Summer Dog Travel Tips

Summer is the peak time of year where families take vacations are concerned as their children are usually out of school. Although many families who have dogs will either entrust the care of the animal to their friends or put them in a kennel while they are gone, there are just as many (if not more) that will take their pets with them. After all, your dog is a family member. If you are planning a vacation and taking your pooch with you, here are a few summer dog travel tips to consider.Bring the food and water that they typically consume with you – the food is obvious but you might question the water part of the equation. Just remember, your dog is used to the water at home because you trust it enough to not be harmful to their health.Make sure that the lodging you are staying at allows dogs – even some campgrounds today do not allow dogs so you want to be sure that no matter where you are staying while vacationing that your pooch will be welcome. Have soft dog carriers and round dog beds to make sure your pet is as comfortable as you are.Pack your dog’s leash – this is just common sense since you don’t want your dog to run free in unfamiliar territory – that and there are always dog leash laws in effect in most areas.A few toys wouldn’t hurt – make sure that you bring a few of your dog’s favorite toys because they will need to be occupied at times when they are locked up in the motel with you for the night.Make a first aid kit for your dog and don’t forget to take it – you might be able to buy one at a pet supply store or veterinary outlet that’s reasonably priced.Cover your car seats – it’s not only a matter of protecting your dog from the intense heat when they re-enter the vehicle after it has been parked in the sun for a bit. It also saves you a lot of clean-up time because the hair they shed won’t be all over your seats. It is best to have Dog Hammock or Seat Cover and dog seat belts to ensure safety of your pet.Hit the rest stops whenever you can – if you’re on a long trip and are driving hundreds of miles per day, then make sure that you stop often to let your dog go to the bathroom and stretch their legs (especially if they are older dogs). Additionally, you want to consider taking a cooler packed with enough drinks, foods, and snacks, and then packing lunches each day of the trip so that when you make your midday stop for the dog, you use the stops to eat your lunches.

