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Used Car Purchase Checklist

Buying a used car can be a scary thing. You have to place yours and your family’s safety in the hands of an individual you don’t know. Or you have to trust a used car dealership that is looking out for their interests. Luckily for you there are some steps you can take to give you a sound mind that the car you buy is equally sound.

Below are great tips on protecting yourself when purchasing a used car from

Buying a Car from an Individual

When you buy from an individual you need to check out safety and legal features the government has created to ensure the roads are safe for everyone:

  • Check the Owner’s Identity against the registration papers. If the names match, you will at least know it is not stolen by the person selling to you.
  • Check the car’s history to see if it has ever been reported stolen. The person you are buying from may be a victim of a swarthy seller before you came along.
  • Get a Certificate of Road Worthiness. Although this is a good document to have, it merely indicates the car is fit to drive and it is legal to transfer registration. You still need to perform due diligence to ensure the car is reliable and safe.
  • Check the VIN (Vehicle Identity Number) plate that is located in the dash on the driver’s side that is viewable through the window. Get this number and check it online. You should also check the build plate and compliance numbers located under the bonnet on or near the engine. Used these numbers to check the legal and safety history of the car.

Before money passes between you and the seller you should have a professional check the car. If you are a trained mechanic you will know what to look for. If you have a friend who is a mechanic, bring them along with you to inspect the car.

Perform a good visual check before you go for the full-on mechanical check. You can look for some easy give-aways to know if a car is a good buy or not.

Buying from a Dealership

If you are heading to used car dealerships there are some things you should do before you go so you can keep the upper hand when you prepare to make a deal:

  • Have a mental idea which car you want and how much you are willing to spend. Go to the dealer’s website to check out their inventory. Research the car you want online to learn:
    • Model history
    • Vehicle specs
    • Read forums to learn about owner experiences
  • Check your credit report before you go. A little secret you should know is that dealers check your car payment history and use that to factor your credit score, so your great credit score may not be the same as the score they use.
    •  A high score for car payments will get you a better offer
    •  A low or poor repayment history will cost you
    • Fix errors on your report before you go
  • Keep your bargaining chips close to the vest. Dealers ask you how much you plan to spend and if you have a trade-in so they can steer you to the car they want to sell to you. Don’t give these away until you find the car you want to buy.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Ride Sharing

Car sharing services have taken off exponentially the world over in the past few years, with options ranging from ZipCar to RelayRides. These operate in slightly different ways. Some, like Uber or Lyft, work by allowing motorists to drive other passengers around the city for an informal taxi ride. Others, like RelayRides, allow car owners to rent out their car to other motorists. Finally, services like ZipCar allow motorists in cities to gain access to a private car when and where they need it, such as running errands. With the cost of car ownership so high, services like these can be quite appealing as alternatives to making a purchase. Yet there are advantages and disadvantages to consider first.


One of the primary benefits of using ride sharing services is that you save the cost of car ownership. You don’t have to worry about your car being stolen or broken into, or pay the cost of car insurance and fuel each month. For those who don’t drive too often, it makes sense to only pay for a car when they need it. Ride sharing services are also popular among people who are interested in reducing their impact on the environment. Carpooling leads to fewer cars on the road, which equals fewer carbon emissions.

Families may be drawn to ride sharing services to avoid the cost of a second car. Saving that second car payment leaves families with more money to put towards retirement or a down payment for a house. At the same time, if someone wants to run errands and the primary family car is in use, they can simply hire a ride share vehicle for that big grocery trip or to attend a meeting on time.


While there are many benefits associated with ride sharing services, there are also a few issues to consider. For those interested in renting out their vehicle using RelayRides or a similar service, liability can be an issue. If there’s an accident in your car, you may be held liable for it. You may need to take out additional insurance to cover this possibility. Another disadvantage is that there’s no guarantee you will be able to find a car when you need one. It can be hard to find available ride share vehicles on rainy days or during rush hour, for example. It’s harder to make spontaneous trips using ride share services like ZipCar. Instead, you need to plan ahead a little bit to make use of this type of service. If no cars are available, you may be stuck with a high taxi fee.

Overall, there are numerous advantages to ride sharing as well as a few drawbacks. If you’re dedicated to a greener lifestyle but still want to have instant access to a car for regular use, you could look at electric options like this Holden Volt at Carsales. On the other hand, if you’re only an occasional driver and live in an urban area, a ride sharing service may be the perfect solution.

