Monday, June 16, 2014

7 Tips for choosing a new car

I've been in two car accidents this year, neither were my fault, but it made me look at our car, car safety and the possibility of buying a new one in the near future. Unfortunately, neither accident was enough to write my car off, but thankfully no one was seriously injured or anything either.

The car I own is one I wanted for a long time because it is safe and reliable, two very important things when it comes to a car. So how do you decide what car is right for you?

1.) What do you need your car for?
A car being used for a family car is very different to a car for a tradie or travelling around Australia. Ask yourself what you will be doing with the car, what needs to fit in it, how many kids do you plan on having in the near future, how big does it need to be and so on

2.) What is your budget?
How much money can you afford and do you want to spend on a car? Just because a bank will lend you $50,000 for a new car, doesn't mean you can easily afford that, or that it is a good idea. If you don't have cash, look at ways to make some money quickly to decrease the amount you will be borrowing. When looking at the weekly loan repayments, use an online calculator to see how much an interest rate rise would increase the payments to ensure your budget wouldn't be strained with an increase.

3.) Which models fit your budget?
Now you can look at models that fit both your budget and needs. If you aren't familiar with cars ask friends and family, look online and take note when you are driving of models you think would suit your needs.

4.) How safe is the car?
Check each model you are interested in and their safety ratings. Does the car reach high safety standards? Cars with 5 star ratings such as the Volkswagon Jetta are ideal. There have been a few cars I have loved and even test drove, only to discover they're safety standards were lower than similar models. To me, safety is the most important aspect of any car I drive.

5.) Read reviews and check for faults
By now you should have narrowed your options down to a few models, knowing they are safe, fit your budget and suit your needs, but are they reliable? Are there any common faults or issues? How expensive are they to repair?

Get online and search for information on the car you want to buy. Using the Jetta as an example, search for things like "2014 Volkswagon Jetta reviews", "2014 Volkswagon Jetta common problems", "2014 Volkswagon Jetta faults". Anything that will give you an idea of what issues the car might have is good to search. Read reviews, forums, search social media and don't rely on whatever the company is writing about the car. Search for real reviews.

6.) Test drive your options
The above steps will help narrow down what type of car, but you still need to drive it to know if it suits you. While cars may be similar there are little things that make each car unique, some are easier to drive than others, your body shape and height is different so blind spots and comfort will vary for you.

Don't just drive the car around the block. Take it for a proper test drive at various speeds. If you have friends or family with the model car you are looking at, ask if you can drive theirs.

7.) Pay cash
Paying cash gives you more negotiating power, reduces the overall cost of the car and hurts more. Ok, maybe the last one is just me, but I find handing over my own money, seeing my own bank account go down, is a lot harder than using money from a loan.

Saving as much cash as you can for the car purchase is the best way to buy. Cars depreciate in value, so only buy what you can afford.

Do you have a method you use to determine which car is best for you?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How to get a good night sleep

Do you sleep well? Can you remember the last time you had a good night sleep?

For much of my adult life I have slept on pretty poor surfaces such as a futon, a thin foam mattress, a lounge. I had a queen bed for a while and then my parents gave me something amazing - a chiropractic bed. Oh my gosh! I had no idea how good it felt to sleep on a mattress specifically designed to support your back. I have a bad back and never should have slept the way I did but when you are in less than perfect circumstances you make do.

I love my bed and everyone who's ever slept on it comments how good it is. To be clear, I give up my bed for guests, since we have a spare bed and if it's a couple I think my bed is more suitable. A good bed with a good mattress is crucial to a good night sleep.

But what if it's your children getting up a million times a night that is keeping you up?

My 6 year old has been a great sleeper since she was a few weeks old. Just sleeping through, has never wet her bed. We forgot to put a nappy on one night when she was two, she was dry in the morning and never wore a nappy again. She is a dream when it comes to sleep.

My 5 year old is not the same. She has never wet the bed either, but she has nightmares and often gets up. I recently discovered part of her sleep issue is her mattress. It's not that old, but she didn't select it and she doesn't like it. She didn't tell me, I found out by swapping mattresses around. With 3 single beds it was easy enough to find the mattress that she prefers.

If your children aren't sleeping well and keep waking you up have you checked their mattress? It might be time for a new one.

Back when I got my amazing bed I did some research. I had never thought too much about mattresses other than wondering what the difference really is between the ones for a few hundred compared to the ones for a few thousand. Now I know. I had a mattress that cost $500 when I moved out of home. It was ok. I liked it, but it wasn't great. It lasted a few years, but really, I would not buy a $500 mattress again. After being given a mattress worth a few thousand I know the difference. My mattress has lasted longer, supports me better and is definitely worth the money.

Considering we spend so much time in bed, why do so few of us spend more money and get a good mattress?

Do you find it overwhelming trying to select the right one? Do you not have the budget? 
If you find it overwhelming places like Sleepmaker have programs to help you select it. If it's the budget, think of it this way - if you sleep better, you make better decisions and save money. If you are tired you are more likely to make bad decisions, buy take away or make silly mistakes. A good mattress can save you money.

I'm curious, how did you select your mattress? Do you find a good mattress makes a difference to your sleep?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Selecting winter shoes

I have a slight shoe obsession. At last count I have 28 pairs of shoes, most of which I did not pay for! I love them and always get compliments on them. I am partial to heels, but they aren’t always comfortable for a lot of people.

I decided for this winter there were a couple of shoes I needed. Most of my shoes are peep toes and since I live in Canberra, my toes will freeze. I need to get more practical.

Boots are top of my list. I want brown knee high boots like these ones from Ziera

As well as these boots which don't have a high heel like my other boots

Why these two particular boots? I want boots I can wear with jeans or dresses, that can be dressed up or down, that don't have high heels so they can be worn all day plus these are comfortable yet stylish. Don't believe me? Check out the video

This is a sponsored post but opinions are my own.

What shoes are on your must have list?