St Louis Housing Outlook

The housing outlook for St Louis continues to look bleak. After entering 2010 on a high note, when prices had rose in the fourth quarter of 2009, prices lost momentum as the year progressed. With prices in decline throughout 2010 the expectations for 2011 appear to be the beginning of market stabilization. Above average foreclosure rates, high unemployment and an uncertain economic climate have slowed recovery in the St. Louis area.Local news housing coverage has focused on five key areas this past year. With the focus on the housing and market outlook, home prices, foreclosure rates, unemployment rates and vacancy rates. This trend is likely to continue as we progress through 2011 as conditions remain similar to what we experienced in 2010.Housing and Market OutlookThe housing and market outlook is perhaps the most prominent topic in the St. Louis Housing News Headlines. Housing and Market Outlook Reports are issued in January of each year and are based on more than 20 factors such as the volume of house sales, mortgage lending statistics, new home construction, regional economic growth and development, commercial building statistics, employment levels, historical trends, and consumer confidence.Dr. Lawrence Yun is the Chief Economist of the National Association of Realtors® and he recently spoke at a conference hosted by the St. Louis Association of Realtors®. During the conference Dr. Yun forecast that the housing market will continue to look “ugly” for the short term. Part of the reasoning behind this statement is that there will continue to be above average foreclosure rates, high levels of unemployment and the national economic outlook continues to appear bleak.Dr. Yun predicts that there will be a 300,000 unit increase in the number of resale houses sold in 2011 and a 170,000 unit increase in the number of newly built houses sold. This a marginal increase over 2010 however it does point to stabilization in the housing markets. This stabilization should lead to moderate price increases as markets continue to moderate and become less volatile.The St. Louis market outlook will continue to have some influence on commercial investment as well as residential. Investment dollars have flowed at a much slower rate as investors struggle with financing and liquidity in a struggling economy. The trickledown effect of these market realities have a direct impact on unemployment levels as businesses have worked to minimize debts and increased profits as consumer confidence continues to be low.House PricesUnderstandably fluctuations in home values are a concern for any homeowner particularly when you are faced with having to sell your property in an unstable real estate market. Buyers are less confident during an unstable market. This, combined with an overabundant inventory, drives house prices even lower. Prices however will steadily increase but at a modest rate of 2-5% per year.This increase is will be directly tied to improving consumer confidence, foreclosure rates and unemployment levels. As economic outlooks continue to improve it should bring new job prospects for St. Louis. It is unlikely that we will see the explosion in home values that preceded the financial meltdown but moderate growth in all sectors of the St. Louis real estate market is expected.Homeowners throughout 2011 will continue to be subjected to a buyer’s market. This will be marked by extended selling periods, lower home prices and a highly educated class of homebuyers that are patient and willing to aggressively negotiate.Foreclosure RatesThere has been a lot of focus on Distresses Sales which include foreclosures, short sales and the sale of bank or realty holding owned houses. Foreclosure rates have remained high throughout the county. It is predicted that the housing market will stabilize as markets become more accustomed to the new economy.There is a strong belief among experts that foreclosure rates in St. Louis will continue to be above the historical average for the region. Short sales are a mark of the influx of property values that have dropped since the market peaks of 2007. Bank assets have continued to increase with high foreclosure levels and these assets are being rapidly liquidated at reduced prices which have further depressed property pricing in St. Louis.Unemployment RatesThe National Association of Realtors® Chief Economist Dr. Lawrence Yun spent a great deal of time during the conference discussing the high unemployment rates and the impact that they have on the housing market. He revealed that there is basically the same number of jobs in the United States today as there were 10 years ago. The problem is that there are 30 million more people. Dr. Yun projects that it will take another 4-6 years to get the unemployment rates back down to 5-6%.Since the housing market in St. Louis is driven by psychological factors, the unemployment rates have a direct impact on the confidence of consumers. Not only is steady employment a requirement for obtaining mortgage financing but it also gives homebuyers the confidence that once they purchase a house they will be able to afford it.2011 will continue to see above average unemployment in St. Louis and surrounding areas as industry struggles to adapt to the new economic reality. As markets stabilize industry will once again begin to expand creating new employment opportunities. This will result in increased consumer confidence and will contribute to an improved national economic outlook.Vacancy RatesVacancy rates continue to remain high as people double up. Doubling Up refers to the tendency of families to live together in the same house. Adult children are staying home with their parents longer and helping with finances while obtaining post secondary education. Senior parents are choosing to live with their adult children in their homes rather than downsizing to an apartment. This arrangement is a win-win situation as grandparents can watch the grandchildren saving the family money on child care.Another form of doubling up is the taking on of room-mates or tenants. Homeowners rent out a room or portion of the house and in some cases there is also a sharing of utility costs. Although this has resulted in a savings for tenants, landlords have been impacted by the increase in vacancies as a result. Although this has a limited impact on employment and housing markets it is another indicator of a struggling economy.Overall OutlookThe overall outlook for St. Louis for 2011 is one of slow and steady stabilization. Home prices should stop dropping and slowly begin to increase at moderate levels throughout the year. St. Louis homebuyers that are prepared to enter the real estate market can take advantage of low home prices and high foreclosure rates to maximize their buying power.With the real estate market reacting to market conditions buyers have an opportunity to educate themselves and operate from a position of negotiating strength. Above average foreclosure rates, high unemployment and an uncertain economic climate have slowed recovery in the St. Louis area and the local focus on the negative is having an impact on the overall market. You can know more at

Does Your Job Search Outcome Matter To You?

With regard to your college years, what matters to you? This is a simple question that has a very important impact on each student’s likelihood of finding employment success. Like the rest of us, students cannot do everything. They have to select the things that matter most and do their best to make those things have positive outcomes.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams,
and endeavors to live the life which he had imagined, he
will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
– Henry David Thoreau

If finding a good job at graduation is important to you, there are things that you should be doing. What are the job search preparation goals that should matter most to you?

1. Achieving Grades that will Attract Employers – Many employers use your grades as an initial screening device. If you do not achieve their minimum requirement, they will not consider you for employment. Do you know the minimum grade requirements of your target employers? When students know the grade requirements of their target employers, grades will take on a new level of importance.

2. Obtaining and Holding a Part-Time Job – Part-time jobs are held by nearly a third of all students. Many students work because they need the money to help offset some of their college and living expenses. Other students work because they want to obtain some job-related experience. In both cases, on-the-job experience with examples and stories about their successes and accomplishments can impress potential employers. Part-time jobs also present research, creativity, problem-solving and leadership opportunities, exactly the things that employers value.

3. Obtaining some Job-Related Experience – When students know the type of job they will seek at graduation, it makes sense to find a way to gain some experience in that work. Part-time, summer and volunteer work, as well as laboratories, projects and classroom demonstrations in their field of study will usually translate into valuable and useful experiences that students can talk about and present on their resumés.

