5 Reasons To Make Your First Car a Used Car

This post is brought to you from Caitlin Chrysler Dodge Jeep Pram.
First Car a Used Car

Your first car is a beautiful thing. It’s your freedom, the ability to drive places without your parents and see friends without waiting for someone to give you a ride. It will get you to school, work, and play. Most people fantasize about which car they would love to have for their first, even if it isn’t a realistic dream (you know, like a sixteen year old high school kid with a top of the line performance sports car). Here are 5 ways the dreams you have for your first car, from freedom to convenient features, can be provided best by a used vehicle.

1. Value
“A new car loses half it’s value the moment you drive it off the lot.” That’s a common saying, and while the value may not drop by half, it’s a saying for a reason. When you buy a used car, you aren’t paying the added cost just for being the first to own it. And with the availability of extended warranties and certified preowned vehicles, buying a used car is just as safe and reliable as a brand new one.

2. Reliability
Speaking of safe and reliable, a used car in good condition is a car that’s shown itself to be reliable. It’s run well, been maintained, and hasn’t spent its entire life sitting in a lot. Being from a previous model year, you’ll have access to countless reviews and opinions from other drivers, a wide array of test results for safety, and possibly the added safety of an extended warranty to protect against any possible defects.

3. Features
Sometimes there are features you want that don’t come stock on your favorite car. Heated seats, upgraded stereo, sun roof… whatever features you want, you’ll pay much less for them in a used vehicle. In a new car, you’re paying for the customization options. The used car already has the options you want, and you’ll be able to get far more features for your money.

4. Peace of Mind
Ok, this one might be a bit more for the parents than for the new car owner, and is a bit of an intangible benefit. While you should always take care of your vehicle the best you can (you’re trusting it to keep you safe and alive at very high speeds, after all), there’s something innate in us about the perception of cost. While a new and used car may be in the same condition, you’re more likely to be worried about a brand new car than a used one. Why is this a good thing? Because if you’re in a situation where you have to decide between the car getting hurt or you getting hurt, your parents will always prefer you to be safe. The lower price tag of a used car will make you less likely to make a dangerous move just to try keeping the car from getting scratched, which just might save you from a big accident one day.

5. Comfort
Now, I know what you’re thinking: how can a used car be more comfortable than a new one? But I’m not talking about comfortable upholstery or squishy seats. Your first car will give you a feel for what you really enjoy. After getting comfortable with your vehicle, you might realize you need a little more space. Maybe you have a big vehicle and you feel you want to downsize. Maybe a four cylinder isn’t enough to get you to speed on the interstate, or perhaps that V8 puts you a bit over the speed limit too often. As your comfort with driving and your needs rises, you’ll be able to separate the car of your dreams from the car you’ll really be comfortable in.

5 Tips to Make Your Used Car Feel New

This post is in partnership with Dulles Kia.

Tips to Make Your Used Car Feel New

We’ve all heard the saying that a new car loses its value the instant it’s driven off the lot. That’s why you bought your used vehicle – to save money and get more bang for your buck on a reliable car! But we often fall prey to another tempting saying, “new car smell.” Here are five tips for making your used car feel like it’s new again.

1.  Get an inspection. Whether you are able to inspect it yourself, or prefer to take it to the shop for a once over, get your “new to you” car checked out. If there are any fluids leaking, that new car smell will fade when you open the door to the smell of hot burnt oil. New tires will grip the road more comfortably than worn ones, and feel better when turning and stopping. A lot of items are “wear and tear” parts, and can be replaced cheaply and quickly to make things go smoothly. These include the brakes, spark plugs and wires, fluids, and windshield wipers. Don’t forget the rear wiper if your vehicle has one!

2.  Wash the car, including the engine! Don’t just start spraying under the hood at the car wash, though. Disconnect the negative battery cable and cover sensitive components like the alternator and battery. Then use a degreaser mixed with water to cover the engine and scrub lightly with a nylon wire brush. Wash away the grease with the hose or a pitcher of water. A clean engine allows you to detect leaks and problems sooner, lets the engine cool more easily, and prevents the smell of burning fluids.

3.  Use a detailing or upholstery cleaner on the interior of the car. Be sure to test anything you put on fabric in an inconspicuous place first. Then use the cleaner and a nylon brush (many cleaners have a brush built into the cap) to gently clean the seats and floors, even the ceiling if you are feeling ambitious!

4.  Vacuum the interior to get that final clean! Many upholstery cleaners suggest vacuuming after application. I usually vacuum before cleaning to make sure I’m not scrubbing crumbs into the seats, then I vacuum again afterwards to get any dirt I worked out of the seats. Don’t forget those nooks and crannies between seats and doors or the center console!

5.  Add a personal accessory to complete the package. Set your used car apart from the others with an accessory you wish it had. Whether it’s a third party Bluetooth adapter, a phone mount, or even your favorite scent of air freshener, that little touch of you will make the car really yours.

5 Tips for Buying a Used Car

This is a partnered post with Kayser Chrysler Center of Watertown.

Tips for Buying a Used Car

Every year around this time, people start taking advantage of the nice weather, new inventory, and subsequent sales, and shop for a great price on a used vehicle.  And why not?  Used cars are an amazing deal, and the weather makes for pleasant test drives!  But when you’re searching for a used car, how do you make sure you’re getting a reliable car, instead of a lemon?  Follow these 5 tips for buying a used car to make sure you get the deal without the hassle.

  • –  Check reviews, both online and word of mouth.  Ask your friends and family where they buy their vehicles and how they enjoyed the experience.  Then look online for reviews of the dealerships you are considering buying from.  If reviews are split, you can’t be sure you’ll get a good experience.  If you are able to find someplace consistently well reviewed, or where your friends all had great help and a smooth process, you’re bound to have success as well.  A reputable location won’t lose their good reputation just to make a quick buck off you!
  • –  Too good to be true? Probably.  You’ve heard this one before: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  If a car is priced significantly lower than others with similar features, age, and mileage, some red flags should be popping up.  Or maybe the car is listed at an average price, but lists “new tires, new radiator, new alternator, new AC, new starter…”  Practically a whole new engine!  Something happened.  Maybe it was an accident, or perhaps it was just someone restoring the car, only to move on to a different project.  Don’t run away from these red flags, but do approach them with caution.  Ask a lot of questions to learn the whole story behind the car.  If you aren’t completely comfortable with the situation, back out and keep looking.
  • –  Test cars out.  If you find a car you like, test another one similar to it.  It could be another used one in the area, or if it’s a recent model year you can test a new model.  This will give you an idea of how the car should drive as you notice little differences between them.  A seller won’t be able to tell you “oh that’s how this model year is… they all idle a little rough,” because you’ve already tested them out yourself.  Then test the car you want in multiple scenarios; drive slowly and test the brakes on an empty street, then through town for stop-and-go traffic, and make sure it doesn’t wobble or have trouble at high speeds by driving on the highway.
  • –  Check it out.  Talk to a trusted mechanic before you start looking at cars and ask if they’ll take a look at some used vehicles for you as you test them out.  When you decide on a car, bring it to the mechanic and have it checked out.  Many will do this for free, and it will give you peace of mind about a vehicle before buying.  Make sure to ask the seller if you can take their vehicle to your mechanic to have it checked out first – it’s their car, after all.  But if they refuse, it’s likely they have something they don’t want you to find.  Keep the list the mechanic gives you, so if you do purchase the car you know exactly what needs done.
  • –  Negotiate.  Most sellers, both dealerships and private, list at a higher price in hopes that you’ll pay it.  They expect some amount of negotiation, and that’s worked into the price.  Don’t be afraid to point out a similar vehicle at a lower price somewhere else, or to mention items your mechanic found as a reason to lower the price.  They have a price in mind that they’ll sell for, and it’s almost always lower than they initially listed.

