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Ways to Save Big on the Big Three: Car, House, and Education

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Ways to Save Big on the Big Three: Car, House, and Education

There are three big-ticket items that most people need to pay for in life: a car, a home, and a good education. However, doing your due diligence can help make these purchases a bit less painful to your paycheck.

Car

Everyone remembers their first car. Turning those keys and hearing the engine roar feels like a graduation to adulthood. Unfortunately, part of being an adult is dealing with the payments along with the thrill of the open road. Here are some ways to make sure to save.

1. Buy at the Right Time

As far as car dealerships go, it pays to do your homework. The end of the month, end of the summer, and end of the year are all great times to snap up some deals. At the end of the month, dealerships may be close to qualifying for sale bonuses from manufacturers. If they are nearing their quota, they make be more ready to make a deal.

At the end of the summer, dealerships are trying to clear out inventory to make room for next year’s models. And, at the end of the year, customers are thinking about Christmas shopping and not car shopping. It’s a lean time for car dealerships, which means they will be very happy to make you happy. This concept also works during periods of inclement weather. If there has been a longer period of ice and snow or an unusually hot spell, many people may not feel like car shopping. Yet, dealerships still need to report good sales numbers. If you can brave the elements, you may find a reward in a much better deal because you visited the dealership when others stayed home.

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2. Increase Your Loan Payments to Save Interest

Of course, the best scenario is to save over time to pay cash for a vehicle. However, realistically most people need to take out some sort of financing. With any loan, you never want to pay the minimum payments if you can help it. Always remember, a loan is set up to benefit the lender, not you. You can easily pay multiple times your original purchase price in interest if you simply follow your lender’s payment timeline.

There are several great sites that can motivate you to pay off your debt faster by showing how much you save over time by just increasing your payments. One fun trick if you can’t afford a lot of money for extra payments is to just round up. So, for example, if your payment is $360 per month, you pay $400. When paying off loans every little bit helps, and that $40 extra per month put toward your principle will equal big savings over time.

3. Buy Used

You pay a price for that new car smell. The minute you drive your new car off the lot, it loses about 9% of its value. During the first year, you lose a total of 19% in depreciation. The following year, you lose another 12%. After this, your car depreciation holds steady at 9% per year. Therefore, it makes sense to look for well-maintained cars that are over two years old. When buying, make sure to take it to a mechanic whom you trust for a full inspection. Also do a background check to verify that it hasn’t been in an accident. If you really just have to have the smell of a new car, save yourself some serious money and get the fragrance spray.

House Savings

When buying a house, the amount of time you take to educate yourself can mean thousands of dollars in savings. You can passively buy a house through normal channels, but you will spend more for the convenience. Remember, many real estate investors don’t have a realtor license. They just took the time to become educated on the process.

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1. Know Your Spending Power – Get Approved for a Loan

Meet with a loan officer, review your credit, and determine your buying potential. You don’t want to waste your time looking at homes that you can’t afford. You can also see if there are any blemishes on your credit report that are easy to fix so you can qualify for a better interest rate. Make sure you research the costs involved with buying a home in your area. You need to know how much you will need for a down payment based on your credit score and debt-to-income ratio. If your credit is strong enough, you may not have to put any money down for the loan. You will still need to pay closing costs and other fees (unless you can get your seller to pay them), so make sure you have enough extra cash on hand before signing the mortgage.

2. Know your market

Knowing the housing market is crucial to making educated real estate purchases. There are several sites you can use to research public records online. Mortgage records are public information. You can easily see how much someone still owes on their property vs. their asking price. This is useful to know when negotiating on a home.

You can see when someone has the breathing room to negotiate down and when someone is trapped in a mortgage and must stick to a certain price. The more equity someone has in their home, the better the chance they will drop their asking price if they need to sell quickly. Also, get comp reports of home sales in the area either through a site or a realtor. See if home sales are rising or falling. Location is key when buying real estate. Look for homes in areas with good schools, strong infrastructure, pleasant neighborhoods, and other amenities that would increase resale value.

