The Dreaded Money Talk

I don’t know about you, but I hate the words….”Hon, can we sit down and talk about the budget?”. Ugh….shivers go down my spine and my whole body goes into flight or fight mode. That was me just last night…..my husband spoke the dreaded words. At time of writing we haven’t had the talk yet, but it’s coming.

Despite my reaction of dread, I do know that these talks are necessary…..as much as I prefer being an ostrich with my head in the sand. They are necessary because it is important that we are on the same page with our finances, that we are facing reality with the state of our finances and it enables us to make small changes to prevent huge issues later down the track.

I hate budgets….my preference would be to have enough to do what I want, when I want…..I know….dreams are FREE!! Since that is not my reality, budgets are a necessary evil. Some people love budgets. They feel in control, they love knowing exactly where each penny goes and the joy of seeing the savings account blossom. I would hazard a guess that most of us don’t love sticking to budgets, but they are definitely a part of our lives if we want to get ahead financially.

If you haven’t got one in place, then think about it. If you need budgeting advice, then seek someone you trust to help you or go to a professional. At Fit 4 Life, our own Bryce Staveley helps our gym members (and sometimes non-members) create realistic budgets to achieve their financial goals. If you’re in need of some new ideas for your budget or to get one started in the first place, then contact us on info@fit4lifefitness.co.nz to make an appointment.

Now, I am off to that dreaded money talk with my hubby!! 🙂

Christy – Fit 4 Life Staff

Christy

Finances – You and Your Finances

Have you ever wondered how to keep your finances in order. How do I budget or plan for the future? I’ve found a great website that can be a great help with those of us who have a hard time keeping our heads above water with money! It’s called, Sorted and you can click on the following link to check it out. http://www.sorted.org.nz/home

I hope it will help you come to grips with your finances and get on the road to being stable and not stressing!

Jamie – Fit 4 Life Staff

Finance – Tax Time!

You might remember me saying before in another ‘Finance Blog’ that this area of my life is not my strongest.

So I have another referral for you guys.  When it’s that time of year to do your taxes and you are dreading it like I usually do, I would highly recommend seeing my accountant Chris Heaslip.  He makes what seems daunting and let’s be honest boring, headache free and fun!  He doesn’t make you feel dumb for not knowing all the ins and outs of the financial world.  He’s the most outgoing, friendly compassionate accountant I know – definitely not the typical generalised boring accountant that’s for sure.

So you don’t need to dread doing your taxes anymore.  Have a great experience by seeing Chris.  He works at IRS Tax Limited (Accountants Specialising in Tax).  Here is the link for more info and contact details:  www.irstax.co.nz

 

Happy accounting!

Kirstie – Fit 4 Life Staff 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finances – Back to Basics for the Shopaholic

It feels like every time it is my turn to blog about ‘finances’, I’m in the middle of my own little financial crisis.

My husband and I are excitedly preparing for the arrival of a baby, and we all know having children is not cheap. Yet, frivolous as it sounds, I’ve spied with my little eye, a lovely item at the mall, calling out my name. Maybe something beginning with the letter S- shoes. Every husband’s nightmare.

This time, they are boots. My husband’s specific nightmare. Though they aren’t super expensive (I rationalise, yes, but I have friends to back me up *ahem* and I have been thinking about them since April… surely those are all valid points, anyone?) but they also aren’t totally necessary (I know, I know).

Of course, this is after I survive last week’s financial hurdle of avoiding a highly tempting sale- SALE (I think my favourite letter is ‘s’ for ‘shop’, ‘sale’, and ‘sweet’). The sale info came in one of those evil email-outs letting you know there was a one-day sale of lovely homeware and furniture items from a local distributor a few of my friends and I really like… I mean prices started at $5! How could you resist?

Well, I’m pround to announce that I refrained (after forwarding the email to other hopefully-not-as-weak-willed ladies) and decided not to go anywhere near smelling distance of that place. That night I told my husband of my achievement and it was nice getting a proud smile and high-five from my beloved, but c’mon, how about about a bit of cash as a reward, honey?

