How to buy a car at auction

This guest post from Jacq is part of the "reader stories" feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes.

Woot! I just bought a new-to-me SUV at the local auto auction. It's a 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander XLS 4WD and is loaded. I don't think I've ever been in a car that's this loaded! Well, maybe I have — but definitely not one of my own. And it's red with a black leather interior. How fun is that?

As you can tell, I'm super excited since:

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Why I love the megabus: A closer look at a seldom-used (but cheap!) way to travel

I'm in the middle of a month-long trip to the East Coast: a little work, but mostly tourism. Although the conference I attended was in New York City, I flew to Philadelphia because it'll be easier for me to get back there after I've hung out with family and friends.

That meant I needed to get myself from Philly to New York, from there down to Washington, D.C., and then back up to Philly to do my visiting. The total cost of those three trips was — wait for it — three dollars and fifty cents.

That is not a typo. I spent $1 for each of the three tickets and 50 cents to book them.

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More about...Transportation, Frugality, Travel

Biking vs. driving calculator

For the past two months, I've been conducting an informal experiment looking at commuting costs. Spurred by the high cost of gas — $4 per gallon to fill my Mini!?! — I decided to use alternate transportation: my feet. In May, I walked over 200 miles. In June, I've walked less but biked more.

Related >> My Mini and the Power of Saving

Walking and biking takes more time, it's true, but not as much as I'd feared. Besides, walking and biking give me additional exercise, so there's a cost benefit there (both in terms of time and money). Plus, I've discovered that I'm pretty good at multitasking while walking. Sometimes I just relax and enjoy the journey, but other times I'm able to read as I walk or even write rough drafts of blog posts.

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Traffic violations and your auto insurance

California newspaper The Daily Breeze recently published an article about a man who was issued a $35 ticket for failing to come to a complete stop, which became a $234 ticket after added penalties. (State legislators have been adding new penalties, such as a "state conviction fee," since 2009, thanks to a $10 billion budget deficit. The base fine for running a red light is $100 in Los Angeles County, for example, but after added penalties the ticket will cost a grand total of $480.)

Even if you live in a state without these hefty additional penalties, the cost of a traffic violation doesn't end with the cost of the ticket. If you want to keep the infraction off your driving record, there's the added cost of a traffic school fee and the cost of the traffic school course. If you choose to pay the ticket and not attend driver's ed, your ticket might get even more expensive — you'll incur the long-term costs of higher auto insurance.

Violations can Raise Premiums by 50 Percent

According to an analysis of more than 32,000 insurance policies, drivers who purchased a one-car, single-driver policy in 2010 and had one violation on their record paid about 18% more on average than drivers without any violation. Drivers with two paid 34% more for their policy, while drivers with three violations paid a staggering 53% more for auto insurance than those with zero violations. Continue reading...

More about...Transportation, Insurance

How to dispute your mechanic bill

This article is by freelance writer Roger White and staff writer April Dykman. It originally appeared on Roger's blog in a different format.


As many GRS readers know, last year I quit my job to become a full-time freelancer. The hardest thing about moving on was leaving coworkers like Roger White, a magazine editor and author of the funniest interoffice e-mails ever. Roger and I teamed up to bring you his story about a recent experience paying for an auto repair, along with tactical advice about how to dispute your mechanic bill.


Our little family was tooling along this year, struggling to stay within our monthly budget while juggling life's big-ticket items—you know: braces, countless teenage daughter items, summer camp fees times number of children squared, etc., etc.—when the two most feared words in all of suburbia's lexicon knocked us flat.

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Save on Gas with Auto Maintenance

I'm awful at maintaining my vehicles. Spectacularly bad. I have always relied on someone else to take care of oil changes, check tire pressure, and whatever else cars need to have done on a regular basis. When it rains, I congratulate myself for having washed the car.

I'm not into cars, obviously — never have been. Vehicles simply get me from point A to point B.

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Should I sell my car?

The Friday "Ask the Readers" column generally follows a set format: I introduce the topic, share a reader e-mail, give my best advice, and then ask for your feedback. Today's column is a little different. Sarah sent me a 1000-word question, and rather than write any sort of response, I'm just going to let her have the entire space. Everything that follows is from Sarah.

I have a question for other GRS readers. It's a simple question: Should I sell my car? It actually seems to have a very simple answer: Yes.

I keep writing lists and outlining the reasons why I should sell my car (and why I shouldn't), and the balance lies very clearly in favor of selling my car. And yet I'm having the hardest time selling my car.

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How we bought a new car

This guest post from Nicole is part of the "reader stories" feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. Nicole is an active GRS commenter. She's also half of the blog Grumpy Rumblings of the Untenured, where she and her partner-in-crime write about personal finance, novels, academia, and cats — among other things.

Four years ago, in November, my husband and I had one car (a tiny Hyundai Accent), a house that was too big, and not enough money to furnish the house. It was our first year with real jobs since leaving graduate school and we hadn't quite caught up yet, especially with all the unexpected expenses that come when you buy a house. But that's another story.

On top of that, I was hugely pregnant with our first child. We knew we were going to need a second car once our son was born because, on any given day either one of us could be called to use the car in case of emergency. With no parental leave (FMLA doesn't cover first-year employees...that's also another story), we wouldn't be able to make commuting and baby care work with just one car. At the rate we were saving, we would have enough by January (just in time for our son) to buy a fancy new Honda Civic Hybrid so long as we didn't bother to furnish any of the empty rooms.

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Insurance basics: How car insurance works

This is the third part in a short series about insurance basics. In the first part, I explained how insurance works. In the second, I shared some general tips about how to save on insurance of all types. Today's article offers info about auto insurance.

Car insurance protects you financially.You've had car insurance since you were old enough to drive, but how much do you really know about it? At its heart, your policy probably contains a few basic types of coverage.

Liability Insurance

In most states, you at least need to have liability insurance, which covers the cost of any damage you do to other people or things with your car. (But note that liability insurance doesn't cover injuries to you or other people on your policy; for that, you need PIP insurance, which I'll cover in a moment.)

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Should I sell my car on eBay Motors?

Over the last few months, I've spent countless hours researching the process of selling items online for a large project I've been compiling. It's taught me that as much as I thought I knew about selling online, there's so much more that I have no clue about!

For example, a family member recently asked for my help selling an unneeded car on the internet. "Sure!" was my first thought. "Heck, maybe I'll even use this as a case study!" However, there's one major problem with this situation: I'm completely ignorant when it comes to cars.

Actually, I shouldn't say completely ignorant. That's not correct. I'm inexcusably ignorant when it comes to cars.

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More about...Transportation, Side Hustles