3. Look into REOs, Short Sales, FSBOs, and Foreclosure Sales

Not going the traditional route to buy a home can be scary, but if you put some effort into learning the system, the rewards are huge! I want to stress that this is just to an overview of areas you can research. You will need to study these topics in depth to become educated to the point where you can properly evaluate risk vs. return on investment. There are entire books written on these topics, so I will just pique your interest in this article. This is where the investors play. It pays to become educated and comfortable with alternative sources of home purchases.

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FSBO

Our first home we bought was a FSBO (For Sale By Owner). We literally drove through the neighborhood, saw the sign, and knocked on the door. Because the owners didn’t do their homework and comp their home correctly, we saved about $10,000 just in the initial purchase price of the home. Since we didn’t utilize a realtor, the seller didn’t have additional realtor fees to work into the asking price, so we both benefited.

REO

REOs (Real Estate Owned) are properties that are owned by a lender. When a home goes into foreclosure, the bank puts it up for auction. If no one buys it, it clogs up the lender’s inventory. Banks don’t want to hold actual properties and care for their upkeep; they just want mortgages. Many times, a bank will cut a great deal on an REO property just to get it off their books.

Short Sales

Short sales happen when a bank agrees to work with the seller in foreclosure and accept less than the mortgage amount from a qualified buyer. This helps the bank avoid the hassle of going through the foreclosure process. Again, most banks don’t want REOs, and if a buyer shows up with cash to do a deal, the banks may be willing to talk even before the house goes to auction.

Foreclosure

When a home goes into foreclosure, and no short sale deal is made, it is put up by the bank for auction for investors to bid on. If you spend some time understanding this process, you can be right there in the action and pick up a great deal on a nice property. Again, to ensure you aren’t buying a lemon, arraign to visit the house beforehand and get it inspected. Also, make sure there are no additional liens on the title. Since you are representing yourself in this deal, you must do your homework to make sure you are getting a good return on your investment.

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Education Savings

The price tag of a quality education has been steadily increasing in recent years. Student loan debts follow most people well into their career. It pays to limit them as much as possible.

1. Find Free Money

If there is anything more fun that going to college, it has to be finding free money to pay for it! There are so many sites that show you how to find scholarships. You will have to do some digging to see if you qualify. You may also have to write essays explaining your education worthiness over your competition. But, a little bit of work goes a long way if you can decrease the total amount of loans you will need to take out.

2. Choose Federal over Private Loans

Federal loans have a fixed interest rate that is lower than private loans will offer you. Private loans also do not have locked-in interest rates and, therefore, your payments can increase if your interest rates go up. This means you pay more money over a longer period of time. Avoid private loans at all costs unless you have no other option. Also, only borrow what you honestly need and live modestly. You don’t have to take out the full qualification amount. Take a side job for extra income while in school and over summers to make sure you have the smallest possible debt upon graduation.

3. Utilize Community Colleges

You can still have the diploma from the four-year college of your choice without carrying the full amount of debt. Spend your first two years at a community college to get your base credits out of the way. These colleges are usually much less expensive than state or private colleges, which are about triple the price tag. Also, if there is a community college close to your home, you can save additional money on living expenses by staying with family. You can then transfer to the college of your choice for the final two years.

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While I’ve given you some ideas on how to save on the three big-ticket items in your life, the work still falls to you. All of these avenues are very doable, you just have to be willing to work harder than the average consumer. This is why most American’s work to pay off huge debts instead of building up their net worth. With some smart planning, research, and applying a bit of knowledge know how, you can spend more time working to build up your nest egg instead of paying off years of unnecessary debt.

