Get Your Car Summer Road Trip Ready


With summer just around the corner, it’s time to make sure that your car is ready for your next big road trip. The last thing that you want to deal with while you’re trekking across the country with your family or friends in tow is a breakdown or flat tire. Here’s what you’ll need to do to make sure that your car is roadworthy:

Check Your Tires

Before you hit the road, check your tires to see if they are in working order. Start with the tire pressure; incorrect tire pressure can result in poor fuel economy and decrease the life of your tires. Next, you’ll want to make sure that your tread is in shape. Legally, you must have 2/32 of an inch of tread. Replace your tires if your tread is low—it is dangerous to drive with low tread and can cause damage to your vehicle. Then, check your spare tire to be sure that it is still functional. Hopefully, you won’t need it, but it’s important that you have it as a backup. If necessary, have your tires rotated. Rotating your tires every 5,000 to 10,000 miles allows them to wear more evenly.

Change Oil and Replace the Oil Filter

To avoid doing unnecessary damage to your car, change your oil and oil filter before your road trip if you haven’t done so recently. Heat causes oil to break down more quickly and become less effective, which is why you’ll want a good batch of oil pumping through your vehicle.

Inspect Your Radiator

Your radiator functions as a cooling system for your car and is something you definitely need during those hot summer months. Inspect your radiator for cracks and leaks and the radiator hoses for brittleness and cracking. If you see any damaged components, get them fixed before your trip. You’ll also want to make sure that you have the right mix of antifreeze while you’re inspecting your radiator and put more antifreeze in your coolant tank if necessary.

Get Those Wipers in Shape

Windshield wipers may seem like such a small detail, but they are essential to staying safe while on the road. Replace windshield wipers that are cracked or show signs of roughness so that you’ll be able to see while driving through those summer showers. And while you’re at it, top off your wiper fluid so that your windshield will remain crystal clear throughout your trip.

Replace Your Engine’s Air Filter

Your engine’s air filter catches airborne particles—such as dirt, dust and bugs—that can damage your engine and negatively impact its performance. A dirty air filter causes your engine to not work as efficiently as possible, putting strain on your vehicle as a whole. Recommendations on how often to change your air filter vary, but you should assess the state of your air filter every 6,000 miles to make sure it’s still in good shape. Check your owner’s manual for more information on how often to change your vehicle’s air filter.

Get Your Air Conditioner Evaluated

Being caught in the middle of your summer road trip without air conditioning sounds like a nightmare. Don’t let this happen to you! Take your car in for an air conditioner inspection to avoid suffering in the summer sun.

Test Your Lights and Signals

Before you go, be sure that your headlights, brakelights and turn signals work. Getting a ticket because your lights or signals are not working would be unfortunate, but getting in an accident would be even worse.

Take Only the Essentials

Overpacking your car can put undue strain on your tires and decreases your fuel efficiency, which you definitely need on a long road trip. Try taking only what you need and leave extra room for souvenirs that you might pick up along the way.

Be Prepared for Anything

Make sure that your insurance is up to date before you go, and don’t forget to bring your insurance card and contact information for your emergency roadside assistance provider. Additionally, pack an emergency kit that contains water, flashlights, flares, jumper cables, nonperishable food items, blankets and first aid supplies. You might want to include some cash, as well.

Staying safe on the road requires a bit of maintenance to your vehicle, but it’s worth it to keep you and your loved ones safe and your car in good working condition while you’re out on your next adventure.

Where are you going on your summer road trip?

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Tips and Tricks to Save on Summertime Airfare


Ensuring that you receive the best deal on airfare is a major concern when making travel arrangements for yourself and your family. This is even more accurate for summer travel, which is why knowing what resources will allow you to save money on your summer trip is important. Of course, figuring out which resources will actually work can be frustrating, so we’ve put together this handy list of tips to make booking your tickets a little less stressful.

Clear Your Web-Browsing History

Airfare booking websites track your web-browsing data and some even use that information to raise the price of a flight that you’ve previously searched for. To prevent this from happening in the future, clear your web-browsing information prior to booking your plane tickets.

Purchase Tickets One to Three Months Out

With everyone traveling during the summer months, gas prices will skyrocket. In order to get the best deal possible, you should book your tickets between one and three months ahead of your trip. The ideal time to buy tickets varies on your destination, so use this resource for a more in-depth look into the best time to purchase tickets.

