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Sneakers On The Ground

May 9th, 2010 at 03:41 pm

Tho I've not been around SA much lately, I am still actively involved in my household's personal finances on a daily basis.

I started this blog to chronicle our relocation to a lower cost part of the country (plus join the $20 Challenge), and now that we are firmly established in our adopted home of Austin, I just haven't been blogging as much.

In a nutshell, these are the major PF-related things that have been happening:

1. Wills Re-Done: Finalized (witnessed & notarized, including Affidavits, copy sent to Personal Representative) in early-March. I bought the NOLO book & used their software & created the Wills myself. I would have preferred to use an attorney (DH was not willing to pay the fees to have an attorney prepare our estate documents), but I am happy with NOLO and did the best job I could. The book was clearly written and I got quite a bit of helpful information from it. For me, the way the book was laid-out seemed very organized, and was a great way to think and work through the process. I recommend it for anyone else thinking of doing a DIY Will. I made an effort to keep things simple, in order to minimize the risk of making a mistake. For example, I decided not attempt to create a Trust myself. I also read up on Special Needs Trusts (I have a brother who is developmentally disabled who is a major part of my estate planning), but found out that he does not need one because he does not collect Social Security Disability Insurance.

2. Second Car Purchased: We finally bought a 2nd car. Paid cash. New car. We have owned both new & used, and I believe both are reasonable ways to go (I'm not a believer in "one size fits all" when it comes to PF). Based on how we have owned previous cars and how we feel about cars, I realize that for DH & I, Jonathan Pond's motto of "buy used if you love cars, buy new if you hate cars" is the way to go. In other words, if you are a "car person" and like to change cars frequently, go for used cars. But if you are NOT a car person (like DH & I), keep your cars forever, and do not necessarily like the car-buying process (but put a lot of time & research & mental anguish in to the decision-making), then buy new. Only once did we buy and sell a car within a short period of time, and that was a special scenario. Other than that, we have owned our cars for very long periods of time (our current "first car" is a 1999 model that we bought new, has almost 150K miles and we expect it to last for at least another 50K). We bought a Prius, at the height of the "anti-Prius hysteria." We had looked at the Prius for a couple years, but felt they were overpriced. For a very brief period Toyota offered a $1K Customer Loyalty rebate (if you blinked you missed it), and one dealer in our area offered previously-unheard-of discounts on a couple stock vehicles. On top of that, I was getting ready to restart my full-time seasonal job & we had been sharing one car for several years, so while it definitely wasn't "the best car deal ever" it was enough of a deal and the timing was perfect so we jumped off the fence and wrote a check (plus $5K on the Am-Ex ... for the points ... paid off when the bill came in). Boy that dealership was dead at that time; the salesman said we were his only sale that month.

3. Still Studying the Possibility of Buying a Vacation Rental + Looking at a Self-Directed IRA: At the turn of the new year, I had looked in to buying a 2nd home in our area to use as a vacation rental, then put it on hold because the real estate market in was firming up (didn't think we could get a very good deal). But now that the New Homebuyer's Tax Credit has expired, I think there may be another dip, so we continue to keep a close eye on the market. I am reading "How to Rent Vacation Properties By Owner" by Christine Hrib Karpinski, and that got me thinking about establishing a Self-Directed IRA. I had been wondering if an IRA could own an investment property, and it turns out that a Self-Directed IRA can. Also, I have been perturbed thinking that I could not own individual Treasuries in an IRA (can't see paying a fee to a mutual fund company to buy something I can buy myself through my Treasury Direct, but a Self-Directed IRA may be a way to do just that. These are my current "Big PF projects" ... learning more about vacation properties & self-directed IRAs.