This made me think… what would I write about this week? Truth is I love saving, but really all my saving is in light of spending! I’m filled with a bit of guilt that often my ‘finance’ blog posts are about saving money while spending… useful yes but still involves spending!

In conclusion, today’s point is a simple reminder:

First and foremost, SAY NO. Some days you just gotta say no. Self-control. Will-power. Simple as that. NO. NO NO NO.

(And I need this advice as much as you do. I will admit I am struggling to say NO to those boots. I’m still dreaming up ways I can get them… )

So  maybe for weak ones like me, strategy number two is WAIT. Wait and keep putting it off until what you want is out of stock, out of season, simply no longer available. Then you just can’t have it. Sure, doesn’t quite deal with the core issue but least you didn’t spend the money?

Ok not the most profound financial advice. Hope at least that made you laugh.

Shopaholic Sarah signing off for today.

 

Finance – Tips on Taxes

About 2000 years ago this very week in history, Jesus Christ gave a huge boost to governments around the world when He made His famous statement, “…give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Luke 20:25)

Of course, Jesus didn’t make this statement randomly; He was answering a question that had been put to Him about whether people should pay tax or not. In fact, the question was asked of Jesus just a few days before He was crucified on what we now call ‘Good Friday’. His answer was that they should – which Governments should forever be grateful for!

It seems I have something in common with the people of Jesus’ day and age, as the New Zealand tax year just ended three weeks ago and, after completing my personal tax return, it turns out I have about $10,000 of unexpected tax to pay that I wished I didn’t have to pay! (Actually, it’s $10,000 that my wife has to pay – but that’s a technicality!)

Anyway, I thought I would write this blog on this issue on tax and give some helpful tips that have served me well over the years as I have grown in my knowledge of how tax works. To keep things orderly I will use the three headings of Attitude, Strategies, and Information.

ATTITUDE ABOUT TAX

Someone once said that ‘Your attitude determines your altitude’. While I don’t relish the idea of having to come up with $10,000 to return to the NZ IRD this year, one’s mindset on the subject of tax can make a difference to their enjoyment of life! So here are a couple of pointers under the ‘Attitude’ category:

1. Paying tax is always better than not paying tax.

I guess the guy who asked Jesus the question about whether he should pay tax or not wasn’t too excited about having to pay tax to the Romans but – on the flip side – paying tax at least means you have made some money over the past year. (If you haven’t made any money then you don’t, or won’t, have to pay any tax – but that’s not a good thing!) So be thankful if you have to – or when you have to – pay tax, because it’s a far greater problem to not have any money and have no tax to pay than the other way around! I try to keep this in mind at all times and adjust my attitude appropriately when I feel like grumbling about taxes.

Also, to sleep well at night you should ensure that you pay your legitimate taxes to the  Government, as it can cause you a heap of worry and concern – even jail time – if you don’t! Any Government in authority – even those of small nations – have coercive powers available to them (i.e. the military and police, etc). If you want to have good mental health then make sure that you pay your taxes. There are many legitimate ways to minimise tax and no-one is obligated to have to pay more tax than is necessary. However, if you find that you owe tax to the Government and you perform illegal acts like tax avoidance and tax evasion to escape this responsibility, it will eventually come back and cause you a world of hurt. (If you don’t believe me, go ask Wesley Snipes how he’s enjoying life at the moment – although you probably can’t speak to him until July 19, 2013, which is his official release day from the McKean Federal Correctional Institution where he is serving time for tax evasion!)

2. Paying Tax provides us with many benefits

I don’t believe that all the money we send to the Government through taxation is spent wisely. There’s always waste and inefficiency in any bureaucracy, and stories of Politicians excessive and abusive spending abounds in many countries just as it does here in Aotearoa (e.g. MP’s paying for girlfriend’s trips to London at the taxpayers’ expense, or spending $89 from public funds on pairs of underpants etc). However, in a country like New Zealand there are many good things we receive from paying our tax dollars. The Police, Fire Service, subsidised healthcare, cheap education, good roads, having a military to defend us (possibly debatable in NZ!) and even the most obvious thing of having an organised government, are all services we personally benefit from through the payment of our taxes.