4. Gaining the Knowledge and Skills that Employers Need, Want and Expect – More than anything else, employers want knowledgeable, high energy communicators and people who can get things done well, even in the face of obstacles. That means that they want students who can talk about and provide examples of their accomplishments, experiences and successes in their campus, work and community activities.

5. Identifying Potential Employers – When students are ready to begin their job search, it is helpful to have a list of employers that have previously been researched and meet their requirements. Without a list of potential employers, students will be left to chase after only those few employers that become known to them in the coming months. Wise students take the time to identify potential employers before they are needed.

6. Preparing to Conduct an Effective Job Search – Most students do not know how to conduct an effective job search. The best candidates understand that what they do during the first three years of college will determine their success or failure in the job market. There are many things that students should be doing early on in order to offer the credentials, accomplishments and presentations that will impress target employers. The best candidates find out what is needed and take the time to get well prepared.

7. Building Relationships with Potential References – When employers check references, they want to speak with people who know the student well, have a good handle on their personality, accomplishments and capabilities and are willing to speak honestly about their performance, abilities and potential. Those relationships cannot be formed casually.

Success can be achieved
one, two, three
when you believe the words
“This matters to me.”

These seven points are possible for most college students. The only question is whether a student has the resolve to learn about them and make them happen. When we believe that something is important to us, we:

- Learn more about it
- Pay close attention to it
- Devote more time and effort to the way it is done
- Overcome the difficulties
- Care about the quality of the outcome

Effective preparation for the senior year job search is hard work. However, it is extremely important. When students believe that their job search outcome is directly related to the quality and quantity of their preparation and consciously strive to address the seven points listed above, they will dramatically increase their chances for job hunting success. Does your job search outcome matter to you?

Understanding Effectiveness of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is largely viewed as an effective medium of brand promotion. However, it’s often viewed as a “good to have” as opposed to a necessary aspect. It is now turning out to be key essential component.In this article, we’ll outline the meaning of the term inbound marketing and then elaborate why it’s becoming an important part of your online marketing plans.Understanding Inbound Marketing?In case you’re new to digital marketing; you may be a little bit confused about the concept of inbound advertising. It’s a relatively new strategy that’s almost exclusive to the web.Inbound marketing, comprehensively, is a means of enabling your brand to get noticed by customers. Listed below are a couple of ways to achieve the desired results from your inbound marketing efforts.The first and most popular inbound marketing strategy involves the effective utilization of content. It’s quite often that the phrase “Content Marketing”and “inbound marketing” are used interchangeably. The reality is that content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing.With the help of effective content marketing or management, brands publish authentic and helpful content on a blog and on their website. They optimize the content to achieve better ranks in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Instead of advertising upfront and pushing the content, the content pulls the customer towards itself via blogs, social media platforms and websites. That’s how people find it and connect with the brand. The core idea is that effective content management is used to generate leads which are then converted into customers.Another admired means that inbound advertising companies use is social media marketing. However, in this case, social media marketing isn’t the paid advertising. It’s instead used to place a human face on the entity. Digital marketers will often use social media to connect with the target audience by posting something witty or a touching story shared by people and has the elements to go viral. Brands get coverage and gain followers when they effectively use a sound social media strategy.Now that we’ve understood a bit about inbound marketing, let’s observe why it’s essential.Usage of Ad Blockers:Ad blockers have been the annoyance of digital marketers for quite some time. There’s no sign that’s going to let up any time soon.Ads are a typical example of outbound marketing. They’re usually interruptive in nature especially if they’re pop-up ads. They stand in contrast to inbound advertising companies which use different ways of pulling customers towards brands through intelligent content marketing.People don’t like pop up ads. No matter how clever, cute, or creative your ad appears, many users simply don’t want to see it. They will install an ad blocker and take the annoyance out of their Internet experience.That’s an effective step for them to get desired user experience, but it doesn’t do any good to marketers who run such ads in an effort to gain more business. That’s why alternative marketing strategy must be used.What is the effective alternative available option to running ads? You absolutely guessed it right. It’s inbound advertising. Availability of experienced inbound marketing companies makes your journey of obtaining effective results easier.

Do You Know The Meanings Of The Most Common Digital Photography Terms?

