Maximizing The Resale Value Of Your Car: Advice From AAA

Oh, that new car smell. For some, it’s one of the best parts of buying a car.

Oh no, that old car smell. You’re ready to sell, and you’re afraid the years of use will have buyers turning up their noses, and not just because of the price. So how can you maximize your car’s appeal?

The spring car buying season is actually two seasons, for at the same time as you are shopping for a car, you may also be looking to get the most value when selling your own vehicle. Two experts from AAA Northeast have some suggestions on both ends of the process: Vice President of Financial Services Shaun McGee, and Senior Manager of Traffic Safety and AAA Car Doctor John Paul.

Sell, Trade or Donate: Which Route is Best for Your Car?

McGee: Before you choose that new car, think about how to get the most money from your current vehicle. If your vehicle is a top seller and in excellent condition, you may get the highest price through a private party sale. A vehicle in less than perfect condition may be easier to sell directly to a dealer or use as a trade-in. The best bet for a clunker? Donate it to an official charity and earn a tax deduction.

Five Auto Features that Fail the Resale Test.

Paul: You’ll drive your new car for many years to come, so selecting features that you’ll enjoy is your main concern. Not all options, however, improve the resale value of your vehicle. Options that will not have a positive impact on resale value include appearance packages like pinstripes, special paint or unique graphics; custom wheels and tires; satellite radio; vehicle telematics devices such as factory-installed navigation systems, and auto-dimming mirrors.

Buy with Resale Value in Mind

McGee: If you keep your vehicle for less than five years, the resale value should be an important consideration. To get the maximum value when you sell or trade, start with a resale-worthy purchase. Research used car prices in your area to determine the best selling vehicle. Focus on features that positively impact resale value, like air conditioning, automatic transmission, leather seats, and rear-entertainment systems. Buy the vehicle that everyone will want to own as a used car!

Low Mileage Top Priority for Used-Car Buyers

Paul: Mileage, accident history and overall vehicle condition matter far more to used-car shoppers than options and add-ons. High mileage will hurt trade-in values and low-mileage cars will sell for a premium. Keep mileage in check – consolidate errands and consider a rental car for long trips.

You’re Not just a Seller, but also a Buyer

McGee: Shopping for financing can be just as important as looking for a car. Loan rates are incredibly low (at AAA some under 2 percent). Consumers aren’t always aware that the same low rates can apply to models as far back as 2009, and that refinancing an existing loan may be a great way to lower monthly payments.

Paul: If it’s a good time to sell a car, it’s a good time to buy. If you’re looking used, a vehicle in excellent condition has no defects and passes inspections, at most has minor surface scratches on the outside and a clean interior with all equipment in complete working order. Looking new? Programs such as the AAA Car Buying Service take the hassle of the process and gets you a great new car at a fair price.

AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 60 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York providing more than 5.2 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.

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Getting Your Fiscal House In Order

By JIM CHILTON

To err is human, but when mistakes affect your pocketbook it’s not exactly divine.

Don’t feel alone if you’ve committed a financial blunder, though. Two-thirds of Americans have made a significant money mistake somewhere along the way.

Since April is National Financial Literacy Month, this is a good time for anyone to pledge to do a better job handling money, says Chilton, whose organization’s mission is to “eliminate financial illiteracy, one community at a time.”

SOFA does that by conducting free workshops and seminars for corporations, small businesses, government agencies, community colleges, libraries, churches or organizations.

“One thing I always tell people is that you can’t let your emotions get in the way when you are trying to meet your financial goals,” Chilton says. “When it comes to finances, there is always going to be at least a little uncertainty.”

But he says people can go a long way toward financial stability if they avoid these common blunders:

•  Living without a ‘net.’ Bad things happen in life, even to the best people who are trying to do the right things. That’s why you need to set aside savings that will serve as an emergency fund in case you suddenly have major medical problems or lose your job, Chilton says. He recommends a six to 12-month cushion that would cover your mortgage, groceries, utilities and the other necessities of day-to-day living.

•  Failing to check credit reports. More than 70 percent of credit reports contain some sort of error, Chilton says. Meanwhile, identity theft is on the rise. You should check your credit reports annually to make sure you are not a victim.

•  Giving little thought to retirement. Many people fail to properly prepare for retirement. If you think Social Security will take care of you, think again. Social Security is designed as supplemental income, not something that can replace your entire paycheck, Chilton says. You need to plan and save to make sure you can lead the lifestyle you want in your later years.

•  Racking up credit card debt. Credit seems to rule, but cash should be your real king, Chilton says. Americans are carrying more than $800 billion in credit card debt, he says. Making a conscious effort to use cash will help wean you off your reliance on plastic. “If you are struggling with credit card debt, you need to start making a plan to get rid of that debt,” he says.

•  Seeking advice in the wrong places. Uncle Felix may mean well, but he’s not necessarily the ideal person to offer you advice on the stock market. A trained professional is your best bet, Chilton says. Sure, word of mouth can be helpful, but it can be equally hurtful. Before you pick someone to help you with investments, though, do your homework because you want someone with a good reputation, Chilton says. Check with the Better Business Bureau and do a Google search to see what else you can learn.