Be Flexible

Being open to alternate travel dates is another way to save money on airfare. You should compare prices of flights within a range of dates that work for you, assuming that you don’t need to arrive at your destination or return home by specific dates. Most airfare booking websites allow you to compare prices of tickets within three days of your ideal departure and return dates. However, you will need to factor in the cost of additional nights at the hotel and extra meals if you decide to extend the length of your trip to save money on airfare.

Combine One-Way Tickets

In some cases, purchasing two one-way tickets could end up costing less money than a round-trip ticket. This won’t always be the case, but it won’t hurt to test this one out for your trip since you only have something to gain.

Travel at the Beginning or End of Summer

If your summer travel schedule isn’t dictated by the academic calendar, then schedule your trip for the beginning or end of the summer season. When the kids are in school, ticket prices are lower because fewer people are traveling. Take advantage of this if you can.

Check Out Fares to Nearby Airports

Start your trip with a drive to an airport that might be a little farther away than your usual departure airport and you could potentially save hundreds of dollars. Also, if you’re planning a getaway to Europe, you should consider buying a ticket to one of the major hubs and purchasing an additional ticket to your intended destination through one of Europe’s budget airlines.

Sign for Alerts and Get on Social Media

When researching travel prices, be sure to sign up for fare alerts for your trip so that you can stay on top of changes in prices. Instead of returning to the booking website several times before you can purchase your tickets, you’ll have all of the information you need sent directly to your inbox.

It will also be beneficial to follow your preferred airline on Facebook and Twitter to hear about sales as soon as they’re announced. Another helpful resource is airfarewatchdog; check out their Twitter profile for a list of regularly updated airfare deals.

Game On

Trying to find the best deal on airfare is basically a game. Knowing the right moves will put you at an advantage when you’re making your travel arrangements. While there are no hard and fast rules to getting the best deal, these tips will serve you well when it comes time to book your flights.

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6 Reasons Why You Need Car Insurance


Car insurance. You’re required to have it, but, sometimes, you may wonder why you actually need it considering how rarely you use it. Car insurance protects not only you but those who are on the road with you, as well. It provides financial and legal support following an accident, allowing you to feel safe whether you’re cruising down the highway or taking a leisurely weekend drive through the countryside.

What Insurance Covers

There are many kinds of auto insurance policies available to you. Understanding an insurance policy may seem confusing, but a standard policy typically includes the following forms of coverage:

  • Liability
  • Uninsured Motorists
  • Personal Injury Protection
  • Comprehensive
  • Collision
  • Emergency Roadside Assistance
  • Loss of Use or Rental Vehicle

Protect Your Investment

Not only is it expensive to purchase a vehicle, but it costs a lot to maintain one, as well. Insurance protects the investment that you made in your vehicle when you purchased it. In order to retain as much of your vehicle’s value as possible, you must be able to restore it to good condition should your car become damaged. Most likely, you won’t be keeping your car forever, so you’ll want to keep it in the best shape possible so that the resale value remains high.

Cover Your Medical Expenses

Car insurance prevents you from being held personally responsible for accident-related medical expenses by providing coverage for those injured in an accident. The cost of medical care is not cheap and being held financially responsible for yours and others’ medical bills could force you into financial ruin.

Access to Legal Coverage

Your insurance policy provides you with access to legal support following an accident that you are involved in. Legal costs are notoriously high, which is why you’ll want to ensure that you’re covered in the event that you do need legal assistance after an accident.

Damage Protection

A variety of external forces can cause damage to your vehicle, many of which provide you with no other means to recoup your losses besides calling your insurance provider. This kind of damage could be caused by theft, vandalism, a collision with an animal or even a natural disaster, which can result in thousands of dollars in repair work or lost property. Your insurance policy will help cover the damage to your vehicle caused by these costly incidents.

Uncle Sam Says So

Driving without insurance leaves you open to both financial and legal risk. If you’re caught driving without insurance, you can be fined and even have your license suspended. Educate yourself on your state’s insurance requirements and make sure that you meet them.

