The Search for a New Car

Sponsored Post – all opinions are 100% my own. And so it begins. The search for a new car. You buckle yourself in for a long and stressful process, right? You start to visit local dealerships and used car lots. Or maybe you do your browsing online. Whatever way you handle a search for a new (or used) vehicle, I’m guessing research is involved.

Car shopping is definitely worth the time it takes to do your research. I’ve purchased six cars in my life and in the (near-ish) future we’ll be in search of another. Every time, I’ve looked online to be sure I knew as much going into it as I could. Cars.com is a great place to find a vast amount of information to guide your car search.

Source: Cars.com

The Search for a New Car

Here’s what I consider the must-knows when you search for a new car:

  • Budget: This is first and foremost. Don’t go searching for something out of your range. Be honest with your search and with your car salesman.
  • Size of Vehicle: If you’re a growing family, that 2-seater is going to have to go!
  • Make and Model: Do you have something you’re committed to, or a dream car?
  • MPG (miles per gallon): As someone that commutes, this is key! You don’t want a gas hog.
  • Vehicle History: If you’re looking at used vehicles, how often was it serviced (you can get a report on this)?
  • Reviews: What do others who have owned a vehicle like this had to say about it?

When you’ve done your research, it’s time to hit the road and do some test driving. Yes, this means heading over to a dealer. You want to show them that you know something about what you’re there for – be clear and firm with your desires. You might have your heart set on a car you saw online and it could be gone by the time you get to the lot. Be prepared for this, too!

Source: Cars.com

Make it Pay Off

If you have done the research, you’ll find what’s right for you. The process of buying a car doesn’t have to be a negative life event. Enjoy browsing the options, take your time, and find the just right vehicle. In the end, you’ll be happy with a deal that’s the best for you and your family!

What tips would you add?

Financial Fitness

This post, Financial Fitness, contains sponsored and affiliate links. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Why Worry About Financial Fitness?

If you’ve been following along, the past few months around here have been sort of hectic when it comes to our finances. We’ve been working on our financial fitness and would like to share a ‘lil bit of our story with you so you can either cheer us on or learn from our mistakes and steps to get out.

(If you’re in debt – don’t feel alone. I’ve heard 80% of Americans are in debt.)

A few years back, I was ecstatic when we cleaned up debt from my single days (leaving a mortgage, car payment, and my student loans). On the work front, things were going good and I even recently started a new one that allowed Greg to go back to being a stay-at-home dad full-time.

Having things go wrong with our boiler, water heater and both cars wasn’t the problem. The problem was that we started living outside our means – splurging for things we shouldn’t have and not saving. We kept increasing our outgoing budget when our incoming pay increased. And when I put things on credit while I was off work longer than expected after having the twins, I didn’t stop. It was mostly groceries and gas, but I’d occasionally find a reason to treat myself, on future money that wasn’t guaranteed.

So What Did We Do?

Most of us have done this, but have you done it to the point that you feel like your financial fitness is days away from flat-lining? That’s how I felt going into 2017, and between praying about it and talking to some others who have been in our shoes, we decided to start living “The Dave Way”, following the Dave Ramsey plan.

First, we started with a budget. Eek. It’s as simple as you have x income and y responsibilities. I freaked out…we were almost $1000 over budget (something we used to make up driving Uber and with my Thirty-One Business – both of which have slowed while we work on getting financially fit – perhaps more on that another day). Scary, right?

We realized we have to do something to get right, which is why the Dave Way is working for us. Instead of buying whatever groceries and gas we want, we’re using an envelope system to budget our groceries and then rolling the extras into the next month (in theory – we just started this part this month).

Not sure how to work with the envelope system? Get your one shipped right to your house – but promise you won’t charge it! There are plenty of ways to earn Amazon codes! 

The second big change for us was putting money away to be prepared for an emergency. Dave calls this Baby Step 1. We sold things, found money in the couch, and cashed in some money from cashback apps. Within a week, we put away money for emergency – and only true emergencies will pull from this fund.

Not sure where you can make this $1000? Think of EVERYTHING. I’ve seen toilet paper rolls, totaled cars, dog walking, plasma donations and more be used to help make this step a reality. 

And we are currently in Baby Step 2, a step dedicated to paying off the debt. We started with the smallest debts and put extra money to them. (Previously, I was putting whatever I felt was “a good round number” to the other debts, usually enough to keep cards from being at limits. This isn’t good practice!) As each debt gets paid off, we’ll roll the payments from those smaller debts into the next debt.

Our tax return helped put us in a financially secure spot for the next few months plus paid off NINE small-ish debts. Now it’s time to cut away at those bigger debts, living weird and like no one else. It feels scary and freeing at the same time.

Over the next few months to years, I’ll be sharing how things are going as we get financially fit. It’s going to be a long, slow process, but quite worth it. I’ll share our strategies and ways we’re bringing cash back into our pockets.

Pro Tip: If you are interested in learning more about what Dave Ramsey recommends, pick up a copy of Total Money Makeover and get all the details.

Got to Stay on Track

Now that Mr. Burgher and I have worked on paying down our debt, we have got to stay on track. We have dreams, you know? There are things we’d love to do, like eventually buy or build a house that accommodates all of our needs. But we have to keep up with ourselves and not let things fall back to our old ways.

One of the things we are going to do soon is get a free credit score to make sure there is nothing out there reporting incorrectly. This is something you should do yearly anyways (and are entitled to), so why not? Besides, it’s a good way to keep tabs on what could be going on out there in your name while you have no idea.

Another thing we are going to have to do is make a plan for what to do when emergencies come up (read, savings account needs some help). We’ve learned the car needs new tires (and shouldn’t drive in the snow until then) and the truck needs a belt adjusted or replaced, and those things cost money. But we are so used to the paycheck to paycheck life that it’s very “when it happens, it happens”. But, you have to be prepared.

We are going to be working hard over the next few months to keep things going, because we never want our credit report to look like it has. What are some of the things you do to stay fiscally healthy? Tips are welcome!