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    The last year has been a brutal time to buy a car, from the early days of pandemic uncertainty to the current wave of supply chain issues and crucial chip shortages. A reduced supply of new cars has drastically increased demand, which has driven prices way up. Nevertheless, we estimate 25 million people in the United States bought a car with an auto loan in 2021, covering this rising cost by taking it on as debt. 

    Cheer, family, good tidings, what other words come to mind when you think of the holiday season? How about the word “expensive”? With all of the traveling, gift buying and party planning that goes on during this time of year, it can be hard to stick to your budget. But don’t let that turn you into a Grinch.

    Did you get an allowance when you were young? Maybe it was your job to feed the dog, or take out the trash, or do dishes after dinner. If you wanted to earn a little more to buy something you had your eye on, what were your options? Let's face it, we're always looking for ways to generate a little more money in our pockets — then and now — and at a certain age we take our small pleasures where we can. When we can get our hands on some unexpected cash, that's a win!  

    As you get your engine started for holiday shopping (or stay in your pajamas prepped for online bargain hunting), you’re no doubt being inundated with suggestions about where to spend your hard-earned dough. Big box stores are probably sending you mail boldly advertising their amazing post-Thanksgiving pre-Christmas specials. And an internet retailer or two is doing the same thing online, luring you with the siren song of savings. 

    We’re sure in a different place right now than we were last year. Many of us grudgingly accepted FaceTime toasts and gift-opening parties organized via Zoom in 2020, but maybe for you this year screen-mediated cheer just won’t cut it. It’s time to cut loose. You want to hit the road this holiday season, either to see your loved ones, or to escape the work-from-home rat race for some much needed you time. 

    Whether you’re already aware of what auto refinancing is and how to refi or you’re just now getting around to realizing it’s something you might want to do eventually, an important question remains: When is the right time to refinance my car loan? 

    What in life isn't mega-sized these days? Everything from megastores to mega-churches to mega-cruise-ships tells us that our world is super-sized. We buy mega-sized rolls of paper towels to clean up the mega-sized soft drink we just spilled (which made a mega mess). Even our lottery jackpots are worth Mega Millions®.  

    Christmas is the season of giving, but with all the costs of holiday shopping, decorating, and celebrating, your budget may not allow much room for charity - unless you've planned ahead. Never fear! Giving back at Christmas is possible without spending a dime. All it takes is something much more precious than money: your time. Generosity counts! Here are six ways to give back at Christmas that can fit into any budget or schedule.

    Every gift-giving season there's someone on your shopping list that you wait until the last minute to find the perfect gift. Whether a graduation present for your out-of-state nephew, or a birthday gift for the daughter of your best friend, planning ahead doesn't always happen. During holiday season as the stores get busier with others all trying to hunt down their own perfect Christmas gift, you may be think, "Wouldn't they just love cash?" You probably would.

    What's your favorite restaurant? We're not talking about the closest one that you run to when you’re in a hurry, or the one that you visit most often because it's super kid-friendly, or even the one that is wicked pricy, but when your in-laws come to town, you take them there to impress them.   No, think about the one you discovered on that trip to the Gulf Coast, or the one you used to visit when you were first dating, or the one that always reminds you of your college trip to Italy. You know the one: It's full of ambiance and servers who know exactly when to refill when your wine glass. You've eaten there a hundred times and still may not be able to quote prices off the menu because the value always exceeds the bottom line. That's your favorite restaurant.   Now think about the bank or credit union that you love — the one that rocks your world and fills you with joy. While we know that certificates of deposit and a quick-and-easy mobile app are not as delectable as warm rolls slathered in honey butter spread, or a glass of your favorite pinot noir, doesn't it make sense that if someone is receiving all your money, you ought to put your dollars where it matters? Why not bank with a financial institution that makes you feel good about your choice?

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