Peace of Mind

Knowing that your vehicle is covered will ease concerns that you may have while driving your car. Nobody wants to deal with the costs and hassle that comes with getting into an accident. Luckily, your insurance agent is trained on how to manage the entire process of getting you back behind the wheel after an accident and will help you understand the process from beginning to end.

If you’re in the market for a new auto insurance policy or are looking to explore what other options are available, contact rateGenius Insurance Services for auto insurance quotes from the nation’s top auto insurance providers.

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Essential Home Maintenance Projects for the Savvy Homeowner


Just like regular car maintenance is a necessary component of owning a vehicle, home maintenance is a necessary component of being a homeowner. Houses are long-term investments for buyers and it’s essential that you protect your investment by staying on top of regular home maintenance. In doing so, you’ll prevent costly repairs in the future and likely help increase the value of your home.

Home improvement projects may sound like quite the undertaking, but it’s in your best interest to regularly assess what aspects of your home need a little TLC. If it’s been awhile since you last performed some work around the house, this list provides some helpful information on what you should look for when trying to keep your home in good condition.

Clean or Replace Vents

In order to keep your air conditioner running smoothly, you must replace your air filters every few months. If you have pets, you should change your filters monthly. Pollution and debris build up on your air filter over time, requiring your air conditioner or furnace to work harder to heat or cool your home. Not only is this wasteful, but the added work results in a higher energy bill for you. Changing and cleaning your air filters takes very little time and the benefits will save you enough money to make the effort worth it.

Clean Refrigerator Coils

Repairing a refrigerator is not cheap and buying a new one is another story entirely. Did you know that you can keep the repairman at bay by simply cleaning your refrigerator coils a few times a year. Don’t be intimidated! By following these easy steps, you’ll have your refrigerator in good shape in no time.

Drain Your Water Heater Annually

Over time, sediment builds up at the bottom of your water heater, making it more difficult for the drain valve to work properly and preventing your water heater from functioning efficiently. If you are you ready to roll up your sleeves and make sure that your water heater stays in working order, follow these instructions to safely and effectively drain your water heater.

Clean Gutters

Cleaning your gutters is a must. Gutters function as a means to divert water away from the siding and foundation of your home and they keep rainwater from destroying your landscaping. The best time to clean your gutters is at the beginning of spring and then again at the beginning of fall. Waiting too long to clean out your gutters causes clogs and allows bugs and other critters to take up residence in the leaves, twigs and other debris in your gutters. You might even be forced to replace your gutters if you go too long without cleaning them. As with most home maintenance, it’s best to be proactive and fix minor problems before they require more expensive remedies.

Check for Holes and Gaps

Increased energy costs, pest infestations and water damage are all results of letting holes and gaps around your house go unchecked. Starting with the roof, check for leaks and any missing mortar around your chimney. Then, check your siding for damage, such as rot, warping, cracking and holes. Finally, assess any damage to your foundation. Issues such as these need to be addressed quickly because they can cause major damage to your home.

Fix Drafty Windows

Drafty windows contribute to high energy bills and make it more difficult for the temperature in your home to stay at a comfortable level. If your windows aren’t functioning properly, try these tips to seal up your windows and keep drafts out.

Budget for Home Expenses

Preparing yourself for repair costs is essential to ensuring that you can cover maintenance costs as they arise. How do you estimate the amount of money that you will need to be properly prepared?

One way to budget for home maintenance expenses is to set aside $1 for every square foot in your house annually for maintenance expenses. If your home is 2,000 square feet, then you would save $2,000 for expenses per year. Another strategy is to save 10 percent of what you paid for your house each year to cover costs, meaning that you would need $3,000 annually for a $300,000 home. If you’re looking for a more precise method, try this plan, which is based on the value and age of the appliances and fixtures in your home. Regardless of the method that you use to save, having money set aside for home maintenance projects will keep you from having to take out additional credit to cover such expenses.

Make it a Habit

Once you get into the swing of things, home maintenance won’t seem like such an overwhelming task. Mark it on your calendar or set up regular alerts to keep you in the habit of making necessary improvements to your home. Not only will most of these repairs decrease your energy bill and preserve your home’s value, but you will feel an increased sense of pride in your home, as well.

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The Ins and Outs of Emergency Funds

build-emergency-fundHaving an emergency fund is essential to your financial well-being because it allows you to prepare for the unexpected and prevents you from having to take on more debt to pay for costly emergencies. If you currently do not have an emergency fund, you’re not alone—fewer than four in 10 Americans have a rainy day fund.

