Saturday, January 18, 2020

Car Shopping Adventures #2






I wanted to document my car shopping process.  By way of background, I have 13 year and 3 month old toyota 4runner.  To date I have a little over $22,000 saved for a down payment (this includes $5,000 from my EF). I have looked up the KBB and carfax trade in values for my car.  It is worth about $6,100.

I have done extensive research about multiple cars including, reliability ratings, complaints, repair costs, etc. 

Spoiler Alert: I have not yet purchased a car.

My car shopping adventures began on December 30, 2019. My first stop was the Acura Dealership.  The sales guy was super nice.  Nicest and the most well informed of all.  We test drove an Acura MDX.  It was a nice car.  I don't like the body style and the brakes were mushy.  However, Acura is the luxury version of Honda, so I thought it might be worth a shot. It was a nice car with lots of options and all the safety features. Lane departure assist, collision avoidance, adapative cruise control, etc . It also had the cool push button gear selector, a push button start, back up camera, infortainment screen, etc. I was not excited about the car.  Hondas have all of the same features for less money.  There was nothing about the car that made me feel that I should consider it over any non-luxury model. Maybe I don't understand luxury vehicles???

I really thought as a luxury vehicle it would have something that I could not get in just a regular car. Ultimately, I reasoned that I could get a Honda with a nice package and pay$10,000 to $15,000 less than what I would for an Acura.

P.S. I also hate that idle stop/start feature that they are putting on new cars. 

Acura has come off of the list. Next up: Honda.


Saturday, January 4, 2020

2020 goals

Here are my 2020 goals:

1. Blog more and more consistently. My goal is going to be 2 posts a month.  I'm not very interesting or exciting. I am also very cheap.  That means that I do not have a lot to write about for this mostly financial blog.  Unless you want to hear stories about my cats, sitting on the couch or long car rides.

2. Eat healthier.  I travel a good bit for work.  (I currently have $1,600 in outstanding travel reimbursements.) I tend to eat fast food on the road because it's fast.  I don't want to spend 40 minutes at a restaurant when I just want to get back home before 7:30p.m.  I tend to eat burgers and fries because I can't hold a fork and eat a salad when I drive. I need to spend more time taking care of myself.  Sometimes I will have to stop and eat a salad in a restaurant rather than race home. I hope this will lead to consistent weight loss.

3. Contribute a minimum of $11,000 to retirement with the goal of having $65,000 in retirement accounts by the end of the year. I only have $48,000 invested. This is a stretch and the market really needs to cooperate for me to make this goal.

4. Buy a new car.  I want to purchase a new car to replace my 13 going on 14 year old car. (It turned 13 in October of 2019.) I still have the original sale paperwork from when I purchased it. It's starting to show its age and because I do travel a bit I want to make sure I can get to my hearings, depositions and meetings without breaking down on the side of the road.

5. Less screen time. I want to spend less time on my phone.  Those dang screen time apps are quite a revelation!

6. Give a minimum of $500 to charity.  This is an increase of $100 from last year.  Slow, but steady increases.

7. Read 10 books.  I used to read voraciously as a a child and young adult.  Life is really getting into the way.

8. Increase Emergency Fund to $20,000. 

9. Exercise more and consistently.  I am wildly inconsistent with exercise.  I sometimes exercise everyday and then sometimes, not for weeks at a time. 

10. Continue building sinking funds for medical, pets, etc. I may add a Christmas fund to this list too.

What are your 2020 goals?  Is there anything you think I should add?


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Car Shopping Adventures








I have a car that is 13 to 14 years old.  It is starting to have some issues here and there so I am thinking about replacing it.  Since I have kept my car for so long, I plan to buy a brand new car, again (I can hear the gasps from the personal finance community, but I don't care.)

I was hoping to take advantage of some of the year end deals, but nothing is interesting to me.  I have researched and researched and I cannot find a car that I WANT to buy.  I have test driven an Acura MDX, a Honda Pilot and a Volvo XC60.  I am thinking about  test driving a mazda CX9.  Everything is expensive and nothing appeals to me. Also, why are cars so expensive?

The Honda Pilot looks like a van now. It's weird. I did like the Honda Passport, but no Passports were on the lot.  The MDX is pretty expensive with no real added features.  I can get a fully loaded Honda for the same price without paying for the Acura name.  The XC60 is expensive and I can get the standard features in another car for less money.  Volvo also has not done well in reliability ratings, but does extremely well in safety testing.  However, I want a car that does both!  I plan to keep this new car for at least 10 years.


