Category Archives: Life

My Tips to Getting a Great Car Deal!

My Tips to Getting a Great Car Deal!

So, you are in the market for a new car. It is very, very important that you are very careful. We must be prepared with knowledge when car shopping so that you are just as HAPPY with your purchase after the dealer as you are when you are test driving. These tips are from my own experience in wheeling and dealing. We have had multiple experiences in our life, 25 vehicles that I can think of, and I may be forgetting a few. It’s sad, I know, but I am sharing what we have learned to hopefully help some people not make the mistakes that we have made. So, here are some key points that we now follow to a tee.

(1) What kind of car do you want to purchase?

In our experience, if you don’t have some kind of idea what automobile you want, you can be swayed into anything, and anything may not be the car/truck that makes you happy after you drive off of the lot.

We generally have a pretty good idea what we want. Sometimes we can be hasty, as we did in the most recent purchase, luckily we were not too hasty. My husband owned a Mazda 3 and we recieved a call from the dealer that we could easily trade up to a newer model of a Mazda 3 with a better interest rate and a lower payment without extending the terms. THIS intrigued us. SO, we loaded up the car and headed for Beverly… well, the car dealer that is. 🙂 On the one hour drive there, we talked about the Mazda 3. The one thing that intrigued us about trading was the pure fact that the Mazda we had needed tires again and it only had 40,000 miles. Now, this is normally not an uncommon event, however, we had already replaced the tires at 18,000 miles. Due to a design flaw, the tires on the Mazda 3 wear funny and need replaced frequently, unless of course, you can withstand abnormally loud road noise. We can not. So, given this fact, we decided to look at a Mazda 6 IF they did not have the same issue.

(2) Be able to stand your ground for what YOU want.

This is SO important! If you can not come to terms on the features on the car, the price of the car, the price of your trade in, stand your ground until you find a car that you LOVE everything about it.

Same car, continuation of the story above. We arrive, the salesman greets us and sits us down to discuss what we are looking for. So, we say, “Well, we like the Mazda we have, it is fully loaded, but if we can unload it for a good deal on a like car that doesn’t need tires every 15,000 miles, we would trade.” The salesman says that he has not heard that complaint at all on the Mazda 3. WHICH I really BIT my tongue, because he sold us this car and he was most certainly the person that assisted us in getting dealer cost on the early replacement of our tires. So, he had heard of one complaint before, OURS! He continued on defending the Mazda 3. I have been to enough dealerships and given the run around, spending HOURS in their showroom, that I don’t want to waste any more of my life at a dealer. SO, at this point, I sternly interrupted him and said, “It doesn’t matter what the truth is about the Mazda 3 and tires. If we can’t make a deal, we will continue driving this car. We are not interested in a Mazda 3 because we have been advised by YOUR mechanic that there is a design flaw on the 3 that causes early deterioration of the tires. That is really the end of the Mazda 3 conversation. If you would like to continue this conversation, let’s move on to a different car. We would like to look at the Mazda 6, considering it does not have the same tire problem.” When you remember that these guys generally work off of commissions, being stern let’s them know, you are 2 steps from walking away. He quickly changed gears and we test drove a Mazda 6. Nice car, lots of additional options, but the seats were far from comfortable. And I don’t know about you, but I sit in my seats a lot when I drive/ride in my car, so this was an important feature to us. We return from the drive, the salesman asks, “What did you think?” And, remember, I’m not interested in beating around the bush, so honestly, “The car was nice, but the seats were way too uncomfortable.” And he asked, “Do you want to go sit in it again?” My thought at this point was WHAT? I asked him, “Why, did you change out the seats in the last five minutes with more comfortable ones? Because we thought those were awful.” Again, defensive salesman appears, “Let’s go sit in it again and maybe you will think differently.” Really? Wow, that is insane. So I replied, “I’m pretty sure my butt doesn’t need a second opinion, they sucked.” I personally thought this was quite to the point and the salesman should move on. Apparently I was wrong as the salesman again asked if we wanted to go sit in the car again and “What monthly payment would put us in the 6.” Ok, time for the smack down, “Ok, I am just going to lay it on the line. If the Mazda 6 payment on the 6 was free, I am still going to grype every single time I get into the car about how I hate the seats and how they make my butt hurt. Simply, I am not interested in the 6.” Yea, so maybe I didn’t use the word “grype” or “butt” in this comment, but you get the picture and finally the salesman did too, he started looking at other cars.

(3) What the market price is for the car you are looking at. And if you have a trade in, what your payoff amount is and what your trade in should be around.

If you simply go into the dealership and tell them your monthly payment amount needs, they will give you an offer with a monthly payment amount that is anywhere from $50-100 over what you indicate, with $5,000.00 down and at any terms that they can get to achieve that payment amount. They are out for commission, their concern is simply not with your financial situation. That is up to you friend, so know it.

We look at Kelly Blue Book for retail of the car we want and note that for the next step. We then look up the wholesale, retail and trade in of our car we are looking to trade. You have to know the range of these numbers because the dealer is not going to finalize a deal that loses them money. If you owe $10,000.00 on your car and retail is $5,000.00, wholesale (what the dealer would pay cash for a car at auction) is $3,000.00 and trade in is $4,000.00, you need to be in ready for the conversation about how “upside down” you are in your car. Meaning that you owe way more than what it is worth. Not uncommon, as soon as you drive off of the lot, your car you just paid $10,000.00 for will automatically reduce down to trade in amounts for worth. We generally cut them off at the pass and say, “Yes, we trade often, we owe way more than it is worth, save the lecture, just tell us your offer.” You must know the range of your car – in the above, if they offer you $1,000.00 for trade in, you know you have some negotiating power. If they offer you $4,500.00 for trade, you know you are getting a good trade. Knowledge is power my friends.

(4) What kind of loan rates your preferred bank or credit union can provide.

Most banks and credit unions have loan calculators, if not, Google loan calculators or download one for your iPhone or Droid, there are tons of apps out there. Run the scenarios, example:

Payoff on the car you will trade: $10,000.00
Car you own’s trade in value: $8,000.00
Negative equity: $2,000.00.
Purchase price of the car you want to buy: $20,000.00
Purchase price of the car PLUS the negative equity: $22,000.00
If you know the tax rate, that is great, we generally figure 9% tax. You only pay tax, in Illinois that is, for the difference between retail of the new car and value of the trade in. In this instance, 9% tax on $12,000.00
Purchase price of the car you want to buy: $20,000.00
Car you own’s trade in value: $8,000.00
= $12,000.00
$12,000.00 MULTIPLY 9% = $1,080.00
And add in about a $1,000.00 for title, license, and doc fee.
So, you need to figure your loan amount to be:
Purchase price of the car you want to buy: $20,000.00
+ Negative equity: $2,000.00
+ Estimated Taxes: $1,080.00
+ Estimated Title, License, Doc fee: $1,000.00
Loan Amount with no down payment: $24,080.00

Now run the scenario against what your bank terms will be.

You should also look at the financing offers offered by the manufacturer if you are planning on purchasing a brand new car. Run their terms in the calculator and see if it is better than your financial institution. Then, it is a must that you go and confirm with your institution that if you are successful of getting a deal that matches these figures that you will be able to secure the funding from them. 🙂 Pre-approval helps to keep you from falling in love with your dream car, only to find out that you can not obtain the financing. 😦

(5) What your budget is, what payment you can afford AND what kind of down payment you can afford – if you want to put one down. This goes hand in with the step above. Is this a payment you can afford? Are you comfortable with the payment? If not, look at why you want to trade- if there are problems with it, like a transmission issue, what is the total cost to bring it to the level you would be happy to keep it. Weigh those two together and determine what the best decision is for you.

One thing that we have not added into the equation is a down payment. Typically we do not put money down on a car. Cars do not hold their value plain and simple. We would rather put that money towards real estate and make improvements in our home that would increase it’s value instead. Dealerships want you to put money down to help get you better financing, thereby increasing the chances that you will take the deal. BUT the question is, is it the right thing for you to do? If not, stand firm and tell them “No money down”.

(6) Document….

Keep track of all the scenarios from above. Know your information, keep it handy to reference when they bring the offer to you. Don’t get blinded by the shiny brilliance of your proposed new car that you find yourself blinded by debt later.