As with any subject of interest, it is important to be familiar with and understand the terminology – and digital photography is certainly no exception. People that understand the meaning of common digital photography terms and abbreviations have the knowledge necessary to purchase digital cameras and understand the features they offer. Because many of the abbreviations and terms are unique to digital photography and digital cameras, it is imperative for hobbyists and professionals to understand their meaning. Here are some of the most common and important terms and abbreviations.o Pixel – A pixel is the tiniest part or smallest discrete component of any digitized picture or image and all photos actually start with a pixel. Digital photographs are comprised of thousands or even millions of pixels, which are the photo’s building blocks.o Megapixel – One million pixels make up one megapixel. When photographers use the term or word megapixel, they are referring to a digital camera photo’s maximum resolution in millions of pixels. In other words, cameras with a four-megapixel range take photographs that have a four million pixel maximum. This means quality to the consumer because better quality photos have higher megapixel counts. Buy a digital camera with the highest megapixel range you can afford, trying to keep it in the three or above megapixel range, especially for people wanting to make photo prints.o Resolution – This refers to the total amount of pixels in a digital photo, with the better quality, sharper pictures having a higher resolution.o JPEG – Formulated by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, a JPEG is a compressing image standard or compression method. JPEGs along with GIFs are two of the principal graphic formats found on the web. The lossy compression method used by JPEGs, which is a lossy file format, sacrifices a little of the original image data each time you save an image. The 24-bit color image stored by JPEGs, which lets you save innumerable colors, is well suited for images and photos with fine grades of color and tone.o Aperture – The opening that lets the light travel to the sensor inside the interior of the digital cam is the aperture. When you take a picture, inside the lens is a round, small opening that alters the diameter, which controls and measures the total light hitting the sensor in the digital camera. It is the shutter speed and aperture combined that control how much light reaches the camera’s sensor. An aperture priority mode, found on some digital cameras, allows the photographer to adjust the aperture to suit their requirements.o Focal Length – Often overlooked in amateur photography, the term focal length refers to how much the camera lens is able to magnify a shot. Normally divided into two categories, the focal lengths are telephoto and wide-angle for narrow fields and spacious fields of view respectively.o Memory – In the digital camera, storage space capability that stores the pictures is the memory.Knowing the common digital photography terms can help people understand cameras better so they can purchase one that meet their requirements. And, of course – before you purchase, test the digital camera out first!

Create Your Dream House With A House Design Software

Have you ever thought of creating your own house but lacked the knowledge and/or the resources to do it? It may seem hard at first but designing your dream house today can be as simple as drawing thanks to a house design software. You’ll be amazed at what you can gain from designing your own house with the help of your computer. With easy to use and convenient features learn why there is no need for you to be architect savvy and best of all you can design more than just her house so having the right tab of software will help. You’ll see why this is a great affordable solution for those who have a great imagination.Among all benefits, a house design software will save you a lot of time. Imagining having the possibility to create your own house without having to meet up with the architects to discuss your ideas every time. Being able to design your own house with a mouse and a computer saves you a lot of time going back and forth but time is not the only factor that will benefit you. Remember, your house your needs so by using a design software your new house will be perfect for you and your family. And since most of us are not architects we need some easy method in order to be able to create our own dream houseEasy to use, you won’t be needing an architect anymore. House design softwares were designed for people like you and me so we can create our own dream house like we wish without necessarily have a Masters in an architect course. It’s also easier because sometimes it’s hard to communicate your ideas with the architect so by using a house design software just like if it was a Photoshop or Paint shop program it’s easy to get an idea of the architect of what you want and how to make it happen. The only difference is you have access to many icons that will appear in the house.Most house design softwares will have the basic features which will allow you to design your rooms, your floors, wall color and even furniture with some of the softwares. In case you haven’t noticed, all this will be possible with a simple click of a mouse and your imagination so it is easier for the architect to know what you want exactly. One feature that you may want to look at is the rendering which will make a preview of your house in real time because looking at sketches may sometimes be confusing. Now depending on what you want to design, there are several different types of will find general softwares related to house design or you will find more specific house design softwares such as for designing your garden, the interior, exterior and in some cases the color on your wall. If you do not need to redesign our design the whole house then choosing a more specific software may be cheaper and it will probably prove to be easier to use since there won’t be as many features.If you hire an architect, he or she will still use a house design software in order to be able to create your house. So why take the chance of outsourcing your ideas when you could be doing them yourself? If you have a specific idea of what you want or how your new house should look like then using a house design software will definitely prove to be useful.

