Travel

How To Make Your New Car Last Forever

How to make your new car last foreverUp here in the frozen north, the land of salt and snow, it is hard to keep a vehicle on the road for more than 10 years before it becomes a bucket of useless rust and a fountain of endless repair bills!

I often hear about people selling or scrapping their vehicles because they become too expensive to maintain, so they upgrade to something newer and cut their losses. Doing this may sometimes be the best choice, but I think there is a way to lower repair bills and keep cars on the road longer. Yes, even in Canada!

Consider Buying New And Keeping Longer

It has long been the rhetoric of personal finance gurus that you should always buy used because new cars depreciate up to 20% instantly as soon as you drive it off the lot and standard depreciation is about 15 to 20% per year. As a car gets older, 15 to 20% of the then current value of the vehicle gets to be less and less, which is why it is oft-recommended that you should buy used to save money on depreciation.

However, I’ve noticed the rhetoric is starting to change as more and more personal finance pundits are starting to buy brand new vehicles over a used one. This topic could be debated until the sun stops shining and there probably still wouldn’t be a resolution, because both sides would have valid points. Personally, after thinking I would land on the “always buy used” side, I’ve actually ended up in the buy new camp.

Reasons To Buy New Over Used

  • Knowing the vehicle’s history. The biggest reason for me buying new is I know exactly how the car has been driven and cared for. There’s a much lower chance of getting a lemon or a mistreated vehicle and, if you do get a lemon, at least you have the warranty to back you up. People who buy new vehicles every 4 years may not think about doing things to extend the life of their vehicle because they know they will unload it before problems arise - so buyer beware.
  • New prices are falling. Prices of new vehicles have gone down so the spread between new and used isn’t as attractive as it used to be. It’s crazy that brand new vehicles can be purchased for less than $10,000 these days.
  • Worry free driving. With a new car you get years of worry free driving where you usually have both warranty coverage and free roadside assistance should anything happen.
  • Low interest rates. To attract buyers, car companies offer insanely low interest rates and offering to pay cash doesn’t usually sweeten the deal much, believe me I’ve tried. If you can’t pay for the car upfront, then you’ll definitely get a better interest rate buying new. Even if you have the money to pay it all (a good idea), it can make sense to enjoy your 0% interest loan and invest or earn high interest on your cash in the meantime.
  • Keep it longer. If you buy new and take care of it, then you should be able to keep your vehicle for 10 to 15 years and by the end you are really starting to benefit from lower depreciation and cost savings, just like if you had purchased used, but you got to enjoy a significant amount of “new time” as well.
  • Less hassle. By keeping a car longer, you don’t have to go through the hassle of making such a major purchase nearly as often. Less time researching, finding a buyer, fixing it up for sale, having to buy new winter tires because your old ones no longer fit, and so on. Not to mention actually selling a vehicle is a time consuming and often depressing process while you try to find a qualified buyer unless you choose to trade it in at a dealer and lose a bunch of money that way.
  • Fewer fees and taxes. Granted, buying a new car comes with quite a few fees and a hefty tax bill, you’ll have to pay them less often. Every time you buy or sell something, you usually encounter taxes and fees. Sales tax, advertising fees, detailing costs, inspection - they all add up!

Keep Your New Car On The Road Longer, For Less

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Don't Pump All Your Money Away: Ways To Save On Gas

Don't pump all your money away: ways to save on gasHow does this sound?

You've just finished fueling up your car and you're tallying all the savings you've managed to achieve on your $80 gas purchase. First, you saved $16 through paying for your gas with 20% discounted gift cards. Then, you saved another $1.60 through buying those gift cards with your 2% cash back credit card. Next, you saved another $1.80 by filling up on 3¢/litre off supreme Thursday. Finally, you earned $2.00 in rewards "money" that you can use for future gasoline purchases.

That's a grand total of $21.40 saved, or a 26.75% savings on your gas bill! Sound too good to be true? Well it isn't - or at least it wasn't - because I've done it many times myself at Canadian Tire a few years back. If you want to know how I did it, I'll continue the story at the bottom of the article. But for now, these are the ways you can save big money on gas today!

1) Get A Credit Card With A Gas Bonus

It's no secret I'm a big advocate of responsibly using credit cards to reap all kinds of rewards and buying gas with your credit card is one of the best ways to reap those rewards even quicker. Why? Because many cards offer bonus rewards for buying it, that's why!

With bonuses like 4% cash back or up to a 10¢/litre discount, having the right credit card can make a big difference.

Full Details: Best Credit Cards For Gas Discounts

2) Rewards Programs

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Travel In Heaven Instead Of Hell

Travel In Heaven Instead Of HellThe act of traveling abroad, particularly by air, can be a grating experience. Long lines, delayed flights, customs forms, expensive food, small uncomfortable seats, endless waiting at airports, getting almost naked to clear security, lack of affordable cell phone coverage, overpriced hotels … the list goes on. Fortunately, there are lots of little hacks to make it MUCH more seamless and enjoyable.

Although I'm not a business road warrior by any means, I've had my fair share of experience traveling to far-off destinations thanks mostly to airline miles, reward points, and cheap hotel tricks. I am currently at the airport on my way back from FinCon 2014 which took place in New Orleans, so it's the perfect time to share all the little hacks I've developed over time.

Before You Leave

  • Be sure to pack the following:
    • Noise isolating headphones (i.e. ear buds). These will help you sleep, relax, entertain yourself, and get work done. That way you won't have to pay to buy something cheap and inferiour.
    • Pen and paper. You'll need a real pen to fill out those customs forms and for jotting notes if your cell dies.
    • Portable phone charger. There are usually outlets at airports and sometimes on planes, but do you really want to be stuck in one place charging your phone? Portable chargers are so cheap, just get one.
    • Empty water bottle. You can fill it after you clear security so you can always stay hydrated without buying expensive drinks.
    • Credit card(s). There a many things you just can't do while traveling without one. More than one is preferred in case one gets frozen, which commonly happens while traveling.
    • A good book. Electronic devices often aren't allowed during takeoff and landing on most airlines but books are fine.
  • Figure out a better plan for your cell phone. You actually don't need to pay through the nose for talk, text, or data in foreign countries (see how here).
  • Get your hotel accommodations in order:
    • Check Trip Advisor for traveler tips and photos for your hotel so you can request a newly renovated or well-located room. Not all rooms are created equal.
    • Call and confirm reservation and dates to make sure the hotel has you in their system, especially if you booked through a third party. Mix-ups do happen!
    • Give your rewards program number if they don't have it already, especially if you have some sort of status.
    • Get the right room. Ask for the type of room you want or even an upgrade. This is also the time to provide them with any special requests you may have.
    • Ask for a discount. If you're booking directly with the hotel, you can try calling them and asking for a discount instead of booking online. Tell them you'll just go to Priceline or Hotwire if they can't give you a better rate.
    • Print out your reservation confirmation to take with you.
  • Check-in online 24 hours in advance:
    • Many airlines don't let you choose your seat until the time of check-in unless you pay extra. Checking in online as soon as you can gets you the pick of the best seats.
    • Your goal is to have your seats chosen, your boarding passes in hand (or on your phone), and your baggage tickets ready before you hit the airport.
    • Now you'll be able to skip through the check-in line and get to security much faster.
    • All of this can usually be done via your phone if you want to take the time to set it up.
  • How to pick the best seat on any airplane:
    • You typically want to be near the front of the plane:
      • You can get off the plane much faster, which also helps with lines at security, customs, baggage claim, and getting a taxi.
      • You get food and beverage service first so you can settle in or go to sleep faster.
      • There is less engine noise at the front of the plane.
      • Your window view won't be obstructed by the plane's own wing.
      • You'll probably be closer to bathrooms (at least on larger planes).
    • Type your flight number into Google or sites like SeatGuru to see the exact plane type and layout along with information about each seat:
      • Some seats have more leg room (exit rows or bulkheads).
      • Avoid seats that don't recline (back of plane).
      • Make sure you get an electrical outlet.
      • Avoid seats without a window and more…
    • If you can't find your exact flight on SeatGuru, figuring out the plane model using your flight number through Google and then punching that directly into SeatGuru can help.
  • Dream of this while you sleep...Sleep really well the night before you leave. Pack a few days early and force yourself into bed at a reasonable hour the night before you leave. You'll have a much better time when you arrive if you do.
  • Learn how to put your electronic devices in airplane mode. Do this when you are on the plane and after you land to both conserve battery (it drains really fast when the phone can't get a signal), comply with airline regulations, and avoid costly data charges in foreign countries.
  • Confirm flight departure times. Type your flight number into Google to make sure it is on schedule. Call the airline if you want to be extra sure.
  • Check airport parking rates and options before you leave.
    • You might be able to find a coupon online, especially if you're using Park 'N Fly.
    • Get a friend to drive you or take public transit if that is possible.
  • Research airport transfer options at your destination airport:
    • Options typically include bus, subway, shuttle, taxi, or limousine.
    • For some airports, getting a taxi is totally worth it. For others, public transport is quick, cheap, and easy. Be smart and not excessively frugal here.
    • Look for coupons or discounts if you book in advance.

