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Investment Blanker: Your car doesn't have to be a terrible investment

When it comes to managing money, monthly payments, equity and spending wisely, nothing is quite as frustrating and polarizing as that gas guzzling, expensive piece of change sitting in your garage.

You know you have a love and hate relationship with your car when it comes to the overall scope of your fiances.

On one hand, your car is practicality personified. It serves the basic need of getting you from point A to point B, something you simply can't cut from your budget given that you need to get to and from work and have a means of travel for, well, just about everything.

Your car, however, for that one aspect of your life it helps is one of the worst investments you'll ever make. Not only are you paying hundreds of dollars a month for the car, truck, van or SUV, but you have to factor in the one variable about a vehicle that is beyond annoying.

It loses value the moment you sign the papers and purchase it. As soon as those tires roll off the car lot, you're immediately in a deficit from an investment, equity and money standpoint. In fact, if you don't believe that, take your car back to the dealership less than a month or two after you've just bought it and take note of your purchase price versus what they're offering as a trade in.

Much less, right? You may have just bought the car but chances are that salesperson is giving you a few thousand dollars less than you just paid.

Take that into consideration, along with the unexpected repairs, gas, routine maintenance and depreciation and suddenly your car is your worst enemy. If it were a spouse, you'd be prepping the divorce papers as you speak.

But you don't have to make losing money on your car a rite of passage and could actually at least break even or earn a profit on your vehicle when trade in day looms large. First, the money saving starts at the point of sale. Research and find a car that you like with a high resale value right away.

You also want to make sure before you trade it in that you're not dragging, pulling, pushing or towing the vehicle into the lot. That is a sure fire sign that you're about to lose money. Often consumers believe they should run their car into the ground before trade in and “let the dealership handle the repairs.” That mentality isn't going to earn you any sort of profit, which ultimately is what your goal should be.

Losing money on a car doesn't have to be the status quo, unless of course you decide to make it that way.

Cheap Thrills: Why being frugal makes for financial freedom

Think about the last time you handed someone a gift, and recall their reaction.
Chances are, they were thrilled, ecstatic or overjoyed. Maybe they just loved the idea that you remembered to give them something at all and feel overwhelmed with gratuity for just the thoughtfulness of the gift.

While that may be the reaction you receive publicly, they may not be quite as inclined privately to revel over a gift that they deem to be a little, well, cheap.

Being cheap, despite its negative connotation, doesn't always have to be a bad thing, as long as you are looking to save money on certain products versus others.

Now while suggesting that going cheap on something like an engagement ring might sound like proposal suicide, the average person can't really tell the difference between a $5,000 ring and one that is double that amount, unless of course you brought them to ring shop and they specifically picked the ring out on the spot. You could argue that diamonds in general are priced way too high despite the significance they carry when it comes to getting engaged.

While diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, the guys in the household might be inclined to spend way too much money on something not nearly as important: their television set. Whether you're making an impulse buy a few days before the Super Bowl or just need a new television to replace the old tube TV you've been hanging onto for way too long, you have to resist the urge to spend too much money on a flat screen TV.

Part of the problem resides with a bevy of choices, clever marketing and consumers that might not know exactly what they need versus what they want. A simple 1080p LCD television has dropped dramatically in price in the last five years, is are quite affordable to the general public. Most of that price drop has little do with the quality of the picture or sound but rather centers more on other products like 3D TVs or LED brands being brought to the forefront.

If you want to save money, forget the notion that the LCD is an archaic dinosaur when it comes to televisions and buy one. You'll be able to get something reputable and renowned for a third of what you'd pay for the so called latest technology.

A lot of what saving money really is boils down to smart decisions and avoiding buying products at full value when a lesser alternative is readily available and just as good.

Just don't dare call them cheap.

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