Hope for your financial life and beyond

My Carvana Review: The Online Vending Machine For Buying Used Cars

In my adult life I’ve been involved in eight total car transactions. In all those transactions – both buying and selling privately and at a dealership – I’ve never had an experience like the one I’m about to share in this Carvana review. This 2-year old company based in Atlanta may be revolutionizing how used cars are bought and sold.

carvana reviewYou may have heard about Carvana from their “lazy man” Super Bowl ad spot. I first ran across their name while shopping for a used Suburban. I did what a lot of consumers do when they see an unfamiliar name the first time – I ignored it and looked away.

But their name surfaced again in an advertisement when my wife and I were doing a private sale of my Toyota Tundra. We had run into some headwinds (i.e. no one was interested) in our initial attempts using Craigslist and were looking for other options to move our truck. So she decided to check out Carvana and see if selling them our truck might be an option.

Here’s what we learned about the company…and eventually experienced first hand.

Some Background on Carvana

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How to Enjoy a Life of Guilt Free Spending

guilt freeI would love to enjoy a guilt free life when it comes to spending money. Ever heard the same voice rattling around in your head that I’ve heard in mine. It usually says something like, “Why did you spend that money? That was stupid! You know you shouldn’t have done that.”

When that thought occurs it’s typical to spend the rest of the day kicking yourself and feeling like you’ve done something wrong. That same night might be spent seeking forgiveness from your spouse, while the rest of the month you struggle to figure out how to make the budget cover for your spending decision.

Guilt is powerful. But have you ever stopped to consider why?

6 Possible Origins of Our Guilt

Why do we get so wrapped up with guilt when it comes to spending money?

I think the root of guilt can be traced to several factors, some of which may have started long ago in our childhood.

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99 Simple Action Items to Help You Spend Less and Save More

Have you set any goals yet for 2015? Hopefully so and at least one of those goals was money related. Money is a driving force in our lives and financial goals help us tell our money what to go do with itself.

spend less and save moreDuring the last week of December I always look at the cumulative total of all that I spent during the year. This is really easy to find if you are using some form of money management software. I use Quicken so all I have to do is select a budget report of income verses expenses for the year and Quicken does the rest. In an instant of calculation I can see all my financial details from the year.

Inevitably, as I look through all the spending categories I end up remarking, “Whoa…how did we spend that much on (fill in the blank)?” I’m sure you’ve done that too. It seems our spending has a tendency to get away from us during the course of a 365-day year.

And if spending is getting away from us then so is saving. If we are spending more that means we are saving less. In years past I’ve been discouraged at how little we saved.

To Build Wealth, Spend Less

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Finding Balance in the Holiday Gifting Madness

Are you having trouble dealing with the pressure and the obligation to buy presents during the holidays? Please welcome Jacob from Cash Cow Couple as he shares his thoughts and offers some solutions to the matter.

dog with scarf laying on a pillow,

Do you feel pressure to even give a gift to your dog this Christmas?

When I had been dating my wife just a few months, I told her that I sometimes refuse to participate in select American holidays. I expressed my opinion that people shouldn’t feel obligated to spend, buy, or gift things. Ever.

She probably thought I was a little odd at the time (it’s OK, I am), but I explained my reasoning and things worked out for us. It’s not that I refuse to participate in many holidays because we can’t afford it. Or because I think holidays are bad. Or because I don’t enjoy a good celebration with family and friends.

I hate it because much of the practice has become forced. There is a ton of great marketing and artificially-generated pressure to “buy something” or to “do something.”

The result is that many individuals regularly attend family gatherings, birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, Easter celebrations, Halloween celebrations, and a million other celebrations, and feel obligated to give gifts or spend money. That’s the wrong reason entirely.

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Why My Kids Love That We Are Not Buying Christmas Presents This Year

I love Christmas! Giving and receiving gifts is one of the highlights of our family’s year. In my mind nothing beats it for family togetherness and sharing expressions of love.

no Christmas presents As a parent though, I’m often hit with a January hangover. My headache comes from watching the majority of the presents I bought for my children lie dormant in a corner of their room. I would say that over 80% of the toys my wife and I purchase the kids each Christmas are played with a couple of times and then left to collect dust. That’s frustrating considering the money we shell out for them.

So last year we asked them to make a list of the items they wanted. They did. We bought them. Same issue occurred.

I’m not mad at the kids. I guess we just have trouble hitting their toy sweet spot.

So just the other week my wife and I decided to do something different this year. We aren’t buying any Christmas presents. To our surprise, when we told the kids what we were doing, they were 100% enthusiastically behind it.

