Category Archives: Life lessons

Terrible Car Buying Tips

by Greg Hague

Terrible Car Buying Tips (Terrible for Them, Not You)


Buying a new car?

Here are a few savvy tips to snag your best deal.

1. KNOW THE REAL DEALER COST – Through the Internet you can usually find the dealer invoice, the dealer “hold back” (extra profit dealers receive from the manufacturer not reflected in the invoice) and any other dealer or consumer incentives offered by the manufacturer. The point is to know the real dealer cost before you start to negotiate.

2. SHOP BY PHONE – You lose a HUGE advantage when you’re standing on the showroom floor. Before you go anywhere, negotiate dealers against each other by telephone. Get your absolute best cash price. Dealers will be less resistant to negotiating by phone if you say you’re from far away (you are – it’s a relative term).

3. NEGOTIATE A “NO TRADE” PRICE – If you have a car to trade, don’t let the cat out of the bag until the end. Dealers often pad the value of a trade (inflate the price) with extra profit built into the car you’re buying.

Dealers know that buyers are usually more sensitive to the $$ they receive for their car than the $$ they pay for the new car.

You will never know how much you are really receiving for your trade unless you first negotiate the lowest no-trade price on the car you’re buying.

4. FINANCE THE PURCHASE – Consider financing your new car for a few months, even if you can pay cash. Dealers often receive a large spiff on buyers who finance their cars (through the dealer).

This spiff is often substantial because it presumes, based on averages, that you’ll keep the loan in place for several years.  But you don’t have to. You can pay off most car loans at any time with no penalty.

So, once you’ve negotiated your best no-financing price, see if you can obtain an additional $300-$500 (or more) discount if you finance. Then pay off the loan in the first month or two. Your interest on a $20,000 loan at 5% for one month is only about $85, (and you’ll be earning some offsetting interest on the extra $20,000 in your account during that time).

5. SAY NO ‘TIL YOUR TONGUE BLEEDS – That’s a favorite phrase from my friend, Harvey Mackay. Cars go down in value (even on the dealer’s lot). Remember, the deal tomorrow is usually better then the deal today. When buying a car, time is on your side while the cash is in your pocket.


Mario Andretti – Exclusive Interview

This story was contributed by racing legend, Mario Andretti.

bio_01Nothing for Granted

Part 1 of a 2-part exclusive interview

He is considered by most to be the greatest race car driver of all time.  It’s no wonder.  Mario Andretti is one of only two drivers in history to win races in Formula One, NASCAR, Indycar, and the World Sportscar Championship.  He is the only driver to be dubbed United States Driver of the Year in three different decades. READ MORE 

Believing in Black Sheep

This story contributed by Bill Lavidge

Lavidge 1Nick Lavidge, Bob Lavidge, and Bill Lavidge at 2001 World Series

South Chicago. The Depression.

Raising children was tough. REALLY tough . . .

My grandfather was a good, yet demanding man. He expected my dad, Bob, and his older brother, Art, to excel in everything they did, especially academics.

Both sons rose to the challenge. After completing his undergraduate degree at DePauw University, Dad was accepted to Harvard Law and the University of Chicago’s MBA program. He chose the University of Chicago, which laid the foundation for founding one of the most respected marketing research companies in the nation.  In his spare time, he also taught marketing research at Northwestern University for nearly 30 years. READ MORE 

Driving with Dad

This story contributed by Christian Jurinka


Do you remember when you were 8?

I remember simple things like kicking the ball with my Dad, or throwing the football. 

Just the other day, the magnitude of one of my experiences hit me – learning to DRIVE.  That’s right, when I was 8 Dad taught me how to drive.

The two-hour drive to my grandparents set the stage.

Leaving the neighborhood and city streets, my excitement built, as I knew that once we hit the highway, it would be my time to drive. READ MORE 

Side Effects

by Greg Hague

Life lessons from Chubby (my dad) and other smart folks I’ve met on the road.

side effects

Continued from yesterday’s story, The Cruelty in Passion:

“Greg,” Chubby said, “even with talent, hard work, passion, and some luck . . . you still might hate where you end up.”

“Why?” I asked with a puzzled look.

