How To Buy A New Car and Not Get Screwed

There’s some excellent advice in this 6 minute presentation by Rob Gruhl. Basically its a summary of the best approach to take when on the hunt for a vehicle. I especially like the part about getting your own finance – not relying on the dealer – it just makes sense and should save a bunch of headaches and admin fees.

Rob Gruhl – How to Buy a New Car – Ignite Seattle 2007

Here’s a short summary if you don’t want to watch the whole 5 minutes:

  • Take your time and use two full weekends – they’re under more pressure to make the sale than you are to buy.
  • Get financing from your own choice of bank – A dealer may be colluding with their own banking partners.
  • Don’t sell your old car to the same dealer – You’ll always get screwed on a trade-in.
  • Pick at least three different cars as options – It gives you the flexibility to toy around and compare.
  • Test drive! Test drive! Test drive! Then go home. Don’t buy.
  • Always try to play dealers off against each other on the final price.
  • Get the “drive it off the lot” price – That’s the final number with all the fees added in.
  • Confirm availability – Make sure the car is in stock, i.e. get the VIN number
  • Don’t sign until everything is absolutely clear and the vehicle is ready.
  • The visit to the office – Do NOT but any of the add-on insurances, top-ups or extras they try to milk you for. They’re all overinflated in price.
  • In general, just be a pain in the ass. Don’t let them walk over you.

finance Rants

It Takes A Whole Recession To Stop that Ugly Bastard.

Chrysler PT Cruiser in Bangkok
Image by Ian Fuller via Flickr

News of the week is that Chrysler are *at last* going to stop making that most awful and ridiculous of cars –  the PT Cruiser. I can’t believe the world economy had to go into a harrowing downward spiral before they stopped making this ghastly thing. Then again, the car did have a large following in the “impractical-zero-common-sense-hood-gangsta-almost-bling” department. Personally, I wouldn’t call it bling. Bling is a Ferrari F340. Bling is a black 1967 Chevy Impala. The PT Cruiser, is, well, take a look at the picture, puke-a-rific.

Thank goodness the world came to its senses and forced a recession on itself just to stop Chrysler from making this abomination.

finance Rants

Discovery Card Interest Rate Hike

Although I try to be pretty credit conscious and pay my outstanding balance every single month, occasionally I do slip up. It happens, and I have to pay the penalty. And that’s how money lenders make their money. But this time Discovery Card have overstepped the mark. Without so much as a hint of a notification, from October to November they’ve hiked their interest rate a whopping 3% from 19.50% to 22.50%. (And somehow this despite me being a “Platinum” account holder, for whatever that’s worth).

Sorry okes, I’ll go back to gym next month – maybe that will help?


The Global Financial Crisis for Dummies

The Financial Crisis English

If you want the lowdown on what exactly has happened in the global economy to cause the panic and strain we’ve been seeing over the past few weeks in finance markets worldwide, you could do a lot worse than the following links:

In The Giant Pool of Money, This American Life producer Alex Blumberg teams up with NPR’s Adam Davidson to tell the surprisingly entertaining story of how the U.S. got itself into a housing crisis.

In the follow up show, Another Frightening Show About the Economy, Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson recount what happened when the credit markets froze, and how the housing crisis started impacting the markets as a whole through the ‘evils’ of unregulated credit default swaps.

In plain spoken English these guys do a great job of informing the rest of us exactly what the hell happened.

As an added bonus, they’ve now started the Planet Money Podcast and Planet Money Blog, essential material for anyone who wants to keep abreast of what is happening in the world of money.


Where to get a free credit report

Dangerous little pieces of plastic
Dangerous little pieces of plastic

Financial woes abound during this period of worldly financial turmoil. In addition to this, people across South Africa are being forced to hand back their big, expensive vehicles, with tears in their eyes at their inability to make the next payment. Some have even lost huge sums of money on purchases that have simply become too expensive with the current interest rates.

I’m glad I’m not in that boat, and perhaps it has something to do with knowing my credit status. It’s also quite handy to check up on who’s been checking out your credit status. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who is watching the credit givers, if you will.

If you need to get access to your personal credit report, which the credit bureaux legally have to provide to you at no cost once per year, head over to and register for your Transunion ITC report. Registration there was quick and easy and you get a cool pdf report emailed to you pretty quickly once registration is complete and the report has been ordered. I enjoyed tracing the deliberately confusing trail that I have intricately laid down for anyone who examines my credit situation. After all, they don’t need to know everything perfectly accurately, now do they?

There’s also CreditExpert, who will give you your status as per Experian’s records, but after registering they still wanted a whole lot of that eminently forgeable paperwork they call FICA records, so I have not yet seen the quality of their report.

Have fun. You now have the knowledge to get yourself out of any credit situation you might be stuck in. Oh, and when you’ve fixed that, take a minute and cut up one of those credit cards. It’ll do you a world of good.