4 Things to Update When Buying a Used Car

This is a partnered post with Kayser Chrysler Center

Used Car Tips

So you’ve just bought a used vehicle.  You got a good price, saved a ton off the sticker of a ‘new’ car, and got the perfect car that’s ‘new to you’!  But, as much as you might take care of your new vehicle, you don’t know how the previous owner did things.  A report can show whether it’s been in an accident, but not whether the owners kept up with scheduled maintenance or fixed parts on the brink of failure.  Follow these four things to always update when you get a used car to make sure you’re ready to go anywhere, anytime.

  • –  Replace the maintenance items first thing, if they’re looking worn or you can’t tell if they’ve been kept up.  Depending where you buy your used vehicle, you may not know if the brakes have ever been replaced, for example.  Check your car’s manual to see what items should have received maintenance up to the current mileage, then inspect or replace them promptly.  Some of them might surprise you, like lubricating and cleaning the seat belt retractor!  These items are in the manual for a reason, and keeping them up to date will help keep your family safe.
  • –  Check the commonly worn down items to make sure they’ve got some life left in them.  Fluids might need topped off or replaced.  Have the battery and alternator checked, especially before winter!  And make sure your tires are inflated properly and still have enough tread left on them.
  • –  Change any worn belts or hoses to prevent a breakage at the worst moment.  You know, like in the middle of a hot or freezing day, with kids in the car, on your way to work.  Having all your hoses in good condition will help prevent leaks and reduce the amount of upkeep you have to do, too!
  • –  Add in the ‘extra’ items.  These items are ones you typically don’t think of until you don’t have them.  Extra fuses of various sizes can be stored in the glove compartment or special slots near the fuse box.  Maybe you like to keep a tire inflator or jump starter in the car?  And always ensure the spare tire, jack, and lug wrench are present and in good condition.  You won’t enjoy that hot or freezing day on the side of the road taking a tire off, only to discover you have no working spare to put back on!

These are my top four things to update when buying a used car.  Did I leave anything off that you would include?

Live With Less 12 Week Challenge Winner Announced!

Balloons

It is with great pleasure that I get to announce the winner of our long, exciting, and well challenging challenge.

Drum roll please…

Oh, and if you want to join our next challenge join our Live With Less Facebook group for an update.

With 12 whole weeks of picture proof progress our winner is….

One last thing, if you want to start decluttering but don’t know where to begin, check out our 200 Things to Throw Away Now list.

Without further ado… the winner of $100 cash goes to…

Michelle M.!!!!

Congratulations, Michelle!!!

Everyone who completed the challenge is a winner in my eyes.  Even if you didn’t finish, look at all the progress you did make.  Keep on living with less and I’ll share details about the next challenge once they’ve been finalized.

My Top 13 Moving Tips

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of CORT for IZEA.  All opinions are 100% mine.

Moving Tips

Moving isn’t easy.  Actually, it might even be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  Moving with kids is impossibly hard!  We just moved a few weeks ago so this is fresh on my mind.  These are the top 13 tips that I’ve tried and found to be helpful.  

1.  Let it go, let it go!

I’m talking about purging ya’ll.  Let go of everything you don’t LOVE.  Picture your new place and if you don’t envision that piece of furniture there, let it go.  Can’t imagine hanging up that picture of a cat you once loved but have stowed away in the attic for years?  Let it go.  Sell, donate, give away, and do whatever it takes to lighten your packing load.  You’ll thank yourself when you have a less cluttered home…and when you’re moving box after heavy box into your new home. (Check out 5 Painless Ways to Live With Less and 200 Things to Throw Away)

Suitcase

2.  Pack a suitcase for a week’s trip

Pack all the necessities in your suitcase just like you would if you were going away for a week.  That way you have the essentials ready to have you clothed and bathed, even if you don’t have everything unpacked.

3.  Label the boxes you’ll want right away as URGENT

Take an extra step and label the boxes you’ll want to unpack right away.  You’ll be exhausted after your move and labeling boxes “Unpack on moving day” will make your life easier.  Trust me on this one!

