Call me the advice queen

Lately, people have actually been taking my advice. It’s a remarkable thing, really, since I don’t really consider myself to be knowledgeable about anything in particular…I just know how to do stuff, and do it as cheaply as possible. Ooh, I do know a lot about Southern California’s freeways.

Anyway, the bulk of the advice I’ve given recently has almost all been in regards to money in one way or another. And to be honest, a lot of is from making a bunch of mistakes first, then doing research later. Yep. I am so glad to be out of my 20s. Anyway, I figured I would share, just in case it helps anyone else.

funny pictures of cats with captions

Sorry, I couldn’t help but throw in that lolcat. :)

OK, now I’m getting started.

Open an account at a credit union

I actually got this advice from a friend’s brother, who happened to be a car salesman at the time. I didn’t take his advice until a few years later, and I was already at the tail end of a car loan which had me paying through the nose. I opened a credit union not long after I was a reporter at the Glendale News-Press, and really put it to use when it came time for us to buy Trinity a new car. His credit was way better than mine, so he got a prime annual percentage rate (APR) — something like 8% or lower. And they pre-approved him online. I’ve been telling one of my coworkers for the past few weeks that she should jump in, quick! I think my sending her this story from Bankrate finally convinced her.

Get the most bang for your buck

This should be a no-brainer, right? But not everyone does it. I told the same coworker about how I gave my car up to the state after it failed a smog test, and they gave me $1,000 back. Her mouth dropped open — apparently, her father just failed a smog check and paid an obscene amount to get his car fixed enough to sell it for $300. Ouch. Also, I just gave up my iBook — sigh — for $60 at Laptop Trader Express. This many not seem a lot for a laptop, but at five years old, beat up, with a bad battery and wonky mouse pad? It was not bad at all. I would have gotten about $180 if it had been a G4. Sigh. Other sites were quoting me as little as $20. (And please don’t tell me now about any other sites where I could’ve gotten more. I don’t want to know.) I am already taking extensive notes on who will give me what for my old digital camera, my old iPod (which Trinity gave me, but is really not used much anymore because it has to be plugged in to stay powered) and our old phones, when we finally get new ones. I also want to sell my rollerblades and an old, old Keroppi bag I found in my old stuff.

Check your credit for free

My niece-in-law had been calling me the last few weeks for help with checking her credit report. Unfortunately, there are all sorts of sites that say they’re giving you your credit report for free, but are really dinging you for some fraud watch service or something like that. The telltale sign is if they ask for your credit card number. For the true, free, no-strings-attached site — it is Annual Credit Report dot com, or Any extra letters, adding “free” or anything else will get you to another service’s site, or God forbid, a phishing site. I know they allow you to print your report and all that, but I’ve come to prefer sending in the PDF form and having each agency send me the report all nice and formatted correctly. In my printer it always gets garbled.

Use your corporate discounts

This would also go for using any discounts you can get through your credit union, bank, school, etc. Our newsroom operator sits across from me and wanted to know how I got the great tickets I scored for Trinity’s birthday. So I walked her through the process of how to get into our corporate “perks” portal. I spend so much time on this site looking for deals, its not funny. I’ve mostly used it for tickets — movies and Lakers — but there are all sorts of other stuff at my disposal through the site as well. And, I bought our iMac with a CBS discount. Anyone want to hook me up with a student discount for a MacBook Pro…?

I think that’s about it! I guess, if you have any questions about other stuff….I’ll do some research and try to answer you!