While the idea of starting an emergency fund may be intimidating, not having one leaves you susceptible to financial risk. If you have no idea where to begin, start with these emergency fund basics and watch your fund grow.

How Much Do You Need?

You have to start somewhere and the best place is small when it comes to getting your fledgling emergency fund off the ground. Start with an initial goal of $500 and then set your sights on $1,000. Once you’re in the swing of things, shoot for 4–7 month’s worth of expenses. Remember that expenses and salary do not mean the same thing. Determine what you absolutely have to pay for each month and use that as a base when calculating what you’ll need in your fund. Keep in mind that you should regularly reevaluate what your expenses are so that you can adjust how much you need in your savings.

Establish a fixed amount that you can deposit to your fund each month and stick to it! Treat this deposit like a bill that you pay to yourself. That way, you will no longer see this money as expendable income but as money that serves a necessary financial purpose. When developing your savings plan, it’s also important to create a reasonable timeline for reaching these goals so that you know what to expect of yourself and don’t become discouraged.

When Should You Use Your Funds?

They key to maintaining your emergency fund is to not use it for inappropriate expenses. For the sake of your fund’s continued growth, keep this list of acceptable emergency fund expenses in mind when deciding whether or not you should withdraw money:

  • Health emergencies, such as hospital stays and trips to the ER
  • Paying for bills while unemployed
  • Emergency travel for funerals or to visit sick friends and family members
  • Major car repairs
  • Replacing or repairing major household appliances
  • Large, unexpected home repairs
  • Job relocation expenses

Where Should You Keep Your Money?

Keep around $1,000 in a low-interest account at your bank or credit union. This money should be tied to a debit card and your personal checks. You should also keep some cash in a secure location at home. It’s important to have funds that you can easily access should a situation arise where you need money immediately.

The remainder of your fund should be kept in an account that earns interest but still allows you to access your money with a couple of day’s notice, such as a CD or money market account. Rates on these types of accounts change regularly, which is why you should talk to your financial institution about which one is best for you. Having your money in an account that earns interest will allow your fund to grow even more and will also force you to think twice before withdrawing money because of the extra work required to make a withdrawal.

Be Patient

Building an emergency fund takes time, so don’t get discouraged. As long as you stick to saving money every month, you will see progress. Reward yourself when you hit specific milestones—just don’t go too crazy. Try to limit yourself to a $20 reward so that you don’t undo all of your hard work.

Most of us feel like we couldn’t possibly free up some cash from our long list of expenses to save money for an emergency fund, which is understandable. If you’ve had that thought in the back of your mind as you’ve read this article, try these expense-cutting tips to help you save money for your emergency fund.

What have you done to stay motivated while building your rainy day fund?

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8 Ways to Cut Spending and Save Money While You’re at It


We all have our reasons for not making changes to our spending habits. Whether we’re not putting the time in for financial planning or haven’t gotten around to canceling that magazine subscription we never read, we all have ways we can improve. If you implement the following practices, you’ll find that you’re spending less money on items that you don’t need and the balance in your bank account will start showing noticeable growth.

Make a Budget

By making a budget, you’ll see where your money absolutely has to go every month. Having that frame of reference will give you clarity on how much money you have for yourself after paying for necessary expenses. If you need help getting started, try one of these online budgeting tools to help you make a budget that is tailored to your needs. Don’t forget to include monthly payments to your savings as a regular “expense” when making your budget.

Refinance Your Auto Loan

In all likelihood, you deserve a lower interest rate on your auto loan. There are many reasons why this may be the case—an increase in your credit score being one of them. By refinancing the loan on your vehicle, you can decrease your interest rate and monthly payment. Who can say no to that?

Refinancing may sound difficult, but it’s a very painless process if you go to the right place. RateGenius is here to help you find the right loan for your specific situation from our extensive lender network. Applying to refinance your auto loan with rateGenius is both quick and easy. The best part is that you’ll be saving money in no time.

Ask for a Credit Card Rate Reduction

You could potentially save thousands in interest fees by getting an interest rate reduction on your credit cards. Because your credit provider makes money off you in the form of interest paid on your card, they won’t be knocking down your door to help you lower your rate. However, you can call them and ask for a rate reduction and it’s likely that they’ll work with you. If you’re unsure of what to say when you call them, you can use this script to help guide your through the conversation.

Create a Grocery Shopping List

Having a plan of attack when you hit the grocery aisle will decrease the number of impulse buys you make and the amount of your grocery bill. This will help you keep more money in the bank and fewer unneeded items in your refrigerator and pantry.

Cut the Cable

Paying upwards of $100–$200 per month for cable adds up. When you think about how many stations you’re paying for versus what you actually watch, you’ll quickly realize that the costs definitely outweigh the benefits. Video subscription services, such as Hulu Plus and Netflix, will keep you in the loop so that you can stay on top of that watercooler gossip. And, as luck would have it, HBO has released their standalone streaming service, HBO Now, so you won’t have to miss out on the newest season of Game of Thrones.

Unsubscribe from Daily Deal Emails and Sale Alerts

In theory, daily deals and sale alerts sound like a great way to save money, but you’re most likely spending more than you would be saving. If these deals are enticing you to buy something that you wouldn’t otherwise purchase, it’s time to click unsubscribe. We know that unsubscribing can be a pain, so try Unroll.Me to quickly remove yourself from all of the email lists that you no longer want to be on.

Write Down Everything that You Spend Money On

Spending a few dollars here and there doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it can add up quickly. Writing down all of your expenses is a good way to keep track of where your money is going and will help you evaluate which small expenses aren’t actually necessary and are eating away at your bottom line.

Make Small Changes First

It may seem like all of your expenses are necessary, but if you take the time to evaluate what you can and can’t live without, you’ll find that many of your expenses can be eliminated. If you make these changes in increments, they’ll seem more attainable and you’re more likely to maintain them. Try starting small: packing your lunch a few days a week and even selling unused household items might spur you to make some bigger changes.

What have you done recently to cut spending and save money?

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How to Start Improving Your Credit Score Today


Trying to understand the various factors that influence your credit score can seem overwhelming for those who are looking to improve their credit scores. Knowing what to focus on when rebuilding credit can pose quite the challenge, but take heart! There are a variety of short-term and long-term actions that you can take to start improving your credit today.

The only way to improve your credit score is to start now. Here’s what you need to focus on so that you can one day reap the rewards in the form of a stellar credit score:

Pay Your Bills

Paying your bills on time is essential to improving your credit score. Both delinquent payments and collections can negatively impact your score. If you do have delinquencies on your account, make sure that you pay all of your bills on time moving forward so that your credit report can reflect good payment history. The more payments that you make on time, the more your score should increase.

Manage Your Credit Cards

Managing your credit cards responsibly tells lenders that you can handle other forms of credit. However, you should avoid carrying high balances on your card, as it can significantly reduce your credit score. Opening more credit cards just to improve your credit mix and closing unused cards probably won’t improve your credit score, either. If you have credit card debt, start paying it off now as opposed to moving it around to different cards. Making your payments on time and paying above the minimum payment are all ways to show positive change on your credit report.

How Inquiries Affect Your Credit Report

The information found on your credit report directly affects your credit score, which is why you should take advantage of your free yearly report. If you’re looking to apply for a loan and are shopping around for credit, you should do so within a 14-day period. Credit bureaus group specific types of inquiries together as one if it is clear that they are for the same purpose. Following this strategy is key to maintaining a good credit score.

Another important piece of information to remember is that closing an account does not make it fall off your report immediately. Different types of records will stay on your report for designated periods of time based on standards set by the credit bureaus. Keep this information in mind when reviewing your credit report:

  • Delinquencies stay on your report for seven years.
  • Public record items—bankruptcies, civil judgments, tax liens, foreclosures, and wage garnishments—stay on your report for seven years. However, some unpaid tax liens and bankruptcies stay on your report for 10 years.
  • Inquiries remain on your report for two years.

Monitoring for Fraud

An important aspect of keeping track of your credit report is monitoring for fraud, which can severely impact your credit score. If you find a fraudulent charge on your report, you must dispute it in order to have the information removed. Below is information on how to dispute errors on your credit report with the major reporting bureaus:

Rebuilding Credit Takes Time

Remember, rebuilding your credit takes time, but it is worth it. Don’t forget to request your annual free credit report—it’s the best way to stay on top of changes to your credit report and address any issues that may arise.

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Lower Your Auto Payments For FREE With rateGenius

Our goal is to save you money on your auto payments. Our streamlined and FREE process makes it easy for customers to enjoy savings within 48 hours. That’s right–we don’t charge you for our services. We walk you through the process to make refinancing your auto loan easy. Watch our video below to see how it works!

Visit our Facebook to see why our customers are happy with us.

Apply here


What are other customers saying?

Sheldon says, “RateGenius got my interest rate down from 21 percent to 5.99 percent on my 2011 Infiniti M37x. They also saved me a total 13,000 on my car loan. I highly recommend them to all people looking to refinance their car.”

Patricia says, “RateGenius stands behind their name. They gave me a wonderful rate and reduced my monthly payments. Thank you for all your help.”

Brenda says, “…when I reached out to RateGenius, they were a blessing in my life. The staff was very friendly, great customer service, follow up was exceptional. The process was smooth & this company really cares about people. I have shared the experience with family & co-workers.”

Michael says, “I applied and it was almost too easy. I lowered my interest rate, length of contract and my payment in one easy step. Thank you RateGenius.”



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6 Discount Retail Sites For Your Holiday Shopping

Personally, I love to shop online. Part of my reasoning is from a convenience standpoint. The other part is because of the savings I can find online. The holidays are fast approaching. We’ve seen holiday ads since early October. I’ve seen Christmas stuff in Target since September. Whether you are looking for gifts or want to treat yourself to a little shopping, here are six awesome discount retail sites.

For even more savings, shop online during Cyber Monday. We all know of Black Friday, but don’t forget about Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is when retail websites host the equivalent to Black Friday. Yes, there will be online deals on Black Friday, but a lot of sites have even bigger deals on Cyber Monday. Some deal tracking websites give a listing of what deals to expect this year on Cyber Monday. Check it out here.

Leave us a comment below about which site you prefer or if you’ve bought from any of these websites. offers discounted offers on anything from clothing to shoes to accessories. They cater to kids, juniors, women and men. I love for two reasons: The variety of name brand offerings at great rates, plus the FREE shipping on all orders. I do a lot of online shopping, so I love websites offering free shipping. I’ve ordered a few things from this website and have gotten my order within 4-5 business days.


Nordstrom Rack

Most fashion-forward shoppers have heard of Nordstrom. The popular retail store is typically associated with higher-end fashion. Their sister store, Nordstrom Rack, offers higher-end brands at a discounted rate. For example, some Hudson or Joe’s jeans usually priced about $130-$170 would retail for around $80 or less at Nordstrom Rack. They offer designer brands at up to 70% off.  You can buy clothing and accessories at Nordstrom Rack.


If you’re looking for discounted home goods, is your place! They offer anything for your home. Need kitchen utensils? They have it. Need furniture or home goods  for any part of your home? Yup, they’ve got that.  Need décor? I think you’ll like what Wayfair can offer. They.Have.Everything!




Welcome to online flash sales! You can find clothing, home goods, travel and beauty deals. GILT operates a little differently than traditional online retail sites, because you have to sign up to be a member in order to get the deals. Although GILT is associated with the higher end fashion and goods—like Jimmy Choo, Miu Miu, Tom Ford, etc.—don’t let that scare you away from the deals they can offer. GILT offers more affordable sales for most consumers. I’m talking the $10-$100 price range. The flash sales happen every day at 12p/E. GILT likes to refer to the pricing as “insider pricing”. They do a good job.


This is one of the more popular discount retail sites. They offer health & beauty, electronics, home goods, clothing and everything in-between. Overstock will also give you 10% off your first order by signing up for their email.


Self described as “the online shopping destination for those who want quality brand named apparel and accessories for 50-80% off retail! We offer an incredible variety of amazing authentic designer merchandise, fantastic products and cool trendy items through exciting short term daily deals.”  I’ve never shopped on their website, but I have heard of them before.


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Our Special Olympics Over The Edge Experience

This gallery contains 9 photos.

rateGenius was a part of the fundraising campaign this year for the Special Olympics. We had so much fun supporting the Texas Special Olympics. As part of the fundraising, Gene and Jason got the opportunity to rappel down the side … Continue reading

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