4.  Buy a roll of stretch wrap***FAVORITE TIP!***

I love this tip and I didn’t read it anywhere before I moved.  My husband brought it home with some blankets he rented from the local moving store.  He had it to wrap around the blankets to hold them in place.  It is also worked wonders to cover drawers with the clothes still in them!!  We saved time and money on packing boxes.  Time is precious when you’re packing and unpacking every single one of your belongings.  This tip saved me SO MUCH TIME!  It’s also great for wrapping up rugs.

5.  Wine boxes are great for heavy boxes

I don’t drink but I love the heavy duty wine boxes for moving boxes of books.  They’re strong, have handles and have lids instead of the flaps that moving boxes have.  Hit up a local liquor store for any left over boxes.

Computer cords

6.  Take photos of how your tv and computer hook up

Yes, we learned this one the hard way.  We actually took ours to the computer store we bought it from because we thought it was damaged in the move.  Nope, it just has two cords that connect the monitor to the tower. 🙂  We also had a lot of junk cleaned off it so it wasn’t a totally wasted trip but we felt like idiots.  #stayinghumble

7.  If you have friends helping you move have them come in shifts

We were blessed to have many friends who offered to help us move.  Some couldn’t come on moving day so they came earlier in the week to help us move the big items (fridge, couches, big dressers etc.).  This made moving day easier with the big items out of the way and if we had to move again (God forbid!) we would do it this way all over again.

8.  Use forearm forklifts

If you plan on moving furniture yourself invest a few dollars in a pair of forearm forklifts.  They are incredible!  I can lift any piece of furniture with my husband.  Okay, I didn’t really move it myself…I let the guys do that but I did try them out to see if they were as good as the commercials.  They are!

Top Moving Tips

9.  Number boxes

This is going to sound crazy to most everyone who reads this and I totally get that.  However, if you’re an slightly obsessive organized person like my husband is this tip will be right up your alley.  While it wasn’t my idea initially it sure is nice when I’m looking for something.  When packing the boxes I labeled each box with a number and the room it went in.  Then I grabbed my phone and Facebook messaged my husband the number of the box and a list of the contents.  He copied and pasted the contents into a spreadsheet where we can now search when we’re looking for something.  Olive oil?  Box 118.  Pizza pans? Box 128.  Worth the extra time?  That’s up to you and your family.  For us, we loved it.

10.  Decide how you want to unpack before you move

We put all of our boxes into one unused room and we go in there as needed to find what we want.  We grab a box and unpack it and put the empty folded box back in that room.  We can shut the door and live without the visual clutter.  I love that!  If you want to have each box in the room where it will ultimately live then you may want to color code the boxes with duct tape to help alert the movers where the boxes go.  Put a strip of that color tape on the door where those boxes will go.

11.  Don’t pack important items, take them in your car

Things like trash bags, baggies, sharpies, box openers, etc. will be handy right up until you move.  Don’t make the mistake of packing these things.  I packed up baggies and regretted it many times over.  I made good use of the stretch wrap from #4 though!

12. Don’t forget to put in a change of address at the USPS

They’ll forward your mail for up to 12 months.  As you get mail forwarded to your new home take the time to change your address.

13.  If you’re moving a lot, consider selling your furniture

If you’re in a time of transition, renting furniture is a great option.  For instance, if you’re a military family you might opt for renting furniture instead of hauling furniture across the country every few years.  The longer you rent the furniture, the cheaper it is.  If you plan on moving again in the near future you might want to consider renting furniture at your new home and selling your old furniture.

Renting gives you less hassle with your move and maybe even a cheaper move! CORT Furniture Rental is the place to rent furniture from.  It’s the cost-effective and convenient alternative to moving bulky furniture.  It’s the perfect flexible option for those times of transition in life.  Whatever your budget, style, location, and time frame CORT is there to provide you with a furnished home. Those are my 13 tips!  Did I leave something off?  If you have any tips that you would like to add please comment below and let me know.

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6 Ways to Baby Prep Your Car

This helpful post is brought to you by Dublin Chrysler Dodge Jeep.

Baby on Board

Here are six super simple ways that you can make your car a convenient carriage for your new little bundle of joy.

  • 1.  Changing Pad
    As indelicate as it may sound, you just might HAVE to change a diaper on the side of the road. Having a portable changing pad is perfect for this occasion instead of having to use the seat of your car. Portable changing pads are also great if you need to only do a quick diaper change because most decent pads have a container or organizer section for a couple of diapers and a small package of wipes.
  • 2.  Airtight Trash Can
    Inevitably you’ll need to throw away some smelly trash, especially if you have an emergency diaper change like mentioned above. The best solution I have seen for this predicament is actually an airtight cereal container. Line it with a plastic shopping bag and seal it with the plastic lid. There’s an opening in the lid that comes open without having to take the lid off entirely, saving you from struggling with the plastic bag slipping and escaping.
  • 3.  Diapers and Wipes
    This was probably your first guess when you read the title. I know I’ve got some diapers in my bag. I know I’ve got some diapers in the portable changing pad. It just helps me to know that there are more in the car. I have this panic when I’m out of diapers; I go sheet-white. Remembering that I have more in the car restores my normal face color.
  • 4.  Music
    Bring something that you actually like too. I just heard about a radio app for families. It plays top 40 hits that you hear on the radio, but they are censored to be family appropriate. This is an excellent alternative. And though this isn’t technically music, it is sound in the car. If your kids are old enough, you should try an audiobook if that’s your thing. Some audiobooks even have voice acting which make them especially enchanting to the listener. If your baby is young enough, the sounds of voices will probably be enough white noise to make him drift into sleepyland.  We happen to be big fans of Justin Roberts.  He has fun music for kids that’s actually enjoyable for adults too!
  • 5.  Snacks
    For you. It’s so easy to be a slave to hunger and subsequently a slave to the drive-through. Keeping snacks in the car can help you keep your sanity and your patience. Hungry bear can stay in her cave.
  • 6.  Organizer
    Make sure you can find all this stuff that will make your commuting smoother. The last thing you’ll want to do is track all of this down in your trunk. Keep everything in the same bin (except for the trashcan) within arm’s reach and watch the stress melt away.

6 Ways to Show Your Car Some TLC

This helpful post is brought to you by Commerce Chrysler Dodge Jeep.

Ways to Show Your Car TLC

Our cars take good care of us when we take good care of them. It’s a give and take relationship. Here are couple of ways that are simple enough for all of us to do but sometimes a little hard to remember.

  • 1.  Trip Check
    Some auto repair shops perform a gratis car trip check. The idea is before you go on a trip, you take your car in to see if there’s anything amiss that you would need to know before you go on a trip. When you’ve built a trusted relationship with your repair shop, they know your car, and this can be an invaluable money saver and safety measure. Taking care of problems before they become prominent can help lengthen the life of your car and can help take care of you on the road.
  • 2.  Regular Oil Changes
    Every knows this, right? So why is this being brought up? You know why! We all forget. Remind yourself somehow. Are you a digital native? Get an app to give you reminders. Do you organize your life by paper and pen? Write out your oil changes in your calendar at the first of every year for every oil change. Treat this like a date with your car and be faithful!
  • 3.  Protect from Weather
    Clean out the garage and use it. Don’t let hail, sleet, wet leaves, and acorns attack your baby. Keeping your car out of the elements will prolong its cosmetic life and its practical longevity. We’ve all seen the unfortunate videos where the limb lands on the Lamborghini and we lament heavily.
  • 4. Car Washes
    Not only do these make our cars look good in the immediate, they also make the car look good in the long run. By eliminating the chemicals, oils, and grimes that get stuck to our cars on the daily commute, we can make the paint job last a longer time too.
  • 5.  Gauge the Tire Pressure
    Measuring the tire pressure is good for the tires and for your safety, but the proper alignment and pressure level of the tires help the car run smoothly. Just as our bodies don’t function well when a joint is out, so our cars don’t operate well when the tires are not at the proper level.
  • 6.  Regular Detailing
    Keep your carpets and interiors looking nice for longer by having your car detailed often. Frequent detailing will help stains and oils from settling on your car’s surface and fabric and keep it looking newer longer.