Modern Furniture for Style Statement

Nothing can beat the looks of designer home furniture. From designer dining furniture to kid’s furniture, every piece looks extremely amazing and unmatched. People also prefer buying exclusive handmade designer furniture for their homes and office to make comfort and beauty to their spaces. Today’s designer home and office furniture items are highly durable and known for their endurance. Whatever you buy, you will find the same level of partisanship, style, and elegance in your furniture. However, if you want more elegance, more beauty, and extraordinary looks, you need to go for branded furniture items.Branded FurnitureBranded furniture items are handmade and engineered to give you best level of comfort. These products ignite the sheer beauty of your room and are sure to glow your living or resting place. These are highly fashionable and attractive to give an ideal style statement to your home. In fact, you can keep them anywhere you like. There are many types of modern yet affordable furniture on sale on the online stores. You can easily buy them as per your evolving requirements. People choose wooden or steel furniture for extraordinary appeal and comfort.Sectional SofasThese days, people are looking for designer sectional sofas for great looks. Sectional sofas are the best means to say your inner passion and want. These look very beautiful when matched with the background wall paint. People choose high-end and luxurious sofa sets for that greatest pleasure. No doubt, you will feel delighted and relaxed in these sofas. It is possible to buy leather sofas for your living room.If you want practical and functional sofas according to your room, then you need to search thoroughly on the online stores. You will surely find the one that fits your expectations. You can choose shape, weight, size, material, frame design, style, strength, and even other added parts for your sofas. You can choose hardwood frame, decorative pillows, contemporary style, and much more to bring ecstasy to your home.In order to bring warmth and comfort to the living rooms, bedrooms, kid’s rooms, or even office spaces, people by modern furniture items. It is true that there is no substitute for designer furniture. This is the reason homeowners and business people go for luxurious, comfortable, and alluring modern furniture. Therefore, if you want to bring exclusive style to your place, just think deeply and by branded furniture from local furniture stores.

Home Furniture That Defines Art and Aesthetics

A touch of classic era, exuberantly garnished with foliate and creeper flourishes, dark twisting acanthus leaves and diva motifs provides spiraling traditional accumulated depictions that makes your home from ordinary level to above the level of imaginative horizon. It is a dream of every art enthusiast to make their home comfort a genuine embellishment of heaven garden soaked with ultra-lavish and exquisite examination of craftsmanship. In today’s modern society contemporary art is something more than the ordinary work of awls. In fact, people love to collect a superb selection of furniture for their house that truly evokes a bygone era.People, those who want to define comfort in their own way select furniture that offers suffice genteel appearance for clam and warm living. This is the reason they choose the most engaging selection of bedroom and living room furniture. Furniture that is made up of birch solids enveloped in stunning hardwood veneers with detailed finishes that emphasizes the wood art. They decorate their living comfort with the help of drawers that stand up to years to narrate its own fable.Because of these lavish illustrations, home furnishing is surging in a limitless fashion and bouncing through the architectural landmarks and erecting their own hallmarks. Nowadays, owning a fashionable and trendy furniture set is seen as a style narration for contemporary homes. In order to make their dream home look ethereal homeowners tries to adopt the best home furnishing plans. In pursuit of the same they have to have the advanced, innovative and creative designs of home furnishing accessories to give a striking look to their homes.In fact, designer furniture itself illustrates the eye-gauging style statements and assaults the very subconscious of the viewer to cement its subduing elegance. Under the impression of their psyche homeowners strive to make their homes look more encrusted and engaging as compared to other formidable similitude. Furniture manufacturers are growing in the same frantic fashion as of the wishes. They are harboring some of the most distinctive hatchings that yield in the hottest engravings, dominating sculpting, emboldened designs of the furnishing products.Be it living room furniture or bedroom furniture , people and especially art and architecture fanatics want to use uncompromising quality and hegemonic designs. All they want is maximum style and comfort statement that uniquely underlines the complementary interior décor. Due to the immense pleasurable prominence of fashion, designer furniture made of leather, wood or fabric is widely being used in the home comforts for that imperial aesthetic.

Do Car Finance Companies Know That Buyers Want a Reliable Car?