“You don’t see the side effects.” Chubby replied.  “It’s like eating fudge every day for a year. You know you’ll gain weight.  But you may not think about the other side effects, like the cost of buying bigger clothes, the heart attack risk, the tooth decay, and the strain on your knees.” 

Dad had a good point. Think in advance –

each plus and minus with all that I do.

Chubby continued,

“Greg, if your dream is to become a schoolteacher, that’s fine, but make sure you consider that you might not make big money doing it. 

Or, if your heart is set on becoming a commercial airline pilot, consider that it may not allow much time with your family.”

That last example really hit home. I absolutely loved to fly.  I was pretty darn good at it, and was fortunate enough to obtain my pilot’s license at 16. And, while a career in the air had seemed exciting and tempting to me, there were side effects I hadn’t considered that didn’t appeal.

The lesson I learned from Chubby that day?

Side effects . . . think pluses and minuses all the way through.


The Cruelty in Passion

by Greg Hague

Life lessons from Chubby (my dad) and other smart folks I’ve met on the road.

shooting hoops

My hands were blistered and bleeding, my back screamed in pain. I was utterly exhausted, but it was OK . . . until Chubby dumped on my dream.

“But Dad,” I pleaded. “I can do it. I will make the team. I’ll shine on the court. No one will work harder than me.”

“Greg,” Chubby said. “I’ve watched you jump, dribble and shoot. Yes, you’re busting your butt. But you don’t have what it takes.

Face it now. Face it later. But face it, you will.”

I lied in bed crying that night. It was unfair. How did he know? I would prove Dad was wrong.

And I did. I made the high school basketball team.

But I hated that season. It was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life.

The coach never put me in a game we hadn’t already won, and then only right at the end. Every practice. Every game. I watched kids who worked less play better than me.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t dribble, move, or shoot like them. It was my first real dose of “hard work alone isn’t enough.”

I remember talking with Dad after the season. He explained,

“Greg, people often let passion lead to a life of frustration. It’s demoralizing to strive for what you can’t have. Smart people assess their abilities up front. They ‘go for it’ where the going looks good.”

With four boys, this is a hard story to write. As a Dad, I want to encourage my kids to “go for your dreams, whatever they are.”

In my heart I want to tell them that nothing is out of their reach. Unfortunately, that’s simply not true. It’s not real.

So what do I say?

Identify your talents – your greatest gifts; mentally, physically, artistically and emotionally. Then, “go for it there.” If you love basketball, strive to own the team if you can’t be a star on the court.


“Greg,” he said, “you can have natural talent, work extremely hard, possess intense passion, and even with a little bit of luck, it’s still not enough.  There is a secret ingredient that many overlook…”

Natural Talent + Hard Work + Intense Passion + Luck + ???

Tomorrow, the secret ingredient to finding life’s path.

Can you guess?

Secret ingredient

Over Changed

Story contributed by Bruce Helmer.


“Excuse me, ma’am, but I think you over-changed me,” I confessed, placing four dollars back on the counter.

My two kids looked at me like I was crazy.  The lady at the counter did too.

I’d just bought four corn dogs at four bucks apiece.  Change from a $20 should be four dollars; she gave me back eight.

“Oh, thank you sir!  Sorry about that,” she replied.

On the way back to our seats, my kids asked why I gave back the “free money.”

“After the game tonight,” I said, “the cashier will total her drawer. If it doesn’t match sales, it might be deducted from her paycheck. Also, it’s stealing.”

My kids were 10 and 13 at the time, but they got the message.

Recently, my daughter (now grown) was over-changed at a convenience store on her way to work. She was in a hurry, it wasn’t much money, and the line of customers was long.

Still, she got back in line to give back the extra change.

Later she proudly called me to relay what happened. She recalled that corn dog “concession lesson” at that Twins’ game years before.

Our team didn’t win that night, but it was certainly a victory for me as a dad.

The “concession lesson” for today?

Our kids become a reflection of all that we do.

Our actions – good and bad – are like ripples in their pond.

multiple ripples


In addition to being a very savvy dad to his two kids, BrBruceHelmeruce Helmer has been in the financial services industry since 1983 and co-founded the financial advisory firm Wealth Enhancement Group in 1997. His new book, Real Wealth, is receiving great reviews.  You can check it out here: