Please visit my new blog and bookmark it. Please visit it regularly for updates if it interests you. And finally, please DO NOT CLICK MY GOOGLE ADS ABUSIVELY UNLESS THEY INTEREST YOU REALLY.
You can also add me to your technorati favourites and add me to your friend lists.Just leave a message and Ill do the saem.thanks

Hello, everyone....

My Alexa ranking is constantly improving, and I am now nearly at 700k; I am improving by 200k every week...that's incredible if you know the meaning of alexa.I am also well represented in blog catalog.
So I have decided to do put ads of my friends on my blog..but ONLY picture ads, lets say, something like a 125 x 125 or 250 x250.
I am putting 5 slots near the HOME, INSURANCE menu on sale at 15 Us dollar/month by paypal...
And as many links as I can get in my sidebar at 10 dollars a month..
If you are interested contact me by leaving a comment to this post..I will check later.Leave your details...
The offers are great, because the top menu is VERY visible, and the pic links are very appealing...The icons can be made on several websites on the net..Just google it.


Latest news: One of the top slot has been sold....

I have also decided to start writing reviews for my blogger friends.I will be writing a weekly review about your blog or a particular post, I find interesting, for only 10 dollars per month.
Remember, all payments first, and by paypal.thanks...And ofcourse regular friends, and affiliates will have better prices.Act now!

Oh it had to happen one day, but It happened today:(
I became bankrupt even before having anything in the bank:)
Google banned me, and my blog has been removed from search engines and I am so sad.I will try to be honest now.....
Atleast, I will not use adsense again, as I was expecting this.I lost 256 dollars.I even bought a PDA, thinking i would get that sum soon..
I am so sad...
Keep visiting me to help me surmount this sadness....

Today is one of the saddest day of my life....
One hour before i was swearing at alex ferguson because of whom manchester united lost to arsenal...
30min later.....and i realised that a win, a loss, a draw is nothing compared to death and misfortunes of life...
I just learned the death of a neighbour, who has been stabbed to death after 3 men attacked him in Uk...
Uk is getting really dangerous;ive been there once, and saw a gang fight, and how people were trying to intervene..i was frightened to death.
We are living in a dangerous world; people are bad, and care for no one..
I realised it today even more and learned that i should be happy with what i have; tomorrow, maybe our loved ones may not be here because of foolish, immature, irresponsible and heartless people...
I am so sad..

Most people finance their homes with mortgages and pay for their cars with loans. Young people often obtain loans to pay for college. And, of course, lots of people make purchases with credit cards.

You can't expect to receive credit as a matter of course, however. You must apply for it. And just as you would hesitate to lend money to a stranger, banks, retailers, or finance companies will not grant you credit without knowing something about you.

It used to be that a retailer or bank would have to call each creditor you listed on an application form before they would decide to extend credit to you. Today, they rely on credit reports, so it's important for you to know what is in yours.

What Is a Credit Report?

A credit report is a record of your credit activities. It lists any credit-card accounts or loans you may have, the balances, and how regularly you make your payments. It also shows if any action has been taken against you because of unpaid bills.

Where Do Credit Reports Come from?

A company that gathers and sells credit information is called a consumer reporting agency (CRA). These types of companies collect information about your credit activities, store it in giant databases, and charge a fee for supplying the information. The most common type of CRA is the credit bureau.

There are three major credit bureaus that operate nationwide, plus many smaller companies serving local markets.

What Is a Credit Rating?

Your credit rating is drawn from your credit report, which outlines your borrowing, charging, and repayment activities. A good rating helps you reach financial goals; a poor rating limits your financial opportunities.

Since your credit report influences whether you are able to buy a home and get a job, it is extremely important to protect your credit rating by making loan and bill payments on time and by not taking on more debt than you can handle.

Who Is Allowed to See Your Credit Report?

Credit bureaus can provide information only to the following requestors: (1) creditors who are considering granting or have granted you credit; (2) employers considering you for employment, promotion, reassignment, or retention; (3) insurers considering you for an insurance policy or reviewing an existing policy; (4) government agencies reviewing your financial status or government benefits; and (5) anyone else with a legitimate business need for the information, such as a potential landlord.

Credit bureaus also furnish reports if required by court orders or federal jury subpoenas. They will also issue your report to a third party if you request this in writing.

What Type of Information Is on Your Credit Report?

There are usually four types of information:

  1. Identifying Information: Your full name, any known aliases, current and previous addresses, social security number, year of birth, current and past employers, and, if applicable, similar information about your spouse.

  2. Credit Information: The accounts you have with banks, retailers, credit-card issuers, utility companies, and other lenders (accounts are listed by type of loan, such as mortgage, student loan, revolving credit, or installment loan; the date you opened the account; your credit limit or the loan amount; any co-signers of the loan; and your payment pattern over the past two years).

  3. Public Record Information: State and county court records on bankruptcy, tax liens, or monetary judgments (some consumer reporting agencies list non-monetary judgments as well).

  4. Recent Inquiries: The names of those who have obtained copies of your credit report within the past year (two years for employment purposes).

Where Do the Consumer Reporting Agencies Get Their Information?

Credit bureaus collect information from parties that have previously extended credit to you, such as a department store that issued you a credit card or a bank that granted you a personal loan.

Who Decides whether or not to Grant You a Loan?

The lenders themselves make the decision about whether or not to grant you credit. The credit-reporting companies only supply the information about your credit history.

Why Should You Obtain a Copy of Your Credit Report?

To avoid any unwelcome surprises, it's important to see a copy of your credit report before you apply for credit such as car loans, mortgages, or credit cards. Errors in credit reports can be common. Keep in mind, however, that they are not part of a conspiracy against you. They are simply the result of human error.

How Do Errors in Reports Happen?

Think about how often your mail has a misspelling of your name or a mistake in your street address. Then, imagine the possibility for error in a report that contains much more information about you. Cases of mistaken identity, out-of-date information, and outright errors can easily occur.

How Do You Correct an Error on Your Credit Report?

Contact the consumer credit reporting agency immediately. The company is then responsible for researching and changing or removing incorrect data. This process may take as long as 45 days. At your request, a corrected report will be sent to those parties that you specify who have received your report within the past six months, or employers who have received it within the last two years.

What if the Consumer Reporting Agency Stands by Its Report?

You have the right to present your side of the story in a brief statement (100 words or less), which the credit bureau must attach to your credit file. Your statement should be used to clarify inaccuracies, not explain reasons for delinquency. Anyone requesting a copy of your credit report would also automatically receive your statement (or a summary of it), unless the credit bureau decides that it is irrelevant or frivolous.

What Should You Do if You Are Denied Credit because of Something in Your Credit Report?

The lender who denied you credit must give you the name and address of the credit bureau that produced the credit report. Then, you have up to 30 days to request a free copy of your report.

The credit bureau must tell you the nature and substance of all information contained in your report. It must also tell you the sources of the information and who has received your report for the previous six months (two years for reports furnished for employment purposes).