Are you planning to buy a decent and a reliable car? Many of US are searching to buy a new or used car but need car credit loan, most of them would find two different options, 1. Nationalize Bank and 2. Car Finance Company. Before you begin, you need to make sure that auto loan lender or a finance company that you choose is professional and experienced; and understands your car requirements. In the present economic scenario, owning a car loan isn’t a difficult task, and moreover with lots of auto loan providers and multiplicity of options, low interest auto loan rates aren’t something which seems far from reality. Further, there’s intense competition among the auto loan providers, and this automatically adds to the advantage of borrower. But amidst all the positive environment that is available to auto loan borrower, it becomes quite necessary to mention here that auto loan lenders will not provide low interest auto or car loans, until they are not satisfied with your credit score.

If you have a credit score of less than 640, then the conditions becomes sensitive for you, and in such a situation and lenders will think twice before passing your auto loan application for further processing. The most significant fact to know out here before the lender offers an auto loan is to check for credit score and also the past credit score rating. If you have impressive credit score, there’s nothing that needs to be done from your side, except filling the application and providing the proof of your credit report that will be attached with the loan application.

Car finance rates are variable, and this variability depends upon the kind of auto loan that you are going to apply. Again the question of low interest rates comes into the picture if you are searching for the lenders who can offer you the desired interest rates. This will help you to make a choice from the line of luxury cars rather than unwillingly settle for the basic car models. In general, the loan term for the auto loan can be settled between 6-months to 5-years. If you are going for used car loan, the loan term will be automatically reduced. Last, make sure that the new car loan that you hire is easy to repay.

Today due to many lenders in finance business the market of online car financing is highly viable. Individual will find wide range of financing options, but before you begin, consider all the auto financing options available to you. The most efficient way to avail the best auto financing options is to match the loan quote from multiple lenders. While comparing car loan quote be sure to look at the annual percentage rate (APR) and over-all cost of the entire loan. The whole cost includes amount borrowed, added to the deposit, interest paid and other charges.

Before you jump on to any deal it is suggested that you approach toward professional and experienced auto finance company that will understands your requirements and desire to own a decent car, and also help you with find low interest auto finance. A specialized auto finance company will compare your credit history report and offer you the affordable interest rates for the new or used vehicle financing you needs. This will make you a car owner, without you actually worrying about financial scruples.

Car Finance – What You Should Know About Dealer Finance

Car finance has become big business. A huge number of new and used car buyers in the UK are making their vehicle purchase on finance of some sort. It might be in the form of a bank loan, finance from the dealership, leasing, credit card, the trusty ‘Bank of Mum & Dad’, or myriad other forms of finance, but relatively few people actually buy a car with their own cash anymore.

A generation ago, a private car buyer with, say, £8,000 cash to spend would usually have bought a car up to the value of £8,000. Today, that same £8,000 is more likely to be used as a deposit on a car which could be worth many tens of thousands, followed by up to five years of monthly payments.

With various manufacturers and dealers claiming that anywhere between 40% and 87% of car purchases are today being made on finance of some sort, it is not surprising that there are lots of people jumping on the car finance bandwagon to profit from buyers’ desires to have the newest, flashiest car available within their monthly cashflow limits.

The appeal of financing a car is very straightforward; you can buy a car which costs a lot more than you can afford up-front, but can (hopefully) manage in small monthly chunks of cash over a period of time. The problem with car finance is that many buyers don’t realise that they usually end up paying far more than the face value of the car, and they don’t read the fine print of car finance agreements to understand the implications of what they’re signing up for.

For clarification, this author is neither pro- or anti-finance when buying a car. What you must be wary of, however, are the full implications of financing a car – not just when you buy the car, but over the full term of the finance and even afterwards. The industry is heavily regulated in the UK, but a regulator can’t make you read documents carefully or force you to make prudent car finance decisions.

Financing through the dealership

For many people, financing the car through the dealership where you are buying the car is very convenient. There are also often national offers and programs which can make financing the car through the dealer an attractive option.

This blog will focus on the two main types of car finance offered by car dealers for private car buyers: the Hire Purchase (HP) and the Personal Contract Purchase (PCP), with a brief mention of a third, the Lease Purchase (LP). Leasing contracts will be discussed in another blog coming soon.

What is a Hire Purchase?

An HP is quite like a mortgage on your house; you pay a deposit up-front and then pay the rest off over an agreed period (usually 18-60 months). Once you have made your final payment, the car is officially yours. This is the way that car finance has operated for many years, but is now starting to lose favour against the PCP option below.

