6 Ways to Lower Your Cost When Renting a Car

Everyone has stood in line at the car rental counter. There’s some pressure to be quick with your business and move along so the next person can be helped. During your brief time at the counter, you’re inundated with several choices, many of which are expensive. There are multiple upgrades and additional expenses that you may or may not need.

If you’ve ever been confused about which expenses are worthwhile and which expenses only serve to line the pockets of the rental companies, read on.

Save money on your car rental with these tips:

  1. Automobile insurance. This is the one added expense that seems to be pushed the most by the salesperson on the other side of the counter. Do you need it? Maybe. It’s always a good idea to call your insurance carrier and see what is and isn’t covered.
    • Then call your credit card company. Many of them include a certain amount of coverage when you use your card to pay the rental fee.
    • Roadside assistance is another related fee. You might already have this coverage through AAA or your personal insurance carrier.
    • In most cases, experts agree that rental insurance is an unnecessary expense. Find out the details before handing over your money.

  2. Fuel charges. Rental companies make a killing on selling pre-paid tanks of gas. Simply fill it up yourself before you return it. Be certain you understand the requirements. You may need a receipt.
    • Take a picture of the odometer and the gas gauge to ensure you’re on the right track. The fuel level will be noted on the rental agreement. Ensure it’s accurate.

  3. Damages. This is probably the biggest complaint from car renters. You drop off the keys and hop on your plane. A few days later you realize your credit card has been charged for $3,500 worth of ‘damages’. This can be challenging to fight if you’re not prepared beforehand.
    • Before driving off with any rental vehicle, walk around and inspect everything, inside and out. Make a note on the rental form of any damages. Use your phone to take pictures of any damages. Just be sure there is a time stamp. Avoid driving the car at all until you’ve thoroughly inspected it. The costs can be considerable, so take your time.

  4. Read the fine print. The fine print covers anything that’s even remotely out of the ordinary. If you rent a car and pay a weekly rate, what happens if you bring the car back a day early or a day late? It’s possible that bringing it back a day early will cancel the weekly rate, and you’ll actually pay more. Make note of all the fees.

  5. Be aware of the extras. If you’re going to need a car seat, consider bringing one. If you need a GPS, you probably already have one on your phone. Think about what you really need and then try to take care of it yourself.

  6. Consider the fuel efficiency of the car. If you’ll be driving a lot, it makes more sense to rent a car that gets great gas mileage. Gasoline is expensive. Minimize that expense by choosing the right car. The most fuel-efficient cars tend to be smaller. This is great since smaller cars tend to have lower rental rates.

Renting a car shouldn’t cost more than necessary. There are many things rental companies do to increase your cost. Many of these expenses are simply a waste of your money. Be prepared and you’ll pay less the next time you need to rent a car.

Lease or Buy? Financing Tips for Automobiles

There are two basic options when you need a new vehicle: Lease or buy. You can purchase a vehicle with cash or through financing, or strike up a lease agreement with an auto retailer. Leasing a vehicle provides you with short-term benefits without ownership, while buying is a much more serious commitment, but with greater long-term value.

Educate Yourself

To get the most out of either financing option, become familiar with the benefits and drawbacks associated with each option. Both options are viable when the right conditions are met, so leasing might be best for you at some point in time while buying is best during another point in your life.

Here are some things to consider before deciding to buy or lease a vehicle:

  1. Leasing is similar to renting your car. When you lease a vehicle, you make monthly payments on it, but you never really own it. This means that once the lease term is up, you either give the vehicle back or renew the lease. There’s never a point where you actually pay off or own the vehicle.
      • Despite not actually owning the vehicle, you’re still responsible for all aspects of maintenance during the lease term in most circumstances. This means new tires, oil changes, new fluids, and all general maintenance costs are your responsibility.
      • Because you don’t own the vehicle, you cannot make any modifications to it: no bumper stickers, aftermarket parts, window tinting, or other alterations that you might like to make on a car that you drive regularly.
      • Leasing is most ideal for individuals who want to drive a new vehicle every few years. When your lease agreement ends, you can initiate a new lease agreement with a new vehicle.

  2. Getting an auto loan means the vehicle is yours. As long as you make the auto loan payments on time, you get to keep the vehicle. Once the vehicle is paid off completely, you don’t have to worry about making payments any longer.
      • As the owner, you’re responsible for maintenance costs and repairs. However, you may enjoy the fact that you’re maintaining your own vehicle. You don’t have to give it back.
      • When you own your car, you can use it as collateral for secured lending options. When you lease a vehicle, you cannot use it as collateral and there are many restrictions about how you can use it that may limit your enjoyment of the vehicle.