How Long Does Information Stay on Your Credit Report?

Generally, all your credit history information, good or bad, remains on your report for seven years. If you file for personal bankruptcy, that fact remains on your credit report for 10 years.

In a nutshell, the motorola Nextel i580 is the world's toughest multimedia phone. It makes reliable phone calls, plays MP3s like a boom box, and shrugs off shocks that would destroy lesser phones. It's expensive, but worth the price.

In the past, Nextel's phones have gone two ways—either rugged but basic, like the redoubtable i355, or powerful but less durable, like the i930 smartphone. The i580 makes no compromises, starting with durability: At 3.8 by 2.2 by 1.1 inches and 5.1 ounces, it's built like an 18-wheeler. Keys are pretty big and well separated. The monochrome, one-line external display shows Caller ID just fine, and the bright 262,000-color, 176-by-220 internal screen looks good even in sunlight.

I decided to find out just how rugged the i580 really is. Dropping it on concrete and even spiking it on a tile floor like a football didn't seem to hurt it any, though the phone does flip open when it hits the ground. Then I stuck the handset in the freezer for about 3 hours. It turned on, slowly, and reported that it had no battery. Amazingly, the phone returned to normal operation when the battery thawed. Next, I took it outside into 100-degree heat and then threw it from a second-story window onto concrete. The battery door popped off, but other than that, the phone was okay. Once I put the battery back in, the phone worked fine, with only a minor scratch in the corner of the case. Since it had hit the ground pretty hard, I decided to wash it off in the sink. The water-resistant i580 shrugged the cool spray off like a duck.

Okay, what can actually kill the i580? To make a point, I stuck the tough little phone under the wheel of a Saturn Sky roadster, which weighs about 2,680 pounds. Eight wheels later (two rolls forward and back), I'd managed to crack the i580's LCD screens—but astonishingly, the phone still worked! I could make calls, Direct Connect, and even use the camera.

The i580's durability is even more impressive because it's a really good phone. The speaker is extremely loud and unusually clear when making calls outdoors and doing Direct Connect. Push-to-talk sounds positively gorgeous. Indoors, you can hear a little bit of background hiss in the earpiece. The phone connected to Plantronics bluetooth headsets easily, and you can trigger voice dialing over Bluetooth (though voice dialing relies on recorded tags and is not speaker-independent.) Also, since the phone is designed for loud environments, ringtone volume and vibrate power will literally knock your socks off. Battery life was solid, too. The i580 yielded 7 and a half hours of talk time.

The built-in MP3 player uses a pretty handsome interface, playing MP3-format songs off a microSD card (a 64MB card is included) through the powerful speaker. It's quite audible outdoors. Unfortunately, you can't assign your MP3s as ringtones, but that's the usual deal for most U.S. phones. A 1.3-megapixel camera takes somewhat dim, soft photos. Low-light performance isn't outstanding, but it's not awful for a cameraphone. The video mode captures the usual 176-by-144, 15-frames-per-second cameraphone videos, up to 10 seconds long.

The i580 also does well at geekier uses: It has no problem transferring photos to and from PCs and Macs over Bluetooth. On my tests, I discovered that the phone will also work as a Bluetooth laptop modem for both PCs and Macs, though at dreadfully slow speeds, around 20 Kbps. Nextel packs in a few other nifty features here, too: Java Web browsing, GPS location services, its off-network Direct Talk walkie-talkie system, and the ability to download its Mobile Email Enhanced client, for example.

The Nextel i580 sets a new standard for Nextel, bringing together maximal features and rock-solid durability. Sure, you'll pay extra for that. If all you need is a purely voice-oriented rugged phone, the i355 will certainly suffice.

A diagram showing the front side of a typical credit/debit card.

  • (1) is the bank logo.
  • (2) is the EMV chip (commonly referred to as 'Chip And Pin')
  • (3) is the Hologram
  • (4) is the 16 digit card number
  • (5) is the logo of the card type
  • (6) is the expiry date
  • (7) is the name of the cardholder

The plastic credit card with a magnetic strip many people carry in their wallets or purses is the end result of a complex banking process. Holders of a valid credit card have the authorization to purchase goods and services up to a predetermined amount, called a credit limit. The vendor receives essential credit card information from the cardholder, the bank issuing the card actually reimburses the vendor, and eventually the cardholder repays the bank through regular monthly payments. If the entire balance is not paid in full, the credit card issuer can legally charge interest fees on the unpaid portion.

Individual banking institutions have their own policies when it comes to credit card applications. Customers may seek either a secured or unsecured credit card, depending on their individual repayment histories. A secured credit card requires the applicant to deposit an amount of cash equivalent to the credit limit desired. A deposit of $1500 USD, for example, should be enough to be issued a credit card with a $1000 to $1500 spending limit. If the customer fails to make sufficient payments, the deposited money will be used to satisfy the credit card debt.

An unsecured credit card, on the other hand, is generally issued to those who have a good and have demonstrated an ability to repay the accrued debt on time. Credit limits are determined on an individual basis, and may be raised or lowered based on performance. An unsecured credit card is essentially a pre-approved loan, with higher than a similar personal bank loan. The main benefit of any credit card is instant access to more cash than you may have on hand. A recent college graduate, for example, may have to purchase a business suit for employment purposes. Earning the $200+ USD needed for an average suit could take weeks, and he or she needs the suit in order to earn the income. Putting the suit on a credit card would be the ideal solution; the borrower could repay the balance with his or her first paycheck and few interest charges would accrue.

Credit card use often becomes problematic when the holder accrues more debt than a regular monthly payment can cover. The issuing bank does allow credit card users to carry over balances every month (revolving credit), but significant interest rates may also accrue on those balances. Missing a scheduled payment can also prompt the bank to raise interest rates on a delinquent account. If a credit card holder can only afford to pay the minimal amount due every month, he or she will not be reducing the actual debt incurred. The minimal payments may only apply to the accrued interest. This is a financial spiral many credit card users may experience if they don't use proper spending restraint.

A credit card does give the holder an immediate credibility for services such as hotel reservations, car rentals and airline ticket reservations. Those without a credit card often have to guarantee their reservations with cash deposits or several forms of identification. Many credit card plans also include insurance coverage for theft fraud . If a credit card is reported stolen and then used illegally, the cardholder would not be held responsible for unauthorized charges. A credit card holder can authorize other people to use the card for purchases or services, however. Ultimately, the primary cardholder is responsible for all charges placed on his or her account.

A credit card is not a requirement for successful living, but even those who only pay for goods or services with available cash often find a credit card to be a convenient form of identification and instant credibility. In order to avoid excessive credit card debt, the holder must decide if the goods or services are worth the added expenses.

Extended stay properties operate under several banners, brands and models, but all share the characteristic of offering guests accommodation for five days or more without the usual additional services of a full-service hotel. They generally fall into one of three categories:

• All-suite hotels;
• Apartment hotels or ‘aparthotels’;
• Serviced apartments

The concept of extended stay hotels dates back to 1974 when Marriott opened its first Residence Inn in the US. Since then the extended stay model has achieved strong growth in the US. The commonly-accepted definition of ‘extended stay’ in the US market is a hotel with selfcatering suites where guests stay for five days or more, but which usually does not offer the ancillary services such as bars, restaurants and porterage provided by fullservice hotels.

In the US today, 20 per cent of hotel stays are estimated to be five nights or longer – much of that accounted for by extended stay locations. Customers are mainly business travellers and include employment categories such as construction workers. The healthy growth in the extended stay sector has been driven by the geographical size of the US, and demand among travellers staying away from home for more ‘homely’ and value for money accommodation than the full-service hotel. The trends towards secondments and more flexible use of human capital have further strengthened demand. As the extended stay market has grown and become more sophisticated in the US, it has segmented into budget, mid-tier and upscale offerings.

When should you consider long-term studio suite accommodations?
  • Working on an extended project away from home
  • Going away on a budget vacation and still prefer to have a kitchen and access to laundry
  • Remodeling or buying a home
  • Relocating to a new job
  • Visiting relatives

What can you look forward to at Extended Stay Hotels ?
  • All suites come with a fully-equipped kitchen, appliances and linens
  • Unlimited local phone use, a computer data port and personalized voice mail
  • Housekeeping and guest laundry facilities
  • Select properties offer exercise centers and pools.
  • Wi-Fi high speed Internet access available in every room - chain wide.(possibly)

    When looking for consolidation of private student loans program, first of all one must know all the costs in exchange for the loan borrowed. The most important cost is the fixed cost or likewise known as origination fees. Such costs are supposedly to cover whatever paper works needed in order to process the loan. This fees as the name implies are fixed and so whatever amount of loan that you might borrow, the fees that you need to pay will be the same.

    Origination fees are actually a percentage of the total amount of loan. When you are able to acquire low rates of interest for your consolidated student loans, you will however have to deal with higher origination fees.

    Because of the current competitive nature of the services on consolidation of private student loans, many lending companies are willing to discount the fixed costs. Some are even afraid not to get loan clients that they completely slash these costs off. This means with just a little more effort in online research, you can actually find a lending company that will change you such costs when availing of their student loan consolidation services.

    Imagine the savings that you can enjoy if you obtain a program on consolidation of private student loans with no fees to worry about. Just make sure before you sign a contract with your choice of lender, this clause of non-payment of origination fees is present on the terms and conditions. Great move on lenders to disregard such costs as this entices prospective borrowers to employ their services. On the other, the students further enjoy having less financial responsibility to worry about, which is why they are getting loan consolidation program in the first place.

    A college student knows how expensive it is to stay as one until the time comes when he is finally able to receive his degree. And for some, the only option that they have to take is getting college loans in order to pursue their studies. Tuition fees, books, board and lodging, and other incidental expenses - these are the necessities that one has deal with and pay via many loans in order to maintain good academic standing. However, when the time comes when the repayment of such loans must be faced by the student, he realizes that great burden of doing so. And because of this, student debt consolidation loans can be availed to ease up the financial burden and stress being experienced by the student borrower.

    What are student debt consolidation loans? These are the type of loans that are meant to replace the multiple loans initially gotten by the student; it is the consolidation of private student loans as well as government debts. In other words, they are new loans in place of all the burdensome studebt loans that you have obtained during your early years as student. They also help by providing you with a payment plan that are easier and more convenient for you; they can be in a form of smaller, more realistic monthly payments.

    Student debt consolidation loans offer smaller payment amount because they have lower rates of interest. With lower rates and payment, you are now given the chance to pay your new debt on time - without fail. Consequently it help you make significant improvement on your credit standing. Of course, as you were able to do away with your previous lenders because of the new loan, it also helps in the improvement of your credit.

    Refinancing is when you apply for a secured loan in order to pay off another different loan secured against the same assets, property etc. If this original loan had a fixed interest rate mortgage which has now declined considerably, then you would like to avail of a new loan at a more favorable interest rate.

    When is Refinancing an Option

    Typically home refinancing is done when you have a mortgage on your home and apply for a second loan to pay off the first one. While taking the decision to go for the home refinancing option, it is important to first determine whether the amount you save on interests balances the amount of fees payable during refinancing.

    Benefits of Home Refinancing

    Imagine a scenario where you can have access to extra cash, while simultaneously lowering your monthly mortgage payment. This dream can become a reality through mortgage refinancing.

    A house is the largest asset you may ever own. Likewise, your mortgage payment may be the largest expense you'll have in your monthly budget. Wouldn't it be great to use this asset to reduce your monthly payment and put extra cash in your pocket? When you refinance your mortgage, you can take advantage of the equity in your home and enable this to take place.

    Lower Refinance Rate, Lower Payments

    When you purchased your dream home, the financial environment dictated interest rates. While certain factors, like your credit rating and the amount of the down payment that you were able to afford, influenced your interest rate, the single most important factor was the prevailing rates at that moment. However, interest rates fluctuate. When the Federal Reserve enters a rate-cutting period, the prevailing rates may become significantly lower than when you originally purchased your home.

    By refinancing your mortgage when interest rates are lower, you can exchange a higher interest rate for a lower one, which, in turn, will lower your monthly payment.

    Shorten the Length of Your Mortgage when Refinancing

    Another advantage of home refinancing is that you can shorten the term of your mortgage. Let's say, for example, that you originally had a 30-year mortgage and have been paying it for eight years. Thanks to mortgage refinancing, you can switch to a shorter term of either 10, 15 or 20 years. This can save you thousands of dollars of interest. Also, if the refinance rate is lower, but you maintain the same monthly payment, you will build up equity in your home more quickly, because more of your payment will be going towards principal.

    Exchange an Adjustable Rate for a Fixed Refinance Rate

    When interest rates are low,adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) are the housing market's darlings. However, as interest rates increase, that adjustable rate may not look as sweet. It's also possible that you opted for an ARM because your financial future was less secure, or you weren't sure how long you'd stay in your home. If, however, you've become financially stable and know that you'll be staying in your home for several years, it may be beneficial to swap that fluctuating adjustable rate for a fixed one. You'll have more security knowing that your monthly payment will remain steady, regardless of the current market environment.

    Access to Extra Cash - Cash-out refinancing

    One way to put more money in your pocket is to tap into the equity you've built in your home and do a "cash-out" refinancing. In this scenario, you can refinance for an amount higher than your current principal balance and take the extra funds as cash. This can provide money for remodeling your home, paying off high-interest rate bills, or sending your kids to college.

    Bye, Bye PMI

    If you were unable to make a down payment of 20 percent when you purchased your home, you may have been required to purchase Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). If your house has appreciated since then, and you've steadily paid down your mortgage, your equity may now be more than 20 percent. If you refinance, you will no longer need PMI.

    In many ways, your house is like a cash cow. If you have discipline and knowledge of the benefits of refinancing, you can tap into its milk for years to come.

    Debt consolidation involves taking high-interest balances on a multitude of credit card bills and combining them into a single balance. It can involve a variety of different options, including debt consolidation loans, transferring balances to a zero percent credit card, or a home equity loan or home equity line of credit. Interestingly enough, however, some experts say individuals who take out a home equity loan to pay off credit card debt accumulate similar debt in a two-year period.

    The reason for this is simple, accumulating debt is a habit and it is an exceedingly tough habit to break. If your tendency is to overspend, chances are you will continue to do so, even after you've taken out a home equity loan. In addition, if you need debt consolidation, it is likely that you will not qualify for the lowest possible interest rates. Those are reserved for people with the best credit ratings.

    Debt Consolidation - What Are The Options?
    Having a lot of debt is not uncommon today, and for many, it seems that knowing how to get
    out of debt is just about as uncommon, too. If you have a lot of debt and want to find some
    relief, there are a number of options that may be available to you.

    Still, if you are determined to undergo debt consolidation, there are a few key things you need to know. To begin with, a home equity loan is a fast, simple way to dig yourself out of debt. However, if you have difficulty paying the loan back, you could end up losing your house. In addition, although interest on home equity loans is generally tax deductible, such a tax break could be limited. You may also be tempted to borrow more than you need just because the bank says that you can.

    Another possible option is a zero-percent credit card, but you need to be careful about using it. For instance, the zero-percent interest rate may just be an incentive for you to switch cards. At the end of a certain period of time, say 12 months, you'll be back to paying sky-high interest rates. Also, you will only be able to hang onto the low introductory rate as long as you pay your bill on time. If you're late with a single payment, you'll end up paying a much higher interest rate. Additional fees and charges may cause the cost of the credit to soar. In addition, if you end up paying the bare minimum on your credit cards, it will be difficult for you to pay them off any time soon.

    What about the conventional debt consolidation loan?
    Such a loan can be quite convenient and a real time-saver, enabling you to pay your debt with one single payment each month. You may find that you can get the best rate at a local credit union rather than at a bank. By doing some comparison shopping, you may be able to save quite a bit of money in the long run.

    Homeownership is a large commitment, so the risks associated with homeownership are important to weigh in when deciding whether to become a homeowner now or at some other time in the future.

    What are the risks? While every situation is different, here is a list of risks that all homeowners should consider:

    • Monthly housing expenses may be more than rental expenses. The amount you commit to paying for housing each month may be more if you're paying a mortgage versus paying rent. In addition to paying for the home itself, you also will be expected to pay for property taxes, insurance and other expenses you probably did not have to pay for while renting. Thus, even if your monthly mortgage payment would be the same amount as your current monthly rent payment, buying a home may be more expensive than continuing to rent.
    • You are the landlord. When you commit to owning a home, you become the landlord. That means, if something breaks or needs to be repaired, you pay for it. In addition, you are now responsible for other expenses as part of owning a home, such as paying property taxes, association fees, utility bills, and insurance, the costs of which may increase each year.
    • You may need to sell your home to move. If you decide to move, you may need to sell your home. Depending upon market conditions in your neighborhood or state, your home may not sell as quickly as homes in other areas.. In addition, you may need to incur the expense of hiring a real estate agent to assist you in selling your property.
    • Property values can remain flat or decline. The value of your home, starting from the price you paid for your property, may remain flat or fall over time. A property can lose its value for a number of reasons, such as changes in the local or national economy, if your home is not well maintained, your neighbors' homes are not well maintained, etc. If and when you decide to sell your home, you may not obtain the same amount you paid for it, and you may owe more than what the property is currently worth. As a result, you may be unable to move or may have to use savings to pay off the difference between the amount you receive from the sale of your home and the balance of your mortgage loan.


    Personally i did not know about equity until i did some research over the internet.Hope it helps you!!please comment:)

    Equity is simply the amount of ownership value a homeowner has in the property. Equity is computed by subtracting the total of the unpaid mortgage balance and any outstanding liens or other debts against the property from the property's fair market value.A homeowner's equity increases as he or she pays off the principal balance of the mortgage and/or as the property appreciates in value.When a mortgage and all other debts against the property are paid in full, the homeowner has 100 percent equity in the property.

    Equity exists in conjunction with the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio.The LTV ratio is an expression of the value of your property compared to the amount of your loan.You can determine your LTV by dividing your loan amount by your property's value or selling/purchase price, whichever is lower.

    For example, let's say you buy a $200,000 home and make a $40,000 down payment with your own money, and cover the remaining $160,000 with a mortgage.Dividing $160,000 by $200,000 gives you a loan-to-value ratio of 80 percent and equity of 20 percent, or $40,000.

    If you decide to sell your home at a later date, your equity will be determined based on the fair market value of the home less the amount you still owe on the home. So, continuing with the example above, let's say you live in your home for five years after purchasing it.During that time, you make monthly mortgage payments that reduce the outstanding balance of your mortgage loan by $5,000, from $160,000 to $155,000.In addition, during that five years the value of your house increases, and you are able to sell the house for $220,000.Because you still owe $155,000 on the mortgage, your equity would be determined by subtracting $155,000 from $220,000, which would be $65,000.After you subtract other costs, including the commission paid to a real estate agent to help you sell your home, you could use this equity to make a down payment on your next home.

    Conversely, your equity may decrease if the value of your home decreases after you purchase the home.If, for example, instead of increasing to $220,000, the value of the home in the example above decreases to $180,000, your equity would be only $25,000 ($180,000 less $155,000 owed on the mortgage loan).The possibility that your home's value may decrease is discussed below.

    For new car buyers, the real wonder of the Web is how easily you can get reliable price information that will give you a much stronger negotiating stance. But the Web is also powerful if convenience and low hassle matter a lot to you.

    If you plan to buy from a dealer, know your target price before you start shopping. can tell you the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (often called the "list price") and the Dealer's Invoice Price, or what the car cost the dealer.

    Focus any negotiation on that dealer cost. For an average car, 2 percent above the Dealer's Invoice Price (that would be $400 on a $20,000 car) is a reasonably good deal. The Web site gives you another useful figure -- the True Market Value, or average selling price, for a particular vehicle in your region. Knowing that price will tell you immediately if you are being offered a good deal by an Internet service.

    If you have no taste for going head-to-head on Dealer Row, you can choose two kinds of Internet service:

    Dealer Referral, the major surviving service of this type, does not give you an immediate price quote for new car purchases (it does offer prices for used cars). Fill in the Autobytel form detailing what vehicle you want and your color and options preferences. Then you will get a phone call or e-mail from a local dealership (sometimes almost immediately, sometimes a day or so later). At that point, you will get a price quote and some idea of whether the dealer has - or can get - the vehicle you want.

    Since you will already know the True Market Value price from Edmunds, you can tell if the offer is a good one. Autobytel prices are supposed to be non-negotiable, but dealers actually will sometimes budge from their initial offer.

    The major drawback of Autobytel, however, is that each dealership gets exclusive territory, so you will get a price from only that dealership designated for your area. That means you won't get the advantage of competitive bids.

    Direct Internet Service

    With, you go to the Web site, fill in the vehicle you want and get an immediate, non-negotiable price. These prices usually are competitive and may be a little above or below Edmunds True Market Value number depending on the vehicle., which gets its cars through dealers, doesn't guarantee it will be able to deliver exactly the color and options you want on your new car. Your chances are good if you are buying, say, a Honda Civic, a Chevy pickup, or any other big-volume model in a popular color. When you find the price you want at CarsDirect, it really can't be any easier.

    For another low-hassle option, consider hiring a car buying service. They do the hard part for you. For fees ranging from $190 to $750, depending on the level of service, they go out and get competitive bids from dealers and do all the negotiating for you. These services communicate with you via e-mail and telephone.

    The salesman may call it "doing the paperwork" or some similarly innocuous description. But the finance manager you are about to meet hopes to boost dealer profits at your expense with attractive-sounding offers of mechanical and financial add-ons. In most cases, just say, "no." But there are some exceptions.

    If you already have financing approved, just say so and you can avoid the financing pitch. The one exception: If you already know that the manufacturer is sponsoring a promotional deal with really low rates.

    The next pitch you are likely to hear is for an extended warranty. Whether you want to consider this depends on how long you expect to keep the car. If it is the three years or less that matches the typical warranty, reject it immediately. If, however, you are almost sure you will keep your car for five years or more, you might consider an extended warranty contract, which can cost $400 to $1,200.

    If you decide to buy one, ask when the extended-warranty coverage kicks in and what it covers. (So-called "power train only" warranties, for instance, may exclude expensive electronic repairs common in today's cars.) Also be sure you know how long the manufacturer's warranty runs. Volkswagen and Hyundai extend power train coverage for 10 years and luxury models Lexus and Infiniti for six to eight years.

    The latest vogue in add-ons (replacing rustproofing now that almost all new cars are rustproof to start with) is security etching. Having your vehicle identification number etched into the glass on your windows may, as claimed, make your car somewhat less likely to be stolen. But it is certainly not worth the $1,100 some dealers charge.

    Before you head for the dealership you will have already done your homework, so you will know the dealer's invoice price, whether rebates or dealer incentives are available, and your target price, as well as where you plan to start bidding.

    You want to start the bidding as low as you reasonably can, but not so low that you will seem like an uninformed buyer just making a low-ball offer. Pull together a folder showing your data and sources for these details so you can readily refer to them yourself or show them to the salesman.

    At the showroom. Establish quickly that you are a serious buyer, not a browser. If you come across as just shopping, the salesperson will be eager to move on to a likelier sale. Don't say: "I'm looking at the Ford Taurus." Say instead: "I plan to buy a Ford Taurus LX within the next two weeks and I know pretty much how I want it equipped. I will buy where I get the best price. Let's talk about it."

    That keeps you in control. The salesman wants to know as much about you as possible to start spotting potential profit points. Stay pleasant, but just turn away questions and say: "We can talk about me later. Let's talk about price."

    Focus on the invoice price. As soon as you can, try to switch the discussion away from the MSRP, or list price, to how much you intend to bid over the dealer's invoice cost. Bring out your Internet printout to show you have done your research on this. The salesman may well say: "That is not the right invoice price for the car." He or she may in fact know less than you do since traditional dealer training focuses on the MSRP and many dealers do not give salesmen the invoice prices. Say: "This is the invoice price for the car I want with the equipment I want." Show him your printout.

    A note on buying cars as a couple: If you're negotiating to buy a car with your spouse, make sure that you both agree beforehand on what you're going to say and not say. If you're buying as a team, it's imperative that you act like one in front of the salesperson - who will doubtlessly try to exploit any division of interests you and your spouse may have. The negotiation table is no place to sort out monetary or philosophical differences with your mate.

    Start low. Though your target is $200 above invoice, you need to leave room for the dealership to budge you a little. So start out bidding at the invoice price on a car like the Taurus, where a rebate signals you to negotiate hard. You know you are entitled to the $500 consumer rebate that was offered recently, but don't bring that up yet. If that $500 had been a dealer instead of a consumer sales incentive payment, you would start out bidding to try to capture at least half that money. In that case, you would bid $300 below invoice and make it clear how you got that figure. "Since the dealership stands to get a $500 payment from Ford as a sales incentive, $300 below invoice seems fair."

    He who hesitates loses. At this point, the salesman is likely to say something like: "I think this is way too low, but I will take your offer to my sales manager and see what I can do for you." He or she may not even intend to talk to the sales manager, but plans to keep you waiting in the glassed-in office to pressure you into a higher offer before even seeking approval. Tell him or her you do not intend to wait long. Then don't just sit there. Wander around the showroom or go outside to look at other cars. That usually brings the salesman back quickly. It's likely that he will bring the news that your initial offer was not good enough. At this point, if you started the bidding at the invoice price, agree to $100 over invoice.

    If you get it, take it. If the dealership has a car in the color and equipment you want, and the salesman offers $200 over invoice, accept the offer. If not, get the best offer and take it to another dealer. If the second dealer beats the original offer, keep the competition going - play it back to the first dealer.

    When you hit your target or come as close as you think you can, agree on the price. Now, and not before, is the time to talk about a trade-in. You already will know what your car is worth from checking local ads and looking up your model on sites like and the Kelley Blue Book. If your car is a popular model in good condition and you are sticking with the same brand, you might match or slightly beat that price with your new-car dealer who sees potential profit in selling your used car. If the trade-in offer is a good one, say yes. If not, plan to sell it yourself or take it to the used-car lot of other dealers for a price quote.

    Once your price and trade-in are set, you still have to finalize the deal. In our next section, we tell you how to close.

    Having more information gives you more power. Not long ago, auto dealers had the upper hand because they had most of the information about price, but knowing where to look online can give you an advantage.

    Using Web sites like or Kelly Blue Book's, you can find out the dealer's cost for any vehicle. You can also find out about customer or dealer rebates, subsidized lease deals, or other special breaks can cut your cost. Best of all, you can decide exactly what you intend to pay for the car or truck before you ever go near a showroom.

    The number most often cited as the dealer's cost is the so-called invoice price - the wholesale price that the manufacturer bills the dealer on shipment. But that is not the whole story.

    The manufacturer may offer so-called "dealer incentives" for slow-moving models - in effect, rebates paid to the dealer instead of the car buyer. Unlike heavily advertised consumer rebates, these dealer incentives are rarely publicized. If you have done your homework and know such an incentive exists, you often can negotiate half or more of that amount for yourself.

    A hot-selling new vehicle may sell for a while at full MSRP with no bargaining possible. But for more ordinary vehicles, a good starting point is to aim for a target price of 2 percent over the dealer invoice price.

    For a slow-selling model, you may be able to go even lower. If you discover that the model you want carries a sizable consumer rebate or dealer incentive of $750 or more, let that alert you to bargain harder, since the dealer and the manufacturer want to move that model.

    When you go to a car dealership to negotiate for a new car, you're in a stronger position if you have a loan pre-approved. Unless your model has a special low-rate financing offer backed by the manufacturer, a local bank or credit union is likely to give you a better deal on a loan. And in most cases, you can take a rebate in place of any low-rate financing and use that to lower your purchase price.

    Credit unions typically charge one-half to one percent lower interest than bank car loans. You may have access to a credit union where you work, or may be eligible through a professional organization (teachers, government employees).

    If you don't have ready access to a credit union, check out your local bank offerings. Web sites specializing in loan information will give you a quick rundown on average rates and the best rates in your area.

    HSH Associates gives you one car-loan rate per city - among the best found for each location in their survey. gives five or more quotations for each major city, including the lowest rate available.

    Capital One Auto Finance offers what is called a "blank check" auto loan. The company will approve you, online, for an auto loan and provide you with a check to be used for the purchase of an automobile.

    When you get a pre-approved loan, that commitment usually is good for a month or more. So you can shop for the car you want knowing your financing is ready to go.

    In addition to getting financing before you go to a dealership, you also need to do your price homework. That's our next lesson - setting your target price.

    In those new-car ads on TV, lease payments look awfully low. And they are, compared with loan payments for buying the car. But leasing is not for everyone.

    Leasing is the easiest way to get a new car every few years while letting the dealer or leasing company worry about disposing of the old one. Leases have some major disadvantages.

    One of the biggest drawbacks - especially if you are not accustomed to leasing - is that you are forced to make a major financial decision when your lease expires. You must either turn that car or truck back and buy or lease a new one, or decide to exercise your option to buy the vehicle at the lease-end price. (Typically, the value of your car or truck at the end of the lease is set in advance.)

    On the other hand, if you buy a car or truck, you can postpone any decision about replacing it at least until mechanical trouble forces your hand. Some people just like knowing that they own the car once the final payment is made. If you don't mind driving an older car, the best decision on purely economic grounds usually is to buy a new car and keep on driving it long after your loan payments have stopped.

    Which is right for you? If you typically trade for a new car every four years or less, want to avoid the loan down payment of 10 to 20 percent, drive close to but not more than the 15,000 miles a year allowed in most leases and typically keep your vehicle in good condition to avoid end-of-lease penalties, you might well be happy leasing.

    Even so, before you opt for a lease, keep in mind that there is a reason why those low payments look so attractive: Instead of paying for the entire car, you're only paying the estimated depreciation over the time you are leasing it. So to get a really good lease deal, you need to look further than just the payments. You need to understand how leasing works, do your homework, and negotiate as hard as if you were buying the car. Here is a step-by-step guide:

    Master the jargon. You can't successfully negotiate a lease without becoming fluent in the industry's terms. What you need to know before you start to bargain: The capitalized cost is the equivalent of the selling price, which you want to get down as low as possible. The residual value is the estimated worth of the car at the end of your lease. Your monthly payments are determined by the difference between these two figures, plus an interest charge known as the money factor. Thus, raising the residual value or lowering either the capitalized cost or the money factor will lower your payments.

    Look for a manufacturer-subsidized lease. These deals, often promoted in splashy ads in newspaper auto sections, are likely to be the cheapest available. To identify a generous subsidy, go to and, for about $25, download a software kit that identifies the best current leasing programs in your region. It also includes the standard residual value data published by Automotive Lease Guide, an independent research firm, and provides options for changing lease terms and mileage limits.

    Set a target and negotiate hard. You can find out the so-called dealer's invoice cost for any car or truck by checking sites like or Kelley Blue Book. Set a target price about 2 percent above the dealer's cost ($400 on a $20,000 car, for instance). Start bidding below your actual target and plan to wind up near that figure.

    Be aware, though, that manufacturer-to-dealer incentives may lower the dealers costs to far less than the invoice price, which means you may have a lot more room for negotiating. Consult, which provides some information about manufacturer-to-dealer incentives. Or go to Kelley Blue Book's site,, where you can access the actual prices people are paying for cars, as well as whether manufacturer-to-dealer incentives are being applied to a particular vehicle.

    The Web site for the car-buying service also sells a monthly newsletter detailing available incentive plans including dealer incentives.

    There's nothing like that new-car smell. Buying a new car has a lot of allure: It's brand new and it's all yours; nobody has abused it. You can get the vehicle equipped just the way you want, and you get the full factory warranty. But hold on. Your best deal could well be a late-model used car.

    The used-car market has changed dramatically in the past few years. To start with, today's new cars - and thus used cars - are simply made better. Overall quality and durability has increased as U.S. manufacturers pushed hard to catch up to imports. A second factor is the rise of leasing.

    There are plenty of well-kept two- and three-year-old cars returning from leases. These cars provide a good supply of attractive, reliable used cars. New used-car superstore chains are making it easier than ever to buy with huge inventories and no-haggle shopping. The kicker is that if you opt for a three-year-old model instead, you could save as much as 30 to 40 percent over new.

    In the last few years, car dealers, backed by manufacturers, have introduced what they call "certified" used-car programs for newer used cars (usually up to three years old). Manufacturers insist that a used car must pass a series of inspections before it can become certified. And once a car passes, the manufacturer adds a fresh warranty, sometimes 12 months or more.

    If you want a used car, start by checking prices of the vehicles that interest you. Among the best Web sites are and Kelley Blue Book's Both are free, and both will let you check the going prices for almost every make, model and year you could want. (Both sites list new-car prices as well.)

    Sites like and list classified ads for used cars, mostly from dealers. Enter your zip code and you'll get a selection of cars within 100 miles or so of your home. While ads for these same vehicles undoubtedly also are running in your local paper, you get more detail online.

    For those willing to venture farther from home, eBay Motors, part of the eBay auction site, lists used cars for sale. You can restrict your search to cars in your area, but you'll probably do better by looking at cars all around the country. eBay provides various protections, as well partnerships with used-car inspection services, to take some of the worry out of buying a used car entirely online. Read the eBay Motors "How to buy" page and see if you feel comfortable with the process.

    Once you zero in on some possibilities, you need to double-check them. Unless you are buying a certified used vehicle, spend a little extra to check any specific car, truck, or van you are close to buying.

    First make sure the odometer is honest and that the car has never been totaled. (The used car business may have become less sleazy than it used to be, but problems still do occur.)

    Firms like Carfax and Autocheck will track down the history of your prospective vehicle by its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), usually listed on a metal plate just inside the windshield. If, for instance, the car had 50,000 miles when its title last changed but now shows 30,000 miles, take a pass. If the car has ever been sent to a junkyard, a salvage title will show up on the report. About one in 10 cars in its database has some kind of problem, say Carfax officials.

    Once a car has passed those big hurdles, you still need to get it checked by your own mechanic, if you have one. If you don't, many cities have specialized mechanic services that will make on-the-spot inspection of used cars. If you are considering spending $15,000 for a used car, that $100 to double-check it may be well spent.

    If you're buying on eBay Motors, they've got an auto inspection agreement with SGS Automotive. Sellers can have their car inspected and a report posted for potential buyers to see.

    The most important thing to remember: Anything's negotiable except the right to inspect. If the seller won't let you and your mechanic inspect the car, walk away, no matter how nicely it runs.

    Often, this rule of thumb means you'll be buying from an individual rather than a dealer, for many dealers don't allow inspections. Those who do typically won't let you take the car off the premises and won't let you use their lift.

    Unless you have an unusually close relationship with your mechanic, he'll want you to bring the car to his shop. This isn't unreasonable, for a lift is essential for hunting nasties like rust, worn brake drums, and deteriorating exhaust systems. However, a good mechanic can tell a lot from sliding underneath the car, inspecting the exterior paint for repaired body damage, and checking the odometer reading against actual wear.

    Confining your search to individuals usually means you'll get a lower price - but it's more time-consuming because there's only one car at each location. Regardless of where you buy, there are some rules you can follow.

    Jack Gillis, director of public affairs for the Consumer Federation of America, recommends what he calls the "touch and comment" technique often used by new-car dealers when they inspect trade-ins. "When you review the car, visibly point out the various problems that you note," he says. "An exaggerated touch of some loose parts or running your hand along body damage can put the seller in a defensive position."

    This tactic can be used effectively when your mechanic is conducting an inspection within an earshot of the seller. Have your mechanic mention each problem, allowing you to comment grimly.

    Having your expert on hand can make all the difference, because even if you know a lot about cars, you need an expert witness to present the damning evidence. Like any expert witness, however, mechanics must be paid. Some shops offer a pre-purchase checkout for a set amount that can vary widely depending on the shop and the procedures performed. Others offer on-premises inspections for their hourly labor rate, which can range from $40 to $70 an hour, depending on the region and the type of shop.

    While indispensable, your mechanic is your consultant, not your agent. To get the best possible deal on a used car, you must do some work yourself. Some pointers:

    - Before going to look at cars, visit and peruse the Official Used Car Guide of the National Automobile Dealers' Association. It lists recent prices fetched by specific year models in your region. The range between the trade-in value and retail value is your room to maneuver. If you can by a decent car from a dealer for less than its NADA book trade-in value, more power to you.

    - If the seller touts the car as an immaculate jewel, be sure to negotiate an acceptable price before bringing in your mechanic. Failing to do so could leave you with no bargaining leverage if the car actually is in great shape. Make sure the seller understands that the agreed-on price is entirely contingent on the vehicle making Phi Beta Kappa. Once your technician determines the car's shortcomings - and there are few used cars on the market without any - it's your job to put a generous price on each repair needed. After all, you intone, the initial figure was based on perfection.

    - Before buying, try to arrange a test-drive at night and another on a rainy day. Nothing reveals a cheap windshield like oncoming headlights, and a replacement windshield may mean the car's been wrecked and then given a convincing paint job. Also, it's impossible to know if trunk and door seals are leaking except when it's raining. Again, leaking seals may mean that the car's been wrecked, especially on a car only a few years old.

    There is a point at which too many glitches should eliminate the car from consideration. Says automotive author Mortz Schultz: "If you find a major problem, or if you rack up enough minor ones, forget the car."

    In return for your rigors, do you get an absolute assurance that you won't regret the purchase? Of course not. It's still a used car, after all. Buyers must accept the occasional ping, ding, or rattle. But if your mechanic is competent, and you negotiate adroitly, you can get a great vehicle for a substantially lowered price.

    If you decide, however, that you really want a new car, you have a different choice to make: Should you buy or lease?

    After your mortgage or rent, car loan or lease payments are likely to be the next-biggest item in your monthly budget. So calculate carefully what you can really afford. Remember to take into account such items as insurance costs, which can run as high as 12 percent, but more typically 5 to 8 percent of the purchase price.

    A new (or used) car calls for a new state registration, with fees typically running from $50 to $125. These items usually figure into the total amount you borrow with a loan or finance with a lease - and therefore help determine your real-life monthly payments.

    A good rule of thumb is to plan on spending 10 to 15 percent of your total monthly budget on all automotive expenses. If you are buying a new car, your warranty will cover major repairs for at least the first three years in most cases, but will usually not cover routine maintenance such as oil changes or replacement for items such as batteries, windshield wipers, or tires.

    A new car means higher insurance costs. (Opting for a late-model used car can cut those costs.) Your premiums for liability coverage, required of all drivers, may not change much from your old car. What will increase is the so-called collision and comprehensive portions of your policy.

    Collision pays to repair accident damage to your car, while comprehensive covers theft, fire, and natural disasters. Since you will want these types of coverage for a new car, your costs could shoot up sharply - especially if you have been driving an older car or truck and have dropped collision and comprehensive coverage to save money.

    Check the record. One way you can cut your insurance costs before you buy is to choose a model that has a good safety record and/or a low theft rate. Insurance costs vary not only by model but also by metropolitan areas, and even from city to suburbs within those areas. So when you have narrowed the number of cars or trucks on your wish list to a handful, call your agent for a rate quote, or check theft and safety records on the Web.

    For federal crash test results, go to The site operated by the insurance-company sponsored Highway Loss Data Institute will give you rankings for injury and property losses for any vehicle, plus a list of the most- and least-stolen models. Both those factors affect insurance costs as well as your safety and peace of mind.

    Hey, wait. Don't go down to the car dealer and start shopping immediately. Are you sure that the car, pickup, sport utility, or van you have in mind is what you really need?

    If you rush into a deal without carefully considering how you will really use the vehicle, you could be making a $25,000 mistake, at the average new-car price.

    Sure, you want a car that will make you smile. But consider the purpose of most of your driving. Is it commuting? Hauling kids? Weekends? Vacations?

    If you drive more than half an hour to work every day, a combination of a comfortable ride and reasonable gas mileage is important. If you frequently drive clients or co-workers to lunch, a sleek coupe won't be welcoming for whomever has to crawl into the back seat; you need a four-door sedan.

    If you frequently haul your kids and their many friends or classmates, a minivan or sport utility with three rows of seats may be essential. If weekend errands involve hauling building materials or large bushes, that same utility or van will come in handy.

    Be honest with yourself. What is the largest number of people you carry regularly? What is the biggest pile of gear, luggage, or haul from Home Depot that you regularly carry?

    Once you have made this practical match up, however, you still have lots of choices. With careful planning, you can get a vehicle that you need and really want.

    1. Make sure you are getting the right vehicle.

    This seems obvious, but you could wind up an unhappy car owner if you haven't thought carefully about how many people and how much luggage or gear you need to carry.

    2. Assess the worth of your old car.

    Whether you plan to trade it in or sell it, your current car can be an important factor in your budget. Checking the right Web site and maybe your local newspaper will give you a realistic valuation. Selling it directly instead of just trading it may also mean a sizeable difference in what you get for it, though it may take a while longer to reap the proceeds.

    3. Decide whether new or used is best for you.

    Cars are built better now than in the past, so used cars make a lot of sense. But if you get a rebate or other cost break, the math may be on the side of a new vehicle.

    4. Consider whether leasing or buying makes more sense.

    Leasing provides lower monthly payments than buying with an auto loan. But it's not for everybody. If you don't have money for a down payment or if you trade your car every two or three years, you may be a good candidate for a lease.

    5. Do your homework and set your target price.

    The Internet has made it easier than ever to find out the dealer's cost for each vehicle and its options. That's the first step to getting the best possible deal.

    6. Shop for money before you shop for the car.

    If you plan to buy with a loan, check your credit union or local bank quotes online to find the lowest rate. Getting a pre-approved loan will give you added confidence in negotiating a good price.

    7. Negotiating a lease.

    In the complicated world of leasing, the dealer will have the upper hand unless you learn the jargon and how to negotiate the various segments of a lease deal.

    8. Negotiate a purchase.

    If you are doing it yourself, get bids from several dealers, keeping the focus on the dealer's invoice price, which you will know from your research. You may also be able to get bids without going to showroom after showroom.

    9. If you hate haggling, consider using a car-shopping service.

    Auto-buying services, such as Web sites or discount clubs, make things easy with pretty good, no-haggle prices. But with most of them, you get quotations from only one dealer. Consumer services that shop several dealers near you may deliver even better prices.

    10. Don't let the deal-closer close out your savings.

    The finance manager isn't there just for the paperwork. He or she wants to sell you high-profit financial and mechanical add-ons. These are seldom worth the money.

    Are these claims about free cars too good to be true? Are there companies who will actually provide you a free car?

    Yes, almost, but not quite true. There's a little more to it. However, there's enough truth in it and enough potential opportunity to make it worth a serious further look.

    The companies DO exist, and they DO pay people to drive, and they DO provide free cars. Real people are currently participating in these kinds of programs every day.

    How Does it Work?
    In short, you agree to drive a car that displays advertising for a company's product or service. Since you do the advertising, you get a free car to drive or get paid to drive your own car. In some cases, you may get a free car AND get paid to drive too.

    These arrangements are typically not handled directly by the company selling the product or service, but by an marketing or advertising company hired by the product/service company. Some of these marketing and advertising companies provide brand-new vehicles, some offer almost-new vehicles from their fleet, others may pay you to drive your own car.

    The company "wraps" the car in an easily-removable paint-safe vinyl film that contains an attractive graphic ad that promotes a client company's product or service. For example, the ad might promote a cell phone service or a new restaurant in town.

    Some ads might cover the entire vehicle (looks great on SUVs, minivans, PT Cruisers), some only partially, and some only on side or rear windows. Don't worry, you can see just fine through windows that have vinyl ads applied.

    The company offering the product or service pays the advertising company, who pays you to drive your own car or provides you a free car with the advertising already applied.

    The amount you get paid, or whether you get a free car, depends primarily on three factors:

    • Number of miles you drive per month
    • Where you drive
    • Where you park

    In other words, you're selected according to the number of people who will potentially see your wrapped vehicle in an average day.

    You'll be paid more and have a better chance at a free vehicle if you drive lots of miles and drive in a heavily populated and high traffic area. In some cases, you may be asked to drive a specific route every day. The more people that have a chance of seeing your car as it's being driven or where it's parked, the greater your opportunity.

    If you only drive a few blocks to a part-time job, back and forth to school in the suburbs, or just to church on Sundays, you probably won't qualify for this kind of program.

    It's not too difficult to figure out whether or not you might qualify for one of these cars-for-free programs when you consider the objectives of the advertisers. They simply want their ads to be seen by as many people as possible in a specific area.

    What's the Catch ?
    You have to be at least 18 years old, have a drivers license, and have a good driving record. You pay for insurance and, in some cases, for maintenance, especially if you drive your own car.

    New cars aren't always available and you may not be able to drive the make/model of your choice. However, depending on the company, you may have enough choices that you can find something that you like.

    You may or may not be able to select the ad that goes on your car or the duration that the ad stays on the car. Of course, if you don't like the ad program, you can turn it down and wait for a better one. Most ads are attractive and well designed so that you wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen with it.

    Keep in mind that the "free" car belongs to the advertising company, not you. At the end of the agreement, which could be as much as five years, you give the car back.

    Also remember that the ad stays on your car 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can't take it on and off. If this is your only car, you must be prepared to drive the car everywhere you go — to weddings and funerals, to work, to school, to the mall, and everywhere else that you drive.

    Competition for free cars is very heavy, outstripping demand in many cases. It may take up to 90 days to get accepted into a program. Therefore, you have to be well qualified and patient in your attempt to land one of these deals. Free is not always easy.

    But, for a car, it might all be worth it.

    How Do I Sign Up ?
    There are many companies, in many different locations in the U.S. and other countries, that use this form of vehicle-based advertising. Some companies only advertise in a specific city or advertise certain types of products. Some provide new cars, others only pay you to advertise using your own car, and some do both. Some do full-car wraps, others may only do spot ads.

    Therefore, the best way to find the companies that would work best for you, where you live and drive, is to "subscribe" to an information directory that lists all such advertisers. These directories are compiled and provided by companies who specialize in this kind of service. There are a relatively small number of these companies, who can be found on the Internet, in newspaper ads, and in auto-related magazines.

    There is typically a one-time charge for the directory subscription, usually about $30, and usually with a 90-day money-back guarantee.

    Since the directory is always changing and being updated, make sure you get a lifetime "membership" if possible, and that all future updates to the directory are free.

    With the list of advertising companies and contact information, it's up to you to apply for their programs. Some directory companies offer help with the application process, although you should not pay extra for this service. And you should not pay extra for a "premium" listing or to be placed at the "top" of the list of applicants.

    Be honest and provide accurate information in your application. Most companies will check your credentials. Of course, there are no guarantees that you'll be accepted or that you'll find a deal that you like, but completing an application is a small investment of your time for the chance at a rewarding possibility.

    Where Do I Get the Information I Need ?
    The following companies listed below provide free-car and drive-for-pay program directories. The directories include programs in the U.S. and other countries all over the world.

    Subscribing with more than one company might be somewhat beneficial but, generally, it should be expected that one company's directory will be much like another's.

    Not Free, But Close
    Salvage cars that have been declared total losses by insurance companies can often be a source of easily repaired vehicles at low cost. In many cases, these vehicles have only minor problems, possibly only water damage.

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