Whether you drive a vehicle that’s hot off the assembly line or one that’s old enough to be an antique, you want your car to last a long time. A fall tune-up helps you achieve your goal. It also maximizes fuel efficiency, prevents expensive repairs and ensures your vehicle runs properly all winter.
Read the Owner’s Manual
In the back of your vehicle’s owner’s manual, you’ll find a tune-up checklist. Follow it carefully as you ensure you repair and inspect all the essential areas of your vehicle this fall.
Fix the Brakes
Your mechanic should inspect the brakes for wear and ensure the brake lights on your vehicle work properly.
Change the Oil
Your vehicle’s engine requires engine oil as it operates smoothly. Top off the oil this fall or invest in a complete oil change, especially if you’ve driven 15,000 miles since your last oil change.
Check the Battery
Wipe off the terminals and make sure the battery is attached correctly. If it’s older than four years, replace it so that you’re not left stranded.
Soft, leaky or loose hoses seem like a small detail, but they’re important for proper engine performance. Inspect all your engine’s hoses to ensure they’re attached properly and replace any that aren’t in good working order.
Top Off Fluids
Low transmission fluid and coolant affect your vehicle’s performance and could damage the engine. Top off these fluids this fall. You’ll also want to fill your windshield washer fluid and the antifreeze reservoir.
Inflate the Tires
You’ll experience a smoother ride and enjoy increased traction when you inflate the tires to the proper level. Find the recommended tire pressure on your vehicle’s door sticker.
Now that your car is tuned up, update your auto insurance, too. Make sure you have adequate coverage to handle any repairs or liability that may occur during a winter storm or after an accident. With these tune-up tips, you prolong the life of your vehicle this winter and into next year.
When you face what appears to be a minor claim, have you ever been tempted just to handle it yourself? After all, the loss is minimal, and you’re “saving” your insurance coverage for when you really need it. Some contractors also feel that filing too many small claims could increase the risk of losing the policy, or driving up their premium.
However, there’s more to consider. Bear in mind that every policy contains language to the effect that “No insured will, except at that insured’s own cost, voluntarily make a payment, assume any obligation, or incur any expense, other than for first aid, without our consent.” This means that that if you pay a small claim yourself, and anything goes wrong, the insurance company can say, “You’re on your own.”
For example, suppose someone walks through your job site and steps on a nail. It appears to be a minor puncture wound, and you agree to pick up the cost of an emergency room visit. You might feel that you’ve closed this incident quickly. However, a few weeks later, the injured person calls to say they have a raging infection in their foot and the doctor is checking them into the hospital for what proves to be a long and expensive stay.
If you then report this claim to your insurance company for the first time, will they step in and take over, or tell you that since you never informed them of the incident they’re not responsible? Even if the insurance company pays the claim, you’ve run an unnecessary risk.
What you should have done – as the policy wording suggests – is to inform your insurance company immediately and ask its consent for you to pay the claim. This approach would have made a substantial difference because notifying the company of the claim fulfills your obligations under the policy.
Why go it alone when you have a partner waiting to help?
Your small business expenses and personal expenses should stay separate. However, it’s easy to spend business funds for personal expenses, which can affect your personal credit. Understand the business credit mistakes that put your personal credit at risk.
Start or Fund Your Business With Personal Credit Cards
To get your business of the ground, you may use your personal credit cards. Whether you charge a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, this financing option could cost you.
Open a business credit card to get your business running. As an alternative, ask for trade credit where your suppliers agree to give you 30 days to pay off the balance of your bill. These steps separate your personal and business finances and can assist you in getting financing in the future with a favorable interest rate and terms.
Use Personal Guarantees
Business financing or credit is usually only available if you give a personal guarantee that you’ll repay the money. Those guarantees will show up on your personal credit reports, though, and could affect your credit score and your ability to get credit in the future.
Make an honest effort to never borrow more than you can repay. Don’t default on business loans, either. Wise financial management now assists you in obtaining future funding.
Make Late Payments
Sometimes, you can’t pay bills until your customers pay, and if they pay late, then you pay late. Other times, you may forget to make a payment. One late payment might not be a big deal, but two can negatively impact your personal credit.
Set aside enough money to pay several months of bills on time. Also, use automatic bill pay when possible and have the payment draft from your business bank account a few days before the due date. Stay current on all payments as you protect your credit.
Max Out Your Business Credit Cards
Certain business credit card providers will report your payment history to consumer credit agencies. Late payments and maxing out your credit card will have a negative effect on your credit score.
Always leave a cushion on your credit cards and resist the temptation to charge your full credit amount. Consider making early payments and paying twice a month as you lower your balance, too. You may also want to use a business credit card that does not report to personal consumer credit agencies.
Your small business can ruin your personal credit. Reduce your risk by separating your accounts. The way you structure your business can protect you, too. Talk to your financial advisor for more information on how to protect your personal credit as you build your small business.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that most burglaries occur during the summer months. While some burglars enter your home, others are interested in soft targets, the items stored outside of your home. One in three homeowners do not protect their soft targets, but you can with these tips.
- Vacant Properties
Thieves and vandals typically target vacant homes as they steal scrap metal or take other items to sell. If you’re on vacation, keep your windows and doors locked. Install outdoor motion activated lights and use a timer to turn on indoor lights at random times, too. You can also install a video camera that allows you to monitor your home while you’re away.
- Vehicles and Loose Items
Experienced car thieves can steal a vehicle in less than 10 seconds. Always keep your car locked inside the garage or make sure the alarm is turned on and install an anti-theft device that disables the ignition or locks the steering wheel. You should hide any loose items, too, including electronics, garage door openers, toll booth passes and parking garage passes, either in the glove box or trunk.
- Unlocked Sheds and Garages
Tools and lawn equipment are easy to resell. Always lock your garage, including windows, even if you’re working in your lawn. Be sure your valuable tools and equipment are stored inside the shed or garage, too.
- Sports Equipment
Whether your summer activities include baseball, kayaking or tennis, resist the urge to store your sports equipment outside. Secure it safely in a locked garage or shed, in a locked bin or in your vehicle’s trunk.
Ideally, you should store your bike in a locked garage or shed. If you have to store your bikes, don’t use thin bike chains and wheel locks that are easy to unbolt or cut. A heavy chain threaded through the bike’s wheels and frame and a thick padlock are more secure.
- Air Conditioning Units
Your outdoor air conditioning units contain copper coils and other metal piping that thieves can scrap for cash. Install a bright security light that’s motion activated near your outdoor AC unit or install a locked fence around it.
- Pool Pumps
Pool pumps are easy to resell. Remove the pool pump and store it inside during your vacation. If that’s not possible, install a bright, motion-activated security light near the pump. You should also install a fence around your pool and keep it locked at all times.
Protect your home from thieves when you take steps to protect these seven soft targets. Be sure your homeowners or renters insurance policies are up to date, too, as you protect your home and possessions.