(7) Ask questions and take time to think about it!

Many dealerships will offer maintenance deals. Whether it is free oil changes, reduced prices on services, etc. Get this information and compare it to what you are currently paying. My husband will make a complete spreadsheet. When the gas prices started to sky rocket oh so many years ago, we had a Dodge Ram and a Dodge Durango, both out of warranty. Not really the picture of excellent gas mileage at 11 mpg and 17 mpg respectively, increasing out gas budget to an unacceptable amount. I had driven the Honda Accord of one of my co-workers on many occasions and it always drove as if it were a brand new car – smooth and quiet. And they got excellent gas mileage. We wanted to look at something all wheel drive or 4 wheel drive to replace one of the vehicles because we lived in the middle of the country, so that was very important during Central Illinois winters.

We went out one Saturday morning set to trade both vehicles to more economical replacements. We got our two top picks, from two different dealerships and went to lunch at a local Dairy Queen with free internet/computer access and re ran our numbers looking at the Jeep Liberty trade in, etc. We knew we wanted the Honda, but weren’t sure about the trade for the Ram. The numbers were supported utilizing financing from the dealerships, they beat our financial institutions.

Dodge Ram traded for a gently used Jeep Liberty – 11 mpg vs 17 mpg, 4 wheel drive, gap insurance, extended warranty, family friendly, ability to pull a trailer. Payment? Reduced $20 per month, gas savings, note worthy.

Dodge Durango traded for a new Honda Accord – 16 mpg vs 33 mpg, comfortable ride, fully loaded, free oil changes for the first 36,000 miles, increased payment of only $25.00 a month utilizing Honda finance terms, adding gap insurance and extended warranty. Gas savings? PHENOMENAL! It was a learning curve parking such a small car from the big Durango. 🙂

We were far better off than we were that morning. We had reduced maintenance prices, warranty, reduced monthly car payments. The pre-work paid off.

I hope you have the best dealership experience from here on out! 🙂 Did I forget something? Have you learned a trick or two? Leave it in the comments so that others can be in the know! I am always looking for tips on this subject! 🙂




Have you ever thought to yourself “Why is this happening to me?” I have plenty of times, but as I sort out in my mind, I realize that everything happens for a reason- good and bad. If bad things are happening to me and as I dissect why, sometimes I realize that I am putting myself in those situations with the people that I surround myself with. From there I have choices and changes to make. And if you find yourself constantly in a state of drama, you are the one in control of that, you can fix it by not allowing yourself to continue with the root cause. Sometimes they are tough choices, but if you want to move forward in a positive direction, you HAVE to make the decision and be committed to following through. And sometimes we have to make changes within ourselves, first and foremost, to BELIEVE we deserve better. Instead of wondering why me you need to suck it up and move towards a more positive environment.

Ever wondered why people act the way they do? I have plenty of times! I’ve also wondered, “how in the world am I going to progress forward through this, maybe I could give up.” But guess what? I am way too stubborn and I have grown up with a variety of family members showing me that you just can’t give up, you have to keep going. My Grandpa had diabetes and had his leg amputated below the knee. What was he doing the day after he was released? Up on the garage roof making repairs. Maybe wasn’t the safest thing to do, but he knew it needed done and he wasn’t going to let his missing leg stop him. He fought several more toes on his good foot being amputated, but he kept going, kept walking and doing household activities. Sometimes I think that we get too involved in things we can’t control and let it change our perception of what we can accomplish. The truth is that we are our own obstacles sometimes. No, it wasn’t exactly the best thing for him to be on the roof, but he wasn’t going to let that obstacle he couldn’t control dictate how he lived his life. He greeted life with a positive, can do attitude and he survived many obstacles that another person may have let take over their life.

If you are a parent like I am, you have kids watching how you react. Whether I like it or not, I tell myself I HAVE to suck it up and deal with it and move on! My ‘why’ or my motivation is just that, to put forth a never say quit attitude to my kids. I am determined to do all within my power to instill those same values and strong work ethic that I have. Basically, you never know what life has in store next and if you haven’t dealt with previous issues and are sulking, you may just miss the beauty of nature changing around you. You are here for great things, believe it, see it, move towards it. Life is far too short to relinquish control and waste time sulking. Get out there and move towards the life you want. 🙂

Life in the Fast Lane – New Parents should Buckle Up.

Life in the Fast Lane – New Parents should Buckle Up.

Regardless of how much you try to enjoy life, it seems to go 300 miles per hour after you turn 18. I always heard that as I was growing up, however, when you are in school counting down the days to graduation, it goes on forever it seems. But, they were right, once I turned 18, it seems like my life has been a whirlwind. From waiting to graduation, I have gotten married, had two children, gained new family members through weddings and births as well as lost some due to death.

Now that my daughter is turning 18 in a few short months, I reflect back at the last 18 years, which truly seems like weeks ago. I remember vividly finding out I was pregnant and the pain with bone movements associated. I remember labor and delivery, especially the delivery. I can see this little baby sleeping in the baby swing and being awoke to the sound of rewinding it. It was so noisy! Then came crawling and eating people food. I remember how she loved peas, but her father and I did not. I gave her all the foods that I didn’t like because I wanted her to get a taste of everything.

She started walking, running and then we had to get rid of the pacifier – oh my, that was horrible. I remember this little 20 month old girl with little blonde pig tails screaming, stomping and crying she wanted her “nanniefire”. But she couldn’t have it because it was causing her to get a rash around her mouth. That lasted about a week, then she adjusted.

It was such a joy to see the world through her eyes. One time, we got a really heavy snow when she was 3 years old.  When  she looked out the window she said, “Oh my! Pepaw made a mess!!”. I don’t know why she blamed my dad, but it was just hilarious.  Another time, she picked up a Polaroid camera and while directed at her, she hit the button, the flash went off and a picture came out. She ran to my mom and I and said, “It scared me so bad I almost peed my pants.” I saved the Polaroid. It was her first “selfie”.  🙂  Then she started school, made friends, did dance, gymnastics, learned how to read and write. She still was Mommy and Daddy’s girl. We were so proud of her. She cared about her friends and loved ones.  Especially her baby brother.  He was born just a week before her third birthday.

Baby number 2 on board!

Baby number 2 on board!

A few years later, when we went to the visitation for a grandfather of one of our friends, it was a good time to introduce her to the world of loss. When we entered the funeral home, she asked, “Why is that man in the box?” and I told her “Well honey, he died and went to heaven to be with Jesus.” And she just responded, “Oh, my, bless his heart.” She had never met this man, but still felt compassion for him. A very proud moment for parents.

I wish that we could have been at home more during their childhood.  Instead, she watched her dad and I both return to college to obtain our bachelor’s degrees, then our master’s degrees. Although that took us away from her and her brother, I know that this will instill in them the importance of education and making a solid plan for your future earlier in life as opposed to later. The one thing that I would change if I had a “do over” would be to finish my education so that I could focus all of my attention towards raising my family. But, we know that we can not do that. I do believe that did instill in her the importance. She is already planning on continuing her education at the local community college to become an Radiologist Technologist. She expressed that interest a few years ago and we worked to get an opportunity to job shadow. This is one thing I pressed hard for. It is one thing to have a plan to further your education but what a downer to get into the career and learn that you hate it. She observed two full days of different types of radiology, a very good experience. She has taken dual credit classes her senior year and work study to prepare for college.  Again, a proud parent moment.

What is the point in all this rambling? Well, if you are a new parent:

– Hold close the memories, big or small, that your children provide you with. Even the rough times, they can make you smile and proud.
– Take every opportunity to spend with your child. You have them until they are teenagers, then they start to sprout their wings and are no longer in need of your guidance, most of the time.
– Don’t be so quick to move forward. You always hear that you wish they could talk, then you wish that they would be quiet. Well it’s true to an extent. You want them to grow up and become a little person, but they grown into an adult faster than you want.