While we might grizzle and grumble about having to pay taxes, I’m sure there would be a lot more grizzling if these services did not exist or -worse – were left to private enterprise to provide and profit from. (Imagine having to pay a toll on every road you drove down, or being barred from driving on certain roads because you hadn’t paid your annual subscription to ‘City Roads Ltd’! Even more disturbing would be the Fire Service or Police not turning up after you called them in an emergency situation because you weren’t a shareholder of ‘NZ Fire Inc’ or hadn’t paid your annual subs to ‘Police Ltd’!!) Again, I try to remember all of the benefits I receive as a citizen through paying my taxes before I gripe about having to pay them!

 

STRATEGIES TO REDUCE TAXES

There are a lot of strategies out there to help people reduce or minimise taxes. This blog post is insufficient to cover all the ideas that abound – nor would I want to try and be too comprehensive, as tax law is constantly changing and if you give ‘bad’ or illegal advice you can go to jail! The best advice will always be to seek out a professional tax adviser (more on that later).

However, the broad strokes when it comes to minimising tax usually revolve around three basic strategies which are (i) Reducing Income (ii) Increasing Deductions, and (iii) Using any available Tax Credits to which you may be entitled.

(i) Ways to Reduce Income

  • Income Split – Most Western Nations use a graduated tax system, so if you can reduce your income legally so that your earnings fall into a lower tax bracket this is often a simple way of reducing tax. Unfortunately as most people are employees, there is often very little they can do to reduce their income. However, for people who are self-employed or employers there is usually a lot they can do to reduce income. For example, if you operate a family business as a husband and wife team, try and ensure both spouses receive the same income (i.e. income split), because having one partner on a higher wage or salary than the other will often mean paying a lot more in tax. E.g. John and Jane earn a combined $100,000 in salary from their business, but John is paid $70,000 and Jane is paid $30,000. This arrangement means they will pay $18,290 total income tax between them. However, if their salaries were set at $50,000 each then their total income tax would be $16,040, which represents a saving of $2,250 p.a. This saving is achieved because much of John’s $70,000 salary is being taxed at the higher 30% tax rate. (The worst possible arrangement would be for John to earn $100,000 and for Jane to get paid $0.00, as this would mean John would be paying $23,920 in tax which is $7,880 more than if John and Jane were paid $50,000 each!) Of course, it’s not always possible to employ family members (including your children) in your business, but if it is possible then it can be a great way to minimise tax legitimately!
  • Joint Accounts – Although employees can’t do much to reduce income, sometimes in the case of husbands and wives their money can be invested more efficiently to minimise tax. The easiest way to do this is to ensure that any investments (outside of the family home) are held in the name of the spouse who is earning the lower salary. E.g. John and Jane earn $70,000 and $30,000 respectively. They have a term deposit of $25,000 held in both of their names with the BNZ Bank earning 5.0% p.a. (or $1250 interest for the year). Because they are on different tax rates, the combined tax to pay would be $296.88 whereas if the investment was held solely in Jane’s name the tax on the $1250 interest would only be $218.75, or $78.13 less. This may not seem like a lot of saving, but money is money.  (John and Jane could have a nice meal out away from the kids and build into their relationship, just from making a simple change on paper at the bank as to whose name the investment is held under!)