Teaching Responsible Finances

Teaching our youth about responsible personal finances is an absolute must.  After all, these youngsters will be the ones running the world when we are old and retired.  Not to mention we want the best for our children, so teaching them right from wrong only makes sense.  Unfortunately, when many adults teach their children about proper morality, they often leave out the part about leading a financially responsible lifestyle.  This means that they should live within their means, pay their taxes, work at their job, spend less money than they earn, and be mindful of their finances.  For me, the most basic aspect of leading a financially sound life begins with opening your first bank account.  There are even bank accounts geared toward children now.  As a parent, you can easily compare bank accounts online and find the right one for your child to begin saving.

Parents often don’t understand the importance of the lesson they are teaching when they setup their child’s very first bank account.  This is what taught me the value of saving, and the dangers of spending.  It was fun to earn money and watch my balance grow.  Then when it came time to leave home and go to college, I at least had a little money saved to help get them through those four tumultuous years without having to work full time.  The pain and suffering of saving a little money here and there is much easier than the pain that comes with needing money and not having any available.  There are many options for basic bank accounts so finding one should come with no excuses.

Sit down with you kids today and have them read some reputable finance blogs (even this one if you choose), investing sites, and brokerage sites.  Financial literacy and education is at our very finger tips, and the average consumer can find just about any piece of information they want within minutes.  Who knows, you may be preparing your child to be the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve, or a Wall Street powerbroker, or even a public accountant that will end up doing your taxes a few years down the road. Years from now when your children are leaving college debt free, purchasing their first new car, or putting a down payment on their first home, they will be eager to thank you for instilling financial responsibility and the value of saving a dollar so early in life.

Tips for investing at an early age

When a person starts investing money at an early age, the result is that this individual is sure to have more money for payment of homeowners insurance premiums whenever the individual decides to purchase a house. In fact, starting an investment strategy at a young age can help a person to have $500,000 or even $1,000,000 by retirement age, even if the individual does not earn extremely high wages at a job.

Stock Market Volatility Can Lead to Insanity

Seasoned investors know that money grows over time, and they develop the habit of ignoring constant volatility of the stock market. Besides the fact that paying constant attention to the positive and negative whims of Wall Street can literally drive a person to the brink of insanity, ignoring daily stock market fluctuations helps a person to stay on track with an initial investment plan. Constant buying and selling of shares may reap rewards in the present, but eventually this type of investor may end up losing a substantial amount of money.

The Gentle Art of Investing Money is not a Game of Poker

Investing and gambling are not identical practices. At least, these two concepts used to be different. In today’s world of investing, the fact that many investors own computers makes it extremely easy for them to engage in daily trading of stocks and ETFs. The old adage of holding onto stocks and mutual funds for long periods does not appeal to many modern investors who prefer to take their profits and run for the hills. The problem is that once they sell shares, the gambling fever mentality persuades them to buy shares again on the following day. Since every investor makes mistakes, the likelihood of making a serious error is higher when a person persists in treating investing as though it is a poker game.

The Traditional Viewpoint about Investing

People who know about successful investing advise investors to start when they are young. A twenty-year-old man who starts investing money in a bond fund or equity fund that pays good dividends can add small amounts of money every week or each month. Forty-five years later, when the person is ready to retire, he or she is going to have a surprisingly high amount of money invested in these stocks or funds. Dividends keep reinvesting, and the person does not even need to do anything to earn these dividends. The money simply grows throughout the years. Another benefit that goes along with this type of investing is that the investor spends his or her time participating in meaningful and beneficial activities instead of spending every day reading stock market reports and comments from analysts.

Young Persons Need to Open Up Brokerage or Mutual Fund Accounts

In order to invest money in stocks, bonds or mutual funds over a long period of time, a young person first needs to establish a brokerage or mutual fund account. Opening an account is simple. Once the individual has an established account, he or she can research different investment options. The safest and wisest sway to invest money is to choose quality stocks or funds that pay good dividends. The next step is to add a little bit of extra money on a regular basis. A young person who sticks to this plan is sure to achieve extremely positive results in the future.

This article was written by Bill Johnson, who is the primary writer for, which specializes in home insurance rates and quotes.

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