Literally, I feel like I have turned around, or blinked my eyes, and both kids went from toddlers to adults. So proud of the people my kids have become, but yet, still long for the little kids that came running to the door, so excited to see me and give me a hug. They are still in there somewhere and before long, they will come to us to ask us questions again. I think all kids do. 🙂

Sometimes it’s the little things that someone else finds Significant

Sometimes it’s the little things that someone else finds Significant

I never realized how it would feel to know, without a doubt, that you have been significant in the life of someone else. I knew I wanted to be significant, to leave an impression on the lives of others, but I didn’t realize how wonderfully warm and fuzzy I would feel to know that I had made a difference in the life of someone else. When, where, how did it happen? I will let you know in the following paragraphs. (I wouldn’t leave you hanging!)

Just a background on my grandmother. She is/was an incredible woman, she was certainly significant in my life. She never met a stranger and she genuinely cared for everyone’s welfare that she met. My grandmother had a stroke about 2004 that left her paralyzed on her left side. She spent the next several years living at home and the remainder in a nursing home. She also had a condition called Polycythemia Vera. During her last few years in the nursing home, she continually grew weaker, but never stopped making new relationships with the people at the nursing home – living or working there, it didn’t matter – she was well liked. Shortly before Thanksgiving in 2010, she had another massive stroke that left her right side paralyzed and unable to speak. The ability to speak came back, within 48 hours, which we were very grateful. However, she did not regain movement on the right side, leaving her basically paralyzed from the neck down. I live two hours away from where she lived. However, when the call came that she had a stroke again, I was there before she left the emergency room. Along with 15 other people – I told you she was liked!  Note that this number didn’t include the staff at the nursing home who popped in and out to see her.

It was at this time that she elected to go into hospice. I wasn’t really sure how I felt about this, but I knew she was suffering, I knew she was not going to get better, however a part of me didn’t want to lose her – I have known her all my life! Nonetheless, she was placed on hospice and she was given morphine and an anxiety drug. As you can imagine, it was very hard for the family to watch this happen, and her bedside always had at least one person there – during the day, there were usually 5-10 people around to keep her company – kids, siblings, step-family, you name it, they were there. Although she could talk, it was very labored, but what she said and how she acted, I just never will forget. I felt honored to give this woman sips of tea/water from a sponge on a stick or to grab the nurse when she needed pain meds. Time is precious and I value the time I spent there – traveling back and forth 4 times in one week after work.  Sadly, she left this world and joined my Grandfather in heaven December 1st, 2010. I had already planned on going down to stay on the 1st because the hospice folks were telling us it would be soon. She passed away at 3:15 in the morning, so I didn’t make it before she left. I needed to be near my family, so I went to stay at my parents anyway. In the time I was there, I found a photo album of my Grandma’s mementos. There were photos, four-leaf clovers, a few journal entries from when she started seeing my Grandfather and another from the day that they wed. There was a letter written on the lined paper – that kindergartners and first graders use. It said, “Dear Grandpa, I hope you get well soon. I love you and miss you, Lisa”. He died when I was in first grade, so this must have been when he was in the hospital. I found more pictures and then I stumbled across a card. It had a cute turtle on the card and the text spoke about how peach pits aren’t really all that big, but if planted they grow into something huge and fruitful. Kind of like how we plant seeds of our attitude, values, and out look on life in others that we meet and have relationships with. It said that my Grandma was planting positive peach pits in others, helping them to grow and change and that it was known because she passed one of those peach pits to me. I didn’t really remember that card to be honest until I saw it. I remembered once I read it that I had sent it to her for her birthday one year. I don’t even think it was classified as a birthday card, but I remember when I bought it that I read it and knew it was the card for her – everything I felt about her in a nutshell…. or a peach pit. This was really the only card in the album and my mom said it was pretty neat that she kept it as it must have meant a lot to her. While I had known all along she was a significant portion of my life and I strive to be like her in friendliness, nurturing, caring, and a zillion other ways, I didn’t realize until that moment that I truly was significant in her life as well. I made an impact by telling her she was significant to me. This was one of the best moments of my life, to know I made her feel significant. I am sure I am significant to others, whether I know it or not. Even though she was gone, when I realized that she kept this as a special token, I just felt a warm shower of love fall on me.  In her memory, I will continue to strive to be significant in the lives of others, whoever they might be. I encourage you to tell anyone that really impacts your life, what that means to you. You never know how encouraging words can affect someone and change their outlook, especially the way that they see themselves.