6 Money Myths

Money can’t buy you happiness.

It can buy you freedom to pursue your own happiness.

Money can’t buy you health.

It can pay for clean water, healthy food, time to exercise, freedom from
stress, and health care.

Money can’t buy you love.

It can significantly help those you love.

More money, more problems?

You get nicer problems, though. Inheritence tax is a nicer problem to have
than, say, choosing between buying food and paying a mortgage.

Money is the root of all evil.

Have you ever considered what the root of money is? It’s effort. Not all
effort is evil, efficient, or enobling. Effort is what you make it.

Time equals money.

Time is greater than money. You can’t make more time. You don’t even know
how much you have right now. It’s the scarcest resource, ever.

The Checked Luggage Hack

Checking luggage sucks. Not only for the fees you have to pay – each way! – but for the fact that once you give your luggage to the gate personnel, you stand a fair chance of never seeing those belongings again.

So, what if there was a way to check your luggage in a manner that let you not pay a fee AND greatly increased the chance of you and your clothes arriving at the same destination?

My Checked Luggage Hack

Sadly, I pack for weekend trips like I am scaling Everest. I am often checking luggage. My preference would be to use a piece of luggage that both A) backpack straps and B) fits into the overhead.

Equipment
When I need extra carrying capacity on a pleasure trip, I will pack my LL Bean internal frame backpacker’s backpack. This gives me the portability I need so long as I am not too picky about wrinkled clothes.

Scenario
Checking in and printing my boarding pass ahead of time on the carrier’s website is mandatory. I hate waiting in line and for this travel hack, you want to go straight to the line.

Bypassing check in in favor of the on-line variety allows you to walk straight up to the TSA and security agents and attempt the Jedi mind trick of getting all of your luggage past the screeners and walking straight through to the gate. My backpack is obviously bigger than the overhead compartments but I keep going through quietly, politely, and undaunted and see if I can get my backpack on the plane.

Next, you walk to your gate and offer to check your baggage rather than to try and cram it into the overhead. The flight attendants are usually overjoyed that a passenger is trying to be helpful with their turnaround for a change and will go out of their way to assist you.

This luggage hack does several things:

  1. It’s quick. Save time!
  2. No $15-$50 fee at the front – rarely do the gate agent ask for $15 if it doesn’t fit and I need to check it with the strollers. This saves serious $ if you can do it for both the departure and return flights.
  3. I know the @#$ing thing (my luggage) is on the same plane I am. I just saw them check it!
  4. Sometimes they ask for people to volunteer to put their carry ons in the hold (with the strollers, etc). As an incentive they sometimes offer bumps to 1st or 1st boarding. You get a bonus for achieving what you wanted all along!

Note that this does not work everywhere. The TSAs @ CLT let me get away with this but the ones in Philly don’t. If CLT has changed lately I’ll be forced to go check it at the front.

So what travel hacks do you have that save time or $?

Gas Mileage and Free Cars.

Here’s another item to consider with my pursuit of a free car: Gas.

My current car gets 20 miles / gallon. The to-be-free Kia should get over 30 miles / gallon. This will lead to additional projected savings making it even easier to get a ‘free car!’

For the record, this is how I check my actual miles per gallon:

  1. Fill up the tank
  2. Reset the odometer to zero miles.
  3. Drive until 1/4 tank left.
  4. Fill up again, noting the # of gallons.
  5. Divide the # of gallons by miles on the odometer.

So, how to see how much money 10 extra miles / gallon will save me?

I drive 20,000 miles per year. At 20 miles / gallon, this comes to be 1,000 gallons of gas. With the projected 30 miles / gallon, this now become (20,000 / 30) = 666 gallons used. If we average gas to $3 / gallon, this becomes a savings of $1000 per year.

Another few grand to my new, free car.

Maintenance on a 2001 Ford Explorer is currently around $2-3k a year. Theoretically, a new car will not need any such maintenance (aside from regular and customary) for several years. For example, the locks would work!

It’s not all roses, though. A new car has additional expenses that the current one will not.

1. Insurance.

I’m not sure, but a “new” free Kia may require more insurance than a 2001 SUV. Then again, why have collision on a free car?

Registration fees.

New license plate tags, new passes (not sure if I can get the HOA tag transferred or not.)