  3. Interest rates affect whether one option is better than another. Affordability is key when it comes to choosing between leasing and owning a vehicle. The affordability of one option over the other can change based on the market and current interest rates and other incentives.
      • When interest rates on auto loans are low in general, lease payments may not be the most attractive option. Lower interest rates combined with incentives from auto dealers often make an auto loan the better opportunity.
      • When interest rates go up and obtaining an auto loan is not always feasible, leasing may be a better option because it provides short term access to a car with lower monthly payments, since you don’t pay based on interest rate.

The Bottom Line

Weigh your options closely before deciding to buy or lease a vehicle. Different options provide different incentives, advantages, and disadvantages over time. Compare the opportunities for leasing or buying to your current financial situation to determine which is best for you.

Engarde Financial Group is positioned to educate and serve its clients with other insurance coverages.

We understand that your personal items that you possess are of significance to you. Here at EFG we look at every situation differently. When it comes to your needs there is no such thing as one size fits all. Speak to a insurance professional today so that we can design a policy to cover all the things you love.

6 Ways to Minimize the Cost of Your Auto Loan

Let’s face it, cars are expensive. It’s not only the price of the car, but also the gas, insurance, maintenance, car washes, and more. For most of us, there are also considerable costs associated with the auto loan. With the economy as it is, every expense is worth examining.

Use these strategies to save money on your next auto loan:

  1. Improve your credit. Nothing has more impact on the terms of your loan than your credit score: the better your score, the lower the interest rate. If your credit history is sketchy, it’s going to cost you. So if you have credit problems, put off buying that new car until you’ve done some work on your credit.

  2. Avoid small loans. In many cases, interest rates tend to be higher on small loans. If the car costs less than $5,000, then it’s best to simply save up ahead of time and pay cash for the car. If you’re desperate for a vehicle, however, this may not be an option.

  3. Refinance. You can refinance an automobile at a lower interest rate if interest rates have fallen since you bought the car. This especially makes sense if you’ve also been able to improve your credit since you obtained your loan. You could easily save $100 per month by refinancing.
      • With the subsequent reduced payment schedule, you can apply the extra you’re saving toward other investments or you can pay off your car sooner.

  4. Shop around for financing. It might be easiest to get your financing at the dealership, but it’s rarely the best place. Finding a better financing offer means extra money that could be in your pocket instead of the dealer’s.
      • Check out what the dealer has to offer, but get some other financing quotes and see what makes the most sense.

  5. Consider leasing. While leasing is usually considered to be more expensive in the end than purchasing, it can make sense if you never own a car long enough to get it paid off.
      • Your monthly payment will likely be less and the taxes are less, since you usually only pay tax on your payments, not on the value of the car.

  6. Find a less expensive vehicle. Cars today are almost universally quite reliable. There’s almost no practical difference between a modern $10,000 car and a $100,000 car. All the extra cost has little to do with how reliably or safely the car will get you from point A to point B.
      • Consider purchasing a slightly used automobile to really save some money. If you can find a car that’s almost new with low mileage, you get all the advantages of a new car, including the warranty, without the new car cost.

There are several ways to save money on your next auto loan. If you have the luxury of time on your side, fix any credit challenges you may have and shop around for the best financing terms. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Do what you can to keep as much of your money as possible.

Engarde Financial Group is positioned to educate and serve its clients with other insurance coverages.

We understand that your personal items that you possess are of significance to you. Here at EFG we look at every situation differently. When it comes to your needs there is no such thing as one size fits all. Speak to a insurance professional today so that we can design a policy to cover all the things you love.

9 Ways to Save On Car Insurance

You are legally required to carry insurance for your vehicle, but this doesn’t mean you should overpay for your coverage. The monthly premium your insurance provider charges is a recurring expense that will impact your budget, so it’s important to look for an affordable option.

It is possible to purchase the kind of coverage you need, protect your vehicle, and save money if you take the time to shop around and select the right provider and policy.

Start by finding out more about how much insurance you’re required to carry. There are laws specific to each state regarding how much coverage you need.

These steps will help you find a more affordable policy for your vehicle:

  1. Consider raising your deductible. This means you’ll have to cover a higher out-of-pocket expense if you get in an accident, but your monthly premiums will be lower.