Is there something simple yet certain that you would add to the list?

How to Find 15 Minutes a Day to Declutter

How to Find 15 Minutes a Day to Declutter

It can be overwhelming to try to declutter your home when you take a large chunk on at once. Rather than attack it full-force, you are probably more prone to put it off. Day after day, the task seems less than inviting. Daunting even.  You’re not sure but you think you heard your pile of papers and dust bunnies mocking you.

What if you set aside 15 minutes to declutter? Would you be able to approach it then?  Try these tips to get yourself closer to a clutter-free home.

1. Set a reasonable goal
If you want to take on a closet, for example, you will not be able to get it all done in 15 minutes. Start with a shelf, time yourself for 15 minutes and do a really job purging what you don’t need and re-organizing that particular space. The next day, continue with that shelf if needed or move on to another one.

2. Use the KRRT rule
Decide if you want to keep it, re-use it, recycle it or trash it. If you have not used it within the past year, then it is not an item you need to keep. Can it be donated? Is there someone you know who needs it more than you do?  Sometimes, by asking these questions, our perspective on the item changes.

3. Decide on a home
Everything you are re-organizing needs a home. If you just toss it back on the shelf, it will become chaotic quickly. By having a specific home for each item, you are bound to stick to a more organized space. Use bins, jars, labels and whatever else works to keep your space the way you want it. This will add visual appeal and motivate you to stick to your newly organized space.

4. Wake up 15 minutes earlier
I like sleep as much as the next guy. Probably more! However if you’re having trouble squeezing 15 minutes a day to declutter wake up a little earlier. Don’t declutter with your eyes still glued shut but once you’re awake and moving attack a problem area and I bet you’ll have a spring in your step the rest of the day.

5. Talk and declutter at the same time
Can’t chew gum and walk at the same time? Well, this probably isn’t for you. 🙂 The idea is simple, to distract you while you declitter. Hopefully this will help you from overanalyzing everything and make you more efficient. Plus, if you’re talking to a girlfriend she can help give you the nudge you need to let go of some things.

15 minutes a day is all it takes to get yourself started with de-cluttering your living space. That could amount to almost the same time as a Netflix show or a few songs from your favorite playlist.

Declutter Challenge – Area 2 Kid’s Rooms

Declutter Kid's Room Tips

Area #2 – Kid’s Bedroom/ Guest Room

These are the sections to complete for week two.  Week 2 begins Feb. 28, 2016.  What if you don’t have a second bedroom?  Work on another area of your home that isn’t one of the 12 Areas we will get to eventually.  You can even go back and finish decluttering your kitchen if you’d like.  Don’t forget to continually post your pictures in our Live With Less Facebook group to be eligible for our $250 Declutter Challenge Prize! (<— click this link for more details on the challenge!  You’re not too late, we’re officially starting on February 21, 2016!)

*Remember you only have to do 4 of the 5 sections for the contest but if you have time, why not? 🙂

The 5 Sections are as follows:

  • – Closet
  • – Shelves, books, toys, & electronics
  • – Tops of dressers
  • – Drawers
  • – Floors (including under the bed)

Here’s an example of what your week may look like.

Sunday – Rest, work ahead, surf my Pinterest pins, whatever you want to do! 🙂

Monday – Closet

Tuesday – Shelves, books, toys, & electronics

Wednesday – Tops of dressers

Thursday – Drawers

Friday – Floors (including under the bed)

Saturday – Rest, catch up, work ahead, whatever you want but make sure you add the photos of the work you’ve accomplished this week to our Live With Less Facebook group.

What do you do if you don’t have one of the above sections?  Work on the closet for another day or another section of your home (that isn’t one of the 12 Areas we haven’t came to yet).  Have fun!!

Previous Declutter Challenge Posts:

Ideas on Kid’s Rooms: