February 12, 2009
One of my favorite new websites is hulu.com. It’s on-demand TV through your computer. Recently a friend sent me this clip from an old Saturday Night Live which offers some great personal finance advice! Here it is:
Hulu has hundreds of TV shows, movies, and clips that you can watch any time you want with just a few tiny 15-30 second commercials. It’s free so it might help save on the cable or satellite bill. If you are looking for more money saving tips check out the Dave Ramsey Show on hulu.
July 7, 2008
Since my watch has broken I find that I don’t spend near as much time looking down at my wrist. You see, looking at my watch had become a response to even the mildest bit of stress. What was meant to make me more efficient had actually become a hindrance to me. So I’ve found that I really don’t miss it all that much. I find myself in less of a rush, and I’ve found a great conversation starter in “Do you have the time?”
What are some other things that we “can’t do without” which in reality hinder us almost as much they help? Facebook comes to mind. I’ve recently become hooked on that. From a personal finance perspective lots of things pop into my head. New cars for one. Why pay thousands more for new car when a used cars are widely available. Or consider cell phone costs. I just don’t see how having a Blackberry Curve will make me $1,000 per year more efficient. But I would sure feel hip and with it while I surf PCU Mobile on it.
Here’s my point. Looking for ways to save money and prosper financially sometimes requires counter-cultural steps. Don’t just follow the crowd and give all your money away just to experience the same thing as everybody else.
There’s a proverb that reads…
“Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.”
(Song of Solomon 2:15)
What are the “little foxes” in your monthly payments or expenses that ruin your budget? Is it a high car payment or a 2nd mortgage? Maybe its a shopping fix? (guys have those too) Or a gas guzzling SUV? What conveniences can you do without that will make a substantial difference in your budget over time. Hmm… Cable TV?
July 3, 2008
Actually it represents a 30% increase in fuel efficiency. My 1993 Honda motorcycle typically gets about 55 mpg. But over the last few weeks I’ve been purposefully thinking about my driving habits and looking for ways to make them more efficient. Well my efforts have paid off. At my last fill-up the calculator said my mileage was 72.29 miles per gallon! Here’s what I’ve been doing. Much of this can easily be applied to 4 wheeled vehicles.
- The biggest improvement to my fuel efficiency was in finding times on my route where I could put it in neutral and coast. Sometimes the distance is so great that I could actually turn off the engine and roll quietly along. On my way home I can coast an entire mile with the engine off, right into my driveway. Many hybrid cars do this automatically.
- I’ve been turning the engine off at stoplights & stop signs where I expect more than a 20 second stop.
- I’ve not been showing off with my motorcycle, revving the engine or taking off at high speeds. Of course I’ve never done that. (I really did buy the motorcycle for the fuel savings. I don’t put hundreds of dollars worth of shiny chrome on it either and it’s actually much quieter than my lawn mower.)
- I’ve been driving at or below the speed limit. I get it’s optimum mileage at around 45 mph, just after shifting into high gear. I’ve not been worrying about my speed, but rather how hard my engine is working and how much gas I’m feeding it with the throttle. This usually causes me to drive below the speed limit.
- Watch it on up-hills. If you have ever ridden a bicycle up and down hills you know that you work much harder trying to keep your speed all the way up a hill. The same is true of your car. You’ll use more fuel trying to keep your speed up the hill, so let the car slow down a bit like you would do if riding a bicycle. Watch and listen to how hard your engine is working. Paying attention to even subtle hills on your route can help your fuel economy some. There are lots of hills around here which drain fuel efficiency. Hey, the name of our credit union is “Piedmont”, which means “foot hills”.
Earlier I said that I purchased a vehicle, my motorcycle, to get better fuel economy. But was it really worth it by the time I bought paid the money to buy it? I paid $1,200 for it. By the time I bought a helmet, insurance, registration, and rider safety class I had spent over $1,700. At the time I was driving a 16mpg SUV. Assuming that I could get at least 50mpg out of the bike I calculated that it would pay for itself after about 10,000 miles. Over two years I’ve driven it about 4,000 miles, so it hasn’t paid for itself as quickly as I would have liked. But it sure is fun!
Come to find out there is a name for what I’ve been doing. It’s called hypermiling. Just do a search on the Internet for “hypermilling” and you’ll find loads of information on how to increase your fuel efficiency. Some of it’s not that safe, so pick and choose what ways you can save gas carefully.
In wrapping up I leave you with a home made “Mad Gab” from my college friend Eddie T. … “Dry Foam Say Flea”
October 24, 2007
This week the City of Danville published the names, addresses, and amounts owed of everyone in town with delinquent real estate taxes. Instead of joining in with the many voices who say that these people deserve public shame and embarrassment, I’d like to approach it differently. We should all exercise at least a modicum of compassion before passing judgment on people who we don’t know anything else about except that their taxes are past due. I seriously doubt that the majority of real persons on that list intentionally decided to not pay their taxes, though a few may have. Most people have good intentions when it comes to paying their bills, and in general just living their lives. For these people perhaps one thing lead to another and the tax bill simply got put off repeatedly until it was just too overwhelming to deal with. This is the case with so many otherwise good people who don’t have a good spending plan or budget to make sure all their bills get paid on time.
Here’s a simple tip to keep your name from appearing in the paper. Start a special savings account for the sole purpose of paying taxes. You know how many times you get paid between now and when the tax bill comes in. Figure out how much you need to save every payday in order to have the money available when you need it. Direct Deposits and Payroll Deposits can be setup to automatically send a portion of your paycheck to this special savings account so that when the bill comes at the end of the year, the money will be there to pay it. The same account could be used to save up to pay for homeowners insurance, school tuition, or anything that you only pay once or twice per year.
Another option is to take out a loan to pay taxes. That’s probably a good option if your name is already on the list! Either way you go, loan or savings, take the time to sit down and map out proactively how you plan to spend your money in the coming months. Then stick to your plan!