Monthly Archives: November 2012

Money-Saving Tips for Buying and Maintaining Our Rides

It doesn’t matter if ours still has that “showroom smell” or is so old and beat-up, prayers are regularly offered up to the car gods just before turning the key; for many of us, cars aren’t always “just” a luxury. For many of us our automobile is a necessity, a lifeline to the things we need to do, and the places we need to go, every day.

While we at Sage Personal Finance are fans of walking, biking, carpooling and public transportation (those actions are not only green, they save you cash), for some folks, a car can be the only way to get to work, to school, or to the grocery store.

If you have to have a car, it’s always wise to keep the vehicle in good repair, take steps to increase fuel efficiency and look for practical ways to save on gasoline.

DriverSide is a great general maintenance and repair site (it can help you buy or sell a vehicle too) that covers the lifecycle of car ownership. In addition to buying tips and practical repair and maintenance advice from experienced mechanics, the site notifies users about recalls and recommended repairs. A must-have resource if you “must have” a car.

In addition to offering maintenance and repair tips for car owners, The US Department of Energy’s website, FuelEconomy.gov offers advice on driving more efficiently to keep fuel costs as low as possible.  Even if driving is a necessity, following some of the common-sense advice on the site will help drivers to “sip” rather than “guzzle” gasoline on the open road.

Now that your car is primed, tuned and ready to roll out of the driveway, it’s time to find cheap fuel. Where to begin?

AAA’s daily Fuel Gauge Report is a great starting point. The site helps consumers gauge the average price a consumer can expect to pay for gasoline in any state and on any given day of the week.

Once you know what gas stations charge on average for a gallon of fuel, it’s time to zero in on finding the best possible prices for gasoline in your neighborhood — and GasBuddy is where thousands of volunteer “price spotters” gather to report and share information about fuel prices in the US and Canada. In addition to real-time reporting of gas prices, the site has a “trip cost” calculator, gas price charts and even smartphone apps for finding (and reporting) cheap gas on the fly.

How are you saving money on your car and on transportation in general? Tell us about sites that help green the planet – and your wallet!

-Cindy M.

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Student Loan Debts: Finding Some Relief

Today, a majority of individuals attend college, and a large proportion of them will wind up owing money after college. In fact, the average amount of debt college students carry upon graduation is $25,250.  Although for most, going through bankruptcy doesn’t change student loan debts, there are a few ways to reduce or eliminate them.

First, individuals going through bankruptcy may file a special request to get their student loan debt forgiven.  This can be accomplished by filing a written complaint and serving it together with a summons on the applicable lender(s).  The individual going through bankruptcy may file it, or their lawyer may file it.  This document must be in a special format and must include the reasons why the student loan debt is causing undue hardship (see Court Form B-16; http://www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/RulesAndPolicies/rules/BK_Forms_09_Official/Form_16D_Caption_Adversary_Proc_INSTRUCTIONS_0509.pdf for the instructions).  In response to this filing, the judge will decide whether or not to forgive the student loan or some part of the loan.  Usually, the individual’s income and financial/medical circumstances, and whether or not the individual tried in good faith to make the loan payments, are all considered.  In up to 40% of all cases, the filing of this suit results in at least partial student loan forgiveness, so it can be very worthwhile to do this.

Second, there is a special program called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLFP), which was developed in 2007 as an incentive to attract quality workers to public service jobs.  This program provides forgiveness on federal student loan debts for individuals who work in public sector jobs after they have made a minimum number of payments on the loans.  See http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/charts/public-service for more information.

If you have a large amount of student loan debt, it may be very helpful to consider these options.

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