I love my Toyota, but I hate the Toyota dealership in my town.  That makes me not want to buy a toyota and give money to a company that is pretty awful over all  (including scratching cars while doing service work and lying about it, charging for work not actually done, leaving the oil change light on rather than resetting it, stating that they did free things that they did not actually do, e.g, topping off liquids, performing shoddy work like brake work and not properly tightening things so that brake fluid leaked and ruined a wheel, etc.).

I would like a mid size SUV which will hold all of my boxes, binders, carts, etc when I travel for trials, depositions and hearings.  I would like all of the safety features (lane keeping assist, collision mitigation, etc.) and AWD (only for the extra traction for driving in the rain while tired).  I want all of these features because if and only if things go according to plan, I will drive this vehicle for 10 to 15 years. I want to buy a decent car that I wont regret buying after 5 years.

Car shopping sucks.  I may give up and try again in 6 months.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Holiday Bonus!





I got a Holiday bonus check at work yesterday!!! I was totally shocked and so excited!!  I plan to write a super nice thank card to both of the partners and send it out today. I think this is the largest bonus I have ever received, I grossed almost $5,200 and I am taking home almost $4,000 ($3900 and some change).

I plan to give some to my mom and sister, put some in my car replacement fund, put some into my retirement fund, give some to charity and finish replacing the EF used to purchase the new HVAC.

I am incredibly thankful for the bonus and I want to pay it forward!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

I missed November (Face Palm) and Debt Free Bloggers!





Where did November go?  I kept trying to get online and post, but time kept eluding me.  End result? There were absolutely no posts for November. 

Anyways, it is Winter now and it has been pretty chilly in Florida (in the 30s).  I don't have time for a long post because my time management skills suck.  I just wanted to update that I will make my charitable donations goal for the year!  My goal is $400 and I am at $383 for the year.  I will make a donation to a Christmas charity and be done for the year.  Next year that goal will go up to $500. 

I have been reading blogs, but have not been able to comment.  Everyone PLEASE congratulate Double Debt Single Woman for paying off her debt!! She is debt free!!!!   Also, please congratulate Lucy at A Dime At A Time as she is debt free as well!!  Congratulations to both of these hardworking women! (You can find the links to these blogs in my blog list to the right).

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween!





Happy Halloween to all those that celebrate.  I have been out of town, but hopefully will make it back home in time to hand out Halloween candy. Otherwise, I do not have any spooky plans for Halloween. I have been eating a lot of candy leading up to the holiday so I'll be happy to get the candy out of my house!!  However, I did manage to get a work out in while traveling this week (way to go hotel fitness center) so that should ;) balance out the Halloween candy consumption. Truly, I can't want to get back home and sleep in my own bed.

I submitted my November mortgage payment and it was the first one in quite some time that did not include an extra principal payment. :(  I am currently cutting back on my extra payments to rebuild my emergency fund (thanks new hvac unit). The mortgage is down to $189,107.  It didn't even drop down to the next $1000 (face palm).  Hopefully, it won't be long until my EF is back where it should be.  I loved making payments where over $1,000 would go to principal.

I gotta run to get ready for my first appointment of the day!


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Money, money, money!!!






In addition to paying off my sister's $3,000+ furniture bill, the new HVAC (which works great by the way)I have paid about $800 for a crown because I cracked a tooth.  Oh, I also had a super expensive car repair as well! Yes, I have paid out over $15,000 in cash over just a couple of months. Thank GOD I paid off all of my debt (other than my mortgage) because otherwise I just would not have been able to cash flow any of this stuff.  When it rains, it pours. 

So of course, now I have to replace all of the money that I have spent. Which means I will not meet my retirement savings goal for this year.  Or really any other money related goal for the year.  My plan is to stop my retirement contributions (I still had about $3,964 left to contribute for the year) and stop paying extra (approximately $500) on the mortgage.  All of the extra money I can muster will go towards recouping the cash that I have spent. 

I think, generally, I would not stop my retirement contributions, but due to some uncertainty at work, I would much rather replace the cash in my bank account rather than worry about the retirement contributions.  I have maxed out my Roth for the year and the rest just would have gone into an investment account. 

Work is always crazy, like always.  However, there have been some significant health problems affecting both partners.  Both partners have undergone surgery this year and both will likely undergo surgery again within the next few months. Both partners are getting up in age (one approaching 70 and the other approaching 60).  One partner is probably in a better position to retire if necessary, the other is not. There is always a possibility that one of the offices could close and/or there may be a reduction in staff.  If there are layoffs I want to be prepared with a nice cash cushion.  Right now the firm is being very careful with money and it is evident that they are cutting back. 

Once I get the cash reserves built back up, I will try to get that $3,964, in addition to my 2020 retirement money, into my retirement account.