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Archive for March, 2014

Request for insurance discount shot down by GEICO

March 30th, 2014 at 12:14 pm

GEICO Insurance put a 8.5"x11" glossy double-sided insert in my Berkshire Hathaway annual report on how I could "score big savings" on my car insurance. Only after a "No" response do I see the tiny print on how some discounts are not available in all states. There is a maximum of discounts applicable to policies. How vexatious.

What a waste of advertising.

Worse, the "speshulist" I spoke with couldn't give me an average annual premium for my vehicle's age, make and model for someone in my city. Later found all that on the internet. I'm paying $388 less than average, but that feels like a lot.
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Anyone want to be a co-conspirator for an April Fool's Day prank on the Saving Advice forums "is ---- a scam" board? If you think the MLM thread that won't die is ridiculous, maybe consider dreaming up a MLM scheme and pretending we're all millionaire founding partners. After all, most of them are lying, and it's for one day...

My Sisyphean Budget (Warning: Political)

March 27th, 2014 at 08:50 am

In Greek mythology Sisyphus was a king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth) punished for chronic deceitfulness by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this action forever.

My county dearly wants to place a FLAT vehicle registration fee (FLAT = fee for renewing the annual tabs on your 75cc 2002 Yamaha Vino is same for renewing the annual tabs on the 2014 Porsche Boxster). We have two motorized vehicles: one is an eight-year-old Yamaha scooter, another is a two-year-old Toyota Prius. This flat fee is $60/vehicle, equivalent to what I spend on gas for the year for the scooter, and two months' gas on the Prius.

My county already instituted a fee hike of $20 on vehicle tabs (they call it car tabs, but no, it's a motorized vehicle tab fee, make no mistake) no more than two years ago. Its transit authority's already eliminated the "ride-free area" option. For some reason my county and state enjoy disproportionate and regressive taxes. I'm too ignorant to point out any political party as the culprit, so I'll just type that both of the two major ones are to blame. The county council is "nonpartisan" but let's be honest, I live in a city where only American cities like St. Louis and San Francisco seem more Democratic.

I don't want to pay $10 more per month because I'm not sure I can afford it. So my challenge to myself is to come up with $10 savings per month. I can tell you it will not come from fixed budget costs, nor from monthly expenditures under $40 a month. It won't come from spending $1440 in closing costs refinancing a 12-year $100000 mortgage down 0.125%.

I may be Sisyphus here, but I feel I am being punished for my county's chronic deceitfulness.

This is a very tightened black belt. I won't be giving up my celebratory Moxie pop for each alt.obituaries dead pool stiff (usually 10-11 a year, that's $1.50/month). I will probably cut down on my potato chips. I love the salt, but the carbs aren't good for me and the calories are empty. I will, however, be searching for the obscure, rare, brilliant, bizarre and ethically grey ways. And I'll put them in a page linked from the side bar.

Update: I play with a spreadsheet. I'm paying $382.21/mo in debt outside mortgage. Seeing what paying 10% less a month for a longer term looks like.

Whale Aisle Beef Hooked

March 24th, 2014 at 09:55 am

Blindsided by WhiteCat's tooth malady. Could be abscess, could be infection, $52 for an observation yielding no real answers, looking at $300 for dental X-rays, more money for antibiotics, before even any blood panel & surgery. None of this was budgeted.

Thinking of how to pay for this. The cats went in for vaccination to a real vet this time, pricier than the mobile vet clinic that visited a supermarket (vacated our area) we used, so there's $413 to pay first for their shots.

I am still obsessing about reducing the debt, to have it re-amortized or consolidated. Every time I pick up a surprise invoice, or learn of an upcoming county-wide vote to raise motorized vehicle registration fees I fret. I fret because we cannot, will not cut back more than a dollar from my monthly budget. We scrimp on heat, car fuel, food, clothing, restaurants, household goods and entertainment. I use coupons and a price book. I make many concoctions and recipes from scratch, plus I check the priced-to-sell-today bins at supermarkets for meats and fish.

I'm not asking for budget help because I'll only stymie those who think the only budget savers are cancelling phone plans (we don't have one), ditching the landline (done), ending gym memberships and magazine subscriptions (none) and saying goodbye to cable television (haven't had it since January 1999). Pitching the obvious ideas from the lamebrain mass media articles will be fruitless.

My options so far:
1. Liquidate my 52-week savings challenge.
2. Use emergency fund.
3. Carry balance on credit card.

Options for either the car or HELOC. Metals & stocks are sliding like mud in Oso/Arlington.
1. Do nothing.
2. Stick to slow debt-reduction plan ($31.79/month snowball).
3. Learn how to use goal-seek and what-if scenarios in Excel to determine what combination of prepayment & consolidation is optimal.