  2. Drive less. Let your insurance provider know if you drive less than the average individual, use public transit to go to work, or carpool. Some insurance providers will grant you a discount, since driving less means you’re less likely to get in an accident.

  3. Have some clauses removed from your policy. Go over the policy you’re interested in and ask your insurance agent to make a few changes if there is more coverage than you need.

  4. Update your coverage regularly. The value of your vehicle will drop over time and you might find that you’re paying for coverage that exceeds the value of your vehicle if you don’t upgrade your policy regularly.

  5. Bundle your policies. Most insurance provider will give you a discount if you insure more than one vehicle with them or buy a homeowner’s or a renter’s insurance policy when you insure your vehicle.

  6. Be a good driver. You can usually earn a discount if you have a good driving record, but you might have to contact your insurance provider and ask for a discount. Some insurance companies will give you an additional discount if you complete a driving class.

  7. Improve your credit score. Some insurance providers will calculate your premiums based on your credit score. Work on improving your credit and contact your insurance provider to ask for a discount once your score goes up.

  8. Choose a vehicle you can afford. If you are in the process of buying a new car, compare the average price of an auto insurance policy for different vehicles to find one that’s a good fit for your budget.

  9. Shop around. The premiums and discounts offered vary from one auto insurance provider to another. Take the time to request quotes and to compare your options before you purchase insurance.

Combine all these tips to find an affordable policy to insure your vehicle. Ensure the policy you purchase meets legal requirements and provides you with enough coverage to replace your vehicle if you get into an accident.

Don’t hesitate to talk to your insurance agent to find out more about the different discounts you might qualify for or to simply ask for a discount!

Engarde Financial Group is positioned to educate and serve its clients with other insurance coverages.

We understand that your personal items that you possess are of significance to you. Here at EFG we look at every situation differently. When it comes to your needs there is no such thing as one size fits all. Speak to a insurance professional today so that we can design a policy to cover all the things you love.

When to Explore Rates for Auto Insurance

How often do you think about your auto insurance rates? If you’re like many, you only consider your rates during renewals. If so, you may be surprised to learn that auto insurance companies periodically raise insurance rates across the board.

Therefore, you might have taken the best deal for insurance when you first bought it, but now, you could be paying more than necessary for your auto coverage.

That’s why it’s a good idea to check auto insurance rates at least yearly to ensure you can’t get equal or even better coverage for less than what you’re now paying. Plus, you may experience other situations that should trigger a re-checking of your rates for auto insurance.

Consider these situations that could affect your rates:

  1. Accidents. If someone on your policy recently had an accident, your auto insurance company probably increased your rates. Interestingly, if you take a look at what other insurance companies would charge you for auto insurance, you might find that you can get much lower rates, even after a car accident.
      • Therefore, if you or someone in your family recently had an auto accident, it’s smart to check insurance rates with other companies in order to keep your premiums low.

  2. Buying a new car. When you’re purchasing a new car, examine auto insurance rates at various companies. It’s wise to look at rates early in the car-shopping process to compare them for the 2 or 3 make and models of cars or trucks you’re considering for purchase. Otherwise, you might make the mistake of buying a car that’s quite expensive to insure.
      • So, before you select and buy a vehicle, check insurance rates with at least 3 auto insurance companies.

  3. Is your teenager almost ready to drive? If so, it’s time to explore insurance coverage rates. Some auto insurance companies offer very reasonable rates for teen drivers while others are downright exorbitant.
      • A few months before your teenager will be driving, investigate pricing on auto insurance from companies you believe are reputable and dependable.

  4. Driving your car more or less than before. In the event you change the amount of miles you’re driving your car, take the opportunity to check car insurance rates. Although your current company might be willing to cut your rates, go ahead and examine the auto insurance rates at 2 or 3 other companies so you can compare them.
      • You might get lucky and find an insurance company willing to give you a “cut-rate” deal for the miles you drive your car in a week, month, or year.

  5. Your car’s value decreases. As your car ages, it’s wise to adjust the coverage on the car, which will reduce the amount of your auto insurance premium. Although you might have full coverage on a new car, after a car is 3 or 4 years old, most auto insurers suggest reducing your coverage to save money on your auto insurance premiums.
      • As the value of the car reduces, so should the amount of car insurance you pay.

  6. Your living situation changes. Maybe the amount of money coming in to the home reduces. Or you get a divorce or get married. Perhaps you switch from full-time work to part-time work. Or maybe it’s retirement time.
      • During periods of transition, consider it an opportunity to evaluate how much money you’re paying for car insurance.

You may be able to save over $500 yearly by comparing auto insurance companies, so make it a point to explore rates of various auto insurance companies and compare them with the rates you’re paying currently. You just may keep a few more dollars in your own pocket.

Engarde Financial Group is positioned to educate and serve its clients with other insurance coverages.

We understand that your personal items that you possess are of significance to you. Here at EFG we look at every situation differently. When it comes to your needs there is no such thing as one size fits all. Speak to a insurance professional today so that we can design a policy to cover all the things you love.

How to Find the Best Automobile Insurance Policy

Car insurance is required in almost every state. While many of us don’t actually ever use our insurance, the costs to maintain a policy can be significant. There are several things you can do to ensure you’re getting the best policy at the lowest price.

Check out these tips to help you find the best automobile insurance for your particular situation:

  1. Shop around. Prices can vary considerably from company to company.
      • Not all companies evaluate risk factors the same way. You might be surprised how much you can save by shopping around and getting a few quotes.
      • There are many websites that will allow you to submit your information and get quotes from numerous companies.

  2. Get the appropriate amount of coverage. Many people have far more coverage than they need. Many have too little coverage, which is also less than ideal. Analyze your situation to help you determine what would work best for you.
      • That old clunker doesn’t need extensive coverage. You’re probably not going to worry about a scratch in the parking lot or a little hail damage on the roof, so the extra cost wouldn’t be worth the return.
      • Along the same lines, do you really need $500,000 in liability coverage if your net worth is only $25,000? Get some expert advice and to ensure you’re not getting more than you need.

  3. Consider the deductible amount. Evaluate the cost savings and decide if a higher deductible makes sense for you. If you never seem to use your insurance, and have some money in the bank, a higher deductible can save you money.
      • Moving up to a $500 deductible can save as much as 30% over a $250 deductible.

  4. Keep your credit record clean. Your credit score is frequently used by insurance companies to price your policy. Some companies severely penalize those with lower scores.
      • Pay your bills on time and avoid taking out loans you don’t need. That pesky credit score seems to affect everything these days.

  5. Get your home and auto insurance from the same company. Most companies offer discounts if you have multiple policies. Ask what they’re willing to do if you combine the two.
      • Remember to include RVs, boats, snowmobiles, and any other vehicles as well. You could save a bundle.

  6. Consider the insurance cost before you buy a car. Some cars cost far more to insure than others.
      • Before you drive that sports car or luxury car home, get some insurance quotes first. Some vehicles are much more likely to be stolen, and the insurance will be more expensive. Others can be much more costly to repair.

  7. If you don’t drive many miles each year, ask for a mileage discount. The less your car is on the road, the less likely it is to be in an accident. Low-mileage drivers can qualify for significant discounts.

Use the tips above to tailor your automobile insurance policy to your own needs. All policies are not created equal and a standard set of benefits might not fit you at all. Shop around and educate yourself about what you really need. The peace of mind combined with cost savings will let you sleep like a baby at night.

Engarde Financial Group is positioned to educate and serve its clients with other insurance coverages.

We understand that your personal items that you possess are of significance to you. Here at EFG we look at every situation differently. When it comes to your needs there is no such thing as one size fits all. Speak to a insurance professional today so that we can design a policy to cover all the things you love.

Discover Your Financial Values and Find Life More Fulfilling

We all relate to the idea of having values. However, we tend to think of things like honesty and kindness when we consider our values. Though you might not think about them, your financial values are important to your happiness and future, too. Do you know your financial values? Have you ever considered them?

If you possess a clear understanding of what’s most important to you, you’re much more likely to experience the financial life you desire. Take the time to discover your financial values.

Choose your financial values and enjoy an abundant and satisfying financial life:

  1. Imagine you’re dying. Suppose your doctor told you that you only had 5-10 years to live, how would you spend your money and handle your finances? Would you buy a boat and sail the world? Would you scramble to save as much as possible for your children’s education?

  2. Think about your non-financial goals. Is it your dream to visit Paris? What are your health goals? Do you need assistance losing 25 lbs.? Do you need to see the dentist more regularly?
    • Your most important non-financial goals will help to determine your financial values.

