

These tips will save the average family of four over $300 per year:

 

  1. Air-dry your clothes. Do you have the space to air-dry your clothes or hang them on the clothes line outside? If you can avoid using a dryer, you can save approximately $100 each year. You will save money on your electric or gas bill, and your clothes will last longer. The heat and tumbling in the dryer damage your clothing.
  2. Spin your clothes twice. The spin cycle exists to get the excess water out of your clothes. If you spin your clothes twice, you can reduce drying time.
  3. Stick to cold water. While hot water works a little better, it costs more. The biggest cost of doing laundry comes from heating the water. You can save a bundle by choosing to go with cold.
  4. Create your own laundry products. There are many online “recipes” for making your own detergent, bleach, and fabric softeners. These are a fraction of the cost of grocery store laundry soaps.
  5. Use less detergent. Remember that the companies who make laundry detergent want you to use more than necessary. Then, you’ll have to purchase more.

 

  • Experiment with using less detergent. You’ll probably find you can use half as much.
  1. Wash full loads. The electricity used to fill, agitate, and drain the washer is essentially the same, whether it’s a full or partial load. The same goes for rotating the drum on the dryer.

 

  • Save money by washing and drying more than just one pair of socks!
  1. Cut those dryer sheets in half. Half of a dryer sheet is usually sufficient. Experiment to see what works best for you.
  2. Clean the dryer trap. Excess lint will trap moisture in the dryer and cause your clothes to take longer to dry. The sooner the dryer shuts off, the less money it costs you.
  3. Wash your clothes less often. Some individuals have outdoor jobs or those that require manual labor. But many others have jobs where they can avoid getting dirty or sweating excessively.
  • As long as you haven’t soiled your clothing, consider wearing items more than once between washes.
  1. Purchase energy efficient appliances. Washers and dryers differ by brand. There are washers that will handle larger loads and use less water. There are dryers that use much less energy. Sometimes these higher efficiency units cost more, but the savings is worth it in the end.
  2. Adjust your settings. Wash your clothes at a lower setting. Try drying with lower heat. Every load of laundry doesn’t require elaborate settings.

Washing clothes is a chore that many perform on an almost daily basis. That’s why it’s so important to cut costs wherever possible. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an extra $300 a year to spend on something more entertaining than laundry? Help the environment and your family’s budget by applying these cost-saving tips whenever you do laundry.

Secret Job Market? Discover How to Land an Awesome Job

When searching for a job, most of us will start by applying to all the positions posted online. After all, if you send out enough resumes, you’ll secure a job sooner or later. Right?

 

Not necessarily!

 

Unfortunately, the jobs that are easy to find often receive hundreds or even thousands of applicants. The odds of beating out all of them for the position may be against you. In fact, approximately 50% of all available positions are filled before even making it to the public posting process.

 

Someone gets the job before the rest of the world knows about it.

 

Sometimes these jobs go to someone already employed at the company or to a “friend of a friend.” But if you know how to work the system, you can tap into this secret job market and reap the benefits!

 

Use these strategies and become a pro at finding these off the record jobs:

 

  1. Networking is the key. Many of these jobs aren’t posted anywhere, and only a few individuals even know they exist. It might be a manager who knows he’s expanding his department in a few months or the sales representative whose boss told her they’re hiring more reps next quarter.

 

  • Meet as many people as possible within your industry, job category, or even a related career. Share your career goals with these individuals so they keep you in mind when an opportunity arises.

 

  • The larger your network, the more inside information and opportunities you may have.

 

  1. Make contact with someone on the inside. You’re looking for the person in charge of hiring or someone who can make effectual recommendations. For example, if you’re a teacher, that might be the school board or principal.

 

    • It might take a little digging to find the name of the contact person you’re looking for. Check out the company website or call the establishment and ask.
    • When you find that contact person, get in touch and let them know you’re looking for a position. Solicit advice rather than directly asking for a job because that could put them on the defensive.
    • You might end up with a great referral or on the top of the list when the next position becomes available.

 

  1. Leverage LinkedIn. This is a great website for tracking down other professionals. Look up your high school friends and college roommates. One of your contacts might be able to help you out. For example, your high school pal might be a CEO and she could pull some strings.

 

    • Getting a reference from someone that knows you well can make all the difference.

 

  1. Contact everyone you know. Take the time to drop a line to everyone you know just to say hello. After the pleasantries are out of the way, let them know you’re looking for a job. The more people you talk to, the better your odds of finding something.
  2. Contact people you don’t know. After you’ve contacted those you know, the only people left are the random ones whose paths you cross each day. The person in front of you in line at the grocery store might know of the perfect job.

 

  • Keep your eyes and ears open at all times. You might hear a conversation at the bank about someone hiring for a position you’d be perfect for.

 

  • Let everyone you encounter know that you’re looking for a job.

 

There are many more jobs than just those you see posted on Monster.com. Take the time to reach out to others and make as many job-related contacts as you can. Leave no stone unturned!

 

Many people have stated that looking for a job is hard work and perhaps the toughest job you’ll ever have. But it’s work that pays off. Finding a well-paying job that you love is a very worthwhile pursuit because it can change your life for the better.