Month: April 2017

A recipe for paying off your auto loan early

A good recipe always starts with two things – good ingredients and solid prep work. Don’t believe me? Ask a professional chef. The recipe for paying off your vehicle is not all that different. Let’s start with the ingredients. You will need: Your monthly payment amount Your monthly payment due date The funds to make your payment on or before the due date A payment method A clear understanding of how your payment is applied Additional funds to apply to the principal or to make a principal-only payment (optional) Confirmation that your payment was received (optional) Now for the prep work. Ideally, a plan for paying off your vehicle, particularly a plan for paying it off early, starts before you ever even sign the contract. Something my dad told me once that has always stuck with me was, “Linda, you can always pay a little bit more than your monthly payment and that’s okay. But you can’t pay less.” Ever since then, before I start car shopping I calculate my budget, create a target payment and then work to structure my payment at, or below, my target payment. If that means stretching my payments out to 72 months versus 60 months, that’s what I’ll do. Why? Because I can always add an extra $10, $20 or more to my payment … Read More

School drop-off and pickup – three rules to live by

I used to listen to my friends with kids talk about the school drop-off lane and laugh. Sometimes their frustration with other parents in the line was the basis for some pretty funny stories. Sometimes it was the source of their morning stress. Sometimes, my friends were the source of others’ morning frustration. Now, with nearly a full school year of drop-off and pickup lane experience under my belt, I promise you I have been the source of many an eye-roll while sitting in the pickup lane. I do, however, also have a whole new appreciation for “the rules.” With only a few weeks of school left, it seems there is no better time for a quick review of what I consider the top three. So, let’s get started. Rule #1. Do not get out of your vehicle. Do not. Get out. Of your vehicle. It’s a lane, not a parking lot. Lane, by definition, means keep it moving. If little Johnny or Sally needs you to walk them to the door or if you need to share a piece of news with the mom who lives down the street, that’s FINE. But find an available parking space and enjoy your commune with nature. Your consideration for those who need to keep things rolling will be duly noted and appreciated. … Read More

Five apps this road-tripper won’t travel without

Y’all know I love a road trip. Whether heading out to visit family in Iowa, moving across the country or just cruising to explore local fare, we love to load everyone in the truck and explore what the countryside has to offer. When I was younger, I remember hearing the phrase, “Let’s see where this road takes us,” from the front seat and an immediate feeling of dread would wash over me. These days, it’s my husband and me who like to explore random country roads and our daughter whose pain I feel. But with the road trip apps that are available today (not to mention FREE – I am, after all, also extremely frugal), getting a “little lost” as my dad used to put it, is much more difficult than it was back when I was a kid. Here are just a few that I have, like and use regularly. Waze I’ve already extolled the virtues of this amazing and free app. When we lived in the city, there were many times it got us around traffic jams, not to mention the help it gave us navigating messy downtown construction. Now that we live in a more country-like setting, I’m still constantly reaching to put my destination in Waze. Even when I know where I’m going, but want to … Read More

Just another award-winning vehicle by Chrysler

The 2017 all-new Chrysler Pacifica is quickly racking up a shelf full of awards. It seems like every time I turn around, another one pops up on my screen. I’m sure, however, when I tell you the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica was awarded Crossover-SUV of the Year by the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press, you will have the same thought I did. Huh? I mean, the Chrysler Pacifica is a minivan, right? Yes, it is. But then I asked myself, in general, why do we purchase Crossovers and SUVs? Most of us are not off-roading, but rather carrying our families, pets, recreational gear and whatever else we can think to put inside. So, perhaps the question, instead of “why?” should be, “why not?” Time and again, the Chrysler Pacifica’s award-winning style and technology is proving that it provides an unparalleled level of versatility and functionality for today’s families. Industry experts love it. Shouldn’t you?

April is car-care month!

Are you planning on keeping your car a long time? Or are you thinking you might trade it soon – maybe within the next six to 12 months? Whether prolonging the life of your vehicle or protecting its value to ensure you get the best possible offer when it comes time to sell or trade, taking good care of your vehicle just makes sense. Dollars and cents. Of course, regular systems maintenance is a key component of car care. Your best bet in keeping all the moving parts in top condition is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, located in the owner’s manual. But did you know that protecting and cleaning your vehicle’s interior and exterior can impact the lifetime and value of your vehicle as well? I can attest to this first-hand. The second vehicle I ever owned (and my favorite, I might add), was going strong at 160,000+ miles. She was awesome – original clutch and everything. I loved her, but I didn’t treat her very well when it came to keeping her clean. One day, when I took her in for service, my mechanic pulled up the back floor mat to reveal rusted-out floor boards. The winter road treatment that I seldom bothered to wash away had eaten away at her to the point that, if I had … Read More

Semi-retired science teacher wins big

Every spring, I anxiously await the FCA US LLC National Sweepstakes winner announcement. This year, it felt like it was never going to get here and then, suddenly my email lit up like the Fourth of July. (Not really, but the excitement was real.) As I opened the press release, I couldn’t help but think back to last year, when Kevin Arias, an Oswego, Illinois, firefighter won and purchased his dream car – a Dodge Challenger. Like last year, this year’s winner also serves the community in which she lives. But instead of fighting fires and rescuing kittens from trees, Sandra Moussiaux of Clinton Township, Michigan, shapes the minds of our youth. She is a retired, turned part-time science teacher. “I was in complete disbelief when I was told I had been selected as the grand prize winner of the 2016 FCA US LLC Sweepstakes,” said Moussiaux. “A simple birthday trip turned into a wonderful surprise one year later! I never dreamed that I would win a new car!” Moussiaux was attending a performance of The Sound of Music at the Fisher Theater’s Broadway in Detroit last May, when she noticed a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica display. That was when she entered the sweepstakes. So, why didn’t she choose an all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica? “After test driving the 2017 Durango GT, … Read More

You’ll be talkin’ a blue streak about these sublime options

We all like to have options, right? Whether it’s a choice of what to have for dinner tonight or what color hair you’ll be sporting tomorrow, it’s always nice to know you have options. This said, Ram trucks just added two more options to the Ram 1500 lineup color palette. The first out of the gate is a head-turning, audacious Ram 1500 Sublime Sport. This is a first for the Ram brand as the bold, bright Sublime has never before been offered on a Ram truck. Another first is the 22-inch black aluminum wheels (two-wheel drive only; 20-inch wheels on four-wheel drive) available with the Sublime Sport package. On the inside, the black interior is subtly accented with lime green stitching in the cabin and a lime green Sports badge on the glove box. With just over 3,000 units of the 2017 Ram Sublime Sport planned for production, this limited-edition will start rolling out to dealerships in May with an MSRP of $45,740.   If green isn’t your color, listen close because the new Rebel Blue Streak may be calling your name. Available on all of the Rebel configurations, the Blue Streak can be ordered with a Rebel Black appearance package. You can also opt for two-tone exterior with black lower paint. The 2017 Ram 1500 Rebel MSRP starts at … Read More

Poking holes in conventional thought

Gone are the days of conventional wisdom in the automotive industry. Now, it’s not about bigger, better, faster so much as it is about smarter. In January 2015, Forbes contributor Karl Brauer published Top 10 Advanced Car Technologies by 2020. His article included some predictions that, at the time, may have seemed bold for a five-year forecast, but as we approach the halfway mark, I wonder if we’ll be seeing several of these before the 2020 mark. 1. Autonomous vehicle – realistically, this is going to happen. Will it be fully autonomous by 2020? The probability is low, mostly due to updates required in our infrastructure. But the technology continues to advance daily and will no doubt be available sooner than many expect. 2. Driver override systems – imagine pressing the gas pedal, but your vehicle slows down. Once upon a time, that probably meant you were out of gas. But up-and-coming technology is likely going to give your vehicle the final word on safe driving.   3. Biometric vehicle access – from keyless entry to “key-fob-less entry,” fingerprint scanners and/or retina scanners may soon become the standard way to unlock your vehicle. Personally, I hope this will work better than my fingerprint access on my phone. 4. Comprehensive vehicle tracking – some insurance companies have been offering rate discounts … Read More