2. Damage.

I am very impatient. The roads around my house are awful. Currently I can drive over multiple potholes with abandon. I don’t think that will be an option with a Kia. Ice storms might get more interesting as well.

Thoughts?

Ever Closer to My Free Car!

Ever closer to my free car!

OK, we’ve talked about Why I Will Never Drive My Porsche to Work. We’ve talked about my (soon-to-be) new, free car. Now we’re going to talk about how Obama wants me to be happy.

Gas guzzlers could get $3,500 or $4,500 in government vouchers to use toward the purchase of new cars that get gas mileage that exceeds the old car’s by four miles per gallon.- CNN

Revisiting the Cubicle Warrior Free Car Equation:

Pn (price of new car) < = Pt (price of trade in) + T(amount of tax
relief) + Voucher

Pt = (via Kelly Blue Book for my beat-up Ford. ) = $2550

T = SC sales tax of 6%

Pn < = $4,500 + $2550 = $7050

Ignoring tax (see rebate) and fees (negotiable), I should be able to get a free new car if I can find one for $7k.

Just not sure if trading in makes this a mutually exclusive proposition so I may have to forgo Pt as it is the lesser value.

OK, had to check. I couldn’t find a US car for $7k, but I found one for
$9k! One of the Cheapest Cars of 2009!

Hyundai Accent
Starting MSRP Accent GS 3-door $9,970
Automatic 26 / 35 MPG

Here are the pics!

Now, would this Cubicle Warrior be seen driving that? No! But I bet I could sell it for $6k!

Add that 6K to another 4,500 for a car with 30 mpg (because 30 is 4 mpg ahead of the Hyundai and thus qualifies for the stimulus) and I’m in the 5-figures mark! That’s Kia range, baby! Movin’ on up!

The Porsche will be mine!

What do you think? Will I get my free car? Any holes in my logic?

My Free, New Car

IRS gets one step closer to my free car!

I have had a plan that eventually, car prices will be low enough AND
enough taxes refunds /incentives will come my way that I will get a new, free car.

In equation form:

Pn (price of new car) < = Pt (price of my trade in) + T(amount
of tax relief)

Fortunately, the government also agrees that it should give me a way to get a free car. Here is where they say I don’t have to pay taxes on my new car.

“IRS also alerted taxpayers that the vehicle must be purchased after Feb. 16, 2009, and before Jan. 1, 2010, to qualify for the deduction.”

This should result in T increasing where T = (Estimated refund of state sales tax paid any other tax incentives they dream up (ex. hybrid, low-emission, buy-American, etc).

Here’s to the start of legislation designed to give me a new, free car! Boy am I sure glad that Detroit makes shitty automobiles, that my fellow Americans spend like drunken sailors because now I can get tax breaks! Wooo Hoo! I feel like a financial company!

(Disclaimer: Drunken Sailors are likely far more disciplined. Let’s say drunken congress men for argument’s sake.)

Never Drive Your Porsche to Work

I will never drive my Porsche to work. Even when I finally get a Porsche, that is. Want to know why?

The Boss

It’s not because a Porsche is better than my boss’s car. He doesn’t give a crap what I drive to work as long as I keep coming in. His peers would. They would cite me for irresponsibility. Plus, they would assume I am more affluent than I am and then conspire against me. If nothing else, when it came for my boss’s boss to hand out the $ they would assume that I already had enough. Patently false, enough $ is enough to get me to my special number so I could decide to stick around in the cubicle equivalent of Dodge City or not.

The Coworkers

It’s not because my Porsche would be the envy of my coworkers and they would incessantly talk about it while I was trying to get shit done. It’s not because they would always be scheming to get me and my500 little Italian horses to cart their asses to Bojangles for lunch.. although I would enjoy their Machiavellian attempts to jockey and curry my favor.

The Cops

It’s not because of the cops that would pull me over again and again and again as I zipped around in a car they would never, ever, ever be able to afford outside the Matchbox version.

Why I Will Never Drive My Porsche to Work

I will never drive my Porsche to work because a Porsche costs a lot of money! That’s money that is better put towards my special number.

Who cares what you drive around in when you are a mindless cubicle slave? Don’t give me that bull shit of ‘oh, it makes me happy when I’m not working.’ Really? You’re always fucking working! If someone came up to you and said ‘I’ll trade you this jacked up car that runs and the ability to be your own boss with financial freedom for your car loan payment and that toasty cubicle seat in front of your monitor’ what would you do?

Is your car helping keep you imprisoned in a cube? How long until you pay that off and start increasing that special number pot?

Biking to Work

During the fuel crunch last year, ScopeCreep and I were debating ways to make the commute in a different way than our gas guzzling Ford Explorer and Pickup trucks. We hit on bicycling. What would one need to pack to do this?

Why Bike to Work?

  1. Get in Shape
  2. Save $
  3. Help the Environment

Issues faced

  1. Very sweaty way to arrive at work.
  2. Reduced carrying capacity
  3. Live far away
  4. Bad neighborhoods
  5. Prepare for flats, breakdowns, falls.

Solutions

  • Get in better shape
  • Shower at office
  • Drop our needs. Why carry so much anyway?
  • Pack safety and repair equipment
  • Bike Equipment Needed

    • Tire repair kit
    • Helmet
    • Bike light
    • Lock
    • Water bottle

    Backpack Contents

    -Office Clothes
    -2nd pair of biking clothes? (assuming 1st pair is too rank to put back on)
    -Packed lunch
    -Hygiene kit: Towel, soap, deodorant, flip flops, etc

    Have you every biked to work? How did it work out? What did we leave off?

    What FreeCreditReport.com Doesn’t Want You to Know

    Seriously. This is either a case of domain name speculation and opportunism gone berserk, the incredible ineptitude and fast-as-molasses-on-an-iceberg speed of the US Federal government, or both.

    What FreeCreditReport.com Doesn’t Want You to Know

    Why Read This?

    Monitoring credit scores & saving $ is an essential tool in the Survive portion of Cubicle S.E.R.E.

    It’s simple. Despite the name, Free Credit Report dot Com is not free. It isn’t. They charge you. Fucking marvelous.

    Why FreeCreditReport.com Isn’t Free

    Because they charge you a $15 monthly fee to ‘watch’ your credit after giving you your credit score. Using scaremongering, they profiteer off of people trying to do the right thing but not financially literate enough to do it.

    How to Really Get a Free Credit Report

    Here’s what I recently told a friend of mine:

    I get 3 credit reports per year for free. I have a calendar reminder to do this every 4 months. You currently pay $15 / month for the alerts. You don’t need them if you’re getting a score for free 3 times a year. Take that $15/month you’re spending on FreeCreditReport.com for the next year ($180) and put it towards paying off debt or to a round trip to Cancun!

    How I Get 3 Free Credit Reports with AnnualCreditReport.com

    AnnualCreditReport.com gives you access to three company’s for free inside one calendar year. They are required to do this for free, by law. For free!

    I do one in April (4th month), a second in August (8th month), and the last company in December (12th month) each year. Wash, rinse, repeat next year. The incomparable JD Roth at GetRichSlowly.org writes this up very effectively. PS Check out JD’s website to see how he paid off 20 years of debt with logical, frugal lifestyle choices. I wish I knew this when I graduated in 2001 with over $100,000 in student debt, car loans, and credit card balances!

    The Really Free Credit Report
    The Really Free Credit Report

    Before you start!

    I learned the hard way that AnnualCreditReport.com does not work well with old versions of Internet Explorer! Use current software or request your report via mail over the phone.

    Homework

    Great Credit + Saved Cash = Better Lifestyle.

    1. If you haven’t gotten a free credit report yet this year from AnnualCreditReport.com, do it now.
    2. Put a reminder on your calendar to get another free credit report in August and December.
    3. Cancel any monthly plans you have with FreeCreditReport.com
    4. Put money saved towards debt, escaping your cube, or flying to someplace warm!

    What’s Coming Next?

    With the coming Oktoberfest trip in late September on my mind, I’ve been writing about how to get cheap flights and a brief humor piece on Oktoberfest Vocabulary. Friday has another awesome video. I’m headed out to the Virginia Tech Spring game – go Hokies! for some tailgating with friends. We’ll pick it up again next week with concepts called Buckets of Money and a quick, easy way to make $50! Oh, and F-Club results are in!