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schoolSummer seems to have passed by quickly, and now it seems like parents and their children are already preparing for a new school year.

While the average parent will spend $673.57 per child for items needed, it doesn’t have to be so expensive. There are lots of ways to prepare for back to school on a budget.

Check Your Inventory

First things first, check your inventory. You may find supplies, clothes that your kids can fit into now, and more. As you are going through the supplies you have, keep a running checklist of things you may need or that come to mind. If you have a list of items needed from your child’s school, you can just add on to this list.

Checking your inventory helps you prepare for back to school on a budget by helping you avoid buying extra things you may not even need. Why buy an extra pack of crayons if you already have three?

Set Your Budget

Once you’ve gone through your inventory, the next step is to actually set a budget for your back to school shopping. Every family’s financial situation is different, but you should at least aim to only spend what you have in cash to spend.

If that means only $100 for each child, that’s OK. With these tips, you should be able to prepare for back to school on a budget, even if your budget is smaller.

Shop Sales and Clearance Racks

Now that you have your list and your budget set, you can get to shopping. The easiest way for preparing back to school on a budget is to buy what you can on sale or clearance. Many stores have back to school sales, so make sure you read their flyers or online options before shopping at one place.

If you find deals at multiple stores, don’t be afraid to make a few stops. You are trying to get the best price and stay within budget. If there are items on your list that you can’t find on sale or clearance, there are other options to consider as well, like thrift stores and shopping online. ...continue reading

Personal leasing deals are growing in popularity with motorists and it is easy to see the attraction when you get the chance to swap your car every couple of years for a new model, but is it the most cost-effective form of motoring?

There is always a cost attached to leasing a car and the obvious downside is that you never actually own the vehicle at any point, but if you own a car outright you will also have to consider repairs and maintenance over time.

It is a bit of a dilemma, so here is a look at some of the key points that could you decide whether you would be better off financially owning a car rather than taking the highly popular route of signing up for a personal lease.

A fair comparison

One of the fairest ways of trying to make a direct comparison between owning a car or leasing it would be to look at the typical period that you are likely to own a car for.

The median average for owning the average family car is about six years so in order to try and make a cost comparison between leasing and ownership it needs to be an equal length of time.

As the average lease period is normally no more than three years it is quite likely that you will have taken out two lease deals covering the average period that you will hold on to a car that you have bought.

The cost of leasing, therefore, needs to be doubled up so that you can take an equitable look at what it has cost you to service and maintain a vehicle you own against the price of leasing one that may not require repairing so often in that time, but costs you monthly lease payments.

Using those parameters it is likely that buying a new car will cost you the most money when you look at all of your out-of-pocket expenses, followed by a leasing deal being more cost-effective, but trumped by buying a used car and maintaining it.

It is not a precise science of course, and you could arguably sign a free maintenance program so that you don’t have any additional servicing or maintenance costs during the leasing period, but that will be factored into the monthly payments.

How long you want to keep your car for

If you want to keep changing your car to the latest model and don’t mind paying for that flexibility and convenience then leasing is probably a good way to go, but if you are someone who is happy to get their money’s worth, car ownership is likely to prove a more cost-effective option.

If you are happy enough to do some of the more simpler maintenance tasks and repairs yourself, you can download Ford repair manuals, for example, and learn how to do things properly and save a lot of money compared to paying a garage to do it for you. ...continue reading

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pay cash for your next carMany people have car loans. In fact, approximately 107 million Americans own a car that they pay a note on.

Not only are car loans expensive, but they can also be avoided, even if you are on a low income. If you are looking for a vehicle now or soon, here are a few tips to help you pay cash for your next car.

Drive Your Old Car As Long As Possible

If you have a car already, drive it until you can’t drive it anymore (or until it doesn’t make sense to keep repairing it). Why buy a car you can’t afford when the one you have works just fine? Sometimes, you may be envious by the people driving new wheels, or the people who don’t have to manually roll up their windows. However, you have to remind yourself that it’s not worth getting into massive amounts of debt just to own a newer car.

If you don’t have a car yet, now is the time to act like you do. Start saving money as if you have a car note, insurance, and other miscellaneous things to pay for.

Save Each Paycheck

Even if it’s just a few dollars, save money from every paycheck in a new car fund. You can always increase this amount as you earn more or cut out expenses, but try to save something. It may take you a little longer to save enough money for a car, but it can be worth it when you realize you don’t have that extra bill hanging over your head every month.

Save Extra Money to Pay Cash For Your Next Car

Do you get bonuses, raises, or even birthday money? It should go straight into savings when you get it. It may be hard seeing that money sitting in your savings when you feel you deserve to spend it, but that extra money helps grow your savings faster.

For every bonus or raise you get, continue to save it and live off of the income you were making before. Before you know it, you’ll have a nice chunk of change to use for your next car purchase. ...continue reading