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5 Worst Mistakes When Selling Your Car

5 Worst Mistakes When Selling Your Car

It’s time for a new set of wheels. Maybe you’re ready for something newer, faster, bigger. Or maybe your current ride is collecting problems faster than your paycheck can cover. Either way, you need to get as much money as possible from your old car. But stumble into one of these common pitfalls, and you could lose hundreds of dollars or blow the sale entirely.

Here are five of the worst mistakes to make when you are selling a car, and how you can avoid them:

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Skip the Wash


If your car is full of dog hair, stale cheerios and food wrappers, the trash distracts a potential buyer from seeing your car’s actual condition. A washed car always looks better and a clean interior always smells better, making your ride more enticing all around. This also shows the buyer that you take care of your car.

At the very least, do a thorough vacuum and scrubdown. With this illustrated guide, washing and drying will take you about an hour. Plan on a full detailing if your asking price is more than $5,000. This includes shining the interior, washing the windows inside and out, and applying a glossy new coat of wax.

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Head Straight to the Dealer


One of the easiest ways to unload your old car is to trade it in at the car dealer, where selling and buying happen in one step. However, this gets you the least amount of money for your car. Trading in a 2009 Hyundai Elantra (for example) nets you a $5,400 credit at the dealer, but puts $6,800 in your pocket if you sell the car yourself. Overall you’ll save several hundred dollars, even if you need to rent a car for a few days before you buy your next set of wheels.

Use the Wrong Price

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Tips for selling your car

    Many people don’t realize there is more than one blue book — using the right price from the right book makes a big difference. The well-known NADA Guide lists retail prices for dealers and banks but isn’t a good source when selling your own car. Use a site like Kelley Blue Book to find the private party value (the term for selling your car directly to another person). Enter in your zip code, select your car’s options and estimate its condition to determine fair market value.

    Forgetting the Paperwork


    Before you list your car, get all of the paperwork together. Make sure you know where the title is and get two copies of a bill of sale (one for you, one for the buyer). These are often available for free at your local DMV office; if you use a blank template, make sure it’s valid for your state. Keeping a copy of the bill of sale is important for two reasons: first, it helps protect you from liability if the buyer is in an accident before they transfer the title into their name. Second, the “as-is, where-is” clause reiterates that you aren’t including any warranty or making any promises about the condition of the car.  Ultimately, it’s up to the buyer to inspect the car for mechanical issues before they buy.

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    Take a Check

    Tips for selling your car

      Scams with cashier’s checks have been in the news for years. If you aren’t familiar with this rip-off, it goes like this: You get an email from someone that’s living in another town or out of the country or otherwise unavailable. They want to buy your car sight unseen and send you a cashier’s check for the full asking price. It sounds too good to be true because it is — resist the temptation of this seemingly quick sale. But even if a buyer meets you in person, it’s generally not a good idea to accept a cashier’s check (which may be forged) or a personal check (which can have the payment stopped after they drive away). It’s best to take cash only. If you feel uncomfortable driving around with thousands of dollars in your pocket, have the buyer meet you at your bank to finalize the sale.

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      Published on September 17, 2018

      How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

      How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

      Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

      With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

      So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

      1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

      It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

      You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

      So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

      2. When you want something big, wait

      Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

      It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

      We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

      A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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      So, you get the itch.

      You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

      Here’s where you have to take a step back.

      Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

      Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

      It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

      The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

      3. Live smaller than you can afford

      You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

      You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

      That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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      Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

      Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

      The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

      But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

      4. Practice smart grocery shopping

      Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

      But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

      Create a grocery budget

      Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

      Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

      I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

      Make a list… and never deviate

      Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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      You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

      These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

      Eat before going grocery shopping

      It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

      If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

      After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

      Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

      However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

      This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

      5. Cancel your gym membership

      Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

      The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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      Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

      I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

      Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

      Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

      For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

      Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

      There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

      It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

      I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

      Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

      The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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