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Archive for June, 2013

Planning a relaxing vacation

June 23rd, 2013 at 08:14 pm

I would like to take a short road trip this summer to test out my new car and enjoy a get away. I have three weeks off this summer sometime which will be a much needed and desired break.

I want to drive up to Ashland, see a few plays at the Shakespeare festival maybe drive west to the Oregon coast and drive south on Highway 1. I have not been to Ashland since 1990 and I think it would be fun to just explore that area. I remember it being gorgeous and loving the plays.

There are some good hiking trails, the mountains, areas for a nice drive and picnic lunch, fun walking around town.

So now I am comparing hotels and debating staying in the hostel. I have traveled all around the US and Europe using hostels and I feel comfortable in them.

Once I get home I have a couple drop in/house sitting jobs scheduled which will be about $600 and a couple of short weekends planned house sitting which will yield $60-80 a weekend.

I also have a marketing meeting scheduled with the guy I have "hired" to create a website for the pet/house sitting business, logo, business cards. I've made about $1200 in the past couple of months which means $700 for next years business expenses, $100 for the marketing person (he is using the ideas and work he generates for me for his portfolio) and $400 for savings.

I hope to double the income from this side business to $7500 by this time next year and get to $10,000 by the following year.

Swagbucks Points

June 17th, 2013 at 09:56 pm

This past week has been crazy busy at work and I have not had enough time to do the third installment of the car purchase saga and lessons learned that might help other buyers.

But I have been doing the Swag bucks thing for a while now and I wonder, with 5100+ points, is it time to cash them in for something? I need to scan the rewards area and see what is there, but what do you do with your Swag bucks points?

Do you have a favorite reward you choose?

Part 2: Buying a new car...

June 11th, 2013 at 08:53 pm

So when I arrived at the dealership the first time (after beginning negotiations via email) to test drive my two choices, the first question the sales guy asked while standing with four other sales guys was what color did I want? This is asked with the intention of making the car buying an emotional experience for the buyer. It is important for the dealer to make this happen so that the buyer will pay even more for the car they choose and makes it difficult for the buyer to negotiate because they have already expressed a color choice. I answered that it didn’t matter for me, I would take whatever deal I could get at the time. No chance of this becoming an emotional decision for me.

The second question he asked was what did I want my monthly payment to be? Too many car buyers answer this question and set themselves up for failure. When answering this question the only answer should be: my payment is decided upon the final price negotiated minus the down payment I have, divided by the number of months I select times the interest rate the bank gives me.

It is an important answer because giving a statement of I want to be under $400 means the sales guy is already calculating how to get you into a vehicle more expensive than you should pay and have you pay for a longer term. Longer term mean more paid in finance charges and all this is money in the bank for the finance company.

I gave my answer and all of the other sales guys who had been silent during this questioning walked away, one of them saying she knows what she is doing, you can have her.

A few weeks later, after more negotiations with the internet sales guy I came in to pick up the car (in my color of choice and with the option I wanted!). As we finalized the deal he asked about my trade in. I asked what they could give me for my car.

Now, on one day when I went to test drive cars I hit upon a nice sales guy in the internet deals office and he said he was leaving, only had a couple more days. We chatted a bit and I asked him then what to do with my car to get the best trade in offer. He said to take it to CarMax and they will match the offer as that was their policy.

When I returned to pick up my new car, the internet sales guy I had been working with had my car appraised and said “it is in really bad condition but I can give you $250.” I just handed him the CarMax paperwork and he got very upset. He said "I don’t think my head guy will go for this." I asked him to bring his head guy over. When he left to talk to him I followed. When they said they couldn’t match it I asked "why not? All you have to do is drive it to them and they give you a check AND it is your own policy to match it." The head guy asked how I knew that and I moved his stapler off his desk and showed him the special little sticker and that something about honoring CarMax offers. He agreed to take it. Knowing the policy of your dealership is very important!

The final piece of the deal came when they brought me the paperwork to sign. Now, the sales guy doesn’t have to go through the paperwork with you and often they just hand you the things to sign and point where to initial or sign, while the finance guy has to go through the paperwork with you. My sales guy handed me only three things to sign and I asked to see everything. As I was reading through it making sure all the information was correct I found an error in the interest rate. What should have been0 % for three years was listed as 3.99% for three years. I pointed it out and he said, oops, sorry that is the default. I just said, umhmm and asked for the paperwork to be printed. He tried to have me cross it out and initial next to it with a 0% notation and I said nope, please give me a new copy.

My last entry will be the financing/warranty/maintenance discussion and a very interesting experience with the general manager that just happened by happenstance.

Part 1: Buying a New Car

June 10th, 2013 at 11:46 pm

I researched for over a year before I purchased a car. I test drove multiple brands to narrow it down to cars I liked. I keep my cars for years, until they die, so I wanted a car that was safe, reliable and has excellent gas mileage.

I was planning to keep my car for several more years when it started to have problems every couple of months. Spending money so often and the advice of the mechanic that I find something new/newer I buckled down at the beginning of this year to decide what I was going to do.

Yes, I could have purchased used, leased, bought less expensive, etc. but I wanted new, drive my cars forever and have no problem with purchasing new.

I knew what the bonuses were at the two dealers I was considering, what their goals were supposed to be, what the hold backs were for the first quarter of 2013.

I negotiated via the web with seven dealers to see who would give me the best deal. After getting a good quote I called the two largest dealers on the west coast who sell the most of the car I wanted, and asked them for their opinions on the price. Both said they could not beat it, even if they tried.

The deal was easy to make. I had my car appraisal done at CarMax and the dealer matches the offer (don't tell you they don't as it is a guarantee purchase from CarMax for the price they quote regardless of who brings the car in to them).

We finalized the deal, did the initial paperwork and then I sat, for TWO hours while others who came in, test drove and financed and left. That was frustrating.

So I was gathering my stuff up to leave when the GM came by and asked how my experience was. I told him I was leaving, waiting to long, going to buy elsewhere for being jerked around, etc. He asked what he could do to make the sale. I quoted an amount to come off. He said We are already not making money. I said BS (literally said it) and quoted the hold backs, the bonus they were going to make on the sale, (silly sales people blabbing to much when taking a test drive), and the extra holdback possible because they had already made the quota.

He looked at me for a full minute, made an offer under my request, I said no and he gave in.

I am very happy with the price, the interest rate (zero) the terms etc. And I am loving the car.

I approached the purchase as a business decision. It was not one made with emotions but purely a business decision and it was a good one for me.

Part two: Two questions you should never answer,
how to catch the dealership putting the wrong information on the paperwork, how to research a car purchase beyond the official reviews, and when is the best time to purchase.

It's been years...

June 9th, 2013 at 08:56 pm

And so much has happened...

I have continued reading people's blogs and lurking about but I just couldn't get myself the excitement to continue writing my blog. But now I am feeling interested again.

When last I wrote I was waiting to hear if my car was going to be totaled or not. It wasn't and I got a few more years out of it until it reached 12 years and little things started happening that needed repairs...every other month or so. When the mechanic said "I can keep it running but it might be time to look for another newer car and save the money" I took his advice and the money I had saved for a new car and purchased a 2013 Toyota Prius. I love knowing it gets incredible gas mileage but most importantly the peace of mind I get when driving is worth more than anything! I purchased in March, on Easter, got a great deal, and when they kept me waiting for two and a half hours for the finance office I got a better deal when I started to walk out of the dealership. The GM stopped me, asked what was wrong, asked how he could rectify it, and gave me another amount off.

In fairness it was the last day of the month, they were getting the bonuses from HQ for selling Prius' for the first quarter and they got additional money for beating their sales goals so I don't feel bad saying I would only purchase for another $750 off. It was the cheapest sale in a few months but they still made almost two thousand from HQ. I hope to not have to deal with car salesmen for another dozen years!

I am still paying off some credit card debt and also my student loans.

I have an interview schedule for my dream job in September in Washington. I am excited and will start studying once this large project at work ends on June 28. That is one reason why I haven't had the energy or time to post. It has been a two years project and I have "gifted" many hours to my employer in overtime to make sure it is successful. But I am also burned out and exhausted.

I am taking almost three weeks off in July. And I need the break! I may take a road trip (and really test the car out) but it depends upon a couple of clients who may need some house/pet sitting during that same time. Making some extra money while taking a few weeks off work sounds good, too!

The house and pet sitting business is still doing well. I am designing a new website, logo and marketing package with the help of a friend. He has a degree in marketing and after a few years doing something else wants to get back into the field. Having a few projects he can showcase would be helpful in his portfolio, so we negotiated a very fair price for his services and over the next few months I hope it makes the business even more profitable.

It is good to be back and join the group.

Savings activity this weekend: NSD today. All laundry except one load was dried on the drying rack. Four loads dried on the rack in just a few hours yesterday even though it is shaded on my patio. Sacramento's 107 degrees certainly helped me save money!

I started the spring cleaning of the apartment and the living room looks good. I washed the seat slip covers of one of the couches and they dried outside today. There are a few more to day over the next few weekends.