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What is the value of my name?

January 23rd, 2015 at 06:55 am

We bought a new-to-us vehicle last month. A 2012 minivan with a bit more than 3,000 miles. So, it's still under the manufacturer's warranty.

We bought it for a good deal. In fact, our lender has informed us that we paid about $1,000 less than the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) value.

For the past three weeks or so, every third day or so we've been receiving cheesy form letters in the mail telling us that our manufacturer's warranty is about to expire! We had better act fast, and purchase their extended warranty!

It's apparent to me that this dealer has sold our name to these cheesy companies. It makes me wonder just how much our dealer sold our name and address for.

It's a little bit annoying, but also a little bit funny. It's also sad, because there would be no value to selling our name if the tactic didn't work on a certain number of people.

It would be tempting to add that to the negotiation next time we buy a vehicle - "I'll pay $XX,XXX for this car with the understanding that you won't sell my name to any cheesy companies", for example. Not so much because of the burden of getting these mailings, but more of a "I know what you're going to do" type of a thing.

And I guess, if we were able to buy the van for less than NADA because our name was sold, then so be it. It's not a really big deal. I am sad that it apparently works on so many people, though.

Weekend Happenings

August 26th, 2013 at 06:11 am

I'm not sure how much I've talked about it in the past, but DW home schools our girls. With school about to begin, she needed a block of time to get curricula organized. So, I took the boys out for a road trip on Saturday. The girls had been invited to a birthday party in the afternoon.

Before we left for our road trip, I loaded the back of my pickup with some scrap iron. We live at my family's old farm, so there always seems to be scrap iron turning up. The load ended up being small - 40 pounds. The price I received was $3. Really, I look at it as an opportunity to deliver trash, and they pay me for it. The junk yard is 4 miles from our house.

I went into town, and had an extra key made for my pickup. When I bought the truck, I only received one key. With a copy now, I'll have some insurance if I ever lock the keys in the truck. The copy cost $2.99. Kind of funny how that worked out.

Then, I got the oil changed in my pickup. The oil change cost around $41. The truck is a Dodge Ram Hemi. It holds 7 quarts of oil. The expensive oil changes are something I wasn't aware of when I bought the pickup in December. Live and learn.

I have changed the oil myself in our various vehicles in the past. My brother-in-law has a nice farm shop that makes changing oil easy, and if we're there for the weekend, and a vehicle needs an oil change, I'll go ahead and do it. But honestly, enough of the cost is the actual oil and oil filter, that it really doesn't cost a whole lot of money to have the quickie places do it for you.

Then, I took the boys to a zoo. The zoo is about 40 miles from home. Admission for the three of us was about $25. We had a nice time. The funny/frustrating thing was that the goats at the petting zoo area were the biggest hit with the boys. We have three goats at home.

The boys ended up falling asleep on the way back home, so I pulled over and listened to the Tigers/Mets game on the radio. The Tigers won the game, and swept the weekend series. Go Tigers!

Lawn Mower Shopping

April 15th, 2013 at 04:21 pm

We'll probably buy a lawn mower by the end of the week. With all the rain we had last week, and the apparent heat we'll be getting this week, the grass will start growing.

Our budget is $4,000. Remember that DW and I will be sharing this mower with my folks. There are three new models available at local dealerships that fit the budget. Or ... should we buy a used commercial grade model for the same money? That's the question we're trying to answer. New residential vs. used commercial?

The commercial grade is better built, sturdier, etc. But, it's used, and the previous owner traded it in for some reason. Maybe because always want a "new" mower. Or maybe because it was giving them problems.

We'll probably end up going new residential. That's the direction DW and I are leaning (I think), but if we seem to find the right used model...

Windshield Wipers

January 22nd, 2013 at 05:32 am

The temperature on my way in to work started out at -2 this morning. For a brief time, it rose all the way up to 0, but settled back down at -1. Brr.

I bought new windshield wipers yesterday. I had a choice between three models. The cheapest was $14 for a pair, there was a pair for $28, and the most expensive was $38.

I opted for the middle of the road $28 pair.

I know that you get what you pay for, and I probably would have been replacing the $14 set in a few months. And, $38 seemed too much to pay for windshield wipers.

It seems as if I usually choose the "middle of the road" option in most cases. Even when we were butt-crack broke a couple of years ago, we almost never bought the cheapest of anything. Again, you get what you pay for.

But, I still almost never opt for the most expensive model, either. Even if I were debt free, and had my EF at 6 months spending, and were contributing 15% to retirement, and had extra cash, I don't think I'd part with the money for the most expensive of anything.

So, what's your opinion on simple things like windshield wipers, car batteries, shingles, cabinets - things where there are 3 basic choices. Do you buy cheap, middle, or expensive?

Time for a new, make that different, vehicle?

September 19th, 2012 at 09:59 am

I thinking about a new pickup. Something compact, like a Dakota, S-10, or Ranger. I'm not particular to makes.

This purchase wouldn't be until after December, when that one credit card that will shoot up to 23% APR is paid off. Then we'll be in the midst of winter heating, and post-Christmas financial trauma, so maybe not til next spring. We'll see.

I bought my current car from my aunt and uncle for a dollar last May. It runs OK. It's a 1997 Mazda 626. It has about 200K miles, so I can't ask for much from it. Of course we also have the family mini van that we recently paid off with adoption subsidy money. That's seven years old, and had 110K miles. It should last another 3-5 or more years, but we'll see.

So I started with the rule that I learned in the SA forums - monthly payment of no more than 10% of your monthly pay, financed for no more than 3 years. I cut the monthly payment in half, because it is possible that we would need to replace the mini van in that time frame. What I came up with is between 9 and 10K for a pick up.

A really quick look at KBB told me that I could buy a 2007 or so model with somewhere north of 120K miles. Not great, but a step up. And, having a pickup, especially in the country is nice.

So, I'm at least four months away from the purchase. Gives me time to possibly save some money, which will either get me a better pickup, or reduce my monthly payment. I can also spend that time becoming familiar with what's out there in my price range.

Yes, this does mean more debt. But, using the 10%, three year rule, I'm at least entering it with some reasonable restraints.

Another Expenditure

August 27th, 2012 at 02:21 pm

We bought a stove this past weekend. A nice glass top stove. Not the nicest, and not the cheapest. It set us back about $750, taxes included.

To start the story at the beginning, our glass topped stove broke about two years ago. The oven still worked, and three of the four burners on the stove worked, but the biggest burner, the one that could work at two sizes, was cracked, so we couldn't use it. We'd used a three burner stove since.

Well I tried to "fix" it last week, only making it worse. We had the money in our EF, so we bought a new one. It has some nice features that our old one didn't. "Turbo Boil" (gets hotter to boil, say spaghetti water, faster), a warming spot (a fifth burner that is super low heat to keep things warm when they're done), and a probe for constantly measuring internal temperatures of meat. Things that we have done fine without, but are nice.

Most importantly - we didn't go in debt! We cash flowed the purchase. Sure, our EF took a hit, and that money is gone, never to be seen again. But, we have no more debt than we did a week ago, and we have a new stove!

I should add that the oven on the old unit was starting to go bad. Things were taking longer to bake. Sure, we probably could have changed the element, but that whole three burner thing was getting old.

New Computer - Merry Christmas!

December 12th, 2011 at 08:15 am

DW bought a new lap top computer yesterday. A Christmas present for the whole family.

The total was right around $475. No new borrowing, we had the money in checking. But I always get edgy when big purchases are made, especially with so much month left.

But, as I've mentioned in prevoius posts, debt repayment has been slowed a bit to brace for Christmas spending.

We needed a new computer. The old one began crashing and slowing down, and all in all has been becoming annoying. We switched to a lap top to facilitate the use by our daughters (ages 9 and 5). Our old desk top was housed in the office, not exactly a kid friendly environment.

Will be interesting having a "family" computer now. Especially have to think more about parental controls - if anyone has any advice, let me know.

We cleaned our carpets

September 8th, 2011 at 05:26 am

We cleaned our carpets last night. Our girls are at their aunt's house for a couple days, and we arranged to have my mom watch the boys for a few hours, so we took advantage of the situation.

We've been in the house for two years now, and haven't steam cleaned them since we moved in. We rented the steam cleaner for $39. $10 of that is a deposit that will be returned when we bring the cleaner back. The detergent cost $23, and it was nearly used up, so good thing I bought the big bottle. So, for $52, and some elbow grease, we have bright shiny carpets and upholtery again. Oh, yeah, that big stain in the living room is gone, too!