Our Alternative to Christmas Presents

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A New Reason I’ll Avoid the Mayhem That Is Black Friday

Whack FridayMany of you will rise out of bed at 3:00 am Friday, grab some coffee and head out the door to go stand in line at your favorite retail store, hoping to get a jump on the holiday shopping season. It’s an annual tradition, this Black Friday shopping trip that gets so many people worked up into a frenzy. I’m sure many people love the action and excitement of it all.

Me? Meh…I find it not enthralling. I’ll take my extra hours of sleep.

There are a host of reasons I chose not to shop on this day. Thanksgiving turkey hangover. The crowds. Getting prepped for the OSU/Michigan game (yes…I do this a day early…Go Bucks!).

But this year I’ve added another reason why I’ll just never go shopping on this day.

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Selling My Soul to the Devil: Why I’m Leasing a Car

Never in my wildest dreams had it crossed my mind that I’d be leasing a car. Generally speaking, leases are a bad idea and one of the worst financial products a consumer could take on. It’s almost impossible to negotiate a deal that doesn’t favor the dealer in some way. You are basically renting a car for the length of the lease and have nothing to show for it when the lease is up.

leasing a carSo no one was more surprised than I when two weeks ago I signed a two-year lease on a car. I felt a bit dirty doing it, like I was committing the cardinal financial sin and selling my soul away. So I’m writing today to explain my actions given the terrible track record leases have for the consumer.

This deal happened only because my wife and I will come close to breaking even on the lease over those two years. I’ll be driving a new car almost for free.

The Unique Circumstances That Have Me Leasing a Car

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3 Sneaky Marketing Words Companies Use to Lure Consumers

sneaky marketing wordsIt’s a beautiful, sunny October day here in the South. One where the temperature is just right and fall has knocked the humidity on its knees. The kids are playing in the front yard and I’m strolling to the mailbox to see what goodies the postman has dropped off today.

Reaching into the box I find the typical…bill, bill, Value-Pak ads, postcard advertising a lawn care service and lastly one shiny, black envelope that is obviously a credit card mailing from the logo printed on the front. What caught my eye however was not the logo but the three little marketing words printed just below the fold on the back side of the envelope…

It read: “We miss you.”

Awww…how touching.

Let me shed a tear as I throw this in the trash, all the while having Klymaxx’s “I Miss You” lyrics churning through my head.

Marketing Words of Love

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How to Make a Zero Based Budget in 3 Easy Steps

One task that may not be apparent to first time budgeters is to create a zero based budget. My wife and I had tried to make a monthly budget before but for one reason or another, our budgets never seemed to work. Putting this step in place helped us lesson those failures and move us towards a place of continual success with our budgets.

zero based budget

The process of putting a zero based budget together is not hard to understand. Like any other budget it does require some planning and attention throughout the month because you might have to tweak some numbers here and there as life happens. In my opinion it’s the best type of budget to put together as it leaves no room for money to go unaccounted for.

What Is a Zero Based Budget?

There are a few simple steps to take in order to make a zero based budget.

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My Parents Were Frugal but Sometimes I’m Not

Today I’m guest posting and commenting at the personal finance site Club Thrifty. Click the link below to find out ways that my spending patterns differ from those of my parents.

thrift store signBy every inch of the definition my parents were thrifty. They shopped for clothes at second hand stores, always bought used cars and could sniff out a sale with the best of them.

They had to be. There wasn’t another option on a social worker’s and private school teacher’s salary. It was live that way so as not to go without…

I’m completely thankful for the example my parents set in regards to the wise use of money. I’ve carried many of those same principles of frugality and budgeting into adulthood, although some like budgeting took me longer to grasp. I haven’t completely followed in their path though and some of the differences sometimes bother me.

Click here to continue reading at Club Thrifty…

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How Often Should You Change Your Mattress? Every 5-7 Years?

I don’t usually do rants. But today I’m all fired about a commercial I heard run on a local radio spot here in the Atlanta area. I won’t mention the national chains name because a) it’s irrelevant and b) the commercial was actually quite bad in my opinion. The commercial in question supposedly answered the question, “How often should you change your mattress?” I was shocked by the answer.

how often should you change your mattressThis commercial’s action message challenged consumers to replace their mattress every 8 years. I shouted “What?!” out loud when I heard that (and I never do that in the car). Think I actually scared myself…and the driver in the car next to me at the red light.

I thought to myself that there is no way this could possibly be true. Does the mattress industry really suggest that consumers replace their mattress every 8 years? Well, when I got home and started doing some research I realized it’s even worse than that.

Current industry suggestions are that consumers replace their mattress every 5-7 years.

Give me a break!

An Inconsistent Mattress Message

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