Monday, January 29, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
I would like to disclose that I work for an Auto Finance company that is a division (and/or subsidiary) of a major credit card issuing company; though, not in an executive or managerial position.
I watched Senator Dodd struggle to understand how interest is calculated (why is he the chair of this comittee?). But, I felt that it was important to comment on a statement made by Elizabeth Warren. Dr. Warren is the Leo Gottleib Proffessor of Law at Harvard University Law School.
Senator Richard Shelby commented that she was "...clear, concise, un-ambiguous and forceful in [her] testimony". Then he asked, "Why... in your judgement, would a credit card issuer send me - for example - 3 succesive credit cards if I had a balance on one that I may have been struggling to pay?" Her answer was, "There can be no reason except to increase the revenue to the credit companies. That's all this is about, plain and simple."
I'm going to state my comments in capital letters. I think it's important that you understand that I am stating this very strongly. I am speaking very slowly and very clearly.
CREDIT CARD COMPANIES ARE PROFIT EARNING CORPORATIONS. THE SOLE PURPOSE OF THEIR EXISTENCE IS TO GENERATE AND INCREASE PROFIT.
I am baffled at the people (especially Harvard Lawyers) that do not understand the purpose behind a corporation. I do not understand how critical comments can be made about a profit earning organization who's primary goal is to increase profit.
If Dr. Warren were stating that these practices were unfair or deceptive, I would understand (though, I would still expect for her to explain that argument). However, Dr. Warren criticized these companies because they had no reason to facilitate this practice except for the purpose of increasing revenue. I would wonder what other reasons a company has for taking any action. It seems to me that the generation of revenue is the primary reason for any practice - by far.
You can watch the hearing here, but it's long. (This blog references the comments at 2:18:50). I apologize that my concluding skills are inadequate.
When I take 99 piss poor strokes on a golf course, I get excited about the one that's beautiful. I get excited about warm pie with cool whipped cream on top. I get excited everytime I look at the pictures of my wife and daughter on my desk. But, the thing that got me excited today was very small, but very big.
Someone actually typed in the right string of search words and my blog was listed as the first result. That's right. Someone actually typed: "ESPN cover with vitamin water" into Google and then followed the link to my blog.
Okay, so it was only one guy, and he didn't click any of the adds on my website. But, it's exciting to me that I'm actually showing up in Google's searches (especially since I just found that my name doesn't show up in the first five pages).
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Kevin Craig is running for congress in Missouri.
Kevin Craig is an acoustic artist playing venues in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Kevin Craig is the director of core engineering at the Rensselaer school of engineering in Troy, NY.
Kevin Craig is the 15th district delegate for the West Virginia House of Delegates.
Kevin Craig is a councillor for the Lambeth Labour party.
Kevin Craig is a meteorologist for WXMI Fox 17 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Kevin Craig writes web pages for extremists.
Kevin Craig is a freelance writer and editor living in Ontario, Canada.
Kevin Craig is an assistant research scientist for the Coastal Systems Science and Policy Division at the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University.
Kevin Craig is an assistant professor of clinical family and community medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Kevin Craig is a player on the AVP Crocs Pro Beach Volleyball tour.
Kevin Craig is the SVP of Facilities Services and President of Site Based Services for Emcor.
On the first 5 pages of a google search for Kevin Craig, I am not mentioned or referenced.
