Monday, June 13, 2005

Unjumping The Shark

I realize that some time ago, this website jumped the shark. At least, I thought it did. Somewhere around the time my car broke down, this blog went from being helpful to being whiney.

However, I think I've received more comments since I became whiney then I did when I acted like a know-it-all. Quite frankly, the support has been welcome, and lots of the advice has been great!

But I still want this blog to become helpful again. And here to help me do that is Kathryn, who has been going through some of the same stuff I have, and has had to go it alone. She has some great tips I think everybody can use, including me.

I'll be publishing her email, along with my comments, over the next couple of days. Here goes!

Hello Erik,

I have been reading your blog for the past few days. I haven't read through all the archives yet, but I am working on it in my free time. I was going to post a comment, but it wouldn't let me since I am not a blogger. Hence this email. Hmm...where do I start? I have some free advice for you and your wife. I am almost 30 myself and have struggled with the exact same things you are struggling with, i.e. weight loss and financial freedom. I have the financial freedom thing down, but am still working on losing more weight.

For starters, why did you buy a Saturn? First things first, I would trade in that Saturn for a Toyota Camry! It doesn't even have to be a new Toyota Camry. I have a 1997 and haven't ever had anything major go wrong with it. After checking the consumer reports, I found out that the Toyota Camry is one of, if not THE BEST, car for families. I have two daughters just like you, so I wanted a good, reliable sedan to haul them around in and luckily decided on the Camry.

I agree completely. My next car will definitely be a Honda or a Toyota.

I'm not going in for one yet, though--my primary goal right now is to become completely debt-free. As crazy as it may sound, I want to pay cash for my next car. That means paying this car off at an accelerated rate, and then starting to save the mileage checks I get from work towards a used vehicle.

The Saturn hasn't been too bad for me, although I have discovered the problem I just had with this one is fairly common (If you have a Saturn, do not, under any circumstances, let it overheat).

I got a great deal on the Saturn--at the time, I looked at Hondas and Toyotas, and they were just a hair out of my price range.

(Actually, there was a Nissan I could have afforded if the guys at Planet Nissan in San Bernardino hadn't tried to pass a 24% interest rate off as an 11% interest rate. But that's another story.)

Next, you and your wife need to start saying NO to everything. I know, it is easy to get suckered into offers, specials, sales. But all those things end up being is another headache. Hence the credit card situation when your wife thought she was only requesting information, but they had to sign her up BEFORE they sent out the information.

Wonderful advice.

In my wife's defense, she's become a master of using coupons and offers to make money rather than just save money. In this case, the way the whole thing was presented to her made it sound like an exploitable system she could have cleared some cash on. Not wanting to get ripped off, though, she requested the information.

I do want to say we did get in writing that those charges are all reversed. Came in the mail today.

Here is what I did for financial freedom:

1. Cut off the cable TV and cancel your newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Now, I get about 2 local channels so if I really want to watch the news or something else on that channel, I still can, but without the monthly $43 bill. I rent FREE DVD's at our local library. I was shocked to find out that they have so many titles, for adults and kids. I also have more time to do other things now that the cable is gone. I don't miss it one bit. Get your news online, and take a trip to the local library once a month or so to read your favorite magazines and check out books.

Check! We don't subscribe to any magazines, and we only get the Sunday paper for the coupons (We also bum coupons of subscribing family members who don't coupon shop).

We did cancel the cable, except local channels. For $5.99 a month, we get the local channels from Dish Network (Unfortunately, antennas don't work where I live). We do make extensive use of the local library, including their audiobook section, since I drive a lot.

(Actually, for any locals reading this, I recommend the Riverside library by the Mission Inn. They have lots of free videos and audiobooks. San Bernardino still charges for both.)

2. Cut off all the "extra" telephone services-NO more call waiting, voice mail, etc. I pared my monthly service down to $13 and got an answering machine. Then I cut off my DSL and signed up for $10 a month Net Zero. I hardly notice the difference in the internet service and I could care less if anyone doesn't like the fact that they get a busy signal when they call my house. My Qwest bill used to be around $87 a month, with all the phone features and DSL, Now it is less than $20.


I used to love to brag about my ISP--I was getting dial-up for $6.95 a month. Unfortunately, they've gone under, swallowed up by Earthlink, but I'm still getting $9.95 a month for them.

I also agree about the phone bill. My wife and I haggle over this one, though--she can't give up call waiting and voice mail, partly because I spend so much time on the net, and she doesn't want to miss those messages, and because she really does have people she needs to keep in contact with during the day, since she's starting a child care business in the next couple of months to bring in some extra dollars, and wants to be as accessible as possible. Also, she won't give up unlimited long distance, because she really does use it--her family is from back east.

3. Do you have cell phone service? I used to have Verizon's 1100 min. per month plan, and was paying around $80 per month. I cut my cell phone service down to the 400 min. per month + free nights and weekends and saved myself over $40 per month. I also started being religious about checking how many minutes I have used so far, so I don't go over on the minutes to rack up a higher bill. No problem.

My company pays for my cell phone. Otherwise, I would probably get a prepaid for my wife for emergencies and call it done. Just like you could care less if people who call you get a busy signal, I could care less if people can't get a hold of me when I'm at the park. ;)

More to come! Tune in tomorrow!

No comments: