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Archive for July, 2016

Sidebar Update

July 17th, 2016 at 07:36 am

I've changed my blog colors to what I think are pretty, summery ones. Hope you like them!

I've also updated my sidebar, including the addition of 2 web site links. Hope that these new links will be helpful to some of you.

Asset Builder Knowledge Center: This site includes articles by Scott Burns (who writes an excellent newspaper column on personal finance), Andrew Hallum (author of The Millionaire Teacher), and others. Recent articles that I've found especially informative include "To Live Well, You Need Lots of Money" and "The Torpedo Tax and the Middle Class."

Doctor of Credit: The title may be a bit misleading. I've used this site to find some nice snowflakes including bank and credit card bonuses, and a free gift card.

Cheers.


2 Year Spending Goals Update Number 2 - New Vehicle

July 11th, 2016 at 03:10 pm

The more we research, the more we lean towards getting an electric vehicle.

Because auto makers are rapidly making technology advancements on electric cars, it makes sense to try to wait another year or more before purchasing. The biggest improvements are in the driving ranges(without a range extender). For example, the Nissan Leaf has an estimated range of 84 miles but the Chevy Bolt coming out in 2017 has an estimated range of over 200 miles. That's a big difference!

So, the current plan is to get new tires for the old car (total cost with tax $226) but let the repair go (it's still drive-able) and coax another year or so out of it. If the car happens to die before we are ready to pull the trigger on an electric car, we'll manage fine with one vehicle for awhile.

As we ponder purchasing an electric vehicle, knowing we'll be using more electricity, we are also compelled to think more seriously about installing a solar power system on our home. Tomorrow evening friends with a solar system are entertaining us at their home so we'll certainly be asking lots of questions!

P.S. - A friend just purchased a new SUV. He offered to sell his old one to us for what he could get from the dealer at trade-in, which was about $4K lower than KBB Private Party sales value. While we were very appreciative of the offer and realized that he was offering us a great deal (we know how he maintains his cars, he treats them like babies, and takes them only to the dealer for every single maintenance and repair), we only considered accepting his offer for about 15 minutes. As soon as I did an internet search and found out that the gas mileage is 12 MPG, we had to say thanks but no thanks!

2 Year Spending Goals Update Number 1 - 25th Anniversary Trip

July 10th, 2016 at 08:38 am

My how things change as time passes. When we were in our 30's we started talking about what we'd do for our 25th anniversary. We quickly decided that we'd take a "big trip." For a very long time we thought we wanted to ride the Blue Train in South Africa. Other itineraries we fantasized about included touring the British Isles, soaking up jazz and mojitos in Cuba, or taking a Crystal Cruise.

And now that the time is approaching all we want is a relaxing, fairly economical little getaway that can include the dog!

Due to the hoopla over the 100th Anniversary of the National Parks System, I've been reading about our National Parks and developed an interest in visiting more of them. Because we want to drive so we can take the dog, the "big deal" parks (Grand Canyon, Acadia, Smokey Mountains) are not practical due to the distance. The nearest National Park that interests us, and the one we are planning to make our 25th anniversary destination, happens to be the smallest one --- Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas.

Our plan is to take a 3 day / 2 night trip (in about a year and a half). Our budget is $1,000 for 2 adults and 1 dog.

Mileage (IRS Business Rate): $600
Hotel (Pet Fee & Taxes): $75
Admissions & Tickets: $100
Mineral Baths: $75
Food & Drink: $120
Misc (Souvenirs, Photo Development, etc): $30

We plan on using points for "free" hotel stay but will have to pay a pet fee and taxes.

Regarding Mileage: Mileage is 60% of our budget. I practice steely-eyed realism when it comes to budgets. To say that the only driving-related expense is gas would be cheating. So I'm going to use the IRS business rate for mileage. Will our actual driving expenses be less than $600? Oh, probably. I drive a Toyota Prius. But isn't it better to have a higher number in the budget and wind up with "extra" money in the bank than to cheat on the budget and wonder where the money went?

Possible mini-goal: Because the park is centered around the natural hot springs and the bathhouses, "taking the waters" is a big part of the experience. My current budget includes one mineral bath treatment. It might be nice to indulge in an extra spa treatment (massage, pedicure, etc). I am cooking up a little scheme for earning "spa splurge snowflakes." Will post more details later if it materializes.