1. If you could build a house anywhere, where would it be?Montana.
2. What's your favorite article of clothing?my 3/4 sleeve baseball t-shirt.
3. Favorite physical feature of the opposite sex?lower back.
4. What's the last CD that you bought?A collection of Beethoven symphonies.
5. Where's your favorite place to be?Anywhere with a pillow.
6. Where is your least favorite place to be?Anywhere without a TV.
7. What's your favorite place to be massaged?Shoulders
8. Strong in mind or strong in body?Mind
9. What time do you wake up in the morning?I get out of bed at 6:30 am, though I wouldn't say I'm awake at that point.
10. What is your favorite kitchen appliance?My Bread Maker
11. What makes you really angry?Ignorance and Apathy.
12. If you could play any instrument, what would it be?anything stringed.
13. Favorite color?blue
14. Which do you prefer...sports car or SUV?SUV
15. Do you believe in an afterlife?I'll tell you later... much later.
16. Favorite children's book?The Art of War, Sun Tzu
17. What is your favorite season?garlic pepper
18. Your least favorite household chore?cleaning the toilet
19. If you could have one super power, what would it be?invincibility
20. If you have a tattoo, what is it?nope
21. Can you juggle?yep
22. The one person from your past that you wish you could go back and talk to?My Grandfather Al
23. What's your favorite day?today
24. What's in the trunk of your car?a lug wrench, motor oil, rags, a change of clothes, a set of golf clubs, a baseball glove.
25. Which do you prefer, sushi or hamburger?burger.
There were some smartly written observations ("Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen.") as well as some rhetoric that may have been intended to be inspirational ("This war is more than a clash of arms - it is a decisive ideological struggle...") but sounds somewhat ridiculous to this blogger.
The President stated well the effect that our military strength will have on the creation of democracy and liberty in the middle east. He commented that the Iraqi government is willing, but not able. He also commented that "...now is the time for their government to act." But, he never explained the benefits or purpose to the American people. He never explained the link between the security of Baghdad and that of New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, or the American communities between.
Senator Webb's response was about as useful. He stated that the Democratic Party hope is that the administration is serious about addressing "domestic priorities". He touted his families' contribution to the military and condemned Bush's stance. However, his only proposal was for "an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy".
It's important to note that the quote above is Senator Webb's proposal in its entirety. There was no more discussion or allusion to anything more than criticism for the current status of the war.
It reminds me of a balloonist that asked a fisherman for directions... but I digress.
My conclusion is that last night neither the President, nor Senator Webb stated anything useful or productive. While the President alluded to new initiatives that may be important policies for the American people and will definitely be challenging resolutions for the American government (and only time will tell whether or not these initiatives are substantial or simply smoke and mirrors); Neither seemed to be concerned with finding options or ideas that would benefit the voters, tax-payers, or American society as a whole.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
For the first to ring in with the correct answer (add a comment) I will add a link to your blog or website of choice at the top of my page.
Friday, January 19, 2007
We always knew that magazines sold ads. No worries. We skip the ads and read the articles. But, the last bastion of pure sports has been sold. Say goodbye to The Cover.
ESPN The Magazine's January 29th Edition cover shows LT juking a vitamin water bottle. After all, it's "The New Superconductor". Though the cover artist isn't so sure... there's a question mark.
By the way... I avoided links on purpose. I didn't want to promote ESPN or vitamin water.
But, you should click on the ads in the column on the right.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
It seems that a celebrity (Danielle Lloyd?) in the Big Brother house in Britain called for Shilpa Shetty (a Bollywood star) to return to her native land. Lloyd also opined the eating utensil choices for Asian countries such as India and China.
This "row" now involves the Prime Minister and has cost the TV station some sponsorships (though it seems to have increased the viewership). By the way, if anyone can clarify the term "row" in British slang, please, comment this post.
Anyway... the point of my post is to introduce a new feature to my blog. I figure I'll write a weekly commentary on societies new lows. I'll call it "Hell in a Handbasket" (since that's the direction and mode of transportation for society in general). If you have any ideas that may trump this, let me know.
By-the-way... if this feature had been created a few weeks earlier, I might include Donald Trump's and Rosie O'Donnell's recent discussions into each other's character qualities and the appropriate expectations for a beauty pageant winner.
Your input is always appreciated. If you see something that makes you empathize with God's choice to flood the earth and rebuild society from a floating zoo, let me know. Please, reference your material so I can include any appropriate links or allusions.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid states that Sen. Webb, as a combat veteran, "understands personally how crucial it is to find a new direction in Iraq and begin to bring the war to a close."
My question is... why have the Democrats decided that a 60 year old freshman senator who hasn't seen combat since his time in Vietnam (as no more than a 1st Lt.) considered the best option to review the current direction of the war in Iraq? He served as Navy secretary for Reagan, but is that enough? The war in Vietnam and the Cold War were both very different than the current war in Iraq. The policies were different. The combat actions were different, the soldiers and the weaponry were different.
What in his combat experience has qualified him for this task?
By the way... what happened to the soldiers "in-the-know?" I know that neither General Schwarzkopf nor Colin Powell would be in a political position to provide the Democratic response, but they are familiar with both the enemy in Iraq and the current U.S. Military capabilities. (Yes, I know that even the enemy has changed since Operation Desert Storm. But, the differences between the Iraqi insurgency and the NVA are much greater). Why haven't we heard much from these two gentlemen?
Monday, January 15, 2007
Use the link on the right to access BrainCast and open a free account.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
It will take me more than a thousand years to earn that much.
If the Dem's are successful in their minimum wage bid, it will still take an earner more than 3,315 years working 40 hours a week just to earn what David Beckham will earn in one year playing a game for an hour and a half every week or so.
If there are 36 games in a season, and David Beckham plays for the entire hour and a half... He's earning almost a million dollars an hour!
Look at the bright side. Atleast he's playing an honest game and not stealing "unknown substances" from his teammate's lockers.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I've always had respect for the officers of the Muncie police department. Of course, it's the same respect I have for porch furniture or a pineapple smoothie.
I will tell you one interesting thing about the show. Do you remember the bar where Wee Man was partying? I've been thrown out of that bar.
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
Go to Apple's site and check this thing out. The only caution for Cingular Wireless customers, this phone does not utilize the 3G network!
NewsStories about the iPhone
Build your own iPhone today!
Monday, January 8, 2007
First of all, you'll need to know that there are different ways to finance your new car (whether you're buying a new or used vehicle, for the purpose of this article - it is new to you). For this article, I'll focus on an auto purchase (instead of refinancing an existing loan). You can finance your purchase through a direct product. This means that you apply directly to the finance company. You can also receive financing indirectly. This means that you apply through a third party (usually the car dealer). In this scenario you'll sign a contract with the dealership, and the dealer will sell that contract to the finance company.
Both of these methods are great ways to finance a new car, and can be used to comparison shop against each other. My recommendation is to apply for direct loans prior to shopping for your car. Once you have a few approvals, you can pick out the best one (or two or three) and take those with you to the car dealership. Use those as a gauge to measure the dealership's offerings. (Read my article about how to shop for that new or used car).
In both types of products, you will need roughly the same information.
To apply for a loan you'll be asked for personal information such as your name, social security number, address & phone, employer name, address & phone, as well as your current income (usually gross). You may be asked to provide former addresses and former employers as well as a few references.
If you are applying with a co-applicant, that person will need the same information.
During the Loan Origination process the finance company will ask for certain documents in order to verify the information in your credit profile (this consists of your credit bureau report as well as the information on your application). If you applied through the dealership, the finance company will most likely provide a list of stipulations to the dealer, who will - in turn - ask you for the documents.
ID: You will need to provide some sort of government issued ID. Since you are buying a car, it is reasonable to assume that you have a driver's license, though a passport or a military ID will work for most finance companies.
Proof of Residence: If your time at current residence is short, or if your credit is not excellent, you may be asked to provide proof of residence. Your finance company should accept most bills (utility, credit card, cable TV). Some companies accept bank statements or pay stubs, but will rarely accept magazine subscriptions, personal mail, reminder post cards, etc. Finance companies do understand that sometimes the bills are not in your name (they may be in your spouses or parents name). If you are unsure about your proof of residence, contact your finance company and see what options they can provide.
Proof of Employment: This usually consists of a phone call to your employer. The finance company will simply want to call your job and talk to your boss, a receptionist, or another employee to make sure you work where you say you work. Make sure you have provided accurate information for this.
Proof of Income: The easiest way to provide proof of income is to submit your most current pay stub. In the first few months of the year, a finance company may accept a W-2 form. If you are self employed be prepared to provide tax returns for the past few years. If your income comes from a retirement account or annuity you may be asked to send in a benefits letter explaining your monthly allotment as well as how long you will be receiving this income (if you're income only lasts 2 or 3 years the finance company may not be comfortable asking you to pay back a loan for 60 months).
Proof of Insurance: You may not have added your new car to your insurance at this point (especially if you're still shopping). However, your current insurance usually covers you for 30 days after the purchase of a new vehicle. Make sure you bring your insurance card showing your coverage (this may also be required if you want to test-drive a vehicle).
Mortgage or Foreclosure Documents: If your credit bureau shows that your mortgage is behind or in foreclosure, make sure to bring the documents proving that you are current on your payments. Most finance companies will not lend you money to purchase a car if you are behind on your mortgage or if you have gone into foreclosure.
Bankruptcy Documents: If your credit bureau even hints at a bankruptcy, you will need documents to prove the current status. Usually the most recent court documents will be acceptable. If you are currently in bankruptcy, the finance company may not lend you money (as it is too easy to roll a new debt into a current bankruptcy). However, if you have been approved and your bankruptcy has been discharged, you may be required to provide proof.
If you have any special circumstances that affect your credit, residency, employment, or income be sure to bring any supporting documents you have when you go shopping for your car.
The finance company will most likely ask for other supporting documents (including the buyer's order, odometer statement, etc), but since they relate to the new vehicle, the dealer will provide them.
If you are buying a car from an individual, you will need to contact your finance company directly. Many of the documents required for that will differ from the list above.
In general, finance companies try to make this step of the auto purchase as easy as possible. Don't hesitate to ask questions of the dealer and finance company. Providing customer service is often the only advantage that some finance companies have. They'd be more than happy to explain each stipulation in detail.
Be sure to read my related article about the purchase of a new or used car or truck. There are plenty of tricks that the dealer's use and this article helps you avoid those pitfalls.
Friday, January 5, 2007
While many people feel that these drivers are wreckless or dangerous, I think it's important to remember the job that these truck drivers do. Have you ever gone into a store and bought anything? It was most likely delivered by a commercial truck driver. If we limited these trucks, we would be limiting almost all of the consumable products that we purchase daily.
But, does that make it okay for them to drive wrecklessly? Well, certainly not. However, you can't just walk into the DMV and get a commercial driver's license (CDL). You have to go through extensive training and gruelling testing. That 40 year old soccer mom with three screaming kids in the back of her SUV probably hasn't had a driving class since she was 15. Commercial truck drivers know the road, they know their rig, and they are better trained than any other driver on the road.
What about the company that employs them? Do you think that the drivers would continue to be employed if they kept getting into wrecks? If a truck driver consistently wrecks, he delays the delivery of the product he's hauling. A wreck costs his company money to fix the truck, money to replace the product, increased insurance premiums, and the driver can put that company at risk of a law-suit. If the 40 year old soccer mom gets into a wreck, she calls her husband to come pick her up. If the truck driver gets into a wreck, he calls his wife to tell her he can't afford to feed the kids.
Sometimes it's frustrating when a truck takes up the left lane to pass another truck at a snale's pace. Sometimes it's difficult to drive near a truck on a wet road when the trailor is kicking up gallons of water. But, remember that these truck drivers are a necessary part of society. They're not out their to make your life difficult, they're out there to make it easier.
Next time you pass a truck (or a truck passes you). Don't fret. Smile and waive.
Thursday, January 4, 2007
I have worked in auto finance for many years funding contracts, answering phones in a dealer services group, customer service call center, and as a unit manager for those groups. Over the years I have learned alot about how dealerships sell cars and how finance companies finance those cars. I've learned alot of important tricks that dealers use to ensnare customers. I've also seen customers that have worked out some great deals! I decided to write a blog that shows you how to get a fair deal on a car without paying through the nose.
It's important to recognize that the dealership is in the business of selling cars. In other words, "he's gotta make a profit." Generally, car dealers aren't out to screw you. But, if you aren't paying attention, you may help increase a dealer's bottom line without realizing what you're agreeing to. Hopefully this blog will help you limit the dealer's profit to an appropriate level and keep you from getting into a deal that turns out to be a dud.
There are so many different car makers with so many different models. You can't just walk onto a lot and hope to find the perfect car. The first thing you need to do is think about what you want. Do you want a new or a used vehicle? New vehicles are nice, but they depreciate quickly. That means you may owe more than the car is worth for quite a while (the is called being "upside-down"). Used vehicles are cheaper, but have been driven by someone else. Often you don't know how well that person drove or maintained the car. Do you have a family or are you a bachelor? That may affect how many doors or how much seating you'll need. What kind of budget do you have? We'll talk about financing in a minute, but you definately know whether you're looking for a Kia or a BMW.
If you're reading this, you have online access. Use the Internet. Narrow your search to a few makes and models. Familiariaze yourself with the vehicle's options. Which model has the horsepower you need? Is a sun-roof important to you? Standard or automatic transmission?What about the car-audio, fog-lights, etc? If you're looking for a used car, review a dealership's inventory (most dealerships with a website list their used inventory online).
Now that you've narrowed your search a little, it's time to start thinking about how much car you can afford. The dealership will most likely provide you with a few financing options, but it's still a good idea to review other options as well. If you do business with a bank or finance company that you like, call them. See what they can provide. Call your insurance company and see if they finance cars or have a partnership with a finance company. Many organizations like AAA, CostCo, and AARP have partnered with finance companies to provide discounts to their members.
The important thing is to get an idea of the amount you can borrow, the APR, and the term (in months) that you will get from your choice of outside financing. An approval is your best bet (a pre-approval is not the same thing as an approval). If you get an approval then you'll know how much you can finance, at what APR, and at what term (in months). You'll also be able to calculate your monthly payment. You can use any simple interest calculator (most auto finance websites have calculators as well as websites like Bankrate or Yahoo! ). Play with different terms and finance amounts so that you have an idea of how much you can afford. An approval doesn't mean that you'll have to use that company. It just gives you a tool to make sure you get the best deal from the dealership. (I'll talk about that negotiation in a future posting).
Now that you have a basic idea of the car you want (or at least you know what you're looking for) and you have some ideas about financing, you're ready to make a trip over to the dealership!
Going to the dealership
The first person you'll meet is the salesman. The minute you set foot on a lot, the salesman's only goal is to sell you a car (which is good, because your ultimate goal is to buy a car). However, you need to think about a few things first. First of all, no matter where you live, there is always another dealership nearbye. You need to be prepared to walk away from this dealership at any time. Also, make sure that you do not show your excitement. There's no need to be rude, but make sure you never say things like, "Honey, I love this car!" or "Dear, I've always wanted one of these." It's important that the salesman need you and not the other way around.
When you go car shopping, make sure you have plenty of time (I'm thinking 3 - 4 hours). If you're in a hurry, or have a doctor's appointment in a few hours, it will limit your ability to negotiate a fair deal (I'll explain why in a minute).
Your discussions with the salesman are your opportunities to discuss the vehicle, the options, the availability, and the sales price. Do not discuss any finance details like APR and monthly payment. Your salesman will probably ask you, "What kind of payment are you looking for?" He does not need an answer. Do not give the dealership the opportunity to raise the APR to meet your monthly payment. When asked about the monthly payment, just ask about the total sales price.
Sometimes the sales price seems daunting. After all, a monthly payment is usually $300 - $600, but a sales price is $15,000 or $30,000. This is where the financing research you did earlier comes into play. It's important to know what kind of sales price you can afford. For example. If you want a $400 monthly payment and you got an approval from a bank for 6.95% for 60 months, you would know that you can finance about $20,225.
If you've decided that you will only pay $16,995 for this car and the dealership won't budge from his offer of $18,500 it's time to go. Remember that you'll have this car for quite a few years. Don't pay too much for a car that won't make you happy. Make sure the dealer has your phone number (he may call you with a lower offer later, maybe while you're shopping with one of his competitors).
Now that you've found your car and agreed on a sales price, you've completed one of the most difficult parts of the negotiation. But, you're not done yet. The salesman will take a credit application (I know you already have an approval, but give the dealer the option to beat it). Then he'll refer to you his "F&I guy" (Finance and Insurance). You'll probably have to wait for him. You'll be shown in to a waiting room and told it will be a few minutes. There are two reasons for this. The first is obvious, the F&I employee is with another customer. The second is a "trick of the trade". The longer you wait, the more impatient you get. When you're impatient, you just want to sign the paperwork and get out with your new car. Don't get impatient! This is important. Make sure you're patient enough to read everything before you sign it. Take a book, take a nap, but don't get impatient.
