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America’s Cheapest Family (Part 2): On Cars

America's Cheapest FamilyThis is an ongoing series of book reviews – in parts, on money-related books.

The first is this series is called America’s Cheapest Family – Gets You Right on Money by Steve and Annette Economides. According to them, this is the guide to living better, spending less, and chasing in on your dreams!

Here’s what they have accomplished so far:

    – Paid off a house in 9 years on limited income (average income approx $35k/yr)
    – Paid cash for all their cars
    – Remodeled kitchen without a home equity loan
    – Enjoyed fabulous debt-free vacations
    – Fed a growing family (of 2+5) on a grocery budget of $350/mth
    – Put savings in the bank!

On Cars

Steve and Annette have never owned a new car. All their cars are used.

[Editor: The minute you drive a new car out of the dealers, it’s value drops immediately. A car loses as much as $12k-$18k annually!]

This allows them to save up and pay for their car in full, and enjoy lower insurance rates since the value of the car is lower.

[Editor: A used car can cost as low as a few hundred dollars (literally a moving piece of junk), or $5-$8k for a decent used car. Used cars definitely cost a lot more in Singapore, but a lot less than a brand new one. Check out prices on ‘used cars’ that are just 1 year old, and you’ll be amazed at the difference in price (or the amount it has devalued in just a year!)]


Tips for looking for a used vehicle:

1. Research. Look through newspaper ads, online, and check out how much you need to save up for.
2. They were aiming to get a van so they asked their faithful mechanic’s opinion on which van he thought was most reliable.
3. Create a sheet to compare the different models.
4. Always inspect the car in daylight.

    – Check for uneven surfaces or paint irregularities
    – Check all engine fluid
    – Bring a mirror to check the underside for leaks or scrapes
    – Bring a strong magnet covered with a piece of cloth and check out the car. If it sticks in some areas and not others, it might have sustained body damage and has been repaired with some metallic filler. If so, pass on the car.
    – Put a dollar bill on top of each door and close it. The bill should not be lose or slip out from between the door. If it does, the car has probably been damaged.
    – Check for uneven tire wear. It may indicate alignment problems.


Tips for selling a used vehicle:

1. Clean the car
2. Park it on a busy street corner, and paste a window sticker listing the features and contact details
3. Check out for reduced-price or free classified ads
4. Be brutally honest
5. Provide maintenance records – Buyers love assurance that the car has been well maintained.


Car Insurance:

1. Shop around for the best rates.
2. Payment discounts:

    – Pay your insurance in full versus installments can save you $$ each year.
    – Multicar discount – Insuring more than one car lowers the price per car
    – Safe driver discount – If you go through driving school, and pass.
    – Good student discount – Get good grades can save you bucks.
    – Homeowner discount – If you insure your car under the same company
    – Membership discounts

[Editor: I’m not sure how relevant this section is to Singaporeans. It’s not very practical to own a car in Singapore, and it is definitely not a necessity as we have a decently linked public transport network here, something which lacks in most of the US. Also, some of the discounts do not apply in Singapore.

If you don’t really need a car, you might considering going car-free and saving a lot of money. If you do decide to get a car, it’ll be wise to stick to 1 per family.]


Others in this series:
America’s Cheapest Family (Part 1): On Grocery Shopping & Budgeting
America’s Cheapest Family (Part 2): On Cars
America’s Cheapest Family (Part 3): On Housing
America’s Cheapest Family (Part 4): On Utilities
America’s Cheapest Family (Part 5): On Debt
America’s Cheapest Family (Part 6): On Staying Healthy, Entertainment & Recreation
America’s Cheapest Family (Part 7): On Vacation and The Final Payoff


America's Cheapest FamilyAmerica’s Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides was checked out of the National Library for the purpose of this book review. It can be found at English 332.02400973 at your Library.

Check online to see if it’s available, and check it out for free!

(Free up some money in your entertainment/education envelopes!)

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