4 Tips for Shopping at Harbor Freight

harbor freight toolbox

Harbor Freight is a well known place among mechanics, carpenters, electricians, contractors, builders, do it-yourselfers, etc. Essentially anyone who needs a tool for something or likes working with their hands has gone to Harbor Freight at some point.  If you don’t know about Harbor Freight… just don’t go! Seriously once you know about it it essentially impossible not to go there.

You won’t believe some of the discounts and prices they have on tools there. Mostly everything is imported from China, but when you need a tool you need a tool.  Harbor Freight is great if you need that tool only once or some spare odds and ends.  You know like gloves, small flashlights, hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.  Here are my 4 Tips for Shopping at Harbor Freight.

  1. Always use Coupons: Harbor Freight frequently circulates flyers, ads, and emails with coupons on many of their products. It would be stupid to not utilize them as much as possible. Paying regular prices for a lot of their product is too much for what you get. You can find 20% off coupons for any item in the store.  Of course a lot of items are excluded for these 20% off coupons.  Typically you can also find HF coupons in the back of magazines. You can also find coupons when you get items for Free, just for making a purchase. There are lots of mega threads for Harbor Freight coupons on forums all around the internet.  Do a search and you can print some out.  (I print them out in Black and White to save color toner.)
  2. Make a List: Inevitably if you go to Harbor Freight without a list, you will spend more than you really want to. Obviously this is how they want it, but don’t fall for this trap. Try to make a list of necessary tools, items, and equipment you need. Try not to get too distracted by things you don’t need, since there will probably be a lot.
  3. Pay with Cash: When I make a trip over to my local Harbor Freight in Parkville, I try to only pay with cash and what’s on me. If I use my card, I would probably spend a ridiculous amount of money everytime I go. This allows me to say “I will only spend this much today. I can come back and get that later if needed.” It’s easy to spend only a small amount of money for different and various items you need but easy to spend a lot on items you don’t.  If you are buying a larger item and expensive item, such as a toolbox, you can obviously break the rule and use a credit card as that would be easier (and safer) than bringing cash.
  4. Check Reviews: If you look on a lot of forums and sites around the web you can find reviews of what you should and should not buy at Harbor Freight.  I would recommend checking them out as I have found people have written reviews for almost anything there even down to small screwdrivers sets.  This has made it so that I have made good buying decisions at Harbor Freight, like my toolbox, and avoided bad items there.

I know a lot of you have a love-hate relationship with Harbor Freight, like I do, but sometimes you just need to go there.  It’s a guy thing I guess! 🙂

If you think my list of tips is good, please leave a comment below and let me know.  If you think something should be added about Harbor Freight also leave a comment.

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The DOs and DON’Ts of Car Financing

Maserati GranCabrio
Car Financing for a Maserati!

Bad Credit Score Doesn’t Have to Stand Between You and Your Dream Car 

There is no better feeling than having a hot new car, ready to ride in your very own garage. However, with car prices still high, and the economy still in bad shape achieving the goal of new car ownership is not very wallet-friendly. On the other hand, when you set your mind on your new must-have vehicle, you don’t have to stop pursuing it just because of the price tag or your credit score.  With some knowledge about car financing, you can have your car on your driveway while staying well within your financial limits.

DOs and DON’Ts of Car Financing

Car financing is the art of purchasing a car by borrowing money from banks or other sources. It is the ultimate solution that demolishes the distance between your garage and your new car. It grants you the purchasing capacity even in a very tight budget

To gain the freedom to buy the car of your desire, there are several DO’s and DON’Ts that you have to keep strictly in mind before and throughout the whole process of car financing as they will enable you to get the best car finance rates even with a with a bad credit history.

  • Do Research the Amount of Money to be BorrowedBefore applying for car finance, do some homework and determine the exact amount that you will require. It will enable you to determine the additional costs that the dealer is imposing in the form of hidden interest rates and additional costs at the time of car financing.
  • Do Pre-determination of the Loan Repayment Schedule Make a draft schedule for repayment, be precise about the schedule and the total time period of the loan. Keeping in mind your desired repayment time period will play a significant role in selecting the best plan during the car financing process.
  • Do Know Your Budget and Stay Within its Limits Always be within your budget limits, exceeding the budget limit will throw a curse of bad credit score on you. For avoiding this tremendous curse, pre-determine the budget precisely and choose the car within its limits.
  • Do Find Out Your Credit ScoreThere are numerous credit score calculators online; use them and find out your credit score. Your credit score history will be researched thoroughly during the whole process, and it is very good to know the facts upfront.
  • Do some simulations and prepare possible scenarios It is not as technical as it sounds. All you need to do is to jump on the car finance calculator and input the amounts related to your car loan, such as car’s price, desired interest rates, and down payment, and find out the simulated results. It will give you a taste of the general loan amount that you will have to pay per month for the specified car.

The above DOs will greatly broaden your with regard to car finance, but in order to make your purchase as smooth as possible, there are DON’Ts to be kept in mind, as well.

  • Don’t Disclose Your Monthly Payment Capacity The dealer would try every sugar-coated tactic to make you disclose your monthly payment capacity, but at this point you need to be focused on the total amount of the loan and then afterwards determining the monthly payment schedule. If you somehow disclose your monthly payment capacity, there is a greater possibility that you will lose your chance of getting a lower purchase price at lower interest rates.
  • Don’t Let the Dealer Determine Your Credit ScoreBefore approaching the dealer, you should know your credit score (as mentioned earlier in the “DOs” section of this sheet). If you don’t know your credit score, the dealer can tell you almost anything, and you would have to believe them, and proceed with the loan according to the credit score provided.
  • Don’t Go for the Most Expensive CarNever exceed the limits of your budget, always remain within it. However, if you choose to do so, it will only result in rolling the negative equity forward to your upcoming deals or it might even downgrade your credit score. Negative equity means the difference between the amount you own to the borrower for the car and the car’s total price.
  • Don’t Accept to Finance Additional Options for Your CarYou generally don’t need the add-ons, such as extended warranties, fabric protection, rust protection.  Most new cars come with these things nowadays anyway. Simply refuse to get or finance the add-ons, when the dealer offers to add them to your existing borrowing amount; you will save yourself a significant amount of money.

Along with all the above mentioned DOs and DON’TS, there is a common fear related to bad credit score that exists among many borrowers. However, there is no need for that fear to get between you and your dream car, because you can get car loans with a bad credit history from many sources easily. All you need to do is to stay calm during the complete process of car financing and thoroughly follow the tips provided. As a result, you can drive your dream car into the New Year with the best car finance rates and without the hazards of car financing.

Win One of Six 2013 Smart Car Pure Coupes on Black Friday or Cyber Monday

smart car
2013 Smart Cars

Win a 2013 Smart Car Pure Coupe!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are full of amazing deals and there are quite a lot of great giveaways going on too.  Slickdeals.net, a forum and website for finding great deals around the web, is holding a pretty sweet giveaway where you have a chance to win a brand new 2013 Smart Car Pure Coupe during Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  SlickDeals is not only giving away one new 2013 Smart Car, but six 2013 SmartCars!

Three Smart Cars are being given away for Black Friday on Thursday, November 22th to Friday, November 23rd.  Then another three Smart Cars will be given away by SlickDeals on Saturday, November 24th to Monday, November 26th for Cyber Monday.  This gives you not just one but six chances to win a Smart Car which are valued at a sticker price of $12,490.

All you have to enter the Black Friday and Cyber Monday Smart Car Slickdeals giveaway is to visit this page.  You will have to register and become a member of the Slickdeals community to enter, but it is a quick and painless process.  You can register with a Google or Facebook account if you prefer.  There are ways to gain extra entries for yourself, which is listed on the giveaway page.  You can like Slickdeals on Facebook, Tweet about the contest, sign-up for the Slickdeals newsletters,  etc.  Youu know how these giveaways and contests work, they want you to like and follow them for a chance to win.

Even if you don’t want a 2013 Smart Car I would still enter this contest.  You have the option to win $10,000 cash, which is a good chunk of change for buying gifts for the holidays.  You could also use $10,000 to buy yourself a bunch of nice stuff, but I am sure whoever is reading this would be more charitable then that.

To enter the need the Slickdeals 2013 Smart Car Pure Coupe Black Friday and Cyber Monday giveaway you must be over 18 years old or older to enter, live in one of the US states, and obviously will be responsible for all local and federal taxes and fees associated with winning the cash or Smart Car.  Nothing surprising there and to read and familiarize yourself the contest rules click here.  Of course… most people don’t bother to read the contest rules but you should at least glance at them! 🙂

Anyway, I already entered the contest and got some entries.  Last time I checked almost 25,000 entries had been recorded so you better start racking up entries if you want to win a 2013 Smart Car or $10,000 in cash.

 

“Minivans Are Just Not Cool!” According to Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab, the financial and investment company, ran a contest called “Oh Chuck! I Blew My Cash.”  It asked people to tell Charles Schwab the most ridiculous items or products they have blown money on.  The company released this promotional “Minivan” video on Youtube to promote the contest.

It shows a women telling Chuck about how she came to buy a $20,000 minivan.  She meet a guy, things were going really well, so he proposed!  Of course he did what most guys would do at the site of a minivan… bolt!  Chuck precedes to tell Carrie about what would have been better options for that money (I mean he is Charles Schwab) and says, “Minivans are just not cool!”

The story sounds so ridiculous, but it raises an important automotive question.  What does this say about Minivans?  Are they just so uncool that not even a billionaire financial adviser and successful entrepreneur like Charles Schwab can recommend buying one?  Are minivans a signal in our culture and society the we are in fact “not cool” anymore?  Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

If this story is true, I think Carrie should have win the contest! 🙂

2012 Teens Drive Smart Video Contest Wants You to Win $50,000 in College Scholarships

Teens Drive Smart Video Contest

Bridgestone recently opened up submissions for their 2012 Teens Drive Smart Video Contest. This contest gives students the chance to showcase their creative movie making skills, while trying to grab part of $50,000 in college scholarships Bridgestone is giving away.

The Teens Drive Smart Video Contest is looking for short automotive safety-themed videos, which encourages drivers to make good decisions behind the wheel. A good example for a theme would be “Don’t text while driving.” (Something I am sure you don’t do… right?)

Students who are between the ages 16-21 years old are eligible to enter. If you want to submit a video to be judged by Bridgestone the deadline is June 22nd, 2012.

After receiving the video submissions Bridgestone will have a panel of judges determine the Top 10 videos. These Top 10 will then be posted on Youtube, so the public can vote on on their favorites.  The three videos that receive the most votes will win the coveted scholarships; The Grand Prize winner will receive $25,000; second place receives $15,000 and third place receives $10,000. Not too bad if you ask me!

The scholarships are not the only prize in the competition. The Grand Prize winner will have their video air on the MTV Jumbotron in Times Square in New York City during August. Just try to imagine the awesomeness of your video up on a Jumbotron!

Also, the Top 10 Finalists of the contest will have the chance to have their video used as a public service announcement (PSA) on television stations across the United States.  In addition they will receive a new set of four Bridgestone or Firestone branded tires.

If you are interested in submitting a video, keep in mind your submission should make viewers be more more safety-conscious when using their vehicles. In addition the video should effectively and creatively communicate the message you are trying to get across.  Last year’s winner Amber Cullen won with her video, “The Phone Bandit.”  You can also view last prior’s winners via Teens Drive Smart website to get a better idea of what you should do for your video.

Each year the videos get more creative, fun, and interesting. I assume this year’s contest won’t be any different.

I am not eligible for this contest, but if I were I would try to use something crazy and fun.  Like my talented singing dogs! (We even made an appearance on Anderson with Anderson Cooper at Lincoln Center! :))

Anyway, try to remember it’s not just about getting a scholarship for college but helping make people more aware of dangerous driving habits. Your video can potentially create safer drivers on our roads.

For more info and to submit a video visit: http://www.teensdrivesmart.com

19th Century Romanian Wagon For Sale!

19th Century Romanian Wagon at Second Chance

A couple days ago I stopped by a neat warehouse in downtown Baltimore called Second Chance.  The motto of the place is “Retrain, Reclaim, Renew!”  Essentially the idea is to deconstruct buildings instead of demolishing them.  This saves materials, valuable resources, and money.  After deconstructing a building Second Chance takes building materials as well as furniture, cabinets, sinks, toilets, vanities, counter-tops, statues, mirrors, etc. and sells them in this warehouse.  If you need to buy building material or need a hard to-find part, say a doorknob or handle, Second Chance most likely has it.

There is a lot of really cool and interesting things that Second Chance carries in it’s 200,000 sq. foot warehouse.  However, the most interesting item that this Auto Journalist and Blogger found there was a 4-wheeled vehicle, of course.  That was the above pictured 19th Century Romanian Wagon that was up for sale.  For a cool $4,500 you could take it home.  Unfortunately I don’t have that kind of money or space to store a wagon, but if you do I recommend going down to Second Chance to check it out!

The Romanian Wagon made me think about how far modern society has come since the horse-drawn carriage days and how automobiles have changed the way people get around.  Imagine having to operate this wagon with a horse?  People complain a lot of about maintaining cars, fueling them up, and washing then, etc.  Think how they have made transportation so much easier and more efficient.  (Funny thing is some farmers and people in many parts of the world still use these types of horse drawn carriages to till soil and to get around.)

The wagon is representative of Second Chance as a whole in my opinion.  Just because something is old, worn, or isn’t cutting edge technology doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value or can’t be used by someone.  However, I am glad I didn’t have to use the wagon to get to and from Second Chance.

For more pictures of the wagon check out my Flickr Photo Set.

RelayRides Takes Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Nationwide

RelayRides

RelayRides, the world’s first peer-to-peer car sharing service, is breaking out of San Francisco and Boston and is launching nationwide today. “Anybody in the country will be able to enroll their car and rent [out] their cars right away,” says Shelby Clark, the company’s founder and Chief Community Officer.  RelayRides introduces us to the revolutionary concept of neighbors renting out their cars to fellow neighbors.  A renter can get a car for as little as $5 an hour.

What are the benefits of personal car sharing?  It is “more affordable, more accessible, and more efficient,” according to Clark. The average shared car “takes 14 other cars off the road,” thus allowing people to meet their mobility needs using far fewer cars. Clark explained.  It is “really good for the environment, community, and local economy.”

RelayRides makes a lot of sense financially in this down economy and in general. Car owners should think of it this way: That car you drive only a few days a week can make you some money when you aren’t using it. On average a car owner using RelayRides can earn $200-$250 a month.  (That’s $2,400-$3,000 dollars a year!) Clark personally makes around $400 a month renting out his Yellow Mini Convertible, which he told me is a lot of fun on sunny San Francisco days.

Renters who take part in RelayRides reap benefits as well. “Car sharing is a more attractive alternative to car ownership,” said Clark.  On average a person can save $500 a month not owning a car and taking part in car sharing.  “It is really convenient and affordable.  The car is located right in your neighborhood,” said Clark.

The personal car sharing concept might be hard for some people to understand.  When Clark initially pitched the idea to friends he faced a bit of resistance. “People were polite and raised their eyebrows, “So you want a stranger to drive my car?”  Clark emphasized the difference in opinion now, “The typical reaction I get from people now when I tell them about RelayRides for the first time is, “Huh, that makes a lot of sense!”

RelayRides currently has 200 cars in the two city fleet and 6000 members. By launching this innovative service nationwide, Clark expects these numbers to grow significantly. “We have learned a lot over the past two years of operation. We feel ready to bring this to the masses,” he told me.

There is a lot of room for growth.  According to Clark there are only about 1 million car-sharing members in North America. With 260 million cars on the road, that equals around 1.2 cars per person in the US.  Shelby thinks this is incredibly wasteful.  He believes that personal car sharing is an ideal solution.  Besides, most cars are only used about 8% percent of the time; the rest of the time they are just parked.

RelayRides is covered by a $1 million insurance policy and market-leading security safeguards.  It is backed by over $13M in venture capital funding from leading investors, such as Google Ventures and GM Ventures.

What impressed me while talking with Clark was not only his enthusiasm, optimism, and drive to make car sharing a viable option for everyone, but his attitude toward the competition. I thought other car sharing services might be unnerved by the news of RelayRides going national. However, Clark sees car sharing companies as being in this together, working for the greater good. He feels there is room for more than one company and that collaboration could be helpful to everyone.

This is a “big step forward for car sharing,” Clark told me. I think it certainly is and the future looks bright for RelayRides.