  3. Imagine how you would live if your income dropped. If your household income dropped by 20%, what would your family budget look like? What activities would still make the cut? How would you spend your leisure time? Consider which activities and luxuries would be the first to go. How would your saving and investing habits change?

  4. Imagine how you would live if your income increased significantly. Imagine you’re earning an extra 50%. How would you live? What new items, activities, and services would you add to your life? You might even drop a few activities to make room for something new.
    • The changes you would make can tell you a lot about your financial values. Would you spend much of the increase and save little? Would you save the entire amount?
    • Would you finally be able to afford something very meaningful to you? You might enjoy playing your $500 keyboard, but the thought of sailing in your boat makes your heart melt. The activities you’re currently engaging in might not be your first choice if you had more money available to you.

  5. Consider your retirement. How would you like to live? Where would you like to live? How important is your retirement compared to the present? Would you rather live well now or in the future?

  6. How much of your time would you trade for 20% of your income? If you earn $50,000 per year, how much of your free time would you give up for an extra $10,000? Would you give up your all of your vacation time for the entire year? How many weekends would you trade for an extra 20%?

  7. Which charitable organization means the most to you? Even if you can’t afford to give it any money now, which organization resonates the most with your values? If you had extra funds available, would you give it to that charity or spend it on yourself?
    • Would you like to help the homeless or send an economically challenged child to college?

Consider your financial values. Are you living them accordingly? Do your financial habits match your core financial values? Take the time to consider how your life would change if your income changed significantly.

Most of us know which personal characteristics are the most important to us. Discover your financial values and plan your finances accordingly.

Helpful Tips for Saving Money on Your Homeowner’s Insurance

If you own a home, homeowner’s insurance is a necessity. Although it’s not required by law, if you borrow money to buy a home, your lender will almost certainly require that you have homeowner’s insurance to help them protect their investment.

Even if your house is completely paid off, it’s still a good idea to carry homeowner’s insurance to help protect your investment.

In either case, there are steps you can take to avoid overpaying for your insurance coverage.

Check out these tips to help ensure you’re paying the lowest possible rates:

  1. Enhance your home security. A good home security system can help you save money on your homeowner’s insurance.
    • One of the ways insurance companies determine your rates is to assess the amount of risk they take when they issue a policy. If you lower your perceived risk, you can also reduce your rates.
    • Statistics show that homes with a security system are burglarized less often than homes without them. The insurance companies know this and they’ll offer you lower rates if you have a good security system.

  2. Get a higher deductible. When you have a claim, your deductible determines how much of the loss you need to cover yourself. The more you agree to cover, the lower your insurance premiums are.
    • Raising your deductible from $500 to $1000 can save as much as 25% on your premiums.
    • Not many people would file a claim for $500 anyway, because they know that when they do, their rates are likely to increase. That’s another reason for bumping up your deductible.

  3. Do you have too much insurance? Keep in mind that the amount of money you pay for your house isn’t necessarily the same as what it would cost to replace it. For example, if you bought your home for $250,000 and you have a $250,000 insurance policy, you’re probably paying too much for insurance.
    • When you purchased your home, you were purchasing the land as well as the building. You already own the land so you only need enough insurance to cover the cost to rebuild.

  4. Bundle policies and enjoy discounts. If you have more than one type of insurance policy with the same company, you may be eligible for discounts on each policy.
    • An example would be if you had homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance, and life insurance all with the same company. If that were the case, you would likely be eligible for discounts on each policy.

  5. Ask about other discounts that might be available. Most insurance companies offer a number of discounts based on varying criteria. Call your insurance agent and ask if you’re eligible for any discounts.

  6. Shop around for the best deal. One of the easiest ways to save money on anything is to do some comparison shopping.
    • There are countless insurance companies competing for your business. Whenever there’s more than one company offering the same product or service, you’ll find price discrepancies.
    • By doing some comparison shopping, it’s easy to find a company that’s offering the coverage you need at the best possible price.

Following these tips will certainly save you some money. The amount you can save could add up to a pretty substantial amount. With a small investment of your time, you can have more money to invest elsewhere.

Engarde Financial Group is positioned to educate and serve its clients with other insurance coverages.

We understand that your personal items that you possess are of significance to you. Here at EFG we look at every situation differently. When it comes to your needs there is no such thing as one size fits all. Speak to a insurance professional today so that we can design a policy to cover all the things you love.