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Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps

dave ramsey baby steps

Are you trying to get out of debt? Do you want more financial stability and freedom? Are your finances one of the bigger stresses in your life right now? If any of these sentiments apply to you then Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps might be just what you need to cure your money blues.

Table of Contents

Step 1: Start an Emergency Fund
Step 2: Focus on Debts
Step 3: Complete Your Emergency Fund
Step 4: Save for Retirement
Step 5: Start a College Fund
Step 6: Pay Off Your House
Step 7: Build Wealth

Dave Ramsey is a guy who, through personal experience, was able to get out of debt and find financial peace of mind. He is now a financial expert with courses and books to help the everyday person get in control of their finances.

The best place to start when trying to regain control over your finances and achieve a full “money makeover” is to start with his 7 step plan. This plan has 7 baby steps that you follow to reach more financial stability and get to the point where you can start building wealth.

Step 1: Start an Emergency Fund

car maintenance

The first step in Dave Ramsey’s 7 step plan is, “Save $1,000 for Your Starter Emergency Fund.”

One of the main reasons people struggle with money is because necessary emergency expenses (like medical bills, car bills, or home repairs) come out of nowhere and drag you deeper and deeper into debt. But if you are preemptively prepared for these surprise expenses then they won’t take you off guard again.

So the very first thing you should do when getting your money in line is to get an emergency fund started. Save up an emergency fund in a separate bank account, until you have at least $1,000 in the account. This will be the start of the emergency fund that will keep sudden necessary expenses from plunging you into deep debts because you weren’t prepared.

Step 2: Focus on Debts

debts

The second step in Dave Ramsey’s plan is to “Pay Off All Debt (Except the House) Using the Debt Snowball.”

The snowball method that Dave Ramsey refers to here means that you start by paying off small debts first, and work your way up to the bigger debts. Debts can include paying off your car, credit card debts, and student loans.

First, make a giant list of all your debts, every single one, except for your mortgage if you have a house. Then, put your list of debts in order from the smallest debt amount to the largest. Then you go through knocking out each debt by eliminating the smallest debts first and working your way up to the largest debt last.

Step 3: Complete Your Emergency Fund

medical bills

The third step is to “Save 3 to 6 Months of Expenses in a Fully Funded Emergency Fund.”

Now that you’ve gotten all your debts out of the way, it’s time to finish your emergency fund. You can use the same money you were using to pay off debts each month and put it toward your emergency fund until it has enough to cover 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses and bills. Then you’ll really be prepared for anything.

Reasons to Have an Emergency Fund

  1. If you lose your job.
  2. You won’t have to worry because you’ll have enough to last you 6 months. This will give you the time you’ll need to find a new job.

  3. If your car breaks down.
  4. You’ll be able to pay for the necessary repairs, the tow truck, or even for a new car in some cases.

  5. Medical bills.
  6. Don’t let your health and necessary medical bills keep you from staying afloat financially.

  7. Home repairs.
  8. If something happens to your home you’ll be able to fix the problem rather than living with it.

Having an emergency fund is THE key to keeping you out of debt in the future. After getting yourself out of debt, an emergency fund is what will keep you from getting back into debt in the future.

Step 4: Save for Retirement

retirement

The fourth step in the Dave Ramsey plan is to, “Invest 15% of Your Household Income in Retirement.”

After your debts are gone and your emergency fund is taken care of, it’s time to start seeing to other important savings like a 401K. Dave Ramsey recommends you take 15% of your gross monthly income and put it toward a retirement fund each month. To figure out how much you should be putting into your retirement fund each month, take your monthly income and multiply that number by 0.15.

Step 5: Start a College Fund

college funds

The fifth step to Dave Ramsey’s plan is to, “Save for Your Children’s College Fund.”

Avoiding student loan debts can be one of the biggest factors in staying out debt as a young adult. If you can pay for your kids college tuition then you’ll ensure their financial security in the future, as they’ll better be able to stay out debt. Dave Ramsey recommends using either a 529 college savings plans, or an education savings accounts (ESA). Talk to your bank or credit union about setting up these accounts for these specific purposes.

Step 6: Pay Off Your House

mortgage

The next to last step in this 7 step plan is to, “Pay Off Your Home Early.”

Put all the extra monthly income you have into your mortgage so you can finish paying it off early. After this step you will officially have no debts whatsoever! All of your earnings will go to you instead of getting drained away in large debts and payments.

Step 7: Build Wealth

wealth and legacy

Finally, it is time to, “Build Wealth and Give.”

Congratulations! Once you’ve reached the 7th step in Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, you can start focusing on building your wealth and leaving a legacy. Don’t forget to keep and maintain those financial safety nets like a healthy emergency fund, retirement account, savings account, and college funds.

Now you are officially in charge of your money rather than it being in charge of you.

Financial freedom is possible for you! Everyone can do it and Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps can help you get there. Dave Ramsey also has other resources that can help you implement this plan. You can participate in Dave Ramsey’s program, books, and podcasts.

You can take the actual course with Financial Peace University.

Dave Ramsey also has a free customized plan and assessment that you can do right now, in just 3 minutes!

Listen to the Dave Ramsey Show anywhere you listen to podcasts or radio.

 
Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps to financial freedom can help you with so many aspects of your life. They can help you decide when to buy a house or help you get situated for saving for a house. It’s a checklist program that can help you get rid of loans and debt (like student loans), or even help you get to where you can budget for a wedding.

Another way you can get some needed financial help is to take out an Installment Loan at Check City! Installment loans can help you stay on top of your bill payments and avoid late fees, which can really hurt your long-term financial goals.
 

READ MORE

Browse Dave Ramsey’s online store for more great financial resources to help you on your financial journey.

Read more helpful articles on the Dave Ramsey Blog

Learn more about the debt snowball, “How the Debt Snowball Method Works.”

Read Dave Ramsey’s full article on his 7 baby steps, “What Are the Baby Steps?

Stay out of debt through college by using these tips, “How to Stay Debt Free through Grad School.”


Today’s Amazon Daily Deals!

amazon daily deals lightning deals

There are lots of great deals you can take advantage of every single day, with Amazon’s Daily Deals! You won’t believe some of the great things you can find. Every Tuesday we highlight some of our favorite Amazon Daily Deal buys. Here are some of our top picks from today:

*The prices shown below are the sale prices listed at the time of posting.

Ring Video Doorbell Pro

ring video doorbell

Current Sale Price: $149.00
Originally: $224.00
You Save: $75.00! (33% off)

Get a certified refurbished video doorbell pro for a great price! This video doorbell works with Alexa. With the Ring doorbell you can easily check your front door and keep an eye on your house, at any time of day or night. You can even speak to visitors at your doorstep through the ring doorbell, and it’ll send you alerts when it detects movement.
 

Echo Show

echo show video display

Current Sale Price: $64.99
Originally: $89.99
You Save: $25.00! (28% off)

The Echo Show is a compact smart display that works with your other Alexa devices. You can also get an adjustable stand to go along with it. The Echo Show is incredibly useful. With it you can watch the nursery to check on your sleeping baby, you can make video calls, and you can use it to listen to music and audio books.
 

Electric Kettle

electric kettle cordless

Current Sale Price: $29.99
Originally: $36.99
You Save: $7.00! (19% off)

This sleek looking Miroco electric kettle is a great staple to get for the oncoming winter months. It holds up to 1.5 liters, which can fill up to 8 glasses. It’s also 100% stainless steel with double walls so it’s safe to touch. This electric kettle also comes with overheat protection and auto shut-off so you won’t have any boiling accidents. But one of the most convenient features of this kettle is that it’s cordless! Use this electric kettle to brew all kinds of warm beverages and stay cozy this winter season.
 

YOSUDA Stationary Indoor Cycling Bike

indoor bike

Current Sale Price: $220.99
Originally: $259.99
You Save: $39.00! (15% off)

With winter coming around it can get harder to stay active. Not all of us have the resolve to keep jogging outside when the weather starts turning cold and snowy. But with an indoor bike you can keep up with your workouts from the cozy comfort of your own home. The YOSUDA stationary bike comes with an iPad mount, a comfortable seat cushion, and a water bottle holder, so you won’t want for anything as you meet your goals this year and stay active this winter.
 

Winix Air Purifier

air purifier

Current Sale Price: $99.99
Originally: $199.99
You Save: $100.00! (50% off)

Clean air is as important to our well being as eating healthy. Getting an air purifier for your room can be a great way to clean up the air you breath in your house every day. It even connects to WiFi and Alexa, so you can control the air purifier with your voice.



Sometimes deals and sales are the way that we get things we really need. You may especially depend on sales when you’re in college, or just starting out on your own, or in a new place. So when you find something you really need on sale, and payday is just a couple days too late, that can be really frustrating. Luckily Check City can help you out with a quick and easy Payday Loan so that you can take advantage of important deals regardless of when your payday comes.
 
Share with us what deals you snagged today by using the hashtags #amazondailydeals #checkcity
 
READ MORE
Make clothes shopping not just easier, but cheaper too, by doing your clothes shopping online, “Shopping for Your Clothes Online.”

Get ahead on your Christmas shopping this year, “4 Reasons to Start Early Christmas Shopping.”

Learn how to get thrifty with all your gift shopping this season, “Thrifty Gift Shopping.”

Read all about the post Christmas online shopping addiction and how to you can save yourself from overbuying this year, “The Post Christmas Online Shopping Addiction.”

Save on all your holiday shopping with these tips, “Saving while Online Shopping for the Holidays.”


How to Void a Check

void a check

Sometimes you will need to void a check, and in order to avoid problems you’ll need to know exactly how to do it. So if you need to void a check don’t panic! It’s really easy to do.

 

What is a Void Check?

A voided check is simply a check with the word “VOID” written across the front. Writing “VOID” on a check means that the check can’t be deposited or cashed. When you void something it means you’ve made it empty, of no effect, or null. So if a written check is full of the monetary amount you write on it, voiding the check makes that check financially empty.

When you void a check it can’t be used as a check, meaning it can’t be deposited. Usually a check is a document you sign to allow the recipient to withdraw the amount you specified from your bank’s checking account. Voiding the check makes the recipient unable to do this anymore.

Why You Might Need to Make a Void Check

You might need to use a voided check to set up an electronic link to your checking account. Most likely you’ll need to set up this link to get your paychecks through direct deposit, or to set up a recurring payment like your monthly bills.

Direct Deposit. Your paper checks all have your bank information on them—the name of your bank or credit union and your account and routing number. By giving a voided check, you give the person establishing the link the bank account information they need to set up your direct deposit. But because the check is void, they won’t be able to use the check to take money from your account.

Automatic Payment. You can also use a voided check to set up automatic payments. Auto pay can be very useful to stay on top of recurring bills like utilities, rent, or credit card payments. By using auto pay you won’t have to worry about forgetting any bill payment and accruing late fees and hits to your credit score.

Stop a Check Payment. Sometimes you’ll need to cancel a check payment after you’ve already sent or given the check.

Mess Up. If you mess up writing a check, then you’ll want to void the check you already wrote on and start over again. This can happen if you accidentally write the wrong amount on the check, or if you write the wrong name down for the recipient.

How to Write a Void Check for Direct Deposit

  1. If you don’t already have a checkbook from your bank or credit union, then contact your bank to receive one.
  2. Use a blank check from the checkbook that is linked to your checking account or the account where you want to make deposits.
  3. Write the word “VOID” across the front of the check in large letters. You can also write “VOID” in smaller letters over key parts of the check. You would need to write “VOID” in the payment amount box, across the payee line, and on the signature line. Either method should work just fine.
  4. *Cover most of the check with the word “VOID” but do not write over the check numbers at the bottom of the check. These numbers link the check to your bank account and are necessary for establishing the electronic link.

    *Use a writing utensil that cannot be erased, like a marker or an ink pen. Do not use pencil as someone could erase the word “VOID” and try and use the check to withdraw from your account.

  5. Keep a record of the voided check in your check register in the back of your checkbook. This way you can remember why you voided a check later on when you go to balance your checkbook.

 
direct deposit
 

How to Void a Check You Already Wrote

So you wrote a check and something goes wrong. Maybe you don’t need the check anymore, or you messed up writing it out and need to change something on it. If any of these things occur you can simply void the check to ensure it doesn’t accidentally get used later. Voiding a check you already wrote is a safe method of destroying the check.

Follow the same procedure outlined above and then store the voided check away in your banking files, or keep it in your checkbook.

How to Void a Check You Already Sent

So you wrote a check and gave it or sent it, but now you need to cancel it. Maybe you realized you messed up on the check, or the check got lost in the mail. Or maybe you realized too late that you won’t have enough money in your account when the recipient of the check goes to deposit it.

If either of these things occur what you are going to want to do is get a Stop Payment Order. A Stop Payment Order from your bank or credit union, is how you void a check you already sent.

Basically, voiding a check you already sent is like bouncing your check preemptively. If you know the check you wrote is going to bounce then canceling it before the recipient tries to make the deposit can leave you with less consequences and fees than if you let it bounce. However, fees for canceling a check payment are still going to apply.

If you need a Stop Payment Order for a check, your bank will probably need the information on the check you want to cancel. This is why it is always a good idea to document your check transactions in your check registry so that you will always have information like, the check ID number, the amount, and who you paid.

You can also try to just get the check back if it was given to someone you know. Handling these kinds of financial issues amongst yourselves is usually the least complicated option, and then no one will receive any fees from their bank. In the very least, you should let the check recipient know that you canceled the payment.

How to Get a Voided Check

To get a voided check you’ll need to talk to your bank and get them to send you a checkbook. Some banks and credit unions will automatically send you a book of checks when you first open an account with them. Others will require you to purchase your checkbooks from them.

How to Send a Voided Check

To send a voided check to your employer just ask them for the mailing address you should use. Then send the void check in the mail to them. Sometimes you can also bring them the void check directly into the office.
 
send a void check
 

No matter what financial service you use, be it a bank or a credit union, the process to void a check from any financial organization is going to be the same as the process outlined above. You simply write the word “VOID” in big letters on the front of the check. If you need to cancel a check, no matter the financial system you’re using, you can always contact them and they will run you through the procedure to stop a check payment.

How to void a check in QuickBooks

If you use QuickBooks, then follow this link to learn more about how to void a check in QuickBooks.

How to get a voided check from Bank of America

Take a look at the FAQs page for Bank of America to read all about voiding checks with their bank. If Bank of America is your bank, and you want to set up direct deposit, then you actually don’t need to void a check with them to do so. Instead you can just use their online banking to download a direct deposit form and use that document the same way you would use a void check.

How to get a voided check from Chase

If you have a Chase account, then you can also fill out a form instead of using a void check to set up direct deposit. All you’ll need to fill out the direct deposit form is your routing number, account number, and check ID number.

How to void a check from Wells Fargo

You can void a check from Wells Fargo online, by phone, or in the store. This link will have the phone number you need to contact them and the step-by-step process of how to void a check online.

Keep a Record

Always keep a record of all your check transactions, and of all voided checks. You can easily keep this information in the check register of your checkbook. You should also always keep the check stub—the thin paper copy behind each check you write—because this acts as a detailed receipt of all your check transactions.

When you record void checks, make sure to include the reason you voided the check as well.

If you need any other Check Cashing Services you can visit any Check City store.


READ MORE
Learn more about checks and how to fill them out properly, “How to Write a Check.”

Knowing how to use money orders can be another safe way to pay your bills, “Filling Out A Money Order Properly.”

Take full advantage of your checkbook, “6 Advantages of Using Checks.”

Today’s Amazon Daily Deals!

amazon daily deals

There are lots of great deals you can take advantage of every single day, with Amazon’s Daily Deals! You won’t believe some of the great things you can find. Every Tuesday we highlight some of our favorite Amazon Daily Deal buys. Here are some of our top picks from today:

*The prices shown below are the sale prices listed at the time of posting.

Robot Vacuum Cleaner

 
robot vacuum
 

Current Sale Price: $95.93
Originally: $165.99
You Save: $70.06! (42% off)

Let’s be honest, everybody wants a robot vacuum cleaner. With a robot vacuum, you won’t have to vacuum your carpets or sweep your hard floors ever again! This Coredy brand vacuum even comes with a pet filter.

Echo Wall Clock

 
echo wall clock
 

Current Sale Price: $24.99
Originally: $29.99
You Save: $5.00! (17% off)

Yet another great Amazon device! Amazon Echo now has a sleek wall clock that’s compatible with Alexa. You can set timers using Alexa, and she’ll show you the timer on your wall clock, so you can now see how much time you have left instead of just waiting for Alexa to let you know the timer is done.

Weighted Blanket

 
weighted blanket
 

Current Sale Price: $47.92
Originally: $69.90
You Save: $21.98! (31% off)

Weighted blankets have been proven to help you sleep better and reduce anxiety. But all that extra weight can make these blankets cost a little more than the average blanket. If you’ve been wanting the calming help of a weighted blanket in your life, this deal is for you. It also comes with different colors and patterns to choose from, and weight options from 5lbs to 30lbs.

Portable LED Camping Lantern

 
camping lantern
 

Current Sale Price: $14.44

The Odoland portable LED camping lantern isn’t just a great light source, it can also easily hook onto the ceiling of your tent, and it has a built in fan to keep you cool when the wilderness nights are warm.

Amazon Cloud Security Camera

 
security camera
 

Current Sale Price: $89.99
Originally: $119.99
You Save: $30.00! (25% off)

Keep your home and loved ones safe and secure with the Amazon Security Camera. The Amazon Cloud Camera is a great way to always keep a good eye on your home. It comes with night vision and two-way audio.

Reusable Collapsible Straws

 
reusable straws
 

Current Sale Price: $13.99

You don’t have to be panicked about the planet to see the value of these travel friendly, compact straws. They can clip easily onto your bags and this pack comes with 2 straws, and a straw cleaner. Never be without a straw again while showing a little extra friendliness to the planet with these convenient collapsible straws.



Sometimes deals and sales are the way that we get things we really need. You may especially depend on sales when you’re in college, or just starting out on your own, or in a new place. So when you find something you really need on sale, and payday is just a couple days too late, that can be really frustrating. Luckily Check City can help you out with a quick and easy Payday Loan so that you can take advantage of important deals regardless of when your payday comes.
 
Share with us what deals you snagged today by using the hashtags #amazondailydeals #checkcity

How to Tell if a Site is Secure

secure sites

Today we do a lot of our business and shopping online, which is why Internet security has become such a giant industry. But before you go putting your financial or contact information into a website, you want to make sure the website is secure. Even if a website is reputable, if they aren’t taking the proper precautions their site could be susceptible to malware and affect your computer and the security of your personal information. When you put sensitive information online you want to first make sure the website is safe. You can easily check that a site is secure by following the tips below.

What are the Online Dangers?

Online scammers ultimately want your bank information, your credit card numbers, your passwords, and other personal information like your social security number. They want this information either to use your accounts, or to steal your identity. The following practices are the main ways online scammers try and get your private information.

Phishing

Phishing is when scammers try to pose as legitimate sites or organizations by using fraudulent websites in order to get your information. You can often tell if something is actually a phishing scam when their offers are too good to be true, if they’re pressuring you to rush into something, or if they try and get you to click on hyperlinks or attachments. Sometimes Phishers will even use fake websites that look very similar to the original website to trick people. Spam filters are a great way to protect yourself from phishing emails. Your browser also has settings to prevent you from accidentally going onto fraudulent sites in the first place. You’ll want to keep these kinds of settings on at all times to ensure safe browsing online.

Spread Malware

The term malware actually stands for malicious software that is meant to access or damage your computer. The best way to protect yourself against infecting your devise with malware and viruses is to be careful what you click on, and use an antivirus program on your computer to sweep for such attacks.

Spam

Spam generally refers to constant emails, sent to mass amounts of people who did not subscribe or ask for those emails. They are unsolicited and come en mass, which is a problem because you didn’t ask for this barrage of useless emails in your inbox, and you now suddenly have a lot of them. Spam emails happen when sites make you log in, make a payment, or enter in your email. Spam used to just be an annoyance, but has grown into a criminal business. Spam’s purpose can be for advertising, or for spreading malware by trying to get recipients to click on links and attachments.

How are Secure Sites Made Secure?

Https

When a website has https:// at the beginning of the web address, it means that site is secured using an SSL Certificate. SSL Certificates secure all of your data as it is passed from your browser to the website’s server. To get an SSL Certificate, the company must go through a validation process.

Website Validation

Website validation is important, because today we have rules and regulations that sites need to live up to in order to prove they’re real. You also want your website to be validated because then search engines, like google, will work correctly alongside your site so that people can successfully find you on their browser of choice. Everyone’s browser will be able to interpret the site and display it correctly on their screen. Website validation comes from meeting the standards set by the W3C Organization and passing CSS and HTML validations.
Domain Validation (DV) is the lowest form of website validation and only gives ownership of the domain name.
Extended Validation (EV) is the highest level of website validation and with this the beginning of the address bar will have a lock icon and sometimes a green bar to show it is secure.

They Keep Your Information Safe

Using a digital security certificate is important for any site. The sites listed below are technology companies that work to provide digital security for a websites. It is from these types of companies that reputable sites will gain their website’s validation and other programs that constantly sweep their site for malware. By using these digital security companies you can be assured your information is going to be kept safe and private on that website.

  • Digicert
  • McAfee SECURE
  • BBB Accreditation
  • CFSA

How to Stay Safe Online

  • Don’t click on links and attachments from sources you are unfamiliar with.
  • Look for a site’s physical address and phone number.
  • Check that there are return and shipping policies listed for shopping.
  • Be wary if the prices are too low or the offers are too good to be true.
  • Look for a privacy statement somewhere on the site.
  • Change your passwords every so often and don’t use the same password for everything.
  • Look for a site’s certificates and accreditation (BBB). You will often find this type of information at the bottom of the webpage.
  • Use an antivirus program on your computer to block malicious malware.

Safe lenders:

If you are shopping for loans, you should know that there are a number of characteristics of a safe lender that you can watch out for.

They are a Direct Lender

The best payday loans come from direct lenders. Check City is a direct lender, so when you get loans from Check City, the only people you deal with are our people. You want to use a direct lender because your payday loans should be as simple as possible, and indirect lenders add the hassle and insecurity of dealing with third parties.
The Problem with Indirect Lenders

  • Using indirect lenders is more expensive because they have to go through the extra process of finding direct lenders for you to borrow from.
  • Indirect lenders have more risks for the customer because there are more variables and institutions involved in your loan, application, and information.
  • Indirect lenders are less likely to care about your loans and fixing problems for you because you aren’t borrowing directly from them.
  • It is more difficult to become long-term members with indirect lenders, because essentially, they are only an unnecessary go-between. But with direct lenders like Check City, you can go to the same trusted place your whole life for ALL your loan needs.
They are a State Licensed Lender

Here at Check City we are serious about having a working relationship with the states in which we reside. That is why we have chosen to be a state licensed lender as opposed to being an offshores lender or tribal model lender. Going through this trouble is the final way to make sure you know we are a responsible, safe, and secure place for you to do your loan business. Because Check City is a state licensed lender you can have peace of mind knowing that we are doing everything right by the state in which you reside.

They Have Customer Credentials

If a site or a lender is reputable and safe to use, then they will have real customers and organizations affiliated with them.

  • Check City has been in business since 1986 and in this time, we have helped hundreds of thousands of people meet their financial needs.
  • Check City also has a Shopper Approved rating of 4.8 out of 5, in a pool of more than 31,000 ratings.

It isn’t hard to figure out whether a site is secure or not. All you have to do is know what makes a site secure in the first place, and look for those signs on each site you visit, especially if you’re going to do any shopping or other business on that site.


READ MORE
Read about how cell phone apps can help you secure your phone in, “Cell Phone Security Apps and Other Ways to Lock Down Your Phone.”


FEATURE IMAGE BY NIKITA KACHANOVSKY
OTHER IMAGES BY DANIEL KORPAI

Common Habits that Ruin a Car’s Value

Every driver develops their own set of driving habits. Some of those driving habits are good, others are downright dangerous and other driving habits can actually lower the value of your car. Spoiler alert: dangerous driving habits will ruin the value of your car.

Good driving habits include double checking both ways before proceeding, glancing into the blind spot before switching lanes, and buckling your seat belt. Some driving habits are neither good nor bad, like wearing driving gloves. Dangerous driving habits are things like texting while driving or operating the GPS system while the car is in motion.

Each individual cultivates their own driving style and car maintenance habits. While some driving habits are fine, there are a few common habits that a majority of people fall into that can actually have a negative effect on the value of that person’s car.

Watch Your Driving Style

defensive driving

Driving habits that lower a vehicle’s value are more common than people would like to admit. Some of these value-ruining habits are actually so ingrained that it may take some personal effort to stop these bad habits. But working to get rid of these habits is worthwhile because the better care you take care of your car now, the higher value you’ll get when you go to sell it or get an auto title loan. Your style of driving is one of the first aspects of your driving you’ll want to reevaluate.

Are you an insecure driver?

You might be insecure behind the wheel if you’re new to driving, new to driving stick, driving an unfamiliar car, or were recently in a car accident. Insecure drivers are not defensive drivers, and tend to have a driving style of avoidance. Being insecure behind the wheel can actually make you more likely to get into an accident with your car, so take your car to a secluded lot and practice basic driving maneuvers to get comfortable behind the wheel again.

Are you an aggressive driver?

You might be an aggressive driver if you find yourself getting angry or stressed out whenever you’re behind the wheel. You also might be a more aggressive driver if you find yourself not stopping completely at stop signs, riding the bumpers of other cars, beeping at other vehicles around you too much, or running yellow and even red lights. Aggressive drivers are also more likely to get into accidents. The key to fixing an aggressive driving style is to work out the stress levels in your everyday life, and learn to have more patience on the road.

Be a Defensive Driver

Some people like to describe defensive driving as “driving as if everyone else on the road were drunk.” If you don’t have expectations for the drivers around you, then you’ll be more patient with other drivers, and you won’t make harmful assumptions about their actions. The American Society of Safety Professionals has lots of guidance on how to develop a healthy defensive driving style.

Keep it Clean

car wash

One of the most common bad habits concerning car care is not keeping your car clean. It can be very east to procrastinate cleaning your car, especially during the winter months. The time, effort, and expense of car washes can also keep car owners from regularly cleaning their car’s exterior as well. But keeping the inside and outside of your car clean is important in retaining the value of your vehicle. If you don’t, then your car will deteriorate faster. Before you know it your car will need more than just a new paint job to look new again. Not cleaning the inside of your car will also make you have to replace the upholstery before you can sell.

Schedule a semi regular car wash trip, and pencil in some time once a week to clean out your car, vacuum the seats and flooring, and wipe things down. It’s also a good idea to plan some time every so often to shampoo your car’s interior as well to really keep it fresh.

Easy on the Throttle

Another common mistake that car owners often make is thinking that their new car is as invincible as it is powerful. Driving a new car with aggression, top speeds, and a lead foot are some of the best ways to damage a vehicle from the inside and therefore lower the total value of the car.

Other habits that lower a car’s value are less obvious. Some additional ways to ruin a car’s value include customizing the vehicle, getting work done on the side by a free-lance repair man, failing to keep accurate records, and messing with the body of the vehicle (aka adding body kits). More than likely the car you’ve bought isn’t the car you’ll have forever. Eventually this car will run it’s course for you, and you’ll want to sell or trade it in for a fresher car. Remember to maintain your car’s resale value as you care for it and drive it.

 

If you or anyone you know is guilty of taking part in one of the above habits then you should be aware—the value of your car is ever decreasing. Ensure the value of your car by not falling victim to these common and value-reducing habits when you drive and care for your car so that you can keep you car as a high value asset.

With a higher value car, you can easily resell your vehicle for more than the listed price or gain a greater title loan from Check City. Title loans from Check City are quick, easy, and safe loans that are borrowed against the value of your car, so keeping the above harmful habits away from your driving style could not only mean an increased value of your vehicle, but an increased value in the amount you can borrow against the title of the vehicle as well.

Top 5 Cars that Thieves Love

car thief

What is it that you love about a car? What are its characteristics that make you want to own it? It might be the speed, towing strength, leg room, color, or manual transmission.

Or perhaps you prefer the safety features. Maybe you want something that’s great in the snow during the winter months, but great on gas mileage. The different qualities of a vehicle that you’re looking for varies widely based on your personal preferences. Indeed, it is this wide range of vehicle preferences that allows this many makes and models to exist in the first place.

A car thief is wearing a different set of glasses though. They look at the “car market” from a different perspective. Where the car owners could look at any one of hundreds of choices, the car thief is really only looking at about five. What this means for you is that if you own any of the vehicles we’ll be covering in this post you’ll need to take extra precautions to protect your property.

It’s well worth it to protect your property because not only can having your car stolen be devastating, there are also a lot of hassles that go along with it that most people don’t think about. For example, there are the insurance claims, there’s the loss of personal possessions within the vehicle, and getting the loan paid off if you have a traditional loan or an auto title loan on your vehicle.

In order to get a better idea of why thieves might want your car let’s take a second to get inside their heads and cover the top stolen cars and why thieves love them.

#1: Honda Accord

First up is the Honda Accord. Far and away, the Accord was the most stolen car in 2012. In fact, the National Insurance Crime Bureau did their most recent study on most stolen vehicles in 2014 and found that Honda Accords ranked first on the list, with 51,290 Honda Accords stolen in 2014 alone.

#2: Honda Civic

The second most popular stolen car is Honda again. This time, it’s the Civic, bringing in an estimate of 43,936 stolen Honda Civics in the year 2014.

So what’s up with Honda? The next closest car on the charts rates in at about half the number of the Civic alone. So while the lists goes on, Honda vehicles are still more than twice as popular to thieves than any other car on this list. Why are they the most stolen cars in America?

There are ultimately two reasons for this. The first reason is because they are old and easy to break into. The majority of the models stolen in 2012 ranged from 1990 to 2000. They were 12 plus years old and there’s hardly any security on those older models. Thieves don’t want to get caught so they look for the easiest, not the most expensive, targets.

The second reason is that thieves break the cars into pieces and sell the individual parts. Hondas are some of the most commonly owned cars in America. Since these vehicles are still puttering around in abundance (the Japanese really know how to make them last forever), there are plenty of customers out there that just need a door, or a radiator to make the car run for another 50,000 miles. Since Honda doesn’t make certain older parts anymore or the prices for parts are far too expensive to be worth it, customers look for cheaper used parts. Thieves provide those used opportunities, unbeknownst to the buyer.

That said, Honda has definitely learned from their mistakes (having been at the top of this list for a couple years now). If you look at the most commonly stolen newer vehicles, Honda doesn’t come close to the top.

#3: Full Size Ford Pickups

The third favorite car among thieves was the Ford pickup (full size). It weighed in at 28,680 stolen cars. Turns out it was a 90’s truck that thieves were targeting so often. Why were these stolen? Parts and convenience. Again, the thief is never going to make it hard on himself for fear that he might get caught. He’s also going to always target more common vehicles so the parts will sell quickly and easily.

#4 & #5: Full Size Chevrolet Pickup & Toyota Camry

Fourth is the Chevy pickup (full size) coming in at 23,196 reported missing cars, and fifth is the Toyota Camry at 14,605. The vast majority of these statistics have to do with older car models. They present such each targets that it makes sense they would be the most popular cars to steal.

How to Protect Your Car from Thieves

Fortunately, if you have one of these top 5 cars, there are steps you can take to deter thieves.

Park in a Garage

car security

Don’t leave your car on the street if you can help it. If you can’t avoid parking on the street, then park it in a well-lit and populated area, especially at night. Thieves prefer the cover of darkness to accomplish their deeds, but if you park in a well-lit or busy area then you’ll deter thief activity.

But if you do have a garage, work on cleaning it out so you can use it for its intended purpose.

Keep Your Car Empty Inside

Leave the inside of the car bare boned. Don’t leave anything within sight as that can be the main source of temptation for thieves. This is a great tip too because keeping the inside of your car empty can give you an incentive to keep your car clean as well. If you do need to leave anything in your car put it under the seat, in the trunk, or in the glove compartment so that a thief scoping for items inside cars won’t see anything in yours.

Don’t Keep Your Car Title Inside Your Car

Never leave your title to the car in the vehicle itself. It’s almost a no-brainer to do this because if someone steals your car, and your car title is inside, then not only do they have your car but they now have it’s title too. A thief can then forge your signature and sign it over to themselves. Instead keep important documents like this in a safe lock box inside your house.

Lock Car Doors

Lock the car always. Even if your car is in your own garage, you should still lock the car doors before leaving it. Even if you are in your own familiar neighborhood, lock your car. Even if you are only going into the store for a second, lock your car. You never want to make a thief’s job easier by leaving your car unlocked and extra vulnerable.

Watch Your Keys

Keep a careful eye on your car keys. Losing your keys, or leaving them out where anyone can pick them up is a great way to lose your car forever. And you never want to lose your car all because you were careless. One way to help you never lose your keys is to use Tile essentials: devices that you can attach to your keychain so that you can track them using GPS if you ever misplace your keys. Another trick to help keep track of your keys is to use a lanyard of keychain that will make your keys bigger and thus harder to lose.

Use a Wheel Lock

Since a lot of stolen cars tend to be older, it can be useful to update your car’s security system yourself. You can also take advantage of old safety measures. Ever use a wheel lock before? It’s a device that literally locks your steering wheel. It can be a great tool to use as an extra precautionary measure when your car is older and therefore easier to steal. Thieves aren’t always ready to tackle things like wheel locks in a day of alarms and auto locks.

 

In 2012, the FBI estimates that about 724,000 cars were stolen. Assuming that each vehicle retained an amount of about $5,000 each, that equates to 3.6 billion in hard earned cash (some of which was still owed to the bank) that car owners lost when their cars got stolen. That’s quite the haul. Don’t become a victim of that statistic this year and keep these car safety tips in mind.

How to Sell Gold

sell-gold
 
There are some things when decluttering your life that you want to get rid of but don’t necessarily want to just throw away. Precious metals and jewelry may be one of those things. But you don’t want to sell your gold without doing your research first. By remembering these key points you’ll know exactly how to sell your gold.

When you know that you want to sell your old gold for cash, it is important that you know the best way to sell it. Selling gold for cash may require a little more thought than you would think. Doing a little research ahead of time and making sure that you know how to sell your gold properly will ensure that you get the best price for your gold.

What Can You Sell?

Gold buying is the process of selling your gold and other precious metals of value for cash. Some people use gold buying services like Check City because they have some old jewelry they would like to get rid of in exchange for cash. But it isn’t just gold that you can sell at places like Check City. There are an array of precious metals that you can sell to us for cash.

  • Necklaces
  • Bracelets
  • Rings
  • Dental gold
  • Pendants
  • Coins
  • Chains
  • Earrings
  • Jewelry
  • Watches
  • Silver
  • Platinum

gold-examples

What Determines the Value of Gold?

Check City, and many places where you can sell gold, uses the daily New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) market value to determine the value of the gold you want to sell on the day you want to sell it. The NYMEX is part of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange & Chicago Board of Trade Group (CME Group). On their website you can see for yourself their projections of gold prices for this year.

However, the best way to determine the exact value of your gold is to bring it into a Check City Store near you to have it evaluated that same day by an expert. The person evaluating your gold’s value will look at the NYMEX gold prices that day, and then weigh your gold on a jeweler’s scale.

How is Gold Weighed?

A jewelers scale is a sensitive scale that can weigh in grams and karats. It is also a highly accurate kind of scale in order to get the most accurate price evaluation for your gold and other precious metals. This scale will measure the gold in a Troy ounce. This means that there will be 31.1 grams for every 1 Troy ounce. When you are working with the company or individual that is buying your gold, it is important that you know how much your gold weighs and how much you are getting paid per unit. Some people may try to measure your gold in one unit and then pay you based off of another. Pay attention while your gold is being measured to ensure that you are getting paid what you should be getting paid.

Make sure that the person buying your gold is measuring for the karat fineness of the alloy. A karat equals 1/24 of pure gold by weight. Measuring the karats of your gold before you try to sell may be beneficial. You want to make sure you are getting accurate karat count and getting paid accordingly. Some jewelers may not pay what they should and understanding the karat count ahead of time will ensure you can recognize this and go elsewhere to sell your gold.

If you are trying to sell more than one type of gold, it is important that you do not let two different karat weights get weighed together. You will want each type of metal weighed on its own to ensure you are getting a higher price for the higher number of karats. Be aware of which pieces have the heavier karat weight as you are going to sell them.

Market Value of Gold

The price of gold is constantly changing, so make sure you know how to get ahold of the current price of gold. Talk with a jeweler to ensure you have the accurate price for your gold, or keep up with the gold price projections from the New York Mercantile Exchange. When you know the accurate price of gold before heading in to sell, you can be sure you don’t end up selling the gold for less than it is worth. If someone quotes you for a price that is less than what you’ve heard, don’t be afraid to speak up and talk to them about prices.
 

Selling Your Gold

Make sure you sell your gold to a person or company that is reputable. You want to be working with a business that is registered with the Better Business Bureau to ensure that any complaints against the company have been resolved properly. Reading through reports on the Better Business Bureau website is a great way to understand the caliber of the company that you are choosing to work with.

Read the Fine Print

Whenever you decide to sell gold it is important that you understand the fine print of any contract that you sign. You should take the time to read through all of the fine print before you sign anything or before you decide to mail your gold in. If you are selling your gold by mailing it in, it is important that you get the package that you are sending insured.

Shop Around for Gold Buyers

Don’t be afraid to shop around. Look to sell your gold to a few different vendors or even a few different individuals. When you can talk with a few different people that are buying gold, you will be able to get a feel for who you really want to be selling your gold to. Don’t be afraid to walk away from the first few people even if you think you will end up walking back into their place of business. Get a feel for a few different buyers and then make your pick.

What You’ll Need to Bring

You have to make sure you bring your I.D. with you when you purchase gold. Every vendor is required to ask for your I.D. before purchasing gold from you. Bring your I.D. the first time around so you don’t have to run home to get your I.D. in order to make the sale official.
 
When it comes time to sell your gold we hope that you decide to visit your closest Check City Location. If you have any questions about selling your gold for cash feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


READ MORE
See a timeline of the US mint.
 
See this comprehensive chart for a thorough history of the price of gold.

Top 7 Most Commonly Forgotten Car Maintenance Items

car maintenance
 
Keeping ahead of car maintenance won’t just help your car run longer, it will help it run better too. The following are 8 of the most commonly forgotten car maintenance items that you need to be doing throughout the life of a car.

  1. Don’t let your brakes wear down
  2. Rotate and replace your tires
  3. Check your gas cap
  4. Keep your car in the garage
  5. Stay on top of oil changes
  6. Replace your air filter
  7. Change your windshield wipers out

There are a lot of reasons car maintenance is important. Maintaining your vehicle properly will help it keep it’s value in case you ever need to sell your car. Cars depreciate in value over time just by driving them, but their value will depreciate even faster if you don’t practice basic car maintenance. Keeping up with basic car maintenance also helps your car run better and live longer. Cars also get problems over time. They get older and need their parts tuned up or replaced. By keeping up with car maintenance you can mitigate depreciation and the effects of normal wear and tear.

Naturally people are conditioned to the thought process of, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” so they let a lot of these maintenance items slip because there isn’t currently a problem with their vehicle. Similar to the way most people don’t visit the dentist unless they feel like they might have a cavity. But it’s important to have a yearly dental checkup even when everything seems fine, and the same goes for your car’s care. This routine maintenance will end up saving you money in the long run and allow you to build more equity in your vehicle which will come in handy if you ever need an auto title loan.

#1: Don’t let your brakes wear down

Breaks are an important part of car safety. Have you ever felt your car start shaking and hear grinding as you brake? That’s a sign that your brakes are just about to fail. You don’t want to risk getting anywhere near this level. Change them when they squeal or get too thin. Don’t continue to drive on them when you know they need replaced.

#2: Rotate and replace your tires

Your tread will wear out unevenly depending on the tire’s location. To redistribute that wear, have your tires rotated every six months. Tire rotation is one of the cheaper repairs you can get, costing anywhere between 24 and 120 dollars.
vehicle maintenance
Eventually you’ll also need to replace your tires. ‘Worn out’ doesn’t mean until your tires pop or become completely bald. In fact, the closer your tires get to bald, the more likely you are to get a blow-out, not to mention losing all traction on slippery roads.

Your state likely has a legal limit for how short your tire tread can be. Find out what’s legal for your state and keep an eye on your tread depth. If you deal with wet roads it’s a good idea to replace your tires when they have 4/32 inchesof remaining tread depth. Replace tires that are worn out to make sure you make it safely from point A to point B.

#3: Check your gas cap

Over the years, your gas cap can lose its seal as the rubber warps, breaks, or just wears down. This can cause you to lose gas mileage and can often turn your “check engine light” on. It can also cause moisture to get into your gas tank and hurt your engine’s performance.

Most gas caps are designed to last up to 100,000 miles. When you see your gas cap is getting old, pick up a new one and swap it out. They are usually cheap and easy to replace yourself.

#4: Keep your car in the garage

This isn’t a traditional maintenance item, but it is an important one that many forget about. A car is an investment, and exposing it to the outside elements for years can do a number to your car, and not just to the paint job. Keeping your car outdoors will depreciate it’s value over time much faster than if you keep it inside a garage.

Clean out the garage and make space to fit your cars into designated spots inside. Garages are often full of junk you’ll never use again anyway. Sell the junk, keep what you need, and organize what you keep better to get the most out of your garage space.

How to Organize Your Garage
    1. Remove everything from the garage.
    2. Get rid of things and put everything else into categories.
      • Examples of categories: Seasonal (like Christmas decorations), Biking, Tools, Gardening
    3. Clean the garage.
      • Sweep and wash the floors and walls, paint, and do any other renovations your garage might need.
    4. Install organization units.
      • Overhead storage on the ceiling
      •  Cabinets
      • Storage bins
      • Peg boards
      •  Shelving
      • Wall hooks and racks
      • Work bench and table
    5. Move all your things back into the garage now with everything in a planned out place, along with your car that now fits!

#5: Stay on top of oil changes

Depending on what kind of oil you get, you’ll only need to come in once every 7,500 to 10,000 miles to change your oil. Whatever the recommendation your oil gives you, stick to it. The consequence of not doing so is dirty oil passing through your engine. The more debris that makes it through means more damage to the engine.

Also, if you’re not keeping track of your oil levels, your engine could be burning more oil than you’re putting in. Should your oil run too low, your engine could seize up because temperatures run too hot. Not only does your oil keep the engine lubricated, but it also helps transfer heat out.

#6: Replace your air filter

Your engine requires a proper mixture of air and gasoline to run most efficiently. Your car sucks in enough air to mix with the fuel as it moves through the engine. The last thing you want to come in with that air is any dirt or debris from the earth. The debris will hurt the inside of your engine.

An air filter is placed in the way of all incoming air to catch all the debris. The filter can get so dirty that it actually blocks air flow, changing the air-gasoline mixture and reducing your engine’s effectiveness. You can usually tell that your filter is too dirty because the dirt looks caked onto the fibers. Change it before it reaches that point.

Generally you should change your air filter between 15,000 and 30,000 miles. If you drive on a lot of unpaved, dirt roads than you may need to change it more frequently.

#7: Change your windshield wipers out

Too often drivers don’t think about their windshield wipers because they only use them when it rains. They’ll go well over a year without changing their wipers. In the meantime, the rubber on the blades have started to crack, rip, and break, making them ineffective.

When they start missing large sections of water, making lots of squeaking sounds, or smearing your window instead of cleaning it, you know it’s time to change them. As a general rule you should replace your windshield wipers every 6 to 12 months.
 
Basic car maintenance and upkeep is an important thing for every car owner to get used to. If you take proper care of your vehicle you can rely on your car more. It will also help your car live longer and run better throughout its life. Then, when it eventually comes time to sell or trade in your car, it will have much more value than if you slacked on basic car maintenance. Keeping up with car maintenance can also help you out if you ever need a title loan.


READ MORE
Watch a video from Lowes about “How to Organize Your Garage.”

Read another Check City article about how to save on Car Maintenance, “Save Big-Time With These Car Maintenance Tips.”

6 Advantages of Using Checks

checks are better
 
Lots of people are still using checks and for good reasons. Checks actually have their own unique advantages and features that you may be missing out on if you only use cash or cards. Here are the 6 main advantages of using checks:

  1. Checks are safer to mail
  2. Checks can’t be used by thieves
  3. Checks are traceable
  4. Checks aren’t deposited immediately
  5. You don’t need a bank account to cash checks
  6. Checks make budgeting easier

Lots of people are still writing checks. Writing checks may seem old-fashioned, but there are many advantages to writing checks instead of using cash or credit cards. Using cards and cash might be quicker and easier, but checks have features and security that cash and cards just don’t have. Below are some of the main reasons you want to start making good use of checks.

#1: Checks are safer to mail

Sending a check in the mail keeps your money a lot safer than sending cash through the mail. When you have a check inside an envelope it can be very difficult for others to tell there is even a check inside. But if you put cash in an envelope it can be much easier for others to tell there is money inside since bills have their own distinct shape, material, and color.

#2: Checks can’t be used by thieves

Checks are also less attractive to thieves than cash. Checks cannot be cashed by just anyone, and that is too much of a hassle for a thief. Thieves want quick cash and forms of money that are untraceable, and checks are neither of those things. Also, when you carry checks you don’t have to carry cash or cards on you, making you less of a target while you are out.

#3: Checks are traceable

This is another reason why checks are safer than other forms of payment—they’re traceable. When you use a check the bank makes a copy so you can easily prove the payments you’ve made. All the information you would ever need about a payment is also written on your check and the underlying copy. With each check you can know how much you spent, who you paid, when you paid, and even what you were paying for.

#4: Checks aren’t deposited immediately

Another attractive thing about checks is the timing. It usually takes businesses a day or two to actually cash the check that you’ve written for them. This means that you have a day or two to make sure you have the money in your account to cover the check. This can be risky to do, but as long as you handle your checks wisely, then you should be able to use this feature to your advantage.

checks are better

#5: You don’t need a bank account to cash checks

When you get paid through direct deposit you need to have a bank account set up. But if you get paid with checks then you don’t need to use direct deposit or a bank account. If you get paid with checks then you can just cash them, you don’t have to deposit them into a bank account or deal with electronic funds.

Check City offers convenient check cashing services for all of your check cashing needs. If you’ve been paid with a check you can come to any convenient Check City location and get that check cashed immediately. Check City will cash payroll checks, cashier checks, counter checks, government checks, insurance checks, money orders, tax refunds, personal checks, and even out-of-state checks. If you have a check, it is likely that Check City will be able to cash it for you.

#6: Checks make budgeting easier

Every time you write a check you are simultaneously writing your own personal receipt to go along with that purchase. These slips of paper can make budgeting super easy as you can keep those in your checkbook, and at the end of each week or month you can see an overview of all your spending in one convenient place.

Check Cashing with Check City

You may be wondering why you should come cash your check with Check City instead of going to your bank. Well, there are several reasons.

#1: Open Late

One reason is that our locations are open later than almost every bank or credit union. We have extended hours so you can come cash your check after work, or almost whenever you’d like. This makes it so you can get your cash sooner rather than later.

#2: Fast and Easy

Check City also understands how important your money is to you so we want to make sure the process of cashing your check is fast and easy. Our personable staff will make sure your transaction goes through as quickly as possible. As soon as you come in, we’ll be ready to help you and get you on your way.

#3: Low Rates

Check City also offers extremely low rates when it comes to cashing checks. We will not charge you much to cash your check with us, and the convenience of coming to one of our locations greatly outweighs the amount we’ll charge you to cash your check.

You Need:

All you’ll need to come cash your check at one of our locations is your check and your photo ID.

You Do:

All you’ll do is walk into one of our many locations, fill out a quick customer information form, and walk out with your cash in hand. Check City has locations in Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, and Maryland. At Check City, we want to make sure you get your money when you want it and how you want it. That’s why we offer convenient check cashing services that you are welcome to use anytime.

Cash Business Checks with Check City Too!

Check City also cashes business checks. This means that if people have paid your business in checks you can cash them easily here. In today’s credit driven economy, cash flow management is a challenging task for many small to medium-sized businesses. Check City has provided financial services to the public and its businesses since 1986 and we value the trusting relationship we’ve fostered with our communities ever since. Check City’s Business Check Cashing provides business owners immediate access to working capital by fast tracking the processing of checks to make your business funds available instantly. Cashing business checks at Check City is a great idea because there are 1) NO enrollment fees, 2) NO 3 to 10 day check processing holds, 3) the funds are available instantly, 4) gives your business the freedom to accept checks from your customers, and 5) we have convenient and professional locations.
 
Don’t waste your time thinking checks are a useless tool of the past. Checks are a useful financial product for personal and business use with their own unique features. Checks also provide a level of security in your transactions that cash does not. So don’t forget about this important tool in your financial arsenal and learn to use checks to their full advantage.

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