Once you get past the waiting room, you'll be working with the F&I employee. He wants to talk to you about financing and "back-end" products. He's going to ask about your APR. Don't tell him. If you tell him you have a 6.95% APR, he may tell you he can get you a 6.49% APR. That's good, but if he doesn't know what your APR is, he may give you his lowest available offer - and that might be 5.99% (if the dealer can sell you a higher APR, the finance company will give him a share of the increased profit).
You also still don't want to tell the dealer your desired monthly payment. If the dealer gives you a low APR and figures your total amount to finance, he can calculate your monthly payment. If you tell him your desired monthly payment amount, he may increase the APR to match.
If the dealer beats your APR and you decide to sign a contract READ IT! I can't stress that enough. The contract will have a federal disclosure box that will tell you - among other things - the amount you are financing, the APR as a percentage, the APR as a dollar amount, the term (in months) and the monthly payment. Do not let the dealer tell you that the finance company will lower the APR later. If you sign a contract stating that you'll pay $650 a month for 72 months, the finance company will expect you to pay that.
The dealer will also try to sell you "back-end" products. I've tried to list many of these products for you. Some of sales amounts are limited by your state, you'll want to make sure to find out which ones, and what the limits are.
Sales Tax: This is a percentage based on the sales price of the car.
Title & License: This is the amount that the dealership will pay to your state on your behalf in order to get the title and license plates.
Doc Fee: This is a documentation fee that most dealers charge. Some states limit this to $50 (Texas), some to $600 (Florida) and some don't limit this charge at all.
GAP insurance: If you wreck your car, your insurance company will pay what it's worth. If you owe more than that amount, the GAP insurance company will pay the rest. Otherwise, you'd still owe money on a car that you no longer have. If you're buying a new car, have a term longer than 48 months, or have sub-prime credit and have a high interest rate, I would recomend you look into GAP insurance.
Service Contract: Most used cars no longer have a manufacturer's warranty. A service contract may be helpful if your car breaks down.
Life or Disability Insurance: This will pay off your car if you die or are disabled and can no longer make payments.
You are not required to buy any type of insurance or service contract from the dealership.
Now that you've found your car, negotiated the sales price, APR, term, and back-end products, you're ready to sign the contract. Make sure you read everything. Don't believe the dealer when he says it may change later. When you sign a contract, be prepared to make the payments listed on the contract. If you don't understand something, don't be afraid to ask plenty of questions. Once you've signed the contract, you can't take it back!
There may be a little more follow up in the days to come, I've listed that information in the next section.
I hope this has been helpful. Don't be afraid to make comments here if you have questions or need more detail. I'm more than happy to help.
Now that you've signed the paperwork and driven away in your car the dealer will submit your contract to a finance company (if you signed a contract with him). You or your employer may receive calls from the finance company in order to verify certain information from your credit application (i.e. your income, residency, etc).
You'll want to make sure to notify your insurance company of the new vehicle.
You should also receive your title or registration in the mail as well as the licence plates for your car. If you have not received those in a few weeks, call the dealership and ask. Sometimes the dealers wait until they have a bundle to submit to the state, and sometimes the state just works slow.
Enjoy your new car and don't be afraid to ask plenty of questions along the way!
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
I know that you all think ads are horrible. I thought that, too. However, they must work, or Google wouldn't be worth 300 bucks a share. I want a piece of that action.
Right now I'm just trying to generate interest. How did you get here? Why are you reading this far into my blog? Tell me.
In the future I'm hoping to generage new blogs, and hopefully have guest bloggers. I'm in auto finance and have some definite ideas for blogs that spill the secrets to buying a car. I have a friend that has some very strong opinions about Fantasy Football Draft options as well as the current BCS method. I have a friend that's an optometrist. He thinks children should have their first eye exam at 6 months. I'm going to invite him to tell us all why.
Hopefully I'll generate enough interest that you'll be excited about reading, and maybe even contributing to my blog.
Let me know what you think.