At The Airport

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Cheap Cell Phone And Data Plans For Traveling To The USA

Cheap cell phone and data plans for travelling to the USAI'm going to be leaving for the American personal finance bloggers conference called FinCon in a couple of days to meet up with like-minded people and try to learn ways to make HowToSaveMoney.ca better.

While there, I'm going want to be able to use my cell phone to call home as well as have data access for Google Maps, keeping up on email, checking on my site, looking up restaurants and attractions, tethering to my surface so I can work anywhere, and the list goes on.

There are a lot of options out there and not everyone is aware that you have more choices than just paying through the nose with your existing provider. Here are a few of the choices you have:

The Easiest Way To Go

The easiest thing to do is to check with your current cell phone provider to see what kind of add-ons they have for traveling to the USA. If you plan to use your phone for more than 1 or 2 calls or texts, then this is almost certainly a better option than paying per use.

Pay per use rates are typically around $1.50 per minute talked, up to $1 per text sent, and as much as 5 cents per kilobyte of data used which works out to $500 for 100MB of data, which is insane. Pay per use rates vary by provider, but they are never very attractively priced.

Only considering a combination of talk, text, and data, these are the cheapest rates offered by some popular Canadian providers in no particular order.

* In some cases I had to piece together rates for a talk, text, and data plan where no such plan was offered. In cases where a period of less than 1 month was available, I chose pricing for packages of 7-10 days in duration which would cover the length of a typical vacation.

Provider

Price

Talk

Data

Text (Sent)

Period

Rogers

$40

50 minutes

200MB

Unlimited

31 days

Bell

$50

100 minutes

100MB

1000 messages

30 days

Telus

$25

50 minutes

50MB

150 messages

30 days

Koodo

$40

Unlimited

250MB

Unlimited

10 days

Fido

$40

50 minutes

200MB

Unlimited

31 days

Virgin

$50

100 minutes

100MB

1000 messages

30 days

Wind

$15

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

1 month

The Pretty Cheap And Pretty Easy Way To Go

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Giveaway & Review: Travel Hacking For Canadians

Travel Hacking For CanadiansI've been travel hacking and churning credit cards for big rewards myself since about 2006. As a result, I've taken several very nice trips paid for primarily with miles and points including Paris, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Philippines, Vancouver multiple times, and more.

In 2012, Steve Zussino, the founder of Grocery Alerts approached me about a joint venture related to travel hacking specifically for Canadians. I was intrigued by the idea and initially accepted, but it was soon apparent that I didn't have the necessary time to devote to the project so he had to continue the endeavour alone.

Now, 2 years later, Steve has successfully launched the website Canadian Travel Hacking and his new book Travel Hacking For Canadians has just been published.

5 Copies To Give Away

Just before the book was set to launch, Steve contacted me about doing a review and I readily agreed with the simple condition that he provide me with some free copies to give away to my readers. At the time, I thought he was publishing an eBook and it wouldn't cost him much to give away a few copies. However, when my own copy arrived in the mail shortly thereafter, I discovered that it is a beautiful 200 page soft cover book - thanks for being so generous to my readers Steve!

How To Win Your Copy

For a chance to win one of the five copies, all you have to do is leave a comment below sharing with Steve and I what your dream vacation is that you haven't yet been able to realize or afford. I guarantee you can use the information found in this book to help make it happen for a lot less money than you thought.

When you leave your comment, be sure to use your primary email address, because that is how I will be contacting the winners. I will randomly select 3 winners from the list of comments using Random.org and 2 additional winners that I think shared a really compelling dream vacation or travel story.

The giveaway will close in one week on Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 and I will contact the winners shortly thereafter.

