car repair dealerDealing with a broken-down vehicle is difficult to say the least. Not only are you without transportation, but you also have to figure out which repairs are vital and if the shop’s quote is reasonable. While your first priority may be to get your car fixed asap, the worry that you’re overpaying could be enough to drive you off the deep end.

Many people prefer to have their car serviced and repaired at a certified dealership. This is great, except for one problem. Dealerships overcharge their customers. Right?

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to ensure you are not being overcharged at the dealership, and that the dealer is truly doing what they say.

1. See the Problem With Your Own Eyes
Don’t take the dealer’s world for it. Instead, ask them to show you the problem they claim exists. Even if you don’t understand what you are looking at, you can learn more about the problem at hand, which will help you better understand your bill as well as any future issues.

Recently, I needed to have my back brakes replaced as one of the pads was “hanging up.” I never heard of this before and was a bit skeptical, so I asked the service manager to show me what he was talking about. Sure enough, the pad was hung up and wearing unevenly. In this instance, I was being told the truth. But how did I know for sure until I saw it myself?

2. Before Agreeing, Ask for a Cost Breakdown
Your dealer is going to charge you for both parts and labor. Before you agree to the repair, ask to see an itemized invoice that shows the labor rate as well as the cost of the parts.

Pay special attention to how much the parts cost, as this can differ substantially from one dealer and mechanic shop to the next. If you get the feeling, or know, that this cost is higher than it would be elsewhere, tell the dealer to hold off for a bit while you move forward with the steps below.

3. Take Your Car to an Independent Mechanic
Dealer service departments are not the end-all when it comes to car repairs. There may not be as many third part mechanic shops as there used to be, but these do exist in most parts of the country.

If your car is drivable, take it to a mechanic that you trust (or one that has been referred to you). Even if you cannot drive it, you can always call the mechanic on the phone to explain your situation and the quote you received.

4. Call Another Dealer
There are five Honda dealerships in my local area. I could take my Accord to any one of them for service. While you might expect them to all charge the same, this is actually not the case.

Did you know that the service department works independently from the sales side of the business? Just as salesmen are doing their best to make money, the service department is doing the same.

Before you sign on the dotted line and the repair process begins, call at least one other dealer in the area – of the same manufacturer – and ask what their costs would be for a similar job. Since you already have the itemized breakdown, you can tell them exactly what you need.

Final Thoughts
I am the type of person who would rather go to a dealer for repairs than a third-party mechanic. That being said, I am always careful about what I pay for.

It is a myth that the dealer always overcharges for service and repairs. But it does happen all the time. By following the above advice, you can avoid the many issues that have plagued thousands of people before you.

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man looking for jobDuring the course of my professional career, there have been several occasions where I’ve experienced an unexpected job loss. Fortunately, this has not happened too often, but it’s a tough blow to handle no matter your stage in life. It’s always a great idea to save money, but if you’ve recently lost your job, the circumstances are different. Every dollar counts, and you will need to shift your money-saving efforts into high gear.

Here are six ways to save – and earn – extra money if you have lost your job.

1. Sell Everything You Can
Dig through your closets, drawers, and other storage spaces for items that you no longer use and sell them on the Internet – try sites such as Amazon, eBay, or Craigslist. Depending upon how desperate you are for money, you may even want to consider parting with some items that you enjoy, but consider dispensable: your smart phone, flat-screen TV, and possibly even an extra desktop or laptop computer.

2. Look for Unusual or Overlooked Cash Sources
If you’re in need of money, you’ll have to be creative. Check your credit cards for reward balances, and cash them in for statement credits. If you’ve got a positive balance on your PayPal account, transfer this money to your checking account. You can also look for tools you haven’t used in awhile, old jewelry, savings bonds, and anything else you can find that will generate cash.

3. Suspend Saving for the Future
Although it’s rarely advisable, suspending savings for the future may be necessary. If you just lost your job, saving for retirement or placing money in your children’s college education could have to take a temporary place in the back seat. Pay your bills on time, maintain a solid credit score, and be sure to start investing for the future again as soon as you find work.

4. Take Whatever Work Comes Your Way
Now is the time to park your ego and take any position that will generate revenue. Remember, taking a job that is out of your line of expertise or earns less money than you are accustomed to is just temporary until you can get back on your feet. Some income is better than none – far too many times I’ve witnessed individuals who were just too proud to take jobs that could have at least brought in a modest income.

5. Slash Your Bills
There are numerous ways to save on your monthly bills. Keep the air conditioning or heat low, and start clipping coupons. Cancel your cable or satellite TV subscriptions, and review your cell phone and other monthly bills to see if you can save a few bucks by trimming services.

6. Consider Moving Back Home
Though this may be a last-ditch option, it should always be on your radar. You may not like the idea, but the transition won’t be that difficult when you realize the amount of money that you can save while staying with your famliy. When you’re ready to move on, you won’t have to break any contracts or pay any cancellation fees.

Final Thoughts

If you lose your job, you should immediately start your search for a new line of employment. Don’t just post your resume online – be creative! Clean up your resume by eliminating all grammatical errors,  and make sure it’s clear and easy to read. Visit the company that you want to work for, and ask to speak to the hiring manager – while you may not get through to the right person, you will most certainly make an impression. And furthermore, send your resume and portfolio in via postal mail – not many job seekers continue to use this method, so it can be a great way to quickly get your information in front of a hiring manager.

While a job loss can be stressful, by no means should you view it as the end of the world. Keep your head up, remain positive, and before long, you’ll find yourself back to work.

What do you suggest to save money during periods of unemployment?

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