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Sarah Hansen

A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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Published on November 8, 2021

How To Achieve Financial Freedom With the Right Mindset

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How To Achieve Financial Freedom With the Right Mindset

What would being financially free mean to you? Have you made the mistake of thinking that financial freedom requires millions of dollars and decades of hard work? When it comes to our relationship to money, the answers really lie in our mindset. Change your mindset around money and your entire financial outlook will change with it.

And no: we’re not talking about putting a check for a million dollars under your pillow at night. This is about you becoming a financially free person, in whatever capacity you choose. And that’s really the key: it needs to be defined by you. So many people outsource this responsibility to society/celebrities/the government etc… and as a result never achieve it.

What if you could identify what financial freedom looks like for you, realize that it is possible to get there in a matter of a few months and then build a road map to do just that?

Read on, because that’s what we’re going to open you up to. This isn’t about giving you specific strategies “guaranteed to work in five minutes or your money back…blah blah.” This is about awakening you to just how powerful you are, where your blocks lie and how to smash through them effectively.

Financial Freedom – What is it?

Well like I said: I’m not going to define this for you. That misses the whole point of this article, but let’s lay out some ideas to get you started.

Typically, when we talk about financial freedom in the west, we really mean: freedom from needing to work, in order to meet financial obligations. We know that there has been a rise in depression amongst nine-to-fivers, 62% as a matter of fact between 2019 and 2020 in the USA.[1] It’s therefore no wonder that there has been correlative uptick in the search for alternative solutions to finances.

This depression is largely as a result of feeling trapped, unable to realize potential and being denied opportunity. It is also likely that, thanks to a more global world and social media: we see just how abundant life can be for some; like a carrot dangled tantalisingly close, but just out of reach. We yearn for more meaning in our lives, more excitement and to be able to live on our terms.

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Finances are (as we see it) the stumbling block and the preserve of the chosen few…not us.

So to start building an accurate picture of what financial freedom would be for you, begin with what your life would look like if you didn’t have to worry about money. How would you feel if you didn’t have to consider your monthly budget, when putting your hand in your pocket to pay for lunch?

The point is that a lot of the stress and resulting depression that comes from feeling like a ‘wage-slave’ is down to our lack of clarity on what we actually want. We get caught, focussing on what we lack and that perpetuates a mindset of lack that very quickly is reflected in our reality. We are allowing our subconscious, emotional mind to be bombarded with imagery every day that reenforces a sense that we aren’t good enough. That we do not have what it takes.

That wouldn’t happen though if we had done the work of pinning down exactly what we wanted in the first place.

Does Financial Freedom Come at Extreme Levels of Net Worth?

There is a tendency, thanks again largely to how we are conditioned through media, to think that financial freedom only comes at extreme levels of net worth. What if I told you that is completely ill-founded and untrue?

Using the standard/assumed definition of financial freedom for a moment; this means that you need enough capital to generate a return that is greater than, or equal to your monthly expenditure. That doesn’t necessarily tell the full picture, but nevertheless; it’s is a good place to start.

If your monthly outgoings (mortgage, bills etc…) come to $3,000 for argument’s sake, you can achieve that with as little as $108,000 invested over three years.[2]

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Hardly the millions you had probably envisioned is it?

Remember: we’re not talking about you living a lavish lifestyle necessarily. If that is what you want; fantastic, it’s certainly achievable, but what we’re getting at here is your ability to meet all of your financial obligations without having to work.

I’m sure you’re unlikely to find $108,000 down the back of your couch, but it is a figure that is well within reach of most working adults. A $36,000 salary opens you up to borrowing that kind of money, and even if you have to continue working in the short term in order to service the debt and keep up with your bills; you’ll have a clear end goal in sight.

And you’ll have doubled your income in the meantime, for the same amount of work!

How To Achieve Financial Freedom With the Right Mindset

As we touched on earlier, coming at your life from a space of ‘lack’ simply perpetuates more of the same. As I always say: your environment doesn’t lie. Look around you, if you’re dissatisfied with any aspect of your life, you first need to accept responsibility for it. If you don’t, you’re abdicating your power to make new choices.

