Vending Machines for Cars?

Believe it or not, you can buy a car from a vending machine.  Carvana has created an eight-story high glass structure holding 30 cars. The online auto retailer opened its first vehicle vending machine in Nashville, Tennessee, and also has locations in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio, Texas. Payment, financing, and trade-ins are arranged online.  Free delivery is offered in the areas served.  However, buyers have the option of receiving an oversized Carvana coin to drop in a slot to automatically move the car to the delivery bay ready to drive.

For additional information on Carvana, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students search for a website or app related to car buying services that was not available a few years ago.
  • Have students talk with others about their car buying experiences. Ask students to propose an app or website that would improve car buying activities.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What benefits are associated with this type of motor vehicle buying process?
  2. Describe common mistakes people might make when buying a motor vehicle?

Ways to Reduce Environmental Impact and Save Money

To save money and help improve the environment, 20SomethingFinance.com suggests that you:

  • grow your own food and buy from local sources.
  • replace meat in meals with beans and vegetables.
  • bring your own containers to buy bulk items.
  • use refillable drink bottles.
  • ride a bike instead of driving.
  • use a low-flow showerhead.
  • sell items not being used; buy used items instead of new.

For additional information on saving the environment and money, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students ask people to describe environmental-saving actions commonly used.
  • Have students create a promotional plan to create awareness of money-saving actions that are also environmental friendly.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What are benefits and drawbacks of environmental-saving actions?
  2. What factors might be considered when taking actions that save money and improve the environment?

Low Gas Prices Are Set to Spur Holiday Spending

“Falling gas prices have put consumers in a good mood.”

According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), more than 4 in 5 Americans indicate falling gas prices impact their feelings about the nation’s economy and as a result they will spend more during the upcoming holiday season.  In fact, more than one in four consumers (26 percent) expect to increase their spending during the 2015 holiday season–a 7-point jump over the past month and the highest percentage this year.  Also the survey finds that women are more optimistic than men.  For retailers, this statistic is even more encouraging because women do more holiday shopping when compared to men.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Discuss how holiday spending impacts a family’s budget.
  • Describe methods that consumers can use to save the money and budget for holiday spending.

Discussion Questions

  1. Does the price of gasoline affect your spending on other items such as food, clothing, medicine, luxury items, and gifts?
  2. How can you avoid spending “too much” during the holiday season?
  3. What steps can you take to save the money needed for gifts and other holiday expenses?

House Rich, Cash Poor: How One Couple’s “American Dream” Home Nearly Tanked Their Finances

“While our original $150,000–$170,000 price range would have put our housing costs at a manageable 30% of our total income, springing for a $200,000 loan shot that number up to just shy of 50%.

For many people, a logical step after completing college is often purchasing a home and inching closer to the American dream.  And yet, there are pitfalls to obtaining a home that can lead to financial stress and the inability to reach important short-term and long-term financial goals.

This article describes how one couple took all the right steps to prepare for a home purchase, but eventually decided to purchase a home that cost more than they planned to spend on housing.  The reason was simple:  They fell in love with a home that was too expensive when compared to their total income.  The article continues to describe what happens next in their attempt to regain their financial health.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Stress the necessity of preparing a realistic budget that reflects mortgage payments, insurance, taxes, repairs, etc when purchasing a home.
  • Share the advantages and disadvantages of owning versus renting a home.

Discussion Questions

  1. Given your goals and lifestyle, how important is home ownership to you?
  2. What steps should you take to prepare for purchasing your dream home?
  3. Assume you have found your dream home and you can afford the payments, insurance, taxes, repairs, etc. What steps are necessary to negotiate the purchase and obtain financing?

Trick yourself into saving

Saving money can be automatic with some simple actions that would reduce your monthly spending.  Some actions, which can include lowering your monthly cash outflows by as much as $400, include:

 

  • Using a programmable thermostat which can be used to automatically raise and lower the temperature in your home, resulting in energy savings.
  • Increasing insurance deductibles for your home and auto insurance which will likely result in an annual savings of several hundred dollars.
  • Practicing less aggressive driving; using a constant speed can save money on fuel costs.
  • Seeking out ways to reduce your communication bills, such as using basic cable along with streaming video on your computer. Also, using a free texting app on your phone.
  • Using a refillable water bottle can save hundreds of dollars by not buying bottled water.

 

To ensure that you actually save this money, each month, have funds automatically moved into a savings account or investment program.

For additional information on saving, go to:

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/video/saving-money/trick-yourself-into-saving.aspx#ixzz3IKDG71pN

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students conduct online research to determine various actions to reduce spending and increase savings.
  • Have students interview several people to determine various actions that might be considered for reducing spending.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What actions have you taken to reduce spending and increase savings?
  2. Explain short-term and long-term benefits of reduced spending.

 

 

Mistakes of Homebuyers

An increasing number of homebuyers are coming into the market. However, along with that trend, is an increasing number of financial regrets due to mistakes such as:

  •  considering that renting may still be a viable financial choice in some situations; for example, if you may be moving due to a job or other circumstances.
  • with rising housing prices and higher mortgage rates, some buyers may not be competitive when bidding on a property.
  • other debts (such as a high car loan) may limit the monthly payment a person can afford.
  • putting too much faith in online property prices, which can give a false sense of true home values.
  • skipping the home inspection can result in not being aware of subtle home defects.
  • unrealistic expectations of the future appreciation of the home.

For additional information on mistakes made by homebuyers go to:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101837611

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students research suggestions for avoiding home buying mistakes.
  • Ask students create an in-class presentation with suggestions for avoiding home buying mistakes.

 Discussion Questions 

  1. What actions might be taken to avoid these home buying mistakes?
  2. Describe other difficult situations that a person might encounter in process of buying a home.

Average Tax Refund More than $3,000 So Far

A month into the 2014 tax filing season, the IRS said the average tax refund is up 3 percent to $3,034.

This article also reports that more taxpayers are completing their own returns as opposed to using the services provided by tax professionals and filing their returns earlier this year when compared to 2013.   Already, the IRS has received nearly 40 percent of expected total returns during the first month of the filing season.

Finally, recent surveys indicate most Americans plan to use their tax refund to pay down debt, for shopping, or for entertainment.

For additional information, go to    http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/03/06/irs-tax-refunds-returns/6125597/

Discussion Questions

1.  Assume you just received a $3,000 tax refund.  How would you use the money?

2.  If you received a $3,000 refund this year, what effect would it have on your tax planning for next year?

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to discuss

  • If students should use a tax refund to pay down debt, start an investment program, or spend the refund.
  • Time Value of Money examples to show how a refund that is saved or invested can increase in value.