•  Trying to do too much, too quickly. Financial problems that took years to create aren’t going to be fixed overnight, Chilton says. So ease into your new financial plan. Instead of a dramatic overhaul that could leave you frustrated, try to make small changes that will lead to larger commitments.

“Even as we get older and presumably know more, we are still bound to make a misstep here or there,” Chilton says. “We simply can’t know it all, especially when it comes to our finances.

“But if we realize our limitations, we can at least learn to make fewer mistakes and do a better job of setting and meeting the goals we have for our money.”

Jim Chilton is the founder and chief executive officer for the Society for Financial Awareness, or SOFA (www.sofausa.org), a non-profit public benefit corporation with a mission to provide financial education across America. 

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South Shore Bank President Retiring July 1

South Shore Bank president and CEO John C. Boucher will retire effective July 1, 2015, after nearly 42 years with the Bank.  He will be succeeded by James M. Dunphy, who joined the Bank as Executive Vice President in January 2014.

John Boucher

John Boucher

Boucher has served as President and CEO of South Shore Bank since January 2007.  He joined South Weymouth Savings Bank in 1973, which was merged with Weymouth Savings Bank in 1997 to create South Shore Savings Bank.  He served as Vice President of Administration and as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer prior to his promotion to President and Chief Operating Officer in 2000, and to President and CEO in 2007.

A 1973 graduate of the University of Massachusetts Boston, Boucher completed post-graduate programs at the Massachusetts School of Financial Studies, the Graduate School of Banking at Fairfield University and the Executive Development Program at Fairfield University.  He is a member of the boards of directors of South Shore Hospital, the Massachusetts Bankers Association, Cardinal Cushing Centers and Infinex Financial Group, Inc.

James Dunphy

James Dunphy

Prior to joining South Shore Bank, Dunphy served as President and CEO of Hampshire First Bank from 2006 to 2012.  A Certified Public Accountant and Certified Management Accountant, Dunphy began his career in 1987 as a Tax Preparer at Kennedy and Lehan CPAs in Quincy and became a Manager at Grant Thornton LLP in 1989.  In 1997 he joined Granite Bank as Administrative Vice President and Controller, and was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2000.

Dunphy received his BS in Accounting from Bridgewater State University and earned an MBA at Franklin Pierce College.

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Stephane Jean Baptiste Receives Compassion Award

STEPHENE JEAN BAPTISTE (second from right), a licensed practical nurse at Marina Bay Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, was recently presented the 10th annual John Corridan Compassion Award. The Board of Alliance Health founded the award to celebrate sensitivity, humanity and compassion in giving care to elders and others needing skilled nursing. The award is named in member of John Corridan, a health care executive and founder of Alliance Health who passed away in 2004 after a long fight with colon cancer.Baptiste has been employed at Marina Bay for six years as a nurse. Born in Haiti, he earned his bachelor of science degree in human physiology at Boston University and his LPN from Quincy College. With Baptiste are (from left) Richard Bane, of Bane Care Management; Matt Weinstock, Administrator of Marina Bay Nursing and Rehabilitation  Center and Rick Canty of Alliance Health, Inc.

STEPHENE JEAN BAPTISTE (second from right), a licensed practical nurse at Marina Bay Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, was recently presented the 10th annual John Corridan Compassion Award. The Board of Alliance Health founded the award to celebrate sensitivity, humanity and compassion in giving care to elders and others needing skilled nursing. The award is named in member of John Corridan, a health care executive and founder of Alliance Health who passed away in 2004 after a long fight with colon cancer.Baptiste has been employed at Marina Bay for six years as a nurse. Born in Haiti, he earned his bachelor of science degree in human physiology at Boston University and his LPN from Quincy College. With Baptiste are (from left) Richard Bane, of Bane Care Management; Matt Weinstock, Administrator of Marina Bay Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Rick Canty of Alliance Health, Inc. Photo Courtesy Alliance Health and Human Services

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3 Tips That Could Get Your Home Sold Faster

By Dick Phinney, Realtor

When a potential buyer walks into your home, they should be able to picture themselves in the house.  Careful and creative staging of your home can remove any distractions to that vision.  By following these simple tips, you can sell your home faster.

What is staging?  Staging is a marketing strategy that will help show your property in its best light.  It can range from a simple and thorough cleaning to a complete overhaul of furniture and decorating.

1. De-clutter your home and present the property in “move in” condition.  Personal items such as stacks of mail, newspapers, or magazines should be stored out of sight.  This is also a great time to get started on the cleaning and packing that will come along with moving.  Pack up some boxes and store them in a basement, garage, or spare room.

2. Stick with neutral colors to de-personalize your decorating.  Busy wallpaper and bright wall colors can turn off potential buyers.

3. The autumn season can present certain challenges to the selling process.  Make sure to clean up your yard regularly to remove leaves and debris.  Check that all entryways and steps are stable.

Have a discussion with your Realtor to decide what kind of staging is needed for your home.  At Granite Group Realtors, we have a professional stager who can offer a that can provide a range of consultative services to help with the staging process.

Dick Phinney is an Owner and Partner of Granite Group Realtors with over 30 years of experience in the real estate market on the South Shore.  You can reach him at rcphinney@aol.com 
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