There are several benefits to a Hire Purchase. It is simple to understand (deposit plus a number of fixed monthly payments), and the buyer can choose the deposit and the term (number of payments) to suit their needs. You can choose a term of up to five years (60 months), which is longer than most other finance options. You can usually cancel the agreement at any time if your circumstances change without massive penalties (although the amount owing may be more than your car is worth early on in the agreement term). Usually you will end up paying less in total with an HP than a PCP if you plan to keep the car after the finance is paid off.

The main disadvantage of an HP compared to a PCP is higher monthly payments, meaning the value of the car you can usually afford is less.

An HP is usually best for buyers who; plan to keep their cars for a long time (ie – longer than the finance term), have a large deposit, or want a simple car finance plan with no sting in the tail at the end of the agreement.

What is a Personal Contract Purchase?

A PCP is often given other names by manufacturer finance companies (eg – BMW Select, Volkswagen Solutions, Toyota Access, etc.), and is very popular but more complicated than an HP. Most new car finance offers advertised these days are PCPs, and usually a dealer will try and push you towards a PCP over an HP because it is more likely to be better for them.

Like the HP above, you pay a deposit and have monthly payments over a term. However, the monthly payments are lower and/or the term is shorter (usually a max. of 48 months), because you are not paying off the whole car. At the end of the term, there is still a large chunk of the finance unpaid. This is usually called a GMFV (Guaranteed Minimum Future Value). The car finance company guarantees that, within certain conditions, the car will be worth at least as much as the remaining finance owed. This gives you three options:

1) Give the car back. You won’t get any money back, but you won’t have to pay out the remainder. This means that you have effectively been renting the car for the whole time.

2) Pay out the remaining amount owed (the GMFV) and keep the car. Given that this amount could be many thousands of pounds, it is not usually a viable option for most people (which is why they were financing the car in the first place), which usually leads to…

3) Part-exchange the car for a new (or newer) one. The dealer will assess your car’s value and take care of the finance payout. If your car is worth more than the GMFV, you can use the difference (equity) as a deposit on your next car.

The PCP is best suited for people who want a new or near-new car and fully intend to change it at the end of the agreement (or possibly even sooner). For a private buyer, it usually works out cheaper than a lease or contract hire finance product. You are not tied into going back to the same manufacturer or dealership for your next car, as any dealer can pay out the finance for your car and conclude the agreement on your behalf. It is also good for buyers who want a more expensive car with a lower cashflow than is usually possible with an HP.

The disadvantage of a PCP is that it tends to lock you into a cycle of changing your car every few years to avoid a large payout at the end of the agreement (the GMFV). Borrowing money to pay out the GMFV and keep the car usually gives you a monthly payment that is very little cheaper than starting again on a new PCP with a new car, so it nearly always sways the owner into replacing it with another car. For this reason, manufacturers and dealers love PCPs because it keeps you coming back every 3 years rather than keeping your car for 5-10 years!

What is a Lease Purchase?

An LP is a bit of a hybrid between an HP and a PCP. You have a deposit and low monthly payments like a PCP, with a large final payment at the end of the agreement. However, unlike a PCP, this final payment (often called a balloon) is not guaranteed. This means that if your car is worth less than the amount owing and you want to sell/part-exchange it, you would have to pay out any difference (called negative equity) before even thinking about paying a deposit on your next car.

Read the fine print

What is absolutely essential for anyone buying a car on finance is to read the contract and consider it carefully before signing anything. Plenty of people make the mistake of buying a car on finance and then end up being unable to make their monthly payments. Given that your finance period may last for the next five years, it is critical that you carefully consider what may happen in your life over those next five years. Many heavily-financed sports cars have had to be returned, often with serious financial consequences for the owners, because of unexpected pregnancies!

As part of purchasing a car on finance, you should consider and discuss all of the various finance options available and make yourself aware of the pros and cons of different car finance products to ensure you are making informed decisions about your money.

Stuart Masson is founder and owner of The Car Expert, a London-based independent and impartial car buying agency for anyone looking to buy a new or used car.

Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for nearly thirty years, and has spent the last seven years working in the automotive retail industry, both in Australia and in London.

Stuart has combined his extensive knowledge of all things car-related with his own experience of selling cars and delivering high levels of customer satisfaction to bring a unique and personal car buying agency to London. The Car Expert offers specific and tailored advice for anyone looking for a new or used car in London.