You may well have been the victim of circumstance in the past, but how you respond and what you do with that experience is up to you. If you choose to look for the positive, however minor it might be in any given situation – your experience of life will begin to change.

This is, in essence, what The Law of Attraction is all about. What lies behind it is your reticular activating system (RAS). The part of your brain designed to filter out the (as it sees it) unless information, highlight the important information and prioritize your safety. Thanks to it being part of your primeval/‘lizard’ brain however, it predates the conscious mind, intellect and reason.

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The issue for a lot of us is that we haven’t understood how to communicate in a way that our RAS understands. We can’t translate our conscious desires and are therefore caught in a loop between two incongruous forces.

Our subconscious wants us to be alive and it bases its criteria for this, largely on the principal of: same = safe. Meanwhile, your quality of life, passive income, work/life balance etc… are inconsequential. That part of your mind doesn’t give a hoot about the utility bill or being able to afford a holiday.

It is perfectly possible to show you subconscious/RAS the benefits of financial freedom though, or indeed any other outcome you’d like to see in your life. You just have to speak its language. Becoming debt free and financially free is actually one of the easiest things you can communicate to your subconscious, because you have so much ‘real-world’ experience with money.

Here’s how:

  1. Start by clearing your mind and being present – find a meditation, visualization or breathing exercise that calms your mind, allows you to focus on the present moment and become an observer of your surroundings. The point of this is to stop all of those thoughts buzzing around in your head that are pulling you back to the past, or projecting you into an imagined future.
  2. Then build a mental movie or slideshow of what your average day would look like, were you to achieve financial freedom. We’re not talking about big occasions, huge wins or events; just an average day.
  3. From your position of present observer – start to observe the feelings that arise as you go about this average day in your new life. Do you feel your shoulders relax and drop? Have you got excited ‘butterflies’ in your stomach? Are you smiling more?

Learn to recall these feelings at will – this will connect the dots for your RAS and you will soon start noticing a shift. Think of it as connecting with your desired future and pulling it into/towards your present.

Bonus Hack – Practice Gratitude

We’ve already discussed how you can start attracting/observing the opportunities that will enable you to achieve financial freedom. This involves a lot of work in order to finesse, but the principals are easy enough to understand. Something that we can all do, no matter what we’re trying to achieve, is practice gratitude.

Using the same principals that I’ve outlined above: something of a ‘catch-all’ that we can train our minds to produce more of, is gratitude. If we can shift our mindset so that the next time some negative, external and unforeseen event occurs, we are still able to be grateful for it; your entire experience will shift.

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Not only will you observe more to be grateful for all around you on a daily basis, but you will shift out of a mindset of ‘lack’. All of the barriers that stood in your way before (not enough capital, stuck in a job I hate etc…) they will shift to becoming things that support your desires and goals.

For example:

The job you hate, when reframed as the means to support a transitional stage of your life (i.e. enabling you to borrow money to invest) suddenly gives you a resource to be grateful for.

The added beauty of this is that your RAS doesn’t know the difference between a big win and a small win. You being truly, deeply grateful for your socks (for example) carries the same weight as being grateful for your health, or your spouse. This is why I say “practice” gratitude. You can start whenever you want!

Look around you right now and find something that you really are grateful for, no matter how small and seemingly inconsequential.

Practicing this will create a snowball effect. Much quicker than you might think: you’ll be overwhelmed with gratitude for your life and all that’s in it.

In Summary

Financial freedom is more within your reach than you probably think or feel. Understand that the limits you’re assuming to be there are largely a product of your subconscious mind, having been drip-fed evidence of that over the course of your lifetime. Changing that might take a lot of effort in the short-term, like cranking over an old car, but the effects will begin to build up quickly and self-perpetuate.

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Apply this mindset to your financial situation and you will find that it too will begin to ‘snowball’. Financial freedom is closer than you think, so start looking for it today!

Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

Reference

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