Buy The Book

My Review Of The Book

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Insurance: Can You Get A Better Rate?

Car insurance bumper stickerInsurance, more than any other product or service I pay for, makes me nervous ... really nervous!

When I step back and think of it, it's probably an irrational fear, but when contemplating insurance I just picture some sinister adjuster or claims agent somewhere finding any possible means of denying my claim when I need it most to keep more profit for the faceless insurance company. Having that kind of power over me in some unknown person's hands just makes me quiver a little bit.

However, the alternative of not having any insurance at all is even worse!

Is Fear Holding You Back From Getting Better Rates?

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Car Parts And Repairs For Up To 90% Off!

Car parts and repairs for up to 90% offCar parts are extremely costly if you buy them through the regular channels like NAPA, CarQuest, or one of the many other car part suppliers out there that supply parts on demand to the massive car repair industry. If you go with genuine OEM parts from the dealer you are looking at an even higher cost.

What if I told you that you could get those same car parts for up to 90% off? In this article I’m not only going to show you how to find and buy your own parts online, but how to get them at amazing prices that can often being as little as 10-20% of the cost you would pay for similar parts at the dealer or the shop of comparable quality. You can easily save hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a regular basis by doing this.

How I Saved $1000 On A Single Repair

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You Should Mount Your Winter Tires On Steel Rims

You should mount your winter tires on steel rimsWinter is almost upon us again and it soon will be time to put on your winter tires if you don’t want to skid all over the road like a kid learning how to skate. If you’re a Canadian and you’re still trying to run all seasons tires in the winter you may need to have your head examined!

Ok, it’s not that bad ... I used to be a die-hard believer in all-season tires year round myself, until one day I tried winter tires and I was an instant convert. It was like night and day! After you’ve used them, you’ll instantly wonder how you ever got by without them all these years. I actually enjoy driving in the winter now because, unless you’re driving on sheer ice, it almost feels the same as driving in the summer. You have full control of the vehicle, you never get stuck, and starting and stopping is a breeze.

In short, driving on all-season tires in the winter will save you money until you get in that costly accident. Or, you could just get stuck on the side of the road and end up missing an important meeting or have to pay for an expensive tow. So, we’ll rule out that option for saving money and assume you’re going to use winter tires if you already don’t.

Why A Second Set Of Rims Will Save You Money

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Know How Much Car Repairs Should Cost

Know how much car repairs should costI don’t know about you, but whenever I head to the service center to get my car inspected, I’m always very apprehensive about what kind of problems they might find and how much it will end up costing me to get it fixed.

Worse, I have this innate distrust of car service centers and think that they are going to either try to sell me on a repair or service I don’t need or overcharge me for low quality parts with a high markup. Or both!

Unless you’re a mechanic yourself or spend a decent amount of time researching car-related stuff, you never really know exactly what is being done to your car, how often parts typically need to be replaced, and how much is a fair amount to pay for any given repair.

Fortunately, getting past all that and ensuring you never get ripped off again isn’t all that hard. Here’s how:

Learn To Estimate Repair Costs

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You Need A Quality Back Yard Mechanic

You need a quality back yard mechanicIn breaking news: Cars Are Expensive! I bet you’re shocked, right? I think anyone who has owned a car for a few years knows that most vehicles are just a huge money pit that never stop sucking your wallet dry yet they are a necessity for most of us Canadians in this monster of a country we live in. A 5 hour drive that seems like just a short trip for us could feel like an eternity and a journey spanning several countries to someone in Europe.

One of the best ways to reduce your car maintenance costs is to find a quality mechanic that doesn’t work for a car dealership or big name repair shop. You do get some peace of mind and arguably higher quality service by going with the big names but most times that’s all it is, just a false sense of security.

Mechanic Labour Costs

The cost you will be charged for an hour of service is highly dependent on two things: where you live and the type of garage or mechanic you bring your car to. My experience has been that most dealerships charge north of $90 an hour for labour in my small city and that figure can rise to as much as $150 in major metropolitan areas.

If you go with an independent mechanic or a smaller no frills shop that does quality work you should be able to get that down to $40 to $50 per hour ballpark probably cutting the cost in half.

Related: ACT NOW! The Best Deal On Winter Tires You Will Ever Find!

Quality Of Workmanship

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