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May 2012 - Posts - Dollar Stretcher Guest Blogger
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Dollar Stretcher Guest Blogger

May 2012 - Posts

  • Mazda Miata Buyers Guide

    by Jay Adams

    Here’s the dilemma. If you’re a car guy (or gal), you unquestionably have a craving for a fun and exciting car to drive. In addition, if you’re a smart car enthusiast, you will also understand the importance of being frugal. It's especially important when it comes to purchasing a car, as the cost of insurance, maintenance, and just getting the keys to your joy-ride can quickly become a heavy financial burden, one in which we all want to avoid. Which leads us to the ageless question of whether or not we can have our cake and eat it too? Absolutely. There are certainly cars out there that will have both you and your wallet smiling for a long time to come.

    Typically, when people think of performance cars, they think of all of the high-end super machines that cost an arm and a leg to get behind the wheel of. But, those cars aren’t the be-all end-all to performance driving. There are other options out there, and while the car I’m going to suggest won’t turn as many heads, the point is saving money while still being able to enjoy yourself. So, let’s get right to it and the answer the question – What sports car presents the best value for economical car shoppers? The answer, the Mazda Miata, now known as the Mazda MX-5, is the ideal choice for those who want good performance at an affordable price.

    Yes, the Mazda Miata is the answer to all of the life’s most complicated questions. Ok, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the Miata really is a great recommendation for a variety of car-buying needs. Looking for a cheap first car? Miata. Cheap track car? Miata. From Sunday driver to everyday driver, the Miata fits the bill. So long as you don’t require a backseat, the Miata is a two-door roadster, in which case you really can’t go wrong in looking into one of these cars.

    Mainly, they’re insanely affordable and can fit the budget of practically any wise penny pincher out there. Even at such an affordable price, the Miata is still touted as one of the most enjoyable and fun cars that there are to drive, creating a win-win. If you’re shopping used, even better, as the Mazda Miata was first introduced in 1989, and according to the Guinness Book of World Records, it’s the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car in history. Meaning that there’s plenty out there to choose from, and if you date yourself back far enough, you’ll definitely be able to find one within your budget.

    Older Miata’s, up to the 1997 model year, can be had in good condition for around $7,000, or even less if you’re lucky. If you’re willing to take on a car with high mileage, and maybe in need of some TLC, then it’s not hard to find some for less than $2,000. The plus side is that mechanically these cars usually hold up very well and can continue to run relatively strong past the 100,000 mile mark, if it’s been properly maintained. If anything is in need of repair, replacement parts are readily available, again given the popularity of the vehicle, and you won’t be dishing out a lot of cash to get things done. For the do-it-yourselfers out there, the Miata is an easy car to work on, and going that route if possible will save you even more money. The prices on newer model years will vary, but to give you an idea, you can expect 2012 MX-5’s to range from the low-end of $20,000 up to $30,000, depending on the model and available features.

    One of the key things to be cognoscente of when inspecting a used (older) Miata is how it handles past 60 mph. The Miata is known to shimmy at high speeds, so you definitely want to check for that and ensure that the car you’re buying is stable at speeds and feels controlled over bumps.

    Now, let’s also be frank. If you’re looking for a car that’s going to toast tires and make a lot of noise, then this probably won’t suit your tastes. The Miata is more of a corner-carver than muscle machine. Emphasis is placed on the cars lightweight and nimble-footed driving characteristics and not raw power. But, there are few cars in the world that handle like a Miata and its capability of performing on a track is long proven and well documented.

    At the end of the day, the Mazda Miata is not the fastest car on the block, by any means. However, older models can be had for a few thousand dollars in good condition. Add to that, the fact that parts and tires are cheap, they’re extremely reliable, insurance rates will be reasonable, gas mileage is also impressive, and just as important the Mazda Miata is a well-respected and capable performance car. Have fun without breaking the bank and consider investing in this little roadster.

    This article was written by Jay Adams. For more information from the fast and fun world of cars be sure to visit AutoDebut.com. Also, don’t forget to read about Mazda’s latest two-door competitor, the Scion FR-S.

  • Making Your Small Space Multifunctional on a Dime

    by Barbara Torris

    What young people love about their iPhone and iPad is the fact that these devices serve more than one purpose. In fact, in this day and age we have come to expect that every piece of technology we own serve more than one purpose. Why should our furniture be any different?

    Image from Apartment Therapy

    If you are living in a small space, you know that putting every nook and corner to work is important. The dining room will need to become an office when it is not in use. A table purchased from a second hand store can be reconfigured to serve both of these purposes. A little sanding and a few cans of spray paint will make what might have looked like junk into something very useful. Here we see a desk that uses sawhorses with a glass top. Furniture of this type can be purchased, or if you are creative, made in your garage.

    There is no need to sacrifice beauty to usefulness and function. Whether you chose to live with antiques or very modern furniture, every piece should be stylish as well a functional. Resources available to the consumer today have made living this lifestyle very affordable. Storage units and desks convert into beds at night. The area by a window can be a dining area or a desk/art workspace.

    College bound students get ready to live in one room but they do it in style anymore. Beds are elevated so a desk area can be situated underneath. Lighting is portable and multifunctional. When retirees begin to think about downsizing, they are doing the same thing again. Making the small rooms they move to cheerful and homelike becomes important again.

    Barbara Torris is a retired educator turned freelance writer. She spends her winters in a very small space with her husband and a cat named RV. Her Retire in Style Blog tells about the daily life of a retiree as she and her husband live it. Check out her Retire In Style Blog.

  • Vacationing on a Shoestring: Cheap Road Trips

    Summer is all about vacations, but in these tough times, not everybody can afford to jet off for two weeks in the sun. When a vacation costs thousands of dollars and you’re struggling to make ends meet, it means you’re going to have to find a cheaper way to enjoy some holiday time this year.

    The great news is that cheap road trips offer a chance to get out and about, to enjoy the company of others, and to realise it’s not all about beach living and pina coladas. If that’s what you really do want, then why not take your road trip along a coastal route and enjoy the high life for less? It’s all about making do with what you can afford, but making your vacation as exciting and as memorable as you possibly can. 

    More and more people are starting to look closer to home when booking a vacation and it makes perfect sense financially. There are some really fantastic places to visit and the family won’t mind that you haven’t had to take an airplane to reach your destination. In fact, many families will tell you that their road trip vacations are some of the best they have ever had.

    Arranging Your Vacation

    Sit down and talk out your road trip with your travelling buddies. Make sure you include the children in discussions too as they are going to need entertaining if you’re going on a long trip. Talk about where you would like to go and the attractions you would like to visit. A very popular journey is California where you’ll find gorgeous beaches, wonderful towns, and of course Disneyland and many of the other famous resorts. Discuss accommodation options too, such as camping and motels. Talk about whether you want to eat in diners most of the time or you’d rather grab a bite on the road. Work out your budget and stick to it. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you might set out with no planned destination and just drive wherever the mood takes you. Just remember maps and a good quality SatNav to guide you.

    To Camp Or Not to Camp?

    Many people vacationing on a shoestring will camp as hotels and motels can push the cost of your vacation through the roof. When you’re paying for the family to sleep in a plush hotel room whilst your RV is parked out in the parking lot, it kind of defeats the object of a cheap vacation. RVs are great fun and allow you to pack a lot more on board, and they are cheap! If you don’t have your own, you can usually hire an RV for a good price. The only downside to an RV is that they use more gas than a conventional car, but the cost savings are still huge.

    Camping has got to be one of the cheapest ways to spend your vacation and it’s fun too! Camping under the stars, waking up to the sound of bird song, and the thrill of the great outdoors are just some of the reasons why more and more families are choosing this option. Kids love camping too and will love helping out with the fire and pitching the tent. There are some great life skills to be learned on a camping vaction and they are skills that will stay with you for life.

    Starting Out

    Make sure your car or RV is totally roadworthy before you commence your trip. The last thing you want to do is have to turn back or be towed off the road due to a breakdown. Check the oil, tire pressure, and water and always make sure you have enough gas to reach your first stop.

    If this is your first road trip be prepared for a rollercoaster journey of ups, downs, thrills and spills. One thing is for certain. You’ll have a great vacation, and it won’t have cost you the farm!

    There's never a 'best time' to arrange life insurance, but the truth is you really do never know when you're going to need it. Thankfully, www.lifeinsure.co.uk/ helps those make the right decisions on choosing life insurance.

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