(ii) Increasing Deductions

  • Start a Business – You would have to be dumb as a box of rocks to start a business just to pay less in tax! The purpose of starting a business must always be twofold. First, to make or provide a great product or service; and second, to earn a profit. That said, owning a business – even a small one, like breeding guinea pigs from your home – allows a business owner to claim a lot of legitimate expenses which can reduce their tax by reducing income –  which an employee cannot do (as the business owner is claiming all the expenses!) For example, if you operate a legitimate small business from your home and have a dedicated office or work area set aside for the purpose of running the business, then you can usually claim a percentage of home expenses in proportion to the work area size. For example, if your home office takes up 15% of your total home area, then you can legitimately claim 15% of your rent or home loan interest, your power, water etc., all as legitimate business expenses which you can then offset against your income, hence you pay less in tax while experiencing no real change in quality of life as a result. A good tax professional should be able to assist you in calculating all of the legitimate deductions which you can use to lower your tax.
  • Asset Depreciation – Not all business investments are subject to depreciation, but some assets can be depreciated and this depreciation expense can be legitimately deducted against income to lower your tax. Perhaps the most obvious one is where you own a rental unit or house. The capital value of the improvements on the land (not the land itself) can be depreciated every year. In fact, it is required to be depreciated by law, and this can work in your favour. Of course, the purpose of the Government allowing depreciation on fixed assets is because they do wear out over time and will eventually need to be replaced.  So through its tax policy, the Government is acknowledging this fact and allowing business owners to depreciate and claim a certain amount of the cost of the asset every year in anticipation that the owner will, one day, need to replace the item.

(iii) Using Tax Credits in your favour

  • Donations – Perhaps the easiest form of Tax Credit to make use of comes from making donations to legitimate charitable organisations. While once very restrictive, New Zealand tax law relating to charitable donations has become much more generous in recent years, with one third of charitable giving now being able to be claimed as a credit in your favour. If you make a lot of income in a given year and wish to reduce your tax bill, consider making a large donation to a favourite charity to offset the tax payment.
  • Imputation Credits – This usually applies to investors who own dividend paying shares, and where their personal income tax rate is less than the NZ company tax rate (currently 28%). For people on lower incomes in New Zealand, owning shares of dividend paying companies can give them an advantage tax-wise, as a company pays tax on its income at a 28% rate and deducts withholding tax at the same rate from the dividend which it then pays out to the shareholders. If you earn under NZ$48,000 in salary, then your top tax rate on the current NZ graduated tax scale is only 21%, and so you will be granted an imputation credit. In other words, because you will have been taxed too much by the company (i.e. 28% instead of 21%), you will get a tax credit from the NZ Inland Revenue department which can give you a rebate of tax when you file your tax return!

INFORMATION ON TAX

Like I said, there are a lot of strategies around to help people reduce or minimise taxes as well as a lot of information out there on how to do so. But here are a couple of pointers on tax information which I have learned over the years.

Get Good Tax Advice

I’m a big fan of doing it yourself. Perhaps this is because I am from New Zealand stock, where ‘Do it yourself’ has been bred into the gene pool since the nation was colonised. Or perhaps it comes from my personality and experiences, having suffered at the hands of some very incompetent advisors in other fields over the years. However, when it comes to tax advice my recommendation is that you get the best advice you can afford. This is not an area where you want to go it alone as it is vast, constantly changing and also potentially incriminating because you are at ultimately at the mercy of the Government! (Put a photo of Wesley Snipes on your bedside table to remember this point at all times!)

While the NZ tax system is basically an honesty system and all working citizens of our nation are basically ‘innocent until proven guilty’, it is also an area where ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’! As you begin to handle larger sums of money through your working life, you will want to make sure that your accounting, recording and cashflow are managed and overseen by a responsible professional tax advisor. Also, having an advisor working for you gives you credibility as well as liability-protection. (If for some reason a big mistake is made with your taxes, then at least you will have the option of blaming your tax advisor, whereas if you do it all yourself then the NZ IRD will not go looking for anybody else!)

Another advantage is that a good tax advisor will (or should) save you money, and maybe even help you make more money. By way of another personal example, my tax advisor gave me some advice over the phone a couple of weekends ago that will potentially save my wife and I from losing $70,000 simply by rearranging some of our affairs differently. This kind of advice and saving makes it well worth paying the advisor’s annual fee!

Continually Learn about Tax

While I am a fan of getting good tax advice, don’t stop learning about tax law and its implications. There are many good resources available out there such as books, magazines, internet articles – even friends.

Continuing to learn about the field of tax, how it works, and what your rights and responsibilities are will also help you interact in an intelligent way with your tax professional – and occasionally you may even pick up mistakes which they have made on your return, or items they may have overlooked, (After all, they’re only human!) My willingness to learn and keep learning about tax has given me the knowledge to prepare my business and personal tax returns accurately for my accountant and to present them to him in a form which is 95% completed. This saves me money by not having to have him spend time on menial tasks (like getting receipts in order and basic book-keeping/data- entry which I am perfectly capable of doing myself), and allowing him to focus on what he does best – namely giving me good advice and checking that everything is in order for the tax authorities!

Bryce Staveley – Fit 4 Life Staff

 

Finance: Sarah’s Shopping Tips – Going Online for Sport/Fitness Gear!

Sport and fitness apparel and items like shoes can be SO expensive! Now with so much information available online, I thought to come up with some resources or ideas to help get a good bargain. (Based in Auckland, New Zealand.)

Some of these points may seem more tedious than others, and even I don’t necessarily do ALL of these in one go, so you can just pick and choose what might suit your purpose and time-frame!

 

List – Have a list of what you are looking for. You can base it on what is worn out from the previous year, or what you might need for the new season, i.e.winter. This is helpful so you can filter products when searching online, as it can be overwhelming with not knowing where to start.

 

Sign-Up– If you have your eye on something or have a preferred store, sign upto their ‘newsletter’ or mail-outs. Many stores now have an email sign-up optionwhere you will be sent information on upcoming sales or member specials.

 

Catalogues– Many stores now put their catalogues online, so if you have time you can go online and check them out before you go into the store, so you know if your item is on sale or not.

 

Sale Patterns– Many stores like Rebel Sport  (http://www.rebelsport.co.nz/) and Kathmandu (www.kathmandu.co.nz ) regularly have sales at certain times.

For example:

  • At the end of the season. There will often be a sale or clearance section when the store gets their new shipment in!
  • On or around public holidays, like Easter, etc. (And go on the first day because then you are more likely to get things in your size/colour!)

 

One Day Sales– Currently, ‘one-day sale’ or ‘daily-deal’ websites are very popular. (Sites like www.onedaydeals.co.nz have a list of many of thesewebsites.) You sign up to them and they email you a daily list of deals on items you order online. These tend to be specific or random items, depending on the website, so if you want you can look for sale websites that are only focused on sport or outdoor gear.

 

Online Shopping– You’ll be surprised how competitive prices can be even if the company is based overseas. Just look out for shipping costs! For example:

  • Ebay (www.ebay.com ) can contain good bargains if shipping fees are not too costly.
  • Fashion website ASOS (www.asos.com ) is based in the U.K. but has free shipping worldwide and has sporting brands like Puma, Adidas and Nike. They also have good end-of-season sales, which can work well for us in NZ because the end of their cool weather means the start of ours!
  • If you have friends/relatives living overseas and someone visiting them like in the US, UK or Canada, etc. you can use websites like Amazon (www.amazon.com), or the respective Amazon UK or Amazon Canada versions as they are different, and choose local shipping to their postal address, then have the ‘someone’ bring the item back to you.

 

Shoes– They can cost so much! Running shoes can cost about $250 a pair and don’t always last that long if you are running a lot. To avoid paying full price, it is firstly helpful to know what shoes work for you. You can be fit with proper shoes at many specialty shoe stores like The Athelete’s Foot, etc. Then when sales come along, you know what brand and make of shoe you are looking for immediately.

  • Smith Sports Shoes (http://www.sportshoes.co.nz/ ) often lists what specificmodels are on sale in the newspaper and online, so you can look out for yours to go on sale! They often are discounted at a decent price.
  • Another alternative is buying sport shoes overseas. If someone who loves you is going to the U.S. or Hong Kong or Singapore , maybe they’ll shop for you. These places can often carry the same big brands for half the price, though the shoes may just be from ‘last season’.
  • If you know what you’re after you can request them be bought for you. Shoes keep fine so you can even buy multiple pairs if you are an avid walker/runner.)

 

TradeMe– TradeMe (www.trademe.co.nz ) is probably one of the most common ways to buy things in NZ these days! It is always a good place to try too, as theylist both second-hand and brand new stuff. It may not be the best for sports clothing and shoes, but you never know. It is definitely useful if you are looking for a wetsuit, a used set of golf clubs, hand-weights or things like that!

Hope this was helpful!

Sarah – Fit 4 Life Staff


Finance – Making your dollar stretch with DIY

For a lot of New Zealanders the cheapest way to do something is to do it yourself.  When you do want to tackle some jobs around the house or just want some new tools there are some ways to get your money’s worth.

Hardware stores are usually the first port of call when it comes to DIY.

Placemakers has introduced the ‘know how’ card that gets you 10% back in vouchers.  This card is free to apply for and has no fees attached to it.  http://knowhowcard.placemakers.co.nz/register.aspx

Mitre 10 Mega & Bunnings Warehouse both have a best price guarantee.  Each store says it will beat a lower price on the same item by 15%.  I have found the best way to do this is by checking the different hardware stores (Mitre10, Bunnings, Carters, Hammer Hardware, Placemakers, etc…) and then once you have found the lowest price go to either Mitre 10 or Bunnings with the details of the store and the price.  You have to ensure that the item is not on sale and that they have it in stock.  You also should make sure it is the exact same item.  Stores sometimes carry similar items but they have different model #s so be careful.  Personally I usually take the lowest price to Mitre 10 so that I can get Flybuys.

Specialty Items –  I have found that not all things are available at the major hardware stores.  Things like stainless steel fasteners are sometimes more affordable and sometimes only available from specialty shops.  There are a few here on the Shore that I have very helpful:

The Bolt Shop,  191 Archers Road              www.boltshop.co.nz

Fasteners Direct,  7C Saturn Place             www.fastenersdirect.co.nz

It definitely pays to compare prices, I once found some baton screws at one store for $1.70 each that at the other was $5.10 each!

Have fun on your next project and if you find some great deals let us know so we can pass it on – fit4lifefitness@vodafone.co.nz

Jason – Fit 4 Life Staff


Finance – A Little Help From A Friend Makes Budgeting Way More Fun

If you are anything like me then everything to do with finances and numbers is your worst nightmare!!!  I’m just not passionate about money or get a buzz out of figuring out and crunching numbers.  It’s just not fun for me!!!  However, of course I like to have money when I zip zap my card through the machine when shopping or giving it away.  I’m so thankful there are people in this world who love this area that’s my weakness and can balance and compliment people like me!  I have huge respect for you!

It’s that time of year when you might be thinking about all that money you spent over Christmas and summer break and freaking out a little so now you are making new years resolutions and budgets for the year!!   Well if you are dreading the thought of writing up a budget and figuring it all out, then I have hope for you!  My friend and boss Bryce Staveley who set up and opened Fit4Life is an expert in this area!!

Bryce has helped me write up budgets and even made the financial appointments fun!!   I’ve come away understanding money more and how it all works.  I have beautiful brightly coloured spreadsheets with budgets and pointers of things I need to do to set me up and prepare me for my future.  It doesn’t matter how little or how much you have, he can help you be more effective and wiser with the money you have been entrusted with.

I have absolutely no hesitation in endorsing Bryce to give you help or advice in any area of financial assistance you may need.  He is highly knowledgeable, experienced, skilled and very approachable and caring to everyone he encounters. Don’t worry about how little you don’t know or understand, he doesn’t judge and will have you feeling at ease and on your way to a brighter future in no time!!

If you are currently a member at Fit4Life, it’s free to make an appointment to see Bryce.  If you are not a member and are reading this and would love to seek financial advice then I know Bryce would love to still help you, it will just depend on availability with his schedule.  So lose the headache and stress out of finances and pick up the phone or get down to Fit4Life and make an appointment.  Start 2011 off being responsible with your budgeting and investments!

Kirstie Pickering – Fit 4 Life Staff and Group Fitness Instructor

Faith – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Christmas is over for another year and like most years, I am able to truly enjoy the season AFTER the fact. Every year I say to myself that this year will be less busy, less stressful and less complicated so I can just breathe and enjoy. This year it was busier than ever with family visiting from overseas, more people to buy for, more food to make and the end of school year activities were multiplied due to prizegivings and end of primary school graduations.

But now that it is all over I am reminded of why we celebrate this season. It’s not because we need more stuff or need to commemorate the passing of eras (like primary school) or that we need to eat more food or spend more time with family….we celebrate because of a baby born 2,000 years ago. A baby who cooed and did all the normal baby things, yet was a promise to the world….a Saviour!!! It’s hard to imagine that this tiny baby became a man who altered the face of history and provided each of us a way to personally reconnect with God through his death on a cross in Jerusalem and all despite how we have chosen to do our own thing. WOW!! I am thankful beyond measure.

Wherever you might be at in your spiritual journey, take some time to examine the life of this baby, Jesus!!! See how His life transformed others and how He wants to be a part of your life every day. I am so thankful He is part of mine and as I look forward to 2011 I am excited to see what He’s going to do in my life this next year.

If you’re a part of Fit 4 Life Fitness and want to know more about how Jesus transforms lives, feel free to talk to any of the staff…or if you just have some questions, we’d love to help you find the answers you’re looking for. As we say at Fit 4 Life, we’re “more than a gym” because we not only want to help with the fitness side of life, but also want to encourage everyone who comes our way to look at all aspects of life whether it be finances, faith or friendships.

Here’s to a new and exciting 2011!!!

Christy – Fit 4 Life Staff

Some resources to help:

The Case for Faith – Lee Strobel

Answers to Tough Questions – Josh McDowell

A Skeptics Guide to Faith – Philip Yancey

Finance – Car Repairs….making your dollar go further!

If you own an automobile you know that they cost a lot of money to maintain.  Here are some more tips on how to make your money stretch a little bit farther.

If you avoid the regular maintenance you are setting yourself up for a big repair bill down the line.  Unless you can afford a brand new car with a warranty you will want every cent to be doing as much as it can.  There are several ways you can save money on car repairs, but most will involve getting your hands a bit dirty.  If you are willing to get some grease under your fingernails and borrow or buy a few tools here are some ways to save on car stuff.

  • Oil changes – these usually cost about $75.  You could change your own oil for $40 – $50 depending on the cost of the filter.  Now this may seem overwhelming but changing your own oil is pretty simple. Here is a video that shows you the basics.  If you want more detail a great investment is in a Haynes Manual for your car.
  • When things do break on your car take a look through the Haynes Manual and see if it is something you would feel comfortable fixing.  Many times the most expensive part of the repair is the labour charges.  You can get good used parts from auto wreckers in your area or if you a bit more adventurous you can visit a place like Pick A Part.  At Pick A Part you go in and remove the parts yourself so the parts are cheaper.
  • Another area you can fix easily on most cars is the brake pads (or shoes).  Your manual will cover it in detail for you but here is a good article about it and here is a generic video to give you an idea of what it involves
  • If you are unsure, especially if the repair involves a safety feature of the car, you may be better off seeking professional help.  If you do, shop around a bit.  Talk to friends and see what their experiences have been with their repairers.  Different shops will have different labour prices and expensive isn’t always better. Here are some places to check out different shops:
  • www.mta.org.nz
  • www.nocowboys.co.nz

Give it a go and have fun.

Jason – Fit 4 Life Staff