4. Sneakers On the Ground: For some reason, I often ponder "big PF questions" while out walking the dog. On one walk recently, I was thinking about our investment style. While our MF investments are very conservative, we have made bold & risky moves such as DH quitting his job & starting his own business, me starting a small business, relocating to a lower cost part of the country, and now thinking about buying an investment property. I don't think you can categorize us as "risk-takers" or "conservative." I think the military expression about "Boots on the Ground" is fitting ... We like to be very hands-on, looking & observing & participating in what we are investing in; we willing to take risks as long as we have quite a bit of control over those risks and know exactly what is going on.

5. And Speaking of Sneakers: OK, this is not a "major PF thing" by a long stretch, but I did want to point out that everyone, no matter how firmly they have their personal finances under control, struggles with temptation. While it was definitely NOT the case in my younger years, I do feel that my DH & I do a pretty good job overall of managing our finances. But the "consumer bug" still bites from time to time. It's a constant job to keep things in balance. Right now I am hearing the siren song from those "Shapeup" sneakers by Skeechers. Just love the idea of getting extra toning (and maybe some health benefits) while walking just by wearing a certain pair of sneakers! But the rational side of my brain can't see spending $100 for them. So I've decided that if I ever see a pair for $50, I will buy them. I'm hoping they will come out with some awful color scheme that no one wants and they will put them on clearance (I won't care about the color), or maybe it's just a matter of waiting for the market to become more saturated. I will allow myself to indulge in a pair, but only if the price comes down by half.

Hope everyone here has been doing well ... I have stopped by to read folks blogs from time to time, but feel I am out of touch.

8 Responses to “Sneakers On The Ground”

  1. frugaltexan75 Says:

    It's so good to hear from you! I'm glad you are doing well.

    About the shape-up sneakers ... In my opinion I think they are a bunch of hype. You can get the same effect for free by climbing up and down steps, or doing calf raises. That's just my two cents though. Big Grin Take it for what it's worth.

  2. Ima saver Says:

    Welcome back!

  3. scfr Says:

    frugaltexan - You are probably right! By the time I see a $50 pair of Shapeups, I may have decided that I no longer want them. One of the strategies I used when I first started getting my finances on the right track was delaying purchases; if I saw something that was a "want" I would write it down on my calendar one month out, and if I still thought it was a useful purchase in a month, then I would buy it. Most of the time I realized it was a just passing fancy and I did not buy it.

  4. MonkeyMama Says:

    Glad to hear from you!

    I prefer that my car last 15-20 years, and I HATE car shopping, but I doubt we would ever buy a new car. The only benefit I really see to buying new, is to choose the color, features, etc. (We've personally settled on buying "1 year old vehicles," with age and more means). I do agree that there is no one size fits all. Congrats on a second vehicle!

  5. Analise Says:

    I've been wondering how you were... good to hear from you. We have a 2003 Prius (bought new) that has been very economical and reliable. People made fun of us when we got it, but it's been a great car. Hope you have lots of fun in yours.

  6. Apprentice Bliss Hunter Says:

    Great post ! I wish you many happy miles in the new Car ! :-)

  7. whitestripe Says:

    I have been wanting a similar pair - but they are thongs (flipflops)! They are called Fitflops. I think the cheapest pair I have seen are $109 (AU) and just as you said, there is no way I can justify paying that much! But, I do like the idea of them, and I would wear them all the time (like the rest of the population in our area - the climate & location dictates you can't wear much else in your downtime. When I'm at work I wear dunlops, so I like to be able to let my feet breathe when I'm not working!) The same as you I have said if I see a pair for ~$40 I would buy them.

  8. Jerry Says:

    The "original" Shapeups are made by a Swiss company called MBT, and their shoes are classified as a medical device in Europe (and they are SPENDY). I would trust them, but all of these Johnny-Come-Latelies are offering no such insurance that they provide the exact same benefits.
    I like your idea of finding some ugly ones and paying less! I did that once on a pair of running shoes, and bought some in eggplant purple. Turned out the shoes were horrible, so I returned them and bought some others that they were selling on sale. And they weren't ugly. =)
    Jerry

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