This Simple Rule Will Tell You How Much You Can Afford to Spend on a Car

iStock
iStock

Looking for a new car can be intimidating, especially if you don’t have a set budget in mind when you walk onto the lot. Fortunately, there’s a handy rule of thumb that you can use to determine what you can afford to spend. Just remember these numbers: 10, 20, and four.

According to the finance blog I Will Teach You To Be Rich, car expenses—including monthly payments, gas, interest, maintenance, and insurance—should cost no more than 10 percent of your gross monthly income. But how do you calculate monthly car payments from the total price of a new car?

First, you should commit to putting a 20 percent down payment on the vehicle before taking it home. To cover the rest of the cost, plan on making monthly payments for no more than four years. That means your car payments will come out to be the total cost of the vehicle, minus the 20 percent down payment, divided by 48 months. Add in the estimated cost of insurance, gas, and other necessities, and that's what you can expect to spend on your car each month.

If you’re planning on bringing home a new (or used) car, it’s vital to have these numbers calculated before you start the process. Then, once you have the math figured out, all you have to worry about are your negotiating skills.

[h/t I Will Teach You to Be Rich]

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

Amazon
Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Google Is Tracking Everything You Do With Its ‘Smart’ Features—Here’s How to Make That Stop

Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Taryn Elliott, Pexels

Since we don’t all have personal assistants to draft emails and update our calendars, Google has tried to fill the void with ‘smart’ features across Gmail, Google Chat, and Google Meet. These automatic processes cover everything from email filtering and predictive text to notifications about upcoming bills and travel itineraries. But such personalized assistance requires a certain amount of personal data.

For example, to suggest email replies that match what you’d choose to write on your own—or remind you about important emails you’ve yet to reply to—Google needs to know quite a bit about how you write and what you consider important. And that involves tracking your actions when using Google services.

For some people, Google’s helpful hints might save enough time and energy to justify giving up full privacy. If you’re not one of them, here’s how to disable the ‘smart’ features.

As Simplemost explains, first open Gmail and click the gear icon (settings) in the upper right corner of the page. Select ‘See all settings,’ which should default to the ‘General’ tab. Next to ‘Smart Compose,’ ‘Smart Compose personalization,’ and ‘Smart Reply,’ choose the ‘Off’ options. Next to ‘Nudges,’ uncheck both boxes (which will stop suggestions about what emails you should answer or follow up on). Then, switch from the ‘General’ tab to ‘Inbox’ and scroll down to ‘Importance markers.’ Choose ‘No markers’ and ‘Don’t use my past actions to predict which messages are important.’

Seeing these settings might make you wonder what other information you’ve unwittingly given Google access to. Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy way to customize it. If you open the ‘Accounts’ tab (beside ‘Inbox’) and choose ‘Google Account settings,’ there’s an option to ‘Take the Privacy Checkup.’ That service will walk you through all the privacy settings, including activity tracking on Google sites, ad personalization, and more.

[h/t Simplemost]